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 the conclusion of the following 5 part Classic Wrestling Article from somewhere in Oregon in 2001:
by ZACH DUNDAS
Piper says he sometimes barely recognizes the sex-fueled beast wrestling has become, with its stadium-rock pyrotechnics and invitations to "suck it."
In Piper's opinion, McMahon's operation has deliberately shifted its emphasis away from the talents of wrestlers in favor of a monolithic corporate identity.
"Back in the old days, the marquee would say 'HOGAN VS.PIPER,'" he says. "Now it just says 'WWF'. People get the spectacle, but they don't get the wrestling.
"I watched RAW the other night," Piper says, referring to the WWF's flagship weekly show. "One wrestler comes out and starts telling a story. Another wrestler comes out and picks up the same story. Soon there are six wrestlers out there, just talking. I think 27 minutes went by, and they didn't even think about having a match.
"That's not what I do for a living."
The marketing of big-time wrestling is not likely to change any time soon. Last month, Vince McMahon bought out World Championship Wrestling, winning a long-running commercial cage match. (WCW was the last major promotion to have Piper under contract; hence his pending lawsuit.) Though the two leagues will still compete for dramatic purposes, wrestling is now effectively a monopoly.
Which, to the thinking of some, leaves the iron hot for indie events like "Anarchy in Piper's Pit."
"With Vince holding all the purse strings, pay is gonna go down, and you're going to start to see top wrestlers looking for other opportunities," says Rose City Rudo. "Someone like Piper has the street cred, and he's smart enough, to take advantage."
Sitting across from Roddy, you realize that the real Roddy, self-deprecating and gentle, couldn't be more different from his grandstanding ring persona. When the cameras turn on, where does it come from?
The wall in Rod's Lodge provides a clue. There hangs a picture of Bret "The Hitman" Hart, a wrestler a full generation younger than Piper. In silver ink, the inscription thanks Piper for teaching Hart the ropes, so to speak. It ends with a line from Flaubert, perhaps a clue to what makes a life like Piper's work: Be quiet and humble in your ordinary life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
On the other hand, there may be no need to look to dead French poets for a summation of Piper's still-evolving career. The wrestler himself, while he offers no pretensions to great meaning in his life, says his success is a testament to luck, hard work and devotion to his craft.
"I come from a long line of fighters," he says. "You do get tired of getting beaten up, but my career has been serendipity from the beginning--'I know, I'll wear a kilt and play the bagpipes!' It has evolved into a strange place, but I take it in stride.
"I am wrestling. Wrestling's me. It's all I've ever done."
Did you ever get the feeling that wrestlers do not like 'smarks'?
Well, I think that anyone who is a professional at a venue or an occupation would be somewhat irritated at somebody critiquing him or her, especially if that somebody never worked at the occupation himself or herself. If I started giving reviews about a certain Blues Performer, that would be one thing. If I started giving everyone my opinion about the way he sang, his high note deficiencies, the wrong way he holds his guitar (or whatever instrument he desires to use), that might be another. And, I tell you, it would be more irritating to the afore-mentioned musician if he KNEW that I had never, ever played blues music before in my life, and had developed my opinions whilst sitting on my butt in front of the TV.
However, I am sure that performers realize that criticism is unavoidable, and even in my job; there are plenty of people willing to tell me where I am screwing up. However, consider the following:
You have a professional wrestler that has managed to fight his way through the training, work through the indy feds, and finally, finally, get to work in the mid card (or main-event) of the greatest, most dominant wrestling federation ever conceived, and is finally realizing the goal of all the blood, sweat, and tears. Then, as he (or she) surfs the Web for information on other feds, or friends in other areas, they find 'Net writers trashing them....not their character, but the way they work in the ring.
Yeah, sure, I can figure how that would be irritating, and I can understand the ranting of Chris Jericho, and the more controlled counters of Lance Storm, who have decried the armchair critics, and have even launched their own salvos back at the TV-experts. I can sympathize with those guys, as they have really worked hard to lift themselves to the pinnacle of their chosen careers.
