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.
KEEP ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN'!
KEEP ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN'!
KEEP ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN'!
KEEP ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN'!
The opening chorus to rapper/rock star Limp Bizkit's "Rollin'" is what herald's the arrival of Mark Calloway aka The Undertaker!
His career first began in Texas in 1989 under the names of The Punisher & The Master Of Pain. He wore a mask during that time and his opponents included Texas legend Kerry Von Eric and Memphis "monarch" Jerry Lawler!
My first glimpse of him was in late 1989 when he was brought into WCW to replace Sid Vicious as one half of The Skyscrapers with Dan Spivey! While not as herald as the original team, Mark brought an element not often seen with big men in wrestling and that is the big man that can go to the top rope and deliver offensive maneuvers! Not only did the future 'Taker jump off the top rope, he would often walk down the rope before delivering a crushing forearm or a flying elbow! He had a minor run in WCW with his biggest match coming against then NWA United States Champion Lex Luger at the Great American Bash 1990. Calloway lost to the former Horseman but looked good and could've won the match against his more experienced opponent.
Later that year, he moved to the World Wrestling Federation and became The Undertaker! For long time fans of the industry, you'll remember that The Undertaker back then was FAR different than the one we see now! He was burying his opponents both figuratively and literally! His debut bout was at the 1990 Survivor Series as part of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Team with Greg Valentine, The Honky Tonk Man & DiBiase himself. Their opponents were Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Koko B. Ware & Dusty Rhodes. UT was counted out of the ring that night but not before drilling Koko with his soon to be legendary Tombstone piledriver and nailing Rhodes with a version of his "old school" maneuver. Both led to pins of those men. Though he was eliminated via count out that night, I remember people talking at school about this new wrestler from Survivor Series! It seems that everyone was talking about The Undertaker after that night and this was when Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior were at the peak of their popularity! In fact, UT was one of the first heels that I can recall that actually got cheered at WWF matches, even against guys like UW!
Over the years, we have seen the UT character go through some changes. He's gone from brooding grave digger to the WWF's version of The Dark Knight (a Batman reference) to devil worshiper to tough man biker! We have also seen him change manuvears as he has forsaken the Tombstone in favor of the "Last Ride" powerbomb (though he occasionally uses the Tombstone).
We have also seen him adopt (sort of) Glen Jacobs as he plays the part of UT's "brother" Kane! While Kane is considered something of a copy of UT, in some ways, he's a lot like UT was during his early days in the WWF. I figure whenever UT calls it a day, Kane may take up the mantle somewhat.
Most recently, UT has let his wife get into the action as she was part of that awful angle with Diamond Dallas Page "stalking" her! Also, after several feuds, it seems that UT and Kane are resigned to be a tag team. I hope that stays because I DO NOT want to see another feud. Its one of those things "good the first time around."
Still, this WWF legend has a World Class Texas Title, three WWF World Titles, five WWF World Tag Team Championships and a WCW World Tag Team Championship to his credit.
I have a feeling that even after he rides into the sunset, The Undertaker will still be rollin'! Until next time............This is FlashBack!
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
Man, I am tired.
I mean, I am that eyeballs-are not lubed up enough kind of tired......so tired that you get that middle-of-your-brain headache, that only large amounts of caffeine will take away.
Yep...tired. However, don't be fooled, friends....no measly lack of sleep will keep me from doing what I love to do best....
Bash Vince McMahon! Of course, only in a professional manner, and with the utmost regard for his talents, etc., etc.
Let's discuss Survivor Series again, but this time a week after the event, and with the clarity of thought that time gives us, as it removes us from the strong emotions of the moment. Let us look back at what Vince has done...and all these things have been documented in this column, as well as others.
First off, he bought up and/or overran the vast majority the smaller, independent wrestling federations, and made it impossible for the rest to exist with any financial security....like the AWA (who disappeared for 6 years), the WCWA, and the USWA. The biggest of the rest (the NWA) had to sell it's soul to Ted Turner, and become the WCW, which, under Eric Bischoff, was able to hold its own against the WWF.
