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Solie's Saturday Morning Report

Eric Bischoff Back at the Helm at WCW!

Foley is Back and Going to Wrestlemania!!!

The Way I See It...

Weekley review by Earl Oliver

'SPORTS SCHOLAR' ANALYZES WRESTLING: Part 3

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


Volume 5, Issue 556 - March 25, 2000
Editor's Note: On Wednesday evening it was confirmed that Eric Bischoff has been reinstalled as the head of the WCW promotion. While a lot of fans on the web seem to view this as a disaster, I think it would be prudent to take a "wait and see" attitude. Frankly, I don't see how things could get much worse for the Turner promotion. Also, it should be pointed out that when Bischoff took over WCW back in the early 90's it was going through a period not disimilar to what is happening now. Bischoff not only made WCW competitive back then but also forced a rather moribund WWF to improve it's product in order to stay in the running. It is arguably the case that the current rennaissance in the wrestling business can trace its roots to the birth of Monday Nitro. The one thing that can be said for Uncle Eric is that he knows how to pursue his vision and influence events, a far cry from the wishy-washy crew who have been running the promotion since he was taken out of power last year. After an enforced six month layoff, it is to be hoped that Mr. Bischoff has learned from his mistakes.

This special PPV edition opens with the conclusion of an article by well known boxing and wrestling jounalist, Bert Sugar. In this installment he talks about the history of the Steiner Brothers, from their beginnings in the amateur ranks to their current professional stardom.


'SPORTS SCHOLAR' ANALYZES WRESTLING

(Michigan Alumnus, Fall 1999)

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

Part 3

The Brothers Rechsteiner, who had come to the U-M after great wrestling careers in high school in Bay City, MI, were members of the "M" Squad from 1981-86. Between the two, they won a total of 174 matches during their collegiate careers -- the older brother, Robert '84 ("Rick"), wrestling in the heavyweight class, the younger, Scott, wrestling in the 177-pound class. In a case of like unto like, both placed second in the Big Ten Championships, both qualified for the NCAA's and Scott became All-American.

And so it was but a hop, skip, and dropkick into the professional ranks, with Rick making his professional debut in 1983, and Scott his in '86. Rick, after originally teaming with "Sting," held the UWF Tag Team Title and then joined the NWA, soon to become the WCW after the circuit was purchased by Ted Turner. Scott joined his brother in the NWA in '89 after winning three Tag Team titles -- one with Jerry Graham, Jr., another with Billy Travis, and a third with Jed Grundy, for those keeping score at home -- where they formed a tag team partnership called, naturally, the Steiner Brothers.

Dale Bahr, the recently retired U-M wrestling coach, wasn't surprised when his two former wrestlers headed for the pro ranks. "They kind of had a disposition, a personality for that sport," says Bahr, a sport he calls "athletic theater." At the U- M, "They liked to play the 'tough man' role," says Bahr, adding hastily "not that they were mean or ornery." While Bahr has yet to get anyone to acknowledge any fakery in pro wrestling, he agrees that what the Steiners do requires a lot of athletic ability. And he admits he catches them on TV every now and then. "I'm kind of amused by it all, more or less," he says. "It doesn't upset me because they're making a ton of money.

Joe McFarland, '85, the new head coach, is a former teammate and friend of the Steiner Brothers. Last year, he watched them wrestle at the Palace in Auburn Hills and afterward met them in their dressing room. "We talked old war stories," says McFarland, of their reunion. He has nothing but admiration for their talents and he's excited for them and their success. "They both bring a lot to the WCW," he says, adding, "They've been good at whatever they've done. They were both outstanding wrestlers here."

McFarland says the brothers, who were "both into [weight]lifting hard and incredibly strong [at Michigan]" are still in great shape. And they're still nice guys. "I don't think success will ever go to their heads," McFarland says. He also hopes to get them back to the U-M this season for a wrestling meet. The UM wrestlers are all fans and aware of the affiliation, according to McFarland.

Over the next 10 years, the Steiner brothers would win and lose and re-win the tag team tide no less than nine times. But the strangest plot line in the never-ending soap opera that is professional wrestling came when the two fell brothers fell out -- and fell on each other, in one of the most classic brother rivalries since Cain rendered Abel hors de combat.

Prior to Scott's betrayal of older brother, Rick, the younger Steiner had been acting strangely. Very strangely, even by pro wrestling standards. One night, after reducing their opponents, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, into plowshares, thereby regaining the WCW title for an unprecedented seventh time, instead of exulting in victory, Scott pushed his brother aside and stormed out of the ring.

