The WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 738
THE END COMES FOR EX-WRESTLER, PROMOTER
Subj: wRESTle In Peace: Lee Fields
Date: 6/7/00 6:08:25 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Scott Teal)
Lee Fields died of leukemia on July 4, 2000 at 8:30 p.m.
Lee Fields, whose real name was Albert Lee Hatfield, was the promoter of the "Gulf Coast" territory from 1959 to 1978. He promoted in Alabama (Mobile), Florida (Pensacola, Panama City, Quincy), and several smaller towns in the area.
Visitation for Lee Fields will be held on Sunday, June 11, 2000 at Serenity Funeral Home, 8691 Old Pascagoula Road (Tillman's Corner), Mobile, Alabama. 334-653-4781. Family visitation will be from 4/5PM with friends scheduled for 5:00 PM/8:00 PM.
Services will be held Monday, June 12 at 12 o'clock, Noon from Serenity Funeral Home (same as visitation)
Burial will be in Bayview Cemetery, Highway 27, Daphne, Alabama following the services.
"Whatever Happened to ...?"
LEE FIELDS DEAD AT AGE 69
(Mobile Register, Tuesday, June 6, 2000)
The wrestling and racing worlds have lost a friend and patriarch in the death of Albert Lee Hatfield, 69, otherwise known as Lee Fields.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete Monday night for Fields, who died at the family home in Irvington on Sunday night. Arrangements are being handled by Serenity Funeral Home.
Fields had been suffering with leukemia.
While best known during his younger days as a professional wrestler, Fields was, up until the time of his recent illness, recognized for his contributions to local automobile racing and was the owner and operator of Mobile International Speedway for the past 28 years.
Born to Bon and Virgil Hatfield on Aug. 18, 1930, in Pawhuska, Okla., he and his family moved to the Mobile area in the early 1950s. As Lee Fields, he became a wrestling pioneer and one of the top wrestlers in the southern United States. He held numerous titles including Gulf Coast champion and once owned one-half of the World Tag Team Championship.
In the late 1950s, he and Edwardo Perez wrestled in a match at Ladd Stadium that, reportedly, drew more than 36,000 fans, a world record at that time. His style of wrestling was said to be 40 years ahead of his time. Even though he traveled and wrestled extensively throughout the world, and could have furthered his career in a larger city, he remained in the Mobile area to be close to his family.
In 1962, as his wrestling days drew to a close, he took on the role of promoter for Gulf Coast Wrestling. He stayed active in the organization, even holding annual reunions at his home in Irvington.
At the end of his wrestling days, Fields began a new career in automobile racing. He began racing the No. 86 late-model Chevrolet in 1970, winning the first big race he competed in at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola.
Fields had become good friends with Skippy Wetjen, a former wrestling promoter and owner/builder of MIS. In 1972, Fields purchased MIS from Wetjen and he and his wife, Ida, ran the track until the end of the 1999 season.
Gene Tapia, longtime racer and a member of the Racing Pioneers Hall of Fame in Talladega, recalls his associations with Fields that date to the 1950s: "He was a whale of a wrestler. My whole family used to watch him. He was a fine man that had a great deal of talent. When he decided he wanted to race, he came to me and asked me to help him. It wasn't long before he was going deeper and deeper into the corners and finally, he was out-racing me. He learned how to drive a race car quicker than anyone I've ever seen.
"He had a feel for things and people that set him apart. If a deal didn't feel right to him, he wasn't going to have anything to do with it. But if you were his friend and he trusted you, he'd help you."
Bob Harmon of Prattville is a former national racing promoter and friend to whom Fields sometimes turned for racing advice.
"The racing world has lost one of the best and smartest promoters and a man who did his own thing," Harmon said. "First, he was a man. He was one of a kind. He was able to satisfy the drivers, because when other tracks' car counts went down, his stayed up. And he knew how to please the fans. Whenever you went to Mobile International, you knew you were going to be treated to a real show."
In an interview in 1998, Fields said he considered himself "a lone wolf."
It didn't mean that he didn't like to socialize, but he was afraid that if one driver saw him talking to another driver, it might be considered favoritism, and he always wanted to remain impartial. Away from the track, his home was a gathering place of fans, drivers and former wrestling buddies.
At one time, MIS was a NASCAR-sanctioned track, but Fields withdrew from the organization after several years of making weekly payments. He didn't think the drivers received enough from NASCAR for what they were paying. It was a move he said that saved drivers a few dollars each race night.
While he didn't dislike legal documents and contracts, he once said he preferred to seal agreements with a promise or handshake.
Until his health would no longer allow it, Fields took an active part in the maintenance and upkeep of the speedway. Many times he could be seen at the track cutting the grass parking areas on a Ford tractor as fans streamed in for a Saturday night race. He also was concerned about being fair to the fans. At the beginning of the 1999 season, rising operation costs practically dictated he raise the speedway's general admission prices from $8 to $10. He refused, saying that since Five Flags in Pensacola was closed, fans would think he was using that as an unfair advantage because they had no other race track to attend.
Bill Roth is the current promoter-operator who took over MIS at the start of the 2000 season.
"Prior to the national anthem at our opening night of racing, I announced to everyone that racing is what it is in the Mobile area because of Lee and Ida Fields," Roth said. "When Hurricane Frederic came in 1979, it wiped out most of the building and facility. They didn't have any insurance, but it was built back, bigger and better. And both Ida and Lee worked to rebuild the track and keep it up.
"There are a lot of racers who think maybe his purses weren't what they should be, but they were always adequate for this area. But I don't think there's any race driver who didn't respect the man.
"I feel very, very lucky to have been picked as his successor. All those who enjoy racing are going to feel his loss."
Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Ida Fay Hooks Hatfield of Irvington; one son, Ricky Neal Fields of Spanish Fort; one daughter, Debbie Fields Burkett of Daphne; his father, Virgil B. Hatfield of Theodore; two brothers, Donald Wayne Hatfield of Theodore, and Luther Eugene Hatfield of Loxley; and four grandchildren.
FOR PURPOSES OF CONDOLENCE, REGRETS
Date: 6/6/00 6:09:47 AM Pacific Daylight Time
Home address is:
Mrs. Ida Fields..
PO Box 54
OH, IF ONLY MORE WERE READING MICROFILM
(ED. NOTE - The industrious Mike Smith is deep into the Ventura County Star archives once again - note the 1936 scan below. Read and enjoy.)
VENTURA (CALIF.) MAT RESULTS - 1936
(Ventura Athletic Club, matchmaker Ed Murphy)
January 7, 1936
Casey Columbo beat Mayes McLain, Len Macaluso beat George Maloney, Fred Carone beat Steve Strelich
January 14, 1936
Vincent Lopez beat Casey Columbo (L.A. world title defense), Len Macaluso beat Jim Kanthy, Lewis Eaton beat Ed Kanthy
January 21, 1936
Sandor Szabo beat George Wilson (sub for Casey Columbo), George Wilson beat Charles Santen, Lewis Eaton beat George Maloney
January 28, 1936
Casey Columbo beat Milo Steinborn, Bill Sledge beat George Maloney, Lewis Eaton drew SteveStrelich, Pat McGill beat Mike Warks
February 4, 1936
Vincent Lopez beat Casey Columbo (L.A. world title defense), Lewis Eaton drew Ahmet Youseff, Herb Freeman beat Steve Strelich, Pat McGill beat Ed Kanthy
February 11, 1936
Herb Freeman beat Stanley Pinto, Steve Strelich beat George Poulos, Joe Woods beat Carl Cook, Bob Coleman drew Pat McGill
February 18, 1936
George Calza beat Herb Freeman, Pete Mehringer beat Bronco Valdez, Steve Strelich drew Lewis Eaton, Bob Coleman beat Ed Kanthy
February 25, 1936
Pete Mehringer beat Stanley Pinto, Al Baffert drew Casey Columbo, Ghanda Singh beat Tony Felice, Lewis Eaton vs. Pete Mehringer (exhibition)
March 3, 1936
Al Baffert drew Casey Columbo dcor, Firpo Wilcox beat Les Kennedy, George Maloney beat Bronco Valdez, Lewis Eaton drew Aztec Luis Mayo
March 10, 1936
George Calza beat Harry Jacobs, Lewis Eaton beat Jack Sullivan dq, Al Mills beat Bronco Valdez, Bob Hein beat Carl Cook
March 17, 1936
Bill Sledge beat Dick Daviscourt, Everett Kibbons beat Joe Varga (sub for Bob Hein), Lewis Eaton beat Joe Varga dq, Pat McGill beat Mike Warks
March 24, 1936
Everett Kibbons beat Vic Hill, Demon Jenkins beat Dick Stahl, Lewis Eaton drew Matsudi Hamanaki, Eldon Brooks beat Andy Toth
DARO TRUST PUSHED OUT OF VENTURA
(Ventura County Star, Tuesday, March 31, 1936)
Eight mighty midgets - favorites of Hollywood's movie colony - will step intro the spotlight here tonight when Harold (Millionaire) Murphy and Henry Oliva, local wrestling rpomoters, present a "new deal" in wrestling to Ventura Athletic Club patrons.
