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.
In May 2002, Dave Taylor, formerly a trainer for the WWF, will open the Blue Bloods Wrestling Academy located in Atlanta, GA. Besides Dave, numerous WWF Super Stars will be available to assist students with becoming a pro-wrestler. After learning from true professionals, those students who are qualified will have the opportunity to wrestle on overseas tours. Dave Taylor has over 25 years experience and a multitude of contacts including WWF, International Promoters in Great Britain, Germany and Japan.
Dave is a third generation wrestler, whose entire family worked in the wrestling business. It started with his grandfather, Joe Taylor, who represented Great Britain as a wrestler in the 1932 and 1948 Olympic games (Los Angels and London, respectively).
The Taylor family has been synonymous with proud British grapplers for most of this century, starting with Joe Taylor and then his father Eric Taylor who held the British Heavyweight title from 1953 until he retired in 1966. That belt is the very same one that Squire David Taylor won back in 1991 to begin his reign as British Champion. In 1974, Dave became the British Amateur Champion after winning his area (Yorkshire) title, then the Northern Counties championship. He held the title for two years, until he turned pro in 1975.
Taylor has traveled the world over for wrestling, perhaps accumulating more visa stamps than any other wrestler. He has wrestled all over the world including Canada, Mexico, Sudan, Egypt, Zambia, South Africa, Kuwait, Germany, Japan and Israel...and 12 tours through India, starting in 1980.
When Squire David Taylor won his first British Heavyweight Championship title it was at the expense of Fit Finlay in April 1990. A man he still regards as his toughest foe. Squire Taylor also won Germany's CWA tag team titles in 1992 with Chris Benoit as his partner.
In 1996 Squire David Taylor carried the family torch to America where he joined WCW. He joined forces with William Regal and Earl Robert Eaton to form the Blue Bloods Tag Team. Dave left WCW in 1999 to become the official trainer for WWF.
Most recently, Dave has decided to open this wresting academy and offer newcomers a unique opportunity to learn the business from one of the best.
For more information send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I promised myself that I would not talk about Steve Williams, a.k.a. Stone Cold Steve Austin, this week. I am sick of it, and I want to give this guy a chance (like I gave Hogan) to prove me wrong.
Oooooh, but I am really tempted.
So, let's see...what happened this week...the Split? Well, that was done as well as could be expected, in my opinion. Frankly, it's 7 months too late, a couple dollars (and a few million fans) short, and of questionable rhyme or reason.
The Split that happened was based on the five-month-old feud between Flair and McMahon...as opposed to being based upon the huge rivalry that had been occurring for the last several years between the WCW and the WWF. The pretext seems shallow to me. Split the WWF up because Vince McMahon and Ric Flair can't get along?
Well, the problem is, that is the best the bookers and the writers could do. The whole impetus of the WCW takeover, the Invasion, the Alliance, and all that rot, has been smashed. What was a golden window of opportunity has become a rearview window filled with regret.
"As Vince looked on in horror, Shane vowed to bring WCW back to challenge the WWF! The program ends with Jim Ross and Paul Heyman screaming about the situation...
And then we are on RAW. My VCR cut in right on cue and switched the channel to TNN...
There are a multitude of reasons that the Invasion and Alliance programs failed, but most of them had to do with the mis-management of WCW workers, and/or the lack of the bulk of the WCW main-event being present.
Now, they bring in the nWo, the pride of Bischoff, the hammer with which the WCW struck and cracked the walls of the WWF citadel. They come in, and LOSE EVERY MATCH AGAINST A WWF MAIN-EVENTER THAT THEY COMPETE IN. What is THAT all about? Why would you even consider allowing them to come in, and lose so much? If you want them to be considered as daunting, or vaunted, or somehow even remotely scary, you have to let them WIN, even if it is dirty. So, they lost to the Rock, to Stone Cold, and then, they lost their facade of toughness. Then, they add X-Pac, in what was the worst kept nWo addition ever. Yeppers, that really added the missing "Umph" to the nWo. My Aunt Pat is scarier than X-Pac.