However, they chose this bed. Now, they have to lay in it.
Roddy Piper, one of my all-time favorites, has to get the emails calling him a sell-out. Jericho has to listen to the critique of his in-ring performance when he reads the fan reviews. Lance Storm has to hear it when he reads the responses to his commentaries on the Internet. It is a fact of life for these guys....in fact, it is a fact of life for all celebrities. You think Barbra (what is with the spelling?) Streisand likes it when her political views are ridiculed? How about Terrell Owens? The garbage he heard when he signed that football? You think he sailed out of that with no recognition that people thought he was an idiot and an arrogant SOB for doing that?
How about the NFL quarterbacks that have to listen to Tom Arnold bash them for not completing enough over-the-middle passes? You think that they don't wonder who the hell this guy is? Face it, folks, this kind of thing happens to everyone that performs for people. That's it. That is the whole deal, shooting match, and story.
If I never leave my room, I never subject myself to the reactions of others. However, each professional wrestler you see KNEW from the get-go that there would be hundreds or thousands of people watching them perform, studying their abilities, and seeing them either execute or miss their spots.
So, when I get on here, and bash HHH for ruining a show, or The Rock for having less wrestling holds than the 2003 Almanac, they ASKED for that. No, they didn't come to my house, knock on the door, and say, "Hey, John....hi. Um...could you really rip my butt into six or seven pieces in your column tomorrow?" That hasn't happened (but I would like to see it happen), but it really doesn't have to. By their actions, they have allowed such opinions to be developed.
Now, here's the caveat: The opinions that these writers and 'Net-rag creators expound on must, to be valid, and able to be demonstrated.
If I come in here, and write that HHH is poison to the company, that's fine, but it is not worth it's weight in cow crap if I can't cite good reasons. Think of it: If someone looked at me and popped off that I was a danger to the safety of the citizens of the City government I work for, but couldn't set up any good examples, then it is nothing more than useless drivel.
Such statements are nothing....to me, Lance Storm, Chris Jericho, or HHH......but, if there was weight attached to those statements SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY WERE MADE, that would be irritating. If people started to believe, for no good reason, that I was a danger, I would be kind of troubled because of the source. Likewise, wrestlers that fall into disfavor with the fans because of the uneducated opinion of a couple well-known writers have an understandable reason to get pissy with those writers.
However....like I said......
If they didn't want the noise, they should have never donned the tights. I'll be the first to tell you that a e-rag is full of crap, and that personal assaults on a professional wrestler for in-ring work or kayfabe spots are out of line, but I will also prop the right for that person to write those things. First Amendment aside, the people that decide to show their wares for everyone to see request public scrutiny, be that request silent or verbal. I can say HHH is working the desks of the bookers hard, not only because of the circumstantial evidence (and there is a lot of that, brother), but because HHH put himself in an environment that lends itself to the open view. He ought to expect such reactions to his actions, warranted or not. He can choose to rebuff them, or show that such opinions are based on misconceptions, but those actions as well will be judged by the armchair wrestlers out there.
So, the wrestlers that do so are considered whiners....why? Because, as I said before, even though you have the right to say what you want, if you can't back it up, you have no intellectual weight to your arguments. Wrestlers who emotionally lash out at the critics are falling right into the trap. That is why Lance Storm made more sense in his rebuttals than Chris Jericho did. Jericho lashed out with no rhyme or reason.....he was just pissed. He got blasted by a lot of people (me included) for his rant. Lance Storm got a bit of bashing (again, I was in on that, too), but at least he had some cerebral matter involved in his response. You have to credit him for that, I suppose.
So, in short, all the crap you read ripping wrestlers is that.....crap, unless there is a salient argument behind it. However, wrestlers put themselves into that situation, and really have no power to stop it, unless they step away from the business.
