Lenny Lane: The Forgotten Cruiserweight Champion

Often times when people think about the WCW/WWE Cruiserweight Championship wrestlers such as Rey Mysterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Billy Kidman, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko Juventud Guerrera and Chavo Guerrero Jr. are likely to come to mind. Rightfully so as those guys continually put on incredible matches in the mid to late 1990s for World Championship Wrestling. The WCW Cruiserweight Championship became a championship match that fans were almost guaranteed a fantastic match.

Eventually, the repetitive championship switches started to annoy fans. How many times could we deal with seeing Rey Mysterio Jr. beating Juventud or Psychosis to win the championship before it was no longer interesting? WCW took notice and in the summer of 1999 they made a controversial decision.

By the summer of 1999, Rey Mysterio Jr. was once again the WCW Cruiserweight Champion and wasn’t regularly defending the title due to a feud with the West Texas Rednecks.

During the same period, WCW had debuted two new characters named Lenny and Lodi. A little backstory would be helpful, I’d imagine. Lodi had gotten some fame thanks to his run with Raven and the Flock but hardly ever won any matches. He was essentially the manager for Lenny, who was positioned as the star of the group.

Lenny Lane had been with the company since 1995 and for the first few years he mainly competed on WCW Saturday Night and WCW Worldwide where he was mostly used as enhancement talent. While Lane would win a few matches here and there, he wasn’t given a lot of momentum. However, many WCW fans saw him as a future star for the company.

There were moments where he shined but it wasn’t followed up on. For instance, in 1998 Chris Jericho used Lenny Lane as his lackey to help retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, but Lane wouldn’t be used in a prominent role afterward.

With no sense of direction and creative not looking to provide anything for Lenny, he formed a team with Lodi known as the West Hollywood Blondes. Apparently, the tag team was inspired by the Saturday Night Live cartoon The Ambiguously Gay Duo. As you might have guessed, their characters were that of two homosexuals, but WCW played it off as if they were “brothers.”

Anyway, the gimmick started to get traction as they often had backstage segments of giving each other a massage or the humorous segment of talking in a closet. Considering the time period, these two were becoming an entertaining heel duo that fans would often chant “faggot” at. Yes, it was insensitive, but at a time when WCW wasn’t providing much of anything, the controversial angle was at least interesting.

The act got so over with fans that on the August 19th edition of Thunder Lenny won his first and only championship by pinning WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. It was a shocking win and an even more shocking booking decision. It’s exactly what WCW needed to do.

Following the win, Lenny would work with Juventud, Kidman, and a young Evan Karagias. His only pay per view defense was against Kaz Hayashi, who was probably the least likely contender for the belt at the time, but more accurately the only cruiserweight that would be fine with losing to Lenny, I’d imagine. That match took place at WCW Fall Brawl 1999.

So, with a champion that fans loved to boo and was getting crowd reactions that wrestlers would only hope to receive, WCW ended the gimmick and awarded the championship to Psychosis in October. When I say awarded, I mean they literally gave him the title after claiming that Lenny had lost the belt at a house show when they had not actually happened.

The main issue that the company faces was the complaint from the GLADD organization claiming that the company was endorsing people to think it is acceptable to beat up homosexuals. I understand that professional wrestling fans aren’t the brightest, but come on. With that logic, literally everyone would be going out and slamming each other just because they can. But, it was GLADD’s responsibility I guess to make a scene about it.

That was another difference between the WWF and WCW. The WWF would stand by their controversial content that fans enjoyed while WCW would fold quickly.

Personally, the duo was really enjoyable and talented. They found a gimmick that worked for them and they were heavily featured on television. WCW just didn’t stand by their own product and a long lasting act was cut way too short.

What are your memories of Lenny Lane? Do you remember this gimmick and what was your opinion of it?

For more reviews and columns, head over to WRESTLING RECAPS.

Thanks for reading.

QOTD #28: Favorite Forgotten Moments

Today’s Question:
What is your favorite moment
in wrestling history (that nobody ever remembers)?
I’m talking about topics that are never mentioned on DVDs,
rarely brought up by other people on the Internet, but really stuck out to you
as a fantastic match or segment.
We’ll dive into that tomorrow.

