Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
In this edition of the newsletter we have Matt Benaka with the latest installments of This Week in World Title History, John Cross with the Crossface Connection, plus my own TV Reports and topical rants.
Next week I will be on vacation, so there will be no newsletter edition. Solie's Newsletter will return on July 14th.
This week in World Heavyweight Title History looks back at title vs. title matches, successful title defenses, and establishing a true World Champion. I hope you enjoy it! If you have any questions, comments or corrections, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and please visit my web site at: http://www.geocities.com/mrbenaka/index.html
The latest additions to my page are:
USWA Unified World Title, Ohio's World Heavyweight Title, and the World Class World Title.
World Title History for the week of June 30th to July 6th:
July 5th, 1915 saw Joe Stecher defeat Charlie Cutler to win the World Heavyweight Championship of Wrestling. The match was in Omaha, NE and the great Frank Gotch was in attendance. Charlie Cutler was the holder of the American Heavyweight Title (in Illinois) since 1914 and with Frank Gotch having retired in 1913, Cutler starts calling himself World Champion during February of 1915. With Gotch retired, there were World Title claimants coming out of the wood-work since every promoter wanted to say they had the champ in their territory. Gotch simply being in attendance for this match lends it a degree of credibility as the continuation of the Original World Title that few of the other claimants could claim. Joe Stecher won the match in two straight falls in front of 15,000 fans and became the Heavyweight Champion of the World.
National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Heavyweight Champion Ric flair wrestled World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion (Note: The WWF Title had been reduced to a regional title when they re-entered the NWA during 1971. It wasn't until they left the NWA in 1983 that they re-elevated their title to World status) in Atlanta, GA. The match ended in a double count-out. What a sight it must have been to see two men who could truly wrestle defend their company's titles.
Canek defeated Dos Caras to win his eleventh Universal Wrestling Association (UWA) World Heavyweight Title on July 05, 1992 in Naucalpan, MEXICO.
World Class Wrestling Association (WCWA) had their World Heavyweight Title trade hands in the ring for the first time when Chris Adams defeated Rick Rude on July 04, 1986 in Dallas, TX. Rude had been the NWA American Heavyweight Champion when WCWA left the NWA and was, thus, their first World Champion. That is why Adams winning the belt was the first title change in the ring.
July 06, 1991 saw Rambo (Luc Poirier) defeat Bull Power (a.k.a. Big Van Vader) in Graz, AUSTRIA to capture his first Catch Wrestling Association (CWA) World Heavyweight Title.
Rambo would win his CWA World Heavyweight Title on July 03, 1993 in Graz, AUSTRIA at the hands of Road Warrior Hawk. I guess the moral of the story is that World Champions shouldn't agree to face Rambo in Graz during the first week of July.
North of the border, Joe Savoldi defeated Yvon Robert on July 04, 1945 in Montreal., QC, CANADA to capture the Montreal version of the American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Heavyweight Title.
Bruno Sammartino defended the relatively new World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) World Heavyweight Title successfully against Joe Quinones on July 02, 1963 in Bridgeport, CT.
June 30th of 1992 saw Ric Flair lose to WWF World Heavyweight Champion Randy Savage in Binghamton, NY. The finish of many of these matches had Flair use the championship belt to knock out the champ and pin him. The ref would then notice that the belt was in the ring and disqualify Flair. This was during Savage's second run with the company's top belt.
One day later (July 01, 1992), in another company, Flair's best friend Arn Anderson lost in Macon, GA match to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) World Heavyweight Champion Sting.
I think that the WWE is in serious trouble. More so than at any point in the last 30 or 35 years.
That is an audacious statement, you know. One that I have to give great thought to before making, and I wasn't even sure about going through with this topic, until I read the news and rumors today on bodyslam.cc.
Here’s the topic of the entries today:
However, let's go over the main progenitors:
2. The elimination of a real ‘creative team’, and Vince McMahon taking all the control over the storyline process: Back when Ms. Pamela and I were batting this one back and forth, we talked about ‘leaks’ coming from the creative team. Well, if they existed, Vince killed them by getting rid of everyone that didn't agree with his vision of what the wrestlers should be doing. Everyone in that fed seems to be a ‘Yes Man’ to Vince. Why else would they make it a habit to rehash every old storyline they have in the bucket (Hulkamania, Piper's Pit, the “nWo”, HBK, Austin/McMahon, and the rest), and push the most questionable of storylines on us, especially after they meet with scorn and failure (necrophilia, HLA, HLA2, Chuck/Billy, and that lot)? Since it is clear to the fans that I have spoken to that Vince has lost touch with the viewers, why are the bookers letting him decimate the product? Also, his habit of using workers from other feds to put his dominance of the wrestling world over with all of us has ticked a lot of people off. It also forced mid-card wrestlers like Mike Enos to merely quit the scene, instead of coming to the WWE for a job.