The blubbering pachyderms whose orders come from the main office of the Daro mat trust are no more. In their place will be junior heavyweights, fast stepping wrestlers, who will appear each Tuesday at the V.A.C. arena.
Tonight, the card is topped by a battle between Francisco Aguayo, lightheavy and heavyweight champion of Mexico, and Ken Hollis, body-slamming Alabama cowboy.
Both are rated top-notchers in the junior circuit by fans who have watched them week after week at the Hollywood Legion Stadium.
Aguayo claims the championship of Mexico and has offered to meet Senor Vincent Lopez in a "winner take all" match, the victor to be officially crowned title-holder of the land of senoritas, dons and tequila.
Hollis is one of the favorites in the current 190-pound elimination tournament being staged at the Hollywood arena. He has his eyes on the $10,000 belt which is being offered as first prize and hopes to hurdle Senor Aguayo en route to the throne.
George Wilson, wildest gridder ever turned out by the University of Washington, will show in Ventura for a second time tonight when he tangles with Duke Pettigrove of London, England, in the two of three fall, 45-minute semi-final bout. Last time he showed here, Wilson was flying the Daro colors. Tonight, he is a Hollywoodian, having told Luigi the Daro and brother Jack to take the well known jump recently.
Pettigrove, an unorthodox grappler, is reported to be a full-blooded Englishman. If memory serves right, he was billed by Daro has hailing from Alhambra, Tennessee, or some such place, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. And he can wrestle.
Stanley Rogers, ace matman of the current Germany crop, faces Mike Caddock, the Texas sensation, in the one fall, 30-minute second bout.
In the curtain raiser, Jack Sullivan, another ex-Daro man who recently discarded both the Daro flag and his Orange Kid title, tests Max Glover of Dayton, Ohio, over the one-fall, 20-minute route.
April 7, 1936
George Wilson beat Ken Hollis, Bobby Roberts beat Jack Sullivan, Stanley Rogers beat Joe Marsh, Stacey Hall drew Buck Reynolds
April 14, 1936
Lord Lansdowne beat Buzz Reynolds (referee Bull Montana), Bobby Roberts beat Ken Hollis, Alvin Britt beat Tiger Tsakoff, Stanley Rogers beat Max Glover
April 21, 1936
Bobby Roberts beat Ted Christy dq (referee Bull Montana). Rubberman Higami beat Gorilla Poggi, Cecil McGill beat Tiger Tsakoff, Buzz Reynolds drew Ben Bolt
April 28, 1936
Lord Lansdowne beat Gorilla Poggi (referee Bull Montana), Frank Taylor beat Stanley Rogers (sub for Bobby Roberts), Sammy Cohen beat Ben Bolt, Tiger Tsakoff beat Tony Marino
SOME SAY IT IS, SOME SAY IT ISN'T
(Ventura County Star, April 29, 1936)
By Tom Hennion
Woe is the wrestling fan if what they are saying is true. For, lo and behold, the wise guys say that Ali Baba, who defeated Dick Shikat for the world's wrestling (hey, hey) title last week is none other than our old playmate, Harry Ekizian, who once staged good shows but rotten wrestling bouts at the Ventura Athletic Club.
Maybe it is Harry. If so, it just goes to show what wrestling has become. It is undoubtedly the laughingest, most ballyhooed, uneducated sport (?) of the lot.
Some observers don't think that Brother Ali Baba is Brother Ekizian. One local man, who knows Ekizian very well, took a squint at Ali Baba's picture and said "no." But others say yes. Anyway, if it is Ekizian, it can be expressed no better than Frank Rogers, ex-Ventura sport scribe now scribbling for the Santa Ana Journal did in "Column Left" the other day. Says Frank, whom we used to groan with when Ekizian appeared on the mat:
"Yep, Harry, the mad-cap and jokester, is the new champ.
"He calls himself Ali Baba, and very fittingly, too, after the way he and Dick Shikat filched the title from that good Irishman, Danno O'Mahoney.
"Harry spent all his time during the local performances jumping out of the ring and making large and funny faces. Very little time wasted in wrestling.
"Things even got so bad for Harry that he had to go into the movies, playing a Mack Sennett role in a slapstick comedy.
"And today he wears the mantle of champion - proving that America is not only the land of opportunity, but the land of high-class hokum.
"However, out of all evil some good must arise and if Vincent Lopez becomes the sole claimant to the world's rassling title - which he undoubtedly will now - at least the turmoil will have subsided in this willy-nilly game and sports writers will have a lot less trouble keeping track of wrestling champions."
May 5, 1936
Jimmy Lott beat Ted Christy dq (referee Max Baer), Tuffy Cleet drew Red Lyons, Danny Savich drew Stanley Rogers, Gorilla Poggi beat Tatsura Sato (referee Bull Montana)
DICK SHIKAT SAYS HE WILL BLOW LID OFF GRAPPLE TRUST
(United Press, Tuesday, May 12, 1936)
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Dick Shikat, the burly German who has twice held the world's heavyweight wrestling championship, was ready to take the stand in U.S. federal court here today and to do his bit toward making good a promise by his counsel that he would "blow the lid off the wrestling trust."
Shikat, recently dethroned by Ali Baba, the Detroit Turk, was to tell of the alleged manipulations of wrestlers which led to his "jumping" a contract with Joe Alvarez, Boston promoter. The defense seeks to void the contract.
May 12, 1936
Jimmy Lott beat Tuffy Cleet, Stanley Rogers beat Dude Chick, Rubberman Higami beat Ben Holt, Bobby Pearce beat Gorilla Poggi (referee Mickey McMaster)
May 19, 1936
Jimmy Lott beat Stanley Rogers, Barney Cossack beat Frankie Peck
May 26, 1936
Jimmy Lott vs. Frank Taylor, Tuffy Cleet vs. Don Vigario, Frank Peck vs. Tony Marino, Sammy Kohen vs. Gene Okamura
BEEF TRUST TO HOLD FORTH IN VENTURA
(Ventura County Star, Thursday, May 28, 1936)
Pachyderms - the burly meatmen of wrestling - top notchers of the mat game, led by such outstanding grapplers as Vincent Lopez, Joe Savoldi, Dick Daviscourt, Mayes McLain, Man Mountain Dean, and a legion of others, will return to the Ventura Athletic Club next Tuesday night in full bloom.
The move was announced today by Promoter Harold Murphy and Matchmaker Henry Oliva, who said that they wished to give the fans of Ventura what they wanted and that they apparently wanted the heavyweights.
An experiment with junior heavyweights of the Hollywood mat troupe during the past two months has worked out unsuccessful both with the fans and the promoters.
