Andre the Giant: Life & Legend Graphic Novel

Hey Scott,

I reviewed Box Brown's graphic novel, ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE & LEGEND on my blog. I don't know if you or any of the other Doomers had heard about it, but I think it makes for a great addition to any wrestling fan's bookshelf. Have a look:

Nick Piers

​Heard of it, but haven't checked it out yet.  ​

MeekinOnMovies On…The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The
Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a short story about a man with an
oppressive wife, who constantly has flights of fancy in order to escape
her meandering omnipresence. Due to its popularity and name recognition,
a movie about the short story kicked around Hollywood for awhile,
getting attached to names like Jim Carey before eventually finding its way
into the hands of Ben Stiller, who stars and directs the very loose
adaptation.  

Stiller’s
a great choice, as he’s an actor who built almost his entire resume on
willingly embarrassing himself in front of Robert DeNiro, Owen Wilson,
Vince Vaughn, and most recently Eddie Murphy. In Meet The Parents he was
brilliant at generating palpable uncomfortable silences that made the
audience erupt with laughter. In Tropic Thunder he directed Robert
Downey Jr to an Oscar Nomination for a comedy. Heck, the only
reason Zoolander succeeded is because he played the titular character
with such a serious earnestness you legitimately felt bad for the guy.

These
are wonderful clubs to have in the bag if you’re making a light hearted
drama about a guy who thinks too much. And boy oh boy, does he come out
swinging.


The story finds zone-out prone Walter Mitty (Ben
Stiller) as a weak-willed, shy, introverted photo processor for Life
Magazine. Naturally he’s attracted to a girl at the office, and in a
nice touch is so socially paralyzed he doesn’t anguish about asking her
out, no, he anguishes about sending her a ‘wink’ on Match.com.

Walter
has fantasies ranging from saving the girl at work from a fire, to
living with her in a weird Benjamin Button (another loose adaptation of a
short story) kind of thing, and even little things like the right thing
to say at the right time. The less outlandish ones sometimes go on for
awhile before we snap back and see the scene was all in Walter’s head.
These scenes are irksome and annoying, not without purpose – ultimately
giving us a window in Walter’s world as both he and the audience feel
the jerked around by his emotions. 

Eventually
Walter finds himself butting heads with a new boss, slowly befriending
the girl at work, Cherly (Kristen Wiig) and is ultimately charged with
the task of locating a missing photo that’s going on the cover of final
print issue of Life Magazine.

That
little motivating factor takes him from the dour grays and pale blues
of the Life Magazine office to the welcoming lush green pastures of
Iceland and the bone chilling cold of the arctic – ultimately exploring
himself along the way. 

We’ve
seen this kind of thing before – a person goes on a journey of
unintended self discovery, often in exotic lands, and arrives at some
form of personal enlightenment. See About Schmidt, The Best Exotic
Marigold Hotel, Forest Gump, The Station Agent, and
we can toss in that Julia Roberts flick where she goes to India.
The
point is these flicks come in numerous permutations from buddy comedies
to feminist rallying calls to even classic stoner comedies. 

Stoner
comedy? Yep. The movie has a lot in common with John Cho’s arc from
Harold
and Kumar Go to White Castle if you replace weed with geeky
photography talk. There are moments of broad comedy, unexpected
enlightenment, uplifting resolution, and a drunk guy (not Neil Patrick
Harris) flies a helicopter! 

Walter and Harold’s change in outlook
doesn’t happen right away, and they aren’t so inept at the start of the
movie that their change is impossible, either. But most importantly
they’re uplifting in a way that doesn’t feel contrived or overtly
melodramatic. 

Especially
in Walter Mitty, where there are no grandstanding proclamations of love
or tell offs to the boss, and instead the confidence comes via posture
and eye contact. Ben Stiller looks almost like a completely different
person by the end of movie, and the change is so subtle you don’t notice
until you do, ya know? 

The
Secret World of Walter Mitty is a light hearted movie with a gentle
touch
that is entertaining enough for the masses, and speaks to a specific
kind
of soul who may stare at the wall too long or pour countless thoughts
into his coffee instead of his conversations. There’s a not-so-subtle
subtext in how Walter goes from the dingy
basement of a dying magazine to the top of a Himalayan mountain in the
span of a two hour movie, perhaps saying that the way he got there was
as simple as realizing he could.
————————————————————————
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Watch_Dogs: 10 Reasons it Sucks

QOTD 54: I could live my life a lot better than I think I am. I guess that’s why they call me….

The Working Man. One of the cool things about the SCSA podcast is that he seems eternally grateful for the fact he’s not a ‘working man’ and appreciates every single listener who busts their proverbial hump driving trucks, digging ditches, and so on. I also saw this video by Mike Rowe about how we don’t appreciate manual laborers as much as we should:

Are you a workin’ man? Hard labor or white collar? Are you satisfied, or do you feel a job should satisfy you? Have you ever had to hire someone? What do you think makes for a great job candidate?

I ask because there is a broadcasters job fair tomorrow and I’m pretty serious about going – but am nervous. My current job pays most of the bills, is relatively low-key (Shit I’m writing this *at* work), but it doesn’t satiate the soul in a way I think a creative job would.

So I’m torn – I doubt I’ll get a job offer that will match what I’m making here, and I’m not sure if I want to toss overboard this gig for something a little uncertain. That’s of course, implying a broadcaster wants to hire me.

Resume / Interviewing / Cover letter tips welcome!

CAW in Real Life

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Austin Burton
Date: Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 6:12 AM
Subject: WWE “pet projects”

Every smart wrestling fan is an armchair booker, and all of us have certain wrestlers we like to watch succeed but we believe aren’t being booked correctly.

So let’s say you’re a WWE writer and they’re letting you choose any three acts on the roster — singles or tag teams, main eventers or mid-carders — to be your “pet projects.”

You can tweak their character’s nuances or give them a complete makeover. You can decide how they work in the ring (within their limits), how they work the mic, whether they’re a heel or face, who they’re feuding with, who they’re affiliated with, etc. Of course you’d have to collaborate with the rest of the creative team on some things and you could get vetoed if your ideas are too crazy. (Making Jinder Mahal the WWE champ anytime soon wouldn’t fly.) But within reason, you’re basically deciding how your guys are presented and how they’re booked.

Who would you pick, and what are some changes you’d make?

I’d make Cena heel, first and foremost. His character would be the BIGGEST douche on Earth. The total jock-stereotype. He’d say things like “Every wrestler you’ve ever loved, I beat’em. I probably made’em tap out. I did with a smile, too”, “Look at me. When I take my shirt off, women cheer. You chumps in the audience could save the world and maybe get a golf clap. Me? I’m so good looking that I get cheers just for being shirtless”. I’d have him be champ for at least a year, and then Punk would return to stop Cena from not only beating his record, but from continuing his reign of terror, and for revenge. As Cena would have done a major beat down on Punk early in his reign, as Cena knew Punk could have his number and wanted him out of commission. I’d then create a stable for Cena, where he’d only let the best looking & athletic people join.

Also, Cena & Punk write their own promos, and Cena has to take that title with him every where he goes. Treating it like it’s a SuperBowl ring, and constantly flaunting it in public.

Cucch’s Book Review: Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart

Sunday Night, May 23, 1999. I had just returned home from a couple of tough weekend shifts at the restaurant I was working. 12-12, followed by 9-6. I was exhausted, sore, and in need of some frosty liquid refreshment. I did have small solace that night in the form of a WWF PPV I was not particularly forward to. Over The Edge 1999. I was at the peak of my wrestling fandom at that point, but truth be told, I was not thrilled with the WWF product in 1999. As someone who always enjoyed a really good match, the WWF wasn’t providing many of those at that point, instead focusing on risque and insidious storylines, slaves to the almighty Neilsen Ratings. The era was deemed “The Monday Night Wars” and never has there been a more apt name for an epoch in wrestling history. By the end of the wars, the body count would be staggering. Great wrestler after great wrestler, mid carder after mid carder, jobber after jobber, all lost their lives in the war to make money for themselves and organizations, to put their bodies through inhuman torture which could only be sustained night in and night out by copious amounts of pain killers and PED’s.

Back to the original point. I fixed myself a small snack, cracked open the first of my six pack of Rolling Rock (Oh, those days when, not only did underage me drink Rolling Rock, but could get TIGHT on a six pack) and proceeded to lay in my recliner and watch the latest offering from the high rolling WWF.

