QOTD #50: Comedians gone too soon

Today’s Question: With the untimely passing of Robin Williams, having met his untimely demise, today’s question is: Of all the comedians that are no longer with us, whose comedy do you consider the greatest?

Yesterday’s Question: Side note time: You ever have someone at work you just don’t like….and
you don’t know why????? They’ve done nothing to you, but for some
unknown reason, they just rub you the wrong way – and you don’t like
them at all. I have one of those (but I’m working on it), and I
figured I would try to relate that to the blog……with that in mind, I
just have to ask, because I have seen it discussed on the blog a few
times, but there was never really one consensus answer. There is really
no right/wrong answers, but I am dying to know 2 things in regards
to……….Shane Douglas:

a) What is your lasting memory of Shane Douglas (or the first thing that comes to mind)?

b) What in the world has he done in the wrestling business (as you see it) that is worthy of soooo much hatred?

greaterpower99: The thing that comes to mind with Douglas isn’t anything he did in the ring (average-to-good worker and talker, never anyone I especially WANTED to see), rather it’s an interview he gave to Power Slam in early ’96 following his failed run as Dean Douglas.

He claims that he mostly went to WWE to pay for medical school, predicts failure for new signing Mankind, calls McMahons basic integrity into question, and naturally, goes to town on the clique. It’s the same spiel about the clique that every wrestler who failed to get over in 94-95 invariably rattles off, but it was the first I’d even heard of the term. He also aired, may even have been the first, the rumour that HHH ingratiated himself with the clique by carrying their bags.

Not earthshattering by today’s standards, but in ’96 a bit of an eye-opener.

Actually, while we’re on the subject of Douglas, has anyone on here seen his “legendary” 60 minute draw with Tully Blanchard? Is it as bad as its reputation suggests?

I’ve seen about 45 minutes of it….and yes. They would have been better off sticking to 20-30 minutes. Lots of restholds, and old-school heel spots that didnt work in the 90s. Tully himself even admits it sucked. I’m guessing this was all part of his Flair obsession.

damaverickridesagain: On the subject of Shane Douglas: three thoughts come to mind
1. On the subject of burying the NWA back in ’94, yes it launched ECW into the upper level but lets be serious for a moment, if he didn’t win the belt, whoever did might had done it as well.
2. Despite what most people think, yes the Dean Douglas gimmick did suck, but he could had easily gone to WCW and have five star matches with Pillman, Malenko, Benoit, and a soon to be debuting Jericho. hell if Flair and him hated each other so much, why not have the match five years earlier? money can make people forgot a lot if it means we are getting richer
3. Overall the best period for me for Shane would have to be his tag team with Bagwell during WCW 2000, He was the perfect tag partner, not completely exposed but he could have you believe that he was capable of better things

BTW: the hottest woman for me in ECW would have to be a composite of Woman, Beulah, and Lita.

First of all, Dawn Marie could get it before any of those three…..secondly, I’d have to agree with you on the Bagwell thing: for a brief minute, it looked like their team had life….then Buff had to go and get himself suspended.

 jabroniville: The first thing I think of with Douglas is all those whiny-ass interviews calling out Ric Flair. Retrospect paints that as basically desperately-linking himself to a more successful wrestler in order to get heat. Then I think of all Douglas’ promos- mediocre, swear-filled nothing. People only paid attention to them because he was one of the first guys to drop F-bombs regularly.

He was also drastically overpushed in ECW. He was at-best an okay worker, and yet was booked to go in 25-minute “classics” that were in reality just overly-long and dull as shit, especially since his finisher was a Belly-To-Belly Suplex in an era of chairshots and Tornado DDTS through tables.

There’s one thing that comes to mind in regards to his hate for Flair: Around 95 or 96, ECW TV had an hourlong episode, and the first 30 minutes consisted of Douglas ranting and raving about how much he hates Ric Flair, and the question the entire world wants answered: “yes, Ric Flair – I hate your guts” being the payoff. Paul E. is a genius (Sidenote: The new DVD is AMAZING) but I really have to question why he let Shane Douglas spend half his show getting Ric Flair over as their lead heel.

