Cucch’s Book Review: “World Wrestling Insanity” by James Guttman.

I cannot wait to see HHH’s page on the WWE Network…

For the better part of a decade and a half, most long time wrestling fans have maligned the product WWE serves them every week with a snide and scorn that most restaurant critics would have dishing out. When remembering the long since lost days of gladiators like Austin and Rock, Hogan and Savage, Flair and Steamboat, they tend to get a wistful, wet look in their eye, their lips purse and start trembling. Eventually, that melancholy subsides and a reddened, almost purple pallor takes over their faces. Its the look many smarks are used to. It is a look in this day in age that very much tells what type of fan you are dealing with. For instance, take these two very different conversations I have had in the past week.

The first was with a girl I haven’t talked to since Elementary School…we are talking since 1992 for this old bastard. We have since reconnected because she had never seen any seasons of 24, and me and a friend of mine who are CONSTANTLY talking about it on facebook piqued her interest. Long story short, I mentioned I wrote some shit on 24 and she should check them out…which she did. She then asked why it was on a wrestling website. I explained to her that I happen to be a wrestling junkie and review books on this site. She replied something to the effect of “I love wrestling! Haven’t watched in a long time though. I loved the storylines (yes, she actually used that term) and I loved HHH and Stephanie.

Well, I mention this to the other person she knows talking up the relative merits of Jack Bauer, and this kid happens to be a fan who tuned out in 2003. I mentioned the line and his response went to the effect of this: “Ugh. Doesn’t she know that is the problem?”

That friend stopped watching WWE in early 2003. He immediately went into the military…

Now, I don’t want to present things so purely black and white here. I am not saying that this girl was or is an authority on pro wrestling. She isn’t, wasn’t and will likely never be. Neither is my friend who made that latter statement…and no, WWE did not drive him to join the Armed Forces. I just liked the idea that the product WWE was foisting upon us in 03 was so bad that it COULD force a person to enlist. But what remains is that both of these people, who tuned out a decade ago, remembered Steph and Hunter. And that one of them remembers them as a good thing, while the other condemns them as all the WWE’s problems, speaks to a huge issue that many of us on the Internet have been saying and debating for years. HHH is a problem. Stephanie is a problem.

“World Wrestling Insanity” by James Guttman, is a valuable tool to explain and chronicle those problems. I was never a fan of Guttman in the past, especially his Raw Reviews. When Scott checked out around the same time as my aforementioned friend, I searched far and wide for show reviews, because I TOO had ceased giving two pints of panther piss about what was going on. All I knew was it was shit TV where HHH was going to win at all costs. That’s it. Just two years prior, 2001, WWE was on absolute cloud nine as a wrestling company, trampling its opposition, providing quality wrestling and intriguing angles (fuck storylines), and just absolutely setting the industry, and mass media, on its ear. It was a great time to be a fan.

It ended right after Mania 17. I pinpoint WWE’s creative death right when HHH tore his quad in the infamously awesome Two Man Power Trip/Jericho/Benoit match on Raw. Right then and there, the then WWF as we knew it died.

I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for what was to come.

James Guttman’s book basically describes the descent into the depths of depravity WWE experienced from the time Triple H married Stephanie McMahon…for reals. He does make sure to mention, and rightfully so, that before marrying the Genetic Jackhammer’s Billion Dollar Demon Seed, that HHH was already an established player on WWF cards, a legitimate money drawing main eventer. HHH’s heel run in 2000 was one of the most awe inspiring things this fan has ever seen…especially seeing no one, NONE of us, saw it coming. In the year 2000, HHH forever solidified his place in the industry as the hottest heel since the heyday of Ric Flair and the Horsemen. HHH was, as Scott said that year (and has since regretted), GOD. Everything he touched turned to ****. He wrestled out of his mind that year. The Fully Loaded match with Jericho…my word man, that remains a thing of beauty to me. But the issue here, as Guttman raises, isn’t whether HHH was or was not a star before marrying Bouncy McGee. Its about what he became AFTER marrying Stephchicles. He became the only star booked strongly…not just strongly, superhumanly. HHH went from main eventer to all knowing Master of the Universe following his McMarriage. Most of the text of the book is devoted to this, and Guttman, for the most part, is just spot on.

As far as HHH (or as I called him, Quad H during that point…I was dismayed Scott didn’t pick up on that one; he instead referred to the newly returning 50 pound of lean muscle mass article as HHHH), the feuds Guttman breaks down are as follows: Kane, Shawn Michaels, Scott Steiner, Booker T, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, Chris Benoit, Shelton Benjamin (sort of), Eugene, Randy Orton and Batista. And my word man…what a slaughterhouse. And I am not talking Sullivan’s Slaughterhouse from 1989-90 WCW with Sullivan wearing a pure white apron with nary a stain on it. No, HHH SLAUGHTERED his competition with the power of several thousand atomic noogies. Kane? Kate Vick. IC Title. Lost Mask. Guttman wirtes with a fervor and passion on this one that is just electric to read. None of the shit made sense, probably the least sensical of  Quad H’s feuds. Maybe. We all know the background. If not, read the book. NEXT.

Shawn Michaels, a man who had won the WWF title in 1996, the year after Hunter had DEBUTED there. They become best buds, HBK, through the sheer power of pleasing Vince or someone backstages’ priapism, gets kliq buddy Hunter some shine. HBK has Karma shut a casket lid on his upper high asshole (well I am sure it had been stretched by that point), retires and it leads to HHH’s big push, of which, as I said earlier, HHH EARNED. So HBK returns, more or less, for a one shot deal against best bud Hunter at SSlam 2002, where HBK walks away, after a just fucking incredible match, with his hand raised. Michaels decided the power of Christ compelled him to one more run, one that saw Michaels win the first ever Elimination Chamber match over five other superstars (notice the small “s”), each of whom could have used an HBRub. Or a HHRub. Yeah, we know that ain’t happening. So WWE can’t create new stars, so how about bringing in…

THE BIG BAD BOOTY DADDY! I might be in the minority here…but I HATED this Scott Steiner persona, both in WCW’s waning days as a heel and as an inexpiable babyface in WWE. Arm wrestling contests. Push up contests. A match I saw live and in person at Royal Rumble 2003 that was so bad that I gave the following match, Benoit-Angle, the vaunted ********** rating, on the five star scale. NEXT!

The next HHH fodder…I mean opponent, was this big bald Jewish guy you may or may not have heard of. In 1998, while HHHis Excellency was arising to his eventual throne as the King of Kings (I am going to be hung for heresy once this review is over…I am just relaying the author’s views…which coincide with my own…PLEASE DON’T KILL ME). Every fan knows how fucked the Goldberg-HHH angle was, and Guttman just details it. So let us just move on, shall we?

Chris Benoit. Eat it. Digest it. You will actually see and hear of his likeness on the WWE Network. Get over it. As a sidenote, I was right there with Scott…dude was my boy, and, for a time, the only fucking reason I watched WWE. Benoit wins the Rumble from slot 1, challenges Raw champ HHH for his title the next night…and for the next few weeks, in the build to Mania 20, is considered an afterthought to HHH and HBK, even though the two butt buddies had been feuding on and off since June of 2002. Think about that: HHH and HBK had a two year feud in a company that made its biggest mark with shock television and 2 minute microwavable insta-feuds. Were they trying to reeducate the audience? Absolutely. Just so long as they enjoyed the five minute Cruiserweight match with more athleticism than Ben Johnson after several swigs of water as opposed to Shawn and Hunter hitting *ONE MOVE* and selling it for six minutes. Gag. Nauseating. Give me the tainted water, please. Anyway, most hardcore fans feared Shawn or Hunter walking away from, at that point, the biggest Mania ever, with the Gold, but fans were treated to a transcendent event where Benoit, clearly the crowd favorite (is this sounding currently familiar to anyone?) tapped Trips clean in the middle, resulting in a scene that most hardcore fans simultaneously love, cherish and, unfortunately, revile to this day: Eddie and Benoit embracing, both champions, with Chris bloodily clutching his young adoring son Daniel lovingly, as well as Nancy. UGH. I need a chaser to this…

(Watching Jimmy Snuka kill Don Muraco off the cage in 83 on WWE Network). Phew, better. That Snuka, pure class…

It all brings us to Mania 21. Now, HHH buried some folks, but Guttman hits the nail right on Austin’s Symbolic Ritual Cruci…nailing.  Right on the hand…I mean head. HHH, who had the power and intelligence to elevate anyone, ANYONE, had over three years to do it. Who did he put over? In the long run, NO ONE. I will not attempt to run with the Orton angle here, as Randy overcame to become one half of the worst Mania main event ever (as we know it right now).

Guttman then goes into diatribes about the Diva Search, Tough Enough, Heidenreich, Snitsky, all that gulag of great shit WWE was offering at that point. Those are the better parts of the book and, as anyone who follows my shit here knows, I do not ruin those. Read them yourselves. But do yourself a service: Read World Wrestling Insanity. You may avoid some of those dudes who chased Kane in the 99 Rumble. Me? I am beyond redemption.

Until the next time, I will enjoy my rubber room…

Cucch’s Random Column of the Evening: Ranking the 24 Season Finales.

Most people who follow me on facebook know three undeniable things about me. One is that I am a diehard Yankees fan. Second is that I am a rabid wrestling fan. These first two facts obviously net me a gross amount of groupie love from all the pretty females patrolling social media. The third thing is that, in the last year or so, I have become reacquainted with all things 24, almost to the point of unnatural obsession. You see, as 2012 turned to 2013, the Audience network offered by DirecTV started airing marathon blocks of the show, chronologically beginning with season one. Every Tuesday night, they would show four straight episodes of whatever season they were airing in a row, with the only commercial coming in between episodes. So for my then unemployed ass, Tuesday nights, 8pm to 11pm became a sort of appointment for me…an appointment that I could not break, much like Jack Bauer’s word, because those 3 hour blocks became one of the more effective forms of therapy for this recovering. Over the course of the last year plus, I have painstakingly combed through the 24 archives, procuring every season on DVD and watching them ad nausem. And with 24: Live Another Day right around the corner (premieres May 5th), I figured now was as good a time as any to try to stoke any old flames past fans like myself had for the show…to actually reignite them, to build towards a fever pitch. To remember what made the show so great in the first place. And I cannot think of a better way to do that than to rank the Season finales of the show. So lets get at it and proceed.

And if you are not down with that…blame the Audience Network.

Not Rated: 24: Redemption: 24: Redemption was a two hour mini movie that basically tried to describe Jack’s journey from Season Six, where he more or less is a wanted man in his own country due to some of his interrogation tactics, to Season Seven, where he faces a Senate Grand Jury for those questionable torture techniques. As it is only a 2 hour mini movie of a series that generally spans 24 forty minute episodes, you can not hold any of this up to the other 8 Season Finales.

8: Season 7: Let’s get one thing perfectly clear: Season 7 of 24 sucked. It was undeniably the worst season the show ever produced. So it stands to reason that the finale of Season 7 was the worst of the lot. The episode begins well enough, as Jack is trying to escape Evil Soul Patch Tony from submitting him to the Prion Cabal as a human guinea pig. Tony captures a weakened  and diseased Jack, but reveals his evil plot is just to gain revenge against the man, Alan Wilson, who was responsible for his wife’s death. The portion where Tony actually gets hold of Wilson is just incredibly hokey for 24 standards, as Tony tells him that the reason he has turned to the darkside, the reason he has taken such amazing character jumps from the Tony Almeida most fans knew and adored, was the hackneyed plot device that when Michelle was killed, she was pregnant with Tony’s child. Gag. Now, that all happens within about the first 15 minutes of the episode. The remaining 45 deal with the lame First Family saga and Jack embracing death. The Taylor Family nonsense is pure hot garbage, as they are easily three of the worst characters the series has ever seen. No need for them dominating the finale, especially when the Jack and Kim parts are just so emotionally powerful. A total airball by the writers here. Blame the writers’ strike of 2009, I guess.

