By Bert Randolph Sugar, MBA'59, JD'60
Today, approximately 36 million fans tune in to more than 18 hours of weekly programming to watch this new phenomenon take place before their very eyes. No longer are they the dentally-impaired audiences of yesteryear. Today, they are increasingly upscale and sophisticated; one study indicates that 40 percent have four or more years of college and that one in nine makes more than $75,000 a year. There are even (gasp!) Monday night wrestling clubs, which gather to watch wrestling once a week at almost every major university -- including the likes of Brown, Columbia, Stanford, and the University of Chicago.
The college connection to professional wrestling is hardly new. However, up until the recent explosion in its popularity, it had more to do with the participants than the spectators.
The umbilicus was formed as early as 1920 when wrestling promoters introduced a new breed of wrestler, former collegiate football stars, in an attempt to capitalize on their names and popularity. The first of that new breed was Wayne "Big" Munn, a lineman from the University of Nebraska, who went on to become "champion" by defeating the seemingly invincible Ed "Strangler" Lewis. By the 1930s, Gus Sonnenberg of Dartmouth and the University of Detroit, "Jumping" Joe Savoldi of Notre Dame, Bronko Nagurski of Minnesota, and Herman Hickman of Tennessee had all left the gridiron for the wrestling arena.
Hickman, later to become the head football coach at Yale, explained chat he got into the world of professional wrestling because, "In 1932, money was a scarce item, and there weren't many jobs floating around even if you did weigh 230 pounds, had made the All-American football team, and could recite a conglomerate of verse. So when Rudy Dusek, the oldest and the mastermind of the wrestling Dusek Brothers, undertook to sell me on the idea of becoming a professional wrestler, he did not find it difficult. He mentioned something about the possibility of making $1,000 a week and becoming champion of the world. He could have got me for less than half of that. And he did."
Soon the trickle of collegians became a Niagara as football players and collegiate wrestlers alike all succumbed to the siren sound of easy money to be made in pro wrestling. Richard Afflis (a.k.a. "Dick the Bruiser") from the University of Nevada, Jack Adkisson ("Fritz von Erich") from SMU, Verne Gagne from the University of Minnesota, (Dr.) Bill Miller from Ohio State, Leo Nomellini from the University of Minnesota, Ernie Ladd from Grambling, Bill Goldberg from the University of Georgia, et cetera, et cetera, all joined the pro wrestling circuit through the years, giving the "sport" a patina of culture -- albeit one that should be spelled with a "k."
So it seems only fitting that the U-M should have representation of its own in the ring in the shape of Robert, '83 and Scott Rechsteiner, '82-'86 - "The Steiner Brothers" - who have become two of the more popular unpopular staples in the WCW stable.
The Steiner name came about from a failure to communicate. As a pro wrestler in training, Robert, when asked for his name in training camp, replied "Rechsteiner" which was heard as two names: "Rick Steiner." The name stuck, and when Scott followed his brother's path into the pro wrestling ring several years later, he had no choice but to accept the new family name.
To be continued...
Copyright 2000 - San Francisco Chronicle
Uncensored is on the air from the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida and the first match is headed to the ring.
The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea (w/Paisley) vs. Psychosis (w/Juventud Guerrera) - Cruiserweight Title match - before the match can get underway, music erupts and Chris Candido comes striding down the ramp! He joins the broadcast team. No sign of Tammy Sytch. Candido says that he is to be known as Hard Nox Candido. In the ring, Psychosis is taking the early advantage with his high flying moves until the fight spills to the floor. Then the Artist turns the tables and throws him back inside. They end up back out on the floor where the Artist and Paisley take turns slapping the challenger. Candido is talking about his valet/manager without actually naming her. In the ring Psychosis makes a move to recover but TAFKAPI re-asserts control immediately. The next time the challenger succeeds and gets a Frankensteiner off the top to take the advantage. Outside, the "Juice" steals a kiss from Paisley and gets his face slapped off (I mean literally, his face fell right off!!) Back inside, Psychosis has allowed himself to be distracted by the antics out on the floor and is pinned.