 THE YETAAAAY
: 1) The thing I think of most is a few weeks after he broke Pitbull 1’s
neck, Gary Wolfe tried to get in the ring and Douglas shook his surgical
halo and threw him to the ground. It was the most genuine heel heat
I’ve ever seen someone get in the ECW arena.

2) He compares himself to legends way too much.

I wrestled with Ric Flair. I knew Ric Flair. Ric Flair was a friend of mine. Mr. Douglas, you’re no Ric Flair.

I think I really started to dislike him at the one ECW PPV when he was supposedly injured but still had a match with Al Snow and he went on that ridiculous self-blowjob rant about how people would be telling their grandkids about the time they saw Shane Douglas wrestling with a busted arm.


I remember the entire locker room hoisting both men on their shoulders……and the following week, Al Snow and Head Was putting over Brian Christopher and Scotty 2 Hotty on RAW. Tells you all you need to know.

BooBoo1782: Oddly enough, my most vivid memories of Shane are from his bouncing babyface era. I came along too late for the Dynamic Dudes, but I remember his brief early 90s WWF run (highlighted by a longer-than-you’d-expect stay in the ’91 Rumble and those ugly peach-pink tights) and his move to WCW in ’92 as Ricky Steamboat’s new partner. I know that his best work came later, but that’s what sticks in my memory from my own viewing experiences.

As for why everyone hates him…I think it’s largely because he blames just about everyone but himself for his failures – Flair, the Kliq, etc. – when he really was never THAT good. Yes, he was a solid worker, but there was never anything about him that screamed “future World Champion” to me, and yet my perception is that he goes on like he was supposed to be a an Austin-Rock level star.

Jason Clark: a) Agree on NWA title toss down. Probably the most memorable promo of his career and the touchstone of his entire ECW run.
b) I’ve wondered if there isn’t a worked shoot element of his ego. It really rubs wrestling fans outside of ECW the wrong way, and I’d say it has defined the IWC’s take on him. I don’t recall anyone calling Charles Wright a dick for stealing Undertaker’s urn, but we seem to take shoot comments on Ric Flair as being the actual opinion of the person making them. It could just be that Troy Martin has an ego and that Shane Douglas is just that ego turned up to 11.

Mike_N: I don’t hate Shane, but it’s not hard to see where the hate comes from.

If you’re that bitter and you talk that much shit, you’ll end up in a very bad place unless:

a.) it gets you ridiculously over. (see Punk, CM)
b.) it’s part of an angle with a clear payoff. (see Austin, Steve)
c.) you come out on top in the long run.

None of those three ever really came through for Shane. Flair and Shawn keep making money IN THIS BUSINESS, though I’m pretty sure Shane wouldn’t trade bank statements with Flair right now.

The Fuj:
A. Him throwing down the NWA belt in 94 is his legacy IMO.

B. Its his over-inflated sense of self-worth that has drawn the ire of most. I haven’t seen a 1v1 match with Shane that I would call good. Alot of his multi-mans or tags have been great. His promos in early ECW were so against the grain and not cookie cutter, but once everybody started following suit, there were people who did it better than him. He parlayed an ECW tenure where he was pushed as the flag-bearer into a dismal WWF run and when he couldnt cut it, he went back to ECW where he could be the big fish in a small pond. That was his problem as well. He always thought he should have been bigger thn what he was. If he had the talent, he would have shed the Dean DOuglas gimmick once the AE started for something more comtemparary. He just bitched about his run and left before shit got hot in NY. It was just piss poor timing because he could have the wave in NY and been something. I mean Val Venis and Rikishi got over, he would have gotten over. He just bitched and moaned about it.

By the time he got to WCW, he was too pilled up and injury riddled to be worth anything.

Fuj, I think you summed it up succintly as usual.  

