Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
Finally, with Roddy Piper so much in the news these days, it seemed like a good time to run Part 3 of the following Classic Wrestling Article from somewhere in Oregon in 2001:
by ZACH DUNDAS
When he started, wrestling was a patchwork of small-time regional outfits operating at the outermost edge of respectability. Wrestlers comprised a wooly alternative world, descended from carnivals, vaudeville and circus culture. They lived out of suitcases, cars and hotel rooms, throwing down wherever a paycheck might be hiding, speaking a cryptic old carnie dialect amongst themselves. They meted out their own justice.
"My whole education is based on this very brutal world," Piper says. "Every night it was something different. I've been stabbed three times. All my original frat brothers are dead."
The wrestling netherworld eventually would make Piper rich and famous. For a teenager who'd lived on the streets for two years, though, the most immediate payoff came in the form of tough love at the hands of old-timers like Chick Garibaldi and Lord Alfred Hayes.
"I was handy," he recalls. "I had no real family, so if something happened to me, it didn't really matter. If they wanted to whip things up in a new town, they'd have me date the sheriff's daughter.
"What I found, though, was that these guys cared about me in the strangest ways. If I did something wrong, they'd smack me right in the face. But they were right--it was just brutal justice. As dysfunctional as it was, it was better than what I had been doing."
Today, pro-wrestling academies dot the country, teaching hopefuls how to take falls and throw holds. Piper learned the trade in a different fashion.
"They'd beat me up for about an hour and a half solid," he says of the seasoned hands who schooled him. "They didn't want anyone who wasn't capable, so they really tried to deter you. I needed to eat, so I figured I'd take the pain."
Piper proved himself, becoming a young star on the rise. He also learned to live by wrestling's wild kingdom code.
"You can pretty much strip me naked, drop me off in any city and I'll find my way out," Piper says. "I learned the rules--like, never carry a dull knife or an empty gun, 'cause both'll get you in trouble and neither will do you any good. Never break bread with a promoter; that gives them a psychological advantage. Those kinds of rules."
Come the late '70s, Piper was a guaranteed draw. He did especially well in the Northwest, forging relationships in the region's independent wrestling scene that prompted his move here 16 years ago.
Piper could make a splash in a given territory within weeks, drumming up big crowds. He was in demand and sometimes fought twice a night.
"By that time," Piper says, "I was living it and breathing it."
To be continued...
So... It’s Christmas Time.
A Blessed Christmas to everyone reading the Connection. This year has been challenging one, for the WWE and myself. Two bad injuries, and I managed to complain a little bit less than ol’ HHH.
Well, I don’t have his political clout, but who looks at that? Not me, you know…I don’t ever pay attention to what HHH is doing, nor for that matter Vince McMahon.
In fact, I have gone so long with bashing Vince and The Boys that I forgot to be thankful for them. In fact, I want to give you all a list of the things about the WWE that I am thankful for.
So, please indulge me in this, because this is the second Connection of the day; the first was victim of Compaq hard drive integrity. Don’t ask...I’ll put coal in your stocking if you do. Grrrrrr…
What John Is Thankful For, version 2.002:
Matt Hardy’s new character: Really, I thought hard and long, and said to myself, "How could I make Matt Hardy more irritating than he was the last time he turned heel?" Well, Vince showed his genius and proved to me that it could be done. Matt Hardy has got to me the most nail-scratchingly painful character I have ever seen on the WWE. Sorry, but he even beats HHH in the cringe factor. I thought I was stuck there, but the bookers helped me out. Thanks for Matt Hardy Version 1.0
Kurt Angle’s 158 heel turns: I didn't know this, but Vince is able to take the most talented, natural face and, against all common sense and conventional expectations, artificially keep him as the heel the company depends on. Yessir, I couldn't wait to turn on the TV and see the only guy wearing Stars and Bars in the industry act underhanded, cowardly, and without character. Dip me in acid and salt my eyes, thanks for Kurt Angle being kept a bad guy!
Stephanie and Eric Bischoff: You know, I think that the decision to find the two people that, arguably, were responsible for the greatest falls in WWF/E viewership, and then make sure they showed up on one show or the other every darn time they were on was a stroke of genius. Sure, we were all surprised when Bischoff arrived (and it was very close to being a legitimate popular move for the WWE), but the misuse of his character, and the half face, half heel meandering that Stephanie’s character does weekly really peps up my day! My gratitude to whomever is responsible.
