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.
ROBERT FORT (SWEDE) HANSON, 68, died Tuesday, February 19, 2002, in Palmetto Baptist Hospital in Columbia SC.
Born in East Orange NJ, in 1933, Hanson was a successful amateur boxer before being introduced to wrestling. He turned pro in 1957, became a big star in the 1960s and ‘70s, remembered principally for the 16-year tag team partnership he formed with Rip Hawk (aka Harvey Evers, still residing in Herford TX). Longtime friend and CAC director Penny Banner said "Swede was respected by the entire professional wrestling world … in the last few years, he helped raise money for charity by playing in celebrity golf tournaments. He never failed to generate a crowd as he stepped up to drive the golf ball."
Hanson moved to the Charlotte area in the early ‘60s and lived in that area for years, before retiring to a trailer home near Fort Mill SC. His career was bookended by stints in both the old WWWF and the "new" WWF of the early ‘80s. It was reported that he had been suffering from Alzheimer's and diabetes, in addition to heart problems dating back to his active days in the ring. He is survived by a daughter, Luana Lorezca, three sons, and a fiancee, Patsy Hughes of Walkertown, NC
Some of you who have read my columns here at Solie's have figured out that I have a couple of sore spots when it comes to wrestling. And, as opposed to liking one fed over another, or not liking certain angles (What? What? What?), these things are, in my view, destructive to the industry at the worst, and anti-fan, to say the least. Shall I explain...well....sure. You talked me into it:
2) The favoring of the soap opera aspect of wrestling, as the in-ring action and acumen goes to hell in a hand basket, and,
3) Vince McMahon making sure WE all know that he is the biggest, baddest, most victorious SOB on the planet, where wrestling is concerned.
Steve Austin....arguably the most popular wrestler EVER. One could make the argument that the man is the Hulk Hogan of the late 90's. He is the poster child for the "Attitude" that the WWF has so artfully mastered. Finger-waving, jaw-jacking, boss-beating ol' Steve Austin. Gone. Huh? Where did he go?
Home. He packed up and decided to unilaterally take a vacation. The week after one of the better Wrestlemania's of the last five, Stone Cold Steve Austin ran home. And, contrary to plan, did not help forward the Split storyline.
See, he wasn't happy where his character was going. In fact, he was seen arguing with Vince himself about it. He didn't like the fact that his character (not him, mind you, his character) was slated to get run in on, and therefore beaten at Wrestlemania. He whined (albeit in a mature way, I bet) until he got his way, and secured a victory for himself at Wrestlemania 18. Then, still not happy, he turned tail and scurried home, causing the WWF booking people to scramble for a new storyline.
I mean, did you notice that Linda's speech didn't really fit on Raw? It seemed like she was making references to things that were not quite in the storyline? That was because Scott Hall and the nWo were supposed to beat down Austin, with Vince's help, thus causing the board to lose their faith in Vince's ability to lead, and prompting the Split. Sure, that is my personal supposition, but we'll never know, will we?
Austin's refusal to work, solely because his character was, in his opinion, being hurt, is very, very bad. It is exactly what Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Lex Luger, and Buff Bagwell were doing in the now-dead WCW....Me First, Inc. As all of you know, I leaned on the Undertaker for the same thing, when I suspected he was doing that last year. The success of the WWF since 1996 has been because they managed to submerge their egos into the drive to beat the WCW, and make the WWF the ultimate in pro wrestling federations. Well, they did it. Now, we see stronger glimmerings of an Austin ego that had only before been hinted at.
Examples? OK...Jeff Jarrett's departure from the WWF was due to the fact that Austin wouldn't work with him.....JJ wasn't Main Event enough. How about Kurt Angle's sudden de-pushing, after HHH and Austin had made noise that the guy hadn't paid his dues? Sure, I am all for someone paying their dues, but we all knew Kurt Angle was the real deal from the start.
How about Austin's WWF Championship LOSSES? I think this is an excellent barometer of a guy's selflessness in the ring. Let's see.....
