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For this special WrestleMania Edition we have reached way back in time for our opening article. This story about wrestling legend Frank Gotch harkens back to a time in history when professional wrestling was not scripted and was covered in main stream news media (read newspapers) just like any other sport.
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- The coming contest between Tom Jenkins of Cleveland, champion catch-as-catch-can wrestler of America, and Frank Gotch, of Humbolt, Louisianna, will be the greatest event of its kind ever held on the Pacific Coast. They meet in this city at Beck's Theater, January 27, for $1,000 a side and a $2,000 purse, all of which is to go to the winner. The match will be catch-as-catch-can, two best in three falls, and pin falls to count.
That the match takes place here is due to P.D. McKeller, H. Walcott and Andy Giles, who put up the $2,000 guarantee purse. They have made arrangements for an excursion from Seattle over the Great Northern railroad. The train will leave Seattle between 2 and 3 p.m. the day of the match, and all other roads will give special rates for that day. All tickets will be good for regular trains the day after the match.
Tom Jenkins is the recognized champion of America, and has successfully defended his title against the best wrestlers of England and America. The coming match will not only decide who is champion of America but the championship of the Anglo-Saxon race, according to the articles of agreement.
Jenkins has never been defeated by a white man. He lost to the giant Youssuf, the "Terrible Turk," after one hour and thirty minutes of wrestling. After eight minutes' wrestling the Turk broke four of Jenkins' ribs, but he continued to wrestle until defeated. Youssuf weighed 270 pounds stripped. Jenkins afterwards wrestled a draw with Hali Adali -- weight 305 pounds -- a Turk whom it is claimed defeated Youssuf in the old country.
His first professional match was against Peter Schumacher, whom he easily defeated. He next beat Ed Atherton, one of the best middleweighs in America. Dan McLeod then offered to throw Jenkins twice in one hour, but had all he could do to keep from being thrown himself.
"Farmer" Burns, who was then the champion of America, went to Cleveland and attempted to throw Jenkins twice in one hour, but failed to get a fall.
It was then predicted that Tom Jenkins would soon be champion of America. He next defeated Malone of Chicago; also John J. Rooney, the giant gripman; Al Zimmerman and a host of others, after which he issued a challenge to wrestle any man in the world. It was accepted by "Farmer" Burns. The match took place at Indianapolis, Ind., and Jenkins won. It was after this that the giant Turk invaded this country and met Jenkins with the result above related. Jenkins next defeated Kara Osman, a 200-pound Turk, afterwards defeating Dan McLeod, Jim Parr -- England's best wrestler -- and numerous other wrestlers of less note. Jenkins' height is 5 feet 10 1/2 inches and weight 210 pounds stripped and trained.
Frank Gotch was born at Humboldt, and spent all of his life on a farm. Gotch has wrestled some all his life, but it was not until the summer of 1899 that he had his first professional match, when he defeated a wrestler named Green. His next match was with Dan McLeod, who rung in on Gotch at a Woodman's picnic, under the name of Reynolds. They wrestled in the road and McLeod won the first fall in one hour and twenty-seven minutes, and the second in forty-eight minutes. Gotch next met McLeod in a handicap match, McLeod to throw Gotch twice in one hour, which he failed to do. He next met "Farmer" Burns, who was touring the country offering $25 to any man he could not throw in fifteen minutes, and was thrown in eleven and one-half minutes. Gotch afterward traveled with "Farmer" Burns and easily defeated the best wrestlers of the middle states, among the rest being Charles Moth, Bert Scheller, Scott Miller, Lew Rubby, Mike Crowe, Lou Buccholz and a host of others.
In 1901, he was engaged by his present manager, Joe Carroll, and together they went to the Klondike, where Gotch had an unbroken string of victories, easily defeating the bst wrestlers of the Yukon country. Returning from there, Gotch, after a number of other matches, issued a challenge to wrestle any man in America. His challenge was accepted by Tom Jenkins, and the match took place at Cleveland February 26, 1903. Jenkins won after two hours and thirty minutes of the fiercest wrestling ever seen in America. Since that time Gotch has steadily improved.
