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.
This week in World Heavyweight Title History saw a prestigious World Title fill its first vacancy, a Mexican promotion named their first World Champ, and a future World Champ won his first World Title. 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
World Title History for the week of August 11th to August 17th:
Superstar Billy Graham won the International Wrestling Enterprise (IWE) World Heavyweight Title on August 16, 1974 in Denver, CO. This was one of the rare occasions when this title changed hands on U.S. soil.
Verne Gagne was awarded the AWA World Heavyweight Title on August 16, 1960. Pat O'Connor, reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion, had been named the first AWA World Champion and was given 90 days to defend against Gagne. O'Connor didn't wrestle the match and Gagne was awarded the title via forfeit. This scenario is similar to Triple H being given the World Title last year when Lesnar signed with Smackdown.
August 17, 1968 saw Gagne lose the AWA World Title to Dr. X (Dick Beyer) in Bloomington, MN. This ended Gagne's eight time as AWA Champion.
Lou Thesz was made the first Universal Wrestling Association (UWA) World Heavyweight Champion on August 15, 1977. His status as their World Champion was because he wrestled Mil Mascaras to a time limit draw on the UWA's first card on July 26, 1975.
Steve Casey defeated French Angel on August 15, 1942 in San Francisco, CA to win the Boston based American Wrestling Assocation (AWA) World Heavyweight Title. This was Casey's fifth reign as AWA World Heavyweight Champion. It was during this reign that he went into the U.S. Army and was unable to defend his title during his time in service.
The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Heavyweight Title was revived on August 12, 1992 when Masahiro Chono defeated Rick Rude in a tournament final in Tokyo, JAPAN to win the strap. The title had been vacated when Ric Flair signed a contract to wrestle for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). That was the first time in the title's history that it had been vacant.
A young wrestler named Scott Rechsteiner won the Indianapolis based World Wrestling Association (WWA) World Heavyweight Title from Greg Wojokowski on August 14, 1986 in Dearborn, MI. Rechsteiner would later become a tag team specialist with his brother Rick as The Steiner Brothers and later won the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) World Title. His first World Title, though, was won 17 years ago this week.
Well, here I am…one column per week to write, and I feel strangely liberated. It’s not like I was straining to find good things to write about, but...well, I was kind of straining to find good things to write about. With three columns a week, there is a slight problem with keeping them positive, especially since this is the WWE I have been opining about.
Face it, the WWE has not been the bastion of good feelings it once was. That may be a shock to you, but, hey, no-one promised you a rose garden. However, refreshed by a week off from B&C’ing about the WWE, I have found energy enough to tell you all about a couple good things that I have been witness to.
First off, I’ll start with my good friend, Kurt Angle. Joy of Joys, and Rapture of Raptures, he’s a babyface again! I am a happy dude.
Though I am tired of seeing McMahon’s mug on the darned screen every time Smackdown, Raw, Velocity, or Heat is on, my brother Mike has always said that if you want a successful heel turn, a bigger heel has to assist...and assist he did. Using the standard “I’m joining with Mr. McMahon.” Format (seen with the Corporate Ministry, HHH, William Regal, and countless others), Brock finalized what had become a pretty entertaining mystery angle. Who would turn? How would they do it? With Angle coming off the PPV as a bit of a dirty player, and the reinforcement of that when he tagged himself into the tag-match a week ago last Thursday, it was shaping up to be the same old predictable deal…..Angle turns heel, deserves the beatdown at Summerslam.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, not this time. Good moves abound in WWE-land with this little swerve.
First, and most easily understood, is the fact that Lesnar is a natural heel. Angle has the whole Stars and Bars-thing going on, the return from the injury, and the dogged determination and ‘never quit’ mentality down pat. Lesnar’s face pops started to wane a bit near to the PPV, if only because the fans had accepted Angle as a bigger face than Lesnar. Add to that the viewer fatigue because of the never-ending Lesnar-Big Show program, and you have a situation that inherently makes Angle a bigger draw as a good guy. It was common sense to turn Lesnar at this time, if at all.
The reason I say that is because I believe in the ‘Face on Face’ match. Sure, it isn’t as big of a draw as a heel-face match, but these guys are good enough in the ring to pull it off. With the mess that the Raw Championship match has become, it wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch, nor much of an imposition on the WWE, to carry both men through the Summerslam event as faces. Then, they could have broken them up into different feuds. I figure Lesnar would have been good as gold as a face until the end of the year. Then, a turn for WMXX.