Well....at least the guy DOES have a nWo history. Well, for that reason, so does Bryan Adams and Stevie Ray.
Who is making these decisions? I want to know who the hell is booking the WWF these days.
The Split, as needed as it was, is starting on a weak foundation. However, I think that there is still hope for the WWF, and it rests in the rosters of the separate shows.
The rosters were split brilliantly, and I say that with reservations, which I will elaborate on later. Assuming that Austin shows up in the RAW roster, the main-event and the mid card were mixed and split well, with Hogan and Rock placed together on Smackdown to build their inevitable feud (with Rock as a heel this time). In the mean time, they can face off against Kurt Angle (who will need to get re-pushed) and ol' Vince. On the other side, it finally looks like Kane will get his push, as a face to oppose the nWo and the monster Lesnar on RAW.
There are a lot of people missing (a lot of the old WCW talent), and I think they will slowly percolate into the rosters. That goes for Ms. Pamela's boys and girls in the OVW fed, too.....they will be incorporated into the mix as the situation warrants.
The bad things? The tag teams were broken up, except for the Hardyz and Chuck and Billy. There are some people booking for the WWF that know what we want better than we do. Nobody I know likes Lenny and Lodi II as well as the two of them individually, but I can at least see why they keep the two tagged up with each other. Neither of them seems to have had a successful individual push (Billy was ALMOST there with his pre Invasion feud with Edge) yet, but both can perform in the ring. The Hardyz will split again, if only to build the Lightweight ranks. Just my opinion, as the emphasis seems to have drifted away from the 'established' tag-team concept.
Now, I do have some questions. Will there be a "RAW" and "Smackdown" Championship(s) created, in order to replace the role the Intercontinental Belt was supposed to have (the #1 Contender to the World Title)? What about Tag-Team belts in each fed? TV championships? At least, as was noted on the Solie's Forum, there are a ton of possibilities.
Either way, that's how I see it (to paraphrase Earl), and I hope that it all works well. We've seen pro wrestling take several bad shots in the past year, due to bad angles, worse booking, and inept management from the top of the WWF ranks. This is another momentous moment in the history of the WWF. If they can make this work, maybe we can look forward to the Fourth Renaissance in Pro Wrestling.
If you aren't sure about the other three, let me know via e-mail. If you don't care, then your punishment (as it is) is to study Solie's Website for three hours, and come to bodyslam.cc for 20 minutes. That way, you can build a vast and mighty foundation of wrestling acumen, and then get caught up on all the current news and rumors. Check out our other columnists, too....Sandy Dunn, Jessica Pendergraft and Stan Del Rio.
See you next week, with another Connection.
by Earl Oliver
SmackDown was taped on Tuesday at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and opened with a match between Booker T and Diamond Dallas Page which was interrupted and spoiled by Sid...uh...I mean, Brock Lesnar.
Kurt Angle came out to the jeers of the crowd to lament the loss of Stephanie McMahon from the WWF. He was joined by her father, who agreed with that sentiment and blamed Triple H. This brought Helmsley out to have his say and sow the footage of Steph's last moments in the WWF. Angle burst into his presentation and demanded to have a match with Hunter. Vince made the match - but he wanted to be involved himself, so he made it a handicap match. This brought Ric Flair out to change the match to a tag team battle - with himself on the side of Helmley!!
The Dudleys tried to keep their tag team together by challenging the Tag Champs - but Rico interefered and drew D'Von away from the ring, thus leaving Bubba to lose in a double team. When D'Von ran back (too late) they hit the 3D, the Wuzzup?? and a 3D through a table for the last time.