3. Hiring non-wrestlers/ ‘gimmick’ workers: Hiring Hulk Hogan turned out not to be a bad thing. Bringing in Piper, Nathan Jones, the Tough Enough people, and people like Jamal, Kronik, and that ilk did. Are they wrestlers? Possibly, though there is no way Nathan Jones and Roddy Piper can be called wrestlers anymore. Kronik came in and promptly failed in their initial run, Maven was pushed way too fast, as were Linda Giles(?) and Jackie Gayda. Scott Steiner is a wreck, though not because he hasn't tried to contribute. Also, the huge amount of women that are on the roster for purely sex related reasons (Sable, Torrie, Stacy, Terri, the afore-mentioned Linda and Jackie, and Stephanie McMahon herself) draw away from the meat of the show, which should be wrestling.
4. Backstage Politics: Read the news and rumors over on bodyslam.cc. Hogan basically said that he is done, and basically non answered the question on whether or not it was because of the politics in the locker room. In the Raw locker room, HHH dominates, and the last five or so feuds he has had has pushed him ever higher, and his opponents ever lower. Is Booker T in the main event? HBK? Nash? As I alluded to last week, Vince is the only one calling the hots, and HHH has his ear. If HHH manages to retain his Title at the next PPV, take this cause to the bank. Didn't Hogan, Luger, Bagwell, Nash, and that lot use this reason to kill the WCW? I think so.
5. The death of KAYFABE: This might be the biggest reason, alongside Vince's HUGE ego, that the WWE is in real trouble. If Vince had his wrestlers maintain kayfabe, there would never have been the HBO interview. There would never have been the ‘Piper Incident’, there would never have been all the crap interviews, the Peter Arquette Championship run (I know that was WCW, but you know what I am saying), and the other rot that has stripped the fantasy away from the professional wrestling universe. This was completely Vince's doing, with his tacit approval of the wrestlers interviewing out-of-character, his promoting of ‘tell-all’ books by The Rock, Mick Foley, Freddie Blassie, and the like, and his own interviews, where he ‘spills the beans’ about the industry in order to prop himself and the WWE up to the ‘reality TV’ fan base he has tied the WWE to. The maintaining of kayfabe is one of the reasons wrestling remained popular….it was an escape, and though most of the people watching had the idea that it was staged, or scripted, you forgot all that when the matches got underway. Now, through Vince's stewardship, professional wrestling is now Sports Entertainment, which is a sad, sorry replacement. The guys working now might be better athletes, and better on the mic, but they come off as actors, not athletes. They are promoted more like actors on a sit-com, more than the characters they portray, and that is a shame. Maybe it is a sign of the times, but I think that the loss of kayfabe is a crippling blow to the industry as a whole.
I have some ideas on what the WWE could do to fix the rip in her side, but they would all involve taking steps back, and losing some of the modern viewers they have picked to market towards. Having wrestlers taken care of, but keeping them out of the booking process is one. Rehabilitating kayfabe is another. A third thing might be getting rid of all the crappy trappings that wrestling has picked up over the last 7 years. However, the most important thing might be outside the WWE, and that is a rival federation that truly does things in a traditional way, with the modern-day athletes and action.
I am going down to the NWA tapings this week. I will come back with a report on what I have seen, and what I think of their show. I think that f they have improved their product since the last time I saw it (Thanksgiving 2002), I might take a watch once or twice a month. If it is WWE Lite, like it was the last time I saw it, I will really despair.
Not for them, or for the WWE, but for all of us, the fans. We are the ones losing the most.
See you next week, for another Connection.
