Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
Published Feb. 11, 2003
BRANDON, Fla. -- Professional wrestler Curt ``Mr. Perfect'' Hennig was found dead in a hotel room Monday. Officials said foul play wasn't suspected.
Hennig, 44, of Champlin, Minn., was scheduled to appear Monday night at the Florida State Fair in Tampa.
A housekeeper at the Homestead Suites Hotel found Hennig in a room about 1:30 p.m, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Hennig was not breathing and was pronounced dead at the scene.
His body has been turned over to the Medical Examiner's Office, and the sheriff's office was investigating.
Hennig was born on March 28th 1958 and made his pro wrestling debut in 1979 after he was trained by the legendary Verne Gange. Although spending most of his career in WWE, he never won the WWE Heavyweight title but Hennig's title resume` is impressive nonetheless.
Twice Pacific Coast tag team champ in 1983, Pacific Coast champion in 1983, AWA tag team champion in 1986, AWA champion in 1987, two time WWE Intercontinental champion in 1990 and WCW US champ in 1997.
He made his return to WWE at the Royal Rumble last year for what was supposed to be a one time shot but Hennig impressed officials and was signed to a contract.
The Minnesota native recently was part of NWA:TNA after he was fired from World Wrestling Entertainment last year for picking a brawl with Brock Lesnar on a flight from England to the United States and for his behavior on the same flight.
Solie's would like to send our condolences to the friends and family of this legendary wrestling star, and to the entire wrestling community.
In this edition of the newsletter we have our weekly Crossface Connection by Solie's regular, John Cross, plus my own TV Reports and topical rants.
I have been assuaging myself with the fact that professional wrestling existed through both world wars, Korea, and Vietnam. I have been immersed in the war to date, and have not concentrated a lot on wrestling, but on debating the need for war with friends, relations, and the like. However, this is a wrestling column, and anyone wishing to debate the impending war can e-mail me to do so.
What I wanted to do was bash HHH, but I won't do that, either.
What I will do, however, is tell you about all the other people that deserve to have that World Championship Belt around their waist. To top that off, I am going to keep it in the RAW-brand family.
See, since 9-2-2002 (which is an eternity in the WWE these days), HHH or HBK have been the World Champion. With Scott Steiner's pathetic showing at the last PPV, I can't see him making a big-time run for the Belt, though I'll have him on my list. There seems to be a lot of other people that are, for whatever reason, being held in a position of non-contendership. In fact, who is the #1 Contender in Raw? Do you know? I don't...let's see who should be in the running:
1. RVD: when this guy first started, he was one step above inept. He bloodied several workers during their matches, and eventually had to slightly change the way he did things. Now, he is probably the most over of the faces on Raw, and hasn't even been remotely close to challenging for the top spot, or even main-eventing. He needs to have a push towards that belt, and needs to capture it from HHH. RVD then needs to be used against all the other challengers, heel and face. If you have something good, use it. In fact, the fact that RVD, as popular as he is, HASN'T been used is testament to the fact that someone is pulling the strings on Monday nights.
2. Kane: What happened to this guy's push? Take the whole 'sex with corpses' out of the situation.....wasn't he in a heated feud with HHH for the World Title? That died with the angle, but the need for Kane to get the Title run he has deserved for so long still remains. That kind of dominating worker needs a title run, especially with the formation of the Evolution. They can work all the 'four-against-1' angle all they want, because if there is anyone in the sub-fed that can work that well, it will be Kane.
3. Booker T: This, of course, is what is being created right now. With the assault on Goldust by Evolution last week, the 'righteous revenge' angle is being formed up, and Booker T will sally forth to meet the challenge that the bad guys created. He is athletic, has the heat that he didn't have last year, and is primed for the push. Add to that his history with the WCW Championship (which the World Title is/was), and all the elements of a feel-good push are in place. Booker T is the right size, has the right moves, and is now freed up from the tag-team ranks.
4. Ric Flair: WHAT!? Yeah, you got it. Ric Flair needs to get cheated into the Title one more time, if only for a short time. This sounds nuts, but he is one of the all-time greats in the industry, and he deserves to be honored with a last run as Champion. Also, with the formation of Evolution, Flair could be propped up as Champion by the clique, and he could return to the 'Dirtiest Player in the Game' actions that helped build his legacy. If Hulk Hogan can have a last push as Champion, Flair can as well. Justice is justice, after all.
5. Scott Steiner: Yeah, yeah, I know, he is rusty, he is out of shape, he is all show, no go, but this guy could be a dominator, and the lead for an anti-Evolution stable. He has the heat, the history with the Belt, and is the current foil for the Champion, HHH. Though I think that the window for Steiner to win the Title is closing, and his injuries and conditions are the type that limit his in-ring performance, I think he could withstand a short-term Championship run.
