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.
Road Warrior Animal has had one of the most distinguished careers in wrestling history; his tag team with Hawk, known both under the "Road Warrior" moniker and as "The Legion Of Doom," is arguably the most dominant tag team in wrestling history. The massively popular duo have won titles all over the world, not the least of which includes two runs as WWE Tag Team Champions. Animal hasn't been a part of a major U.S. promotion since WCW was bought by the WWE last year. At that time, he was working with names such as Ric Flair, Scott Steiner and Jeff Jarrett. He took some time out from his many projects to talk to Blake Norton this past week, in a conversation which explored his past, present and future.
Norton: Why don't you tell us a little bit about how you're doing right now, mentally and physically.
Animal: Physically I'm doing great. I like to stay in shape all year round, everyone in wrestling knows that. Right now we're working on a lot of things. There's a movie we're going to be working on in September. We have some shots for the UCW in Puerto Rico in October and November. We're also working a shot in Bermuda and one in Costa Rica. We've got a lot of things going on.
Norton: What's happening with this movie?
Animal: It's going to involve a lot of guys, a lot of wrestlers - male and female - but it's not a wrestling movie. It's going to be a chick-flick comedy type of movie. It's going to be filmed in Tampa, and looks like a lucrative deal.
Norton: Just last year you were working with WCW. When you came in, it was just a few months before they folded. You've worked for many major organizations over the years, AWA, NWA, WCW, WWF; what was your impression of management in those last months of WCW's existence?
Animal: I thought it was fine. I thought Eric Bischoff had a good, strong hold on it. Nobody saw the WWF thing coming up. Both companies did well for years; the WWF and WCW. Hawk was getting ready to come in, and we were going to team up again. But it never happened, because the WWF - now WWE - bought it up.
Norton: That's leading me to my next question, Hawk WAS going to be coming in?
Animal: Oh yeah, he was going to come in. That was the whole plan. I went in early and joined Flair and Scotty Steiner and the guys, and Hawk and I were going to team up later on.
Norton: You worked with a number of cruiserweights at that point. What's it like wrestling a guy smaller and faster, with a different style of wrestling?
Animal: It's easier for me. All I have to do is stand there and catch 'em! (laughs). We've worked a lot of different guys throughout the years, but this business has always been based on big guys wrestling big guys, so you don't usually get to see it. You see more offset sizes now, like Rey Mysterio and Brock. I didn't mind it. It was really just biding time until Hawk came back.
Norton: A lot of people feel that WCW had one of their strongest ever runs in terms of their in-ring product in those last few months.
Animal: It certainly was. The ratings were on their way back up. They were doing great. It's a shame it ended where it did.
Norton: Johnny Ace received a lot of praise for his contributions to booking the in-ring aspect of the show. How important is the booking of the match itself?
Animal: It's very important. The problem in the past was that there were too many chiefs. Eric came in, then John came in and we ran with it. For the last couple of months, ratings were going up. Fusient, who didn't buy the company, really missed out on an opportunity.
Norton: You were the first guy to wrestle under the name "The Road Warrior." back when you were in Georgia Championship Wrestling.
Norton: How did you and Hawk get together with Paul Ellering?
Animal: Hawk and I always knew each other, since I was eight years old. I ended up going down to Georgia first. I went through my dos and don'ts of the business, and when I came back we were put together as the Road Warriors.
Norton: You guys had a run in the AWA and were headliners back in the NWA in the late 80s as major babyfaces. You worked with the Horsemen a lot - Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson.
Animal: The Horsemen were some of the best guys we ever worked with. People just turned us "good guys" (babyfaces); wherever we went, to this day, everywhere we go we're just as popular. Our gimmick is one of those that's a future gimmick. It was way ahead of its time. Luckily, Hawk and I were young enough in the beginning when we started that twenty years later, we're still ten years younger than Hogan is. We're still young, even though we've been here a long time.
