Look for some changes for Solie's Newsletter beginning in the month of August. With ECW's new TNN program looming I am going to be re-evaluating my coverage somewhat. With the WWF and WCW adding new programs such as Heat and Thunder over the last year or so I have found myself spending way to much time sitting in front of the TV typing away when I would rather be enjoying the show.
The Monday Night Wars Edition will still appear each week but it will revert to being Solie's Tuesday Morning Report and will become more of a general coverage vehicle. Rather then maintain the present Heat, Nitro and RAW reports I will be opting for broader coverage of the "big two" promotions. There will be a WWF and a WCW weekly report respectively which will encapsulate each promotion's activities during the week. My intention is to drop the "blow-by-blow" reports of individual programs in favor of a recap of storyline developments along with summaries of key match-ups from Nitro, RAW, Heat, Thunder, WCWSN, and eventually the new WWF Smackdown program.
The PPV Reports will remain unchanged but with ECW becoming more prominent it will also necessitate a return to covering ECW PPV's (although I am trying to figure out how I will be able to afford it!)
The Friday Morning Edition will become the Saturday Morning Edition and will include coverage of the new ECW offering along with the usual assortment of columns, articles and interviews.
It may take a few weeks to iron out the bugs, but I have hopes that in the end Solie's will become a better news and commentary source for all wrestling fans.
By Erwin Michael Green
The place: New York's famed Madison Square Garden. The time: May 17, 1963. He wore the world's heavyweight championship belt for the first time in his life, four years after turning into a professional wrestler. Since then he had held that title for fourteen years, undefeated except on one occasion in 1971. He was a consummate athlete, and he commanded respect from friend and foe alike. He held a wrestling attendance record in Australia for selling out twenty-one consecutive nights and he once drew in an estimated crowd of 40,000 fans in a bull ring in Caracas, Venezuela.It's no surprise that Bruno Sammartino is truly known as wrestling's living legend!
Bruno was born in Abruzzi, Italy and immigrated here to the United States at age 15. His lifelong dream since age 8 was to become a wrestler. He idolized a greco-roman wrestler named Batisti who represented Italy in the Olympics in the 30's. He loved amateur wrestling, but he said it's not really a spectator sport because it didn't have any thrills or surprises. In pro wrestling, you have to add a lot of stuff to make it exciting. While going to high school during the day, Bruno worked out constantly at a local gym in Pittsburgh where he lived.
His first job while living here in America was as a construction worker and during the evening he wrestled at various arenas. He finally turned pro in 1959. Then on May 17, 1963, Bruno defeated Nature Boy Buddy Rogers to capture the WWWF Heavyweight Wrestling Championship and from that night on he successfully defended his title with such enthusiasm and tenacity that no other wrestler could ever hope to defeat him.
That is, until he met "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff. Koloff became the new heavyweight champion by defeating Sammartino on January 18, 1971 in Madison Square Garden. It was a night of humiliation for Bruno and a night of victory for Koloff who boasted and bragged about how he became the only man to ever defeat Sammartino, and that Bruno was no living legend. And from that night emerged a devastating feud that would become historic in the annals of professional wrestling.
Koloff subsequently lost the title to Pedro Morales at Madison Square Garden a month later on February 8, and Morales held the belt for two years, then lost it to Stan "The Man" Stasiak. Stasiak held the title for a mere nine days before losing to Sammartino on December 10,1973. The living legend then became the first two-time WWWF champion.
Throughout his entire career, Bruno has met and fought challenger after challenger and emerged victorious in the WWWF. Most of his matches have been grueling and sometimes have ended in controversy. But no matter the outcome, Bruno has defended his title with such tenacity that he truly lives up to being called the "living legend."
Bruno had also introduced the fans to two proteges that he had trained: Larry Zbyzsko and Spiros Arion. Zbyszko was also from Pittsburgh and became an almost identical wrestler to Sammartino. He was very successful and talented during his WWWF tenure, and even won the tag team championship along with Tony Garea by defeating the Yukon Lumberjacks. But he always thought he was in the shadow of Sammartino, and decided he didn't need to follow Bruno any longer, resulting in a bitter rivalry. This teacher vs. student feud ultimately ended before an excited crowd at New York's Shea Stadium when Bruno defeated Zbyszko in a steel cage match.
Watch for part 2...coming soon!
Thunder is on the air live from the Jefferson Center in Birmingham, Alabama. After the usual hype we cut to scenes from Nitro concerning the lead-in to the main event at Bash at the Beach. Savage, Sid, Nash and the Stings (both of them...). Nash threw Sting (the real one) down on his hip pretty hard - I hope he's all right...
Kevin Nash comes to the ring to make a statement about the coming tag team match pitting himself and Sting against Sid/Savage. If he is still being distrustful of Sting it is going to ring pretty hollow. Sure enough he says right away that he has seen the replay of what went down that night. He says, in so many words, that he still doesn't know yet whether he can trust Sting but offers an apology if he got it wrong. He states that he is going to put the World Title on the line in that tag team match - in other words whoever gets the pin to end the match will also become the World Champion. Talk about a nutty arrangement. Today is Nash's birthday as a couple of female fans remind us just before he splits. Happy birthday Big Sexy!! In the back Flair and Company are having a meeting when Dean Malenko walks in and calls Flair a coward for pulling out of their match at the PPV on Sunday due to a supposed "bad back". Malenko fails to get a straight answer from the group but Flair does say that he will be making an announcement later in the program. Cut to commercial.
