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.
Last week, while I was on vacation, Booker T won the Intercontinental Championship in a match on RAW. Solie's congratulates the new champion.
This week in World Heavyweight Title History saw a some men winning titles on multiple occasions, the tenth reign of Ric Flair, and some controversy over a World Title change in Texas. 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 webpage are the: AWA (Toronto) World Heavyweight Title, Maryland's World Heavyweight Title and SCW World Heavyweight Title
World Title History for the week of July 14th to July 20th
Jack Brisco won the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Heavyweight Title from Harley Race in Houston, TX on July 20, 1973. This title change was supposed to happen earlier in the year and was to have been Dory Funk, Jr. dropping the title to Brisco. There are two sides to the story, but Brisco contends that Funk didn't want to drop the title to him in Houston, TX and instead dropped the belt to Race who was willing to do the job. This was Brisco's first NWA World Title reign.
July 18, 1993 saw Ric Flair capture his tenth NWA World Heavyweight Title at the expense of his old stable mate Barry Windham. The win occured in Biloxi, MS. It was during this reign that the title began to be called the WCW International World Heavyweight Title due to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) parting ways with the NWA.
Verne Gagne won both the Omaha and American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Heavyweight Titles when he defeated Crusher Lisowski on July 20, 1963 in Minneapolis, MN. This was his fourth reign as Omaha World Champion and his fourth reign as AWA World Champion.
Otto Wanz defeated Don Leo Jonathan on July 15, 1988 is Graz, AUSTRIA to capture his second Catch Wrestling Association (CWA) World Heavyweight Title.
I'm going to tell you all about my trip to the NWA-TNA tapings on the 2nd of July. I really haven't had a chance to do so, though I have made it a habit to comment on it in my other columns. With Earl taking a vacation, and the huge amount of negative news that I can somehow yank out of the WWE (and who can't...), I have not been able to share with you the trip to Tennessee.
Well, I get to now, and I am happy that I do. It was worth the trip.
I will manage to skip the whole rest of the trip, save the wrestling part of it, though I will note that I beat my brother in golf (I shot a 48-47, he shot a 53-47), and tell you that we managed to figure out how to do an audio Crossface Report (not Solie's Wrestling Radio, but I think we did a pretty good job). Those things being important, the wrestling, and the reception that I was given by the NWA-TNA was, by far, the most pleasant and surprising aspect of my first foray into TNA-land.
First off, the show was pulled off pretty well. If you ever get a chance to get to the Asylum, you will notice that it might (MIGHT) seat 500 people. There are two sets of bleachers, and an area of floor seating that is considered 'ringside'. There is one concessions stand, one merchandise stand, and one set of rest rooms. The term 'cozy confines' is what the Asylum makes me think of, and that is exactly what it is. The arena itself, while giving the wrestlers a great, friendly forum to work in every week, serves as an effective prop for the PPV, because it is much, much smaller than the TV screen shows the viewer.
As a small side note, Mike and I came to the conclusion that the arena in Nashville is nothing but a prop for the PPV. Case in point: About 70% of the people that came to the show got in with complimentary tickets, and they get in free every week. I'm sure that the NWA-TNA loses money every show at the Asylum, but that isn't the point.....they can market themselves to us (the viewing public) in front of a friendly, screaming, ECW-like crowd. Very effective.
Then, the action. We were 10 feet from the edge of the ring....literally, 10 feet from the ring ropes, and it was all RIGHT THERE. In the dark matches, Mike and I sat back, and saw Konnan, Jesse James, and Ron Killings work a 6-man tag match against some young workers. Then, a hyped-mixed-gender tag match, Elix Skipper worked and got the duke, and a Harris Brothers smash match. Shane Douglas opened up the PPV-show with a stinging promo, the high violence went on from there.
Watching wrestling, and then reporting on it, is a highly subjective matter, as if any of you doubt that. I was generally impressed with the action and the effort of the TNA'ers, because they didn't have the same formula to every match, a habit the WWE seems to have slid into. Mike was really complimentary of AJ Styles, and his ability in the ring, and I have to agree with him in that opinion, but there were more workers that did a great job. Mike Sanders put over Shark Boy in style, Frankie Kazarian worked really hard in his attempt at the TNA Title, and Sandman and New Jack worked a pretty bloody Hardcore match. Live wrestling, at it's best, with the intimacy of a crowd that more resembles an episode of 'Cheers' than a WWE house show.
