The Princess Review on the Legends of Wrestling Roundtable: Texas Wrestling

One final Dusty-related piece from me:

First here’s Dustin’s eulogy: https://twitter.com/Goldust/status/611569470147031040
And here’s Cody’s eulogy: https://twitter.com/StardustWWE/status/611332890568327168/photo/1

And here’s wonderful obit/feature on Dusty and his time in Tampa: http://tbo.com/Obituaries/private-funeral-in-tampa-today-for-wrestler-dusty-rhodes-20150617/

And here’s my piece on Legends of Wrestling Roundtable: Texas Wrestling

Your panelists are: Jim Ross, Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes and “Cowboy” Bill Watts. With Mean Gene Okerlund moderating the conversation. Number of cowboy hats on the set are two but the “Cowboy” isn’t wearing one. Rhodes is the only actual Texas-born person on the panel.

— Ross starts out by saying Texas had five full-time territories and as an Oklahoma guy Ross says there’s no state that comes close to Texas for producing stars. He goes into the Dallas territory with the Von Erichs and from there with Paul Boesch in Houston, Gory Guerrero in El Paso, Joe Blanchard in San Antonio and Dory Funk Sr. in West Texas. Ross said guys could bounce from territory to territory in Texas and make a good living without leaving the state.

— Hayes talks about some guys could only draw in Texas and other guys could draw anywhere but Texas, making that area really unique.

— Dusty talks about the wrestling tradition on the West Texas State football team that included the Funk Brothers, Tito Santana, Ted DiBiase, Tully Blanchard, Bruiser Brody and of course Dusty himself. Dusty cracks a joke about Watts booking him nine times in a week.

— Hayes takes credit for making Dallas hot, which is somewhat true and somewhat of an embellishment. Hayes says the promoters in Texas weren’t often put over but the panel reminds him that Boesch was highly revered by the boys and promoters alive. Dusty says Boesch was the best payoff in the territory era.

— JR talks about the Von Erichs a little and how he came across them when Watts would book them for Mid-South TV. And then he talks about how strong the Von Erichs were because of their TV coverage. He makes the comparison of the old wrestling fan being like a NASCAR fan as they would watch all the different promotions they could on TV.

— Dusty puts over Texas as the greatest state in the union and the greatest football team in the union. And tries to talk about JBL but ends up telling a story about him hitting a home run against Abilene Christian. That’s Dusty for ya. Back to wrestling and Dusty says the Freebirds-Von Erichs encaptured the Dallas market and we see a long clip of a Freebirds vs. Von Erichs (Kevin, Fritz and Mike) in a street fight at Texas Stadium.

— JR says Dusty was the quintessential Texas wrestler because he went to every territory around and drew money everywhere. Ross said this is a bottom line business and Dusty proved his value. From a technical standpoint Ross said Dory Jr. was probably the best. And we saw a clip of the Funk Brothers absolutely destroying the faces in Florida, including breaking Dusty Rhodes’ arm. Fans were pelting them with trash. And more clips of Dory beating Thunderbolt Patterson in a NWA title defense in Florida.

— Hayes said Dusty was so good as drawing money he could get other wrestlers’ payoff…other wrestlers meaning Hayes himself of course.

— JR said for modern times Stone Cold is the man. Texas guy, born there, trained there and started in Dallas but in a bottom-line business no one sold more.

— Watts and Hayes put over the Guerrero family as a whole and then some of the great Latin talents that came from Gory Guerrero’s promotion in El Paso.

— Hayes and Watts talk about Dick Murdoch and how great the Dusty-Murdoch team was as the Texas Outlaws and how choatic their fights were. Dusty tells stories about Murdoch working for San Francisco and how he might have gotten into some weird stuff out there. We see clips of the Outlaws reuniting to take on Bob Roop and Harley Race in 1975 at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. Roop and Race did damage to Rhodes’ throat and Rhodes recruited Murdoch to help him and as legend goes the card sold out in a few minutes once the match was announced. When Dusty piledrives Roop on the concrete the place goes absolutely ape shit. And back in 1975 if you got piledriven on the concrete, it was pretty much instant death. Rhodes and Murdoch just continue to beat the shit out of Race and Roop, who the medics are trying to take out on a stretcher. Rhodes is narrating this with Gordon Solie and getting hyped up more by the second. Amazing, wild stuff and it was cool to see the Outlaws be total heels in their actions but they were the faces and had the crowd eating out of their hands.

— Watts talks about Rhodes’ wife being a tremendous Tex-Mex cook and then they get deeper into the Latin talent like Jose Lethario and El Santo and of course Mil Mascaras. And when the real Mexican superstars came into the Texas territory for spot shots they sold big tickets. Ross talks about how the Mexican fans knew the Mexican stars from the Puerto Rican stars and would punish the promoters that tried to pull one over on that fan base and bring in a Puero Rican star and push him to the Mexican fans.

— Watts tells a Terry Funk story about him getting drunk and ribbing his ex-wife and her new boyfriend, who were shacking up in the house he lost to her in the divorce.

— Dusty talks about Terry Funk shooting out the traffic lights in those one-horse towns around the canyons. Dusty tells a tremendous story about him and Nick Bockwinkle trying to rib Terry but Terry caught on to it and ribbed Bockwinkle instead.

— Watts talks about Dory Jr. ribbing Hansen and making him tear out his shoulder trying to knock down a street sign after Dory did it with one he gimmicked.

— More Watts this time talking about the Von Erichs and how big David’s funeral was. Watts said Fritz never really understood the problem his sons had with substance abuse. He talks about how Kerry was so huge but he was caught up in drugs as was his brother Chris. The only one who generally avoided the hard drugs was Kevin, who is the only surviving brother.

— Hayes said the tragic part of the Von Erich story was that the great memories they left for the people in Dallas are often just a footnote. He says Fritz got a lot of flack for taking care of his boys but when they had the right opposition, like the Freebirds, he let things escalate and get huge.

— Dusty talks about the super shows and how Vince rn the showdown at Shea and Florida did the Tampa show at Tampa Stadium and Fritz did the shows in Dallas. Hayes said the Texas Stadium shows were the largest houses in Texas until the WWE had the Royal Rumble in 1997 and the two Wrestlemanias in Houston.

— Ross talks about Wrestlemania 17 and how much he loved the Astrodome and puts over how great of a show that was….and wrestling fans agree as it’s widely considered the best Wrestlemania and arguably the best PPV of all time. We see clips of the Rock-Austin main event from the Wrestlemania 17 card.

— The panel gives praise Shawn Michaels and Ross says he’s the best “big match” perform to ever grace the ring. This was taped as a lead-in to Wrestlemania 25 too so once again Shawn was about to deliver another classic (depending on who you ask). Hayes says he continues to get better.

— Hayes mentions the other Texas guys that fell to substance abuse and brings up Gino Hernandez. Ross said Hernandez had the potential to be great and Watts said Gino’s attitude was that he wanted to work and he wanted the responsibility to be the man. And then somehow Watts goes back to putting Dusty over.

— Dusty tells a story about having to turn down a booking because his father died the same day Dustin was born. He barely had enough money to cover the funeral but Fritz gave him an envelope with money to cover the cost. Dusty said years later he was able to go back into Dallas and had the resources to give Fritz the money back and said he didn’t feel right until he did that.

— Hayes talks about Blackjack Mulligan and Dick Murdoch buying Amarillo territory from Dory Sr. Dusty said it included a “trunk factory” where they could make the wrestlers gear. He says the first trunks they sent him were too big and they misspelled “DR” on them. “I’m heavy, you know, but these would have fit Beulah the Cow.” Dusty said Blackjack and Dick were at gunpoint with each other from time to time and sold the territory within a year as only Dory knew how to make Amarillo work.

— Watts said he had Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen as a team but broke them up because he could see they were both going to be stars. Watts said Bruiser was a different type of talent as he would make a deal with a promoter and look at the house and then would hold up the promoter for more money. Watts speculates that was much of the reason he got murdered by Invader I in Puerto Rico.

— Dusty and Watts talk about Ernie Ladd and he was from Texas. Watts said when Ernie died he cried for four days. Ross said Ernie, like Dusty, outgrew Texas pretty quickly and became an international star.

— Watts tells a story about the time Brody didn’t want to sell for Danny Hodge because he didn’t think Hodge looked big and strong enough. Now Hodge, who’s badassedness is legendary, beats the fuck out of Brody and Brody starts screaming for mercy and Watts tells Brody to “show him your arms and big muscles!”.

— Okerlund puts over Watts for his Hall of Fame induction and the show closes.

The Bottom Line: The first 30-35 minutes were great and it slowed down a little after that. My main beef was that they spent very little time actually talking about the memorable angles run in the Texas promotions other than the Freebirds-Von Erichs from WCCW. Fun discussion though as Hayes tends not to be as overbearing with Dusty and JR on the same panel.

Legends Roundtable Review: The Soul of Wrestling

My contribution to Black History Month as I, unlike Kurt Angle, am a
very big fan of “the black people” and I even decided to marry one of
them.

Anyway this panel is in the vault and has been for
a long time. Not sure if they moved it to the Black History Month section but
you can find it on the Network rather easily.

Originally
Aired in February of 2009

JR is your moderator and your esteemed panelists are:

Teddy Long (Definitely black)
Dusty Rhodes (Considered to be close to black by some black wrestlers although
he teamed up with an alleged Klansman in Dick Murdoch)
Tony Atlas (Definitely black and half of the first black tag champions with
Rocky Johnson)
Bill Watts (Often considered a friend of blacks)

— JR asks Teddy to tell his story. Teddy got into the business around 1984 or
so as a hanger on and someone that could help the new guys coming into the
Georgia territory. He met Abdullah the Butcher first and was a gopher for him.
He would come with Abdullah and help the guys take their ring gear back from
the ring to the dressing room. Ran errands for the guys. Didn’t make any money
of course. Eventually he met Dusty and Dusty liked him and gave him his first
paying job as part of the ring setup crew, which paid about $75/show. Dusty
gave him a job as a referee when the ref didn’t show for an event at Marietta,
Georgia. He tells a funny story about reffing a Black Bart-Ron Bass Texas death
match and they were bleeding everywhere and he tossed the “foreign object” that
Bart was using into the crowd. Bart was pissed but the timekeeper made a
mistake and they got mad at him about that and forgot about Teddy.


JR talks about Teddy being a manager of Doom. Teddy said he rode with Kevin
Sullivan and Eddie Gilbert and he would entertain them using his radio DJ’ing
skills while they rode and Sullivan convinced Flair to let him manage. He thanks
JR as well for his help in convincing Flair, who was against it. First guy he
managed? Norman the Lunatic. Then it was the Skyscrapers and then Doom. That’s
a pretty nice upgrade of talent actually.

— On to Atlas, who was a state champion as an amateur wrestler, power lifter
and bodybuilder. Atlas said he’s one of the luckiest people in the profession.
Sandy Scott saw an article on Atlas in a newspaper and met him during a show at
the YMCA. At the time he was trying to get to the Olympics in weight lifting or
wrestling. He describes his career as too much too soon. He was in main events
with Tommy Rich and Dusty within six months. He says he was his biggest problem
in wrestling. He made $1,500 his first week and $75,000 his first year. He said
most of his problems were with black wrestlers because when he came into the
territory the other black star had to leave. Pistol Pez Whatley hated him as
did Skip Young but they made amends. Tommy Rich told Atlas he wasn’t black or
white, he was green — as in he made money.

(They show a promo he cut with Gordon Solie and they are talking about Ric
Flair and…holy shit Atlas is MASSIVE. I could see why everyone wanted him in
their territory. He looks like big money and his babyface promo skills were
solid. He didn’t come across as a badass but more of a loveable babyface that
looked like a dude you did not want to mess with.)

(They show clips of a Flair-Atlas match, probably from the Georgia territory.
Flair is bumping like a madman for Atlas and even takes a nasty piledriver.)

– Atlas tells a funny story of a promoter riding him around the black
neighborhoods in Virginia with him covered in baby oil and posing while the
promoter billed him as the strongest black man in wrestling. He hated it but
went to the arena and saw the big crowd and starting buying his own baby oil for future promotions.

— Dusty talks about growing up in neighborhood of mostly blacks and Hispanics.
He said Sailor Art Thomas was one of the first black wrestlers that influenced
him. He also mentioned Thunderbolt Patterson and how he crafted his promos.
Dusty also got his style from listening to the black preachers that came
through town each month for revivals.

(Clips of a Thunderbolt Patterson sit down promo with Missouri Mauler and Dale
Lewis. You can easily see the similarities with him and Dusty and exactly where
Dusty took some of his style)

— JR asks Watts about his run with Bobo Brazil. He said he did some things to
create a racial atmosphere mostly because he was dumb and ignorant. He talked
about being drenched in urine going to the ring to face Bobo and causing a riot
after he pinned him.

(Clips of a Bobo Brazil interview when he entered Florida. I kind of like his
style.)

