Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
As we go to press we hear about the passing of "Classy" Freddie Blassie. At this time there are no details concerning his death available.
I remember Freddie when he was known as "The Vampire", back in his Los Angeles days in the old World Wrestling Association. I spent many an evening watching Blassie gnawing on the foreheads of such greats as John Tolos, Edouard Carpentier, Baron Leoni, Gene Stanlee and Johnny Valentine. We all loved you, and will miss you, Freddie. Solie's extends our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the great "Classy" Freddy Blassie.
There will be no newsletter edition next Monday as I am going out of town on business. Solie's newsletter will return on June 16.
In this edition of the newsletter we have Matt Benaka with the latest installments of This Week in World Title History, plus my own TV Reports and topical rants. John Cross is on Vacation. To fill his spot this week, I have selected a classic wrestling article from our good friends at the WAWLI Papers (Wrestling As We Like It - Thanks, Michael!) about the trials & tribulations of a wrestling career in the late 1980's. Enjoy.
By Hal Marcovitz
Exterminator Machine No. 2 thought the question over for a moment, shrugged his massive shoulders and offered an answer. Yes, he said, it does get tedious keeping up the pace of a professional wrestler. "You hop on a plane, get off, go to the arena and then back to a hotel. It's a rough life. Everybody thinks it's peaches and cream, but it's not," he said.
Paul Valentine nodded in agreement. "I've broken my jaw, all my toes, all my fingers and a couple of ribs," he said. "But I'm at the top of my game."
Exterminator Machine No. 2 and Valentine stopped off at the Quakertown Farmers Market in Richland Township yesterday for a personal appearance, taking a break from their 300-day-a-year schedule as competitors in the All-American Wrestling Association.
Exterminator Machine, who doesn't give out his real name, is a 375-pound mountain who dresses all in black, including a full-face mask. At 23, he has been wrestling for four years and confides that he is close to inking a deal for a title shot. His opponent will be his old tag-team partner, Exterminator Machine No. 1.
"The last match we had I hit him over the head with his belt," said Machine No. 2. "He knows I can beat him. I hope he reads this."
Valentine, 34, isn't so secretive. His real name is Paul Lebish and he is already a champion, sharing the tag-team belt with his partner, Sheik Moleno from Baghdad, Iraq.
Valentine and Exterminator Machine No. 2 both live in Northampton, but as they said, neither wrestler gets much of an opportunity to spend a lot of time at home. Valentine said they expect to be wrestling up and down the East Coast this year. Both men have matches scheduled in Australia at the end of the summer, and in Japan in 1989.
"We're never in any one place for more than three days," said Valentine.
Between matches they do a lot of personal appearances. Yesterday they were helping Joseph Zemba of Catasauqua stage the opening of his athletic wear store in the Quakertown market. Zemba said he got in touch with Valentine and Exterminator Machine No. 2 because he believes wrestlers are popular public figures who can draw customers to a store opening.
"To put it in perspective, it's entertainment," said Zemba, while Valentine and Exterminator Machine No. 2 signed some autographs. "It's appealing to everyone." Valentine agreed, but he likes to talk about wrestling more in historical terms. "Professional wrestling is the last frontier. It's still a sport for gladiators, just like in the old days at the Colosseum," he said. "Certainly on some other planet, maybe one that's not as civilized as ours, the same thing is happening."
Valentine, whose 235-pound frame was decorated with his championship belt, a green tiger-striped bandanna and green-rimmed sunglasses, said he tried to break into wrestling for eight years before he was finally successful. That included a $5,000 investment to attend a "wrestling school."
Exterminator Machine No. 2 had an easier time getting in but a rougher time getting started. He rolled up his sleeve to reveal a nasty scar, the result of a torn rotator cuff he suffered during his first match. The injury kept him out of the ring for 18 months.
"My start was a little unlucky," he said. For now, Exterminator Machine No. 2 has his eye on his old partner and Valentine is looking forward to the day when he and Sheik Moleno can face off against the Shepherds, a pair of wrestlers who hold a grudge against the champions.
Will Valentine and Exterminator Machine No. 2 ever face each other in combat? Indeed, Valentine said, a promoter is working out the details for a "New York street fight type of thing." Valentine explained that the match, when it finally comes off, probably won't have many rules to get in the way of the action.
