Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
Before we get into today's edition, I wanted to mention that I just have opened a major new image gallery here on the Solie's site. The Marc Friedland Collection consists of snapshots, autographs and publicity photos collected my Marc in 1962 and 1963 in and around his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut. It features never before seen photos of such stars as Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, the Fabulous Kangaroos, "Manic" Mark Lewin, Hans Mortier, Arnold Skaaland and a host of others as well as great action shots from the October, 1963 issue of Wrestling World magazine. The collection can be accessed by going to Solie's Classic Wrestling Image Gallery. Check it out!!
You can get more of the latest news and rumors by listening to this week's Solie's Wrestling Radio report.
By Myron Cope
After wrestling in a TV show in Washington Thursday, he went to appear at an ice arena in Brick Town, N.J., on Friday, and then flew to Pittsburgh, where he would wrestle twice on Saturday-at a TV studio at six o’clock and a few hours later at a racetrack. Some 50 fans, carrying lunches, waited five and a half hours under a blazing sun to be admitted to the studio. Most of them were women, many wearing their stockings rolled below their knees. They scrambled into the studio, pouncing on the front-row seats, and when they saw Cowboy Bill pass through the studio they greeted him profanely and obscenely with the sort of language used during race riots.
From the TV studio, Cowboy Bill proceeded to a nearby harness track, where a ring was pitched at the foot of the grandstands. There a tie less, bespectacled man in his 30s turned to me and said, "A lot of this stuff is fake, you know."
"Then why do you come?" I asked.
"Oh, it’s not ALL faked. These fellows just put a little color into it, but they get hurt, all right."
Suddenly my astute neighbor was on his feet shouting epithets. Waldo von Erich, Red Berry’s German protege, had entered the ring to oppose a pudgy wrestler named Chief White Owl-a classic morality match pitting Nazism against the original American. "Swine hunt!" bellowed by neighbor, striving to make himself understood to the Hun in perfect Warner Brothers German. "Pig! Filthy German!" Then, turning to me again, he advised, "He’s not a man, he’s a pig." When the Cowboy entered the ring, a paper cup packed tightly with ice-flew from the upper grandstand and struck him hard on the top of his head, and a number of fans opened fire on him with wire staples shot from rubber bands.
One the whole, though, Cowboy Bill emerged from Pittsburgh in fairly good shape, his features marred only by a bandage covering the wound which had been opened in Washington by Bobo Brazil’s coconut butt. Curiously, not opponent had leaped to exploit so obvious a target. Good guys are strong on charity.
Now the Cowboy moved on to New York for his showdown match with the prima good guy, Bruno Sammartino. Unlike the Cowboy, who had been willing to switch images for a better dollar, Sammartino possessed a wistful reverence for the sport he had learned as a boy in Italy. "The fans here in this country, they criticize the gimmicks, but they buy it," he sighed.
"A man named George Wagner was one of the best wrestlers to ever come out of this country, he had everything, but he was nothing," Bruno said. "So he bleached his hair and changed his name to Gorgeous George,and they paid a fortune to see him. The others saw his success and they did the same, and it ridiculed the whole game."
As champion for more than two years, Bruno has earned close to $200,000 annually. (He is not, by the way, the only world champion in America, for at last word Lou Thesz was recognized as champ by midwest promoters and others, and Pedro Morales, whose Mexican blood makes him big in Southern California, reigned in the West.) "Now, I am getting tired of it," Bruno said. "I’ve had my jaw broken and my wrist broken and I’ve had my nose broken ten, eleven times and cannot breathe out of it. But it’s so hard to get out when you’re at the peak making money."
The Cowboy, meanwhile, had gone into New York declaiming that it was time wrestling had a champion capable of speaking good English. For weeks he had been hurling insults at Bruno, warming New York’s Italian population to a nice ticket buying temperature. Finally, with the moment of truth at hand, he donned a royal blue Stetson and set off from his hotel to the Garden, followed by a band of children shouting. "You stink, Watts!"