Soon, thereafter, facing the same two opponents once again, Scott turned on his brother, leaving him open to a vicious attack by Nash and Hall, and thereby costing the brothers the title. On the following Monday, on what is called Monday Nitro, Rick was watching the video monitor from his dressing room when he saw his blond-maned brother -- now called "Big Poppa Pump" his nom de guerre -- proclaim his allegiance to a breakaway group within the organization, the so-called NWO (New World Order). It was now to be brother vs. brother in what the WCW would promote as a "family feud."

As Frank Morgan, who played the wizard in The Wizard of Oz said: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" Nor to anything else in that land of make-believe called pro wrestling. It's just great theatre. I mean, why would one brother, let alone a brother Wolverine, turn on another? Why not a passing Buckeye or Spartan?

Coach McFarland is skeptical of the feud. "They were real close-always were. They come from a close family," he says. Dale Bahr concurs: "They're from a family of about 11 kids. There's nobody closer than these two guys. Their whole family is like that. Whatever feud they have is made for television."

Hopefully one day the breach (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) will heal. In the meantime, it's the world of professional wrestling, where the more appalling is the more appealing!

Bert Randolph Sugar, MBA'59, JD'60, has written more than 50 books, one of which is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pro Wrestling, and is a contributor to SportsBusiness Journal, Sport, Sports Illustrated S. A., P.O.V., Smoke, and publishes his own boxing magazine, Fight Game.


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The Way I See It...

Weekley Review by Earl Oliver

Monday Nitro opened with scenes from last night's PPV. Nitro was live from the University of Florida in Gainesville. Mean Gene was in the ring to start the program with an interview with the WCW Heavyweight Champ. He had a few pithy phrases to throw at Jeff Jarrett, likening him to a pig with a purple ribbon around his neck...still a pig. Before he could answer Okerlund's first question, Jarrett interrupted from the platform to say he was not done with the Champ by a long shot. He demanded another title shot but suggested a tag team match instead. He offered a deal, if he could pin Sid he wants another title match, if not he promised not to ask for any more title matches. He introduced his proposed partner, Big Poppa Pump, who came out with a piece of "censored" tape covering his mouth. Sid suggested that he doesn't need a partner, but then introduced Hulk Hogan for the role. Hulk allowed as how Sid truely rules the world and agreed to take the match with Sid against Jarrett and Steiner. The main event was set. Tony also mentioned that there would be a Sting/Flair match later on.

Backstage, Team Package discussed their strategy for tonight and revealed that Luger would have a match with Vampiro on the program. Meanwhile, Mean Gene interviewed Chavo Guerrero who complained that he had been left out of the Cruiserweight Title tournament. As the scene faded, Guerrero deftly lifted Okerlund's wallet...

Chris Candido had his first match in WCW against Lash LeRoux. "Hard Knox" Candido took the mic and decried the use of fancy costumes and "trashy valets" (looking at Paisley, who was sitting at the broadcast table with her man, the ever silent TAFKAPI). LeRoux decided to attack in the middle of his rant but it really didn't gain him anything. Candido outwrestled his opponent easily in the early going, but we saw LeRoux make a comeback midway through the match before Candido turned the tables and finished him.

Backstage, XS confronted Miss Handcock about her tastes in men.

Fit Finley came down to take on La Parka, who delivered another of his dubbed-in-English intro rants before Finley took offense and started pounding on him. Finley dominated his opponent until he managed to launch himself shoulder-first into the ring post. La Parka hit a quick suicide dive and then it was pretty much down hill from there. Finley polished off the "Chairman" in short order.

We see Kidman and Booker talking about "watching each others' backs" while David Flair made his way to the ring with a subdued Daffney, who only managed one short, maniacal laugh before we cut to commercial. After the break, Vampiro delivered one of his boiler room rants against Lex Luger before tearing the cast off his left arm. Mean Gene was in the ring next to welcome David Flair for an interview. Flair had a lot of difficulty setting up a table next to the ring before entering same for his talk with Okerlund. He threw out a challenge toward the Wall then tore off his neck brace. Okerlund deserted the ring as the Wall obliged. The latter was getting ready to braeak the table when Daffney unleashedzz a fire extinguisher - which made no differefce at all. David was thrown through the table and had to be carted away to join his buddies Bam Bam and Crowbar in the hospital.

Booker and Kidman took their tag team thing into the ring to face the new Tag Team Champions in their first title defense. Booker took the first exchanges and almost got the pin right off the bat. Kidman took a quick turn then tagged Booker, who fought off both opponents. Eventually one of the Harris Thugs decided to use his title belt as a weapon and got them DQ'd. He immediately attacked Booker out on the floor and was surprised when Torrie jumped right on his back to defend her man's partner. The Harris Boy started to menace Torrie, but Kidman chased him off with a chair shot.

Backstage, the Paisons were threatening to fire their manageer unless he got them a rematch for the titles.

