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Vince McMahon Returns!!!

The Rock is going to WrestleMania

AA Abandons Flair!

Dean Malenko takes the
WWF Light Heavyweight Title

The Way I See It...

Weekly Review by Earl Oliver

'SPORTS SCHOLAR' ANALYZES WRESTLING


By Bert Randolph Sugar, MBA'59, JD'60


Volume 5, Issue 553 - March 18, 2000
Editor's Note: Barry Bleaustein's wrestling documentary film "Beyond the Mat" opens nationwide this weekend in a limited release and features Mick Foley, Terry Funk and Jake the Snake Roberts among others. This morning's San Francisco Chronicle Calendar section featured a rave review of the movie which I intend to go see this afternoon. Solie's urges you all to try and see the film this weekend. The size of this weekend's audience will be critical to the films success. Mr. Bleaustein has been a good friend to the Internet Wrestling community and deserves our support.

This morning's edition opens with the first installment of a little scholarly tract I dug up from the Michigan Alumnus Review from the Fall of 1999, written by one of the few legitimate sports writers who takes professional wrestling seriously. Burt Randolf Sugar is a well known sports photographer and journalist who specializes in the fighting sports, most notably boxing and wrestling. He is the author of several picture books on the subject of pro-wrestling including "Wrestling Greatest Feuds" and "Pro-Wrestling's Good, Bad and Ugly". He is also the co-author (with Captain Lou Albano) of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Professional Wrestling", which was reviewed in these pages in Issue #444


'SPORTS SCHOLAR' ANALYZES WRESTLING

(Michigan Alumnus, Fall 1999)

By Bert Randolph Sugar, MBA'59, JD'60

Part 1

It's as unbelievable as Santa Claus suffering from vertigo, Captain Bligh from sea sickness, Mary having a little lamb. The "it" in this equation is the unbelievable popularity of that sport-cum-entertainment known as professional wrestling.

Not only has professional wrestling captured the imagination of the youth of America, it has become the dominant "sport" on cable TV, with 21 of the top 25-rated shows on cable being either WWF or WCW wrestling. In fact, the Monday night bashfests put on by these two wrestling organizations pull about one-half the audience of Monday Night Football when they go bashed-head-to-bashed-head.

If this trend continues, a whole generation of youth will never see Monday Night Football.

What has made wrestling so popular, especially among the youth?

Used to be, back in those days of black-and-white television, that professional wrestling was a singular-dimensional attraction, good versus evil, and relegated to those ghettos of viewing time, early Saturday mornings and late Saturday nights. Its audiences were the blue-haired, trailer camp crowd who thought, with disbelief suspended, that it was actually "real."

Oh sure, there were exceptions. Arturo Toscanini, the dignified maestro of yesteryear, was a huge wrestling fan. He'd watch the televised matches and get so caught up in the action that those passing by his dressing room in the concert hall could hear him shouting, "Keel heem! Keel him!" when one of his favorites took a particularly nasty blow from a baddie.

And then there was Bess Truman, the wife of President Harry Truman, who, when asked what she'd miss most about leaving the White House at the end of her husband's term of office, replied without hesitation, "Wrestling on Thursday nights."

But the joke of the day, back around the time of the Great Flood, told by one of those cynics who posed as newspapermen, was: "What do you call 40 people with 80 arms, 80 legs, and four teeth?" And then, with a wink, they'd answer, "The front row at any wrestling bout."

That was then, back in the '50s, when, in a simpler world, it was good versus evil, a pure morality play.

And TV sets were filled with wall-to-wall wrestling shows, every night of the week - more often than Melina Mercouri promised her favors. In fact, there were so many wrestling shows back then that TV Guide set up a permanent department to compile wrestling results for the growing army of fans.

But just as suddenly as it had appeared on the small screen, wrestling all but disappeared as television placed its bets on horse operas instead of wrestling's soap operas. So Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers replaced the likes of Gorgeous George and Antonino Rocco, and wrestling rode slowly into the West, not to resurface for another three-plus decades.