Tuesday night's card will bring together two of the more famous of the heavyweights in the top spot. Mayes McLain, Ventura favorite, will tangle with Dick Daviscourt, one of the mat fraternity's roughest brethren.
Some of the other grapplers slated to appear on the card are Casey Kazanjian, Stanley Pinto and Joe Savoldi's young brother.
Prices will remain the same, the V.A.C. management announced. Plans are being worked out to bring most of the top-notchers to the local club.
June 2, 1936
Dick Daviscourt beat Casey Columbo (referee Bull Montana), Casey Kazanjian beat Bill Barton dq, Lou Thesz drew Benny Ginsberg, Matsuda Hamanake beat Clem Savoldi
June 9, 1936
Man Mountain Dean beat Dick Daviscourt, Casey Kazanjian beat Bud Royer (sub for Casey Columbo), Leo Papiano drew Mayes McLain, Bill Grubb drew Clem Savoldi dcor
June 16, 1936
Mayes McLain beat Leo Papiano, Casey Kazanjian beat Rusty Westcoatt (sub for Casey Columbo), George Kondelis beat Vic Hill, Matsudi Hamanaki drew Bob Coleman
June 23, 1936
Nick Lutze beat Casey Kazanjian, Mayes McLain drew George Kondelis, Bill Longson beat Tiny Roebuck dq, Lewis Eaton drew Orville Grabel (Lee Grable)
June 30, 1936
Vic Christy beat Tiny Roebuck, Bill Longson drew George Kondelis, Abe Goldberg beat Vic Hill, Jack Howland beat Buddy O'Brien dq
July 7, 1936
Nick Lutze beat Dick Daviscourt, Bill Longson drew Bill Bartush, Buddy O'Brien beat Jack Howland, Louie Miller beat Wild Man Zimm
July 14, 1936
Nick Lutze beat Buddy O'Brien, The Mask beat Del Kunkel, Tiny Roebuck beat Vic Hill, Oki Shikina beat Count Pulaki
July 21, 1936
Hans Steinke beat Nick Lutze, Masked Demon beat Buddy O'Brien, Masked Mephisto beat Jack McArthur, Steve Strelich drew Del Kunkel
July 28, 1936
Ed Don George beat Masked Demon, Nick Lutze beat Del Kunkel, Oki Shikina beat Abe Goldberg, Juan Oliquivel beat Bill Longson dq
ED MURPHY'S FAREWELL TO VENTURA
(Ventura County Star, Tuesday, August 4, 1936)
Nasty George Zaharias, the Crying Greek from Cripple Creek, will attempt to show local mat fans why he is dubbed "the meanest man in the world" when he tangles with Ed "Don" George, the Michigan thunderbolt, in the main event of matchmaker Ed Murphy's farewell party at the Ventura Athletic Club tonight.
Both of championship caliber, Zaharias and George are rated almost even by followers of the bone-bending game. George, however, relies mainly on straight wrestling, while Zaharias resorts to any type of foul play to win his matches.
Murphy says the bout is good enough to headline anybody's card in anybody's town. He is presenting it so Ventura will have something to remember him by.
Seats for the show are selling rapidly and Murphy reports the heaviest advance sale in the history of the arena. He advises fans to get to the V.A.C. early tonight if they hope to obtain seats.
Later this week Murphy leaves for Phoenix, Ariz., where he will again take over the matchmaking job at Madison Square Garden. His shoes will be filled locally by Mike Hirsch, young Ocean Park promoter. But before Murphy leaves, he will introduce a new rassler to the local public. His son, Harold "Millionaire" Murphy, erstwhile boondoggler of the prize ring, makes his mat debut tonight in the opener against Lewis Eaton, another Venturan.
In the semi-final spot, Nick Lutze, popular, bronzed Venice lifeguard, is pitted against dirty Buddy O'Brien, Pasadena piano-legged hooligan, in what is likely to wind up as legalized murder.
Don Juan Oliquivel, wrestling champion of the Pyrenees and cousin of Paolina Uzcudun, the bounding Basque, meets Leo Papiano, the eye-gouging, ear-biting Grecian Lion.
In the second set-to, Mayes McLain, former star footballer of Iowa University, mixes with Steve Savage, who last week pounded out a decisive victory over Hans Steinke at the Los Angeles Olympic.
A 38-piece band from the 251st Coast Artillery, anti-aircraft unit of the California National Guard, now encamped at Seaside Park, will furnish music for the wrestling show tonight.
August 4, 1936
Ed Don George beat Babe Zaharias dq, Nick Lutze beat Buddy O'Brien, Juan Oliquivel beat Leo Papiano, Mayes McLain drew Steve Savage, Lewis Eaton beat Harold Murphy dq
August 11, 1936
Babe Zaharias beat Nick Lutze, Juan Oliquivel beat Bill Longson, Steve Strelich beat Wild Man Zimm (sub for Buddy O'Brien), Jack Howland drew Leo Papiano dcor, Lewis Eaton drew Harold Murphy
August 18, 1936
Juan Oliquivel beat Masked Marvel, Wild Man Zimm beat Steve Strelich, Steve Savage beat Bill Longson, Mayes McLain beat George Kondelis
August 25, 1936
Steve Savage beat Juan Oliquivel, Nick Lutze beat Tiny Roebuck (sub for Billy Hansen) dq, Steve Strelich beat Wild Man Zimm, Bobby Coleman beat Mitsugui Hamanaki
September 1, 1936
Billy Hansen beat Giant Masquerader dq, Mayes McLain (sub for Steve Savage) drew Herb Freeman (referee Bull Montana), Steve Strelich beat Juan Oliquivel, Bobby Coleman beat Wild Man Zimm dq
September 8, 1936
Nick Lutze beat Herb Freeman dq, Tiny Roebuck beat Mayes McLain, Steve Strelich beat Louie Miller, Pat McGill drew Mitsugui Hamanaka
September 15, 1936
Sandor Szabo beat Herb Freeman, Steve Strelich drew Buddy O'Brien
September 22, 1936
Sandor Szabo beat Brother Jonathan dq, Benny Ginsberg beat Louie Miller, Buddy O'Brien beat Steve Strelich, Bobby Coleman drew Mike Warks
September 29, 1936
Sandor Szabo beat Brother Jonathan, Pat O'Shocker (sub for Buddy O'Brien) beat Tiny Gordon, Benny Ginsberg beat Lewis Eaton, Bobby Coleman beat Joni Del Rio
October 6, 1936
Howard Cantonwine beat Brother Jonathan, Kimon Kudo beat Benny Ginsberg dq, Steve Strelich beat Farmer Stewart, Leo Papiano beat Lewis Eaton
October 13, 1936
Vincent Lopez beat Benny Ginsberg (L.A. world title defense), Billy Hansen beat Jack McArthur, Kimon Kudo beat Mike Bouskas, Dr. Fred Meyers beat Roy Helrigel
October 20, 1936
Kimon Kudo beat Babe Zaharias, Myron Cox drew Dr. Fred Meyers, Al Baffert beat Wild Man Zimm, Steve Strelich vs. Leo Papiano
October 27, 1936
Billy Hansen beat Benny Ginsberg, Fred Meyers beat Al Baffert dq, Bobby Coleman beat Mitsugui Hamanaka, Wild Man Zimm drew Lewis Eaton
November 3, 1936
Howard Cantonwine beat Kimon Kudo cnc, Al Baffert beat Wild Man Zimm cnc, Bobby Coleman beat Bobby Managoff, Ad Herman vs. Leo Papiano
November 10, 1936
Kimon Kudo beat Howard Cantonwine (judo jackets), Al Baffert beat Fred Meyers, Gege Gravante drew Bobby Coleman, Bobby Managoff beat Floyd Hansen
November 17, 1936
Kimon Kudo beat Buddy O'Brien, Pat O'Shocker beat Benny Ginsberg, Bobby Coleman beat Bobby Managoff, Billy Grubbs beat Gege Gravante dq
November 24, 1936
Kimon Kudo beat Frank O'Brien dq (interference by brother Buddy O'Brien), Pat O'Shocker drew Al Baffert, Gege Gravante beat Bill Grubbs, Fred Carone beat Mike Strelich
(ED. NOTE - Why so often a simple recitation of the results fails to tell the full story of what happened on a particular card was never more evident than the Nov. 24, 1936 card in Ventura. The next day's front-page newspaper account fills in the gory details. Incidentally, was there ever a wilder ring performer than Buddy O'Brien. I cannot recall reading an account of any of his matches in the pre-World War II days, up and down the Pacific Coast, in which he did not do his level best to inspire a full-scale riot. His antics make those of Wild Bull Curry, another notable wild man of wrestling history, look like kidstuff.)