Just before the top of the hour, Lex Luger and Liz came out for his usual overblown entrance. He faced Vampiro in a one-on-one. But first he decided to deliver a rant in an attempt to intimidate his erstwhile opponent. The lights went out and Vamp's music swelled...then Vamp appeared out of nowhere in the ring behind the Package. His advantage lasted for about three exchanges then Luger got in a low blow and turned things around. The fight went to the outside where Luger consolidated his control. Back in the ring, Luger continued his assault with a clothesline and a big powerslam. Then Vamp slipped away from a rack attempt and went to work with a vengence. As he was about to wrap it up, Ric Flair came strutting down to interfere. Moments later, Luger had the bat and used it then racked his opponent for the win. He and Flair started a punk job but Sting ran down and made the save.

Okerlund accosted the nWo in their suite backstage. Steiner had some words about censorship then lit into Hulk Hogan. I notice that he had his shirt off and is as big as ever. My suspicion is that his supposed suspension a while back was a work that was intended to give him time to go on a crash training program to regain his physique. I always thought at the time that his statements were pretty mild for something that would get him suspended. It seems clear that he was't really ready to come back so they had him make controversial statements as a ruse to give him some more time.

Dustin Rhodes, calling himself the American Nightmare these days, laid out his list of oldsters he intends to take down including: Curt Hennig, Terry Funk, and Hulk Hogan.

Screamin' Norman faced Hugh Morrus in a rare non-tag team match. It was clear that Smiley was the superior wrestler in this contest but Morrus is very powerfull and always surprising in his agility. The latter dominated the match but then made an almost fatal error twice by pulling Smiley up when he could have had the pin. Norman almost rolled him up for a pin but Morrus came back with his moonsault and took the pin. The Demon ran out to attack Morrus but was also put down.

Dustin Rhodes took on Curt Hennig in a real short barn burner. Rhodes' return to the WCW had been pretty undistiguished but he seemed to have passed a milestone Sunday night in his match against Terry Funk. Hennig was the perfect foil (no pun intended) - able to work a great match and wrestling with authority. Dustin took the fight to the floor and tore the cast off of Hennig's arm which got him disqualified - so he decked the referee! Back in the ring he was about to really do a number on Hennig's already wounded arm when Hulk Hogan ran down to save his new friend.

Talentless Tank Abbott, who has failed thus far to draw onto himself even a cigarette lighters' worth of heat, had a warmup bout for his coming fight with Meng by taking on the Barbarian. For a change, Abbott actually had to back up when confronted by Barb's chops. After failing to make a dent with his vaunted punches he switched to grappling in his clumsy fashion. But that didn't work for him either. So he waited until his opponent turned away to put the referee out of the way then sucker punched him as he turned back around.

Sting took on his old nemesis Ric Flair for his second match since returning from his acting job. I saw the movie, by the way, and thought Mr. Borden did a very good job as a tough undercover cop trying to save his fiance from the bad guys. After some good give and take action, Sting asserted his authority. Flair immediately rolled to the outside and tried to set his opponent up but Sting knows this particular opponent backwards and forwards. Flair tries to chop him down but Sting no-sold the moves (as Mark Madden pointed out). Returning to the ring, Flair turned things around for the first time in the match by attacking the eyes. Now Flair's chops were effective in the corner for a bit, but then Sting "hulked up" again and press-slammed the nature Boy. Luger ran in to help but he was also mowed down and ejected. Sting got the Scorpion on Flair who submitted but Luger dragged the referee out to the floor before he could declare the victory. The two of them tried to punk Sting but fortunately the Stinger had his back-up man Vampiro handy to put a stop to that.

The main event featured Hulk Hogan and Sid against the re-pumped up Scott Steiner and Jeff Jarrett who brought their entire entourage down to the ring before sending the girls away. Seeing Sid and Hogan on the same team is very strange, especially because Sid seems so entusiastic about their partnership. Hogan started things against Jarrett and creamed him before handing off to the World Champ. Jarrett became their punching bag for a while at this point as the two good guys tagged in and out. Finally Steiner got in against Sid and really went to town on him. Now Sid was being isolated for a while then Hogan came in against Jarrett again. Hogan took both guys on as Sid sat in the corner listening intently as the crowd chanted Hogan's name. Suddenly he got up and chokeslammed Hogan!! As the program faded it was unclear whether Sid had decided to join Jarrett and company - it didn't seem like it though.


World Wrestling Federation

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RAW is WAR featured a tag team elimination tourney to determine the final four teams who then competed in a battle royal for the Tag Team Title shot at WrestleMania. RAW was live from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL. In the back, Vince McMahon announced the tag team tourney then hinted at another big match scheduled for tonight. The new New Age Outlaws were first up coming out to the new rap version of the Degeneration-X theme. Their opponents were the Hardey Boyz for the first round of the tournament. This was a very competitive match-up at first but as the action progressed it became apparent that DX was just no match for the Hardeys' high flying teamwork. About the time that DX really were on their last legs, Kane appeared to complicate matters. As he stalked Tori at ringside, the Hardeys finished off the Road Dogg. Kane then took Tori inside and chokeslammed her.

