Dallas Observer, November 6, 1997
By Thomas Korosec
"The problem with the big 'un is he's too stiff," Black Bart says to no one in particular as Aaron White's 275 pounds go on the receiving end of a hip toss. He somersaults to the canvas, a faint "u-u-u-nh!" whistling from his lips as he lands, face up and grimacing at the dusty U.S. and Mexican flags hung from the Sportatorium's rafters.
The winces and groans that pro wrestlers make are called "selling." As Bart tells his students, "You got to sell the hurt." But White isn't feigning the pain that's shooting through his left shoulder on his second day of wrestling school. It's "selling" itself, which isn't surprising to the young men in sweats standing around the Sportatorium's well-worn ring on a recent Saturday.
That's because roll call this morning at Black Bart's pro wrestling academy includes a sprained ankle, a separated shoulder, and some very sore ribs. Bart is banged up too. He wrestled the night before in a fake-bloody "cage match" -- in which a chain-link fence is erected around the ring -- and has a black-and-blue spot on his left arm from being dragged around by a 230-pounder named Ced-Man. "We opened a can of whupass last night, f-o-o-o-r sure," he says. "It was like the old days."
Bart's sentimentality notwithstanding, the majority of his five students have injured themselves in the early stages of learning to perform hip tosses, back drops, and monkey flips like true pros -- meaning without getting hurt. It's as if the circus strong man were training to lift cardboard and dropped a real dumbbell on his foot.
Pro wrestling may be a beefy burlesque, a blue-collar opera buffa as genuine as a fistfight on Walker, Texas Ranger, but as one learns from a few days around the school, it takes body control and a body of knowledge to do it well. Acting skills, while a plus, are clearly not essential, as anyone who's heard even the best of the wrestlers' bombastic threats will attest. Still, it takes a little coaching to learn the illegal use of folding chairs, or how to splinter the ringside table.
And for this, Bart is the man.
"I take your ass, lift you up, and body slam you into the ring. Tell me. What's fake about that?" asks the 298-pound veteran, who through 24 years in the ring has become quite skilled in the move.
The answer, we soon learn, comes in lesson one. Cornering a visitor in one of the Sportatorium's exquisitely seedy dressing rooms -- empty, white-washed spaces littered with broken chairs and old programs -- Bart commands, "This ain't going to be a 'pro-fesh-nul wrestling is bad' story. "I ain't gonna say nothing bad about something that's been feeding me and my family for all these years," he adds, laying down the law through the monster dip of Redwood that blackens the back of his tongue.
Moments later, back in the ring, student Bryan Hlavaty practices falling on his back from a full handstand -- a move that, no doubt, looks pretty brutal from a Sportatorium bleacher seat. But he pops up, fresh and unscathed, after each one.
Nope, there's no need to expose professional wrestling. It is what it is. Like monster-truck pulls, canned spaghetti, Slim Jims, and Gorgeous George versus Andre the Giant. Who doesn't love these things?
To be continued...
Thunder was taped on Tuesday night in Madison, Wisconsin.
The Outsiders come to the ring, Hall is toting a ladder. He sets it up in the center of the ring and climbs to the top to sit and rant at Chris Benoit concerning their ladder match coming up at the next PPV. Nash then takes the mic and taunts big Sid, who shows up and starts a fight. He gets punked then Dustin Rhodes runs out followed by Jeff Jarrett, who nails the former with a guitar. Chris Benoit runs in and gets in a few shots before being overwhelmed.
Mike Tenay is on his own since Legendary Larry was fired on Monday night. He announces a Cruiserweight Title match for Rhonda Singh! Madusa comes out and objects to that idea on the grounds that Singh is certainly not a Cruiserweight by any stretch of the imagination. Good call, Madusa...
Juventud Guerrera shows up with Psychosis and goes into his absolutely horrible Rock impression - he's "the Juice" - nuff said...
We come back from the break and go into an extended review of events on Monday night followed by a clip of Sid, Benoit and Rhodes seemingly joining forces.
The Revolution comes down for their semi-weekly rant. Douglas starts out taunting Hacksaw Duggan concerning a challenge tag team match at Starrcade. He agrees that the Revolution will take over his custodial duties for 30 days if they lose to Duggan and his team members. Malenko spends his rant portion on David Penzer - holding up a picture of the ring announcer as he insults him for some reason.
Booker T (w/Stevie Ray) vs. Dean Malenko (w/Revolution) - Douglas continues his rant at the announce table while Saturn and Stevie get into it on the floor. In the ring, Booker is taking Malenko apart until the latter manages to sucker him onto the ropes then Douglas clocks him with his cast. Malenko gets a quick pin. Uh oh - here comes Duggan with a real (so says Tenay) 2x4. He clears the ring.