SmackDown! came to us on tape from Madison Square Garden in New York City, where, after a video recap of the McMahon/Zack Gowen situation, Vanilla Lice came down to toot his own horn, pointing out that he is celebrating his first full year on SmackDown! He threw out a challenge to any rookie wrestler in the locker room to take him on, just as Kurt Angle took on Cena himself a year ago. Orlando Jordon stepped up to the plate and was defeated. UT came out afterward and chased Cena off, showed some respect for the youngster, then stuck around for the next match as we went to commercial.
The Undertaker and APA took on all three members of the FBI and beat them soundly after some anxious moments when Ron Simmons was isolated in the ring for an extended period. Bradshaw finally took Johnny the Bull out with a Clothesline from Hell and pinned him.
Out on the street in front of the Garden, a lawyer stopped Jamie Noble and Nidia to inform them that Noble's "Aunt Lucille" had just died and left him $830,000! Noble's reaction, "We're goin' all out. baby! I'm takin' you to dinner! We're goin' to AppleBee's!!!"
Backstage, Sable was kissing up to Mr. McMahon (literally), but Vince wasn't interested, saying, "Not tonight. I have something tonight I have to do." and walked away.
Matt Hardy vied with Rikishi in another first-round match in the US Title tournament and defeated him with a Twist of Fate to after running him into an uncovered turnbuckle advance to the next round.
A bulked up Billy Kidman was interviewed by new announcer boy at ringside. He seemed bitter about his injury situation, but said he was looking forward to getting back into the ring.
In the next installment of the Eddie Guerrero/Tajiri vs. Roddy Piper/Sean O'Haire feud, the good guys scored one, and retained their Tag Team Titles when Tajiri hit Piper with the green mist then Eddie G followed up with a Frog Splash. Make that the last installment in this feud, apparently Piper has been let go by WWE because of comments he made concerning his own drug use in an HBO RealSports program taped on Tuesday.
Mr. McMahon strutted to the ring to make a statement. But first he asked Stephanie and Zack to come to the ring. Stephanie came down spilling out of a tight black top and red leather skirt. Vince addressed his daughter first, telling her that her comments from last week were still ringing in his ears. He said that he "stole something from" Stephanie - her innocence. He said that he feels almost like he "deflowered" her personally. What a weird thing to say to your daughter! He then turned to Zack and complimented him on his courage, saying that he had "spit in the eye of death"- whatever that means, and saying that "wants to be" Zack Gowen. Then he asked him to accept his apology, to wipe the slate clean. Zack told him "No!" Vince then demanded that he accept his apology. Still the youngster refused, saying that he would "spit" on Vince's apology. What he wanted was a contract. Vince seemed to agree - but then said that he would have to "earn" the contract joining the "Kiss My A$$" club. Zack conferred with Stephanie then dropped to his knees and delivered a low blow!! Vince went down as Stephanie and Zack departed.
Ultimo Dragon made his long anticipated WWE debut, defeating Shannon Moore handily as Rey Misterio provided commentary and Billy Kidman sat in the front row to watch. Dragon included his signature Asahi moonsault about midway through the contest. Moore must have felt honored - Ultimo Dragon is a legend around the World.
The main event was a 6-Man contest pitting Mr. America, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle against the Big Show plus the former members of team Angle. Things went well for the good guys until Vince came out to the platform dragging Zack Gowen and kicked him in the stomach. Hogan...uh...Mr. America was distracted and walked into chokeslam by Big Show, who then pinned him for the win. Stephanie then came out and covered Zack to protect him from her father. Vince then told Zack that he would be in a match next week with Steph as his partner in a handicap match against the Big Show.
When returned from the break, Lance Storm was in the ring declaring that he is NOT boring, and reading a prepared statement. He was about halfway through the Webster's Dictionary definition of "boring" when his opponent for the next match arrived...Goldberg!! As Bill moved toward the ring, Rodney Mack attacked him from behind, then rolled him into the ring. Goldberg came right back and speared his attacker - then put the Jack Hammer on him. Storm slunk away during the confusion.
Backstage, Bischoff was asking Kane not to be angry with him. Kane sat with his back to the camera and a towel covering his head. Bischoff first stated that it was Rob Van Dam's idea for Kane to be unmasked, then he offered him a title rematch against Triple H. Kane shook his head "no" - so Bischoff decided to give RVD the title shot - then told Kane that he would still have to appear in the ring tonight or be fired.