7: Season 6: Most 24 fans malign Season 6. I am not one of them. Was it their strongest season? No. Was the Bauer family saga a little forced? Certainly. But, for the most part, the season was fairly good, with a strong heel in Abu Fayed. The problem was, Fayed was killed almost 7 hours before the final act. The end heel ends up being Jack’s father, Phillip Bauer, and the main bargaining chip of the last episode proves to be one of my least favorite 24 characters ever, Josh Bauer, Jack’s nephew. Add into the fact that Ricky “Silver Spoons” Schoreder was the prime CTU badass in charge of supervising the exchange…which he fucks up royally, of course…and it just came off as flat, even with the spectacular F-15 bombing of Phillip Bauer’s oil rig. What saves this from dead last is one thing: the very end. Jack’s confrontation of Richard Heller, in regards to seeing Audrey, was outstanding. The ending with Jack, after realizing what Heller was telling him was true, after letting go of Audrey and his past life, was amazing. Jack standing on Heller’s estate, with him symbolically throwing his gun into the ocean, with a pained, saddened look on his face, let you know just how damaged the Jack Bauer psyche was. And with good cause.

6: Season 1: SACRILEGE! I am sure many of you are saying that right now. Fact is, as good as Season One’s finale was…it just doesn’t hold up. Teri dies, we know that. Nina is exposed as the mole and traitor. Don’t get me wrong…it is great television…especially when Jack just ups and mercs the fuck out of an unarmed Victor Drazen. As good as it was, it was just a taste, a teaser, of some of the finales we were about to experience. Call it the test case, patient zero of the finales of the series. It would only get better…or in the case of 6 and 7, worse.

5: Season 3: Anyone who knows me knows that Season 3 of 24 was my favorite, for it was when I started watching the series as event viewing. I still adore it to this day, and no one can tell me otherwise. That said, the Finale felt a little flat after a TREMENDOUS build. Saunders gets killed by Gael’s wife. Some random dude has the last vial of the virus, and Jack and Chase (I still maintain Chase was Jack’s best sidekick) have to chase Random Evil Guy to a grade school. Now, there it is fun, as Chase engages the mysterious Dr. X in a fist fight…which X (Arthur Raburn…I know, I know) defeats him. But Chase locks the virus device on his arm, allowing Jack to emerge and bullet fuck Raburn. The caveat was that the locking mechanism Chase activated around his wrist could not be broken. So, after failing to disarm it via the wiring, Jack has to chop Chase’s thumb off with an ax, then run the virus down to a teacher’s room and throw it in their refrigerator. From there….fairly mundane. The Chase sequence was great, but as compared to some of the seasons upcoming here…nothing special. But still my personal favorite season of the show.

4: Season 4: I just finished watching Season 4, so I viewed the finale about 2 hours ago. It is criminally underrated. Whereas most seasons of the show have 2 or maybe 3 main antagonists, Season 4 had just one: Habib Marwan. For what feels like an eternity, Jack and CTU track and attempt to trace Marwan…only to find one well placed road block after another. Marwan succeeds in melting down a nuclear power plant, shooting down Air Force One and gaining possession of a portion of the nuclear football. It all leads to Season Four’s crescendo, where Jack finally, and ultimately, gets to the terrible Turk. Jack gets to Marwan through a character only true 24 fans would really relate to, Mandy, and is able to track Marwan’s chopper to the Global building in downtown Los Angeles…minutes before Marwan’s missile, armed with a nuclear device, would hit its payload. However, as Jack engages Marwan on the roof of the enormous structure, he slips and falls off the edge…only to be saved by Jack, who just wants to know the who, what, where, why and MAYBE how of the missile about to impact the continental United States. He holds Marwan by his hand, for which Marwan repays Jack by slicing the ever living fuck out of it, just so an already weakend Jack can let Marwan drop to his death, a martyr to his cause. But Jack and Curtis Manning are able to locate and shoot down the device, saving millions of innocent lives. There is a caveat to that, though: to obtain Marwan’s position, Jack had to, unlawfully, enter the Chinese Consulate and kidnap a Chinese foreign who had the backing of his government, even with the shady shit he was perpetrating. It caused a fire fight where, while Jack’s US soldiers used non lethal force, China used VERY lethal force, resulting in the friendly fire death of their consul. After the missile is disabled, former President David Palmer alerts Jack that, not only do the Chinese want to take him as a suspect in the death of their consul, on their soil (watch it and look up the name BERN…biggest bitch in the history of the series), but someone inside the White House wants him dead, for fear that he may expose secrets that would be detrimental to United States National Security. To that end, Jack fakes his own death and disappears. A fantastic, forgotten finale.

3: Season 8: After Season 7, I was not expecting much from Season 8. Boy, was I wrong. The last few hours of Season 8 revolve around Jack trying to get revenge for two things: The death of his love, Renee Walker, and to prove that President Allison Taylor was totally delusional in trying to bring peace to nations that clearly had no peace. In the buildup, he eviscerates the man who killed Renee. He impales the Russian Ambassador with his own sword. Jack just goes fucking off the grid bonkers…and it is a glorious site. The finale sees Jack with his sniper trained on epic baddie Charles Logan, telling him to bring the fucking PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA, into his view…because Yuri Suvarov is the man behind everything in Season 8…so Jack can kill him. That is pretty heady stuff. Now, Chole talks him out of it, and the episode DOES include Freddy Prinze…but trust me. This was just an awesome finale, the series finale. It reaches critical mass one wet blanket…I mean President Taylor realizes she has fucked up and orders Jack’s recovery. Charles Logan is just deliciously evil. Fun stuff for all 24 wonks…like myself.

2: Season 5: The Charles Logan Season. For episode after episode, you try to figure out who is the main heel within the White House…is it Walt Cummings? Is it VP Hal Gardner? Maybe Mike Novick? Nope. It was the Grand Poobah himself, POTUS, Charles Logan. Jack figures it out…that is what Jack does. He interrogates the Prez…but gets nowhere. Logan figures he has won, after all the ignominy he has shown the office. It takes his mentally unstable wife, Martha, to bring the whole thing down…and it is glorious watching evil scumfuck Logan being led away by Secret Service as David Palmer’s casket is being readied to be flown to DC. A truly epic episode that ends with Jack, as always, doing the right thing, but paying the most ultimate of costs.

1: Season 2: Number one with a bullet. Season Two of 24 was probably the best the series has ever pumped out (Season 5 was damned fine as well), but no finale has come even close to matching Season 2’s sheer brilliance. From the time Jack is tortured by Kinglsey’s men, from his arrival at Alex Hewitt’s loft, from the unexpected appearance of Sherry Palmer…if you want to introduce a friend to the 24 Franchise…this is the episode. After Jack is tortured to death, then revived, he counts on a computer programmer and the ex wife of the President to help save the country from entering into an unnecessary strike against innocent nations. It sees Jack Bauer use Sherry Palmer as bait, at the LA Coliseum, no less, to lure out the true madmen behind the day’s events. The final episode of Season 2 is television at its finest. We are all indebted to the Gods that are John Cassar and Kiefer Sutherland for this very episode. It is one of the main reasons I cannot wait for 24: Live Another Day. And its the reason you count down the days as well. 

Cucch’s Book Review: Missy Hyatt: First Lady Of Wrestling.

Seeing that cover alone made me want to just purely despise this book…I was surprised, to say the least.

I became a pro wrestling fan in winter of 1989. I remember watching the Viewer’s Choice PPV teasers, and the trailer for Survivor Series 89 made an impression on me. I loved watching all the pre taped promos from Roddy’s Rowdies, Rude’s Brood, the Hulkamaniacs, the Million Dollar Team…the shit just seemed so surreal and so COOL to this 9 year old. In particular, a hulking black menace with a lazy eye named Zeus really caught this youngster’s attention. I had no clue, back then, of what a good worker was, who was a good hand and who was clearly an actor posing as a wrestler…all I knew then was that Zeus was SCARY AS FUCK, no more no less. And if Hulk Hogan’s offense could not slow him down, then by God, who could stop the man? All of that concern was set to rest a month later, when the WWF broadcast, on PPV, No Holds Barred: The Movie, The Match. Hulk vanquished his large lazy eyed black foe (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Deebo from Friday…) with three crushing bodyslams and a thunderous leg drop.

From that point until now, I was hooked. Of all things, it was Zeus that hooked me on pro wrestling. Sad to say.

Now some of you are probably wondering (hell, most): “What the fuck does this little rant have to do about Missy Hyatt?” Fair enough. I appreciate that you allowed me to indulge myself in that opening paragraph. Well, here it is. Most people my age, who discovered the phenomena known as Pro Wrestling around the same time, list a few seminal events that set off their perpetual slavish devotion to the pseudo sport we have come to know, love, hate, revile, and mock. Zeus was mine. About a month after the No Holds Barred Tag Match, we were treated to the epic criss cross of death between Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior at the Royal Rumble 1990, from Orlando, Florida. Right around those two events, the NWA, by then more or less WCW, was advertising a Clash of the Champions event, to be broadcast on TBS. I had no idea who the players in the main event were, besides Ric Flair and Sting. Even fans with the most rudimentary understanding of the mat wars were familiar with those two. As an added caveat, the Horsemen’s match with Gary Hart’s J-Tex group would be contested inside a steel cage. After being mesmerized (did not take me much back then) by the “spectacle” that was the No Holds Barred match (which, in hindsight, is just Randy Savage carrying three dudes on his back) was likewise a cage match. I was all in.

Now, the match, and the pre-match angle that saw the Horsemen kick Sting out of the group, remains the stuff of legend. I picked a hell of a Clash to be my first endeavor into WCW. The night progressed, Sting blew out his ACL, yadda yadda yada. We all know the story. But that event was what introduced me to WCW, and with the WWF running the Hogan-Warrior bulidup to Mania 6, you knew this nine year old was hooked and fucked for life. So I started watching everything available to me…and with WWF Superstars, Wrestling Challenge, Prime Time, as well as WCW Saturday Night and Main Event on Sundays (Captain Planet y’all), that pretty much monopolized my non-homework time.

Which brings me to Missy Hyatt…finally.

Missy was this wrestling fans’ first crush…back in the early 90’s, she was beyond gorgeous to a young boy who had yet to come of age. At the time I started watching WCW, she was involved with Jason Hervey of “The Wonder Years” fame. In 1990-91, he was very much at the pinnacle of his career, pre-Eric Bischoff, pre-“Scott Baio is 45 and Single”. Most male fans of the era cite Miss Elizabeth as their first pro-wrestling crush, and I would be hard pressed not to mention her striptease at Summer Slam 1988 as one of those coming of age moments for a generation of young, horny wrestling fans. But Missy was something else entirely. Whereas Elizabeth was, more or less, a chaste, fairly innocent figure who played Yang to hubby Macho Man’s Yin, Missy was more or less just a total tramp. With huge tits.

Missy’s book does nothing to dissipate the rumors that have surrounded her throughout the years. Written in 2001, she is remarkably candid about who she blew and worked with over the years. As a teenage fan, she was infatuated with Tommy Rich, to the point where she and an Atlanta territory fan named “Cheryl”, who I can only imagine to be the future Cheryl Roberts of future WWF fame, attended a live event together. They arrived for the event far too early and encountered the Georgian booker of the time…who remains unnamed. Missy was smitten at that point by Tommy Rich. Now, Missy, real name Melissa Hiatt, is, in case you have not noticed, a fairly attractive woman. Especially in those pre-collagen, pre-botox days. The booker made sure Missy was front row for “Wildfire’s” match. The long and short of it, according to Ms. Hyatt…she gave him road head.

Thus begins one of the most glorious and enjoyable trainwrecks of a book I have ever read.

Missy was involved (read: FUCKED) many wrestlers over the years, and she names names here. From Tommy Rich, it was Jake Roberts (who she describes as…well…odd), Road Warrior Hawk, “Hollywood” John Tatum…who was the man who got Missy into the business, and is possibly one of the worst workers of all time. Seriously, I was on a recent Global binge with ESPN Classic running marathon showings lately…and the man just flat out had NOTHING in ring. Or out of the ring. That is where Missy was supposed to come through. Early on in the dying days of the territories, Missy became John’s mouthpiece. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig. But Missy was something different, a hit with fans, and her schtick went down like a fine wine with them. But, for her, something wasn’t right. She was John Tatum’s sidepiece, but she was clearly above him. Her territory was soon turfed during the 80’s Vince McMahon takeover…and none other than Vince himself extended an offer to Missy that she clearly could not refuse.