Valentine glanced over toward Exterminator Machine No. 2. He said, "The first one to go unconscious from loss of blood will lose. Other than that, we're close personal friends."
This week in World Heavyweight Title History saw some unification action and some dodging of worthy contenders! There was one fictional World Title unification and a few final reigns for titles of days gone by. If you have any questions, comments or corrections, e-mail me at email@example.com and please visit my web site at: http://www.geocities.com/mrbenaka/index.html
Recent additions to my site are the New York State Athletic Commission World Title and the Boston Version of the AWA World Title. I hope to add a few more later in the week.
World Title History for the week of June 2nd to June 8th:
Jim Londos defeated Dick Shikat in Phiadelphia, PA on June 06, 1930 to win the National Boxing Association version of the Wrestling World Heavyweight Title. Later, the National Boxing Association would become the National Wrestling Association. This was the one and only time that the handsome greek, Jim Londos, would wear this version of the World Title. An interesting side note is that the National Boxing Association World Heavyweight Title was, at this time, unified with the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) World Heavyweight Title. So, when Londos defeated Shikat he won both titles. However, in June of 1932 Londos was stripped of the NYSAC version of the title because he refused to meet the winner of an Ed "Strangler" Lewis vs. Dick Shikat match mainly because he didn't want to face a shooter like Lewis who might make a showman like Londos look bad. It was at this point that the two titles split and they wouldn't be unified again until Jim Londos did it again in 1934.
Fifteen years to the day in Boston, MA, Steve Casey upended Frank Sexton for the American Wrestling Association (Boston) World Heavyweight Title. This was the sixth and final time taht Casey would be able to claim that honor.
On June 02, 1972 in Detroit, MI Baron Von Raschke defeated Art Thomas to claim his third World Wrestling Association (Indianapolis) World Heavyweight Title. This was the final time that Raschke would hold this strap.
The United States Wrestling Association Unified World Heavyweight Champion, Jerry "The King" Lawler defeated Eddie Gilbert on June 8th of 1992 in Memphis, TN in what was billed as a World Title Unification Match. The story was that Eddie Gilbert was the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF) World Champion and had jumped to the USWA to defend his title. Of course he lost to Lawler to unify the straps. In truth, the belt Gilbert was wearing was the GWF North American Heavyweight Title as the company didn't recognize a World Champion. So, they fictionalized the prestige of his title for the unification match. The other snafu is that Gilbert was not acting on behalf of GWF when he did this stunt. So, in jumping promotions he was stripped of his actual belt in the GWF on the date of May 24, 1992. What a long and complicated explanation for a relatively unimportant unification. Oh well...
Billy Robinson captured his second International Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title on June 03, 1974 in Tokyo, JAPAN by defeating Great Kusatsu in a tournament final for the vacant title. Previously, Strong Kobayashi had vacated the title to go to New Japan and challenge Antonio Inoki.
The Crypt Keeper defeated Hiroshi Ono on June 02, 1995 in Mie, JAPAN to win the W*ING World Heavyweight Championship for the second occasion. Later in the year the title was abandoned and Crypt Keeper was the final and only two-time champion.
SmackDown! came to us on tape from the Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola, Florida and opened with a womens' match pitting Torrie Wilson against Nidia (w/Jamie Noble) - with Sable as the ring announcer. Of course both Noble and Sable just couldn't stay out of it. Tazz became so frustrated with Noble that he got up and popped the youngster! Sable then threw water all over him - in the meantime she also interfered to hand the win to Nidia. Torrie tried to throw water on Sable after the fact but it was pretty paltry...
Next up, Eddie Guerrero and ersatz Chavo (Tajiri) took on the former champs, Team Angle in a Title rematch from the PPV. It was nip and tuck throughout much of the match - both teams were putting out their all. Both Guerrero and Tajiri had to make the save to preserve their title. In the end Haas had Tajiri in a leg hold and was cranking it on, when Eddie snuck out and rang the bell - then snuck into the ring with one of the title belts and ran a number on Haas - making it look like Haas had knocked Eddie out with the belt. The challengers were disqualified.
New guy announcer boy interviewed Zach Gowen, who bought a ringside ticket to tonight's show. Zach is concerned about Hogan...er...Mr. America having to take a lie detector test tonight.
