Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
Our edition tonight begins with an obituary, specially commissioned by Solie's, from Matt Benaka, who, I felt, was the most qualified writer on the Solie's team for the job. Thank you Matt, it is, like the subject himself, magnificent. As a memorial tribute, I will also be running the interview with Thesz which was conducted by Jeremy Hartley for TWC On Line (and transcribed for exclusive publication by yours truly) in 4 parts over the next four issues of the newsletter.
In this edition of the newsletter we also have our weekly Crossface Connection column from John Cross, 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.
Obituary by Matt Benaka
Lou Thesz died on April 28, 2002. It’s only one sentence, but it carries a great deal of gravity. Lou Thesz was, probably, the greatest wrestler to compete in the squared circle. He wasn't great just because of all his World Titles, but because he put the sport before himself. Lou knew the difference between wrestling and performing, and he truly loved wrestling. He loved few thing more than wrestling and I will try to do him justice on this sad day.
Lou Thesz stood 6’2" and weighed around 225 pounds, and he started in professional wrestling at the age of 17. He was trained by greats such as Ed "Strangler" Lewis, Ray Steele and George Tragos. His earliest teacher, however, was his father who was a Greco-Roman wrestler in Hungary. The sport that Thesz cared so much for was very much in his blood.
He wrestled his first match in September of 1932 in East St. Louis, MO. He made his Japanese debut on October 07, 1957 when he wrestled to a 61 minute draw with Rikidozan in a match that marked the first time the NWA World Heavyweight Title had been defended in Japan. It may have been this match that earned him his Japanese nickname, Tetsujin, which means Iron Man. His final match came many decades later in Japan against Masa Hiro Chono on 12/26/1990 in Hamamatsu, Japan. His match with Chono is significant because it made him a man who had wrestled in 7 decades, but even more important, this match demonstrated his love for the sport as he put Chono over cleanly. What a memorable compliment to a younger wrestler. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Much happened before the match with Chono.
At the age of 21 he won his first World Heavyweight Championship. He would go on to unify the different versions of the World Title for the first time since they had fragmented after Frank Gotch’s retirement. Between 11/27/1949 when he defeated “Wild” Bill Longson for the National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title until 03/15/1956 when he lost the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title to Whipper Billy Watson, his only loss was a disqualification against Leo Nomenelli. During that time, he unified the two NWA World Titles, the Boston based AWA World Title, and the Los Angeles version of the World Title; all without a loss. Outstanding.
His achievements didn't come without a price, though. He flew 14 million miles, drove 2.5 million miles, wrestled more than 6,000 times, and had over 200 bones broken. As he traveled from town to town, he risked a great deal driving on terrible roads and in inclement weather. He made that risk and broke those bones in order to entertain a crowd over 6,000 times.
Lou Thesz wrestled during The Great Depression, when wrestling was being ignored because fans didn't see it as legitimate and they had greater priorities than watching a match. He could have been discouraged or wanted a career that could make him more money, but he didn't. Instead, he took the reins of professional-wrestling and led it to respectability. He was one of the men who was around for the great resurrection of wrestling with the invention of the television. He saw all that wrestling became; from Everett Marshall and “Strangler” Lewis to Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. While he didn't always respect the mat skills of a Hogan, he did respect the individuals ability to perform and entertain. That's all he ever wanted to do; whether it was a fifteen minute, one-fall contest or a three hour, two-of-three-fall contest, Lou Thesz wanted to entertain, and the fans loved him for it.
Mr. Thesz can speak for himself regarding his profession, “When you get into competitive wrestling, not just show business, there isn't any time or any day that you're not hurting somewhere. Unless you can work around that and live with it, and try to enjoy your life along with that discomfort, you're in the wrong business. So I always enjoyed it. You've gotta be a little goofy to do it, I guess, but that's part of the game. I met some wonderful people in wrestling, just unbelievable people. I got a great education, traveled the world, they paid me to do it, and I'd like to do it again.” (Quote from an interview with Lee Benaka during 1991.)
As sad as the loss of a legend like Lou Thesz is, it doesn't sound like he died with regrets. What more could a man ask for.
The World Heavyweight Title won from Everett Marshall on 12/29/1937 in St. Louis, MO. Thesz's MWA World Title win over Marshall and the fact that he was awarded the Boston based AWA World Title in January of 1938 caused him to be recognized as The World Heavyweight Champion, a line that goes back to Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt. He would lose the title to Steve "Crusher" Casey on 02/11/1938. The National Wrestling Association didn't recognize Casey as champion because they awarded their title to Everett Marshall in September of 1938. Casey continued to defend the Massachusetts based AWA World Title. Lou Thesz and Steve Casey were the last men to be recognized as true World Heavyweight Champions throughout wrestling. Such a thing has not happened since. Thesz was the Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion for 1 month 14 days.
