Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
You can get more of the latest news and rumors by listening to this week's Solie's Wrestling Radio report.
This past Sunday, I was looking at the taped broadcast of Smackdown where Booker T's challenge for the August 19th PPV SummerSlam was answered by The Rock and, as usual, the crowd hung on The Rock's every word and move. It got me to thinking back to the time when The Rock was NOT so popular.
He was born between 1972 and '73 to Rocky Johnson (a legend in his own right) and his wife Ata (who is the daughter of the late "High Chief" Peter Maivia). Growing up, he was always close to the wrestling business but his main love during his younger days was football. He went on to the University of Miami where he was a national champion with that school. He recently admitted in an issue of Ebony that he had to buckle down academically after being suspended with a 1.74 grade average! I can definitely sympathize with The Rock here as that happened to me during my college career! But, like The Rock, I buckled down and got my degree. In his case, The Rock has two college degrees, one of them is in Political Science while the other is in Criminal Justice.
When he first started wrestling, I should note that his career actually began in Memphis under the name Flex Kavana in early 1996. There, he won the USWA Tag Team Championship twice (I forgot who his partner was at that time). In November 1996, he made the move to the WWF and debut at The Survivor Series as Rocky Mavia at Madison Square Garden in an eight man tag match. While the crowd was certainly behind him during his debut (which he was actually the sole survivor), they soon grew bored with the new comer as most fans felt that the WWF was shoving this squeeky clean wrestler down their throats by not only hyping him so much but by letting him win the WWF Intercontinental Championship so soon after his debut. Ironically, the man he defeated for that belt on February 23, 1997 was Hunter Hearst Helmsley (the future "Game").
After losing the title to the late Owen Hart in April 1997, Mavia went down with a knee injury. When that happened, both The Rock and the WWF decided to repackage him. When he returned, he worked a program with The Nation Of Domination (comprised of Faarooq, D-Lo Brown, Kama "The Godfather" Mustafa and Mark Henry). Under that group, The Rock was despised and was getting real heat. I should note, however, that The Rock never really bought into their "black supremacy" rap at all. Eventually, he took over leadership of the group as well as added Owen Hart to the stable as well (ironic since the night after his death, some of the most heartfelt tributes were from the former Nation). From there, The Rock slowly built himself back into a mega face and has remained so more or less ever since (with the exception of a brief stint as a member of Vince McMahon's Corporation stable). His run has included two Intercontinental Championship reigns, three runs as WWF Tag Team Champion (two with Mick Foley and one with The Undertaker) and six reigns as WWF World Champion.
What I find most interesting about his feud with Booker T is that (intentionally or not) the WWF is almost making them parallel to another famous sports feud. Anyone remember "The Greatest" Muhammad Ali Vs. "Smokin'" Joe Fraizer in boxing? Muhammad made fun of Joe's lack of sophistication, ridiculed his speech and his style in the ring. Even called him an "Uncle Tom" on more than one occasion (which is the biggest insult you can call an African American next to the "N" word). Joe, who was a prideful man who just wanted to prove his worth in the ring, was caught by a majority that was taken in by Ali.
I see a similar angle going on here with The Rock and Booker T. The Rock is the WWF's Ali while Booker is serving as their "Fraizer". Over the weeks leading up to SummerSlam, The Rock (in character) has insulted Booker T several times in an almost "Alisque" fashion. Likewise, Booker T has let the rage build up to the point that he will do anything to silence his tormentor, much like Fraizer wanted to do to Ali. Personally, I like the way this feud is going and I hope that Booker T will become a big star because of it. I don't think The Rock will lose his spot because of it though. He's jobbed to several top stars and is still over. I look at this feud going well past SummerSlam and going until at least October. Regardless, The Rock will be in the thick of things for awhile to come in the WWF.
If you have a question, comments, criticism, or just want to talk pro wrestling, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Ervin Griffin Jr. is Solie's resident historian and formerly contributed to the Ringside Insider on a regular basis. Many of his previous articles are available in the
Back when I began writing for Solie's, I would turn in my columns on the Wednesday before they were due. In fact, Earl would tell me to only turn one in at a time, and to wait until after Tuesday to turn it in, as he didn't want to post the wrong column for the Report. Now, after over a year, I find myself doing the column on either Sunday of Monday. I can see Earl, checking his Monday morning e-mail, saying a quick 'Hail Mary' before he opens his e-mail program, in hopes that the Connection will be there.
