By Joe Kita
By Joe Kita
Whether pro wrestling is real or fake has been argued since Gorgeous George shook his flowing mane and proceeded to gouge the eyes of an opponent.
The critics call it entertainment; the wrestlers flex their football physiques and say, "Challenge me." Disbelievers scream, "Blood capsule!" but the competitors point to the scars.
Purists scoff at the circus-like interviews, but the participants counter with, "How much different was Muhammad Ali?" While the skeptics might be quick to notice the open-handed punches, the theatrical expressions and the soft turnbuckles, the wrestlers just smile and add another zero after their bank balance.
Obviously, not all of the mayhem in the ring can be true; if it were, the life span of a professional wrestler would be shorter than a Christian's in Roman times.
However, these boys ARE big. Rarely under 200 pounds, it is no illusion when they lift an opponent overhead. Most of them spend long hours in the weight room and many have athletic backgrounds. The Concrete Cowboy, for instance, claims he was scouted by the Denver Broncos while D.C. Drake is the 1983 New Jersey Law Enforcement Officers' bench press champion.
Professional wrestlers have been hurt -- some of them critically with precision and care. It is, as the Cowboy could readily attest, another form of stunt work -- acting in the general sense, but still dangerous.
Professional wrestlers and their referees must also be licensed by the state athletic commission. Subjected to the same rules of licensing as boxers, they must undergo an annual physical and submit the necessary paperwork.
"I'm most certainly an athlete," said the Cowboy. "I'm not an entertainer. I don't sing in the ring."
Comedian Andy Kaufman, of "Taxi" fame, is probably the best-known pro wrestling skeptic as evidenced by his not so successful challenge match with world champion Jerry Lawler in April 1982. After he was hospitalized with a neck injury received in that bout, he was further humiliated by Lawler when he was slapped in the face on "Late Night With David Letterman."
"Showmanship is prevalent in every sport," mused Drake, who would go on to vanquish the 'Cowboy' in their chain match on April 13 in Easton and win the CWA's heavyweight belt. "It's just that the media put the magnifying glass on wrestling. Maybe all the debate is for the better, though, because anytime there's controversy, you'll always have people wanting to see what it's all about."
Unlike many other more legitimate sports that have tested the waters of professionalism and eventually drowned, wrestling endures. While some contend it's because of this hurricane of controversy, others theorize that good vs. evil is always attractive, especially when it's packaged as affordable family entertainment.
"Where does good end and evil begin nowadays?" asked Drake. '
'There are no heroes for kids to look up to anymore. Most of the pro athletes are being busted for drugs or getting into scrapes with the law. In wrestling, good doesn't always win over evil, but that's the way life is. And for $5 or so, you can come and be excited for two or three hours. No other sport promises that."
"It's endured," drawled the 'Cowboy,' "because you got these fans who work their 9-to-5 jobs all week. They dig their ditches, grease monkey their hands, deliver the milk to the door and they realize that they're never gonna make those two points as the buzzer sounds . . . never gonna have their hand raised in victory for anything. Their big thing becomes living vicariously through someone else. It's a release for them.
"Football is a fine physical sport," he said, "but you're relying on a team, and with the offense, the defense and the specialty teams, sometimes it's 40 guys against 40 guys. For a one-on-one sport, it comes down to boxing and wrestling, and after Ali left, boxing became like corn flakes when you leave the milk on too long. Ali was controversial, he was the spark and the color. He was a little black boy who was hungry and poor, and when you're hungry and poor you go out and hustle yourself. For us, this is a hustle... and for the fans, it's a release, a fantasyland."
Jim Perkin, a psychological therapist in Bethlehem, supports the Cowboy's theory, citing Freud's belief in the cathartic effect of watching violence.
"While Freud certainly wasn't making a comment on pro wrestling," he explained, "he did believe that man has innate aggressive impulses and they have to be released in some way. There are non-acceptable ways of doing this like displacement, which might involve punching someone, and there are acceptable ways like watching Dirty Harry in his fight for justice. That is catharsis, releasing aggression through some type of fantasy expression."
"I come here to work off the frustration I build up in school," agreed an 18-year-old fan, Joe Capie from the Children's Home in Easton. "It's better to take them out here than on the streets. Except for having a sore throat, I feel a lot better when I leave."
