Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
In this edition of the newsletter we have the return of our weekly Crossface Connection column from John Cross, a very timely Flashback feature on Triple H from Ervin Griffin, and my own TV Reports and topical rants.
You can get more of the latest news and rumors by listening to this week's Solie's Wrestling Radio report.
Tommy Fierrro, who writes a daily column for 1Wrestling.com, will be starting up his own wrestling newsletter this year. The newsletter, Wrestling World Weekly, will be mailed to the subscribers homes each and every week. The newsletter will be very similar to Wrestling Observer Newsletter and Pro Wrestling Torch, but with a few different features. There will be several wrestling personalities that will be writing columns for the newsletter. One of the features will be former WCW Superstar Crowbar writing "Crowbar's Corner." Others who will be writing for the newsletter include former WCW Superstar Lodi, former WCW Superstar The Stro, former WCW Superstar Daffney, former ECW wrestler and referee H.C. Loc, Michael Tearson from the Philadelphia Daily News, Sir Adam and Phantom from the Get In The Ring audio show, Vinnie Bobarino from the TWO Extreme audio show, and several others. Tommy is working on getting a few other names to do columns as well. The newsletter will also feature commentaries by Tommy, latest news, results, PPV previews, interviews, letters, and much more. The first issue will be mailed out around January 15th.
You can sample the debut issue of Wrestling World Weekly for $2.00. Send $2.00 to: Wrestling World Weekly, 14 Terrace Avenue, West Paterson, NJ 07424. If you're sending a check or money order, please make sure it's made payable to Tommy Fierro.
If you're interested in subscribing now, the rates are as follows: 4 issues for $10.00, 8 issues for $18.00, 12 issues for $25.00, 16 issues for $30.00, 20 issues for $35.00, and a one year subscription for $75.00. Send check or money order payable to: Tommy Fierro, Att: Wrestling World Weekly, 14 Terrace Ave., West Paterson, NJ 07424
Any further questions you can E-mail Tommy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Triple H. Only a few years ago, this name spawned images of a crotch chopping, potty mouth who was a good performer but only mid-card at best. Now, the name spawns images of one of the most (if not THE most) respected performer in the business!
Born Jean Paul Levesque, the man that would become "The Game" began his career around 1994 after training with legend Walter "Killer" Kowalski! I should also note that Joan Laurer (AKA Chyna) was also at the school. Triple H first made his national appearance in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in Atlanta, GA. He first wrestled as Terra Ryzan (a character similar to "The Game" character he plays now) and later under his real name Jean Paul Levesque (a prequel to his Hunter Hearst Hemsley/rich snob character). In a recent WWF Magazine devoted to Triple H, he revealed that he and William Regal (then known as Lord Steven Regal) were slated to win the WCW World Tag Team title with "Sensational" Sherri as the manager. The plot-line was for Sherri to turn on Harlem Heat during a title match but Levesque decided to go to the WWF despite offers from then booker Eric Bischoff of working fewer days for more money.
But Mr. Levesque was looking for something more as he made his WWF debut in 1995. His first PPV appearance was against Bob Holly at SummerSlam '95. From there, he went on a very public winning streak. His only three losses were The Undertaker (during an 8 man elimination bout at Survivor Series '95), Duke Drose (on a reversed decision at Royal Rumble '96) and The Ultimate Warrior (at WrestleMania 12). He was scheduled to win the King Of The Ring '96 but due to an unauthorized in-ring get together with Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and others, those plans were derailed. Vince McMahon couldn't do much to Nash and Hall as they were departing to WCW and Michaels was WWF Champion (and a very popular one at that) so Vince didn't want to risk alienating the fans concerning him so he punished HHH by not only making him job in the King Of The Ring tourney (won by future rival "Stone Cold" Steve Austin) but more or less putting him as everyone's whipping boy for a couple of months.
That ended in October '96 when he defeated "Wildman" Marc Mero for the WWF Intercontinental Championship. This title reign ended in February of '97 when a young "Rock" (then known as Rocky Maivia) shocked fans by pinning the "American Blueblood" for the title on RAW! This began an off and on feud over the years between the two for both the WWF I-C gold and the WWF World Championship as well as just personal grudge matches.
Soon afterwards, Triple H began the road to become the star that he is today. During feuds with Mankind and the late Owen Hart, Triple H formed Degeneration X with Shawn Michaels and Chyna. They, along with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, ushered in a new era in the WWF and (in some ways) pro wrestling as a whole with characters that were closer to real life people rather than the "super villian/super hero" characters of yesteryear. Even super characters like Kane and The Undertaker began to become more "human" as a result. During this DX era, Triple H was also WWF European Champion.
