The following article is another from the Solie's Classic Reprnt series, orignally published in the LA Examiner way back in October of 1934. Enjoy...
By Maxwell Stiles
Forty years in the show business, at first as a professional strong man and the last 22 as a promoter, Lou Daro tonight reaches the seventh heaven of his promotional dreams. Tonight's all-star cast supporting Jim Londos and Man Mountain Dean constitutes the zenith of "Carnation Lou's" career.
No wrestling promoter has ever staged a show quite as big as this one. It is the biggest show of his life, not in money but in talent and -- he hopes -- in attendance. Four years ago at Wrigley Field Gus Sonnenberg and Everette Marshall drew $79,000 at prices ranging from $2 to $7.50. There were 25,000 fans present.
Daro expects 40,000 tonight, but because of the popular prices -- $1 to $3 -- the gate in dollars and cents will not equal that of Sonnenberg and Marshall. But in the matter of talent it is a peerless program of the pounce and pin.
In 1917 Daro put on one of the biggest sports shows in Boston. He was variously engaged in promotional activity throughout the East for a number of years. In 1920 he came to Los Angeles and staged his first local show at the Orange Grove Theater, seating about 300 people.
Oddly enough, Jim Londos, who tonight defends his championship under the promotion of Lou and his brother, Jack Daro, was featured in the main event on that first program in the dingy old Orange Grove Theater. Londos met and defeated a wrestler named Henry Weber in straight falls. They took in $110. Compare that with the $79,000 that Daro took in for Sonnenberg and Marshall, the 300 attendance with the 40,000 expected tonight.
The infant wrestling racket was moved up to the Philharmonic, where Daro put on his shows for a year. Stanislaus Zbyszko and Ed Lewis were his headliners in those days. Joe "Toots" Mondt met Lewis in a handicap match at the Philharmonic, the handicap being that if Lewis didn't throw Mondt twice in an hour the verdict went to Mondt. Lewis didn't do it, and the show was so big a hit that Daro put the two men on in a finish rematch at Washington Park, no handicap being given. The battle drew $31,000.
The next stamping ground for the beeg, strong fellers was the Exposition Armory. Here Stecher met Wladek Zbyszko and Browning was a featured performer.
Daro took over wrestling at the Olympic in 1926. His biggest gate there was $42,000 for Sonnenberg and Stecvher. Daro had a monopoly on wrestling in California for many years, but now there are fifty or sixty clubs in the state putting on shows.
In the last three years Lou has turned over most of the promotional work to his brother, Jack, fresh out of Columbia University and now 32 years old. Jack is rated a right smart young man among the grunt and groan fraternity and he has been a most astute and successful promoter.
"I do nothing in this business now without consulting my younger brother first," Lou said yesterday. "I give him all the credit for the success that wrestling has had here these last three years, and he has played a major part in this show at Wrigley Field."
Monday Nitro ran a "Best Of..." program that naturally started with Hulk Hogan's arrival in 1994. This program seemed to be dedicated to explaining what it was that Eric Bischoff did for WCW during his years at the head of the company. As the program gets underway it seems like they are actually replaying last years "Best of Nitro" show with new segments between the matches. The first match on the program is the very first Nitro match from the Mall of America in Minneapolis - between the incomperable Jushin Liger and the late Brian Pillman - which was the way they started that previous show.
But after the first break they went right back to that first Nitro program and showed more highlights from the Liger/Pillman match, then went right to the appearances of (the old) Sting vs. Ric Flair and also the surprise appearance of Lex Luger - who had just wrestled for the WWF that same weekend. Then Hogan being challenged by Ray Traylor who was reprising his original Big Bubba Rogers personna in those days.