Then, Vince turned to the smaller of his two main competitors, the ECW. Vince, like Paul Heyman said, took the most popular of the ideas that ECW promulgated, like the extreme match, mainstreamed it (many would consider this Attitude, but I wouldn't), started enticing the best of the ECW to leave (the Dudleys and Tazz are good examples), and left it to whither and die on its own. The ECW couldn't last long.
Vince then rounded on the WCW, which was showing signs of strain. Vince managed to tap into the "Nirvana" crowd (as opposed to the "Lauper" crowd, who looked at wrestling as a good time...Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior, and the cartoon characters) and made his characters darker, dirtier, more mistrustful, and less clear-cut, good or bad. This was another idea that he himself did not invent, as the WCW's "nWo" was the progenative creation of that thought process. Vince improved that mind-set, created "Attitude", and began chipping away at the WCW, first by out-developing his new talent, and, like he did with the ECW, drawing talent away from Turnerland (the Radicalz are the prime example there).
But, see, out-competing the two remaining threats to his stranglehold on wrestling wasn't enough for Vincent K. McMahon, like I have said before....he wanted to defeat them....he wanted to embarrass them, and humiliate them. This desire is really magnified towards the WCW, who embarrassed Vince for a couple years there. Yes, this is a provocative thing to say, but I really think that Vince ENJOYS this stuff. Let's move on to the last 8 months, shall we?
First off, name for me the WCW wrestler that made it through the PPV. Gee, let's see...it looks like all the remaining Alliance people belong to either the ECW or the WWF.....what a surprise. Vince couldn't even let a WCW guy make it through the Survivor Series gauntlet, although Booker T was over enough as a heel to make it. Do you think that was on accident? I don't think so.
Working backwards, name for me the WCW worker that wasn't portrayed as a buffoon........that's another one. Only Booker T was making headway there, and it took him 5 or 6 months to make it to heel status based upon his work in the ring, and his feud with RVD (the new 'pretty boy/HBK' of the WWF). Does anyone think that Vince wasn't taking that long opportunity to rub it in? If you think that Vince couldn't have made some of these guys a little more serious, you got splinters in the windmills of your mind (thanks to the Carol Burnett Show for that line).
Then, the admittedly-true story that Bischoff was to be involved in a WWF storyline, and Vince saying that they, "...could not reach a decision on the storyline, and it just didn't happen." (I paraphrase there) The impression he gives is that there wasn't the time to develop a storyline, but when has that ever stopped the WWF before? See, I would almost bet that Bischoff said "No." because the storyline involved humiliation of some sort, and he told Vince that he would not do it. Bischoff has enough problems with strip clubs...he didn't need the WWF lording their success over him.
Lastly, like I wrote in this column back when Vince bought the WCW, Vince craved the win so badly, he bought the competition, when he could have just maybe bought the rights to the historical stuff. No, Vince wanted to buy WCW, if only to publicly show that he was the victor. That was the ultimate mockery, and he gets to relive it every day.
Now, he is paying for it.
Ratings are down, as the WCW/Alliance was never taken seriously after the initial Invasion PPV, and especially after July. He has failed to sign any big name, except for Flair, and the product of that failure to expend the initial buyout money is the weakness inherent in the WCW ranks. Like them or not, the Big Five of WCW (Nash, Hall, Goldberg, Flair, and Sting) should have been signed, and for all those who disagree, I think the proof is in the tapioca pudding that is the Nielsen ratings. Look, we can say it like this: 6.0 (the WWF average rating while against the WCW from 1999-2001) + 2.9 (the WCW average rating during the same period) > 4.8 (the average ratings of the WWF since Wrestlemania). And, guess what....that is a FACT......not an opinion.
So, I think that Vince's rubbing in of the victory he earned over his competition has hurt his own federation, and that is something we all knew would happen...in his glee, he has wounded himself, and that makes this tired old mind glad....why? Because he will now have to sign the WCW people he refused to half a year ago, and retrace his steps. Because he will have to improve the product enough to recapture his viewership, and that means it will have to be better than before.
I hope Flair helps...and I figure he will do something...after all, he is Ric Flair.
Before I collapse from exhaustion, I ask you to spend some money at Solie's Storefront on Christmas gifts for your important loved ones and all the marks on your list. They need it, you need to do it, and Earl gets some $$ to keep the website the best on the Web.
