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.
During the month of October, I am going to be moving to a new home in another city. Since I am going to be spending a lot of time working on the new house, and driving back and forth between the two locations (which are about 180 miles apart), I am concerned that I may not be able to properly monitor the wrestling scene during this period. So I have decided to suspend publication of the newsletter during the month of October. After this edition, the newsletter will go off line for four weeks, to return on Monday, November 3rd.
This week in World Heavyweight Title History saw the abandonment of a couple world titles and a couple title changes in Montreal. 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
As always, please visit my website. The goal is to have lengths of time as champion for all the world title belts and also multiple champions club. Also, I'd like to have comprehensive title defenses for as many titles as possible. Such a feat is impossible without help from many. So, if you have any information or would like to contribute your knowledge of world titles it would be greatly appreciated. Simply e-mail at the above address.
World Title History for the week of September 29th to October 04th:
Vicent Lopez capture the Los Angeles version of the World Heavyweight Title on September 30, 1936 when he defeated Dave Levin in Los Angeles, CA
Dr. X (Bill Miller) defeated Wilbur Snyder on October 03, 1050 in Omaha, NE to capture the Omaha version of the World Heavyweight Title.
September 30, 1967 saw Wilbur Snyder defeat Mitsu Arakawa for the Indianapolis version of the World Wrestling Association (WWA) World Heavyweight Title.
Yvon Robert defeated Ernie Dusek on October 03, 1939 in Montreal, QC, Canada to capture the World Heavyweight Championship of the Montreal Athletic Commission.
Exactly twenty-seven years later, Edouard Carpentier captured the Montreal World Title for the fourth time when he defeated Hans Schmidt in Montreal, QC, Canada. This was the fourth time Carpentier held this version of the world title.
Canek vacated the Universal Wrestling Association (UWA) World Heavyweight Title on October 04, 1983 so that he could leave UWA and tour Texas. This ended his fourth run with the title.
October 04, 1937 saw Jim Londos awarded the Maryland version of the World Heavyweight Championship in Baltimore, Maryland. Bronko Nagurski was the previous champion and he would not sign to face Londos. So, Nagurski was stripped of the title and it was awarded to Londos.
International Wrestling Enterprise saw their World Heavyweight Championship abandoned on September 30, 1981 when the company closed its doors. The last champion was Rusher Kimura and the closing ended his fifth title reign.
The Los Angeles based World Wrestling Association (WWA) abandoned its World Heavyweight Championship on October 01, 1981 after they joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Bobo Brazil was the last WWA World Champion and his second reign ended when the title was abandoned.
"Next week, I promise to do another Top 10...best CHARACTERS in the WWE."
Yeah…I said it, but I am faced with a quandary. Let me explain……
I don’t know which 10 I should do. The characters that are present in this day and age...there are several that I would call good. Kurt Angle...very good. Eddie Guererro…very good. HHH, though I would hate to admit it, has a very good character developed for himself. However, there are only a couple active characters I would consider as great, when compared to the characters we have seen since 1980 or so. The Undertaker is one, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair are others. So, considering which picture to paint for you (the bigger one, or the smaller one) is hard, because there are so many characters from the 80’s that I would miss.
Well, far be it from me to keep the big picture from you, the loyal readers. So, I’ll jump in with both feet. I am going to qualify this list further, and make it representative of the federations that I had access to, which was the NWA-WCW and the WWF/E, because we had very little coverage of any other regional/national fed in my geographical area between 1980-1991. Sorry to all you AWA’ers out there, and to all the Stampede fans...I just never had the chance to see your great workers in character when they were in their prime in your federations.
The Top 10 Characters in Pro Wrestling*, from 1980-2003: (note: careers in parentheses)
10. The ‘King’ Jerry Lawler (1970-Present): I know that some characters cited here were in other feds and reached great and epic heights there, like Lawler, but one of the things he has above many other wrestlers is the fact that he very successfully moved from the ring to announcer, and maybe better than anyone else. Having it out with Andy Kaufman helped, ‘tis true, but he is quite original in his character (Harley Race being in a slightly earlier era), and recognized wherever he goes. He is also a guy who baits the fans as a heel, but is treated as a face. He deserves a place on the list here. Along with...