Anyway, Hunter took over DX when Michaels had to take a forced retirement due to back problems. He brought in X-Pac and The New Age Outlaws in the version of DX that most people are familiar with. This group was despised by some but overwhelmingly popular with most fans. The highlight bout of Triple H's DX days was his SummerSlam '98 bout with Rocky Maivia (who had become The Rock by then) for the WWF I-C title. A knee injury caused Hunter to vacate the title but he came back with a vengeance in December of '98 and had a hand in Mick Foley defeating The Rock for the WWF title in that same month (as well as SCSA).
Later, after a brief feud with Chyna, Hunter turned against DX and joined Vince McMahon's Cooperation along with Chyna. The duo would feud with former DX members "Road Dogg" Jesse James, X-Pac and X-Pac's then tag team partner Kane. During this, Triple H had his eyes set on the WWF title and becoming the man in the federation.
His time would come on August 23, 1999 when he defeated Mankind to become champion. What makes this noteworthy is the night before, Mankind defeated Triple H and SCSA in a Triple Threat Match for the WWF title! Austin, at the time, said he wouldn't job to Triple H because he felt he wasn't ready for the WWF title.
Over the next year, however, I believe Triple H proved Austin and most critics (including the man writing this piece on him/LOL!) wrong! "The Game" jobbed the title to (of all people) Vince McMahon in September but quickly regained it when McMahon vacated the title to the winner of a "six pack challenge" at WWF Unforgiven. In match, Triple H edged out The Rock, The Big Show, Kane and two others to regain the championship. The following month, he defeated "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to retain the championship at WWF No Mercy only to lose it at Survivor Series '99 to The Big Show during another Triple Threat Match which also featured The Rock.
If you have a question, comments, criticism, or just want to talk pro wrestling, e-mail me at 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
Yeah…this is John…again….it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?
Well, absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder, and, with the length of this absence, you all should be madly in love with me.
Send all love letters to my brother, and send all the chocolate candy to Miss Pamela..I hear Mr. Pamela has a GIGANTIC sweet tooth for semi-sweet chocolate.
All that being said (none too gracefully, I might add), I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and a promising New Year.
As much as I will sound like Stephanie McMahon (harsh to myself, aren’t I?), the last year in the history of our country was similar to the year that was wrestling.
We started on a tenuous note of optimism, as the rumors that the WCW would haul itself up and repair itself ran rampant. Then, as the progression of WCW’s horrible decay became more and more evident, we settled into a dread watch, as we did with the economy. The WWF was banging out some spectacular TV, and some terrible TV, and did nothing to excite these readers and watchers, to my recollection. Then, the biggest and most feared act in pro wrestling occurred... The WCW, the direct link to the origins of pro wrestling, and the only competition to the WWF, utterly fell into ruin, and was pounced upon by Vincent K. McMahon...a man who many think is as dangerous to professional wrestling as Bin Ladin is to freedom and Judeo-Christianity..and snapped up, flaunted, and ripped to shreds.
All the people that were pure-WCW’ers fled, proving their existance by the huge drop in ratings for televised wrestling. Then, when faced with the choice of dropping money on proven WCW draws, like Goldberg, Nash, Hall, and Steiner, the WWF (Vince) balked, choosing instead to go with the undernourished and largely unknown (to WWF fans) WCW mid-card. Then, adding insult to injury, Vince and his WWF bookers and writers played all of them as idiots and buffoons...that was on purpose, and it was also personal (and that is a FACT…not an opinion). There was no satiating Vince’s urge to flaunt...and that proved to hasten the drop in ratings, alienate more viewers, and reduce the quality of the product.
Then, a great idea (Invasion) was ran like a ship of idiots, floundered, and ran aground. Six months of the year were wasted on an angle that couldn’t work, as there wasn’t enough heat for the entire Alliance to support it….save for Rob Van Dam, who was pushed through his injuring of a half-dozen WWF mainstays. Protected by Paul Heyman, this guy did more to hurt WWF talent than Chronic ever did….yet they are gone, aren’t they. Why? No Heyman, and they were from the WCW. However, through all of that, we can say that RVD was a positive for the stricken WWF.
