Just as the second of four major mat popularity booms exploded -- the TV-inspired late '40s boom followed the depression-inspired early '30s boom, and we still prefer to split the Vince McMahon-inspired mid-'80s and mid-'90s booms, although perhaps history may think differently -- Portland, Maine, columnist Bud Cornish was musing about the state of wrestling back in 1949. The comments may be of interest in the middle of Boom Number Four.
Solie's thanks J. Michael Kenyon of the WAWLI Papers for digging up this gem.
By Bud Cornish
Can the days of the frightening-faced wrestling be on the wane? Has a new cover been added to the behemoths' book? Will the society reporters, the cute things, be handling the hemp-benders from now on? Has the world gone mad? Is it the millenium for musclemen? What price grappling? Do you like applesauce?
Maybe it's television! The pretty boys are taking over where once the likes of Stanley "The Glare" Stasiak growled, where the great Stanislaus Zbyszko, whose head looked like the smooth-filling of a Nabisco (Zbyszko the Nabisco, what a poet!) reflected the ring lights' shine, where the Angels (French, Polish, Lithuanian, Afghanistasian) with their gruesom grins clawed foes on the rostrum.
Wrestling, in spots, is becoming a beauty contest, or a battle to be the best-dressed pachyderm outside the zoo. Gorgeous George started it on the Pacific Coast, with his creations in robes and his marceled golden locks and his manicured, perfumed carcass. Now Gene Stanlee, who calls himself "Mr. America," and announces that he has 36 of the most beautiful hand-tailored, artistic jackets ever made by Hollywood's most famous costumers, is hot in pursuit of the title. Wrestling, in the future, may become a style show.
There are others who now enter the ring harnessed like some painting of a Norse god, or a Roman chariot-driver, or a Saracen soldier, and send their pictures to the papers in poses reminiscent of Rodin's best sculpture. They all look too pretty to bump and the cauliflower ears are among the missing. The surly snarls have been retained, they tell me, by some of these Adonises of Headlock Hollow, or Hollow Headlocks, but the picture lacks the pure cussedness of the Sonnenberg school when, instead of howling in indignant rage, the clientele on the upper shelves now place two fingers in their mouths and whistle lustily, greeting the pretty lads with lavish insults like, "Toss him, Algernon!?," "Oh, you sweetheart!" and "Whoops!"
Is it for the better? No, a thousand times no! If I've got to see wrestling, let me watch a sour-faced Chuck Montana, or his predecessor, Bull Montana, who finally made the movies . . . but not by beauty. Let me see the frenzy in the enraged countenances of a Bull Martin or a Cement O'Neil! Deliver me, please, from the lovely lads!
However, in the case of Gorgeous George, it must be admitted that the man is a press agent. They got the Gorgeous One on television for an interview in New York a short while ago, and he floored them at the finish. The question man asked, "And why, Mr. George, do you bill yourself as the most handsome man in wrestling?" Smirking prettily, and hamming it up for the camera, George gazed at the glass that was carrying him into many a parlor and a thousand bar-rooms, and looking, by proxy, thousands of guys who had just downed their second rinks in the eye, gurgled, "Just honesty."
It can't be, though. And yet it may! Once a torso manipulator came to town with an old shoe box which held his ring togs, two dirty socks, two worn shoes and a pair of moth-eaten ring trunks. Now, apparently, the top ones travel with three trunks, complete changes of costumes to be made between falls and . . . a valet!
Name of a name!
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The countdown show is a little different for this event. As I tune in, Lex Luger is being interviewed live concerning his match against Sting tonight, his relationship with Elizabeth, faking injuries and other matters. He is very evasive in his answers and is grilled by Jimmy Baron, Chad Damiani and Joe Rocco who only succeed is pissing him off. He walks out on the interview.
Next it is the Harris Twins who are grilled. The language is a little rough in this interview. The vernacular form of "defecation" gets thrown around a few times. I have heard a rumor that Turner Broadcasting has decreed there will be no more men vs. women matches and yet these guys are still talking about being in a match later with Midnight.