The next stop was when Nitro went to two hours on Memorial Day of 1996- the first appearance of Scott Hall was that night - Paul Wight was the World Champ - Scott Steiner wrestled his then friend Sting (still in his old personna). Also highlighted during this segment was WCW's pioneering work (in America) with Cruiserweight and foreign wrestlers. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Ray Misterio, Jr. and Dean Malenko (plus a whole raft of luchadores) all first appeared in a major American promotion during this period (I know some of them appeared in ECW earlier - but it was a local Philadelphia indy in those days). Regardless of how you feel about WCW - the WWF was never able to feature the Light Heavyweights with the success of WCW - and is only recently beginning to learn how to work with the guys in that weight class.
The next segment focused on the true breakthrough moment for Nitro and WCW - the birth of the nWo. This was Eric Bishcoff's baby from day one and, love him or hate him, no one can ever take that away from him. We are also reminded of just who it was who put his body on the line and took the first big bump by a promoter on national TV. From there the infamous attack on Arn Anderson, Mark Bagwell, Ray Misterio and Scotty Riggs by the nWo during which WCW took the unprecedented step of actually halting the program for the better part of a full half hour while the carnage back in the parking lot was sorted out.
From there the program began to show us Bischoff's descent into madness as he became part of the nWo and remade himself into what really became the prototype for what Vince Mcmahon would later do so well with the "Mr. McMahon" character - which ironically re-emerged just this last weekend during the WrestleMania PPV. The announcers (Tony Schiavone and Mark Madden) dwelt for a moment on how Bischoff's onscreen character became blurred with his real personality in the minds of a lot of fans. This segment also featured the parallel transformation of Sting into the dark character he became during this same period.
The next segment started with a video tribute to the Nitro Grrrrls - one aspect of the old Nitro that I, for one have really missed - even though I have to admit that I wasn't so charmed with them in the beginning. The 100th episode of Nitro is featured in this edition. Nitro was on top of the ratings wars and went to a three hour program for the first time. Sting made his re-entry into the World Title contender's ranks and also swooped down from the ceiling for the first time. Offered a match against Curt Hennig instead of a hoped-for title match against Hogan, Sting walked away without a word. Lex Luger fought off the entire nWo and then defeated Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Title in the main event that same evening.
Next up - the emergence of the athlete who disproved the popular addage (at least on the internet) that WCW couldn't make it's own stars - PowerPlant star graduate Bill Goldberg. The shocking moment during his "first" Nitro match (if you don't count his appearance as one of the initial members of Piper's "WarGames Team") when he became the first wrestler to kick out of Hugh Morrus' devestating moonsault and then went on to beat the big veteran with his soon to be signature move - the Jackhammer. This was the beginning of the end of Nitro's dominance, but Goldberg was nonetheless quickly catapulted up into the top echelons of the sport's top heroes. A lot of people (again, chiefly here on the internet) tried to laugh Goldberg off as a Steve Austin wannabee - but he proved them all wrong (though some of them would still not admit it).
The next two segments take a slight detour into some aspects of fantasy salted with a dash of reality when it attributes the rise of the WWF almost soley to Vince Russo. The dash of reality being the admission that WCW started to slip against the competition, the fantasy being the implication that Vince McMahon had run out of ideas and was forced to turn to a young magazine writer to revitalize his company. While it is true that Russo wrote a lot of the TV during that period, only an ignoramous (or a prevaricator) would suggest that McMahon had nothing to do with his company's re-emergence at the top of the TV ratings. The suggestion here is that Bischoff burned out under the pressure of trying to keep the company afloat and at the same time, performing as an on-air personality, dealing with a recalcitrant Ric Flair, etc.
What follows is a segment on the jump of Vince Russo to WCW, along with that of Jeff Jarrett, the breakup of the Nitro Grrrrrls, the appearance and disappearance of Midnight, the similar appearance and disappearance of Gorgeous George III (aka the Maestro) the second breakup of Harlem Heat, the one and only mud wrestling match in WCW history, etc.
The last segment made very short shrift of the last three months of chaos and slammed us right into the return of Bischoff and Russo together to take over the creative team. They finished it off with replay of several of the "shoot" interviews that aired during last week's programming and then the two announcers agreeing to disagree about how things are going to go from here on out. It will be interesting to say the least...
