From the future
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I was thinking about who else could fall under the category of Real Man and really had trouble coming up with names. There aren’t that many Real Men in the world. At first, I thought that this was a sad statement for the world. But I went to write this down and now I realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong. There can only be so many. Because true manliness is only bestowed upon the very best of us.
The title of Real Man is a sacred one—a dubbing that will not be diluted like the retiring of uniform numbers of so many major sports franchises. Because becoming a Real Man is an accomplishment far greater and incomparable to any other. What makes a Real Man a Real Man is intangible. It cannot be measured in touchdowns, homeruns, hat tricks or free throws. Surely, you can see manliness—it’s in how hard he can kick another man in the face, the ugliness he wears as he squints up and deposes the man he hates, how fast he is willing to drive his pickup truck or how many barely-cooked steaks he can devour in a single sitting—but that does not mean you can measure it. Regardless, statistics are not what makes the Man. A Real Man knows not of numbers. He does not wear them on his back or chest, to be inscripted on a fabric banner and risen by cables into rafters or even to be carved into concrete. A Real Man cannot be defined by a single number; he is defined by the impressions he leaves with others. He is not defined by his own experiences, but the experiences others take from him. The Man is made by the intimidation he holds over others, the fear he can strike into our hearts, the bushiness of his mustache, the cowboy hat, the lasso, the leather chaps over blue spandex that only he would be so bold as to wear.
The regular, normal, sissy man like you and I—we bleed. We need our veins to carry blood to every part of our body to survive. But the Real Man doesn’t work like that. You can cut him, and yes, a red liquid will pour from his body, but it is not blood. The Real Man’s heart pumps only emotion (usually some form of hostile emotion). A summer night in the Budokan was when a 26-year-old Kenta Kobashi met a Bad Man from Borger, Texas. And on this night, hatred was flowing through the veins of Stan Hansen.
Kenta Kobashi was born into this world with what the anime fans would probably call a real “warrior’s spirit”. He was born with natural facial expressions ready to pierce through any adversity, through whatever journey, no matter how much his enemies tried to hurt him. Because even at the age of 26, Kobashi was already immune to pain. No, Kobashi is not quite superhuman. His body does respond to the violence inflicted upon him, and you can slow him down. But pain, Kenta Kobashi does not feel like sissy men like you or I do when we accidentally hit our shin on the coffee table. He feels none of it. How else can you explain a man who came back from roughly 907 knee surgeries to kick as much ass as ever before? How else do you explain a summer night in the Egg Dome 12 years later where he withstood approximately 8,628 chops from Kensuke Sasaki?
Pain is suppressed in Kobashi, like the suppressed, forgotten, blocked-out memory from your childhood when you were locked in a dark closet and terrorized by drunken uncles—securing your modern sissiness. In the same situation, even a seven-year-old Kobashi would have spinning back chopped the door down, blistered everyone’s chests and given them all burning hammers onto vodka-soaked furniture.
But on this night in 1993, invoking pain is not on Stan Hansen’s mind. So maybe Kobashi cannot be hurt, but hurting is not what Hansen does. No. Stan Hansen kills motherfuckers dead
The true drunk rather the drink taste horrible. Oh yes, the novice may resort to so-called girly drinks and become confused as the far more experienced drinkers settle down to straight up booze. Girly drinks are indeed girly. Undiluted, unmixed liquor is to the point, effective and most importantly, will get the drunk to his desired state in the most timely manner.
Furthermore, the aroma of straight liquor is intense. The drunk enjoys this scent and may take a whiff much like the lightweight wine connoisseur smells the cork. The viciousness of the air that emanates from the bottle earns the drunk's respect. That is how the drunk comes to know the liquor's strength, its power. Its strength and power that it will transfer to the drunk through ingestion.
A powerful enough liquor, when drank too quickly will cause the drunk to gag. This must be his body telling him that his present action is not a wise idea. But alas, the drunk has already set his mind. If he has come this far then his back is already up against the wall. As he stands there at the car, in the spotlighted parking lot, he can either walk through the cars and back inside with his social ineptitude... or he can drink as quickly as possible, like the drunk that he is, straight liquor, burning his throat, his inhibitions and who knows what else after that.
And who knows what else... because he's too afraid to look it up on the internet.
The question of which liquor to select is never an issue to the drunk. If it is an intoxicating liquid that tastes like gasoline, it will do. Just one example would be vodka. The more advanced, scholared drunk may prefer the greater-than-80-proof potency of substances such as those named by numbers alone, like 151.
But let's take vodka. However, the drunk must be specific on this one point: vodka-flavored vodka. No fruity accents, no apple, raspberry, lemon, lime with his spirits, please. If the drunk wanted a sweet, refreshing drink, he would sip on a juice box. If the drunk wanted something that wasn't so strong and intense, he would have ordered a girly drink, but as has already been pointed out, the drunk has not time for that. He needs to become intoxicated to his desired level quickly and without haste. So the drunk will feel closer to his spirits if they are pure, untouched, untainted and frankly, unharmed.
If the drunk must dilute, there is one simple option.
Water is free. It is sugar free. And like, say, vodka, water is a clear liquid. A clear liquid combined with a clear liquid result in a clear liquid. Perfect for concealment of his drunkenness.
always had a bottle I could turn to
The drunk will find that there are at least two different kinds of drunk. The two major ones: happy drunk and depressed, disappointed, defeated drunk.
We all know the happy drunk--the unusually loose, outgoing sober man that was. It is the happy drunk whose level of drunkenness can be most easily and accurately judged.
However, the latter is much harder to detect. The defeated drunk is a much more quiet drunk. Silence always comes with pain. This is the quiet man, alone at the end of the bar. Maybe he reads the newspaper as he washes himself away. You would never know of his level of intoxication... unless he's incited.
The third type of drunk. It is when his problems are explicitly explored that the depressed, disappointed, defeated drunk.... becomes... PISSEDOFFNESS. He becomes it. He personifies it. Though he does not direct his PISSEDOFFNESS on anyone personally in the room (because after all, he is defeated and is still the defeated drunk), it is then that his ANGER and SADNESS and FRUSTRATION rise.
Oh yes, the normal, sober, sissy man like you and I bleed blood. The PISSEDOFF drunk, has only his intense feelings in his veins (and maybe above or maybe below .08% alcohol). But he still has his senses. He is the drunk, but the drunk is just the man wrapped up inside the man: the real man that the man is too afraid, too insecure, too self-conscious, too unconfident to let out. Again, the latter drunk, unprovoked is most difficult to detect and almost impossible to gauge. But once he enters PISSEDOFFNESS, it is this drunk whom his observers, due to his endless outpouring of emotion, will believe is far more heavily intoxicated than he really is. The defeated drunk and even the happy drunk hold the same emotions that the PISSEDOFF drunk holds, but they are either not active (in the happy drunk) or not yet ignited (in the defeated drunk).
Moreover, the defeated man and defeated drunk aren't very different. The alcohol sits dormat on him. He goes from sober and miserable to numb and miserable. Even drunk, the defeated one knows that these certain emotions are to be kept inside of him. But if PISSEDOFFNESS ensues, another level of honesty may be endured. Even honesty to the point of self-embarrassment: the admission of things the sober man does keep hidden in a rare instance of his wisdom. And to the surprise of none, the drunk will do things the sober man would not.
Alcohol's greatest curse is that it wears off. This means the drunk inevitably becomes the sober man and will recall the things he said and did when he was a drunk (no matter which kind) and find a way, somehow, to feel the sober man's favorite emotion: regret.
The emotions the happy drunk loves are confidence, bravery and courage. He is the hero of his world.
The emotions the defeated drunk loves are sorrow, depression and misery. He is the tragic figure of his.
The PISSEDOFF drunk loves the same emotions the defeated drunk does, but also ANGER, FRUSTRATION and CONFUSION. The victim.
And finally, the emotions loved most by the sober man: regret, uncertainty and self-hatred.