From the Anaheim Pond in Anaheim, CA, WrestleMania 2000 is on the air in front of a crowd of about 19,000. Lillian Garcia favors us with the National Anthem to start the program. She really does have a fine voice - nice range (I say that as a professional singer and vocal coach).
The Godfather/D-Lo Brown (w/7 Garden Tools/Ice-T) vs. Big Boss Man/Bull Buchanan - Ice-T rapped his guys to the ring. Buchanan is like a bull in a china shop lumbering around trying to land even a single paw on Brown. The Godfather tagged in and continued the assault for a moment then the rookie finally got away and tagged in his more experienced partner. The Boss man turns things around momentarily but then tags Buchanan back in to throw it away. Buchanan then redeems himself with a surprising show of agility as he leapes to the top corner then springs back with a flying elbow that levels D-Lo. Now the Boss Man and Buchana are showing some good teamwork as they isolate Brown. Eventually Buchanan loses it when he tries to climb the corner and falls spreadeagle on the ropes. D-Lo finally makes the tag and takes the Boss man out with his train wreak move. D-Lo is tagged in but gets waylaid by Buchanan. A doubleteam later and D-Lo is pinned.
Backstage, HHH and the little lady are comparing their respective title belts. In another part of the building, the referee for the Hardcore Battle Royal explained the rules. The match will last 15 minutes - there can be any number of title changes during that period. Whoever has the title at the end of the fifteen minutes will be the Hardcore Champ. The combatants include: Hardcore Holly, the Meanstreet Posse, Funaki, Taka Michnoku, the Head Bangers, the Acolytes, Crash Holly (of course) and Tazz. Tazz faces Crash in the ring and pins him while everyone else is fighting outside - so Tazz is the new Champion and target. Viscera then pinned Tazz after about a thirty second reign. Viscera proved to be a much tougher nut to crack - with everybody ganging up on him he lasted several minutes. Of course the battle raged all around him at the same time. Crash Holly and Pete Gass were both opened up. The weapon of choice seemed to be the numerous cookie sheets that floated around the ring area. After about six minutes, the Acolytes took Vis out and graciously gave Funaki the chance for the pin. The new Champ then split out of the arena! He was followed to the back and pinned by Rodney - then he was pinned by Joey Abbs. With six minutes left in the match - Thrasher won the gold. Back inside the arena, the bloody Pete Gass shot Thrasher with a fire extinguisher and took the title. Next Tazz took the titler for a second time in under ten minutes and there were 4:31 left in the match. Tazz was another one who was hard to take out - he lasted through numerous pin attempts by Bob Holly and Thrasher. With 2:40 to go it began to look like he just might hold onto the illusive title. In fact for a while the Hollys kept each other from winning. Another minute passed and still the Hollys were thwarting each other. At the 45 second mark Tazz was alone in the ring then Crash surprised him and got the pin. Tazz came back with a Tazzmission but then Bob Holly ran back in and smashed a candy jar over his head and took the pin...we thought...the apparently it was confirmed. Bob Holly is the new Hardcore Champion. The title changed hands ten times during the match!!
Headcheese vs. T&A (w/Trish Stratus) - Prince Albert has been showing some great improvement over the last several months. To me he was the standout performer in this match. Al Snow brought along a mascot wearing a cheese outfit (of course). This one was very confusing - just keeping the legal men straight was very difficult. It was a brutal affaire which test finally won with a bog flying elbow off the top onto Snow. Afterward, Snow admitted that his mascot idea was a stupd one. He rolled the poor guy into the ring and then "cut the cheese" - figuratively of course - the two of them clobbered the poor guy.
I don't know about you guys but when I pay $35 for a PPV I don't expect to have to watch commercials! Save the promos for after the show idiots!
In the ladies dressing room, Mae Young and the Kat (in her altogether) did a little strip-tease take off on something out of an Austin Powers movie. Everytime it looked like Miss Kitty was going to expose her puppies, either she or Young would hold something up to just barely cover her assets.
