I downloaded a few of these things and wanted something to get my ranting feet really planted before I do my Wrestlemania project in the near future. This year’s theme is gimmick matches and it will start with the Body Slam Challenge at Wrestlemania and go from there.
An “extended” rant is one where I take the subject and add in a couple of matches that were highlighted in the program and do reviews on those matches in full.
I hope you enjoy. I’m sure there are some spelling errors in here as I’ve been horribly distracted but I’ll read it later and make edits. I apologize ahead of time.
Legends of Wrestling: Heat Seekers
The panel for this episode is Jerry Lawler, Michael Hayes, Jim Ross, Mick Foley and Eric Bischoff
Ross and Lawler explain the term heat and says in this texture it’s people that have developed a reputation of being difficult to do business with. Hayes says they are “whiners, bitchers and complainers” so naturally Ross says naturally they should start with Michael Hayes.
Ross stays there was no coincidence that Hayes had a cup of coffee in Memphis, and one in the WWF and one in the AWA and says the Freebirds had success in World Class as they stayed there for about a year. Lawler decides to tell a story about burning Hayes’ hair after The Sheik taught him how to do a firethrow. This was Hayes’ first appearance in Memphis by the way. And Hayes’ response to the story is “you burnt my hair”. So they crack on Hayes’ hair for a minute. Hayes basically wanted a little extra money for almost losing that rug and Lawler says he went on a classic tirade and threatened to sue everything walking. Hayes said he made an extra $100 for his efforts and Ross responds “so you left there with a $125 that night.”
Hayes is next and mentions Lex Luger. He says he personally didn’t have an issue with Lex and they used to ride together because they both liked classic soul music. Hayes said Luger felt like he was better then the rest of the boys but says that he isn’t sure that Lex wasn’t responsible for guys getting treated better and getting some guarantees in their contracts.
Lawler mentions Lex’s football background and says that he never was really one of the boys. Hayes said that Lex did draw some money but he was set up for that by being a horseman and turning on them. He adds that the thought was that anyone could’ve drawn money in that situaton but Hayes disagrees with that and says that Lex brought something to the table. (I would agree with that, not everyone put in that position could draw but the people really bought Luger as a major threat.)
They show highlights of Luger-Flair from Bash 1988 (I gave it ****. They would have a couple better matches but this one was damn good and the ridiculous pop Luger got when the fans thought he won tells me that the NWA and Crockett missed the boat on that one for at least a quick title reign)
Bischoff and Hayes talk about Bischoff stealing Luger for Nitro and Bischoff said that they can agree that no one ever steals Lex, they just get burned by him. Bischoff says he didn’t interact with Lex much before he went into power but he saw how he treated people. When he walked in the room he gave everyone else the impression they didn’t matter.
(There is one clip here where Dillon is cutting a promo with Lex standing there and he randomly slaps the U.S. Title belt and then holds up the four fingers and it’s fucking hilarious. I don’t why but I have to watch it at least three times before moving on.)
Foley says that many of the “heat seekers” are going to be guys who weren’t brought up in the business and didn’t have the appreciation for the guys that paved the road. Bischoff goes one step farther and says that Lex was embarrassed at being called a wrestler. Bischoff says Sting convinced him to resign Lex and Bischoff said he gave him a ridiculous low-ball offer with the hopes he wouldn’t take it but he did and added that he never really got to the dollar amount he had when he was hot in the early 90s.
Foley comes to Luger’s defense a little and mentions that he and Sting let Foley work out free at their gym and also mentions the match with Flair at Wrestlewar ’90 and says Luger came with his working boots. He says that it happened with Steamboat as well and whenever you put Lex with the right guy he could work. Hayes agreed but says despite that Luger couldn’t get over being a pro wrestler and the stinch he felt for being considered that.
Time for a match rant
NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger
Wrestlewar (2/25/90) from Greensboro Coliseum in Greenboro, N.C.