— Watts said Bobo was a classy guy, as was Ernie Ladd. He talked about an
incident in Baltimore when his tag partner called Ladd the n-word after Lyndon
Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. Watts expected Ladd to get up from
playing cards and knock the guy out but he didn’t knowing that he would
probably get fired. Watts said Thunderbolt Patterson’s problem was that he
fought the culture because he dealt with so much and was filled with so much
animosity. Watts said that when he was in charge of Mid-South he looked at the
territory’s demographics and saw the black fans and saw how blacks were
dominating other athletics but just token blacks in pro wrestling so he wanted
to change that. He talks about Ernie Ladd and Ray Candy as the main event the
first Superdome card. JR said he remembered when white bookers would call Watts
and ask him if he lost his mind for promoting so many black wrestlers.

(Clips of a hilarious interview between JYD and Gene Okerlund with both of them
gawking over Wendi Richter and JYD talking about making enough money to pay the
IRS…shoot comments that aren’t meant to be shoot comments?)

— Watts talks about JYD entering the territory. He said he learned of him from
Jake Roberts (“only good thing he’s ever done”). Watts talks about Ladd booking
JYD with Super Destroyer and ran him tired for 20 minutes. Watts told Ladd that
he sent JYD to him to figure out what he could do, not what he couldn’t do…and
fired Ladd and Super Destroyer. But hired them back the next day.

— Watts continues on how it was tough to book black wrestlers against white
wrestlers and how many of the houses in Louisiana still had segregated seating
(this is in the late 70s, early 80s BTW). Watts partner, Leroy McGuirk, wasn’t
happy about all the color in the crowds and the card but Grizzly Smith reminded
him that it’s all about the green. And they made a lot of money.

— Long talks about Ole Anderson being a big racist jackass (you’re shocked I
know) and how Thunderbolt Patterson would side with Ole because he wanted to be
the only black on the card. Dusty said Patterson’s biggest problem was himself
and he blamed everyone else. The panel agrees. No love for Thunderbolt here
(Long really hated him).

— Watts talks about how far we’ve come but how far we need to go and mentions
the lack of black college football head coaches compared to the black players
in college football. He tells another funny story about Ladd.

(After a break we return with a clip of Dusty cutting a promo about having
soul. He was born with soul and so was Tony Atlas daddy!)

— JR talks about Butch Reed and Koko B. Ware wrestling at Wrestlemania III
with Slick as Reed’s manager and having two black wrestlers against each other
on the card was more history.

(Clips of the Reed-Ware match, Reed won with a rollover and a handful of
tights.)

— JR asks Tony about winning the tag championship with Rocky Johnson. Atlas
said S.D. Jones said they were the only two guys that held the belt and made no
money with it. They hated each other and mostly because they didn’t want to
share the spotlight. Atlas said he beat up Rocky after Rocky promised to give
him a ride to a show and didn’t do it so he would get heat. They lost the belts
the next day and Atlas was fired. Atlas puts over Tommy Rich as his best tag
partner and his brother. Atlas tells a funny story about trying to do a 500-lb
bench press in the ring with Dusty supposed to spot him but Dusty starts jumping
around to get the crowd going and the ring is shaking while he’s trying to lift
this large amount of weight.

— Dusty talks about how proud he is of Teddy Long because he wasn’t necessary
going to draw money but he was a good guy and he loved the business and never
became part of the problem despite all the shit he took. Long said he had many
opportunities to sue based on racial discrimination but he just wanted to do
his job and not deal with it.

— Atlas talked about being protected by the promoter George Scott, who was a
father figure to him. He told him to always be on time, do what you are asked
and stay away from white girls. Of course Tony married a white lady.

— Watts said he loved Ron Simmons and he had the pedigree of an All-American
athlete. He decided to pull the trigger on Simmons winning the title in
Baltimore and the people are crying. Dusty said when you go to the FSU football
locker room and see Simmons’ locker enclosed in glass you know he’s the real deal.

(Clips of Simmons beating Vader and it’s a beautiful moment seeing that kid
rush to the front of the crowd and almost jump over the railing. Looking around
the crowd closely there were lots of pockets of people going apeshit. Very cool)

— Atlas said he’s rode with guys that have showed him their Klan card (they
have cards??) but those same guys would stand by him and fight with him if he
needed it. He said if you are looking for racism you are looking in the wrong
business. Watts slows him down a bit and tells him he was a different guy and
everyone loved him because he was just so dog gone friendly. So he was lucky
and well protected (probably because he made everyone a lot of money).

— Watts said he didn’t care about any backlash to Simmons winning the title.
JR said he broke from tradition with the NWA lineage and all the white
champions. Teddy Long said that seeing Simmons as the champion during their
celebration in Atlanta was great because they were friends and he used to
manage him. Watts said that at the end of the day it was too big of a burden
for him and he tried too hard to please everyone. Long and JR agree that
Simmons struggled with the pressure (I wish Simmons could have been part of the
panel to talk about this. Hell the WWE should track him down now to talk about it).

— Atlas said Harley Race tried to convince the promoters to give him the NWA
belt several times, naturally Ole Anderson was against it because god knows if it will make money, Ole is against it.
Harley fought Atlas in Florida and when the fans thought Atlas won they rushed
the ring and Harley left the ring unnoticed, which told him that this guy was a larger-than-life figure. Harley’s favorite color was money green.

— JR brings up the Nation of Domination, at least later version with Farooq,
D-Lo Brown, The Godfather and The Rock. Teddy said it was good for the black fans of
wrestling and Ross says it might have been the first black-based faction on
wrestling TV. Teddy said there were a lot of black fans of wrestling but they
didn’t come to the events because there weren’t many black stars to support. He
talks about Doom having the support of the few black fans that were at live WCW
events.

— Dusty said The Rock was going to be a megastar, maybe he was bigger than
Austin, maybe not. Dusty goes back to the Nation of Domination and how they
took it to the edge.

(Clips of Farooq cutting an in-ring promo with Vince in 1997. I’m a mark for
Ron Simmons’ heel promos.)

— Atlas compared the Rock to Elvis with his unique look and said a guy with
that look come along once in a generation. Watts said the Rock had a humbleness
about him and always took time to talk to the older guys. He was never too busy
to have a conversation with someone like Watts, even though he was no longer a
factor in the business.

(Clips of the Rock doing Rock things and making fun of everyone he can find.)

— They talk about the current black stars (as of 2009) like Shelton Benjamin,
MVP, Mark Henry, etc. He said that Pat Patterson introduced JR to the Rock as “Rocky
Johnson’s kid”. Ross said he thought he was seeing a mirage, he couldn’t
believe this guy was real and the rest is history. Watts says the Rock doesn’t
see color and that’s where we all need to evolve.

— Teddy closes by saying that he’s had a chance to work for everyone on the
panel. He wasn’t “the color green” but to sit here with the guys that gave him
the opportunity it’s history for him and it’s not just black history, it’s
history. Teddy comes across so well in this panel, a super likeable guy.

Bottom Line: Lot of good stuff there. Lot of great stories and definitely worth
the hour and 15 minutes of your time if you are interested in such a thing.

LoW Roundtable Re-Rant: Factions

Obviously the topic of this show is about the factions, stables, regimes, cliques, factgimes, alliances, corporations, unions, armies and cartels that made wrestling great for so many years.

Enjoy.

Legends of Wrestling: Factions

Hosted by Gene Okerlund and the panel is: Tazz, Jim Ross, Mick Foley and….Ric Flair (this should be fun). Okerlund quickly teases Mick for his attire today.

JR defines a faction as three or more individuals that hang around long enough to get credibility and crowd identity.

Flair calls the Horsemen a faction and says within that there were two groups of Horsemen that really defined that (Funny thing is everyone considers the Flair/Blanchard/AA/Windham version the best of the bunch but when they speak of that second group you are never sure if it’s Ole or Luger since both men have an equal share of detractors. I remember more of the Flair/Blanchard/AA/Luger group and everyone was making more money by then so I would put that group second.) Mick jumps in with the mandatory Paul Roma quip and Flair says, no, neither he nor Sid Vicious were Horseman. Fair enough (Everyone wants to forget them anyway).

Mick’s history in Factions started with Skandar Akbar’s Devastation Inc., which he described as a revolving faction because they had rotating members and were used to give a new guy instant credibility. Flair quickly disagrees and says DI was a ‘stable’ (Oh lord). Foley mentions he was also in Robert Fuller’s Stud Stable.

Tazz says the major faction in ECW was The Triple Threat. They were over and people hated them and they were the guys to get the group over the best. He mentions the bWo as a comedy Faction and Flair quickly shits on Douglas by saying he works at Wal-Mart (after last night’s debacle I’m hoping he didn’t quit his day job — the original rant was done the day after Douglas’ reunion show in Philly, hence that reference) Tazz acknowledges that Douglas hasn’t always been nice to Flair.

Okerlund talks about the “Faction fueds” and mentions the Survivor Series and War Games. Ross wonders why the WWE hasn’t started using the War Games concept (you and I both, buddy). He talks about the heels always winning the coin toss. Ross says it was a great way to blow off a storyline and there was great TV leading up to it.

(Clip of Road Warrior Hawk cutting a pre-War Games promo. I loved his promos back in the day.)

And the cast of characters talk about the Match Beyond. We’ve got Michael Hayes, Triple H and Dusty (of course, it was his idea or at least he takes credit for it). Dusty goes into describing the psychology of the match, which as Scott put it, when the heels had the advantage it was gloom and doom for the faces but the minute the sides were even the faces dominated so the heat segments were all two minutes followed by awesome comebacks. Dusty talks about how Arn Anderson’s ability to work the match from beginning to end was a major reason for the success. Paul Ellering adds in some comments of his own.

Ross says the WWE is missing the boat by not having a strong faction and says that all the successful factions could spin out a star.

Foley talks about when The Rock joined the Nation and that gave him the platform to refine his skills and take off into the stratosphere. They follow with a clip of Rock running down the nWo at No Way Out 2002 for no other reason than it’s still very funny. Back to the Horsemen, Flair said the genius behind the group was there were four guys that could wrestle and talk and celebrated excess. Ross says it was the natural chemistry that separated them from the pack. That chemistry was consistent in and out of the ring. The more short-term factions were ones that were only together for TV.

Tazz asks Flair who are the REAL four Horsemen and Flair says the Windham group was the best. Ole was great but he drifted off for a while. Flair talks about that group as being ultra-competitive among each other and quietly challenged each other to have the best match.

Mick says the most memorable faction in his mind was the nWo. Mick said they forced the WWE to get better and to change their ways. Mick talked about a backstage meeting where Vince admitted that his ideas might not be cutting it in 1997 and encouraged guys to inject more of their own personalities like Steve Austin did. Mick said eventually the group outlived its usefulness but for a few moments it was magic. Mick said the fans miss those interview segments when a group like the Horseman would speak about their matches for 6-7 minutes and could get fans excited about three different programs. That’s a great point.

Flair said the nWo was created in Japan and Bischoff took credit for. In his words it was compiled of average and slightly above-average talent and they were put over everyone on the roster every night. Flair said the Horsemen never won anything but that didn’t change their direction (actually they won War Games 1991). His point was the Horseman made their progress through interviews and talking points but the nWo had to beat everyone to stay credible and eventually it destroyed the company (on re-watch that’s a very interesting point as the Horsemen did take far more lumps over the course of their run.)

Tazz’s favorite faction was The Varsity Club. Interesting. He wasn’t sure how Kevin fit in with these great college athletes but it worked and of course it begat the Steiner Brothers so new stars were made (watching about 1/3 of the 1988 NWA Worldwide shows on YouTube before they were removed gave me a new appreciation for the Varsity Club, they were hilarious.)

(There’s a clip of a strange but funny interview between Magnum T.A. and Rick Steiner)

Ross talks about the vignette of Steiner going on his first date but they DON’T MENTION WHO IT’S WITH (It was with a young lady named ‘Woman’, also known as Nancy Sullivan and later Nancy Benoit).

Ross goes back into the Horsemen and talks about how they did have to wrestle a lot of different people and adjust their style. He talks about Arn and Tully having a great series with the Midnight Express in matches that will never be seen (and FUCK YOU Crockett! because one of those matches should have headlined the undercard of a 1988 PPV.)

But Ross loves the original DX and of course Triple H spun out of that group and became a mega star. In it’s origin Shawn Michaels was the star of the group and eventually guys like the New Aged Outlaws became stars because they were able to show their personality.

(Clip of DX doing their parody of The Nation in 1998. Funny stuff.)

Flair talks about Evolution and said if he were 35 they would still be together. Flair said he couldn’t afford to eat with Hunter or party like Batista and Orton liked to. Flair said the key to the success of those factions was when they dispersed they were just as successful individually. Flair said if the Horseman were in WWF it would have been even greater. He said he ran the Horseman on his budget. In the WWF he would have had Vince’s budget and better production.

Ross goes to the Brood, which of course spawned Edge and Christian. They weren’t main eventers together but they got a ton of TV time. Mick said that Gangrel was supposed to be the star of the Brood but he couldn’t talk and when Edge got the change to grab the stick during one of the Gangrel’s bumbling sessions he took over the reins and eventually became the star.

Okerlund says one of the worst factions he can remember were the West Texas Rednecks (which I totally disagree with because Perfect somehow made it work.)

