by Matt Benaka
We start this special edition with part 1 of a two part article about the WCW World TV title by Solie's resident historian Matt Benaka. This article was published incorrectly on Sunday so I am republishing the edition to get it right. Sorry Matt!
by Matt Benaka
I. WHY THIS IS NECESSARY
Recently, I was reading through Solie¹s Mailroom and noticed one fan who noted that the WCW World Television Title had a rich history and was mistreated when Kevin Nash unceremoniously discarded the title belt into a garbage can on November 29, 1999 during an episode of Nitro in order to abandon the title for the promotion. I read the fan¹s letter, and then decided to consult the history books and put together a piece which would present the past of WCW¹s World Television Title and the men who proudly wore it. It is my hope that this piece will illustrate what a mistake it was for WCW to abandon a title rich in history while they promote a meaningless and silly title such as the WCW Hardcore Title. Enjoy.
The World Championship Wrestling (WCW) World Television Title came into existence on January 14, 1991 in Marietta, Georgia. Arn Anderson defeated The Z-Man to win the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Television Title. With the NWA no longer operating as an organization, Anderson was recognized as the first WCW World Television Champion.
The title existed until November 29, 1999. WCW¹s version of the World Television Title lasted nearly nine years, but it¹s roots run deeper than the last decade. As was previously stated, WCW emerged from the NWA. The NWA World Television Title came into being in April of 1985 when Dusty Rhodes was named as the first champion. Rhodes was the last NWA Mid-Atlantic Television Champion. Mid-Atlantic joined the NWA and Rhodes¹ status as Television Titleholder was elevated to NWA World Television Champion. When one adds the years of the NWA World Television Title, the belt stretches back to 1985. Between the years of the NWA and the WCW, men such as Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Dusty Rhodes, Rick Steiner, Mike Rotunda, Sting, The Great Muta, and Nikita Koloff gave their blood, sweat, and tears to the legacy of that strap.
Nikita Koloff, in particular, added to the importance of the title by unifying it with the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF) Television Title. Koloff, NWA World Television Champion, faced Terry Taylor, UWF Television Champion, in Chicago, Illinois in a Television Title unification match. After a see-saw match, Koloff powered his way to unifying the UWF Television Title into the NWA World Television Title.
When one consults the history books they notice that the UWF Television Title had only been around since March 16, 1986 when Buzz Sawyer was awarded the title by Dick Slater, the last Mid-South Television Champion. The UWF Television Title was born from the Mid-South Television Title which began on May 02, 1984 when Krusher Krushchev, the man who would be known as Smash of Demolition in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), defeated Terry Taylor in Shreveport, Louisiana in a tournament final after Butch Reed piledrove Taylor on the floor before the match. The Mid-South Television Title was renamed the UWF Television Title during March of 1986. That may sound like a lot of explaining in order to stretch the legacy of WCW¹s belt back one more year, but the Mid-South and UWF and Mid-South Titles were held by the likes of Eddie Gilbert, Shane Douglas, Buddy Roberts, Terry Taylor, Buddy Landell, Adrian Street, Dick Slater, and Jake Roberts.
Now that the UWF and Mid-South have been represented, I¹ll return to the NWA Mid-Atlantic Television Title. The NWA Mid-Atlantic Television Title began in 1973 when Ole Anderson defeated James J. Dillon in a tournament final to become the first champion. The list of champions would stretch from 1973 until April of 1985 when the NWA elevated the title from Mid-Atlantic Television Title status to World Television Title status. During the time that elapsed between 1973 and 1985, such men as Ivan Koloff, Ric Flair, Paul Jones, Greg Valentine, Rick Steamboat, Baron Von Raschke, Masked Superstar (future as Ax of the WWF¹s Demolition), Roddy Piper, Sweet Ebony Diamond (The Rock¹s father, Rocky Johnson), The Great Kabuki (the father of The Great Muta), Mark Youngblood, Tully Blanchard, and Ole Anderson held the title. The names that make up that list are enough to impress any wrestling fan.
As far as unifications and promotion changes the WCW World Television Title can be traced back as far as 1973 and Ole Anderson. The list of men who bled for the legacy of that title includes the likes of Ric Flair, Ivan Koloff, Dusty Rhodes, Rick Steamboat, The Great Muta, Shane Douglas, and Sting; all of whom went on to hold World Heavyweight Titles in either the WCW, NWA, WWF, or Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Other men in the history of this title went on to dot the title histories of many promotions with their presence. Still others fathered future wrestling greats and World Champions such as The Rock and The Great Muta. In short, the WCW World Television Title had a legacy that was much more than just a period of time; it was a legacy of blood and talent. In many respects it was the future of professional wrestling.