OK....what a rambling column.....at least I didn't bash the WWE.
What do you think of the newly redesigned bodyslam.cc? Come over, and let us know. Also, I give my weighty opinion towards praising Solie's, which is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best the Web has to offer where wrestling is concerned.
See you next week for another Connection.
SmackDown! came to us on tape from the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona where the Big Show and his slimy agent came to the ring at the top of the program. The giant's opponent for this match was Rikishi, who started out pretty strong until he attempted to scoop his opponent for the big body slam that didn't happen. From there it was all downhill for the (not as) big Samoan. For some reason, while Rikishi was being punished in an abdominal stretch, the crowd started chanting "RVD! RVD!" Mike Cole claimed that they were chanting "Ri-ki-shi!", but I'm not so sure. After the pinfall, Paul Heyman announced that before the night was out, they were going to "teach a lesson" to Brock Lesnar - whatever that means...
Time for the "rap star" John Cena. I figure this guy Buchanan must have something on Vince McMahon. That's the only thing that can explain why they keep putting him back in TV.... Cena faced Chavo Guerrero tonight. Before it was over, B-2 got physically involved which prompted Eddie to run out to back up his nephew. Eventually, that was sorted out and the two non-combatants were escorted from the ring area. Cena eventually won it with an assist from the ropes.
Next up - the Honeymoon video. Well, part of it anyway. Dawn met us at the door to their honeymoon suite and welcomed us inside...then we cut to commercial.
I guess the honeymoon is over, at least for tonight. When we returned we went right to the ring for a match featuring Matt Hardy challenging Cruiserweight Champ Billy Kidman. Shannon Moore was at ringside and managed to turn it into a handicap match. The highlight of this match was Kidman throwing a Shooting Star press to splash both his opponent, and his interfering friend out on the floor. Kidman eventually rammed his opponent into Moore, who was on the apron, then caught Hardy on the rebound and rolled him up for the pin. Afterward, Hardy called his protégé back into the ring and "forgave him for his honest mistake". Moore was wary and hung back, waiting for the attack to come...but it didn't...tonight...
Torrie Wilson was interviewed next, and reminded that Dawn Marie became her stepmother. Her description of the wedding was "tasteless and disgusting", and coming honeymoon tape as "revolting"... During the interview it was revealed that a "Stepdaughter vs. Stepmother" match has been scheduled for the Royal Rumble.
Jamie Noble came down with Nidia to face off against former friend and partner, Tajiri. It was short match. Tajiri won.
Edge took on Charlie Haas (w/Team Angle at ringside). Before the match could get underway, Chris Benoit came down to even the odds a little. There is no doubt that Haas is a very competent mat wrestler, and also shows some professional experience. That could only take him so far against a veteran like Edge, however. As Haas started to lose control of the match, Angle climbed up on the apron, giving Benoit an excuse to attack him. Shelton Benjamin then attacked Benoit. In the ensuing bedlam, Angle hit Edge with his crutch and set him up for the fall.
When we came back, Benoit was already in the ring against Benjamin. Edge and the other members of Team Angle had been banished from ringside. Early on, Benoit tried to slap on the Crossface, but Benjamin slithered out of it before he could get it applied. Actually, Benjamin took the advantage over Benoit and held onto it much longer then I expected. Eventually, Benoit got the Crossface, and of course, Angle showed up to interfere. Haas came back, then Edge ran in. Edge was neutralized pretty quickly, however, and Benoit ended up getting punked.
More honeymoon...oh goody...
Next up Shannon Moore (w/Matt Hardy v1) taking on Bill DeMott. Hardy joined the announce team for this one. Moore lost...then Matt laid the Twist of fate on him. Poor Shannon...
Eddie Guerrero took on B-2 in the next match. The Guerreros attacked their rivals on their way to the ring. That was the last thing of any interest that happened. Eddie won...
Still more honeymoon...booooring...Al's fallen asleep.