In contrast, only adulation fell on Bruno Sammartino’s large ears as he climbed into the ring wearing his bejeweled championship belt. After representatives of the International Bruno Sammartino Fan Club had come forward to present Bruno with a trophy for "ability, determination and fair play," the ring announcer bellowed that victory would be awarded the first contestant to pin his man twice. The formalities over, Cowboy Bill promptly doubled up Bruno with a rabbit punch and downed him with a kick in the belly.
While Bruno lay helpless, the Cowboy repeatedly leaped into the air and stamped on him with his right foot. Each time, the Cowboy’s left foot hit the canvas first, breaking the impact of his descent, and his right foot landed flat soled on Bruno’s ample belly. The crowd responded as if Bruno were being torn apart by mad dogs. Six cops moved swiftly to eject a trio of ground floor spectators for hurling missiles at the Cowboy. The Cowboy went on to batter Bruno from ringpost to ringpost and win the first fall easily.
Bruno, though, coming out for the second session on wobbly legs, summoned fresh strength from a reservoir of outraged anger and fell upon the Cowboy, fists flailing. Bruno then flung him to the canvas and quickly pinned him. Inexplicably, the Cowboy remained on the canvas, writhing in a compulsion of pain, and could not answer the bell for the third session. The crowd thundered jubilantly as the referee held Bruno’s arm aloft in victory. Then Bruno, good guy that he is, went to the Cowboy’s aid. "Don’t do it, Bruno," the crowd pleaded, wise to the Cowboy’s ways.
Sure enough, the Cowboy lashed up with a forearm to Bruno’s groin. While the referee restrained Bruno, the Cowboy allowed a police escort to whisk him to his dressing room.
Though he had not dethroned Bruno, Cowboy Bill did not appear entirely crushed when I saw him an hour later with a blonde in the hotel cocktail lounge. There would be rematches with Bruno shortly (all of which the Cowboy lost), and then exotic trips to San Francisco and Japan to tap fresh box offices. Meanwhile, he remained matchless in his arrogance.
"How’d you do tonight, fella?" asked a man passing the Cowboy’s table.
"None of your business," the Cowboy said.
Solie's wishes to thank J. Michael Kenyon of the WAWLI Papers for unearthing this article. Watch for part 4 in the next issue...
I’ve probably told all of you before that there is a problem writing three columns a week on the same industry, and especially an industry like the pro wrestling industry. That problem being the duplication of subject matter.
I hate to write about Hogan’s return in the Crossface Report, then again in the Crossface Connection, or in the Crossface Corner (which is published on Wednesdays on bodyslam.cc). If I can keep the columns multi-faceted, I feel guilt free. Yep…I am a good Catholic boy, and my guilt gland is second to none.
So, I usually hit the top couple subjects in the Crossface Report (Saturday), then write about an interesting subject in the Connection, and the dregs of Sports Entertainment form the Corner.
So……when I start the Connection with a question about what to write about….you know why.
However, this isn’t the case tonight…I have a couple subjects.
I want to touch on Hogan again, and his retreat into prehistoric mic work on the Raw from 2-25. Yeah, the promo with the cardboard Rock. That was terrible. I thought everything that I saw as bad with Hogan’s personal and mic skills made a glaring appearance there. Just my opinion, but I really, really hope things look better once he starts working matches.
I also want to echo a question that I think someone asked on the Forum…..who is going to carry that match between Rock and Hogan at WM18? Between them, I think they have seven moves. That match won’t be known for technical prowess.
Either way, I think that the golden showdown for Vince will be Hogan and SCSA. Austin and Hogan, in the ring. I see that at the Summerslam PPV, don’t you? I think that match will appeal to the fans more tan this one….especially since the Rock hasn’t been seen but once in the last two weeks. Smells like a nWo
Run-in to me, and a screw-job on the Rock.
OH…something I did say in another one of my columns…..hooray for Scott Hall. It was crappy for Stone Cold to be put over (like he needs it) by the whole nWo. I am glad Scott Hall sees that whole situation for what it is…..the "now you see it, now you don’t" ego mania of Mr. Steve Williams. He didn’t sell being petrified enough of Austin, so I guess some people were ticked off. Oh, my heart bleeds for those poor strokers of SCSA’s ego….GIVE ME A BREAK! I also noticed that Scott Hall had a busted nose after the 2-21 Smackdown…..I wonder if HIS feelings were hurt…..