That offer was for Missy Hyatt to take over the segment that was Piper’s Pit, in the form of Missy’s Manor. Large shows (and Kilts) to fill. Piper had just departed WWF to star in such critical hits as “They Live” and “Hell Comes to Frogtown.” So he had his plate full. “Missy’s Manor” was slated to be the replacement for Piper’s now legendary segment, but it bombed the first night out, as the Missy character was completely narcissistic and never should have been the WWF’s plan for her…Missy was all about Missy, and for her to be trot out week after week as an interviewer when the character remained the clear focus was just counter productive. Both Vince and Missy realized this, and when Vince turfed Missy’s Manor to, instead, have Missy become the head “Federette”, or ring girl, she went back to the love of her life, Eddie Gilbert, who was a partial booker in the recently bought out by JCP UWF promotion.

From there, Missy was made color commentator of the product, with legend Jim Ross as the blow by blow guy. (Resisting…urge…blow…Missy joke…done). While there, Missy was on the outs in her relationship with Gilbert, which she confirms in having a one night stand with, of all people, Dr. Tom Prichard. I cannot accurately describe that hot garbage, so let us move on. Missy did. On. And down.

More or less, this book is a total kiss and tell memoir…Missy throws a veritable promotion under the bus as men who have laid under her. Her next experiences were with a man many years her junior, Marcus Bagwell, Bill Fralic (Studd the Dud, for Mania 2 wonks), as well as some well known hockey players. But chief among these was Jason Hervey. I always thought this relationship was a work…but Missy confirms that it wasn’t. And she all but says it was more or less about the money turning her on more than anything the diminutive Hervey could offer. As I said earlier, what this book lacks in either depth or moral compass, it makes up for in the total TMZ factor. 

From there, and we are talking about page 135 out of less than 200, Missy quickly conveys her ECW experience, where, I think most of us watching the problem at that point can attest, Missy was just bombed out of her mind. Watch her eyes during her angles in ECW…nothing there but, maybe, lust. She conveys a story about how Lori Fullington, Sandman’s wife, treated her like royalty when the red light was off, but when push came to shove in ring, she just stiffed the ever loving fuck out of Missy. Sounds about right. Although this book is written in 2001, there are no mentions as to the WrestlingVixxxens website…just to Missy begging Vince McMahon for a job in 1997, being rebuffed, which led to Missy going back to school. The entire ending of the book, knowing what we know now, over a decade later, is utter horse flop. But don’t let it take away from the rest of the work: Missy Hyatt’s book is the equivalent to picking up that National Enquirer gimmick when in line waiting to check out at the Grocery Store…you know it is likely 95% bullshit, but it is 100% entertaining. That is the best way I can describe Missy’s book…only with less BS than an Enquirer article.

Cucch’s Book Review: Bruce Hart, “Straight From The Hart”

Bruce is about to book me as an opening match jobber in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan…

Greetings and salutations, its your friendly neighborhood Cucch coming around your way for another soon to be critically derided book review. So before we begin the festivities, let me say a few quick things about what is going on in the land of milk and honey that is my life.

I mentioned during one of my last reviews that I was unceremoniously bounced on my ass (laid off) from my last job, after four months of high performance. Trust me on this: I make pizzas far better than I write, rest assured. But for all the lament I may have had, things have actually been going quite well. I found a new job in short order, at what is more or less a biker bar. Fun stuff. Position is still tentative, but I have the inside track. I am also, finally, getting my car back on the road. Now, most of my readers here don’t have to hear the recovering yadda yadda yada bullshit, but, in just another instance where my reckless behavior spiked my life into the ground like a Rob Gronkowski touchdown celebration, I had two DUI’s 12 years ago….both within 9 months of eachother, both right after I turned 21, both right after 9/11. I have been too much of a mess for much of the last decade to do anything about it, so I have been not driving, very much living the bus and train lifestyle. Once I lost my job, my old man, the one person firmly in my corner, decided enough was enough, it was time for a change. My mom passed away 5 years ago, so we still have her car sitting in the driveway, the plan all along being for me to get it all fixed up and get it on the road…that was step 2 in my plan back to respectability,  step 1 being get a full time job. Step 3 is get back to school. Well, with step one being yanked from me, my old man took it upon himself to basically pay for me to get step two remedied. Basically, I have to have my car outfitted with what is called an “Ignition Interlock.” Basically, its a breathalyzer for the car…think of the car of the club rat Steve Carell tries to hook up with in “40 Year Old Virgin.” That’s what I am looking at. I more or less have all that set now. Add in the potential of a new job, well, things be looking up, yo.

But what am I thinking? You clicked here for a sub par book review, and GODDAMN MAN, I am fixing to deliver that right here, right now. You want sub par? I am going to 1997 Masters Tiger Woods the shit out of this one. It is a proper time to review this book for me, as here in Massachusetts, the weather is sub zero with over a foot of snow. Not unlike Calgary this time of year. So let us take a look at Bruce Hart’s memoir, “Straight From the Hart.”

I have never made any bones that I am a huge Bret Hart fan. The man was, and remains, my favorite wrestler of all time. That said, I have never had much access to Stampede Wrestling. Much of the material you find online is either incomplete or joined in progress. Having also just read Heath McCoy’s unbelievable tome on the history of Stampede, I can sort of gather why, but that’s another review for another day. So if I show any sort of knowledge gaps here, you will know why. Bruce Hart has always struck me as this conniving mama’s boy who pushed himself beyond all bounds of sanity to the detriment of his pop’s company, but also a booker who was far ahead of his time. Indeed, Bruce strikes me as a walking contradiction. In reading his book, I was hoping to be swayed in one direction or the other. That is not the case.

Bruce Hart is a bitter, bitter man, so it would seem. His bitterness seethes through in his book, as much as he tries to prevent it. He makes his younger brother, Bret, look totally secure, well adjusted and carefree. Much of Bruce’s tome is a strategic breaking down of his baby bro’s foibles, insecurities and shortcomings. It starts innocuously, as Bruce gives a fairly decent breakdown of the history of Stampede wrestling. These chapters are generally in adherence with  what most consider the true history of the territory. The Stomper. Abdullah. Dave Ruhl. It is all there, and Bruce bullshits nothing, giving a fairly accurate depiction of what his father created and fostered. It is when Bruce himself becomes a professional grappler for his dad’s life’s work that the cracks begin to show. Welcome, everybody, to the Bruce Hart show.

The story begins that brothers Keith and Bret are booking the promotion into the ground, after Archie Gouldie’s heyday, promoting nothing but good, solid wrestling with a bunch of gimmick blowoff matches. Chain matches, cage matches, matches that generally include maximum bloodshed. Finally, against his better judgment, Stu appoints Bruce as his booker, right after Bret takes an overseas tour, and BAM, Bruce finds the magic potion and makes Stampede a dynamic promotion. To be fair, he did, just in more far out ways than his brothers. Bruce is the ultimate babyface in this act. His greatest claim to fame is discovering a young British lad named Tommy Billington. The Dynamite Kid turned Stampede on its head, and Bruce, to his credit, was the man who unearthed him. But where Bruce is quick to deride his brothers for featuring either great technical wrestling or more hardcore means…he himself just uses a formula of the two. He happened to come across a transcendent talent that has become canonized in wrestling lore. Dynamite was magic. Mix him with grapplers such as Dave Schultz, his brother Bret and others…well, it became a magical period for Stampede wrestling. Everyone was riding high, and these portions of the book are quite entertaining. Well, besides Bruce just ripping the shit out of Bret every chance he can. But I digress.

Then that evil Vince McMahon came along, and fucked up everything.

That is not to say that is an invalid sentiment shared by Bruce…Vince, by making wrestling national, made it into the shit show we watch every Monday at this time. Watered down, boring, shitty workers, for the most part. Bruce relates that the biggest screwjob was Vince doing Stu and not living up to the deal they originally agreed to for western Canada, while conveniently forgetting to mention his whole role in the process. It is here where the book becomes a theater of the absurd. 

According to Bruce, from 85-89, he really wanted no part of reviving his dad’s promotion…even though all good historical study of Stampede suggests otherwise. That said, once Vince reneged on the initial agreement with Stu, Bruce found himself at the helm of the new Stampede promotion that we found in the late 80’s. These chapters find that Bruce is once again the hottest babyface in the world, along with new cohort and trainee Brian Pillman. The Pillman chapters are curious, because from all intelligence I have read, Bruce just wanted to attach himself to an up and coming star, Pillman being it, yet Bruce says he totally carried the Bad Company vehicle. In any case, Bad Company WAS a big boost to Stampede. But two huge WWF stars were about to send it crashing to the mat in early 1989: The British Bulldogs.

For fans of Bruce and, moreover, The Bulldogs, the animosity between the performers is well understood. Dynamite and Bruce hated everyone, especially eachother, and Davey…well, we’ll get to Davey Boy later.  The last gasp of the real Stampede wrestling was supposed to be the Davey-Dynamite blowoff, but it never happened. For one, Dynamite was on his last legs as a performer, as back injuries and drug issues had sapped him of his once legendary abilities. Secondly, an auto accident almost ended Davey Boy’s career (BTW…Bruce maintains he is the man who came up with the Davey Boy moniker…one of the more understated, humble assertions he makes in the book in the guise of total humility), right around the time Owen Hart was marrying his sweetheart, Martha Patterson. Bruce was the best man for Owen at that affair, and it should be mentioned that, like every Hart’s book seems to do, that Bruce was Owen’s closest sibling. It remains mind numbing to me how many of the Hart’s were the closest to Owen…its almost a running gag. From Bret to Diana to Bruce…they all had Owen’s ear. It either speaks to the man Owen was, or to the degenerates the rest of his family are and remain. It is truly tragic reading these rags, how all of the Hart’s were closest to Owen. I guess it speaks to the measure of the man, and the degeneracy of the family.

But here is where the book really starts to go off the rails. Bruce relays all of his experiences with brother Bret in the WWF. He maintains that it was Owen who secured all of his chances with WWF. Never Bret. In 1993, when Owen, still very low on the totem pole, and Bruce, still nowhere on said totem pole, appeared at SummerSlam 93 in Bret’s dual matches with Doink and Jerry Lawler, it was, as Bruce says, Bruce who made the biggest impression, according to, his memory, Dave Meltzer. Funny, as a fan of the time, all I remember Bruce for was getting Doink’s water bucket getting thrown all over his oh so butch western wear. Owen, under contract and no doubt telling Matt Borne that hit me with that wet shit, I will rib you to the ends of the earth, is mentioned as an innocent bystander. Thus begins Bruce’s smear campaign against Bret. Bruce was the big name who came out of Survivor Series 93. He was the big name to come out of Canadian Stampede 1997. He mentions that he outshone Bret, yet forgets to include he stiffed the shit out of soon to be number one draw in the history of wrestling, Steve Austin. Not one mention there. His assessment of the Montreal Screwjob, while sort of laughable, is interesting, but it comes off as more sour grapes than it does reasonable explanation. Which is a fine way to describe this shit show of a book.

Along the way, we get the whole Davey Boy-Andrea story. Bruce is far more forgiving to Davey, the man who stole his wife, than he is to his brother Bret, who seemingly did nothing but try to help him. Typical Hart Family nonsense. By the end of the story, Bruce has more or less forgiven his ex for her transgressions, gives her money she and he don’t have…and gets royally fucked in the long run. Bruce never touched drugs in his life save but for once, but he fell victim to an ultimate drug hustle. Takes one to know one. Davey died a couple of days later.

So what do I say? Bruce Hart’s book is filled with so many false truths and blatant bullshit that no man in his right mind would recommend it. Yet it does show some merit, some truth, and infinite enjoyability. Think of if as a spectacular car crash that you cannot keep your eyes off of. Think Kim Kardashian. I hated reading it, yet simultaneously loved it. Sometimes, it is fun calling other people on their bullshit.

Cucch’s Random Awesomeness of the Day

Just to chime in on the WWE Network quickly…they already have a vacuum hose attached to my wallet. Suffice to say, am I getting it? YES! YES! YES! Especially if they have high def versions matches like this. A member of a Facebook group I post on steered me in its direction…its Scott’s dream tag team: Hulk Hogan and Ricky Steamboat squaring off with Randy Savage and Honky Tonk Man, dark match filmed at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, January, 1987

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7RIllKuAmk

Cucch’s Book Review Special Edition: All of Scott Keith’s Books.