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Dudleys vs. The Hardeys vs. Edge & Christian - Tag Team Title Triangle Ladder match - E&C and the Hardeys started the fight even before the Dudleys arrived. This one took place all over the ringside area and in the ring - this is a Texas Tornado style match with no tagging in and out. The Title belts were hung suspended over the ring so the ladder was needed to reach them and win. Within minutes there were two ladders in the ring. Jeff hardey had one of the first really spectacular moves when he threw a 450 splash and landed on one of the ladders. Edge then road one of the ladders down to smash Jeff. Bubba then did his impression of the an old Laurel and Hardy routine - spinning the ladder around to take all of his opponents down. He was then kicked in the head and Christian started up one of the ladders - but then he used the platform to throws a splash clear out to the floor! Jeff then climbed the ladder only to have Edge spear him off from the top corner. Edge tried to climb next but was dragged off by Matt - who tried next and was dragged off by Christian. Next three ladders were set up as Christian and Bubba raced to the top. Bubba got a 3D on Christian from the top of the ladder to end that attempt. The Hardeys then double splashed Bubba but then were tossed to the floor by E&C. Now E&C and Devon were all at the top when the former double-suplexed the latter back down to the mat. Next E&C and the Hardeys were all four climbing both sides of two ladders - they thwarted each other's attempts. Now there were thre ladders set up and all six guys were climbing - then all six tumbled to the mat as the ladders were all upset. The Dudleys ended up in the ring alone but both were worse for wear. They managed to get two ladders up and used them to sandwich Christian as he returned to the ring. Edge was 3D'd and now the Dudleys decided to listen to the crowd and gets some tables involved! Two of them were slid into the ring then Bubba set up two ladders - Devon helped him to place one of the tables across the top of the ladders!! They started to climb but the Hardeys recovered and dragged them back - leaving the table/ladder assemblage in place. The Dudleys, undaunted, set another table up underneath their creation and a third off to the side, then a fourth out on the floor. Outside Bubba scatters the Spanish announcers and powerbombed Jeff Hardey through his table while in the ring, Devon came off the top of the ladders and missed his shot - breaking the table off to the side in the ring with his own body. Out in the aisle - Bubba set up another ladder then fished yet another table out from under the ring. He then grabbed Matt and set him up on the table but Christian changed the odds - Bubba ended up in his place. Matt threw a senton bomb off the top of the ladder and destroyed Bubba - and possibly himself in the process. Back in the ring, Devon put Christian down with a suplex then struggled to climb up - but Jeff Hardey stopped him. Now Christian and Matt were climbing up opposite sides to the table where they struggled as Edge climbed up to join them. Matt was thrown through the remaining table (you remember, the one that was set up between the ladders?). Edge and Christian retreived the belts and are the new champs.
The Kat (w/Mae Young) vs. Terri Runnels (w/The Fabulaous Moolah) - Cat Fight - Val Venis is the referee - whichever "lady" is thrown to the floor first wins the match - The Kat has gone back to her blonde hair these days. Both girls tried to influence the referee before the match, of course...and during it. They finally got it on as the referee was distracted trying to keep Young from showing her "puppies". Terri was thrown out of the ring but Moolah rolled her back inside before Venis could see it. Mae then continued action by kissing Val while the Kat was thrown out. Val surfaced long enoug to notice that Miss Kitty was outsiode the ring and declared Terri the winner. The Kat started tearing Terri's clothes off after the match but Terri got away before anything interesting was exposed (sorry guys - but we've seen her butt plenty of times...)
Backstage, Eddy G is too preoccupied with his obsession with Chyna to discuss strategy with his partners. Chyna observes their shenanigans on a monitor and is clearly underwhelmed.
The Radicals (Malenko/Saturn/Guerrero) vs. Too Cool/Chyna - as could be expected this was a very fast-paced match with a a lot of high-flying action. At one point, Saturn stole the Grand masters dew rag and and donned himself while clobbering the owner. Everytime Guerrero got into the ring he continued to perform for Chyna who distained his advances. It provided distraction which Too Hot took advantage of - Guerrero ended up suplexed out to the floor. Scotty then ran a double worm down on both Malenko and Saturn. While Scotty was the legal man but out on the floor - Chyna tried to take a shot at Guerrero but was ejected by the referee. Scotty got back inside and got a superplex on Guerrero then the race was on to see which would tag out first. Scotty got the tag to Chyna who came in a house afire and cleaned house until Guerrero finally woke up and cheap shotted her. He went for a powerbomb but she blocked it and got one of her own - then she grabbed him by the testicles before scoopslamming him then flap-jacking him to take the pin. With the Radicals still in the ring - Too Cool and Chyna made do with dancing up the aisle.