Midwest Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title won from Everett Marshall on 12/29/1937 in St. Louis, MO. He would lose the title on 08/17/1938 when John Pesek was awarded the strap. He reigned for 7 months 20 days. Boston based American Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title won from Yvon Robert in January of 1938 when Roberts wouldn't wrestle Thesz and Thesz was awarded the title. Roberts continued to be recognized as AWA World Champion in Montreal. Thesz would lose the title to Steve Casey on 02/11/1938 in Boston, MA. He reigned for, approximately, 1 month 11 days.
National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title won from Everett Marshall on 02/23/1939 in St. Louis, MO. He would lose the title to Bronco Nagurski on 06/23/1939 in Houston, TX. He reigned for 3 months 29 days.
Montreal based AWA World Heavyweight Title won from Leo Numa on 06/12/1940 in Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. He would lose the title to Yvon Robert on 10/23/1940 in Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. He reigned for 4 months 12 days.
Montreal based AWA World Heavyweight Title won from Yvon Robert on 07/16/1941 in Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. He would lose the title to Yvon Robert on 09/17/1941 in Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. He reigned for 2 months 3 days and was the second man to hold the title twice.
National Wrestling Alliance Texas Title won on 05/12/1944 by defeating Hans Schnabel in Houston, TX. He would lose the title to Ernie Dusek on 06/30/1944 in Houston, TX. He reigned for 1 month 20 days.
NWA Texas Title regained from Ernie Dusek on 08/18/44 in Houston, TX. He would lose the title to Olaf Olson on 12/08/1944. He reigned for 3 months 22 days and was the first two-time champion.
NWA Texas Title won from "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers on 05/03/1946 in Houston, TX. He would lose the title back to Rogers on 05/10/1946 in Houston, TX. This brief reign lasted 8 days and made Thesz the second three-time champion.
Montreal based AWA World Heavyweight Title won from Bobby Managoff on 09/11/1946 in Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. He would lose the title back to Managoff on 02/20/1947 in Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA. He reigned for 5 months 11 days and was the second man to hold the title on 3 occasions.
Montreal based AWA World Heavyweight Title regained from Bobby Managoff on 04/16/1947 in Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. He would lose the title to Yvon Robert on 11/26/1947 in Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. He reigned for 7 months 11 days and was the second man to wear the title on four occasions.
National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title won from Whipper Billy Watson on 04/25/1947 in St. Louis, MO. He would lose the title to Bill Longson on 11/21/1947. He reigned for 6 months 27 days and was the third man to hold the title on two occasions.
National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title won from “Wild” Bill Longson on 07/20/1948 in St. Louis, MO. He never lost the title as it was unified with the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title on 11/27/1949. He reigned for 1 year 4 months 9 days, was the second man to hold the title on three occasions, and was the final champion.
National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title won via forfeit on 11/27/1949. Orville Brown was supposed to wrestle Thesz in a unification match, but on 11/01/1949 Brown's career was ended by a car accident. The National Wrestling Alliance awarded the title to Thesz and unified the National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title with their title. Leo Nomenelli defeated him by DQ on 03/22/1955 in San Francisco, CA and was given the title. The NWA then ruled that the title couldn't change hands on a DQ. He would lose the title to Whipper Billy Watson on 03/15/1956 in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA via countout with Jack Dempsey as guest referee. He reigned for 6 years 3 months 19 days.
Massachusetts based American Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title won from Gorgeous George on 07/27/1950 in Chicago, IL. Thesz was the NWA Champion and the Boston based AWA World Title was unified with the NWA strap. The match drew a gate of $103,277; the first gate over $100,000 in wrestling history. Thesz only reigned for 1 day due to the unification, he was the fifth man to win the title on two occasions, and was the final champion. Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium World Heavyweight Title won from Baron Michele Leone on 05/21/1952 in Los Angeles, CA. Thesz was the NWA Champion and this win unified the Los Angeles version of The World Title with the NWA World Heavyweight Title. Due to the unification, Thesz was champion for 1 day and was the final champion.
NWA World Heavyweight Title regained from Watson on 11/09/1956 in St. Louis, MO. Edouard Carpentier defeated Thesz on 06/14/1957 in Chicago, IL and is announced as the new champion when Thesz couldn't continue due to a back injury. The NWA rules that a title can't change hands due to an injury and returns the title to Thesz. This match would later be used to legitimize title lineages in Omaha and Los Angeles. He would lose the title to Dick Hutton on 11/14/1957 in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA. He reigned for 1 year 6 days and was the first man to hold the title on two occasions.
