Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
After giving it some serious consideration, I have made the decision to discontinue Solie's Wrestling Radio for the time being. I just don't have enough time for it right now. Perhaps in the future I will be able to bring it back.
Norton: You returned to WCW in 1996.
Animal: We were wrestling together for New Japan. Eric Bischoff offered us a deal with WCW; it was going to be good and profitable, but never worked out. They had a deal with New Japan at the time, and we were considered Japanese talent because that's who we were working for. Eric saw our popularity in the Orient and in the U.K. and wanted to sign us. But one thing or another. the contracts weren't what they said they were going to be.
Norton: Yeah, that run in WCW only went about six months; and it wasn't long before you were back working for Vince again. How did you feel about that?
Animal: I think it could have been better. But you have to understand, there were a lot of parameters I can't get into. that caused dissention between Vince and Hawk. It's in the past, and wouldn't be the case today. Today it's a whole other situation.
Norton: It seemed like the WWF was trying to hold back on your push.
Animal: Oh yeah; and you could see, every time we came to the ring we got a standing ovation. That's the best part about it; the fans all know. That's the beauty of it. Every time we came to the ring. The fans know who the top dog is, it's always been that way, and still is today. They know what the deal is.
Norton: You guys had a series of really great matches against Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith during that run in 1997.
Animal: It was really great. Those two are. there's no better friends in the business. It's a shame they're both gone now. They were two of our best friends. Especially with me, I used to travel with Davey and Warlord all the time on the road, and we work out all the time. When Owen went back to Calgary, he had to travel through Minneapolis. He'd come to my son's hockey tryouts and practices. He always looked forward to his own son playing hockey, too. It was a really tough deal.
Norton: The titles were finally put on you guys at the end of 1997, in an angle where you were considering retirement. You finally went over the Godwinns, but they quickly turned around and put the titles on the New Age Outlaws, "Road Dog" Armstrong and Billy Gunn. How did you feel about putting a team over that was, at the time, so unestablished?
Animal: At that point, I thought it was very unprofessional for the office to make us do it. In today's business, it doesn't matter who wins or loses. Everybody's going to do it. But at that time, they were two guys who had basically no credibility. We did it to be businessmen because we were promised things would turn around. That's why we did it, as businessmen.
Norton: The team indeed was repackaged a couple of months later. At Wrestlemania XIV the name was changed to "L.O.D. 2000," you guys wore headgear, and Tammy (Sytch) was brought in as your manager.
Animal: Eh. I really have no comment about it. I didn't like it one way or the other.
Norton: You weren't a big fan of it.
Norton: It seemed to me - as an analyst - that the fans were looking for the rock 'n' roll version of L.O.D., not a "glossed" version.
Animal: Yeah. That's why we went back to our old style the first chance we got.
Norton: The next change management tried to make was the addition of Droz, a young former football player. They began a dissention angle between he and Hawk, with you stuck in the middle. Forgetting for a minute how it turned out, how was working with Droz, a young former football player?
Animal: Droz was a great guy. I had no problem with him at all. The problem is, you can't make another Hawk. They tried to do it, and you can't. That's why we left the WWF at that point. It was getting so dark. They did the whole drinking angle with Hawk, and I thought it was bad business. It was bad karma. There's certain things that kids don't need to see on T.V. and that was one of them. That's why we left.
Norton: A lot of that angle was credited to Vince Russo's style, one of the early "cutting edge" - style angles that never seemed to make any money. But it was a time period where management said "okay, we're losing to WCW, we need to do something." It was designed to be "extreme" television. How did you feel about the booking during that time period?
Animal: I hated it, to be quite honest with you. Russo was not an honest guy. He'd never look you in the face and tell you the truth. You're not going to find anything coming out of my mouth that's very good about Vince Russo.
Norton: You and Hawk left the WWF at the end of 1998. At that point, what did you want to do?
Animal: We just wanted to work in Japan. We went to Japan, then to the U.K. for a couple of tours. We worked in Australia, and then the WCW deal came about.
Norton: You guys have worked in Japan extensively the last fifteen years. With all management and business being equal, how do you compare working there to the U.S.?