06/28/98---Undertaker hits Austin, makes him bleed, and giving the Title to Kane in a First Blood Match.
09/27/98---Austin screwed by Undertaker, Kane, and Vince
05/23/99---Owen Hart's No Way Out---Shane Vince, and UT all cooperated to screw Austin out of the Title. Shane gives a fast count.
08/22/99---Loses in a 3-way match, where Mankind won. Screw job by HHH and Chyna this time.
09/23/2001---Clean loss to Kurt Angle. What?
12/09/2001---Booker T kicked Austin in the face, screwing him out of the Undisputed Championship.
Well, you can be the judge. All I can say, before I move on, is that Vince has let people go who did less. I wonder if he would let SCSA go for these antics?
Well, (and a good segue, if I should say so myself), Vince is making sure we get HIS idea of good angles, isn't he? Billy and Chuck (the current 'ambiguously gay' duo), who every thinking fan wished would lose at WM18, won, of course. Why? Why not reward the APA, who have been over as face workers for a good, long time, have dominated the other tag-teams, yet haven't held the title but once since they turned face (for 4 weeks...7-9-2001 to 8-7-2001). The Billy and Chuck team has held the title for a longer time. Why?
Because Vince likes the angle. Vince thinks it is a funny idea. Vince enjoys the angle, and wants us to enjoy it, too. Of course, we are so stupid to see the genius of the angle. Of course, Lenny and Lodi wore most of us out, and, quite frankly, they ran the angle better than these two guys.
I think that this angle is a waste of their talents....Billy Gunn, for all of his mic weakness, can perform in the ring. So can Chuck Palumbo...but this angle (which they both have been reported to have complained about) has been terrible. I hate it, most of the people I know who watch wrestling hate it, but we still get it. Why?
Because Vince thinks it works. Simple. I suspect if Vince thought hurling dog mess into the crowd would be a good idea, we would see it. Over, and over, until it got popular. Or, until eight people watched Raw. Vince likes proving his strength.
Oh, one question....what is the nWo's record against Austin and Rock? One on one matches......0-fer'? Yup...as far as I can tell. Is this another instance of Vince showing us that his product is the better of the two? An Invasion, Mark II-type of thing? What an ego!
OK...I'm all tapped out for this week. Bodyslam.cc would love to have you come over, and take a look around at our news, rumors, and GREAT columnists (Stan Del Rio, Sandy Dunn, and me...). We also want to recommend Solie's, as they are the exemplar of Wrestling sites.
See you next week, for another Connection.
by Earl Oliver
SmackDown was taped on Tuesday at the Corel Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where, after some footage of the Hogan/Rock goings on from Monday, we went right to the ring for a rematch from WrestleMania - Edge vs. Booker T. Kurt Angle came down and joined the announce team for this one. He proceeded to talk about his idea that he will be the #1 draft choice next Monday - and therefore will be going to the SmackDown! side of the roster. In the ring, the match was evenly fought with Edge seeming to gradually gain the advantage until Angle decided to get involved. He tried to knock Edge off the top rope, but only succeeded in causing a distraction, giving Booker an opening to make a comeback. Moments later, as Edge started to turn the tables, Booker knocked the referee out. Angle then ran in and hit Edge with a big Olympic Slam (Lawler actually called it that), thus giving Booker the easy victory.
Backstage, Hulk Hogan ran into Vince Mcmahon in the hallway - I believe this is the first time we've seen them together on camera since Hogan left the WWF 9 years ago. Vince told Hogan that he invented sports entertainment and made him. He taunted Hogan with some past mistakes, then offered to make him the #1 draft choice, if he will come back to the nWo. Vince invited him to take the night off and think about it. Hogan replied that he would think about it - but he planned to hang around...
Willy Regal broke in on the APA's card game to taunt them about the draft on Monday. They were unfazed and told him to beat it. Outside their office, Regal ran into Diamond Dallas Page, who did some taunting of his own. This led to a challenge for a European Title match. In another part of the building, Hall and Nash were psyching themselves up for Nash's match against the Rock tonight.