Other positives? Kurt Angle, who actually carried the WWF for a four-month span. Steve Austin, who managed to do the impossible, and that was to turn Stone Cold into a heel. Chris Jericho, who improved steadily in his characterizations, and Trish Stratus, who was, in my book, the most-improved player in the WWF. I think the arrival of Ric Flair was great, though much, much too late. The Undertaker played out nicely this year, as did Kane, and even the Big Show got a bit of a push. And, though I may not be joined by everyone in this opinion, the WWF running their show in the aftermath of the 9-11-01 attack was also a really bright spot, not withstanding Stephanie’s comments.
Now, individual stinkers? Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo…that angle makes me sick…as did the KMA Club, which Jim Ross and William Regal had to join. HHH getting injured was a bad thing, but I am thinking that all this hype for his return smacks of desperation, and that also stinks. The death of Mr. Haas was also a really grave downer, as his career was on the way up.
Now, that is all over. 2002 holds new challenges, large and small. The Split (I notice that many ‘Net writers are using that term now...I wonder if I started it...nah...) is finally going to occur, and it is more important than words can express that it occurs and works out good for the WWF. The air this January smells like one of those regular, cyclical downturns for wrestling may be looming, and it needs to be forestalled, or intercepted, before more damage occurs to the fan base. Steve Austin, the Undertaker, and some more of the other older talent need to be slowly phased out of the main-event, and newer talent, like RVD, needs to come in. Egos, hinted at in 2001, must be re-relegated to the back burner for a successful 2002. And, last but not least, the WWF needs to start listening to the fans again….not the ones who watch when Real World, or Survivor, isn’t on, but the core, long-term, mature fans, who actually drive the industry. The core needs recognized, and solidified….and that is something Vince has not done in many, many years.
OK….that wasn’t a bad beginning to this year, was it? E-mail me, and let me know...send it to firstname.lastname@example.org...I will read your e-mail, and respond as soon as I can. I hope to use all feedback to improve the Connection, for you, Earl, and all of Solie’s.
I also ask everyone to come to bodyslam.cc, and take a look around. Once won’t kill you, and the news, rumors, and great columns will keep you a fan, I promise.
See you next week with another Connection. by John Cross
by Earl Oliver
SmackDown was live (for a change) from the MCI Center in Washington, DC for the first WWF broadcast of the new year, and opened with a Tag Team Title defense - the Dudleys (w/Stacy) vs. Spike Dudley and Tazz. Of course, Spike came out alone first and walked right into his brothers' trap. Tazz arrived soon enough, however, and the fight was on. Tazz waded in for a bit - but then Spike was tagged in and isolated for several minutes. Tazz eventually got back into the battle, then things went into see-saw mode until Spike was caught and powerbombed off the top rope and pinned.
Lillian Garcia tried to interview Jazz - but the newcomer preferred to make a statement about what she planned to do to Molly Holly in their match later.
Mr. McMahon made his entrance after the break and took the ring to wish the crowd a Happy New Year - the crowd used the occasion to shout Steve Austin's catch phrase at him as he described what he intends to do to Ric Flair at the Royal Rumble. Vince then turned his attention to Time Magazine's Man of the Year - Mayor Julianni of New York. McMahon then made the outrageous claim that he was considered by Time for this honor. The crowd kept mocking him, so Vince threatened to shut the show down - and started having the lights around the arena shut off. The crowd continued so he had all of the lights cut out! Flashbulbs rippled through the arena as he continued to rant. Then the Rattlesnake's music started up. Vince hastily called for the lights to come back up - only to discover Steve Austin in the ring with him! Austin started ticking off his New Year's resolutions - one of which was to kick McMahon's butt. This brought Booker T and the Boss Man to the ring - and Austin was in the soup. Boss Man used the microphone to beat on Austin's head, drawing blood after numerous blows. The beating went on for several minutes as Austin got bloodier and bloodier. Booker T finally ended the beat down with a kick to the face - then the bad guys left him laying in the ring.
Next up - Mighty Molly taking on Jazz. This match was, of course, predetermined as a victory for the newcomer. But that didn't mean that Molly was made out to be a pushover. She had to hold her own so that Jazz could show her mettle. The highlight was a series of three underarm suplexes, which Molly worked her way out of - but a version of a brain buster gave Jazz the win.
Backstage, Stephanie tried to get into the building - but, despite her threats, she was not on the list...