Also, I ask you to come over to bodyslam.cc and read all the columns and get your latest results, rumors, and news...all updated daily and unbiased.
Good night, now, and see you next week for another Connection.
by Earl Oliver
SmackDown was taped Tuesday night at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina and opened with Ric Flair coming to the ring. Flair reiterated that he is the 50% owner of the WWF, then he announced a title unification match for the next PPV - the Rock vs. Steve Austin to unify "The World Title" and the WWF Heavyweight Championship. Vince McMahon showed up right on cue to first demand a big round of applause to thank Kurt Angle for saving the WWF. He didn't get it. Ignoring the crowd reaction, he turned to Flair and agreed that a unification match was a great idea. He offered some ideas to modify the match at Vengeance. He suggested that Austin defend his title against Kurt Angle and the Rock defend his title against Chris Jericho, then the winners will meet to unify the titles. Flair agreed. Vince then took Flair to task for holding off the announcement of his partial ownership of the promotion, and for not defending his partner when push came to shove on Monday night. He wanted to know what kind of partner Flair intends to be in the future. His response? "I'm gonna be that kiss stealin' limosine ridin', etc., etc..."
The next match featured Test, squashing Scotty Too Hotty (yawn...) Then the newest WWF broadcaster, Sharmell Sullivan (formerly known as Paisley) interviewed Tazz. They were interrupted by Funaki, who thought Tazz's situation was laughable...until he got the Tazzmission put on him. The Big Show then stepped in to tell Taz to pick on someone his own size. A match was made between them for later in the program.
The featured match on the show was to be a "Gravy Boat" match pitting Stacy Keibler against Womens' champ, Trish Stratus. All evening long, people kept throwing the left overs from Thanksgiving dinner into the pool - dirty plate leavings, pies, etc. Yech!!!
Backstage, Kurt Angle was still grousing about the lack of gratitude shown to him for saving the WWF. Christian showed up with a turkey dinner, but Vince wasn't impressed. The Undertaker arrived, so Christian split. UT started giving Vince a hard time about using Angle as the Alliance "mole" instead of him, pointing out that Survivor Series marked his 11th anniversary with the WWF. Vince tried to soothe him by putting him in tonight's main event...against Kurt Angle.
Tazz's match against the Big Show looked like it might end in an upset...for about three seconds...TBS took it fairly easily. Backstage, Vince gave Willy Regal an assignment to which we were not privy.
The "main event" Vince promised to the Undertaker took place at the end of the first hour for some reason. This was a brutal match - both guys pulling out all the stops. It all seemingly ended when the Undertaker went for a chokeslam, but Angle used the big guy's grip to throw him off then rolled him into the ankle lock. UT, however, wasn't quite finished. He got back to his vertical base and pulled out of the hold, then applied the chokeslam. UT then applied an ankle lock of his own. Angle made it to the ropes, but UT wouldn't let go of the hold. Vince ran out and started to hit UT with a chair, but the latter turned around then took the chair from him. He went nose to nose with the WWF owner and said to him, "I just wanta little respect..." Then he turned and left the ring. Vince was left staring after him with a little grin on his face.
Willie Regal came to the ring and stated that he had the "honor" to get into the ring Monday night and kissed Vince's backside. He called Steve Austin out to the ring, saying that he holds Austin responsible for the results of the Survivor Series, and adding some other choice ephitets. Austin stalked to the ring, as he usually does, and did his poses for the crowd before turning his attention to Regal, who started to make a speech, but Austin grabbed the mic and proceeded to "What?" him. He then made some jokes about the "stench" in the ring then continued with his "What?" routine. He presented Regal with some gum and candy to sweeten his breath - then came up with some Altoids! Austin kept making cracks about his breath, and asking him if he liked kissing Vince's butt, while Regal continued to fume. Regal finally grabbed the mic and started to rant - so Austin hit him with a stunner. This brought a phalanx of former Alliance members (the Dudleys, Test, Christian) to subdue Austin so that Regal could beat on him. He fought back to his feet but then the Dudleys hit the 3D on him, then Regal slapped the Regal Stretch on him. As Regal got back to his feet, his nose was bleeding again, and Austin was laid out flat on the mat.