We followed the progress of the winners of the contest for a free trip to WrestleMania.
Backstage, ShanoMac gives a pep talk to his giant contender. Telling him he will be the next WWF Title holder...right...
Kirk Angel found out earlier on Sunday Night Heat that it was Bob Backlund who suggested that he should defend both of his titles tonight.
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho - combined 3-Way European/Intercontinental Heavyweight Title match - the Millennium Bug was the first to arrive and took the opportunity to make a self-centered speech. His new name for Benoit is "Mr. Roboto". The rules here is that it is a three way dance with the first fall determining the Intercontinental Title and the second one determining the European Title. I don't really care for this type of match - it seems to me that who wins has nothing to do with who is the best man - and of course the title can change hands without the current champion being pinned. Jericho is knocked to the floor early and leaves the other two to go at it for about a minute or so, but he recovers before anything important can happen. He gets a bulldog on Angle and almost pins him. This goes as these matches generally do - the third man is forever preventing either of the other two from achieving a victory. Angle slapped a cross-face chicken wing on Jericho butenoit prevented the pin with a kick to his head, then came back and pinned Jericho himself to win the IC title. Now it was the European title on the line immediately. Moments later, Angle missed a moonsault and all three were out on the mat for a moment while the count went to 8 - then Angle rolled over to cover Benoit - but failed. The next moment Jericho was putting on the Walls of Jericho when Benoit knocked him down. Angle cam back with a vengence and outmaneuvered both challengers but then Jericho recovered and got a powerbomb on the European Champ. Benoit got Jericho in two German Suplexes but ngle thwarted the pin. Moments later Angle got Jericho to submit but the referee had been knocked out and was unable to declare the winner. Now they are in see-saw mode with the three preventing any progress by their opponents. Suddenly Jericho threw a moonsault and took Benoit down for the pin. Jericho is the new European Champ. And, as I feared - the Champion Angle was not pinned for either belt.
Road Dogg/X-Pac (w/Tori) vs. Rakishi Phatu/Kane (w/Paul Bearer) - Grudge Match - on paper this is no match-up at all. The new New Age Outlaws show that their strategy from the get-go is divide and conquer - but it is not sufficient as the two big guys turn the tables immediately. DX tries to leave with Tori but Kane catches up to them and they are dragged back. They immediately double team Rakishi and make some headway, isolating the big Samoan with a concerted attack. Rakishi recovered quickly however and tagged in the Big Red Machine who cleaned house easily, thank you very much. As the two DXr's were dispatched - Paul Bearer rolled Tori into the ring so Rakishi could grind his butt into her face! Then X-pac rode to the rescue and right into a Tombstone. The big guys took the win. Too Cool ran in to celebrate with their friend and the San Diego chicken who joined them for the dance as Uncle Paul and Kane hung back looking like they were contemplating a chicken dinner. After the dance, Kane grabbed the chicken - thinking it was Pete Rose - but it wasn't. The man himself ran in with a ball and was caught and chokeslammed. Rakishi gave him the butt treatment then Kane started to leave with the bat in hand, but was called back for his pyro display. They never did get him to dance with them.
Backstage Kevin Kelly interviewed the Rock, who delivered a classic, cliche ridden smack-rant. Several celebrities were shown at ringside including French Stewart and Martin Short.