Now, I thought that Chuck and Billy were supposed to defend the Tag Belts against APA at Wrestlemania….then, after getting some info off of one of the e-rags, I checked the WWF website (3-2, around noontime). Sure enough, the match wasn't'’ on the official card. What happened?
Now, don’t think I like the whole Chuck/Billy angle. I think it is terrible. I think all of these ambiguously gay tag-teams suck…..uh….I mean, are terrible. I didn’t like Leni and Lodi, and I don’t like Billy and Chuckie. I thought Billy Gunn came out a few weeks ago and complained to the Internet wrestling reporting corps that he didn’t like the angle. So, the fans don’t like it, the participating wrestlers don’t like it….and, they get put up as Champions. A payback for their angst, or does someone really like that angle?
And, then, if they do like it, then where did the match go? Is the angle going to be WCW’ed, and be struck down utterly, with the plot as open as Stephanie’s cleavage?
Speaking of Steph, my brother postulates that Jericho will go face at WM18, because HHH and Steph are just planning to screw him out of the Undisputed Title. I think he’s wrong, if simply for the huge heat both sides of this whole program are getting, but it is worth a thought.
And, about Jericho….is it me, or is he still in the upper mid-card? JR is trying to get us to think differently, but they keep booking Jericho as a mid-carder, and keep making him look like a mid-carder. JR…sorry, he is just an interim champion, until you get him some clean wins over your golden boys.
Switching tracks, if anyone wants to see what a heel beatdown of a non-wrestler face, you ought to watch Undertaker’s beatdown of Arn Anderson. "Look here, Arn…..POW!" Great stuff. Arn was a little archaic in his selling, but the segment should be in a textbook somewhere. Of course, ‘Taker played it really well. I would say that Flair and Undertaker mix it up at the Big One. How Flair will get out of this one, I have no earthly idea.
Well….I think I hit everything that was on my mind. At least, for this hour. I’ll leave it up to you to fill in the blanks. I would ask all of you to send me any comments, questions, and random thoughts via e-mail….just click on my name at the top of the column. Or, you can come over to our website (bodyslam.cc) and see our web offerings.
Of course, I can’t leave without the plug that Solie’s deserves. It’s all here, you know. Info, links, and Title Histories, which I use several times a week.
OK…see you next week with another Connection.
by Earl Oliver
SmackDown was taped Tuesday at FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts and opened with a 6 person tag team match between the Hardeys/Lita and the Dudleys/Stacy. Before the match, Stacy came down with a bandaged leg, claiming to have hurt herself during a photo shoot..? Okay... So they used Jazz as a substitute. This changed the complexion of the match considerably. Even so it was looking bad for the Dudleys just before the end when Stacy decided to get involved - using her "bad" leg to level Lita with a round kick. That was the prelude to the end.
Backstage, the Undertaker was watching his beat down of Arn Anderson on the tube when Ric Flair came in. Flair grabbed the tape out of the VCR and smashed it against the wall as he told UT that he would give his answer to the WrestleMania challenge tonight.
After the break Steve Austin came to the ring wearing bandages under his brace on the left leg. He brought a chair with him - good thing, because the no showed up on the platform right behind him! Austin mentioned that he would lay the chair upside the head of anyone who comes to the ring. Hogan blabbed for a bit then told his henchmen that Austin was all theirs, then split. Hall took the mic to remind Austin that they already put the Rock out, then he showed video footage of the cinderblock incident. Nash took the mic and invited Hall to go on down to the ring - but Austin stopped him saying he would go to the platform. He left the chair behind and headed up the ramp. About half way up he stopped and fired a gun of some sort which launched a net! It ensnared Nash, leaving Hall to face Austin alone. Austin was still limping so Hall was able to hold him off and the two escaped.
Willy Regal got to defend himself in a non-title match against the Big Show. Almost immediately the Champ decided he had had enough and tried to leave. But TBS caught him and tossed him back into the ring. It didn't look good for Regal from that moment on. He tried to go for his brass knucks but was thwarted the first time. Moments later he got them on and smacked his opponent, who bounced off the ropes and then fell on him! Regal was pinned under 500 lbs. of dead weight!!