O'BRIEN FINED $100 FOR 'RASSLE' RIOT
(Ventura County Star, Wednesday, November 25, 1936)
"Well, judge, I guess I'm guilty of the charge, but I was just trying to please the crowd. I didn't mean to hurt anyone."
It was Buddy O'Brien, 26-year-old Los Angeles "rassling hooligan," trying to explain to Police Judge B.L. Gregg in city court this morning why he caused a near-riot at the Ventura Athletic Club wrestling show last night.
O'Brien, who comes under the classification of "a villain" in the wrestling promoter's handbook, attired in a bright blue shirt, baggy slacks, brilliant red suspenders and an upturned collegiate hat which perched atop his head, was a greatly changed person from the O'Brien who, seconding his brother Frank in the main-event last night, charged into the ring, threw a sack of flour in Kimon Kudo's eyes and pelted the little Japanese jiu-jitsu artist with vicious kicks.
He was faced Judge Gregg on a charge of disturbing the peace. His pleadings went for naught.
Judge Gregg, admonishing him for overriding his privilege as a wrestler "in entertaining the crowd," sentenced O'Brien to pay a fine of $100 or serve 50 days in the city jail. Promoter Mike Hirsch of the Ventura Athletic Club loaned O'Brien money with which to pay his fine.
Another participant in last night's riot, Arthur Franklin, 45-year-old contractor, of 248 S. Hemlock Street, Ventura, pleaded not guilty to a charge of peace disturbance and requested a jury trial. Judge Gregg continued the case until next Monday, at which time date of Franklin's trial will be set. He is at liberty under $200 property bond.
Last night's wrestling show, one which had the spectators keyed up with red-hot enthusiasm over a serious of bouts in which fists were far more prominent than "holts," reached its grand climax when, after tiny Kudo had climbed in through the ropes for his main event with Buddy O'Brien, Buddy walked into the ring, his side encased in huge strips of tape, with his brother, Frank, and announced that it would be Frank who wrestled Kudo. He would second his brother, Buddy said.
From outside the ring, Buddy heatedly urged Frank to "sock the Jap" until Kudo gained a great advantage over his rival. Then Buddy leaped through the ropes and into the ring, kicking Kudo. When Frank was again on top, his furious brother left the ring and was told by police to "leave the arena."
He started out, circled around the ring and came in from the other side. From there, he again hurled himself through the ropes onto Kudo, who was applying a painful hold to his brother's arm, emptied a sack of flour in the eyes of the Japanese, and started kicking Kudo, who was stretched prone on the floor.
That was too much for Mitsugui Hamanaka, Japanese wrestling friend of Kudo's who was parked in first row ringside. He shed his coat, leaped through the ropes and hung a beauty on O'Brien's right eye.
The whole arena seethed. Spectators and police poured into the squared circle from all sides. The O'Brien's were escorted out of the main auditorium, Buddy to the city jail, Frank to his dressing room.
In the lobby, Franklin is alleged to have struck Police Chief T.W. Neel, who ordered him "taken to jail." When Officer V.R. Foye and Sergeant Ernest Shaw started to take Franklin away, an unidentified woman is said to have swung on Foye. He has a large lump behind his left ear today.
O'Brien was released on $200 cash bail by Judge Gregg during a midnight court session. He was ordered to appear at 10 a.m. today.
Last night's riot was the climax to one which started a week ago when Kudo and Buddy were first matched in a main event. Kudo won the match in straight falls, but it took a number of police officers to quell O'Brien in the after-bout riot. Kudo was awarded the verdict in last night's bout after O'Brien was disqualified.
In last night's semi-windup, Pat O'Shocker and Al Baffert wrestled to a 45-minute draw in a bout which saw the manufacturing of a cauliflower ear for Baffert.
Gege Gravante gained revenge over Bill "Little Caesar" Grubbs in the special event, pinning him with a "Chocolate Sundae" to the jaw and a body press in 12m. 4s.
Fred Carone won the curtainraiser when he pinned Mike Strelich on a reverse rabbit punch and body press in 14m. 17s.
December 1, 1936
Kimon Kudo beat Buddy O'Brien (mixed judo, catch match), Pat O'Shocker beat Frank (Sonny) O'Brien, Fred Carone beat Popeye Olson (later Swedish Angel), Wild Man Zimm beat Gege Gravante
December 8, 1936
Sandor Szabo beat Kimon Kudo, Fred Carone beat Mike Strelich cnc, Gege Gravante beat Wild Man Zimm (boxing), Popeye Olson beat Brother Jonathan dq
December 15, 1936
Jules Strongbow beat Jake Patterson (sub for Howard Cantonwine), Kimon Kudo beat Wild Man Zimm, Louie Miller beat Harold Murphy, Gege Gravante drew Mike Warks
December 22, 1936
Pat O'Shocker beat Benny Ginsberg dq, Gege Gravante beat Jimmy Batten, Al Bisignano beat Al Baffert, Lewis Eaton beat Louie Miller dq,
December 29, 1936
Man Mountain Dean vs. Sandor Szabo, Tor Johnson
vs. Dr. Fred Meyers, Tiny Roebuck vs. Benny Ginsberg, Bobby Coleman drew Gege
The WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 739
KAYFABE - A HISTORY LESSON
By Kenny McBride
"The old days" to most people means the years before Hulkamania. Hell, in years to come, "the old days" will be regarded as the time when wrestling featured funny things like babyfaces and heels, and when you were surprised at a table spot on a WWF pay-per-view. Older fans will think of Thesz, Rogers and Stevens as "the old days." There may even be a handful still alive who think back to Strangler Lewis, Toots Mondt and their contemporaries as the original greats of the grap game. In their day, these folks probably looked back at people like Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt and Stanislaus Zbyszko as the old-time stars. But wrestling's history goes back further than even these men. In fact, what we know as wrestling (as in grappling in a ring with paying customers) has been going for a little over a century now. Back in those days - the real "old days" - most wrestlers had serious legit credentials. Indeed, as recently as the '50s and '60s, the ability to "shoot" or "hook", as evidenced by the success of Lou Thesz throughout that era (and indeed, before and after), was highly prized. However, it may come as a surprise to many that even Gotch and Hackenschmidt were "working matches" before the 20th century was 10 years old. To learn why this came about, we must go back further, to the latter years of the 19th century, to the true origin of pro-wrestling -- the carnivals.
The overlaps between carnival wrestling and "proper" pro-wrestling is huge. Many, many wrestlers in the first half of this century started out as carny stars, and only later transferred the skills learned there to the pro circuit. The carnival circuit, of course, was run on many different levels, from the massive spectacle of Barnum & Bailey down to the lowliest country fairs, but nearly all of these shows had a wrestling-based side-show of one form or another. The term "side-show" is particularly apt as, with carnivals run by men who would happily take 10c from you to gawp and stare at The Elephant Man, Bearded Lady, or a similarly abused person, it is no wonder that wrestling was, and has remained, such a sleazy business.