HHH and the little woman were next up to deliver their bi-weekly rant. HHH was curious about Vince's big announcement. Shane showed up to propose an HHH/Big Show title match for the program, but HHH turned him down, although he did agree to defend the the title. This brought Vince out to add his considerable $.02 worth. He seemed to concur with Shane at first but then added the Rock to the mix - thus offering a preview of the WrestleMania main event! Shane liked that idea, and he and his dad started taunting the Champ until he agreed...with a stipulation - that the Triple Threat match would not happen again at WrestleMania. So I was right, apparently, when I said that main event was not going to fly.

After the break, the Godfather came down with a whole passel of prime garden tools. Actually only 4 - but they were fiiiine...! His opponent was the Big Boss Man, who was joined by his old friend who has now been identified as one Bull Buchanan. The two of them strode to the ring and just whaled on the Godfather. Of course the Boss man was disqualified but didn't seem to care. Backstage, the Outlaws were demanding of HHH that something be done about Kane. HHH proposed a match with Rakishi - right...that will do it...

Too Cool were next up in the tournament, taking on the Radicals, in the persons of Saturn and Malenko (accompanied by Eddy G, who is finally out of his sling for the first time in weeks). These two teams have been giving us some great contests lately and this one is no different. Although, for the most part, Too Cool managed to out-maneuver their opponents throughout the match at almost every turn. Guerrero upset the worm by tripping Scotty but it wasn't enough to upset their equilibrium. In fact, he ended up getting into a dust-up with Saturn after accidently jumping on him - giving Too Cool the opportunity to double-team Malenko and take the pin.

Kane wrestled Rakishi - who we learned will be his partner in a tag match at WrestleMania. There was nothing pretty about this match but Rakishi definitely showed himself as the more gracefull superheavyweight. DX ran in and spoiled the match which gave the two combatants an excuse to join forces. So who will their opponents be at WrestleMania..? Guess..

Kirk Angel got no chance to talk about the three "I's" before the Millennium Bug showed up. Jericho chose to direct his rant at his opponent for the evening, Chris Benoit (which he gave an Americanized pronuciation - Ben-noyt). Angle joined the broadcast team as the Benoit ran down and attacked Jericho, thus starting their match. In the ring, it was a very competitive match but with Jericho holding the advantage through much of it. Interestingly, although the Radicals have been featured in some pretty high-profile matches - they really haven't done that well collectively. Except for Malenko winning the Light Heavyweight belt, they mostly lose their matches. Including this one...with an assist from Angle wielding one of his title belts on the side of Benoit's face. Bob Backlund showed up to create some more havoc.

Another tournament match featured Headcheese vs. the Hollys. This was an action packed contest showing the Holly's teamwork to great advantage. In the middle of it, Tazz decided to run out and challenge Crash Holly for the Hardcore Title! They fought off into the concourse area leaving Bob Holly on his own against Headcheese. He lost, of course and we heard no more about the Hardcore match.

In a GTV segment, Terri Runnels taunted Miss Kitty because we don't see her on TV anymore.

Edge and Christian faced the Acolytes in the next, very brutal, tourney contest and ended up winning the match because Mideon tried to hard to help out his buddies. The two "protectionists" left the moron laying in the ring.

Val Venis is apparently definitely back. On RAW he wrestled his friend and training mate, Test, who came to the ring with Trish Stratus (who made her WWF debut on Sunday Night Heat the night before). Test has come a long long way since his debut a couple of years ago, but Venis is a genuine talent as a grappler and so it was a very spirited match. As Venis seemed about to take the advantage, Stratus climbed onto the apron to distract him, giving Test a chance to recover and then use a handfull of tights to take the pin on a roll-up. Val was insensed and attacked his opponent only to have Trish's other conquest, Prince Albert, run out and blindside him. Val was punked then Stratus introduced her new tag team, "T&A" (Test and Albert).

Before the next break they showed some clips from Saturday Night Live, which was hosted by the Rock this week. It was certainly strange to see the Big Show chanting "Rocky! Rocky!" during the closing sequence to say the least.

Next up, a tag team battle royal to determine the #1 contenders to meet the Dudleys at WrestleMania featuring the Hardeys, Edge and Christian, Too Cool and Head Cheese. Shortly into the melee, Scotty too Hotty went into his worm then was tossed out closely followed by Al Snow. This left the Hardeys and Edge/Christian to slug it out. After a few moments of this, the Dudleys (who were at the announce table)decided to come in and apply the Three-D all around then they set up a table and put Christian on it, then threw Jeff Hardey on him to break the table. Apparently nothing was decided.

