Dear Mr. McMahon,
I write to you today a disgruntled wrestling fan. For two years the WWF was my only source for wrestling viewing, and I was, for that period of time, satisfied with my product. For the three months I spent in hospital last year, Sunday night was my night to enjoy as for an hour I could lose myself in the world of wrestling. For an hour at least, WWF Superstars made me forget the tubes, epidurals and urinal catheters that plugged my body. Sunday night for me was heaven.
Just over six weeks ago, I managed to juggle my financial budget to allow me to purchase cable television. One of the determining factors was the availability of wrestling. Your organisation's Monday night and Sunday night shows are shown here, as is the Monday night show of that other promotion based in Atlanta. That show I could do without, yours I could not. I was a fan of the WWF.
However the past six weeks have allowed me to size up the promotions side by side, and you Sir are coming second at this point in time. By a long margin too! In fact your promotion is going the right way about losing not only myself as a viewer, but many others too.
At the top of this letter I mentioned that I was a disgruntled wrestling fan. Please note the word wrestling. I fail to see how you can continue to call yourself a wrestling promotion as it seems the only things that your shows have with wrestling is a ring and a 1-2-3 to finish it. As you may have guessed, I am not impressed by the wrestling you are providing, nor am I impressed by the way you treat your wrestlers.
The wrestling you have provided over the past six weeks has been nothing short of pathetic. I'm expected to view a match between Paul Wight and Sean Waltman? What sort of match is that? The Rock against BOTH Undertaker and HHH? Well HHH is only half a wrestler anyway so perhaps you may have a point! Brisco and Patterson against any of today's professional wrestlers? Al Snow versus a dummy head (possibly your son??)! Perhaps I haven't made myself clear. I would like to see some believable matches. Undertaker and Austin? Sure, that's a good match-up. Shamrock against the Rock? Again, a good match-up, but when we have to watch Mankind against The Acolytes in a hardcore match or Test versus Big Boss Man (please note the space between Boss and Man) I've got to wonder exactly why I'm watching this as enjoyment.
You clearly treat your wrestlers badly too. You are asking men to do too much in too short a time. Let's look at a few of your wrestlers shall we! I know you don't want to but we'll keep the vibe of the letter going.
The Rock has recently had surgery, Undertaker is wearing a back brace (my father picked that up in five seconds for gawds sake!), Austin wears a large knee brace, HHH wears several braces (though I'm trying to work out what he's actually done to be injured!), Shawn Michaels has been out of commission for a long time due to a bad back, Mark Henry just had surgery on both knees, ironically just after being hit on the knee by a guitar, Brian Christopher has just done his ACL, Road Doggy-Dog has been plagued with problems of sorts, Val Venis needed stitches after being belted with a guitar (guitar again?) and poor Mick Foley who has prostituted himself to the extreme, is now out with long needed surgery. By the way, in case you need reminding, Owen Hart is dead.
That's just a list off the top of my head, but my gripe goes further than this. I recognise that there is a well worn slogan of "Sex sells", and you have no inhibitions of using it to the extreme do you. Here's a few things that go too far. Beaver Cleavage. Who in their right mind is going to believe that this is the name of a future title holder in the promotion? His mother looks (and I would bet that she actually is) younger than him. Oil of Ulan doesn't work that well, or if it does, give some to Mrs. McMahon! Godfather. I love the guy, cool music and a capable wrestler, but I question a guy who asks people to say "Running prostitutes isn't easy". I didn't think that that was legal either!! Debra and Sable. You don't have to worry about Sable anymore. Oops, a $110 million law suit says you do! If rumors are right and Debbie decides to bear all for Playboy you'll have done really well. So Sable has breast implants! So everything in wrestling is fake! Women in wrestling don't have to survive on young gorgeous (George) looks. Terri Runnels and Miss Elizabeth seem to have survived for years. Val Venis. Need I say more?
But my main disappointment is with the violence that you promote. Mick Foley got put out of commission thanks to a sledgehammer. Austin's been belted with a shovel. Women, Ivory and (shudder) Nicole Bass have been assaulted with guitars too! Chairs, tables, and other assorted weapons have turned wrestling into violent assaults. One day a wrestler will die in the ring after being hit with an object, and my prediction is that it will happen within the next five years. And you will have a lot of explaining to do to the fans, the courts, and the dead wrestlers wife and children. The thing that repulses me most is when we have a wrestler on the canvas or outside the ring being kicked and hit by several men. Why is this wanton assault seemingly encouraged? This is not sport Vince, this is barbarism.
So how can you help me Mr. McMahon? I would love to enjoy your promotion again, but I cannot do so whilst your promotion follows it's current path. I would sincerely appreciate a reply soon as I may soon find which channel that Atlanta promotion is on.