We then cut to Damiani and Rocco who wrap up the Count Down program, running down the card and urging us to order the PPV before it is too late. They are hinting that some of the rumors that have been swirling around the Internet concerning this event are true. They promise lots of surprises.
Starrcade XVII is on the air from the MCI Center in Washington, DC. and Disco Inferno makes his way to the ring for the opening contest. Tony Schiavone, Bobby heenan and Scott Hudson are the announcers.
Disco Inferno/Lash LeRoux vs. Big Vito/Johnny the Bull (w/Tony Marinero) - a melee erupts in the ring on the bell and Disco is ejected leaving his partner to face Big Vito to start the match. LeRoux is immediately on the defensive until Johnny tags in and loses the initiative. LeRoux turns the tables and tahs in Disco, who continues to dominate his opponent until he is hung up on the top rope. Vito returns to the ring and now Disco is in trouble. The mob boys are showing some fine teamwork as the match continues. Vito turns and slaps LeRoux so he will distract the referee and allow a double team on Disco. Then Vito wastes his time with flamboyent Italian gestures directed toward the crowd as he perches on the second rope for a splash. He misses the move and throws the advantage to Disco and Lash. Now Disco and Vito battle on the outside while LeRoux and Johnny fight it out in the ring. Johnny misses a leg drop and gets splashed by Disco who in turn is splashed by Vito who in turn is splashed by LeRoux.. It all goes south hen Disco tries to put the last dance on Vito but gets his partner instead. Lash is pinned. Tony Marinero comes in with a body bag. He uses ether to sedate Disco and then they package him up and haul him away. The camera follows them to the backstage area where they open the bag and punk Disco, then toss him into the trunk of their car and drive off.
The announcers tell us that Scott Hall has been stripped of the US Title because he is unable to compete tonight. Chris Benoit has been awarded the title and now he is headed to the ring holding the belt and dressed in street clothes. He is unhappy about the way he has been handed the belt and therefore issues an open challenge to anyone to face him for what he consideres the vacant US Title.
Madusa vs. Evan Karagias (w/Spice) - WCW Cruiserweight Title match - Madusa jumps on the Champ before he can get into the ring. Inside she challenges him to hit her - so he hauls off and socks her! He follows up with a powerslam and then goes for a moonsault but misses. Madusa drop kicks him from the second rope then goes back up but is caught there and slammed to the mat. He follows with a short powerbomb. She returns file with one of her own then slips to the apron and has her neck snapped. She falls to the floor and is splashed as she rises to her feet. Back in the ring, Spice is on the apron and is distracting him! Madusa blindsides him and gets a roll-up pin. The two women were in it together, as is made obvious as they leave the ring area in each other's company.
Screamin' Norman talks to Mean Gene and is afraid of his own shadow contemplating his match against Meng for the Hardcore Title.
Meng vs. Screamin' Norman Smiley - Hardcore Title match - Smiley is dresses in a football uniform and pushes a dumpster full of plunder to the ring. He starts throwing thing at Meng but the monster fends them off then leaves the ring to shove the cart back at the Champ. Norman is living up to his nickname as they head to the backstage area but gets in a chair shot then a trashcan shot almost immediately. Not that it helps him anyu. Meng just shakes the blows off. They fight into the catering area with Smiley back pedaling all the way. Back out to the backstage area and Smiley is slammed on a table. But he comes back with a cinderblock shot then runs away. Fit Finley and Brian Knobbs show up and attack Meng who seems unfazed by the concerted assault. Smiley has disappeared. Finley bends a steel pipe over Meng's back to put him down. Now Smiley emerges from hiding under a collapsed table. He takes a quick pin the vanishes again. Meng comes to and grabs the google on the referee.
David Flair has a delivery. A brand new brass colored crowbar. Meanwhile Oklahoma is kidnapped by the Misfits.