6. Test: I talked about Test in the Crossface Report this week, and pointed out that he is the correct size, he performs the correct way, and does all the right things in the ring to deserve a push. Test is only weak on the mic, but no worse than, say, Steiner. He also has Stacy, who generates good face heat with the fans. The problem with Test is that he hasn't had the opportunity to get into the main-event ranks, even for a short time. This has to change, and a sustained push against HHH, or whatever heel champion, with a victory in there somewhere, would pay off for the WWE.
7. Chris Jericho: Many would consider him the most irrelevant Undisputed Champion of all time, and one of the biggest busts in the history of decision making in the history of booking the WWF/E. However, Chris Jericho is capable of much, much more than the WWE has allowed of him. He worked in Japan, Mexico, and moves much better than his present incarnation reveals. He needs to return to those roots, get out of the box, and get pushed as the middle-weight flyer he can be. His legacy is that he was reduced from the WCW to the WWF/E, and that should not be the man's whole story. He could work as World Champion, but he needs the reins loosened. What's to lose?
8. Kevin Nash: Sure, he's been out, and, sure, he's a bit beat up, but he's huge, dominating, can be a great face or heel, and is second-to-none on the mic. He is well known, and, if able to maintain a push, could be a dominating Champion. He also is one of a select few that held both the WCW Championship, and the WWF Championship belts, before the collapse of the WCW. His Title run, the only real 'tweener' in this group, would be great to consolidate the different stables, cliques, and the like, as Nash has none of those surrounding him.
9. Bradshaw: This choice is good for the most part because the man is insanely over as a face. However, his appeal without Ron Simmons is questionable. However, he is a great foil for the heavyweights like Batista, Kane, Nash, and Test. He works hard in the ring, with his brawling tactics, and, like Nash, would be a good choice to hold the Belt during clique-based feuds.
10. Shawn Michaels: Over, well-known, and the like...that is Shawn Michaels. He should have a last run as well, if only to honor his impact on the WWE. He isn't a long-term solution, any more than Ric Flair is, and I say that he isn't as deserving, but that is only an opinion. Michaels gets a nod (the least nod, I add) from me because of his contributions, the heat he has, and the fact that he is still the most successful adversary to HHH, if only because HHH says so.
Well, I hope that cleared things up. I would guess the point of all this is that the WWE is really hurting itself by keeping these people in the positions they are currently in. There is no clear challenger to HHH for the Title, and Steiner, for all the push he is getting, isn't coming off as well as the bookers might have hoped. So, I say, let these others get into the mix, and, in fact, there are hints that Booker T will be thrown into the middle of the Evolution-based conflagration, based upon what happened to Goldust.
All the better.
Good for you, oh wise one, who knows to come to Solie's for his or her wrestling info. Make sure you perfect your form by coming to bodyslam.cc for all your wrestling needs, as well.
See you next week, for another Connection.
SmackDown! came to us on tape from the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and opened with a large crate sitting in the ring. The crate was wrapped in a bow, like a present and addressed to the Undertaker from The Big Show. There was also a portable crane in the building, which lifted the crate into the air above the ring as the first match was introduced.
That match featured Jamie Noble (w/Nidia) vs. Rey Misterio. This was a fast-paced contest - Noble and Misterio make a good match-up with Nobles more grounded, mat wrestling attack vs. Rey Rey's high flying style. After a good scrap - Misterio won it.
The Rock then joined us via satellite from "Hollywood". His reception from the fans was a bit cool - in fact some fans insisted on chanting Hogan's name when he tried to get them to chant for him. He questioned them on that reaction, then answered his own question - because it's Philadelphia. There is a subtle "heelishness" to this version of the Rock. He sort of throws out insults to the crowd and then sort of takes them back.
Little Guido...er...Nuncio, took on Rikishi in the next squash...er...match... Afterward, Nuncio directed a rather vague threat at his opponents, talking about the "people I am with" not being pleased with Rikishi and saying that Rikishi would be sorry...hmmmm...
Paul Heyman then appeared on the platform and called for the "gift" to lowered back into the ring as we went to commercial. After the break, Heyman was in the ring and ranting, saying that the Big Show wasn't in the building tonight, but that TBS had left the gift for UT. Heyman called the Undertaker out to receive his "gift". UT showed up on his bike, as usual and rode down to the ring. Now if I were the Undertaker, I would have just left Heyman in the ring with egg on his face - I mean, he's got to know that Heyman is up to no good. I wouldn't even be curious about what was in the box. But he came down and opened the crate - to find Brother Love inside! Of course, we all know that BL brought UT into the WWF in the first place. And Brother Love hastened to remind UT of that immediately. The preacher's face was redder than ever, by the way - almost a fire engine hue... The Loving one asked UT if he remembered the lessons of love taught to him years ago - UT answered that with a chokeslam and a tombstone piledriver.