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RAW is WAR was live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, and opened with an appearance by the newly reunited McMahon clan - Shane came out first and offered an apology to his dad for his actions over the past few weeks. He talked about how proud he was to be Vince's son and then issued a challenge to the Rock to face him in the ring later in the show. This brought HHH out to put in his two cents worth - at his side, Stephanie was moving rather stiffly... She's lucky to be on her feet at all, actually. She took the mic and delivered a rant (a whine, really) of her own...against the Rock, naturally. She likened her experience on Sunday night to being in a skiing accident. HHH grabbed the mic and demanded the right to take on the Rock himself...but not for the title. He and Shane were arguing the point when Vince showed up to complete the pack. Naturally he wanted the Rock himself and was willing to make peace with his son and son-in-law. He launched into a heel rant - insulting the crowd in classic fashion, calling them "a bunch of phoneys" and then referring to them as "A$$holes" - the word was already out there before someone hit the "bleep" button. He ended his speech by suggesting that the Rock would want to change his profession after the program - from wrestler to waiter.
Backstage a huge black limo arrived and disgorged the Rock.
Chyna came out and shot off her big gun before heading to the ring. The Millenium Bug followed her out for his match defending his European Title against Eddie Guerrero. The match was a real barn burner - these two can really go and are perfectly matched. Guerrero's strategy seemd to be to use a sleeper to slow his opponent down. Throughout opening of the the match, he kept going back to that maneuver. Later he missed a somersault splash but managed to roll through it and come out on his feet. Stil later he ran into the rferee and knocked him to the floor so that when Jericho got his double powerbomb and then his moonsault - there was no referee there to make the count. Chyna supplied it and then pretended to celebrate with Jericho - but then she gut shot him and pedegreed him and topped it off by rolling Eddie G on top to take the pin! Guerrero is the new European Champ!
The New New Age Outlaws took on T&A with both of the hot ladies at ringside. Trish Stratus was mercifully not allowed to open her mouth. As he was last night - Albert was again the star of this match-up. This guy shows improvement every time we see him. His boot to the jaw is always spectacular. Test, on the other hand doesn't seem to be able to do anything right and the DX crew have been looking downright sloppy lately. The latter won after the only good double team move in the match.
Backstage, Kirk Angel solicited Howard Finkel's opinion and then punished him for speaking his mind. Meanwhile, ShanoMac was still insisting that he be the one to take on the Rock - Vince said he would "work it out".
Tazz challenged the new Intercontinental Champ - the Bulldog vs. the Wolverine - both of these guys have tons of intensity and come on like gangbusters throughout every match. A perfect pairing if ever there was one. Near the beginning of the fight, Benoit slapped on a Sharpshooter and then inexplicibly released it. Bad move - moments later Tazz returned with a Tazzmission and might have won the match except that Saturn ran out and distracted him long enough for Benoit to sneak in a german suplex off the second rope and take the pin.
Backstage, the Big Show talked to Shane and announced his intention to "go Hollywood". In the ring, Michael Cole invited edge and a limping Christian out for an interview. They grabbed his mic and delivered their own self-serving rant - admitting that their opponents were pretty good as well - but they, themselves were "really great". They invited the Hardeys out to the ring - the latter seemed to be moving pretty slow as well and stopped on the platform while Edge invited the crowd to give them a round of applause. As the Hardeys approached the ring, the Dudleys showed up and ran right through the Hardeys on their way to attacking the new Tag Champs. The Hardeys recovered and joined the frey in the ring until a passle of referees ran out to separate them - meanwhile the Tag Champs slipped away like Crash Holly in a Hardcore match.
A the top of the second hour, Chyna and Eddie G were seen climbing into an orange lowrider Mexi-mobile and driving off together.