Methinks I better tread lightly here…

Let’s dispense with all the pleasantries and ball slurping right out of the gate. Obviously, as a writer on this site, I am a longtime fan of the grand poobah of this blog. I have been reading Scott’s rants since way back in the WrestleManiacs years, starting with his WCW Thunder rants many moons ago. I was a loyal CRZ guy at the time I discovered Scott’s, uh, unique outlook on one of my favorite pastime. I believe it was a line referring to Van Hammer’s “Leather Jacket of Extreme Discomfort” or someone using “The comfy cushions of death~!” that really dialed me into his writings, and since early 1998, I have been a loyal and devout Keith follower. Much of my early writing styles attempted to ape Scott’s style, until I realized a few things: That there is only one Scott Keith, that I was not a very good imitation of Scott, and I needed to find my own voice. While I still do keep some elements of Scott’s writings in mine, its amazing going around the interwebs, reading a review by some new cat on the block, and within about 100 words, know that the author is clearly trying to imitate Scott. Usually poorly.

With that said, obviously I have read all the man’s books. I bought “Buzz on…” the day it came out. Same goes for “Tonight in this Very Ring” and “One Ring Circus.” However, where I live is not blessed with a good amount of book stores to peruse through (and I have shitty credit, so Amazon was out of the question…plus at the times of their releases, my money was going towards some more mind altering substances)…so I only just read “Dungeon of Death” about a year ago, and just today received, from Amazon, at a cost of four cents plus $4.99 shipping, “Wrestling’s Made Men.” I devoured it in about two hours (trust me…after slogging through that shit that is Dusty Rhodes book…this was a fucking cakewalk) and loved it.

Which got me to thinking: I generally like all of Scott’s books, and the last few all generally follow a simple formula: describe what is wrong with the WWE, elaborate on the problems, throw in some match reviews, voila. So reviewing one of them is basically like reviewing all of them, so I figured I’d do something different here: quickly run down each book, discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of them all, and give a somewhat objective ranking of each work of Scott. So let’s do this.

Scott’s first book was “The Buzz on Wrestling”, which was a popular book series around the turn of the decade roughly akin to the “(Whatever Subject)…for Dummies” series. It was meant to be a quick tutorial for the uninitiated to the mat wars at a time when wrestling was at its zenith popularity wise. It is a quick and concise history of the modern era of wrestling that has sections dedicated to certain wrestlers and promotions in an attempt to give the less astute fan an idea of what was REALLY going on with said performers or promotions at the time, and in that sense, it is a success. Whenever I would have a friend or co-worker ask me questions about wrestling and how they could gain some more knowledge, I always referred them to this book, because it is easy and quick to read, and is filled with some great knowledge that alot of us smarter fans had already discerned from Scott’s online writing.

However, reading it today is very much reading the portrait of the artist as a young man. That is what is going to make this review interesting hopefully. It more or less really gets going around Hogan and the AWA and reaches the year 2000. Don’t get me wrong, its a good book, one I will still pick up as I am rushing towards the bathroom and in need of something quick and easy to read. (I can recount most of the book offhand without even glancing at it…even the typo’s, like Dynamite Kid’s style and drug use causing him “dearky.”), but it was really just scratching the surface of what was to come. It had some snark to it, but not nearly what was to come. It did not feature any match reviews, which were to come. Which leads us to…

“Tonight in this Very Ring” was what I considered the genesis of the more modern, scathing Scott we have come to know and loathe. I mean love. Consider “Buzz” the end of the Netcop years, and this book as the genesis of the smark rants. It is basically dedicated to the years 2000-2001, and reading it now is very much a trip, having experienced that wonderful WWF period live and in living color, if you will. The snark is turned up. The match reviews are there. And so is a phrase Scott rues to this day, in print: “HHH is God.” To be fair, in 2000, HHH really WAS Godlike, as he and Rock, with Austin sidelined, drew obscene amounts of money together, and it also didn’t hurt that the mid card had been revamped with additions like Benoit, Guerrero, Jericho, Malenko, et al. In short, it was, for this fan, one of the best years of wrestling I have experienced. Add in the fact that Russo had left for greener pastures in Turner Land, phew, buddy, it was a fun year, especially for PPV’s.

Well, except for King of the Ring 2000, the one PPV I had the privilege of attending live that year. That PPV was a steaming pile.

Anyway, “Tonight…” began a killer run for Scott, as he was well ahead of the curve on what precisely was going wrong with the WWF product even as it reached its pinnacle. He foresaw the growing HHH problem. This book introduced many to the term “Glass Ceiling.” It featured the Scott we all know and love (phew…got it right that time) right as he was reaching the peak of his powers. Without a doubt one of Mr. Keith’s better offerings. But the best was yet to come, with…

“Wrestling’s One Ring Circus.” This is, in my mind, without a shadow of a doubt, Scott’s best work to date in print form. It details a very tumultuous time period in the history of WWF/E, 2002-03. HHH becoming the egomaniac we all deride to this day. Austin walking out. WWF losing its name.  It takes the blueprint Scott laid out with “Tonight…” and turns the volume up to 11. Scott was a very jaded viewer at this point…as were many of us…and it is reflected in this book. It also seems to mark where modern Smark Scott shows up for good, filled to the brim with sources deep within the industry, as evidenced by the remarkable chapter on the walk out and demise of Stone Cold Steve Austin, which, if you have never read, in my mind is the definitive chapter on what he was experiencing at the time. A total slam dunk ***** classic chapter that may or may not be Scott’s definitive MOTY. Unreal stuff. Those last two words actually accurately describe the whole book, as it is just spot on from beginning to end, showing uncanny prognostication powers that I remain in awe of. Still a book I very much read to this day when I have time.

A quick life experience side note here: After this book is where I very much fell into the vices that basically destroyed my life for the better part of a decade. 2003-2011 were very dark times for me, so while I read Scott’s sporadic online contributions…and they were beginning to become very sporadic, reflecting his distaste for the product…his books became afterthoughts. It was only this afternoon I received, and read, “Wrestling’s Made Men.”

My thoughts on this chapter of Scott’s book writing is that it is a very good book, his second best. But in light of some events over the last few years, the two star players of the tome, Eddie and Benoit, make it almost tragic to read in retrospect. If I had read it when it initially came out, that Chris…in a druggie haze, no doubt…would have screamed “RIGHT ON!!! BENOIT!! EDDIE!! FUCK THE WORLD (Wrestling Entertainment)!” Reading it today though more or less made me feel a little melancholy, because I can recall experiencing the same joy as Scott relays in the book when Benoit won the Rumble in 04, when Eddie won the title at No Way Out in the Cow Palace, Mania 20…honestly, that was the pinnacle of my fandom, and its all been downhill ever since. It was a fun read because, honestly, I was so messed up at that point I was not seeing Raw week to week, let alone Smackdown. And to be honest again, reading this book, I am glad I wasn’t! There were some horribly illogical things going on with the WWE product at that time. Nathan Jones. Heidenreich. Mordecai. Kenzo Suzuki. Luther Reigns. HHH. The babyface push of Randy Orton. Ugh. Just…so…bad. Yet the book also describes WWE starting to finally push new guys towards the top, in the form of the (soon returning) Batista and John Cena, which at the time was a fresh idea that Scott was skeptical about. Wonder how he feels about that now, what with Cena being pushed and pushed and PUSHED down fan’s gullets (he was remarkably prescient on how Cena would go down well with younger fans) to the point of nausea. All in all, almost as brilliant as his prior book, but the main body of work showed an author who was growing weary of the product, on the verge of total wrestling breakdown…and Scott seemingly did, as did many of us fans as well. WWE had hit a corner here where Johnny Ace had taken over as head of talent relations (lowercase for a reason) and Steph and Trips were gaining more and more power. Honestly, the highlight of the book is Scott and friends attending Backlash 2004 and the Raw the following night, and their interactions with Shane O Mac.

“…Made Men” ends with a very somber afterword, as in between finishing the book and its publish date, the wrestling world lost Eddy Guerrero. Any fan worth their salt knows how great Eddy was in the ring, and what a spectacular fuck up he was outside of it. If I had to compare my life, my experiences, to a wrestler, its Eddy. Total perfectionist fighting the odds and a huge family influence trying to find his way to the top. In that process, he finds every pratfall known to man in an effort to remain at the top while slowly and surely descending into every abyss he attempts to jump. It is almost sort of ironic that Eddy’s death closes out “Made Men” with little mention of Chris Benoit. The afterword by Scott is written in February of 2006. 18 months later, the landscape of wrestling would change, and it would involve the very man Scott worshiped at the altar of.

Chris Benoit murdered his wife and child on the weekend of June 25, 2007. Chris Benoit was the lord and savior of the internet wrestling fanbase, a man most championed by Scott Keith himself. I can remember how I felt once I learned the grim reality of the situation: I felt like my balls had been stretched out and Benoit had thrown his hardest chop right down the middle of my sack. How could the man we had been led to believe was the ideal wrestler, salt of the earth, just a great guy who provided us hours upon hours of amazing wrestling, be this cruel and sadistic madman? I remained in mourning for many years, refusing to analyze the hard facts, just because it hurt too much. It was only within the last two years, when I really got clean, that I figured I would determine if I was being irrational in defending the man because of the concussive nature of his line of work, which leads us to “Dungeon of Death.”

In my opinion, “Dungeon of Death” is Scott’s lesser work. We all know Scott was a HUGE Benoit guy, to the point of obsession (just for the record, so was I), so I was expecting huge things from a Canadian who experienced more or less the entirety of Benoit’s career. It was a slam dunk for Mr. Keith to really, really, REALLY fashion a name for himself in the literary world. Who better than SCOTT KEITH to write the definitive story on Benoit and his ascension and demise?  Well, I read the book about ten months ago, and was totally underwhelmed. I got a section that described Benoit’s career in about 70 pages, and then the book moved into this morbid death march of wrestlers who lost their lives due to drug abuse…quick little snippets that never really scratched the surface, much like Scott’s description of Benoit’s career. I was expecting so much more, but was left totally deflated by it, and consider it Scott’s worst work. Muschnick’s book on Benoit was better. As was Randazzo’s. And those two can be described as a skeptic and the other as a total outsider who did damned good homework. Was Scott too emotionally scarred to write the definitive Benoit tome? (Ring of Hell is it, by the way, for all the guff I gave the author.) I do not know. All I know is that Scott’s Benoit book left me with more questions and skepticism than any of the ones that have been produced to this date.

So then. We all frequent this site, so we are all Keith-ists to a degree. Here is where I have his books ranked:

1. One Ring Circus
2. Wrestling’s Made Men
3. Tonight in this Very Ring
4. Buzz on Pro Wrestling
5. Dungeon of Death

This post was meant as less review and more of a discussion starter. How far off base am I? Delusional? What are your favorite Scott Keith books and why? Have at it.

And yes, Missy Hyatt is coming. I just received the book via mail today, and not even 30 pages in and she is giving Tommy Rich road head. Its next…

Cucch’s Book Review: “Dusty: Reflections of Wrestling’s American Dream.”

Is he really too sweet to be sour daddy, if you will? Read on…

Dusty Rhodes has an undeniable legacy in the annals of professional wrestling. He is a man who took a thimbleful of athletic skill and look, mixed it with a metric shit ton of charisma, and created one of the most legendary characters wrestling has ever seen. Virgil Riley Runnels Jr. created the monster that became, arguably, one of the biggest babyface draws in the history of North American wrestling, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. That fact alone should have made this book a slam dunk, a no brainer, for any wrestling fan…any fans collection would be incomplete without the complete story of one of wrestling’s most legendary figures, a man who truly transcended the sport. It should also serve as Dusty’s coda of sorts, as Dusty is not only a man among boys when it comes to his on screen exploits, but behind the scenes as well, and not necessarily in a good way. WWE announcers like to say John Cena is “the most polarizing figure in the history of WWE” simply because they book him like shit, like some unbeatable Superman in an era where people are not looking for it. Well, where Cena is booked to fail, Big Dust booked HIMSELF to the moon, to the detriment of several, and for that he remains probably the single most polarizing figure in the history of modern wrestling. So one would think he would take a step back, show some humility, and explain exactly where he was coming from during his years atop the wrestling landscape.