Stuart Capel lives in Black Rock, Victoria, Australia and is a regular contributer to Solie's Wrestling Newsletter.
Thunder comes to us live from the Cajon Dome in Laffayette, Louisianna. No opening video clips for a change. After the welcome by Mike Tenay and Legendary Larry we go to a replay of the in-ring incident between Curt Hennig and Master P's boyz.
Curt Hennig and his cronies (Bobby Duncum, Jr. and the Windham Brothers) come out to the platform to sing their theme song, "Rap is Crap (I Hate Rap)" . They lip synch it (why not? If it's goo enough for Master P..?) - although Heennig claims he didn't.
Psychosis vs. Eddie Guerrero - it's so great to see Eddie back and just as surly as ever. Guerrero pauses to remind Psychosis that he (and other members) betrayed the LWO by allowing Ric Flair to disband the group. Psychosis offers his hand but Guerrero disdains it. So Pyschosis goes right on the offensive and has Guerrero reeling in no time. Eddie comes roaring right back at his earliest opportunity then takes the fight to the floor where he uses the steps as a weapon by placing Pyschosis between the steps and the post then drop-kicking the steps! Back in the ring, it is all Guerrero as we cut to commercial.
Guerrero is working like a demon on his opponent's left leg as we return. Psychosis finally gets a little space and knocks Guerrero to the floor where he retruns the favor by running him into the steps. Back to the ring, Guerrero downs his man again then climbs the corner. Psychosis gets to one knee and plants a fist in Guerrero's gut as he flies. Out to the floor they go again and Psychosis maintains his advantage. Back in the ring he is still in control but can't keep Eddie down. He pancakes Guerrero off the top then goes back up and gets a Frankensteiner, but then he climbs again and misses when Eddie sidesteps. Guerrero gets the Frog Splash and the pin.
Ric Flair is in the back with Aysha, David, and Arn and they are talking to Evan Korageous - trying to talk him into taking a dive for David tonight. He is not happy about the idea and tries to argue against it. This is the first time I remember David being present when one of these deals was done. EK doesn;t really agree but Flair assumes that he did. Could be interesting.
Kevin Nash comes to the ring after a video replay of his confrontation with Sting on Nitro. He claims that even though he is the World Champ he is still considered an outsider (Hmmm...and who is the chief booker again..?) He accuses Sting again of being on the side of the Macho Man - he accuses Sting of being the driver of the HUmmer! Then he repeats his pledge about Savage having to "pry the belt" from his dead fingers. Cut to commercial.
Chris Benoit/Saturn vs. Dave Taylor/Fi Finley - Benoit starts with Taylor and easily outclasses him. He knocks his opponent out of the ring which draws Finley in - he has to be ejected by the referee. Both guys tag their partners. Finley gouges Saturn's eyes but then fails to follow up and pays for his laxity as Saturn gives him a suplex lesson. Benoit comes in and starts his own suplex clinic but Finley turns the tables with another short cut as we cut to commercial.
Benoit is on the receiving end as we return and it is evident that Finley and Taylor are long time tag partners as they isolate their victim. Eventually Finley makes a mistake and decks his partner which allows Saturn to get in and clean house. The next few moments are a blur as Benoit and Saturn wrap things out with a diving headbutt and a DVD. Steven Regalk appears rather suddenly as the two Brits are about to come to blows - he brokers a peace and we cut to commercial.
Ric Flair comes to the ring to rant. Not much is said but the gist is that he sets up a tag team match pitting Buff Bagwell/Dean Malenko vs. Sid/Macho Man, a match for the Tag Team Titles with Benoit and Saturn as the challengers and finally, he says he has a surprise for the World Champ. Cut to commercial.
Curt Hennig (w/the Country Boyz) vs. Lenny Lane - this is a silly match even if Lane has been getting a miniscule push as of late. I expect Lodi will show up at some point to cover Lanes backside (no pun intended). Hennig just destroys his man, then distracts the referee so that his thugs can get in some shots. Hennig plants Lane in the corner and does a two-step on his chest. Sure enough Lodi shows up and throws in a towel. He goes to the aid of his friend and has a Hennig plex put on him for his trouble. Cut to commercial.
Randy Savage comes to the ring for his bi-weekly rant. He makes suggestions as to ho drove the Hummer including Scott Hall and Sting. He hands the mic to Sid who screams his usual inanities. Cut to commercial.
Evan Korageous vs. David Flair (w/his daddy and friends) - Korageous looks to have disregarded Flair's instructions - he is going for the win, no doubt about it. David stays in it and refuses to be pinned but he is getting zero offense. Korageous has things well in hand and seems about to put his opponent away with some kind of flying move but Aysha jumps up on the apron to reason with him. He says, "This is my match..." and jumps down. While everybody is distracted, Arn puts a stun gun in David's hand and he uses it to win. Cut to commercial.