The card looked completely unspectacular. The Main Event was a WWF Championship Match between champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker (part 423 in a series of 1,295 matches, approximately) with Shane and Vince McMahon as the guest referees. Other sure to be classic matches on the card were Val Venis and Nicole Bass facing off with Jeff Jarrett and Debra, The Union vs. The Corporate Ministry, and the blow up of the wildly popular, wildly overrated New Age Outlaws. Fans, like myself, who were looking for some great in ring action, were almost certain to be disappointed with the card that had been outlined. There was another match, almost an afterthought, especially to me, for the Intercontinental Title. It would be the Godfather defending against the mysterious Blue Blazer.

Now, anyone who knew wrestling at that time knew just who damn well the Blue Blazer was. It was the alter ego of Owen Hart (Although, sometimes his tag partner, Jarrett, would dress up in the masked outfit to try to throw people off of Owen’s scent). As a longtime Hart family fan, I was always interested in seeing what a Hart would do in the ring. Granted, I was always more of a Bret and Davey Boy guy, but that didn’t stop me from following the great heel stylings of  Owen throughout his WWF tenure. He was tremendous fun to watch, just a great chickenshit wiseass heel. Owen also was probably one of the most naturally gifted wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle, so he had that working for him as well. He was an absolute joy to watch, but I wasn’t holding out much hope for his match with the Godfather.

Owen had always been great as just plain Owen Hart. Much like Chris Candido in ECW, there were no gimmicks needed. Sure, the monikers of “Rocket”, “King of Hearts”, and “Two Time Slammy Award Winner” didn’t hurt. But all of that was attestable to the genius of Owen Hart. His Blue Blazer gimmick was certainly silly, harkening back to his early days in WWF in 1988 and 89, as a masked babyface JTTS. Owen had recently revitalized the gimmick, and, while may smart fans hated this treatment of one of their heroes, some, like myself, saw Owen putting 100% into the gimmick, as he always did. Whereas in 1988 it was meant to be almost a form of hero worship to Tiger Mask (maybe the wrong choice of words…but its my article, deal with it), Blue Blazer v. 1999 was mostly a parody. It was a parody of WCW superheroes like Sting. It was almost certainly a parody of his own brother Bret, who detested the filth WWF was devolving into. But some would also say it was a parody of Owen himself, who also, like Bret, hated the direction of the WWF, and had refused some risque storylines simply because he was a family man with young, impressionable children whose minds, along with countless other children tuning into WWF broadcasts, he did not want to warp.

So the Over the Edge PPV begins with a fairly nondescript tag match of Kane and X-Pac vs. D-Lo Brown and Mark Henry. Smell the workrate. It was followed by a hardcore match between Al Snow and Bob Holly. That wasn’t a bad match, but certainly not a good one either. The third match on the card was scheduled to be the Godfather vs. The Blue Blazer. Here is where that PPV becomes indelibly etched into my psyche.

They went to a video package, highlighting the fact that everyone was in on the Blue Blazer joke, that everyone knew it was Owen Hart. Even the announcers. It was a fairly quick package, Pimp against Superhero looking for justice and morality, more or less. That is when shit got weird.

The camera panned back to a wide angle of the audience, while Jim Ross was struggling to collect his thoughts, it seemed, and he kicked the feed back to the dressing room for a pre taped Blue Blazer interview. But not before he stammered out “We have big problems out here.”

The promo that followed was classic Owen, declaring that his “arch nemesis” The Godfather made his “blue blood boil.” Owen finished his Blazer interview with his Hogan rip off credo: “Say your prayers, take your vitamins, and drink your milk. WHOOO!”

It was sadly the last words we would ever hear from Owen James Hart.

Now I don’t have to tell anyone what happened next. We all know. Moreover, I would be hard pressed to even attempt to match the namesake of this site to write a definitive, tell all story on Owen Hart. So that is not happening. I was shocked at the moment when Ross said there was an accident with Owen, but, wrestling being wrestling at that point, I honestly didn’t know WHAT THE FUCK to think. I stayed up for a couple of more matches, all the while recording it on my VCR (I mean….the fuck I did…I did no such thing. That’s illegal. Would never do that. Ever.) I conked out for the night, and missed Ross’ announcement later in the night. What alerted me to the severity of the whole thing was my mother calling me the next day. Honestly, I thought the accident was real, but every fiber of my being wanted to believe it was a bad Russo stunt. So when my mom called me that morning and said “Did you hear about that wrestler who died last night?”, the gravity of all of it hit me. And hard. I immediately turned on CNN, and was shocked to see a wrestler being the lead item on a news network. Owen Hart. Dead. At 34. Unreal.

Enough of my personal recollections of that horrific night. To the book. “Broken Harts” is Martha Hart’s attempt into discussing the man that she loved and adored, her attempt to convey just how great a man was lost on that sad May day in 1999. The book’s full title “Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart,” is actually misleading. There is some talk on his life, very little on his career. The book is more about Owen and Martha’s almost Thoreau or Emerson Walden type existence together. But, it is less about the life of Owen Hart, and more about the death of Owen and the seedy aftermath of those events in Kansas City, MO.

Martha Patterson and Owen Hart met in high school, as Owen’s wrestling team happened to be practicing a few rooms over from Martha’s gymnastic squad. It was truly a case of love at first sight, Romeo and Juliet embodied in the flesh as opposed to characters leaping off the page. They began their storybook romance in relative squalor. Owen was the youngest of the Hart children, and, as I am sure many here are aware of, especially if you have read my review on Bret’s book, that existence was far from idyllic. Martha grew up in similar circumstances. Her mother had 11 children by two husbands, Martha towards the bottom of the age totem pole. Both families had dysfunctional home lives, both taking in vagrants, the disillusioned, the poor, the destitute, the transient. The Hart family did it with wrestlers, the Patterson family with vagabonds. Martha and Owen were young members of their respective families who yearned for a more simple, structured, normal life. To that end, they began dating, and found absolute true love that neither of their families could understand. Owen never really wanted to be a wrestler, but once he fell head over heels for young Martha, he realized he needed a profession where he could provide a comfortable living for his soon to be bride and soon to be budding family.

Owen was an absolute natural, and Martha was perennially by his side. From Germany to Japan, USA to Ukraine (oh God, I sound like Rod Trondgard) Owen and Martha traveled side by side. They were married in 1989, and it was then that Owen decided to quit wrestling and become a fire fighter. Well, Calgary didn’t really give him a fair chance, so, with brother Bret now at the top of the profession as WWF Champion, Owen reembarked on his wrestling career.

People who are looking for inside dirt on Owen’s WWF career or his ribs, stop. Martha offers nothing too much in this book. She instead speaks of how proud Owen was at the births of his son Oje and daughter Athena. It is a truly amazing look into the at home psyche of a great family man. Sure he was gone a lot of days because of his WWF commitments, but this is a guy who truly got it. As Mick Foley said in the Owen documentary by Paul Jay: “Some people say they live for wrestling. Not Owen. Owen lived for his family, and used wrestling to help them live.” Amen brother.

Most wrestling fans are going to be disappointed with this book, because his entire WWF run lasts roughly, maybe, 30 pages. Its the death and aftermath that dominate it.

As we know, Owen fell to his death, 78 feet, from the top of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, MO, May 23, 1999. Here is where the book becomes must read. And it pains me to say that. Bret and Martha were absolutely a united front, as those two knew Owen better than anyone. Unfortunately, Diana Hart, Ellie Hart, and Bruce Hart were a united front as well. And they saw Owen’s death as cash. Cold hard cash. How? In pity employment from Vince McMahon. Most of this stuff is pretty public domain, especially in Canada, but rest assured, it still remains lurid and detestable. Martha also writes about how awful and pornographic Diana’s book was, and how it became her mission to censor it. Good for Martha.

Out of the respect this writer has for the Hart family, well, Bret, Owen, and some…Kieth should be included, I will not give an opinion on some of the shit that appears in this book. That is up to the reader, and in these reviews, I try not to slander too much when its a subject I am intimately familiar with. Sometimes.

The lawsuit is mentioned in full detail here, except for the settlement amount. Based on my limited knowledge of what happened, I believed, and still believe, that Vince McMahon and WWF were grossly negligent. And the tribute show they had the next night? Bad. The fact they kept Over the Edge going after Owen fell? Unforgivable. It shows the true tastelessness, the lack of tact, the lack of sympathy of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

There are many other things I could discuss about this book, but, hey, what is the point of writing a review where I ruin everything and you do not seek out and read the fucking thing? The best part of this book is that all proceeds from the sales of the book go towards the Owen Hart Foundation, which Martha Hart founded shortly after the settlement with WWF.

My own conclusion is this: WWF was absolutely negligent in the people they hired, and the devices they used, in the stunt that killed Owen Hart. I leave it to you, the well informed reader, to peruse the book, study the facts on his death, read between the facts that Martha clearly did hate and will always hate, wrestling, and make your own determination. That is the point of all this. Educate yourself.

