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.
Well, I got a flu shot.....took every reasonable precaution.....and then, when my little girl, my two year old cherub, got sick, I simply chalked it up to the flu, naively thinking that I was in no danger.
Well, forget it. In the Navy, we called this the Creepin' Crud. Ugh. Geez. It sucks. I just got over it yesterday, and I'm lucky.....my wife was saddled with it on Friday night, and she still isn't right on Monday morning. In fact, she kicked me out of the upstairs bathroom, and made me do my showering in the downstairs bathroom.
Oh, but enough of my troubles....you aren't Ann Landers. Unless...she's a fan of the column, too!
No? Well...we can always dream.
Now, I figure we ought to talk about wrestling. And I will. I have a old subject to broach, with a new twist. And, then, a 'topical rant', all credit for that line to Earl.
A co-columnist of mine recently pulled the plug on wrestling in his home. His young son dropped the "a-double-snakes" bomb in front of his parents. He is a preschool aged kid, and his dad (ex-Army Ranger, and a fine columnist), was thrown into a situation that I have faced myself.....namely, that the WWF is not family entertainment. It once was, but it isn't now.
So, he tried to watch the show with the volume down, thus restricting his child's access to the foul language, and proving that he is actually more conscientious than 75% of all other parents these days. This helped to ruin his ability to enjoy the show (as an adult, he is allowed to enjoy the WWF), so, he resigned himself to sad facts:
He couldn't watch the WWF anymore.
See, that proves his character and his resolve to bring up his child(ren) in the right atmosphere. It also proves that the WWF has departed from a huge part of it's past base, and that, as I postulated on the Solie's Forum, that Vince McMahon has gone a long way to destroying wrestling.
If a columnist, who admittedly loves pro-wrestling, must stop watching it, because it is harmful to his family, I would say that wrestling is in trouble, even if it is popular.
Popularity doesn't mean that something is doing well. Ancient Israel was at it's strongest, right before Assyria destroyed her. It took Hitler 10 years to build the German Empire to it's highest point (mid 1943), and just 22 months for it to utterly collapse. We could go on, but you get the idea. I also assume that the WWF's popularity of 1999-2001 led a lot of people to think that wrestling, as defined by Vince K. McMahon, was stronger than ever.
I think this 'popularity was as cheap as a Mick Foley "City Mention" pop.
Vince changed the mass of the demographic, and, though he managed to grab the attention of a higher percentage of the new demographic, he alienated the strength of the older one. I can evidence this by the recent entries in the Solie's Readers' Forum, telling of people that are quitting the whole wrestling scene, and I can evidence this by the censure of wrestling programming from my friend's home. Isn't this as active of an alienation as if they were telling people with small children to turn it off? I say that it is, and I say that the massive loss of viewership is proof of that.
Vince has changed the forum, the action, the characters, and the whole state of being of the industry....mostly to serve his need to expand and conquer. The mockery of the WCW workers serves to prove this trait of his, and I expect to see the nWo mocked in the same manner...as their entry hints at. I think, however, that unless that he makes moves to re-garner his larger base, he will find a 4.5 Nielsen rating a desired state of being.
Now, the nWo introduction.....it was weak, stupid, and anti-climactic. I knew, before the end of the show, what Vince was aiming at.
The show I meant was Raw, incidentally.
I have come to a conclusion, and I voiced it yesterday, in the Crossface Report. There has to be a leak in the Booking Committee of the WWF. I don't know how all these storylines became so predictable, and so well predicted on the 'Net. Mr. Ryder and Mr. Scherer are just doing their job, I figure, but I think that the massive amount of knowledge of angles before they happen is starting to really hurt the WWF.
My brother Mike would say that there must be surprise in these TV shows and PPV's, or else people won't watch. People want surprised, they want to see something new. If you know what is going to happen in a suspense movie, are you filled with suspense? It seems as if there is a problem here.
I think that the easy "Yeah, it's fake" attitude that the WWF has fostered in it's own workers has allowed the storylines to become common knowledge before they occur. The death of kayfabe seems to be the death of suspense and the unexpected storyline twist. Kayfabe is what we need....it is exactly what the WWF needs, and the question is, can they get it back?
Can the leaks of info be stopped from occurring? Probably not entirely, especially since the WWF is most popular in a very computer literate demographic. As long as there are 'Net reporters, and wrestlers willing to talk, there will be pandemic leaks and storyline precognition. I would, if I were Vince, put a gag order on wrestlers where storylines are concerned. Now, who knows if that would work, but I think that it would be a step in the right direction.
