Volume 1, Issue 85
December 1, 1996
Having just returned from a Thanksgiving Holiday trip to visit my in-laws in Nevada, I will attempt to play a little catch-up...unfortunately I missed the Superstars broadcast because our house had a power outage earlier today so my VCR didn't catch it...but I do have the rest of the weekend programs to review.
Is Piper the "new" Macho Man?
Yesterday morning's WCW Main Event featured a complete recap of the Hogan/Piper contract signing from last week's PPV (of course). Is Piper the new "Macho Man?" (...meaning: do we now get to see him beaten up week after week for a while until the 29th?) I hope not. That storyline got old in a hurry - you'd think they would have learned their lesson after the way the Savage thing lost focus.
This one seems to consist (so far) of showing the same humiliating incident over and over (the new Starrcade '96 promos are showing the bulk of the footage at least twice during every WCW program!) instead of having a fresh attack each week - but the effect is pretty much equivalent.
I will say that this confrontation was somewhat different from the "average" Savage beating. In those gruesome dramas, we always saw the Macho Man rush in headlong, get caught short and then absorb a beating without lifting a finger...frequenly he would be stretchered out or otherwise helped from the ring area.
Piper got to floor his nemesis with a good right hand before being overwhelmed, and leaves the ring under his own power...and gets a closing speech each time. Clearly he negotiated a better deal then the one Savage had.
Doc Hendrix is back as host this week - I always find him somehow more credible then Pettingill as a commentator (I wonder why...?) - maybe I'm just nostalgic for the old "Fabulous Freebirds" era when Michael PS Hayes was one of the most hated heels on the scene.
We also got another taste of "Vic Venom" (WWF Magazine's Editor Vince Russo's alter ego) - he's always good for laugh and (occasionally) for some good speculation on current storylines.
Billy Gunn was the in-studio guest. This guy needs to strengthen his convictions before he can pull off the character he's trying to portray. Part of it is that he hasn't really established a bad-guy rep yet. Even though he and Bart had both put forth heel personnas since they took Sunny on as their manager - the very nature of that relationship undermined their heel credibility because she treated them (and especially Billy) as losers/victims. On this particular program she seemed to be cozying up Gunn again - but its hard to tell...she's been all over the map lately.
Gunn eventually walked off the program after they presented a recap of his run-in with Stone Cold Steve Austin a week or so back. He didn't look too swift in that clip...
They then switched to the subject of Shawn Michaels latest interview. Vince seems to be trying to rescue his investment in the former Champion but it feels like he's lost some confidence in the Heart Break Kid and his ability to hold onto his fan base. It must be hard for him (McMahon) right now because he has to balance his push of the reliable "old guard" (Bret and to some extent Shawn) athletes against guys like Austin who represent the real "new generation" of the WWF. In order to give Austin credible competition, he needs to push Bret - because frankly the face contingent of the current WWF roster is pretty weak.
Marc Mero, Bret and Michaels are pretty much it at the moment. Maivia could be a comer...maybe we'll see Davey Boy Smith return to the fold (...but he'll be part of the Bret Hart storyline). I doubt we'll see a "legitimate" heel turn for Michaels yet for a while. HBK can help put Austin over by remaining as a face, and can be a perennial contender (like Tito Santana or during the eighties) for any Heavyweight title.
The latest Bret Hart wrinkle is the curious actions of his brother-in-law British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, who came to his rescue at the close of the opening match on last week's RAW broadcast. This morning exploration of it focused on Owen Hart's take on the incident - which was that Bulldog still doesn't like Bret and "you'll never see that happen again..." Hmmm? I wonder where it's all really headed...
Jim Ross made an appearance via telephone and expanded some on the angle between Steve Austin and Bret Hart by mentioning an altercation between them at a London Hotel which wasn't actually spelled out.
Speaking of the Hitman....
Bret Hart's Weekly Column in the Calgary Sun
Todays Calgary Sun column is titled "One stone-cold kick in the butt", and it is from London, England. Bret starts off by mentioning that the WWF had asked him to go to England & faxed him with a challenge from Vader. And now, he's headlining both the London and Birmingham shows. He says since he returned from his layoff, he's already defeated both Vader and Steve Austin"-two of the toughest guys in the territory." He says he is in excellant shape and "the Hitman's best battles are yet to come!"