Mick talks about the various forms of The Dungeon of Doom and that it was basically a group of Hogan’s friends like Ed Leslie and John Tenta all banded against him. Mick says the worst faction he was part of was “The Union” which was a very very very short-lived grouping of him, Shamrock, Test, Big Show and Vince McMahon (the clip of them walking to the ring, with Test wearing a FUBU jersey is fucking hilarious). Mick jokingly says that his contract specifically states that The Union was a WWE properly.

Tazz says his worst group was “The Cabinet” with JBL and Orlando Jordan and Amy Weber. He said it just didn’t work.

Flair says the nWo was the worst faction and the worst thing that happened to the business (WHAT?!?!?! Give me a fucking break. I’m pretty sure the nWo had quite a positive effect on the business’ bottom line for a while.) Flair still blames the nWo for the destruction of the business due to the selfish nature of the participants, which I can agree with, but I can’t blame the nWo for the end of the business but rather a poorly run company that didn’t respond well when the WWF regained its footing. The goal of the business is to provide an entertaining product and make money for the company and the workers, the nWo did that pretty well for a couple of years.

Ross has three – The No-Limit Soldiers (Ouch), Tazz and Foley can’t help but laugh as Ross rips this group. The Oddities, which spun from the Howard Stern stuff but Tazz says the Oddities was at least entertaining (man John Tenta is taking a beating on this show) and JR’s final group was The Spirit Squad. Foley liked them (I liked them too in a campy way) but Ross said they were comedians. Flair says they were too young and immature but they wanted to be there and tried their hardest. Foley wonders why they were disbanded so quickly. Ross just said they weren’t at the level of the guys they were booked to wrestle with (well no shit, they were booked with DX and Flair). But Flair said they wanted to learn and get better and got cut off a little early (Ironically it was supposed to be a vehicle for Kenny to emerge as a big star but it turned out Nicky was the guy who took the ball and ran with it as Dolph Ziggler). Probably the highlight discussion of this episode so far.

(Clips of a DX/Flair vs. Spirit Squad match on RAW)

Flair relays a story about Horseman shenanigans from The Crockett Cup. Typical stuff, if you’ve heard one Horseman story you’ve pretty much heard them all.

Ross has a story of he and Flair drinking prior to a flight to Charleston, West Virginia and the flight attendant in first class is flirting with them (mostly Flair since Ross is drunk) but near the end Ross and the attendant exchange information and she ends up becoming Ross’ wife (I love the idea of a drunken Ross throwing that Oklahoma game on some sexy stewardess.)

Tazz tells a story about hearing stories about Flair and his antics in hotel lobbies.

Okerlund wants top three factions:

Foley: Varsity Club and he clowns on Rotunda going from Varsity Club captain to “Sailor” captain Mikey. Ross says you didn’t want to screw with the Varsity Club because Steiner, Rotunda and Dr. Death could hurt you. Foley also mentions Hot Stuff & Hyatt International and of course the Horsemen.

Flair says Horsemen, Freebirds and Evolution. He goes into the Freebirds and just says they were one of the greatest, more entertaining groups ever. Foley mentions the WWE World Class DVD and the far better independent one and says how it gave him such an appreciation for Buddy Roberts. Flair said Roberts had a great head for the business.

(Clip of a Freebirds promo in WCCW).

Tazz said the Freebirds were innovators. Flair says he believes Michael Hayes and Cher were an item for a while. Flair says the entrance music branded Dallas as the territory that came up with the entrance music first (thank god Hayes wasn’t part of this panel, he and Flair would have just argued over which Faction was better.)

Tazz’s list is Freebirds, The Original DX and the Horsemen. Tazz admits to Flair he wanted to be a Horseman but they would never have a Horseman from Brooklyn.

JR’s list is Horsemen and the 1997 Hart Foundation, he talks about the atmosphere at the Canadian Stampede and how it such a incredible event.

(Clips of the 10-man tag from that card with Austin having an amazing performance, one of the best in his career in my opinion. He fed more off that crowd than the Harts.)

JR’s final one is the original DX and he liked them because of the end result with Triple H becoming the big star and then later making stars out of the New Age Outlaws when that wasn’t the original plan.

And they pretty much close after that.

The Bottom Line: I’d go out of my way for any of these because they are all very good in their own way but this one is on the lower scale of the roundtables.

LoW Roundtable: Most Important Moments

I don’t think I need to define what a most important moments show is about.

Okerlund is your moderator and the panel is Foley, Ric Flair, Tazz and JR

Foley’s biggest moment involves Snuka (no shit) and it’s the two leaps off the cage. The one against Bob Backlund that missed is rarely seen so the footage of it is pretty cool. Okerlund questions why that moment and Foley said that back in those days with limited TV and coverage it was just something that stuck out. Flair said that Snuka has jumped off the cage and landed on him 300 times thorough the Mid-Atlantic. Flair said it hurt. Very dismissive there.

Flair’s moment is the day that McMahon announced that the business to sports entertainment to avoid paying taxes. He said it changed the way wrestlers were perceived. Tazz questions things and Flair says Tazz wasn’t old enough to remember and Tazz reminds Flair that he’s 40. Flair says it was a positive but he couldn’t wrap himself around it at the time.

(Clips of McMahon’s promo “The Cure for the Common Show” where he explains the creative process to the minions and tells the WWF Universe that its tired of having its intelligence insulted. Worth seeking out if you can.)

Tazz’s moment is when Shane McMahon walked in a WCW ring. Flair says he predicted it a year before it happened. JR says that when Vince decided to go nationals with his northeast promotion was one of the more significant moments in the landscape of the business and truly made the wrestling brand worldwide. Okerlund said the issue was forced by cable TV and Vince had no choice because eventually the regional promotions would overlap with talent. Foley asks if Vince was the first to go national or was it WCCW. Ross says it was Joe Blanchard with Southwest Championship Wrestling on the USA Network. Flair said Blanchard didn’t have a clue (so? that wasn’t Ross’ point). Ross says one of the reasons McMahon was so successful is because he outworked the other guys and the other territory owners didn’t have the background in marketing and branding.

Flair said that Harley Race told him in 1978 that if he wanted to be a big star he needed to go on cable TV. Okerlund points out that most of the significant moments mentioned were out of the ring. Flair said that the day McMahon bought WCW was the greatest day of his life outside of his retirement and takes a hilarious shot at Bob Geigel and Rufus Jones for money they owe him. He rips on WCW and Russo for their lack of organization. Foley said he was standing next to Stephanie and she was so emotional and it meant more to the McMahon family than people will ever know. Flair rips the guys who left the WWF to come to WCW originally. Says most of the them were average performers and left a great flagship company for instant gratification. Okerlund says it worked for a while but Flair said it would never last.

Foley brings up the point that the competition worked for everyone but Flair said it was hindering the WCW from developling new talent because they were pushing the same retreads and it was easy to see it was going to bite them in the ass. Foley said that a few months after the purchase he sensed the WWE product was declining and he saw things that never would have made the air otherwise being produced on the show.

Okerlund asks Foley what his thoughts were when Nitro debuted and Flair interrupts and blasts Lex Luger and Bret Hart as not being a big deal because they were to the next place after the guy from the first place didn’t want them. Foley said to the public Luger was a big deal. Ross said there was a surprise when Luger went to the WCW because Luger had went back on his word to McMahon and Ross. They ramble on a bit more and Flair brings up “Oklahoma” and said it was disgusting. He says Ross is a Hall of Famer and the other guys work for TNA (“What is TNA?” Flair asks). Flair goes on for a while longer.

(They show clips of Oklahoma and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. I’m still a little surprised Williams agreed to go along with this given how close he and Ross were. But I remember Eric Bischoff’s point of being paid to do and not being paid to think.)

Flair goes into a story about him and Space Mountain…pretty pointless stuff. Ross tries to reel this one back in and talks about how Lou Thesz was mentioned among the shoot fighters or boxers like Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis. Ross talks about the NWA being a coup to get all the promoters together and out of it spawned a lot of successful territories. Ross says that when Vince Sr. chose Bruno Sammartino to be his guy in 1963 that was the first sign of division among the ranks.

(Old school clips of Vince Jr. interviewing Bruno. Always cool to watch to classic footage like that.)

After a break Flair has a huge stogie and appears to be more calm. Ross continues talking about the issues with the NWA and says the Starrcade match with Harley Race in 1983 was a significant moment because it was an official passing of the torch. Flair talks about how Harley was talking about not showing up because of business (he dismisses Mick’s relationship with Harley in the process of course) but Harley wasn’t one to go against his word. He got to Greensboro in bad weather and Ross explains that Greensboro was hard to get to. Harley said he was there for Flair and then extorted Crockett out of another $25,000 for showing up. Flair talks about banging a couple of broads or something and it’s funny but a little sad.

Okerlund tries to talk about the AWA and Flair keeps rambling so Okerlund jokingly offers him the moderation chair. So Flair goes back to talking about himself. Okerlund talks about his arrival in the WWF and talks about Hogan’s victory over the Iron Sheik and says it turned everything on his ear. Ross said he told Hogan to his face that he has respect for what he’s done for the business and he talks about how guys would look on the booking sheet for Hogan’s name and just pray that they were somewhere on a card he headlined because of the increased payday. Ross talks about how Hogan was the reason that the WWF was on network television and got the Saturday Night’s Main Event deal. Foley said he was at MSG when the Sheik beat Backlund but not when Hulk beat the Sheik. He said after the Hogan victory his group of friends that talked about wrestling expanded significantly.

Okerlund talks about Austin and the berth of the attitude era. Tazz says that ECW or at least the ECW’ers felt they started the attitude era. Tazz said he was the first guy to flip someone off in the audience. Tazz and Foley talk about Austin’s short time in the ECW and how fired up he was. Flair said Hogan was the biggest star in the business until Austin came along. Flair said he has no qualms about saying Hogan was a much bigger star than him. Flair said when Austin was in the WWF he did more for the business before the match, during the match and after the card than anyone ever. He connected with the crowd and even when the cameras went off he could still keep the people in the building for another hour.

Foley pinpoints one Austin moment and says the debut of Austin 3:16. Ross said he told Austin he would be the biggest hero the company have ever seen and Austin would disagree. Ross said his drive was greater than anyone could imagine and he was such an overachiever. And when Mr. McMahon went on screen, everything was magnified. He mentions the first signs of the character when McMahon and Bret had a pull apart brawl in Halifax (that is one of the most awesome, shocking moments I EVER saw on wrestling TV). Ross said it was at that moment when Vince saw that he had something.

(They show clips of this awesome bit of television that really, in my opinion, helped Vince get his swag back and prepare for the war with WCW. The Canadian crowd makes it even better because they were so jacked up. And the fact that it was an even brawl with Vince even grabbing the shirt and getting the upper hand made it that much more shocking. I can’t really describe it well but when you saw it your jaw dropped.)

Ross said the greatest antagonists are easy to dislike and he mentions Paul Heyman at being one of those guys. He says McMahon took it to another level to where people paid night after night to watch him get his. Foley said the night at MSG when Austin finally stunned him was such a great payoff and Ross points out that they made sure it happened at the world’s most famous arena. Tazz also talks about the Curtain Call that was also at MSG and Foley talks about how Triple H had to pay the price for that and in a way it helped mold him into the character he became. Flair rips on the Outsiders again saying Hall’s claim to fame was being in the ring with Shawn Michaels and a ladder while Nash’s claim to fame was his pedestrian basketball career at the University of Tennessee and being a bouncer at the Gold Club. He goes on for two minutes.

Ross talks about Shawn leaving the business with an injury and a bad attitude and returns with a changed attitude and delivers upon his return. Flair says Shawn is the best of all time. Foley talks about the announcement of JR going in the Hall of Fame was a great spontaneous moment and the RAW after Wrestlemania XXIV. Foley says he wishes he could have been at both and Flair asks why he wasn’t and says “because you’re a barbed wire specialist.” That was odd.

(Clips of Flair’s final 24 hours as an active wrestler and the RAW speech afterward.)

Go around the horn: Foley says most significant was when Steve Austin became Stone Cold. Flair says it was the day he debuted (modest until the end). Tazz says when WWE purchased WCW. JR said the backstage issues before the Austin-Michaels main event at Wrestlemania XIV from Shawn’s attitude to the beginning of the Austin era. Flair ends it with a story of his partying and having three million Marriott points.

The Bottom Line: Well I had been waiting for this one for a while. Yes Flair was horribly overbearing at times and it was uncomfortable in spots. Sift past the self-glorifying BS and there was some decent stuff there. Worth watching for several reasons.

LoW Roundtable: Worst Characters

Legends of Wrestling Roundtable: Worst Characters

Gene Okerlund is your moderator and the panel is Mick Foley, Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes and Pat Patterson

This is the second episode with this group and the topic is one that should make for some entertaining discussion. Mick Foley throws down the first offender with Mantaur and he said it was the worst of a succession of a crap characters like Bastion Booger and this was during the time that Mick was trying to get into the WWF. And he then goes into a strange story about Shane Douglas pulling a prank on him calling his parents pretending to be Pat Patterson.