The unfortunate part is that Shane Douglas actually was a decent (not exceptional) worker, but in this entire blog, did anybody mention the Triple Threat? He, Benoit, and Malenko as a faction whould have been one of the great ones, but that isnt his legacy. People remember him for all the whining about Flair. Well, there’s that, and his throwing up in the ring in TNA…….

TNA gone from Universal Studios already

Well, that was fast!


So their options now are to tape on the road (too expensive) or find another home base soundstage to tape for extended periods of time.

Is the fat lady warming up or will they find some solution to this quickly impending problem?
 
The level of basic incompetence with this company continues to astound me.  I guess they can always try for the ECW Arena or move back to the Asylum, but options are running out fast.  Plus you know that with the WWE TV negotiations upcoming and Spike being in the running that Vince wouldn't be above getting them thrown off the station just to fuck with them.  I had heard Vegas as the other option when Dave was discussing it a few weeks back, but apparently it's cost-prohibitive.  Back to the Nashville Fairgrounds, I guess.  

QOTD 16: I’d go a little later, I’d go a little later, and when I got there, he was gone.

Mornin’ Blog Otters, today’s question is actually about wrestling! I know, I’m shocked too. In fact, not only is it about wrestling, it’s about wrestlers! And seeing them in person with your own eyeballs! The question comes from Mr. McLoone, who asks:

What was your best experience meeting a wrestler? If you’ve never met a
wrestler, what was your best experience at a live event?

I love indie gigs but never get to go because none of my buddies are wrestling fans – and the video production on most of them tend to be icky – I’ll have to see if I can bug my videographer friend for an interview to explain what makes good wrestling TV. That said, I went to the Smackdown where they “Got the old Stone Cold” back years ago, and attended two indie wrestling shows in Fall River, Ma.- both of which were totally wild, and I wrote about on this very blog.

But I’m actually going to make this about a wrestler I’ve *avoided* meeting, for kind of silly reasons. To explain I think I need to write at length at about something I’ve been meaning to for awhile now, so bear with me.

My dream in life is to make my way as a writer, or some other creative-y person. While I always was a creative kid, playing with Legos, using my imagination, and so on, It wasn’t until Christmas of 99′, at the age of 12, that I realized how much I loved it, and 7 years later until I acted on it.

This is entirely the fault of Mrs. Foley’s baby boy.


1999 was a time of increasing vulgarity in pop culture. 1999 brought kids Eminem, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson, The South Park Movie, Britney Spears, Sable, and a whole bunch of other material that probably wasn’t appropriate for young eyes, but we ate up anyway – though the most objectionable content sailed right over our heads. Couple that with the emergence of the Internet, and, well, it was real easy for a kid to feel ‘mature’ and needlessly angsty beyond their years. But it thankfully was lost on me. Marilyn Manson scared the fuck out of me, I thought Korn was noise, Limp Bizkit was cool when not screaming, Eminem was brilliant but kind of embarrassed me, and I thought it was abhorrent that Britney Spears had to get breast implants to be ‘popular’.

Perhaps to be ‘popular’ themselves, some kids I grew up with started wearing black clothing, spiking their
hair, sporting chains and leather jackets, calling their parents by
their first names and referring to them via 4 letter colorful metaphors. I didn’t think these kids were assholes, or dicks, or ‘populars’, just different and kind of weird. I didn’t feel like an outcast, but I didn’t feel particularly ‘accepted’, either, just that there weren’t a lot of kids my age I could relate too. I was into Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Anything targeted toward kids, even discreetly, I tended to avoid simply because I figured it would be watered down or inadvertently condescending – So I guess I was rebelling in my own little way. But still, a part of me wondered why I wasn’t into same culture as my friends. Was there something wrong with me? Was I the immature one? Uncool? Weird? It wasn’t a big deal, but it needled at me.