He then talks about SCSA & a phenomenom that has begun, & will " go down somewhere in the ananls of Hitman history." He says that leading up to his match with Austin, "people kept telling me to 'Kick Austin's a--'". He says fans would usually wave or call him to K-A-A, but then there was a 'drive by K-A-A'. "A bunch of guys in a old pick-up saw me stopped at a light and they all yelled it together". He also had a waiter deliver him a carefully folded note with K-K-A written on it. He says he was happy fans got into his match with Stone Cold Steve Austin, but "it seemed that it was just a bit over the edge of normal pre-match fervor!" He says he found out how far it had gone when he received a 'K-A-A message' "over the Internat that said, "...the dignity of Canadian sports fans is riding on this match, we know you won't let us down. K-A-A." He says he was happy to oblige!
He says some of HBK's clique figure that he didn't mean it to sound like a slap in the face to Shawn Micheals when he said that Austin is the best wrestler in the WWF. "Yes it was a slap in Shawn's face but I didn't mean it in a nasty way." He says he hopes the HBK takes this as a wake up call. He mentions HBK's recent AOL interview where Micheals "actually agreed with me and admitted Austin was the best wrestler in the WWF while I was away."
He then goes on to say Micheals is a great wrestler, but is worn down, not only from defending the title for seven months, but from the non-stop partying after every victory. "It bugs me that he wastes all that energy being an obnoxious party boy that he could better channel into his wrestling. Can you imagine how good a wrestler Shawn would be then?"
Bret was in San Antonio for the Royal Rumble press conference and was happy to see Jose Lothario on his feet again. He says Lothario will no longer be with Micheals. He says Lothario figures he was a distraction for Shawn and "that ended up costing Micheals the title." Bret says he agrees that is one of the main reasons you don't see his dad at ringside for his big matches. He says it's unfortunate, "but I wouldn't put it past some of the bad guys in the WWF today to go after a man of Stu's age and Psycho Sid is proof of that." He then mentions Sids WCW incident from a few years back., when Sid attackeda couple of wrestlers with a pair of scissors in a hotel. (Editor's Note: I believe this refers to an incident that happened in London between Sid and Arn Anderson - they argued in a bar and then Sid came back to Arn's room later. The argument resulted into a brawl which involved a pair of scissors used by one or both of them - I've heard the story told both ways).
He then mentions Sid "is big and he's dangerous, but the one thing he can't do is 'psyche out' the Hitman." He says to figure a madman, you have to get onto the same wavelength as them. He says he's been there before and it was scary stuff. "I don't look forward to dealing with the lunatic fringe." He compares it to Hannibal Lector and Agent Clarice Starling. He says "I'm not inhibited by Sid's psychosis but I'm cautious of his unpredictability."
He says upon his recent return to the WWF, he felt like McMurphy in "The Cuckoo's Nest". "The idioms of the wrestling subculture always struck me as strange even though I'd spent all my adult life in that institution. I'm not saying that I'm not "one of them" because, to the contrary, I believe my character defines what a professional wrestler is-or should be."
"My salvation is that I always strove to nurture the part of my identity that isn't clad in pink spandex. Stay cool!"
And that's his weekly column.
I might add that not too many years ago. Stu would get involved with the bad guys in Stampede Wrestling and beat them. I can still remember some excellant battles with some famous Stampede Wrestling bad guys, like The Stomper, Abdullah, Tor Kamata, "Tweet Tweet" Tiger Tomasso and many others. But his battles with Archie "The Stomper" Gouldie, were legendary. And bloody. I guess this shows how far back I go. I might also add that the Hitman hockey club is now on a roll, and has won four straight. Including a huge win in the rink of the leagues number one team!
That's it for this week Earl.
Thanks Rudy, your reports are always enlightening.
WCW Saturday Night
Great match between Chris Jericho and LaParka to open the program. This latest worker from Mexico appears to have a little size on his cohorts. Jericho is getting the push...so he won of course.
We also were treated to a match pitting former "Blue Blood" partners Lord Steven Regal and Bobby Eaton - isn't this how they got together as a tag team in the first place..? As usually happens during one of Eaton's infrequent face matches...he lost but he put up a good fight. Eaton's career has helped define the "tweener" concept...I guess because he is such a sympathetic character when not defined as a heel by association with whomever he is currently teaming.