Animal: Hmm! If they treated you the same? That's a hard question to answer. They treat you real good. They say "kid, the bus is at - whatever time." They put you on the bus, you do your job, you come home, and they pay you. You don't need to worry about it. They make a deal, and they stick with it. There's no false promises.
Norton: You've worked with several fledgling indies the last few years. What's the upside and downside of having a shorter term deal, usually just a couple of shots, with a smaller company?
Animal: The upside and downside is the down time. What I think is going to happen is that sooner or later, sooner rather than later, someone is going to come up with another company. There's three or four in the works that are going to have big backers. IWS, XWF, Sunshine Wrestling, three major ones there ready to do business. I think it's just a matter of time.
Norton: Your last run in WCW, you were right at the top of the card as a part of the Magnificent Seven stable. You were working with guys like Lex Luger.
Animal: Lex? (Pause) Lex is alright.
Norton: Buff Bagwell.
Animal: Buff's a good guy.
Norton: Rick and Scott.
Animal: They're great. I love the Steiners.
Norton: Midnight Express.
Animal: (Laughs) They're the funniest guys I've ever wrestled.
Norton: The Nasty Boys.
Animal: (Pause) One of the most physical battles.
Norton: You have the distinction of being one of the few guys who has worked under just about every major booker of the last fifteen years. Bischoff, Russo, Vince McMahon, Dusty Rhodes, Verne Gagne to name a few. Who do you think is the strongest promoter you've worked with.
Animal: Well, Vince is certainly the strongest promoter. There's no disputing it. Vince is a genius at what he does. He has proven that. He has withstood the test of time, and gone through the cycles of the business. He can promote you to make money. He's a merchandising genius. That's where the difference is.
Norton: With the perspective you've gained over your years, is there anything you'd do different in your career?
Animal: Not really. Maybe one or two (laughs). I probably would have worked on making a better relationship between Hawk and Vince.
Norton: You were involved in the scaffold match.
Animal: Yeah, those were pretty dangerous. They were some of the most dangerous matches I've ever been in.
Norton: Did you ever have any aspirations towards a singles career?
Animal: Not really. It's hard, once you've been in a tag team like ours to be a singles wrestler. There's no Animal without a Hawk.
Norton: How do you want to be remembered?
Animal: As the greatest tag team of all time! I don't see that changing any time soon. It's not feasible with one company to become that; you'd have to win every title in every company to be the greatest, and there aren't enough companies to win titles in any more.
Norton: If there's one team that's won the most number of titles, that would probably be you guys, huh? (laughs)
Animal: Oh yeah! We've won about fifteen different belts!
Norton: You talked about a movie coming up and working with other promotions; what else are you planning in the long-term sense.
Animal: Well, you've got to figure that in two or three years, I'd like to be in the business end, the promotional end.
Norton: Ever consider your own promotion?
Animal: Too big a headache. I'd help someone run one, though. I feel I have a lot to offer the business after all the years I've been involved.
Norton: Is there anything else you're involved in you'd like people to know about?
Animal: If anyone wants to get a hold of me for motivational speaking, e-mail me at Animal@RoadWarriorsInc.com or PRWSlam@aol.com.
Norton: People hire you for seminars?
Animal: Yeah, I do all that stuff.
Norton: Really? That's a lesser exploited part of your life.
Animal: I've been doing it about a year. Not only in the testimonial sense, but I talk about teamwork, all that. It all goes together!
You know, since everyone is talking about the Billy-Chuck ‘wedding’ angle, I think I will move away from that harrowing subject with one thought:
That’s all I have to say about that. You want to talk about the morality of the whole situation, e-mail me. I have my own views...
...and that’s why I’m movin’ on with the main subject.
There was some consternation surrounding the awarding of the World (WCW) Title to HHH on Monday. I want to address this from a historical context….much like I did in the Crossface Corner, but with a little more detail.