All the stuff that my friends and peers liked seemed so abrasive. I was happy watching Star Trek reruns, Roseanne, playing
video-games, discovering the incredible world of PC abandonware,
drawing badly, and being nice to my parents because I thought that’s sort of
what you’re supposed to do. It didn’t make sense to be angry all the time, especially if I wasn’t, so there was a lack of common ground.

The common ground we all seemed to have in common though was wrestling – caught up in the attitude era like millions of other kids in thousands of other schools, in hundreds of other places. Some bought into Kayfabe, thinking everything but the finish of a match was staged, or saying that the Stone Cold v. Vinny Mac stuff was obviously real. Kids wore DX shirts with the the S*ck It covered in black tape, and others were simply obsessed with the Nitro Girls. I was ravenous for insider info on my new found passion, learned as much about ‘the business’ as I could, yahoo searching (no Google) everything I could find, reading columns on wrestlezone.com by guys like Tom Zenk, and stumbling across Extreme Warfare 9000 – which is a story for another day, and became a guru as quickly as I could. I introduced terms like “Face” and “Heel” to my friends who didn’t know what they were. 

The memories of the wrestling I watched during this time is foggy. Crystal Clear images exist, but their timeline is jumbled up in the nebulous cloud of nostalgia. I remember Lions Den matches. I remember Mick Foley winning the World Title. I remember Sting’s habit of being ‘woozy’ then dropping a head-butt to the nads of an opponent in one of the funniest spots I can remember.

But I don’t remember if Mick Foley was my favorite wrestler at the time. I do remember that when he won his first World Championship one fateful night in Boston, all my friends were talking about how cool DX was, while I was joyful that the kind of scruffy, uncool, underdog, was on top of the proverbial heap – even if needed help from a ‘cool’ kid to do it. From that point forward, I was hooked.

My parents must have seen that proverbial hook jutting out of my cheek, and I received Mr. Foley’s “Have a Nice Day” that Christmas, probably figuring if I’m going to like this crap, I might as well get a hint of scholastic merit out of the endeavor. At the risk of sound melodramatic, I was never the same again.

This tome was so up my alley it could balance bowling pins on my nose. It was accessible but smart. Sophomoric but sweet. Honest but humble. Unabashedly dorky, and it was living proof that if you work hard enough, and apply yourself, regardless of what people tell you, or what you tell yourself on nights when you question your place in the world, you can absolutely do anything you set your mind too – and most importantly you can be polite and nice to people while doing it. So much of my sense of humor, writing style, delivery, and world view came from it.

I read it fully by the time Christmas Vacation was over – choosing it over the smattering of video-games and other toys I received. God, I’ve probably read it more than a dozen times in 15 years since it was given to me, and skimmed through it dozens more, and it holds a place of honor in my bathroom reading rotation to this very day.  When I moved to Chicago I refused to take it with me because I couldn’t risk losing it. I’m not a nostalgic guy, but if my house caught on fire I know what I’d save first.

“Have a Nice Day” was inspirational during a time where inspiration wasn’t a thing you actively sought out. As I waddled awkwardly into adult hood, every time I’ve thought about blowing up this whole ‘being creative for a living’ thing, I think back to how Mr. Foley slept in his fucking car, and ate peanut butter sandwiches for his dreams. Every time I lament the fact I’m not paid for writing, I think about how Mr. Foley would happily fall on his head over and over and over again for something like 15 dollars a night. Every time I’m rejected by a pretty girl, or told I’m soooo sweet but not their type, I think about how Mr. Foley landed a ‘smoking hot wife’ with his dorky charm, a Neil Diamond song (“Forever in Blue Jeans”), and not much else – which is actually the line from the book if I recall correctly. When something goes wrong for me, I remember Mick Foley broke Johnny Ace’s arm, got an ear chopped off, lost two teeth, and broke bones on his way to becoming a legend.

It grew with me, too. As I aged, some of the jokes made more sense, more of the themes came out, the struggles of purpose and self doubt became all the more relevent. The names grew more familiar, too. Johnny Ace, Ric Flair, Dennis Knight, Terry Gordy, Kevin Sullivan, Ole Anderson, and so many other people I barely knew when I was 12, suddenly became people I could seek out, and enjoy, and have reverence for.