Michael Hayes says the most memorable debut of a character that seemed to have tons of potential but never had the second chance to make the first impression and it was the Shockmaster. Poor Fred Ottman.

(They show the infamous clip of the Shockmaster’s debut and of course it’s must-see TV for any fan of wrestling because the comedy that follows is off the charts. That and Davey Boy Smith’s ridiculous robe.)

Dusty tells the story and it’s hilarious. Apparently Ottman had busted through the gimmicked wall earlier in dress rehearsal for the segment but in between the dress and live TV David Crockett nailed a 2 x 4 to the wall that Dusty assumes was there to sabotoge him. Of course Ottman trips and his helmet rolls off (the image of him shaking the cobwebs out and then grabbing the helmet and putting it on is gutbusting). Dusty telling the story of Ottman’s reaction (“I really fucked this up didn’t I?”) is just amazing. I couldn’t stop laughing. They crack on the Gobbledy Gooker for a bit, poor Hector Guerrero. Dusty says he and Vince will discuss which idea was worse over drinks quite often. Dusty rehashes Davey Boy’s quote during the Shockmaster fracas too (“he fell on he ass didn’t he?”). Patterson quickly lets Vince fall on the sword the for Gobbledy Gooker idea.

Patterson switches to discuss the polka dots with Dusty and Dusty talks about adding Sapphire, who in his words had a worst body than he did. Mick asks if Dusty thought the polka dots was a humbling rib. Dusty said it probably was but he knew he could get it over. And Vince told him to enjoy his time in the WWF and for a year and a half he had a lot of fun and made a lot of money. Mick brings up the Mike Shaw characters from Makhan Singh to Norman to the shit he did in the WWF from The Monk to Bastion Booger. None of the characters took off and Shaw asked Patterson why he wasn’t getting many booking dates so Patterson told him to ask Vince. So poor Shaw waits and hour to see Vince and gets his release.

Okerlund talks about the thought that goes behind these characters and Mick makes a great point of understanding that Shockmaster might have something going for him upon his debut…but what possibly could the Gobbledy Gooker have going for it. Mick’s theory was that the Undertaker, who was released by WCW and debuting on this card, was supposed to bust through that egg. But once they saw how big and imposing Mr. McCool was they decided to go a different route (BTW at one point Hogan took full credit for all that from bring Mark in to see Vince and doing the whole gimmick). Patterson was also kept in the dark and actually thought it was Ric Flair. Dusty said the trick worked because Vince got people’s curiosity.

Terry Taylor said that the gimmick of The Red Rooster and Mr. Perfect were being batted around for him. Mick says Taylor could have been a great Mr. Perfect but Hayes disagrees and says would you rather hit a single with the gimmick or a home run. Hennig hit a home run. Hayes believes Taylor was talented enough to make anything work but he thought it was a rib and didn’t embrace it like Dusty embraced the polka dots. Okerlund says the gimmick was a damn chicken and Patterson has a line of a life time.

“What’s wrong with a cock in the ring.”

HOLY SHIT!! I am so happy I wasn’t drinking anything because the keyboard would have been destroyed.

(To back up Hayes, I take the character of Dolph Ziggler. That’s a stupid name and there’s no way a guy named Dolph Ziggler should get past the comedy stage. But god bless Nick Nemeth because he OWNS Dolph Ziggler. That is who he is and he is awesome. I say it again, 2013 has to be Dolph’s year. Beyond his exceptional talent in the ring he’s a damn smart guy that really seems to understand how to get a crowd going. And he made Amy Schumer beg for mercy when they were together, which is funny given her stand up routine and how she tortures guys in bed that can’t handle her.)

Hayes cracks on his own shitty WWF gimmick of Dok Hendrix and despite how stupid it was and how everyone knew who he was, he still had to try his best to make it work. Mick says there were some characters that thankfully were left on the cutting room floor. Vince asked him to be the Mutilator and of course we have Steve Austin’s wide assortment of name options like “Baron Von Ruthless”, “Ice Dagger” and “Chilly McFreeze (LOL)”. Duke Droese actually did a great Finkel impersonation and “announced” Austin as each of these names and Austin naturally thought they all sucked. Mick makes the point that no matter how talented you are, coming out to the ring as Ice Dagger and he’s dead.

Hayes talks about one of the great mistakes when Ole debuted Harlem Heat with Robert Fuller, doing his Colonel Sanders gimmick, and the Heat came out in chains. Hayes says Ole was obviously drunk when he thought of that (actually he’s just a racist fuckhead but we’ll hit on that in an episode down the road). Mick talks about how funny watching Ron Simmons come out as the Blue Sparticus and how he had to adjust the Faarooq gimmick. Patterson talks about his days as a stooge with Brisco and Hayes explains how the evening gown match came about. Well Hayes and Brian Gerwitz needed one more match for this PPV (someone fill me in on which PPV this was) and Hayes said that a Trish-Lita bra & panties match was the clear leader in the clubhouse. But Vince wanted something with the stooges for the Hardcore title. Hayes tried to reason with Vince and say…would you rather see Trish in a bra or the stooges in a brawl and Vince gives the classic open-ended answer “You’re right!” and you see what we got.

Conversation shifts to gimmicks that appeared to be bad on the surface but worked. Hayes said the first one that comes to mind is Goldust. Dusty explains how the “real stooge” Bruce Pritchard set all this up. Dusty says the Goldust entrance was the best in the wrestling at the time. He took that gimmick to the point of where it became his alter ego and and it was very revolutionary. Dusty doesn’t believe it was a rib but rather they wanted to go with something outlandish. Hayes says at first Scott Hall refused to work with him but relented later.

(Clips of Goldust’s early interviews and in my opinion hindsight has helped that character a ton because it was really something unique and different and Dustin did a hell of a job.)

They talk about the evolution of Scott Hall from Starship Coyote to Razor Ramon and Steve Austin from Stunning to Stone Cold. Dusty and Hayes said those characters were in those guys from the beginning and they had it in their hearts and the crowd responded. Hayes says Foley did as well with Cactus Jack and Dude Love. Patterson talks about how much fun George Steele had with his character.

(Clips of Steele and Lou Albino doing shock therapy on Tuesday Night Titans. Steele gets shocked and of course speaks like a professor before getting re-shocked and turning back into the animal. Oddly enough I think George Steele is or was a public school teacher. Funny stuff.)

They talk about Doink and Foley talks about how great Matt Borne was at it and how others just couldn’t compare. Patterson says there was tons of Doinks but Borne made it work because he was a little demented. Okerlund talks to Patterson about being part of the think tank to come up with these guys and Patterson says the key is to live the character. Mick talks about guys that keep their characters and make it work everywhere is Abdullah the Butcher, who hops from country to country and has been the same guy forever. And he compares that to a guy that’s in one place like the Undertaker and is forced to constantly evolve his character and that’s how he’s stayed in the industry. Same with Triple H, how he evolved from the blue blood, to DX to the Game. Hayes says it’s passion and the desire to get that crowd going above all others.

Dusty blames El Gigante/Giant Gonzalez on Jim Herd and Hayes mentions the Ding Dongs. Dusty says even strong characters have bad moments and Dusty talks about the Terrordome match at 1991 Halloween Havoc and how fucked up that was. They then crack on Mick’s issues with lighting stuff on fire. Hayes talks about his own bad moment when he and Jimmy Garvin were doing a new Freebird song called “I’m a Freebird what’s your excuse” and relays a story of how WCW screwed up the audio and cracks on Garvin not knowing the lyrics anyway. Hayes is singing and Jimmy is reading his lips but there’s no audio and it was a disaster in the live audience. Luckily they had studio rehearsal footage to go to.

(They show clips of this abomination and it’s as bad…hell it’s much worse than Hayes describes. Garvin’s lip synching is Volkoff quality bad. The clip goes on a little too long though.)

Patterson talks about being on a European tour and the promoter in the final show did a horrible job and it was a bad crowd so Patterson decides to have fun and switch up the theme musics. Bret Hart comes out to pomp and circumstance, etc.

The Bottom Line: Tremendous stuff from the guys for the most part but it tailed off after 45 minutes.

LoW Roundtable: Wrestlemania

We’re back after a short holiday break. I hope whichever holiday you celebrate from Festivus to Hanukkah to Christmas to Boxing Day was everything you hoped it would be.

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Roundtable looks back at Wrestlemania as this was taped right before Wrestlemania XXIV at The Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Gene Okerlund has replaced Jim Ross in the moderator’s chair and Mick Foley, Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes (YES!) and Pat Patterson join him.

Mick starts this off and says he was a college student at SUNY Cortland during the first Wrestlemania. He was unable to attend this card as he did with so many MSG cards in his younger days. He says he had already used his hitchhiking card up (which begs to wonder how hard it must have been to hitchhike from NYC back to Cortland because that area isn’t exactly on the way to any place else. Maybe Syracuse I suppose.). He had no access to closed circuit TV and he said it hurt him to miss that. Gene reminds the viewer that the first Wrestlemania was only available on closed circuit. Patterson talks about the arenas that had access to closed circuit and how they were all sold out.

Hayes says Vince and Linda completely rolled the dice for Wrestlemania. He says it was their his fault the Freebirds weren’t on the card and he was shocked of the success. He admits the celebrity involved worried him and he thought it would fail. Dusty brings up Starrcade and Hayes says that Vince stole the idea from him but Dusty disagreed. Dusty said at first he and the rest of the territory guys hoped it failed but its success made everything better. Hayes and Dusty have a great exchange here:

Hayes: Just admit he took your idea and made it better.

Dusty: I don’t know that he made it better!

Okerlund talks about riding from the hotel with Ventura and both of them wondering what the hell was going to happen. Mick brings up the plans of sabotaging Wrestlemania from the other promoters. Hayes says there was always talk from murdering Vince and throwing out a bomb scare at MSG, etc. (Funny thing I don’t think Hayes is wrong, they talked about it but I think most of the promoters just knew Vince was going to fail and they decided to just let nature take its course. Oops.). Okerlund talks about how the WWF melted with mainstream music but also had iconic figures like Muhammad Ali. Patterson talks about how Ali was supposed to be the main referee but his Parkison’s was beginning to show itself and he made the suggestion to make himself the ref and Ali the outside (And the guys chide him about getting the payday for being on-air talent too).

Patterson says that he also thought it was the best idea because he spent so much time with Mr. T on the promotional events that he wanted to make sure everything in the ring went without incident. And right away during the melee in the first minute of the match Ali is upset with the heels and really trying to take legit swings at Orndorff and Orton before Patterson could get his guys to get him to the outside.

(Clips of the Mr. T/Hogan vs. Piper/Orndorff tag match. Really underrated little match too. I think I gave around three stars.)

Patterson and Okerlund said that the atmosphere in the locker room was exciting. The boys were excited and they had a big party at the Rockefeller Center building with Dick Ebersol and the NBC execs. During the party Patterson talks about almost getting into a fight with a drunk Billy Martin at the party. Okerlund talks about doing his promotional piece with Billy Martin in California during the afternoon and Martin was smashed and wooing a flight attendant. They show clips of it and Okerlund is right, they made it work but it’s clear he was drunk off his ass. He calls the wrestlers ‘fat’ and ‘great movie actors’ but later retracts the fat part.

Okerlund skips Wrestlemania 2 (like the rest of the company as that event didn’t happen) and they talk about Wrestlemania III. Dusty said he was on vacation in Colorado and name drops Liza Minnelli. He says that seeing Wrestlemania III highlights on ESPN made him happy because he knew the business was never going to die. They talk about the Steamboat-Savage match. Hayes said the match really ushered in a new era of workers. He also says that Steamboat was exasperated by Savage’s need to go over the match for several hours a day (dude should be happy cell phones didn’t exist back then). Hayes then says how CNN, a Ted Turner-owned network, read off the results of Wrestlemania III and didn’t mention the card the NWA ran for free against it on one of his own networks. Dusty said that all the WWF guys were on Larry King and he didn’t understand it. But Turner even understood that Mania was a big deal.

Patterson talks about Wrestlemania 2 but they quickly jump back to III as Foley talked about Savage-Steamboat and he said that was the first time the matches were really starting to matter. He says the hype was crazy but the actual matches were starting to have an impact. Hayes said that up until that point the territory guys were still hopeful they could outlive the “circus show” but after Hollywood John Tatum told him that Savage-Steamboat was the greatest thing he had ever seen he knew they were doomed.

(Clips of Savage-Steamboat, yes it’s still five stars, yes it’s still awesome, yes it’s still a must see for any fan.)

Hayes talks about what Wrestlemania does for the host city and the money it brings in during the week. Okerlund says now cities are competitively bidding for Wrestlemania. Patterson says after Wrestlemania III he went to the airport the next day and it was packed with people from different countries and it seemed like everyone either had a Wrestlemania program or was wearing a piece of merchandise. Patterson talks about an exchange with a woman who just wanted take her son to Wrestlemania and she ended up becoming a fan. Dusty says (in his own special way) that Wrestlemania III was the day everyone went to the pay window. Patterson says Wrestlemania III was a bigger gamble than Wrestlemania I.