The trump card, however, is that Kurt Angle is ready to be a face. His last face run was cut short by Vince and Co., simply because, in my opinion, they didn’t want people to say they were pushing The American Hero as a face to take advantage of the pro-American sentiment after the 9-11 Attack. Remember the first Persian Gulf War, and Hulk Hogan-Slaughter? That was bad news then, and no-one wanted a repeat. Now, however, with patriotic feelings less feverish, Angle can be played up a bit more. I hear ‘USA-USA” chants when he wrestles still, no matter who he’s against. That is great, and a traditionally good way of getting face heat. Also, he’s been a heel more in the past four years than anyone else on that roster, and maybe more so than anyone else in the WWE (though HHH would give him a run for his money in that department). Everyone in the main event needs to be pushed as both a face and heel. It simply seems like it’s Kurt’s turn at the helm.
Also, with the Undertaker/Cena angle looking as if it will play out at Summerslam (that will be their ‘rubber’ match, I think), John Cena’s push will take him to Angle, who is someone he has worked well against in the past. Bringing up the current positions they now occupy (Cena as the #2 or #3 heel on Smackdown, Angle as the #1 or #2 face) as a good juxtaposition to where they were a year or so ago will also get interest up. Lesnar can move on to feud with ‘Taker (although that seems to be played out), or, maybe, he can work against a returning Batista. That part hasn’t worked itself out in my head….if only for the reason that Angle is one of my favorites, and Lesnar isn’t.
OK...you knew that I would find something to kinda, sorta, complain about….right?
The Elimination Chamber. Does this sound like an out for a couple people? Namely Bill Goldberg and HHH?
Look...we all know the ego’s involved here are about the size of Kansas...and about as difficult to observe and explain. HHH doesn’t want to job to Goldberg, and vice versa. So, this whole crappy, twisted, confused Elimination match will serve to shield both men. It allows HHH to lose (which he really, truly needs to do), and it allows Goldberg to win (maybe...I’ll explain in a bit) without either man losing face to the other. It is pathetic that grown men would bicker about something like this, especially since the damned thing IS SCRIPTED, but, such is life.
Another aspect of this is the repeated rumors and whispers from the WWE backstage area that management is not happy with ‘Da Man’s’ abilities in the ring. He’s more of a prima-donna, one-dimensional worker than they realized, though my 5-year old nephew with the glazed eyes could have told you that. Now, stuck with his creative control, his huge salary, and that rot, they are in a rut of their own design. Well, welcome to the fruits of Ego, Vince. Shoulda’ signed those guys right off the bat, huh? Well, learn from this.
The Raw locker room has the same problem the WCW locker room had...too many people not willing to lose face, in order to help the company as a whole. That kind of sucks, but go figure. It is all Vince McMahon’s doing, though he would probably blame someone else. However, when one man controls the store like it is said he does, blame can only go one place. He has to tell people how it is, or what they can do. However, with HHH soon to become his son-in-law, that becomes tricky. That whole situation lends itself to trouble.
So, if I were in charge, I would probably move HHH to Smackdown, and flop someone else (LESNAR) over to Raw. Neither would have the belts, and both would be forced to work in the lower Main Event ranks for a while, in order to establish themselves. Heck, throw in an angle with Stephanie...and he could marry her!
Oops...been done. Sorry. Guess they’ll have to find another fix.
OK...gotta jet. Big, important things to do, you know. Waiting from the kids and wife to get home from the water park, and you know I’ll be watching Raw this evening. You do the same, and have a Michelob Ultra for me...I’ll have one too.
See you next week for another Connection.
SmackDown! came to us on tape from Skyreach Place in Kelowna, B.C., Canada and opened with Eddie Guerrero wheeling down to the ringside area in his "ride" to face Chris Benoit in a non-title match. This was a rematch from the last PPV...except that the title was not on the line... This one didn't get that far before Rhyno came out to interfere, followed closely by Tajiri. As things began to get completely out of hand, Sgt. Slaughter appeared ringside to complain about the four of them not being able to stay out of each others' matches, then ordered the referee to restart the match as a tag team event. But first we cut to commercial. Returning from the break, we found the tag match already underway. Eventually the "good guys" won.
Kurt Angle told the new announcer guy (sorry, I never can remember his name, although I do remember him from Tough Enough) that he wanted to sit down with his pal Brock lesnar and work out their differences.
Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore joined the broadcast team for the next match, pitting Zach Gowen against Nunzio (with his two bully boys in tow). Gowen lost yet again.
Backstage, the Undertaker confronted Vince McMahon, taking him to task for his treatment of his daughter. Vince started to argue with him when Funaki suddenly ran up and started dragging him to another area of the backstage where Brock Lesnar was out cold , face down on the floor with wrestlers and officials gathered around trying to ascertain what happened. There was a length of steel pipe on the floor. Vince demanded answers but got none, then he noticed Kurt Angle nearby and appeared to come to the conclusion that Kurt was the culprit.
