Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
Editor's Note: On Sunday evening, November 30, 2002, around 8 PM Eastern time, the great Tim Woods, known to millions as "Mr. Wrestling", died of a heart attack. A native of New York, Tim Woods (real name George Burrell Woodin) was a top-flight amateur wrestler, winning Big Ten and AAU national titles. After earning All-American honors at Michigan State University in 1959, he began a long professional career. Woods was a star in numerous territories throughout the 1970's and early 80's, including Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas and was the second wrestler to use the "Mr. Wrestling" moniker, following Jody Hamilton, who moved on to the Assassin character. On June 16, 2001, Woods was inducted into the International Wrestling Institute and Museum Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. The photo at left is from that induction ceremony. Solie's wishes to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this legendary wrestling star.
Two weeks ago, after I turned in the Connection to Earl, I got a reply to my e-mail. Now, you have to understand, Earl is a busy guy. In the last year, he has probably replied to five or six e-mails that I have sent him, and a majority have involved, shall we say, editorial commentary. All positive, of course.
So, Earl sends me this e-mail, and tells me that the Connection of two weeks ago was, by his account, the 98th column, and reminded me that I should think about ol' number 100. I was shocked...I was amazed and astounded, so I put it off, as I usually do. Then, Earl sends me ANOTHER reply, telling me that the century Connection is coming, and that I should think about something special. So, I did......around Thanksgiving, football, and general holiday mayhem.
So......number 100. OK.....I ought to thank some people.
First off, and properly so, I give my heartfelt thanks to Earl Oliver, and to Solie's Vintage Wrestling. When I first gathered up my resolve to ask to post a column here at Solie's, Earl accepted, with conditions. I had to come into this openly, with no bias, with no agenda, and with no purpose other than putting out good op-ed with a cerebral foundation. My opinion didn't matter, but it needed to be backed up with facts, sound logic, and made rigid with quality. He set the bar high, because Solie's, as you all know, is the best wrestling site on the Internet. Nothing less is acceptable here, and that is how it should be. Earl, what you have done for me and for bodyslam.cc cannot be repaid, so I thank you here, and feel honored to be associated with Solie's Vintage Wrestling.
My brother Mike is the other side of the same gold coin. He is 'street smart' about wrestling, and though I differ with him on many things where wrestling is concerned, he can back up what he says and thinks about the industry. He is a wonderful brother, and I am graced by God to have him.
You know, someone else that I have found indispensable is the good Mr. Matt Benaka. Many, many times I have written a column based upon his historical studies......from the lineage of the World Title, to the amount of times the WWE Title has changed hands since 1995. Matt, thank you very much.
Miss Pamela needs to be given a huge salutation here for her help and advise, and her generosity. And, as a fellow Undertaker fan, she was a welcome read early on Wednesday mornings.
Of course, all of you who e-mailed me and replied on the Readers forum to my not-so-graceful ranting on the subject of pro wrestling deserve thanks as well. Keep it coming. I only want to print one short segment from a column I penned here, and it is this:
Well, I want to move on to the wrestling part of the column, and if that pleases you, continue reading. If not, read anyways, because you came to the wrestling site for the wrestling opinion, right?
Yeah, well, here we go.
I watched the NWA-TNA offering last Wednesday with my brother, a bottle of Sharps, and an open attitude. I figured that the arena would be smaller, the wrestlers not as sharp...I had low expectations, but I was ready to see the show for all it advertised itself to be.....a wrestling show. Remember those things? Where people would WRESTLE?
What I got was a cross between WCW Saturday Night and the ECW show, minus the tables.
What I saw was a crude copy of the WWE, frankly. I watched the attempts to sell the sex, the foul language, and the overblown, 80-ish storylines.