Yesterday I asked for you to come up with WWE Network
improvements. With the Q2 report not far away, WWE is expected to remain well
below early projections. So your ideas are both designed to maintain the
current base (which they cannot afford to lose) as well as attract new viewers.
Ryan Yoder: Kind of a small detail, and it may be
different on devices that are not PS3s, but the option to sort PPVs
chronologically would be helpful for people who would like to watch the PPVs in
order but do not know the order.
As a PS3 user, I agree. I have a fairly good memory for stuff
that happened 10 years ago, but they juggle around their lineup so often now
that Battleground might have been a September Pay-Per-View previously, unless
that was Night of Champions, etc etc. Having the lineup in order to be able to
relive the action would be wonderful.
TheGrailspiral: The network, like hbo, needs a legitimate
new idea/concept to become relevant to a larger audience. We are the core and
love the library and such. HBO doesn’t rely on its movie database, it features
original new programming. Wwe needs this. Court Bauer said they need to think
outside the box, like broadcast house shows or have a daily news show based on
the old live wire show. SOMETHING
They’re obviously trying with their programming such as
Legends House, but it’s nowhere near enough to attract anyone outside their
current subscribers. I agree with the idea, but it needs to be fresh, because
everything they do continues to cycle through the same cast, the same writers,
and the same ideas.
Mike Mears: Here’s a small change I’d love to see: have
a DVD-like menu for each show. When you pull up a show, it gives a brief
synopsis of the event. Why not just replace that with chapters for each
match/segment?
Considering they already own the DVD’s and have the menus
pre-made for most the shows from the past 15 years, this should be a snap.
Stranger In The Alps:
A Just Added section, along with a
schedule of what’s Coming Soon, with specific dates. And STICK TO IT!
daveschlet: More content. For example All the old WCW
Saturday Night Shows, Monday Nitros, AWA stuff, UWF stuff, and so on. And then
for their live stream, they should put these shows on at the times they aired.
Also, some new content stuff. I like the LiveWire idea I read in the comments,
broadcasting house shows would be cool too, but they might see that as
discouraging people to go to those shows. Also, more legends round table
discussions or a show like TNT used to be. Just something different. But my
major gripe, would be more content. I love the clashes and PPVs and SNMEs, but
to have the shows that lead up to all these matches would also be great.
This was pretty much the #1 choice for everyone. I get the
feeling that the appetite for WCW is a lot stronger than the WWE brass even
begin to realize. There is so much content with the Turner library at their
disposal, and virtually none of it is up. I understand that their brand is
their daddy; but fans are tuning in for CONTENT, and lots of it; and one
audience they may not have full tapped into yet are the jaded older fans who
WWE lost some time ago. Offering the old NWA, AWA, and WCW footage would be a
great place to start.
jungguy: The option to watch historical RAWs/Nitros
from each week “simultaneously” … and giving you the option to
watch picture in a picture or switch back and forth between the two as if it
were real time. Come up with creative or Network centric commercials to take
the place of regular commercial breaks.
I think this would probably be a better tool for the live
stream (or in this case, during the Wars, the “streams”), but I like the
creativity here.
DJ Sprite: Also, since they want more original
programming, how about a “My Favorite…” It could be about a
wrestler’s favorite match, event, storyline, title win… Whatever that given
wrestler chooses to talk about.
I love this. Food Network fills tons of space with “The Best
Food I Ever Ate”. There’s no reason they couldn’t run a similar feature with
the Network.
Justin Henry: I’d add the ability to make playlists.
Live-tweeting (or thread commenting) is fun with a group all watching the same
thing, and it’d be fun to make a viewable marathon with some sort of theme for
group viewing purposes
BeardMoney: Better interface. It would be great if it would
save your place, like Netflix does with its streaming content, so that if you
stop watching a show at one point, it would start up there the next time you
put it on.
I agree with this. I do the majority of my watching late at
night, or in the weekend afternoons. More often than not I either pass out
during the show, or my wife wakes up from her nap and doesn’t really have any
interest in watching Superbrawl 7. By the time I come back to it I have to
figure out where I was; would obviously be better to just stop and resume.
Steven Bellah: Create your own compilations by choosing
individual matches.
Absolutely. I think a brilliant option is to either allow a
free-for-all, or maybe niche style ideas where you can “build your own
Supercard” using the same rules we do sometimes, by not repeating a title
defense or wrestlers during the card. Also “make your own Superstar DVD”, by
giving you a list of every match they’ve ever had and let you pick the matches
to create this. In terms of custom work with their content, the sky is the
limit with this.
Basscase: The best improvement should be how they
promote the service. Having all the wrestling you could possibly want is great,
but they need to give a good reason WHY. WM for cheap? Sure. But you need to
give the average viewer an education as to what it is, what you can do, and why
you need it. You need to not so much say that it’s like Netflix/Roku, but show
what it can do and let people come to their own conclusions.
Yeah I find the line about “it’s like Netflix but better!”
really weak. It’s their brand, they shouldn’t be comparing the two, but giving
out their own benefits. They have a zillion people in marketing, this should be
their top priority without question.
We also had a million calls for International expansion
throughout the thread, which is obviously a big issue for everyone. I’d love to
stop having to pay for a DNS in order to get it, so by all means, I’m on board
with an eventual launch in Canada.
My idea for the Network is definitely an in-house option
that should be made available in time with the arrival of more content. I want
in depth Superstar Profiles.
What I mean by this, is let’s suppose I clicked on John
Cena. I could see his career in-ring record, his championships held, what
gimmicks he’s performed under, etc.
From there, let’s suppose I clicked on Championships. In
looking at when they were won, I could click on the dates and watch the match
it took place on. If I clicked on his win/loss record, I could get a detailed
look at his matches either year over year, or a full track record, starting
from Match #1.
Comprehensive? Sure, but these are easily the types of
features that marketing can sell to show they are taking their product very
seriously, and the interactive experience is like nothing else you’re seeing
today.
Food for thought. Great discussion today guys. Have a great
Friday. Catch you tomorrow.