And as the drunk rotates from one form to another, searching for his perfect state of social eptitude, he wonders in amazement at the other three men he becomes... he cannot understand them. But what the happy drunk, defeated drunk, PISSEDOFF drunk and certainly, the sober man do not realize is that there is no drunk, no sober man that he can become that will bring him solidarity. Because each respective drunk's (or sober man's) favorite feelings to feel are naturally, each man's greatest faults, each man's downfall.
WON Wrestler of the Year updated
Updated for 2005, as Kenta Kobashi won the award the third year in a row.
But not just that. Thanks to Brad Belote, we now have the pre-1980 list, as determined by Steve Yohe.
A Real Man: Stan Hansen
Originally posted here. Revised above.
WON Awards 2005 ballot deadline has passed
1. WRESTLER OF THE
2. MOST OUTSTANDING
3. BEST BOX OFFICE
4. FEUD OF THE YEAR
5. TAG TEAM OF THE
6. MOST IMPROVED
7. BEST ON INTERVIEWS
8. MOST CHARISMATIC
9. BEST TECHNICAL
10. BRUISER BRODY
AWARD: BEST BRAWLER
11. BEST FLYING WRESTLER
12. MOST OVERRATED
13. MOST UNDERRATED
14. PROMOTION OF THE
15. BEST WEEKLY TV
16. SHOOTFIGHTER OF
17. WORKED MATCH OF
18. SHOOT MATCH OF
19. ROOKIE OF THE
20. BEST NON-WRESTLER
21. BEST TELEVISION
22. WORST TELEVISION
23. BEST MAJOR SHOW
OF THE YEAR
1. WORST MAJOR SHOW
OF THE YEAR
2. BEST WRESTLING
3. MOST DISGUSTING
4. WORST TELEVISION
5. WORST MATCH OF
6. WORST FEUD OF THE
7. WORST PROMOTION
8. BEST BOOKER
9. PROMOTER OF THE
10. BEST GIMMICK
11. WORST GIMMICK
12. BEST WRESTLING
13. BEST DVD
WWE Raw TV report from WO.com
: I find it hard to believe there is much of an audience that still enjoys the majority of what WWE puts out. I think most of us watch in large part out of habit, because we love wrestling, and hope some day WWE will get back to actually producing it. WWE was the first wrestling promotion I watched, and my favorite wrestling promotion for most of my time watching wrestling. Now it is like a beloved sibling who is now a drug addict.
Letter to Da Meltz: circa 11/25/04 (and the curse of the Monday Night Wars)
The crash TV attitude of the Monday night wars established that something big had to happen every week and even almost at every moment to try beat the other show. So as result of that, we got a lot of heel and face turns.
Now, the Monday night wars are over, but the bygone ratings war obviously has a great lasting effect on the product today.
But my question is, should the philosophy on turning characters change? Correct me if I'm wrong, but before WCW and WWF went head-to-head on Mondays, I remember turns being a more rare, major event. Looking back, it felt more like a major long-term change of direction for that wrestler's career. Today, it feels like turns are usually made for more short-term reasons.
I think the best example is turning Austin heel at Wrestlemania X-7. It seemed like the initial motive to turn Austin was simply the thought of, "wow, we have the biggest star and face of the era... how cool would it be to turn him heel?" Which actually even sounded cool to me at the time. But it was that motive, rather than there being a major directional change that really needed to be made with Austin's character. Compare Austin's heel turn to Hogan's heel turn in 1996, for example. Austin had not run his course as a face and the fans didn't even want to boo him.
Since the wars ended, it seems like turns don't happen quite as much. But still, they happen often enough where, I wonder if the audience feels it can't trust these characters.
My point is, does turning wrestlers so often make fans lose faith in a hero babyface? Doesn't that make the fan more reluctant to really believe in and care about a face, when there's a precedent that that face will probably turn heel within a year or two. And thus, especially in today's not-so-hot period of wrestling, doesn't this effect business, because no one can be established as an individual draw because the fans usually want to pay money to see a wrestler they like -- a face? Or does everyone merely need to eventually turn back and forth to freshen things up in 2004?
Look at somebody like Kurt Angle. And look back on the feud between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar from 2003. You've got the top two guys on the Smackdown side. Going into Wrestlemania, Angle was heel and Lesnar was face. By the time Angle got back from the injury, Lesnar was heel and Angle was brought back as a face as they feuded up to SummerSlam. Then, going into Mania XX, he was turned again to go against Guerrero. He went from heel, to face, to heel, all within the matter of a year. And that's not even counting anything before 2003. In Angle, you've got one of the great performers of the era, but don't you think one of the reasons (among others, I know) that he'll never be a mega star is because he's flip-flopped so many times?
Heels are supposed makes fans want to see them lose and faces are supposed to make fans want to see them win. And if I'm this average fan that gives the reaction they're going for, I don't see how I can buy into this after a while when you get jerked around so much.
Da Meltz: I think that's one of the big problems is fans have no connection to any wrestler because they know, as a fact, the rug will be pulled out from them. The stupidest heel turns were Sting and Goldberg in WCW, worse because they were given up on within weeks. But the company was in bad shape and desperate. The Austin turn was a miscalculation of huge proportions. It bothered me so much because I warned them for weeks that there was something they didn't understand. The vast majority of their audience at the time had become fans from late 1997 on, and their strongest link to the product was Austin, and to a lesser extent, the Austin vs. McMahon feud. To have Austin turn, and worse, join McMahon, and without even a viable reason other than it was a new idea, caused a lot of fans who had been watching for just a few years to hit their "nothing matters in wrestling" conclusion. You can point to the beginning of the end of WWE at the level it was to that decision. Worse, they even did the fake turn back, which the people wanted, and pulled the rug from the people again. When they finally turned Austin back, while he was popular, it was never half of what they had once had, and he was the guy who pulled the wagon, which I don't think they fully grasped because they were so drunk with success.
Epilogue: Something important to take from this is the idea that the ratings wars are over, but many aspects of the business that it established are not. So much from the previous era of wrestling still lingers heavily over the current WWE product, and subsequently the rest of wrestling, either through its influence on other bookers or through concepts and expectations fans have been conditioned to. It is the curse of the Monday Night Wars.
Nitro debuted against Monday Night Raw in September 1995 and the war began, peaking somewhere in 1998 as wrestling was on fire. That peak was also the turning point of Raw beginning to take the lead on Nitro and WCW truly beginning to self-destruct.
So much of the insanity that happened from about 1997, when it really started to get intense, to when Nitro finally went off the air in early 2001, has left a huge mark on the new wrestling environment that would follow it.
As is discussed in the above letter, we saw a million turns and crazy angles in that time period. With so much, trumped up so big, so often, this dilluted the business and the fans' senses. When you do a meaningless turn every other week, how can any heel or face turn come off as important as it once could be?
Futhermore, the wars inspired the format of what a wrestling television program is to change dramatically. One-hour programs that were used to enhance the talent and to protect and promote the big matches between the stars, became two-, even three-hour weekly extravaganzas, putting on big matches between stars for free every week in order to top the other show. And guess what? Once a week wasn't even enough. The Thunder and then Smackdown programs were created and went head-to-head for another two hours in primetime on Thursday nights.
On March 23, 2001, the war was officially over. WCW had been run out of business by a combination of itself, the WWF and one television executive. And so the WWE stands alone, like a country victorious in nuclear war, ready to rule a world completely changed by two superpowers who had thrown everything they had at one another.
And the four hours of weekly primetime programming remain. The audience's expectations of a two-hour super show, where the stars always wrestle the stars on free TV, remain. The fans' desensitization to heel/face turns and other big angles and gimmicks done to death remains.
And what can the WWE do? Volunteer to stop producing Smackdown, cut Raw to one hour and return to producing a Saturday morning style program? Certainly not. It's not what the fans expect, it's not what the networks expect and it's not what their account expects.