Jump-skip, dear reader, to the 1980s. Wrestling, once used by TV, now began to use television. With hundreds of new cable channels all scratching for something that resembled programming, wrestling was discovered again by TV. Add to that the introduction of videotape, allowing matches to be taped and shown at a later time. And mix in one serving of the innovative skills of one Vince McMahon, Jr., the head of something called the World Wrestling Federation, or the WWF, who introduced the Super Bowl of Wrestling, Wrestlemania - together with the introduction of wrestling's new superstar, Hulk Hogan -- and voila! you have wrestling making its souffle rise a second time.

However, this time around, wrestling is not your old Uncle Joe's version of "rasslin."' This is an all-new version, packaged and presented differently. For after Hulk Hogan's entry into the arena, there were no absolutes anymore, no good guy-bad buy delineations. Now all the stereotypes of yesteryear are gone. And, in a morally ambiguous universe, the storylines have become equally ambiguous. Now there are evil corporate taskmasters, renegade splinter groups, and increasingly sophisticated and labyrinthine-like sub-plots: all, in a phrase, testosterone-rich.

Suddenly, pro wrestling has become the hottest, most innovative entertainment pop culture has to offer with charismatic characters, primetime production values, and intricate plot machinations all appealing to the 18-34-year-old audience who, according to TV think, move around the dial like schools of mullet when a piece of bread is dropped into the water. None of them are worried about wrestling being choreographed or being "fake."

To them, these are all adult cartoon characters, like the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, using everything at their disposal except Acme dynamite, and all packaged in an ongoing male soap opera.

To be continued...


Finally!! The Rock's and Mankind's Autobiographies are now both available at Solie's Storefront! Check it out for great deals on wrestling books, records and videos and to help support Solie's Vintage Wrestling. All proceeds from the Storefront go into paying for upkeep on this web site and keeping our features as a free service to the Internet Wrestling Community. In association with Amazon.com.


The Way I See It...

Weekley Report by Earl Oliver

Monday Nitro opened with Ric Flair talking to Lex Luger backstage, promising that Arn would join "Team Package" during the program. The program was live from Providence, RI. Flair made his way to the ring immediately after the introductions and demanded that AA come out and give his answer. Arn's music started up but the Nature Boy told them to shut it off. He again warned Anderson that his answer better be "yes". AA appeared on the platform and launched into one of his classic, straight-from-the-shoulder rants...and politly turned him down. Flair interrupted him to order AA to change his mind. Arn's answer was to call Hulk Hogan out to the platform! He then turned to Hulk and promised that he won't have to worry about the Enforcer breathing down his neck during the coming PPV Hogan/Flair match...then he split. A shouting match ensued and then turned into an impromptu fight between Hogan and Flair, until Luger ran in and whacked Hogan with a bat. Hogan was again whipped with his own weight belt. Take my word for it - we haven't seen the end of Arn's involvement in all of this...

In the back, Hogan resisted EMT's attempts to examine his injured shoulder. Jimmy Hart and Arn Anderson urged him to allow it.

The Lamestreet Boyz went into their schtick in the ring but mercifully were interrupted by their opponents, the Jung Dragons. The ensuing match was fast paced with plenty of high-flying action. At one point it took on the aspect of a Lucha 6 man as body after body flew out of the ring to form a major pile-up on the floor. I finally figured out that "Jaimie-san" wears the Zorro mask to hide the fact that he isn't oriental. Three count eventually eaked out the victory.

Backstage, Luger had apparently reconsidered his position and will keep Flair on the team even without AA. Meanwhile, Arn encountered Curt Hennig on his way out the back door - he was going home to see his kids...

Bam Bam Bigalow ran down to the ring and into the Wall...literally and figuratively. The latter pulled out some handcuffs and immediately locked his opponent to the ring post. Crowbar ran in and attacked the Wall with his steel pipe but hardly made a dent. David Flair tried as well with the same results while Bigalow struggled helplessly to escape the cuffs. The Wall returned to the ring and laid Crowbar out on a table then chokeslammed Flair through his partner and he table. He then attacked Bigalow once more before leaving.