Hosted by Jim Ross and Terry Funk
Flair has Woman (R.I.P) in his corner. They introduce Sting first, with “Man Called Sting” dubbed over his generic guitar music. Sting looks awesomely late 80s/early 90s with the muscle shirt and the grey nut hugger workout shorts. Long story short this was Sting’s spot, Sting blew the fuck out of his knee at Clash XI or something during a run-in. Sting was placed on the shelf and Luger was the replacement and had to turn face as a result, ending an awesome heel run. They try to dub Luger’s music with his generic late 90s them instead of his more awesome late 80s music. But the dub messes up and the original music wins out. Hell yeah! No dubbing needed for Flair because he rules like that. Luger is the U.S. Champion at this point.
They have their little feel out process just to draw the fans in a little, after all we’ve got an hour time limit and you have to expect them to use at least 30 minutes of it. Luger with a headlock and Flair escapes. Time for a test of strength and you know this isn’t going to work out well for Flair. Shoulderblock sends Flair to the floor to discuss strategy with Woman. Flair tries a little psychology to get into Luger’s head and goes downstairs with a knee. Flair with a whip to the corner but Luger explodes out of it with a clothesline. Flair takes Woman and decides to go home but Luger picks him up and takes him back to the ring. Flair with a hangman but Luger no sells and…there’s something about Flair selling Luger’s poses that make me laugh. Luger goes to town on the champion and it’s press slam time. Flair definitely stalling like a champion, on the Memphis scale it rates about an 8.5 but Ross explains the method to his madness as it’s keeping Luger from getting into a flow. Flair goes low to gain a quick advantage but it’s press slam No. 2 and a cover but Flair is hugging the ropes. Flair does to the body again and hits the chop but Luger no sells and it’s press slam No. 3. Bearhug by Luger and it gets a couple of two counts before Flair goes to the eye and stops the Lex Express. Both guys struggle to their feet but Luger is there first and hits 10 corner punches as we get our first Flair flop. Luger beals Flair across the ring and goes for a running clothesline but Flair smartly ducks and Luger goes flying over the ropes.
Flair joins Luger on the floor and lays in his first bit of effective offensive as he sends Luger into the railing. The chops work this time around. Flair sends Luger into the ring and back out of the ring. Woman distracts the ref while Flair rams Luger into the railing again and does more dirty tricks. Flair keeps Luger on the floor but knocking him off the apron every time he tries to come back in. Luger back in the ring, snapmare from Flair and the classic knee drop. Another snapmare and a second knee drop gets two. Flair with a chop but Luger answers; he answers again and wins the slugfest but misses the corner charge. Flair works on the arm and cheats by using the ropes to make a hammerlock more painful than usual. Back to the hammerlock and using the ropes. Naturally the referee doesn’t see it but has suspicions. Flair back to the chops and then the arm but Luger back with a clothesline but Flair goes to the eye. Flair chokes Luger on the ropes and Woman adds in a cheap shot. Flair back with the hammerlock and Luger makes a fight of it to get the crowd back in things. Luger goes for the punch but the ref blocks it so Flair gets a cheap shot in. More rope choking and Woman with another cheap shot. Flair with more arm work and a knee drop on the arm. He tries for a rope-assisted pin but Luger kicks out. Flair corners Luger but Luger is pissed and just chokes the champion. Corner whip and Flair takes the ride up and over the top. Now Luger rams him into the railing and all of a sudden those chops ain’t working no more. Luger botches a sleeper but slaps it on and takes Flair to the ground. Two count but Flair’s foot is on the ropes.