The WCW Heavyweight Championship was created in 1991, when the NWA fell apart here in the US and the NWA World Title was re-named. Now, contrary to some, I view the WCW Title as the legitimate World Championship. It was the heir to the NWA Belt (NWA folded). The NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) merged with the NWA (National Wrestling Association) , after Lou Thesz won the latter’s Title on July 20th, 1948. Thesz managed to, in the next four years, win the AWA Title, and the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium version of the title. All told, Thesz was the holder of a true World Championship Title, as the NWA Title also was the heir to the MWA belt, awarded to Orville Brown when the MWA and the NWA merged in 1947. Five feds World titles had become one. The NWA belt was re-maned the WCW World Heavyweight Championship belt. Note that I never said that Thesz WON the National Wrestling Alliance belt…it was awarded to him when Brown couldn’t wrestle him for it.
So, that being said……
The WWE World Heavyweight Title, which was the WWF World Heavyweight Title, started out as the WWWF World Heavyweight title, which was created and awarded to Buddy Rogers in 1963. A group of bookers split from the NWA because Thesz beat Rogers for the NWA Title in one fall, not three. That act alone proves to me that the WWE Heavyweight Belt doesn’t have the pedigree (sorry, HHH) that the World (WCW) Title has.
The NWA/WCW/World Heavyweight Title has changed hands or was vacated 105 times, 42 times as the NWA World Heavyweight Title, 61 times as the WCW Title, and 2 times as the World Title. From what I can research, it has been awarded WITHOUT A DETERMINING MATCH four times..Once to Orville Brown (the MWA champion when the two feds were merged), once to Lou Thesz ( when Brown was injured and couldn’t compete), once to Kevin Nash (1-25-2000, After Sid Vicious pinned the wrong Harris brother on Nitro the night before) and last Monday. As a small note, Kevin Nash was the one who awarded the WCW World Heavyweight Championship…..to himself. Go figure. Note that these numbers are not inclusive of the Title Changes that have occurred since the NWA/WCW/World title was unified with the WWF(E) Title.
So, what does all this mean?
It means that what Bischoff did, though by no means common or dramatic, was legitimate.
If we accept the Title Histories, as displayed on Solie’s, as canon (gospel, if you will), there was precedent in the awarding of the World Title. If it is accepted that Thesz, Brown, and Nash were legitimate champions, then HHH MUST be accepted as a legitimate champion. All four men had either won or had currently held World Championship belts. Now, even if you discount Orville Brown’s case (there always has to be a first, you know), the three remaining cases have similarities.
In fact, the only one that stands out is Nash’s: it was the only ‘awarding’ in this grouping that was done for clearly punitive reasons. Thesz was the rightful heir in his example, and the awarding of the belt to him served to legitimize the NWA Title. Some would argue that Lesnar suffered, but he is still a World Champion, as he holds the WWE World Belt…..albeit, in my view, not as legitimate a title.
Oh, that belt? The WWE/WWF/WWWF Heavyweight Belt? Believe it or not, in the 71 Title changes, the belt was only awarded (in the context of this discussion ONCE…to "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. The 71 figure includes the Undisputed Title changes, and, though the fed has been around since 1963, the 36th title change occurred in 1997. So, in the last 5 years, the belt changed hands as many times as it had in the previous 34 years. Not as bad as the WCW offering…but a similar marked decrease in the length or title reigns….is this related to Attitude? No way…...
Oh, and I had better not forget the ‘true’ fed, the EC F’n W (geez…). In 1992, Jimmy Snuka (yes, the one Bischoff screwed with The Island Boys) won the first ECW belt. There were 40 Title changes in 9 years…and not one was an ‘awarded’ change. Darn…I thought that I would be able to get away with not propping up the ECW fans. At least the ECW Belt is abandoned.
I guess that the only thing that bothers me is the fact that everyone knew that the Undisputed title was just a storyline ruse, and that the two belts would eventually be split up again. If you look at every other situation where the belts were ‘awarded’, it had a certain ‘legitimacy’ about it…..with the glaring exception of the Nash self-crowning. Does it seem that the World Title had been reduced, in a way? I have said before that Vince is partial to the WWWF/WWF/WWE Title, and probably because he knows that his Belt was created out of protest, and lacks the history and legitimacy of the NWA-bred World (WCW) title. It seems to me that Vince has done a lot to try and make the World Title a second to his Belt.