Perkin warns, however, that there is another, more popular school of thought, that considers such violent theatrics as pro wrestling and television crime shows, dangerous. "A popular view these days," he said," is that rather than being an instinct, aggression is a socially learned behavior. Through observation, we become more aggressive. I'd tend to agree with this because kids do learn behavior through observation, so certainly aggression can be learned in regards to the pro wrestling concept. Whereas an adult can make a more conscious decision on whether to model or not, a child is much more easily persuaded. For them, it could be dangerous."
"They really pump you up," said one 11-year-old boy while flexing his scrawny muscle and periodically beating on his buddy. "We play it at home... the pile drivers and all, right on the concrete. I want to grow up and be a wrestler."
To illustrate the volatile nature of pro wrestling, consider an incident that occurred at the VFW after the Damien Kane-Mike Kaluha match, a bout that spilled over into the aisle and featured the two wrestlers trading blows with a pliers and a sandal. Excited to a feverish pitch, one teen-age fan shoved another spectator and threatened him with a folding chair before being subdued. In addition to performing their usual array of double neck-breakers, drop kicks and flying elbow smashes, wrestlers also entice the crowd through barbs and insults directed at some of the more vulnerable, like the fat, the crippled and the less than beautiful fans.
"Hey, fat boy," yelled Bill Borzak at a particularly plump spectator. "That Phillies' shirt you're wearing could fit the whole team!"
Such antagonism can result in something as harmless as an old lady chasing a wrestler with her high-heeled shoe or a scene as ugly as the riot that Drake witnessed while performing in Manila. Recently, an 81-year-old Scranton resident was assaulted by a professional wrestler called 'Mr. Wonderful,' who reportedly struck him while lashing out at a few hecklers in the Scranton Catholic Youth Center audience. The elderly man ended up with three broken false teeth, a broken nose, a fractured sinus, a fractured bone near his eye, and neck and back problems.
"Violence is, unfortunately, a part of life," said the Cowboy.
"Whether it be on Saturday morning cartoons where the Roadrunner is getting blown away or in professional wrestling, mommy and daddy have to sit down with the kids and take the time to explain it to them. When they ask, 'Mommy, why did that man jump off the top rope and drive his head through that man's chest?' they got to explain this is life. If somebody jumps out of the bushes after school and says, 'Give me your milk money!' don't be a dummy . . . win. Ain't nobody out there playing by the rules and most aren't playing with a full deck."
Monday Nitro presented its annual Spring Break Out edition from South Padre Island, Texas. Mean Gene was in the ring to start the program and invited a special guest to the ring - someone whom we haven't seen in a while - but he didn't get who he expected as Kimberley strutted to the ring then immediately introduced her husband, Diamond Dallas Page. Okerlund asked him about his back injury. Page was a bit vague on that score but managed to communicate that he was on his way back. He went on to describe his movie (Ready to Rumble) coming out as "Wayne's World with Wrestling" then vowed to become the three time World Heavyweight Champion. This brought Jeff Jarrett out to dispute DDP's star status and promise to come out to Hollywood and crash the movie's premiere at the Mann's Chinese Theater on April 5. We cut to the announcers who ran down the latest news on the Bischoff/Russo situation. It appears that they are setting up an angle around this. They also showed some video footage of Jimmy Hart attacking Mancow during his radio broadcast - another angle set up. Then backstage...Hey! there's Mike Modest - and Paisley singled him out to face the Artist in a match on the program. Modest is the star of our local APW (All Pro Wrestling) promotion right here in my hometown of Hayward, California. Mike is also the head instructor at the APW wrestling school and recently was featured in the movie, Beyond the Mat.
Sure enough the first match on the program was Mike Modest challenging the Cruiserweight champ. Mike actually put in a great performance, dominating the Artist throughout the early portion of the match. The fight went out to the floor then rolled back inside where TAFKAPI finally turned the tables. Meanwhile, Chavo Guerrero and Chris Candido strolled down to ringside to start jawing with Paisley. In the ring, Modest managed to get the advantage back and amazed the announcers by winning the match!! Go Mike!!!
Backstage, the Harris Thugs are making excuses for not facing Booker and Kidman in a tag team match. Don was injured so Ron said he would take on Booker in a one-on-one. The match itself saw the injured thug right there to get involved. Booker dominated the match, what there was of it. Jarrett and Don - who turned out to not be injured at all, cooperated to win the match for Ron. Then the new Harlem Heat ran out to finish the punk job. Kidman ran out but was too late to do anything but go down as well. Backstage, Vampiro warned Hulk Hogan that Sid had put a $500,000 bounty on his head.