In the back, the APA decided to celebrate the end of their partnership...with beer, cigars...and strip poker with Torrie Wilson (some celebration!!!) On another part of the building, Lillian Garcia interviewed Matt Hardy and Lita, who were happy to know that they and Jeff were all going to be able to stay together. Chris Jericho showed up to interrupt and complained that he wasn't still the Undisputed Champ. Matt taunted him and got attacked from behind for it. In his locker room, Hulk Hogan talked to the Rock, wondering whether or not they can trust Kane. The man himself appeared and performed a pretty convincing impression of both icons! The funniest thing was when Kane referred to his fans as "Kaninites". The Rock silently mouthed the word as Jerry Lawler shouted it out loud. It looked like the King's voice was coming out of the Rock's mouth!!
The Kane/Hogan/Rock vs. the nWo match was right after the break. I guess X-Pac is now the Larry Zbyszco of the WWF - brandishing those Nunchucks all over the place. About 5 minutes into the match, Hogan got into the fight and hot the big boot and the leg drop on Hall - but Nash broke that up. Hogan was isolated for a bit in the corner. Hall then took him to the center of the ring and slapped on a sleeper. Hogan sank to the mat but then fought his way back to his feet. A double tackle put both guys down, then Hogan tagged in Kane, who caught Hall flat footed, then fended off all three members of the opposition, but was eventually subdued and left sitting in the corner. X-Pac went for the bronco buster, but Kane caught him by the throat coming in - the rest was predictable... Now what they need to do, if they want to play this right, is have Kane join the nWo...
Their little backstage set to earlier led to a match between Chris Jericho and Matt Hardy. About 3 minutes in, Lita interfered and almost gave her boyfriend the win. Moments later, Hardy went for the twist of fate, but Jericho delivered a low blow then won with the Walls of Jericho. Afterward, Jericho grabbed Lita out on the floor and gave her the same treatment. Naturally, they will be on different shows so he doesn't have to worry about crossing paths with them again.
Backstage, the APA's party was in full swing. Torrie lost a hand and took off...her tummy bracelet (damn!!!) Christian lamented missing a Royal Flush by pitching a fit (figures...)
Rob Van Dam defended the IC Title against Test, who kept trying to intimidate the referee - so Earl Hebner fast counted him out!
Raven is back! And tonight he took on Maven and beat him for the Hardcore Title. Maven vs. Raven - cute... Raven, who brought his own shopping cart full of "plunder" (as the American Dream always put it), was wearing his trademark skirt and blond dreads. He is also looking a bit beefed up these days. In the midst of the match, Tommy Dreamer ran in and tried to win the title for himself. All he succeeded in doing was running interference for Raven to win the match and the title.
Backstage, the Vince and Kurt show focused on the rumor that Steve Austin is supposed to show up on RAW Monday. Vince declared that he would be there too - so much for separate rosters with separate owners...
Does Vince really think he's fooling anyone by showing 20-something actors playing with dolls..?
Willy Regal broke in on the APA party. He was there to taunt the boys about their break-up. He got "broken up" himself for his trouble. Bradshaw and Faarooq went out of the fake doorway for the last time, hung a "We're closed" sign on the door, shook hands and went their separate ways. Dumb, dumb, dumb...
The intros for the main event started a the top of the final quarter hour. Mr. McMahon and Kurt Angle taking on Triple H and Ric Flair. Flair was without wrestling gear, in his street pants but without a shirt. He looks like he has been toning up some. McMahon started the match against his son-in-law - but then HHH turned and tagged in Flair - so McMahon tagged Angle in and the match finally got underway. Flair went right to the eyesthen chopped Angle in the corner before tagging in the World Champ. HHH stomped a mudhole in his opponent in the corner, but then backed off and walked right into a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle did some stoming of his own, but it didn't last for long. Moments later, Flair was in again and caught Angle in a sleeper. Angle tried to get to his corner, but Vince wasn't in any hurry to get into the match. Angle finally subdued Flair, then Vince wanted in. He caught Flair in the corner and worked over his leg, then went for a figure four - but was kicked off. Angle came back in and got the ankle lock on Flair - but HHH broke that up. McMahon came back in and actually succeeded in applying the figure four this time. Flair turned it over to reverse the pressure, so Angle interferred to turn the tables. HHH was tagged in against Angle and was setting up the Pedigree when Vince clocked him with a title belt. Vince just had to strut when HHH was down - and that cost him. Finally, Flair got back in with the advantage over Vince and was all over him. He was about to set up the figure four when the Undertaker ran in and clobbered him, giving Vince the chance to pin him.