After the break, Vince congratulated his former Alliance buddies, for beating up on Austin. To reward Christian, he gave him an IC Title match against his brother, Edge. He then turned to the Dudleys and asked where Rob Van Dam was. They said RVD refused to participate in the beat down of Austin. He sends them to go after Van Dam...without actually saying so.
Next up - the Gravy Match - which started with a food fight. The two girls sat down at a table laden with Thanksgiving fare, then quickly started to throw food, until they tumbled into the pool, which basically looked to be brown water. Trish retained her title on a submission victory. Afterwards, Stacy shoved the referee into the soup.
The Hardeys and Lita have some mutual disagreements over recent happenings. Matt is upset with Jeff for messing up their title unification match at the PPV - Lita is upset with Matt about his recent dalliance with various female members of the WWF roster (yawn again...) In another part of the building, Y2J came out of Mr. McMahon's office with a big smile on his face.
Christian's IC Title shot was going pretty well...then it was thrown away when Test came down to get involved, causing a DQ. Edge got punked.
The Rock and Rob Van Dam got their chance to grab the Dudleys' unified Tag Team Titles. Except that at the last moment, Vince showed up and added Chris Jericho to the mix to make it a three on two handicap match. Still, the Rock and RVD managed to make a pretty good showing - but the odds are overwhelming. In the end, Jericho hit a Rock Bottom on the Rock to take the pin, then mocked Mavia with an impression of the Great One as the program faded.
Raw came to us live from the Myriad in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and opened in the backstage area where Ric Flair and Vince McMahon were having a discussion. Flair took Vince to task for his attitude and actions Thursday. Vince agreed that they should consult on matters in the future, and then promised to make it up to Flair as we cut to the opening montage.
Vince and Kurt Angle made their way to the ring to announce that a second individual will join the "Vince McMahon Kiss My A$$ Club" tonight. Before he announced the name, however, he introduced his companion, who launched into a little rant of his own. He talked about his childhood, how he was always a winner, won all the athletic and educational honors available, went on to be an Olympic champion, yadda, yadda, yadda... He vows to go on and become the "first ever" undisputed World Wrestling Federation world champion. Vince took over the mic again and narrated some footage from Thursday, showing Steve Austin getting his butt kicked by a phalanx of former Alliance wrestlers, at McMahon's instigation. He then announced that the newest member of the "A$$ Kissing club"!! Right...
Backstage, Willy Regal and the troops were conferring about the Austin situation, and agreeing that they would watch each other's matches, when Ric Flair showed up and told them that if any of them interfered in each other's matches, they would be suspended. Test tried to object, saying he has immunity - but Flair reminded him that he has immunity from being fired - not suspended. He also agreed that Steve Austin would be held accountable if he interfered in any of their matches...but couldn't be controlled in the backstage area.
First up, Christian defending his European Title against the challenge of Jeff Hardey. Jeff was not 100%, of course, because of previous injuries, and could be seen to be in pain at various times during the match. Right after it started, Matt showed up and started an argument with Lita, who had accompanied his brother to the ring. As the match progressed, Jeff fought valiantly and had things going his way until he went for a high flying move and took too long getting there. Christian slipped out of the ring, so Jeff changed his direction only to find his brother in the way, telling him to stop showing off! Christian then ran Matt into the post, upsetting Jeff's balance so that he crashed to the mat. Christian slipped back into the ring and took the pin.
Backstage after the break, the Hardeys were arguing about what just happened. Lita tried to intervene and was told to shut up by Matt. She stomped away, with Matt trailing after...
Rob Van Dam defended his Hardcore Title against D-Von Dudley. D-Von almost got the pin when he used a flying back drop to drop RVD onto a chair, but the plucky champ kicked out. In the end, Dudley ended up lying on the chair as Van Dam hit him with his frog splash.
Backstage, the "troops" have a little trouble understanding Regal when he tells them he needs to go to the "loo". They finally figure it out (Christian, after all, does speak "fluent european"). In the bathroom, the troops are lined up at the urinals when the Big Show joins them. Regal was so jumpy that, when D-Von made a loud noise, he turned away from the urinal and peed all over the big guy's pants!! TBS went to Roc Flair and got a match against Regal for his trouble.
Trish Stratus defended her title against Stacy Keibler in a bra and panties match. She retained the title (yawn)...