Meanwhile, in the ring, Vanilla Lice was running his bad rap (pun intended) on, surprise, surprise...the Undertaker. Turns out they had a match scheduled, which took place right after the next break. Unfortunately for Cena, raising the ire of the Deadman just seems to make him more intense and methodical. He showed that yet again by dominating this match from the get go, attacking Cena's left arm and ribs. Eventually, UT went for the "Old School" ring walk maneuver and suffered when Cena attacked his exposed left knee. UT came right back, however, and went right back to concentrating on Cena's left arm and elbow. He went for the ring walk again, and this time Cena was in no shape to counter it. Moments later a straight right hand to the forehead sent Cena out to the floor. UT followed him out and pounded on his opponent some more. Back in the ring, Cena was trying to shake out his (no doubt) tingling left arm. UT climbed clear to the top to deliver a superplex...but hurt himself more than Cena. he was clutching his previously injured ribs as we cut to another commercial. When we returned, Ut was clearly in distress, moaning from his injuries, but then Cena made the mistake of taking the fight back out to the floor. UT suddenly came alive, picked Cena up and ran him the length of the ring then rammed him into the opposite ringpost. Back in the ring, Cena grabbed a front facelock and started pounding his opponent's ribs again. They both straightened up and traded punches, then UT hit a big clothesline followed by an elbow drop. Cena came back with a spine buster, and again they traded blows. UT hit another big clothesline then went for the last ride, but Cena propelled himself over the Deadman's head. Suddenly A-Train ran in and attacked. UT dominated him for a moment then took a big boot to the face and a back breaker. Cena moved in for the pin but failed. UT was starting to bleed from the mouth. Cena hoisted him up and delivered the FU then took the pin. Cena walked up the ramp looking strangely at A-Train - as if he wasn't aware of the big man's part in his victory - then we cut to commercial. I like the way this feud is playing out, Cena is really showing me something.
Doug Basham (w/Danny and Shaniqua) took on Jamie Noble (w/Nidia) in the next match. During this match we heard that Brock Lesnar WOULD be competing in his scheduled main event cage match against Vince McMahon. The incident with Torrie Wilson and Billy Gunn last week was brought up but seemed to have faded from the storyline for the time being. At the end, however, as the Bashams started to beat up on Noble after his victory, Billy came running out and saved his butt. Interesting contrast between the two Tough Enough champions involved in this situation. Nidia went right to the minors to hone her skills before making her debut in WWE, and has had consistent success with her character. Shaniqua, on the other hand, started right out on TV and failed miserably the first time around. Now she has been away a while to gain some seasoning, and as Nidia did, is initially avoiding actual competition while she eases into her character on TV. Jackie Gaida seems to have gone the same route.
Backstage, it was again suggested to Angle during an interview that he had been the mysterious attacker of Brock Lesnar. He denied it.
Rey Misterio came to the ring next for a match against Charlie Haas. This was a non-title event (Haas weighs over 230 lbs., and so is not eligible to wrestle as a Cruiserweight). Misterio was immediately distracted by Haas' partner and it was pretty much down hill from there. Apparently this match was for a Tag Team Title shot for the "World's Greatest Tag Team" on next week's show. Haas dominated at first but then threw his own forehead onto a corner post. Rey Rey took control for a while, but eventually succumbed to Haas' Haas of Pain finisher.
Backstage, Brock Lesnar walked a bit unsteadily toward the ring. Meanwhile, Kurt Angle emerged from Mr. McMahon's office in a rather suspicious manner (considering he is the referee for the main event). Hmmmm...this is beginning to look like a set-up...
The main event was too short...and too predictable. Lesnar dominated the opening moments and then went for the F5 on Vince - but then collapsed to the mat. Angle refused to count Lesnar out despite Vince's ordering him to do so, and called for medical help. Vince became enraged and slapped Angle then again tried to pin Lesnar. Angle snapped and grabbed an Angle lock on Vince. Suddenly, Lesnar kipped up and went to town on Angle! Angle received the beating of his career, then McMahon handed Brock the WWE Title belt, telling him it belonged to him. McMahon then directed traffic for another beating before he and Lesnar left together.
The first match of the evening was a mixed tag contest that pitted Rico and Miss Jackie against Scott Steiner and Stacy. This one barely got underway before Test ran out and inserted himself into the match. He assaulted Steiner and threw him over the barrier, then engineered Stacy's defeat. After the match, Steiner challenged Test to settle their differences in the ring. Test agreed to have a match next week, but only if Stacy is "on the line". Stacy agreed to the terms.
Backstage, Ric Flair was having a cow over being forced to face Goldberg again tonight. HHH also complained about the conditions of his SummerSlam title contest - saying that he would be facing 5 guys in an Elimination Chamber. Randy Orton reminded him that he was on of the 5, so Trips would really only being four opponents. He guaranteed HHH would walk out the champion. Hmmm...I wonder if Orton will actually keep that promise... Further, I expect HHH will lose that match by being eliminated early. Meanwhile, the three villains put their heads together to plot strategy for Flair's rematch against Goldberg.