The Revolution vs. Hacksaw Duggan/The Varsity Club (Mike Rotundo/Rick Steiner/Kevin Sullivan) - speculation has run rampant about who Duggan's mystery partners would be for this match. In fact, this is probably the biggest impact on the current wrestling scene old Hacksaw has made in years. In fact, I reported over a week ago on my radio show that the Varsity Club would be his partners. Duggan starts the match against Saturn. Malenko comes in to help his partner and only suceeds in putting Saturn in jeopardy as his partners pummel him in their corner. Hacksaw seems to be content to fight this battle alone throughout the early going and eventually he is isolated in the wrong corner. Back out to the center where Saturn now has the advantage. Hacksaw turns it around for a moment but he is clocked by the Revolution flag. Aysa comes in and then the ring fills up. The Revolution is ejected and Aysa is positioned on the "Tree of Woe" - but then the Varsity Club turns and attacks Duggan!! After he is punked then split leaving Shane Douglas to come in and take the pin. This ending defies the rumors. Duggan will have to renounce the USA tomorrow night on Nitro. Never gonna happen...
Mean Gene questions Jerry Only in the back. The Misfits have Oklahoma locked up in a cage to make sure he doesn't interfere in the match.
Vampiro vs. Dr. Death Steve Williams - Vamp gets 5 minutes in the ring with Oklahoma if he wins the match - OK wears a portable headset/mic so he can provide commentary from inside his cage. Tony is having a high old time taunting his announcing nemesis. Vamp splashes Don on the floor before the bell and the fight gets underway outside the ring. Inside, Vamp is trying to cement his advantage but Doc is made of stern stuff. OK is using a quadruple delivery tonight for some reason ("Block! Block! Block! Block!") In the ring, Williams is coming back but still Vamp manages to hold onto the intiative until he goes to the top only to be caught and superplexed from there. Jerry Only enters the ring to help and is immediately ejected. Another Misfit member comes in and Doc fights them both off. But they have done their job, providing distraction for Vampiro to attack. Williams comes right back and tries the referee's patience. The ref tries to seperate them and gets whacked - he DQ's Doc who goes ahead and knocks Vamp out. Now OK wants to get at Vamp before he recovers but he is still in the ring. The Misfits refuse to open the cage so Doug Dellenger takes care of it. Vamp is starting to rise as OK enters, still calling the action as he cautiously attacks the still reeling Vampiro. He gets in a few shots then Vamp slaps him silly. OK tries to bail but the Misfits toss him back inside. He gets a low blow to give himself another moment then the Misfits enter and they gang up on him with Vamp. Oklahoma is pinned.
The Power's goons are in the throne room looking for a pep talk but Russo is pre-occupied ("something big is going down tonight...") Mike Tenay interviews Harlem Heat and Midnight. Stevie wants nothing to do with Midnight and bails on his brother.
Creative Control/Curt Hennig (w/Shane) vs. Booker T/Midnight - this match is to determine the #1 contenders to the WCW World Tag Team Title - Booker has been abandoned so the match is two on one. Booker is overwhelmed from the get-go but then regains his composure and holds his own. Midnight tags in and manages to make a fool out of the bald guy with the tie on. Booker tags back in and then is draggd to the floor and pummeled by Hennig and the second Harris twin. Back in the ring he is on the receiving end as the twins tag in and out but then he gets those flyng feet in gear and turns the tables. Midnight comes in and drop-kicks her opponent to the floor. Hennig blindsides her and she tumbles to the floor herself. She is punked before being rolled back in to face Hennig. They have her isolated in enemy territory. Steviee Ray appears but Booker tells him to "get out of here". In the ring Midnight is getting pasted. Booker has to save her from being pinned. One of the twins misses a leg drop off the second rope and Booker is tagged in and cleans house. Meanwhile Stevie is on the apron dstracting the referee. Booker has the pin but Hennig clocks him with a set of brass knucks. He is pinned - making Creative Control the #1 contenders.