It seems that, initially, "wrestling" at the fairs consisted of the travelling hardman, performing in what would now be considered the "heel" role, making a grandstand challenge to the toughest man in the crowd. The wrestler - or a manager - would then talk up the contest in order to make the local boy look capable of beating the pro, whose accomplices would then take bets from the crowd, which would, if the odds were calculated well, rake in a good sum when the trained fighter beat the unskilled local.
However, there is a certain risk in taking on an unknown quantity like this. What if you make a mistake? What if the local tough guy us a REALLY tough guy? Seeing this danger, these professional con-men (remember, these guys had no qualms about using make-up to create "horrific" side-show freaks) hit upon a more cunning idea. What if the guy in the audience was a plant, prepared to take a dive? That way, a convincing script could be worked out for the pre-match slanging match, and the match could be planned in a way that would maximise, rather than jeopardise, the bookies' takings. And the guy taking the fall? Well, he would just be "doing a job."
(It is perhaps worth mentioning the origin of the word "mark" here too. In American gambling slang, a mark was someone who didn't know how to gamble well, and was thus easily parted from his money. Obviously, someone gambling on a pre-arranged wrestling match fit clearly into this category, and so a "mark" came to mean anyone not in on the scam.)
In the old days then, it was absolutely imperative that no-one outside the select few who ran the show knew what was really going on. (How this secret came to be known as "kayfabe" is unclear, but for about 100 years now that has been the word, so who are we to argue now?) If anyone outside the inner circle knew, not only would no-one bet anymore, but no-one would even watch the farce. It may even have been illegal to take bets on a fixed contest, so the knowledge was jealously guarded.
Over the years, carnival wrestling (which, even when entirely legitimate, was far showier than any amateur-style grappling) became absorbed into the legitimate sport of wrestling, and gradually stomped out any vestiges of legitimate competition. However, in those very early days, the line between work and shoot was very fine, and crossed relatively often. Major titles and territorial disputes seem to have been settled by legitimate matches relatively often; the second Gotch-Hackenschmidt match was apparently agreed to be a work, but Gotch double-crossed "The Russian Lion." These wrestlers were recognised the world over as great legitimate athletes. If it had been exposed then that wrestling was not always as it appeared, it is quite possible that the business would never have survived, but kayfabe was firmly kept, and by the 1920s, wrestling had an exceptionally strong following throughout North America.
The two biggest stars of the 1920s were Joe Stecher and Ed "Strangler" Lewis. The two were apparently exceptional shooters - both probably near the top of any list of the all-time great pure wrestlers in pro wrestling - but, ironically, a 1915 match between them is reputedly amongst the most important matches of all time, because it showed everyone in the game the downside of shooting.
Those of you who have seen the Dan Severn vs Ken Shamrock superfight from UFC IX will know what a boring shoot looks like. Neither combatant wants to "shoot in", because he would be exposed to a counter-attack from a good counter-wrestler. Shamrock-Gracie from UFC IV is another example. Once two great wrestlers have locked up, neither is keen to work too hard for an advantage because, again, he will be exposed to a counter-attack. In either scenario, what one is left with is a lengthy, unexciting stalemate. Well imagine how the spectators in 1915 must have felt when the arena closed after Stecher and Lewis had been in the ring from 5 hours and 45 minutes! After this match, it seems, shooting was out, and working was in full-time.
The Gold Dust Trio (no, they weren't gay) of Lewis, Joe "Toots" Mondt and promoter Billy Sandow controlled much of pro-wrestling in the '20s. Sandow, often describes as the Vince McMahon of his time, was apparently the world's first "booker" in the modern sense of the word. He was the first to map out programmes for his wrestlers and, as such, was able to manipulate the public better than anyone before him. Obviously, in the climate of the time, this did not mean creating gimmicks and angles as we know them, but simply doing in a more precise and planned way what boxing promoters do to this day - building up rivalries and "dream matches", having surprise wins to pique interest in certain wrestlers and so forth.
Chiefly because of Stanislaus Zbyszko's double-cross on football player Wayne Munn, promoters tended to keep their titles on legitimate wrestlers from the 1920s right on through the 1960s. However, in the late '40s and early '50s, a new wrestler appeared on the scene who would change the face of pro-wrestling forever, and in the process become more famous (and possibly richer) than any wrestler in history -- Gorgeous George.
Raymond Wagner, by all accounts, was a fairly talented junior-heavyweight amateur who, by borrowing some gimmicks from Lord Lansdowne, moving to Hollywood, and buddying up to the right people, made himself a national megastar. His gimmick (as those of you who have seen PWI's Lords of the Ring tape will know) was somewhere between Lord Steven Regal and Adrian Street. With his bleached blond hair, extravagant robes and effeminate mannerisms, he was a massive departure from all that had gone before. However, despite his huge success, his effect on wrestling was, perhaps, in the long run a negative one. Believe it or not, in an introductory talk on the Fifties in my American history class, we were told about Gorgeous George, and that "this was probably around the time that wrestling became fake." Until Gorgeous George, the realistic style of working, combined with the fact that periodically there were shoot matches, and the absolute refusal of anyone to break kayfabe meant that wrestling's modus operandi was the best kept secret in sport. Gorgeous George's performances, while hugely successful, were clearly not in the same vein stylistically as, say, Lou Thesz'. And once the question had been asked, the answer was never far away.
As time progressed, wrestling saw various peaks and lulls. However, throughout the 1970s and early '80s, no-one in the business ever dreamed of "exposing the business." However, a few things were about to change. In 1983, Satoru Sayama (the first Tiger Mask), frustrated at working an unrealistic pro-style in New Japan, wrote a book called Kayfabe which exposed wrestling's falsehood entirely. Sayama was then, and is now, a dedicated shooter, and felt that breaking kayfabe was the best way to gain respect and legitimacy for the new sport he was trying to develop. he then went on to form the various incarnations of the UWF, create the sport of shooting, and promote Vale Tudo in Japan -- all of which made money through exploding the wrestling myth, and yet New Japan Pro Wrestling is now more popular than any other pro wrestling office ever. In Britain in 1983, Jackie Pallo wrote You Grunt, I'll Groan, which again told the truth about the business. For the 10 years following, Britain's business was as healthy, if not healthier than ever. In America right now, the WWF, with its Monday night shootfights is casually exposing the business to bigger audiences than it has had in 15 years.
Is there a trend? Is wrestling really just entertainment to the public, or do they really believe? Does kayfabe matter? How would wrestling cope if Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff appeared on TV next Monday night and told the world what they really do for a living? Would they be prepared to find out?
Dear readers, the world of wrestling is built on
a lie. Over the years, that lie has been protected or exposed to various degrees
and with varying effects. To answer the questions I've just posed may take some
deliberation. But to aid you in your ponderings, do please read on...
(to be continued in WAWLI No. 746)
STANLEY BLACKBURN, 80, DIES
(Amarillo Globe News, Nov. 21, 1997)
Stanley Blackburn of Amarillo, a longtime business and civic leader, died Thursday, Nov. 20, 1997. He was 80.
Blackburn had been a lifelong resident of Amarillo. He graduated from Amarillo High School and attended New Mexico Military Institute at Roswell, N.M.
"He was an interesting fella. He thoroughly enjoyed life," said Tol Ware, chairman of Amarillo National Bank and Blackburn's longtime friend.
Blackburn grew up in his father's business, Blackburn Bros. Clothiers. He began working with the firm in 1939.
He joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and served as a pilot with the Air Transport Command in the United States, Canada and South America until 1946. Following World War II, he returned to an executive position in the family business when he was elected vice president. He became president of the firm in 1951.
After selling his interest in the business, Blackburn became an investor with real estate, banking and ranching interests.
Jose Rael, who works in the insurance business, had known Blackburn for about 25 years.
"He was very interested in the civic community," Rael said.
When asked what Rael will remember about Blackburn, Rael said, "In my mind, I'll remember limpid blue eyes that sparkle. I'll remember his good humor; he was always willing to joke."