Well, here it is, Earl. I made it again.
All that being said, I want to touch upon the upcoming PPV. I have been giving this some thought, and even though I haven't scoped out the Forum recently, I am coming to a decision about the PPV.
It is simple.....the WCW is going to win the Survivor Series, thus putting the WWF out of business.
What? Well, I said that the WWF will lose the match at the Survivor Series. In fact, that would be the best thing to happen to the WWF. And, SURPRISE, I will tell you why.
First off, you, me, the Pope, Osama bin Ladin, and Mary Tyler Moore think that the WWF is going to win. The team assembled, consisting of the Rock, Jericho, Kane, Big Show, and Undertaker, is far and away the better of the two teams. Don't think so? Well, match them up....Austin, Angle, RVD, Booker, and Shane, against the aforementioned WWF group. I think the combined record of the Alliance workers against the WWF wrestlers is 3-26. Don't quote me on that, but I can tell you that the Undertaker hasn't lost a match to any of these guys yet, unless there was a significant amount of 155 mm artillery involved. We all can see that the Alliance team has a very small chance of winning...therefore, referring back to WWF Angle rule #21, I will not expect the obvious every time. Do you want Raw to be a huge ratings success? Do the ultimate swerve, because it isn't like the audience will think that Raw will be off the air; they will want to see how the WWF will wriggle out of this situation.
Secondly, I think that the storylines around such an Alliance victory are much more interesting and varied than the ones that will be available if the expected results occur. Will the Alliance come out and collect the WWF Championships from their owners, or will there be some other sort of stripping that relieves the WWF workers of their status? I could see the Undertaker being called out, being told to turn in his whatever, and losing his mind, throwing Alliance workers around like so much debris. Then, add to that, the whole "How does the WWF lose, and how do they come back?" question. If there is an assumed state in all of this, it is that the WWF will NOT go away forever, even if and when they lose at the PPV, so the process by which they come back will be interesting. The whole "HOW" thing is great, too.
In the Crossface report, Mike and I discussed this. I have the sniggering suspicion that the whole thing will pivot around Vince and Linda, and not the workers in the ring. Obviously, there are two possibilities, and I have turned them around in my head (and that is a FACT...not an opinion) for your reading pleasure.
Remember that Linda and Vince were teasing a divorce angle earlier this year. The lesser of the two turns is if Linda goes over with the kids. This makes Vince an automatic monster face, and he then will have to mobilize and rally the downed WWF troops, like George Patton, against overwhelming yards. While this would be a good way to go, wouldn't it be better if Vince turned heel, and poor Linda was saddled with the 'defunct' WWF, and she had to make a stand and shore up her incapacitated league. Meanwhile, Shane, Vince, and Stephanie run roughshod over the league, screwing WWF mid-carders out of their jobs, ripping up contracts, etc...a lot like the first Bischoff/Russo WCW show. (Now, before you start losing your minds about how the WWF is getting like the WCW, keep in mind that I think that WCW episode was a very, very effective show, and could have been the turning point of the WCW....but that is another story). Then, the WWF would pull the 'Mick Foley Legal Document' thing out of their hats, and stipulate the matches that would dictate the path the WWF had to follow to return to primacy.
Another reason that I think the WWF will lose is that if the WWF wins, the Split will and must immediately occur, or there will be huge fan repercussions. The fans are ready for the Invasion to be over, and even the most ardent of this program's supporters are in agreement that it peaked in July, so a win by the WWF would necessitate a quick exit by the WCW/Alliance. If they did not, many fans would retire from watching the WWF programming, if only out of frustration that the writers were so paralyzed. If the WCW wins, Vince buys himself time...time to build support at Viacom for a time slot for the WCW, time for the WCW workers to get exposure on a national level (if the WCW wins, their guys will be wrestling more matches on the TV shows, and will be pushed, albeit in a contrived way), and time for Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Scott Steiner, Ric Flair, and maybe, possibly, Goldberg to return to the rather mid card ranks of the Alliance. Once that happens, the Split can occur, and be effective.