You could not be more wrong in your assessment or assumption.

Dusty Rhodes autobiography, for this assessors worth, has to be one of the worst written, most egotistical pieces of trash I have ever read. I read the book about a year ago, when I was still very much in a rhesus monkey recovering state, and hated it. I recently read, and reviewed, his son’s book, and thought to myself, “Well, maybe I gave one of the biggest draws in the history of the business the short end.” So I bought it…repeat, BOUGHT it, with my hard earned cash at the bookstore down the street from my now former employer. I bought it three weeks ago, along with David Shoemaker’s new book and Gary Michael Capetta’s book. I rifled through Shoemaker’s book, which is basically Scott’s “Buzz on Wrestling” on crack, and through Capetta’s book, in 3 days each. Both great books, both reviews to be forthcoming. But Dusty’s book stuck in my craw. A lot of people are wont to deride Bret Hart’s book as thoroughly egotistical…listen, I get that. He overstates his place in the landscape of wrestling. But he always knocks himself down a few pegs at the right opportunity, and it is well written without the aid of a ghostwriter. Dusty’s tome is…just…wow. Firstly, it is not particularly well written. Which is amazing seeing that Dusty ranks as one of the top stick men of all time. Sure, not the most educated, but Dusty, on screen, always made his point, always crystallized what each angle he was involved in boiled down to. Here, in his book…you read a passage and you need to read it back five or six times to make sure you read it correctly. But that is hardly the only gripe you get here. No sir. Dusty also has a very high opinion of himself. While that is common in most wrestling books, most of the authors realize their mortality or limitations or…just…something. Dusty, not him. In his mind, he was the biggest babyface ever (he may not be far off in that assessment). He is always harping on separate eras of wrestling, which he calls “Yellow Finger” and “Pre Yellow Finger.” Basically, Yellow Finger refers to Hogan’s WWF run in the 80’s and the foam fingers WWF marketed for him as merchandising. Dusty maintains he was Yellow Finger before Yellow Finger…which is true…and the whole first half of the book is Dusty explaining how huge he was, who he may or may not have partied with, and why he is God’s gift to the industry. Now, normally, I come to expect that in most wrestling books, as most wrestlers have a very high opinion of themselves, and their contributions to the history of the game. But this is an instance where it reaches critical mass, as Dusty unapologetically rambles on and on and ON about his legacy and how it is criminally underrated. And to an extent it is, but to any fan worth their salt, it isn’t. Its false bravado just for the sake of false bravado, whereas Dusty needs no reason for false bravado. He is a legend, realized as such, and the fact that he feels compelled to share his dick size throughout the book is actually quite sad.

The good portions of the book usually revolve around Dusty’s exploits with Dick Murdoch as the Outlaws, and his marriage to his second wife, Michelle. Those portions are quite good. The wrestling portions are downright delusional though. Testimonial after testimonial from former wrestlers/managers/acquaintances only serve to blow Dusty’s Hindenberg size ego to ridiculous levels, and make for a tough reading experience. Dusty basically glosses over the glory years of Crockett in order to make sure the reader knows that Crockett folding and selling to Turner was not his fault at all, no sir, it was the corporate higher ups. Dusty passes more bucks than Donald Trump to the folks at Neilsen. Its actually quite pathetic. The polka dot years in WWF? Four pages. His last WWF angle with his son and Ted DiBiase (an awesome angle, by the way)? Four pages. His altercations with Bianca Jagger and the denizens who inhabited Studio 54 in the 70’s and 80’s? Dozens of pages. While he does recover towards the end of the book in describing Cody’s progress, the previous 200 pages render that point moot.

So is this book pure shit? Yes. Does Dusty come off as worse than he did before writing it? HELL YES. But it is worth reading, as most fans are not going to believe the level of egotism and condescension experienced here. I give the book my full negative review, call it the Kennel in a Cell review, but at the same time, track it down and judge for yourself. It is a very interesting character study in self delusion.

Cucch’s Book Review’s: Coming Soon to a Blog Near You.

Hello again all. It is your friendly, cheap neighborhood Cucch checking in with you all to let you know, yes, your long national wet dream is over: I am returning with book reviews. The holiday season has provided me with enough vim and vigor to bring back the fun threads that I am sure will cause this site to explode. The books I have read in the past month or two include Shoemaker’s shit, Dusty’s, Gary Michael Cappetta’s, and others. A now former co-worker (read about it after the jump) gifted me a Secret Santa gift that allowed me to gain access to three books I would have found unaccessible.

I am a recovering drug addict. Painkillers. Opiates. Percoset and OxyContin, primarily OC 80’s. I cleaned up two years ago to this day, December 28, 2011. All recovering addicts remember that day. I spent two years trying to reacclimate myself to a society that had, and has, passed me by. I found a job that satisfied me, along with a girl who satisfied me, if not in a traditional sense. I started working at this pizza joint, family run but a corporation, in early September. I kicked names and took ass, and defended this other girl, also a recovering, to the point where I almost became something of an afterthought compared to her. No issues, she is my age (33) with very similar experiences and two children. I will gladly take the bullet for someone I deem worth my time…and she was. No sex, well…one time…but this was not a relationship, so to speak, based on sex or sexual tension…it was one of mutual respect and experience. She needed the hours, I did not, so I sacrificed and gave them to her, realizing that she was just awesome at her job…just like me. The two of us, two people from the same background, drugs, work experience, all of that, were the backbone of a restaurant that experienced record sales this holiday season. She last worked the 23rd, me, Christmas Eve. We both got laid off today. It had nothing to do with performance, but with how the entire company panned out. Life sucks. Now, with me, I am a single man who lives (and basically raises) his dad. No rent, free computer…hell, my dad feels so bad about me losing my job CLEAN that he is adding me to his cell phone account with a new Samsung Galaxy 4…shitty huh? This other girl, call her my girlfriend? She is me in the female form, only she is a little behind in recovery and has two children. One of who’s birthday is in six days.

Enough with the melancholy, here are the books I have read and/or am about to:

-Dusty Rhodes
-Shoemaker’s shit
-Capetta’s (Don’t sleep)
-Missy Hyatt
-Bruce Hart
-The one SK book I have not read…Made Men.

There is the list. Pick one.

Cucch’s Non-Wrestling Query of the Evening.

So I am working a crazy ass busy holiday season at a very populated mall, one that I more or less feed as the rest of the stores deal with the unwashed undead masses looking for their Stop Touching Me Elmo dolls. The thread here is obviously South Park. What I want to know is this: Where do you rank the last 4 weeks of South Park in the pantheon of great South Park episodes? Personally, I found it utterly hysterical. It was weekly episodic television that I made damn sure to DVR, unlike a certain Monday night show that I have all but given up upon after twenty years of devoted viewership. But here are the two questions: How do you view these “Black Friday” South Park episodes, and what is YOUR favorite South Park episode all time?

Cucch’s Query of the Morning

Well, its been a fun few weeks you Bag O’ Dicks (BODers). Just to fill you in (and yes, I have been able to snag a certain said someone and fill her in) I just picked up two new fresh shiny wrestling books: Gary Michael Cappetta’s “Bodyslams” and David Shoemaker’s new shit…which, from thumbing through a few chapters, is just fresh to death. So anticipate reviews of those right after or during the holiday season, depending on my mood after having to basically live in a Holiday Inn Express for a few weeks. (You know I am gonna crush that mini bar).

Anyway, my question, non wrestling related, is this: I recently picked up Eminem’s new CD, MMLP2, and think it is hot fire like Dylan. As a recovering addict, naturally “The Monster” speaks to me, as does “So Far”, “Rap God”, and “Love Game.” Question is this: What is your opinion of the album and what is your favorite track?

Cucch’s (Non-Wrestling) Query of the Evening

Because this thing we call life is making me want to wig out like a broke giant wearing an obviously off the Sears rack size ginormous suit…

I am going to warn you: this is going to be a fairly long question that may lead to some fun. Or I can only hope. Hopefully as fun as that face Big Show made a few weeks ago that almost made me dampen my trousers in laughter. Seriously…that is the best work Big Show has done in his entire career…even better than turning purple laughing in “The Waterboy.”

To the point: Most know my background here, so I give you this little anecdote into the life. A few days ago, I met a girl (not the one I work with) who works right around the corner from me, lives in my town, takes all the same public transportation as me, and is very much like me. Always has her nose in a book on the bus or train, same upbringing, age bracket (she is 25, I am 33…so more or less) and, to boot, is incredibly attractive (to me at least). Plus, as am I, she is a smoker. Yeah, I know, smokers are jokers, but hear me out. For a few days (well, actually, weeks) we have been talking, and I am slowly making the casanova moves, trying to get all I can out of her before I can get ALL IN HER (if you will) and tonight was to be the finale…when I ask for the magical digits. But when we both get out of work, she has a box of Pampers in front of her…so I know this is going to be interesting (not that I am not a fan of kids…as long as they are related to me or a piece of ass I am tagging). We shoot the shit for a while, and then the hammer hits…she has danced around this magnificently for a week now, and picks this moment to bring up her boyfriend…who also happens to be in a motorcycle gang. How deliciously white trash. Anyway, she drops this on me (I think she saw where I was going and wanted to gently let me down) but I remained upbeat and as humorous (Hugh Morrus?) as I could. As we were parting ways, as she is getting her ride home (not from me tragically) and I am ready to hop on my bus, the rest of my crew from work come out of the Plaza and start pumping me up, saying shit to hop up my ego and make me look good (those guys are awesome) and while paying absolute zero attention to the girl, I went into hyper comedy mode with my guys. She was listening in the background and laughing at every corny fucking punchline I was throwing at them, and I left 5 minutes later laughing to myself for the spectacle I put on.

So after all that happy horseshit, here is my Query of the Evening: Do I try to smash this chick just once, or leave it be, and let her be drawn eventually to me (HA!)? Or do I just move on, stay cordial with this hometown hottie, and plant seeds for the future? I know I am asking members of a WRESTLING website this question, which is almost like Dr. Drew asking Artie Lange for advice, but I figured it was a unique scenario and that I would throw it out there. What should this recovering addict do? Have fun with this one.

Cucch’s Book Review: “In The Pit With Piper.”

A very interesting look at pro wrestling from a very influential figure in its history. Written in 2002.

Before we get to the review, I just wanted to address a few life events that effect the frequency of my posts here. Namely: WORK. Basically, since I have started my new job, six weeks ago, I received two raises in the span of three days, have been introduced by my GM to the higher ups in the company as, I shit you not, a “Shining star”, and have all been promised a management position. All great things to have happen to you, especially as a recovering drug addict. The problem is, I have performed to such a high level that I am being whipped like a dog and am working six days a week. Hell, I have today off, get to see my Patriots rout the corpse of the Steelers, and I can’t even enjoy it because I have to work seven straight days after today before I get next Monday off. I also work at a mall, so come about a week, all the holiday shenanegans are going to start, so really, this may be the last one for a while. God willing, I will try, but I may just not have much time for these reviews come a week or so. I was actually going to pick up Dusty Rhodes book the other day at the store…but Artie Lange’s new book was too much for me to resist, so sorry old Dust, I went with Artie’s as sort of a reminder of WHY TO STAY OFF DRUGS.