A video recap recalls the return of Dustin Rhodes as the short lived character "7" and then the ensuing feud with Jeff Jarrett. P>Dustin Rhodes vs. Jeff Jarrett - Bunk House Brawl - during an interview before the match, Jarrett runs in and attacks Rhodes and thus the match gets underway. They proceed to brawl back out into the arena. Jarrett produces a wheelbarrow full of garden tools (real ones folks - not the female variety) and a guitar. Jarrett is wearing chaps in honor of the occasion. he gets slammend onto his own wheelbarrow then tossed into the ring. Rhodes joins him there and continues his assault. he leaves the ring and returns with a bull rope and ties it to Jarrett's right arm then hits him repeatedly with the cow bell. He uses the rope to pull Jarrett into the corner post. Back in the ring he produces powder and throws it in Jarrett's eyes then uses duct tape to restrain the referee from interefering. Rhodes startes pummeling his opponent but then Jarrett gets in a low blow. Uh oh - here comes Hennig who releases the referee. Meanwhile Jarrett has gotton hold of a broom handle and breaks it over Dustin's back. Jarrett grabs a sleeper and Dustin goes down to the mat. But he survives the arm test and gets to his feet and escapes with a belly-to-back suplex. Both gy are down and the referee is counting. Both get to their feet and Rhodes gets a side slam and a two-count. Hennig pulls him off. Jarrett comes back with a short powerbomb and a two-count of his own. Rhodes recovers and sets Jarrett up for a shot to the family jewels and gets it. hennig runs in and gets a lttle of the same treatment. The fight goes back out to the aisle where Jarrett gets the wheelbarrow but it is kicked back into his face. Rhodes is in charge again but here coems Hennig again. Rhodes bulldogs him but Jarrett has climbed the ladder which is standing nearby. He comes down with a guitar shot and wins the match.
In the back, David Flair is beating up on his teddy bear with his new crowbar.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. David Flair - Crowbar on a Pole match - the name of the match makes the rules self evident - Page enters and is waiting for Flair when the latter runs in from behind and uses his own crowbar on Page! The referee relieves him of his weapon but DDP is laid out on the floor. The referee declares Page unable to continue, but before Penser can announce it, Page knocks him down then enters the ring. The referee reverses his announcement and the match is on. Flair goes right to work on Page's ribs (already damaged by the previous attack). Page manages to fight back but he is definitely injured and slowed down considerably. Page gets his discus lariat and they are both down for a monent. Flair goes for the crowbar but Page stops him. Flair then turns and downs Page then applies a figure four. Page reverses it but is still out of it. Flair gets to his fight and manages to get the crowbar but swings and misses with it. Page gets the Diamond Cutter and the pin. Then he sets Flair on the second rope and Diamond Cuts him again. he is ready to attack with the crowbar when the Nitro Party tape winner from a couple of weeks ago (the Goth girl that idolizes David) runs in and protects him then drags him out of the ring. Page tries to Diamond Cut the referee but is foiled in the attempt. That was actually a surprisingly good match. Flair is really coming along nicely.
The Total Package vs. Sting (w/Elizabeth) - if Sting wins, Liz's contract with Luger is void - Sting comes to the ring with a bat and Liz. Before they come out he gives her a black can of mace (apparently) which he calls the "super octane" variety. She admires his bat as they go to the ring. Luger attacks Sting before he can get his duster off and takes the immediate advantage. He tosses his opponent to the floor and follows him out. Sting is run into the railing as Luger looks at Liz and demands of her, "You want him?" back in the ring, Luger is still in control. He continues to taunt Liz as he beats on his opponent. She hops onto the apron and distracts him so Sting can recover and attack. They struggle and collide and both go down. Liz runs in and goes to Luger. Sting is watching this and confronts her - she point the can at him and lets fly...with silly string!!! He didn't trust her with good reason. She bails and Sting sets up Luger then Stinger splashes him twice. He is setting up the Scorpion when she runs in with the bat. He catches her and intimidates her into dropping the bat, then turns back to put the hold on Luger - she really wollops him with the bat to the side of the face! She then leaves the ring and comes back with a chair. Luger positions Sting's hand between the parts ofg the chair and then stomps it several times. he is out cold and doesn't even flinch as his hand is seemingly crushed. he has to be carried from the ring by trainers and Doug Dellenger.