It's not that the Monday Night Wars were all negative. They lit a fire between two companies that produced a more interesting product for fans and provoked competition that brought the business to places it had never even been in the 80s. Who is to say what the business may have become if a WCW Nitro program was never born? The effects of the big crazy Raw and Nitro programs of the late 90s hurt the business as it stands today, but allow it to stand where it does today.
Meet the Press: Christmas Day
MR. RUSSERT: Where do you draw the line as a questioner in a crisis situation? You see the reality on the ground from your correspondents, your reporters, and this government official doesn't get it. Does that give us a license to say, "Hey, fella..."
MR. KOPPEL: Look, I mean, the fact is that three of us, I think, all have to operate with that same little hidden voice in the back of our heads. When we begin an interview--in this case, for example, the audience is sitting there, identifying and empathizing with you as the questioner, saying, "All right, Timmy, go after him. Nobody's really gone after these two bozos for a long time. You have a chance to do it today." If, as you're very carefully doing right now, you're setting us up slowly for some of those questions that you've got written down later, the audience will stay with you. And eventually, if Tom and I ramble on too long, they'll say, "Come on, Timmy, get in there. Rough them up a little bit." If you jump in too quickly, then you're going to lose the allegiance of the audience and they will transfer it then to your guest, and they will come to perceive, as Tom and I will shortly be, your victims.
MR. RUSSERT: Ted Koppel, how do you cover a story like that without alarming people and still do your job as a journalist to prepare people?
MR. KOPPEL: You can't. You have to alarm people because until people are sufficiently alarmed they're not going to listen to what has to happen.
MR. KOPPEL: ...just a couple of nights ago my wife and I watched for about the third or fourth time what I still think is the best political movie ever made, "The Candidate." And you remember the essential theme of "The Candidate" is Robert Redford playing this idealistic young lawyer who is in effect thrown into the meat grinder to run against this establishment Republican senator in California and he's gonna get his butt handed to him, except that by telling the truth and speaking candidly during the first half of the campaign, he pulls within 7 or 8 points of the incumbent. At which point, of course, all of his advisers say, "Well, you can't do that anymore."
MR. BROKAW: Right.
MR. KOPPEL: You know, whatever you do now...
MR. RUSSERT: We might win.
MR. KOPPEL: We could actually win this thing and you're gonna have to be careful. And what I thought in watching that movie the other day is how little things have changed, except that the people who run campaigns now have an even more iron control...
MR. BROKAW: There are more gunslingers.
MR. KOPPEL: ...over the campaign than they did 25 or 30 years ago. And that's more the pity. I don't know if any one of the three of us were ever a candidate-- [looks in the camera] and, don't worry, it'll never happen in my case. [motions to Brokaw] Him, I'm not so sure about. But if that were ever to happen, we wouldn't be able to do it any different. It just is impossible in this day and age for anybody to speak his mind plainly and not to be ripped to shreds by some PR machine on the other side.
MR. RUSSERT: And you lose the real characters...
From: "Rais Gastelum"
Meltz: The only true cure is this. Promoters can't push people based on physique, and judge talent for jobs based on physique. The public can't be impressed by talent with better physiques in thinking that helps make them bigger stars. The talent itself has to no longer care how their physique looks. All three are impossible in the business as we know it. There is no true cure, only an attempt to do the best possible on all accounts. The fact there is no cure does not mean steps shouldn't be taken to help, and this appears to be a giant step, as compared to two weeks ago.
The increasingly frequent 'hardcore' wrestling fan
Before this fall, I couldn't conceive a situation where another company would get on a legitimate cable network. The internet was already here and had done whatever it was going to do, so I figured the number of 'smart' fans had plateaued. Only the internet fans had access to learning about new organizations like TNA or Ring of Honor, so they were as big as they were going to get. And no promotion since ECW, with the advantage of having a million ideas unseen to average fan (which have all since been unavoidably beaten to death), although without the advantage of today's internet, had started from nothing and made it to national TV. And even they were done after a year.
So that really discouraged me from believing that anyone of these super indy startups would ever make it to national television to some day be in a position to compete with Vince McMahon. Any fans not willing to buy tapes over the internet or an obscure pay-per-view was going to be stuck watching Raw and Smackdown for all eternity. I just couldn't see how it would be possible.
Somehow TNA did it. The television executives are indeed the most powerful people in the wrestling business.
Indirectly, it's McMahon's fault. He could have settled for Spike TV's offer. Raw would still be on the network and TNA would still be floundering between the internet, monthly pay-per-view and a Fox Sports Net show with very weak penetration. For the sake of wrestling fans everywhere, thank god he didn't. At least in part to spite McMahon, Spike signed TNA and now anything can happen.
I'll never forget the moment the first show came on.
Now I'm someone who thinks the WWE gets more hate than it deserves and someone who was at no point a big fan of TNA. But it was moving. Here was this thing that basically only existed on the websites and in the pages of newsletters, finally standing in front of the world with an opportunity to compete with the fed.
The business is changing, obviously. But, deeper, the fans are changing as well.
There have never been so many hardcore fans.
While the popularity of the WWE, the apparent barometer of the business, has leveled off in the last couple years, in those same two years or so, a corner of fans have become incredibly avid.
You can see the devotion of the fans in the TNA studio. You could write it off as a level of fandom only in Orlando, generated around TNA. But then I read things like how fans traveled from all over the world for their fanfest and first pay-per-view while on Spike. And I see the attention a number of major local events have gotten, headlined, not by the Hacksaw Jim Duggans, Koko B. Wares and Jimmy Snukas, but by the names of TNA and Ring of Honor.
If you did a national poll asking people who they recognize, Jim Duggan, Koko B. Ware and Jimmy Snuka would no doubt be extremely more recognizable than A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe and Monty Brown. But today, a card with the latter names would outdraw a card with the former names. While the legends are more recognizable, they appeal to a section of the population far less willing to buy a wrestling ticket, if they are wrestling fans at all anymore. As we near the end of 2005, it is the new stars that attract a kind of fan not only more willing to buy a ticket to see them as opposed to the old legends, but willing to travel dozens, maybe even hundreds of miles to see the show they are on.
The fans are growing smarter by the day. Though a visit to any wrestling message board will show that they are by and large not any smarter in terms of accuracy of the details (after all, this is still a business often based on misinformation, misinterpretation, misrepresentation and confusion). But smarter in that they have more access and a further reach than ever.
Then remember that the internet isn't just for nerds anymore. More people are getting high speed internet by the day. They're not just reading the websites, but downloading watchable video and even participating in the internet through the millions of myspace and online journals that it seems everyone on the planet has setup.
Much of the reaching for an alternative has to be prompted by the WWE disgruntling their fanbase. Fans have been left unsatisfied or even pissed off. Not to discount some dragging TV shows and lame angles on Raw and Smackdown, but wasn't it almost unavoidable? The E has been the only game to play since 2001. There is no more WCW to flip over to and realize just how brown the grass could get. Four and a half years later, it's the same old field.
And along comes TNA, etc., offering a style of wrestling the WWE does not, offering new fresh faces that haven't been overexposed every Monday and Friday night for two straight hours.
Best match of the 2000s so far?
A lot of what makes one match "greater" than another to the viewer can be the viewer's setting, time or mindset. That might be the case for me.
Probably sometime in early 2001, I got this tape. The New Japan vs. All Japan feud was the new, cool thing on the block. If you were not following Japanese wrestling before this time, it must be hard to appreciate the novelty of the first interpromotional feud. Today, it's entirely conceivable and unsurprising for ANY one wrestler from one promotion to face ANY wrestler from another promotion. At this time, however, this was a new concept in Japan. Then add in the fact that wrestlers very rarely jumped promotions.
Sharp on my 1990s All Japan, I believed Toshiaki Kawada was the badass of all motherfucker badasses. He would put his yellow boot straight through your skull if it was what he had to do to win the match. And afterward, as they moped up the blood, he would be looking over, with the same blank expression he had when he came to the ring.
