Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
You can get more of the latest news and rumors by listening to this week's Solie's Wrestling Radio report.
Lou Thesz: Right...
Jeremy: You had said something, and this is interesting to me, that nowadays there are probably about five of you living who still have the art of "Hooking"...
Lou Thesz: Yes, there was a wrestling school in England by the name of Wigham, near Manchester, England and they developed some very fine wrestlers and I think the best of the whole bunch was Billy Robinson who is still in this country now, he lives in Nashville, but the Europeans took a lot of pride in the knowledge of straight wrestling. They were probably better versed in Greco (Greco-Roman Wrestling) then they were in Freestyle, but they were picking up Freestyle and they liked it very much and I learned Greco from my father and a couple of other people. So I was in good hands over there, in a good place to be because being versed in both Greco and Freestyle, that's a head start. And I was a southpaw and being a left hander, wrestling people who are not left-handed sometimes it throws them off pace, you know? Whatever works for a right hander doesn't work for a left hander...
Jeremy: I understand, I am left-handed and I did about six years of amateur wrestling...
Lou Thesz: It can be a very handy gadget, in fact I knew Greco, Freestyle and I was also left handed so sometimes they probably stared at this Hungarian kid and said "What is he doing?"
Jeremy: So you had certain advantages and one was that wrestling was what you excelled in and you followed it religiously if I can use that term...
Lou Thesz: That's exactly right, if any young person, like a young male, decides that he likes a sport and gets into it and all of a sudden to his own surprise discovers that he has an aptitude for it, and then with the coaches that he had, all of a sudden they find their niche in life. That's a very difficult thing to do but a wonderful thing because, if you could earn your livelihood doing the thing you enjoyed doing most then, how sweet it is. It doesn't get any better than that. And I had the good fortune of getting into that situation. And with people like Tragos, Ed "Strangler" Lewis and Ray Steele, some of the biggies, people who really knew what they were doing out there, I just got hooked on the thing to the point that I just devoted my entire life to wrestling. That's all I did. I trained everyday, and a lot of the guys would go to the dances - I never learned to dance because I learned to wrestle. After training for four hours a day, I'd be so enervated that what I needed was food and rest, try to regenerate. Tragos and the top wrestlers, you know, they were not easy task masters, they pushed you to the wall to test to see if you had the intestinal fortitude to be good. Anyway it all worked out and I enjoyed it so much that I admire the young people that are in the amateurs and doing well. Of course amateur wrestling is a wonderful thing and I am well connected with the new Museum that is being erected in Newton, Iowa. And I am on the Board of Directors there and Dan Gable, the fantastic wrestler is also there. You know, his track record as a coach even surpasses the track record of the wrestlers...
Jeremy: Wow! And that's saying something...
Lou Thesz: They'll never surpass what he's done. I watched him train , he trains them like a madman in that deal - it's the only way to succeed. Dan's a great guy and we're really glad to have him aboard this board of directors because he is going to represent all of the amateur wrestlers who have emerged and are going to be honorees, and I'm going to choose the professionals. The professionals are going to be people who had a very favorable, strong amateur record, and the Hulk Hogans and the Buddy Rogers aren't going to be there. So anyway that's the way it is, and some of the people are unhappy about it, get their noses out of joint and I'm sorry about that because if they call it wrestling, then that's what they should do! You see very little of that. I can watch a match for thirty minutes, forty-five minutes and I don't see one wrestling hold.
Jeremy: You know that's something that I was going to get in to in just a little bit. There's something else I wanted to ask you about, because it's been miss-reported, and that is the first workout between yourself and Ed Lewis and it was indeed a workout at a gym if I'm not mistaken...
Lou Thesz: Yes, it was the National Gym in St. Louis, we used to workout there all the time...
Jeremy: Right , that's the gym you mentioned earlier. And just to dispel any thought that you weren't one of the hardest working guys in the business, recount for us, if you would that episode...
Lou Thesz: Well, I had the good fortune to have won quite a few matches. George Tragos was the wrestling coach at Missouri U and if I start to stray just get me back on track...
Jeremy: (laughs) Okay...