Hul...uh...Mr. America came down and took his lie detector test...and passed it! McMahon was so furious he demanded to have himself hooked up to the machine. The operator ask a couple of innocuous question, then MA took the microphone and ask McMahon questions he couldn't answer truthfully. Hogan got him to admit that he was in it for himself and not the fans, then Vince went off on a rambling rant that produced lies piled on top of lies. Before he left, Ho...Mr. America knocked McMahon down.
After the break, McMahon burst into Stephanie's office in a rage. Stephanie was coy with him, further infuriating him. He told her that things were going to change next week...
Sean O'Haire took on Chris Benoit in the next contest. Piper was there at ringside and indeed, in the center of the ring, to somehow be physically involved in the match in front of the referee without causing an immediate disqualification. O'Haire won. It wasn't pretty.
Rey Rey was spouting off about his Cruiserweight Title match coming up next week when current Champ, Matt Hardy barged in and started yelling at him, trying to intimidate him. Rey shoved him off so Hardy kicked him in the groin (ouch!!) We then went to a Kurt Angle promo (to Coldplay music) ala Triple H's extended worshipfest. So inspiring...
After the break, McMahon went out to find his limo about to be towed away because he insisted the driver park in a handicap zone. Vince got into the car and told his driver to tell the tow truck driver to take him to the airport!! Zack got the last laugh, tapping on the car window with his cane then explaining to Vince that is you park illegally in a handicap zone, you get towed away. The limo was towed away with Vince in it, screaming for the driver to stop so he could go back and beat on Zach. The driver ignored him...
The Undertaker made his return to the square circle tonight, riding around the ring then parking his bike to await his partner...Brock Lesnar! The were there to take on the FBI (all three of them) in a handicap match...except that as they came to the ring, Nuncio announced that he was bowing out tonight...so his replacement would be...the Big Show! Time for a commercial. As we came back the match was underway. After some initial sparring, Big Show tagged in and demanded that Lesnar join him in the ring. That was as far as the match got. Lesnar and the Big Boob played all their power moves then all hell broke loose as the FBI suddenly became fully involved and Lesnar was isolated. Lesnar finally scored a clothesline on the Bull and made the tag. UT came in against the Big Showand was cleaning house. The giant started to come back but UT locked him into a Dragon Sleeper. Now Brock was back and interfering in the match beteween UT and TBS. UT was thrown to the floor to battle Big Show, who was the legal man. Brock destroyed the remnants of the FBI but then was distracted when TBS came back in and surprised him with a choke slam. Lesnar was pinned. That's all folks.
Scene then switched to the arena where a 6-Woman Tag Team match was taking shape: Trish Stratus, Ivory, and Jacqueline vs. Jazz, Victoria, and Molly Holly. Molly has gone back to showing some cleavage, I notice (of course). Early on saw a face off between Jazz and Trish which resulted in Trish being isolated for a time. "Spunky" Stratus came back strong and tagged in Jacqueline as the match continued. In the end Ivory pinned Jazz after a face buster.
Out back, Goldberg drove up and got out of his car. He brushed by the announcer trying to interview him.
Backstage, Stacy and "Andrew" were in an argument which resulted in her telling Test that it was over between them and she doesn't want to have anything to do with him. He came back with a reminder that they have a contract and he intends to make her honor it!
Hurricane started to make an entrance, but was attacked by Triple H and Company, who shoved him out of the way and took over the ring. Ric Flair took the microphone and delivered a blistering condemnation of Shawn Michaels, calling him "just another Ric Flair wannabee..." Michaels finally made an appearance on the platform, and admitted that he was too vulnerable but then reminded Flair that there is still a 20 year difference in the ages and promised to kick his butt at Bad Blood. HHH took the mic and invited Michaels to the ring. Shawn started to go, but then paused and waited for his back up...Kevin Nash! Hurricane ran in on his heels and evened the odds as we broke for commercial.
Scott Steiner came to the ring with Stacy Keibler on his arm to face Steven Richards. Test waltzed out to the platform with a big smile on his face, distracting Steiner so that Richards got in the first licks...but that was all. Steiner was way too much for Richards to handle. Test continued to stare at the ring with an idiotic grin on his face as Eric Bischoff made an entrance to the ring. She confronted Stacy, telling her that she can only et out of her contract with Test by agreeing to a match between him and Steiner for her managerial services at Bad Blood.