In the back Benoit, Sid and Dustin are fighting their way into the throne room. Inside, Hennig is telling Russo that "your guys" are getting their a$$es kicked out their..." Russo wants to know why Hennig isn't in th fight.
Sid leans over Russo and demands a match with the Outsiders and Jarrett in his most intimidating manner...and gets it. Out back, Roddy Piper arrives via limo - not bad for a referee...
TAFKA Prince Iaukea (w/Paisly) vs. Vampiro (w/Jerry Only) - this is the Prince's first appearance in the ring since changing his personna. A stiff challenge to be sure. Before the match can get underway, Oklahoma makes an entrance and joins the broadcast team. "The Artist" avoids the first lock up to blow a kiss to his valet. he then returns to the battle and gets the drop on his opponent. But then he turns his attention away again and gets creamed. The fight goes to the floor where he manages a come back. Meanwhile Oklahoma is putting a move on Paisely and gets slapped and kicked for his trouble. Vampiro attacks his opponent again and eventually takes him down.
In the back, Mona is fired (boooo!!!) for losing the three-way-dance on Monday - then Rhonda is given her Cruiserweight Title shot. She makes a suggestion to the boss that she guarantees will bring ratings. He is dubious but agrees. Piper finds head referee Nick Patrick and learns that as a result of their walk out on Monday, the referees have been given more power to have the final say in matches. Piper says, "So that makes you the boss, right?" Patrick allows as how he hadn't thought of that. Stevie Ray and Saturn are still brawling in the back. Mean Gene talks to Bret Hart and Goldberg concerning their coming match with Creative Control for the Tag Team Titles later tonight.
Madusa vs. Rhonda Singh - huh? I thought this was a Title match. This is interesting though - wasn't it "Bertha Fay" who was "Alundra Blaze's" chief rival in the WWF? In the middle of the match, Evan climbs on the apron to smooch with his squeeze - Rhonda tries to blindside Madusa but she ducks away and Rhonda runs into Evan. Madusa takes the roll-up and the pin. Then Rhonda starts to go into a strip tease! The lights go out flicker and somebody lays Rhonda out in the dark.
Mean Gene interviews David Flair about his feud with the Maestro - and now Jerry Flynn, who is demanding a "block" match tonight.
David Flair vs. Jerry Flynn - in "The Block" - Buzzkill tries to stop the fight but is not successful - then Tank Abbot steps in and is successful.
Creative Control vs. Bret Hart/Goldberg - WCW World Tag Team Title match - Hart starts out against the bald one with the tie on. He assumes control early on but then is the victim of a cheap shot. The referee (Mark Johnson) seems to be favoring the Champs and that brings Roddy Piper to the ring. He confronts Johnson then ejects him from the ring and takes over the officiating himself. Shortly thereafter, Goldberg hits spears on each of the opposition then Jack Hammers one to take the pin. Hart and Goldberg are the new Tag Champs!
Stevie Ray and Saturn finallly make their way to the ring. I guess this is now a match. Saturn takes the early advantage with a big over-the-shoulder suplex. Stevie comes back moments later with a press slam and turns the tables. The referee tries to stop Saturn from punching in the corner so Saturn hits him in the groin and the referee is out of it for a while. Stevie makes his comeback but there is no referee to count. Creative Control then hits the ring and help Saturn win the match before Booker T runs in to even the odds and run of TPTB's thugs.
Piper is hauled before Russo for a dressing down for giving the Tag Team Title away. Russo signals for the "chairman" to strike but Piper intimidates him into sitting down instead. Piper reminds Russo that it was he who made the ruling that the referees' word would be law - and made Piper a referee... Mean Gene interviews Sting who confirms that Liz is his new manager.
The Total Package vs. Buff Bagwell - I am kind of expecting a DDP run-in during this match. I heard that their "shoot/work" feud is slated to come to the fore tonight. Sure enough, Page shows up and joins the broadcast team. He tells Juvey to "Shut the hell up..." Good idea. He then talks about "shooting his own angle..." then he shuts up tight. In the ring, Luger grabs the immediate advantage but Bagwell comes back with a couple of scoop slams followed by a boot to the face and a neckbreaker. Luger bails. Bagwell follows him out then gets into a brawl with Page! Security people, including Arn Anderson, show up to separate them.
Russo is giving it to Duggan now, saying, "...who told you you could wrestle again?" He clears the room then tells Duggan that the fans don't care about him anymore.