Lou Thesz: ...and when he took me over, the promoter in St. Louis was also a Greek man, they decided that he should retire from coaching and just devote his efforts to me, and of course I had no part of that financially or otherwise, and that's what we did. So Tragos and the promoter and Ray Steele thought that I was really a comer and that I was going to go somewhere. So Ed Lewis came to town, the old "Strangler" and they arranged a private workout in the gym and there were some really stupid reports about me beating Lewis in five minutes and all that stuff, you know some publicity people will take a lot of liberties and that was a complete falsehood, where they dreamed that up I don't know. Anyway, in about 15-20 minutes he had me beaten down to a pulp, you know? And I retired from wrestling, I didn't tell anybody anything and Tragos when I left, said everything was okay. I said, "Okay with you? Fine, not okay with me." So I went back and I told my father "Okay, I'm going to stop wrestling now." And he wanted me to stop and take over his shoe repair shop, so I said, "Okay, I'm ready to take over the shop, whenever you want me to do it, we'll do it." So Ed Lewis got wind of this so he called my father, which would be like the President of the United States calling you to say "Hello" because my father had never talked with him. Anyway he said to my father, "Tell that guy to get back up here." He said, "Tell the boy to come back, he did very very well." He said, "But he forgot that he was wrestling me, and I've traveled the world and learned to take care of myself and that's what we we're trying to teach him to do." So I mulled that over a day or two and when I looked at the shoe repair shop again compared to the fantastic hype you get with the wrestling, I said, "I think I'm going back to the gym."
Jeremy: Right, and that's a practice that nowadays is almost unheard of and that's that the "old guard" if you will, and I say that with the utmost respect, could work to put somebody over. That's something you just don't see these days. There isn't a lot of respect in today's dressing rooms, the face of wrestling has indeed changed, and with that I'd like to bring us up to the present day. As I understand it you wrestled your retirement match in 1979 and then later you wrestled your last match in Japan in, I believe it was 1990?
Lou Thesz: Yes, I was 74 in 1990. I guess you could say it was ego, but it really wasn't that. I wrestled a fellow, he came there from Germany, his name was Chono, he weighed about 250 and he was about 25 years old, a super guy and a very good wrestler. So I was in Tokyo and they said, "We'd like to have you wrestle one more time for free."
Jeremy: Oh yeah (laughs)
Lou Thesz: So I said, "Well sure, I'll do it." And I didn't know who they were going to put me in there with, and of all things they put me in with Chono who was the Title holder at that time! And I said' "Well, this is really great." Anyway, I had had a total hip replacement, you know, and it didn't perform as well as I would like it to sometimes. But anyway, we got out there and I tried to do a double bridge out of a problem, you could actually do a bridge out and pin your opponent, but that wouldn't work because the hip just wouldn't perform. So I picked him up, I was going to be a reverse slam on him, you know, pick him up over my head and toss him onto his head, and again the hip just didn't perform, not a great deal of pain but just sounded like a warning and I just didn't have it, it just wouldn't do it. He weighed 250 and I weighed about 220, so that was getting pretty close to 500 lbs. on a hip that had just been replaced. It was kind of stupid, and I've said this so many times, I was old enough to know better but I did it anyway...and I was wrong...
Editor's Note: Part 3 of this interview will run in the next issue.
My wife had the other arm done on Friday......had her Carpal Tunnel done, I mean.
So, I would assume you realize that a very tired and cranky Johnny is facing the keyboard this morning....this wonderful morning that came way, way too soon for my taste.
So, I will get my complaining out early and often, and you all can rest assured that this column was the sole reason that I was not fired or shot to death today.
Now....I really only have one thing to say......I am right about the WWF...oh....er...the WWE. (?)
The ratings are sliding. They drew a 2.9 rating on Smackdown.......the lowest in history. I would say that a 1-point slip in the Neilsens would be expected with Survivor ratings firming up, but a 2-point drop is precipitous. A two-point drop is just a bit less than HALF the audience.
Picture your favorite sports team, with a full arena. Then, in your mind's eye, picture the same team, but with the arena half-full. It is hard to talk numbers like this without understanding the physical ramifications. OK.....better example....think XFL.
Can we say that the Rock leaving hurt? Sure.....but I doubt that the Rock's departure is the whole story. I think it is Hogan's shallow support, the repetititve failure of the global angles the WWF has attempted, Rock's absence, and the return to the angles that worked.....three or four years ago.
Flair will turn heel, and join the nWo, ala Eric Bischoff, and feud with Austin. Oh, what a surprise. The owner of Raw, and his controlling high mid-card lackeys, feuding with the popular anti-hero, and keeping him from winning through cheating, backstage intrigue, and beatdowns. Yeah, that is original.
This is just another example of Vince and the bookers trying to find that Magic Elixir that won the war against Nitro and the WCW. However, this time the enemy isn't another company, or another fed.....
...the enemy is themselves, and the totally irresponsible way that the people in charge have operated during the last year and a half.
Picture this.....Vince purchases the WCW, buys out Goldberg's. Sting's, the nWo's, and Flair's contracts. He the brings the WCW in, with Shane at the helm, and they play an angle where Shane and Vince compate for control of the airwaves. If Shane loses, he is out, gone, finished, and kaput. If he wins, the WCW gets to survive.