Backstage, A-Train warned Heyman and the Big Show to stay out of his match with Brock Lesnar, coming up next...
A-Train was introduced as we returned. It appears that he actually does have a size advantage. Of course, Lesnar has talent... A-Train gave a pretty good account of himself in the opening moments of the match, using his superior weight to throw around the former champ. But it was only a temporary set back. Three belly-to-belly suplexes later found A-Train sucking wind. Moments (and an F5) later, the A-Train was wrecked. Lesnar then called the Big Show and Heyman out for his "lesson". The two miscreants watched this on the monitor then left the locker room as if they were heading to the ring...then turned the other direction and left the building.
Back at the Honeymoon Suite, Al had stopped breathing and Dawn had called the paramedics. They shocked him to restart his heart, then carted him away. Dawn actually seemed to be genuinely concerned about him. That's one of the strangest things about this entire storyline. From the beginning, despite the attempt to paint her as a sexual predator, Dawn has never shown Al anything but affection...
We were then taken to the ring for a Triple Threat Hardcore Womens' Title match in which Victoria defended her title against Trish Stratus and Jacqueline. This one was short - it ended when Victoria's companion, Steven Richards, clobbered Trish with a trash can lid, leading to the pin by Victoria to retain her title. After the match, the Hurricane ran out to protect Trish when she was attacked.
Back in the parking lot, the Dudleys got in Bischoff's face about their treatment of late. When Morely tried to defend his boss, the Dudleys attacked them both. Bischoff suspended the two of them without pay.
D-Lo Brown and Chris Nowinski took on the unlikely duo of Test (who I am having a hard time seeing as the babyface they seem determined to turn him into) and Maven in the next match. Maven has the makings of a great high flyer - every move is so crisp. I believe his drop kick is the equal of any I have seen. In the end, Stacy Keibler jumped onto the apron to distract D-Lo so that Test could kick him in the face and take the pin.
In the parking area, Bischoff was on the phone as a long black limo pulled up and...we went to commercial before the door opened.
During the break, the door opened and out stepped mean Gene Okerlund! He told Bischoff he was there to make the RAW 10th Anniversary presentations. Bischoff called him and idiot and reminded that the Anniversary show is tomorrow night and sent him packing. Before he left, Okerlund shot back that if Bischoff had been smarter two years ago, "...we might have been celebrating a Nitro Anniversary!" Chris Jericho then walked up and demanded to be put into the Royal Rumble in the #1 spot. Bischoff told him he would have to prove himself in an Over the Over-the-Top-Rope Challenge tonight, then dismissed him, saying he had bigger fish to fry.
Backstage, on F-View TV, William Regal was caught putting down Jerry Lawler's book. Lawler and JR watched this on the monitor and the King promised some surprises for Regal in their match later.
After the break, Lawler was in the ring as Regal and Lance Storm arrived. Regal paused to read some passages from the book out of context in a vain attempt to embarrass the King. Before the match could get underway, two referees searched Regal and found a set of brass knucks. Then they searched Storm and found another pair in his elbow pad! They ejected Storm. meanwhile, up in the ring, lawler was donning a pair of knucks of his own (brass knucks have been one of many types of weapons the King has been known to use over the years). When Regal turned around, Lawler put his lights out. The referee saw the knucks and disqualified Lawler, who strangely won a moral victory.
Jeff Hardy ran to the ring to face Raven in the next match for a spot in the Rumble. Raven showed up with his hair cut short, wearing tights instead of a skirt for a change. Raven dominated his opponent from the get-go, then started working on the left leg. Hardy made a come back shortly thereafter, but Raven waited for his chance then attacked the leg again to turn the tables. His ascendancy was short lived. He missed his finisher - Jeff came back with the Swanton and won the match.
In the back, Vince finally arrived and told Eric that he was there "...to make an announcement, that's all..." He encountered Randy Orton on his way into the building. When informed that Orton's shoulder was "94%" he expressed his pleasure by happily punching the recovering limb!