Elsewhere, Test was doing a "kiss and tell" story, when Chris Jericho showed up bearing gifts. Christian suggested that jericho's largess might have something to do with the fact that HHH is coming back on Monday. Jericho denied it, telling them that he was rewarding them for being "deserving" - and hinted that they should consider watching his back... meanwhile, Coach interviewed the Undertaker, asking him about the challenge of the the Big Show. UT was offended by the notion that he might have run away from the giant, vowing that he would teach the big guy some respect tonight. In another part of the building, Test handed his present from Y2J off to Torrie Wilson. It was a Jericho shirt (of course). Test hit on her, but she told him nicely that she was taken. He challenged Tajiri to a match (naturally).
The Undertaker defended his Hardcore Title against the Big Show in the next match. The big guy dominated things from the opening bell, until UT took out his knee with a tackle. From there the fight went to the floor, where TBS ran his leg into the ring post then UT added to the damage using the ring steps as a weapon. Back in the ring, the Big Show again asserted himself for a while, but then UT slapped on his Asahi Sleeper (a variation on a reverse Chancellery) and the big guy submitted.
Backstage, Stephanie tried to sneak in pushing "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" (James Dudley) in his wheel chair. This time the door guard let the old guy in but still barred her highness. She then tried her feminine wiles on him - but he confessed that he was gay. Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo glad handed their way right past the guard, who said, "If they would come out with a calendar..." Stephanie threw up her hands and left again.
In the arena, Chris Jericho joined Kurt Angle for a tag team match against Edge and Rob Van Dam. This match is, in my opinion, a mistake, because it dilutes Van Dam's "lone wolf" mystique. But the contest was a great one. Toward the end of the match, Edge slapped Angle own ankle lock on him but Jericho broke it up. In the end, Angle and Jericho barely eked out a victory.
Backstage, Arn Anderson told Ric Flair all about McMahon's shenanigans at the top of the show, and the consequences when the Rattlesnake showed up. Flair declared his intention of making a statement...after the break. Flair went to the ring, as promised, and addressed McMahon, telling him he is in for it at the Royal Rumble. As he was ranting, Stephanie finally fought her way through the crowd to ringside. Flair invited her into the ring. She told him that letting her into the ring was a smart business decision, then she started trying to sweet talk him - saying that she has always been a big fan of the Nature Boy, calling him a Legend and an Icon. She tells Flair that in the ring - he is the man - but in the office - she is the man... Flair started strutting and dropping elbows on the mat. Stephanie got exasperated and slapped him - then told him that he better wise up because her husband is coming back on Monday. Then she left.
Tajiri and Torrie came to the ring for his match against Test. This started out as a brutal beat down, but Test then let Torrie distract him to his detriment. He recovered after several severe kicks, but then again allowed himself to be sidetracked. Tajiri got in several more good shots, then Test dropped him on the top rope. Tajiri came right back and put the bigger guy down and got a two count. test kicked out, then came back with a boot of his own (to the face) and took the pin.
Backstage, Boss Man questioned Vince about whether or not he was concerned about his daughter trying to be reinstated. McMahon allowed as how he had some concerns, when Booker T came in and demanded to know who he was facing tonight for a shot at the Undisputed heavyweight Title. When Vince answered, "The Rock", Booker responded "who?" he revealed that he was going to try and start a new catch phrase - what?
Coach interviewed the Rock, who got him to admit that his favorite music star is...Barry Manilow?? Rock then cajoled Coachman into singing some Manilow (Copa Cabana..?) so that he could deliver a put down and send him packing. Maivia then ranted against his opponent in the match later, Booker T.
The main event was Booker T challenging the Rock for the #1 contender to Chris Jericho's title. Booker was in a bad way when Vince ran in and attacked Maivia, then he stuck around ringside to continue his interference until Ric Flair ran down and beat a tattoo on his partner's head. They disappeared up through the crowd as the match continued in the ring. As Booker again appeared to be about to go down to defeat - the Boss Man showed up to lend a hand. Unfortunately for Booker, this distracted him, thus giving the win...and the title shot to Maivia. They continued to beat on the Rock until Steve Austin showed up - back from the hospital, with stitches in his forehead, and cleared the ring of vermin - at least momentarily. Booker T got in the last shot as he returned to the ring with a chair and put Maivia down next to Austin.