III. MY TOP TEN
3.Lord Seven Regal
9.Dave ³Fit² Finley
Next: The book of lists...
Mat Benaka is one of Solie's resident historians and the originator of Solie's Title Histories. Several of his previous articles can be found in the Articles section of the Solie's web site.
This year's Royal Rumble comes to us live from Madison Square Garden in New York City and we get the "mystery" of the evening taken care of right off the bat as Kurt Angle faces his "mystery" opponent - TAZZ!!! So the rumors were true... Angle offers his hand to shake, but Tazz ignores it and attacks immediately. Surprisingly, it is Angle who gets in the first suplex. That situation doesn't last long however. They trade suplexes throughout much of the rest of the match. In the end Tazz grabs the Tazmission, which JR fails to identify as such, I guess they plan to give it another name. In any case it wins him the match and hands Angle his first defeat. Afterward, Angle is out cold and has to be hauled away from the ring.
In a backstage interview, the Hardey Boyz forbid Terri to join them ringside because they fear for her safety. In the ring, moments later, Bubba Ray, having trouble remembering whether or not he has a speech impediment, declares his new hero is racist baseball player, John Rocker. How charming... The idea of this Tag Team Table match is for one team to drive both members of the opposition consecutively through tables in order to win. Almost immediately, Jeff Hardey is backdropped in such a way as to break a table but Matt shoves it aside to avoid the loss. In fact this becomes a running theme, people being set-up for a table shot only to have the tables moved out of the way. It doesn't take long for a ladder to get involved. Since this is no-DQ, the referee can't stop them from using it. Bubba Ray is the first to go through a table and then the target is Devon. He is subdued and set-up but then gets away before Matt can splash him. Each Hardey in fact goes through a table but since it wasn't the result of an offensive move by the Dudleys it didn't count. Matt then gets put through a table and now the announcers seem to have forgotten the word "consecutive" in the rules. They are saying that the next guy (either Devon of Jeff) will end the match. In my mind, the Dudleys can win at this point by putting Jeff through a table, but the Hardeys would have to start over. In fact, Devon is driven through a table after a Senton Bomb from the balcony and the Hardeys are declared the winners
In the back, Kurt Angle has regained consciousness and is protesting that he was choked out and therefore didn't lose the match legally.
Sgt. Slaughter, Tony Garea, Johnny Valiant, Moolah, Andy Richter and Freddie Blasse are brought out as the judges for the swimsuit contest. Tori, Terri, Jacqueline, Luna, B.B. and The Kat (Miss Kitty) are the contestents. Six judges for six contestents...hmmmm... Ivory wears a green thong and spoils it by wearing wrestling boots. Terri's suit is a gold sequined one piece that leaves little to the imagination. Jacquie's is similar, but even briefer. B.B. certainly fills out her blue bikini. Luna stands there is a see-through black negligee and refuses to take it off. The Kat's suit is made out of transparent bubble wrap!! As Lawler is about to hand it over to the judges, Mae Young shows up and insists that she is in the contest as well. She offers to show her "puppies". he takes off her pink dressing gown to reveal a purple one piece suit then threatens to expose her breasts - and does! But it is censored - although she does manage a brief display. The judges make their decision...and give it to Young. Mark Henry is on hand to cover her up.
Chris Jericho and Chyna are arguing over who should wear the IC title to the ring when Earl Hebner arrives and makes the decision for them. He says he will carry the title to the ring himelf. This is a Triple Threat match with Bob Holly on the mix. A little slap fight ensues to start the match. The match is typical of the genre, with each wrestler doing all they can to prevent a pinfall by or against either of the other two. Chyna comes the closest to getting the first pinfall over Holly after a Pedegree - but he kicks out. After several minutes of back and forth, Jericho hits a springboard moonsault on Chyna and takes the pin to become the undisputed IC Champ.
In a backstage interview, the Rock expresses his fear that he might have trouble with either Crash Holly of Headbanger Mosh - apparently he isn't worried about the Big Show.
In their Tag Team Title challenge to the New Age Outlaws, the Acolytes come on very aggressively from the opening bell.There is no question that there power is overwhelming and the Champs seem to be error prone early on. In a move outside the ring the referee is taken out of commission which allows X-Pac to run in and provide some support. After several weeks of buildup, this match is over in moments with the NAO still in possession of the gold. This feud can't be over...