Norton: You talked about your gimmick being ahead of its time; and certainly, time has proven that to be true. There were several attempts to imitate the Road Warrior - style gimmick back in the day, and to an extent they're still going it today. People like to make fun of the Demolition gimmick and so forth; how did you feel about the question for the "Next Legion Of Doom"?
Animal: There's imitators and there's duplicators. It's very flattering that people think so much of our gimmick. It never bothered us at all.
Norton: You jumped to the WWF in 1990 and the name became the "Legion Of Doom."
Animal: They had the Ultimate Warrior there, and for marketing they wanted us to have our own identity. People remember that we always said The Road Warriors in our promos anyway. We may have had the title "L.O.D." in the WWF, we used that too; everyone knew exactly who we were.
Norton: When the WWE brought you back in after the Warrior was gone, in 1997, you were actually referred to as "Road Warrior Hawk" and "Road Warrior Animal."
Animal: Yeah, there you go, right back to the way they used to do it. Everything comes full circle.
Norton: You guys had a great push your first year in the WWF, but when your tag title reign finally came, it didn't last as long as might have been expected.
Animal: Well. It's one of those things. There was never a "title" match against Money Inc., they were just given the titles. There was a lot of inner turmoil, there were things on our part we did wrong, and things that the WWF didn't follow up on in terms of money and promoting. There were things both parties did wrong, and hopefully at this stage we've moved past all that. We still do phenomenal business, be it with the WWE, IWS, NWA. we still do great business.
Norton: Even after the breakdown that led to the tag titles being taken off you, the L.O.D. were re-packaged with Paul Ellering in 1992 and given a fresh push. He was brought in with you guys again in 1998.
Animal: When we heard Paul was coming in (in 1998), we thought he was going to be with us. We thought it wasn't a good business decision. We still talk to Paul until this day.
Norton: I have to ask about Rocco.
Animal: Ridiculously stupid.
Norton: Retrospect always makes it even worse, doesn't it?
Animal: Oh yeah! (laughs)
Norton: It was your swan song in the WWF at the time, but you guys wrestled Money Inc. at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 fans in England, Summerslam 1992.
Animal: It was incredible. We couldn't even hear the music or the Harleys coming to the ring. You couldn't hear anything! It was one of the best experiences I ever had in the U.K. The U.K. was phenomenal.
Norton: You were on the shelf for the next couple of years. Hawk wrestled in Japan and did some shots in WCW. It's been said that insuring a wrestler is a lose-lose situation, because guys work hurt in this business so much of the time. What kind of condition were you in?
Animal: I had a hurt back. I had to wait for it to heal up. It had to be taken care of. When we left the WWF, it wasn't on the greatest of terms. I did some shots in Japan. I was involved in a handicap match against the Beverly Brothers, and I threw my back out. I finished the match, but herniated a couple of discs in my back doing so.
Norton: During that time period, did you ever question whether you'd get back in the ring again, or whether the Warriors would team again?
To be continued...
APW Gym Warz Results 8/30/02
Here are the results for APW's GYM WARZ show this past Friday night at the APW Garage in Hayward, Ca. as reported by Jermz...
-James Watkins over Vennis The Menace with an inverted powerbomb ( * * ) - Not a bad opening match. Vennis needs a lot more personality, maybe James could spare some of his. Watkins is the guy you love to hate, what an evil a-hole he can be sometimes!!! Vennis just doesn't do much for me right now, sure he has potential, but currently he is the 2002 version of Chris Ward.
-"The Bomb" Robert Thompson over Psycho Seth with an inverted brainbuster ( * * 1/2) - Psycho Seth was pretty good on the mic, especially for being so green. He called out Bomber and said the Garage wasn't his house. This resulted in a Psycho a$$ kickin! He was able to hang with Bomber most of the time. Robert Thompson is so sick though. Still the most underrated wrestler around today (in my opinion). He deserves to be in APW's KOI this year. He can ignite an entire crowd with the energy & intensity he puts into his matches. Finishing move was nasty! Dropped Seth right on his head.