Two months before, Kawada had nearly kicked the mullet clean off Kensuke Sasaki's head. It was the first significant All Japan star vs. New Japan star match, in the Tokyo Dome, and Kawada won. This match should be considered as one of the better matches of the decade. But that match is not the one I have to come to talk to you about today.
The match I'm talking about is Nagata & Iizuka vs. Fuchi & Kawada, 12/14/00. I believe the then-named-Maunakea Mossman was originally supposed to be Kawada's partner in that match, but was injured shortly before and replaced by Masanobu Fuchi. I heard some internet rumblings that "this would have been a much better match had Kea not gotten hurt... Fuchi is old grrr;alksdjf he is pale he is as;dlkfajs;df."
With all due respect to Kea, he is not the grumpy motherfucker that Masanobu Fuchi is. Given that, his age and pastiness are redeeming qualities. Kea was about 25 and not the performer even 48 year old Fuchi was. At least on that day.
Yuji Nagata had yet to beat Keiji Muto in the G1 Climax final, though, he had yet to be OMGKTFO!!!!!~! by Mirko CroCop.
Similarly, Takashi Iizuka also had yet to be OMGKTFO~!!!!~!!!!!, albeit, by accident, by Mitsuya Nagai.
I haven't watched this match in a little while, but the drama was great. The interpromotional gimmick was so new and fresh. This was the main event at the traditional December Osaka Furitsu show for New Japan, which is always a hot building before you even give it a program like New Japan vs. All Japan to be hot about. The double submission spots as the pull back and forth from the ropes stick out in my mind, one man jumping in to save his partner, only to be stopped and put in a hold while the crowd awaits a submission.
After the match, Tiger Hattori got Nagata and Iizuka over and tried to get Kawada and Fuchi to come over and raise arms or shake hands. Kawada just looked at Nagata, said something in Japanese that I translated as "fuck you, motherfucker," and he and Fuchi got the fuck out of the ring and marched to the back. I marked out so hard.
A fan watching it cold today, not following the companies at the time at hand, not holding the same mystique for Kawada, might not get out of it the markdom that I got. On a limb, I would pick this match off the top of my head as the match I enjoyed most in the last five or six years.
After seeing the match, it looked like the perfect setup for a Nagata vs. Kawada tournament final in the Tokyo Dome, 20 days later. Instead, it would be Kensuke getting his win back from Kawada. Since then, Nagata vs. Kawada was a big dream match of mine. To take a barometer of the Japanese wrestling business, that match happened five years later, to little fanfare in this year's G1 Climax. I downloaded it a couple months ago and just watched it recently. And it's only a decent match, deeply hindered by a quiet audience.
Trying to examine the drawing power of CMLL and its top stars, I went through Observers and put together the list.
Meltz only had attendance for about half the shows. Please email if you can fill any of the blanks.
A Real Man: "Cowboy" Bill Watts
In the world of wrestling, Bill Watts is a rare genius. A true man. A real American. A hater of communists. Communists with names like Ivan, Nikita and Kruscher. An ass-kicker of communist sympathizers with names like Eddie Gilbert. A man willing – and able – to kill a terrorist with his bare hands. But sadly, the wrestling world is not the real world. In the real world, Bill Watts might be identified as a mere cowboy. A cowboy whose vernacular and political correctness were not up to the standards of the Turner executives (including homerun king Hank Aaron) at CNN Center.
Downtown Atlanta, Georgia was a strange place for a 50-something, joint-smoking mid-southerner from Bixby, Oklahoma. Legend has it, instead of using the building's modern restrooms; Watts would clunk his cowboy boots over to the balcony, unzip his denim and take a leak straight off the edge. Watts’ legend was tremendous.
It had been about five years since Watts had sold the Universal Wrestling Federation (formerly Mid-South Wrestling) to Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987. It was now 1992 and Jim Crockett Promotions had become World Championship Wrestling. As Watts stepped into the office in downtown Atlanta, the wrestling business was changing as quickly as ever.
In his day, Watts was one of the all-time great bookers of professional wrestling – a man who knew how to stir up the emotions of the viewing public. He was the driving force that made or at least spring-boarded names into stardom like the Junkyard Dog, Ted DiBiase, the Rock n’ Roll Express, the Midnight Express, Jim Cornette, Magnum T.A. and even an announcer who, one day, would be merely recognized by the initials J.R. So Watts appeared to be as good a choice as any to take over the reigns of a company that was a distant number-two to even the declining World Wrestling Federation.
According to Watts, his run in WCW was hindered most by Turner executives pressuring him to cut costs after the company had done nothing but lose money since Turner Broadcasting made the purchase from Crockett in 1988. Reading back events today, it seems so many things he tried to get going were spoiled by someone leaving or being fired over money. Watts claims in his shoot interview that he knew from the start it would only be a matter of time before he was fired. By February 1993, Hank Aaron had read his old interview in the Pro Wrestling Torch, where he gave his views on racial discrimination in the business world in a way only Cowboy Bill could articulate.
I believe he quit before he was fired and though the Bill Watts era was over, another era was about to begin. In a huge “what if?” in wrestling history, many in wrestling expected Tony Schiavoni to be named new Senior Vice President of WCW. Instead, executives chose an announcer that the company had signed from Verne Gagne’s folded AWA, named Eric Bischoff.
But back at CNN Center in mid-1992, the former collegiate wrestler and pro football player was ready to re-enter the pro wrestling business. Now remember, it had been five years since Watts ran Mid-South. And in the wrestling product of 1992, Watts saw things he didn’t like. Aspects of the modern business he would set out to change, in effort to almost bring things back to the way he knew them.
Too many wrestlers were jumping off the top-rope. Watts felt so many top-rope moves were being done that such high spots had lost the excitement they used to have with fans. He sought to make jumping off the top-rope an automatic disqualification, at least for a while. However problematic (and maybe ignoring the fact there was another wrestling company on TV that would not comply to the same rules), in time, he believed fans would have a reborn enthrallment for the top-rope moves and thus, they would mean something again.
The same went for throwing an opponent against the ring post or the guardrail outside the ring, where protective floor mats would also be banned. This was to, in a small way, make the product appear more legitimate. Among other new rules, these laws installed by Watts would be forever immortalized as his “Ten Commandments”.
I personally love the things Watts was famous for (whether they were viable to the modern general wrestling public or not) and the thinking behind all the changes he tried to make to WCW. He was trying to preserve the business and keep it from eating away at itself. He got rid of the mats to try to sell to the people that it was real. He tried to make the wrestlers be more careful socializing with each other outside the arena so illusions wouldn’t be shattered to even one fan. Watts loved to book the relentless heel on face beat downs to send the fans into a frenzy, making them want to see the face comeback next time to get his revenge. He loved to end the TV show, leaving you to wonder if one guy could trust another or who was on whose side. I love the fact that, to prove his matches were real, he would allow his TV to go off the air with the final match still unfinished. He tried to make house shows mean something by shooting angles on them.
Like any god or booker, his creations were in the image of himself. He loved to push the big, collegiate football players and wrestlers like Steve Williams, Terry Gordy, Jim Duggan, the Steiners, Vader, Ted DiBiase, Ron Simmons. Really, though, it made the sense. If it’s to be portrayed as sport, why wouldn’t the participants have an extensive athletic background? There aren’t many Jerry Lawler former artists who went straight to the pros in football, baseball or basketball.
I can’t remember ever watching WCW regularly during the fairly brief Bill Watts era. I can only vaguely remember seeing something on TV about someone being disqualified for jumping off the top-rope and being a little confused by it, which should tell you something.
Today, Watts’ less-than-one-year run in WCW is fascinating to me. Mid-South was producing all this great television for so many years. But the territory era was coming to an end in 1987 and his business was dying. Watts had to sell to Crockett or fold. Then, five years later, he gets a second chance at life.