Mean Gene was the man with the mic in the ring again as we returned from the break and brought out Hulk Hogan for an interview. Directly behind him in the crowd was a sign that read, "Hogan Please Retire". After he finished his rant against Sid and praising Vampiro as "the wrestler of the future", the Wall made an appearance on the top of the hotel tower to challenge Hogan to a match, apparently. Hogan accepted with alacerity (look it up...)
As we returned from the break, the Jung Dragons were assembling to do their impression of the Lamestreet Boyz complete with a Japanese language version of their insipid song. The Paisons and Disco Inferno ran in to break it up and the 6 man tag match was on between the two teams. This was a very fast-pased match. During this match, Tony made it official that Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff have agreed to work together at the head of the WCW creative team. Meanwhile in the ring, the Eyetalian Boyz were taking control of the match until tagged Disco in and threw it away. In fact, Disco was pinned moments later. The Harris Thugs ran in at that point and punked the Japanese Boyz.
Vampiro/Sting took on Team Package in the next match. In fact they ran in and attacked during Luger's overblown entrance. Sting dragged Luger from the ring and up the ramp while Vamp pounded on Flair inside. This was a Texas Tornado match - meaning falls count anywhere and no tagging in or out. While Vamp and Flair went at it in the ring, Sting and Luger brawled over to - and into the hotel pool. Then out to the deck where Luger got a face full of chips and salsa before they headed toward the beach. Meanwhile, Liz repeatedly hit Sting with anything she could get her hands on. The camera switched back and forth between the match in the ring and the fight on the beach which headed right into the ocean where Sting got a piledriver and took the pin, thus ending the match. Backstage a faceless interviewer asked Booker (he actually called him Booker T) how he felt about Russo and Bischoff coming back. Booker's advice to them was to do their jobs...
Meng had a match against La Parka - or should I say a squash... LP delivered his usual dubbed-in English rant which ended in some fightin' words that he didn't intend to say. The insults hurled at Meng just shortened LP's career considerably. Tank Abbott showed up followed by Fit Finley, who attacked the talentless one. A Kid Cam sequence showed Buff Bagwell putting the hit on the nWo girls - much to the displeasure of Scott Steiner who watched it on a monitor backstage. In another part of the backstage area, Fit Finley pledged to back the new creative team to the hilt. These interviews continued throughout the program and appeared to be conducted in "out of character" mode.
Hugh Morrus got his chance to take on the Hardcore Legend on the program. Tony announced that next week's Nitro slot would be filled by a review program of things that worked and things that didn't in WCW over the last year then Nitro will return live with the first of the Bischoff/Russo programs. In the ring meanwhile, Funk was getting his clock cleaned. The fight went to the outside where Funk was beaten some more - but then, back in the ring, he made a comeback. Morrus tried to regain the advantage but missed a splash to the outside. Funk hit him with a chair then caught Dustin Rhodes coming in to attack him. This gave Morrus a chance to recover and back in the ring he got his moonsault. But Funk kicked out and then Rhodes hit Morrus with the chair. Rhodes also hit Funk with the chair, but Funk got right up and punched his lights out! They brawled away fromm the ring leaving Morrus to throw his moonsault one more...on the referee.
Jeff Jarrett decided to let the girls stick around ringside for a change. Backstage, the Artist stepped out of character to first pretend to be against the return of Bischoff and Russo - then changed his tune and said, apparemtly sincerely, that he was grateful for the opportunity that Russo gave him (with the TAFKAPI personna, I imagine) and wished the two of them all the best. Back in the ring, the opponents for Jarrett and Scott Steiner were Buff Bagwell and Curt Hennig. In the early stages, Bagwell and Hennig dominated Jarrett, despite Bagwell's tendency to showboat - but that turned around when Steiner got the tag. One good suplex turned the tables and then Buff was being isolated. But only for a moment. Jarrett tagged in and threw it away - both guys tagged out. Hennig came in a house afire then all four where in the ring. The girls had to get up on the ring to turn it around. Jarrett got in the guitar shot on Hennig under cover of their distraction and Steiner executed the Steiner Recliner to take the win. Backstage, Big Vito added his voice to those looking optimistically at the return of Bischoff and Russo.
I just want to say at this point that there has been a lot of speculation on the internet about this strategy of WCW taking a week off to regroup - most of it has viewed the idea negatively. I am still in my "wait and see" mode on all of this - but would point out that next week the WWF will be coming off their biggest PPV of the year. It is very likely that they will clean up in the ratings no matter what WCW does - so I find it hard to fault WCW's timing.
