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Solie's Wrestling Newsletter

Saturday Morning Edition

WCW Thunder

WWF SmackDown

Bossman Takes the Hardcore Title Back

Shawn Michaels Turns Heel!!

ECW Wrestling on TNN

New program debuts with a rather tepid show

The Way I See It...

by Earl Oliver


Volume 4, Issue 499 - August 28, 1999
Editor's Note: This is Solie's first regular Saturday Morning Edition which will replace the Friday Morning Edition from now on. It normally will include reports on the highlights of WCW Thunder, WWF SmackDown and the new TNN ECW offering plus the usual compliment of articles, interviews and the like which used to make up the Friday Edition.

One correction to the Monday night edition. The song that was performed by KISS on Nitro is entitled, "God of Thunder". While I'm not familiar with KISS material, I am informed that it was performed rather more slowly then normal, possibly to accomodate the appearance of "Demon" (Brian Adams in a KISS style outfit).

At the bottom of this edition is an editorial I wrote on Wednesday concerning the possible defection of Kidman, Rey Misterio, Jr. and Konnan from WCW following Eric Bischoff's offer to release any wrestler who is not happy in the company. Since then I have learned that Kidman and Konnan have reconsidered their positions after learning that they would not have been able to go to the WWF until the terms of their current contracts had expired. I am leaving the editorial in place because I feel that the points being made are valid regardless of the current situation.


WCW Thunder

Tonight's program (pre-recorded in Lubbock, Texas) is built around two challenge matches. One is Revolution members Saturn and Chris Benoit facing Sid Vicious and Rick Steiner - which will be the main event. The other is Harlem Heat to face the First Family for Tag Team Title #1 contender status. The other two Revolution guys also have a match but the less said the better concerning this contest against Disorderly Conduct.

Strangely, the first match on the card is a handicap contest pitting Sid against the Public Enemy. Naturally he makes mincemeat out of them then adds his victory to his "winning streak". Well, at least he actually faced someone in a match...

Coach Buzz Stearn's original promo is given another airing on the program, then later we get a new installment. For those of you haven't recognized him yet, he is Ray Lloyd. That's Glacier to you and me...

The new World Tag Team Champions, the Windhams, made there first appearance since grabbing the titles on Monday night. This was not a title defense however. In this one the Windhams w/Bobby Duncum, Jr. faced the "Filthy Animals" of Kidman, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Misterio, Jr. According to reports I've heard, two of the latter team are looking to get released by taking advantage of an offer made by Eric Bischoff on Monday night. Both Kidman and Rey manage to remain professional in this instance, however, I notice it is Guerrero who suffers through the longest period of isolation in enemy territory. His partners have to rescue him on several occasions. The match finally breaks down completely with brawls going on both inside and outside the ring. It is Misterio who eventually pins Duncum for the win. Naturally there is a four on three punk job afterward which is broken up by Harlem Heat.

They debuted the first of a series of Sprite commercials starring WCW wrestlers. In this one, Sting takes on a youngster in his living room, thoroughly trashing the place while his parents watch and videotape it saying "It looks so real..." Funny stuff.

Ernest Miller comes down with Sonny Oono for his usual stupidity. Why can't he be one of the guys asking for his release..? He has a match with Prince Iaukea, but who cares...really... He does get in a funny moment as he slides into the ring trying to grab for his opponent's legs and comes up short and is a easy target for Iaukea's stomps. In the end, Miller wins the match in just under the three minutes he promised.

The first feature match was Harlem Heat vs. The First Family - this was supposed to be a Tag Team Title match when it was first proposed last week on Thunder but events on Monday intervened - so now it is for #1 contender status. The match is a knock-down drag-out affair with the First Family (in this case, Hugh Morris and Brian Knobbs) using a lot of guile and showing some excellent teamwork. Of course, in the end it is the Heat who are have the talent...and the push. Despite a last minute run-in by Jerry Flynn, Booker puts Hugh Morrus down with a missle drop-kick and takes the pin.

Diamond Dallas Page uses his time on the program to promote his coming big match on Nitro against Goldberg this Monday. He also mentions Hogan and Sting as being on his "hit list". His opponent for tonight is Chavo Guerrero who manages to top Page with his "your mother's so fat..." schtick (Page: "I hear your mother's so fat that when she goes to the beach, the crowd yells 'Free Willy!'" Chavo: "I've seen your mother, and she's so fat, when she goes to the beach Free Willy frees her!") - and then gets squashed for his trouble. After being tossed around the ringside area like a rag doll, Chavo is hardly in any shape to make a comeback. In fact he only gets about three offensive moves in before Page polishes him off.