Jeff Jarrett came out for one of his tired rants He made a challange to Sid to get a partner and face the Harris Boyz. Sid came up with (surprise, surprise) Vampiro.

A tag match between the teams of Kidman/Booker vs. Lane/Idol brought Miss Handcock to the announce booth and precipitated a short verbal clash between Miss H and Torrie Wilson. In the ring, Booker and Kidman dominated the match but there was some unhappiness between the two victors because Booker did most of the work, then Kidman ran in to grab the pin out from under his nose.

Lex Luger took on Curt Hennig in what was a foregone conclusion thanks to some judicious interference on the part of Ric Flair. Just before the match began, a camera out back caught Hulk Hogan returning to the arena in a meat wagon. In the ring, Hennig dominated things until the aforementioned run-in by Flair. Hogan ran in before the thugs could punk Mr. Perfect. Hogan then made his own speech concerning this Sunday's big match and a tag match later tonight pitting himself and Hennig vs. Luger and Flair. I wonder how long it will take Hennig to turn on Hogan..?

Backstage, Brian Knobbs caught his "Dog" drinking out of the toilet! Bad Dog!!

In the next match "Dog" (aka Al Greene) faced Screamin Norman Smiley in what might have been a two-on-one situation except that the Demon ran out to counter the affects of Brian Knobbs. The match ended in barely a moment when Smiley immediately slapped a submission hold on him. He tapped out in a flash. Afterward, Dog chased Smiley away from the ring, leaving Knobbs to issue a challenge to the Demon (or anyone else for that matter) to come face him in the ring. As we cut to commercial we saw Terry Funk rising to the challenge.

The match between the two was classic WCW Hardcore action, mostly inside the ring with a lot of junk all over the place. The Three Count decided to run in and help Funk win - after which they threw him out of the ring. The two Hardcore fighters came back and wiped the mat with the three of them before they got a chance to sing (Thank God!!) Dustin Rhodes then ran in and attacked Funk with a bull rope.

The first main event was the tag match between the Harris Brothers and Sid/Vampiro. Vampiro really showed us a lot in this match as he took on both Harris Twins for several minutes. Isolated as he was, he continued to show great tenancity and endurance. At one point he came back again and again from a beating then urged his opponent to give him some more. Sid finally tagged himself in when the Boyz accidently allowed Vamp to stray in that direction, and finished them off with a big powerbomb on Heavy D.

The new (lardbutt) Harlem Heat came out to have a match, while backstage their opponents were being attacked by the Harris Boyz. Disco Inferno came out thinking he was leading his troups but, of course they weren't there for him. He blithley offered Harlem Heat a Title match - then begged off when his boys failed to appear. The match ended up being Disco vs. Stevie Ray instead. Hardly a contest - especially because Disco was way outnumbered by the troups at ringside. Mark Madden got in the line of the night when he declared, "This could be the death of Disco!" That was about the sized of it...

The second main event was also a tag match. Ric Flair/Lex Luger vs. Holk Hogan/Curt Hennig. Before the match, Luger declared the "The Coward Sting is not here once again..." so you knew that Sting would be making an appearance. I watched this match expecting Hennig to join the opposition at any moment (I can't help it...look at his history...) Hogan dominated the match from the get-go, as usual. Hennig was also a house afire, using his cast to good effect. The highlight was Flair doing the Flair flip then carreening right into Hogan's upraised boot. You could tell Hennig was serious when he let his hair down. Of course, these days it can't hold a candle to the magnificent mane he sported in his heyday. As the match progressed Team Package (is that a stupid name or what..?) slowly took charge of things until Hogan and Luger hit head on mid-ring. Flair and Hennig tagged in simultaneously and Hennig turned the tables. Then all four were in the ring again with the good guys dominating. Liz handed the bat to Luger just in time for him to prevent the pin on his partner.Hogan tried to use his weight belt on Flair but the referee got in the way and was shoved away. He DQ'd the Hulkster. Meanwhile was being punked when the lights went out. Vampiro ran out in the dark and then Sting appeared (I told you so...) as the lights came back up. He dragged Luger back to the ring and laid waste to Team Package.