Backstage, Hulk Hogan arrived and ran into Brock Lesnar. After a tense moment, Lesnar grinned a bit evilly and said "Welcome back".
Matt Hardy (w/Shannon Moore) took on Cruiserweight Champ Billy Kidman in the next match. Hardy used his slightly superior size to dominate the match - but it was Kidman who took the duke with a roll-up. Afterwards, "Mattitude" swore to the announcers that he intends to drop 10 pounds so that he can qualify as a Cruiserweight and challenge Kidman for his title.
Team Angle challenged the Guerreros for the Tag Team Titles and won them in a wild, bang up match that lasted over two segments during which both teams exhibited their considerable mat wrestling skills. The best part was Chavo splashing Paul Heyman with an inside-to-out leap.
Hulk Hogan came to the ring after the break but before he could say anything the Rock showed up on the big screen to razz him. After Maivia finished his rant, Hogan continued with his - referring to the Rock as the "Rock of Jabronie..."
Backstage, Sean O'Haire talked Brian Kendrick into doing his impression of the Nike streaker. Sure enough, the kid did it at the beginning and again at the end of the next match - a squash featuring A-Train, and squashee, Shannon Moore.
The streaker ended up in Stephanie's office, who, when Kendricks said he was excited to meet her, replied, "I can see that..."
Vanilla Lice came to the ring and called Brock Lesnar out, rap style. Actually, it was a challenge for a match on next week's show. Backstage, Kurt Angle interrupted a promo being cut by Chris Benoit regarding his main event rematch with Angle tonight.
Benoit came to the ring wearing a T-shirt that read "Toothless Aggression...cute... This was a non-title rematch from the Royal Rumble match against his chief rival. Paul heyman was at ringside and got physically involved on the side of his client. You would think he would have learned his lesson during the tag Team Title match earlier. Toward the end of this match, Benoit was busted open and the blood was really flowing. The critical moment came when Benoit went for the flying headbutt and missed. Angle countered with the Angle Slam and got the pin. After the match, Angle offered his hand to the loser, who reluctantly shook it - then was attacked from behind by Team Angle. Brock Lesnar then ran in and cleared the ring.
This was followed by a video montage of the current situation and then Eric Bischoff's music and the (probably soon to be former) General Manager came to the ring. He said that he had not heard from Steve Austin, and doesn't know whether or not he will. He mentioned that Mr. McMahon was on his way to the arena and that he was probably going to be fired. He asked the crowd for their support...and of course, they gave it too him... He then demanded that they support him, which put him even further under. He was not happy with the reaction and so he stated that he was still the boss and could do whatever he wanted to do. He went to the announce table and confronted Jim Ross, saying that JR hadn't done enough to help bring Austin to RAW, and blamed him for Austin's failure to sign with RAW! JR countered that maybe Austin wasn't coming in because he hates Bischoff's guts. Bischoff said, well maybe that's true...then he fired JR! Out back a limo pulled up...
Bischoff was meeting the limo as we returned from the break - but it was just HHH and Company, who taunted him about his situation, then went on into the building. Back in the arena, Lawler was on his own at the announce table as Test and Stacy came down to the ring. The opponent tonight was Christian. Test is going to meet Christian's partner at the PPV, by the way. Test dominated his opponent easily through most of the match, though Christian was able to hold his own from time to time. It was hopeless, however. Test won it with no trouble. Afterward, Christian surprised Test and put him down, then started menacing Stacy until Jeff Hardy ran out and attacked him.
Back stage, JR was on the phone trying to reach Austin.
After a recap of the Goldust injury situation, Booker T came down for a match against D'Lo Brown. he started to dedicate the match to Goldust, but was interrupted by the entrance of his opponent. Teddy Long told Booker he should stop worrying about Goldust - just another white man trying to keep a black man down, according to Long, Booker should be tagging up with Brown. Booker's response was to start laying into his opponent and the match was on. D'Lo made a momentary come back, but Booker came right back and finish him off.
In the back, Bischoff and Chief Morley were plotting their strategy when Chris Jericho came in and tried to distract them to his own problems. Morley took him aside and gave him a match against Jeff Hardy for tonight.
Jazz came down for a match against Molly Holly - this being a grudge match after what Jazz did to Molly last week. This was an interesting match because while Jazz is clearly the more muscular girl, Molly is clearly the better wrestler. So it was classic power vs. finesse - brains vs. brawn. In the end, brawn won out as Molly was forced to tap out to an STF. After the match, Jazz attacked her helpless opponent again and reapplied the STF.