This made me decide to find some tape from Watts’ tenure with WCW. One of the first matches under Watts was this one from WCW Saturday Night.
Brothers vs. Arn Anderson & Steve Austin
The beginning of the match flows really well with the Steiners on offense. Scott does some wrestling that I wonder if he remembers how to do today. Scott finds himself in peril when he flies over the top rope to the outside. Watts points out THERE’S NO PADDING OUT THERE, JIM! This is probably the perfect first match to watch from the Watts era, because Watts takes a lot of time on commentary, explaining the new rules and the match utilizes a lot of them. The camera gets a great shot in the corner of Arn charging in and taking a boot in the face.
Bill Watts on commentary just amazes me. He’s "Cowboy" Bill Watts from Oklahoma and he’s supposed to be a bigot and whatnot. He’s a former football player, wrestler, big-time sports jock. So you’d imagine some slobbering, blithering redneck. But he’s so articulate on commentary. Even his voice sounds like he should be an announcer.
As Scott Steiner sells in a chinlock from Austin, Watts, at rapid fire, spits out everything the fans need to know about how much that face wants to make the tag. He takes the non-verbal story being told in the ring and just puts it out there word-for-word.
A Real Man: Magnum T.A.
I would like to introduce you to a man. A man with a mustache. A man manly enough to have hair on his chest and not shave it off. He was a real man. Because real men have blonde perms. He is the greatest wrestling mega-star that never got to be one. He was born Terry Wayne Allen. But he became Magnum TA.
The wrestlingscout.com profile lists his career starting in the Portland territory, moving on to the Southwest Championship Wrestling territory in Texas and then Jim Barnett's Florida territory by 1979. He joined Bill Watts' Mid-South in 1983, where he was to be groomed for Dusty Rhodes to one day call him up to Jim Crockett Promotions to be pro wrestling's next major superstar.
By 1985, Magnum TA was rocking the Mid-Atlantic. At Starrcade '85, in a cage, he held a stake to Tully Blanchard's bloodied head and made him quit. He was United States Heavyweight Champion. He was the new American dream. But a Russian nightmare was looming.
His US title was held up after controversial matches with Nikita Koloff. And the "Best of Seven" began.
Koloff vs. Magnum TA
MY BACK IS AGAINST THE WALL, 'KITA!
There are many things about old wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions that scream old school wrestling. Ring announcer Tom Miller is one of them. David Crockett and his soft-spoken-with-occasional-screaming style of commentary is one of those also.
Magnum TA is ridiculously over. Magnum was the fucking man. That mustache and that permed mullet, aura cooler than Big Fucking Dave Batista. Magnum, in all his southern coolness, is fighting with an AMERICAN DREAM in mind: the United States heavyweight title. Nikita on the other hand is a Russian fucking monster. A communist fighting for his own RUSSIAN NIGHTMARE.
Nikita is too strong and full of steroids that the CCCP has supplied him. The "VASTLY POPULAR!" Magnum can only beat him by out wrestling him. Because of this Nikita beats him to no fucking end from the start. The odds are greatly against the babyface and there is nothing but hope that Magnum can stop the Russian Bear from becoming the United States champion.
This is a great seven or eight minute match. Nikita has his way with Magnum, throwing him through the ropes over and over again to Ivan Koloff on the outside. Magnum finally catches Nikita with a sunset flip over the ropes for the finish. Nikita does the late kickout and Tommy Young's out-of-picture, but looks to have been really fast. Regardless, Nikita's Russian nightmare is postponed!
Nikita Koloff vs. Magnum TA
David Crockett is the fucking man in this match. At the opening, he whispers words of encouragement in your ear like you are a young child learning how to ride a bike. Fans would probably be alienated, compared to what they're used to today, but I love his style of commentary.
The crowd is fucking electric for the seventh and final match of the series. They're going nuts as you can hear the awesome sound of the ring ropes rattling as Magnum sprints back and forth early. MAGNUM TWISTS HIM WITH THOSE MIGHTY ARMS! This is such a wrestling match. Magnum gets down to kicking some ass early and won't be dominated like he was in match #4. The trouble starts for Magnum when Nikita gets out of the way of a crossbody that sends Magnum out of the ring. And the Russian beating begins as Nikita dismantles Magnum's back. The crowd is so fucking nuclear to see Magnum comeback as Nikita bearhugs him to death. Magnum hiptosses out of a second bearhug and punches the fuck out of the CCCP's favorite wrestler. Ivan tries to get involved and gets a PILEDRIVER OF DOOM ON THE CONCRETE FLOOR so he can get back to punching Nikita. Oh my god. Wrestling is real. This brings Crusher Khrushchev down to complain to Tommy Young just as Magnum hits a BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX OF DOOM! PEOPLE ARE RIOTOUS! That fucking bastard Nikita hits Magnum with the chain! TOMMY, HE GOT HIM WITH THE CHAIN! Schiavoni is solemn. Crockett is livid. Nikita Koloff is the US champion. Magnum is flat on his back. THE NIGHTMARE HAS COME TRUE.God damn. Wrestling used to be so much simpler.
God damn. Wrestling used to be so much simpler. There was no perfectly executed moonsault. No modified DDT. No cool counters. No fast-paced mat work. No stiff chops or massive kicks to the face. No false finishes. Nothing innovative. The announcers didn't even put the match over as a match of the year candidate. There were people in an arena who were compelled to see a star win and his opponent lose.
But times have changed and wrestling has changed. This was fucking awesome. Jim Crockett Promotions was fucking awesome. Wrestling was fucking awesome. Wrestling in the 80s was fucking awesome -- a time when the men were men and they fought and they bled and paid the price.
Upon replay, the Russian chain slithers out of the ring like a snake.
Wrestling can still be awesome sometimes, but it's so much more difficult.
Nikita Koloff vs. Magnum TA
Another one of the greatest tragedies in wrestling happened on October 14, 1986 when Magnum TA's career was ended in a car accident that he was lucky to survive with the ability to eventually walk again. Imagine how the course of pro wrestling would have been different had Magnum's Porsche not hydroplaned out of control on a Charlotte, North Carolina street one Tuesday night. He certainly would have been NWA world heavyweight champion, perhaps by Starrcade '87, instead of Ron Garvin. Imagine the classic Flair vs. Magnum battles we missed out on. Could Magnum have made the difference in the wrestling war? Could the only Tom Selleck look-alike cooler than PI himself have kept Jim Crockett out of bankruptcy in 1988? We can only fluff our blonde perms and wonder.
This, a 2/3 falls rematch with Nikita Koloff, is what was Magnum TA's last big match on television.
The crowd is on for sure here, but not boiling over like they were for match #7. Nikita bumps and runs like a heel for Magnum at the open. Magnum gets the first pin and the fall that he never got in the last match after a few minutes after the belly-to-belly. I like the idea of the face getting the first fall in a 2/3 falls match, especially one where he is the challenger for a title. So all he needs is to get that one pin for the rest of the match. The other with the heel getting the first fall is good for the right situation, with the idea that after the heel has won the first fall, now the odds are against the face because he needs two straight falls to win. That may work especially well with a face against a weaker heel.
Nikita gets the second fall after cutting Magnum off outside the ring, working the throat and later hitting THE RUSSIAN SICKLE! I love wrestling matches where a clothesline gets a pin. 1986 was a great year.
Magnum tries to comeback early in the third fall, get some nearfalls, but gets cut down and Nikita settles it down with a good long headlock that Magnum keeps trying to work out of. Magnum continuously almost gets going, but Nikita just knocks him the fuck back down every time. Magnum sells and sells until he finally gets his big comeback. David Crockett declares this THE RAGE OF MAGNUM TA! The people really get going then. They want to see him win so badly. Believable nearfall off a vertical suplex! Magnum gets a three count on a backslide, but Tommy Young immediately discounts it when he sees Nikita's feet on the middle rope. Magnum thinks he's won and grabs the belt, which is the kind of the Dusty booking that confuses the fuck out of the fans which I always think makes people less willing to do the big pop for a finish the next time. Ivan Koloff jumps in and gets a belt shot, which ends the match on DQ. Helluva match, especially the third fall and not a bad one to end a career on, if all too soon.