RAW is WAR came to us from the Continental Airlines Arena in New York City. The happy couple arrived for their nightly rant at the top of the program. They were immediately joined by Shane and the Big Goof. Shane delivered the first rant, showing taped footage of what they did to the Rock last week. They keep referring to the pipe that was used as lead - but of course lead doesn't ring like that when it strikes flesh. HHH then took the mic and heaped yet more humiliation on the People's Champ. Stephanie then struck the final blow by booking a handicap match for the Rock at the PPV against "the Twin Towers" - who turned out to be a couple of little people dressed to resemble not at all the tag team of old (The Big Boss Man and The One Man Gang - who called himself "Kareem" at the time). The Rock appeared at this point and challenged the Show to a match putting his own career up against the Title shot at WrestleMania. HHH immediately agreed.

The Hardey Boys got Head Cheese on the program. Backstage before the match, Al Snow suggested a time traveling spin-off adventure TV series to his long-suffering partner, who rejected it out of hand without even meeting Abe Lincoln! Blackman is so crisp in his moves, and he perpatrates some dastardly, devastating move almost every time he wrestles. The guy is growing on me. Snow, on the other hand, seems to just be there for comic relief. The Hardeys won this one when Jeff pinned Blackman out of a roll-up.

Mark Henry faced one of his nemesis' Devon Dudley in a revenge match. Meanwhile, Bubba found Henry's girlfriend in her wheelchair and rolled her out to ringside. After punking the World's Strongest Man they rolled her back up to the platform and powerbombed her off the stage onto a table below!! What a trouper that May Young is!!! Naturally the 80 year old was stretchered away and loaded into an ambulance.

Kirk Angel put his European Title up in a Three-Way Dance against Tazz and the Millenium Bug. Y2J came up with his own version of the 3I's, calling Angle and Idiot, and Ignoramous and an Imbecile. Tazz ran down yelling that he wanted the match to be no-DQ - and I guess that's all that has to happen - some wrestlers says "No DQ" and he gets it in the WWF. While Jericho and Tazz were fighting each other, Angle went for one of his title belts to use as a weapon. That was thwarted as soon as he re-entered the ring. As usual in these silly matches - the third man constantly broke up the pinfall attempts. This time when Bob Backlund ran in - Tazz caught him un a Tazzmission. But Angle was there to break that up. Backlund was stalking Jericho when Chyna ran in and low-blowed him. So much for bow-tie Bob. Angle finally got to use his title belt on Jericho and took the pin to retain his title.

Crash Holly had his next unconventional Hardcore title defense at the Newark Airport. The Posse attacked him in the baggage area and Pete Gas actually got the pin and won the title. But then Crash immediately pinned him and won it back!

The entire DX contngent came to the ring for the next match. This was a 6 man against Too Cool and Rakishi. This was a very crazy match which again proved that Too Cool's teamwork is second to none. Having the 400 pound Samoan on their team makes them just about unbeatable. At one point Too Cool handled X-Pac and the Road Dogg easily on the outside while Rakishi made mincemeat out of HHH in the ring. X-Pac ended it all when he hit Rakishi in the face with the ring bell.

At the top of the second hour, Kane took on the Big Boss Man in a battle of the giants. From the get go this was all Kane. The Boss Man fought gamely but he was really no match for the Big Red Machine. Even when he tried to use his nightstick it did him no good. Kane reached right past it and chokeslammed the former prison guard.

Backstage, Moolah was surprisingly unsympathetic toward her friend Mae Young.

Dean Malenko got his shot at the Light Heavyweight Title as he challenged the Champ Essa Rios. The Man of a Thousand Holds clearly dominated the contest, although Rios gave him all he could handle. Guerrero jumped on the apron and got clobbered, but then when Lita tried to hit a him with a Frankensteiner - he powerbombed her on the concrete. In the ring, Malenko pulled off the win and took the title.

Edge and Christian got the Acolytes thanks to a little payoff by their supposed friend Terri Runnels. Thanks to intereference by Terri and Mideon - the protection agency took an easy victory.