Video replay of the wallet incident involving Eddie Guerrero and the masked wrestlers.
Lenny Lane (w/his significant other) vs. Eddie Guerrero - I really like Guerrero's entrance music, it's good to hear it again and to have him back in action. As usual, Guerrero is all over his opponent from the get-go. Lane manages to turn the tables for a moment and also knocks the referee down in the process. Guerrero finds himself facing both Lane and Lodi but just for a moment. Suddenly a group of masked luchadores run in and punk him. Lodi revives the referee and Lane gets the pin on the unconscious Guerrero. In the back Jimmy Hart is recruiting wrestlers (Silver King and La Parka) to compete in Hak's Junkyard Hardcore match at the PPV. Cut to commercial.
Mean Gene is with Disco Inferno in the ring as we return. They are there to talk about Disco's upcoming match with Ernest Miller at the Bash. Disco professes to not be too concerned about the match.
Al Green vs. Van Hammer - no telling who will win this one (he says with heavy sarcasm)... Hammer's push has gotten him a TV Title shot against Ric Steiner this Sunday. Green is undergoing no such push. You work it out... Hammer dominates the early going. He puts a boot to the air next to his opponent's face but Green acts like he has been kicked. Hammer gets the pin moments later only to then be attacked by Rick Steiner. Steiner pounds Hammer into the corner then splits. Hart is trying to recruit Horace for the Junk Yard match as we cut to commercial.
We return to highlights from Bret Hart's appearance on Nitro including a replay of the tribute video. My initial reaction to this whole thing was that WCW was taking advantage of this tragedy to further their own aims. But my view has softened somewhat in the intervening days. Certainly the tribute was tastefully done and not exploitive, Harts appearance was obviously spontaneous and unrehearsed. Bret Hart is one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time and his fans are eager to know what is going to happen for him in the future. I think WCW recognized that it was important for Bret and the fans that we hear from him at this critical juncture in his career.
Fit Finley vs. Brian Knobbs (w/Jimmy Hart) - Knobbs hit's Finley in the corner before he can react but he comes roaring right back. The fight goes to the floor where Finley gets run into the steps then attacked by Hart. Again he comes back and turns the tables, smashing Knobbs into the railing and then the apron. He posts Knobbs before rolling back into the ring. Finley starts to pull a table out from under the ring but he is attacked by Hugh Morrus and Jerry Flynn. Next Finley's friends Taylor and Regal show up followed by various luchadores. We end up with a pier six brawl in the ring. Jimmy Hart tries to hand a chair to Knobbs but La Parka grabs it away and swings it at Knobbs, who ducks the blow causing the chair to bounce off the top rope and strike La Parka in the face. The camera follows Horace and Knobbs who brawl up the ramp to the platform where Knobbs starts tearing up pieces of the scenery with which to hit Horace. Cut to commercial.
Mean Gene is with Ric Flair & Company in the ring as we return. Piper starts the rants saying he will "run over" Buff Bagwell at the PPV. Flair then launches into his schtick. He tells Malenko that his match at the Bash will be against David for the US Title. Cut to Curt Hennig's video. Hennig pretends to play a cheap Japanese twelve string electric while Duncum appears to know what he's doing. BW is the bass player but we never get a close enough look to see if he is really playing the instrument. Cut to commercial.
Disco Inferno vs. Kidman - Kidman starts strong against his larger opponent but Disco is no slouch and manages to reverse a move into a big clothesline that turns Kidman inside out. Moments later Kidman is thrown over the top rope to the floor and hits hard. We go to split screen so that Steve Regal can state his intention to enter the Junkyard match on Sunday. Back to the action where Kidman has turned the tables with a big suicide dive on his opponent - but then he re-enters the ring and gets reversed again. A moment of catch-as-catch can ends with Kidman back in charge but then we look away to see Ernest Miller and Sunny Oono approaching the ring. When we turn back, Disco is putting on a piledriver. Miller attacks Disco with his shoe but then manages to kick Oono in the face by mistake. Disco gets the Last Dance and then celebrates with the crowd over Miller's prone carcass. Cut to commercial.
Diamond Dallas Page, Kanyon and Bam Bam Bigalow come to the ring as we return. Page tells the crowd that they really disappoint him by their reaction to him. He goes on to deny that the Triad was beaten in the 6 man match the other night and that he was beaten by Saturn in a previous match and demonstrates by showing clips showing that there was interference and illegal men in the ring at the time. Cut to commercial.