There are some other reasons....HHH is returning soon, and will be feuding with Austin, and maybe, by proxy, Stephanie. I spoke about the Jericho/Stephanie possibilities in this column, and my Crossface Corner column on bodyslam.cc, and that would also rub HHH the wrong way. In addition, Benoit will return, and probably be a voracious anti-WCW force....remember, they screwed him out of the WCW Title he won at his last WCW PPV! Creating the Split after the January PPV will allow a Unified Championship to be created, and sufficiently built up via storylines, for the Wrestlemania in Toronto. Also, it will allow both the WCW and WWF to better pull heels and faces apart, place them in suitable positions in their respective federations, and build feuds for WM18. In fact, why not make Wrestlemania the dream event we all wanted....make that the one PPV that shows and highlights workers from both feds, in both inter- and intra-federation matches.
Just a thought or two.
I really like feedback, and send me all you want. Send all complaints to Earl or Miss Pamela....I pay them good money to lose..er, I mean, take care of all my mail that espouses a contrary opinion.
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Happy Veterans Day, and I thank you all for your service.
See you next week for another Connection.
by Earl Oliver
SmackDown was taped Tuesday evening at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey and opened with a WCW Tag Team Title match - the APA (w/Jacqueline) challenging the Dudleys (w/Stacy). As is her wont, Stacy had considerable to do with the outcome, providing distraction at critical moments. The Dudleys won it with a 3D on Faarooq.
After the break, Steve Austin brought the Alliance roster to the ring and demanded to know from several of them if they trusted him. They all answered in the affirmative, but it was like pulling teeth... Then he looked down at the announce table and focused his attention on Tazz, mentioning that he had passed a monitor earlier and heard Tazz "talking trash" about him. Tazz went to the ring and proceeded to tell Austin a few "home truths" - speaking for the Alliance, he told Austin that he doesn't like him! And then he reinterpreted Austin's "DTA" motto to stand for "Don't trust Austin". Austin turned around and laughed, then turned back and started beating on Tazz. Meanwhile the Alliance split, leaving Austin alone in the ring with Tazz and Commissioner Regal. Austin tried to call them back but they just kept walking right out of the arena.
Backstage, Matt hardey was all excited about having an IC Title match against Test - but Lita was disappointed because she and Matt were supposed to be partners in a tag team match.
After the break, Austin sent Stephanie, Shane and Paul Heyman out to get Kurt Angle, Booker T and Rob Van Dam respectively for interrogation separately. Meanwhile, Jim Ross took Tazz's place at the mic.
Test beat Matt Hardey pretty easily to retain his IC Title - but the real story was that Edge ran out and hit one of his wimpy spears on the champ after the fact.
Austin demanded of Booker about whether he was with Austin and the Alliance or against them, and showed footage from KOTR (which was held in this same arena, coincidentally) when Booker attacked Austin during his very first appearance in the WWF, to imply that maybe Booker would be the one to jump. Booker claimed he was with the Alliance, but fingered RVD as a possible mole. Meanwhile, Vince and Rock had a backstage conversation wherein Vince wished Rock well in his match against Booker T, and also asked about the condition of the Rock's elbow (my sources tell me that he suffered a bad bruise from Chris Jericho's misguided chair shot on RAW - but there is no fracture). Maivia was dubious about Vince's expressions of concern, but said that he was fine, and that he was looking to do a number on Jericho for what happened. In another part of the building, Booker confronted RVD with his accusation. RVD claimed to appreciate his honesty.
In the third match of the evening, the Rock defended his WCW Title against former champ, Booker T. Booker spent most of the early going attacking the Rock's injured elbow to no avail. He then went for a spin kick and knocked the referee out. This contest was a real mish-mosh, with first Chris Jericho and then RVD both running in to interfere. The match ended in a DQ on somebody - I'm not sure who (Booker, I think...) After the fact, RVD hit a frogsplash on Booker, the Rock hit a spine buster on RVD, then Jericho ran in again and attacked Maivia a second time, with a chair in this instance.