Mean Gene talks to Bam Bam Bigalow, who vows to teach his former protege a lesson tonight.
XS (Lane and Rave) vs. Screamin' and the Demon - Miss Handcock strolls out to the ring area before the match gets going, spurring Lane and Rave to throw out a couple of insults at her. Her return salvo is to suggest that XS stands for "extra small"... For their entrance, the Demon came down the ramp while Norman emerged from the Demon's casket wearing his own Demon get up. They distract themselves trying to do a little dance so the opposition attacks to get things going. Norman and Lane go at it in the ring while the other two brawl at ringside. Moments later, XS has the Demon in the ring and isolate the rookie handily. Screamin' finally tags in and he has made a new offensive move out of a pelvis thrust which is just short of obscene. Eventually he clears the ring then takes the pin over Lane with the Norman conquest. XS then grabs Miss Handcock, blaming her for their loss. The Screamin' Demons rescue her so she does a little "Big Wiggle" with Norman and the gang (including the referee).
Backstage, Booker and Kidman are still not seeing eye-to-eye. Meanwhile, David Flair is making Daffney promise to stay away from the ring tonight.
Bam Bam Bigalow vs. The Wall - we expect Flair, Jr. and Crowbar to get involved before this one is over. Bigalow attacks as his protege entered the ring and dominates the first several exchanges. His opponent came back for one move then Bigalow ran him down and reasserted his authority. The match goes into see-saw mode. Both of these guys are slammking in some heavy duty shots as the fight falls out to the floor and heads up the aisle. Bigalow gets chokeslammed onto a monitor table as the referee throws the match out. Now David and Crowbar attack. As EMTs tend to Bigalow, the Wall is occupied with his attackers and disappears backstage. Suddenly Crowbar abd the Wall appear on the scaffolding above the platform. Crowbar gets chokeslammed about 15 feet down and crashes through the platform floor!! The Wall watches impassively as the EMTs, David, Daffney and several other wrestlers help to haul Crowbar away.
Mean Gene interviews Brian Knobbs who dedicates his Hardcore Title match to Bigalow and Crowbar, calling them two of the gutsiest guys he ever saw.
Brian Knobbs vs. Three Count - Hardcore Title match - thank God! before the Lamestreet Boyz can start singing, Knobbs' music starts up. As they wait in the ring, Knobbs is running backstage to grab his cart full of plunder - incuding a full size ladder, a fire extinguiser, trash cans, etc. and starts tossing them into the ring. Three Count decide to take advantage of his weapons and attack him before he finishes emptying the cart. Undaunted, he chases them back into the ring and then unloads on them with a vengence. For a bit the three of them overwhelmed him as each dropped on him off the top of the ladder - but then he came back with the fire extinguisher. In a flash he had pinned Shane Helms. He then set up a table on the outside and put Evan Karagias through it and pinned him. Another table is tossed into the ring and set up inside (he pauses to hit Shannon More with the ladder) but then Shane came off the top and turned the tables. Evan went for the pin and thought he got it but Knobbs' foot was on the rope. Caught with their pants down, celebrating preamturely - the three of them were easy pickings. Knobbs came off the top with a garbage can and took Shannon out for the win.
Vampyro delivers a Raven style whiney rant backstage.
Harlem Heat (w/J Biggs/Cash) vs. Billy Kidman/Booker (w/Torrie Wilson) - we're looking for Kidman to turn on his partner tonight. Everything has been pointing to that for weeks. They seem to be working together well during the early going but the opposition has overwhelming size superiority. Of course, as usual, Stevie is doing all the work for his team. Meanwhile Kidman is being isolated and creamed until he pulls off a bulldog on Stevie. Booker finally gets the tag and tries to fight off both members of the opposition. He is mowed down and almost pinned but Kidman makes the save. Moments later they double team Lardass Big T and Kidman gets the pin on a roll-up. Surprise, surprise. They embrace and pull Torrie in for some of that action then leave congratulating each other.