Backstage, Booker T auditioned his Japanese shampoo commercial for Tajiri, who wasn't impressed. Meanwhile. Chris Jericho and Stephanie were relaxing backstage (Chris was polishing his belts) and bickering like an old married couple. Jericho has a tag team match with Kurt Angle as his partner later. Stephanie demands that he go out and buy her the brand of hand lotion she asked him for earlier (he had brought the wrong stuff). He started to argue, but then caved and left.
Maven came to the ring to defend his Hardcore title for the first and last time. His former Tough Enough mate, Chris was seen at ringside. His challenger for the title was Goldust. In no time, the challenger had trash cans galore in the ring and was using them right and left. He delivered a Curtain Call then fished a fire extinguisher out from under the ring. Somehow, Maven managed to turn the tables with the extinguisher and shot it off in Goldust's face. He go the pin - and then the Undertaker showed up and started beating on the champ until Al Snow ran in and attacked UT, forcing him from the ring. Maven disappeared then Snow challenged UT to a match. It started immediately. Snow held sway...for about 3 seconds - then it was all UT. Suddenly, Roc Flair ran out and grabbed a lead pipe from UT's motorcycle. he attacked UT and wore him out with the weapon. As UT lay writhing in pain, Flair told him that his answer concerning WrestleMania was still "no", but promised UT that if he ever touched one of his friends again he would find out why Flair was known as the "dirtiest player in the game".
The APA challenged Chuck and Billy for the Tag Titles and pretty much laid waste to them. They ended up losing the title via distraction. Faarooq had put a spine buster on Chuck and then stopped to bad mouth his opponent. Billy snuck in behind him and put on the Fame-a$$er, then rolled Chuck over on him for the pin.
Backstage after the break, Maven was being treated by EMT's when Goldust decided to invoke the 24 hour rule and put the champ down for the count, thus securing the Hardcore Title.
After the break we were treated to Hulk Hogan's own tribute video...too himself...
Booker T carried his shampoo bottle to the ring for his match against Scotty-2-Hotty. Scotty gave Booker a better then expected run for his money, but eventually he lost. In the back, Edge was given the contract for the Japanese shampoo commercial, much to Booker's chagrin.
Diamond Dallas Page, the motivational consultant starts his makeover on Christian. The first lesson is how to cultivate a better image with the fans. The young fans that DDP brought in for Christian to practice on were, let us say, less than cooperative. Meanwhile, Stephanie broke in on her "soon-to-be ex" husband during his conference with his tag team partner to call him on the carpet for his less than kind words on Monday. She also informed him that she intends to take her to the cleaners during their divorce proceedings.
In the big tag team main event, Triple H and Kane faced Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle (w/Stephanie). As usual, Stephanie's attempts to help only hindered her team in the end. She entered the ring twice, each time causing more trouble for her team then she was worth. The second time she brought a chair, which she immediatly lost it to Kane, who used it to put Angle down so Hunter could pin him.
Raw came to us live from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas where Vince McMahon showed up before the opening montage to tell us that Ric Flair would not be on hand tonight, and that there will be a cage match featuring Kurt Angle vs. Triple H. He dubbed this to be "fan appreciation" night and said that RAW was returning to a state of "normalcy" - all of this with a maniacal grin on his face.
Up first, the Rattlesnake vs. the Booker Man in a one-on-one encounter. Ross told us that Ric Flair was away on some kind of "family emergency" - no further explanation available. Why do I think we'll find out what this is all about before the evening is over..? In the middle of the opening match, the nWo came down and attacked Austin. Scott Hall found a toolbox under the ring and dug out a pipe wrench to hit Austin with. The three of them continued to beat Austin down for several moments as he bled all over the canvas. Then they started to leave. But Hall came back and beat on him some more, then kicked him in the gut and laid a Stunner on him. What fun...
Scott-2-Hotty and his big dumb friend came out to face off with Test and Mr. Perfect in a tag team match. This put me in mind of the old days in the AWA when Curt Hennig used to partner up with Big Scott Hall as the AWA World tag Team Champs. In this one, Hennig finally got to win a match (about time if you ask me) as he pinned Scotty with his Fisherman's Suplex. When Test and Perfect started to gang up on Scotty after the match - Rikishi came out and saved the day - thus affecting a reunion of sorts.