NWA World Heavyweight Title won from "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers on 01/24/1963 in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA. This match was important is it was a one-fall contest. Promoters in the Northeast contended that Rogers couldn't lose the World Title in a one-fall contest and they continued to recognize him as World Champion in the newly formed World Wide Wrestling Federation. Rogers and Thesz squared off in a rematch on 02/07/1963 and Thesz won the two-out-of-three-fall match in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA. The NWA recognized Thesz as champion until 01/07/1966 when he lost to Gene Kiniski in St. Louis, MO. He reigned for 2 years 11 months 15 days and was the first three time champion.
Ohio based AWA World Heavyweight Title won from Karl Krauser (Karl Gotch) in June of 1964 in Columbus, OH. Thesz was the reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion and this match unified the Ohio based AWA World Title to the NWA World Title. Thesz only reigned for 1 day due to the unification. He was the final champion.
World Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title won from Buddy Austin on 10/14/1966 in Los Angeles, CA. He would lose the title to Mark Lewin on 10/28/1966 in Los Angeles, CA. He reigned for a brief 15 days.
Trans-World Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title. Thesz was billed as champion in January of 1968 upon his arrival. He would lose the title to Danny Hodge on 01/24/1968 in Tokyo, JAPAN. He reigned for, approximately, 24 days.
Universal Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title. Thesz was awarded the title on 08/15/1977 for going to a time limit draw against Mil Mascaras on the UWA's first card. He would lose the title to Canek on 08/27/1978 in Mexico City, MEXICO. He reigned for 1 year 14 days.
Other titles that have less information about them, but Thesz held, include The United States Junior Heavyweight Title in 1973, the Mississippi based United States Heavyweight Title won during April of 1978, and the Japan based NWA International Title which Japanese history has Thesz winning in June of 1953, but it is probably fictitious as Thesz was NWA World Heavyweight Champion during this time. Thesz is also recognized by Nick Gulas as NWA Southern Heavyweight Champion in Nashville during 1978, but the recognition was withdrawn when Thesz wrestled for Jerry Jarrett's Memphis promotion. Lou Thesz made a rare venture into tag team wrestling when he teamed with a respected opponent named Bobby Managoff to topple The Omaha Riot Squad for the Texas Tag Team Title in 1944.
Other honors bestowed upon Lou Thesz:
Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame
Pro-Wrestling Illustrated Editors Award in 1982
World Championship Wrestling Hall of Fame on May 23, 1993
RSPW Hall of Fame in 1994
Puroresu Hall of Fame in May 1996
Tragos-Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame on April 24, 1999
Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2002
If you add all his reigns together, Lou Thesz spent 16 years, 2 months and 3 days as a World Heavyweight Champion and was a 19-Time Champion of The World.
He will always be The World Champion of our hearts. Rest in peace, Lou.
Jeremy Hartley: It is my pleasure to introduce former NWA Champion, six times, highly acclaimed athlete and wrestling superstar the great Lou Thesz. Lou welcome to the show and thanks again for joining us.
Lou Thesz: Thank you Jeremy, thank you so much for having me on the show. Incidentally my time with the NWA occurred about halfway through my career. The first time I won the Title it was the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship, not the NWA because the NWA didn't exist at that time. Anyway there was a National Wrestling, not an Alliance, but a National Wrestling Association and that was composed of Athletic Commissioners appointed by the respective governing bodies of each State and this was known as the National Wrestling Association and they had a lot of clout - if you were suspended in California then you were also suspended in New York, you understand?
Jeremy: That's right...
Lou Thesz: Anyway they ran a pretty tight ship and they did a very good job, and a little bit later with the advent of TV and so forth, the hype began and the rest of the story you know.
Jeremy: (To the audience) You know, Lou wrote a very good book in cooperation with Pit Ballman called "Hooker" and it is, in my opinion, the best autobiography of any sports figure as well as any celebrity that I've ever read because it goes into a lot of historical background...
Lou Thesz: Well its my life of running up and down the road, formerly an amateur wrestler and then I somebody offered to pay me for doing what I liked doing most, and I went ahead and did it. It's just the story of a young wrestler who survived living in the Depression. The Depression was a very difficult time, this country was in big trouble and a man with a family, if he could get a $10 a week job he was lucky, you know
Lou Thesz: But nevertheless we went up and down the road, we look back now and in retrospect we say it was tough, but we didn't think so because that's the way it was...
Jeremy: Right, you know I'm going to start out this interview by asking you a question which you went into pretty good depth in your book. I want the fans and the interested onlookers to hear it from the man's own mouth. So, how did Lou Thesz become a wrestling fan What drew you to this sport Nowadays, of course, you have television and you have the celebrity status, everybody says "I want to be on television", but what caused you to become a wrestler..