This book is an absolute must read. As for Owen questions, refer to the man running the blog.

It’s 4 life brother…

Scott, you got us talking about Hogan in your 2013 Scott Sez post and we got questions.  A few people suggested Hogan paid Nick Patrick to screw up the finish/count at Starcade 97?  I know that it was booked to be a quick count with Bret Hart restarting the match and yada yada, but kinda assumed Patrick just fucked up.


Got any insights?  Do you think Hogan paid Patrick to give a normal count?  I get why this would be beneficial for him but it seems that it would be low, even for the Hulkster brother.
The Hogan payoff is certainly the prevailing theory.  I don't know that Patrick has ever admitted anything after the fact, though.  Of course, it was all for nothing because Linda got custody of Nick Patrick in the divorce anyway.

Book Review: Wrestling Reality: The Life and Mind of Chris Kanyon, Wrestling’s Gay Superstar.

Chris Kanyon was a lot of things. He was a wrestler. He was a physical therapist. He was a wrestling trainer. He was manic depressive. What most remember about him, though, was one distinct fact: Chris Kanyon was gay.

Chris Klucsartis was born to parents of varying Russian descents and spent his childhood living in Sunnyside, Queens, New York. In many ways, he had what you could call a typical childhood: baseball, hockey, all the shenanigans and mischief that lend themselves to young boys, and a growing love of pro wrestling. Indeed, growing up in New York City, Chris gravitated towards wrestling in the form of the WWF. Wrestlers like Superfly Jimmy Snuka captured the attention of the young Chris. Soon, he and his friends were mimicking the very moves they saw on television in their local park. But what really was the tipping point for young Chris Klucsartis was a time when the NWA visited suburban New Jersey. He and his friends attended the event, landing great tickets. His Uncle chaperoned them, and he was your typical “Why do you guys like this? You know its fake, right?” kind of guy. Not one to likely be impressed by any goings-on in the squared circle. Well, on this night, Ric Flair was defending his NWA title against Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat and Flair had their normal great, tight match, and, after 29 intense minutes of action, they had Chris’s Uncle enraptured, not to mention young Chris. It was at this juncture that Chris Kluscartis made up his young mind: He was going to be a pro wrestler, come hell or high water.

All of this reads like a primer in wrestling biographies: Boy falls for wrestling, sees it for the first time live, has epiphany, follows dream. It also reads like a typical childhood. Certainly, pro wrestling is a big part of most male childhoods. Chris Kluscartis, though, was leading anything but a typical male childhood. His world was shot off center by one realization he had at a very young age. From the time he was six or seven years old, when he found himself infatuated with a male friend of his older brother, Chris Kluscartis came to realize that he was gay. Heady stuff for a kid that age in 1970’s New York. Add into this mix that Chris attended Parochial (Catholic) schools throughout his childhood, and it almost seemed an insurmountable cross to bear. Chris dealt with it in probably the best way he could short term, but would essentially ended up crushing any long term enjoyment in his tragic life: he hid it. He denied. He attempted to portray himself as the picture of heterosexual masculinity.

In short, Chris Kluscartis’ life would never be easy.

While Chris was suppressing his natural urges, he found an outlet in professional wrestling. There is a great story in this book in which Chris and his friends attended WrestleMania IV. They witnessed wrestling history (and one of the most boring Mania’s ever) when Randy Savage ascended the WWF ladder and became WWF Champion, beating Ted DiBiase in the finals of a 16 man title tournament. After the event, while staying in a hotel adjacent to the WrestleMania venue that year of Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, while his friends slept, Chris grew fidgety. He had the wrestling bug, and he had it BAD. He left the comfort of his hotel confines and stumbled back over to Trump Plaza. To his astonishment, he found a door ajar, and wandered the labyrinth of corridors until he found himself gobsmacked with astonishment at the site he had stumbled upon: He had come to the ringside area where the event had been held, and nothing, not the ring, not the ring and rafter bunting, NOTHING had been removed yet. He walked that WrestleMania aisle (which, if you recall, was a very long affair with many steps) and found himself smack dab in the middle of the ring where Savage had just made wrestling history. He bounced around the ring for a few minutes, then came to a realization: He needed a souvenir. Initially, he wanted to take the WrestleMania IV banner. The big one. If you remember WrestleMania IV or V, that Mania banner was massive. There was no way Chris could feasibly escape with that monstrosity. Instead, he formed a better plan. He took the top turnbuckle cover that Macho Man had leaped off of in the Main Event to dismiss The Million Dollar Man. Christ, what a memory, what a fantastic piece of wrestling related memorabilia. He hightailed it back to his hotel room, and, come sunrise, showed off his new bounty to his friends.

All was not sunshine and smiles, though. Chris graduated High School and chose to attend the University of Buffalo. He was still gay, and HEAVILY closeted. The lengths he went to to conceal his homosexuality were nothing short of extraordinary. He rationalized that he needed to have sex with a woman, and he picked a winner. After several aborted attempts with various willing co-eds, which resulted in…um…results varying from straight denials to difficulties trying to use a condom (think we’ve all been there) to premature ejaculation (KNOW every man has been there). Once again, add in the gay dilemma and that period must have been excruciatingly agonizing for a young man. Finally, Chris was turned on (and not in a good way for him) to a willing young co-ed from a different, nearby college. She was, what we call in some circles, a slam pig. I know, not a great term, but, apparently this girl was willing to spread her legs for dudes sight unseen. Chris stumbled through the process, and eventually finished the deed. However, there was an unforeseen side effect. Well, not unforeseen to anyone above college age. The girl who took Chris’s virginity had given him something in return: crabs. The gift that keeps on giving. Understand why I called her a slam pig now?

Chris studied physical therapy while at U of Buff, a major he figured would let him get close to pro wrestling. It was a friend of his, however, that led him to the promised land of wrestling training. Chris wanted to attend either Chris Adams or, I am guessing, the Owens (or Barr’s) camp in Oregon, but was told in no uncertain terms to finish college and stay away from this “Godforsaken business.” Chris was dismayed, but certainly not deterred. One day, though, a friend of Chris’s expressed his desire to acquire an actual wrestling ring. Naturally, huge fan Chris was instantly in on the idea. Chris was a subscriber to the old sports periodical, “The National Sports Daily.” Every Friday, there was a wrestling column authored by a certain gentleman named Dave Meltzer. (Honestly, this little blurb is my favorite part of the book. I have been an avid sports fan since, well, basically, infancy. My dad, no slouch himself with sports, started buying me “The National” daily. I loved it, sopped all the information it provided like a sponge. It was the wrestling stuff I most enjoyed, but I was a total mark at the time this publication was dispensed. It always had great stuff that I used to wow my elementary school friends. One instance had me winning a bet with a 4th grader because I had read that Mr. Perfect had won back the IC title from Kerry Von Erich. Another had me correctly predicting that Mean Mark Callous would be Ted DiBiase’s mystery partner at Survivor Series 1990. No one believed me because Callous’ new character was such a departure from his WCW nom: Undertaker.) But it was a visit to the radio studios of John Arezzi, a New York radio jock who specialized in pro wrestling speculation and rumors, that landed them the opportunity to secure a wrestling ring. A guy, presumably an aspiring wrestler, in Arezzi’s waiting room turned Chris and friend to a man named Pete McKay, who had a wrestling ring available. Chris and his friend found Pete’s gym, Gladiator Gym in Manhattan, but it wasn’t a ring they secured. Seeing Chris’s childlike enthusiasm once he stepped through the ropes, Pete McKay offered to train young Chris Kluscartis. Shit had just gotten real for Chris.

Chris trained with Pete, and seemingly was a natural.  So natural that Pete McKay thought Chris was a plant sent to spy on his school sent my Johnny Rodz. No one, he thought, could be this polished at this stage. Chris assured him he wasn’t, and eventually graduated the school…without paying a single dollar.

Chris soon found himself in North Carolina, right after graduating college. He told his parents he went there to pursue a physical therapist position. While that was certainly a bit of the truth, it was far from the whole truth. North Carolina had a vibrant independent wrestling scene at that point, and that was truly where Chris wanted to be. He worked his day job as a physical therapist, and he loved that job, was gratified by it, especially working with stroke patients. But young Chris, by now renamed Chris Kanyon, was in North Cacalack for one reason: wrestling.

Chris had a few contacts in NC because he had become a subscriber to Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. He found a contact, and that contact brought a man into Kanyon’s life that would become his best friend: James Mitchell.