In the old days of wrestling, for big matches, sometimes they used to bring in judges. I guess it was for added fanfare. Realistically, I guess it was incase the match went to a draw, the judges would decide the winner.
In boxing or today's MMA, they have judges and I imagine they're carefully selected. They're always sports writers, former fighters or someone you could otherwise call an expert on the sport.
In wrestling, judges usually included celebrities like Jason Hervey, G. Gordon Liddy and Kyle Petty. I guess the standards for judging professional wrestling aren't as high.
I'm surprised Harriet Miers never judged any pro wrestling matches.
Being in great shape doesn't necessarily mean one is on steroids. It could though.
At the same time, being in terrible shape -- whether you be skinny, fat or both -- doesn't mean that one is not.
As far as the morality of taking steroids... taking may make the difference between whether or not guys are able to pay their bills and feed their families and give them the quality of life they want their families to have.
A great Meltz once said, a .300 batter with a bad physique is still a starter on a major league team and a very high paid player. The equivalent of a .300 batter with a bad physique in wrestling is a guy on the indies that makes $300 a night.
In my opinion there is no true steroid test. Just because an athlete passes a steroid test does not mean he is clean. Yes, you can test positive for anabolic steroids, but only because you weren't smart enough to figure out a way around the test.
A steroid test is a false sense of security. It's a nice gesture and makes your sport look clean. Many people may even believe that if you steroid test that your sport is clean. Unless a sport is willing to test as frequently as at least the average half life of the average steroid, all they're doing is giving an IQ test. Something such as an annual steroid test does nothing to discourage use, only discourages use immediately before the test. I don't know much about tests in other sports. They may do their random tests throughout the season for all I know, which would be smart.
But even if they did that...
Many people think steroids are just a single drug, like marijuana or cocaine. There are a huge variety of steroids and each does something different to your body. Some have a long half life, some have a short half life. Some steroids there is no test for. There is no test and probably never will be for the king of all performance/physique enhancing substances: Human Growth Hormone.
And don't forget masking drugs.
In bodybuilding, tested or not, putting the right drugs in your body is surely as much a part of the competition as your diet and workout. Even if you wanted to stay clean, you can't. You have to use because it'll be impossible to compete if you don't because there will always be people willing to use. The same is true to a lesser extent in all sports.
Inoue & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinobu
This is a match for the ages.
It was set up by a really cool angle at Korakuen Hall at the end of January where Liger and Minoru Tanaka showed up at a NOAH show. Marufuji cut a promo on them and got a good reaction. Marufuji ended up injured before he could ever be involved with this feud. Kikuchi reeks of veteran coolness as he makes his entrance and hits the ropes in his white robe, ready to start the feud that would give him his best matches in 10 years.
A rare match where the Japanese fans give true heel heat, the people are pissed at the New Japan team and Liger and Inoue are ready to be total assholes. They can Kanemaru right away beat the hell out of Kikuchi as Kanemaru continuly tries to rescue him, to no avail. Who'd think, after Rey Misterio, the most innovative high-flier of the 90s can also be the greatest heel in the world on this night. Inoue's not bad either and they do all kinds of camel clutching and double teaming on Kikuchi while Kanemaru can't get in the ring. This is a great concept. Fuck "letting the faces shine". Let them get their asses kicked straight away. They'll get plenty of offense later, and now, this makes their awaited comebacks even more meaningful for the audience since they've been jumped and had their asses kicked since the beginning.
People explode when Kikuchi finally gets a single forearm on Liger. Kanemaru tags and kicks ass for a short while before he's cut off and gets beat to hell, with Kikuchi on the apron. The Japanese don't know psychology-- fuck you. This is a match you can watch next to your Midnight Express classics.
Kikuchi fucks up EVERYONE with his forearms. Forearms that look so big and deadly because of the giigantic white elbow pads he wears. Kikuchi is the man you always wished you could be. And it's somewhat surprising. Kikuchi hadn't made anykind of noise in many years. None that I know of since he teamed with Kobashi in 1992 as two young Japanese underdogs trying to overcome the Can-Am Connection (see WON MOTY #1). In 2002, he's an older, wiser veteran standing up to the New Japan outsiders, including the institution that is Jushin Liger. A not-quite-broken-out-yet KENTA Kobayashi is knelt at the apron, taking notes.
The chase to the finish is too great to accurately describe in writing. It's classic and appropriate. Kanemaru puts Inoue away with the brainbuster. Crazy all out brawling takes place after the match to let you know this is far from over, with Minrou Tanaka in particular causing a scene. Since Inoue was beaten here, he would go onto to team with Liger against the same pair of NOAH wrestlers in the next chapter of this, the following April at Ariake Colessium.
This match is everything you want wrestling to be. Although it was interpromotionalness of this match allowed to be what it was, it was the freaking fantastic performances from all four, who played their roles tremendously, that made this a match to remember. I don't give this rating out to just anything, but.......... A MILLION, BILLION STARS~!
Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Yuji Nagata & Jun Akiyama
This is Kobashi's big return match after being out since the end of 2000 so he could have about nine thousand knee surgeries. Funny story here. In the days before this match, Kobashi did interviews with the press, revealing his newly dyed blonde hair. Imagine Kenta Kobashi with blonde hair. It happened. Well, when he comes out, he has that big hooded dark purple robe on. He never takes the hood off until he's officially introduced in the ring. When he does, his hair has returned to its original color, denying a blonde Kobashi from ever wrestling.
I imagine Misawa and Nagata were anxious to get in the ring with each other. Misawa and Nagata were both major national wrestling champions as amatuers, who'd never faced each other in pro wrestling. They do some cool amatuer stuff. It's mostly 50-50 when they separate and Misawa decides to tag Kobashi for a huge pop. In response, Akiyama (GHC champion at this time) tags in, which escalates the reaction.
The last time Kobashi was in the ring was December 23, 2000 (after some research, his last match was really an obscure six-man that happened the next day, but let's not let a little thing like facts get in the way of worked sports drama). He defeated Akiyama, who he'd been feuded with, in the main event of NOAH's biggest show up to that point--really a forgotten great match.
Kobashi picks up where he left off, getting in with Akiyama in his first reaction back. A sub-division of the Science of Pro Wrestling is the study of facial expressions. Shinjiro Otani, Ricky Morton, Kobashi himself, even Hulk Hogan are known for being able to put on great faces to sell their pain and emotions to the crowd. They put on faces of anguish, agony and frustration. But so many times in Japan, in the right situation, the greatest facial expression is no expression at all. Watch here as the crowd boils over in excitement but Kobashi and particularly, Akiyama disproportionately stare across the ring blankly.
Kobashi and Akiyama know how to work their style so well, playing right into to what throw the fans into madness. They tie up and back into the ropes. Before they break, Akiyama hits a forearm, Kobashi fires back like clockwork with a single chop. Akiyama takes it and continues walking, as if to say, "alright, that test is over, but there's more to come."
There's a big "who will back down?" challenge of strikes, which leads to Akiyama doing the unthinkable and going over the knees, hitting a dragon screw. Maybe the most memorable spot of the match, Kobashi says, "fuck you, that's not going to work," shoots right up and bumps Akiyama with a tackle. Kobashi pats his knee and motions for Akiyama to bring it.
Kobashi and Nagata also have a very good inaugural exchange. Kobashi does take one kick to the knee here and actually has his leg worked over later in the match. Akiyama used an STF on him, Nagata hit a handful of kicks and did the Nagata Lock. All that looked fairly safe, although there's no telling what Kobashi felt just from all the bumping and moving around.