For the main event we got Hulk Hogan against the Wall (literally and figuratively). The big guy went right to work on the Hulkster - who, by the way, had put his own half million up as an incentive. So the Wall was apparently looking at a $1,000,000 payoff if he could win this one. The fight went to the floor where the Wall took control then set up a table. But Hogan grabbed a chair and whaled on his opponent before the latter could get it done. Back inside, the Wall regained his composure and got his chokeslam then turned his back as Hogan popped right back to his feet. He got the foot to the face and the big leg drop...then turned his back as the Wall popped up. Vampiro ran in at this point to lend a hand and the two of them knocked the Wall off the apron and right through his own table. But it wasn't enough. The Wall was up and making threatening noises again as the prgogram faded.
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RAW is WAR came to us from Houston, Texas. The McMahons (senior) came to the ring to start te program and demanded that Stephanie come out and apologise for hitting her mother last week. And Stephanie did just that - but said that she should have slapped her father instead. HHH showed up as Vince was getting ready to advance on his daughter and delivered his bi-weekly rant, then Shane came down to join the argument and ended up attacking his dad! The Rock and Mick Foley ran down to rescue Vince which brings the Big Show out to round out the crowd. He chokeslammed the Rock while HHH Pedegreed Foley.
Eddie G and Chris Benoit took on Chris Jericho and Chyna and won easily when Jericho was pinned. Afterward they attacked Chyna to seal the deal until Too Cool came out to break it up. Vince called out his son for a match later tonight.
Hardcore Holly challenged his cousin for the Hardcore Title but then had to share the match with everyone in sight trying out their own challenges. I have to admit that Crash's trials and tribulations are growing on me. The King aptly named him the "Houdini" of hardcore wrestling. Shane gave his answer to Vince - and turned down the challenge.
Rakishi pretty much just chased the Road Dogg out of the ring after sticking his butt in his face. The Dogg was counted out to lose the match. Afterward, the Rock talked to Mike Cole and proposed a tag match with any combination of McMahons, the Show, etc. against the great one.
Saturn and Dean Malenko faced the Hardey Boyz who were outflanked when Edge and Christian came down to interfere. Edge speared Jeff to give the Radicals the win. Backstage, Shane is with the Big Show and proposing that the two of them take the Rock up on his challenge.
At the top of the second hour, Kane took on Kirk Angel in a brawler vs. wrestler contest which went pretty one sided for the most part. Kane thwarted his opponent at every turn, although Angle fought gamely against the seeming overwhelming odds. He finally had to use one of his title belts to whack the big guy and get himself disqualified. Kane then followed him up the ramp and dragged him back to the ring for a big chokeslam and a tombstone for his trouble. Afterward, Vince weighed in with his take on the ever evolving main event - he would be the Rock's partner in a tag match.
T&A (w/Trish) came down for Test's match against Al Snow. This one was short and took place mostly out on the floor. In the ring at last, Snow's partner Blackman tried to throw Head to him but overdid it and caused him to lose the match. Backstage, HHH and Stephanie confer - the upshot is that HHH is appointed as the referee for the main event.
Bull Buchanan and the Boss Man faced the Acolytes in a classic big men tag match. This was interrupted suddenly when the Godfather hit the ring with D'Lo Brown and about 20 garden tools. They cleared the ring in a thrice then invited the girls in to dance.
Backstage, Linda appointed Mick Foley to balance her son-in-law as a second referee for the main event. Meanwhile, GTV caught a little tiff in the ladies dressing room which left Terri and Moolah on one side and the Kat and Mae Young on the other side of the ongoing argument.
Devon Dudley and X-Pac met one-on-one...sort of...actually the Road Dogg, Tori, Kane and Bubba Ray all got involved before this one was over. X-Pac was the winner of the actual match but Tori almost got the worst of it all when her former boyfriend tried to chokeslam her. X-Pac saved her with a low blow then he was thrown over the top rope and through a table.