HLA: You know, all of us stupidly assumed that the WWE was done sliding towards the moral basement, but, oh you silly kids! Vince and whoever the heck runs Raw came up with the idea to have two women start making out in the middle of the ring. Now, don’t forget that this was such a smart move that TNN didn't catch the joke at first, and it had to be repeated on a totally different network for us to get the full impact. Didn't know that was related to wrestling? Well, gosh-darnit, now you do!
Necrophilia: Now, this is a biggy (yeah, I spelled it like ‘piggy’ on purpose), just like that big box that holds the present from Saddam that was delivered yesterday. I was so closed minded...you know? I thought necrophilia was just a disturbing sexual deviancy...but, my goodness, I was so danged WRONG! It is actually a literary device, to accentuate a clean, wholesome wrestling feud! Then, we saw it used (and demonstrated, don’t forget) as comic relief! Only the sight of Jim Ross playing with himself would have carried more quality, don’t you think?
Steve Williams: Now, I don’t even have a good explanation for the way I feel about this…this is like the wrapping paper on the presents. Imagine the character of the man….walking out not just ONCE, but TWICE in the same year! Then, teaching us all about character, put his wife in her place. We should all learn something from such an upstanding man…and, proof positive of his dedication to the fans, Vince is working hard (sayeth the rumors) to give us the opportunity to see Mr. Williams again! JOY!
Gay Marriage: Unfortunately, we didn't get the full measure of this gift, and I hope that Vince sees the error of the 34,040,221 people that cringed from this angle and brings it back…it WORKS, it really does! When will we see that?
Seriously….you know, this has been one of the worst years ever in the history of professional wrestling. This was the first year I truly saw what Vince has done. I mean, I consciously knew what the man was trying to do, i.e. change professional wrestling into what Vince McMahon wanted it to be, which is a dark, overly violent, adult only show that pushes sex and is alluring to only 3% of potential viewers. Half of what we see on these shows isn't even related to wrestling, folks…how long until it all dies?
Soon. Rumors from last week suggest that Vince is running out of Shock TV ideas. Weave been saying for months and months that Attitude was at it’s end….now, what will he do?
Hopefully give me (and a lot of other real pro-wrestling fans) something to be really thankful for.
Bodyslam.cc will be closed down for a couple weeks, as we are doing a little renovation. The Crossface Report can still be read (it’s a good one this week), but the News and Rumors are going to be down until the 6th of January. Sorry about that, and I hope all of you hit the site once it is open again.
See you next week for another Connection.
SmackDown! was taped Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida and opened with a video review of the Angle/Lesnar/Big Show situation. Kurt is the new Champ - and now he owes Lesnar a shot. The man himself came to the ring at the top of the program. Surprisingly, Angle was able to admit that he needed Lesnar's help to beat the Big Show (personally, I don't think that is true - but what do I know..?) Brock came to the ring and Kurt told him he earned his shot and said he could have it anywhere, anytime. Brock wanted it tonight - but Angle explained that he already has a match signed with Chris Benoit (non-title). So he offered the match for next week on the show. After some hesitation, Brock accepted the match and they shook hands on it.
Backstage, the Big Show was not at all happy about what just happened and was taking it out on his agent. Heyman, who was being smashed against a locker, told his client that he has a "contingency play"...
The Guerreros were up next, Eddie had a non-title match against Cruiserweight Champ, Billy Kidman. Chavo was lurking about ringside, of course. Kidman hit the Shooting Star about 5 minutes into the match - but Chavo dragged him off from outside. Eddie came back and took the pin moments later.
Backstage, Matt Hardy arrived at Stephanie's office with a big shiner - which he attributed to a mob of "Matt Hardy fans". He was offered the night off, but insisted on keeping his match...against Brock Lesnar.
Rapper/Wrestler John Cena came to the ring with his big goofy friend to take on Chuck Palumbo. Palumbo seemed to have this one in hand early on, but then Buchanan got involved and distracted him. Cena rolled him up by surprise and took the pin. Palumbo socked Cena after the match - then Buchanan used a chain on Palumbo. Rikishi showed up and laid out both of the bad guys.