The main event was billed as "the WrestleMania main Event" - a triple threat match among HHH, Big Show and the Rock for the WWF Title. This was another indication that I was right after all. I still don't believe that the real WrestleMania main event has yet been revealed. I am also quite sure that in the end it will somehow involve Mick Foley. The two lesser lights were already in the ring when Vince McMahon preceeded the real star to the ring. The match started immediately when the Rock hit the ring and he was outmaneuvering his opponents from the get go, causing them to careen into each other as they tried to gang up on him. Vince got involved at one point by clocking his son-in-law out on the floor. The fight then went outside where first the Rock beat on HHH then the Show beat on the Rock. Back in the ring, the two bad guys finally managed to coordinate their efforts and the Rock was suddenly on the receiving end. HHH was directing traffic while Paul Wight softened up the Peoples' Champ. Mavia was knocked to the outside where he turned the tables on HHH, but the Show dragged him back inside and put him down again. HHH returned to the ring and they continued to double-team the great one. Suddenly the two bad guys turned on each other, allowing the Rock to recover and go back on the attack. The Show managed to put him down again and then he and HHH were back into it out on the floor. Vince and Shane both got involved and a chair came into play at this point. Shortly thereafter, HHH hit the Show in the face with the chair and then rolled into the ring to take the pin and retain the title. The Rock chased Shane up the ramp and disappeared and then Linda McMahon showed up to tell HHH that there would indeed be no triple threat match - so she set up a Fatal Four-Way Match involving HHH, the Rock, the Show and Mick Foley!!! I won't say I told you so...oops, I guess I did...

Foley ran out and laid a little smackdown on HHH as the program faded.


Thunder opened with scenes from Monday night - Sid turning on Hulk Hogan. What is funny about all of this is that I'm sure most fans, including myself, see Hogan as the bad guy in this scenerio. Mark Madden hit it right on the head when he accused Hogan of trying to hog the spotlight. It reminds me of when Randy Savage won the WCW Title the first time and all Hogan could do is whine about being cheated out of it because he left the ring between the ropes instead of over the top.

Talentless Tank came out at the beginning and issued a challenge which was immediately answered by Fit Finley, who for my money is ten times as tough as the talentless one. In fact Finley dominated the early action until the referee distracted him so that Abbott could sucker punch him. The Meng showed up and distracted Abbott, who fell out of the ring ans started brawling with the Samoan monster. Stupid security guys just had to break it up... In the back, Hulk Hogan and Sid were seen brawling until they knocked down the camera man. Back in the ring, Mean Gene was with Finley who called Abbott green as a tree frog. In the middle of his interview, Hogan and Sid cqame brawling down the ramp toward the ring. This upset Finley, who objected to his interview time being interrupted and shoved Sid - who replied with a chokeslam. Sid, desparate to make himself into the heel, then threatened to break Okerlund's neck. Of course, that didn't help his cause because the fans don't really care about Mean Gene either. He ordered the truck to show video footage of Hogan butting in on Sid's moments and the consequences, again it looked to me like Hogan was in the wrong. Of course challenges were issued and accepted all around but nothing definite wqas arranged.

The first of a series of interviews was aired, various wrestlers giving their opinion of the Hogan/Sid controversey. Buff Bagwell actually didn't answer the question so we really don't know where he stands.

In the back as we return from the break, Sid had gathered a phalanx of security guys to back him up. Cut to Dustin Rhodes with Okerlund - he challenged Hulk Hogan to a match calling him a "Vampire". In another part of the building, Hogan and Jimmy Hart were flabbergasted at the challenge. "It's because you're Hulk Hogan" says Hart.

The Lamestreet Boyz were starting their vomit fest in the ring when the Jung Dragons interrupted them (I knew those orientals had taste...) to start their match. With Shane Helms wearing his nose protector mask these two teams look like the antithisis (look it up) of each other. The match is very competitive, both teams being high flyers and adequate wrestlers, the end came when Shane threw a spectacular splash to take the pin. The Boys then tried to start their singing act again but the JD's knocked them down then stole there green disks.

Hugh Morrus had his say about the Hogan/Sid theing - he goes along with Sid, of course.

Chavo Guerrero, Jr. had a match against Chris Candido which just really got going when Paisley showed up to interefere. First she joined the broadcast team to bad mouth the guys in the ring, then she decided to get involved. While she provided distraction, the Artist snuck out to ringside to upset Candido's balance as he prepared to fly off the top corner. Guerrero took the pin after TAFKAPI took Candido down for him. Candido attacked Guerrero after the match but it was too late...