The main event, as advertised, pitted Saturn/Benoit against Sid/Steiner in a real barn burner. The greatest thing about having Sid in a match is that you don't have to worry about him coming down to spoil things. Benoit drops into a Crippler Crossface on Sid early in the match but Steiner breaks that up immediately and takes the tag. He and Benoit trade blows then Saturn joins his partner to beat Steiner down before taking over for Benoit. The Revolution proceeds to show us some good tamwork as they trade off on Steiner but the latter is only waiting for an opening which comes inevitably and puts Benoit on the receiving end as we cut to commercial.

Coming back after the break we find Benoit is virtually the same position as when we left about three minutes ago, being pummeled on the apron. Moments later he shows that he is still in it by rolling Sid up but is kicked away in a flash then Sid grabs a camel clutch then tries to drop his weight on the Wolverine's back...but fails. Benoit is still isolated however. Steiner goes over to taunt Saturn while Sid snatches Benoit to the floor and pounds on him. Back in the ring, Sid and Steiner are trading off on the helpless Benoit. When Benoit finally gets free we end up with all four in the ring. While Benoit puts the Crossface on Steiner, Sid powerbombs Saturn. The referee gets knocked down and in rolls Charles Robinson, who ignores the submission hold on Steiner to count Saturn out.


WWF SmackDown

This program was taped at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. on Tuesday. This is the first time the WWF has been back to this arena since the Owen Hart tragedy occurred there.

I notice that they have displaced the "bone break" sound effect to match the action in the ring during the video recap of the incident with Jim Ross leading up to how HHH finally won his World Title on Monday night. Old JR is present at the broadcast table wearing a cast for this inaugeral edition of SmackDown as the new World Champ makes his way to the ring with Chyna. The Rock watches on a backstage monitor as HHH goes into his rant, then decides to crash the party when HHH starts to falter in his verbal delivery. He stands on the platform and crashes the Champ's world down around his ears, challenging him to a title defense as the main event. The best HHH can give back is a pale imitation of Maivia's own cliche's. Not good enough, Mr. Helmsley. By the time the Rock finishes ranting, HHH has more things then he casn hold "turned sidewayus and stuck up his candya$$". If this guy lasts a month as the Champ I will be real surprised...

Commissioner Michaels makes an entrance and sanctions the match for later in the program. He then assigns himself the referee duties for the match. Shane McMahon appears in the ring out of nowhere and declares that he will be the second referee (haven't we already used this device last week..?) Shawn says, "Uh huh..." so to speak, and promptly assigns Shane a match of his own...against Mankind! Now Mick Foley shows up and does his best comic impression of the Rock ("...the dozens and dozens of Mankinds fans...") Meanwhile, Rocky gets tired of the talk and attacks HHH in the ring.

Tonight will also feature the first televised match by Chris Jericho in the WWF against the Road Dogg.


Editorial Break: Just a few words about this new program. I have to wonder how the USA Network feels about the downgrading of Sunday Night Heat which started last week in order to accomodate the original programming the WWF is now offering on a rival network. McMahon seems to be gambling that he can draw bigger numbers on UPN because it is a non-cable network but in these days of ubiquitus cable coverage, that strategy is possibly a little foolhardy at best. There is also the fact that UPN doesn't air in all markets. Some that I personally know of which will not be showing SmackDown include Austin and St. Louis - and that is only two. There is also the threat of a WCW'esque decline brought on by trying to spread the talent too thin over four hours of original programming every week. I will admit that the ratings generated by the program (I am writing this the next day) seem to be pretty good (4.7 overall after adjustment). Of course, the ratings for the initial program may or may not be a harbinger of things to come. I hope the WWF doesn't end up shooting themselves in the foot...


After the break we came back to a match pitting Jeff Jarrett against "Mr. Posterior" Billy Gunn. This was a very athletic slugfest with the title not up for grabs. As the match starts to heat up, Chyna comes strolling down and gets involved. Miss Kitty has a guitar and tries to get Jarrett's attention but Chyna grabs the guitar away and creams Debra with it. This finally does get Jarrett's attention enough to distract him and get him pinned.