James Mitchell. What can you say about this guy? Literally, what can you say about this guy? He is a card carrying Satan worshiper and sexual deviant. I stand corrected. To call him a sexual deviant would be a disservice to sexual deviants. The man is off of his rocker, and PERFECTLY suited to the pro wrestling industry. One cute story in this book was a recounting by Kanyon of Mitchell, in his wrestling manager persona of the time, telling a black wrestler that he “felches” his dog. Mitchell meant fetch, but uttered felch. Felching is a weird sexual subgenre that I will allow the reader to follow up. Suffice to say, Mitchell made a mistake in speech, and was dying in hilarity backstage.

Kanyon and Mitchell worked for a brief time in Smokey Mountain Wrestling, run by Jim Cornette. Kanyon, in this book, pegs Cornette dead on as a total hothead. Supposedly, Rick Rubin, of Beastie Boys, Run-DMC and, more currently, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” was a financial backer of the promotion and wanted a mummy character. Mitchell managed it, and it was a disaster. Picture a wrestler covered in toilet paper that was rubbed in dirt, and you get the picture. Kanyon, at this point, was nothing more than cannon fodder, enhancement talent for SMW and WWF. Mitchell and Kanyon were eventually let go by SMW because of an altercation between Mitchell and Cornette. Kanyon was a victim of circumstance.

It was at this time Kanyon gave up on wrestling. For a brief time. He decided to take a physical therapist position in Connecticut and would shelve up with a childhood friend. While he was moving in with said friend, a box of his moving materials spilled to the ground, exposing some stag mags. Gay sex magazines. When confronted, Kanyon simply stated that Jim Mitchell put them there as a rib. Kanyon was still closeted, and still very, VERY scared of his secret leaking out. He blamed it on sexual…I don’t know what to call James Mitchell…freak? There are no words for what James Mitchell was, and is. Don’t believe me? YouTube (yeah, I used it as a verb) some of his shoot interviews. Whatever. Kanyon felt compelled to call Mitchell, who was one of the few privy to Kanyon’s gay secret, to explain the situation. Mitchell could have given two fucks. When Kanyon’s friend called Mitchell to confront him, Mitchell was concise: “Yeah, those were mine. I am a huge fag. Total fag.” James Mitchell, ladies and gentleman!

Kanyon soon grew tired of the regular 9-5 grind, and found a nearby wrestling school. A great one. It was Afa the Samoan’s school in Allentown, PA. He kept his ring rust off and met a lifelong friend: Billy Kidman. Together, the two toured Memphis and some other places, but fate would soon smile upon the two.

Fate was WCW. Kanyon, because of his 6’4″ frame, was signed quicker than Kidman. Kanyon soon was settled into a groove as a jobber, while also helping to train lost souls at the WCW Power Plant. Jody Hamilton, the Assassin, Nick Patrick’s father, rather grew to like young Kanyon, his abilities and his ability to train others. That was not the doorway to success for Chris Kanyon, though. The doorway was Diamond Dallas Page. Page, who lived next door to WCW puba Eric Bischoff, had some clout in the company. And Page liked Kanyon. Kanyon was soon pegged for what Bischoff, at the time, considered his greatest coup. Bischoff was hoping to capitalize on the Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter video game craze. He had devoted hours of study and resources into this venture, and had come up with characters mimicking the game. Kanyon initially was to have portrayed a character based on reptiles, but it was changed to a skull. Glacier, Mortis, Ernest Miller, Wrath: BLOOD RUNS COLD everyone. Widely panned as one of the worst wrestling gimmicks ever, there seemed to only be two saving graces: Wrath, due to his look and imposing demeanor, and Mortis, Kanyon, who provided the solid wrestling skills. Their push was hurt by the debut and success of another Bischoff creation of the time, the NWO. Kanyon proved he was a good wrestler with several solid matches facing untrained Glacier and Ernest Miller. With the NWO running wild, there was no hope for a mid card act like this.

This is where the book gets dicey. Kanyon was friends with DDP, and as long as that bond was there, Kanyon was never going to flounder. Granted, the NWO basically crushed the non-cruiserweight mid card of WCW for some years, Kanyon was given a stay of execution. He unmasked, became Kanyon, and came up with a decent catchphrase: “WHO BETTA THAN KANYON?!?”  Eventually, this led to a union with Page and Bam Bam Bigelow, who formed the “Jersey Triad.” I personally loved this angle during the waning years of WCW, and still adore it to this day. I was too young to remember the glory years of the three man Freebirds, so this was as close as an approximation that I was likely to get in my formative years. They won the WCW Tag Team Titles, and any two of the three would be allowed to defend them (the Freebird rule).

Unfortunately, both WCW and Chris Kanyon, at this juncture, were coming apart at the seams. Chris was being torn asunder by both his closeted gayness and his undiagnosed manic depressive disorder. Adding to this toxic mix was the fact WCW was about to fold. Kanyon was dismayed and had no idea of what to do or who he really was. Unfortunately, something major was about to change that.

That something major was 9/11. Any American can tell you what they were doing in the hours leading up to the attack, what they were doing when the second plane hit, and what they did in the aftermath. For me, I used to love scaling tall things. Loved going to the summits of tall places; The Empire State Building, The aforementioned Twin Towers; The John Hancock Buildings, both in Chicago and Boston. Since that day, my asshole puckers everytime I see a view of a building from great height. Kanyon took it even worse than I did. His brother worked near the Trade Centers, and he was mortified (see what I did there) when he heard of the attacks. Luckily, Kanyon and fam were safe from the destruction caused by Al-Queada. Unfortunately, Chris Kanyon never truly recovered.

9/11 shocked Chris Kluscartis. Shocked him to a point he should have reached earlier, but never did. He finally came out of the closet to his family. Not to his wrestling family, just the family that matters. It was a tough moment for him, made even more unbearable when his father asked “Are You the Pitcher or the Catcher?” Woof. Imagine your old man asking that. Chris assured his dad that, with his 6’4″ frame, he was the pitcher.

At that point, Chris was a valuable part of the WCW Alliance angle in WWF. The Alliance “MVP.” Unfortunately, WWF, as the book puts it, and I also happen to believe, did not see his talent. Kanyon, for all the bullshit in his personal life, was better than most of the wrestlers who were retained in the WWF/WCW storyline. Kanyon should have had a bigger role. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury that put him out for a while.

It was during this while that Vince McMahon came up with an idea: an effeminate character for Kanyon. Kanyon did not like it upon his return for injury, but, hey, a guy has to make a living, right? But Vince, Vince McMahon, the promotional genius, the rajah of wrestling, well, he had a dense plan for Kanyon. By this point, Kanyon’s homosexuality, while not announced, was fairly well known. And Vince “Master of Tact” McMahon decided to utilize it. He began with telling Kanyon to accentuate his already lispy voice. Uh. Huh. Kanyon told Vince that he wanted to portray a gay character with laurels, admitting his life to the man. And this is where the book turns towards the darkside.

Vince McMahon is a lot of things: business genius, wrestling guru. But a master at the subtlety of human behavior is not one of the saving graces of the man. MAN LIKE WOMAN, MAN PURSUE MAN, MAN CLUB OVER GIRL HEAD.  That is Vince. Pre mastadonian man. Vince did what Vince does: He fired Kanyon.

Kanyon never truly recovered from this shunning, Why should he of? Pat Patterson was RIGHT THERE. The problem was that Kanyon never came clean to his wrestling breathren. (That word has no spellcheck alternative and as a writer I am keeping it there because spellcheck is not infallible.)

Kanyon eventually came clean to his family. He admitted his true self. You would think that it would have solved all of his problems, but, no. Kanyon was as clear of a case as a manic depressive you are ever likely to see. You see, Kanyon was a mess. With the underlying problem of his homosexuality, he had missed out on the fact that he ALSO had a very hard and very real illness. A psychological illness.

With all that was plaguing Chris Klucsartis, it was a wonder he lived a successful life as long as he did. Chris constantly has suicide attempts throughout his life, which are detailed in the book, but he finally succeeded on April 2, 2010.

This book is more a celebration of a troubled man’s life, but at the same time is a tragic coda. Chris Kanyon was an outstanding professional wrestler. But his demons overcame him, and, unfortunately, he became just another wrestling statistic.

Chris Kanyon was not just another wrestling statistic. He was a MAN. A good man. A homosexual man. And his pain, his process, should not be lost on anyone.

WHO BETTA THAN KANYON????????

Fwd: Extra Life 2012

Hey Scott-


I was wondering if you'd be able to plug this for me again.  On October 13th, I will be participating in Extra Life for the fourth year in a row.  Extra Life is a 24 hour video game marathon in which we raise money for the Children's Miracle Network.

My brother was born with a cleft palate years ago.  With help from this organization and the Children's Hospital in Richmond, VA our family was able to afford the many surgeries, years of therapy, and doctors visits needed to fix his mouth.  Today you'd never even notice anything had ever been wrong, and that's all because of the wonderful work and care he received.