Aysa (w/Revolution) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan - contrary to Russo's statement, the crowd seems to indeed care about Duggan. The Revolution is sent away from ringside but here comes TPTB's thugs. They swarm in and attack Duggan while Aysa looks on. Revolution returns waving their flag and caring a tub full of hotdogs, mustard and apple pie. They punk Duggan, smear him with mustrad and stuff hotdogs into his jumpsuit. Saturn eats the pie. Harlem Heat then comes out with 2x4's of their own and run the thugs off.
Mean Gene talks to Benoit, Sid and Dustin - they are all soft spoken and menacing.
Sting (w/Elizabeth) vs. Diamond Dallas Page - Stings takes the early advantage with a couple of clotheslines and goes for the Scorpion but Page grabs the ropes to escape. Moments later he goes for a quick clothesline but misses and lays out the referee. Lex Luger runs in and clocks Sting with a baseball bat. Liz enters the ring and tries to protect her man then DDP comes back and runs Luger off. He seems to be helping Sting to his feet but then elbows him then hits the Diamond Cutter. The referee recovers enough make the count.
That's interesting - they are selling an electronic WCW wrestling game that features Raven as one of the competitors.
Sid/Chris Benoit/Dustin Rhodes vs. The Outsider/Jeff Jarett - the introductions for this match start with less then two minutes left in the program. Juvey says, "This will be one of the greatest main events we ever saw..." - right - all 30 seconds of it. The program actually goes into overtime as Benoit and Jarrett face off. Rhodes then tags in and Jarrett is in trouble until Nash interferes from the apron. Dustin is isolated as the opposition starts tagging in and out. Jarrett seems to be doing the bulk of the work for his team - in fact we're about 4 minutes in and Hall hasn't seen action yet. Now Nash and Sid are in then everybody gets involved again. Bodies fall out of the ring and Sid gets a double clothesline on the Outsiders. He is going for the powerbomb on Nash when Jarrett swings the guitar. Somehow the referee misses the cheating and counts Sid out.
Smackdown comes to us on tape from the Fleet Center in Boston, Mass.
Chris Jericho vs. The Road Dogg - this revives the feud that the Millenium Bug was supposed to come into the promotion with earlier this year. It got started at one point but then Jesse James had to go to drug rehab. Jericho calls this a warm up match for his battle with Chyna on Sunday. Before he can get to the ring, Chyna makes an appearance and then makes her way to the broadcast position. In the ring, the Dogg is doing OK until Mike Cole mentions that DX isn't allowed to interfere in any matches tonight. As if he heard Cole, the Dogg loses the iniative. The fight goes to the floor where Jericho cements his advantage. But then he allows himself to be distracted by Chyna at ringside and the Dogg turns the tables. A few more exchanges puts Y2J back in control and he gets the pin after a springboard moonsault - except that the Dogg's foot was on the rope. Chyna pops up and informs the referee what happened - he promptly restarts the match! Moments later the Dogg gets a pump handle slam and takes the pin.
The McMahons are discussing business in the back when Test comes in and asks to speak to Stephanie alone. Something tells me he's about to be a jerk again...
Sure enough, Test wants to call off the engagement. What is the matter with this idiot? Steph gives back the ring. They are about to kiss goodbye when X-Pac bursts in and spoils the moment.
Kurt Angle/Steve Blackman vs. The Dudley Boyz - Nomar Garciparra is shown in the audience as Blackman makes his entrance. Angle faces Devon who wants to wrestle amateur style until he figures out he can't win that way. He delivers a kick to the ribs as Angle kneels in referee's position. Blackman is tagged in and decks Devon. Bubba Ray comes in and fares no better. Angle comes in for a double team then takes over the match. But then the Dudleys sneak in their own doubleteam and turn the tables until Bubba misses a splash. Blackman cleans house then tags Angle back in. He gets a belly-to-belly from the second buckle - Blackman tags himself in but it is a mistake. The Dudley's doubleteam him and take the win. Afterward, Angle rightly blames his partner for the loss then suplexes him.
The scene shifts to a dance club where Too Cool and Rakishi are hangin' and bangin' (or whatever they call it...)
The British Bulldog vs. Christian - WWF European Title match - that mysterious symbol appears on the TitanTron as Davy Boy makes his entrance (hint - the guy that symbol refers to is a kind of "maniac") Christian really doesn't have a prayer in this one - the Bulldog is just way too powerful for him. He battles gamely and has his moments but before he can really make a dent he is atacked by the Posse. Val Venis and D'Lo Brown run in behind them and a melee ensues.
Kevin Kelly interviews Miss Kitty who wears a wine colored gown. Kelly belittles her...so she tears his clothes off. I should be so lucky...