QOTD #11: Forgotten Chris Jericho moments

It’s Tuesday morning, and the status quo remains large and
in charge. However, there was a bright spot on RAW, and that takes us to our
question:
Today’s Question:
What’s your favorite
forgotten Chris Jericho moment?
While you take some time to come up with some gold, we’ll
tackle yesterday’s answers. As always, if you want to jump right in to the
discussion, please hit the comments button or scroll to the end.

We were talking about your favorite World Title win, amongst
North American promotions. Let’s jump to it.
mattindeed: 1908. Frank Gotch beat George Hackenschmidt
for the title. Hell of a contest. Still have one of Frank’s teeth.
Awful choice. They could have easily shaved 90 minutes off
this with a little bit better planning.
Uncrusimatic_Buck_Nasty:
i’m gonna go with ones i’ve seen live, so
i’ll have to say when edge cashed in on taker in ’07
White Thunder: Anytime Ric Flair won the belt. Royal Rumble
92′ and Starrcade 95′ really stick out in my mind. For some reason his last
title win in 2000 on Nitro against Jeff Jarrett holds a sentimental place for
me.
I wish I could remember the Flair win in 2000, but I
remember being so sour about the fact they were changing the strap twice a week
that I literally can’t remember how it happened. I do recall he had another
fake heart attack that somehow led to the end of that run about 2 days later,
however. Speaking of Flair…
THE YETAAAAY: Flair beating Vader at Starrcade ’93 is a
great one. One of the last really great WCW moments before the Hogan entry
changed the fabric of the company.
The whole build-up to this was phenomenal; incredible when
you consider that it was slapped together at the last minute thanks to Sid’s
inability to keep his cool.
Marv Cresto: The end of WM20, duh, it was the culmination
of almost seven years of “smart fans” pushing for a guy to get the
big chance despite having no ability to cut a promo or make himself at all
relatable to people at large, and it worked. This would be damn near every
single person’s comment had the guy not gone on to do what he did.
Chris Hirsch: Jericho beating the Rock and Austin in the
same night to become the first undisputed champion.
You know it’s memorable when 13 years later he’s still
bringing it up.
Lenny Vowels: Probably have to go with Bret winning at
WMX. As bad as ’94 was overall, that title change was huge. I was tired of Yoko
as champion, and Bret was my favorite wrestler in the company at the time, so
seeing him win the title back was just such a glorious moment.
Knuckleberry Pinn:
Bryan winning the triple threat this year
might actually be mine. I was just totally sucked in to everything that was
going on with the fans not letting Batista’s inevitable win take place. A bunch
of us ordered the Rumble and were so so happy with what that Pittsburgh crowd
did, just like we were happy for that awesome hot crowd the night of the cage
double-cross, and just like we were proud of that basketball crowd that did the
Yes chants. Then, at Elimination Chamber, I remember feeling upset that Bryan
lost yet again, but the way Cole reacted to the loss (as was picked up on by
several commenters here), let me know that this might not be the end of things.
Then, we go to the awesome HHH / Bryan Raw segments, which set up the winner
gets the shot match. The icing on the cake was how much drama took place into
that triple threat main event. The table spot, the stretcher job, the hot near
falls. It was perfect. It was like one last time for me to feel like a mark
(albeit, in this new internet age where tweeting about how Bryan should have
been in the Rumble is akin to cheering for Austin 15 years ago). I said this before
on the blog but when Bryan won that main event and won the title, it was the
first time since Backlash 2000 where I was genuinely excited and celebrating
because “my guy” had won the belt. And like I’ve also said, I don’t
foresee that happening again anytime soon, if ever.
I was on vacation during Wrestlemania, and saw the show from
a Buffalo Wild Wings in Charlotte, NC. The entire place exploded when he won,
screaming “YES YES YES!” I wish I’d had the foresight to catch it on my cell;
it was the most amazing “bar reaction” I’ve ever seen.
Basscase: Take it back old school, and we’ll go with
Ricky Steamboat winning the NWA world title from Ric Flair at Chi-Town Rumble
89.
Extant1979: Edge cashing in on John Cena after the
Elimination Chamber at New Year’s Revolution. I was a little disappointed at
the #CenaWinsLOL – I was pulling for Kurt to win that match, so double
disappointment with his early exit. Then the cash-in happened. It was fucking
fantastic.
I had goosebumps when Edge handed the briefcase to Vince
that night. The rules of the briefcase hadn’t been fully established, other
than he was allowed a match anytime, anyplace. Would he have to give the champ
warning? Would he have to pick the venue in advance? All the questions were
answered; truly a great swerve.
Daltonimperial: Jericho beating HHH for the title on Raw in
2000. I don’t care if it wasn’t official and was reversed that same night.
Dr. Facts: I’ve always enjoyed the buildup and
execution of Rock winning at Survivor Series 98. I really enjoyed how they
booked that whole thing.
This might be the greatest “Sportz Entertainment”
pay-per-view of all time, where all the angles wrapped up into a tight little