To top that off, a new girl, who, like me, worked for years at Papa Gino’s (It is a Northeastern United States Pizza chain, for the uninitiated) was hired to be my right hand woman at my station (pizza maker) as I have NO ONE ELSE to help me…at a pizzeria. A good one. In a very busy mall. She is just fucking awesome at her work, and in the process of sucking down a couple of lung darts together on break, I come to find out that, much like me, she is a recovering addict. So we are basically kindred spirits who kick names and take ass (or is it the other way around) during a rush…so the restaurant decides to take her from me and put her on the front. So I am getting fucking boned at work when this girl could be working with me every night while we boned the rush and maybe I could bone her (she is very easy on the eyes fellas, trust me…plus she wears a thong working in a restaurant. That is very daring in an industry where you are constantly bending over. Not that I am complaining.) She seems to be doing very well in her recovery process, as am I (alcohol excluded, I freely admit that. I stayed away from that whole QOTD Thread), and her poison of pleasing was heroin (mine was Oxycontin and Perocets), so I figured reading a book from the KING of heroin and pill abuse and his recovery was something that would benefit me, and allow me some more ammunition to talk to her about recovery, as well as a friend who is likewise in recovery, and who I am basically sponsoring. I work with the girl and every day, on my walk to the train station, this dude, who is living in a shelter and I believe has hit rock bottom and sees my successes at my job and sees that there IS indeed life at the end of the tunnel, wants to do the right thing and resume his life. I buy him a pack of smokes and a coffee here and there, but NO MONEY. He asks for money, he gets the big fat NO. So in dealing with these two, as well as my own insecurities and imperfections, Artie’s book is almost cold comfort from change. I am halfway through it, and if anyone wants a review on that, which would be chock full of some of my own debauched drug tales as well, please hit up the comments. Just keep it reasonable.

But enough about my life. You, kind sirs, are here for a book review. And I am fixin to give it to ya (That is the Holly book talking there) so let us get to the autobiography of one of the most influential wrestlers to ever wear a kilt; a true icon and wrestling legend with legendary stories of debauchery to tell: Rowdy Roddy Piper.

As I mentioned earlier, this book was published in 2002, so some significant stuff that has occurred since then is left out.  The book is good, but has some significant flaws…such as Roddy admitting to using copious amounts of drugs, yet never naming what he was taking. Another huge flaw is that Roddy does not describe any of his WCW tenure. Sure, there are odd paragraphs here and there that mention WCW in passing, but anyone looking for insight into WCW at its peak are going to find a whole lot of nothing.

What the reader WILL find, though, is a very fun read, especially the early years of Piper’s career. Piper grew up basically destitute in Canada, which led to Roderick Toombs actively pursuing a life in the carny world of pro wrestling at the age of 15. Immediately, though, one of the books flaws is exposed, as Roddy does not describe his foray into boxing, and becoming a Golden Gloves champion, very much. He skips that and goes straight to the mat wars. The first portion of the book, Roddy’s upbringing, training, first wrestling experiences and first match, can be best described as totally scatter-brained. The dude is just all over the place, much like the character he portrayed, or should I say embodied. Suffice to say, whippet thin Roderick Piper debuted at 15 years old in Winnipeg (“I’m from Winnipeg you idiot!”) in the early 70’s using his given name…only the announcer fucked up and inadvertently made wrestling history. You see, Roddy really is a phenomenal bagpipe player, and back then you could incorporate just about anything into your character. Roddy chose to show up his first night with his reeds, and as he was coming to the ring, the ring announcer was so thrown off by the site of this raw, skinny newcomer blaring away on an unfamiliar instrument that he introduced Toombs as “Roddy the…uh…Piper.” 15 seconds later, Piper was staring at the lights after the three count, the recipient of a thrashing at the hands of Larry “The Ax” Hennig, and the landscape of wrestling, unbeknownst to anyone actually present at the arena that evening, had been dramatically altered.

Roddy Piper had arrived.

Roddy spent the next half decade of decadence (the 70’s) working in Los Angeles with the LaBells and in Portland with the Owen’s, becoming the top draw and biggest shit stirrer on the left coast. Meanwhile, another young upstart was tearing up the east coast, particularly in the Carolina’s, a slick young man customly called Slick Ric. While many more central territories were featuring such outstanding talent the likes of Harley Race, Dory and Terry Funk, Jack and Gerry Brisco, and Dusty Rhodes, along with Northeastern stars such as Sammartino, Morales, and Superstar Billy Graham, it was really Piper out in Blassie country and Flair in Wahoo country that were moving up the charts, and it was inevitable the two would meet eventually in their meteoric rise to superstardom, and when Piper decided to venture out east to Mid Atlantic, it happened.

Flair and Piper had a magical rivalry in JCP, and it involved many of the same tricks that promotion liked to feature. Namely, reality based angles that ended up with one of the participants getting the Harley Race/Gene Anderson sandpaper/iodine treatment, and, in this case, it was Roddy. Piper ran strong through JCP for a good few years, culminating with his Dog Collar match with Greg Valentine at the initial Starrcade in 1983 (for my money, Piper’s best match ever…he was never really a technical wrestler, more of a savage brawler. There is one other match I hold right up with it, but that is yet to come). That Starrcade match with “The Hammer” was, and still remains, a lesson in brutality as Piper relates on the pages of his book, confirming what a certain author of “The Buzz on Pro Wrestling” said many moons ago. But Piper was, is and remains his own man. He despises promoters and all the manipulation that they…well…manipulate. If you are a big fan, you will love to read the portions of the book that describe Piper’s first run in WWWF in the mid seventies. Grand Wizard, Lou Albano and, particularly, Freddie Blassie just railroaded the poor kid while being nothing but sunshine and lollipops to his face. It was a different animal back then, the wrestling biz, and Piper was thrown into the cage as feed. But the informed and educated reader can find out those facts reading this book, so let us continue on with the narrative.

Piper, who despises promoters, grew weary of Jim Crockett, and was soon to receive a call from a fairly novice new promoter who happened to be running the biggest territory in the States and also happened to share a name with the man who ran it before him: Vince McMahon Junior. Piper was heading to the big time, but it was far from wine and roses to begin with.

Young Vince the lesser (soon to be the greatest) saw Piper as more or less a mid card comedy player, someone who could DEFINITELY talk the talk. He turned the still relatively young Piper into a manager, interview taker and just general all around loud mouth. It was not Vince McMahon Jr who made Roddy into the Roddy we all know through the segment we all, and all fans and non fans, remember him for, but instead a road agent that Shawn Michaels eventually had fired (Had to get my shot in.)

The agent was Chief Jay Strongbow, in reality my paisan, a fellow Siciliano, Jay Scarpa. Jay knew Roddy was an impact player, and WWF in 1983, now under the watch of Vinnie and not Senior, was looking for impact players to help go national. So Roddy arrives at a taping one week (no doubt hungover AND stoned) and Jay asks him to incorporate some fruits he has purchased into Piper’s new on screen talk show, Piper’s Pit, into his bit, specifically asking Roddy (remember…this was LONG before wrestling was scripted, and in the crazy, drug fueled 80’s, anything was possible. Add into the fact that the participants were PIPER AND SNUKA, two of the biggest users of the decade…watch out) to smash a rock hard coconut over Snuka’s Polynesian hard head. The rest was history, as Piper became the biggest heel WWF had ever seen. He headlined in a run with Snuka for a good while, while the big changeover from McMahon to McMahon happened. Junior didn’t think too much of Piper, but Roddy was hot shit at that point, thus we get the angle that infected MTV for 1985. Does Dave Schultz pull off that angle alone? Orndorff? Orton? Nope. Piper made that shit, and he knows it, and it is reflected in the book. Roddy also vents his personal hatred for Mr. T, but many of us are privy to just how much Mr. T (oombs) hates Mr. T, so we will leave it at that.

The biggest black spot I can give this book review is Roddy’s recollection of his CLASSIC Wrestlemania 3 run up with Adrian Adonis. Don’t get me wrong, Roddy has opinions on everything, but his resuscitation of fact relies not on the match or angle or ending of his Mania 3 match with Keith Franke, but of his love for him as a person. It is touching, but that match has played such a seminal role in many of our lives that I felt Piper owed us a bit more in describing the angle, the events we saw on TV, all that. What Roddy begins to describe is how all wrestlers, and fans, have a “sickness” that makes all wrestler’s lives hell, yet makes the promoter maximum dollars. There is a whole chapter dedicated to what Roddy feels is “The Sickness” and it really is truly enlightening and makes this whole kit and kaboodle worth the purchase. The chapter he dedicates to “The Sickness” is undoubtedly one of the most informed, educated, well written chapters you will read in any wrestling book, and for that reason alone I give this tome my highest recommendation. For just that one chapter. Find it, read it, learn it, love it. Roddy is not a book smart type of cat, but he is a fucking Rhodes Scholar (see what I did…oh fuck you) when it comes to the science of the mat wars, and he is not shy about telling you his thoughts and experiences.

The book basically covers Roddy up to his Mania 12 match with Goldust…and nothing after that. We get some of his late 80’s/early 90’s covered, but for the most part, the book concludes with Roddy in his feud with Rude. After that, the narrative dies and it is just Roddy Piper’s thoughts on the business of wrestling. All in all, I would recommend it as a fun read for a die hard, but not absolute material.

But the dude is related to Bret Hart, and Bret writes his forward…and I am a Bret Mark. READ IT!!!!!! BRET BRET BRET BRET BRET!!

In all seriousness, track the book down in your local library. It is fun, a little disappointing, but, ultimately, not worth purchase. But still fun.

Cucch’s Book Review: “Cross Rhodes: Goldust, Out of the Darkness”

In keeping up with the current WWE product, and possibly one of its best human interest angles in a long time…

Dusty Rhodes was a larger than life wrestling icon. Some may deride his actual wrestling ability, but there is no doubting his star power and certainly no doubting his legendary abilities on the mic. In the 70’s and 80’s, you would be hard pressed to find a bigger star in the professional wrestling industry than Dusty Rhodes. And he would tell you himself. So one could imagine the pressure the fruit of his loins would feel following his father into his chosen field.

But while you may imagine it, you are not truly able to imagine it. You never went through it. You may think you imagine what its like, but until you have experienced it, you really have no clue what is actually going on. Dustin Rhodes “Cross Rhodes” is a interesting window into what was actually going on in the real life of two men who portrayed imaginary, larger than life figures on television during boon periods of professional wrestling. And both took very similar, yet very different paths that lead to varying degrees of success for each performer.

Make no mistake, as much as I am talking about big Dusty, this is very much DUSTIN Rhodes biography, very much his life story. I will actually get to Dusty’s in a couple of weeks, but for now, let us stick to Dustin’s book.

First off, let us dispense of the negatives. The book is extremely short…225 pages, in very large print, in a very small paperback. Those 225 pages also contain a whole heaping helping of black and white pictures. So there is not exactly a whole ton of material to digest here…it is just the facts Dustin Runnells is willing to share with us.

Also, a good chunk of this book is devoted to the personal life and demons of Dustin Rhodes. Those expecting an in depth breakdown of his wrestling career are sure to be disappointed, as there are huge chunks of it either ignored or described in a paragraph or two, plus Dustin’s memory isn’t exactly as spot on as some of us smarks are. The reason will soon become evident.

It was never easy for Dustin Runnells to grow up in the shadow of a larger than life living legend (not Chris Jericho). While Dusty was his father, and he was not a bad one, he was a vacant one. While young Dustin was growing up, Dusty was on the road 350 days a year, trying to become the biggest wrestling star in the world, trying to become the embodiment of what his gimmick was: The American Dream. But while Dusty Rhodes was trying to live and become The American Dream, his young son was experiencing the American nightmare. He saw his dad maybe a week a year. Things didn’t improve when Dustin’s mom divorced the American Splotch…I mean dream. It meant Dustin would see his dad even less. And even though it seems young Dustin was relatively well adjusted after the divorce, starring at his Texas High School as a football standout, young Dustin had a dream. He loved the chosen industry his father was so huge in. He had no illusions of a career in football, even though he was very good. University scholarship good. He was set to attend the University of Louisville, but before he could get there, he made a crucial life decision: he wanted to follow in Dad’s footsteps. Dusty was totally against it, but one day after Dustin’s High School Graduation, the elder Rhodes pulled his son aside, smartened him up to the industry, and sent Dustin to Skandor Akbar. Thus began Dustin Runnells 25 year run in the wrestling industry.