Hayes said that when he walked out on Ford Field last year before the crowd came in he just thought back to the armories and the smoky joints where the guys used to work and said that everyone on this panel in one way or another contributed to the success of this event by just helping the business get to the place where it could happen. Patterson relays a story about Savage and how protective he was of Elizabeth. Well at Wrestlemania V she’s in the neutral corner for the Hogan-Savage main event and has to walk to the ring alone. Well Savage was freaking out about something happening to her as she went to the ring (i.e. a fan grabbing at her) so Patterson suggests to Vince that he walk behind her (she was also surrounded by like 10 policemen) and naturally nothing happened…but had something happened Savage would have killed Patterson so he doesn’t understand why he suggested it to begin with.

They talk about the behind the scenes and dealing with the boys and getting them to the ring. Patterson says it’s the Super Bowl and it means a lot to the boys to be on the card. Patterson says one of his more fulfilling moments was suggesting the Ironman match and watching it from the crowd. Mick said most of the workers will try to watch some of the card from seats in the crowd just to feel the energy of the event. Dusty says that Vince treats the workers’ families so well for the event. He says that his Wrestlemania moment was Toronto and everyone wants that moment. Dusty said that Mick’s moment came two years ago in the street fight with Edge. He talked about his various great matches but he never felt like they happened at Wrestlemania. Going into the Edge match he was wondering if he would just be known as a ‘Backlash’ guy or a ‘Summerslam’ guy. Really honest stuff from Mick there that gives you a perspective of what went through his mind.

(Clips of the Edge-Foley street fight. Tremendous, brutal, bloody brawl with a super shock ending. Lita trying not to throw up is an awesome visual as well.)

Foley says while he’s laying there smelling his burning hair he’s thought ‘I finally got that moment.’ Patterson talks about wanting to see the end of Hogan-Warrior and wanting to feel the ending of that match. He and Vince watched the final sequence and started crying. Patterson said he caught up with Warrior in the dressing room and he was also emotional about his victory. Meanwhile Okerlund said he was in a limo ride with Hogan from Toronto to upstate New York and Hogan rode in total silence. Okerlund said the match exceeded all expectations.

They talk about the celebrities. Hayes said a lot of times they add a lot but they are a pain in the ass. Hayes said Mike Tyson, however, was easier to deal with than Shawn Michaels that year. Patterson remembers warning Burt Reynolds not to shake hands too hard because someone will grab his hair piece. Hayes said that Pamela Anderson had to be coddled out of the limo from Tommy Lee according to the scuttlebutt. Dusty said the celebrities are ducks out of water and they sometimes come into the wrestling cards thinking they are the show and they are just enhancement. Patterson said the parking lot atmosphere in the hours leading up to Wrestlemania is also tremendous.

They talk about Lawrence Taylor and Patterson booked himself as the ref in that match too. Patterson said Taylor was a natural and he trained him extensively. Foley said he likes to deal with the celebrities that want to be there. Foley said Tyson was like a kid in a candy store and he was a complete mark for all the workers and telling them his favorite memories of their work. They also mention how awesome Pete Rose was (and I will never forget…my favorite moment of Wrestlemania XIV was Rose shooting on the Boston audience. Kane actually gave him a nasty looking tombstone albeit perfectly safe and Rose sold it like a champ.) Hayes says for the most part the celebrities are bad because they aren’t used to doing live improv and the big audience overwhelms them. Dusty says that what the wrestlers do on the fly, the actors do over the course of several days with several takes.

Okerlund asks each panel member their favorite Wrestlemania moment. Foley skips at first. Hayes says the Undertaker victory over Batista because of the work in the match and the growth of Batista in that loss (and an awesome match too, recently saw it and upgraded it to ****1/2 stars.). Mick says all of Wrestlemania 17 because he was able to take it all in from a fan’s perspective. Foley adds that Bret Hart’s Hall of Fame induction was another moment. Dusty has three things, he said his favorite moment hasn’t happened yet and he hopes it’s when he sees Cody at his first Wrestlemania. He says his Hall induction was a favorite and Savage-Steamboat was the ultimate match. Patterson says Andre-Hogan, Shawn-Bret, Shawn-Cena, Taker-Batista and Rey Mysterio winning. As a wrestling man Patterson says Shawn-Bret trumps them all. Okerlund says his return for the gimmick battle royale with Heenan was his favorite moment. Hayes mentions the great Heenan line when he said that it would be Wrestlemania 37 by the time the Iron Sheik got to the ring. And they close it there.

The Bottom Line: It was fine. I’ll admit I was hoping for a little more Dusty but I think we’ll get that in the next show. Pat Patterson’s attempts to always work on the Wrestlemania card was also pretty funny.

Low Roundtable: The Territories

Legends of Wrestling Roundtable: The Territories

Panel is JR, Hayes, Foley, Tazz and Pat Patterson

Ross quickly explains the territory system with the help of a graphic. All the ones you’ve heard of are there from Mid-Atlantic (Crockett Promotions), Florida (Eddie Graham), Memphis (Jerry Jarrett), Mid-South (Bill Watts), World Class (Von Erichs), Stampede (Stu Hart), San Francisco (Roy Shire), etc. etc.


Basically these smaller promotions ran their weekly towns and did their own syndicated television shows. If you lived in Dallas, you watched World Class. At the height of the territory system there were 25-30 territories. For the most part they are gone with WWE running the show and TNA in second (albeit not mentioned). The WWE came from the World Wide Wrestling Federation and of course it ran primarily in the Northeast.

(What weekly territory TV did you see? In the panhandle of Florida I saw Mid-South’s weekly TV, CWA and WCCW on a weekly basis. Every now and then you’d get a few months of whatever Florida Promotion Dusty and Mike Graham were trying to revive.)

We start with Patterson and Ross asked him what are the fans missing without the territories. Patterson isn’t sure if they are missing anything per say but the territories gave the workers a chance to build a closer relationship with the fan because you worked the same cities each week and had to bring something different. You change territories and you have to start over again. Hayes says that the fans aren’t really missing anything but the talent is absolutely lacking. The TV shows didn’t cross so if you did something that worked in one territory, you could try it with another and see if it worked there.

Ross talks about how The Assassins and The Kentuckians carried their feud to several areas and made plenty of money. Ross asks Foley what the territories did for him. Mick said working the territories helped him get a reputation so when he met Ross in WCW they already knew a lot about him. He said it worked for him because he didn’t necessarily look like a star so he had to build an audience somewhere. Hayes cracks a joke about Tony Garea.

Patterson started in Montreal and went to Boston at the age of 19 and didn’t speak English, had no money and no contract. No guarantees. Patterson says he was eating crap everyday but he was happy to do it. He says that territories were great for the young guys because that’s how they learned back then. Today they learn in schools and it’s not the same because everything is formulated. In the territories you just had to go and do it until you got it right (i.e. the crowd responded).

(Clips of Jimmy Snuka’s WWWF debut…You would never guess who his daughter is)

Mick’s first territory were Memphis and he didn’t enjoy it. Mick said one strike against him was that he was college educated and Tazz adds that being from the Northeast was a strike since most of the territories were based in the South. He said that wrestling 5-6 nights a week in the same cities and wrestling the same guy but you couldn’t wrestle the same match. He said he helped you ad lib and learn how to wrestle on the fly.

Patterson said the travel in territories could be grueling. He talked about money and said in Boston he made 80-90 bucks a week. He talked about the road life and driving hundreds of miles a day. Ross cracks a joke about while the guys were on the road the bookers would visit their wives. Patterson and Hayes said that every territory had a little faction and they would try to hog the money. Mick said that the good thing was if you couldn’t hack it in one area you could move. Nowadays it’s a few guys deciding if a guy is going to succeed or not. Mick talks about the Cohasset Tent Tour where Steve Austin couldn’t get Jimmy Miranda to make him a t-shirt because the office didn’t see any marketing potential in him (oops). Mick’s point is that if that conversation happened back in the day Stone Cold could move on and find his place in another area whereas today these unfinished products have one chance to succeed in a WWE ring and if it doesn’t work they don’t have many places to rebound and save their careers. Taz says it’s too bad because some guys develop and evolve different than other. Mick says that Austin had eight years in the business before he got to WWF and Mick had 11 years and even then it was a tough sell.

(Clips of Mankind’s infamous long-form interview with Jim Ross which was sort of the turning point in his career with the promotion. If you’ve never seen it it’s a great series that put Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack in play for WWF television)

What happened to the territories JR asks? Well duh, Michael Hayes says Vince bought them all. To Vince’s credit he offered working agreements but people didn’t think he’d be successful so he ran over them. Well how did he do that? He would see what the territories were paying for weekly TV shots and offer much more money for the same slot that the territories couldn’t match and boom they are eventually swallowed up without TV. Hayes said that it took a while for Vince’s version of wrestling to catch on in the south.

(Clips of “Black Saturday”. That was fun…for me to poop on!)

Tazz talks about training with Johnny Rodz and he was working independents because when he broke in the territories were disappearing. He did work a little in Memphis and Smoky Mountain and with the Savoldis in New England. He worked a lot and it helped him get better. He said ECW was the last territory in the industry. They worked the same towns and we were bonded but they had no where else to go. Ross said the original ECW was successful because the fans grew with the talents.

Hayes said that Paul Heyman helped with the bonding process and he motivated those guys to do anything to make ECW last.

After a commercial we talk about the AWA. Patterson loved it but hated the winters. Hayes hated working for Verne. Verne loved traditional wrestling and Patterson fit that mold but Hayes wasn’t an amateur shooter (Hayes: Well I was but I always hid that). Hayes talked about the unwritten rule between promoters to where they had their area and that was their area and no one could cross it. Ross said he never understood that rule and talks about World Class. Hayes said the WCCW wasn’t hot until the Freebirds got there. Patterson says back in the day Texas was not a good territory because of the car rides. Hayes explains what he meant by saying that the Freebirds were the first young talents to challenge the Von Erichs before that Fritz’s boys were getting the rub from older wrestlers in the twilight of their careers.

(Clips of a Von Erich vs. Freebirds match with Hayes, Roberts and Jimmy Garvin as the ‘Birds. FYI Hayes and Garvin teamed up throughout most of the 80s. The were a face team for a few months in 88 but before that they were a team in the AWA in the mid 80s and before that occasionally teamed in the WCCW. In later episodes they really spotlight the Garvin-Freebirds relationship. Kevin Von Erich had some crazy in-ring charisma.)

Patterson (now with cigarette in hand) said that if you could work in a main event the WWWF was the best territory bar none. Patterson said that during the winters the workers wanted to go to Florida or San Francisco because of the weather and even if they made a little less it was nice to not be in the cold. Patterson explains how nice San Francisco was because the trips were short and you got home every night. He compared that to Texas where the drives suck. Ross said when he started in the mid-70s that it was all about trying to get to Florida. Patterson said that was because the best teachers were there and they worked with the talent.

(Awesome clips of Pat Patterson training Hulk Hogan in the late 70s.)

Hayes said that the issue with Florida is only Eddie Graham and Dusty drew money. Patterson agreed but he said it was still great for young workers because either you listened to Eddie or you got shipped out.

(Clips of a Dusty Rhodes-Harley Race match from the Florida territory. Dusty won the match at the NWA title but it was overturned I believe…Gordon Solie was on the call. The minute he made the pin the crowd rushed the ring. It was a cool scene.)

Ross brings up the Mid-Atlantic territory and Crockett Promotions. They ran from Virginia down through the Carolinas. It was a big-time territory but Patterson said everyone was bitching about the trips. Patterson said generally the underneath guys were paid to do the driving and that with hotel costs could take much of the money the guys made for the night. Ross said Ric Flair because the Nature Boy in Mid Atlantic. He brings up the great names from Mid Atlantic and Patterson said that Mid Atlantic was great because they had good bookers and teachers to bring young guys along.

(Clips of a Ric Flair-Jack Brisco match from Mid-Atlantic. I think I have this match on a DVD, it’s pretty great if I can remember although I hate when guys win with a backslide.)

Patterson explains how the underneath guys or maybe a referee would drive the talent and charge them 2-3 cents a mile per wrestler. The smart ones would pack coolers with sandwiches and drinks and they would sell them food as well. Ross asks Patterson if he ever worked Stampede and Patterson said hell no, the winters suck. Ross talked about how cheap Stu Hart was but they learned their craft off Broadway. Mick talks about promos and how the guys had to just wing it and learn how to talk people into the building.

(Clips of an AWA TV show with Gene Okerlund interviewing Pat Patterson and Ray Stevens. Both of them look like they are heading to Hooters for beer and wings.)

Patterson tells a story about Don Owen forcing Patterson to cut a promo while working the Oregon territory in the early 60s. Patterson couldn’t speak much english so he had to wing it. Hayes talks about going to OVW (back when they had it) and talked about telling the developmental kids how disappointed he was in their promos. He said some guys who couldn’t work could still sell places out based on their abilities to talk. Tazz talks about how his gimmick was that he didn’t talk until one day his manager Paul Heyman handed him a mic in an ad-lib. (Tazz’s words: Fonzie must die.) Heyman said Tazz snapped at him afterwards and used the energy and intensity that ley him know he was eventually going to be one of the best interviews in the sport.