10a. Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan (1960-1999): I know this guy wrestled, and many would say that Freddie Blassie was more of a character than Heenan, but this is the only ‘pure’ male manager in this list, or, I should say, he is the only person that wasn't a wrestler for the majority of his career. He was the best man at getting heat for his troops, and was so recognized for his banter and his persona, that it was fun booing him. He intimately understood the role he had, and it showed in the artistry with which he played the cheap cheater and the cowardly sneak. He had, without a doubt, a most brilliant run in the WWF and WCW, and was the essential manager, and one that all managers should be compared to. I bind him with Lawler, because they are mirror images of each other; Heenan’s fame, though, came in the wrestling world while NOT a wrestler, where Lawler’s came when he wrestled. Probably the best color commentators of this age in wrestling as well.
9. Sting (1985-Present): He was, without a doubt, as important to the NWA-WCW as The Undertaker was to the WWF. He never left his fed for greener pastures, and the fans knew and appreciated that. He was the perfect foil for Ric Flair...as flashy, as technically sound, and as resourceful in the ring, but louder, younger, and much more moral. From the loud, crew-cut days where he stood off Flair, to the days where he donned black and warred with the nWo, there was no character in the WCW as loved as Sting. He had the rare combination of speed and strength, much like The Rock, and never sloughed a match off.
8. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (1976(?)-2000): There was no character like Randy Savage...no one. "OOHHH, YEAHHH!" was one of the things we said back and forth in high school to each other, and there is no wrestling fan who would hear that and fail to immediately understand who you were talking about. With the ‘Pomp and Circumstance" entrance, and the escort (be it grudgingly or lovingly) with Miss Elizabeth, Randy Savage was the top face AND the top heel in the WWF in the mid-1980’s. He successfully carried that over to the WCW, and managed to keep his character (wild clothes, glasses, tense-to-bursting promos and demeanor) fresh and popular for several years, even without the added bonus of Elizabeth.
8a. Miss Elizabeth (1984-2000): Miss Elizabeth might not be the 7th greatest character...she might be 8th, or 6th, but she is the only female on the list, and that is because she was, simply, the exemplar for every female valet that came after her. She was graceful, charming, and knew how to play the character. Fans could see her chafing every time she had to pull something out of her bag of tricks to get Savage a win, and the conflict that she felt between Hogan and Savage was vested in every heart that followed that storyline. There was no comparison to any valet before her, especially where popularity was concerned, and she was arguably more popular than Savage was at some points in their association. The prototypical Valet, Miss Elizabeth.
7. "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes (1969-2001): What a lot of people tend to think of when they think of Dusty Rhodes is either he polka-dotted tights in his WWF run, or his playing a lot of second fiddle to Ric Flair in the 80’s NWA. However, this guy was a wildly popular character in the 80’s and 90’s, be it behind the mic, or in the ring. He was very good at playing to the fans, he worked hard in the ring, and was totally unmistakable. Dusty held the NWA World Heavyweight Title three times, defending it against all-time greats from three different eras in wrestling. One of the great ties to an earlier age in wrestling...Dusty Rhodes.
6. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat (1977-1996(?)) Sometimes, in-ring performances define a character. Ricky Steamboat held the NWA Title, the WCW U.S. Title, the Intercontinental Title, and several others. He wrestled in what are commonly thought of as two of the greatest matches in the modern era…against Randy Savage and Ric Flair…and his mastery of the in-ring character...fluidity, motion, heart, skill, and drive to put the best match on the mat...made him one of the greats. Many were more famous, but none were, pound for pound, better than Steamboat. Also, unlike many, there was no long, long decline of his character. He didn't overstay his greatness.
5. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart (1976-2000) Bret Hart was, more than likely, the best professional wrestler on this list. He could out wrestle everybody on this list, and make all of them look like experts. Was he the ballet of Steamboat? The flash of a Ric Flair, or the volume of a Sting? Nope, but he was the best of everyone on this list, the foot soldier in a list of generals and officers. He was the gritty worker, the one who sold the other moves, the backbone of whatever fed he was in. Did you need a great main event? You wanted Bret Hart. Face or heel, he was a character that the fans trusted and believed in. Like the man, the character had principles; even if they were a bit different than yours, you respected the character.
4. The Undertaker (1989-Present): This man has the most dominating presence in the current era of pro wrestling. Period. No other answer is applicable. For 13 years, there has been no-one that can hold a candle to him as a character, and he has done nothing but gain in stature. Even though his original character (Zombie to Goth) evolved to a state of staleness, he made a huge change and came back arguably more popular than ever. That is a true statement of the uniqueness and power of the Undertaker character. He is the greatest of the big men since Andre the Giant, and is proof that great mic work is not the genesis of a truly great character.
3. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper (1970-Present): Without a doubt, the best heel of the last 30 years. Another absolute, fair readers. He was such a great heel, he turned face...the first modern ‘anti-hero’, and the heel that every present heel models him-or-herself after. A singular character, and with the most unique entrance of any piper in history (forget the dimming lights, the entrance music…who else has bagpipes?), but he had the most talent on the mic of anyone in his age. Better than Flair, Hogan, Shawn Michaels, and anyone else on this list, Piper could convey his role to the fans with marked efficiency. Though he was never the in-ring technician, Piper was the role model for every sports entertainer that works in the ring today. He was the ‘seller’ of all things wrestling, and understood the importance of kayfabe.
2. Hulk Hogan (1978-2002): Hulk Hogan is the greatest of the ‘comic-book’ characters that proliferated throughout the 80’s, and he was the greatest of the ‘created’ characters. In addition, he was the first pure ‘sports entertainer’. Where he was different than Roddy Piper is in his complete difference of focus. He had little in the way of ‘pro-wrestling’ skills, and wasn’t the fastest, or smartest worker, but Hogan was, perhaps, the greatest package wrestling had ever seen: A huge, good-looking man who could work the mic and sell a match to the fans. He was cool, with his long hair, muscles, rock-and-roll persona, and he captured millions with his talent and shtick. Though he had little wrestling talent, he worked hard in the ring, and became the first pop-icon from the wrestling world since Gorgeous George.
1. ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (1972-Present): The greatest character of the last 20 years, bar none. He is the best combination of in-ring skill, awareness of kayfabe, mic work, appearance, and smarts that has come down the pike in the last 2 decades. He is probably, with Hogan, one of the top five wrestlers of all time. However, working in the environment of the NWA (which was more world-wide than the WWF was in the late 70’s and early 80’s), he displayed something that Hogan didn't have, and that was a selflessness...something that defines a character is the ability to shine when not in the spotlight, and put over other great characters. Several people that could be on this list...like Sting, would not have been ranked so high unless Ric Flair hadn't strutted out to the ring and jobbed to them. Dusty Rhodes, Sting, Hulk Hogan, and even Savage, were all made better by Ric Flair. Now, in maybe the truest definition of the persistence of his character, when you see the Figure Four Leg-Lock, or hear the smart report of a openhanded chop, or glance at a platinum blond head of hair, perfectly feathered back, down to the shoulders, you only picture one man...Ric Flair, the Nature Boy.
There you go.
I started school today, in an attempt to pound my way through those last 13 classes to my 4-year college degree. After I get that, maybe my Masters, and my Doctorate...
...then, my Earlate.
I will see all of you, in 5 weeks, for another Connection.