Lita and Trish Stratus teamed up to take on...who else...Jazz and Ivory. So I wonder how long Jazz will hold out before going under the knife... Ivory started out against Trish and established her credentials as the more experienced wrestler right off the bat. In fact this entire match centered around the bad girls attempting to isolate the rookie. When Lita did get into the match she cleaned house for about 15 seconds, then tagged her partner back in to win the match by hitting a Stratisfaction on Jazz then pinning her.
Backstage, Lillian Garcia interviewed Rob Van Dam about the draft. He didn't seem to care where he ends up...since no matter what, he'll still be Rob Van Dam (use thumb to shoulders gesture as appropriate...)
Next up the European Title match - Willy Regal vs. DDP - and that's a good thing...almost. Actually, what happened was that Christian came down and provided distraction so that Regal got a chance to wallop Page with his "power of the fist" and take the title.
Chris Jericho and Stephanie came to the ring to rant...yatta, yatta...yawn... Triple H showed up at the mention of his name and showed footage of some of our favorite WWF moments involving Stephanie - getting covered in mustard, beer and Rikishi's butt. He went on belittling her, then gave Jericho props for being the first Undisputed Champ, but told him that doesn't make him the best. Stephanie then came up with an announcement - her dad had changed the stips for the title match on RAW - it is now a Triple Threat match - in other words, if Steph wins - she will be the Undisputed Champ! Jericho looked definitely nonplused at that information.
Backstage, during an interview - it suddenly occurred to Jericho that he could regain the title by pinning Stephanie... That brought a smile to his face.
With Torrie's help, Tajiri managed to give Test a pretty good run for his money...before the Japanese star lost the match.
Vince met with Hall and Nash backstage, gave the a pep talk for the Nash/Rock match, then guaranteed them that they would be drafted to the SmackDown! roster as a unit. Interestingly, he referred to "all" of them, rather than "both" of them...hmmmm...
Mighty Molly and Hurricane had a match - a direct result of the little run in they had during the Hardcore Title match at WrestleMania. Hurricane kept holding back, which gave Molly the advantage through much of the match...until Brock Lesner came out and destroyed both of them.
Backstage, the Undertaker interrupted Ric Flair during a phone call to ask him to draft the Dead Man on Monday so that every week could be a "WrestleMania Moment". He thought that was pretty funny.
Chuck and Billy's "stylist" (Indy wrestler, Rico Constantino)interfered on their behalf to help them retain the Tag Titles in their match against the Hardy Boyz.
The Rock came out alone to face Kevin Nash, who was accompanied by Scott Hall (of course...) This out the Rock at a definite disadvantage until Hulk Hogan ran out to back him up. Maivia was out of it, having been jack knifed through the announce table. As Hogan started to wipe the ring with the bad guys, X-Pac suddenly ran out wearing nWo colors and changed the odds with a chair shot. Hogan was punked and spray painted.
No sign of Steve Austin again tonight. I guess the rumors about him leaving the company in a snit may be true...on the other hand, I have also heard that the whole story is a work, and that Austin will be a big part of the "Draft" episode of RAW this coming Monday. I guess we will see...
Raw came to us live from the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, and opened with statement by Linda McMahon, laying down the ground rules for tonight's talent draft. The first 20 wrestlers will be picked in the draft tonight. After RAW, on WWF.COM, a lottery will be held to apportion the rest of the two rosters. Steve Austin gets to be a free agent, and can be recruited by one side or the other. WWF wrestlers were shown gathered in a room together to watch the monitor.
First up, a match featuring Tazz vs. Mr. Perfect (neither of whom is likely to be drafted this evening...) Hennig dominated the opening exchanges until he bulled his opponent into the corner and tried to punch him out. Tazz fought out of the corner and then slapped the Tazzmission on him to take the submission victory.
