LoW Roundtable: Greatest Rivalries

Wow I haven’t done a rant in forever. Time to jump back on that horse so here we go.

Greatest Rivalries

The panel is Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Hayes, Mick Foley and Eric Bischoff

Right away Ross goes to Mick for his favorite rivalries and Mick lists a few like Dynamite Kid-Tiger Mask and Jerry Lawler-Terry Funk but his favorite is the 1983 rivalry between Jimmy Snuka and Don Muraco. He says it was the rivalry that made him want to be a wrestler. Hayes asks him why and Foley says when he saw Snuka do a hands free plancha on Muraco for the first time (and I would assume that was pretty groundbreaking shit for American television in 1983) and it made him want to buy tickets to a wrestling match. Foley said the feud hooked him and the promos that Snuka cut hooked him more.

(They show a Snuka promo with McMahon and I must admit it’s pretty damn good and Snuka losing control at the end was great. A great promo can stand the test of time.)

Foley continues on and talks about his infamous trip to MSG to watch the Snuka-Muraco steel cage match. The story he tells of hitchhiking from Courtland, N.Y. is always a good tale.

(They show clips from the steel cage match. I only remember seeing the full version of the match on a Coliseum video. It wasn’t very long but it was intense and the ending was terrific with Muraco tumbling through the door. And Monsoon’s call of the leap from the top of the cage is special.)

Foley talked about being talked into the building by the intense promos between Muraco and Snuka. They go into Snuka’s ECW ran and Mick tells a story about refereeing a Snuka match and they talk about Snuka’s prolific past without going into any details (*cough* murder *cough*). Bischoff talks about his experiences with Snuka and Muraco during their short stint in the AWA. Mick tells a funny story about Snuka relayed from the Rock (involving impressions and cocaine).

Wow a third of the show on Jimmy Snuka. Not what I was expecting. You know who his daught..nah I’m not going there.

We get into tag teams and Michael Hayes talks about how the great great tag teams could actually overshadow the top singles. He mentions the Rock & Roll Express vs. Midnight Express as his favorite rivalry. Oddly they only focus on the Condrey/Eaton pairing of the Midnights. And I guess that makes sense because when Lane came in both teams weren’t feuding as viciously.

JR talks about how Jerry Jarrett got hosed by Bill Watts on a trade and let Cornette, Eaton and Condrey go to Mid-South. Ross says the rivalry even overshadowed anything Junkyard Dog did in Mid-South, which is a heck of an accomplishment.

Hayes says Robert Gibson is one of the reasons he got in the business (He breaks kayfabe for a second and calls him Reuben). There’s some drug usage innuendo in there. Hayes explains how Robert Gibson wanted to get in the business following his brother Ricky Gibson, who was an early high flyer. Robert Gibson was a decent mid-carder in Memphis and Morton, the son of referee Paul Morton, was floundering. Hayes gives credit to Jimmy Hart for putting them together but Lawler quickly disagrees and takes credit himself.

Lawler says Hart has nothing to do with it but Hayes and Bischoff says Hart always takes credit for it. (I’m not giving due to how funny this little bit was). But Lawler talks about how he and Jarrett would take turns making the card and they would switch off each six months. Lawler says Jarrett, using the same formula of taking floundering mid-carders and pairing them, created the Fabulous Ones (Steve Keirn and Stan Lane) and paired them with Jackie Fargo.

Lawler said during his six-month booking stretch he wanted to one-up Jarrett and says he brought Morton and Gibson in. He bought a ton of bandanas from Wal-Mart and made their uniforms and both guys thought Lawler was fucking with them but it became gold and in many ways kicked off the tag team era.

Hayes says the Midnight Express were created much the same way as Bobby Eaton was widely known as a solid performer that lacked verbal skills and Condrey was floundering as a mid-carder. JR says that’s where Cornette came in and his in-ring persona was much like his real life persona as he was easy to dislike. Hayes, however, gives Cornette credit for absorbing everything he learned in his early career and using it as a manager. Hayes says it was a bad trade for Memphis but Lawler disagrees and says in reality Memphis had so much talent it was counter productive to have the Fabs and the R&R Express on the same card. They also crack on Jimmy Hart some more (a running gag with this panel).

Ross talks about both teams coming to Crockett and making magic.

(Clips of the Midnight Express winning the NWA tag titles from the Rock & Roll Express thanks to evil heels shenanigans. Classic stuff.)

Ross talks about why there aren’t any great tag teams and he says because there is a lack of quality depth. Bischoff attributes that to a lack of territories and the demand to produce television around the few talented guys.

Foley said the top tags also knew they weren’t going to get broken up three months later to do something for television. Oooo great point. Now Mick says every good tag is made of megastars that are already branded and forced together just to break up. He says that being in a tag team in the WWE is considered a put down and guys aren’t looking at the upside of being successful in a tag role.

Moving on Ross’ favorite rivalry is Dusty and Flair. Ross says the rivalry was natural and Hayes mentions the ego was the connection. Ross says they had rivalries in who had the nicer mink coat and the bigger car. Rhodes loved the Boston Celtics and Flair loved the Lakers. Ross said the best part of their rivalry were the Saturday night promos where they could just talk people in the building.

(And the show the clip of the infamous “Hard Times” promo which is widely considered the best promo piece ever and a must see for any fan of wrestling nostalgia. And his perm is just amazing.)

Bischoff said that when he got to WCW he didn’t know much of the history of the Dusty-Flair feud. He made the mistake of trying to get the two to come together through drinks at an Atlanta hotel but he said the competitive nature of the two was so far beyond wrestling. Bischoff said the secret with the two was channeling that emotion and providing a microphone and even now both men could give you one or two promos during a time period that were memorable. Ross mentions Flair’s promo to Carlito about his lack of passion as one of those cases.

Mick spends more time talking about Flair and his own experiences with Flair. Lawler says no one has been better at talking fans in the arena than Flair and Rhodes. Hayes talks about Dusty absorbing the information and teachings he received in Florida and he brought it to the Carolinas. Naturally they go so far off track to the point of where Hayes talks about he and the Freebirds ruining Jim Crockett’s bachelor party and almost getting their ass kicked by Wahoo McDaniel and Harley Race. Mick then tells a Buddy Roberts story.

Back to Dusty-Flair and their egos. Lawler says an ego is important in the business but those two had it and then some. Bischoff said both were tremendous backstage politicians. The competition for them went to the being in control of the locker room and it was intense. Hayes said that despite the animosity and competition for Crockett’s attention, Flair and Dusty could still make it happen from bell to bell. And that wraps it up.

The Bottom Line: Well this was one of the earlier shows and you can tell because they were horribly off topic most of the time. Things would get better with the focus of the panel but the discussion is always fun.