The next match saw two super-heavyweights (and I don't mean the Hollys) as the Big Show and Rakishi hooked it up. Almost immediately the Show started demonstrating that he had truely "gone Hollywood" as he did his own version of the worm but missed the shot. In a flash, Too Cool had interefered a little too blatantly and got their friend disqualified. That didn't keep Scotty from showing how the worm was really supposed to be done. Big Show left the ring area in a daze as the trio swung into their dance.
Shane was shown drawing the short straw - which means he would face the Rock later in the program. Back in the ring, the Big Show was making a speech and he was whining again...claiming that people don't appreciate all of his many qualities. He then lauched into his own version of the Too Cool dance routine - don't give up your day job Paul... Backstage, Michael Cole interviewed the Rock, who lauded Vince McMahon's many great decisions (including the infamous penis implant of 1991..?) but offered the opinion that Vince made a bad decision at Wrestlemania when he changed his stripes to side with his children against the forces of all that is good in the world (that's him folks...) He vows to win the WWF Title, which drives the crowd wild.
Backstage, Too Cool were having a good laugh over the Big Show's antics.
Crash Holly got his chance to regain the Hardcore Title as he went up against his cousin Bob. He quickly sprang into action using the title belt and a cookie sheet to gain an immediate advantage but cousin Bob was right on top of things and soon turned the tables, retreiving plunder from under the ring including a push broom and a fire extinguisher. Crash then came back with a face buster on a chair - then the Acolytes ran in - no doubt in the pay of the challenger - and destroyed the Champ - handing Crash the win and the title. The new Champ was attacked by the Posse as he left the ring (here we go again...) Backstage, HHH tried to give his brother-in-law some advice concerning his match against the Rock - but decided there was nothing he could say that would help.
The Show asked Brian Christopher for his opinion of his dancing - and didn't like what he heard - so naturally he clobbered the Grand Master, then stole his goggles and dew rag before splitting to meet his agent.
Val Venis was back and the ladies were eating it up (figuritively speaking, of course). Before he could get into his usual double entendre speech - he was interrupted by Kirk Angel, whining about what happened to him at the PPV the night before. During his rant he referred to Val as "a film star the lowest form of life on the planet" and announced his intention to don rubber gloves for this match. This infuriated Val - which, of course, it was meant to. Only it seemed that Angle had underestimated his opponent as Val creamed him for several moments. The fight went to the outside and Angle finally turned the tables. bck inside he consolidated his position, exhibiting both superior wrestling and power. Val is a wiley athelete, however, and turned it around wioth a neck breaker. His advantage was short-lived as Angle reasserted himself and things went into see-saw mode until Val missed the Moneyshot then succombed to a cross-face chickenwing.
Backstage, Vince promised Shane he would watch his back - from what, he didn't say (since Mavia really doen't have any allies at the moment...)
Kane faced Bull Buchanan (w/the Boss Man) in another big man match-up. The big rookie really looked pretty poor against his opponent - completely missing his signature spring board back elbow off the top rope then being chokeslammed off the top corner for the pin. The two thugs then ganged up on Kane and handcuffed him to a ringpost. When Paul Bearer tried to assist him he was driven off and then Kane's hand was smashed against the ringpost wit a chair shot.
Shane faced the Rock for the main event, and came to the ring looking somewhat preoccupied, perhaps wondering why he did something so rash as to get involved in all of this in the first place. Vince followed him to the ring to take his announced place "watching Shane's back". Together they took a moment to initmidate the referee. Maiva ran right in and chased Vince out of the ring. He then ran Shane off but caught him at the top of the ramp...where he was ambushed by HHH (of course). The WWF Champ dragged Maivia back to the ringside area and rammed him into the ring steps while Vince kept the referee distracted. Back inside, Shane had about a half second of offense then the Rock was on the warpath again until Vince pulled down the top rope and tumbled him out to the floor. Back in the ring once more the McMahons took turns distracting the referee while HHH worked the Rock over on the ropes. Next Shane was showboating, dancing around the Great One and laying in wimpy shots. A spinebuster stopped him in his tracks. But Vince was on the apron and then both he and the refere were knocked to the floor. HHH used that opportunity to put a Pedegree on Maivia but Shane still wasn't able to pin him. HHH then distracted the referee while the McMahon ganged up on the Rock but he fought them both off so HHH had to attack openly. Somehow the referee allowed this to go on up until and including the moment that HHH was Rock Bottomed and pinned. The Rock stood tall in the ring as the McMahons retreated.