-"Kamikaze Kid" Jardi Frantz over Kryptonite with the Styles Clash ( * * 1/2) - Kryptonite told the fans he was happy to be working for APW in the world famous Garage. Thanks Kryptonite! I liked him from the BTW show last weekend, and he was pretty cool again here tonight. Jardi looked to be in good form. Good match-up of similiar styles. Kryptonite is just like a young Jardi (from the BeelJim days). I can't wait for the 4- way dance in Colusa on the 28th with these two, Quance & Dante.
-Larry Blackwell over James Choi with a sitdown chokeslam ( * * * ) - This was a very good match. People love to bash Blackwell for his size, but he does what a pro wrestler needs to do. He entertains and he draws attention. He still gets the most heat at Gym Warz since Jimmy Ripp & Maxx Justice were a team. Choi is so awesome. He also deserves a spot in KOI (thats only my opinion though), but I personally think he is ready. The world needs to see what this guy is about. Blackwells sitdown chokeslam that he finishes with nowadays is very nice by the way.
-"Shooting Star" Bobby Quance over Nikki with the Shooting Star Press ( * * * 1/2) - This was a great match. Nikki is getting better all the time, and I am glad to see Quance hasn't fell off the Earth. Good psychology and matwork here, kinda an old school 70's match with some new school flavor to it. Nikki is approaching Melissa-ville (meaning, she is already almost as good as Melissa), minus the top rope stuff. But as a mat wrestler, Nikki is almost just as good as some of the best girls I have seen. Quance's Shooting Star is still the best in the business (rookie or not), and he nailed another good one on Nikki to win a very good match that got a standing ovation from the fans.
-Super Dragon over Excalibur with a spin kick off the top rope ( * * * * ) - This match also got a standing ovation. These two worked their asses off for the appreciative Gym Warz fans. This was the first time I have seen them against each other, so I don't know how good it was compared to some of their Rev Pro battles, but I thought it was damn good. Innovative moves, near falls, sick head dropping action etc. You couldn't ask for anything more. Probably Super Dragons best APW match ever (yeah, yeah, I know it was with one of HIS guys...but it was still a damn good match).
Overall a very good show. Lots and LOTS of wrestling, no nonsense at all! The fans were good, the energy of the place was good, the matches were solid all the way through. Never a dull moment in the whole show. Great job APW! If anyone else out there went to this show, please feel free to post away on the APW Message Board and tell your thoughts on it!
The next Invite Only Gym Warz show will take place on Friday night September 13th at 8:00pm. You will need an online invitation to attend this show.
There has been a couple things that have been weighing heavily on my mind.
What are they? Funny you should ask.....
I had the opportunity to watch both Raw and Smackdown, and they were both very good shows. Coming off of the blockbuster PPV that they threw last week, the WWE managed to capitalize on the momentum with solid offerings from both programs, but, there is one thing that is really bothering me.
Why are they trying to kill Raw?
When RAW and Smackdown split off from one another, the Raw roster read like a "Who's Who" in the WWE: Austin, Undertaker, Flair, Lesnar, Kane, Booker....all the parts were there to make the Raw brand the 'established stars' show, and Smackdown would be the 'young guns' show, with HHH, Angle, Cena, and the rest.
Since then, Austin was released, Lesnar and 'Taker went to the Smackdown side, and Rock (though I believe he started out on the Smackdown side), left the Raw side and is gone for what in wrestling terms is an eternity. Only HHH is left as a regular main-eventer. Booker T is rapidly rising, as is RVD, but the largest star in the fed other than HHH is a toss-up between Ric Flair and Chris Jericho. HBK is inactive, again, and Kane is just coming back, hopefully for a huge push. Big Show has about as much heat as he has push right now.
Look at the other sub-fed. You have Lesnar, Undertaker, Benoit, Angle, Cena, Hogan (?), Rey Jr., and the huge majority of the cruiserweight stars, like Hurricane and Kidman. There is no semblance of parity between the two shows anymore, in my humble, and I think that Raw is in trouble because of it.