All donations are tax deductible and can be made with a credit/debit card or Paypal.  100% of the funds donated go straight to the Children's Miracle Network…there are no administrative fees.  

Right now I've raised over $1,600 dollars and am inching slowly to my goal of $2,000.  EVERY DONATION HELPS.  It doesn't matter if it is small or large.  Each dollar raised puts me closer to the goal of $2,000.

Here is the link to my fundraising page where you can donate:  www.extra-life.org/participant/thekingofkeith 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and/or possibly post this.  Hopefully one of your many readers will find it in their heart to help some very needy children today.


-Keith (kingofkeith)

Life In A Vacuum

Scott,
2nd time emailer, thanks for posting my previous question. Being 21 and a lifelong wrestling fan, I've recently become a "smart" fan so to speak.
I've seen you say a few times in your blog that "nobody really increases business in a vacuum anymore" and things of that nature.  Why do you think that is?  Are you essentially saying that only an EVENT like a wrestlemania regardless of who's headlining can pop a huge buy rate?  Do you ever see a transcendent wrestler coming along again who can change this or has the business just changed so much from the "Hogan or Austin vs anyone" being able to sell generate?   Is the WWE just such a juggernaut that they won't let anyone get that over again?

Yes to all of the above.  It's the Wrestlemania name that sells PPVs, and the difference that one person can make isn't significant unless it's someone REALLY expensive like The Rock.  Wrestling fans are creatures of habit, and WWE has indoctrinated everyone so much into the "WWE Universe" crap that the WWE brand name itself has become the only thing that is able to draw now.  Occasionally a hot angle or cold spell can move the needle 5-10% either way, but everyone who isn't HHH or Undertaker is so unprotected now that there's just no chance to get over and break free of the middle ground.  Plus I think Vince felt like he was burned one time too many by guys like Austin becoming bigger than his business and just leaving because he didn't want to deal with bullshit anymore, so I can understand where he's coming from.  

Blog Topic: Characters based on real life people or events

Hey Scott —
I thought this might be an interesting topic, especially for younger fans who may be aware of certain wrestling characters but unaware of the original inspiration for them.  Obviously wrestling has lots of characters based on general archetypes or occupations (garbage men, plumbers, tax men, etc.) but a fair amount have been inspired by real people and events or characters in popular fiction.

A few obvious ones that I can think of:
Cactus Jack:  Once known as Cactus Jack Manson, a gimmick that was chosen due to Foley's passing resemblance to cult leader Charles Manson.  I suppose the gimmick had some aping of Manson characteristics early on as well.
Sgt. Slaughter: As an Iraqi sympathizer in response the the incredibly high ratings for CNNs coverage of the 1990-1991 Gulf War / military conflict.
Magnum T.A.: Based upon the look and namesake of Tom Selleck's character Magnum P.I.
The Bolsheviks:  In reference to the Russian Revolution, but mostly just used to exploit ongoing tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.
"Perstroika" Nikolai Volkoff:  Vince's way of reflecting the change in the relationship with the Soviet Union as well as its dissolution (via a face turn and teaming with Jim Duggan) and the falling of the Berlin Wall.
Vince McMahon:  Well, he must be based on a Roman Emperor like Caligula — with all the family in-fighting, potential for incest and insatiable appetite for power.
Two I have wondered about are Nikita Koloff and Berlyn.  

I assume Berlyn was supposed to be some sort of Holocaust denier, but was there anything specific in the news at the time that may have prompted that character?  Nikita Koloff I always assumed was just a generic Cold War villain, but was he actually based on a specific person?
Any others?

Berlyn came out of nowhere as far as inspiration that I can remember.  Koloff was just your standard evil Russian.  
A few more I can add off the top of my head:  "Simon Dean" was a rib on Dean Malenko (real name Dean Simon), and obviously Steven Richards as the leader of the RTC was a subtle comment on L. Brent Bozell.  There's tons of others because wrestling isn't known for its creativity and originality, generally speaking.  

