Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
Our weekly columninst, John Cross, is off this week. In this edition of the newsletter we have Part 1 of a 2 part special edition of our Classic Wrestling Articles series from J. Michael Kenyon's WAWLI Papers, concerning the period when Pro-Wrestling went from a sporting event to an entertainment form, plus my own TV Reports and topical rants.
Seattle wrestling fans, stunned at recent developments, were wondering yesterday what the sensational disclosures before the athletic commission would mean to the future of the game here.
The statements of Abe Kubey, referee, which accused Ted Thye of ordering him to decide a match in favor of one of the Thye-Hamlin stable were considered particularly damaging to the syndicate, of which the Portland men are the heads.
Kubey told how Thye had directed him to give the decision in favor of Dan Koloff in his scheduled match with Bill Beth. When Kubey refused, Beth is alleged to have been approached by the Portland promoters, and on the night of the match refused to go on.
It is a matter of record that "Moose" Norbeck was substituted for Beth in the Seattle main event. Koloff won. No reason was given for the change at the time.
"Musty" Musgrave's charges against his employers are expected to carry considerable weight with the commission, which consists of Phil Cook, chairman; Dr. Moriarty, Freeman Heater, Peter McGinley and John J. Sullivan.
It developed in the testimony Saturday that all of the matches for Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Vancouver, Portland and other cities are concocted in the Rose City. Musgrave asserts that, while holding the title of matchmaker, he has had little to do with the making of the matches.
He severely criticizes the syndicate's methods, and admits that a wrestler who doesn't "obey orders" from the Portland heaquarters will be laid off. Therefore, he admits, the men who do the wrestling "do what they are told."
Chairman Phil Cook and the commissioners decline to comment upon the investigation, except to say that it will be continued Wednesday. Anyone who has any information to lay before the body may do this, he states.
It was made known during Saturday's testimony that a group of Seattle men, with Musgrave as his matchmaker, has applied for a permit to stage the shows in this city.
The commission has made no intimation what action it will take on the charges against the Coast Athletic Club, which now governs the game in this section.
The Portland wrestling promoters who have been under fire lately will be given an opportunity to answer the charges that have been filed against them today, at a special meeting of the Seattle athletic commission.
Ted Thye, heavyweight wrestler and head of the syndicate, and Virgil Hamlin are expected to appear.
Thye was brought into the investigation several times by witnesses. The most damaging charges which he will be called upon to answer are those made by Musty Musgrave, his Seattle representative.
In his testimony, Musgrave brought out that Thye, as head of the Coast Athletic Company, actually hires the wrestlers with whom he wrestles. He also stated in his sworn statement that most of the men in the main events get 20 per cent of the gross receipts, but that they are forced to pay 25 per cent of their purses to Thye and his associates. He testified that about $114,000, or most of the profits taken in at the Seattle matches last year, went to Portland.
The charge, made by Abe Kubey, one of the referees who has been working in Seattle matches, will also have to be answered, members of the commission state.
In his testimony, Kubey, who was to referee, said Thye told him before the scheduled match between Koloff and Beth here that -- "We want to use him for a main event, and we want to build him up. He is going to win tonight." Kubey admitted that later Thye approached Beth, and that after a conversation, Beth refused to wrestle, saying: "I am willing to go in there and take my chances and if I win I win, and if I lose I lose."
Kubey, in answer to a question by the commission, said he got the impression that Thye was "trying to persuade Mr. Beth to lay down in his match with Koloff, and let Koloff win." Kubey also testified that Tonnemann, who was manager for Sonnenberg, refereed the match here which Sonnenberg won from Dr. Sarpolis.
Asked if he could substantiate that any matches have not been on the up-and-up, Kubey answered: "I might tell you I might have a doubt in my mind lots of times, but you use the word substantiate, and that makes it a horse of a different color. I have reason to believe certain things."
Regarding the match here between Lewis and Sonnenberg, which was billed for the championship of the world by the promoters, Kubey said it was his private opinion that it was really nothing but an exhibition.
The members of the commission are Phil Cook, chairman; Freeman Heater, John J. Sullivan, Dr. James T. Moriarty, and James McGinley.
To be continued...
SmackDown! came to us on tape from the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and opened with footage of first Brock Lesnar and then Kurt Angle (w/ his entourage) arriving at the arena. There couldn't have been more of a difference between the demeanors of the two men. Right after the introductions by the two announcers, Team Angle made their way to the ring for a non-title tag match against Rey Misterio and his partner Billy Kidman. I seem to remember these two tagged together in WCW as a heel team at one time. This was a classic high flyers vs. mat wrestlers contest. The highlight of the match was a very pretty move by Mysterio, when he applied a flying head scissors on Shelton Benjamin and caused his opponent to spin around twice before taking him down. About 5 minutes into the match, Kidman's shoulder was injured and the tag champs immediately went after it with a vengeance. After some pretty furious action, Kidman's bad shoulder eventually cost him the match when he was rolled up for the pin by Benjamin.