As for Nash, Hall, and Hogan, I will actually not slaughter them before they show up.....I will wait, and see how they perform. They will get the benefit of the doubt, which is remarkably nice and patient of me.....don't you think? I just think the way Vince introduced their impending arrival was as lame as Golddust.
Hey...I would ask everyone to come to bodyslam.cc, and take a look around at the news, rumors (NO spoilers), and columns that we put on the site for your enjoyment. Let us know what you think, and feel free to tell me what you think of this column, and other Connections that you might have read. Of course, surf Solie's early and often, for all the history, info, and biographical wrestling info you could ever imagine.
See you next week, with another Connection.
by Earl Oliver
SmackDown was taped Tuesday at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina and opened with a recap of Vince McMahon's "...I am about to do something even I will regret." speech. I suppose this has something to do with the long anticipated roster split.
The first match, for the second program in a row, featured Rob Van Dam. His opponent for the evening was IC Champ William Regal. Van Dam started the match by diving onto his opponent from inside the ring while Regal was still out on the floor. Unfortunately for the challenger, this was a non-title match - because he won it with a frog splash in under two minutes. Afterward, Edge ran in and added to Regal's woes before melting back into the crowd. It's funny how someone who is completely unconnected with the match in the ring can run in and then depart to his own theme music...
Vince McMahon was shown backstage, looking a little crazed and saying that he intends to follow through with...whatever it is...he promised to do on Monday night.
For the second time this week, Jacquie came down to the ring decked out in a sort of referee's halter top (with cleavage spilling out all over the place) to officiate a match between Rikishi and the Boss Man (not Big anymore...again...) This one went out to the floor almost immediately where Rikishi came close to having his head cracked between the halves of the ring steps. Jacquie was quite the stickler for the rules in her officiating, loudly counting Boss Man when he used illegal chokes and such. Rikishi squashed him to win it.
After a recap of the little spat between HHH and Stephanie on Monday, we cut to a scene at the coffee table where Lillian Garcia offered Stephanie a shoulder to cry on. Stephanie told her that there was no problem between her and Hunter, and then threw hot coffee on the startled ring announcer!
Taz and Spike came down to defend their titles against the challenge of Scotty-2-Hotty and his big dumb friend. I realize that Albert is trying to fit into the niche once occupied by Rikishi - but he doesn't have the personality (or the dancing talent) to pull it off. In this match, the big guy immediately concentrated on Spike's injured neck. Taz had to save his partner from being pinned within moments. After being isolated and pounded on for several minutes, Spike finally tagged Taz in and things began to go the other way - but it was stopped short. Scotty got in the Worm and almost had the pin - but Spike dragged him out of the ring. Albert tried to squash Spike in the corner but missed - then Taz slapped the Tazzmission on Scotty for the submission victory.
Backstage, Stephanie tried to get some approval from Hunter for her despicable act, but he was noncommittal. She again claimed responsibility for his success, which precipitated an argument about her father's character. In the end they seemed to be heading toward a break up.
Jonathen Coachman interviewed the Rock backstage, or tried to. Maivia took charge of the conversation, and when Coachman appeared to be wandering away in his head, Rocky snapped him back by suggesting that he should dance the Charleston. Coach, of course, got into it and then was kicked off the set. The Rock went on with his to guarantee that this coming WrestleMania would be his Wrestlemania. Meanwhile, out back, Hunter was brooding about his problems. Sharmell Sullivan tried to talk to him but he sent her packing. Christian came up next and commiserated, only to get his butt kicked right there in the hallway. Cut back to Vince McMahon for some more loony rant, talking about Ric Flair assuming a leadership role, and how bad that is for the WWF. He has to do something about it...
Next up, a #1 contender match between Booker T and Steve Austin...wait...I thought HHH already won the #1 contender status by virtue of his win at the Rumble. But what do I know..? I'm not sure, is this the first one-on-one match between these two since Booker joined the WWF? Correct me if I am wrong, but I think it is. It was a match worthy of two top contenders. Booker spent a lot of time working on one of Austin's most obvious weaknesses, and something that nobody ever seems to think about attacking - his many times injured knees. The strategy was certainly sound and Booker dominated the action throughout the match. But Austin pulled off a rather sudden win via a Stunner.