We're back at the club where Scotty Too Hotty is cutting a rug (or whatever...)
The Big Boss Man/Prince Albert vs. The Hardey Boys (w/Terri) - we are informed that the Big Show has arrived out back as the match gets underway. Sure enough, we see him stalking through the building. In the ring, the Hardeys are taking control just about the time that Wight appears and slides right into the ring. Boss Man and PA split wih the big guy on their tail. In the back they run away with Wight shouting after them.
Al Snow stalks the halls now - with Head, of course. We cut to a video review of the saga of Snow and Mankind.
Mankind vs. Al Snow - Snow runs in and hits Foley from behind to start the battle. Foley is reluctant to fight and thus at a disadvantage. The fight goes to the floor where Snow sets up a chair and then uses it as a springboard but runs into an elbow. Foley runs him into the stairs then rolls him inside - but then he is concerned that the latter might be hurt and drops his guard for a moment. Snow takes advantage of his distraction. The tumble out to the floor again and Foley rolls back inside. As Snow rises, Foley baseball slides into him into the broadcast table. Again he is concerned about his former friend and again Snow uses that to turn the tables. Back in the ring, Snow tries to use a chair but the referee grabs the weapon away. Foley retakes the advantage and gets a double-arm DDT then goes for the sock. But he changes his mind and picks up the chair. Snow begs him not to do it then hits a low blow. He follows up with a chair shot and is disqulified. He continues to run Foley's head into the chair for a bit the splits.
More McMahon strategizing backstage then Vince is summoned to the ring for his contract signing with HHH. Linda tells Stephanie, "No more wedding stuff." and she agrees. "Its over" she says. I get it - watch for Stephanie to turn on Sunday...
The McMahons and Stooges come to the ring as we return from the break. McMahon calls HHH out for the signing. HHH appears on the platform, contract in hand, and pauses to rant about it for a moment. He taunts the members of his "new family" as Vince looks on stonefaced. There is a problem of course, the Temporary Order of Protection keeps Vince 50 feet away from HHH. He proposes that Stephanie shuffle the contract back and forth but Vince sends Shane who brings the papers to his dad. Vince signs then the papers are sent back up to Helmsley who also signs...then hits Shane with the mic. X-Pac appears and join the beating while the Outlaws hold the Stooges off. Then HHH tosses Shane off the platform and through a table on the arena floor! Tit for tat, I suppose.
X-Pac vs. Test - Test dominates the early going by dint of sheer size but his rage makes him careless and X-Pac soon takes control of the action. A spinning heel kick gets Waltman a two-count. But then he goes for the bronco buster and misses (ouch!!) Test comes back with a sidewalk slam then goes for the pump handle, but X-Pac slips away and comes back with the X-Factor to take the pin.
More of Too Cool at the club. It's the Grand Master's turn to strut.
Shane is being examined backstage - while Vince is saying HHH is going to get it. Back at the club it's Rakishi's turn to dance but he requires his own music... He is in the middle of his turn when the Hollys run in and attack him.
The Rock vs. Billy Gunn - Maivia goes into his spiel but first points out Nomar Garciparra in a Rock t-shirt ringside - then takes off on his opponent, describing what he will let Noma do to Billy with a bat... Billy enters the ring and they go nose-to-nose for a moment before getting it on. The fight goes right to the floor where Billy takes the iniative then returns to the ring. Back inside, the Rock comes back with a fall away slam then gets jammed into the corner and squashes the referee. Billy gets a face jam and would have the pin except that the referee can't get into position fast enough. They are back in motion again and again the referee is knocked down. This time, however, after the Rock drops the elbow, the ref is there for the count.
In the back, Linda insists that the Stooges go find Vince before he does something foolish.
HHH vs. Kane (w/Tori) - HHH gets into an argument with Earl Hebner and ends up working over his leg and tossing him to the floor. The match is about to start without a ref but here comes the guy in the Vince mask (where do you get one of those?) HHH knocks him out of the ring and here comes another one! The match continues and at the first opportunity, HHH clotheslines then new referee. Now a third Vince clone approaches the ring very slowly and warily makes his way into the ring. The distraction is enough to give Kane the advantage. HHH is tossed to the floor and comes face to face with all three of the Vince clones. He retreats up the ramp only to come up against someone in Vince's brown suit and a Vince mask...with a steel pipe! This "Vince" proceeds to demolish DX on the platform.
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Sabu is being restrained as Rob Van Dam taunts him in the ring. Sabu appears to have a broken leg but that's not stopping him from trying to get involved. Meanwhile Raven is in the back banging his head against a wall until Tommy Dreamer calms him down.