Backstage, Brian Kendrick brought Stephanie McMahon a bouquet of flowers to thank her for letting him take on Kurt Angle two weeks ago. She put her phone call on hold for a moment to thank him and tell him she was impressed by his performance against Angle. He left and she went back to her phone call.
Rikishi took on Chuck Palumbo (w/the FBI) and would have lost the match if Los Guerreros hadn't come down and evened the odds.
Backstage, the Undertaker found his protégé in a darkened room and told him they needed to go out and scout the A-Train and Big Show in their match, coming up next. The two teams will clash at WrestleMania.
A-Train and Big Show were sorely challenged by Funaki and Tajiri (right...) In fact, Big Show spent most of the match sitting at the announce table with his feet up, while his partner took on the Japanese contingent single-handed. When the two smaller guys took their opponent down via a double team, Big Show finally entered the ring to end the carnage in moments.
Torrie Wilson previewed her Playboy cover for the TV audience.
Vanilla Lice made some more empty threats directed at Brock Lesnar. Something tells me this guy may figure in one of Lesnar's upcoming title shots. Either tonight or at WrestleMania... Dawn Marie then went to the ring and flashed the audience, GGW style. Clever camera work used the top rope to block our view of her nipples, but little else.
Rhino and Chris Benoit vied with Los Guerreros for a shot at the Tag Titles at WrestleMania. As could be expected this was a top-flight match with plenty of action. Rhyno has really returned in a big way, and WWE seems determined to make the most of him. Teaming him with Benoit makes for a very formidable combination. Putting them up against a team the caliber of the Guerreros is a win-win situation. This one went on for an entire segment, then they went to commercial before coming back and continuing the contest. As we came back, Benoit had Chavo in a series of German suplexes, but Chavo slipped away and came back with his own version of a crossface submission hold. A blind tag brought Rhino back in and the match was off and running again. The action continued to build in intensity until Benoit caught Chavo in a Crippler. Eddie hit a Frog Splash on him out of nowhere - then Rhino hit a gore on Eddie. More furious action then Benoit and Eddie traded suplexes. In the end, Team Angle ran in and bashed both teams, causing the match to thrown out. So who gets the shot at the PPV??
That question was answered in the next segment. Stephanie confronted Team Angle backstage and told them because of their actions they wil now have to face both teams in a Triple Threat match for the titles! This was followed by a promo piece on Hulk Hogan which included historic footage of the Hulkster in some of his most famous matches throughout the years. The last scene shows Hulk Hogan shaking Vince McMahon's hand and thanking him. This was followed by Vince McMahon on camera, running that last bit twice more. He then made the ridiculous statement that that was the only time that Hogan ever thanked him. He talked about their past friendship and then accused Hogan of screwing him by defecting to WCW and saying "hurtful things" about him. He went on to say that he invited Hogan back, despite their differences, and now, accordiung to Vince, he is going to have to "kill Hulkamania" at Wrestlemania, "...and for that, I will never forgive you, Hogan."
Next week, Hulk Hogan and Vince will sign the contract for their match at the PPV.
Matt Hardy announced that as a tune-up, he would face any Cruiserweight wrestler except his opponent at WrestleMania, Rey Misterio< in the next match - a non title contest. he got a masked wrestler called the Penguin, who turned out to be Brian Kendrick. As "The Penguin" started to gain the upper hand, Shannon Moore interfered and dragged Hardy out of the ring. Kendrick won via countout.
Following an interminable promo for the main event, Kurt Angle consulted with his entourage and then headed for the ring.
In the main event, Brock Pulled off the F5 in about 30 seconds, but declined to take the pin. Team Angle then showed up to distract him. Meanwhile, Angle mysteriously popped right to his feet then snuck behind Lesnar and took the pin with a roll-up. A video replay revealed the truth. Kurt's brother, Eric Angle subbed for Kurt at the beginning, then after the F5, Kurt replaced him in the ring! Both brothers wore hooded warm-up jackets to affect the deception.
The first match was Rob Van Dam/Kane vs. Lance Storm/Chief Morley. Morley stated before the match that if the Dudleys get involved in this match "there will be hell to pay..." Morley faced Kane to start. The big guy made mincemeat out of him then tagged in his flying partner. Van Dam was a match for Morley as well, but Storm interfered from the outside to change the momentum. Van Dam was battered for a while, but eventually his partner tagged back in and chokeslammed Morely for the win. After the match was over, the Dudleys came down and set up a table supposedly for Morley - but then they suddenly turned on Kane and Van Dam, throwing RVD to the floor and putting Kane through the table! Morley looked surprised and confused, but was smiling as the Dudleys left the arena top the jeers of the crowd.