I think the best way to describe it was......crass. At points of the show, it was crass. They had women dancing in cages.......now, they did this in the WCW, for whatever reason (probably appealing to the base instincts of the men watching.....another example of the high road, huh?), and so I had seen the set-up before, but when they would do a close-up, all you would see was the area between their navel and thigh. Yeah, you got it...crotch shots. I got at least 10 full minutes of pelvis thrusts and butt-shaking...what is that? What kind of pure wrestling show is that?
Then, Russo. He blasted (and I mean slammed) Seam Waltman for no-showing the show, and then begins cursing, swearing, and carrying on. 11 to 15 minutes of rant later, I looked at my brother (who was itching for a cigarette) and said, "They're just trying to be like the WWE," and he nodded, shrugging his shoulders.
Now, there were some very good matches (AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn put on a very good match, and the Jeff Jarrett/Ron Killings match was an acceptable main event), but the production was poor, a lot of the spots were bad, and the color commentator (Don West) was on some sort of mind-altering drug (either that or he was way too overblown). The female interviewer was one of the highlights of the evening, even if she was a foul-mouth. She was funny, dry, and deadpan. Very good.
I think that I have been very spoiled where wrestling is concerned. Twice a week (more, if I want), I can pull up a chair and watch the best that the industry has to offer, packaged in a slick venue, with thousands of screaming fans, and not pay $10 for it. I watched the genre evolve from Georgia Championship Wrestling, and it's 250-seat studio arena, to the present-day Hollywood-like set-ups, marketing, and athleticism. The TNA, unfortunately, is pulling out the worst part of both extremes.
They are taking the sex and crudeness of the present-day WWE, and mixing it with the cheap production of the old TV shows. They are trying desperately to be like the WWE, no matter what they say or claim. The NWA-TNA show looks to be totally in the creative hands of Vince Russo, because his signature is everywhere in this.
In the broader sense (and, maybe even in a sadder sense), it looks like Vince McMahon had done what he wanted to do....he has changed professional wrestling to 'sports entertainment', and even those who wish to succeed by being different have to imitate the WWE. By definition, and now by practice, the WWE's version of wrestling is now the norm, folks. That fact alienates many of us to the periphery of fandom....all the people who think that the wrestling is more important than the mic, who think wrestlers should know how to wrestle, and who think that McMahon's ideas on wrestling are chaff are now the fringe. Not even the alternative to the WWE is different anymore.
No competition, indeed.
OK...thanks for reading. You are always welcome to send me ideas and comment at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post something on the Forum, where I will read it and respond. In addition, come to bodyslam.cc, for all the latest news, rumors, and results.
Don't forget the Storefront....for all your Christmas needs.
See you for #101 next week.
SmackDown! was taped Tuesday at the Carolina Center in Columbia, South Carolina and opened with a video review of the Brock Lesnar situation. Basically, we are still waiting to hear what Stephanie's decision will be on the suspension of the "Next Big Thing". The first surprise of the evening is the debut of Ernest "The Cat" Miller, at the announce table. Stephanie came to the ring at the top of the show and made a little speech before Lesnar came to the ring. Lesnar subsequently poured on the intimidation, so she had to put some distance (and police officers) between herself and Lesnar before announcing his indefinite suspension.
Next up, John Cena and Matt Hardy taking on the former Tag Champs, Edge and Rey Misterio. This contest featured Edge being isolated early on, which seemed a bit unbelievable, considering Cena's rookie status and the lack of time the heels have spent together as a team. Cena's big companion (B-Square?) was revealed to be the former Bull Buchanan (I thought he looked familiar - just couldn't place him - wasn't he also one of those Truth Commission guys?) Eventually, Edge escaped and the match swung the other way for a while. It was outside interference from the B guy that turned the tables and won the match for the heels.
Backstage, Stephanie and Kurt Angle commiserated over their mutual fan reactions. Steph tried to tell him that her problems are complicated by the fact that she is having her "monthly time" - but it goes right over his head.