Dustin was trained in the old school way with old school mentalities…kayfabe and hard bumps to weed the weak reeds out from those who truly wanted it. Dustin survived, and was soon off to WCW as one half of a tag team with Kendall Windham. As a quick aside, Dustin truly was a natural, as his eventual WCW gimmick would portray him, and a lot of that has to do with Barry Windham taking to the kid and showing him the ropes. While Kendall, who was good but ridiculously skinny, would find some success in the industry, it paled in comparison to the game big bro and Dustin were bringing every night.  Even after the tag team with Kendall floundered and wasted away, Dustin came off scott free because he WAS a natural. There is a quick few paragraphs in the book about Dustin coming to the WWF in late 1990 to tag with his old man to square off against Ted DiBiase and Virgil. As a ten year old kid, I fucking LOVED that angle, and hated that it shot its wad at Rumble 91, but, hey, shit happens. By that point, the WWF was honing in on the LONG overdue DiBiase-Virgil storyline, so the Rhodes gracefully lost and bowed out of the Federation.

Big Dust was given the book almost as soon as he entered back into WCW. As detailed in another much derided book review, Dust entered as the rake and all the suit and tie wearing corporate big wigs were the leaves. Dustin entered into a feud over the US title with another up and comer you may or may not have heard of: “Stunning” Steve Austin. That feud put both guys on the map, as Dustin, for all the shit Scott Keith put him through at the time, was already a good, smooth worker, and Austin was right there with him. These two had crazy chemistry as well, but WCW was a total shit show by that point, so the two were separated into different feuds (I remind you, I am reviewing the BOOK, not the US title scene at that juncture). Austin got fired for an injury. Rhodes got fired because he bladed in a match where he was told to blade by the Turner officials yet told not to blade by Eric Bischoff. Figure that one out for me, and I will buy you a pimped out value meal from McDonalds.

So Dustin is out of his job with WCW…but he has started dating this smoking hot chick who portrayed Alexandra York on screen. Make no mistake about it, Terri was fucking HOT. She remains so to this day, in my eyes. Always loved her perpetually erect nipples. ANYWAY, Dustin started dating her, and his old man did NOT approve of the union. One day, Dusty and Dustin were supposed to meet up and play a round of golf. Teri was violently ill, so Dustin met his father at a grocery store and had to cancel the golf game to take care of his ailing wife. Dusty walked away, and the two did not speak for five years. Reading the book, it was not as if Big Dust was some uncaring asshole or Goldie was some unappreciative son. It was just something that happened between family members that caused an unimaginable chasm between father and son. All over an ill woman. Go figure.

So Dustin is estranged from his old man, and Vince McMahon calls. He has this character for the then previously always face Dustin: Goldust. Dustin accepts. Goldust is born. It was no doubt a rib, considering wrestling’s past with the Goldust trio meshed with DUSTy Rhodes. Supposedly, Dusty Rhodes hated the character with a passion. Allegedly. But Dustin grabbed that gimmick and made it his to take. Dustin Rhodes BECAME Goldust, and, let me tell you folks, as a young 15-16 year old buck, that gimmick WORKED. Dustin put his heart and soul into that shit, especially seeing it was the first time in his career he was playing a heel. He has lots of kind words for Scott Hall (being facetious here…Hall and the Clique HATED working with him…it is in the book) but, man, I can tell you first hand, in 1996, there was nothing quite like Goldust. Just an awesome gimmick. I know, I know I am interjecting my own opinion here, but can you deny the charisma, the awesomeness that character brought to a very stale 1996 WWF scene? To this day, on my semi-smart phone, the first music track I have on there is the Goldust theme. I am truly a loser like that.

Anyway…back to the review…

Goldust was probably the pinnacle of Dustin’s career…yet he was in the basement of life. Dustin was imbibing crazy amounts of alcohol and mixing it with crazy ass amounts of painkillers. By the time he became “The Artist Formerly Known as” Goldust, he had LITERALLY BECOME “The Artist Formerly Known” as Dustin Runnels. He was a mess, and, as a recovering addict, it takes a mess to know a mess, and Dustin was a MESS. Dustin, post 1999, kicked around a few promotions: WWE, TNA, WCW, everywhere. But it was not until he found his true home, a lil promotion called AA, when he truly became a man. He found it midway through the aughts, and has since become a better man who does not need his painkillers to sustain a day in this painful world.

All in all, Dustin Runnells book is a good read. As I mentioned earlier, it is a short and supremely easy read. But the messages he conveys are POWERFUL, none the less. I, personally, have been down to some of the depths this poor son of a bitch this guy has been down, and my father was not the larger than life character Dusty Rhodes is. While my father remains larger than life to me, Dustin Rhodes continues to confound continuity and the on screen WWE product, and bring quality programming that I am relegated to watch every week on Monday.

If only Goldust would stop touching himself. Seriously. Its kinda creepy. Ask the Rock at King of the Ring 2002.

Cucch’s Random Nitro Video of the Night

Honestly, 1999 was not really a banner year to be a wrestling fan (in ring…not talking about ratings…WWF was on FIRE that year with, as some wise man would say, the Russofication) but I was still watching most of it. So how come someone sends me this video and it was like seeing something for the first time? Goldberg? Herschel Walker? JCVD? CHUCK NORRIS? WHY DO I NOT REMEMBER THIS?

Cucch’s Book Review: The Hardcore Truth

Will SOMEONE get this guy a WrestleMania payday?

I have to admit…I was never a real big Bob Holly fan. Sure, he was a good hand, but that is where it ends. He was never really a good talker, never had what one would call a classic match, never had that one angle that made him into a super duper star. On the other end, he was a very good worker, a solid character. Holly was never a guy I really looked at in a positive or negative light. To quote Bill Parcells, he was a JAG, just another guy. So I was SHOCKED when everyone started giving this book glowing praise. I mean, to me, it seemed like buying George South’s biography. Not that there is anything wrong with George South, I just mean that he was more or less a jobber and he wrote a book. That was my prevailing wisdom with Holly’s book.

Boy was I wrong.

Holly’s memoir is easily the best wrestling book to come out in the last two or three years. Yes, damning with faint praise, but the praise is far from faint here. This is a GREAT book. The real life Bob Howard is a much more engaging persona than wrestling’s Bob Holly.

Some on the site have said I should focus on the book and less biography, so I am doing so here. Bob Howard was born in….kidding, kidding. The book clocks in at about 360 pages, and has some damn entertaining stories. You learn about Bob’s single parent upbringing in California and Oregon, which led him to discover pro wrestling from both of those markets in the 70’s and 80’s. As Bob grew older, he also found the NWA and WWF, and his favorite wrestler back then was Bret Hart, of all people. Gets an A in my book right there. He worked some menial jobs in order to put food on the table for his daughter and a few girlfriends and wives, including welding and driving stock cars. But his passion remained pro wrestling, and in the 1980’s, wrestling was still heavily kayfabed, so he had a tough time finding someone to train him. Eventually, a guy who worked with him had a connection to a gentlemen by the gimmick name of Marcel Pringle, storyline brother of Percival Pringle, and Marcel, after constant badgering by Bob, agreed to take him as a student. Bob worked off and on in Southern territories for a few years, including SMW. He has some really hilarious negative shit to say about Jerry and Jeff Jarrett, and that alone makes the book worth reading. He pulls not a punch talking about the way Jeff was pushed everywhere he went and how abysmal the Jerry Jarrett payoffs were. Funny shit to say the least.

Bob grew weary of the shit-all wrestling payoffs, as he was working his ass of by night as a wrestler and by day as a tig welder. And welding paid a hell of a lot better. Plus, he was racing cars on the official circuit. So he left rasslin behind and focused on his other hobbies. Eventually though, he got THE call, from the WWF. Bob still had wrestling coursing (blame spellcheck) through his veins, and he said yes to them, expecting to make big money from the #1 wrestling company in the world. Then the shit hit the fan.

WWF was impressed with the young (he was over 30 when hired) upstarts racing background…so he became Thurman “Sparky” Plugg. Get it? Spark Plug? STP? Truly genius shit. Bob languished around the mid card for a good amount of time, but he describes this period quite candidly. Because when Bob started in WWF, he was starting right in the middle of the “Clique Era.”

This is where the shit gets good, shit gets real. Bob absolutely UNLOADS on them, and it is magnificent and THE reason why to read this thing. I have stated my opinions on all of those scumfucks before, so I am keeping my opinions out of it. Just read the book. Bob also derides his favorite worker (and mine) Bret Hart for being to…full of himself is I think the best way to put it. Listen, I will defend Bret until the day I die, but even I can realize he took himself entirely too seriously. Bob basically says that, as well as that Bret was a great guy. HBK? Total dick. But Bob ALSO says that Shawn is the greatest in ring performer who ever lived. That pretty much sums up the book in a nutshell…Bob will call someone out for being an asshole, but if their work was up to snuff, or if Bob himself was wrong in a situation, he will acknowledge it. 

Well, with one exception: the bane of Bob Holly’s existence: one Mr. HHH.

Holly says HHH is a great worker with a great mind for the business ad nauseum. That said, he just absolutely UNLOADS on the guy throughout the book. It is truly epic to those who HHHate that man. It is one thing for us online smart asses to hate on him and have HHHim dismiss us…how about a colleague? Holly just crushes him, and it makes for fantastic reading. However, there is one chapter that is even better.

That chapter is on Chris Benoit. Holly was a longtime employee of the E, so you get individual chapters devoted to all the hot button points: Eddy, Crash, Owen, Brawl For All. But none hit as hard as Benoit, to this reader. It makes sense to me that Holly would be close to Benoit…both guys were tough nosed no nonsense competitors who made you earn your pay every night. Now, while Holly was damned good at it, Benoit was transcendent, I will give you that. Benoit was otherworldly. But Holly was good as well. Stiff as shit. Benoit and Holly both got scripts from Dr. Astin, and Holly MAY have been the last person to talk to Chris before he committed his abominable acts that June 2007 weekend. It sure sounds like it reading the book. Holly was supposed to spend that weekend there with Chris, but got sidetracked. He called Chris that Friday morning and Chris told him he had just been to the docs office. Holly was supposed to show up the night before on a layover, but he figured Benoit needed some quality family time, so he just checked into a hotel so as not to intrude. He called Benoit up the next day, Friday, and Benoit chewed him out, saying Nancy was acting “like Hitler” and that, even with all the stress, drama, and wear and tear, and the considerate nature Holly bowed out of everything, that he still should have stopped by. It boggles my mind that, between reading Jericho’s “Undisputed” and this book what may not have happened that tragic June weekend. Get the book just for this chapter.

Bob also relates the Brock neck injury, the Angle moonsault fail, and a bunch of other shit. His main gripe is not the injuries, but his lack of pay. HOW LONG was Bob Holly with the WWF/E? He was a solid hand for many, MANY years. How many WrestleManias did this guy appear in? He got scratched from his first Mania (10) because the epic ladder match went long. He ended up winning at Mania 2000 because of a timing snafu. Mania 15 was a clusterfuck of epic proportions. How many times did a loyal employee like Bob Howard end up on the biggest payday event his company provided?

Bob also relates what he considers his greatest match ever…the match with RVD on the newly minted Tuesday ECW show. The one where he tears his back up on the table spot. He loves RVD, among others, and just loves that match. And it is a good one. WWE doctors wanted to end it, but Holly refused. It ended up being an entirely memorable affair, one talked about by many aficionados to this day.

“The Hardcore Truth” is possibly the best wrestling bio to come out over the last five years. It is thouroughly engaging and well worth the money to buy it. It gets my ****1/2 rating, so to speak. Go out, seek out, find, BUY.

And Steve Blackman is the toughest man to ever walk the planet…

Cucch’s Inquiry of the Evening

Bear with me, as I am not quite to meltdown mode (it will come soon DB’s) but I was thinking of this one on the bus: Who is the greatest tertiary champion in WWF history and what is the best tertiary championship match? Obviously you are going to have Owen-Bulldog in 97, and the spectacle of HBK and HHH later that year…but were there better European or Hardcore matches? Hit it up BOD’ers. 

Cucch’s Inquiry of the Evening.

Well, EVERYONE seems to be doing some sort of QOTD type dealies, so while I am waiting for my new cache of wrestling books to arrive (and for my liver to recover) I figured I would pose this INQUIRY to the Blog that I was chatting with some people about: What do yo consider the greatest Intercontinental Championship match of all time? Notice I said “greatest” and not “best.” I have always found it comes down to two matches: Savage-Steamboat at Mania 3 and Bret Hart-DBS at SummerSlam 1992. I have always found myself going with the latter, because of a few key reasons:

1. Many people, more often than not WWE canon, cite Mania 3 as the largest wrestling crowd ever (despite the WCW Korean back to backs in the 90’s) yet never mention SummerSlam 1992. I say that, just from the plain old eye test, that SummerSlam 92 had every bit as big a crowd (maybe larger) than Mania 3.