Sharmell cornered Ric Flair backstage and asked him about Vince's weird rantings. Flair said that if Vince can't deal with reality, then he should step aside.
The World's Most Obvious tag team combination (Kane and the Big Show) took on the Dudleys in a tag team table match battle. The Dudleys pulled a table into the ring almost immediately but failed to get a chance to use it. Every time someone set up a table shot, someone would pull the table out of the line of fire and thwart the intentions of the attackers. Finally Kane was knocked off the apron and almost accidentally went through a table at ringside. Afterward, the two big guys got into an argument. Sgt. Slaughter joined a phalanx of officials in the ring to calm the situation down. back to Vince again, looking more insane then ever, and with a tinge of sadness as he talked about "...everything on earth has to come to an end..." He broke down in tears for a moment, then recovered himself and seemed to make up his mind about something.
Goldust made another on screen appearance, like he did on Monday, but again, didn't wrestle... Billy and Chuck watched the segment and found it amusing, then went on to talk about thier expectation of soon becoming the Tag Team Champs. Meanwhile, Coach interviewed Kurt Angle, who continues to be plagued by the crowd and their "What?" chant. He paced like a cat, saying that he has had it with the fans. Then ended the interview when they refused to stop razzing him.
Trish Stratus took on Jazz once more in a non-title match and came on like a wildcat in the opening moments of the contest. Eventually, Jazz reversed the trend and took control of the fight, and then started attacking the Champion's injured hand. Trish made a recovery but then slammed her shoulder into the ring post. Jazz switched to an arm twister submission hold, then started using the ropes for leverage. The referee issued a 5 count, then disqualified her - but Jazz went on punishing the arm of her opponent before finally relinquishing the hold and leaving the ring.
More of crazy Vince, talking to himself in the second person, etc.
The Millennium Bug made an appearance next. He joined the announce team for the next match - another #1 contender contest, between Kurt Angle and the Rock this time. I see, they are setting up a title match for the PPV (No Way Out) before we get to WrestleMania. This one was another barn burner, before it was over, the Undertaker got involved and screwed the Rock out of his win. Steve Austin will face Kurt Angle for a shot at Jericho at No Way Out. Backstage, Austin was interviewed until Angle ran over and attacked him. He slapped an ankle lock on the Rattlesnake and poured on the pressure.
Backstage, Vince was raving that he is going to "kill" the WWF. He spun his chair around, and on the back of it were the letters "nWo"... he said, "Me, and the nWO..." - hmmmmm...what's this I here about Hulk Hogan being signed by the WWF..?
Raw came to us live from the Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia and opened with a recap of that crazy old Vince McMahon ranting about what he is going to do to thwart ambitions of co-owner Ric Flair, including bringing in the nWo...
First up, Kane taking on his erstwhile partner in the world's shortest lasting tag team, the Big Show. Kane again succeeded in body slamming the Show about 2 minutes into the match. Then he mounted the top rope and threw himself right into a chokeslam at the hands of his opponent. Kane kicked out then came back with a chokeslam of his own to take the pin.
Backstage, Ric Flair was on the phone when APA barged in and demanded to know what was up with the nWo coming in. Flair assured them that he was just as much against the nWo as anyone. APA darkly hinted at who it was they expected to show up - clearly a reference to Hall, Nash and Hogan.
We came back from the break to another Goldust promo - so just bring him back for pity sake... Chris Jericho claimed in his interview backstage that he personally granted Maven his Undisputed World Title shot tonight, then went on with his usual self serving rant.
Rob Van Dam got a shot at the Intercontinental Title in a one-on-one match against IC Champ Willy Regal. Old Peanut head (referee Teddy Long) forced Regal to submit to a search before he entered the ring, but RVD thwarted that by coming out on the attack before the bell. Within a minute and a half, Regal got himself disqualified by kicking his challenger in the groin in front of the referee. Van Dam, unhappy with that result, took his ire out on the IC Champ until the Dudleys ran down to gang up on him. Edge then ran in to the rescue. In the end, Edge went down due to a brass knucks shot, and Van Dam was felled by a 3D. I smell a tag team match...
Backstage, Stephanie upbraided Ric Flair in his office for booking HHH into a match against Booker T tonight. Flair caught her short by revealing that it was actually Vince who booked the match.