Backstage, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson are plotting draft strategy. Meanwhile, Mr. McMahon is studying folders. He seemed to make a decision then left the room. The open folder on the desk proved to contain a photo of Kurt Angle.
After the break, Vince came to a podium set up on the platform to announce his first draft pick. He picked the Rock! Backstage, Mavia looked a little put out and headed for the arena. When he arrived at the entryway, Vince started laying down some rules of his own. He forbade the Rock to ever lay hands on himself, he also banned certain of the Rock's favorite catch phrases - like "...turning (whatever) sideways, and sticking it up..etc., etc." and "It doesn't matter..!" Maivia heard him out and then told Vince where he could stick his rules!! He reminded Vince of his many accomplishments on RAW - like winning the World Title, teaming with Mick Foley as the R&R Connection, and shoving Vince's face into Rikishi's butt! He then tells Vince that they are going to make up a new catch phrase...for the fans! It goes (the right side says) "You are..." then the left side says, "...an a$$hole!" He gets the crowd to repeat the phrase until Vince flees in embarrassment. He then tosses out his ending cliché and splits.
Backstage, Ric Flair is on his way to the ring with a big grin on his face.
After the break, Flair selected the Undertaker as his first draft pick. Backstage, UT dumped his chair and headed out of the room. Meanwhile, Vince was clearly upset as well. Kurt Angle burst into his office and complained about not being picked first. Vince made him his second pick. UT then barged in and demanded to know what Vince was going to do about his situation. Vince promised to make it right. UT warned him that he better keep his word.
Diamond Dallas Page and Edge took on Booker T and Christian in the next match. This was over in just a couple of minutes, with the bad guys emerging victorious.
Backstage, Kurt Angle convinced Vince that he ought to choose him next. Out at the podium, Flair selected the nWo as his second pick! Backstage, Vince is vindicated in his assumption that Flair would pick the nWo next. He then faced the camera and picked...Chris Benoit!
After the break, the nWo confronted their new boss, who told them that his next pick will be Kane!
Trish Stratus came to the ring to take on Ivory. Ivory arrived looking pissed and went right on the attack. Trish made a comeback in her now usual spunky fashion, but Ivory is the real wrestler here and soon had the match well in hand. Or so she thought... In the corner, Trish went catlike to the top turnbuckle and took Ivory down with a sunset flip - then followed with a bog bulldog to take the pin.
Vince was at the podium and selected Hulk Hogan (amidst the Rock inspired chants...) Hogan's Hendrix inspired theme blared forth and Vince mocked the Hulkster by aping his pose routine.
After the break, Flair selected Rob Van Dam as his next draft pick. Backstage, Vince was upset about it - he wanted RVD because he is the current Intercontinental Title. Kurt told Vince not to sweat it - just make a match for him to challenge RVD tonight. Vince agrees. Backstage, the Rock and Hogan decide to challenge the nWo to a handicap match tonight. Out at the podium, Vince selected Billy and Chuck as his next draft pick.
Next up was the handicap challenge match - Rock/Hogan vs. the nWo. Hogan arrived first, resplendent in his black and white feather boa. This will be his and the Rock's last match on RAW - at least for a while. Somehow, I doubt that this roster split will actually hold up if Vince decides it isn't working out the way he wants it to. The Rock entered separately - and then the nWo entered as a unit, of course. Does anyone else find it somewhat weird that the nWo thinks it's a big deal that Scott Hall's "little buddy" has joined the stable..? The little guy faced Hogan to start the match and immediately found himself tossed bodily over the top rope to the floor. hall came in and was shoved across the ring, then tagged in Nash. nash shoved Hogan down then started pummeling him about the face and head. Hogan hulked up then put Nash down before ringing the bells of the other two on the apron. Nash then set himself for a back body drop a little too early and was taken down and isolated for a while. The Rock then tagged in against Nash and had better luck, taking out both Nash and Hall before tagging the Hulkster back in. At this point all three nWo members came in and the opposition was on the outs...until Kane showed up and interfered. He changed the odds considerably, but also caused a DQ loss for the folks he came in to help. The nWo were punked, none the less...