Luger goes for a second sleeper but Flair counters with a back suplex. Flair goes to the apron and tries to suplex Luger to the floor but Luger suplexes him back in the ring and then posts his leg. Wow. Flair tries to go to the ropes but Luger drags him back. Luger tries to go for the figure four and butchers it horribly so Flair, the professional, rolls through and thankfully they don’t repeat the spot. They botch a double knockout shot (WTF is happening??) and don’t repeat that so Luger gets the powerslam for a near fall. Flair goes for a chop but Luger no sells, Flair goes for a flying forearm and just bounces off of Luger. Flair goes to the floor and back to the eyes. He’s sort of half-assedly selling the leg and just decides to give it up. Back in the ring, Flair’s hip toss is blocked, Luger with a backslide for a near fall. Luger with corner punches but Flair with a botched inverted atomic drop. I think it was supposed to be a missed move and Luger was to hit a clothesline but they were totally off in this match and Luger sells it, unless it was a legit hamstring injury. Fuck if I know. Flair actually hits a top-rope move which shocks the hell out of me and then he hits a second. This is like bizarro world. It gets a near fall. Flair with a beautiful double underhook suplex and a two count. Sleeper hold by Flair and Luger goes to his knees as we prep for the next big rally.
Luger answers the call and fights out of it, Flair with a roll up for two but Luger hits a clothesline and gets a near fall himself. Luger misses the big elbow drop and both men are down. Flair with a big chop and a kneebreaker. Flair goes for the leg and a second kneebreaker. Flair with a splash down on the leg and hits a knee drop on the leg. Figure four time and right away Flair grabs the ropes for leverage as Nick Patrick wonders why the top rope is shaking. Flair back to the ropes and gets two. Sting comes hobbling down to the ring to root Luger on and Luger turns it over but Flair turns it back and both men grabs the ropes. Sting hypes Luger up (COME ON!!!! KICK HIS YOU KNOW WHAT?!?!) and he slaps Luger. That woke him up. Chop is no sell, a trip into the railing is no sold and it’s business time baby. Powerslam on Flair but the champ goes to the eye and climbs the ropes, Luger tosses him across the ring. Clothesline city. Clothesline nation. Clothesline universe sends Flair over the top rope but you can’t win the match there so Luger suplexes him back in the ring for two. Another powerslam and it’s time for the Human Torture Rack. Instead Luger covers for two when Woman rakes his eye. Luger grabs Woman and Flair hits him and the referee with a knee. Luger no sells. Patrick not so lucky, however. Luger with a corner whip and catches Flair coming off the top with a clothesline and a cover but no referee. Luger with a superplex but no referee. The Andersons run in and Luger beats them up so now it’s torture rack time. The Andersons ponder coming back in the ring but they see a very vulnerable Sting and go on the attack so Luger drops Flair and beats up the Andersons while Patrick counts him out. Horseman beat down follows until the Steiners make a save. Luger was always booked like a chump, it had to be a rib.
(Flair def. Luger, countout, ***1/2, man they botched so much shit in this match. I am giving it the mandatory Flair vs. broomstick rating because it was entertaining enough but still on the low end of Flair-Luger matches. No excuse for it either as these two had just faced off at Starrcade 89 after taking a year off from each other. I think they did much better in the rematch at Capital Combat.)
Ross tries to get into trashing Buff Bagwell but Foley changes tracks with a funny Goldberg story and adds in a couple funny lines about DDP loving Santa Claus. Foley said he liked Goldberg. Lawler says he likes him too. Hayes says he was a nice guy away from the business and does a lot of good things for kids and pets. Within the business Goldberg was tough to deal with because he didn’t understand how good WCW made him look and how they protected him.
Highlights of Goldberg-Raven for the U.S. Title and there’s no doubt the crowd was into Goldberg huge. Match was decent as Raven did a great job of selling and carrying things. Let’s see how good it was.