Raw came to us live from the Pepsi Arena in Albany, New York, and opened with Ric Flair in his office, holding the new WWF Undisputed Title belt (which he will present to Triple H tonight) and promising to sign Steve Austin to the RAW brand. Cut to new music and opening montage then to Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Hmmm...no change in the announce line-up...
It is announced during the intro that the Rattlesnake is in the house.
Rob Van Dam defended the IC Title in the opening match against Booker T. JR seems to be suggesting that he and Lawler chose to stay with RAW. For my money, this is the best competition Van Dam has had since entering the WWF. They say RVD has "educated feet" - but Booker's feet are pretty "knowledgeable" as well. So this is bound to be a good contest. Each man managed to foil some of his opponent's signature moves, RVD pulling away from the scissors kick, Booker avoiding the foreword roll splash - but he couldn't escape the frog splash. RVD retained. After the match, Eddie Guerrero made his return to the WWF by doing a run in on Van Dam and frog splashing him as only Eddie G can.
Then Vince McMahon showed up! To make his pitch to sign Steve Austin for SmackDown. He called Austin to the ring. Before Austin could respond - Flair instructed the director to go to a break...
When we returned, Vince was still in the ring and still calling for Austin, saying he wouldn't leave the ring until he signed Austin. He got Ric Flair instead. As cocky as always, McMahon declared that he would sign Austin tonight - "...and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it!" Flair told him to show us his ticket or get out of the arena. McMahon continued to be defiant - daring Flair to do something. Vince started addressing Austin directly - but Flair cut him off. He polled the crowd, who, of course, agreed with the Nature Boy. Vince said nobody was big enough to take him out of the ring - so Flair sent in the Big Show! Vince tried to intimidate him by invoking his name ("MY name is Vince McMahon!") Show grabbed him by the throat, then threw him over his shoulder and carried him out! During the break, he tossed McMahon out of the building...and appeared to thoroughly enjoy it.
Willy Regal came to the ring to face Spike Dudley in a non-title match. He allowed the referee to search him, then pulled his brass knucks out from under his armpit and stashed them in a turnbuckle pad. What he didn't see was that the ref (Nick Patrick) recovered the weapon from the pad and stuck them in his pocket! Regal dominated the little guy, of course, but as happens frequently with Spike's opponents, he underestimated the feisty 150 pounder. A couple of headbutts to the mid section sent Regal to the corner looking for his missing "Power of the Punch". When he didn't find it, he turned around and walked right into the Acid Drop and got pinned.
Backstage, the nWo took over the APA's old office. In another part of the building, Crash let Bradshaw know what was going on. In still another part of the backstage area, Terri and Trish got into an argument, which prompted Flair to propose a "paddle on a pole", bikini match. Next we switched back to the old APA office, where the nWo was spray painting the door. Bradshaw ran in to object and got in a few good shots before being overwhelmed and punked.
Bubba Ray Dudley took on Raven for the Hardcore Title in his first match since officially becoming a singles competitor. I imagine that Bubba might do all right as a single - but D'Von will need to develop a personality. I found it pretty funny to hear him lecturing the Tough Enough contestants on that subject on the last edition of the MTV series. Bubba wrestled this match with his glasses on (no lenses, of course...) Raven looks like a crazed albino rastaman these days. This was a pretty good match, with a lot of false endings and great hardcore action. The tide was seemingly turned when Bubba set up a chair in the middle of the ring, in perfect position for Raven's patented drop-toe hold on the chair move - but then Bubba turned the tables and took the champ out. Bubba is the new Hardcore Champion.
