Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
For more on the feud between Sabu and Rapada, visit NWA On-Line at http://www.nwa-wrestling.com
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."
In every company, and every organization, there are individuals that are the linchpins, or the people whose work is indispensable.
You know who I am talking about.....the guy in your work area that answers all the work related questions, the football player on the field that is the emotional leader, or maybe the guy behind the scenes that everybody knows will get the job done, but who lets someone else take the credit.
It is easy to realize that every group or organization needs one of these important people. Without them, who would lead? There always needs to be someone who takes the responsibility and forges ahead. If your group lacks such a person, then you have chaos and disorder. The chain of command breaks down, and there is a lack of direction and impetus.
Each of the big wrestling federations has such a person. Both the WCW and the WWF have linchpins. They have allowed their personal interests and/or opportunities to come second to their roles as leaders. I would say that the linchpins in the WCW have had a rougher time with their role(and it shows), but have done the best they could in their effort to make the promotion better.
I am not saying these guys are liked, or need to be emulated, in every case. I am stating what I see in the dynamics present in the pro wrestling environment.
The WWF linchpin is easy, and it is HHH. The WCW linchpins are Scott Steiner and Booker T.
HHH has basically lost any semblance of selfishness in his role as Head Heel. This guy jobs to whoever he needs to, he blades when needed. he wrestles to the level of his opponent and makes his opponent look good every time he gets in the ring. He was in the middle of a great face run, during his feud with Kurt Angle, and let the storyline flip entirely around to put him back in the fan's doghouse. Now, a lot of people have said that HHH would prefer to be a heel.....maybe that is true, and I don't know, because I am not an insider, However, if that were the case, why would he allow such a face run against Kurt Angle, who could have easily been turned to a face (the Olympics would have facilitated such a turn), and let himself become one of the top two active face wrestlers in his fed? Remember, both Austin and the Undertaker were injured during his face run. In addition, HHH works after the cameras are off.....if you read the news and rumors (you can see 'em at our website, bodyslam.cc), he often goes back to the ring to job to the face opponent, be it Austin or the Rock, for the benefit of the crowd. He brings his game (pardon the pun) up to a very high level, and he does all this for the benefit of the WWF.
Scott Steiner has done a lot for the WCW. His character, the head heel in the federation he works in, may be the most over character in the WCW, face or heel. He jobs when needed, and usually at PPV shows, where the matches are most important. His ring talent is outstanding, and he has evolved (be it because of the change of the industry or the change in his age) into the contemporary style of wrestling. He sells his opponents moves, he sells his character very well (sometimes I even wonder), and he also, just like HHH, has put the WCW ahead of himself. Face it, this guy would be a perfect fit in the WWF, and I bet Vince would love to have him come over and heel himself into the hearts of the WWF fans. Sure, this guy has been suspended, and maybe almost fired (depending if it was a work or not..I am not sure), but he hasn't quit, like Benoit, Malenko, Saturn, and Guererro did. Listen.... these guys, however talented, left because they were more committed to their own careers than to the WCW (and that is a FACT, not an opinion).
Steiner stayed, and he has been rewarded with the World Title.
Booker T has done everything WCW has asked of him as well. Like Scott Steiner, he jobbed when asked, brought himself back from injury to help the federation, and got rewarded, with the WCW Title. In addition to all these things, which include staying with a sinking WCW ship, Booker took on the mantle of being the first black WCW champion in a long time (Ron Simmons was Champion from 8-2-92 to 12-30-92). He also took on the responsibility of becoming, well, a WCW "Rock" with less ego and more personable traits. Booker T was also the "Russo" era standard bearer, and did very well in that stead. He must be considered a linchpin as well, and the WCW needs as many as will step up.
Oh, real quick.....all the people who have gotten on my case because I don't continuously bash the WCW, or praise the WWF.....it is called being objective. Just like you get irritated when someone turns on the light when you are sleeping, it isn't because the light is wrong for being there, it is because you are not used to it being there. Conversely, when someone says the WCW has strong points, it isn't because THEY ARE MENTALLY DEFICIENT OR RUSSO'S LOVE CHILD.
Come and see bodyslam.cc, the best news, rumors, and results site on the web. You can also see the Crossface Corner, the Crossface Shooter, the Crossface Update, and the unique Crossface Report...just click on the link at the bottom of the Tuesday Morning Report. Of course, all the wrestling historical info known to man is available here at Solie's Vintage Wrestling.
See you next week for another Connection.
I'll take a moment to congratulate Crash Holly for winning the WWF European Title by defeating William Regal during the UK only Rebellion PPV over the weekend. Unfortunately for Crash, he had his first title defense on RAW, against the former Champ, and promptly lost his belt.
The return of Sid Vicious (well...don't complain...it could have been Hogan!) and an apparent re-emphasis on wrestling adds a little spice to the proceedings over at WCW, meanwhile the WWF seems to be continuing it's lateral (or possibly downward) slide. One has to wonder how much Vince McMahon's preoccupation with his new football franchise has to do with what is happening (or not happening) with his core product...
Of course, that's not to say that the WWF is in any real danger of losing it's audience to the competition. The average WWF fan doesn't really care about wrestling anymore. McMahon might very well metamorphose his program into an action-adventure series (as he has been hinting at for a while), and never miss a step. WCW would be advised to keep moving back in the direction of a wrestling product. With so many hardcore wrestling fans expressing disgust with the current offerings from both major promotions, WCW could do well to try and woo some of those folks back to the tube.