Lou Thesz: Well, my father wrestled before me in Europe, he was a very well known amateur wrestler and he supported my interest while we lived in St. Louis, why he would take me to the matches, and I watched the wrestlers and that really hyped me up on the sport. And then later we lived very close by to a high school, it was a few blocks away and he worked on the football shoes. Before we had all the plastics and things he would redo the cleats on the football shoes.
Jeremy: That's right, for the record he was a shoemaker...
Lou Thesz: He was a shoemaker and he taught me that trade. Nevertheless, that's the time I got into the thing. I was working out with the coaches at night, I wasn't even attending night school, I was not as old is what I'm saying, but my father became friendly with the coaches and I worked out four days a week at the gym up there and they had some amateur wrestlers up there and the helped me along. Pretty soon I ran into an old gentleman who was a one of the old wrestling fan and was in fact a fine old wrestler and he invited me up to the National Gym and I started working out with the big boys and I found out as I did that he liked what I was doing, I thought I had an aptitude for it, but then I didn't though...you know how that goes...
Jeremy: And I'm going to get into that with your workout with Ed Lewis her in a second, but tell us a little bit about some of these names like George Tragos ...
Lou Thesz: George Tragos He was a great wrestler, three time Olympian, and the greatest in this country from Greece and represented Greece in two Olympics and the United States in one. A super wrestler and learned a little bit later by taking on all comers in carnivals and circuses and so forth, he learned the art in this country and they all exchanged these things and just to perpetuate the sport in this country why they would torture each other. And little by little, in England they had some very good wrestlers at that time and they'd just go up and down the road with the carnivals and circuses and clean everybody's plow because they'd have a good wrestler and a good fighter with each show. And I really wanted to get into that when I was a youngster about 17 - 18 but that when Ed "Strangler" Lewis and Ray Steele and George Tragos they counseled with me and told me not to do it because it would lower my image. Looked like a I had something coming because at that time there was a kind of pecking order with the wrestlers and, I don't want to say this boastfully, but the people who could really wrestle were the ones who emerged. Today that's another story...
Jeremy: Yes...you likened it to a pyramid in your book, you said there was a pyramid of wrestling greatness so to speak...
Lou Thesz: Oh yes, and these people took a lot of pride in what they did and they would give you the knowledge, it was unbelievable because you could not pay them to do it, they either wanted to do it or they did not, and to use that word "professional wrestling' is what they wanted to do...
Jeremy: Exactly, that was their livelihood...
Lou Thesz: It gets to be your livelihood...
Jeremy: Right, you mentioned the art of "Hooking" in your book. Explain to the folks out there exactly what the art of "Hooking" was. As you said, with the carnivals you never quite knew who was going to come out of the crowds and take on their carnival wrestlers, and they developed a certain art, if you could kind of explain that...
Lou Thesz: Well, the carnival people were there to entertain people, not to lose money. They were not to fond of that idea, but nevertheless they would take on all comers and as I said earlier, they would always have one knockout fighter in there and one wrestler who really knew how to take care of himself, they were called "Hookers" - they knew how to hurt people is what I was trying to say. They could go in their and have an exhibition with someone and if he wasn't too tough they could have a real nice match and entertain the people and so forth, but if it was a heads up contest, and it became a matter of who could take care of themselves and who could not, and some of these people were really tough customers, and they'd break your arm or a leg in a heart beat without taking a deep breath because they may have lost $2, you know?
Jeremy: And back in those days, back in the Depression, and even before that time, a buck was a million bucks.
Editor's Note: Part 2 of this interview will run in the next issue.
All Actors read this.
Now before you say, oh sure, read what this is about. As you know Pro-Wrestling is the 'hottest' thing on TV and is all about Entertainment. But how many people really know what it's about or how to do it? I've been a Pro for 35 years and an Actor equally as long. Being a Pro Wrestler has only helped me on auditions, stunts and is a huge door opener for conversation. The training is invaluable as it's a theater in the round. You can learn to dominate an audience in the palm of your hand, so think about what you could do with one casting director. I book almost every role for commercials and films that requires a Pro Wrestler. I also own the AWF and run shows throughout the year. IF this kind of training interests you, then contact me through firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website www.americanwrestlingfederation.com or www.ricdrasin.com I can train you in the art of Pro Wrestling and stage fighting. I am the ONLY trainer here in the SF valley with a 16' Wrestling ring.
For more info please email me and I will answer all your questions. This is for women also. I trained 6 actresses last year who have been using this for commercials and films. You'll love it as it's great fun and you'll be the focus of conversation with your friends and acquaintances.
I am going to progress and recess in this week's article. Kinda like a glacier.
No...not THAT one....
First off, Lou Thesz died this weekend. As death is inevitable for us all, we should just look at this as another step in his life. He's up there right now, talking to Buddy Rogers and shaking his head at Adrian Adonis.