The main event started with Vince in the ring by himself because Maivia hadn;t been introduced yet when the bad guys attacked. The Rock ran down and broke that up almost immediately and the realk match began with the Show taking on the Rock. They took it out to the floor rifght away where Maivia was slammed into the steps then press-slammed back over the top rope into the ring. Back inside, Shane tagged in and went for an immediate pin attampt on the Rock but failed. Maivia cleaned the mat with him before HHH interfered. So Foley knocked Shane down then challenged HHH to a fight. They got it sorted out and the Big Show came in to take on the Rock again. At this point the Show was in control and the crowd told him what they thought of him with a vengence. Maivia ducked a clothesline to get in some offense but then was powerslammed and almost pinned. Shane came in and ran right into a DDT. Vince was tagged in and started whaling on his son as the boy's mother watched on a backstage monitor. Outside the ring, Vince rammed Shane into the ring steps then took him to the announce table to punish him some more. He pounded him to the floor then kicked him while he was down. Shane finally came back with some gut shots to escape and return to the ring. But Vince came back with a spear then was headbutted down by the Big Show. Both McMahons were out on the mat for a moment - then Vince tagged in the Rock who delivered the People's Elbow and went for the pin. But as Foley counted, HHH dropped an elbow on his back. Vince recovered and ejected HHH from the ring then the Rock got the Rock Bottom on Shane and Foley counted him out.
Thunder (taped Tuesday night in Houston, Texas) opened with Chris Candido coming to the ring immediately to have a match with his arch rival Chavo Guerrero, Jr. This is a rematch from last week's program. Mike Tenay is still talking about Mike Modest and his surprise win over the current Cruiserweight Champ Monday night. Candido got ejected from the ring and was attacked by the Artist who came out of nowhere. Meanwhile Modest showed up and started wrestling with Chavo! Soon all four of them were in the ring and the match was thrown out as they continued to brawl in and out of the ringside area. How much would you like to bet that WCW decided to give Modest a tryout after seeing him in the Beyond the Mat film..? He used that same move in the film, by the way...
The Barbarian was next up, to take on Hacksaw Duggan. To my knowledge, this is the first time Hacksaw has appeared on any of the prime time shows since finding the Television Title in a trash can. He's been all over the Saturday show now for weeks. This was not announced as a Title match. This is truely a battle of the Titans as these two beheamoths lumber around the ring and out to the floor. Both are brawlers, but the Barbarian also has that martial arts edge. At one point Duggan tried to headbutt his opponent but that was clearly a mistake. After taking some heavy shots, Duggan rolled away from an elbow drop amd regained the advantage. He went to his three-point stance then barreled right into an upraised boot. Duggan had to kick out to avoid the pin. Moments later he exploded out of the corner with a clotheline to put his opponent down then hit the Old Glory knee-drop and took the pin.
The "candid" interviews were still going on throughout this program - most respondents seem to be willing to give the new creative team a chance to turn it around. Norman Smiley even referred, during his interview, to the "Screamin' Norman character" as having been originally suggested by Vince Russo.
The Cat appeared with his new valet, Mr. Jones. Tenay was telling us that both Nitro and Thunder next week will be recap shows tracing the history of the two programs. He also claimed that they will be peppered with updates concerning the new management situation. Miller launched into one of his usual rants about his dancing ability then switched to talking about his opponent for the evening - Dustin Rhodes. This brought Rhodes out to give him a listen as Miller abruptly substituted his valet for himself in the match. Rhodes made mincemeat out of Jones then Miller jumped up on the apron to distract him. Meanwhile, Terry Funk snuck behind Rhodes with a chair. Miller tried to warn him but Rhodes didn't believe him and got clocked along with Jones. The two Texans then disappeared, leaving Miller to go into his dance.
Three Count were reduced to dancing without their green circles until someone pulled the plug on their music (Thank God!) Miss handcock strutted down the aisle and, called the Boyz "boys" and then introduced her guys, Los Fabulosos. While his partners took on the Mexican Boyz, Evan decided to hit on the lady - who basically laughed in his boyish face. In the end he is so taken with Miss Handcock that he failed to interefere when he was supposed to. The result, the Lamestreet Boyz got beat.
The Paisons decided to turn the tables on the "Manager of Champions" and booked Disco Inferno into a match with Tank Abbott. When confronted with his worst nightmare, Disco tried to play dead to avoid the fight. It didn't work. Abbott just grabbed him and went to work. The Talentless one took him out with a couple of punches.
What could have been a great match for the US Title was spoiled when the Harris Thugs came out to attack the challenger, Booker. Each time Booker found his way to the top again, the twins would interfere and halt his progress. When that didn't do the trick, Jarrett used the title belt on him and then tried to use his guitar but Booker thwarted that shot. Then the thugs got involved in earnest and caused the DQ.