Val Venis was back for the first time in over a month. We were told that he had suffered a strained neck. His tag team partner was Test against Radicals Chris Benoit and Saturn, who dominated the match from the opening bell. Of course Eddie G showed up just after the match started to be available for interference. Jim Ross, who seems to make these mistakes more and more often spent the better part of a minute or so calling Benoit "Malenko" before correcting himself. Test came in and turned the tables for a bit by taking on both Radicals. Even Guerrero was unable to distract him effectively - so he clobbered him to give Benoit the pin.

In the main event, the Rock faced the Big Show in a match to decide his career vs the Big Show's WrestleMania Title shot. Shane made a surprise appearance before the match - and sent the referee away. He then peeled off his warmup jacket and revealed that he was wearing the stripes! Set-up alert!! The match itself was brutal and took place all over the ringside area. Shane did his part, administering fast counts on the Rock whenever he got the chance and having a fit each time when Maivia kicked out. Then when the Rock finally got the advantage, Shane was knocked down and couldn't count - assuming he would. Earl Hebner ran in but Shane dragged him out to the floor. At that moment, in the back, a limo pulled up and Vince McMahon stalked into the arena!! He paused long enought to deck his son-in-law, then strode straight to the ring. He entered the ring and clobbered Shane!! Then he hit him with a chair!!! He tore the referee's shirt off Shane and put it on himself. Maivia got the Rock Bottom on the Show - on the chair no less - and McMahon counted him out. Rocky Maivia is going to WrestleMania!!!

Well that's more like it...now if they can just get Mick Foley involved...

Thunder opened with Jeff Jarrett and his twin thugs arriving backstage as Mike Tenay excitedly told us in a voice-over that Jarrett had his "game face on..." Chill out Mike... Thunder was taped Tuesday night in Fairfax, VA.

The show started with a semi-lucha tag team contest featuring La Parka/Chavo Guerrero vs. El Dandy/Silver King. La Parka, whose costume was especially hideous on Wednesday, made one of his dubbed-in-English rants before the match. The latter team are now calling themselves "Los Fabulosos" or something like that. Their gimmick is that they think they are ladies men. At least Silver King has gotton rid of his silly cowboy chapeau. It became apparent as the match progressed that he and his partner have been practicing their tag team coordination, unlike the other side. Despite their lack of team effort, La Parka and Guerrero managed to take the win.

After the break, Miss Handcock offered to help "Los Fabulosos" with their image. Off to the mall they went...

Team Package came to the ring for their semi-weekly rant. Usual stuff. It amazes me that there appears to be more anticipation related to the Flair/Hogan match then the Sting/Luger contest...and not much of it for either that I can discern. Flair declared that Hulkamania was dead...like everyone didn't know that... Jimmy Hart came down to make a foolish rant to Flair's face stating that Larry King and Entertainment Tonight were in the building to interview Hogan - not Flair, not Lex Luger. Luger responded by refusing to administer the requisite beating on Hart because he didn't consider the Mouth of the South to be worth the trouble. Hart's response to that was to start swinging the weight belt he brought with him! That got them mad, and got Hart punked. They tore off his fancy jacket and whipped him with the belt.

Out back, Hogan showed up as Hart was being loaded into an ambulance. He demanded that JJ Dillon book a match between himself and both members of Team Package.

Kaz Hayashi faced Psychosis to determine a #1 contender for the Cruiserweight Title. This was an intense, but short match which Psychosis won with a surprise roll-up. Afterward, the Artist ran in to attack his insipient challenger.

Bam Bam Bigalow was seen having a backstage conference with Oklahoma just before we went to the ring for a match featuring Tank (the talentless) Abbott. Backstage, we saw Meng watching on a monitor and explaining to a stranger in broken English that he and Abbott were headed for a showdown. Abbott's opponent was Buzzkill (the Roadless Dogg) who succombed to Abbott's punching power in a flash. Backstage another surprise conference was discovered involving the Harris Thugs and the Harlem Heat thugs.