Backstage after the break, the Dudleys told Morley that they had decided to join the "Bischoff administration", that they weren't happy about it, but they need to feed their families. Morley lifted their suspension and told them to stick around to act as lumberjacks.
Triple H came to the ring with Ric Flair for a rant. He told the crowd that Booker had proved his unworthiness to be a champion buy his actions last week. He called Booker out, but he got Goldust instead. Goldy went into a stuttering rant of his own which only served to amuse HHH and Flair. HHH started to mock the golden one, who responded with a stiff crack to the jaw. Flair and the Game eventually recovered and turned the tables on Goldust, but before they could inflict any real damage, Booker T ran down and bailed him out.
Backstage after the break, HHH was busting up the locker room. He told Flair to go tell Bischoff that he wanterd Goldust in the ring tonight.
Maven was up next, taking on Rico, who came to the ring with his thugs. During the match, the Rock was shown arriving out back. Back at the ring, the Samoans were getting involved in the match, to Maven's detriment, of course. Despite the odds, Maven won it with a backslide.
Backstage, Terri tried to get an interview with Steve Austin, but as she stood outside his door, Shawn Michaels brushed past her and entered the locker room.
As we returned from the break, Michaels was talking to Austin and seemed to be telling him about the weather in Texas. Austin wanted to know what he wanted so he told him that Bischoff had recruited him as a lumberjack for the main event. The jabbered for a while - I really don't think there was any point to the exchange.
Backstage, Teddy Long handed the Rock a copy of RAW magazine with Hurricane's picture on the cover. He told Mavia that his man Rodney Mack would be taking care of the Hurricane in the next match.
As promised. the Hurricane faced Rodney Mack (w/Teddy Long) in the next match. Helms out wrestled his opponent from the get-go and was about to wrap it up when the Rock ran down and interfered. Hurricane won the match via DQ but took a beating for his trouble. Maivia wore him out with a chair before he was finished.
Trish Stratus had Jazz as her partner to take on Victoria and Steven Richards in an odd mixed tag match. For the first several minutes, Victoria took on first one then the other of her female opponents. When Richards finally came in, it was illegally and he failed to achieve the effect he was looking for. A minute later he was in the match for real and Jazz was refusing the tag from her reluctant partner. Richards and Victoria ganged up on TRish to win the match. Afterward they tried to Trish up for a StevieT on a chair, but Jeff Hardy ran in and broke it up. Afterward, he kissed Trish to her surprise, and the King's disgust...
After a Shawn Michaels tribute video, Coach interviewed Chris Jericho, who acknowledged his rival's accomplishments, but said he plans to end HBK's legacy at WrestleMania. Christian showed up and reminded him they have a tag match against Test and a partner next.
After the break, Stacy told Test that it was all set with his mystery partner in the next match. Nobody is saying who that partner will be. She left, while Test went back to perusing the latest issue of Playboy. In the next segment the match got underway and we found out that Test's partner was Scott Steiner - who has rather faded from our collective consciousness lately. This one was very fast paced, despite Steiner's tendency to lumbar. At the crucial moment, Stacy was up on the apron and got knocked off right into Steiner's arms. Test saw the situation but misinterpreted it - thus distracted, he was easy pickings for Jericho with a roll-up.
HHH faced Goldust in the next match. Goldust showed up with Booker T at his side, to balance out the presence of the Nature Boy. After winning the initial fisticuffs, Goldust suffered a low blow and passed control of the fight to his opponent. When Flair got involved a while later, Booker went after him and was handing him his head - but suddenly a "fan" at ringside unloaded on Booker with a crutch. It was Randy Orton, who was summarily ousted from the arena. In the ring, after some more action, HHH hit the Pedigree and took the pin.
Backstage, the Rock was playing his guitar (signed by Willie Nelson!) when Bischoff came in dressed for his match with Steve Austin. Maivia announced that he planned to do a "Rock concert next week in Sacramento. He the proceeded to talk Bischoff out of his plan for a lumberjack match - told him to just take Morley with him and let the Rock take care of Austin.
In the match, which followed the break, Morley was useless in the beginning so Bischoff took a pretty severe beating. Morley finally got it together, and since this was a no DQ match, he was free to interfere at will throughout the contest. Austin looked to be on his way to victory despite it all, but the Rock ran in and joined the battle. Austin fought back and eventually stunned both Morley and Bischoff, then took the pin. Maivia came back in and Rock Bottomed the Rattlesnake, then stood on the ramp drinking Austin's beer.
WrestleMania could be epic this year...
At least that's the way I see it...
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