We get to the World Title match at what seems a pretty early point in the show. This a street fight (what else with Cactus Jack involved..?) and goes immediately to the floor where Foley is right in his element. HHH grabs the ring bell and turns the tables for the first time in the match. He then returns to the ring with a chair in his hand. Foley returns and runs right into a big chair shot to the face. But he pops right back up and hits a clothesline! He places the chair on HHH's head and then drops an elbow on it! Nobody is bleeding yet but I expect that won't last long. JR is describing HHH as "the greatest technical WWF champion we've ever had" - right. Tell that to Bob Backlund... The fight goes back to the floor where Foley uses some shipping pallets and a trashcan to torture his opponent as he squeals like a pig just like in the old days. HHH comes back with a belly-to-back suplex onto the trashcan. Foley just pops up again and moments later he sets up HHH against the ring steps then runs shoulder first into him. He shouts "Bang! Bang!". Hunter crawls back into the ring as Fo9ley pulls a 2 x 4 wrapped in barbed wire out from under it! He fails to use it though and HHH gets it w=away from him and delivers several shots. He is about to hit him in the face when Foley hits a low blow to turn the tables again. The referee removes the weapon from the ring. Jack wants it back and intimidates the referee into telling him where it is. He retrieves it and manages to hit HHH in the face with it! Now HHH is bleeding and Foley goes for a cover, but the Champion kicks out. Jack uses the board again! Now HHH is really bleeding like a stuck pig as Foley hits him yet again with the barbed wire.Out to the flooe they go and HHH is run onto the announce table. Foley goes for a piledriver on top of the table but is backdropped instead. The table collapses. HHH has cuts on his leg and on his back as well. Now they are back in the ring and HHH is in charge again. He goes for a Pedegree but Foley upsets him and uses the 2x4 once more! Foley has yet to be opened up. Back on the floor, HHH hiptosses Foley onto the ring steps where he injures his left knee. HHH goes right to work on the bad wheel. He wears the crimson mask, his hair is matted with blood. He uses the 2x4 to whack Foley's left leg. He goes outside and retrieves a small bag from Howard Finkel. Inside are handcuffs! He returns to the ring and after a false start manages to shackle Foley with his hands behind him. Now it is all HHH (obviously). He leaves the ring and returns with the ring steps but when he tries to use them, Foley ses a drop toe hold to run HHH onto the stairs. He bites the bloody Champion's forehead and ear! HHH recovers and breaks a steel chair on Foley's back. Foleys rolls out of the ring and heads toward the entryway but HHH follows him and uses the chair again. He is about to hit him again at Foley's invitation when the Rock appears and hits HHH instead. A policeman releases Foley from the cuffs and the fight is on again. Foley mounts the Spanich announce table and this time he gets the piledriver. And the table doesn't collapse. Foley appears to be bleeding from the mouth but it might be HHH's blood. Cactus Jack retrieves another bag from under the ring and pours thumbtacks all over the mat. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley distracts Jack and he gets slammed on the tacks! HH gets the Pedegree but Foley kicks out. He executes a second on onto the tack! HHH takes the pin and retains the title. HHH is taken out on a stretcher but Foley isn't finished. He runs after the stretcher and rolls HHH back to the ring so he can hit him with the 2x4 one more time. For his part he has thumbtacks stuck all over him, including in his forehead!
That was a thirty minutes plus match - something you almost never see anymore. I can't help thinking that HHH's reign will be short and Mick Foley will end up defending the title at WrestleMania - just a feeling I have for some reason.
At WWF New York, Lind McMahon is interviewed and says that things are going to be done "McMahon style" in the WWF. Whatever that means...
And now it's time for the Royal Rumble itself:
#'s 1 and 2 are D'Lo Brown and Brian Christopher. Grand Master Sexay dances to the ring and continues to dance until D'Lo rudely interrupts him. Their singles match to start the tournament is fast and high flying. Headbanger Mosh comes in next and goes right after Christopher. Kaientai run in suddenly (they are not entered in the Rumble) and and summarily rejected. Mosh injures his ankle and stands aside while the other two fight then Christian is the next competitor to join the frey. They pair up with the two larger guys battling while the two smaller guys fight on the other side of the ring then switch opponents just before Rakishi makes his entrance. He levels Mosh then eliminates him right off the bat. Christian is also thrown out in short order then D'Lo hits him.