Backstage, Miss Handcock let down her hair and prepared to go meet her team. In the nWo dressing room, Big Poppa Pump was pumping females (no, that isn't as obscene as it sounds). She went out to the ring after the break and introduced El Fabulosos, who arrived in their new outfits to face XS. The lady joined the announce team while the four bumblers in the ring did their thing. The highlight ofd the match happened almost immediately as Lane threw a leg into the face of El Dandy in the corner and then flopped over the corner and fell to the floor. Lane and Rave are a pretty good team but in this onw the opposition definitely had the better team work. In fact they took the win in short order when El Dandy rolled Lane up for the pin.

Backstage, the Paisons are off to Disneyworld and leaving Disco to wrestle tonight.

Chuck (Tarzan Boy) Palumbo faced a Scott Steiner who came out with the girls and looking as big as a house. Here's one guy who didn't send the girls away from ringside. The match itself was just silly. Palumbo didn't have a prayer. Oh he got in a punch or two and managed to down Steiner with a foot to the face and then followed up with a shoulder block from the top. That was it. Steiner turned the tables and the poor kid never knew what hit him. He came back several minutes later with a dro kick but it was wasted effort. Steiner slapped on the Steiner Recliner and took the submission victory.

Curt Hennig stuck up for Hogan, so at this point the two sides are even with Bagwell somewhere in the middle.

Disco Inferno had the misfortune to face the very over Vampiro. In fact he tried to get out of the match but Vamp got between him and the entryway, so he was forced to fight. Almost immediately he got himself thrown across the announce table then run into the railing. Back in the ring, Vamp just creamed him for several exhanges as the announcers tried to get back on the air. Disco finally got in a little offense and showed that he is not to be trifled with as the crowd taunted him with "Disco Sucks!" As usual, when he got into the driver's seat, Disco started to showboat - a fatal mistake. Nail in the Coffin put him away. The Lex Luger ran in ans attacked Vamp, followed by Ric Flair who came out to help. This brought Sting out to chase them off.

Mean Gene talked to the Cat backstage - who has taken on Vincent/Shane/Mr. Jones...whatever...as his valet. After the break, Jeff Jarrett promised to cuff and stuff Buff, who had a US Title match scheduled for later in the evening.

Ernest Miller came to the ring with his new associate to face the Dog - the Cat vs. the Dog - perfect!The Dog did a lot better in this match then the last time we saw Al Greene face Miller. Miller had to use a low blow to assert himself. The Dog came back using power moves to retrieve the advantage but it was a short upswing. From there it took just so many devastating karate shots to put the cur away.

After the break, Brian Knobbs caught the dog chewing up his socks!! Bad dog!!!

The Demon had a one-on-one match for a change against Hugh Morrus. Another silly match. This rookie had very little chance against a monster veteran like Morrus. All he seemed to be able to do is throw punches until he surprised everyone with an insuguri kick. That was pretty much it for him as Morrus put him down for the last time and hit him with his moonsault.

Out back Brian Knobbs drove away in his car with the Dog hanging out the window. The Kid Cam showed us a different angle on Buff's earlier interview including him trying to pick up the pretty production assistant and being (pardon the pun) re-Buffed. Mean Gene looked for Sid in his dressing room but failed to find him. Next, Okerlund talked to Hogan again - the Hulkster delivered an eighties style rant against Dustin Rhodes..."...whatayah gonna do when Hulkamania kicks your a$$??"

Out in the woods somewhere, Knobbs abandoned the Dog...Heenan noted that, "Well, you know dogs - they always find their way back..."

Jeff Jarrett defended his US Title against Buff Bagwell, whom we haven't seen in the ring in quite a while. Buff didn't seem to have lost anything and dominated the early going, but only for a moment. Jarrett came back strong to reeclaim the advantage and then ot went into see-saw mode. The Harris Thugs appeared ringside and started interfering immediately while Jarrett distracted the referee.Curt Hennig ran out to lend Buff a hand - how very strange...While he kept the Twins occupied, Bagwell got the Blockbuster - but then Steiner ran out and flattened him. Hennig was dragged into the ring and had his cast torn off then he was hit with a guitar. Steiner laid Buff low wuith his submission hold. The Bad Guys lost the match but won the war. In the back, Hogan ordered Jimmy hart to go get a contract for him to wrestle Sid.

The main event was the Hogan/Rhodes fight. Dustin has worked his way into this position with some pretty vicious matches of late. Hogan dominated the action in the early going, taking his opponent out to the floor and roughing him up. Back inside the ring, Hogan continued his assault in classic Hulkster fashion but then put his head down prematurely and let the advantage slip away. Back to the floor and this time Hogan was on the receiving end. The announcers were scattered once again as Hogan was slammed across the broadcast table. Back in the ring, Rhodes slapped on a sleeper, then released it to drive the knee into Hogan's face. Then Hogan started "Hulking Up" - but Rhodes came back with a lariat then grabbed his bull rope. After dispatching the referee, he attacked Hogan with the cow bell then split. Only the referee declared that the match was still happening and gave Rhodes a ten count to return to the ring or else face a $10,000 fine! Rhodes reluctantly returned only to have Hogan kick him in the face and drop the leg for the pin.