Chuck Palumbo is in the ring as we return, but Mike Cole is told that Brock Lesnar has been spotted in the parking lot. Mark Lloyd is there as a limo pulls up and Scott Steiner debarked for his guest spot on the show. Back at the ring, Tajiri arrived to face Palumbo. The announcers almost completely ignored this match, discussing Steiner, Lesnar, et al. Just as well, the highlight of the contest was an initial punching match - Palumbo's fists vs. Tajiri's kicks. In the end, Palumbo's power advantage was overwhelming and Tajiri had to resort to the green mist to gain an illegitimate win.
Backstage, Stephanie was primping for the impending arrival of Steiner when someone knocked at the door. It was the Fabulous Moolah, who didn't appreciate Steph's trash talk about her (Moolah's) home town fans. Steph then proposed that Moolah compete in a match on the program - the opponent to be named later. Stepanie looked pretty pleased with herself after Moolah left...I smell a rat.
Out back, Mark Lloyd cornered a ticket scalper, who it was claimed sold a ticket to Lesnar. The guy denied that he was a ticket scalper. Inside, Paul Heyman and the Big Show encountered Matt hardy, who told them about Lesnar's suspension. In another part of the backstage area, Billy Kidman and Torrie Wilson had a conversation about the impending "Pilgrim Fashion Show" - coming up next.
"The Cat" hosted the next segment. Dawn Marie came out as a pilgrim, while Torrie dressed as an indian maid. The turkey was Al Wilson (appropriately). Naturally, it turned into a food fight...why else would they have a table laden with turkey and pies in the ring?
Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle tried to regain the Tag Team Titles, but their rivalry continued to get in the way. Inexplicably, the Guerreros decided to leave the ring and allow themselves to be counted out. But the referee refused to count them out, so as we went to commercial, they were being forced to go back to the ring. When we returned, the match was back up and running, and the Guerreros were in charge. Benoit was isolated for a while, then Angle got back in and cleaned house. The match continued on a more even keel after that. In the end, the former champs' continued disagreement did them in.
Out in the parking lot, Scott Steiner arrived, but refused to make any comment to Lloyd. Moments later, he encountered Jamie Noble and Nidia backstage. Noble wanted to shake hands - but all Steiner wanted to do was grab Nidia's butt!
When we returned from the break, Noble was in the ring calling Steiner out. Nidia was trying to stop him, but he was adamant about it. Steiner obliged - too bad for Noble. Needless to say, Nidia got her butt grabbed a second time... Steiner then addressed the question of which WWE brand he will join...but didn't announce any decision.
Heyman approached Stephanie after the break and offered to wave the suspension of Brock Lesnar and give him a title match tonight. Steph informed him that she had already made a title match for the Big Show against a "competitor of championship stature", but didn't reveal the challenger. Then she ordered Heyman out of her office.
Crash had a title match against Cruiserweight champ, Billy Kidman. As has been the case repeatedly lately, Crash gave a great account of himself, but just couldn't overcome Kidman's superior talent.
Moolah found out that her opponent for tonight was the Big Show right after the break. Heyman was on hand to assure her that his man would not harm her...or maybe he would... The big guy was about to crush her when Brock lesnar showed up and handed the Big Show his head. The show ended with Heyman looking on in horror as Show was F5'd through the announce table.
Raw came to us live from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas and opened with a tag team match pitting the Dudleys against Three Minute Warning (w/Rico). I am so glad to see the Dudleys back. As singles, neither of them (especially D-Von) seemed to be able to generate much heat - as a team they seem to have so much more going for them. In this contest they were cast as the underdogs, but their teamwork was superior and their 3D was decisive.
Out in the parking lot, Triple H and Ric Flair were seen arriving. HHH carried a big Haliburton case.
During the break, the Dudleys, all three of them, were punked out by the combined forces of Three Minute Warning and the Tag Champs. Triple H confronted Eric Bischoff about the fact that he has to face Rob Van Dam for a shot at the World Title. Bischoff told him to stick it...in so many words. After Helmsley and Flair left, Bischoff turned to Sean Morely, his Chief of Staff, and said that there will be a special referee for the match.