Mick Foley (w/Linda McMahon) vs. HHH (w/Stephanie McMahon-Helmsly) vs. The Big Show (w/Shane McMahon) vs. The Rock (w/Vince McMahon) - Fatal Four-Way Elimination WWF Heavyweight Title match - This is another Texas Tornado type match - no tagging in and out - all four men in at the same time - no DQ - no count outs - The Big Show started out dominating the other three by sheer dint of his superior power. Of course there was no thought on the parts of the other three of cooperating to take him down. Foley did try to pry him off the Rock with a sleeper but he was dropped on his back and crushed. The Show went back to work on his hated rival. HHH finally cut him down and then he and Foley started to cooperate. Even the Rock joined them until the big guy fell - then they put the boots to him collectively - but only for a moment. It all broake down again at this point and the giant regained his feet. Foley got a chair and used it on the Show - setting him up for a Rock Bottom and a pin. Paul Wight is eliminated. The Show was truculent and it was hard to persued him to leave the ring area - but eventually he did. Now it looks bad for HHH - with the Rock n' Sock connection on the other side of the ring. He tried to appeal to Maivia to turn on his pld partner - and the Rock seemed to agree but then he back jumped HHH and the two of them went to town on him. The former Tag Champs doubleteamed the WWF Champ inside and outside the ring. But then they tried to set HHH for a ring bell shot - Foley took it instead. He was knocked out temporarily while HHH and Maivia continued to battle - then Foley reappeared with his barbed-wire covered 2x4 in hand. But he missed the shot and HHH got the weapon and didn;t - miss that is. Maivia knocked it out of his hand and then was tossed to the floor. Meanwhile Foley recovered and donned Mr. Socko. He got the claw on HHH then Maivia ran him down. The Rock was going for his elbow when Foley turned and shoved his fingers down his throat. HHH delivered a double low blow before collapsing and all three were down for a bit. HHH and the Rock recovered and engaged in some fisticuffs before Foley got back into it. HHH was knocked down then Foley almost eliminated Maivia. Foley was left on his feet with chair in hand but then tried to use it and had it kicked in his face. The Rock would have eliminated Foley but HHH prevented it. Now Foley and HHH were cooperating against the Rock. Even together, however, they were unable to pin the Great one. This cooperation was not unexpected since both have vowed to put the other on out of wrestling - to do that they need to be facing each other at the end. Now the Rock and HHH are fighting around the Spanish Announce table. The Rock was set up on the table and HHH convinced Foley to throw an elbow on him - but Foley missed the spot and smashed his sternum on the edge of the table instead. I think he's really hurt. HHH finished the Rock and the Spanish announcers' table. Back in the ring, HHH tried to pin Foley but the Hardcore Legend kicked out. He then tried again and got the pin, I am willing to bet that Foley had to be pinned because he was too severely injured to go on. He started to leave - but then he turned back and clobbered HHH with his 2x4. He was clutching his side as he left the ring area. The Rock went for the pin but failed. Now the fight went up the aisle as the two finalists battled it out near the lighting towers. Now they are fighting into the crowd and it is difficult to see what is going on. They brawled back to the ringside area where the Rock tried to use the ring steps as a weapon but HHH hit back with a chair and hoisted Maivia on his own petard. He next got a piledriver on the steel steps. Maivia was out of it completely at this point but still managed to kick out after he was rolled back inside the ring. The show is running overtime at this point, by about 5 minutes so far. They fight back over the railing and into the crowd again then back to ringside. The Rock suplexed his opponent on the announcer's table and destroyed it (good thing this is the last match). Vince got involved at this point - attacking HHH then rolling him inside. This brought Shane out to attack his dad then smash him in the face with a TV monitor! In the ring, both combatants are out on their feet. The battle contiues at ringside as Vince recovers and fights back against his son. Shane comes back with a chair shot and the title match has been forgotten for the moment. The Stooges help him up and we can see that Vince is bleeding from the forehead. They help him away as Shane stays ringside. Now the action is back in the ring. The Rock gets a DDT but fails to get the pin. He then gets a tilta-whirl and fails once more. He hits the Rock with the 2x4 left behind by Foley. Shane is in the ring and readying a chair shot but HHH is catapulted into him. HHH is Rock Bottomed but Maivia is too out of it to follow up. Shane has the chair again but Vince runs in and Pearl Harbors him then grabs the chair...and whacks the Rock!! Stephanie looks stunned - but Maivia still kicks out. Vince strikes again and this time HHH takes the pin. Vince has betrayed his man!! Who knows if this is the way it was realy supposed to end... Vince abd Stephanie embrace as people start throwing garbage into the ring. The Rock came back and Rock Bottomed Vince then eyed Stephanie who defied him then slapped him. Stephanie was Rock Bottomed as well. HHH tried to re-enter the ring but was ejected - then the Rock dropped the Peoples' Elbow on her to finish the job.
I am almost convinced that the whole scenerio was changed at the last minute because Foley hurt himself. It will be interesting to see how this will all play out over the next little while...
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie.
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