After the break, Ric Flair returned to the ring to present the new WWF Title belt to Triple H. He called Helmsley to the ring, but got the Undertaker instead. UT seemed to think that this ceremony was an insult to himself for some reason. he claimed to have beaten Hunter at Wrestlemania the year before. He then reminded Flair that he promised to make every day a Wrestlemania moment, then started to prepare to back that up. This brought HHH to the ring, wearing the WWF belt ad carrying the old WCW title. Hunter handed both belts to Flair then addressed the dead man. He agreed that UT did beat him at WrestleMania last year, but that was then and this is now. He challenged UT to a match. The Undertaker proposed a title match at the next PPV (BackLash). Hunter agreed, but he didn't want to wait for the PPV - he wanted it, "...right here, right now." UT backed off, saying that backLash would be just fine. Then he turned and took the new belt from Flair. He admired it, then he placed it over HHH's shoulder and told him, "Why donut you hold on to that...while you can." Then he left.
The Hardys (without Lita, who was drafted to SmackDown!) competed against the "rookie" team of the Big Boss Man and Mr. Perfect, who didn't fare all that well through most of the match. The Boss Man looked to have it won near the end, but a twist of fate and a swanton turned that around. After the match, Brock Lesnar ran in and manhandled the winners.
Terri wore a very skimpy, leopard skin bikini, while Trish opted for patterned purple. Terri got the drop on Trish as the latter disrobed, but Trish was the more athletic and easily put her opponent down with a bulldog. She retrieved the paddle, but before she could use it, Molly Holly ran out and attacked both of them. She broke the paddle over Trish's head! I guess sombody has to be the heel woman on RAW...
Out back, Vince was still in the parking lot, plotting to find a way to meet with Steve Austin to some unknown person on his cell phone.
Flair was also on the phone in his office when Steve Austin walked in and asked Flair to go ahead and let Vince into the building so that he could hear what they both have to say before he makes up his mind.
Kane took on his former "little buddy" X-Pac in the next match. Kane has a new take on his music, while X-Pac came out to the nWo "porno movie" theme, accompanied by his thuggy friends, who provided distraction in order to give the little guy some kind of chance. It worked for a while, as first Hall caused Kane to be knocked off the top rope and then he and Nash both attacked him out on the floor. A later distraction allowed X-Pac to hit a missile drop-kick which took Kane off his feet. Waltman went for the bronco buster and got it this time, thanks to Hall holding Kane's hair. But then Kane sat right up and went back on the offensive. As he was about to end it, Hall and Nash entered the ring and caused a DQ. They attacked Kane - but then Bradshaw ran in and changed the odds. The nWo fled the scene. I smell a new tag team...
In the back, a rueful looking Jonathan Coachman let Vince back into the building.
Ric Flair was in the ring as we returned. He reiterated that he was ready to make an offer to Steve Austin tonight, and started to introduce Austin. But McMahon's music blared forth and Vince made his way to the ring. Vince went right into his standard attempt to humiliate Flair, ranting about his "business acumen" - it was his "intellectual sperm" that created modern day sports entertainment, you know..? As usual, he was assuming that he had won before Austin had even made a choice. Austin interrupted Vince's rant and made his way to the ring. Vince followed him from post to post, seemingly directing Austin's actions. Austin's first words were, "...I don't give a rat's a$$ about your intellectual sperm!" He taunted Vince for a bit then turned to Flair and ask him if he had a contract. Flair replied "Yes" each time Austin asked "What?" He then turned back to Vince and offered his hand and agreed to sign the contract. He turned back to Flair and told him that he respected him, but business is business. He asked Vince for a pen, then looked over the contract. Then he said, "April Fool" and stunned Vince!! Flair started to celebrate, yelling "Stone Cold is on RAW!" and going for the beer - but Austin hadn't signed the contract yet. Austin waited until he was drinking a beer...then he stunned Flair!! But then he signed the contract and dropped it on Flair's chest. He had a beer moment as Vince struggled back to his feet - then he stunned him again.
Well, I guess the new RAW is officially launched. It seemed to me like Austin had to go to RAW, because the Rock and Hogan are both on the other show...
At least that's the way I see it...
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