SmackDown! came to us on tape from the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and opened with Vince McMahon and Sable coming down to the ring to make a special presentation of the WWE Heavyweight Title to Brock Lesnar. But before they could introduce the new champ, the old champ, Kurt Angle decided to interrupt the festivities. Vince pretended to welcome him to the ring, then started trying to put words in his mouth, first saying that Kurt was here to whine, then saying he wanted to challenge Lesnar (which wasn't going to happen, according to Vince), then saying that Kurt intended to join Vince in honoring and congratulating Lesnar. Angle finally got his hands on the mic and said he wasn't there to congratulate Brock, but to kick his butt. He was calling Brock out! At this point, Vanilla Lice showed up and started running his mouth. Angle knocked him on his can and threw him out of the ring - then he went looking for Brock. He went backstage and found the Champion's dressing room, but Brock wasn't there. As he exited the room he was ambushed by a lurking John Cena - but we cut to commercial.
During the break, Cena split. Angle commandeered Vince's limo to give chase.
Los Guerreros defended their Tag Titles against Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore. Moore and Hardy, despite being a veteran team, gave the Champs very little trouble. They managed to isolate Chavo for a short while, but then Eddie tagged back in and cleaned house quite convincingly. The challengers tried to use a shortcut to victory but it misfired when Hardy accidentally clobbered his partner. About a minute later, Eddie put Moore in position and hit a Frog Splash for the win. Almost immediately, Hardy came back into the ring and put Eddie down with a Side Effect onto a title belt. Chavo was trying to rouse his uncle as we cut to commercial.
During the break, Charlie Haas ran in and attacked Eddie while he was down. Haas is challenging Guerrero for the US Title later tonight.
A-Train came down and started tearing up the ringside furniture. He grabbed a mic and complained about being told that he can't beat Chris Benoit. He harangued the crowd daring anyone to challenge him, then he dragged the time keeper into the ring and started to beat on him. Benoit ran down and attacked him, slapping on the Crippler Crossface, which A-Train powered out of. Benoit was thrown to the floor and then hit with a chair.
Backstage, Eddie Guerrero was refusing to back down from the title match with Haas later tonight. Meanwhile, Vince was over-acting as usual, "making love" to Sable when the producer interrupted them. He told the producer that the special Title presentation to Lesnar would still take place tonight, then told him to get out.
Josh Mathews interviewed Charlie Haas justified his attack on Guerrero, saying that the Guerreros took out his partner last week.
Tajiri challenged Rey Misterio for the Cruiserweight Title. The challenger gave Rey Rey everything he could handle in a long match, and then won it after spraying the champion with red mist.
The unlikely duo of Jamie Noble and Bradshaw took on the Basham Brothers and had the match under control, for the most part. Bradshaw hit a Clothesline from Hell on Doug and appeared to have it won, but Shaniqua ran in and attacked Bradshaw, thus getting her team disqualified.
Charlie Haas challenged a already injured Eddie Guerrero for the US Title. Before the match, Guerrero had to get past the Big Show, who had joined the broadcast team for a minute or so coming out of the commercial. Show let him go past, but then turned and attacked the Champion, then left him laying for Haas to start the match early. The strategy was unsuccessful in the end. Haas worked on Guerrero's back throughout the match but failed to put Eddie away. In the end, he was fooled into running himself into the corner, where Guerrero had draped the title belt and was defeated after the Champ hit a Frog Splash.
Vince finally got to have his ceremony for Lesnar. But he was interrupted by the Undertaker, who came down to complain about Lesnar's interference during the match he had with Kurt Angle a few weeks ago and then informed them all that he would have a title match against Lesnar at the next PPV. When Vince demanded to know who had made that match, which brought Stephanie to the ring to reveal that she had booked the contest. Vince then made a match pitting Stephanie against himself at No Mercy - an "I Quit" match with Stephanie's job at stake. A brawl ensued, and Brock was on the receiving end of a chokeslam as the program faded to black.