Rakishi comes back with a piledriver and throws D'Lo out. He and Christopher face off then the net man comes in...Scotty Too Hotty! He brings in Rakishi's shades and the three of them go into their dance!! But then Rakishi clotheslines the two of them and tosses them both out to the floor. They agree to remain friends and Rakishi goes back to his dancing while he waits for the next man. Steve Blackman is the next victim. He gets a quick martial arts kick and downs the big guy. But then Rakishi catches him and piledrives him. Blackman is tossed to the floor and Rakishi waits again. He gets about a 15 second breather before Viscera shows up. They slug it out and Vis gets a belly-to-belly then follows up with a knee drop to the face. He sets Rakishi in the corner and trains into him. A second attempt misses and Rakishi comes back with a couple of back kicks then eliminates Viscera. The Big Boss Man is the next challenger to Rakishi's hegemony. He strolls around ringside waiting for the next man in to help him out, refusing to enter the ring. This gives Rakishi a breather and the next guy is Test!! They get into a brawl at ringside then the Boss Man is tossed inside. Test goes after Rakishi as Boss Man recovers then attacks Test with a low blow. Rakishi delivers the same on Test. The British Bulldog runs in next and we have a four way battle. Rakishi goes for his splash off the second rope but the Bulldog delivers a low blow and stops his momentum. Test continues to beat on the Boss Man as the Bulldog attempts to eject Rakishi. Gangrel is the next one in and doesn't get a chance to complete his blood ritual before he is dragged inside. Kaientai run in again and are thrown out once more. Test and Gangrel gang up on Rakishi while the Bulldog battles Boss Man. Edge is the next one in and now there are six. Edge is forced over the top but catches himself on the apron and re-enters the ring. Gangrel and the Bossman try to eject Rakishi but can't get the job done. Speak of the devil...the next guy is Bob Backlund!! All six other guys finally manage to eliminate Rakishi. Things are slowing down considerably as the IC Champ makes his way to the ring. Bob Backlund is almost immediately eliminated by Jericho. We are back to six again. Crash Holly makes it seven and he is almost eliminated immediately but saves himself after being spanked by Edge. Chyna is the next entrant and goes right after Jericho. She eliminates him moments later but the Boss Man tips her over and she is out of it as well. Faarooq is the next one in and is followed immediately by the Posse who run in and attack Faarooq. They are not legal entrants but are allowed to eliminate Faarooq then are hustled away. We're back to six once more when the Road Dogg makes his entrance to join the battle.
People are wandering around the ring in typical Battle Royal fashion as Al Snow comes in for his shot. The Bulldog is eliminated by the Road Dogg shortly thereafter. Still seven in the ring. I've lost count of how many have come in so far as Val Venis makes it eight in the Rumble. Kaientai tries again, and fails again to get into the ring. Prospective brothers-in-law Edge and Venis team up against Snow but Edge is the one eliminated as Prince Albert comes to the ring and attacks the Boss Man. Still eight. Boss Man is resting up in one corner just watching the others fight. Road Dogg does the same. Bob Holly is next and now we have a Tag Team in the match. That makes nine. The Hollys don't immediately cooperate. Road Dogg is still gripping the bottom rope iin one corner for dear life as PA pouts the boots to him. Now the Rock comes in and goes into his buzzsaw act. Venis and Snow try to gang up on him, then Test takes Snows place but they are unsuccessful in eliminating him. Bob Holly tries as well but he suffers the same fate. The Rock almost has Bob out when Billy Gunn arrives to make two tag teams in the Rumble. But the Rock eliminates Crash. Back to eight on the inside. Road Dogg is still hiding in the corner under the bottom rope so that he is virtually impossible to eliminate. The Big Show is in next and immediately eliminates Test and Gangrel then goes after the Rock. He pauses to Gorilla slam Bob Holly then attacks Prince Albert. Here comes Bradshaw followed quickly by the Posse again. Bradshaw tosses them out but the Outlaws then eliminate Bradshaw. We are down to seven now and we must be near the 30th competitor, which will be X-Pac. Nope, the lights flicker and Kane comes to the ring.Venis attacks him and gets chokeslammed to the floor. Kane goes after Al Snow then gets into it with the Rock. The Godfather then brings some of his Garden Tools along as Prince Albert is eliminated by Kane. Funaki runs in again and is thrown out by Snow. We are down to seven and here comes X-Pac - the last man in to make it eight. Bob Holly goes next, clotheslined out by Snow. Then the Big Show tosses the Godfather out. Rock eliminates Snow then Billy Gunn eliminated his partner. Billy himself is tossed out and Kane leaves the ring under the bottom rope. X-Pac is tossed then returns to the ring because the referee's busy trying to keep Kane and the Outlaws apart. Kane returns and there are four inside - one illegally. Kane and the Show battle it out and Kane scoops slams the giant. But then X-Pac levers him to the floor. The Show then presses X-Pac and tosses him to the floor. Now it is the Rock and the Big Show. Maivia gets the Rock Bottom and the elbow but the giant rises to his feet and chokeslams the Rock. The Show puts Maivia on his shoulder and attempts to spear him out of the ring but the Rock grabs the top rope and levers the Big Show to the floor to win the match and the shot at the World Title at WrestleMania.