That being said...I want to talk bagpipes.
I am in a bagpipe band. I have been for 20 or so years. I don't play the bagpipe, I play the side (snare) drum. However, I have decided that the WWF situation is much like the situation in my bagpipe band.
The band is in disarray. We have three or four active, current members....and two of those people actually belong to another band! On St. Patrick's Day, I managed to secure some talented rookies (The Norwich Township Fire Department Pipe Band) to fill out our ranks. They provided six of our 12 people, and I owe them one...really! Still!
Our band managed to march 15 (without borrowed help) just 16 months ago. What is the problem here? Because, I am pretty frustrated when people just up and not show up, or quit, or bitch and moan (if that needs edited...).
Well, what happened is this. When the band was just beginning to get it's feet up underneath it (24 months ago or so), a power bloc formed, mostly with old, grizzled veterans of the bagpipe world. It was a set of guys that had pursued the idea of putting a pipe band together for a Law Enforcement entity for several years, and the four or five of them managed to find a receptive suitor. I was asked to join in, and I leveraged the request that they come and join with the pipe band I was attached to. They agreed. So, both pipe bands swelled in size. The recognition of what these guys had done spread, and they started attracting people that wanted to learn how to play the bagpipes, and they began teaching them, for that was the future of the band.
However, this group of older guys knew about 8 tunes between them...meaning, they knew how to play about 8 tunes together. Now, that is fine....if that is all you want to do. However, the people that they had recruited, and had decided to train, got to that level quickly, and wanted to increase their knowledge of piping....and were met with derision and scorn. They were put off, stalled, and generally hampered by the old guard. Now, the veterans didn't do this out of ill will (initially), but they had a set, certain way of doing things, and they had a comfort zone.
Problem was, their comfort zone hurt the band's ability to grow, and become better. There was an inherent ceiling to what the band could accomplish, and we hit that ceiling with a sick 'THUD'. So, people started to chafe against the old guard, and they responded as you would expect, with scorn, personal angst, and disdain. "We've done it this way for this long of a time....why change?", was the usual battle cry. So, out most talented young players, who were looking to improve, first tried to force their ideas through (and got the beat down for it), or just left. To their credit, the new pipers tried gamely to make their changes before giving up on the band, but it was to no avail.
So, I was preparing to play a function at the Club who sponsors the aforementioned pipe band. The president of this group pulls me in, and asks me what I would suggest as a plan of action, because the pipe band is in a complete state of collapse.
Simple...I said. Find a new leader, and get rid of the older guard. If they want to stay, and help instruct bagpipes to the new people, and march in our parades, that would be wonderful....as long as they understand that they are not in authority positions...they will be treated with respect, and deference, but they can't run the show anymore, because their way isn't the best for the band.
Now, I think that the true story of my bagpipe band fits the WWF. You have a group of performers, who were trained in different schools of thought, and the ones in authority and in power are working for self-perpetuation.....Austin's little snit is a prime example of the Old Guard lashing out at everyone for needed change. And, chronological age has nothing to do with it, as I think Hall and Nash are older than Austin is. Any change in the status quo is bad.
If you insert the WCW into this process that has been observed in my little band, you see what I mean. The process is uncannily similar, and the results identical.
So, what now? How do you fix what is wrong in the WWF? You first recognize that Attitude has matured, and is in need of overhaul, and maybe retirement. You don't keep trying to patch the ship with bold, vaunted attempts to resurrect the old ways of doing things (Hogan, the reversion of Austin's character), because any success you may have in that avenue of operation hurts the needed retooling process.
You tell your veterans and stars that they will be relegated to putting the young guys over, and being used to draw fans. They will no longer dominate the main-event ranks. People like Austin and Hogan must begin working to put over Kurt Angle, and RVD, and Edge, and guys like HHH have to continue to step up and realize their role in the company.....as much as HHH has, he should be the poster child for this. Job when asked to, win when deserved, and dedicate yourself to the company, not yourself.
If I listed the names of the people that left my bagpipe band since I started in 1982, it would be a whole paragraph and a half. Just imagine if the band did right by the people in it, and the older, more experienced guys made it their effort to push the younger ones to learning and developing the band. Ah...the sweet smell of what could have been.
Oh, and this purge shouldn't just be limited to the body of in-ring workers. People in the WWF booking body, and administration (all the way to Vinny Mac himself) MUST step back and look at their motivations and actions. Are they doing what is best for the WWF? Or, is what they are doing what is best for themselves?
Ask Jeff Jarrett what happens when the old guard squeezes your chances to nothing.