The finish of this match is also too insane to type. Plenty of one counts, hulking up and big moves. Maybe because it was feared this could be his last match, Kobashi takes the pin from Akiyama after the wrist-clutch exploder. Nagata and Akiyama walk away the winners while Kobashi lays broken on the mat, hurting. It wouldn't be until July that Kobashi returned as a full-time wrestler.
Slaughter vs. Iron Sheik
Most promotions have their own unique feel and atmosphere. The great ones anyway. WWF in the old days at MSG definitely had a great aura to it all its own. The musty look of Madison Square Garden in 1984, the red, white and blue ropes, the microphone that was lowered from the rafters, the voice of Howard Finkle, the echoing ring bell, the fans, which on the wide shots, look like they could riot and rush the ring at any moment. Even the imperfect way the sound was recorded and how the announcers' voices vibrated because of it gave old WWF a special feel.
I watched this match for the first time after seeing the previous match on the WWE 80s DVD (a choice match in its own right). Before seeing either of these matches I did not realize how good Sgt. Slaughter was or even how good the Iron Sheik was.
The Iron Sheik literally shines. He is a glowing bronze statue of evil. He personifies the Iranian fear that he symbolizes. His beatdowns on Slaughter are infuriating. He will kick you in the face. He will bite you. He will spit on you. But when the Iron Sheik spits on you, he spits with such hatred and distain that he bends over as he HOCK-TOOs for maximum effect.
Praise be to Allah!
All this while Sarge bleeds buckets and gains sympathy for his impending F-16 fighter jet-sized comeback. Sheik ping-pongs like a champion and blades for Sarge's comeback as Mean Gene unforgettably cries, "The Sheik is hemoragging!"
The finish is especially awesome because I believe the finish of the previous MSG match involves the boot. Possibly before Slaughter can use it on the Sheik. So this is really the blow off of the gimmick as they both crawl towards the boot until Slaughter gets to it first and finally slays the Sheik with it. A complete blow-off like few others.
A million billion stars.
Ric Flair promo on Raw
Flair did a great, memorable promo tonight on Raw. In the last 12 or 13 years, I don't think Flair has done many promos on par with his interviews in the 80s. Tonight's promo was. Forget the fact that it was made an unforgettable moment with Flair's pre-gig job, taking off the bandage and blood completely covering his face. This Flair was not the exaggerated Flair he's been over last many years, where he gets all riled up for the sake of doing so and because it's his trademark to do crazy, high blood pressure promos.
Jim Ross notes from WON
-Once source says some members of the writing staff believe Stephanie McMahon was behind the move. According to the source, Stephanie feels that since John Lauranitis took over Jim Ross' duties, "they finally have a head of talent relations who works for the creative department instead of against us."
-Some in the fed feel that if Rock and Austin were still the top guys, they would not have allowed this to happen.
-Apparently Ross is an enemy of HHH. When Ross was head of talent, there was heat over HHH's pay and his contract negotiations. When HHH was out with the quad tear in 2001, he was reported to be asking everyone what Ross was saying about him during meetings. When HHH accidentally busted Ross' eye in their match at Madison Square Garden on Raw this year, there were people paranoid that it was a "hit" or receipt. More recently, Ross is reported to have pushed for Flair and HHH to turn face, which got HHH heated because he and Flair wanted to stay heel.
Mistico and Brazo de Plata on Raw this Monday?
--WWE is trying to quickly put together deals to bring in Lucha Libre guys as soon as Monday in Sacramento. I'm not sure whether it's TNA's ratings or the articles on how strong Spanish radio has become in so many markets that has spurred the thinking, but they are looking at bringing in several more stars from Mexico as regulars and were trying to get minis, Porky and Mistico that I'm aware of for Monday. None of the deals have been made at this point, and it's going to be an ultra-rush job if they can contact the guys and get them done.
Maybe there was something the article below after all.
MISTICO~! goes mainstream on AU/NZ Yahoo
MEXICO CITY, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Mistico, a diminutive fighter who stands only 1.68 metres tall and weighs 82 kg, could be the next big thing in a booming American wrestling industry dominated by giants.
"Booming American wrestling industry" is an interesting choice of words.
Interestingly, talks about Mistico and the possibility of him going to the WWE, with quotes from John Lauranitis. I wouldn't make anything of it, but it's something to wonder about if it'll ever happen. The big question is if he can speak English. WWE will/can only push a guy so far without being able to talk. Rey Misterio Jr. with his moves no one had seen before, was the perfect crossover, because he's from San Diego, so knew both languages.
A couple years ago, I ordered some old Observers because I thought I was going to do a massive piece on the history of Japanese pro wrestling. I started on it and got some stuff done. What I completed may be something to post later.
But one issue I got was from Meltz's trip to Japan for the 1996 G1 Climax. Remember, the G1 that year also included the famous J*CROWN tournament. Anyway, when I first read through it, I highlighted some lines. Here's one:
Nagata is the best of the company's young workers and will probably at some point years down the line grow to the Muto, Chono, Hashimoto level. - Dave Meltzer, August 14, 1996
-Finished Angle 2002
A Brief History of Japanese Pro Wrestling
To make a long story short...
Rikidozan was a sumo wrestler. He ended up becoming a professional wrestler. Rikidozan brought professional wrestling to Japan in 1953, founding the JWA (Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance, or just Nihon Puroresu).
Rikidozan became a mega star in his time. People crowded in the streets to look through department store windows to watch his famous matches against Lou Thesz and The Destroyer.
Rikidozan had problems with the Yakuza however. At the end 1963, he was stabbed by a mafia man and died several days later as a result at age 39.
JWA would stay alive for 10 more years, without Rikidozan, until it finally folded in 1974.
The two big stars in the last days of the JWA were Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki.
Baba started All Japan Pro Wrestling; Inoki started New Japan Pro Wrestling, with each as the defenitive top stars of their respective promotions.
The 80s saw guys like Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu emerge in All Japan, while Riki Choshu and Tatsumi Fujinami became big stars in New Japan. Baba had largely stepped aside as a main eventer, while Inoki still remained on top of the cards he wrestled on for most of the decade.
By the beginning of the 90s, Tenryu had left All Japan, Choshu went to All Japan and cameback to New Japan. Akira Maeda left New Japan to form UWF, cameback, and left again to start another UWF.
The 90s saw Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi and Akira Taue become major stars. New Japan established "the three muskateers," Shinya Hashimoto, Keiji Muto and Masahiro Chono. Business in the mid-90s was hot for both companies. All Japan was kicking ass at the Budokan. But New Japan was doing bigger business, with big matches in the Tokyo Dome a couple times a year.
In 1999, Giant Baba passed away. His wife, Motoko was left to run the company with Misawa as booker. The wrestlers could only stand Mrs. Baba for so long before they had to walk out. In 2000, every Japanese wrestler except for Kawada and Masanobu Fuchi (an older mid-carder) left to form NOAH. All Japan looked like it would go out of business soon. To try to salvage the company, Mrs. Baba brought back Genichiro Tenryu to All Japan, who Giant Baba had sworn would never be allowed back in the company.
New Japan's business was also really cooling off. All Japan and New Japan worked out an interpromotional program. The first big match was Kawada vs. Kensuke Sasaki (IWGP champion at the time) in the Tokyo Dome. All Japan vs. New Japan was a big deal and did good business for a while.
By this time, NOAH had started doing shows, with Misawa positioning Kobashi and Jun Akiyama as the top guys, although Misawa himself was still the biggest star. But Kobashi's knees were obliterated. He wrestled what many thought might be his last match, against Akiyama at the end of December and took off to have double knee surgery. He wouldn't wrestle again for 14 months.
In 2001, Shinya Hashimoto had left New Japan to form ZERO-ONE.
All Japan managed to stay alive by getting Keiji Muto to work the main events of their big shows. He ended up winning the Triple Crown from Tenryu. By the end of the year, Muto decided he loved it in All Japan and quit New Japan when his contract expired. He took Satoshi Kojima with him and almost got Hiroyoshi Tenzan to go too. Muto would end up becoming president of All Japan by the end of 2002, as Mrs. Baba left the company. It seemed Tenryu also wanted the company. He lost out and ended up leaving All Japan.