Vampiro vs. Fit Finley - Respect match - the motivation for this match has been a little hazy for my money. It seems like Finley basically considers Vamp a freak and just wants to beat on him. This is a "pinfalls count anywhere" match. In fact from the opening bell, Vampiro seems to have the upper hand. Finley is truely one of the most under-rated wrestlers in the business. A genuine tough guy and somewhat inspirational for his amazing recovery from the severe leg injury he suffered last year. The fight goes to the floor almost immediately. Both of these guys are wearing casts courtesy of Lex Luger, by the way. The fight climbs right into the stands as they fight up the staircase and into the concourse, then almost into the womens' bathroom - but then detour into the mens' room instead. A mens' room trash can comes into play then they are back out into the concourse where they fight in the midst of a crowd of fans then right outside! They return to the building and back among the fans who crowd around egging them on. They run each other into a concrete column then Vamp gets a bodyslam on the concrete floor and takes the pin. The crowd parades him back to the arena to receive the accolades from the audience.
The Harris Twins vs. The Paisons (w/Disco Inferno) - World tag Team Title match - No DQ - it would seem that the Harris Boyz have the advantage in size and experience. But the Mamalukes have shown themselves to be a very tough team and have held off every challenge for quite a while now. A few moments into the match, the Champs pulled off their own version of the H-Bomb on Heavy D, but then Johnny the Bull gets caught and the tables are turned. After getting creamed for several minutes. Johnny finally cuts loose and manages to tag his partner. Big Vito comes in a house afire and for a moment he holds both challengers off. Things then get confusing as all four wrestlers are in the ring. It goes into see-saw mode. As things break down further, Disco runs in a clocks one of the twins with a title belt. But his effort is wasted as the thug kicks out. He tries again but is thwarted. The Harris Thugs hit Big Vito with the H-Bomb and take the titles.
Finley was interviewed backstage and admitted that Vampiro had earned his respect tonight.
Dustin (look ma, I'm a pirate!) Rhodes vs. Terry Funk - Bull Rope Match - Funk brought his chicken again, and sent in a guy in a chicken outfit to distract Dustin and get him out into the aisle to start the match. Back in the ring, Funk gets in the first licks with the cowbell. The rope hasn't been attached at this point. This is a pinfalls count match, by the way, not the classic "drag your opponent around to the corners" type. Obviously it is no DQ. Rhodes gets his hands on the rope and shows that his old man has taught him a thing or two about these matches as he uses the weapon to great effect. Funk is almost out of it in the ring when Dustin attaches the rope to each of them finally. Moments he deftly bulldogs Funk with his head on the cowbell. The chicken is back and Dustin pauses to fricissee him as Mark madden yells, "The chicken must die!!" Back in the ring, Funk recovers sufficiently to use the cowbell to hit an uppercut low blow. He grabs a mic and declares this to be an "I Quit" match. When the referee disagrees, Funk clocks him with the bell and throws him to the floor then proceeds to pound on Dustin demanding that he quit. Dustin finally agrees but the referee is back and says, no deal. There must be a pinfall. Funk stops to argue with him and gives Dustin a chance to recover. He pounds on Funk with the bell then piledrives hm onto it and takes the pin. He then declares that he's going to send Funk home in a box and starts pounding on him again. Then he splits. That was a wild match - much better than I expected. In fact this PPV has been very strong so far.