Mick said he wasn’t allowed to talk early because he was supposed to be from New Mexico but still used words that made it clear he was from New York. He tells a funny story about how he and his partner “Gorgeous” Gary Young were faces and cutting a promo on Jimmy Golden and Robert Fuller and calling them “Tennessee hillbillies” while Mick is thinking “our viewing audience is nothing but Tennessee hillbillies.”

Ross talks about Montreal (geez, someone’s obsessioned) and says in the old days what happened in Montreal was commonplace. Mick says he doesn’t think Bret was asked to do the right thing. Patterson says he was. Mick says he just didn’t want to do it with Shawn, Patterson said it didn’t matter. Patterson said he was the one who got screwed in Montreal because he was in charge of that match and he never knew what was going to happen (Wow). Hayes said he was in Georgia in 1981 when Tommy Rich was going to screw over Harley Race for the NWA title and Hayes said he was scared shitless. Hayes also said that was what was kind of cool about the territories. And they were all marks for the Apter mags because that’s how you learned about the new acts that were created a buzz. Hayes says even to this day Vince has some regrets that he depleted the avenues to find new talent.

(I’ve brought this up in many discussions. What’s the WWE going to do to fix this void, presumably when Triple H takes over full operations. They have to figure out a way create some territories and give the talent better chances to succeed. Obviously they can’t run them the old way because syndicated television isn’t what it is but with YouTube and the internet in general there’s plenty of ways to get territory-based TV shows out to the public. I think about the way some of the guys talk about Shelton Benjamin and I think about guys like Ted DiBiase Jr. that can work but clearly couldn’t find a place in the WWE without some more work. They should be able to be sent to a few places to get the necessary work and time needed to find out what can work a crowd best.)

Ross this says the issue with territories is there were managed by wrestlers but Vince was a marketing guy. Ross said that years ago that Vince had made a big run and a lot of old promoters met in Kansas City. He was there with Bill Watts and he heard from the bathroom that the promoters wondered why they were meeting about Vince McMahon when they could just kill him. (The way Ross tells the story about his ass tightening up is fucking hilarious) Tazz says a lot of the promoters were thieves and scumbags. They all agree that territories had their major role in wrestling and they are generally missed.

The Bottom Line: This remains one of my 2 or 3 favorite episodes. I’ve watched it about a dozen times and always learn something new. Tremendous storytelling from the guys here.

LoW Roundtable Re-Rant: Bad Asses

Legends of Wrestling Roundtable: Bad Asses

Your panel is Jim Ross, Michael Hayes, Mick Foley, Tazz and Pat Patterson

Ross explains the two categories of Bad Asses, either the guys you just didn’t want to mess with at a bar or the guys with a strong amateur fighting background that could put you to sleep. And of course there are guys, and they mention Mad Dog Vachon, as guys who combined both.

Patterson said he’s never seen a guy tougher than Vachon in or out of the ring. Hayes said people that messed with him did so because he was just 5-foot-8, which allows Tazz to chime in on behalf of short people. Foley talks about how the old school wrestlers were much tougher and were chose based on their real fighting ability and were almost pushed to fight out in the streets to prove it. Ross said the flip side was if you lost a bar fight, you were generally pushed out of the territory. Hayes said that the local bar people who thought they were hot shit didn’t have the same mentality as the wrestlers, who would do anything to win a fight even if it meant gauging an eye out.

Speaking of which Patterson brings up Haku, whose bad assed-ness is legendary among fans and workers (there are a million YouTube snippets of guys talking about him. Even the tough guys like “Dr. D” David Schultz didn’t want to get on his bad side. Tama has a hilarious story about Haku beating up Brutus Beefcake and Hogan having to come in and beg him to stop). Patterson also said that Kurt Angle could put a hurting on someone if necessary (Well he was a fucking Olympic gold medal wrestler). Tazz says that a bad ass can also be a guy that can take a beating and mentions Foley, who sadly isn’t on the list. Tazz talks about Gpysy Joe as says he was one of the toughest wrestlers he ever knew. Hayes then mentions how big of a stooge he is which brings laughter.

Back to Haku and Ross says that the Samoan guys in general are all extremely tough going from Afa and Sika forward. Ross said back when the fans were rabid and brought weapons to the cards in those houses in the deep south territories the Samoans still had no fear. Patterson said the Samoans were great guys but once they got into a fight good luck at pulling them off. Foley said the Samoans guys all had legendary stories including the Barbarian and Foley said the only guy he feared was his wife. They talk about Peter Maivia too and Patterson said he was nothing compared to his wife. He relayed a story of the couple getting arrested in San Francisco and within no time the station was surrounded by Samoans that stayed there until the couple was released without incident.

Foley talks about Mr. Saito throwing policemen around and Ross makes a crack of how many cigarettes and Ken Patera used to smoke while in jail cells. Tazz tells the story about the McDonald’s incident. Foley amends it to say that he heard Patera and Saito were nice at first but the worker denied them service and overplayed his hand so Patera allegedly threw a rock thru the window and the fracas begin with Patera and Saito generally beating the fuck out of the cops for a while under order was restored and both guys spent a year and a half in the slammer.

Next the fellas talk about Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen and their great history of beating the hell random folks in bars. Tazz said his character was booked to be a bad ass in ECW and because of it he basically wrestled and went straight back to the hotel to avoid confrontation (I’ve met Tazz a few times and he seems like an extremely nice guy so I understand his point. You never know what you could get into). Hayes said Brody was a bad ass in the ring and you knew you were going to get potatoed a few times if you were booked on a card with him.

They show clips of Bruiser Brody kicking the crap out of Abdullah the Butcher from World Class. (His death is still one of the most disgusting things in history. Not just wrestling history but human history. I can’t believe the guy that killed him just continued to wrestle and book without incident. Even worse workers that knew Brody and were cool with him still worked under this guy. Invader #1 can burn in hell. It was Invader #1 right? If not all apologies to Invader #1).

Ross says there are three levels of bad asses, the guys that work and go home, the ones that go to the bars and hope for trouble and the amateur studs that want to be left alone and will respect you if you respect them. Foley has a story about Angle from when he fought Tazz at the Royal Rumble and he goes to Foley and said “hey, what do I do if Tazz tries to test me?” and they all start laughing. Foley explains to Angle that he seriously doubts that would happen and Tazz is just thankful Angle didn’t have a flashback from the Olympics or something. Foley said that Angle was still new and innocent to the business and even though he could obviously handle himself he wasn’t sure what was proper protocol if such a situation came about. They talk about the Lesnar-Angle Ironman while Tazz talks about their competitiveness between the two when the three of them rode together.

Back to Brody, Hayes says that the bottom line was when you wrestled Brody bitching about him being stiff was a pointless exercise. Hayes says that one night when World Class and Joe Blanchard’s southwest wrestling indy ran in San Antonio the same night Brody suggested they meet Blanchard’s group at a location and kick their ass. Now of course Buzz Sawyer and The Road Warriors are with the Mid-Atlantic group working with Blanchard that night and Hayes is like…”ummmm, maybe that’s not the best idea and convinces them to go drinking instead.”(Hayes was definitely not a bad ass and proud to admit it in this discussion but imagine Sawyer and the Warriors randomly running into Brody and like Terry Gordy, that shit would get ugly).

Ross talks about Harley Race and how he was brought up on beating people up legitimately. When asked who was tougher between Race and Brody, Ross says it’s like choosing to die by a handgun or a rifle (great line). Foley talks about the legend of Race’s left hand and Harley’s quote that “if I hit anyone with my left and they don’t go down, I will walk around them to see what’s holding them up.” Foley said Harley’s way of talking was bad ass in itself and relays a story about how he intimidated a physician in Maryland to make sure Foley’s injury during a match was handled by the commission.They show clips of a Race interview and yeah he definitely sounds like he will fuck you up bad.

Time for a match review.

Haku vs. Harley Race

Royal Rumble 1989 from The Summit in Houston, Texas

Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura

Nothing like killing two bad asses with one stone. This is the battle for the King crown from the first PPV Royal Rumble.

Race attacks Haku by tipping over his chair and sending him into the post. Into the ring we go and Race with a knee lift, a clothesline and a suplex for two. Race’s left-handed clothesline looks pretty bad here. Back to the floor and Haku sends Race into the post and drops him with a reverse knife edge. Back in the ring and Race with a headbutt low and an inverted atomic drop. Two elbow drops from Race get two but Haku is back with a reverse thrust kick and he roughs Race up in the corner. He gives Race a corner whip that sends him over the top rope. Race back up and Haku clothesline him back in the ring. Haku with some stiff shots and a headbutt. He pounds away but Race retaliates with a few headbutts and both guys start no selling them. Race with another clothesline and a piledriver but that only gets two. Wow. They knock heads, slowly, and Race oversells another tumble to the floor.

Haku suplexes Race back in the ring and gets two but misses a big elbow drop. Race with one of those left hands and a delayed vertical suplex for two. Race sends Haku to the floor and goes for a piledriver but Haku backdrops him to escape. Haku bangs Race head on the mat and then rams his back into the side of the ring. Race rallies and gets his piledriver on the floor but it was a little weak. Back in the ring, reverse neckbreaker from Race gets two. Race continues laying in the shots and his clothesline looks much better. Knee drop gets a two count. Slugfest that Haku wins and he beats up on Race in the corner for a bit. Scoop slam and he climbs to the top but misses the diving head butt. Race goes to the middle rope and he misses the swan dive headbutt. Both men back up and Race with a knee lift but he misses a rope move and Haku his sweet Tonga chin music for the pin.

(Haku def. Harley Race, pinfall, **3/4, a little slow but a good match and probably Harley’s last good one before he retired.)

*********

Tazz said that perception is reality and one of the things about Brody and Race is they looked the part. Tazz brings up Vader and says that even before he knew him he looked like a bad ass. They promise to get to Vader after a break but they don’t (probably because Shawn Michael made him cry after a match one time). Patterson talks about the Samoans again and says that every time he beat up Peter Maivia at the Cow Palace the Samoans would jump on him. One time Sika got hit over the head with a Billy club and basically no sold it.

Ross goes to Stu Hart and talks about Hart putting a hold on him and he was happy it was waist up because he was pissing on himself after a few minutes. Ross does a funny impression of Stu warning him before applying the hold. They talk about how Stu is always tries to grab guys when he talks to them and Patterson always had to keep himself away (yep even Patterson isn’t letting just any man grab him). Ross says he was arguably the baddest mofo in Canada and they go into the dungeon and Stu torturing the guys. They mention how much Stu enjoyed fucking up Superstar Billy Graham and they go through the great lineage of guys that came through the dungeon (WWE DVD idea! Best of the Dungeon! I know they did the Hart Foundation thing but the best of the dungeon graduates gives many more options. Unless they already have released one, in which case nevermind!).

Patterson randomly mentions some of the tough guys getting beat up in the bars because they started drinking and it’s hard to beat up someone when you’re drunk. Tazz asks about Angelo Mosca and asked Patterson if he was a bad as he looked. Patterson said he never saw it but he would never mess with him. Out of the ring Patterson said Mosca was a big teddy bear.

Foley mentions Exotic Adrian Street and they crack on his gimmick for a bit before Ross mentions that he’s actually married to his valet, Miss Linda. Ross talks about the great tough guys that come from England like Billy Robinson, William Regal and Hooker Heath. Foley shares a story of Street, or tries too, before going off track and talking about Downtown Bruno going through dirty clothes to get a pair of underwear. He gets back on track when talking about Street showing him the different levels of pain and he experienced a “10”. They talk about Fit Finlay and Regal both idolizing Street and Hayes adds that Miss Linda was tough as hell too.

Foley shares a story about a fight breaking out in Alabama and Miss Linda was the first wrestler in the ring. Foley is upset that the many times he talked to Street (and I believe he still has a wrestling school in northwest Florida) that he didn’t ask him to teach him some of those defense techniques. Ross mentions Luther Lindsey being a tough guy and Patterson talks about how difficult it was to escape his stretch holds.

Match Review Time

Billy Robinson vs. Abdullah The Butcher

From All Japan Pro Wrestling on Dec. 9, 1976

Announcers is a guy speaking in Japanese

Abby isn’t mentioned in the show but I don’t think there are people lining up to meet him in a dark alley either, unless they ordered take out from his Ribs and Chinese food joint in Atlanta. Right away Abby jumps on Robinson and takes the match to the floor where he roughs him up in a variety of ways, mostly dumping him on a ring table or sending him into the post. He doesn’t let Robinson get in the ring, hitting him with a headbutt every time he tries to enter. Back to the floor and Abby continues to send him into furniture. Finally Robinson is in the ring where Abby headbutts him…and sends him right back out of the ring. I love the fact that Abby has carved out like a 50-year career with maybe two or three wrestling moves of note. Robinson crawls back in the ring and Abby headbutts him again to send him out. Robinson tries to fight back, or at least defend himself, and he lands a couple of forearms. Abby drops him again with a headbutt. Robinson goes downstairs a few times and they trade forearms with Robinson getting the best of the exchange. Two drop kicks sends Abby to the floor. He grabs a chair but Robinson takes it away and hits Abby with it. He gives him a second chair shot and roughs him up on the floor. Abby tries to get back in the ring but Robinson hits a dropkick and follows him to the floor. They fight up the entrance way or rather Robinson fights and the bell rings as I’m guessing they chose to throw this one away.