They showed some more of the "Hotel" footage tonight - basically what we saw on the PPV the other night, then interviewed Torrie, who said she was not humiliated by what happened at all, because it only showed that she loves her father. She expressed great disappointment in her father. Dawn and Al showed up and came to the ring, where Dawn repeated her ridiculous asserting that Torrie is a sexual predator. She did all of the talking, of course. She then repeated her invitation for Torrie, and the fans, to her wedding, which, she announced, will happen on SmackDown two weeks from tonight.
Matt Hardy tried to weasel out of his match with Brock Lesnar by faking an injury and throwing Shannon Moore into the ring to take his place. Brock disposed of Moore is a moment, then punked Hardy as well.
After the break, Kurt Angle was accosted by Stephanie, who told him he better go out to the ring and tell the truth about the WWE Title situation, or else she would. Kurt went to the ring and revealed that the head of his new "contract negotiating team" is Paul Heyman! Heyman came to the ring and killed the deal to give Lesnar the title shot! The Big Show came out and demanded to know what was going on. Heyman turned around and, much to Angle's chagrin, promised Lesnar's shot to the Big Show! He then proceeded to lay a snow job on both of them. What in the hell is he up to..?
Bill DeMott and Crash took on Nuncio and Jamie Noble in a tag match. DeMott basically destroyed both opponents, and then punked his partner...
"The Cat" interviewed Edge backstage about his match coming up next against "A-Train" (Albert).
Edge was out for revenge as he took on the newly renamed Albert in a surprisingly scientific match. A-Train spent most of the match working on Edge's injured leg, then was taken out by a spear.
The newest interviewer (sorry, didn't get his name) tried to get an interview with Brock Lesnar, but the big guy refused to reveal his state of mind.
Kurt Angle went to the ring with his new agent to take on Chris Benoit in a non-title main event...then we cut to commercial.
That match got underway as soon as we returned from the break. Benoit attacked Angle with a vengeance and forced him out of the ring early on. Back inside, benoit continued to thwart Angle's attempt to come back for a while, but eventually Angle took control. He tossed Benoit to the floor, where Heyman hit him with the Title belt. Back in the ring, Angle continued his assault and had Benoit reeling for several more minutes. Benoit finally came back with a series of German suplexes - first two, then moments later, three in a row. Angle rolled to the outside, but Benoit followed him out and forced him back inside, where he hit three more German suplexes. Benoit went to the top and hit the big flying headbutt, then slapped on the crossface. Big Show ran in at that point and spoiled the match. Then Lesnar ran in and attacked Big Show, then Heyman, who was about to be treated to an F5 when Angle knocked his legs out from under him. He followed up with and Angle Slam, then Show chokeslammed him.
That was it folks...
Then they went to the ring for a match pitting Rob Van Dam/Kane vs. Three Minute Warning (w/Rico, of course - apparently he got over his bout of the flu). Early on in the match, the Kane/RVD pairing showed some good coordination, Kane launching RVD like a rocket across the ring the first time they tagged up. Rico sought to neutralize the opponents and did, hitting Van Dam with a heel kick at a strategic moment to turn things around for a while. Eventually the good guys came back. RVD pinned Rosie after a frogsplash, set up by Kane's chokeslam. Rico then proceeded to tick off his team so that they first attacked him then each other. Nothing serious though, he managed to calm them down.
Test was up next, accompanied by Stacy to the ring to take on D-Lo Brown, who earlier in had tried to convince Stacy to be his "marketing person". Test wasn't happy about that, naturally, so this match resulted. Brown has suddenly switched to a "Boy in the Hood" persona to go with his recent heel turn. Is this the key to Test's pending face turn? ...you bet. It was pretty obvious as Brown almost completely dominated his opponent throughout the match, then almost got the pin by laying both feet over the ropes. After the referee caught him, he hit the official and was disqualified.
Before the break, they showed another RAW moment - Vince forcing JR to kiss his butt.
After the break, Eric Bischoff and Chief Morely went down to the announcers and showed footage of the two announcers griping about what was just shown - then started ranting at them about their lack of loyalty, then announced that he was going to put the two of them into a tag team match! At the threat of losing their jobs, they had to agree. The King turned to JR, who was fretting as the scene faded, and said, "I'll think of something..."