Good question, huh?
Lets look at what led up to last Sunday's main event. A month ago we were looking at a heatless non-feud between the Big Show and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. At the time, the two combatants were loosely aligned against their mutual chief rival, the Rock. Something was screwy with that scenerio, and I said so at the time. There was just no way in the world that we were going to come down to the main event at WrestleMania with that match-up.
Lo and behold, a couple weeks later, rather suddenly, the Rock was involved in the match and things started to get more interesting.
But there was still something missing. For several months, Mick Foley had been first hinting and then saying outright that he was getting ready to retire, and that his lifelong dream had been to wrestle in the main event at WrestleMania. But against all logic, about four weeks before the big event, Foley had participated in a "loser leave town" type match against HHH and had lost - thus being forced to retire prematurely.
A few weeks passed and then someone on my Mailroom page suggested that maybe the idea of it all was that Vince McMahon, who had been missing in action for several months at that point, would use the Mick Foley situation as an excuse to make his return to the World Wrestling Federation. Sure enough, the next week, McMahon reappeared - and practically the first thing out of his mouth was a harangue against his son and daughter for forcing Mick Foley out of the company. Of course, he left it to his wife Linda to actually make the decision to bring Foley back, obstensively for one last match.
So, do I think that they went through all of that just to bring Foley back and have him lose? Not for a minute.
Here's what I think happened Sunday night.
I think Mick Foley was meant to win. I think that, possibly, he would have then turned heel and started a feud with the Rock. Not a long lasting feud - really just a transition feud to set the Rock up as the World Champion - so that he could then enter into a long term feud with HHH, who would naturally be chomping at the bit to recover "his" belt. There is no question in my mind that Foley really does mean to retire - he was ready to go, and I have no doubt that he was being perfectly sincere when he told the interviewer after the match Sunday that he was happy about it all being over. I think he was releived because he didn't really expect things to go the way they did.
So what happened was that Foley, for whatever reason - because he was tired and burned out - or maybe even on purpose - missed his big spot in the match. He was supposed to crash through the Spanish announce table (and the Rock), but he fell short and struck his sternum on the hard corner of the table instead. A cracked sternum, or even a cracked rib is a very serious injury. There is always a very real danger that a relatively minor rib injury could be turned into a punctured lung if the site of the injury is struck again with enough force. If anyone in the world knew how seriously he was injured - and what the possible consequences were if he continued to compete - it would have been Mick Foley.
So I think he called it off. Somehow, he signalled to the other participants that he was going to have to bow out - and they in turn, being the professionals that they all are, improvised the ending of the match to cover up for him. That includes the heel turn by Vince McMahon. Think about it - do you really believe that Vince McMahon sent those guys out there to bust their butts for 40 minutes only to then turn around and steal their thunder by gathering all of the attention to himself? I don't believe it...the real ending would have been to have Foley to take the Title and then have either:
1) A wonderfully touching moment as the beloved Hardcore Legend accepted the accolades of his adoring fans and then gallently surrendered the title - or -
2) An incredibly horrble moment when the beloved Hardcore Legend did something horrendous to the Rock in order to win the title and then told his adoring fans to "stick it" because he was going to change his mind and keep the title.
Instead, of course, Foley had to bow out - which left the match without any kind of touching or shocking ending to satisfy the legions of fans in the arena and the millions around the world who had shelled out from $35 to $50 for this extraveganza. So, Vince stepped up to the plate and turned heel yet again in order to provide the shocking conclusion.
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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