Look at HHH, for example: The last four people he fought in the ring (Lesnar, Undertaker, Rock, and HBK) are either in the other fed or inactive. I know there is a big storyline around the disputed #1 Contendership, but what can HHH do? Who does he face off with now? Booker T? Ric Flair? Kane? And, if he does, what will any of those feuds or matches have to do with the storyline he was in last Monday?
I've said that the writing on Raw was the problem, and that is becoming more apparent every day, but, heck, even that could be overcome by the effort of the workers in the ring. Now, the recognized workers are slowly being concentrated on one show (Smackdown).....where can the writers go now?
I can see Booker finally getting a big face push, and RVD's face push should be resumed (he's been stalled at the top of the mid-card for a while now). Jericho could be pushed as the #2 heel, and Kane can maybe capture the heat he seems to have garnered in his return (and recapture that heat that he built up before his injury). I would (if I were in charge) push the Un-Americans, and especially Test, for all they are worth, and cash in on all the cheap heat they can find (and it is a lot). If all of that rot goes well, maybe the WWE people can do a smart thing....
...and bring Kurt Angle to Raw. A top, recognized heel could come over and feud with Kane, or Booker T, or turn face and feud with the Un-Americans. I think the market would accept another stand-up American taking on the Hate Squad, don't you?
Now, what to do with HHH, who has been left without a feud? That would be who I would put Booker T up against. Their styles would be an interesting mesh in the ring, and I don't really think they have feuded yet. Hey, a novel idea!
It has become obvious that the 'interfed squabble' has become a tool for the WWE to try and build heat for the audiences of the two shows. I think that they (the writers) feel as if they can entice viewers with the "Who's going this week?" question. What do you think? Is that a good draw? Or, is it getting old yet?
Speaking of getting old, who didn't guess that the Undertaker would win that Three-Way match on Smackdown? As soon as he came out, I knew that the Phenom would win the match....he is too logical as the next challenge for Lesnar. He is also the only person to have backed down the Next Big Thing effectively. This feud was hinted at several weeks ago, before Rocky was thrown into the Title mix. Now, with Rocky gone, only 'Taker emerges as a face main-eventer to challenge Lesnar at the next PPV. It remains to be seen how they will work this angle. I would have liked to see Lesnar face off against Kane, kind of like the whole immovable object/unstoppable force thing. That will probably happen as soon as Kane can get his mass back up, but it looks as if the venerable old Undertaker will have to carry the load.
He should be able to pull it off.....don't you think?
We'll see. In the meantime, somebody send Kane some pasta, or something. His head looks too big for his body.
OK, folks, remember to linger long and observe closely here at Solie's Vintage Wrestling. After you are done there, make sure to peruse the byways of Bodyslam.cc, for news, rumors, and results.
Enjoy your Labor day.
See you next week for another Connection.
SmackDown! was taped Tuesday at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut and opened with Stephanie in a salmon colored short dress, striding to the ring for her opening rant. She immediately reminded everyone that the WWE Champ was exclusive to SmackDown! Then she announced a single elimination tournament to name the next #1 contender to the title, starting with...
Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero - Edge dominated the first few moments but Guerrero turned things around and then it went into see-saw mode. This would be a top-tier match on any TV show - with the added spice of the WWE Title contention in the mix, just makes it that much more interesting. Both guys went all out - which, of course, they usually do. In the end, Guerrero won through guile. He set two chairs up near the ring and then openly threw one into the ring. Edge grabbed it and threatened Guerrero with it - but the referee grabbed it out of his hand. As Edge and the referee were distracted getting rid of the chair, Eddie snuck the second chair into the ring and concealed it behind his body. Edge turned back and threw a spear - Eddie turned around and put the chair between himself and his opponent. Edge speared the chair. Eddie hit the frog splash and took the pin.
Matt Hardy approached Stephanie backstage and said he was ready to take on Eddie G in the next tournament match. Stephanie told him that actually, she was sending Rikishi in next. He then assumed that he would meet the winner of that match. Stephanie said, "...we'll see."