(Robinson & Butcher fight to no contest. Not really worth rating as it was just a brawl to set up a longer match down the road.)

*********

Ross says the toughest guy he saw was, of course, Danny Hodge. Patterson said Hodge didn’t have the reputation but Ross said he didn’t need it. Ross shares a story of Hodge baiting a Louisiana hardware salesman into challenging his toughness. Hodge breaks a series a pliers and apples until the point of when the guy brings in the local arm wrestling champion (Hayes’ comment about did either one of them have any place to be is pretty funny). He tries to put a grip on Hodge and Hodge takes his best shot then Hodge returns the favor and turns the guy to tears. Hodge was both an Olympic wrestler and a champion boxer. Hodge has the amateur equivalent of the Heisman named after him. Patterson said Hodge still respected professional wrestling despite his shoot fighting background.

They talk about an amazing story about Hodge escaping a submerged car with some form of a broken neck and walking up the embankment to safety while holding his neck in place (huh? we have a winner folks!).

Patterson said that a lot of amateur guys tried pro wrestling but only a handful made it like Hodge, Jack Brisco, Kurt Angle, Pat O’Connor, etc.

Time for a match that I’ve never seen before.

Iron Man Match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar

Smackdown from September 18, 2003

Announcers are Michael Cole and Tazz.

This is the third in their set of classic encounters. Lesnar is the heel and Angle is something between a face and a non-heel. Angle sort of became the ultimate tweener about 2001 or so and just fought whoever was in the way. Funny thing about theme music, Kurt Angle’s music was giving to The Patriot back in 1997 and it seemed goofy for him, maybe a little overboard, but for Angle is was a perfect fit. Strange how those things work.

Lesnar jumps on Angle to start and chokes away in the corner. Corner whip from Lesnar and he follows in with a shoulder. Brock beals Angle from one corner to the another, Angle tries to rally by catching Brock coming in on a charge. Angle with a dropkick to the knee and a clothesline to take control. Angle with the belly to belly overhead suplex and Brock decides to take a breather. Brock fakes a knee injury to take control again and uses more power stuff on Angle but Angle comes back with three armdrags and Brock heads back to the floor. Brock grabs the steel steps but nothing comes from it. Lesnar doing some serious stalling right now and the crowd doesn’t appreciate it. Literally he’s wasted about four minutes here. Finally he baits Angle and gets a hangman. Brock jumps back in the ring and goes to the power stuff and the choking but Angle with another belly to belly and his clotheslines Lesnar back over the top. Lesnar grabs the knee again and does a better acting job this time. Angle follows Lesnar out and fights him on the floor. Angle sends Lesnar to the steel steps but Lesnar rallies and sends Angle into the side of the ring and a spinebuster into the post. Lesnar sends Angle into the ring and he grabs a chair. He absolutely DESTROYS Angle with the chair, giving Angle the first fall via disqualification.

After the 15 seconds rest, Angle is still in bad shape and Lesnar toys with the champion a little bit before hitting the F5 and evening the match at 1-1. After the 15 second rest Lesnar continues to toy with Angle and slaps on the angle lock with forces Angle to tap out take a 2-1 advantage with the falls. After a commercial break we’re back and Lesnar gives Angle a kitchen sink knee for a two count. During the break Lesnar hit an Angle slam but couldn’t get a pin. Lesnar whips Angle into the corner and follows in with a shoulder tackle. More ruff stuff in the corner, including a couple of headbutts. Brock tries another shoulder charge but Angle moves and tries to battle back. Flying forearm and three german suplexes from Angle, with him releasing on the third one. Lesnar uses leverage to send Angle to the floor, however. Lesnar sends Angle into the ring barricade and hits an F5 on the floor. Lesnar makes his way back in the ring but Angle is counted out and down 3-1.

After a commercial break we are back and Lesnar sends Angle to the floor with a back elbow. Back in the ring and Lesnar roughs up Angle in the corner before dropping a couple of elbows and getting a two count. Lesnar stays in control until Angle hits an Angle slam out of nowhere and closes the gap to 3-2 with a little more than 30 minutes remaining on the clock. Angle jumps on Lesnar right after the 15 second period and lands a leg drop. Snap suplex by Angle into a float over cover for two. Lesnar tries to rally but Angle dumps him on his head with a belly to back suplex. Angle pulls down the straps and goes for another angle slam but Lesnar counters into the F5 but Angle escapes that and slaps on the ankle lock. Lesnar rolls through and tries to send Angle into the official but Angle puts on the brakes, but Lesnar goes for the clothesline which Angle ducks and Brian Hebner takes FULL ON. Wow. Angle slam hits but there’s no ref so Brock goes low. He goes to the floor, grabs the title belt and absolutely wallops Angle with it. He awesomely tosses the ref into the position and gets his fourth fall. That was a great sequence. Commercial break.

We’re back with 25 minutes left and Angle pulls Lesnar to the floor and sends him to the steel steps. Time for a sense of urgency from the champion. He climbs to the top and hits an axe handle on Lensar to the floor (OH YEAH!). Back in the ring and Angle gets a near fall. Angle to the top again and he hits a beautiful missile drop kick for another near fall. Angle with a scoop slam and he goes for the moonsault which looks great but misses when Lesnar casually scoots out of the ring. Both men struggle to their feet, Lesnar misses a clothesline and Angle gets a rollup for two but Lesnar nails the clothesline on the second try. Ridiculous belly to belly suplex from Lesnar sends Angle across the ring and gets a near fall. Lesnar goes for a second belly to belly but Angle knocks him down and slaps on the ankle lock, Lesnar rolls through and sends Angle to the floor. Lesnar joins him on the floor and sends the champion into the steel steps. Back in the ring and Angle escapes the pinfall at two at we are down to 20 minutes. Lesnar grabs the steel steps but Angle hits a baseball slide and the move backfires on the challenge. Angle quickly rolls Brock into the ring and gets two near falls. Angle gets nasty with Lesnar in the corner, choking away. Running back elbow from Angle gets two. Commercial break.

During the break Brock hits a massive top-rope superplex and goes up 5 falls to 2 with just 14 minutes remaining. Both men on the floor and Lesnar sends Angle into the announce table. Lesnar tries to give Angle the F5 into the post but Angle escapes and gives Lesnar the move instead. Lesnar is banged up in both knees. Angle rolls Lesnar back in the ring. Texas cloverleaf from Angle and Lesnar fights to the ropes so Angle switches to the ankle lock and pulls Lesnar back to the center of the ring. Lesnar fights to the ropes again. Lesnar somehow pulls another F5 out of his ass but he can’t capitalize due to his bad knee and just gets a two count. Lesnar slowly climbs to the top but Angle springs up and meets him there with a top rope belly to belly for a three count with less than 10 minutes left. After the 15 second rest, Angle stomps a mudhole into Lesnar and walks it dry. Suplex by Angle and he pulls up his straps just to pull them down again, Angle slam attempt is thwarted and Brock hits a DDT for a super near fall. Seven minutes remaining. Slugfest and Angle wins but Lesnar with the belly to back suplex and a second one that’s even better as we approach the six minute mark. Third belly to back suplex takes us under six minutes. Lesnar goes for a fourth and Angle hits the suplex instead and a second one from the champion! Lesnar blocks another suplex attempt and tries to reverse but Angle rolls through and slaps on the ankle lock right in the center of the ring. Lesnar gets to the ropes twice but Angle pulls him off and gets the submission with four minutes left.

Angle down 5-4 with three and a half minutes left and Angle goes right back to the Angle lock but Lesnar escapes but Angle comes right back with an sort of an STF type of hold. Tazz says it’s a freestyle bow & arrow so I will defer to him. Lesnar rolls out of the ring and tries to escape so Angle slaps on the ankle lock on the outside as we are under two minutes. Lesnar escapes the ring again but Angle sends him into the steps. Back in the ring and Angle hits the triple…make that the quadruple german suplex and Lesnar hits a low blow with 30 seconds left as the crowd gets rabid but Angle with another ankle lock and the grapevine. We’re down to 10 seconds….5 seconds and Lesnar holds on as the bell rings and Lesnar wins the championship!

(Lesnar def. Angle, 5 falls to 4, ****1/4, they had to protect Lesnar for the first 35 minutes of the match and once they got past that point it was very good stuff with tons of high impact suplexes and submissions. Lesnar tried and using the heel tactics was a good way to tell the story but the fact is he didn’t have enough in his arsenal to go sixty minutes.)

********

Tazz says that one of the difficulties of the transformation for shooters to pro wrestling is because it goes against everything they are taught as amateurs from giving up the body to showing no emotion. Ross said Shelton Benjamin is one of today’s bad asses; he was a national champion as a wrestler and a sprinter (which is off the charts in terms of athleticism. I ran track in college at a Division 1 program and there aren’t too many people that could sprint and then wrestle heavyweight or much less carry the sort of weight needed to wrestle heavyweight and still competitively sprint.). Ross said if Benjamin was brought up in the territory days he’d be much more polished and hungrier than he was perceived. They talked about the amateur guys who struggled with the performance part of the business like Brad Rheingans, who was a terrific shoot wrestler and a great trainer but didn’t have the charisma to make it big. (Of course I thought Shelton had much more charisma than he was giving credit for. And it’s sad that guys like the Miz, who can’t work for shit, get pushed and guys like Benjamin, who can work and have the look, are working indys for scraps.)

Ross talks about one of the current guys on the roster (at least when this was taped) that is a bad ass, The Undertaker. Ross says he’s as mentally tough as anyone around. Foley says he guarantees there aren’t many conversations in the dressing room wondering how tough the Undertaker is. Same with Stone Cold (Debra might disagree). Ross said both guys started in World Class as low-card guys and developed that toughness, developed the ability to withstand injuries. Patterson and Tazz talk about their love for the business and how long it took for them to get to the main card and all the shit they had to go through to get there. They all agree that anyone that spends any considerable time in the business has to have a real level of toughness. Hayes also says that beyond mental and physical toughness Undertaker had to deal with a lot of shit workers.

Foley said once Undertaker got in the ring with great workers people finally saw how good he was, Hayes mentions how good Undertaker-Batista was at Wrestlemania (I had it at ****, fabulous power match). They show highlights of that match. Ross said there’s no doubt that the Undertaker is a Hall of Famer and he had good matches with guys that were limited. Ross closes with saying that one of the great things about the business is being surrounded by so many talented workers with diverse levels of toughness.

The Bottom Line: Fun discussion here and well worth seeking out. They were starting to get into a flow here with the storytelling.

LoW Roundtable: Monday Night Wars

Legends of Wrestling

Monday Night Wars

Today’s Panel is: JR, Mick, Bischoff, Hayes and Lawler

This could be an interesting one. Ross gives a little background and goes right to interrogating Bischoff and says the start of the Monday Night War came when Lex Luger showed up at the Mall of America.

Oh but that’s not good enough for Michael Hayes. He wants to start with how Bischoff got the job originally. Hayes looks like he’s ready to fight but they back up. Bischoff said a lot of people were applying for the executive producer job at that time to replace Bill Watts. Bischoff said the WCW under Watts was hell and it wasn’t all Watts but most of it was. Turner was looking to fix the problem by changing bosses or pulling the plug.

Hayes interrupts and says the reason Bischoff had a chance to jump in this position is because Watts failed. He brings up Watts old school policies (no jumping from the top rope, etc. all of which is pretty much covered in the Rise and Fall of WCW DVD program). Mick says that he thought Watts failed with some racially borderline statements. Bischoff gets back to the point and he says he got the job because he had wrestling experience but he wasn’t a wrestling guy. He didn’t think he would get the job. Mick says he was shocked Bischoff got the job.

Ross tries to get things back on track and asks Bischoff how he convinced Turner to go live. Bischoff said he had a meeting with Turner about internation distribution and Turner asked him what they needed to do to be competitive with Vince and Bischoff suggested a primetime slot. Bischoff said had he known Turner would agree to it he wouldn’t have brought it up. Bischoff knew he couldn’t beat WWE doing what they did but he worked on being different and going live was the biggest difference.

(They show some clips of the first Nitro which had a Ric Flair-Sting match in which Lex Luger made his appearance. Bischoff did a bad job at appearing surprised and disgusted by Luger’s arrival.)

Lawler asks Bischoff if things could have been as successful if Turner offered another night but Bischoff said he had to go head to head. Bischoff isn’t sure if Turner had a vendetta with Vince but he was a natural competitor. He just wanted to be No. 1. Bischoff chose to make the Nitro debut while the WWF was pre-empted on USA for the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

Hayes and Bischoff get into another confrontation and he thinks Bischoff and Turner did have the goal of putting Vince out of business. Hayes understood the competition but didn’t like the idea of trying to deprive people of paychecks to feed their families. Bischoff said he might have said that to rally the troops but putting WWF out of business wasn’t his goal, he just wanted to be number one. Lawler believes Bischoff and says that everyone wanted to win.