I know, it sounds familiar, doesn't it? With the exception of the buyouts, it is very similar to what we saw last year. However, then, the WWF screwed the pooch, and didn't do the following:
Instead of having the WCW brand get euthanized, and it's people sent down to OVW or dispersed to the four winds, they have Shane's faction win, and they get either one of the weekly shows (Raw or Smackdown), OR, give them the Saturday Night show, make it a live event, and use that marketing skill Vince has displayed in the past to get the ratings. Heck, Nitro pulled a 2.0+ until the very end....as did Thunder. That core of WCW-ers would have stayed on, and probably would have grown, as some WWF workers periodically crossed over to feud with them.
As it sits now, the WWF show pulls a 1.something there....and has to crush most of it's mid-card in order to push the main-event workers, as there are so many of them now.
BUT....back to the point...the WWF has produced their own problems here, and their grab-bag is full of last year's tricks. Look at this:
The fans that have been courted by Attitude won't buy this. If it isn't new, extreme, or progressive, their patience is not going to hold. Hell, Survivor is new every day. As are the runs of ER, Friends, and all the other competition to Smackdown. The fans are going to the Osbournes, not to HHH/Undertaker...again.
I mean, there is not other way to look at this. Old patch on new problem...this situation cannot hold, and we are seeing the signs of stress.
What should be done? I say, take the hit that bringing up new main-eventers will give you, rape OVW of it's good talent, bring them up, and tell these older guys that have been in the spotlight for 5-15 years that it is now time, if they haven't done it yet, to put them over. I think the well-being of the WWF is at stake here.
OK...I'm out of breath...and I gotta split. I want to tell you that there is a substantial chance that there will be no Connection in 2 weeks....I will be in Canada. Yeppers, a vacation...and well deserved at that. However, if I couldn't go, I would just sit and surf Solie's, the best site on the Web. Of course, Solie's says bodyslam.cc is a great site, too, so take that as a huge prop to our news, rumors, and columns.
See you next week, with another Connection.
by Earl Oliver SmackDown! was taped on Tuesday at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and tonight is the night that former Champ Chris Jericho gets his shot to regain the World Title (in the wake of the Undertaker's attack on Hogan Monday night).
...but first, Rikishi came to the ring with his new partner, the Hurricane, to challenge "Upchuck and Die" for the Tag Team Titles. You knew from the first moment how this one would go. The highlight of the match happened right near the beginning when Helms hit a flying head scissors on Billy, sending him to the mat. He reeled to his feet and went to the wrong corner looking for a tag. When he raised his head, he was staring at Rikishi's finest perspective (eeeewww!) Rikishi got to show off all of his power moves - including the squash sandwich in the corner and a thunderous Samoan drop on Chuck. In the end, Rico ran in and knocked the Hurricane flat with a spin kick. Afterwards, Rico got kicked in the face by the big guy and then chokeslammed by Helms!! A stinkface sent him slinking away.
Backstage, Kurt Angle tried to talk Val Venis into modeling his new T-shirt. Val turned him down, but Lance Storm said he'd be glad to do it. Angle went on to cast aspersions on local sports heroes. In the ring, Angle chided the crowd for telling Storm he sucks, and exhorted then to stop buying porno mags and buy his T-shirt. Edge showed up and then introduced the Big Valbowski, wearing the "You Suck!" shirt. Angle was livid, but then Storm put a bug in his ear. Angle turned to Edge and challenged him to a hair match at Judgment Day. Edge agreed as long as Kurt promised the same. Angle didn't want to do it - but was persuaded to agree.
Hardcore (Steroid) Bob Holly got his rematch with Randy Orton. Looking at him a little closer - the resemblance of Orton to his father is striking. Orton is not exactly a rookie, by the way. He has been working the indie scene for a couple of years. In fact he dominated the match right up to the moment that Holly hit a blatant low blow and got himself disqualified. He hauled Orton up to the platform and slammed him on the steel floor.
After the break, Faarooq was displaying a wad of cash he's won betting on Mark Henry's feats of strength when Brother D-Von showed up with his collection plate. henry sent him packing. Meanwhile, Vince was getting ready to kiss Stacy's belly button when Chris Jericho barged in and convinced Vince to make his Title shot against Hulk Hogan a no DQ match. He also received assurances that neither the Undertaker nor Triple H would interfere. The Undertaker is banned from interefering in SmackDown! matches and HHH is not allowed to touch Jericho before tonight's match.