Oh...now for Part Two....1Wrestling.com printed a story (I got it from 4Wrestling, so credit to them) from the Peoria Journal-Star...... http://www.pjstar.com/news/topnews/g96018a.html)
......that basically talks up the WWF visit to the city. It also voices the fact that the WWF pumped in Hogan chants. Now, the story does say that they didn't need it, that the crowd did well enough alone, but couple that with the fact that Smackdown ran a 3.4 rating this last week. Though the show goes up against stiff competition (Survivor, Friends, etc.), a 3.4 is 25% below their average over the last year. Now, since Raw hasn't had that much of a drop, there are two possibilities.
First, the departure of the Rock has really impacted ratings, or...
Second, Hulk Hogan has not been the draw that he was hoped to be, or his flash is already failing.
I don't want this guy to fail as a draw, but methinks that his novelty is fading.....or was not what everyone thought it was. I wonder if the Canadian fans, who booed the Rock (they have always hated the Rock...every time he works up there, I see him get booed) actually set him (Hogan) up for this....if they were reacting in an anti-Rock fashion (even a bit), that would make the bookers think that Hogan was more over than he actually was in the larger American market. If that were the case, then Hogan would have been artificially propped up in Canada, and would have returned home to a softer welcome.
Just a thought. Anyways, like I have said over and over, this is an old patch on what needs to be a new wineskin. The problems in the WWF, with their ratings, product, and backstage environment, are not being adequately addressed at this time.
If you pour Old Spice on a pile of rotting meat, you still have rotted meat.
Standard praise for Solie's, and extra kudos for the great fans on the Forum, who I have had the singular honor of debating with this last week. I hope to continue doing so in the future.
See you next week with another Connection.
by Earl Oliver SmackDown! was taped on Tuesday at the Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois and opened with an appearance by the new World Champ. Hogan's pop from the crowd seemed quite a bit more ecstatic then what he got at the PPV. It's hard to tell, though, because the WWF has taken to using multiple strobe lights to achieve the effect of thousands of flash bulbs going off. However, the crowd continued to cheer him long after he entered the ring and broke into a pretty strong "Hogan!" chant to boot. Hogan started his rant is the usual style these days - saying how he couldn't believe the reaction he was getting. He reiterated that his reign is slightly tainted by the Undertaker's interference in the title match at BackLash. He stated that he wanted to have a rematch with Triple H tonight then went on to compliment the Game as the best he had ever stepped into the ring with. This brought the subject of his tirade to the ring, I am sure to accept the rematch. HHH did his bit on the ring apron, glancing over his shoulder a little warily as he did so. Then brushed past the Champ to acknowledge the crowd. As he returned to the mat to face Hogan, there was a hint of a jeer from the crowd. Hunter disputed Hogan's assertion that he might have won the title without the Undertaker's help, but allowed as he had respect for the Hulkster - but make no mistake - he intended to take back the title in any match tonight - and he wanted to know if, after that happens, Hogan would be willing to shake his hand. Hogan was ready to answer the question, but was forestalled by the appearance of Vince McMahon, who reminded them that he is in charge of SmackDown! and also in charge of making the matches. He turned and asked the fans what they wanted. They wanted the match, of course. Vince started to say he was making the match - then supposedly changed his mind - stating that since HHH was arrested on the show last week, he doesn't deserve a rematch. He turned to Hogan and told him that he will defend the Title next week on SmackDown! against the winner of a match tonight between HHH and Chris Jericho.
The Tag Champs were conferring with their "fashion adviser" when Tajiri and Torrie walked in. Rico tried to give Torrie some fashion advice and held out a headband, which Tajiri snatched and tied around his own head. No - I didn't get it either...
Maven and his mentor/partner Al Snow teamed up with Billy Kidman to take on Billy, Chuck and Tajiri. The highlight of this match was right at the end when Billy and Chuck were pantsed by Maven and Snow, then Torrie gave the same treatment to Rico! Back in the ring, Kidman hit a shooting star press on Tajiri to win the match.
Backstage, Kurt Angle harassed a stage hand - something about a new Kurt Angle shirt.
We returned after the break to Stacy giving Vince a head massage. Randy Orton (son of "Cowboy" Bob Orton) walked in and Vince ran down the history of some of his family members who were also in the business, then split. Stacy started flirting with him but abruptly changed her tune when Vince returned. Vince sentenced Orton to face Hardcore Holly in his tryout match tonight.
In another part of the building, Mark Henry was challenged by Test and Christian to bend first a skillet then a thick steel bar. He succeeded in both trials - much to the chagrin of his detractors. Christian was dumb enough to attack Henry from behind with the bent skillet after the challenge. That led to a match being scheduled for later tonight.
Orton's match against Bob Holly was next. Holly dominated the youngster in the early going, but Orton made a comeback after a few minutes. It was over a couple of minutes later as Orton demonstrated some great basic wrestling skills and took Holly with a roll up.