Van Hammer vs. Hugh Morrus (w/Jimmy Hart) - Hardcore match - here's a chance for Hammer to prove himself against some real competition - not that I expect him to win... He takes it royally for the first few moments then finally makes a comeback. He grabs his studded jacket and dons one arm to use for a clothesline, then he sets up the jacket in a corner and slams Morrus into it. Morrus recovers and knocks him to the floor so he grabs a ladder from under the ring and sets it up in the corner...then gets run into it. It is all Morrus now as a trashcan gets added to the paraphanalia in the ring. Morrus and Hart drag a table out from under he ring and throw it in the ring. Hart helps him set it up (this is no DQ) then Morrus puts Hammer on the table. Suddenly Ric Flair comes running down yelling Hart's name and saying "stop the show!" He wants to ban Hardcore matches! Morrus argues with him and doesn't notice Hammer rising to his feet and picking up the table. Flair finally seems to reverse his position and turns his back. Hart and Morrus turn around and get run down by Hammer wielding the table. Flair turns back and says again, "No more Hardcore!" In the ring, Hammer is putting Morrus through the table and getting the pin. Hart is wailing that Flair caused them to lose as we cut to commercial.
Randy Savage/Sid Vicious (w/the girls) vs. Buff Bagwell/Dean Malenko - Buff is his usual outgoing self as he heads for the ring while Malenko also plays his usual scowling role - a strange team indeed. Savage starts with Bagwell and easily dominates for about 5 seconds then Bagwell recovers and holds his own. He tags in Malenko. Malenko outwrestles his opponent but then catches an elbow in the face and must now face big Sid. No finess here. The two smaller guys have to double up to make a den in him but eventually Sid shakes it off (with a surrepticious assist from Savage) and gets a chokeslam on Bagwell. He hits a legdrop then chokes his opponent against the ropes. Savage and Sid are actually working well as a team in an underhanded fashion. So far the girls haven't gotten involved, but we know they will if the tide turns. Sure enough, Bagwell is in and starts to turns the tables so Medusa comes in to pin his arms while GG distracts Malenko on the floor. Savage tries to hit Bagwell but he ducks and Medusa takes the shot. Miss Madness comes off the corner and tries for a sunset flip on Malenko but he rolls through it and applies the Texas Cloverleaf. The referee is going nuts as Savage hits Malenko from behind. Nick Patrick is downed and a second referee shows up. Mickey Jay is also knocked down and piledriven then Sid puts the big powerbomb on him at Savage's order. They rant off into the sunse and we fade to black.
I want to address some of the changes that WCW has been undergoing recently.
With the addition of Master P and his "No Limit Soldiers" we have seen a quantum shift in emphasis toward the Hip Hop culture by the Turner promotion. This is all well and good, Rap is a very popular musical style and, no doubt, WCW feels that they can profit from this association.
I have to question, however, at what cost will they bring about this, as yet, unproven profit?
When I talk about the costs, I don't just mean to people (like myself) who watch wrestling not to find out what the latest cultural phenomanon is, but to enjoy an athletic exhibition. I have nothing against Rap Music per se, though I am not a fan of it. I think it has a place in our culture but I also think that people should be free to take it or leave it.
The most recent Nitro broadcast is a case in point. Those who tuned in were "treated" to a generous helping of Master P and his entourage who lip syched some recorded material (if this guy is such a "great entertainer" you'd think he would have been able to actually sing his own lyrics) and pranced around the stage yelling "Hootie Hoo..." at the top of the program. Now I'm sure that there were some Hip Hop fans out there who just loved all this, but what about the rest of us?
The people I am concerned about are those who are downright alienated by this latest shift. People who already feel that Rap Music is being shoved down their throats everywhere they turn without having it dished out to them by their "rasslin" show as well. In that vein I would point out that WCW caters heavily to the NASCAR crowd. Where is their input into all of this?
I can tell you first hand, judging by the volume of my mail on the subject, that a lot of people (including even some Rap Music fans) are really being put off by this new version of WCW programming.
I am excepting, of course, the vocal minority who think that anything Eric Bischoff does is evil. I have noticed that the same bunch that replied that it is "just business" when I complained about Vince McMahon's turn to smut are now barraging me with letters decrying Bischoff's turn to Hip Hop as a "desperate ploy to increase ratings..." Please people, get a grip on reality...
In fact WCW's "new direction" is disturbingly similar to what the WWF has been doing only in a different vein. In the WWF's case they have been turning to controversial, sexually oriented material in order to please the infantile tastes of the 14 to 21 year old audience who think that T&A and "poop jokes" are the height of sophisticated humor, while the rest of us just are amazed at their incredibly bad taste.
I wish both promotions would just get back to wrestling...
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 1999 - Jump City Productions