I'll be damned. The WWF finally got around to paying tribute to Wahoo McDaniel and Lou Thesz... a brief mention of both of them as they came back from the break. By the way, I heard that Larry Zbyszco has sued the WWF over Chris Jericho's use of the moniker "Living Legend".
Next up Edge and Val Venis taking on Kurt Angle and Lance Storm in a tag match. This was probably the match of the night. Plenty of great action, lots of false endings and bigtime bumps. In the end, Val evaded an Angle slam and got a roll up on Angle - but Storm kicked him upside the head, allowing Angle to reverse the roll up and take the pin.
Chris Jericho came to the ring for a rant. So what did he say..? Who cares..? Triple H interrupted him in mid-tirade (Thank God!) and came right to the ring. They went nose-to-nose, then HHH backed off grinning. He continued to smile as Jericho got right into his face, taunting him. When Jericho finished, HHH told him that he was smiling because he knows there is no way in Hell that Jericho would become the Champion tonight. He declined to explain that statement and left the ring as we cut to commercial.
Faarooq and Mark Henry tagged up to take on Test and his partner, Christian. In the middle of this dust-up, Brother D-Von started passing the collection plate around ringside...with a lapel mic on. Henry and Faaroog met him at the rail and threw his money to the crowd. Faarooq went back to the ring, but Henry turned back toward Dudley after the latter hit him from behind. While Henry ws distracted, Faarooq was double teamed and pinned.
Tajiri defended his Cruiserweight Title in a rematch against former Champ, Billy Kidman. When Kidman was close to making a come back, Tajiri shoved Torrie into harms way. Torrie was knocked out. Kidman went to her aid and was distracted enough to take a kick to the face. back in the ring, he took another shot and then was pinned. Afterward, Tajiri just stood waiting while Torrie dragged herself to her feet.
Backstage, a disheveled Vince and Stacy were buttoning up as we barged in. Vince asked Stacy to find Triple H and send him in. She left - and so did we...for a commercial. After the break. Hunter bearded the lion in his den. Vince warned HHH to stay out of Jericho's way. Hunter just smirked and asked him if he was through.
The main event was a knock down brawl. Hogan proved yet again that he can put on a great match against a good opponent and with the right motivation. Hogan sells his opponent's shots as well as anyone in the business. Triple H showed up, when Jericho was in charge about half way through, and joined the broadcast team. Toward the end, when Jericho had the upper hand again after a chair shot, the Undertaker's music blared. Jericho was busy watching the entryway for the impending appearance of UT - Hogan surprised him with a roll up for the pin. Afterward, Triple H attacked Jericho and knocked him out of the ring, then chased him from the arena while Hogan celebrated in the ring.
Raw came to us live from the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut and started with a symbolic exorcising of the "F" from "WWF". The World Wildlife has won their lawsuit folks...The World Wrestling Federation is now World Wrestling Entertainment. Getting the "F" out...as they put it.
First up - challenging Jazz for the "WWE" Womens' Title - Trish Status. Accompanying Jazz to the ring - Stevie Richards, of course. Right off the bat, Good Ol' JR slipped and started to refer to the company as "...the World Wrestling Feder...er...World Wrestling Entertainment". Yessiree, this change over is going to be hard on the announce team. This was a short match, and then Bubba Ray Dudley ran in with his own referee to clobber Richards and pin him for the Hardcore title! Then Raven ran in and did the same, followed by Crash. Then Bubba hit Crash with a trashcan lid...only to have Trish sneak in and get the pin. Bubba grabbed trish by the hair - but then Jazz set off a fire extinguisher in his face. As Bubba stumbled around, Richards pinned Trish and took his title back.
Backstage the nWo prepared to do...something... After the break, the Big Show came down to the ring and started whining about his status in the company. The rest of the nWo chimed in when Ric Flair showed up to reiterate his promise to join Steve Austin and Bradshaw in a 6 man match. Scott Hall and X-Pac were unimpressed and promised a surprise for later.
Spike Dudley, injured ankle and all, defended his title against former Champ Willy Regal...and lost in a matter of seconds. Afterward, Regal attempted a punk job but was chased from the ring by D'Lo Brown.
Backstage, a furious Ric Flair told rn Anderson he was going to see the nWo in their dressing room.
In a local 7-Eleven, Booker T went for a Slurpee, but couldn't find any Booker T cups. He ran into Goldust, who had been following him to get a chance to to talk to him (and was holding a hotdog). Goldust almost had Booker convinced to give their team another chance, but then he offered to trade a sip of book's slurpee for a bite of his wiener...
Back at the arena, Flair walked into the nWo dressing room and found...an APA hat..?
The Undertaker arrived out back and ordered an attendant to watch his bike, then went inside. The camera caught the nWo loitering in the parking lot as well.