We came back from the break to find the Wall manhandling David Flair out in the concourse portion of the arena. He dragged the poor kid out to the balcony and was about to toss him to the floor when Bam Bam intervened and the two big men started brawling back out into the concession area. Security separated them but not before Bigalow put some pretty heavy shots on his former protege.

As we returned from the break, the Wall was being hauled off by the cops! Bigalow was right there to warn him about what was waiting for him when he returned.

Jeff Jarrett and his bevy of beauties showed up for his usual tired rant (yawn...) Again as usual, Jarrett sent his ladies away from the ring and then defended his US Title against Booker in what was clearly the match of the night. I have to give it to Jarrett, I have never cared for him as a personality. Not his old face character in the old NWA, nor the various versions of his heel personna. But given the right opponent, and Booker is certainly one of those, Jarret can go with the best of them. In fact, in the current crisis situation with most of WCW's top tier out with injuries, Jarrett has done yoeman duty as the promotion's top heel. In this match he and Booker went at it in a rousing fashion until the Harris Thugs decided to interefere. Big Sid ran in after the pin to ensure that we didn't forget who Jarrett's real opponent is these days.

Hugh Morrus made his return to primetime in a match against Vampyro. This was a good matchup - with Vamp's speed and agility appearing to be the perfect foil to Morrus's great power and always surprising agility in his own right. Morrus exhibited a new move - a Mick Foley style flying elbow drop off the ring apron to the floor. Vamp came right back from it and lauched himself off the top but was caught and powerbombed. Morrus followed with his infamous moonsault then broke off the attack to fish a table out from under the ring. As Vamp writhed on the mat, Morrus set the table up then placed his opponent on it. He went up for the moonsault again but Vamp caught him and dropped him through the table. It wasn't enough. Vamp had to follow up with the Nail in the Coffin to get the pin.

The Demon joined Screamin' Norman once again in a tag team match vs. Brian Knobbs and Dog. The latter was released to run in and attack the Demon while Knobbs took on his nemesis Smiley on the floor. In the ring, the rookie Demon did surprisingly well, while Smiley was getting creamed on the outside. The partners then changed opponents and positions. In the ring, the Dog was biting Screamin' while Demon continued to dominate his opponent. It took interference from Lane ansd Idol to halt the Demon's drive so that the Dog and Knobbs could gang up on him and get the pin. Screamin' and the Demon - that has a ring to it...

Kidman took on Dustin (I'm an old cowhand) Rhodes in a match with little or no heat. In this one, Dustin used his superior size and weight (and the cowbell on the end of his bull rope) to put Kidman down in short order.

For the main event we got the previously mentioned handicap match wherein Hulk Hogan sold himself down the river by trying to take on Team package all by himself. As could be expected, he managed to fend them both off in the early going, even getting in some strap shots of his own, but eventually couldn't stand up to the superior numbers (and guile) of his opponents. He spent the majority of the match on the receiving end after that then Hulked up to make his come back. He was fighting both of them when Liz tried to use a chair, but he grabbed it away and used it on Luger. He then chased Flair up the aisle and that was the show.

SmackDown opened with a lengthy recount of what went down on Monday night when Vince McMahon made his return to WWF television. The program was taped Tuesday night at the Naussau Coloseum on Long Island in New York. Shane and his gigantic friend came out for the opening rant. His target was his dad, naturally enough. He showed footage to bolster his opinion that it was not agreed that the Big Show would lose his title shot under any circumstances so he puts together a Triple Threat match for the WWF title - Rock vs. Big Show vs. HHH. The Champion then appeared with his distaff side to put his $.02 worth in. He wasn't happy about the situation, to say the least. I can't say I am either, and once more I will say it - I don't believe it...this ain't going to fly folks. Stephanie had a word or two for her brother as well and they went nose to nose and almost came to blows...when Vince showed up on the platform. Vince seems to agree with me about the recent goings on between the siblings..."...like a bad soap opera..." He referred obliquely to Mick Foley, then named his ouster as one of their mistakes. He also took them to task for trying to get rid of the Rock...and that's why he has returned to "...take control of things before they screw it up for good." He declared that he would be in the Rock's corner at WrestleMania. Shane then made a match for the Rock against Kane. Stephanie then made a match for Big Show against Rakishi. Vince countered by making a match for HHH vs. the Godfather. This was a gibe at Stephanie, whom her father compared to GF's garden tools.