Sid Vicious vs. Kevin Nash - Master of the Powerbomb match - these guys are couple of stiffs, especially Sid. Nash hasn't really had a good match lately either so I don't expect much from this one. Nash bulls his opponent into the corner and lays in a couple of knee lifts. He hauls him out and slams him then goes for a pin - no Kevin - this isn;t that kind of match. Sid comes back with the first powerbomb attempt but is thwarted. The fight goes to the floor where Sid starts working on the back of his opponent. He runs Nash into the railing then hits him with a chair. They are in the aisle now. Sid rolls Nash back into the ring then follows him in and clotheslines him off of a whip. He hauls Nash up and clocks him with a right hand to the head, then he does it again. He scoopslams his opponent then signals for the powerbomb. He helps Nash to his feet then reverses a whip and runs Nash into the referee in the corner. Sid gets the powerbomb but the referee doesn't see it. Jeff Jarrett runs in and hits Sid weith his guitar, kicjks the evidence out of the ring and splits. Nash goes for a powerbomb but his back gives out and he is unable to get Sid up. He tries again and fails a second time. He then leaves Sid laying and revives the referee, telling him that he stuffed Sid. The referee buys the fib and declares Nash the winner.
Mike Tenay is with Benoit in the back. They still don;t know who his opponent witll be for the match coming up next.
Chris Benoit vs. Jeff Jarrett - Ladder Match for the WCW US Title - Jarrett answers the challenge and climbs the ladder in the aisle to deliver a rant. Benoit runs out to meet him in the aisle. They fight back to the ring where Benoit grabs the advantage in his usual buzzsaw style. He gets a superplex on the challenger then goes out for the ladder. He slides the weapon into the ring but Jarrett recovers and baseball slides it back at him. They tumble to the floor and Jarrett then tosses Benoit back inside. Jarrett sets the ladder up in the corner then is whipped into it and falls out to the floor. Benoit sets up the ladder and starts to climb but Jarrett recovers and stops him, throws him onto the top rope. he then uses the ladder to pummel Benoit then sets it up in the corner again and succeeds this time in running him onto it. He hauls Benoit up and runs him into it again, hanging him up in the rails, then levers the ladder back and topples Benoit to the mat. he sets up the ladder up and strats to climb but Benoit stops him and hangs him upside down on it - then attempts topple the ladder. He succeeds and both go down. They struggle for control of it and set it up then race to the top and start slugging each other their. Benoit falls off and Jarrett reaches up but Benoit knocks him off then climbs himself. Jarrett then topples the ladder sending Benoit chest first onto the top rope. Jarrett climbs abd Benoit returns the favor. Benoit climbs and has his hands on the belt when Jarrett missle drop kicks the ladder out from him! They struggle for position on the mat then Benoit foreward rolls under the ladder and kicks it in Jarrett's face. He climbs to the very top, balances himself and then drops his headbutt on Jarrett!! The crowd erupts with applause at this spectacular move. Jarrett is out of it and Benoit easily retreives the title belt and wins the match. That was fantastic! Match of the year material for sure.
Tenay talks to Bret Hart who says he will prove he is the better man against Goldberg tonight. I have heard a rumor which has been sort of confirmed by Hart in his Calgary Sun column this week that hart will turn heel tonight in order to retain the title. We shall see...