Repost: Cheating Death, Stealing Life

(As requested by Adam in the comments) The SmarK DVD Rant for Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story It’s great that they finally did a feature DVD on Eddie, after all the tragedy and setbacks in his life, but it’s kind of a shame that it’s coming out at a time when he’s blaming himself for his run as a main eventer falling apart. Main Feature: – We start with Eddie introducing us to the various members of his family, and his mother embarrassing him with baby pictures. – Eddie takes us around El Paso and takes us through school. Not surprisingly, there was a wrestling ring in the backyard and they used it every day. Eddie and Chavito hung out at the arena and used to wrestle each other during intermission, thus amusing the fans. – He was of course formally trained by his father, Gory Guerrero, and he could never quite impress him. – He talks about going cruising in the Pinto at 10 MPH with his dad, who was doing it to bug him (successfully). This segues into a montage of the low-riders. – Next up, meeting his wife on a blind date, and then getting married a day after Gory’s funeral. You have to think that was a bad omen. – When Eddie started in the late 80s, big wrestlers weren’t in fashion, so he set his goals lower: Japan and Mexico. – Once in Japan, he becomes Black Tiger and meets Benoit and Malenko. – Skipping forward to ECW in 1995, and his classic matches with Dean. The great thing about the WWE owning everything is that they can pull footage of whatever they want for stuff like this. – Jumping ahead another two years to Halloween Havoc 97, as Eddie and Rey have the second or third best match of the year, after Hart-Austin and Hell in a Cell. And then it all went bad. – With the WCW situation not fulfilling him, he started turning to drugs and liquor to fill the void. In 1999, he drove to the corner store to get some eggs, but fell asleep at the wheel at 130MPH and the cops thought he was dead. At best, he was expected to maybe walk again, but never wrestle. – He returned six months early, thus messing up himself worse, and this time he got hooked on painkillers and OD’d for the first time. Amazingly, he still didn’t take the hint, and started mixing painkillers and booze two months later, and it was back to the hospital again. – Onto the WWE, as Eddie reinvents himself as Chyna’s boyfriend and creates Latino Heat. – Dean and Chris knew about his problems, but Eddie never paid attention, so they went behind his back to Jim Ross and reported it before it got any worse. So they told him to either go home or go to rehab. He chose rehab, but lost his wife in the process. So it was back to the bottle again and he woke up in jail after a drunk driving charge. Welcome to rock bottom. – Eddie was fired as a message to the rest of the company, and that’s when he finally realized what he was throwing away. He started doing indies again, and the WWE was watching. So they gave him one last chance, and he promised to stay sober for the rest of his life. He got his wife back as a result. – Next up, the “Lie, Cheat, Steal” vignettes with Chavo Jr., which turned him into a superstar. – We go back to Art Barr for the origins of the frog splash, and then onto No Way Out 2004, as Eddie gets the ultimate redemption and wins the WWE title from Brock Lesnar. Sadly, he proved to be nothing more than a transitional champion to Bradshaw of all people. The Extras: – Two discs of extras, as per usual with these releases. – Hector, Chavo & Mando Guerrero v. Cactus Jack and the Rock N Roll RPMs. This from Superclash III, the AWA’s infamous failed attempt at a crossover PPV. This was the opening match, back when Cactus Jack was nothing more than a jobber with a bit of a name on the indy circuit. Future Beverly Brother Mike Enos is the referee. Hector starts with the RPMs, who end up colliding, and Hector takes them down with a double headscissors. Jack comes in and gets taken down by Mando with a rollup for one, but Jack fights back and tosses him. They brawl outside and Mick takes his first sick bump on PPV, a backdrop on the concrete. Truly historic. Back in, Hector & Mando double-team the leg, and the Guerreros start trading off the leg. Jack tags in one of the RPMs, and Lee Marshall is no help in naming him. It’s either Mike Davis or Tommy Lane, but it’s been years since I’ve watched them so I forget who’s who. Basically picture the Rock N Roll Express, 10 years past their prime and still trying to be cool. The Guerreros do some triple-teaming and it’s a dogpile in the Guerrero corner. Back to Jack, as he locks up with Chavo in the corner and drops an elbow for two. Into the heel corner, as the RPMs work him over, and Chavo is YOUR Mexican-in-peril. He quickly rolls away and makes the hot tag to Hector, however, and it’s BONZO GONZO. Hector would have been considered the breakout star at this point, by the way. Bodies fly and the Guerreros hit the heels with dives, as Chavo finishes Mike Davis with a moonsault press at 6:32. Some good spots, but not much more. *1/2 – Hair v. Mask: Eddie Guerrero & Love Machine v. Octagon & El Hijo de Santo. This is from the famous When Worlds Collide PPV put on by AAA & WCW in 1994, and if you want a tragic team, the heel side is Eddie (nearly died a few times), Art Barr (died of misadventures with drugs) and Louie Spicoli (also died of misadventures with drugs). Sadly, Eddie and Art’s ring entrance, as they make swimming motions at the crowd, is cut out. Art Barr thankfully does it again after the introductions. Art Barr was basically the most hated wrestler in Mexico at this point, just for reasons like that. Eddie starts with Santo and gets an armdrag, as they take it to the mat and the crowd heat is off the charts. Eddie starts on the arm and takes him down with a chinlock, but Santo quickly powers out and Eddie bails. Next up, Octagon goes with Love Machine, and they have a stalemate until some cheating from Eddie puts things the rudo way. A Doomsday Device variation, with a rana from Eddie, gets a pin on Santo, and the PowerPlex finishes Octagon at 4:04 to finish the first fall. In lucha rules, you need to pin both members to win the fall, which leads to weird finishes like that one. Second fall: Eddie clubs Santo down and gets a blockbuster slam for two. Vertical suplex gets two. Octagon comes in and Eddie asks for forgiveness, but then pokes him in the eyes and Barr comes in with a great standing dropkick, and Eddie slingshots in, leading to Santo coming in for a brawl. Santo drops an elbow on Barr from the top and the heels collide, leading to them getting dropkicked to the floor and hit with a double tope suicida. Back in, Santo gets a sunset flip on Eddie for two, and goes up, but Eddie brings him down with a rana for the pin. So now they just need to beat Octagon to win. So they double-team him and get a clothesline, but Octagon comes back with a rana on Eddie to even things up, and a legsweep into a submission hold on Barr gets the submission at 10:28, and it’s one fall apiece. Final fall: Santo gets a quick rana on Eddie, but Barr breaks it up. Eddie gets a camel clutch, but Octagon breaks that up. Santo gets his own, but Barr breaks that up. Barr tries a slam, which is reversed to a cradle for two. He goes to a Regal Stretch, but Octagon calmly comes in and punts him in the ribs, then kicks him down. A double elbow puts Barr down, and Santo gets a suplex for two. Octagon pounds away on Barr and goes to an armbar, but Eddie calmly pokes him in the eyes and catches him with the Gory Special. Santo breaks that up and they head to the top, where Santo brings him down with an electric chair for one. Barr breaks it up and dumps Santo, as Los Gringos get their own tope suicidas and they fight outside. Back in, Eddie goes to the top with Santo, but gets taken down and powerbombed to the floor. In the ring, Barr hits Octagon with the deadly tombstone (illegal in Mexico, but behind the ref’s back in this case) and gets the pin. All that remains is beating Santo. Barr clotheslines him into a german suplex from Eddie, but that gets two. Barr goes up again to finish as Eddie sets up the superplex, but the frog splash only gets two. Octagon gets put on a stretcher while they keep beating on Santo, but Barr hits Eddie by mistake, and Santo pops up with a dive onto Eddie on the floor. However, this allows Blue Panther to run in and piledrive Barr, as the crowd goes absolutely bonkers. Santo gets the easy pin on Barr, leaving it Eddie v. Santo. Santo gets a rollup for two as the paramedics revive Octagon. Eddie powerbombs Santo for two. To the top, as Eddie gets a belly-to-belly superplex, but only for two. Back to the top again, this time with a rana for two. Dragon Suplex gets two. Barr finally recovers, as Santo gets the pin off a reverse rollup for the pin at 22:12 to win it. The last fall was absolutely off the charts, heat-wise. ***** – Eddie Guerrero v. Dean Malenko. This is their final match from ECW, 2/3 falls, and it has commentary from Eddie, Dean and Todd “Who’s Jushin Liger?” Grisham. This was a rare case where the ECW crowd actually acted with class for once, applauding their departure for WCW instead of chanting “You sold out”. They do some matwork to start and it’s a stalemate. Eddie starts on the arm and tries taking him down, but Dean bridges to prevent a pin. Eddie bars the arm and goes to a cross-armbreaker, but Dean rolls him over and they make the ropes. Another back-and-forth sequence of reversals leads to Eddie springboarding off the ropes with a headlock takedown. The flying armdrag sends Dean into the corner, and they take a breather. Eddie takes him down with a uranage and a fisherman’s suplex for two. Eddie’s comment on his physique: “I was a lot chunkier”. Eddie wraps up Dean in a headscissors, but Dean reverses to a bow-and-arrow and wraps him up on the mat. That gets two. Dean goes to a Regal Stretch, but Eddie makes the ropes. Dean snapmares him down and they trade shots to the face, so Dean bails. Back in, Eddie with the overhead suplex for two. Enzuigiri gets two. To the top, as Eddie gets a superplex for two. Backbreaker, but Dean comes back with a backslide for two. They fight over another one and Eddie rolls him up for the first fall at 10:32. Second fall: Dean whips him into the corner and clips the knee on the rebound, but Eddie comes back with a german suplex for two. Dean dropkicks the knee to take over again and wraps him up in a kneebar, then whiplashes him out of the corner to set up the Texas Cloverleaf. Eddie submits at 13:20 to even things up. Last fall: Dean gets a corner clothesline to set up a brainbuster for two. Leg lariat and Eddie bails, so they brawl outside, and Dean clobbers him with a forearm back in. Sitout powerbomb gets two. Eddie comes back with a tornado DDT for two. His own brainbuster allows him to go up with a frog splash for two. Rana gets two. Eddie goes up and Dean follows, so Eddie takes him down with a sunset flip for two. Another tornado DDT is blocked by Dean, and he follows with the exploding