It also seems to me that this is way too late. If both belts are to exist, than that obliterates the whole reason the Undisputed title was created. Now, the WWE can fix this, by creating a new belt, a true Undisputed Champion, who would defend only at one of the marquee PPV’s, like Summerslam or Wrestlemania, or Survivor Series. The World title would then stay as part of Raw forever, and the WWE Belt would stay as part of Smackdown. However, I think Vince would be more apt to rename the World Title the Raw World Title, create a Smackdown World Title, and elevate the WWE Belt to a supreme status.
Don’t put it past him. Notice that he’s been beating down Bischoff’s character. C’mon, people…Stephanie being a better businessperson than Eric Bischoff? This is more of the same, the re-occurring pattern of "I am Vince, no one shall oppose me".
Go figure, like I said.
Come on over to my website, bodyslam.cc, for the latest news, rumors, and results. No pop-ups, no grief, and no spoilers. We update daily, and have great weekly columns, like the Crossface Report.
I used Solie’s Title Histories, from Solie’s (believe that?) for the info in this column. It’s a great place to learn some neat historic stuff.
See you next week for another Connection.
SmackDown! was taped Tuesday at the brand new Resch Center, Green Bay, Wisconsin and opened with a match featuring Rey Misterio against Billy Gunn (w/ Upchuck and Rico on hand to cause trouble). Billy dominated from the get go, but eventually got cocky and blew it. Misterio grabbed the initiative and turned the tables then went for the 619 only to be stymied by Billy's partner. Despite eall of the interference, Misterio countered a powerbomb into a roll-up and got the pin. After the match, Rico took the mic and told Billy that Chuck had something to ask him. He turned to Chuck and said, now it's time - Chuck got on his knee, gave Billy a ring, and asked him to be his "tag partner" for life! And Billy said "Yes"! EEEEEWWWWWW.....
Jamie Noble defended his Cruiserweight Title against Shannon Moore. Moore's flying attack saw some success early on, but then the match went into Noble's territory on the mat. The action was see saw throughout the remainder of the match. Moore finally got worn out and Noble put him down with a Tiger Bomb.
Edge and Rikishi have a council wherein the big Samoan explained the philosophy behind his "Stink Face" (don't ask...)
Randy Orton took on Brock Lesnar in a non-title match which was touted as a challenge for Lesnar because he and Orton came up together in the minors. Orton attacked with vigor but was soon overwhelmed by Lesnar's raw power.
Devon had to face his former protege, Batista, one on one - poor man... When is Brock going to have to face Batista..?
Tajiri took on Mark Henry - poor man...
Hardcore Holly made his mark at SmackDown, defeating newly minted dorky heel - Matt Hardy, soundly.
Crash Holly then debuted by defeating the Hurricane.
Finally, Undertaker/Edge/Rikishi faced Benoit/Guerrero/Angle in a 6 man main event. This one dissolved in the mutual distrust between Angle and Benoit, leaving poor Eddie G to face all three of his opponents on his own. He tried to snow them with a friendship offer, then casually strolled toward the ropes, only to be dragged back and thrashed then Stink Faced and pinned.
Raw came to us live from Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa and opened up with an appearance by Kane. His music is altered, he is starting to fill out already. His partner is Bradshaw. They are going after the Tag Team Titles right now. Bradshaw halted the introductions to make a statement about how they were going to go after the Canadian Whiners because "...were Americans!!" That brought the Champions out and without preamble the match was on. From the start, the good guys out fought their opponents, resisting any isolation attempts and punctuating each exchange with a big power move. Storm finally managed to pull Kane into the corner post and gained an advantage over him on their side of the ring. All through this match, Lawler kept jabbering about an announcement to be made later by Eric Bischoff. Meanwhile, Bradshaw was in and in isolation for a while. Then it became a free-for-all after the referee was knocked out. Willy Regal ran in and punched Bradshaw out with his brass knucks! The champs retained.
Bischoff made his big announcement after the break. It concerned Triple H, who will face the winner of a Fatal Fourway match featuring Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, Big Show and Rob Van Dam. Then he went off on the Upchuck and Billy thing, saying that it was just a publicity stunt, then promised something even more disgusting - Hot Lesbian Action! What??