After the break, Vince burst in on Flair and was irate about the way things are going. They faced off and made several more picks. Flair took Booker T and the Big Show, Vince took Edge and Rikishi.
Billy (w/Chuck and Rico) took on the Jeff Hardy (w/Matt and Lita) in the next match. Jeff dominated the fight until he was distracted while up on the top corner and missed a swanton. Lita attacked Rico on the outside while, back in the ring, somehow, Jeff managed to make a comeback and get the pin.
After the break, Flair selected Bubba Ray - then Vince split up the tag team by selecting D-Von. Back in the talent pool, the two brothers were upset, but shook hands and parted. This was a mistake, in my opinion. The Dudleys have a great identity as a team - I don't see either of them standing out as a singles wrestler, either by dint of wrestling talent, or personality.
Rikishi was in the ring to take on Willy Regal when Brock Lesner ran in and demolished him as Paul Heyman looked on in glee. After the break, the cameras went over to WWF New York, where ladies champ Jazz made a provocative statement. Vince came to the podium and tried to pick Lesner. But Flair reminded him that it was his turn...Flair drafted Lesner...gosh, really..? Vince then took Mark Henry. Flair selected Willy Regal. Vince chose Maven then Flair ended the draft ny picking Lita. Vince tried to taunt Flair with his last pick, calling him a "lascivious pig". He then stated categorically that Austin will come to SmackDown! Don't count your chickens, Vince...
Over on WWF.COM the rest of the two rosters were announced:
For RAW: Bradshaw, Steven Richards, Matt Hardy, Raven, Jeff Hardy, Mr. Perfect, Spike Dudley, D'Lo Brown, Terri, Jacqueline, Goldust, Trish Stratus, Justin Credible, Big Boss Man, Tommy, Dreamer, Crash and Mighty Molly.
For SmackDown!: Billy Kidman, Tajiri, Chris Jericho, Ivory, Albert, The Hurricane, Al Snow, Lance Storm, DDP, Torrie Wilson, Scotty 2 Hotty, Stacy Keibler. Christian, Test, Faarooq, Tazz, Hardcore Holly, and The Big Valbowski.
After the break, Kurt Angle challenged Rob Van Dam for the IC Title. This one was over too soon. For some reason, just as Angle got his ankle lock, the referee called for the bell...then Edge ran down and attacked Angle...I'm not even sure who won...
The main event was a Triple Threat match for the World Title featuring Triple H, Chris Jericho...and Stephanie McMahon?? Hell, why not. The stipulatuion was that if Stephanie lost to HHH, she would leave the WWF. The two men started the fight while Stephanie sort of stood and watched. HHH was tossed to the floor - so Steph immediately laid down and invited Chris to pin her. But the Game dragged Jericho out to the floor, then set Steph up for a Pedigree - only to have Jericho drag Stephanie out. A little later, Jericho started attacking HHH's bad wheel, of course. Again, Steph stood by and watched, then dropped an elbow on her ex, when it was safe. Moments later, Jericho and Steph nad a little falling out - but then patched things up - until Steph tried to take advantage of Jericho when he was down. Chris slapped the Walls of Jericho on her - but the Ganme broke that up and sent Jericho to the floor again. He went to set up the Pedigree again - but Jericho was back to break it up with a drop-kick. Jericho went to the floor and started tosing weapons into the ring, then entered with one of the title belts. Meanwhile, Triple H grabbed his other belt. They met in the middle and knocked each other out. Steph went for a double pin but HHH kicked out. Jericho then slapped the Walls on HHH - but Stephanie broke that up. HHH surprised Jericho with a Pedigree - but Stephanie saved him. HHH then grabbed Steph and hit a spine buster for the pin. Stephanie is out of the WWF and HHH retains his titles.
So a new era begins...
At least that's the way I see it...
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