Next up - a Battle Royal for the Womens' Title, featuring Trish Stratus, Victoria, Molly Holly, Jacqueline, Ivory, newcomer, Gail Kim, and of course, the current champ, Jazz. Ivory was the first one eliminated. Jazz got went out next and it looked like she got injured (she had to be assisted from the ring). Molly Holly and Jacqueline were eliminated almost simultaneously. Trish was bumped from the ring apron when Victoria launched a slingshot on Gail Kim. This left Gail Kim and Victoria to battle it out for the title. It looked like Victoria would be the one as she dominated her opponent, but then she lifted Kim over the top and tried to lever her out. But Kim held on for dear life and leg scissors Victoria over the top and to the floor. Gail Kim is the new Womens' Champion.
Booker T had his rematch for the Intercontinental Title in the next match against current chump, Christian, who attacked his opponent out on the floor before the match could begin. They fought for several minutes out in the crowd as a phalanx of officials tried to get them back to the ring. They were still out of the ring as we cut to commercial. After a pitched battle, it appeared that Booker had gotten the pin and won the title. But Uncle Eric showed up again and had a replay of the pinfall shown, revealing that both competitors' shoulders were down. He declared the match a draw, thus saving Christian's butt yet again.
RVD confronted Kane backstage, and admitted that he did tell Bischoff that Kane didn't need the mask, that the fans would accept him without it. Kane countered that the fans won't accept him and anyway, he hates the fans. RVD then said, "Well, I hope you don't hate me when I win the title tonight." and left. When he was gone, Kane said, "I DO hate you Rob!"
In their tag team match, Scott Steiner basically took on Jericho and Test on his own while Stacy waited on the apron. The bad guys hit him with everything but the kitchen sink to no avail. At one point the referee got thrown down my Jericho and tried to end the match, but Bischoff came out yet again and ordered the match restarted as a no DQ match! Jericho was thrown to the floor but came back with a chair and laid Steiner out. Test then forced Stacy to tag in then dragged her in and hit her with the pump handle slam to take the pin.
Ricky Starr...er...Rico (w/Jackie Gayda - now known as "Miss Jackie") took on Maven in the next match, which was too short and ended with a roundhouse kick by Rico that sent Maven to the mat, where he was pinned. For those who don't remember, Ricky Starr was a wrestler in the 60's who came in wearing ballet shoes and pranced around the ring, infuriating his opponents before beating them soundly with his superb mat wrestling skills. By the way, i wrote that first sentence, comparing Rico to Starr, and then almost immediately afterward, lawler brought up the same comparison.
Tommy Dreamer took on Randy Orton in a match wherein the cards were firmly stacked against him from the get-go because of the presence of Ric Flair at ringside. The highlight of the match happened right at the beginning when the two tied up, collar & elbow, and struggled all over the ring in that position, and eventually fell out to the floor without either of them letting go of the hold. After he won the match (naturally), Orton and Flair beat up Dreamer with his own cane.
Backstage, RVD accosted Bischoff, accusing him of using Kane's travails to build ratings. Bischoff countered, telling RVD that rather than take out his aggression on Bischoff, he should go out and win the World Title. RVD said that's just what he intends to do and split. Next Bischoff confronted Terri and ordered her to go talk to Kane and find out what he intends to do. She balked at that, saying that Kane was unstable, but Bischoff threatened to fire her if she didn't do his bidding.
Hurricane and Spike Dudley took on the French Nerds in a non-title tag team match. The tag champs again demonstrated their superior teamwork against yet another team who had never worked together before (fancy that...)
Backstage, a fearful Terri went looking for Kane but couldn't locate him.
In the main event, Rob Van Dam challenged Triple H for the World Title. Again the odds were against RVD as Flair lurked around ringside to spoil the match. In fact, Flair eventually got his man disqualified. But that didn't suit Bischoff's purpose. He again came out and ordered the match restarted as a no DQ contest. Triple H tried to use a chair immediately, but it was kicked back in his face. HHH fell on the floor and RVD started trying to drag him back into the ring. Bischoff then announced further that this was now a no-countout match, falls counting anywhere. Later, they fought up the ramp where RVD almost got the pinfall, but was prevented from winning by Orton and Flair. While RVD was distracted, HHH Pearl Harbored him with the title belt and took the pin.
Kane came out then and appeared ready to attack RVD, but turned instead to Bischoff and chokeslammed him clean off the platform!
That was a satisfying ending...
At least that's the way I see it...
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