The next match was yet another non-title match between the French Nerds and the Dudleys, who again used a flag (American this time) to get themselves DQ'd (yawn...)
Molly Holly was polishing her title backstage when Goldust showed up and invited her to meet someone "special" - then brought in Lance Storm made up to look like the Golden One. He inadvertently told Molly she had a big butt and got slapped. Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash were having a little argument about who would win the title at SummerSlam when Goldberg came up to thank them for helping him last week, and also put in his own 2 cents about the title controversy.
The new IC Champ Christian (he won the title back at a Des Moines, Iowa house show last night) came to the ring to Booker T's music, then we cut to commercial. When we returned, Christian was telling the crowd how he beat Booker T, injured his back and retook the title. He then introduced his opponent for the evening...Spike Dudley. Spike ran to the ring and immediately put the boots to the champion, but then Christian came back, dropping Spike's stomach onto the top rope then tumbling him to the floor. Christian continued his unusual strategy of attacking Spike's stomach then applied an abdominal stretch to seal the deal. Spike escaped but was too weak to follow up. But moments later he turned the tables then had a good flurry which included three pinfall attempts. Christian eventually came back and dropped him with a face buster.
Backstage, Kane's paddy wagon had arrived and the guards were getting ready to escort him into the arena. Bischoff ran out and stopped Kane for some conversation, trying to convince Kane that he (Eric) should just lay down and allow Kane to pin him. Kane refused to do it that way, saying instead that they would do it "my way".
After the break, JR came out and took Coach's place at the table. The match itself was anticlimactic. Bischoff came down first and wanted to just lay down, as he had suggested, but Kane immediately grabbed him by the throat and hoisted him over his head. he held him there for a moment while the crowd shouted for blood, then he put him back down. He left the ring and the referee counted him out. Kane came back after the count-out and told the crowd that he had decided to not do what the crowd wanted, but to do his own thing from now on. He dropped the mic and left the ring with Bischoff yapping at his heels. Kane finally had enough of Bischoff and started stalking him. Suddenly Rob Van Dam ran out and attacked Kane, but misjudged a move and ended up spiking himself on the barrier. Kane threw him into the ring and grabbed a chair to use as a weapon. RVD fought back but eventually Kane leveled him with the chair and then stood over him laughing.
Backstage, Trish Stratus was shown getting ready for her match.
After the break, Molly Holly defended the Womens' Title against Trish and Gail Kim in a Triple Threat match. During the match, Molly cleverly duped Kim into working with her against Trish, then at the critical moment took advantage of Kim's preoccupation with Trish to launch a surprise attack and win the match. Kim blew another major move tonight when she tried to splash Trish on the outside but basically missed and landed on her face. Trish dutifully took the fall, but it looked like it hurt Kim more than Trish.
Backstage, Uncle Eric was in an expansive mood after his victory and gave a package to HHH with a referee's shirt in it, which he gave to Randy Orton. Orton would be the special referee for the Flair/Goldberg rematch tonight.
The further adventures of Rosie the Super Hero In Training was next. Rosie helped an old lady cross the street then described himself using his infamous anagrammatical initials. he gets a purse upside his head for it.
Back in the GM office, Austin congratulated Bischoff on his win, then let him no the other stipulation of the contract he signed. The contract says that the winner of the Kane/Bischoff match would have to face Shane McMahon at SummerSlam!
Hurricane took on Rodney Mack in the next match and managed to defeat him! Mack attacked after the match until Rosie ran in and squashed him. Hurricane and Rosie posed in the ring together after the win.
Chris Jericho took the ring for the Highlight Reel and made a statement saying that his hair vs. hair match with Kevin Nash is for Nash's head of hair. But that if Jericho loses he only has to shave off his facial hair. He was interrupted by Nash who came to the ring carrying a silver briefcase. He sat down and ran some video illustrating what Jericho would look like in various hairdos, and with no hair at all. He then opened the case to reveal a set of hair clippers. Nash told Jericho he had a choice, either accept the match as originally stated or get his butt kicked and his hair shaved off tonight. Jericho agreed to the match next week on RAW then attacked Nash. Nash overcame Jericho then went after him with his clippers. In the end, Jericho grabbed a fire extinguisher out from under the ring and sprayed Nash in the face to escape.
The main event went just about as could be expected. After doing everything he could to cause Goldberg to lose (including handing off some brass knuckles to Flair), Orton fell prey to a super kick from Shawn Michaels, who then used Orton's hand to count Flair out, handing the win to Goldberg.
At least that's the way I see it...
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