The Godfather sauntered to the ring with his "escorts" to join Diamond Dallas Page in a tag match against Lance Storm and Christian. Storm and Christian are making pretty good strides as a tag team. They managed to isolate the Godfather through much of the match. Christian's new gimmick is to throw flailing tantrums when he fails to get the pin. Logically juvenile... In the end, the Godfather came back and gave Christian a train wreck in the corner, then DDP hit the Diamond Cutter on Storm and took the pin.
Out back a limo arrived, and Vince McMahon stepped out. He seemed pretty distracted. When his limo driver apologized for being late tonight, the usually volatile McMahon simply patted him on the shoulder then walked away...
Flair came to the ring after the break and showed a video tribute to the WWF. It was great to see old friends like Pedro Morales, Bruno Sammartino, Chief Jay Strongbow, Black Jack Lanza, the Valiant Brothers, Jesse Ventura, Superstar Billy Graham - the list goes on and on. Flair then called McMahon to the ring to explain his cryptic references to the nWo. He asked him over and over again, "What do you want me to do..?" to heel the breach and keep the nWo out of the picture. Vince finally snatched the mic away and demanded that Flair sell him his stock in the company for the price he paid for it. He refused to look Flair in the eye as he said all this. His delivery was manic. He dropped the ball squarely in Flair's lap, then he walked away, saying he could have a couple of days to make up his mind. Of course, something will have to happen - probably tonight - to make up Flair's mind to tough it out...since we know that Hall and Nash aren't going to have another big ticket contract to sit out...
Maven attacked the Millennium Bug from behind to start their Title match. After an initial flurry, the fight turned into an extended squash with the challenger making occasional come backs. He came real close to winning the match at one point after catapulting Jericho face first into the turn buckle that Jericho himself had exposed earlier on - but shortly thereafter Jericho came back and slapped on the Walls of Jericho to take the submission victory. After the match, the Undertaker came down, calmly put on his fingerless gloves then cornered the youngster and cheapshot him. Maven came back with a shot, then got his clock cleaned. UT ended his assault with his now infamous shot to the throat using a steel chair for leverage.
Backstage, Coach tried to get a word from UT, but the latter shut him up immediately and proceeded to make his speech, ranting against Maven and the Rock. In another part of the building, Jazz came upon Chuck and Billy doing some oddly suggestive stretching exercises. In HHH's locker room, Stephanie informed her husband that her father booked tonight's match. He didn't seem to care. She noticed that he had taken off his wedding ring, he told her that he always takes off his ring to wrestle. She tried to talk him into letting her accompany him to the ring, but he snubbed her.
Next up, Trish Stratus and the APA vs. Jazz, Chuck and Billy in an inter gender tag team battle. Two white guys and a black girl against two black guys and a white girl. Thats the WWF - an equal opportunity beat down. The two girls took the first turn in this one and Trish was dominated from the get go. Once the guys took over, things went decidedly the other way. At one point later, Trish got hot and attacked Palumbo, pinning him in the corner and beating him about the head. But unfortunately she put herself in position for a big powerbomb - then she was easily pinned.
Kurt Angle was interviewed backstage and vowed to either frustrate Austin so much that he will get himself disqualified, or he would make the Rattlesnake tap out tonight.
Booker T took on Triple H in the next match. This very promising match was unfortunately marred by the uninvited interference of Christian? Yep, you heard right. Stephanie used Christian's interference as an excuse to get involved and ended up costing her husband the match. He was not too pleased...to say the least. Stephanie started apologizing, but HHH just stomped away. In the backstage area, Stephanie continued to try to apologize, but HHH slammed a door in her face. She banged on the door, telling him she loved him, but he just poked his head and stared at her then threw her bags at her, then slammed the door again. Me thinks there is a slight problem with this relationship...
The main event featured Kurt Angle taking on Steve Austin for a shot at the Undisputed Title at No Way Out. This was a real barn burner, with both guys giving their all for the cause. Angle went for the ankle lock early, but Austin rolled out of it and almost got the pin on a cradle roll-up. After a period of see-saw action, during which Angle tried to goad Austin into using a chair and getting himself DQ'd, Angle once again slapped on the ankle lock. This time Austin struggled and made it to the ropes for the break, Angle immediately hit the Angle Slam and got a two count. Thinking he had won, Angle started to celebrate. Austin surprised him with a Stunner and took the pin. Jericho came out to attack Austin afterward, but he was caught in a Stunner as well. Austin is going to No Way Out for the title.
I guess they are going to stretch things out a little longer since we got no definite resolution to the question about what Flair intends to do regarding Vince's challenge to him.
At least that's the way I see it...
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