Bret Hart vs. Goldberg - WCW World Heavyweight Title match - Michael Buffer alters his classic intro tonight for the first ever to declare, "We are ready to ruuumbllllllle!" This is a much anticipated match which has been building for weeks. The crowd is at a fever pitch as Goldberg makes his entrance. He stares intently at the title belt as the referee displays it overhead. Bret offers his had and Goldberg accepts it then we are underway. Goldberg bulls Hart into the corner then back off. The second lockup sees Bret shoved to the mat and out to the floor. Back in the ring they lock up again and Bret grabs a headlock and mares the challenger over to the mat. Goldberg struggles back to his feet and shoves Bret off then knocks him down on the rebound. A second whip and he catches Hart in a gorilla press and drops him on his shoulder. Hart comes back with a Sharpshooter attempt but is kicked off. The fight goes to the floor where Hart reasserts control but runs the referee down while doing it. Goldberg recovers and slams Hart face first into the announce table. He elevates Hart and drops him onto the railing then tosses him back into the ring. Inside, Goldberg gets a big boot to the face then pummels the Champ in the corner. The crowd explodes in a "Goldberg!" chant. Charles Robinson has taken over the officiating but he gets knocked down as well. Goldberg sets up the spear but misses and hits the corner post. Bret sets up his peculiar figure four but is kicked off again. A third referee (Johnny Boone) is in the ring as they return and Bret is woking on the legs of his opponent now. He wraps his left leg around the bottom rope in the corner and twists on it. He then sets up a figure four. Goldberg has a cut on the top of his head that is starting to trickle blood. Goldberg turns the move over and forces hart to release it. Hart goes right back on the leg. He ties it up on the bottom rope again. Goldberg escapes and throws some punches in the corner. Hart spins him around and hits the referee on the backswing. Goldberg comes back with a whip and a sidekick then sets up and executes the spear. He is ready for the jack hammer but there is no referee. Wait! Here comes Roddy Piper. Goldberg is distracted and clipped from behind. Hart starts to put the Sharpshooter on but Piper orders the bell to be rung!!! He leaves the ring trailed by a confused Bret Hart. Hart catches him at the entryway and demands to know what the decision was. Piper shoves the belt at him and walks away. That was certainly a weird ending to a mostly excellent PPV.
Times change, and circumstances, and the time has come for Solie's Newsletter to change as well.
I have been contemplating some kind of new format for several months now because the burden of sitting in front of the TV with a laptop, typing away for five hours on Monday night, four hours on Thursdays and another hour on Friday has simply become more then I am willing to sustain. Now events in my personal life have taken it out of my control. You see, my situation is about to change because of circumstances involving my job. Soon it is likely to be impossible for me to continue to write play-by-play reports on the Monday Night shows and other week night programs.
I have been offered a position with the Corporate side of the company I work for - a position which will entail traveling on a regular basis and also being on call on weekday evenings. This position is a step up for me, with higher corporate visibility, more pay, and doing something I really enjoy - training customers to use a new system we are bringing on line beginning in January. This means I am liable to be unavailable to do write ups during the various weeknight programs. It wouldn't necessarily be every Monday night that I would be unavailable, I might even be able to report most Monday nights (although that seems unlikely, at least for the next several months).
If I am not able to do a report every Monday night, then I lose the ability to put out a consistent product in its present form and I am not prepared to do that.
Another part of it is that (as I told a professional journalist acquaintance a while back) I got into this newsletter business to write about something I love...wrestling. Nowadays it is getting so that I feel less like a wrestling writer and more like a TV drama critic. This is something I never intended to become, and frankly, I'm losing interest in it.
So Solie's Wrestling Newsletter is going to change.
Beginning this week, my intention is to reduce my editions to once a week on Saturdays, with Special Issues to cover PPV's. This will allow me more time to craft each edition at my own convenience. I will continue to watch the weekly programs as often as possible, taping episodes for later review when I can't watch the shows live, and continuing to write editorials about current angles, storylines and events in the wrestling community on which I feel the need to comment. I will always provide some kind of weekly wrap-up of events in the Saturday Edition.
Of course, I will also continue to publish the columns, wrestling articles, interviews and historical pieces for which Solie's has become justly famous, and will strive, as I always have, to make Solie's Wrestling Newsletter the best source of quality writing on the subject of our favorite sports entertainment available on the web.
This is my pledge to all of my loyal readers who have been kind enough to support this newsletter over the past three and a half years.
And with that I leave you for this week. I will be back on Thursday evening with a Special Holiday Edition and then I will be out of town for the Christmas weekend. Until then...
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.
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