John Cena took on Reverend Devon in the next match. I'm not sure if this was meant to signify Devon's going South...or Cena (wasn't his last opponent Chris Jericho?) The match was basically a slug fest, and not too inspired. It all went bad for Devon when he went for a headbutt off the top and missed. But he managed to recover and used a modified sidewalk slam to take the pin. Batista ran in afterward and attacked his former mentor.
Rey Misterio took on Rico in the next contest. Of course, Upchuck and Billy were on hand to muddy the waters. Fortunately, as soon as they interfered, the referee sent them packing. Left to his own devices, Rico was fairly easy prey for the cruiserweight sensation.
Matt Hardy, in his enthusiasm to get into the Title contention tournament, had the temerity to cut off the phone when Stephanie was in the middle of a very important call (she seemed to be talking to someone who she is trying to steal from RAW). She was so pissed that she booked a match for Hardy against Brock Lesnar...non-title...tonight...
Rikishi got his shot at Eddie G for the Title contender tounament. The big Samoan came close to administering the stink face early on, but Guerrero slipped away and then started attaking the big guy's left knee. Eddie was relentles, but Rikishi is somewhat more then a handfull... Abaout the time that Rikishi looked about to win the match, Chris Benoit ran in and attacked him, thus getting his partner disqualified. The two of them administered a beat down on the winner, putting the next tournament match in jeapordy.
Backstage, after the break, Stephanie confronted Benoit and then "punished" him by making him next in line to face Rikishi in the tournament.
Shannon Moore (w/Hurricane) faced Tajiri in the next match, with Jamie Noble and Nidia on hand (to make trouble, no doubt). Moore continued his winning ways, and the two heel companions had little or nothing to do with it.
Rikishi looked ready for his tournament match against Chris Benoit, I imagine it would be the thing he would want most after the earlier attack. It was ill advised for him to feel that way, as was shown shortly after the bell rang, when Rikishi hit Samoan drop on his opponent and then grabbed his ribs. Benoit almost immediately slapped on the Crippler Crossface, but after much struggle, Rikishi made it to the ropes. Benoit released the hold, but only for an instant. he dragged the big guy out to the middle of the ring and slapped it on again. This time it was too much and Rikishi tapped out.
Kurt Angle gloated about his win over Rey Misterio at the PPV then went on to announce that he will be facing Benoit for the title contender's spot later. Outside Brock Lesnar's door, Funaki was trying to get an interview with the new Champ. paul heyman talked him out of it. While they were discussing it, Matt Hardy walked up and declared his intention to take Lesnar out tonight and establish the a new "Badittude" era in WWE. Right...
That match was next. Hardy didn't even get a chance to acknowledge his fans. As soon as he turned his back to climb the corner, Lesnar was on him immediately. What could Hardy have been thinking..? If Lesnar has one weakness, it is his rookie's tendency to showboat. Feeling confident, he slapped Hardy around a little while he was flat on his back...and almost got pinned in a roll up for his hubris. He immediately got back into it, however and looked headed for victory. But then he got cocky again and gave Hardy one more chance to come back. Reeling out on the floor, the Champ caught his opponent in mid air on an attempted splash, then tried to ram him into the post. But Hardy slipped away and rammed his own shoulder into the steel. Back in the ring, Hardy went for his coup de gras, but Lesnar blocked it and then delivered the F5 for the pin.