2. While Savage-Steamboat was clearly the better quality match, it was not what drew all those fans to Pontiac. That was Andre-Hogan, the biggest match ever to that point. Sure, Savage-Steamboat had a GREAT backstory to it, but it was not the big draw of the event. Whereas Hart-DBS was THE BIG DRAW, and main event, to boot, of SummerSlam 92.

3. Savage-Steamboat did not have a hometown favorite. DBS-Bret did. DBS was over gangbusters in his native land (Although Bret would say he was just as over…I will let you all laugh at that particular pearl of Bret egotism).

4. Bret-DBS may be the best carry job in wrestling history.

Obviously, there are many other great, great, great IC title matches, but those two tend to lend themselves to a particular historical significance in that most casual and hardcore fans remember. So I INQUIRE of you, BOD (Bag of Dicks?) what is the GREATEST (not best) IC title match of all time? Have at it.

Cucch’s Book Review: “The Unauthorized History of D-Generation X.”

This book actively does two things. I will let you guess them….

No one will ever dispute that Degeneration X was one of the most influential pairings in the history of pro wrestling. Shawn Michaels and Triple H made a weekly mockery of kayfabe, and an entire generation loves them for it. The troop was truly revolutionary, and they made it a habit to push all boundaries of wrestling sanity with each weekly promo, match, promo, backstage skit, promo, and occasional five star classic match.  DX was truly an influential act that helped to modernize this business.

Yet the troupe is mostly hated and despised by the industry. Why is that?

Well, it is simply this: Shawn Michaels and Paul “HHH” Levesque are among the two most detestable individuals the WWE/F has ever produced. Sure, I am absolutely certain they have their fans, as all wrestlers do. But riddle me this: how many WWE athletes, over the last 25 or so years, have produced enough vitriol to make a new vitamin supplement for baseball players to get hopped up on?

Michaels. HHH. And that is it.

Sure, some hate Bret Hart and his knee high schoolgirl ways. Some hate Hogan. The less said there, the better. But HHH and HBK generally invoke a level of hatred from a good number of wrestling fans that make the late Osama Bin Laden look quite like Bob Backlund. It is really amazing when one ponders all of the surrounding facts.

Well, here are the facts. Let me being with this: I am a HUGE Bret Hart fan. Thus, I hate Shawn Michaels. There, now you have it. At this point, one must be thinking, “Man, he hates HBK and loves Hitman…where is this review going to go?” I will always remain a huge Hitman fan and detractor of HBK. While I have prided myself on how great Bret’s biography is, and I have always prided myself on not being subjective or biased, I can sum up this book in a few words:

Total shit.

Yup. First off, it is supposed to be the words of the REAL DX members, HBK, HHH, Chyna and Rick Rude. Rude is dead, Chyna is….somewhere in her own world, HHH is now a McMahon and HBK blows, or has blown, all of them. What…expecting a level of discourse of objectivity? Ah…no. HBK was Vince’s blowjob boy, as far as this writer is concerned, and he parlayed that spectacular head into a job for his boy toy…I mean friend…HHH.

Now, most books feature in depth analysis and some behind the scenes stories. This book is total kayfabe for the most part. HHH OCCASIONALLY drops something…but not much. HBK never says shit. So, while it is a quick, easy read, it is not a volume that is going to grant you a shitload of wrestling knowledge. Sure, Shawn mentions he was, while not totally wrong, but felt in the wrong about Montreal, you are going to get equal bullflop from his H-Ness about how Foley never put him over. Except that one time. Or second time. Nope. Almost nothing.

This is not this kid’s best review. I realize that. But realize that THIS is not the best book. It is more or less KAYFABE to the fullest, and, unless you are like me, someone who craves any and all information, it is not for you. For the few who want to read through several layers of horseshit, who want to realize that HHH and HBK are two assholes who are so full of shit that terds spout out everytime they open their mouths…maybe you might enjoy this…

Cucch’s Book Review: “King of the Ring: The Harley Race Story.”

If you don’t read this, you obviously have not had the fear of Harley instilled in you…

In the course of reading all of these wrestling books over the years, most of the biographies and autobiographies have what you could call a unique portion. Almost all of these books, from Mick Foley’s first to Ric Flair’s; from Martha Hart’s book on her late husband to Terry Funk’s excellent and criminally underrated bio, they all feature a certain theme: They all have a story that serves as a testimonial to the greatness, toughness, and all around decency of Harley Race. It seems everyone has a story on the former seven time (eight or more in some circles) NWA Heavyweight Champion of the world. They mention the legendary tendon strength Harley possessed. They mention his gruff demeanor. They mention what an all world professional wrestler he was, one who always made his opponent look like a million dollars. They mention his fantastic bumps. They mention his legendary Kansas City barbecues for the “boys.” Most of all, though, they share their adoration and fondness of one of the very best competitors to ever grace the squared circle.

I guess we can start with the name. Harley Race. That sounds like a gimmick name tailor made in a wrestling promoter’s office, does it not? Greatness sometimes emanates from a great ring name. Hulk Hogan. Steve Austin. Yet, the best wrestling names are generic and in many instances are the names that Mom and Dad gave us. Richard Morgan Fliehr became Ric Flair (as much as he wanted to be Rambling Ricky Rhodes). Richard Blood was handed a great moniker…if he was to wrestle as a heel. Instead, he became a life long babyface and was deemed Ricky Steamboat…so as good as his birth name was, he never became a heel, so Steamboat replaced Blood. Harley Race. Chew on that name, HARLEY RACE. Its perfect. Its short, it portrays a biker’s toughness, and has a great monosyllabic last name: RACE. Really, when you think about it, it is a perfect wrestling name.

It is Harley Race’s birth name, the name Mommy and Daddy gave to him in April of 1943.

Harley does not describe his childhood much. It takes up about three pages of the book. By the age of 15, he was basically running his parents Missouri farm. But it was another endeavor that, as much as his parents disapproved, he had his sites set on. In the late 40’s and early 50’s, wrestling was a fairly hot commodity in the midwest, and young Harley was enraptured with the mat arts. At a supremely young age, he gained a world of knowledge from a wealth of men who had ruled the sport for a long time. Harley was mentored by the Zbyszko brothers, Stanislaus and Wladek, Gust Karras, and Sonny Myers (who is probably most famous for suing the NWA for monopolistic practices…as you can read in Tim Hornbaker’s excellent book on the history of the NWA). Harley was one of the last of a soon to be extinct species: an American wrestler who cut his teeth in the Carnival tent. While future stars such as William Regal would endure the punishment the carnies subjected newcomers to in the early 80’s in England, by the time Harley was training, he was the last of a breed facing extinction in the 1950’s in America: a carny ringer. Harley was a quick study and by the time he was 16, he was a solid 230 pounds of menacing wrestling. Harley was becoming a hooker, in the spirit of Lou Thesz and Strangler Lewis, of Stetcher and Gotch. Harley was embarking on a legendary career that led him to the ends of the earth.

Harley more or less got his first big break as a tag team partner of fellow newcomer, Larry Hennig, in Minnesota, AWA territory, in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Hennig and Harley had many encounters with The Bruiser, Dick Afflis, and The Crusher, Reggie Lisowski. They did big business, but by the early 70’s, Harley was not feeling satisfied by tag team success. He desired singles greatness, and he was soon to embark on one of the best decades a singles wrestler could desire…in the NWA.

Harley was an excellent wrestler who dovetailed with most of his opponents in the big promotion of the time, the NWA. Dory Funk was ready to drop the title in 1973, and was set to drop it to young up and comer Jack Brisco. However, the Funk family was a proud family, as were the Brisco’s. So (and the book does not describe this…let me state now) Dory Jr. got “injured” on the Funk ranch and refused to drop the title to the young upstart Brisco. That is where Harley came into play. He beat Dory Jr. for the strap in Kansas City in 1973 in what was considered a shocking upset. Harley was pitted to lose the title almost immediately to Brisco…but he was doing good business. So Harley had a two month reign before dropping the title to Jack Brisco. (Consider the two month reign the equivalent to a two minute reign in this day and age…it was not considered a long reign back then). While Brisco would become a legend in his own right (ask Jim Ross…God Bless the man on his retirement day today) Race was bolstered by the fluke title reign. Race won several regional titles in the meantime, and actually defeated Terry Funk, who had unseated Brisco, for the NWA title in 1977. Thus began, for better or worse, a 7 year reign, off and on, for Race with the NWA title.

Race was the epitome of an NWA champion. He traveled from territory to territory defending the crown in broadways night after night. He dropped, and won back, the strap from players like Dusty Rhodes, Giant Baba and a guy by the name of Ric Flair. Race was a transitional champion who was not a transitional champion. The NWA was searching for their next big thing, and eventually found it in Flair, but Race was doing excellent business, even engaging WWF Champions like Billy Graham and Bob Backlund in excellent one hour draws. Race was truly the epitome of an NWA Champion, which was not necessarily recognized during his reign, but later, as fans grew fonder of the man they missed.

By the time 1983 rolled around, Race had a portion of ownership in the Missouri territory, Heartland of America. He had been in the front office of territories since the late sixties, when the elder Dory Funk gave him a booking position. Harley was always one who enjoyed the physical aspects of the game, but embraced the mental as well. So by the time 1983 hit, and Vince McMahon Junior was starting to go national, Harley was growing tired of it all. He was 40 years old, and trying to fight for the NWA as much as he could against an unstoppable force, and he knew it. Harley fought like an old bastard against McMahon’s national expansion, feeling himself as the ambassador of the NWA and the territories. And why not? Who, at his age, had dealt with the wrestling landscape quite like Handsome Harley by 1983? He lost his final NWA Championship in an outstanding cage match at the initial Starrcade to Flair (a match I dare say holds up quite well even in this generation of chairshots and instant gratification…if you will) and from there positioned himself as the main antagonist to Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s national expansion. But Harley grew tired of this stance, especially after losing the strap for the last time to the rapidly rising Nature Boy. Harley took some time off, dug his heels in, antagonized  a certain man named HOGAN at a WWF show in KC, then decided to sell his worthless NWA shares and join the competition.

Now, here is where I differ in opinion with Harley. He mentions his WWF period as wine and roses. I saw it as, more or less, humiliation. He was given the moniker of King Harley Race…but for the most part was subjected to endless comedy matches with coked out of his fucking mind Junkyard Dog. See WrestleMania 3. Harley did a decent stint with WWF that basically introduced the world to a first…and it was significant come the 1990’s: in a match with Hogan, Harley flip, flopped and flew through a ringside table. Initially, he felt some pain but dismissed it. Unfortunately for tough old Harley, it proved to be the end of his in ring career, more or less.

Harley endured some painful surgeries for the next few years, as he had done some serious damage to his stomach and intestines, to the point where he had to have several inches of said intestines removed from his gut. He embarked on a very successful managerial career, managing Vader and Lex Luger, most notably, before retiring from the sport he so loved and so contributed to.

Sadly, Harley Race was present at the May 23, 1999 WWF show at the Kemper Arena in his home town of Kansas City. He engaged a tepid Owen Hart in a conversation a couple of hours before the man who was considered the salt of the earth of wrestlers plunged to his death. Harley was at the hospital when Owen was declared dead, and that chapter alone makes his book worth the read. Harley also was the announcer for the Owen tribute match between brother Bret and some guy named Benoit. The less said there the better, but it should be mentioned that Bret Hart wrote the foreword to this book. And it is excellent.

All said, Harley Race’s book does not even crack 200 pages. It is something of a cocktease to read it. Harley is someone who has seen more wrestling history than someone like Foley, Bret, or Flair. Yet his book is filled with an undeniable charm that cannot be jobbed to a guy like, say, Barry Horowitz. For as short, as brief, as Harley’s book is, it still remains a must read for anyone who is a fan. Is is a Magna Carta, is is Anna Karenina, is it Moby Dick, the end all be all of wrestling books that a man like Harley is surely capable of? No. Is it required reading as a wrestling fan? You bet your ass.