Angle had a photographer lined up to do a shot for his T-shirt. He had the shirt on an easel under a cover. While he was busy harassing the photographer, Edge snuck into the scene and did...something...I'm sure we will find out what fairly soon.
Kurt Angle came to the ring after the break for a rant. He made fun of the local fans, doing word play with the name, Peoria. He chided the crowd for the percentage of "morbidly obese" people in their midst - then said he had something special for them - his new T-shirt which comes only in size XXL and larger. He explained that it needed to be so large just to list all of his achievements. Edge interrupted his tirade, saying that he wanted to congratulate our Olympic Hero on his new shirt, and asked to see his new shirt. Angle accepted his good wishes and shook his hand. Then he whipped the cover off the display. The shirt was gigantic and read, "You Suck". Obviously, Edge changed the shirt. Kurt was the butt of his joke once again.
A video of Triple H's incident with the Undertaker and subsequent arrest was shown before we cut to another commercial break.
Mark Henry took on Christian in the next match. Not much to say about this one. It was an extended squash.
Chris Jericho was interviewed backstage about his match later tonight. He's already seeing himself as facing the Undertaker as the champion at the next PPV.
Rikishi came the ring after the break to join Edge in a tag team match against Kurt Angle and Albert. Edge came close to beating Albert early on after hitting him with a spear. Moments later, Rikishi stood both the bad guys up in the corner and squashed them lie a sandwich. He was ready to put the stinkface on Albert when Angle caught him in an Angle Slam. Rikishi recovered but soon Angle distracted him so that Albert could get a boot to his face and then plant him for the pin.
Backstage, D-Von primped in front of a mirror before heading out toward the ring.
As we returned from the break, D-Von was attacking some un-named guy who looked like a wrestler. Meanwhile, backstage, Angle ran into the same guy he harassed at the top of the program - who was now wearing a "You Suck" T-shirt.
The main event was the shot-for-the-shot, Triple H vs. Chris Jericho for a chance to face Hulk Hogan on next week's show. Jericho came down first, then HHH made his second entrance of the evening, complete with water spit and everything. I noticed that Hunter's left forefinger was splinted. Backstage, we could see Vince watching with his arm around Stacy. HHH dominated the opening moments, then Jericho took the advantage for a while. Backstage, the Undertaker barged into Vince's office - and we went to commercial. After the break, as Hunter started to make his comeback, that was when the Undertaker decided to come down and interfere. Undertaker's distraction took it's toll on HHH, who was defeated. The two bad guys proceeded to punk Helmsley until Hulk Hogan then ran in and attacked UT - driving him out of the arena. Too little, too late.
Raw came to us live from the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York and opened with an appearance by Jeff Hardy challenging Eddie Guerrero for the Intercontinental Title. Guerrero dominated the early going in the battle, though Hardy was able to hold his own, and pulled his cookies out of the fire more than once. He had a pretty good run of offense near the end of the match, and looked like he might just pull it off. Then Eddie G caught him on the top corner. jeff recovered ut managed to knock out the referee while he was at it. Thus his pinfall attempt was spoiled. Guerrero came back with a title belt shot to his opponent's forehead (while the ref was still conveniently indisposed) and then took the pin after a frog splash.
There was no mention of the passing of Lou Thesz. Vince, you should be ashamed of yourself... For those who are not aware of the history, it was a loss to Lou Thesz by Buddy Rogers in 1960 that caused Vince McMahon (Sr.) and a group of Northeastern promoters to decide to leave the NWA and form their own independent confederation (the World Wide Wrestling Federation) with Rogers as their World Champ. Apparently Vince, Jr. is still holding a grudge...tsk, tsk... By the way, it was the "three falls" nature of the Rogers/Thesz match that the WWWF guys objected to. About a month later a single fall rematch was held (for the NWA Title - which Rogers always considered to be more important). Thesz won that one handily. Like Hulk Hogan, Buddy Rogers was a great showman - but he couldn't wrestle his way out of a paper bag...
Is it me or it this whole "What?" thing getting more and more annoying? I steeled myself for yet another such session as the Rattlesnake approached the ring to have it out with Ric Flair over what went down last week...Wait! Didn't we already see this scene..? Anyway, Steve had himself a beer before starting his rant by telling us that he wasn't in a very good mood tonight. He whines and cries about being fooled by the Big Show and demands that Flair come down to the ring and grant him a match against his former partner tonight. He implies that Flair set him up in that situation. Flair tried to get a few things straight, like the fact that he didn't know what the Big Show was going to do. Austin again demanded the match - Flair response was to say "...it can't happen." He then told Austin that he had sent Big Show on a promotional tour of India!! Just to keep Austin out of trouble. Then he made the Bradshaw/Austin vs. nWo tag match again for tonight. Austin smirks and asks how Flair is going to make sure that it doesn't get bollixed up again. Flair's response was to appoint himself as Special Referee...again! Flair also added a codicil that Austin was not to lay hands on Flair tonight. Austin wasn't impressed (never is).