gutbuster, and that gets two. Eddie comes back with a rollup for two. Dean gets his own and both shoulders are down for the pin at 19:46, so it’s a draw. This was basically just an exhibition rather than something intended to be competitive, and judged by that standard it was excellent. ****1/4 – WCW Cruiserweight title: Chris Jericho v. Eddie Guerrero. This is from Fall Brawl ’97, and an odd choice because it’s not that great of a match or anything. The show is fairly historic for being the moment when WCW managed to kill the Carolinas off as a wrestling territory by jobbing out Flair in the main event, but that was par for the course with them. Jericho’s former Pearl Jam ripoff music is changed to generic music for this DVD. Y2J was in his initial bouncing babyface era, in the days before he developed a personality and his career took off. Jericho gets an armdrag to start and they trade headlocks until Eddie uses the hair. Jericho overpowers him, but Eddie goes to the arm and takes him into the corner for some chops. Jericho returns fire and takes him down with an armbar, but Eddie fights his way up. Jericho keeps taking him down again into a cross armbreaker situation, so Eddie rolls it over for two. They trade cradles and Jericho gets two. Back to the armbar, as Eddie is unable to fight out of it. He finally reverses out, but Jericho alley-oops him onto the top rope and follows with the Lionsault for two. Back to the arm we go. Eddie necksnaps out of it this time and goes to work, taking Jericho down with a chinlock, using the knees to dig into the back. Backdrop suplex sets up a bridged dragon sleeper, but Jericho powers out of it, only to be kicked in the face for his troubles. Eddie drops an elbow on the back and slingshots onto it for two. Gory Special is reversed by Jericho to his own version, and he turns it into a flapjack from there. Eddie recovers, but misses a dropkick, and they slug it out. Jericho hits him with a pair of corner clotheslines, and then blocks a ropewalk attempt by crotching Eddie. He follows with the springboard dropkick. He tries to follow with a powerbomb off the apron, but Eddie hangs on, and they end up tumbling to the floor and colliding on the railing. Back in, Eddie misses his slingshot and Jericho hits him with a high impact release german suplex. That gets two. Eddie comes back with Rock Bottom, but stalls too long and Jericho recovers with a powerslam. Eddie charges into the corner and gets tossed down again by Jericho, and he follows with a leg lariat for two. Another flapjack and a cradle attempt are reversed by Eddie for two, and he tries a rana, but Jericho blocks with the double powerbomb and they go up. Superplex is blocked by Eddie, and it’s frog splash time at 16:44 to give Eddie the belt back. Took a while to find their groove, but once they did it was some good stuff, to be sure. **** – WCW Cruiserweight title: Eddie Guerrero v. Rey Mysterio Jr. This is from Halloween Havoc ’97, and it’s of course a classic. Commentary here from Michael Cole, Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio. Eddie lays the badmouth on Rey to start, and they slug it out, which allows Rey to dominate him with a monkey-flip and send him to the floor. He follows with a dive attempt, but misses and gets introduced to the stairs. Back in, Eddie slingshots him, but walks into a dropkick. Rey tries a handspring, but Eddie catches him and drops him on his head. Ouch. Brainbuster gets two. Eddie, on commentary, talks about the huge disrespect of voluntarily removing his mask in Mexico, which earned him the eternal awe of Rey. Eddie does some mask-ripping and goes to an abdominal stretch, then transitions into a pumphandle slam for two. They fight over a knucklelock, and Rey springs off the ropes with a crazy springboard DDT. Eddie bails and Rey tries to follow with a dive, but Eddie zips back in and dropkicks him off the apron. Rey talks about the crazy DDT and never being able to duplicate it again. No kidding. Back in, Eddie goes to the rear chinlock and does some more mask-ripping, which sets up the Gory Special. Rey reverses to a armdrag, but Eddie dropkicks him in the head to stop that rally. A backbreaker sets up a submission move on the mat, and he follows with a back elbow for two. Eddie starts throwing chops in the corner, and then hangs Rey in the Tree of Woe and adds a dropkick. He charges, however, and misses by a mile, as Rey dodges him to cause some testicular damage, and follows with the plancha. Back in, Rey catches him with the West Coast Pop for two. Eddie clotheslines him down again, but Rey swings off the ropes with a headscissors to put Eddie on the floor, and then follows with an absolutely insane springboard into a rana on the floor. The great thing about it was that it was one fluid move with no stopping. Back in, Rey hits him with a leg lariat from the top, for two. Springboard moonsault is blocked by Eddie’s knees, and he follows with the killer powerbomb for two. Eddie runs him into the corner, but charges again and gets rammed into the turnbuckles. Rey tries another West Coast Pop, but lands on Eddie’s knees and it looks to be over. Eddie goes up, but misses the splash, and they end up on the top rope. Rey fights him off and Eddie tries for a Splash Mountain, but Rey reverses for the rollup and the pin at 13:57. Best WCW match of that year, nuff said. ***** Really interesting commentary from the boys, too. – Next up, you get all the “Lie Cheat Steal” vignettes from Los Guerreros, which turned him into the breakout star of 2003. Plus, for some reason, videos from Finger Eleven, Seether and Soil, as well as the trailer for Day of Reckoning. Disc Two: – Stevie Ray v. Chavo Guerrero. Don’t even remember what this was about or why Chavo was working twice. This was, however, during the Crazy Chavo period. Oddly enough, Stevie’s Harlem Heat music is not changed here, whereas on the Benoit DVD, Booker T’s music WAS. Chavo dodges Stevie and stalls to start, and Chavo submits to a handshake at 1:36. Har har. A wrestler? THROWING A MATCH? Shocking. This leads immediately into… – Hair v. Hair: Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero. Criss-cross to start and Chavo bites him in the butt. Where’s Dusty on commentary when you need him? Eddie bails and complains about the bad treatment, but Charles Robinson has no interest in seeing the bite marks. Eddie brings a chair in, so Chavo grabs a seat. They do some more stalling and tease a handshake, before Chavo finally attacks him and they slug it out. Backdrop sends Eddie into the arms of Robinson, and it’s back to the lockup. Eddie dropkicks the knee, and then adds a dropkick to the head and slingshots onto the back. They brawl outside and Chavo gets the worst of that, so Eddie follows with the Gory Special back in the ring. Chavo fights out, so Eddie clotheslines him down again and goes to a rear chinlock. He throws some forearms, but Chavo comes back with a monkey flip into the ropes and some forearms of his own. Eddie takes a run at him, but Chavo catches him with a backbreaker. They brawl outside and Eddie gets the advantage, pulling up the mats and going for a suplex, which Chavo reverses. Back in, Chavo goes up and gets crotched for his troubles, as Eddie brings him back down with a superplex. He alley-oops him into the corner and goes up, but his own version of the frog splash hits knee. Eddie follows with a tornado DDT and starts cutting hair, but the ref pulls him off. The frog splash looks to finish, but Chavo moves and hits him with his own tornado DDT. Now Chavo goes for the scissors, but gets cradled and pinned at 11:56. Chavo thus shaves himself bald. This never really got going. **1/2 – Intercontinental title, Ladder match: Eddie Guerrero v. Rob Van Dam. This is of course from the Edmonton RAW in 2002, which I was there for, marking the only major title change I’ve seen live. Slugfest to start, and Rob gets a heel kick and Eddie bails. Rob misses a pescado on the way out, but sends Eddie to the post. Suplex on the railing sets up the guillotine, but Eddie sends him facefirst into the ladder and pounds away. Suplex and Eddie drops the ladder on him, thus breaking the supports already. Back in they go and slug it out again, and Eddie gets a vicious elbow. Eddie feeds off the crowd’s booing and pounds Rob down, and posts him, which is of course smart psychology for a ladder match, because that way he can’t climb. Even Lawler picks up on that. I guess Raven made an impression on him. Eddie pounds the knee with a chair, and back in he stomps away on it. Backdrop suplex counters an RVD headlock attempt, and he works RVD in the corner. Rob comes back with a monkey flip, but Eddie gives him an MDK Powerbomb and finds the emergency backup ladder under the ring. Rob baseball slides it, and follows with a quebrada onto the ladder, which pretty much takes both guys out. Benoit joins us via the crowd, with a ticket of course to circumvent getting thrown out of the building earlier, and we take a commercial break. We return with Eddie ramming the ladder into RVD’s face on the floor, and back in Eddie makes a climb attempt. Rob missile dropkicks the ladder to stop that. That bump looked so nasty live, and on TV for that matter. Rob comes back as we try to start an “Eddie G” chant, but everyone else was into an “RVD” one. Rob gets Rolling Thunder on the ladder, which again looked brutal. My friend Roy and I are valiantly cheering Eddie on, though. Rob climbs, but Eddie knocks him off by smashing his face into the ladder and then hitting a sunset powerbomb off the ladder to kill Rob dead. Eddie heads up the ladder, and here’s where the dumbass fan runs in and knocks him off. We actually thought it was Steve Austin for a moment, then we realized it was just a drunken idiot. My friend worked security for that show and they caught hell afterwards because of it. The match continues regardless, as Eddie goes back up the ladder and hits RVD with a swanton bomb from the ladder. Good god Eddie is a maniac. Eddie grabs a chair and gives Rob what for, but Rob gives him some right back and stomps a mudhole, then walks it dry by dropkicking the chair into his face. That’s one dry mudhole. Legdrop and moonsault on the ladder. SICK SHIT. Rob climbs, but Eddie yanks him down and suplexes him into the ladder, which nearly destroys another one. Ladder goes into the corner, but the fickle hand of irony sends Eddie crashing into it, and then Rob monkey-flips him into it for good measure. Looked like Eddie was about 2 inches away from breaking his ankle on that bump. Another Rolling Thunder on the ladder and superkick puts Eddie in the corner, and Rob climbs again. Eddie prevents that with a dropkick to the knee, but when he grabs the chair, it’s Van Damination. Rob climbs in the corner, but the ladder slips and he can’t frog splash him off the ladder. Earl Hebner should have helped steady the ladder there. Eddie goes up and gets dumped to cover for the blown finish previous, and Rob climbs to regain the IC title at 18:13. Messed-up finish hurt it a bit, but otherwise this was Match of the Year quality all the way, complete with sick spots and hard work on both sides of the equation. ****1/2 – Smackdown tag title match: Edge & Rey Mysterio v. Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle v. Los Guerreros. This is elimination rules, from Survivor Series 2002. Chavo makes sure to lay down the law to everyone before the match, then opts out of the match. Mysterio starts with Benoit, and gets CHOPPED. You have to capitalize it for full effect. Rey snaps off a rana and flapjacks him, and Edge comes in for a double-team hiptoss and some elbows. Benoit comes back with more chops and brings in Angle, who immediately gets backdropped and tags in Chavo instead. Edge takes him down and gets a dropkick, and Rey comes in with the falling splash for two. Chavo tries a powerbomb, but Rey reverses to an armdrag. Eddy comes in to take care of business, however, and pounds on Rey Rey. Rey comes back with a flying headscissors and a monkey flip, so Eddy tags Angle again. Kurt hammers on Rey, but gets headscissored. He charges and misses, and Rey’s alley-oop to the top is blown, as he slips and falls onto the mat. That’s pretty rare for Rey. Angle suplex gets two. Benoit gets a standing neckbreaker and a vicious backdrop suplex for two. Angle gets his own backdrop suplex for two. Angle gives Edge a cheapshot and tries the Angle Slam on Rey, but it’s reversed. Angle hits him with a clothesline to recover and gets two. Benoit gives Rey a knee to the gut and snaps a suplex for two. I should point out that if you stare at Rey’s tights long enough, you can see a sailboat. Or maybe it’s the Statue of Liberty – I was never good at those 3D puzzle things. Angle hits the facelock, and counters a reversal attempt by Rey. Rey fights out and gets a leg lariat, and everyone’s out. The Guerreros decline the tag from Angle, so Benoit gets it instead. Hot tag Edge, and he’s a heel-killing machine. Faceplant for Benoit and overhead suplex for Angle, as Eddy & Rey tumble over the top rope. Edge goes for the spear, but lands into a crossface-anklelock combo that’s so awesome that it deserves it’s own spot in the Hall of Awesome. Rey breaks it up as Angle bails, and hits a bunch of people with a spinning tope. Meanwhile, Benoit suplexes Edge, until Eddy hits a sunset flip on Benoit while Benoit carries Edge over with a german suplex, and gets two. That’s insane. Benoit goes right back to suplexing Edge, but the hair saves Edge from permanent brain damage. Benoit goes up, but Eddy sneaks in with a frog splash for two, so Benoit hits him with the headbutt instead. Angle Slam for Eddy and anklelock, while Benoit puts Edge in the crossface, but the ref is distracted. Chavo lays out Benoit with the belt and gives it to Angle, thus convincing Benoit that Angle did the deed. More shoving results, and Edge finishes Benoit with the spear at 13:08. Crowd kinda didn’t like that one, actually. Angle, hero of sportsmanship, destroys Edge with a suplex afterwards, and Benoit takes out his problems on Chavo. God’s Team fights back to the dressing room, while Eddy tries to steal a fall on Edge. Los Guerreros work Edge over in the corner, and Chavo gets two. Eddy’s senton gets two. Main Event Sleeper wastes some time, and Chavo gets a dropkick for two. Eddy uses the tag rope for some choking, and a backdrop suplex follows. We go back to the facelock again. Chavo dropkicks him for two. Edge comes back with a flapjack on both of them, and makes the hot tag to Mysterio. Crossbody for Chavo and a tilt-a-whirl for Eddy, and the heels collide to set up an alley-oop rana on Eddy that gets two. Edge dumps Chavo, and does a sloppy reversal sequence with Eddy to set up the 619, but the ref is distracted, allowing Chavo to hit Rey with the belt. Lasso From El Paso finishes at 19:25. That beltshot finish is kinda played, to say the least. This was pretty disappointing, but in a “weak Smackdown” way rather than a “weak RAW” kind of way. One problem Heyman has is giving away the great matches on free TV and then not being able to top them on PPV, where it counts. This really should have had 40-45 minutes, given the buildup for it. ***1/2 – US title tournament final: Chris Benoit v. Eddie Guerrero. As openers go, you can’t complain here. They lockup to start and Eddie hides in the ropes to break. Crowd seems torn on whether to cheer for Eddie tonight. Guerrero takes Benoit down with a hammerlock, but gets overpowered and bails. Back in, they exchange wristlocks and take it to the mat, but Eddie overpowers him. They go for the knucklelock and Benoit wins with power, so Eddie kicks at the leg and takes him down with a wristlock. Eddie surprisingly opens the chop war, and gets a rana that turns into a pinfall reversal sequence, and they trade armdrags. Benoit bails this time. Good sequence. Back in, Eddie grabs a headlock and overpowers Benoit, and back to the headlock. Chris flips him off the move, but Eddie grabs the headlock again and takes him down. They trade tombstone reversals, but Benoit settles for the shoulderbreaker and tries for the crossface. Eddie quickly makes the ropes. He bails, so Benoit follows with a tope suicida. Back in, Benoit sends him into the corner to work the corner, and slams him a couple of times to set up a half-nelson submission on the mat. Benoit gets a rollup off a whip to the corner, and then charges and hits elbow, allowing Eddie to put him on top and bring him down with a rana. That gets two. What is with Cole and “legscissors”? Eddie gets a backdrop driver for two. He hammers on the shoulder for a bit and grabs an armbar, and they exchange chops. Eddie goes to the eyes to win that battle, but Benoit backdrops him and elbows him down to set up more chops. They fight for a suplex and end up on the top, as Benoit brings him down with a backdrop superplex. That gets two. Benoit starts throwing the germans as Cole names former US champions and notes that the winner will join that list. Um, they’re both former champions, MC. Eddie blocks the germans, so Benoit takes him down with a crossface, and Eddie makes the ropes. Benoit with a backbreaker for two. Eddie comes back with the rolling verticals, and the third one ends up on the top as a superplex. Both guys are out. Eddie recovers first, but misses the frog splash, although they mistimed it and Benoit got hit on the way down. He snaps off a powerbomb for two, however. Benoit needs to powerbomb people more. Back to the crossface, but Eddie makes the ropes again. The ref gets bumped and Guerrero grabs the belt and nails Benoit with a weak shot and a frog splash, but it only gets two. Eddie grabs the belt again, and this time tries the sneaky route by knocking the ref out and playing dead, but he does too good a job and can’t revive the ref. This allows Benoit to sneak up from behind with another crossface that taps Guerrero, but the ref is still out. Benoit releases to tend to the ref, and then nails Eddie with another german suplex to prevent use of the belt. To the top, but the diving headbutt hits the ref. This is getting silly. And finally, Rhyno runs in, turns on Benoit with GOAR GOAR GOAR and Eddie finishes with the frog splash (after an “Oh well” shrug of the shoulders) at 22:14 to win the title. This was headed towards MOTYC territory until the first ref bump, at which point it got silly and undermined the whole “wrestling title” idea. Still, a stellar opener. **** – Smackdown World title: Brock Lesnar v. Eddie Guerrero. Brock overpowers him to start and hammers on him in the corner, into a monster backdrop. Snap suplex, but Eddie slugs back and elbows him out of the corner. Brock knees him down and blocks a rana with a spinning powerbomb. That was pretty dangerous. Overhead suplexes and Brock gets a high knee in the corner and another overhead suplex that puts Eddie on the floor. Eddie trips him up and posts the leg, however. Brock powers him back into the post, however, and gets the fisherman’s suplex to retake control. He grabs a sleeper, but Eddie escapes, only to get pressed. He escapes that too and clips Brock, but Brock gets the lariat. He follows with a slightly botched german suplex. Brock pounds away in the corner, but misses a charge and rams his knee into the corner. Nice callback to the high knee earlier. Eddie works on the knee and gets a backdrop suplex. Brock chokes him out, however, but Eddie sneaks in with a heel hook, which he turns into an STF to a big pop. Nice spot. Brock powers out, so Eddie rams the knee into the mat and goes back to work on it while Brock tries to fight him off. Eddie goes for what looks like a Nagatalock, but Brock fights him off again. And again. Eddie keeps coming, and it costs him, as he walks into a belly-to-belly. He tries a suplex, but Eddie counters with a headscissors and dropkicks the knee again. This time it’s a figure-four, and that crowd is all about that. Brock makes the ropes, however. Eddie goes right back to the knee and goes into a half-crab now, and another STF. Brock powers out again. There’s some really swank psychology going on here. Brock comes back with another german suplex, as the power v. technical battle continues, and Eddie walks into a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. That gets two for Lesnar. Brock goes to the chickenwing on the mat, into a sleeper, but Eddie powers him into the corner to break, but misses the missile dropkick. Brock sells the leg as he gets a vertical suplex, bless his heart. He’s even got a bloody nose going. That’s my boy. Bodylock on the mat, which he turns into a gut-wrench suplex for two. Nice mat-wrestling as Brock rides him on the mat with bridges, into the bodylock again. Eddie fights up and headbutts out, then smartly dropkicks the knee again and takes Brock down with a headscissors. Brock misses a charge and Eddie comes back with the rolling verticals and goes up, but misses the frog splash. F5, but the ref gets bumped in the process. Brock grabs the title, but Goldberg runs in with a spear (apparently having broken the handcuffs) and Eddie gets two. And since the belt is still there and it’s Eddie, he tries to hit Brock, but it misses and Brock goes for the F5. Eddie counters to a DDT in mid-move, however, hitting the belt on the way down, and the frog splash does the impossible and wins him the World title at 30:06. ****1/2 – We finish with about 40 minutes of little features from Confidential and the like, covering commercial shoots, family history, Eddie’s post-title celebration, and Wrestlemania. Nothing too exciting. The Inside Pulse: The main feature itself is awesome, powerful stuff, and the bonus matches are good but pretty disappointing in some ways compared to the Benoit set. They hit most of the marks, but didn’t pull enough good stuff from WCW or anything from his 2000-2002 period in the WWE. Still, the alternate commentaries are great and make the matches well worth watching again, and there’s a pair of ***** matches on there and a few other ****+ ones, so this is a monster set by any standard. Highly recommended.