package. The entire premise led us to believe Foley was going to be anointed the
corporate champion; the perfect red herring to keep us distracted from all the
things that went “right” for Rock.
 Jon Eks: My sentimental
favorite is, of course, Mankind’s first title win. Such a great episode of Raw
with HBK getting his comeuppance from screwing over basically everybody, DX and
the Corporation as appropriate window dressing for the match, Tony Schiavone’s
“butts in the seats” comment on Nitro, and Austin’s return to a
MASSIVE pop. Fantastic all the way around.
Adam “Colorado”
Curry:
Tommy Dreamer FINALLY winning
the ECW title. Too bad that a few minutes later it was followed by my least
favorite title change ever.
Despite the opponent, I think the moment so perfectly
cemented Tommy Dreamer’s career – as the guy who could always come so close but
just never get there. I know a lot of people definitely wanted to see him get a
run with the belt, but with better booking they could have milked this for
crazy sympathy forever.
James: Austin at WrestleMania 14. The crowd pop,
JR’s commentary, and Austin finally winning it after years of adversity.
Completely changed the WWF
Peyton_Drinking: I’m kind of surprised no one has mentioned
Hulk/Goldberg I mean had Hulk jobbed like that since WM VI?
This one gets severely underappreciated over time, as I
think Hogan’s remembered as an over-the-hill politician doing the deed in an
effort to later syphon off his heat; and Goldberg is remembered as a selfish “what’s
in it for me” pain in the ass. At the time, the entire air around this was
euphoric – FINALLY we had the guy who did to Hogan what Sting SHOULD have 8
months earlier. One of the most emotional pops you’ll ever see coming from the
hometown Georgia crowd.
Chris B: Maybe its because of Scott’s Raw rants, but
I’ll never stop loving Backlund winning the title from Bret in one of the most
awesome, incomprehensibly effective heel turns ever. Of course they pissed it
away.
JohnPetuka: A lot of picks for Foley, but from my
personal view, I don’t see how you don’t go with Punk winning it at MitB 2011.
This was more than just a feel good moment. You had an emergent superstar who
seemed to talk directly to the fans with Punk. You had the #1 heel in the
smarks’ eyes in a stale Cena. You had the complete uncertainty of what the hell
was going to happen (Is this Punk’s last match? CenaWinsLOL? What are they
going to do if Punk wins?). So, the biggest face beats the most genuinely hated
heel in an unpredictable moment with promises of more unpredictable moments to
come. Yes, I was marking out, bro (TM Striker). Shit, sometimes it seems like
half the people here skipped watching WWE most of the years between 2007 and
2011 only to come back immediately prior or right after this title change.
Lots of votes for this one, no surprises here. The fact we
knew Punk hadn’t signed his new contract made it seem impossible for them to
put the belt on him; but he was so over, and the place was ready to riot if
they dared the LOLCENAWINS route that it seemed impossible for them NOT to put
the belt on him. The explosion when he won, followed by the missed cash in, and
the blowing of the kiss was the cherry on top. It was so disappointing he came
back so fast, because the angle was perfection to that point.
BooBoo1782: I will always have a personal soft spot for
Bret Hart’s first two title wins, over Flair and Yokozuna. I attended a Nassau
Coliseum house show four days after Bret beat Flair in Saskatoon, and got the
awesome surprise of hearing about the match in the arena before it had been on
TV, and learning that Bret’s scheduled match with Nailz had been upgraded to a
title match and made the main event (the scheduled main, Warrior-Flair no
longer for the title, went on just before intermission). The Coliseum video
that featured the title change (along with the Bret-Shawn ladder match that
Vince wanted as a demonstration) was a great find, both when I rented it as a
kid and bought it used in college. I was disappointed to think that Flair
didn’t like the match from a technical standpoint, but of course, he’s entitled
to his opinion.
MC Hesher: A retrospective disappointment: Orton’s win
at Summerslam ’04. I came back after a two year hiatus and literally shouted,
“Holy Shit! Benoit’s champ!” upon turning on Raw. Obviously a
transitional champ, but hey, repeated victories over HHH and Michaels. Once it
became clear he was putting Orton over at Summerslam, I was thrilled. I cannot
overstate how much I loved Orton’s Legend Killer gimmick, and he was awesome to
watch in the ring. The Summerslam title match was as good as I’d hoped, and I
was so happy he got a world title before Cena did. This was gonna push my boy
Randy to top heel, and give us a great ‘Evolution Implodes’ slow-burn
storyline. I figured HHH would turn face after getting turfed out, beat him at
Wrestlemania, and that was cool by me.
I was at SummerSlam 2004, and you were not alone. There was
a shockingly large number of Orton fans in the house, wearing the Legend Killer
shirt, and just waiting for the moment. I was on a bus heading back to Ottawa
about an hour after the show, and there was a group of about a dozen friends
who could not stop carrying on about how they were there, the night Randy Orton
won his first World Championship. Granted, they were drunker than Bobby Heenan
on a regular Monday Nitro, but they couldn’t get over it.
 