Tonight's program also has a triple threat Tag Team Title match - The Acolytes vs. Kane/X-Pac vs. The Undertaker/The Big Show - The Undertaker decides to join the broadcast team at the last moment before the match - thus leaving Paul Wight to defend the Tag Titles on his own. He calls it "tough love" and a lesson for the big guy. In the ring, the BIg Show isn't quite living up to UT's expectation as Kane starts cleaning house. The match disolves into brawls in ring and out until The Big Show hits the chokeslam on X-Pac and pins him.

Next up - The Big Bossman challenges Al Snow for his newly won Hardcore Title. His ace in the hole is that he dognapped Pepper and is still holding him. Bossman offers to give back the dog in return for a Hardcore Title match. They head out for a commercial before the match gets started.

Snow is waiting impatiently in the ring as we return. True to his word, Bossman shows up with the dog and heads for the ring, leaving him with the announcers. He wee wees on the King again... Snow abandons the ring almost immediately to get Pepper but the Bossman cuts him off and throws him back into the ring. Back inside, Snow finds a cookie sheet and bashes the Bossman then tries to bring in a ladder but the Bossman recovers and thwarts his plan. Moments later Snow does get his ladder shot in and then once again abandons the ring. The Bossman catches him again and hits him with the night stick and takes the pin, and the title...and the dog.

The Road Dogg came down to lay down his usual schtick then stuck around for a match with Chris Jericho. I notice that the WWF has dropped the "Millenium" appellation for Jericho in favor of the "Y2J" moniker. (By the way, for those have been chiding WCW for "stealing" the term "Millenium Man", a correspondent to my Mailroom reminded us this week that Bobby Heenan has been referring to Goldberg that way for over a year now. So who was really stealing from whom..?) The match goes right to the floor, where the Dogg is most comfortable. He turns the tables and then returns to the inside where he gets a sort of"semi-superplex" off the second rope. Then Howard "don't call me Ralphus" Finkel shows up and throws some liquid into the Dogg's face. Jericho is in like Flint. He pulls a table into the ring and sets it up, trying to suplex Jesse James onto it. But the Road Dogg reverses it to a DDT then slugs Jericho to the mat, drops a knee and almost gets the pin. Jericho comes back moments later with a slide under move and sends the Dogg crashing through the table on the second of two powerbombs, then slaps on the Liontamer (which Lawler doesn't know what to call) until officials pull him off. He is DQ'd but wins the war...

Jericho pumps Finkel up to go out and take over the ring announcing position as we return. He runs out to the Ultimate Warrior's music again and confronts the regular ring announcer then shoves him down. Unfortunetly the regular guy (Tony Schimmel) is no pushover - he attacks Finkel and knocks him out of the ring!! This brings Jericho back to the ring to retrieve his protege - which means he's still out there when Ken Shamrock makes his entrance. They meet on the ramp but Jericho begs off from a confrontation. He sends Finkel back down to run intereference for him then sneaks around the other side of the ring and hits Shamrock with a chair. So much for Shamrock's supposed match with Val Venis.

Here comes Stephanie McMahon to give "Andrew" (Test) the answer to his proposal of marraige. She has a big grin on her face. He drops to his knees and proposes again - and she accepts...then the Posse hits the ring with Shane. While Shane holds his sister back, the Posse attacks Test in a corner. Mankind runs down with a chair and breaks it up then tells Shane he wants to have their match right now. He offers Shane a free shot with the chair and turns his back. Shane takes him up on it but then Mankind just pops right back up and starts taking Shane apart. He pursues him out of the ring, beats on him some more then rolls him back inside. But now the Posse is regaining their feet. They try to interfere but fail to allow for Test who is still lurking about. The Stooges show up to help and even Stephanie gets involved. back in the ring Shane is all alone and not doing too well. Put comes Mr. Socko. Shane is caught in the claw until Chyna appears on the apron to distract the referee while HHH hits Mankind with a chair. Shane takes the pin. In the back Chris Jericho is escaping Shamrock's wrath in a car, to which he denies the Fink entry. Cut to a hallway where a female form (looks like Tori) strips to her thong and walks away from the camera.

Steve Austin talks about his knee injury and his plan to take some time off to recover. He mentions a six-week period but it is vague.