Backstage, Terri interviewed Chris Jericho who did his Chris Kattan imitation, chewing on an apple and spitting it out at Terri as she tried to do her job. Elsewhere, Triple H laughed off the suggestion that he has anything to fear from RVD. Bubba Ray Dudley accosted him in the middle of the interview to call him a coward for going up against his little brother, Spike, instead of himself. Bubba's own opponent for the program, Stevie Richards, attacked Bubba in the middle of his speech.
After the break, we discovered, along with Terri and Trish, that the "Lesbians" have their own dressing room...
The Bubba/Richards battle was next. Naturally, Bubba dominated the action from the get go. In fact, he pounded him right into the mat repeatedly until Richards went for the eyes. After a while, Bubba "Bubba'd Up" and turned the tables and trashed Richards in his customary, "Dusty Rhodish" fashion until a Bubba Bomb off the top corner finished the match.
Stacy Keibler and Victoria took on Trish n' Terri in the next contest. Little Terri dived right into the frey, beating up on Stacy from the opening bell. Soon however, she found herself facing the rather statuesque Victoria and on the receiving end of things. In fact, most of the match featured Terri being isolated and pounded on by her much larger opponents. Eventually, Trish came in like a house a fire, but was also soon isolated. In the end, Terri was tagged back in and hit a flying press off the top corner to get the pin.
Backstage, the Harvard Kid confronted Willy Regal about hs actions earlier tonight and got slapped for his trouble. When the Kid questioned Regal about their own mutual relationship, Regal told him to grow up. "You're the smartest man here. You're a bloody Harvard graduate - start acting like one!" Then walked away.
The HK came to the ring right after the break to question the legitimacy of Iowa State University. In the middle of his rant, Tommy Dreamer showed up with his Singapore cane. Harvard talked Dreamer into leaving his canes outside the ring, then cheap shotted his opponent and tried to introduce the canes himself. But not successfully...
Backstage, Spike met the "Lesbians" outside their dressing room door. They wished him luck in his match then pouted when he didn't return the gesture.
Triple H faced Spike Dudley in a spirited non-title match and beat him with a sleeper hold, of all things. Afterward, HHH got in some licks before Bubba ran in and protected his little brother.
Backstage, Bischoff tried to bluff his way out of the differences between himself and Jeff Hardy, but Jeff wasn't buying it. Jeff claims that he earned his spot in the Title contender match later, and delivers a little intimidation of his own.
The Big Show had some words with Johnny the Bull - but that wasn't near as entertaining as the foursome of Booker T, Bradshaw, Goldust and Kane talking about their God-given right as Americans to watch some Hot, Lesbian Action...they were cracking up all through it.
Goldust and Booker took on the other half of the International Whiners, Willy Regal and Test in a fight that eventually fell apart and turned into a 8 man brawl as the rest of each side (Christian, Storm, Kane, Bradshaw) got involved in the action.
Hot Lesbian Action turned out to be an excuse to call in the Three Minute Boys. What a class program, two gorillas beating up on helpless, almost naked women...
The main event was the Fatal Fourway to decide the #1 contender to the "World Title". Chris Jericho, Jeff Hardy, The Big Show and Rob Van Dam all were given the shot. Before the match, Ric Flair gave RVD a pep talk, predicting great things for him in the future. In the match, a chair was introduced early on and got TBS disqualified. The big guy chokslammed all three of his opponents before leaving in a huff. We went to commercial.
The rest of the match was a high flying, fast paced free-for-all battle. Jeff Hardy was the next eliminated, but did some serious damage to RVD's neck before that happened. Down to just two, Jericho tried mightily to overcome his remaining opponent, but Van Dam was too tough to put away easily. Van Dam recovered and turned it into a see-saw fight. Jericho took the pad off of one corner but never seemed to get a chance to use it. Van Dam missed a frog splash but was only temporarily slowed down. As the fight went on, Triple H decided to come down and watch. His action were meant to distract Van Dam, and did, but it wan't enough. RVD came back and hit his second Frog Splash attempt for the pin.
So RVD enters the big time...
At least that's the way I see it...
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