Raw came to us live from the Madison Square Garden in good old New York, New York (the town they liked so much they named it twice!) and Vince McMahon comes to the ring bearing a gift to start the show. He immediately succumbs to a delusion that "people" are claiming that Ric Flair doesn't deserve to be in the ring with an athlete the caliber of Mr. McMahon. He disputed this imaginary "claim" then showed some clips of Flair's past glories. He displayed some footage of Flair attacking him on various occasions, then he made the claim that he was "already the man" and sought to prove it by donning one of Flair's old robes (a blue one with "Nature Boy" embroidered on the back) and a blondes wig and went into a Flair-style strut. This brought Flair himself to the ring to demand that McMahon take off the robe. McMahon's response was to pull a pipe out of the robe and brain Flair with it! He shoved Flair out of the ring then followed him out to deal out some more punishment. Flair was soon busted and bloody.
Rob Van Dam took on Test in the first match of the evening. Classic big man vs. smaller, better man stuff. As Test began to perceive his imminent demise - he brought a chair into the ring...and promptly had it kicked in his face. Guess who won...
Next up - Billy and Chuck (??) vs. Scotty-Too-Hotty and his big dumb friend. This one was over too quickly...or maybe not. On second thought just get all these guys out of the ring as soon as possible. Oh yeah...Billy and Chuck won.
Backstage, Sharmell tried to interview Chris Jericho, but he basically conducted his own questioning. In another part of the building, Mike Cole tried to question Steve Austin - but just got "What?" and then Austin as well conducting his own interview. Austin mentioned Triple H's return...but not by much. He vowed to win the Royal Rumble and to kick some butt on tonight's program.
Edge beat lance Storm in about a minute and a half - then was attacked on the platform by Willy Regal and his brass knucks. By the way - I heard that Regal's surgery was for constant nose bleeds - not a broken nose.
At the top of the second hour we got the Rock/Austin vs. The Boss Man/Booker T - the problem here is that the focal point of the ire of the crowd - and both face wrestlers in this one - is Booker. Boss Man is a non-entity thug with no chance of building any heat. Meanwhile, the Rock and Austin are such unlikely partners that the crowd seems confused and oddly quiet when the good guys are in control. The Boss Man's finest moment was tripping the Rock as he attempted to lay the People's Elbow on Booker. The Rock was then isolated for a bit. Eventually the good guys won and shared a beer moment...yawn...its like they're deliberately making this show boring to make the return of HHH that much more interesting...
Chris Jericho defended his...no...actually he didn't defend anything (except maybe his face)...against Rikishi. The big guy dominated his opponent early on by crushing him in the corner then following him out to the floor - where Jericho turned the tables then stripped the padding off the safety fence before smashing his opponent into it shoulder first. back in the ring, Rikishi regained the advantage and had Jericho reeling. Rikishi was going for the Rikishi Bomb but referee Nick Patrick tried to restrain him for some reason. Jericho recovered and got out from under in time. Patrick got in the way again and got the Stinkface for his trouble. Jericho then pinned him without actually pinning him.
Backstage, Kurt Angle had a cow over everyone's anticipation of HHH's return... In another part of the building, the Dudleys have a little set-to with Spike and Tazz - who challenge them to defend their Tag Titles in a Hardcore style match...next...
The match was the first interesting one of the evening as a table came into play early on, then Stacy exposed her "cheeks" and managed to captivate Bubba instead of her intended target, Tazz. As Tazz disabled D-Von with a Tazzmission, Spike hit the Dudley drop on Bubba onto the table and pinned him to take the titles.
Next up - heaven help us - a wet t-shirt contest between Trish Stratus and Terri Runnels (or whatever her name is these days...) The King used a Super-Soaker to do the honors. Terri took her soaking, wearing what looked like a very thick pink shirt. Then Trish seemed to take a long time getting ready. Turned out she was stalling until Jazz could run out and attack her from behind. Silly stuff.
The Main event was...what else? The return of Triple H. Helmsley made his classic entrance, sans Stephanie (by the way), looking his usual truculent self. The arena erupted with the roar of the crowd and a sea of flashbulbs. HHH launched into a rip-roaring speech declaring, "I am the Game...and you can bet your a$$ I am back!!" He then announced his entry into the Royal Rumble, only to be interrupted by Kurt Angle, who tried to deflate the moment as the crowd chanted "You Suck!" and other...less printable...things... Kurt stated that he had a major announcement - that he is also entering the Rumble. HHH's response was a spear and then a beat down for our Olympic Hero. Stripping off his shirt, he showed that he has certainly continued to train in his off-months. Kurt came back with an Angle Slam - but then stopped to pose with his back to Helmsley. Big mistake. HHH put him down again then hit the Pedegree on him before leaving the ring, posing on the platform, and backing out through the entryway.
I believe the Game is back...
At least that's the way I see it...
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