"Planet" Stasiak went up against Sid...er...Brock Lesnar. Lesnar seems like the perfect combination of big, tough guy and accomplished technical wrestler. Now if he can just develop a personality... Oh...he beat Stasiak, by the way.
In the back, UT was stalking around like he was looking for something. His bike, actually. The attendant told him that Hulk Hogan took it!
I just noticed that Ross is wearing a WWF logo shirt. He's going to catch hell for that... After the break, Hogan showed up to UT's music and riding his bike. He rode down to the ring and stepped inside to a huge pop that went on and on. He started right into a rant on the Undertaker, pointing out that UT doesn't care about anything or anybody...but he sure cares about his motorcycle. He then sat down on the machine called the Undertaker out to try and take the bike back. UT wasted no time in appearing, but stood his ground up on the platform, looking a bit speechless. UT allowed as how he knew that Hogan was a biker, so he is surprised that the Champ would take such a tack. He stated that he had sent people to the hospital for just looking funny at his bike. He gave Hogan one chance to get off the bike or else...Hogan interrupted him, telling him he was all talk and no walk. he then offered to bring the bike to UT. He started it up and seemed to be having a lot of trouble getting it up the ramp. He left it parked about halfway up the ramp as UT turned and left. Then he got back on it and rode it out through the entryway. The camera followed him as he rode it through the hallways and back out to the garage, shouting for UT as he rode around. He finally parked the bike. then he noticed a 16 wheeler nearby. As we cut to commercial he was in the driver's seat and threatening to run over the bike! After the break, he actually did it. Then he left the scene, still shouting for the Undertaker.
Back in the arena, Booker T came to the ring to join his partner, Eddie Guerrero, in a tag match against the team of Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy. Hardy and Van Dam make a good team - they're both nuts... Unfortunately for them, Guerrero and Booker make good team as well, so this is a very competitive match. In the middle of all this, goldust runs in...and is tossed right out to the floor. Immediately, both Van Dam and Hardy went to the top and hit one Frog Splash each on Eddie G. Guess who won...
Backstage, Terri was interviewed by Coach. She has challenged Molly Holly to a swimsuit...uh...contest..?
Meanwhile, Flair had become suspicious of Bradshaw, pointing out to AA that nobody actually saw Bradshaw get hit. he vows to get to the bottom of all this.
In the ring, the swimsuit competition was odd at best. Molly took off her robe to reveal that she was wearing my mother's bathing suit (complete with little skirt). Terri wore a thong. The crowd voted for Terri - Molly then clobbered her and left in huff.
Backstage, Flair found Kane's mask in Bradshaw's dressing room. Things were getting stranger and stranger... After the break, he confronted Bradshaw and demanded an explanation, Bradshaw told him to shove it then headed for the ring. I smell a rat...and it ain't from Texas...
The no made their way to the ring as we returned from the break. Then Flair and Bradshaw arrived. Flair seemed to have swallowed his misgivings. The camera cut to the backstage area, where UT discovered his poor bike. He threw a tantrum, then stalked off hunting for Hogan. A limousine pulled up and Kevin Nash got out. Time for another commercial.
Austin made his entrance as we returned. Bradshaw was ready to start the match - but then Austin tagged himself in and took on X-Pac to start. Austin took on Hall for a bit and then goaded the Big Show into the ring. He started a slugfest and was ahead of the game until the big guy caught him in a huge back drop. Bradshaw tagged in and cleaned house. X-Pac finally took him down with a round kick in the face. The Big Show came in and treated Bradshaw like a rag doll. Bradshaw was isolated for quite some time. He finally made a come back against X-Pac, but he was double teamed and downed again. moments later, Flair was tagged in and almost immediately taken out of the ring by the Big Show. The nWo tore up the announce table to attack Austin then dragged him back to the ring, where he faught back and hit a double stunner on hall and X-Pac. Austin then goaded TBS back into the ring. Flair and Bradshaw were both out of it on the floor. The Big Show proceeded to stomp a mud hole in the Rattlesnake, stopping for moment to lean over the ropes and intimidate JR. Austin finally came back with Thesz press off the second rope. He went for a stunner but the big guy knocked him down. Flair came back nd confronted the giant but was ineffectual. Austin hit a low blow from behind on the giant, then hit him with the stunner. Flair reentered the ring with a chair...and hit Austin! As Austin lay there, Flair announced that he and the Big Show will take on the Rattlesnke in a handicap match at Judgment Day! TBS laughed as Flair slapped on a figure four for a bit. Then Flair released the hold and celebrated with the Big Show as the show ended.
At least that's the way I see it...
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