Coming back off the commercial, JR and the King informed us of the passing of Classy Freddie Blasse. Thanks for the memories, Freddy... Backstage Steve and Uncle Eric agreed to compete is some kind of "Redneck Triathalon" event at the PPV.
Out back, Chris Jericho threw a gallon of yellow paint on Goldberg's vintage Barracuda. Goldberg ran up to it, got in and sped out of the parking lot.
It was time for the Jericho Highlight Reel segment - so IC Champ, Christian made his way to the ring...huh... Christian had commandeered Jericho's segment - apparently the Millennium Bugg was stuck in traffic somewhere. Christian rechristened the segment as "The Peops Show". Special guest, The Rock!!! Christian made his first mistake by stopping the Great One in mid catch-phrase, then proceeded to inform Mavia that he (Christian) had taken over the moniker "the People's Champion" (his second mistake). Rock grabbed back the conversation for a moment, but Christian had his rant down and shouted him down. So, Mavia decide to walk out "into the people", he strolled out into the stands to convince Christian he was the "real" People's Champ. Jericho finally arrived and put the question to the Rock - how did it feel to be speared by Goldberg? Maivia replied by calling Jericho a "b*tch". Suddenly Christian attacked the Rock from behind then the two of them started kicking the Great One on the mat. Booker T ran in to the rescue, and also to attack Christian, his opponent at the PPV. Book ended up doing his version of the People's Elbow to chase Jericho from the ring. Afterward, Booker challenged the Rock to try a "Rockaroonie". Rock had one false start - so Booker showed him how, then Maivia did a pretty good replica of the move. It felt funny to see Rock trying to ease back into the babyface role, I guess because I never was able to really believe his heel personna. He went at it with such lack of enthusiasm, it seemed.
Kane and Rob Van Dam came to the ring for Kane's one-on-one match against Rene Dupree of the French Nerds (sorry, I refuse to call these guys "La Resistance"). The Frenchies are a good team, better coordinated then most, but their feud against RVD and Kane is just hopeless, in my opinion. Surprisingly, Kane was pinned to end the match. The challengers had been chased from the ring when Steve Austin decided to come down. The French guys split, Austin "dismissed" RVD, then confronted Kane over his loss, trying to get him angry by ranting at him and laying hands on him. He actually put Kane's hands on his own throat! But he couldn't get Kane to do it to him - so he stunned him!
Backstage, various heel factions discussed their options for tonight. Christian/Jericho now have a match with Booker T and Goldust, while the HHH Boyz are looking at a 6 man main event.
As per the before the break set-up, Booker T and Goldust took on Christian and Chris Jericho in the next match. Goldust was the standout in this contest, taking on both opponents simultaneously while his partner was panting in the corner from a beating. He almost got Christian's "jewels" but was thwarted by Jericho at the last possible moment. Booker T came in against Christian and overwhelmed him in a hurry. Jericho and Christian attempted the beat down but Goldberg ran in to the rescue. Christian shoved referee Charles Robinson into harm's way. Robinson took the spear. The bad guys got away...
Backstage, Austin and Bischoff had a revolution on their hands - their three main referees (sans Robinson) were refusing to officiate the upcoming Hell-in-the-Cell match at Bad Blood. Austin sent Earl Hebner out to referee the main event, then told Bischoff he had someone in mind "crazy enough" to officiate Hell-in-the-Cell...he just needed to make a phone call.
Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Triple H were featured in a tag team main event against HBK, Hurricane and Kevin Nash. Hurricane is playing with the big boys more and more these days. Shawn Michaels was the sacrificial goat in this contest. Ric Flair tackled him behind the knee early on in the match leading to a prolonged isolation for the veteran star until he was slapped into the figure four by Flair. At that moment Nash chose to come in and drop a massive elbow on Flair, thus changing the entire complexion of the match. Match cleaned house then dragged Triple H in illegally to beat on him. He was about to go for the Powerbomb when Flair delivered some chops. Nash abandoned his prey and went after Flair. Meanwhile, the legal men finally got back into the match, Hurricane almost put Orton out with the Shining Star. Moments later, as Flair distracted the referee, Triple H snuck in an illegal Pedigree on Hurricane, setting him up for Orton to take the pin. After the pin, the fight went on, eventually Nash pretty much performed the mop up single-handed.
I hope they aren't peaking these feuds too soon. The PPV is still almost two weeks away.
At least that's the way I see it...
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