Ivory comes to the ring to face Tori in an Evening Gown match. In the back we see Tori (from the back of couse) arguing with officials who won't allow her to go out topless (much to Lawler's disappointment). They pursued her to don a longsleeve shirt. She runs to the ring and attacks with a vengense - in no time she has stripped her opponent to her bra and panties. She continues the attack after the match ends until Luna comes down and pulls her off. Ivory runs away. In the back we see Lillian Garcia (she was the female announcer on RAW the other night) trying to interview HHH and Chyna. They take over the interview and tell the Rock to watch himself.

Mike Cole and other backstage personnel congratulate Test and Stephanie on their engagement.

The main even is the Rock/HHH match for the WWF Title. Shawn Michaels comes down first followed by the Champion (notice who the real star is in this match). The two conpetitors go nose-to-nose then erupt into a slugfest. Each goes for his signature move right off the bat but each s blocked...so they go back to punching each other. Chyna gets involved but is warned away by Michaels. The match goes to the floor then they brawl up the ramp. The Rock gets a vertical suplex on the platform then follows with a Russian leg sweep. He forces HHH back down the ramp toward the ring. They are back inside for about a 1/2 second then spill back out to the floor again. Chyna tries to interfere again and Michaels sends her away from the ring area. Back in the ring the Rock gets a DDT and a cover but the referee is out arguing with Chyna and misses his chance. Now Shane McMahon is at ringside again and the combatants are back in the ring. At this point, HHH has taken control of things. He settles into a reverse chinlock on the mat as the Rock continues to struggle. He fights to his feet and then knocks Helmsley down and goes for the pin. But Shane is distracting Michaels. Maivia knocks Shane off the apron then gets the Rock Bottom on HHH. He is going for the People's Elbow when suddenly Michaels meets him coming in with a superkick on his ample chin! HHH gets the Pedegree and the pin. Afterward, Michales and HHH celebrate with Chyna - Shawn the heel is back...


ECW Wrestling on TNN

The program starts with Joey Styles yelling, "This is not WCW, this is not the WWF, this is ECW on TNN!"

Styles appears on camera and says they were about to show us something else but instead, lets look at the ECW Television champion. They show pictures of Robb Van Dam beating Bam Bam Bigalow for the belt after he had held it for 18 months. Then take us straight to the first match.

Robb "Mr. PPV" Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn - World TV Title match - Lynn was the masked wrestler, Mr. JL in WCW a few years ago. The action is fast and furious but mostly they are missing each other with each attempted move. They separate and regroup. They have a disconcerting habit of going into video of Van Dam doing in previous opponents which is a bit disorienting. We come back to see Van Dam knocked to the floor then Lynn dives off the top corner and splashes him on the floor. Back in the ring it is all Lynn until RVD's manager, Bill Alfonso interferes with Lynn's climb to the top. Van Dam goes for the "Van Daminator" (whatever that is...) but Lynn ducks it then hits Van Dam with a chair as we cut to commercial.

Van Dam is dive bombing his opponent over the railing as we return. The are fighting in the seats now. We get a replay of some of the action during the break and then we are back and the wrestlers are back in the ring. We are into see-saw action now as both guys alternately get in some heavy shots. Then they are back on the floor and Lyyn is setting up a table but Van Dam is right on him and throws him back into the seats again. Somebody throws Lynn a chair but he raises it in front of him only to have Van Dam kick it into his face as he crosses over the railing. Styles calls this last move a "Van Daminator" but it just looks like a springboard side kick to me... Another commercial.

They're back in the ring again as we return and the chair is back in play. They struggle on the apron and Lynn is trying to get a Tornado DDT but is thwarted then clotheslines to the outside. Back on the inside they struggle some more and then Lynn pulls off a sunset flip with Van Dam on the apron that puts the Champion through the table at ringside. The table breaks in two and both guys are out of it for a moment. Another instant replay and then they are back in the ring as we return. Lynn is still running the show but not for long. Van Dam turns the tables then sets his opponent on the top turnbuckle. He puts a folded chair on the mat then climbs up for a suplex attempt - but is thwarted again. Lynn kicks the chair into Van Dam and then gets a two count. They are firmly in see-saw mode again as each tries to roll the other up. Van Dam knocks his opponent from the top corner then hits a split leg moonsault, but still they are trading pin attempts. Then someone throws the chair to Van Dam who tosses it to Lynn and kicks it in his face again. This is getting a bit repetitive... This time he hits a big frog splash and finally gets the pin. Well, a 30 minute match is certainly a novelty these days...