Blackburn served as an Amarillo city commissioner from 1959 to 1961.
He had been a member of Polk Street United Methodist Church, the Amarillo Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Amarillo Senior Chamber of Commerce. He was a past chairman of the Retail Merchants Committee and served on the board of Downtown Merchants.
He also was a member of the Chamber of Commerce Merchants Committee, the Amarillo Club and the Palo Duro Club. He was a charter president of the Amarillo Country Club and had been active in the Elks Lodge, the Optimists and the Lions Club.
Blackburn was elected to the board of directors of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce in 1956 and became the president in 1960.
He was a representative of the Commissioner of Labor as boxing and wrestling commissioner. He had been president of the American Wrestling Association for more than a decade and also had been a personal adviser to many wrestlers across the United States.
Local wrestler Terry Funk had known Blackburn since Funk was 4 years old and remembers him as a patriarch.
"After my father passed away, any time I had a problem or needed judgment, I went to Stanley," Funk said.
"I will remember him for being a person that I could go to for fatherly advice for the past 25 years. I could go to him for the truth, whether it hurt me or not."
Blackburn married Marian McClarney in 1940 at Clovis, N.M. He was preceded in death a son, Rip Blackburn, in 1981.
Survivors include his wife; a daughter, Lynne Kralj of Austin; a son, John Blackburn of Amarillo; and four grandchildren.
(portion inadvertently deleted from interview with Jake Roberts)
Snake: Down the passages of life, you start to take a lot of $h!t and you get dealt some bad cards and you start looking for a way to defend yourself. Sometimes you're not big enough to defend yourself so therefore you find the right tool and obviously I did.
JP: Jake, you've been in both WCW and WWF, are there any organizational differences that you can sight between the two companies?
Snake: The difference is that at one time McMahon was the smartest man in wrestling. And that's because he wasn't doing the thinking, he was getting the ideas from the talent. Basically, when he first kicked that WWF thing off, he went off and he took all the great talent from around the world and we basically ran the damn company for him. We were on the road every day of the month. And we were doing business and he was getting the marketing and everything was going smooth. The problem with McMahon is that ego became poison for him and the same thing is going to happen to Bischoff. His ego is outta control now. McMahon was smart, but whenever he got involved and the games started coming out with his sick mind, and I have nothing against sick minds because I have one too!! Mad Man or Genius? I mean, you have to get a look at where the values are now, but at one time wrestling was clear cut good guy versus bad guy...not anymore...Now with the "Attitude" if someone screws somebody else over, that's cool!!! Gang Warfare...That's cool!! Well that's a bunch of crap!! We don't need to teach our kids that...It doesn't need to be a T & A show. Unfortunately, this mad ratings race between the two of them is taking the sport out of the game and the talent level has suffered because there are no learning pods around the country to teach these guys and nobody cares anymore!! A direct correlation would be movies today. You can watch Die Hard 22 where babies are being raped in the first 30 seconds and buildings are falling down and the world's gonna end or you can watch John Wayne threaten Rich Widmark, "Don't pick up that gun son..."
JP: So what is the differences between then and today?
Snake: The difference is visual excitement versus emotional excitement...Emotional will last you a lifetime, brother, that's why Jake "The Snake" is still popular...That's why they still remember me. Ten years from now, they won't remember who the hell Razor Ramon was...They won't remember who Kevin Nash was.
JP: When you were starting who did you look up to in the business?
Snake: Terry Funk, definitely. There were a lot of great wrestlers, a lot of great tacticians when I was growing up. Hiro Matsuda, The Assassins, the psychology was all there man. That's what it takes to get the people involved, you have to know what tweaks their mind and you have to work for it...nobody wants to work for it anymore. You get some of those Mexicans out there that can do fourteen flips on their head and then get up and walk away, well that's really cute!!
JP: Now was there anyone up and down the road that you particularly liked working with over the years?
Snake: I've enjoyed wrestling the One Man Gang this past year or so. We had a great mud bath up in Pueblo, Colorado last month. It rained about 4 inches of rain in a rodeo arena and boy did we have some fun!!! It took a day and a half to get the mud out of my nose and ears. Today it's changed so much though. I mean, I like wrestling some of the young guys because it sure is fun to share an education, brother. It sure is fun to see one of these hard headed, miserable, and primped looking as good as they can look and then 'Ol Jake's got two fingers up their rear-end saying "Now what are you gonna do son??"
JP: A few months ago they had that angle in WCW with Raven calling your name and Diamond Dallas Page...
Snake: (Interrupting) Well, you've got to understand that I spent a lot of time with Dallas, and truth be known that even when Mr. Sullivan was trying to get rid of DDP, Dallas was calling me and saying, "Here's what they're trying to do." And I said to him, "Don't fight it, because if you fight it you're fired!" What you do is try to take a negative and turn it into a positive. That's what I always tried to do, I mean McMahon, what about that one time with Bad News Brown and that Sewer Rat?? Give me a break!! But I had to turn that into a positive, and the way you do that is by working your a$$ off!! And I basically told DDP what to do and had a great time making Kevin miserable. Now, Dallas has got a great career going and I care for him very much and he deserves everything he's got coming to him and if nobody agrees they can kiss my a$$ too!!
JP: Now did WCW contact you about that angle?
Snake: You know, there were rumors that I signed with WCW or WWF, but you know what really happened?
JP: What's that?
Snake: They were both trying to pimp off my damn name and sell their 1-900 $h!t!! That's sick!! They were blatantly robbing these kids!
JP: Would you consider returning to either of the big two?
Snake: Absolutely not...for me to go to any organization on a full time basis I would have to have control of storylines and character development...I don't want any gays running around out there feeling themselves up, and I don't need any T & A and I want a clear cut right and wrong. And they won't do that because of the war...It's funny..that war is gonna destroy both of them and somebody's gonna slide in that back door...You never now when a snake's gonna show up, do ya??
JP: So do you enjoy the independent circuit?
Snake: I don't know if I enjoy it, it's an option. I still like to go out there and toss some heads around...Being recently divorced, it's fun to beat on someone other than me!!
JP: Now why did you demand this match with King Kong Bundy at Autumn Ambush '98 and what kind of personal score did you have to settle with him?
Snake: Well, I heard Bundy was talking trash about me when he sat down to dinner from some friends of mine...and of course when Bundy sits down to eat, that thing can last three or four hours so that yapping could go for a little while. You know, at one time I might have respected him, but now I respect him less as a wrestler and more as an eater...I guess the personal score is to say that hey, the snake's still alive, the snake's still kicking, look out here I come again!!
JP: Do you have any words for Mike Mercedes before the matchup?
Snake: Yeah, the bed wetting should stop within the month!!
JP: Alright, thanks Jake, we'll see you next weekend at Autumn Ambush!!
Snake: You know it brother!!
The WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 740
FRANK GOTCH: A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
By Steve Slagle
Frank Gotch is truly one of the original pioneers of professional wrestling. Long before the money, fame, and glitz of modern wrestling, long before the post WWII boom of Gorgeous George and "TV wrestling," before Lou Thesz, before Ed "Strangler" Lewis, before there was even a such thing as a "federation" in wrestling, there was Frank Gotch...
He was born in Iowa in 1876.
Gotch was trained by the legendary Farmer Burns and he made his wrestling debut
in Humboldt, IA. in 1899 with a victory over Marshall Green. On April 3, 1904
Gotch defeated American Champion Tom Jenkins for his first championship, and he
held the title for years, defending it regularly and building a large fan
following in the process. However, while it was an important title, the American
Championship was not the most important championship to be had, and Gotch
craved the World Heavyweight Championship.