This week on Thunder (from Rockford, IL) the ever astonishing Crowbar even managed to carry David Flair to a great match. This one contained an especially large quotient of emotional involvement, given the past history between these two. The only flaw in the match came right at the end, as Crowbar held his "golden monkey wrench" in his teeth while he took the pin. Have you ever tried to clamp down on a heavy metal object with your teeth? I don't think so...
As the most over heel currently wrestling in WCW, it only seems fitting that Scotty Steiner should be the World Champ. As John mentioned in his column above, Steiner and Booker T have really kept the promotion afloat for the last several months.
On SmackDown Thursday (from Minneapolis, Minnesota) we had the strange situation of 5 top contenders for the World Title. Commissioner Foley claims that the Rock, the Undertaker, Steve Austin, HHH and Rikishi all have legitimate claims on the #1 spot...so he makes a Hell in the Cell match for the WWF Title at the next PPV! The five mentioned and Kurt Angle all get into the cell and duke it out. Foley's further stip was that none of the 6 men could get involved physically involved with each other outside the ring at the cost of their "#1 contender" status. For Angle, it would be at the cost of being stripped of his title.
Was that a hell of a hardcore match or what between Bob Holly and Raven? Holly is another one of those guys (like Crowbar) who has really stepped up to the plate in the last year or so. By the way, what ever happened to the Raven/Tazz feud?
Nitro came to us live from Lincoln, Nebraska and brought us a skit at the top of the program wherein Jeff Jarrett delivered a guitar shot to a Cornhusker cheerleader... This was followed after the first break by an appearance of Oklahoma (Ed Ferrar) who came to the ring carrying a plastic salad bowl which he used to insult the hometown crowd, stating that this was the closest they would get to seeing a "bowl" this year. His task is to deliver a warning to Sid Vicious, to keep his hands off the Thrillers and their ilk. Sid, of course, immediately showed up and strode to the ring with the cheers of the crowd ringing in his ears, to deliver a chokeslam on the Jim Ross clone. This brought Barely Adequate Mike Sanders out to sic the police on the big guy, who was cuffed and led away quietly, as the crowd chanted "You Suck!" at Sanders.
Arriving backstage, the World Champ demanded a match with Sid tonight, then used the situation of Sid's absence to go on a rampage. Actually, the only persons he attacked all night was Norman Smiley and his World Title match opponent in the second hour, General Rection.
Torrie Wilson, who apparently suffered from a bout of "Sable-itis", was terminated last week, with the hope that she will agree to be brought back in at a lower salary (down to $50K from $200K by most reports). Her departure was hastened by a "coincidental" big bump she took on Thunder last week. This also gave Chavo Guerrero, Jr. his "out" from the MIA. He was back this week to fight a great cruiserweight bout with another standout light heavyweight, Kwee-wee. A little later he was seen talking earnestly to his former stablemate, Lash LaRoux.
For their first "big" challenge since becoming Tag Team Champs, The Insiders (Kevin Nash and Diamond Dallas Page) took on...Three Count..? To paraphrase Gorilla Monsoon..."Give me uh..." well, you know the rest... After the squash, Sanders and the Perfect Event decided to make an appearance (at a safe distance, of course). Sanders called CEO Ric Flair out to the platform and purports to show him (via the giant screen) that Sean Stasiak was not the legal man when he was pinned at Mayhem. Flair concurs and asks Nash and DDP to surrender the belts to Sanders...but tells Sanders he has to go to the ring and get them. He then declares a rematch made for Starrcade.
In the World Title match, Rection matches up to the Champ in size and comes pretty close power wise, but unfortunately exhibits little of the cunning or technique of his opponent. At a critical moment, Midasia jumps onto his back and the General is slow to react because, we assume, of what he did "accidentally" to Torrie last week. After the match, Steiner encountered and attacked Arn Anderson backstage, then brought him out to the ring and destroyed him while Flair tried to fight his way past Fit Finley to get to the ring. Goldberg then ran to the rescue only to be blindsided with a chair by Lex Luger. Sid finally saved AA's butt...whether or not it was too late we don't know...
On RAW (live from East Rutherford, New Jersey) they seem to be promoting the proposition that the Dudleys are going over to the RTC while Dean Malenko appears to be allowing his infatuation with Lita to separate him from his Radicalz teammates. On tonight's installment, Dean offered her a Light Heavyweight Title match (about time he defended that title...) with the stip that she will go out with him on Thursday if she loses. She lost, of course (though it was one of the better matches on the program). I wonder how it is he gets to make dates for work nights... :-)
What's up with Jerry Lawler and his anti-Gore tirades all evening? Somebody tell the King that Gore won the popular vote Nationally by a considerable margin (over 300,000 votes and still increasing at last count). Isn't he going to be embarrassed if GW doesn't succeed in stealing the election..?
Chris Jericho got a shot at the World Title, to no avail, and Vince McMahon returned to TV for the entire program, which he spent trying to convince the participants not to take part in this Sunday's Hell in the Cell 6 man match. His warnings fell on deaf ears, so later he delivered a "State of the WWF" address (complete with a big splotch of the Undertaker's tobacco juice on his lapel), castigating Mick Foley for his actions as Commissioner. Foley was unrepentant, by the way...as were Austin, the Undertaker and the Rock - who all delivered their opinions to McMahon "personally" (and physically).
Apparently Vince has been listening to some of us who have been lamenting the drop in quality of his product of late. His appearances throughout tonight's program definitely buoyed the interest level a tad ot two.
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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