All that being said, I was really impressed by the welcome I received from the organization itself.
I called down there in May, spoke to some people, and said basically this:
"Hi, my name is John Cross. My brother and I have a wrestling website called bodyslam.cc, and I would like to come down to the event and possibly get a backstage pass to talk to some wrestlers."
I was so warmly welcomed, it defies explanation.
I got to interview Chris Saban, who is the current X-Division Champion, and he was right on. He 'gets it', and played up the heel characteristics of his character during our interview. Now, I am not the most articulate interviewer in the world, and these interviews were my first, but he was great, stayed in kayfabe, and worked a pretty good promo out around my terrible questions. Hard worker, and a nice guy.
Sonny Siaki, a Samoan wrestler that resides in North Carolina, explained to me that he would work nowhere else but the NWA-TNA. He shared the company policy that said they could work wherever they wished to, except the WWE, while remaining under contract with TNA. He was humble, understated, and came off as nothing but appreciative that the NWA-TNA had given him a chance to do what he loves.
Tracy is a dark-haired vixen with sparkling eyes, and she was as vivacious as her character was heel. She was the one who I interviewed first of the three, and she was the most gregarious, sharing her love of the company, her admiration for the women wrestlers that performed in the past, those who work today, and the guys that she gets to work with in the NWA-TNA. She travels from Toronto to Nashville every week to compete, even if the trip is only to do an in-ring promo. She loves doing it, for the love of the industry.
The backstage environment was great. Vince Russo saw me and gave me a nod while he talked on the cell phone. Ron Harris shot me off a 'Thanks' when I told him that he worked well that night. Konnan and D'Lo Brown were also there, nodding at me while discussing with their compatriots who-knows-what. Frankie Kazarian thanked me when I told him he worked a good match that evening. No-one ignored me, no one gave me a dirty look, and everyone seemed to intermingle with no problems. In short, there was no huge backstage problem visible to me, and no morale problem. People seemed happy to be there.
I want to use this column to publicly thank the NWA-TNA for the privilege of interviewing their wrestlers, for sharing in the backstage environment that they enjoy, and for being treated like a human, and like I was important, as opposed to being treated like the relative outsider that I was. I will go back there.
I hope some of you do, too.
See you at bodyslam.cc; with all the news, rumors, and columns we have, what alternative do you have? I mean, other than Solie's....
See you next week, for another Connection.
SmackDown! came to us on tape from Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and opened with Kurt Angle coming to the ring and starting a rant, only to be interrupted by John Cena with one of his stupid raps/ Angle ended up challenging Cena to a rap-off. He got one of the referees to do a rap beat for him and used the spot to deliver a funky insult. It was almost as good as the "milk shower" bit. Cena was ready for a fight, then the Big Show arrived to put in his two cents. Angle was distracted so Cena attacked him from behind, then TBS chokeslammed him.
Next up - a Fatal Fourway match for tag team contention - Misterio/Kidman vs. Palumbo/Stamboli vs. The Basham Brothers vs APA. This one was a brawl from the opening bell and soon was out of control. In fact, APA and the FBI brawled away from the ring area early on, leaving the Bashams and Misterio/Kidman to battle it out as we cut to commercial. During the break the two teams eliminated each other via countout. In the ring, the Kidman/Misterio team was on top for the most part but the Bashams were giving them a good fight. In the end, Kidman/Misterio proved to be a great team (remember, they worked together in WCW) and took the win.
Backstage, Angle was being treated for his injuries when Brock Lesnar came in to commiserate. Lesnar said he would have been there for Kurt...but he just arrived.
After the break they rebroadcast the Zach Gowan/Stephanie vs. Big Show match in it's entirety. Then they came back to the present for the contract signing. But first a commercial. After the break, Gowan joined Stephanie in the ring. Without ceremony, he thanked the fans and Stephanie, and Kurt and Brock, then signed the paper. Vince came out with Sable to spoil the moment (of course). He naturally used the moment to put the two of them down - then announced a handicap match featuring Brock Lesnar going up against Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin and the Big Show. Then he turned to Zach and booked him into a match against Vince, himself for the next PPV. Sable then hit Stephanie with her own clipboard - I see another match brewing for Vengeance.