Sid then appeared on the big screen with Jimmy Hart in his grasp. He chokeslammed the manager through a table then laid what looked like a contract on his chest. Hogan ran back only to be blindsided and downed as the program faded.


SmackDown (on tape from Milwaukee, Wisconsin) opened with a video replay of the end of RAW. Linda McMahon reinstating Mick Foley and putting him into the WrestleMania main event. Naturally, the World Champ would choose to make an appearance at the top of the program with his lovely bride. HHH took the mic to announce that...Stephanie had an announcement...later. But first he proposed a question. He asks Linda McMahon - who do you think you are..? And demanded that she come out immediately to respond. So she did and added that she would be at WrestleMania in the corner of Mick Foley. She also revealed that she expected that if Foley wins the title he will retire as the champ and then a tourney will be held to determine the next champion. HHH has his own ideas about how that night will go, of course.

In the back, Ivory tried to pull a fast one on Crash Holly to take his Hardcore title while giving him a massage, but she failed.

Kirk Angel took on Chris Benoit in a non-title warm-up for his coming three-way dance at WrestleMania. The Millennium Bug decided to come out and look things over (he's in the match at the PPV as well) and joined the announce team. Benoit started out aggressive in his usual fashion but Angle almost immediately turned the tables and assumes control of the match. Around the half-way mark, Benoit regained the initiative for a bit but then Angle prepared to use one of his belts as a weapon, Jericho promptly grabbed the second belt and whacked Angle with it then slapped on his Boston Crab variation. Officials came down to shoo him away so he turned and grabbed Benoit in the hold.

Vince has some strange ideas about what his daughter's announcement will be. He also announces a triangle-ladder match for the Tag Team Titles against Edge and Christian for the PPV - and a singles match for SmackDown featuring the Rock against Bubba Ray Dudley.

The Godfather had a chance for revenge against Bull Buchanan for the attack on RAW the other night. The big martial arts expert dominated the action from the get-go until Buchanan pulled off a very agile spring back off the second rope and turned the tables with a big back elbow. His attempt at a guillotine legdrop failed but then before GF could hit the train rush move the Boss Man intevened and the punk job was underway.

Tha Hollys had a rare tag team match on the program against Head Cheese. About 5 minutes into the match Bob decided to take Crash up on his 24/7 pledge to defend the Hardcore Title and abandoned the match to go after his cousin. This got them counted out of the ring as they disappeared into the crowd. T&A then ran out and attacked Head Cheese. Their lady friend came out on their heels and stumbled through her silly speech. Sorry guys - this chick is lame...

Backstage, Shane was making nice with the Posse and offering them the chance to emulate their favorite wrestlers.

At the top of the second hour the Rock came out to wrestle Bubba Dudley and defeated him handily after foiling repeated attempts to catch him in a double team. The highlights of the match were Bubba trying to pull a Rock impression by grabbing a headset at the announce table and later, Devon being knocked off the apron and through the table he had set up for the Rock.

After the break, Mick Foley came down to deliver his rant of the evening during an interview with Jim Ross. He talked about how Linda McMahon called and asked him to compete one last time at WrestleMania and then launched into his assessment of his chances in the match. His plan is to eliminate the Rock and the Big Show early on so he can take HHH apart and take his title away from him. He also confirmed his plan to retire permanently after the match. This was followed by another Miss Kitty/Terri Runnels GTV segment. Kitty returned a borrowed skirt in less than pristine condition.

Jacquelyn had her first on air title defense against Lita, who was making her debut as a WWF wrestler. The challenger dominated the opening and then turned away to showboat and got creamed. Moments later it degenerated into a cat fight with the referee pulled into the middle of it. After some spirited give and take, Jacquie reversed a roll-up and took the pin. Lita came back to attack afterward, but of course, it was too late...

Shane brought the Posse out dressed up to resemble the Rock, Mick Foley and HHH so that he could bring the Big Show out to trash the three of them. Rodney's HHH was a crack up with his big mishapen nose.

Too Cool/Rakishi took on the Radicalz in the persons of Dean Malenko, Saturn and the returning to action Eddy G. After some byplay with Scotty vs. Guerrero, Rakishi got in and cleaned house. Moments later Guerreo got a face full of Samoan butt. The Radicalz made one last attempt to retrieve their dignity then Rakishi put the finishing touches on Saturn to take the pin. The victors started their dance but were attacked by the new New Age Outlaws and then punked by all five of the bad guys. About this time Kane put in an appearance - but even he was taken down.