U.S. Heavyweight Championship: Raven vs. Goldberg
Monday Nitro, April 20, 1999
Hosted by Tony Schiavone, Larry Zybysko and Mike Tenay
WCW brought in Michael Buffer for the announcements if you wanted to know how much they wanted people to buy into this one. Raven gets the first blow in and catches Goldberg on a corner charge and a dropkick. Raven sends Goldberg to the floor but Goldberg sends Raven into the railing twice and Raven goes straight into crazy bump mode. Goldeberg with his weirdo single leg roll through take down that makes no sense in turns of match flow. Goldberg with a high kick that sends Raven to the floor but he gets a chair there and goes to town. Drop-toe hold onto the chair by Raven and it gets two. More chair work as this is a Raven’s rules match. Sleeper hold turned into a chinlock by Raven as the crowd gets restless real fast (they were conditioned to 45-second matches). Goldberg fights out of the hold and into the corner. Raven with a corner whip and a corner clotheslines but Goldberg no sells and hits the spear. Wow the crowd pop was deafening. The flock attack and gets disposed of. Bye Kidman. Bye Sickboy, Here’s a spear for Horace and a jackhammer for Reese. Van Hammer didn’t make the bus I guess. Raven tries to leave but the fans drag him back in the ring. Spear and Jackhammer give Goldberg his first major title. If I remember this drew a huge rating, not as big as when WCW STUPIDLY gave away Goldberg-Hogan but whatever.
(Goldberg def. Raven, pinfall, **1/2, entertaining crap like I remember. Raven should have gotten a raise for his part.)
Hayes said that Goldberg couldn’t get comfortable in a place where he wasn’t the top star and were around guys of equal or greater stature like Austin and Rock. Bischoff said he likes Goldberg but hated working with him and said that his lack of knowledge about the business made him paranoid and people around him (HMMMM, I wonder who) made it worse by getting in his ear.
They all like Goldberg outside of the business and blame Nash, Hall and Hogan and manipulating him. Ross said he came to the WWE thinking he would be cast at John Wayne and that wasn’t the case.
Lawler brings up Paul Heyman and Foley comes to his defense right away. Ross relays a rumor of Lawler breaking Heyman’s jaw during his time in Memphis because Heyman was so annoying. Lawler confirms it. (Proudly) He explains why, basically it was one of those huge Memphis drawn-out feuds with Lawler and Dundee and Austin Idol, etc. etc. It was built to a scaffold match (which brings out Jim Cornette comments) and Heyman, after weeks of promotion, flakes out because he’s scared of heights. Lawler waited a couple of days to punch him.
Foley liked him enough to be hurt when Heyman dissed him a few times backstage and called him a whore. Of course then Foley admits he returns for the money. No shit. Who doesn’t? Foley thought he was great in ECW and he gave the guys freedom to develop their talents, especially with their promos and credits his and Austin’s improvement on that. They compared him to Jim Jones (ouch) and said that he could make a speech that would motivate guys that weren’t making much money into doing crazy shit to their bodies.
Lawler said that Heyman got some heat for putting so much of the business out there on the internet while the rest of the old guard was trying to keep the magic behind the curtain (Bobby Heenan made similar points in his 2001 interview about the disclosure of the business ruining the future). Hayes said there was a method to Heyman’s madness and gives him credit for his way of protecting his less-than-stellar workers with really cool highlight videos of their matches, rather than the full matches, and he loved a me-against-the-world mentality.
And there are clips of some Heyman speech at the…I think the Manhattan Center or somewhere in New York.
Ross said Heyman’s us-against-the-world mentality was typical of most manipulators. Of course Ross admits that the WWE was cutting checks of Heyman to help ECW while Heyman was speaking to the boys that worked for him about the evils of the WWE. Love the irony there. Bischoff says that was part of the anti-establishment environment Heyman was creating. Foley said Heyman and ECW got Vince interested in the Attitude Era. But Hayes says it was more Shawn and HHH and, to an extent, the nWo over than ECW.
They get into a discussion about ECW and Foley said he had fun with him leaving and mentioned that while the ECW fans didn’t like the WWE, they respected Vince whereas they absolutely hated Bischoff and WCW.