The Dudleys defended their Tag Team Titles against Edge and Christian. This one should have ended when Christian got a slop-drop on Devon, but the referee was out cold at that moment and failed to count. Terri showed up as they were trying to revive the official and tossed a chair to Bubba, who used the weapon on Christian and took the pin. As Terri was running away up the ramp she ran into the Hardeys who dragged her back to the ring so Edge could spear her then split.

The Godfather vs. HHH non-title match followed the next break. Of course the Godfather had to get in his licks against Stephanie, telling her that she could have a place in his train...in the caboose... GF dominated the match from the opening bell until he went for the train wreck move and missed. Shane and the Show appeared at that moment and HHH and the Show got into a dust-up at ringside. HHH was taken out by the Show and Shane then rolled back inside for GF to pin.

Backstage after the break, HHH was tearing up the office area.

Mideon accompanied the Acolytes to the ring for their match against Head Cheese. Before the match we were treated to another one of Al Snow's harebrained ideas - this one involved a midget space alien. In the ring, the Acolytes made fairly short work of their opponents, who never really got going at all. After a very short spate of Head Cheese offense against Faarooq, Bradshaw came in and turned the tables permanently.

The Big Show faced Rakishi in the next match. A battle of true super heavyweights (and we're not talking about the Hollys here, folks...) Before the fight was over, the Show got a face full of Rakishi's massive butt, but then he came right back and took control of things. At that point HHH and Stephanie showd up to interfere. Steph distracted the referee while HHH put a Pedegree on the Show. Rakishi got his bomb splash and took the pin. Too Cool came down and the dance was on...

Backstage, Bob Backlund tortured a stagehand while Kirk Angel egged him on.

The Olympic Gold Medalist was back after the break, along with his madcap companion, to insult the crowd until he was interrupted by the Millenium Bug. This was a tag team match between Angle/Backlund and Tazz/Jericho. Tazz faced both opponents in succession to start and proved himself as the only wrestler known to have ever broken out of the Crossface Chickenwing with a simple duck under and a trip. Tazz and Backlund left the ring to brawl out on the floor while Jericho suckered Angle into a Liontamer. This was broken up by a run-in by Chris Benoit, who was then attacked by Chyna. Eddy G landed the final blows to put Chyna down before the break.

The Headbangers were shown catching Crash Holly in a game arcade and vying with him (and each other) for the Hardcore Title. No dice, of course. Backstage, Kane attacked X-Pac but HHH was there to lend a hand and Kane ended up locked in the back of a departing truck. Vince, when asked about the situation declared that X-Pac should take the Rock's place in the match against the Rock.

Dean Malenko defended his Light Heavyweight Title against Grand Master Sexay. This was a pretty good match, although Brian Christopher doesn't have nearly the charisma as a single that he exhibits in a team situation with his partner. At one point Malenko attempted to imitate Scotty's worm dance, but Taylor dragged him to the floor. Eddie G got involved and sacrificed himself to provide the distraction needed for Malenko to put his challenger down for the count.

The Hardeys took on Saturn and Benoit in a match to determine the new #1 contenders for the Tag Team Titles. This was a big time action match with the Hardeys flying and the opposition suplexing them out of their boots. The Hardeys flying attack and their tag team coordination almost proved too much for the Radicalz. Eventually the match was thrown out as both teams brawled on the outside. No decision was made about the #1 contenders. Backstage, HHH promised to get X-Pac out of his predicimate.