The main event turned out to be Stephanie's big announcement, which she insisted on making to her mother's face. She started out by telling a tale of woe about her upbringing as a poor little rich girl. Then she used a disparaging term to describe her (rhymes with witch) and slapped her to the ground. Wow! Earthshaking!!! (not...)


ECW on TNN came to us from the Ice Center in Salem, New Hampshire this week and started with the announce team in the ring for their usual bantering introduction then cut right to the opening montage. Back in the ring, Styles introduced the new TV Champ, Super Crazy - then we cut to some previous footage before returning to the ring for Crazy's statement in Spanish. Styles then announced SC's first title defense would be against Yoshiro Tajiri. The latter made his entrance but before they could get underway, Cyrus showed up asking, "Do you people know what I am?" The crowd had an answer for him, but he ignored them. He had decided to make the contest into a Japanese Death match - what ever that is... Next he threw an insult at Gertner who started to threaten him but Cyrus came back with the threat of arrest and Cyrus subsided rather abruptly. Styles wasn't intimidated, however. He removed his coat and glasses and went nose to nose with "Mr. Network". Cyrus also threatened to get him arrested as well, and reminded Styles that without announcers, ECW would lose it's bearth on TNN - so Styles backed down, and we went to commercial.

As we returned the match was underway and already out in the crowd. This was a very action packed match - Crazy living up to his name and Tajiri, who is his own kind of nut case. They still haven't explained exactly what a Japanese Death Match is - but I assume it is some sort of no holds barred, no DQ situation - in other words - a typical ECW match. Certainly this was typical ECW fare as Tajiri introduced a chair early on.We cut to commercial again right in themiddle of the match.

Back to the match and we saw Tajiri setting up a table in the ring as Crazy nurses his wounds in a corner. Tajrir dragged the Champ onto the table then did a double booted stomp off the top to break the table. He went for the pin but failed. So he set up a second table in the corner but Crazy turned the tables and put Tajiri through it, then set up yet another table. He cracked that one as well then powerbombed Tajiri through it to finish the job and take the pin. At that point, Steve Corino and friends invaded the ring and attacked Crazy. This brought the Sandman out, but as usual, he took his time getting to the ring. When he finally arrived, he had a moment of offense then Tajiri sprayed green mist in his face and he was punked as we cut to commercial.

Cyrus was back in the ring as we returned, and in the middle of a rant. He challenged anyone to come down and take on "the Network" (apparently that is the name of his stable - Steve Corino, Rhino and Jack Visctory) - this attracted the attention of Balls Mahoney who swaggered to the ring. Cyrus's troups abandoned him but he didn't know it until Mahoney was right in front of him. As Balls lined him up fir the shot he was lured into turning his back on the thugs at ringside. Corino grabbed the chair as he swung it back then Rhino speared him. Time for another commercial.

Backstage, the Baldies beat up on Tommy Dreamer at the behest of Raven...we cut to some promos...

Dreamer is then shown making his entrance to the ring. His opponent is Vic Grimes (a graduate of my local home town Indy promotion APW, thank you very much). This one went out of the ring immediately and a lot of it took plavce up against the NHL boards - some of it actually in the penalty box! Back in the ringside area, Grimes finally turned the tables and then his Bald companions lent a hand to put him firmly in control. A little later Grimes came off a scaffolding and dropped a very heavy elbow on Dreamer who lay stretched out on the concrete. The thugs then hauled Dreamer's lifeless bidy back to ringside and dropped him spreadeagle across the railing. Back int he ring, Grimes dropped a splash on him from the top corner, but Dreamer kicked out. Back outside, Dreamer was hit with a chair shot then set down in the chair. Grimes re-entered the ring and threw a somersault plancha which missed. Dreamer creamed the other two Baldies then pulled a ladder into the ring. Angel recovered enough to attack but hung himself up in the corner. Dreamer took advantage of his upside down position to draw Devito crotch first into Angel's face! Grimes was back up so Dreamer went back to work on him, hauling him back into the crowd and executing a suplex on the floor then laying him out on a table. Now it was Dreamer's turn to come off the scaffold and break the table. He then dragged his opponent back to the ring and tried to DDT him onto the ladder - but Grimes reversed it and dropped Dreamer on it instead. He then went up for a somersault splash - but missed...Dreamer...not the ladder. Dreamer took the pin.

"That guy" was in the ring as we returned, with Mike Awesome, his manager the judge and Raven and Francine. He is taking the credit for the success of Raven and Awesome. Francine disputes his claims, pointing out that nobody even knows what his name is in this promotion, but everyone knows who she is. She names herself the manager of champions as the announcers make catty remarks about her. She ends her rant with a variation on Raven's tag line: "What about me? What about Francine?" The Impact Players then put in an appearance as the program made a classic NWA fade out...

I'll beback next week. Until then...

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

Earl Oliver
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter



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