Trish Stratus was up next, taking on ring veteran, Ivory, who took the fight right too the former fitness model. In the end, Ivory actually boosted her opponent into position to hit the Stratusfaction and take the pin.
Backstage, Jacquie caught Victoria going through her bag and challenged her to a match. Victoria tried to intimidate the veteran but Jacquie wasn't buying it. She left the Champion laying on the locker room floor.
In the heel locker room, the Tag Champs now have their bags all chained up...I wonder why.
More tag team action next, Jeff Hardy and Tommy Dreamer taking on Lance Storm and Willy Regal. Due to what happened last week, the good guys attacked the bad guys in the aisle then dragged them to the ring to start the match. About four minutes into the match, Regal pulled the cover off one of the turnbuckles, then helped his partner ram Dreamers head into it for the pin. Hardy tried to extract some revenge...again, and got punked...again. Dreamer grabbed his cane and beat the bad guys off.
Backstage, Ric Flair told Batista a few home truths about himself in order to fire him up for his coming match. That match came up after the break, against the Hurricane. Before this one could really get underway, Kane ran out and attacked Batista. Oh well...
After the break, Shawn Michaels was telling Terri that he would be rooting for HHH to win the #1 contender match tonight, so that he (HBK) can get his hands on him (HHH), when Rob Van Dam walked up to protest that he should be the champ npow because he had Shawn beat. At that moment Bischoff showed up and announced that Michaels will be the special referee for the match! He also warned Shawn that he better call the match right down the middle, or face being stripped of the table.
In the ring, Booker T taunted Chris Jericho about his nakedness and the size of his "tool" before their match. This fired Jericho up so that he ran into the ring and right into his opponent's clutches. As the match progressed, Jericho regained his composure and the contest assumed a more even keel. Unfortunately, Booker chose to go for a Spineroonie at the wrong moment, then Christian ran in to complicate matters. Goldust soon showed up to even the odds. Booker had his opponent pinned when Sean Morely showed up on the platform and converted the contest into a Tag Team Title match! Then we cut to commercial.
After the break, the new version of the match was underway. It didn't last all that long, however. In the end, the Champs stole another one.
Jacquie got her few minutes in the ring with Victoria and whipped her butt convincingly. Steven Richards gave her a wide birth as he came to the ring and past her going the other way on the ramp. The Scott Steiner showed up. He put the moves on Victoria, who siced her dog on him. Steiner broke him almost exactly in half... Bischoff showed up and told Steiner he had a "gift" for him. Backstage, Steiner was introduced to a bevy of Texas beauties, but said he has a "super freak" in the limo. Bischoff went to the car and opened the door - out stepped Stephanie McMahon! Big Papa Pump has made his decision...and it isn't to go with RAW...
The main event was the HHH vs RVD # 1 contender contest and it was a barn burner. RVD took the early advantage thanks to his totally unconventional ring style. HHH just seemed to be flummoxed at every turn for the first several minutes of the match. This wasn't helped by HBK's refereeing - which was one-sided to say the least. Shawn was flirting with disaster but couldn't seem to help himself. At one point, RVD had a sleeper on his opponent, and Shawn deliberately placed himself between HHH and ropes, then leaned back to keep them out of his grasp. Moments later, Van Dam "accidentally" knocked the referee down. HHh took advantage of the distraction to bring in a chair, but Shawn took it away from him and started lecturing. RVD came up behind HHH with a round kick, but Hunter ducked and Michaels took another shot. Hunter came back with a Pedigree on RVD and Shaw reluctantly (and very slowly) counted the 1-2-3. Afterward, Michaels was even more reluctant to raise HHH's hand - but did it - then started punching him. He ended it (after a phalanx of officials tried to separate the two wrestlers) with Sweet Chin Music right on Triple H's big chin.
So it will be HBK vs. HHH at the next PPV...
At least that's the way I see it...
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