After the break they introduced the combatants for the X-Pac vs. Rock match. The fight got under way as Waltman attacked his opponent outside the ring. They brawled out into the crowd then back to the ringside area then back into the crowd again. As they crossed back into the ring area and finally entered the squared circle. Shane and the Big Show apeared to provide distraction on behalf of X-Pac. This allowed him to turn the tables and then HHH and Stephanie showed up. The next thing we knew, the three competitors for the title at WrestleMania were brawling around the outside of the ring. The Rock was tossed back inside where X-pac tried for a pin but failed. With all kinds of distractions you'd think Waltman would fare better but the Rock managed to hold his own until Kane made his appearance and chased X-Pac away from the ring area. The three Title contenders then went at it again but the Rock was able to just watch as HHH and the Show turned on each other while, in the back, Vince enjoyed the whole scene on a monitor.

ECW on TNN opened with various scenes from the PPV last Sunday. Among other things, Super Crazy is the new TV Champ and the Impact Players are back as the Tag Champs. Back in the locker room, Rob Van Dam allows as how he'll let Crazy hold onto the TV belt until he's ready to come back in a few weeks.

The program came to us from Asbury Park, NJ. Sandman made his meandering, beer swilling, cigarette smoking way to the ring to face Angel of the Baldies. But we cut to a commercial first.

Coming back from the break we find the Baldies ganging up on Sandman to disarm him before the match gets underway. After some judicious brawling, Sandman was lured away from the arena and disappeared backstage only to emerge a moment later with a section of guardrail. Back in the ring he laid waste to his opponent in typical Sandman style then set the guardrail up in a corner. Angel made a comeback but only postponed the inevitable as Sandman reversed a whip and sent him sprawling into the rail section. He then went for a leg drop but his victim slipped away and Sandman landed spreadeagle on the railing. He came right back however and retreived his cane to use to win the match.

Cyrus and Rhino talked trash back in the locker room. This guy Cyrus sure is full of himself...

Steve Corino was informed that he had a match on the show and he's not happy about his opponent - New Jack. This show was taped last Friday night before the PPV, and the unfortunate injury that Jack suffered during that program (he overshot a stack of tables and suffered a severe concussion when he hit his head on the floor). Jack wasted no time in attacking using various pieces of plunder that come to hand. A trash can, a guitar, etc. Jack Victory intervened at that point but he was no match for the Original Gangsta who dragged him toward the balcony as we cut to commercial.

Victory had been strapped to a table as we return. New Jack climbed to the balcony and let fly. It looked like a 20 foot drop or more. Both guys were devastated by the blow. NJ was hauled back to the ring by security personnel and re-entered on his hands and knees. Tajiri and Rhino showed up and attacked New Jack - giving Corino the pinfall.

Masato Tanaka again challenged Mike Awesome for the ECW Heavyweight Title. This feud is fast becoming the stuff of legends. Both comabatants armed themselves with chairs and they fenced with them before Awesome got the upper hand for just a moment. Tanaka then got possesion of the one remaining chair and delivered a big blow which didn't seem to affect the Champion much. The fight had fallen out to the floor and Tanaka was back on the receiving end as we cut to what I imagine will be the last commercial break...but maybe not...

The match was back inthe ring as we returned and Tanaka was hitting a Tornado DDT on his opponent. He failed to get the pin out of that and Awesome came back like the lion he is, pounding mercilessly on what the announcers are describing as Tanaka's already injured ribs. The Champ set up a table in one corner but failed to get Tanaka elevated. Tanaka tried to use the move himself but Awesome reversed it and succeeded in breaking the table on his second try. Another table was slipped into the ring and set up, again by Awesome. Tanaka was posisitoned but before the Champ could get to the top he was stopped by the challenger. They struggled for position and Tanaka got the superplex and another table bit the dust. Awesome came roaring back but then Tanaka did a little roar of his own - the Roaring Elbow put Awesome down for the count - but the referee was being distracted by the judge. Raven ran in at that point and DDT's Tanaka then the referee. Tanaka was powerbombed through a table at ringside. Tommy Dreamer ran in but was caught and downed. Awesome speared him through a table. The match was thrown out as the announcers puzzled over why Raven and Awesome have joined forces. The program ended on that note.

I'll be back on Sunday for the Uncensored PPV. Until then...

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

Earl Oliver
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter



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