Kanyon vs. Chris Benoit - no doubt this one will break down within moments with all three members of the Triad present in the arena. Benoit goes into his buzzsaw routine at the top of the match and Kanyon bails to regroup. Back inside, Kanyon takes a shot at the eyes to turn the tables but Benoit easily overcomes his opponent causing him to bail once again. This time Benoit follows him out and gets clobbered. Back inside, Kanyon cements his advantage with blows to the head but then Benoit reverses a whip and retakes the initiative. Tenay tells us that Savage has been banned from TV tonight. In the back, Hart is recruiting Mikey Whipwreak. Back in the arena, Benoit has Kanyon out on the floor and is in charge until Kanyon gets a hold of his Title belt and waffles him. He gets a suplex on the arena floor then rolls back into the ring. He drags Benoit back inside and starts pounding on him. He gets a series of two-counts but no cigar. He grabs a reverse chinlock but Benoit fights to his feet and escapes. Benoit goes for a sunset flip but gets powerbombed and both guys are down. Kanyon recovers but takes too long getting back to the action. A dazed Benoit gets a German suplex but can't follow up. Kanyon recovers and climbs the corner but Benoit surprises him there and gets a super-plex. Both are down again. Both recover and Benoit gets two German suplexes. On the third attempt he is stopped. Here comes Bigalow. Benoit knocks him off the apron and goes for his diving headbutt but Bigalow upsets his balance. Saturn shows up and takes on Bigalow while Benoit gets the headbutt and the pin. Page shows up and they punk Saturn and Benoit. Cut to commercial.
Megadeath's less-then-spectacular appearance on Nitro is reviewed as we return. The best part was at the end when they stopped playing and Goldberg made his return to WCW. Even that was rather anti-climactic, being so brief and all... Cut to commercial.
Curt Hennig (w/Windham, Windham and Duncum: Attorneys at Law) vs. Konnan (w/Konnan, Jr. and the No Limit Soldiers) - this is the main event? Ooookay... The Country Boyz are outnumbered here tonight. In fact, two of the NLS are bigger then all of them put together. Konnan dominates the early going which brings KW onto the apron to distract Konnan, giving Hennig the advantage for a moment until Konnan back kicks him in the knee. Hennig has to lever him out to the floor in order to regroup which precipitates a melee on the outside. In the confusion, BW whacks Konnan with a cowbell and gives Hennig the pin. That's it for tonight...
The big story this week, at least in my mind, was Bret Hart's appearance on Nitro. In what appeared to this reporter to be a heartfelt attempt to speak his mind, Hart remembered his brother to the fans and talked about his future, or lack of same, in the wrestling business. My immediate impression is that we are not going to be seeing Bret again for at least a little while. It seemed clear that he is in the throws of a sorting out process and was having a very hard time explaining himself to the fans because he has not yet found a way to explain himself to himself.
It should be remembered that the tragedy of Owen's death hit Bret hard upon the heels of the breakup of his own marraige. This guy has been through a lot over the last year or so and clearly it has taken a toll on him both mentally and spiritually. His unhappiness at the progress of his career in WCW, although largely portrayed as an angle, appeared to be real as well - all of these things taken together can't help but to have had a profound affect on the Hitman.
I was surprised to have received some emails following his Nitro appearance suggesting that his speech was part of an emerging angle. To me this only points out the jadedness of the fan base that thinks everything they see must be so construed.
No, I would be greatly amazed to find out that this was so. Bret Hart is simply too much of a "straight arrow" to allow himself to participate in such a cynical undertaking. The man loved his brother and was devestated by his loss. Using that emotion to further a crass storyline is undoubtedly the furthest thing from his mind.
On another note, I was dismayed by the ending of the Nitro program on Monday. The implied violence done by Randy Savage on Gorgeous George (I say implied because it "took place" behind the screen of a wall conveniently placed between the camera and the action), although it was a logical extention of Savage's supposed frame of mind at that moment, was totally uncalled for and innappropriate. This, and the Kevin Nash/GG/Tori angle leading up to it, points to a trend for WCW toward the misogynist territory staked out in the last few years by the WWF (except that the WWF has had the good sense to move away from the creepier aspects of the Terri Runnels/Brian Pillman "Take my wife, please..." type of angle with it's overtones of sexual slavery). It is both disturbing and regrettable, especially considering that the Turner product offers itself as a more "family friendly" alternative to the sleeze being put out by the competition.
This incident is especially aggregious in that it mirrors in some ways parts of Savage's past. During his divorce proceedings from Elizabeth a few years ago, it was brought out that some domestic violence had occurred in their marraige. There was also an incident in which Savage alledgedly struck a young fan during an event. Savage underwent counciling as part of his rehabilitation and to this day serves as a celebrity spokesman for the cause of Spousal Abuse support groups.
This is not unlike the "drunk" angle that involved Scott Hall a while back when he was actually going through drug rehab. I keep trying to figure out what these people are thinking...
On yet another note, I also received some mail concerning the awarding of the WCW US Title to David Flair on Nitro. On the one hand I am appalled at the devaluing of this prestigeous title that is signalled by such a move. On the other, I am certain that Flair is meant as a transition figure to create an interesting way to get the title back into circulation since the then current Champ was on the shelf with a back injury. One thing I have to point out: is it really any worse to give David the belt under less-then-kosher circumstances then it is for the WWF to award the European Title to Mideon in order to hold his pants up?
I think not.
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