Maivia delivers a curtain speech, "Finally...the Rock is going to WrestleMania!" then the Bog Show runs back in and tosses him over the top rope too late.
Rumors have been flying around concerning the shakeup at WCW for about a week now and I have declined to comment because I was hearing so many diffent stories, I really didn't feel like I had all of the facts. I am still somewhat in the dark because everything I am hearing is coming out without any real corraboration, but here is what I have been able to piece together thus far.
First of all, Vince Russo has not been let go by WCW. He is still employed and his status is still up in the air. Basically, he has been replaced as the head booker by Kevin Sullivan and is currently in negotiations to determine his role in the future. One of the options which, I have been reliably informed, has been stated by Russo to be acceptable to him, would be to have him continue to write the television episodes within the framework of the bookers' storylines. I suspect that is what will happen in the end.
As for the defecting wrestlers: my information is that there were initially seven who requested their releases (excluding Ric Flair, who is conducting his own separate negotiations). They included: Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, Shane Douglas, Konnan, Kidman and Eddie Guerrero. There was also a story that Rey Misterio was one of them but I have since heard that was not true.
As of this writing the situation is thus: Benoit, Saturn and Malenko are definately gone from WCW. The rest are expected to stay with the company. Kidman for sure, Guerrero very likely (though that is in dispute among different sources), Douglas and Konnan probably.
As I stated in the last edition, Benoit was urged to stay and was actually given the World Title to help him make up his mind, but felt that the honorable thing to do was to leave along with his close friends Malenko and Saturn. All of them are expected to be offered positions with the WWF - though, in the case of Benoit, it is not certain that he will accept it as he has been offered lucrative contracts with a couple of Japanese promotions.
One thing to keep in mind is that it is not at all certain that any of these guys will end up in the WWF. I am quite sure that McMahon will make them offers, the question is whether he will be willing to offer them adequate compensation - remember, WCW has a lot more money to throw around then the promotpin up North. It is likely that the WWF would look to get their services for considerably less then they were making in Atlanta - I mean, where else are they going to go after burning their bridges at WCW? For Benoit, at least, that place could well be Japan.
Losing these exceptional athletic talents to the competition is a sad situation for WCW, but despite the many predictions that I have read on the Internet this week, I do not believe it is the end of the World, or even likely to cause a great upheaval at the promotion. All three of these guys have great potential as future stars but each has his own problems to overcome, such as personality, charisma, and size before they could be expected to truely come into their own. Malenko, especially, didn't seem to be making much progress in that direction. Clearly, their loss is not near the magnitude of a charismatic performer like a Chris Jericho, for instance. In fact, only Benoit seemed to me even close to really breaking out as a superstar in his own right.
The other part of all this is quite serious, however. The switch back to Kevin Sullivan as head of the booking committee could very well be a watershed event in the history of WCW. Whether it will be a good thing or bad, I believe, largely depends on whether or not Sullivan was able to learn from the mistakes of the past. Certainly, I would agree with many that Vince Russo was not really given a fair chance to turn things around. Indeed he came into the organization saying that he felt it would take six months to a year in order to start making a dent in the WWF's ratings - he was promised the support for his goals and then had the rug pulled out from under him in less then three months. Clearly, WCW management did not live up to their committment. On the other hand, I have to question the handing over of complete power to him in the first place. It may be true that he was largely responsible for the WWF's rise in the ratings, but it is also true that in that promotion he had a brain trust consisting of proven wrestling minds such as Pat Patterson, Jim Ross and Vince McMahon himself. Putting Russo and Fererra in charge of booking as well as writing would seem to have been a bonehead decision in the first place.
At least that's the way I see it...
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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.
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