But not as much reverence as I had for the book itself, which is seared into my psyche. The story of the time Mr.
Foley and Steve Austin putting cookies in DDP’s bed, how Mr. Foley found
himself a bit lost in the shuffle as audiences started to cheer the
‘cool’ bad guys and boo the guys who were ‘doing the right thing’, how it’s written in this stream-of-consciousness style that
was easy to read and hard to forget. How it ends in such a way
that the entire dang book is essentially a true-life fairytale.

Thanks in part to that fairytale inspiration “Have a Nice Day” gave me at a most impressionable age, I’ve been blessed to meet many of the people who have inspired me since: Roger Ebert, who was the first fat guy I ever saw on television being respected for his opinion, was my boss for awhile. Ed Ferrara who wrote Raw during the Attitude Era was a teacher. Aaron Sorkin whose words I listened to over and over and over so I could write snappy dialog, and whose West Wing taught me so much about the way our world works, was interviewed by me.The Barenaked Ladies signed a hat at a free show that I was literally front and center for. Morgan Spurlock, who makes documentaries that are about entertaining and informing, let me make a joke about his iconic facial hair. David Chappelle, who directed some of the best episodes of “The Wire” dropped in on a class I took with his wife.

But “Have A Nice Day” is more important to me than the lot of em’ combined. In a round-a-bout way it showed me that the man I wanted to be was a
viable option. I didn’t need to be angry, or brutal, or handsome, or disrespect
people in order to achieve my dreams and goals. It showed me please and
thank you are virtuous even if you’re a guy who hits other guys in the
head for a living. It showed me that being tough isn’t about muscle mass and tear away muscle shirts – it comes from the heart, and the only way to bulk up is to keep at your given dream forever.

Now it’s not like this book was the ONLY thing that inspired me to follow my dreams, I’ve had wonderful parents and mentors and friends that have encouraged me and let me march to the beat of my own song – even if they didn’t quite hear the rhythm themselves. But that damn book showed me it was possible for a guy like me to do it. If you want to be special, you can be – no matter who you are.

Even now, as I’m as far removed from my past creative glories as I ever have been, I take solace in the fact Foley, too, had this high points in WCW before having to go over to Japan and take barbed wire shots to the back and face to make a living. Hell, he was…31 before he truly hit the big-time in WWE. Being 27 now, it’s comforting to know there is hope yet.

I guess I feel like the I owe em’ something? I think for people to have…balance, or purpose, or drive they need to believe in something. Some have religion, have music, some have military service or a dedication to their career, whatever it is, you find your proverbial personal Jesus and you believe in it forever. I’m not saying this book is my Jesus.  My Jesus is the pride I take in optimism that this book validates. My optimism, my dedication to believing people are fundamentally…well meaning, and while there are bad apples and bad days and things that piss us off to no end and cause us to lash out in ways we shouldn’t, I try as hard as I can to see every side of the coin, and push forward in my own shoes completely aware everyone’s pair is different. “Have a Nice Day” validates my particular brand of loafers.

Most creatively minded people, as they grow older, become more cynical or weary for the world. Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut. Mick Foley, of whom I read far more pages then either of those two, is taking videos of his kids doing wrestling moves on trampolines, supporting RAINN, which is a charity probably NO one wants to talk about at parties, and is pushing to fund a documentary about Santa Claus.  I could hope to be so lucky.

I also understand I probably sound like a whack job, and it’s something I kind of think about whenever I skim through ‘Have a Nice Day’ for the umpteeth time, or cite his somewhat anecdotal research into steroids and PEPs, or post on this very blog singing the guy’s praises like he paid me. But I’m not obsessed as much as I am enthusiastic.