Next up - the Hurricane vs. Chris Nowinski - Not much of a match actually, because Maven came out to distract Nowinski after just a few minutes. Hurricane won the match.
HHH was interviewed by the Coach, who wanted to ask him why he backed down from Steiner's challenge...but Hunter cut him off, saying he was going to the ring to call Steiner out.
The next match was the result of something that happened earlier in the show. Spike had gone in to complain about his brothers not getting a return match against Regal and Storm - and ended up getting himself booked into this match...against Batista. During this contest the announcers were somewhat distracted by their own plight...but it didn't last long in any case.
Backstage, Morely and Bischoff decided to put themselves up against JR and the King. At that moment, Regal and Storm walked in and proposed that they be allowed to take on the announcers instead of the "Management Team". Bischoff agreed.
Meanwhile, F-View gives us a view of the face diva's dressing room.
The "Santa's Little Helpers" match was next: Victoria, Molly and Ivory vs. Trish, Stacy and Jacqueline. This one came down to one more fight between Jacquie and Victoria, although Trish and Jacquie ended the match with a double pin on Victoria and Ivory.
Backstage, Goldust and Chris Jericho encountered each other backstage. Jericho addressed him as "Dustin" and accused him of being a failure - as a wrestler, and a husband and a father. Did I mention that the former Champs have a rematch tonight..?
That match was next. Goldust didn't appear to show any ill effects from his "spiritual drubbing". But half way through the match, he injured his back and Jericho went right to work on the weakness. He was isolated for quite some time, but eventually managed to tag out. Booker cleaned house with a vengeance then did the Spineroonie before pinning Christian...almost. Christian got his foot on the rope, which the referee noticed after finishing the count - so he restarted the contest...as we went to commercial.
The fight had resumed while we were away and now Booker was the one being isolated. At one point they almost made the exchange, but the referee didn't see, and so didn't allow the tag. Finally, Goldust got back in and did some housecleaning of his own, but was stopped by Jericho, who slapped the Walls on him. Booker used a side kick to break that up. Jericho came back and tried to use the ropes for leverage, but the referee caught him and disallowed it. Jericho was still fuming about the last call, when Goldust rolled him up and pinned him.
Backstage, Rob Van Dam tried to give Kane a Christmas present, but was unsuccessful.
In another part of the building, Ric Flair was trying to talk sense to HHH - but he wasn't successful either. We broke for commercial and when we returned, HHH and Flair made their entrance and headed to the ring. Hunter grabbed the mic and started to extoll his own virtues, saying he IS NOT afraid of Scott Steiner. He claimed that Steiner was picking on him last week because he knew HHH wasn't at 100% (because of his brutal match against Shawn Michaels a few days earlier). So that's why he decided to call Steiner out tonight - now that he is feeling well again. He made his call, and nothing happened...until he started to comment on Steiner's failure to appear...then the sirens went off. Steiner strolled to the ring and went nose to nose with the champ. HHH backed up a little, and then explained that he intends to save the fight for the big show at the PPV. Steiner heard him out for about a minute, then snatched the mic away and told him to stop wasting time and do it right now... HHH tried to take the mic back but Steiner wouldn't relinquish it, so Hunter got a second mic and challenged Steiner to an arm wrestling contest. Steiner agreed to the "match", sat down and seemed to be losing - then suddenly grinned and started winning. Hunter tried to hold on but he was no match for "the largest arms in the world". He called for a second round, but Steiner just "pinned him" repeatedly. HHH and Flair retreated as Steiner posed for the crowd.
When we returned, Bischoff and Morley had assumed the announce positions. The two "teams" were introduced (JR was played on by the Sooners marching band - here in his home town). For the most part, Lawler handled the situation alone, and did quite well. JR got one bit of offense when he caught Regal's chin under the top rope. Later on, when his partner was knocked down, as was the referee, JR saw Regal's brass knucks in the ring and contrived to get his hands on them. He ws knocked down before he had a chance to use them. Then all hell broke loose when the Dudleys arrived and dispatched Regal and Storm - then JR used the knucks to get the pin on Regal. Bischoff and Morley glowered from the platform as the program ended.
For the second time in two weeks, basically, nothing happened on RAW...again...
At least that's the way I see it...
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