Vince strutted to the ring to a rather tepid reaction from the crowd and started his speech. Which was immediately interrupted by the Dudleys, who complained about Bischoff's leadership style. McMahon stopped Bubba in mid sentence to tell him that he didn't appreciate being interrupted, and if anyone was going to throw his weight around, it would be him. He then reinstated the Dudleys and booked a match for them against the tag Champs for the Royal Rumble. Vince started to speak again, only to be interrupted again, this time by Chris Jericho, who complained about being denied the #1 spot in the Rumble. Vince interrupted him to propose that he shut up - then further proposed that the winner of tonight's Over-the-Top-Rope Challenge get to choose which number he wants to enter the Rumble...except for #1 - which has already been reserved by Shawn Michaels! Jericho started to protest but Vince sent him packing. Vince started a third time, and was interrupted yet again, by Bischoff this time, who complained about Vince undermining his authority as GM - Vince shouted him to silence and then conducted a "Public Evaluation" of his performance as GM. He stated that Eric has done a good job...but not a great job. He gave Bischoff 30 days to turn RAW around, or face being fired! He then left the ring without ever making his announcement...
This was followed by a SmackDown promo suggesting that Al Wilson is dead! What next, Dawn Marie having sex with the corpse his his casket..? Nah...
Out in the parking area, bischoff caught up with Vince and demanded more time, saying that there isn't "another man on the planet who can replace me." Vince turned to him and said, "Is that right?" as Shane McMahon(!) stepped out of the car. Vince then told Bischoff, "30 days." and drove away.
Next up, Lance Storm came to the ring to take on Booker T. Again the referee searched Regal before allowing him to accompany his partner to ringside. Goldust was there as well, to even the odds. Needless to say this was a very athletic match, to say the least. In the middle of it, the Dudleys ran in and attacked the bad guys, thus spoiling what was shaping up to be a great match.
The Hurricane was accompanied by Trish as he faced off against Steven Richards (accompanied by Victoria). During the fight, which the Hurricane won, Trish and Victoria got into a dust-up at ringside. After the pin, the ladies(?) came into the ring where Trish delivered a pretty fair kick to the side of the Ladies Champion's head.
Scott Steiner came to the platform for the Bench Press Challenge, raring to go, as usual. HHH showed up in a suit and went to the ring. Hunter grabbed a mic and admitted that he has been playing games with Steiner, saying that he isn't interested in arm wrestling or posing or bench pressing, etc. He went through the litany of the challengers he has defeated. Interestingly, most of the people he mentioned, Hogan, the Rock, Austin, HBK, have all beaten him as well. Steiner shot back to the effect, "Okay - so lets go!" He walked to the ring and they got it on. Steiner manhandled the Champion, stripping off his fancy clothes and throwing them to the crowd. He stripped HHH to his socks and bikini briefs then threw him out of the ring!! As HHH tried to collect his near naked self on the ramp, Steiner taunted him and did pushups. Triple H was escorted away as Steiner posed in the ring.
The Over-the-Top-Rope Challenge was next. The participants were Rob Van Dam, Batista (that's a medieval form of artillery, by the way), Chris Jericho and Kane. Of course, we now knew that the winner of this match will get his choice of RR spots. This quickly degenerated into a kind of team match with the heels ganging up against the faces and vice versa. Both Van Dam and Jericho were thrown over the top rope early on, but each managed to avoid hitting the floor and stayed in the match. kane was the first eliminated - by Batista. Then Jericho made the mistake of trying to knock Batista out. Batista knocked the Millennium Bug down, then RVD kicked Batista to the floor. Shortly thereafter, Jericho surprised RVD and eliminated him. Jericho chose the #2 spot, which brought the #1 entrant to the ring on the attack. he very quickly tossed Jericho over the top to the floor.
So the first two Rumbler's are set...
At least that's the way I see it...
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