Raw came too us live from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois, where Chris Jericho welcomed his special guest for the Highlight Reel - Eric Bischoff, who informed us that the WWE Board of Directors had suspended Steve Austin from tonight's program for attacking Bischoff last week. Jericho next introduced Jim Ross, who was set to face Jonathan Coachman with the RAW announce jobs on the line. Bischoff then invited Coach to name a stipulation for the match. He chose a "Country Whippin'" match. JR suggested that Bischoff ought to be hoping for a win my JR because the Coach and Al Snow suck. This got him laid out by Jericho, which brought the supposedly suspended Rattlesnake to the ring to rescue his old friend. Bischoff and Jericho split up the ramp to avoid contact, then complained that Steve was supposed to be barred from the building and summoned security forces. Austin took out the security guys then left under his own volition.
The Dudleys put their Tag Team Gold on the line against the uneasy team of Scott Steiner and Test (w/Stacy). They won it with a 3D after Stacy delivered a chair shot on her tormentor. After the match, Steiner suddenly turned on Stacy and put a suplex on her for interfering at the PPV and causing him to lose to Test, then split. Test, for his part, was first astonished then delighted at that turn of events. Poor Stacy...
Kane came to the ring for a rant and was interrupted by Hurricane, who wanted to know what happened to his former tag team partner (they were the champs at one time, remembers?). Kane's response was to menace a child in a Hurricane mask at ringside. Hurricane came down and took a beating. Rosie ran in and rescued him, then the two of them ran Kane off.
In a segment taped backstage earlier in the day, Marc Jindrack, Maven and Garrison Cade were taunted by the French Nerds and their thug friend. This led to the next match - a six man tag contest, which was one by the face team when Cade pinned Conway.
After the break, Austin was hanging out in the parking lot with a bunch of security guys. RVD came out and thanked him for setting him up to meet Christian for the IC Title later tonight, then a "fan" named "John" approached the Rattlesnake. Austin and the fan left together.
By satellite, HHH announces that he is offering $100,000 to anyone who can take out Goldberg (yawn...)
Jim Ross fought Coach and took his job back (predictably...) The "country whippin'" aspect meant a leather strap that never actually came into play in the match, except JR used it to drive Bischoff away when he came down to try and interfere. After a pretty sloppy Stone Cold Stunner, JR took the pin and won his job (and Lawler's) back. The King joined JR in the ring to celebrate, then Stone Cold showed up waving a (apparently "John's") ticket. They shared a beer moment.
After the break, JR and the King were back in place at the announce table.
Terri interviewed Lita in the ring about her new book, but the interview was interrupted by Molly Holly and Gail Kim who attacked Lita until Trish ran down to the rescue. Trish and Lita were getting some back when Victoria ran down and changed the odds. Trish and Lita were left laying...
Hurricane came down to take on the monster, Kane and got his butt whipped again, though he got in a few licks as well. In the end, he was defeated pretty easily.
Stevie Richards tried to collect HHH's bounty on Goldberg during a backstage interview. He didn't...
Evolution, in the persons of Ric Flair and Randy Orton came down after the break to take on Shawn Michaels and Goldberg in a tag team main event. The announcers were busy building up the absurd proposition that Michaels would turn on his partner for the $100,000...right...because he and HHH used to be best friends...right... This one went pretty much as expected. During the first pairing, Flair got into a test of strength with Mr. Bill. orton came in illegally to help his partner - so Michaels started to enter the ring as well, only to be stopped by the referee...right... Moment later HBK came in for real and was immediately isolated for several minutes. When Goldberg finally got into the match he cleaned house and was winding things up when Rodney Mack ran in and attacked him. Meanwhile, Mark Henry attacked Michaels and rammed his head into the ring steps, busting his forehead wide open. Goldberg dispatched Mack and won the match via DQ.
Christian defended his Intercontinental Title against Rob Van Dam in a ladder match. of course, someone forgot to remind Christian that RVD was doing ladder matches in ECW long before he had his first one in the WWE. RVD basically showed Christian how ladder matches are supposed to go, and defeated him to become the new IC Champ.
Not a bad show, but kind of predictable.
At least that's the way I see it...
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