We come back to the famous scene wherein Shane Douglas throws away the NWA World Title, which he has just won, and elevates the ECW Title to World Title status. This was when ECW stood for Eastern Championship Wrestling. We are teated to video of the different famous wrestlers who have held the ECW title - such as Terry Funk, Bam Bam Bigalow, Sabu, Raven, the Sandman (Hak) and others. Cut to the current champ, Taz, challenging a wrestler called Rhino to take him on if he dares in Chicago, Illinois. Taz amply demonstrates why he is called "the Suplex Machine" throughout this match. His challenger is a big guy but not much of a wrestler. How Taz wins this match is unclear to me. He puts a body scissors on the guy from behind and starts a choke hold - the guy taps out. I'm not sure why and it is not made clear.

Next up is a video on the "human highlight reel", Sabu then cut to commercial.

Next is a David vs. Goliath match with Spike Dudley against a behemoth. It goes by so fast I didn;t get a chance to write down the big guy's name. Grazziano, I think. Then we are into a promo featuring the World's Sexiest Man, Justin Credible, Lance Storm and his valet Dawn Marie. These cretins call themselves the "Impact Players" - we get video of them injuring different wrestlers (Tommy Dreamer, Sid, etc.) during their collective rant. We go to some local card announcements then to a Kid Rock rap video featuring ECW wrestlers. They flash by too fast to name them all but some of them are Axl Rotten, Nova, Steve Corino, Tommy Dreamer, Balls Mahoney, Super Crazy, Little Guido (w/Big Sal), New Jack, Uganda, Roadkill, plus guys we have already seen.

The last segment is an extended rant from ECW World Champ Taz - then we're off to rollerjam.

Well, I guess because it was an inaugeral program they felt they needed to establish their credentials but I thought it was a little much showing all the "big stars" their wrestlers had beaten. I mean we've seen that many times before in the past but it always strikes me as disengenuous when you consider the scripted nature of all pro-wrestling contests. Just my opinion, of course.


The Way I See It...

Flying the coop..?

The biggest wrestling story this week had to be the meeting that Eric Bischoff held behind the scenes in Las Vegas before Nitro Monday night. In what appears to be a desperate bid to get control of his locker room, Bischoff told his wrestlers that he was tired of the attitude being displayed by certain athletes and basically offered to let go anyone who wanted their release.

Not surprisingly, having recently given an interview over at 1wrestling.com in which he expressed his desire to migrate back to ECW, where his current character was born, Raven jumped at the chance. In fact I hear that he and Bischoff had a pretty noisy verbal confrontation in the WCW Nitro Grill restaurant after the show. As of this writing, Raven has actually returned to ECW and, in fact, won the ECW Tag Team Titles with his partner Tommy Dreamer in Queens, NY, on Thursday evening.

What Bischoff wasn't prepared for was being approached first by Billy Kidman and then by Rey Misterio, Jr. and Konnan, who also asked to be let out of their contracts. Of course these defections couldn't come at a worse time for the beleagured Turner promotion. With the Monday night ratings hovering near the halfway mark compared to their WWF counterparts, Kidman's and Misterio's matches in particular are two of the high spots week after week.

Leaving aside Konnan for the moment, the question I have to ask, however, is where do Kidman and Misterio expect to go? ECW would love to have them I'm sure but I doubt that Paul Heyman, even with his new TV connections, could come close to matching their current contract salaries. The WWF might take them simply to tweak the nose of their favorite boogieman, but then what?

Both are tremendous athletic talents but neither is exactly knocking anyone out with their mic work. It's one thing for the very charismatic Chris Jericho to transfer his character intact over to the WWF. Kidman and Misterio are different propositions altogether. Despite their, in my opinion, overrated reputation for making stars, the WWF does not had a steller track record with non-verbal wrestlers, or with light heavyweights (or cruiserweights, if you will). Witness the fate of the WWF Light Heavyweight division, which seemingly no longer exists or their abortive attempts to steal WCW's luchadore thunder.

Even if the further wrinkle reported in this story, that Bischoff might have left his options open to tack on a 90 day "no compete" clause to his offer, doesn't materialize, Kidman and Rey Misterio might just find themselves treading the path already explored by the likes of Taka Michinoku, Kaientai and Brian Christopher to name just a few.

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

Earl Oliver
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter



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