The Paisons went up against the new Harlem Heat. For a change, the former Ahmed Johnson actually participated in the match. As usual, Big Vito proved himself able to face up to almost any size opponent, but the opposition had overwhelming size and numbers. The referee eventually threw the match out after Harlem Heat cheated so blatently.
Kidman and his main squeeze came down for a match against Ron Harris. Don was back in his sling again - as if we don't already know that it is bogus. I didn't appear that Ron needed much help with his size advantage in this one, although at the opportune moment, Don pulled down the top rope causing Kidman to tumble to the floor and then put the boots to the smaller man before rolling him back inside. Still Kidman made a comeback forcing Don to abandon his pretense and attack openly, which got his brother disqualified. The two of them treated the winner to an H-Bomb before they split.
The Dog came to the ring on the end of a leash being restrained by the referee to face his former "master" Brian Knobbs. The last time we saw him, Knobbs had ababdoned him in the woods. This was a Hardcore match for which Knobbs brought a cart full of plunder and started throwing the items into the ring. This proved to be his undoing as the Dog immediately started using the weapons on him as soon as he entered the ring. Knobbs recovered however and began to deliver some "plunder" shots of his own. The fight went to the floor where Knobbs rammed his former pet into the railing then started tossing stuff into the ring again. A table and a chair were among the items added to the detrius in the ring. Back inside, Knobbs got a chair kicked back into this own face then was splashed in the corner. Knobbs took a couple of more shots then recovered again to run the Dog into a table set-up in the corner. A second rope trash can shot spelled the end of the Dog's hopes of revenge.
La Parka's disembodied voice continued to get him in trouble. Tonight he insulted LP's opponent, Buff Bagwell. The former tried to lessen the insult by holding up a sign saying he was sorry. Buff seemed to accept this - then La Parka submarined him! This gave him the immediate advantage but it lasted barely a minute before Bagwell came roaring back. If nothing else La Parka is a big guy and not a bad wrestler - he managed to stay even with his opponent for another minute of two - but eventually he went down to a Block Buster.
Ric Flair was the only one so far who refused to come out of character in order to comment on the Bischoff/Russo thing. He said he'd need ten minutes to air his views properly. Well...maybe he was out of character, after all.
The main event was Vampiro vs. the Wall. The latter ran down and tossed a chair into the ring before entering himself. Vamp was all over him and managed to kick the chair back in his face then ejected him from the ring. Back insode, he maintained his assault until he ran into a bog boot to the face. The wall then took control and suddenly it didn;t look good for the dead guy. But Vamp dug down and came out of it again. Then he rushed his opponent with the chair only to have the big man punch it back at him then go out and set up a table. The Wall climbed the apron only to be knocked off and through the table! The referee went out to check on him and got choked then slammed! Back into the ring he went but the match was over and security started streaming in to break up the fight. The two combabtants were still clearing the ring and pounding on each other as the program faded.
SmackDown was taped in San Antonio, Texas this week and opened with an appearance by Kane and Paul Bearer. The Big Red Machine was there to team up with Rakishi and challenge the Dudleys in a non-title match. Bubba Ray came down wearing his title belt like a necklace. The Champs ran right to the ring and the fight was on. On paper this is no contest at all, and indeed it seems to go that way during the early moments until the Champs managed to pull off a double team on Rakishi. Their advantage was short lived, however, they then managed to get it back and Rakishi found himself isolated. But only until Bubba took him to the corner and tried to chop him down. This proved to be a mistake and Rakishi turned the tables then tagged in his partner who cleaned house with ease with a double chokeslam. He then allowed Rakishi to take the pin after a butt drop on Devon.
The World Champ and his little woman appeared after the first break for their bi-weekly rant. As usual, they really didn't have much to say past extolling the virtues of HHH. Vince McMahon showed up at the end of his speech to ask the question, "Just how good are you HHH?" He suggested that the Champ's real intention at WrestleMania is to get himself DQ'd or counted out. To prevent that, Vince declared that there would be no DQs and no countouts during the main event at WrestleMania. HHH's opinion was that it was unfair but he accepted the conditions nonetheless declaring that he put Mick Foley out of the business in a no DQ match. This brought Foley out to show us his barbed wire covered 2x4 and say that he would be able to use it since the match is going to be no DQ. He reminded the Champ that after the PPV, he (HHH) would have to get up and go back to work while he (Foley) wouldn't. He proposed that he had no reason not to let it "all hang out".