Cut to Gertner and Styles in the ring after the opening montage. They are coming to us from "enemy territory" as Styles puts it - Atlanta, GA. Then cut to a clip from the Limp Bizkit incident on last week's show. Steve Corino gets laid out by Axel Rotten, Balls Mahoney and New Jack. Cut back to the ring where Corino and Jack Victory have joined the announcers and Corino is in mid-rant. He names his favorite musicians - all the "elevator" variety (Back Street Boys, InSynch, etc.) Suddenly he invokes the name Dusty Rhodes. The camera shows Rhodes at the back of the hall looking decidedly punk in his t-shirt and open plaid flannel shirt. Corino taunts the legend which brings him to the ring and nose to nose with the loud mouth, who continues to taunt him to his face. Corino has the temerity to slap the Dream which brings on a bionic elbow attack on both himself and Victory.
Rhodes is alone in the ring as we return from the break. The crowd is chanting "E-See-Dub" and cheering as he acknowledges the acolades. Cut to clips of the syndicated version f ECW TV programming. In one scene Super Calo is revealed to have come to ECW.
The Impact Players rant for the camera. Justin Credible will face Sandman tonight.
Uganda vs. Spike Dudley - before we find out who Uganda's opponent is, we cut to another commercial. This is a massive miss-match - Uganda isn't nearly big enough to beat the giant killer... Kamala was big - this guy is just...well...fat... The match is over in about 20 seconds due to an acid drop. Let's go sell something else...
Mike Awesome vs. 2 Cold Scorpio (w/Jazz) - I'd love to see this guy (Awesome, I mean) against Goldberg - that would be a real barn burner. Before the match gets started we cut to RVD running Sabu down. Bill Alfonso is strangely silent throughout his rant. Cut to commercial again...
The match gets underway as we return. Scorpio has superior speed and possibly a little more flying ability so this is a good contest - until Awesome catches him in mid-air and belly-to-belly suplexes him over he top to the floor. Out on the floor, Awesome does some flying of his own. The fight goes right into the crowd where Awesome gets a couple of chair shots before returning the challenger to the ring. Scorpio tries to use a chair but Awesome runs it right back into his face then follows up with a big shoulder block and a boot to the back. A big clothesline turns Scorpio inside out. Scorpio comes back with a roll-up then hits a sidekick and puts the Champion down for a two-count. He follows with a belly-to-back and a moonsault off the top cprner, but Awesome comes back with a sidewalk slam and both are down. They rise and Awesome hits a German release suplex then drags in a table and sets it up. Jazz runs in and attacks the Champ but is set-up for a powerbomb when Scorpio comes flying across the ring and nails him. He sets Awesome on the table then heads for the top but his opponent catches him there. They struggle to the top together and the Champ powerbombs the challenger through the table and gets the pin. Great match!
Justin Credible is in the ring with Jason and ranting against Sandman as we return from some promos. Jason says that they have stolen Sandman's kendo stick. Justin Credible (w/Jason) vs. Sandman - Sandman makes his way toward the ring with a broom. Of course he takes his time, guzzling beer and smoking a cigarette while we cut to commercial.
The match is in progress as we return and Credible is running Sandman down with a baseball slide. Back in the ring, Sandman is run headfirst onto a chair but pops right back up and turns the tables. He is then distracted going after Jason and his cane. He moves out of camera range then returns with a ladder which he sets up on the runway then heads back into the ring. Credible cuts him off coming through the rope then retrieves the ladder and setting it up in the corner. He ries to whip his opponent into the ladder but Sandman reverses the move and Credible takes the shot. Sandman runs him into it again then goes for a pin but fails. He places the ladder on Credible's chest then vaults over the top rope to drop a leg on him. He brings a table in and starts setting it up in the corner. He goes for a whip but it is reversed into a sleeper. Rhino runs in and carroms them both into the table which is destroyed. Rhino splits and the two combatents continue to slug it out on their knees. Jason runs in with the cane but misses and is ejected. The Sandman picks up a chair for his legsweep move but Lance Storm comes off the top and kicks the chair into Sandman's face. Here comes Tommy Dreamer and Francine. The women get into a cat fight then Rhino attacks Francine. He is going for a Powerbomb but Dreamer gets Rhino with a chair. Then Dreamer is set up and dropped with a chair in the face by Lance Storm. Later in the back, Dreaer upbraids Raven for not being there when they needed him. Raven replies, "I'll help you but I won't help the Sandman." Dreamer admonishes him again and splits. Francine turns to Raven and tells him, "I understand..." then follows her man.
This show is definitely growing on me...
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