The Total Package (w/Miss Liz) vs. Sting - Lumberjack Cast match - all the lumberjacks surrounding the ring are wearing casts, courtesy of Lex Luger. Luger has the grace to look a little discomfitted as he approaches the ring which is surrounded by his enemies including Vampiro, Fit Finley, Brian Knobbs, Jimmy Hart, Curt Hennig and even Doug Dillenger! In fact, Luger pauses to apologize to them all - and then brings out his own lumberjacks - also wearing casts - Harlemn Heat, the Harris Twins, Hugh Morrus and others of their ilk. The crowd pops wild as Sting makes his entrance. From the get go, Sting dominates the action. Luger rolls out to the floor on his side of the ring to escape. Back inside he is pounded on some more. Sting then threw him out on the wrong side. Doug Dillenger especially was gleefull in his attack on the Package. Next Sting was knocked to the floor on the wrong side for him and he was clubbed mercilessly. About this time Tank Abbot strolled out and attacked Doug Dillenger! Then he split with a big grin on his face. Next a brawl broke out among the lumberjacks and they brawled right out of camera range! All but Vampiro, who was there waiting when Ric Flair showed up with a chair. He held off the Nature Boy for a moment then Flair got into the ring and distracted Sting for a bit. He was ejected but Liz hit Sting with her bat. Vampiro grabbed the bat away and then Jimmy Hart returned to take charge of her. Luger picked up the downed Sting and put him in the rack - but Vampiro intefered, hitting Luger with the bat. Sting got the deathdrop and took the pin. Afterward the brothers in paint embraced and celebrated with the crowd.
The schedule is changed at this point to put the World Title match up next. There has been a mysterious limo sitting outside all night. We though we were going to get to see who is in it, but the camera cuts back to the arena for the next match.
Sid vs. Jeff Jarrett - WCW World Title match - it is hard to imagine Jarrett winning this match without some serious help. He is a fine wrestler but Sid is a monster. The fight goes right to the floor where Jarrett is slammed on to the broadcast table. They brawled into the crowd (lot of that going around tonight...) where the Harris Brothers interfere and dragged Sid back to the ring while Jarrett keeps the referee busy. Sid is down in the ring and Jarrett goes to work on him. Jarrett slaps on a sleeper as Sid regains his feet. Sid stays on his feet with Jarrett perched on his back for several seconds then sinks to his knees. Then he escapes and Jarrett is on the receiving end again. One of the Twins tried to use the title belt on Sid but hit Jarrett by mistake. Jarrett was almost pinned. Sid goes for the chokeslam but Jarrett gut punches him and escapes. Then he clocks the referee and gets in a guitar shot. Here comes Jarrett's pet referee to make the count but Hulk Hogan runs in behind him and drags him out and decks him. Hogan then takes care of the bad guys and rolls Sid on top for the pin. Here comes Scott Steiner who hits Hogan with another guitar.
Ric Flair runs out immediately strap in hand and the main event is on. He gets in a few licks but Hogan is far from out of it and soon they are out on the floor with Flair taking shots. Back in the ring, Hogan chokes out his opponent with the strap then starts whipping him on him with it. This is a tag all four corners match. Flair recovers and gets in some shots of his own. He wraps the strap around Hogan's face and slips it into his mouth. But Hogan back kicks him in the groin to regain the advantage. Hogan has his weight belt now and uses it to whip Flair. Back they go to the floor where Hogan continues to dominate. He pounds Flair in the corner then stoops to bite his head! Flair rolls to the outside but Hogan drags him back in using the strap. Flair is begging off at this point. They go back out to the floor where Jimmy Hart gets a chance to lash Flair a few times with the strap. Flair retreats to the ramp with Hogan following. As Hogan catches his enemy, Lex Luger runs out and delivers a big shair shot. Hogan is bleeding from the forehead as Flair opens up on him again. Now Flair is doing the whipping and dragging Hogan back toward the ring, where he has to be in order to win. Back inside. Flair seems uninterested in winning as he continues to just pound on Hogan. Hart tries to interfere but gets creamed by Flair. This gives Hogan a chance to get to his feet. Now he is going for the win. He gets to three corners before Hogan starts trying to resist him. Hogan clings to the bottom rope and gathers up the slack in the rope to prevent the win by Flair. Jimmy Hart is in the ring again and Flair uses the distraction to pull a set of brass knucks from his boot and decks the Hulkster. Hogan is down for a moment the pops right up. He subdues Flair and starts touching corners. He easily drags Flair to three corners then Lex Luger runs in...and gets creamed and ejected. Hogan takes the pin then touches the fourth corner for the win.
All in all a very satisfying PPV indeed...
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
Check Out Solie's Westling Radio!!
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