In a backstage meeting with the Undertaker, Vince was concerned about the absence of Kane, who was supposed to partner with his brother against Steve Austin and Kurt Angle later. UT suggested that Vince be his partner, but was more concerned with where Vince is coming from these days. He took Vince to task for trying to bring Steve Austin back into the WWF and then told the boss that he planned to "take Austin out" before Survivor Series. Vince was wearing his evil grin and chuckling as the segment ended.
Commissioner Regal came out to challenge the Big Show to a match. TBS responded immediately...and seemingly fell right into Regal's trap as about ten or so of the Alliance roster attacked him. The big guy left them all laying... After the commercial, Vince congratulated Show on his performance and invited him to take his place on Team WWF for the Survivor Series main event. The Show agreed immediately. Meanwhile, Steve Austin interrogated RVD backstage, demanding to know why he had messed up Booker's chances to win back the WCW Title. Austin tried to get him to admit that he is the turncoat. RVD turned Austin's question aside, then reminded Austin that he is the one who has the history of turning on his friends... (good point, Rob) Austin gave up at that point and told Van Dam he didn't have any more questions.
Jeff Hardey took his brother's place to team with Lita against Lance Storm and Ivory. Lita got a measure of revenge against her arch rival by pinning Ivory after a moonsault for the win.
Christian had a match against Tajiri in which neither of their titles was on the line. The short but spirited battle ended when Tajiri missed a round kick and got dropped on his face then pinned. Backstage, Austin questioned Kurt Angle's loyalty and accused him of being the mole. Angle shoved his Austin 3:16 hat at the Rattlesnake and walked away in a huff.
In the main event, the Undertaker took on Austin and Angle in a handicap match because his brother apparently failed to show up for what was supposed to be a tag match because of his injured ankle. This match was a real stinker (like most of the rest of this program) because Angle and Austin spent a good deal of it arguing and refusing to cooperate with each other. After dominating throughout the entire match, UT pinned Austin with a roll-up for the win. Austin put a Stunner on UT and then Angle to end the show.
Raw came to us live from the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts and opened with Kurt Angle coming to the ring. (By the way - HHH won the Weakest Link competition, beating his "wife" Stephanie in the final round.) Angle made a speech, accusing Steve Austin of lacking leadership and excoriating him for his actions at the end of SmackDown last Thursday. Edge waited for him to finish his rant and then came to the ring to call him a coward for selling out the WWF, then challenged him for the US Title, "...right now!" Kurt accepted the match and it was underway in a thrice. Angle initially out wrestled his opponent, scientific style - but Edge came back with some old fashion brawling and took the advantage. He got a close call two count almost immediately, but then Angle suplexed him over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Angle slapped on a front face lock and worked it for a while, then turned his opponent loose only to suplex him to the mat once again. Then he went to the top for a moonsault...and missed. The match went into see saw mode until Kurt caught the Angle slam then grabbed the ankle lock. Suddenly, Kane's music blared forth, distracting Angle. As he turned back around, Edge speared him and took the pin for the Title. Edge left, then Kane appeared from out of the crowd. He put the ankle lock on Angle! Steven Richards and Tommy Dreamer ran out to save Angle, who slunk away while his buddies got clobbered.
Mike Cole interviewed Tazz backstage concerning his non-title match against Steve Austin tonight. Tazz noted that he is dangerous because he has nothing to lose.
Next up, the WWF Tag Team Titles defended against the Hardey Boyz. Test and Booker T came to the ring first despite being the current champs. The battle started as soon as the Hardeys hit the ring and sorted out to Jeff against Booker T for the opening exchanges. Booker bested his opponent then tagged in Test, who was staggered immediately, but then came roaring back. Both men tagged out, bringing Matt in to dominate Booker, whose partner had to save from a pinfall. Things got pretty confused, with Lita getting involved and test being run into the ring steps on the outside. Lita hit Booker with a Frankensteiner then Matt rolled him up for the pin. The Hardeys became the Tag Champs for the fifth time.
Backstage, Chavo Guerrero and Hugh Morrus hit Vince up for a job. He refused...
Tazz had his match against Steve Austin in the next segment. Every time we have seen these two face off, Austin has gotten the drop on Tazz via surprise - this time it was different. Tazz hit Austin the moment he entered the ring and continued to pound on him then grabbed the Tazzmission. But Austin twisted out of it then hit the Stunner for the pin. He started beating on Tazz until Shane McMahon came to the platform and ordered him to stop and join the troops backstage.