Backstage, Stephanie barged into Vince's office and attacked Sable. They were separated by officials, including Fit Finley. Vince McMahon made the match...
Matt hardy and Shannon Moore took on Chris Benoit and Rhino in the next contest. Actually, Rhino was taken out of action early on so Benoit fought most of the match for their team. He made Moore tap to a Crossface.
Eddie Guerrero drove his low rider to the ring and bounced it a few times while we watched a replay of his attack on his former partner last week. He entered the ring and made a speech, which received a mixed reaction, to say the least. He admitted he has a bit of a temper and wished tajiri a speedy recovery. The announced that he was going on as a single, and would wrestle in the US Title tournament. his opponent tonight...Ultimo Dragon! This turned out to be the only singles match of the night, by the way. The Dragon seemed to have Eddie's number from the get-go, countering almost every move - but in the end, Eddie held the tights in a roll up to take the pin and advance in the tournament.
Backstage, Billy Gunn and Torrie were necking in a hallway, then snuck off together.
In the next match, Billy and Torrie took on Jaime Noble and Nidia in another one of the those mixed tag battles where half of each team doesn't know how to wrestle. Torrie took out Nidia with a DDT, then Noble made and "indecent proposal" - offering Torrie $10,000 of his newly acquired fortune to spend the night with him. Billy attacked him then set him up so Torrie could hit the DDT on him as well.
Backstage, Lesnar was on his way to the ring with Angle at his side, until a stagehand stopped Angle and told him Vince wanted to see him right now. Then they introduced TBS and the former team Angle (now calling them selves the "World's Greatest Tag Team") before cutting to commercial.
Lesnar was in the ring and in control as we returned and were informed that this was a "falls count anywhere" match. Lesnar's dominance was short lived as his opponents overwhelmed him with their numbers. No sign of Angle, of course. Brock eventually escaped by hitting a belly-to-belly suplex on the Show, then running him into the post on the outside. back in the ring, he got the F5 on Charlie Haas, but Benjamin dragged him out to the floor only to suffer a belly-to-belly on the floor. All three of the bad guys were off their feet now as Lesnar started rearranging the ringside furniture - including a set of ring steps. He was about to F5 Benjamin onto the steps, but Show booted him in the face. brock came right back and then climbed onto the steps to go for an F5! But Show recovered and chokeslammed him through the announce table!! Lesnar was pinned out on the floor.
That's all folks...
Next up, Scott Steiner (w/Stacy), Kevin Nash and Trish Stratus took on Steven Richards, Test and Victoria in an intergender 6 person tag team match. Right off the bat, Steiner went in with Richards and just demolished him. Steiner tried to get Test in the ring but the former bouncer was having none of it. The girls got into it next and right away Test managed to interfere, clotheslining Trish from the apron. he tagged in and taunted Trish, who responded with a furious assault that surprised us all, until he came back with another clothesline to put her down then tagged Victoria back in. Victoria barely got started when Nash tagged in. Victoria tried to tag Test beck in, but he avoided the tag and Richards ending up facing the wrath of Big Daddy Cool, who finished the match with a Jack Knife.
Backstage, Bischoff and Jericho were complaining about Austin's actions earlier. Jericho had an inspiration when Bischoff brought up the term, "company policy", and took off on some nefarious purpose.
Lance Storm started to read a statement, saying that he was going to take "legal action" against fans who chanted "boring"during his matches. He was interupted by the arrival of his opponent, Maven. After a...well...thoroughly boring match, Maven rolled up his opponent and pinned him.
Back in Stamford, JR prepared for his interview with Kane, reassuring a frightened technician that everything would be fine.
The French Nerds came out express their appreciation for Bischoff being back, claiming that Austin kept them off the program last week (I didn't notice, actually). They then proceeded to announce that today was Bastille day, and went into their French national Anthem schtick. Fortunately, they chose that moment to cut to commercial. Unfortunately, they were still singing when we returned, but the Dudleys (all three of them) arrived to put a stop to it. They ran to the ring and attacked in a quite unscheduled manner, clearing the ring in under two minutes. Bubba then proposed that the crowd sing the US National Anthem - and sing they did...rather badly...except when D-Von sang, they were generally flat.