Just before the break, Dawn Marie brought Stephanie the contract for her RAW acquisition. Stephanie announced that the main event would now be a Triple Threat match featuring Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle and...the Undertaker!! He comes into this match feeling that he is already the #1 contender, of course. Both of the smaller men immediately ganged up on the Dead Man, not too surprisingly. UT fought them both off and then cleaned house until Angle caught him leaving the ring and crotched him on the top rope. As soon as the two of them knocked U to the floor, Angle went after Benoit and dominated the next several exchanges until Benoit reversed a series of German suplexes, with a series of his own. Angle regained his composure and turned the tables again but now things were firmly in see-saw mode. benoit came out on top - but then the Undertaker was back in the ring and clobbering both of them. Angle was knocked to the floor, and UT went to work on Benoit. But Angle was back in quickly to break it up. Angle and Benoit cooperated once again as Angle distracted the referee so that Benoit could get in a chair shot. UT came right back, however. This precipitated a series of the two smaller guys trying to get UT to submit with their pet moves. Suddenly both of them had the big guy in their holds simultaneously! And still the Dead Man refused to tap. So Angle switched and pout his move on Benoit as UT was laying stunned on the mat. Eventually UT broke it up, but Angle got the Olympic slam on UT. Then benoit forced Angle out to the floor - only to turn around and walk right into the Last Ride! The Undertaker is the #1 contender for the WWE Title.
Raw came to us live from Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and opened with Eric Bischoff coming to the ring with a briefcase. He first addressed the question of Brock Lesnar's defection to the SmackDown! brand, declaring that Lesnar is, in fact, a "disputed" WWE champ and that the RAW fans deserve to have their own exclusive champion. He introduced HHH as his #1 contender, who in turn opined that the reason Lesnar split from RAW was to avoid facing Triple H. Bischoff then presented him with the "real" World Title! The one that used to be called the WCW title and is now called "The World Title".
This brought Ric Flair out to say his piece. He contended that since he has held that title 16 times, he ought to have a crack at it and why make HHH earn that title..? Bischoff immediately agreed and scheduled a match for later on with the "new" title up for grabs. HHH pretended to show respect for Flair and then roughed him up.
Backstage, HHH ran into Bubba Ray Dudley - they had words concerning the World Title. In another part of the building, Chris Nowinski vowed to put Bubba and Trish Stratus through tables and then deflower Molly Holly.
That match was next (Bubba/Trish vs. Harvard/Molly) Nowinski was eliminated from the match almost immediately when Trish slipped away from him leaving him to crash through a table alone - then Bubba powerbombed Molly through a table to end the match.
Backstage the Canadian Whiners were threatening again to torch the flag... Meanwhile, Bischoff ordered Stacy and Terri to participate in a "Lingerie Pillow fight match (great...)
Chris Jericho was burning up with envy toward Ric Flair's World Title shot.
Booker T took on Willy Regal and nailed him with a scissors kick to take the pinfall. Then demonstrated the Spineroonie to a delighted crowd.
On a satellite hook up from San Antonio, Shawn Michaels said that he is laid up pretty good but expects to recover. He brandished a sledge hammer of his own and told HHH to watch out.
In their match for the "World Title", HHH defeated Ric Flair with a quick Pedigree. Afterward, Chris Jericho ran in and attacked Flair - then RVD ran in and chased both the heels away.
Meanwhile, Bischoff received a phone call telling him that someone else was going to defect tonight to SmackDown! The caller said something about "going to be with a family member". Bischoff gave the Big Show a match against Tommy Dreamer to "prove himself".
Kane faced off against the Canadian Whiners and scattered them to the winds until Test came in illegally. Bradshaw then showed up and helped Kane clear the ring and prevent the burning of the flag.
Tommy Dreamer wiped the floor with his giant opponent as he hit the Big Show repeatedly with a chair until he was disqualified, then hit him a few more times for good measure. Not good for the Show, that.
Backstage, Bischoff told HHH and Y2J that they would team up against RVD and Ric Flair later that evening.
A match between Jeff Hardy and Crash Holly didn't happen because Bischoff came to the ring convinced that Hardy was going to be the defector and called in his two "Three Minute" bully boys to demolish the Hardy Boy. Crash then told Bischoff that the defector is himself!
The girls match was just silly. Terri defeated Stacy on a bed placed in the ring. Then Stacy poured honey (or some such goop) onto Stacy and coated her with feathers.
The main event was short and sweet as well. RVD wrapped Triple H up with a spinning heel kick followed by a frog splash. He displayed both the IC and the "World Title" as RAW went off the air.
Oh my...more title controversy...
At least that's the way I see it...
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