Time for some Scott Hall bashing (which seems mean given his current state). Bischoff said he hated dealing with Hall backstage over anyone else. Bischoff talks about how the Hall-to-WCW stuff came about. DDP approached him and convinced him despite Bischoff’s concerns about what he heard in WWE (I totally don’t believe that. I think he jumped in feet first and he should have because that was a huge coup for WCW). Bischoff met Hall and laid the law down telling him what he’s heard and warning him not to bring the garbage to WCW because they didn’t need it and he was happy with where the promotion was at that point (I think he’s lying again unless “laid down the law” is an insider term for “treated to a nice dinner, an open bar tab and a wild night at the Gold Club). Bischoff said he was great at first but once things got off track it was bad. Hayes wonders if he’s a manic depressive. Ross said that Hall was fine his second time around but his tenure ended on that fateful plane ride.
Foley has a story about Hall and he approached Foley as he was entering the promotion. Hall bitched about the fed and told Foley that “you know if you bust your ass around here you might make 400 or so.” and Foley is like “$400.000!?!?!” which was more than he ever made. He didn’t appreciate Hall looking down on such a sum and remembered making $25 from the Jarretts for a night of work. Hayes said when Hall is doing well he’s a great guy and a great worker and fun to be around.
Lawler is sick of the bullshit and wants to talk about someone they all hate and have nothing nice to say. Enter Vince Russo. Hayes talks about Russo and Ferrara doing the “Oklahoma” thing and calls Russo an asshole. Ross said he’s worked with some real characters but hates Russo. He said the first time his children saw the Oklahoma skit they fell out of love with wrestling. First he was pissed they were watching Nitro (I was about to say).
(Now I have a very liberal sense of humor. And it takes a lot to offend me. So I didn’t have a problem with them lampooning Ross. On the surface the commentary parody was funny. Making fun of the Bell’s palsy wasn’t funny. Had Ferrara not smirched his face to mimic the ailment I would not have had a problem with it and I don’t think many other people would have.)
The panel asked if Oklahoma was worse than Vince doing a “Dr. Heiney” skit I don’t remember seeing. The punch line of that skit was Ross pulling his head out of his ass. He said that Oklahoma bothered him more because his kids were upset about it. Ross says that we’re all fair game in the end. Hayes and Foley disagree and Foley says some things are too mean and the fans don’t necessary want to see it. Hayes says that the nWo satire on Arn Anderson’s speech was meaner. Bischoff says he regrets it and it’s all mean spirited.
Bischoff does say that Vince does his weird stuff for entertainment whereas Russo did things because he had a personal axe to grind. Bischoff says he allowed it to happen and he shouldn’t have. He didn’t understand what Arn was going through and when he began to realize the extent of the injury it really bothered him that everything happened the way he did. Hayes says that Vince is just as willing to be part of the punchline as he is part of the joke. Bischoff says the weird irony of life is that Arn Anderson was the one to inform him that he had a segment where he was going to get shoved into Big Dick Johnson’s ass. Bischoff wasn’t cool with it but he realized he was paid to do and not to think. And when it came down to performing the act Arn talked Bischoff through the whole thing. (I didn’t fully do that story justice but it shows you how good of a guy Arn Anderson is.)
They talk about Bischoff’s comic stuff, like the Redneck series with Austin and that when Mae Young gave him a bronco buster during that bit she loaded her crotch with sardines (Holy shit, that’s disgusting). They crack on Bischoff’s follies a little more, completely going off track now. They go into a few Vince stories and say that you can blame everything on Vince and that allows Foley to do a book promo (A running gag in this series when Mick is on).
Ross wants to get to his Bagwell story and it’s about Buff’s mom, Judy, calling in sick for his son. Ross told her that he would love to talk to her again about anything other than her son because he’s a man and he need to handle his own business. He then told Buff at TV to never have his mom call again unless it’s to say Happy Birthday. Hayes reveals that Missy Hyatt brought Buff in the business (and surely sucked his dick too, looking at the panel I’d guess Lawler and Hayes probably got similar Missy treatment at some point through the years) and they all agreed they “liked” Missy Hyatt and Ross suggested they say something quick before she calls her lawyer. Hayes said that Eddie Gilbert should be involved in any such conversations and sadly he can’t be. And Ross says a death is an oddly appropriate way to end this episode.