But getting back to the question, now that Mr. Foley is doing these nationwide comedy tours, and comes around my area pretty often, I’ve avoided going. First because I’d be going by myself and there’s nothing like buying a single ticket to a wrestling event to ding the ole self confidence, and two, I wouldn’t know what to say. I mean, I could easily say “Hey, thanks,” shake his hand, pay my money, get my battle worn first edition copy of “Have a Nice Day” – juice, coffee, smooshed bug stains and all, signed, and bounce, leaving the importance of the artist’s art between the art and myself, and that’s probably the most sane choice, and what I’d most likely do.

But I also never got the chance to tell Roger Ebert how big of an influence he was on me either, and it’s something I really regret. How do you articulate to a man with no voice how much his words meant to you? I do have an e-mail from him where he said I had a gift for editing, but I never communicated how many of his reviews I read, or how often I’d mine them for concepts, ideas, or quotes I could use to illustrate my own in countless essays, papers, or posts – and the opportunity was right there.

But at the same time – I’d rather wait. Wait for what? I don’t know. Greatness? Job Security? Self fulfillment? An Emmy? I have no clue. With wrestlers you never know how long they’ll be around, and what you’ll get when you meet them. My only other interactions with these guys have been getting a death stare from Spike Dudley when I tripped and almost pulled down a curtain – almost ruining a show, and saluting Sargent Slaughter at an indie gig.

Still, I think I’ll wait on meeting Mr. Foley, at least a little longer, reading “Have a Nice Day” every now and then when my soul needs a boost, making the occasional twitter quip, or Facebook comment in the guy’s direction, subtly letting on, but never properly communicating what his book and world-view meant to my development as a mostly well adjusted human being that’s completely aware he’s maybe just a bit too obsessed with a book about an awkward kid who chased after his dreams and caught them with both hands, for his own good.

Then again, the book has done quite a lot good for my own good, so who knows.

—————————————————————————————

Blog Otter Award: Mister_E_Mah for getting some quality post-slumber sex in the other day…picsorit didnthappen

1. Darn it, I went and over shared again. Ah well, honestly I always wanted to get ‘on record’ how much the thing had meant to me, and I figure the only place I could do it and not be laughed out of the state would be this here blog. Also, selfishly I’m in the whole “QOTD” thing to 1) interact with you cool cat-otters, and 2) force myself to write something every day. Hopefully you enjoyed, but if you skimmed, or ignored, that’s cool too.

2. PS if any New Englanders are up for hitting up some Beyond Wrestling shows or tackling the next Raw or Smackdown that comes through town, lemme know in the comments!

3. I would like to apologize again for the above post, in which I spent thousands of words setting up the answer to an opened ended question I managed to answered incorrectly.

Heel turns gone wrong

So at the ROH I-PPV best in the world Kevin Steen cut a Heel promo eviscerating the crowd for being hypocrites and going so far as to yell FUCK NEW YORK! in the Hammerstein.  all i could think of when the crowd refused to boo him regardless of what he said was the monster pop Austin got after beating the Rock at wrestle mania as the result of going heel. If you've commited to a big heel turn where you say Fuck the fans (literately in Steen's case) and the crowd won't hate them, how do you fix it.  I only know about the Austin example through DVD's and the near universal agreement heel Austin didn't work since it was before my fandom, so i can't even look back on that for comparison in the long term.  I guess  my question is this, if you turn your top baby face Heel, but the crowd still reacts like he's the top baby face how do you fix it, you can't just take what they said to turn heel back can you?   

The first time Austin had that problem they just turned him into the top babyface and drew billions of dollars.  I don't see ROH drawing significant money with Steen, but I don't see why they can't just run with him as a babyface who insults the crowd.  What booker in their right mind would look at the top guy in the promotion getting monster reactions and go "Shit, we gotta FIX this!"?  
The Austin thing was different, because it went beyond the heel turn at Wrestlemania and carried into changing the character into something that people didn't want to pay money to see, the spineless and self-loathing jellyfish who needed emotional support from his former arch-enemy.  It was an awesomely nuanced character played by completely the wrong person for the role.