In the back, Kirk Angel was haraunging his favorite whipping boy (that's someone that has to listen to him, folks...) about how unfair it was that he had to face the Rock on the program, when the Big Show sidled over and requested a conference with him.
Tazz was next up, challenging Crash Holly for his Hardcore Title. This is such a silly title that I didn't even mind that it turned into another of those, "everybody go after the Hardcore Champ" affairs when Viscera appeared in the middle of the fight out in the crowd, then the Headbangers got involved immediately after that. As usual, everybody started fighting among themselves while the "Hardcore Houdini" made his escape. This led into another GTV episode which opened with Val Venis in his hotel room being dropped in on by the Kat who apparently offered up her body to sway his opinion as the referee of the Cat Fight match at WrestleMania.
We found out after the break that the Hardcore match had actually continued with even more wrestlers getting involved.
The Hardey Boyz joined the announce team for the next match - a tag team contest pitting the new New Age Outlaws against Edge & Christian. The Road Dogg faced Edge to start and was on the receiving end for most of his tour. In fact, a double team almost got a pinfall for Christian. Moments later he turned the tables and tagged in his partner who almost immediately got the bronco buster on Christian. As the good guys started to get it back, but in the absense of the referee (who had been knocked down), the Hardeys invaded the ring and changed the odds - giving DX the victory.
Backstage, Mick Foley offfered to watch the Rocks back between now the PPV, but the Rock, while appreciating the gesture, turned him down.
The Euro-Continental Champion came out to direct his usual snide insults at the local crowd, followed by the Rock, who rained all over his parade without saying a word. What I want to know is wy this was a non-title contest? HHH and Stephanie showed up to provide distraction so that Angle could take the early advantage. This brought Shane and the Show out as well. Meanwhile in the ring the match had changed direction somewhat and was now firmly in see-saw mode. Angle's mat wrestling style seemd to be a pretty good balance to Maivia's usual lively brawl. Of course, about the time that Maivia was about to take the win, HHH jumped up on the apron to distract him (and the referee) then the Show applied a chokeslam. This hardly slowed the Rock down, however, he came right back with the Rock Bottom and took the pin. He was attacked afterward, at which point Vince McMahon ran in with a chair and laid everyone out. But then Shane delivered a shot on his dad with one of the title belts, allowing the Big Show to get the last laugh.
The Millenium Bug and Chyna made their entrance with the usual fireworks then were followed out by Eddie G and Chris Benoit. Guerrero made some crude suggestions related to the way that Chyna sees him then the match was on - between Guerrero and Jericho. The contest was fairly short and then Benoit interefered openly and got his friend disqualified. As Jericho and Benoit battled, Chyna chased Guerrero away from the ring area. The Kirk Angel showed up and added to the confusion.
Stephanie came to the ring and read a supposed fan letter from a female college student, which brough her father out to accuse her of writing the letter herself. Linda then appeared and suggested that all of this inter-famillial strife was his fault and it was up to him to fix it. Vince assured her that he would and she left - at which point he declared that he was going to do something about it right now. His remedy was to set up a match on the show for Stephanie vs. Jacqueline! Backstage, Crash Holly is still being pursued by a bevy of challengers who are falling all over each other trying to take his title. Crash finally made his way to the ring where he declared that there would be a Hardcore Battle Royal to determine a new Champion at WrestleMania. Bob Holly appointed himself the spokesman for the group of challengers and accepted Crash's terms. Then said, "...but this thing between you and me is personal." and walloped him.
The next GTV segment featured Terri Runnels pulling the same "trick" as her opponent.
Dean Malenko defended his Light Heavyweight Title against Scotty Too-Hotty, but of course he had help from Saturn to make sure he retained his title.
The Hardey Boyz drew T&A with their wooden manager for their match tonight. At least they didn't let her say anything. Good idea - she spoils the impression her looks make every time she opens her mouth. The Hardey's were overpowered but won the match by dint of sheer talent and enthusiasm. The bad guys got a little revenge after the match and then the victors were set upon by Edge and Christian, who brought a ladder into the ring and then were in turn attacked by the Dudleys.
SMH (Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley)is definitely not a happy camper as she is seen heading toward the ring with her hubby in tow and we head into a cormmercial.
Well, I spoke too soon. After the break they did give Trish a couple of lines. Fortunately, Head Cheese attacked her guys and she was reduced to doing what she does best...standing there looking hot.