Backstage, Booker T told Goldust they wouldn't be tagging tonight because he is going up against Rob Van Dam later in a singles match. Goldust gave Booker his wig to wear in order to represent their team! Booker looked at himself in the mirror and exclaimed, "Tell me I don't look like that!", before tearing off the wig.
That match was next and it had great potential. Two supreme athletes who go at it like they have nothing to lose in every match. In the middle of the fight - as RVD was in control, Goldust came strolling down the ramp. It didn't so his partner any good. In fact, Van Dam knocked Goldust off the after the latter accidentally clobbered his partner. Van Dam then hit a frog splash and took the pin. Uh oh...
Bradshaw ranted to Terri about getting back at the Big Show and nWo - then Molly Holly questioned Jazz's intelligence for challenging Bubba Dudley for the Hardcore Title. Sean Stasiak talked to Jonathan Coachman - mostly drivel about "Planet Stasiak". He's taking on Brock Lesnar tonight...figures...
In fact, that match happened right after the break. I don't really have to describe this, do I..? I think they need to bring Sid back to go up against this guy Lesnar...or else pose as his brawling older brother or something...
Backstage, Ric Flair was already dressed in his referee's shirt and on the phone with someone. Debra arrived, apparently at a summons from the boss. Flair wanted her to carry a message to her husband, that he could be trusted. She replied by telling him that Austin had told her to convey a message to Flair...then she slapped him upside his head! "DTA", she said, "Don't Trust Anyone."
The Undertaker interrupted Sgt. Slaughter's telephone conversation to demand that he deliver a message to Hulk Hogan. What is this? Western Union night?
The Bradshaw/Austin vs. nWo (II?) match was up next. This time, Bradshaw actually showed up. In fact, the Texans dominated the match - and then at the end, Flair counted X-Pac out...with his foot on the rope... In his office after the break, Flair sent the complaining nWo packing.
The Undertaker made his way to the ring. He delivered a rant in which he stated that Hulk Hogan left the WWF the first time because he was afraid of the dead man...right. Hogan made his way to the ring and got right in the Undertaker's face. UT backed away before continuing his rant. He says, "Let me tell you hat I'm gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on me...I'm going to beat you down like the b*tch you are!" Hogan knocked him on his can for his trouble. UT backed away up the ramp.
Next up - Jazz taking on Bubba for the Hardcore Title. Huh? Jazz looked decidedly uncomfortable as she stood waiting in the ring. She gamely attacked him before he was fully in the ring - he just sort of stood there and took it - then pulled her in and bounced her off his chest. She challenged him to a test of strength - then hit a low blow. She grabbed a load of "plunder" out from under the ring. Trash can, trash can lid, snow shovel, etc. She got in a few shots - but he withstood it all then sidewalk slammed her before dropping a trash can over her head. He pummeled her inside the can then went out after a table. Back in the ring, he set up the table - but then Stevie Richards ran in with a referee and a guitar. Jazz hit Bubba with the shovel, then Richards broke the guitar over his head (shades of Jeff Jarrett!) and pinned him for the title. Stevie and Jazz ran out arm in arm.
Backstage, Willy Regal sat among a raft of Hulkamania! souvenirs, lamenting the low life's who follow the Hulkster.
Goldust took on Spike Dudley in a European Title match. Booker T saw to it that Goldust didn't win...
After the break, Willy Regal came to the ring to face Hogan in the main event. In the real world, this would be a test for Hogan. Regal is one of the great legitimate wrestling talents in our contemporary version of "Sports Entertainment". It was well past 11 PM when this match finally got underway - so we knew it wasn't going to be much of a contest. After Hogan made his entrance, Regal pointed to a tea table set up at ringside ("How did that get there?" asked Lawler) and invited Hogan to have a pre-match spot of tea. Hogan sampled the brew - then spit it in Regal's face, hit him with the tea tray and then the table! Eventually he rolled Regal onto the ring...then the Undertaker ran in and attacked the Champion from behind. Regal bailed, leaving UT to stomp Hogan down then take Hogan's weight belt and use it as a weapon against him - stabbing the belt spike into the Hulkster's head. Then he whipped him with the belt. Hogan lay bleeding on the mat as UT continued to pound on him. He then stood him up and chokeslammed him.
JR was suggesting that Hogan might have to surrender the title at SmackDown!...right...
At least that's the way I see it...
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