Volume 1, Issue 52
September 25, 1996
I will be out of town over the weekend until Wedensday of next week and will not be able to publish an edition to cover the Monday Night programs. I will return mid-week with an opinion piece about whatever happened. Meanwhile I have placed a link on my main page to The Bagpipe Report. My friend and fellow editor Charles Maclaurin has recently added a Monday Night Wars weekly edition which, although not as detailed as my own accounts, will keep you informed of the results in my absence (thanks Charles!).
My comments about the possible ECW Invasion angle generates controversey
The correspondence I have received regarding my commentary in Issue #50 is running approximately 3 to 1 against my position. Not that I expected otherwise given the biases of the vast majority of wrestling fans who frequest the Internet. I knew that I would be in for some "flame-mail" when I wrote that article.
Let me be clear about this. My commentaries are all my own opinions based on my 40 + years of watching pro-wrestling. I don't claim to have an inside knowledge of "The Truth" as has been alleged by some others on the Internet. In fact I am always open to hearing (and publishing) other viewpoints (see Issue #51). I try to keep this newsletter balanced because I see way to much venom spread around under the guise of "commentary" out here on the Web. Occasionally I allow my own biases to show and last Tuesday was one such occasion.
Yes...I am a WWF basher to some degree, although I usually try to phrase my comments in a polite and "friendly adversarial" tone.
I believe I have good reason to feel the way I do, so I will attempt to explain my biases.
First let me say that I enjoy watching both major organizations because they both present the finest athletes in the world, doing amazing things in the ring. Over the years I have spent many hours in front of the television and at live events cheering my heroes and booing the villians in both leagues. My wife thinks I'm crazy, my friends agree with her for the most part but overlook my peculiar obsession in the interest of friendship. For many years I felt like I existed in limbo where I was unable to discuss my interest in the sport with anyone...until I discovered the Internet. This website, and especially the newletter and Readers' Forum have opened up a whole new world for me. At last I feel like I am actually involved (if only in a peripheral way) in this business which I first became aware of as a boy whose uncle was a pro-wrestler. Uncle Ray ("Rip the Crippler" Oliver) was the considered the "black sheep" of the family and my early fantasies of being in the business were always discouraged by my mother. I was lucky she even let me join the wrestling team in high school (where I was nicknamed "the Spider" because I was all arms and legs).
My problem with the WWF, and Vince MacMahon in particular, are based partly on the way they choose to present their performers, but more on the their business practices.
During the early-to-mid eighties the WWF went out of its way to crush the many regional promotions that flourished throughout the country in that period. Luring their stars away with promises of more money, running wrestling cards on the same night as local shows in competing arenas, threatening local TV stations with withdrawal of product unless they cancelled existing agreements with their smaller rivals...underhanded tactics that ruined the local wrestling scenes in many areas.
MacMahon's treatment of his athletes was similarly ruthless. No insurance or medical benefits, promoting the use of steroids and other "performance enhancing drugs", taking their already formed wrestling personnas and copyrighting them, etc.
To his credit Vince has improved his treatment of wrestlers, they now have medical coverage and there is a strict "zero tolerance" policy on drugs - but these things came about largely as a result of the steroid scandels of a few years back. WWF policies didn't change until they were forced too by adverse publicity.
On the issue of "Intellectual Property", the WWF has been particularly eggregious. In my opinion, MacMahon's vaunted "creativity" has largely consisted of creating cartoon characters to perform in his circus. Just look at the Undertaker, Papa Shango, the Iron Sheik, the Repo Man, the Big Boss Man, Double J, the Model, etc. Look at the stupid outfits that great wrestlers like Barry Windham, Ron Simmons, Tony Anthony, and Dustin Rhodes are made to wear. This all seems more like silliness then creativity. I can honestly say that I have not seen any WWF angles or storylines that haven't been done many times before in other organizations (and in the WWF for that matter) over the years. Where is this celebrated "creativity" I keep hearing about?
The charge that other organizations lure away wrestlers that have first been made stars by the WWF is spurious at best. If anything, the opposite is true. Most of the current (and past) WWF roster consists of athletes who were from other organizations. Kevin Foley (Mankind), Leon White (Vader), Dustin Rhunnels (Goldust), Steve Williams ("Stone Cold" Steve Austin), Ron Simmons (Farooq), Marc Calloway (the Undertaker)," Psycho" Sid Euday, Jeff Jarrett, Marc Mero, Tony Norris (Ahmed Johnson), Jerry "the King" Lawler, the Bushwackers, Dusty Rhodes, Butch Reed, Jim Neidhart, Michael Hayes ("Dok" Hendrix), Curt Hennig (Mr. Perfect), Scott "Bam Bam" Bigalow, Rick Rude, Kerry Von Eric, Stan Lane, Steve Kiern (Skinner), Barry Windham (the Stalker) and many others were all established stars long before they ever set foot in the WWF. The WWF can take credit for giving them new names and wider TV exposure, but these stars made it on their own merits and (in many cases) despite the ridiculous characters they were convinced to portray. They were not "made" by Vince MacMahon or anyone else.
Now Mr "Intellectual Property" MacMahon screams like a stuck pig and accuses his competitors of employing the exact same practices that he used to destroy his rivals over the years. Meanwhile he tries set up a storyline that looks more and more like the one that has struck gold for his competitor. Its all just a little disingenuous as far as I can see.
It may well be that this latest foray into the WWF fantasy world will pay off for them. I did enjoy Jim Ross' tirade Monday which, oddly enough, consisted almost entirely of true statements. I look forward to the developement of that part of the angle. I think it is unfortunate that he had to sacrifice his credibility toward the advancement of what was almost certainly a "worked" scenerio - but hey - if it doesn't bother him, who am I to complain.
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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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 1996 - Jump City Productions