Michael Weyer: Always loved Rock at Backlash 2000, against
the McMahon grouping with Shane as ref, he and HHH going at it hard and fast,
the McMahons ganging up on him…and then the glass shatters, Stone Cold comes
out to destroy everyone with a chair and Rock gets a pin to a mega pop. That’s
how you nicely overbook and great highlight of a great year for WWF.

dirtyearsbill: Eddie beating Brock. Hands down my favorite
wrestling moment. Being there in person at the Cow Palace was surreal.
I happen to agree with you.
I don’t think any of us truly thought they’d go the distance
with Guerrero, even when the whispers started about Angle and Eddie potentially
working Mania for the strap. Between the strange decision to have the Big Show
beat him for the US title, and their failed attempts to make him a heel, there
seemed to be a disconnect between bookers and fans.
The match itself couldn’t have been built up any sweeter,
with your classic Rocky vs Drago setup; or more classically David vs Goliath.
The pint-sized fighter with the heart of gold takes on the unstoppable monster,
and gives it everything he has. Still, he can’t put the beast down, and things
look bleak a number of times – but the hero escapes at the last second.
Yes, it took a Goldberg run-in, but I didn’t care then and I
don’t care now. It led to the sweetest championship moment I ever got to witness
when Eddie overcame drugs, near death, and everything else that plagued him to
beat Lesnar and capture the gold. I can still see the frog splash in my mind
clear as day.
I hope you enjoy the rest of your day, and I’ll be here
again with you tomorrow.