Out back, JR's phone rang, it was someone named "Steve" but not Austin...
After the break, Rob Van Dam and Kane reformed their tag team to take on Three Minute Warning (w/Rico). This was a regular slobberknocker (as JR would have said, had he been there) which ended after a Five Star Frogsplash landed on Jamal.
In the garage, JR was still on his phone when Vince's limo pulled up. he noticed Ross and went over to question him as we cut to commercial.
Vince McMahon went to the ring as we returned with his usual swagger. He said that he had to make a decision tonight and he seemed to be looking forward to it. He called Bischoff and Morley to the ring. They paused on the platform and Vince immediately said, "Walk on down that plank...er...aisle..." Bischoff started to make a statement but Vince shut him up and turned to Morley, saying he should fire him...but he's not...it gave Morley the chance to wrestle a match tonight - if he wins he stays, if he loses to...all three Dudleys...he's fired. He then turned to Bischoff with a big grin on his face and asked him if he's signed Austin for No Way Out. Bischoff tried to prevaricate, but had to answer "No". Vince was ready to say the words, but Bischoff stopped him...and offered him HLA! Two beauties slunk to the ring - a brunette and a redhead - who Bischoff said were "bi-sexual lesbians". McMahon stopped the "action" before it could get started, Vince sent them packing, then turned back to Bischoff and fired him, and then sent him packing with a song (nah nah nah nah, etc.)
Backstage after the break, McMahon encountered Lance Storm and William Regal, who kissed up to him. He told them if they thought he was "brilliant" earlier, they should wait until he names the new GM.
Next was the handicap match - Shawn Morely vs. the Dudleys. It was a slaughter, pure and simple. Spike started the action and beat on him until Morley got a back drop on him. Bubba and Devon caught Spike and let him down easy then all three of them started in on the former Chief of Staff. Morley was Dudley Dogged and 3D'd...then pinned. Afterward, the Dudleys brought out a table and put him through it. Bye, bye, Shawn...
Backstage, Bischoff was staring at JR, then asked him if he'd heard from Stone Cold. JR said "No". Eric wanted to shake hands, JR told him to go clean out his desk.
Batista was in the ring waiting for Tommy Dreamer to show up when the latter attacked him from behind. His ascendancy lasted about three seconds, then Ric Flair lent a hand and Dreamer was pinned. Booker T ran in and got in a few licks before the thugs overwhelmed him as well. HHH showed up and added his fists to the mix. Then Scott Steiner ran in and cleared the ring in a hurry.
Jeff Hardy ran into Shawn Michaels backstage and gave him a nod. Meanwhile, Stacy told Test she was really proud of him and mentioned a new endorsement deal with a company called "GGW". Bischoff was seen cleaning out his office when the Dudleys showed up looking pissed. Bischoff tried to weasel out of a beating but they just sung him out of the room.
Jeff Hardy took on Chris Jericho in the next match and dominated the first several exchanges. Jericho turned it around and had the upper hand until he went for an inside to out splash and missed. Things went back the other way for a while, but then Jericho managed to knock the referee into the ropes as Hardy was balanced on the top. Jericho hit a superplex but couldn't get the pin. He continued his assault with a back breaker but Jeff came back again, but then hit a sunset flip which Jericho almost turned into the Walls of Jericho. Hardy was back on the receiving end again and Jericho was relentless. This culminated in a second, successfull attempt to apply the "Walls" - which Hardy escaped by reaching the ropes. Hardy came back with a Swanton Bomb - but Jericho got his foot on the rope. Moments later Jericho applied his finisher a third time and Hardy tapped.
Backstage, Vince encountered HHH and Company, who were on their way out to party. He invited them to stick around for his GM announcement, then told them that he had booked a tag match for next week - HHH/Batista vs. Booker T/Scott Steiner!
Mr. McMahon was in the ring as the last segment began to announce the replacement General Manager. He called for the new GM to come out - but JR showed up, followed by Bischoff. JR told McMahon that Steve Austin was guaranteed to be at No Way Out. McMahon then reinstated JR and turned to Bischoff, saying, "I suppose you think I ought to reinstate Chief Morley?" Eric agreed and so McMahon reinstated him...and then he reinstated Bischoff...with the condition that he would join the Vince McMahon Kiss My A$$ Club! Vince then turned his back and bared his butt. He urged Bischoff to hurry up because he had his butt hanging out on National TV. Bischoff called for a mic and said, "Sorry, I can't do this..." So McMahon countered with a n offer to join the "Kick my a$$ Club." Eric agreed - so McMahon told him that he would be competing in a match at No Way Out - against Austin!!
At least that's the way I see it...
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