In April of 1908, an aggressive and determined Gotch met and defeated "The Russian Lion" George Hackenschmidt for the World Heavyweight Championship in a match held at the Dexter Park Pavilion on Chicago's south side. The match is said to have lasted 2 1/2 hours. However, there was some doubt by Hackenschmidt, press writers and fans at the time about the "un-sportsmanlike" methods Gotch used to win the title. The new World Champion agreed to give the Russian behemoth a rematch. It took place at Comiskey Park on Labor Day 1911 and drew a record (at that time) $87,000 gate, and Gotch again came out on top. According to legend, Gotch did so, once again, perhaps, once again, through questionable means. It is said that just prior to the rematch, Gotch paid off Ad Santel, a very skilled and dangerous grappler, to injure "The Russian Lion" during a training session. Meanwhile there are some that contend that the whole Santel story is just that -- a story, one that contains little truth. Whatever the cause of his injury, with Hackenschmidt at far less than full strength, Gotch had few problems wearing down and then defeating the powerful European. Their series of matches, as questionable as the outcomes may be in hindsight, truly captured the attention of American and European spectators alike.
infancy, Gotch went on to become the most well known wrestler of the day.
He often challenged all comers, agreeing to defeat anyone within 15 minutes or
he'd give them $100. He never had to pay up...
During this fleeting time of legitimacy in wrestling, Gotch was renowned for his great skill and power, despite his deceivingly small stature, and he became perhaps wrestling's first true box-office attraction. As crafty and ruthless as he was skilled, Gotch held the undisputed World Title until he retired, when he forfeited the title, undefeated as champion. His professional record was an impressive 132 victories out of 140 total matches...with several of his losses coming in handicapped matches. His bouts with Hackenschmidt, Jenkins, Stanislaus Zbysko and others were truly legendary...and can be traced back to the earliest days of what we now know as professional wrestling.
Gotch died on December 16, 1917 at the age of 41. A national hero, over 2,000 mourners attended his funeral. Few men garnered the respect Gotch earned during his time as champion, and for many years afterward, every champion that followed him was invariably compared to the great Gotch, the "measuring stick" of that era. The Ring Chronicle is proud to induct the man many consider to be the 1st truly great World Wrestling Champion, Frank Gotch, into T.R.C.'s pro wrestling Hall of Fame...
READY TO RUMBLE: HULK HOGAN IN THE MOVIES
(Las Vegas Review-Journal, Friday, Oct. 24, 1997)
By Ken White
Hulk Hogan has a case of split personality.
On World Championship Wrestling's "Monday Nitro" show on TNT, the former humble good guy of wrestling has become Hollywood Hulk Hogan, an arrogant bad guy in a black outfit who's badly in need of a shave.
But in movies, including the upcoming "Assault on Devil's Island," set to air Tuesday on TNT, Hogan plays a muscle-bound good-guy hero whom Hogan describes as "the John Wayne of the '90s."
Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea) insists his fans know it's all in fun.
"I think I've educated the audience enough that they know wrestling is entertainment," Hogan says. "The good guys are good guys, and even the bad guys are good guys" in a certain sense. "They (wrestling fans) jeer out of enthusiasm, not out of hatred."
If anything, Hogan is the one who's confused about his trip over to the dark side.
"People are mad at me, but they still cheer me," says Hogan, 43. "It's really strange."
The turnabout in Hulk's good-guy image came after he left the World Wrestling Federation and joined media mogul Ted Turner's WCW.
"Ted wanted to keep growing and do something different" for the show, Hogan says. "I said, `Everything in wrestling has been done several times over.' And he said, `Why don't you be a bad guy?' "
The thought had appeal.
"I went for it," Hogan says. "I'm the best bad guy in the world."
He was worried his career might suffer, but that hasn't happened, Hogan claims. "People were shocked, but the numbers (ratings) went up."
Hogan will battle "Rowdy" Roddy Piper in the main event of "Halloween Havoc" in the MGM Grand Garden arena Sunday. Also scheduled to appear are "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, the "Total Package" Lex Luger, the Giant, the Steiner Brothers, Diamond Dallas Page, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. The event starts at 4:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on pay-per-view.
Meanwhile, "Assault on Devil's Island" will debut at 5 p.m. Tuesday on TNT (it will be rerun at various times through Nov. 10). If the made-for-cable movie is a good draw, it will spawn a series, "Shadow Warriors."
The movie is a regular shoot-'em-up, blow-'em-up with Hogan again playing a Navy SEAL (in 1994 he played former Navy SEAL "Hurricane" Spencer in the short-lived action show "Thunder in Paradise").
As Mike McBride, Hogan must rescue kidnapped U.S. gymnasts being held hostage on Devil's Island by drug lords. He co-stars with Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the "Rocky" movies, and Shannon Tweed, who gained fame as a Playboy playmate in 1982 and has gone on to appear in more than 30 movies of the action-exploitation type, including "No Contest," "No Contest II" and "Cold Sweat."
Tweed, who has been studying kickboxing for several years, was a good addition to the cast, says Hogan, an executive producer of "Assault."
"We wanted a beautiful woman who could keep up with the men," Hogan says. "She was a pro, she could keep up."
She does a credible job in the action picture playing a tough DEA agent, according to Hogan.
"She could kick my head off," he says, and laughs.
Hogan found shooting the film to be a lot of fun. "I love doing the acting. It makes me feel young. It got real competitive on the set. It was like being on a football team."
Because of the nature of the shooting -- what originally was to take 23 days to film got whittled down to 14 days because of a time crunch -- Hogan avoided his least favorite part of acting.
"My biggest complaint about acting is sitting in the trailer waiting to work. On this one, after I got into my costume, I never saw the trailer all day."
Hogan says three camera units filmed simultaneously, shooting stunt doubles and doubles for the actors for long shots, as well as the dialogue scenes.
"No one said we could do it, but we pulled it off," Hogan says.
Ex-Navy SEAL Mike White and seven-time world karate champ Billy Blanks were advisers and had on-camera roles to ensure authenticity.
The movie involved the use of a lot of explosives, and one scene nearly got out of hand. Hogan watched from the distance as stunt men were to be propelled safely ahead of a big explosion. Something went wrong with the timing, however, and a stunt man flew 40 feet and landed on his head. "He was OK, but it was a big scare. It makes you realize how precarious life is," Hogan says.
Besides a possible series coming out of "Assault," Hogan has a few other films coming out, too. He will be appearing in "Secret Agent Club," "Ultimate Weapon" and "3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain."
And he may have his shot at a major motion picture -- Jon Peters, producer of the upcoming "Superman" film to star Nicolas Cage, has called Hogan with the idea of appearing as a bad guy.
That, says Hogan, will take him to a higher level
in his career.
The WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 741
LOU KLEIN, PRO WRESTLER, SUCCUMBS
(The Mellus Newspapers, October 17, 1979)
Lou Klein left the wrestling ring a champion on July 9, 1977. For more than 40 years he had entertained wrestling fans all over the metropolitan Detroit area and the country.
And when he teamed up with Ed George in his final bout against the Bounty Hunters in a tag team title match, the crowd gave the 245-pound Allen Parker a standing ovation.
Klein took the memories of that ovation with him to Okeechobee, Fla., where he lived the final two years of his life. But at 62, Klein met an opponent he couldn't send crashing to the mat. A heart attack caught Klein unawares at his Florida home where he died Thursday.
Klein fought his first wrestling match in 1935 and dominated the state's wrestling scene for five years after that. He won both the AAU and YMCA championships in Detroit and Michigan, and earned four national titles in the process.
For three straight years he was voted the outstanding wrestler in the national tournament.
In 1941, Klein launched a new career - giving up his amateur status to battle the forces of evil in the pro wrestling ring. In his four-decade career, Klein would battle, and subdue, such notorious opponents as The Sheik, Igor, Killer Kowalski and Bobo Berazil.
More than 9,200 matches later, Klein would recall that he won more than 90 percent - drew in five percent of his events and "was robbed" in the remaining five percent.