Riki Choshu quit New Japan in the spring of 2002. He ended up starting WJ in 2003, built on a bunch of Choshu vs. Tenryu matches. The company went out of business pretty quickly.
With Muto, Hashimoto and Kojima, who was being built to be a future top star, all gone, New Japan's business really started to slide. Yuji Nagata was made champion for over a year from 2002 to 2003, but his credibility had really been killed when got destroyed in a shoot by Mirko CroCop on New Years Eve 2001.
Kensuke Sasaki quit New Japan in late 2002. Another main eventer was gone.
In 2003, New Japan built around Nagata, freelancer Yoshihiro Takayama (NOAH regular, who was made a star in a crazy shoot with Don Frye) and Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Masahiro Chono was still the company's biggest regular star. Business didn't get any better.
Hashimoto's ZERO-ONE was doing all right for what it was and had started an interpromotional program with Muto's All Japan. But Hashimoto's injuries started really piling up. He forced himself to wrestle through them, because he knew the company would quickly die without him. When Hashimoto finally had no choice but to take time off and put his body back together, he ended up being out for a long time and ZERO-ONE tumbled in his absence. ZERO-ONE MAX was formed by Shinjiro Otani as a result. Sadly, Hashimoto passed away this year before he could return.
All Japan is still alive, though, unrecognizable to the promotion it was under Baba. Muto and Kojima as Triple Crown champion are the top guys they've got left. Kawada ended up leaving the promotion as a regular, becoming a freelancer. He did the big match against Misawa this year for NOAH's Dome show.
NOAH is the strongest promotion, business wise. Usually work-wise too. Kobashi returned in 2003, became champion in a huge match over Misawa and carried the company. Today, Takeshi Rikio is their champion and no one believes it. Kobashi, Misawa and Akiyama are their biggest stars.
New Japan is not nearly the hot promotion in once was. Since 2004, they began to establish Hiroshi Tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata and Shinsuke Nakamura as the new generation of stars. Shibata ended up leaving the company.
Business in Japan was bound to start to weaken at the end of the 90s, just due to the fact all the top guys had been top guys since the beginning of the decade. But probably due to problems with Inoki, a lot of important guys left and New Japan got basically divided up into three parts: New Japan, All Japan and ZERO-ONE, even WJ while that lasted. NOAH is able to do decent business and one well-drawing Tokyo Dome show a year because they are the least divided. Basically All Japan has become NOAH and New Japan has become two or three different companies.
WWE Raw TV report from WO.com
Todd Martin with a more agreeable report than usual:
With all the talk about the announcing...
I don't know if you've checked out any of this WWE.com "Unlimited" stuff in between commercials. I watched it during the six-man tonight. The work in WWE comes off so much better without commentary. Instead of listening to the commentary, you listen to the match. The crowd is more audible without commentary over it and you're not distracted from what's going on in the ring.
I know you can't do TV without commentary. Remember when they did that for the Hassan-Lawler match at the New Years PPV? That didn't work at all, although maybe if the work was really strong, it would have. But you can never depend on that, and that's one of the reasons commentary is there.
Maybe what they need is not just better commentary, but less commentary. Remember the commentary for closed circuit Crockett shows like Starrcade and Great American Bash? I assume because they knew the shows were being broadcast into echoing arenas, the announcers didn't talk as much as they would for a normal TV match. They left a lot of quiet moments for the natural sound of the crowd and the noises in the ring to set in. Granted, I'm referring to shows called by voices like Bob Caudle and Gordon Solie, in front of hot Greensboro crowds.
But if JR's really is done, it's the end of an era. My generation's Gordon Solie is finished.
Lesnar vs. Fujita vs. Chono
After seeing years of big matches at the Tokyo Dome, for most of them, there's a special atmosphere. Watching this, it was like it was in a different setting.
It might not be fair to judge this in the environment of this match, but the reaction of the crowd to Lesnar's entrance nor his title win gave me the feeling that this is something the audience is going to be into enough for it make a real difference for New Japan. The crowd didn't sound as though they felt that what they were seeing was something very special.
The match itself was fine. Nothing special or outstanding. It was only eight minutes. They did a lot of the one wrestler outside the ring, two wrestlers in. Lesnar gave Fujita, then Chono F5s (now called the Verdict) before pinning Chono.
CMLL~! Los Perros Del Mal vs. L.A. Park, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Mistico
If you did not see Lucha Libre on Galavision this week, you missed out. This week's main event of L.A. Park, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Mistico vs. Tarzan Boy, Hector Garza & Hijo Del Perro Aguayo was great. There's so much good wrestling and great performers in CMLL right now. Everything is so colorful, both figuratively and literally. All the main characters stand out, and each one unique and different from the rest. The CMLL roster could kick anyone's ass in a coolness contest. It's the most fun wrestling product in the world to watch right now. Wagner is super charismatic. Mistico is just incredible. "Must be seen to be believed" applies.
In this match, Perrito was the best heel in the world. He is mega-charismatic too and knows how to work the heel facial expressions. This was a fantastic build to Mistico vs. Perrito, which airs next week. I can't wait to see it.
A lot of people I know have a stigma towards lucha. They believe that in lucha, they don't sell, there's no psychology, they do armdrags out of everything, they don't know how to take hiptosses, they don't know how to bump.
If you get Galavision and you love wrestling, you owe it to yourself to sit down and watch CMLL on Saturday afternoons. Even if you watch it and think it's goofy lucha, watch it the next week. Get to know the characters, get to know the style. Lucha style is not cruiserweight style. It is something all by itself. So sit down and watch the program and enhale the luchistico. Love it. It's the hottest promotion in the world today.
This will be periodically updated and upscaled. Profiles written by the mighty dictator of this site, not taken from the newsletter.
Brock Lesnar wins IWGP title
Main eventing the Tokyo Dome against Masahiro Chono and defending champion Kazuyuki Fujita in a three-way match, Brock Lesnar won New Japan's IWGP heavyweight title. In his first match since his infamous Wrestlemania XX match against Bill Goldberg, Lesnar pinned Chono after the F5 as Fujita escaped without jobbing. In front of possibly the smallest crowd ever to see a New Japan show in the Dome, Lesnar joined Scott Norton, Salman Hashimikov, Vader, Bob Sapp and, technically, Hulk Hogan, as foreigners who have been IWGP champions.
The speculation about whether or not Lesnar will go on tour with New Japan may now begin. It could be something already decided. The main reason Lesnar wanted out of the WWE was the workload of the constant house shows. WWE would not give him a Hogan-esque deal that would allow him to only work TV and PPV. Working full-time with New Japan would still be a workload, but the touring is periodical and would allow him to go home for up to two weeks at a time in between tours.
Lesnar winning the title his first night in New Japan looks like a wise choice. Bringing someone like him in with a big impact right away is the way to go and if there was ever a promotion that needs to be shaken up by something like this, it's the spiraling New Japan group. Read more at
Next store, NOAH ran at Korakuen Hall, highlighted by Genichiro Tenryu beating KENTA in under 12 minutes.
CHOSHU IS BACK MOTHAFUCKA!
Mexico - 10/07
retains UFC heavyweight title
Re-did the site, got rid of the old design and black background, deleted a lot of unimportant stuff and anything that wasn't from the original site when I left it in September 2003. All the old Ichiban Puroresu articles you can handle are archived on the left. All the news I reported can be accessed below.
I might do something with this site, so it'd be nice if you would check on it every once in a while again. Maybe. Maybe not. But if I do, maybe there will be great things about wrestling posted here, once again, satisfying your unquenchable thirst for INTELLIGENT WRESTLING ANALYSIS~! Maybe I will post things that have nothing to do with the exciting world of professional wrestling. Maybe.
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