Backstage, Stephanie convened the troops to have Commissioner Regal fire Hugh Morrus and Chavo. Shane and Austin then arrived. Austin and Angle got into each others' faces immediately, but Shane put a stop to that and then admonished everyone to get it together before the PPV show, when everything is on the line.
The Dudleys defended their WCW Tag Team Titles in the next match against the unlikely new team of Scotty Too Hotty and Albert. I guess with X-Factor in shambles and Just Stupid teaming with Raven these days - I guess Albert needed somewhere to go... Almost immediately Stacy got in Scotty's face, trying to distract him. But Albert came from behind and snatched off her pants!! She tripped and fell, then the two of them did simultaneous worms! The Dudleys dragged her from the ring and split before the match even got started.
Backstage, Vince lectured Chris Jericho about functioning as a team with the Rock, "...or else." Jericho speculated about what "or else" would be like.
Christian visited Commissioner in his office only to be told that he was being rewarded for his good work with a non-title match against...the Big Show?
The Undertaker got his shot at the Hardcore Championship against Rob van Dam on the program. RVD stood up to the big guy pretty well...for about 15 seconds...then he dived off the apron and was caught in mid-air, then smashed against the ring post. The Undertaker dragged the champ up to the platform and stood him up against a pylon - then went after him with a boot...and missed. van Dam climbed to the top of the scaffolding and hit a big splash on the stage. He tried to knock UT off the platform, but the latter recovered in time to fight back. They went to fisticuffs - not a good idea for Van Dam. UT was about to get the Last Ride when Booker ran out and attacked him from behind. Booker and Van Dam forced the challenger back to the ringside area then assaulted him in unison. Back in the ring, then attacked him again but were met with a double clothesline. UT took control and smashed both guys in opposite corners, then tossed the champ to the floor. Booker hit UT with a round kick then climbed the corner, only to fall off and straddle the ropes. UT superplexed him - but RVD was right there to hit the frog splash and take the pin.
Vince next took his lecture to the Rock. He told Mavia that he had already spoken to Jericho, then was forced to admit that Jericho didn't have nice things to say about the Rock. He assured Mavia that he didn't think that the Rock would let the WWF down. The Rock agreed, but said he still doesn't like Jericho. He called him a punk a$$ b*tch!
After the break, Commissioner Foley made his first appearance in over a week. He addressed Vince McMahon, telling him that he realizes that his job is on the line whoever wins at Survivor Series because of his relationship with the boss. He talked about the WWF Title he had mouldering in his closet, then stated that his intention is to consolidate some of the titles. He booked the WCW US Champ (Edge) against the WWF Intercontinental Champ (Test) to unify the titles. Also the WCW and WWF tag Team titles in a cage match to unify those titles. All of this at Survivor Series. He also announced that William Regal would face the Rock in a match later tonight.
Christian took on the Big Show with illegal help from Diamond Dallas Page and the Dudleys, who took their lumps, but DDP managed to sneak in a Diamond Cutter before it was all over. The APA had to run down and save Show's butt.
As the Rock was getting ready for his match against Willy regal, Jericho stormed in and confronted him. They taunted each other until the Undertaker came in and told them to stop being idiots and get it together or he would kick both their butts. They agreed to make nice and Jericho said he may show his support for the Rock during his match later.
Regal dominated the opening moments of his WCW Title match with the Rock with his superior mat wrestling skills, but then Tajiri ran down and sprayed green mist in his face. Regal was vanquished and slunk away. Maivia then challenged Steve Austin to come to the ring. The two engaged in what seemed to be a fairly good natured verbal battle. They even sang a duet together on a version of Margaritaville! I read somewhere that they had already gone through this routine at a couple of recent house shows. This camaraderie all dissolved when the Rock scooped Austin up and laid him out with a Rock Bottom. Kurt Angle ran into the ring, followed by Chris Jericho, who grabbed a chair on his way. Jericho faced off with the Rock and then turned and stood at his side, ready to do battle against the rattlesnake and the Olympic Idiot as the program came to a close.
Hmmm...well, we have one more program to build suspense before the big Winner-Take-All PPV battle. It should be interesting...
At least that's the way I see it...
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