The latest WCW Womens' Championship tourney action featured two exciting young stars from Japan. 17 year old newcomer-sensation Sonoko Kato gave a great (though losing) account of herself against veteren star Kaoru. Of course we all know this is for naught because Medusa will eventually be the Champion after a series of contests against recently renamed "Zero". Still it was a great match...
Eddie Guerrero took it too Konan - glad to see Eddie's back in the saddle again. He reminds me a lot of Rey Misterio Jr. in the way he can turn almost any opponent's own moves against him - they should form a tag team...
We get mail...
I continue to get a ton of e-mail telling me that I'm all wet about the current Bischoff storyline. Some are quite well reasoned...
Where I disagree with these arguments is that they appear to be distinguishing between the Eric Bischoff character who "turned from the true path, recently" and the one who planned the NWO storyline from the beginning.
It doesn't really matter whether he meant to use this particular wrinkle at this particular time from "day one" It was always an option to reveal that Eric Bischoff is the brains behind the NWO since it is undoubtably true in real life! I mean get with it folks!
People criticize EB for "booking from the hip" but doesn't it make sense that a young programming executive (like our hero Eric) who embarks on a challanging new storyline would want to be able to improvise against a Master Plan which includes any number of exotic permutations? Isn't that what fiction is all about?
If I were writing a novel (which I am) I would start out with an outline of the basic shape of the story, then fill in the details as I work my way through the writing process. Wouldn't you suppose that the serious business of creating storylines for weekly National TV consumption would be a similar process?
Certainly Bischoff has thrown some more wood on the fire by his declaration that the current WCW wrestlers have to convert their "WCW contracts to NWO contracts within 30 days..." OR WHAT?? WCW is going to fire them??!! Is WCW turning into the NWO? Maybe that is the real goal of this entire charade...? Maybe, at some point it will become obvious that the WCW is finished and that what has to happen is a "transformation" of the old "NWA" style WCW into something hipper...an "Outlaw promotion"- maybe we will see an epic battle for the soul of NWO, when someone (Nash probably) challanges the old Champion (Hogan? Piper?). It certainly sounds like interesting stuff...
The fact remains that the rumor of Bischoff's eventual heel-turn was floated just after the whole Outside Invasion storyline first started to take shape. It seems pretty obvious that it was always a possible angle to pursue, whether it was a definite part of "the plan" from the beginning or not. I still tend to believe that it was...but I'm not always right...
The Sting part of the equation is still pretty hard to fathom and I'm not sure I agree totally with the ruminations of my correspondent Matantisi who so eloquently expounded on this subject in Issue #82 of the Newletter. Her speculations were very astute but I have trouble with some aspects because they don't seem to be borne out by more recent events.
For instance - what was that attack on Rick Steiner all about? Their shared history goes back even further than the one with Lugar - Steiner was Sting's first partner when he was making his name in the GWF and NWA promotions. The late, Eddie Gilbert's "First Family" stable was anchored by the devastating team of "Sting and Steiner" - back when Gilbert was "very woman's dream" and Sting was "every man's nightmare".
Steiner had been rescued from the clutches of Kevin Sullivan's dasterdly "Varsity Club" featuring Mike Rotundo and later "Dr. Death" Steve Williams - when Sullivan decided that "the Dogfaced Gremlin" was an embarassment to his stable, he began humiliating him in public until Gilbert stepped in. Gilbert had been managing Sting as a singles wrestler and occasionally partnering with him himself -when Steiner came on board he was immediately paired off with the Venice Beach star. They quickly won the National Tag Team Championships and were one of the last teams to hold those now-defunct titles.
In recent years Sting and the Steiners have had a history of being friendly rivals. All this makes it hard to justify in my mind that Sting would attack Steiner for something so minor as asking, in effect, "what is up with you?" So what is up with Sting? I confess I am still mystified.
On a personal note to the dozens of regular correspondents to my Solie's Reader's Forum, I want to apologize for the recent upheavals undergone on the board. I had been working with the Pergatory Guestbook server, which unfortunately went belly-up when it's ISP required it to pay for a domain name. My Readers Forum guestbook was lost. I re-activated my old LPage guestbook as a temporary measure but it is acting like it always did - which means it works sporadically and is very frustrating.
I have a possible solution to check out involving another wrestling site webmaster and I hope to have the old board up and running again very soon. Please be patient with me.
In the meantime I encourage you to e-mail me with your comments. I will select pertainent ones and run them in a "Mail Bag" section at the end of each Issue of the Newsletter. Until next time...
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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