Kurt Angle talked a lot but said very little during his interview segment with Mike Cole.
Goldust came to the ring for what was supposed to be an interview segment. But then Tazz showed up with Jacquie in tow and the Hardcore Title was suddenly up for grabs. To no avail, as it turned out. Goldust hit Tazz with a trash can lid and took the pin. Backstage, the nWo were chugging Austin's Steveweisers...
Backstage, Rob Van Dam was tooting his own horn (as usual) during an interview, when Lance Storm walked up and slapped the taste out of his mouth. RVD just sucked it up and said, "we'll settle this in the ring". Meanwhile, in another part of the building, Diamond Dallas Page was trying, without much success, to get his newest protégé (Christian) to adapt a more positive attitude. Next, the nWo encountered a stage hand backstage and decided to have a little fun...at his expense...
Trish Stratus finally got a return match for the Womens' Title after almost a month. She started out strong, but as the tables turned, she was clearly no match for Jazz. But then, Trish came alive and rallied with a big offensive, ended up slapping on her own version of the STF. Jazz made it to the ropes, but Trish refused to break the hold, thus getting herself disqualified. Jim Ross said she was, "sending a message" to the Womens' champ. Could there be a WrestleMania match in the offing..?
Backstage, Stephanie was berating Chris Jericho on the phone, still demanding her favorite skin lotion. In the middle of this, Triple H walked in with a box of her stuff and dumped it on the floor. She found a bottle of her lotion among the gimcracks on the floor. Fancy that...
The Undertaker came to the ring after the break, and we found out why Ric Flair isn't around this evening. It turns out that UT paid David Flair (back to his natural brown hair) a visit at the TRAXX training facility and beat the tar out of him. He threw him into the men's room and then beat on him some more. Then he sat down with the kid in a shower stall and addressed Flair, repeating his challenge for a match at WrestleMania. UT then addressed, david, reminding him that he has a little brother...and a sister.
The RVD vs. Lance Storm match was next up. This one went right to the high flying style we expect from these two. About 5 minutes in, Van Dam injured his knee and Storm went right after it immediately. After working on it for a while, Storm grabbed a half crab, ut couldn't get RVD to quit. Van Dam came back with a mule kick then tried to struggle to the top - but he was too slow and Storm caught him there. Van dam was put down, but managed to kick out, then came back with a surprise round kick. He struggled to the top corner and hit the frog splash for the pin.
The nWo used Rock/Paper/Scissors to decide who would represent the nWo in the ring - but first they dumped hot coffee on another stage hand. Hall won the game, by the way. That was a surprise. Most speculation centered around Kevin Nash, since he has yet to have an opponent for WrestleMania.
The next segment was a video tribute to the Rock - much like the Hulk Hogan tribute the other day...
In the back, the nWo held a lottery drawing to pick Hall's opponent for his match, coming up next. They didn't reveal the opponent but acted like it was going to be a big challenge. That probably means Spike Dudley...
And the winner was...Spike Dudley, of course. Silly match - I won't even describe it...
Mark Henry made his return to the WWF tonight - actually just an appearance on the platform. He won the Arnold Schwartznegger World's Strongest Man Contest recently. Backstage, Stephanie was breaking out in hives from whatever it was Triple H put in her skin lotion bottle. She screeched at Kurt Angle to destroy him during their cage match tonight.
That match was next and might as well not have been in a cage. Is it just me, or is the cage match becoming just a little too common? As things turned in Triple H's direction toward the end, Stephanie came down and attacked old Peanut head (referee, Teddy Long) then slammed the door in Hunter's face as he was about to escape and win the match! She demanded that Angle deal out some more punishment on his opponent. Angle obliged and had the match won - but then he turned back to beat on him some more. Big mistake. Triple H made a come back. Stephanie passed a chair into the ring...and HHH got hold of it. He DDT'd Angle onto it then crawled toward the door - but Steph was holding it shut - so he started climbing the wall. Steph entered the ring and hit him with a chair, then helped Angle leave the ring for the win.
Fan appreciation night indeed...
At least that's the way I see it...
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