The Rock came to the ring to suggest that if the WWF wants to unify the WWF and World Title - maybe they should just have a one on one match..? What a ridiculous idea... Maivia was in the middle of his rant when Chris Jericho interrupted him with a rant of his own. He reminded the Rock that he defeated him with his own move last Thursday, then said that he had an epiphany at that moment. He stated that the weakness of Y2J (referring to himself in the third person, by the way) was that he cared about what the fans think of him - so he has decided to quit doing that, declaring that he has become "larger then life". His plan is to thwart the Rock's plans to become the "Undisputed" World Champion. All this talk about the "Undisputed World Champion" - they keep saying it has never happened before. Apparently they have never heard of Lou Thesz, who unified all of the known World Titles in 1949 - before the WWF (or WWWF) even existed...
Edge put his Intercontinental Title on the line in a return match from Survivor Series against Test. I find it interesting that Edge, who was the WCW US Champ, won that unification match - but somehow it is the IC Title that survived. This match ended in DQ when Albert and Scotty-Too-Hotty came out and interfered.
Backstage, Vince and Kurt were discussing Steve Austin's pending appearance when Willy Regal came in and tried to get out of his match with the Big Show. Vince couldn't promise that, but did give Regal some private assurances.
That match was next and went badly for Regal when Booker T ran in from the audience and attacked the giant. Regal slipped on some brass knuckles in the confusion and took the big guy down for the count.
Backstage, the Undertaker showed up in Vince's office wanting to know why he was summoned. Vince declared that he cares about UT and that he's always given him respect, and he's demonstrated it by always counting on him. He then declared that UT "owes Vince" because vince allowed UT to do what he does for the last eleven years. JR talked to Lance Storm via satellite. Storm is in the middle of talking about his pending comeback when the camera pulls back to reveal that his current position is as a janitor at WWF New York!!
Next up, the Rock taking on Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle in a handicap match. This meant to soften him up for his World Title match at the next PPV (I guess). Just as it was about to get underway, Ric Flair showed up to change the handicap match into a tag match - with Kane as the Rock's partner! Kane came out and the fight was on, with a decidedly different spin then what Vince had planned. Somehow, the bad guys still managed to isolate the Rock for much of this match, but he kept coming back. Of course, when Kane finally was tagged in, he devestataed the competition for about, oh...6 seconds, then he was also beaten down. But he eventually made his comeback and then tagged in the Rock. Maivia fought off both opponents then locked a Sharpshooter on Jericho. Angle broke that up, but Kane then took him to the floor for a fight. Meanwhile, back in the ring, Jericho was going for another Rock Bottom but it was blocked, then Maivia hit a DDT for the pinfall. Afterward, Jericho stumbled out of then back into the ring only to be Rock Bottomed. The Rock went to the floor and grabbed a chair, but Y2J made his escape.
Vince made another appearance in the ring after the break. It was time for the "Kiss My A$$ Club" induction. Vince seemed quite confident that Austin would really do this ridiculous thing. Austin came to the ring and hemmed and hawed, then seemed to be willing to "bury the hatchet". Vince started to strip, then stopped to give Austin some Chap Stick, breath freshener and mouth wash. Austin complied with the requests. Steve even got to his knees as Vince bared his butt. Then he stalled for a bit...before he hit Mcmahon with a crotch shot, then started beating him with his belt!! Of course, the troops showed up and dragged Steve out to the floor for a beating, but back in the ring, Vince was starting to show welts on his butt. At ringside, JR was laughing his head off until Vince turned to him and said he would give him something to laugh at. Angle dragged JR into the ring and tried to force him to kiss Vince's butt. At that moment, the Undertaker made his appearance, seemingly to rescue JR. UT made a speech about all the people he's seen come and go, and the games they have all played, and saying that in the end everyone's ended up kissing Vince's butt, including himself. He turned to JR and asked him if he was going to do the deed. Of course, JR said, "Hell no!" Then UT asked him if that means that he (JR) is better then UT. He struck JR, then forced him to kiss Vince's butt as Vince wore JR's hat. Vince went on to prance around the ring with his butt hanging out.
Well that was certainly stupid...
At least that's the way I see it...
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