The entire DX contingent showed up to back Stephanie in her match against Jacquie - but she still didn't seem to entuhsed at the prospect. I don't blame her - I wouldn't want to meet Jacquie in the ring - and I probably outweigh Steph by over a hundred pounds. Of course the DX troups came through and took Jacquie out so that Steph could become the Ladies' Champ. Numerous factions then exploded into the ring (in fact, every wrestler involved in the PPV ended up inside battling it out) and the program ended in chaos. So what else is new..?
ECW on TNN saw the announcers open the program in the ring as has been the custom lately - coming to us for the first time from the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, MO. Gertner was especially vitiolic concerning TNN which brought Cyrus out to confront the two truculent announcers with Tajiri at his side. Cyrus expressed his displeasure at the situation concerning the Television Title and so declared that he would wrestle Super Crazy himself in order to restore the title to the network. This should be fun...
Backstage the Baldies interrupted an interview with Danny Doring and Road Kill then punked both of them.
We came back from the first break to find Tajiri in the ring again - this time with Little Guido in a one-on-one match. The ring for this program was flush up against a rampway, so when Tajiri threw his opponent out on that side, he landed on the hardwood surface with a thump. Tajiri dragged a table into the ring and set it up in the corner but didn;t get to use it right away. Guido is a real scrapper. Even after a devesatating chair shot, he comes roaring right back. He has the advantage of being a much better wrestler then his opponent and was demonstrating same as we cut to commercial.
Guido was about to use Big Sal's shoulders to launch himself onto Tajiri who was laying on a table - but Tajiri sprayed the big man in the eyes with his green mist and thwarted Guido - who rammed his forehead on the table top. Tajiri then tied him to the "tree of woe" and kicked a chair in his face! Guido again shows his superiority by anticipating a back handspring elbow and countering the move. Moments later, however, Tajiri gets a top rope DDT and the pin.
"That guy" gives a silly Tarot reading and then the Baldies invade the ring before we cut to commercial.
Doring and his big friend were confronting the Baldies and challenging them to a Steet Fight as we returned - Angel reminded him that they were outnumbered - but Doring was unfazed - he called out a partner - Tommy Dreamer! The match shook out immediately to Dreamer vs. Grimes in the ring while the brawl went on outside as well. I'm trying to figure out when Doring metamorphized into a face... I guess when Electra turned her back on him. The next pairing in the ring was Road Kill vs. Devito - with the latter taking it royal. Dreamer handed a table into his partner and Devito was laid out on it - but then escaped as the big guy launched his massive bulk and broke the table. Road Kill lay motionless as Dreamer brought a ladder into the ring and then got creamed on it. Doring got the ladder shot next and that left the Baldies in charge of the mayhem until the good guys applied a testicular claw apiece (Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!) Suddenly the tables were turned and Dreamer and company were back in the drivers seats. Dreamer set up his ladder on the far side of the ring while Road Kill tossed a section of safety railing into the ring. He was then knocked down and laid on it - Grimes went up for a splash but RK rolled away and Crimes smashed himself onto the steel. In the end, Road Kill got the pin on Grimes with an assist from Dreamer.
Cyrus showed up in street clothes for his main event match against Super Crazy - and in fact it turned out he had no intention of wrestling the Television Champ - instead he substituted the dreaded Rhino. With his superior sise and power (and his two companions Steve Corino and Jack Victory at ringside) Rhino seemed unbeatable in this one. But they had not reckoned with the tanacity of the Insane Luchadore. Despite his best attempts, Rhino became increasingly frustrated (and the crowd increasingly loud) as he failed to put the Champion away. After being pummeled for several minutes, Crazy made his comeback with surprising ease but then allowed himself to be distracted by the goons at ringside. Rhino put him through a table in the corner but both guys were hurt. Rhino recovered first but was still unable to get the pin. The fight was now in see-saw mode as each man alternately attempted to pin the other. Rhino brought in another table but Crazy reversed the momentum and powerbombed the Rookie Monster though it to get the pin. Cyrus and Co. attacked the champ afterward which brought Sandman out to change the odds. Mr. Beerbust made his way to ringside without the benefit of beer and cigarettes until he actually got there. Then he smashed a beercan on his forhead and came out swinging with his cane. Unfortunately he was overwhelmed and both he and Crazy were speared through the remaining table, after which they were thoroughly caned - leaving Cyrus to declare that "Nobody - but nobody - stands up to the network."
I'll be back on Sunday night with the WrestleMania Report. Until then...
At least that's the way I see it...
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This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie.
Copyright 1999 - Jump City Productions