Hayes pushes on, however, and says that had he been in Bischoff’s position he might have felt the same way.

Ross says the reason people might think Bischoff is being a little disingenuous is because of the way he would give away RAW results, etc. Bischoff says he “pissed” and “buried” RAW whenever he could. Hayes said it was a good idea that eventually backfield but Bischoff disagrees.

Bischoff said he did whatever he could to get attention and create controversy. And he said that he had a better product. Lawler asks when did WCW have a better talent roster? Bischoff said during the hot period with the nWo and Lawler stops him to say that he says he couldn’t do what the WWF did but his better roster is loaded with ex-WWF talent. But Bischoff reminds him that guys like Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were WCW first.

Hayes says that the way they handled Hall and Nash’s entrance into WCW as some sort of invasion was genius. (And they show clips of it. I remember marking out slightly even though everyone knew they were coming in sooner or later.)

Ross asks if the talent defections, specifically Hall, Nash and Hogan, were the turning point. Bischoff said Hogan signed in 1994 and floundering a little. Hayes tells Bischoff to give himself more credit because he got the Disney thing and used Hogan as an anchor. (Hayes is being really bipolar in this episode.) Bischoff says none of the early moves had an impact until we went live. Bischoff said that nWo made Hall and Nash bigger stars then they were in WWE. Everyone agrees.

Bischoff said live is what brought the War. And Lawler says every war has a winner and a loser. Hayes adds on by saying that the fans were the big winners until the thing ended. Ross says the Monday Night Wars was the golden era of wrestling. Mick said if anyone watched the one-hour RAWs they would seem stale. (Yes and no. The first season when they were live from the Manhattan Center was TREMENDOUS. Once they started moving houses and taping things went downhill.) Mick said that Vince hated the idea of losing a battle and he responded to the challenge.

Hayes and Ross say while the WWF wasn’t necessary as close to going out of business as people thought but many had to take pay cuts to make sure the organization to make payroll. Ross added that he assumed the role as head of talent relations which included weekly meetings with Vince and together they decided they had to focus on new talent to rebuild the roster and re-packaging guys like the British Bulldog wasn’t going to work any more.

Ross said that many of his suggestions didn’t fit Vince’s vision of what a superstar looked like. He brought up Mick Foley and Steve Austin as examples. Foley being a journeyman that wasn’t physically appealing and Austin was floundering in WCW. Hayes added that these guys didn’t fit Bischoff’s mold either.

(How ironic is it that Vince is stuck in the same mold today of having a roster full of cookie cutter guys that really can’t get much a crowd reaction? But the couple of guys that don’t fit Vince’s vision of stardom, like C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan, are quite over? Some guys never learn.)

Hayes asks did some wrestlers take pay cuts and Lawler brought up Bret Hart. Ross says that concessions were made that allowed Bret to sign with WCW. Hayes talks about the 1996 negotiations when Bret had the opportunity to leave and re-signed with the WWF. Hayes also mentions that Bret showed up to work late that day…(“as usual” Ross adds, but he still says he wishes he had 20 Bret Harts on the roster.)

Lawler talks about the WWE couldn’t afford to keep talents like Heenan and Okerlund but Bischoff says that wasn’t the result of the Monday Night War (and his is absolutely correct.). Mick asks Bischoff if not for the Monday Night War does he think there would be guaranteed contracts in the business. Bischoff says probably not. And Mick adds how he had a $1,500 guarantee from the WWF on his first deal (10 dates for $150) and two weeks later Marc Mero came in with a six-figure salary. That pissed him and Austin off(Austin had a similar deal, yes in 1996, Marc Mero made considerably more money than Steve Austin).

Mick says the turning point in the WWF might have come during a locker room meeting when Vince took blame and admitted maybe he wasn’t keeping up with the times. And with that you stopped seeing animated storylines geared towards kids. (Oh how things changed.) Bischoff points out that the attitude formula came from the nWo. He brings up the transformation of HHH from royal blueblood to a guy wearing leather jackets and grabbing his nuts.

Hayes says the nWo promo format with the music and the black and white was a work of art. Bischoff said it was more accident than attentional because he couldn’t get clean takes with Hogan, Hall and Nash.

(Clips of an nWo promo with Hogan, Hall and Nash and yes, it’s still pretty cool, 16 years later. Like if they could re-hash some of that style with 3-man band there’s no doubt in my mind they would get ridiculously over. Unfortunately the business cycle hasn’t gotten there yet.)

Mick says at a certain point during the 83-week streak that WCW dominated the WWF he though the WWF had a better product on Monday nights. He said around week 50-55 he felt like things turned but the ratings hadn’t reflected it yet. Ross said WCW was smart to hire the top-level smaller guys like Guerrero, Jericho and Malenko and those kids carried the show and appealed to the fans of workrate. And it protected the nWo from wrestling. Bischoff says with the exception of Scott Hall they couldn’t work. (Hmmm, Waltman could work in 1996-1997). Foley summerizes it that the WWF had the better main event matches but WCW had much better undercard. Bischoff said the WCW main event matches did what they were aimed to do in terms of fan reaction. Hayes said the lack of payoff hurt them as time went on. He assumes it had to do with creative control issues but Bischoff says that was bullshit.

Bischoff said one guy had creative control and that was Hogan. He sets Bret might have as well but Hogan was the one. Bischoff said he listened to a lot of people but one guy had creative control. Bischoff said for him Nitro was there to build to the PPV.

(Clips of Sting vs. Hogan at Starrcade or as Scott puts it the biggest missed opportunity in the history of the WCW…or something like that. Wow this is a horrible finish. Never seen this match. This was the best they could come up with?)

Ross brings up Montreal. Everyone knew Hart was negotiation with WCW. Ross asks Bischoff how serious the negotiations were and did he know that Vince was preparing to become a TV personality. Bischoff said they were serious and a lot of their discussions went beyond wrestling and discussed a variety of things. Hayes said Bischoff had a talent for talking to talent. Ross tries to run through the events but Hayes stops him and reminds him that a lot of WWE talent refused to work the next night including Foley. Hayes wants to talk about it but Ross pushes on (and good thing because Montreal should have been a show in itself and should have a DVD devoted to it beyond Bret vs. Shawn. Unfortunately some of the important people surrounding that night are dead but I would love to hear Undertaker talk about his thoughts and if he considered leaving…or if Austin considered leaving and why Vince cut Bulldog and Anvil but kept Owen. Lot of untapped stuff there in terms of how the boys in the back felt as this was happening and who said what to Shawn and Hunter.)

Anyhoo Ross asks Bischoff again if he thought Vince was going to be this great TV personality. Bischoff said he couldn’t see it at the time. Hayes said no matter who screwed who at Montreal he could not believe Bischoff waited so long to wait for him to debut. Hayes says he knew Bret well enough to know he would stall for time. Bischoff says there are a lot of things with that he wishes he could do differently.

Bischoff said that the move wasn’t just to take Bret away from the WWF, he needed more talent for TV. He needed brand name talent for this new show, Thunder, and he already had overexposed his talent on Nitro. So they were holding him to push his debut closest to Thunder. (Knowing what kind of show Thunder became I think he’s full of shit. Thunder was strictly more work for floundering Power Plant guys and used to push mid-card talents like Glacier and Kanyon. If the real reason of bringing Hart in for millions was to anchor Thunder…well maybe we do give Bischoff too much credit.)

Lawler still wonders if Bret and Vince came up with this plan on their own. Hayes says he doesn’t think so but only two people know. Hayes said the same rumors followed the departure of Russo and Ferrera. Lawler said he believes Vince and Bret came up with a plan. Ross said he believes Vince wanted to keep Bret in the company.

Mick brings up Tyson and how his involvement, starting with the Royal Rumble sent the WWF off to the races and where they finally unseated Nitro as the kings of Monday Night. And at that point both companies were doing great business. Mick asks was it more important for WCW to be successful or to beat WWF. Bischoff said beating WWF was more important and if he was number one the company had no choice but to be successful.

Bischoff said as the streak ended he was fried. He had help but not a true right hand man. Mick brings up that when Guerrero and Malenko came to the WWF they were shocked to see everyone dressing in the same dressing room. The Rock, Austin, all the “stars” dressing with the mid carders. Bischoff says one of the things he screwed up on was not keeping the boys on an even keel. He said Hogan started the separation from the rest of the boys and it ballooned from there. Ross said one of the first changes he made as head of talent was to eliminate the private dressing rooms. (Mick: “There were private dressing rooms?” Ross: “Yes there were Mick.” Foley: “Wow, I guess I wasn’t invited….laughter and awkward silence.)

Ross said wrestling companies that allow private dressing rooms are begging for disaster. Lawler said there is a pecking order but you can’t rub it in people’s faces. Hayes called Lawler out for saying he was the EPITOME of a private dressing room in Memphis. Lawler is like…well I owned the company. That was funny.

Let’s get to the Schiavone announcement of Foley winning the title. Man he’s a big asshole. Bobby Heenan ripping him on a shoot later was hilarious. Bischoff said he had a did that in the past and of course it backfired as Foley pointed out because there was a huge TV flow to Raw that night. Hayes said Foley’s victory was a victory for guys like him. Guys that didn’t fit the mold but had undeniable talent to entertain.

(Clips of Foley winning his first title from Rock. He got a pretty good pop for that one I’d say.)

Foley goes on to rip that Jan. 4, 1999 episode of Nitro saying how much it sucked. Foley tells Bischoff that it was mean spirited and the tone Schiavone used was beyond hurtful. Bischoff says it wasn’t. (He’s wrong, it was and Schiavone was probably blackballed from the business for it. Although it could just be because he’s a huge asshole and everyone hates him. Listening to Heenan rip his punk ass to shreds in old shoots is great.) Schiavone made an apologetic call to Foley. Bischoff said he normally didn’t produce Tony. He might have but normally he didn’t. But he’s not denying that he didn’t tell him to do it. Bischoff said it wasn’t personal, he did what he had to do and he would have done it if it was anyone. He doesn’t regret it.

(In a way I like the way Bischoff came off here. He doesn’t hide from that criticism. It would be easy to say he regretted it and apologized but in actuality all is fair in love and war.)

Moving on Ross asks Bischoff does he wish he focused more time on creating new guys like Goldberg than continuing to hang his hat on the older hands. Bischoff says the fact is that WCW did develop guys but Foley says none of them were pushed other than Goldberg. Bischoff says when the WWF turned up the volume and started “out-Nitroing Nitro” he had to try to push back.

(Clips of DX invading Nitro. One of my favorite moments of the Monday Night War.)

Bischoff said while DX was doing that he was getting phone calls demanding scripts months ahead of time as if they planned that far ahead (well in 1993 they used to tape 3 months of television in one weekend…soooo). And he was being told to make WCW more family friendly while WWF was going Attitude. But he doesn’t want to make that excuse because he admits he reacted wrong. He said he loved being a big shot. Bischoff talks about going to a meeting with guys he never met before telling him where WCW was heading.

They talk about Bischoff getting told to go home (he had a ton of money left on his contract so they didn’t fire him…and of course he came back later.). And Ross rips on Bill Shaw, calls him a liar. Ross calls the other announcers compared to him ‘ham & eggers’ (love any Heenan reference). Ross compares his issues with Shaw and being told to take a two and a half year vacation to Bischoff’s meeting with Turner’s folks. Bischoff said it sucked because he was getting his ass kicked and people telling him what to do and then busting his balls for it not working (gotta love middle management.)

Bischoff says he barely knew who Russo and Ferrera were and had nothing to do with bringing them in. Hayes tried a jump ahead to when Bischoff and Russo combined forces. Bischoff never knew they came into WCW because once he was told to go home he did just that and starting fishing. He says after going from his Wyoming home to a Super Bowl party he saw an episode of raw and saw the Radicalz on there and thought “what the fuck”. He told his wife he’d be getting a call from WCW real soon and it happened.

Bischoff said the discrepancy in the ratings were at least two points. They asked if he could work with Russo, he didn’t know. He knew Russo wasn’t the mind behind the resurgance of the WWF because if he was he wouldn’t have been allowed to leave.

Bischoff said when the end came he knew what was going to happen with the simulcast but he couldn’t bring himself to watch it. He wasn’t there for the final day. It bothered him a little because he cared. Jamie Kellner put the final nail in the coffin and Bischoff explains he had a deal with fusion media to try to buy WCW and they had raised 67 million dollars. He believed he had a deal done and told his wife that if the deal got done he would be back on the road. Bischoff was on the beach when he got word that WCW was selling the trademark and library but not the distribution and without the distribution the rest was worthless. It ends there.

The Bottom Line: Enough information and friction to make it worth all 96 minutes of your time if you’ve never seen it.

LoW Roundtable Re-Rant: Heat Seekers

Already did this one but wanted to keep them in order. Won’t be doing too many “extended” rants like this one because they take too much time. 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 situation 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.

STOP.

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.

LoW Roundtable: Greatest Rivalries

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

Greatest Rivalries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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