After the break, the Dudleys took on Evolution, in the persons of HHH, Ric Flair and Randy Orton (Oh, right - that's all of them these days...) in a tag team elimination match. Flair made the mistake of entering the ring first againts Bubba. He soon thought better of that and taunted Spike to tag in. he backed Spike into the corner, only to have his head slapped silly. Orton came in and drop-kicked Spike out to the floor, where Flair was waiting to step on his head! back in the ring Flair punched Spike a few times then tagged in Triple H, who delivered a few licks then tagged in Orton again. Orton tried to deliver a another drop kick and missed, causing himself to be isolated for awhile. That brought in all six men, but it sorted out to Spike and Orton again. Orton eliminated Spike making it three on two. The Dudleys dominated the next several minutes with their superior teamwork. They got a 3D on Orton but Flair dragged the referee out to interrupt the count. Moments later HHH gpot hold of the French flag which was still ringside and brained D-Von so that Orton could eliminate him. D-Von tried to stick around to "get the table" - but more referees came down and escorted him away as we cut to another commercial. Bubba was on his own and in a Figure Four when we returned. Triple H tried to come in but Bubba caught him in a DDT, so Orton took his place in the ring. Moments later, Hunter tried to come in again and was caught yet again, in a Bubba Bomb this time. The match went to the floor, where Bubba started to make a comeback. He positioned HHH on the table that D-Von had hauled out from under the rin earlier, but Flair upset him, then Flair distracted the referee while Triple H hit an illegal Pedigree on Bubba. Orton went for the pin as the referee turned his attention back and counted Bubba out.
Backstage, RVD demanded and got a committment for a match against Kane next week from Eric Bischoff. In another part of the building, Jericho was gathering signatures on a petition to oust Steve Austin. back in the ring, Teddy Long and his thug came out and suggested that a black man should be Austin's replacement (how predictable...)
The next match was a result of last week's beat down on Rosie - who came out to face Rodney Mack. It was a furious contest in which Rodney was on the receiving end until Ol' Peanuthead snuck in a low blow to give his man the pinfall. Hurricane's music blared and he appeared on the corner to deliver a missle drop-kick that sent Rodney and Teddy scrambling. As Hurricane and Rosie were eyeing each other, we went backstage, where Jericho got the members of Evolution to sign his petition.
Booker T gave Christian a rematch for the title in the next contest. After a fast paced match, Christian managed to roll Booker up and pin him. Unfortunately for him, Booker had earlier knocked out the referee (by mistake, folks) and Nick Patrick had run out to continue the match. Patrick had done the count. The original referee came back around and disputed the ruling, which caused an argument between the two officials. Steve Austin appeared, sent the arguing refs to the back, and ordered the match restarted with a third referee. Moments later, Booker hit a scissors kick and took the pinfall, retaining his title. After the match, Christian went off on the referee, which brought Austin back out to stomp a mud hole in him and then Stun him.
In the back, Bischoff anwered his phone, said hello to Linda McMahon, listened for a moment then smiled... Back in Stamford, JR welcomed Kane to the set. Kane handed JR a big red package. JR put the present on a nearby table, then asked Kane to sit down and be patient for the interview to start.
Gail Kim defended her title for the first time on TV against Molly Holly. This was quite a competitive match which ended with the same move Kim used on Victoria to win the tag match last week. A Frankensteiner to a roll-up.
In Stamford, Kane again handed JR the package. he opened it to find a gasoline can inside. Kane told him if he made fun of him, he (Kane) would set JR on fire! When we returned from the break, the interview began. JR started by showing a video package on the situation as it has progressed over the past few weeks. JR then asked Kane for his reaction to the footage. Kane stated that he felt hatred for Austin and others, who want him to "be himself". He claimed that his face was horribly disfigured, which JR disputed. He told Kane that he knew what it is like to be made fun of, but you have to just say "screw it". Kane started to get excited, claiming that JR was just like his doctors, who told him that his burns were superficial when he was a boy. Steve Austin came to the ring and told Kane to calm down, but Kane turned and knocked JR to the floor then started pouring gasoline on him! He lit a match as people in Stamford and Austin tried to reason with him, then set the match to JR's back. There was a line of fire across the floor and up JR's back until others in the studio put it out. Kane had left. Back in the arena, Bischoff came out and cursed Austin, telling him that Linda McMahon would be oin the show in LA next week to fire him.
At least that's the way I see it...
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