But Klein was a teacher of the sport and act he embraced as a youngster, opening a small gym in Allen Park to teach others his favorite sport. When he moved to Florida, the gym doors closed.
Klein is survived by his wife, Emily; three daughters, Linda Kingsland, Sharon Miller and Lois Evanko; two grandchildren, two brothers and a sister.
Funeral services were held Monday in Okeechobee Funeral Home, with burial at Evergreen Cemetary in Okeechobee.
(ED. NOTE - It is worth noting that, in the following tribute to Philadelphia promoter Herman Taylor, not a single mention is made of the fact that he promoted nearly as many professional wrestling shows over the years as he did boxing shows. If anyone doubts the difficulty in researching the history of the mat game, this is another perfect example of how information of interest to wrestling buffs can be lost in the mists of time.)
PHILADELPHIA'S GREATEST BOXING PROMOTER
By Chuck Hassan
Nobody ever loved the fight game more that Herman Taylor. Probably no one was ever actively involved in boxing longer than Herman Taylor. When he died on June 27, 1980 at the age of 93, he had put in fully 79 years as a participator in the sport, maintaining his office and conducting business, still looking to promote another show until about a week before he passed away. This man literally worked his way up from the very bottom of his chosen profession, paying his dues, to being eventually recognized as truly one of the greatest promoters of all time.
He was born in 1887 and raised in the neighborhood around 6th and Catharine. By 1901, Taylor, being the sole support of his mother and a younger brother and sister, convinced Jack McGuigan, promoter of the famed National A.C. located at 11th and Catharine, to give him a job. Starting as a floor sweeper, young Taylor was to serve an apprenticeship that dealt with every conceivable aspect of the game and a father-son relationship was quickly established with McGuigan.
He was soon driving a horse drawn cart through the cobbled streets of Philadelphia, advertising the latest boxing show at the National, while clanging a huge cow bell and pointing to the fight posters that adorned the sides of the wagon.
By 1912, with the blessing of McGuigan, he was ready to promote his own shows and purchased the old Broadway A.C., at 15th and Washington, from Diamond Lew Bailey. Taylor’s resume at this time already included his being a matchmaker. He had also managed a small stable of fighters and had, himself, boxed on some shows when a substitute was needed in preliminary bouts.
Taylor was an immediate success as a promoter and, by 1916, formed a partnership with Bobby Gunnis, staging outdoor shows at Shibe Park. These open-air, all-star cards became famous nationally, importing the world’s best fighters along with top local boxers, to perform for appreciative Philadelphia audiences.
A typical show might have Harry Greb, Sam Langford, Jack Britton, Johnny Dundee, and Lew Tendler in separate bouts, making the evening a true extravaganza for the fans and leaving them hungry for more. The “boy promoters” as they were dubbed, also presented their famous “Battle of the Champions” which featured lightweight ruler Benny Leonard kayoing featherweight titlist Johnny Kilbane before a huge crowd.
The pair soon branched out and was running cards at the Arena, the Baker Bowl, Municipal Stadium, and later, Convention Hall, Camden, Atlantic City, Newark and Nutley (New Jersey), using the same successful formula of presenting the fans with high quality attractions at popular prices.
Although Tex Rickard is given credit for promoting the legendary Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney match on September 23, 1926, in front of 120 thousand patrons at Sesquicentennial (Municipal) Stadium, it was Taylor and Gunnis who did most of the legwork for that affair and they split up a hundred grand between them for their efforts.
As time went on, they continued giving the fans a steady diet of great matches including Benny Bass’ sensational knockout of Harry Blitman for Philadelphia bragging rights in 1928 with receipts reaching the hundred thousand dollar mark and, in 1930, the highly controversial victory, on deliberate foul, of Primo Carnera over George Godfrey at the Baker Bowl with 35,000 witnesses paying $180,175. In another promotion, fifteen thousand Convention Hall clients watched as Max Schmeling was given a surprising setback by former Penn State football star Steve Hamas in a highly anticipated encounter in 1934.
Over forty thousand fans watched the last Taylor-Gunnis presentation on September 22, 1936 when Joe Louis finally knocked out the courageous Al Ettore in the fifth round at Municipal Stadium. Tragically, Bobby Gunnis, right before the bout, had a heart attack and died. It was widely rumored that Taylor paid Mrs. Gunnis her husband’s share of promotional profits years after his death.
Of course, these bouts were just some of the highlights of their regular successful shows featuring the likes of Mickey Walker, Jack Sharkey, Barney Ross, Tony Canzoneri, Babe Risko, Joe and Vince Dundee, Sammy Mandell, Luis Firpo, Kid Chocolate, Pancho Villa, Jimmy Wilde, Joe Lynch, and Maxie Rosenbloom. In fact, they presented almost every major champion and contender of that exciting era along with such local stars as Tommy Loughran, Lew Tendler, Benny Bass, Battling Levinsky, Patsy Wallace, Matt Adgie, Midget Wolgast, Lew Massey, Johnny Jadick, Eddie Cool, etc., etc…
After Gunnis’ death, Taylor continued on solo, running a very profitable operation. For many years, he was second to only Mike Jacobs’ New York outfit. In fact, he was always challenging his “old friend” when Jacobs’ monopoly threatened to freeze-out most of the independent boxers and promoters.
When Tony Galento’s ornery and belligerent manner made him unwanted by the powerful New York Commission, and by Jacobs also (who considered Galento too big a risk for Joe Louis), Taylor signed Tony to an exclusive 5-year contract. He built him into the foremost heavyweight challenger and such a huge attraction that Jacobs had to relent and allow champion Louis to meet Galento in a sensational title match, and regretfully had to cut Taylor in on the promotion as well. A few years later, Sugar Ray Robinson signed an “exclusive” contract with Taylor to promote Ray’s Philly bouts and provide him with a trump card when negotiating with Jacobs for important matches.
During the war years, Taylor’s business was booming and he promoted such title matches as Joe Louis-Gus Dorazio and Lou Salica-Tommy Forte, along with the Bob Montgomery-Ike Williams feud that raged in the city for three years and two classic and highly profitable battles. Many local boxers reached international stardom under Taylor’s direction in the ensuing years from Montgomery, Dorazio, Wesley Mouzon, Billy Fox, Billy Arnold, Harold Johnson, Gil Turner, Percy Bassett, Joey Giardello, Georgie Benton, Len Matthews, Sugar Hart to Joe Frazier, Gypsy Joe Harris, Bennie Briscoe, Kitten Hayward, and Leotis Martin.
Herman Taylor’s greatest accomplishment came during the summer of 1952 when he staged three world title fights at Municipal Stadium. In June, Jersey Joe Walcott successfully defended his heavyweight title against bitter rival Ezzard Charles with 21,599 on hand. Then, in July, Kid Gavilan outlasted Gil Turner in a vicious war drawing a record gate for the welterweight class and 39,025 paid guests. And, of course, the epic September struggle between Marciano and Walcott that Taylor simply called the “greatest heavyweight match I ever looked at.”
On Herman Taylor’s 76th birthday, in an article by Nat Frank, Taylor was asked if he would live the same life if he had it to do all over again. His answer probably best summed up his life. “And why not”, he said, “it has given me fame and fortune; has brought me in contact with the world’s foremost citizens; and enabled me to do numerous fistic presentations for the most worthy of benefits, whereby the City, State, and Nation benefited.”
When asked if he ever considered retirement at his advanced age, he replied, “on the contrary, it has given me added ambition to continue in the game I love.”
The WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 742
WHITE HOT RED
(Boxing and Wrestling, circa 1956)
By Charles A. Smith
Rolland G. Bastien is after Big Game. He's lined up the Junior Heavy and Heavyweight titles in the sights of his ability and any moment now, he's gonna pull the trigger and knock 'em both off.
Red's a golden-haired, 5-feet-10-inch, 200-pound Adonis, with the power of Yukon Eric, the experience and skill of Joe pazandak and the flash and showmanship of Jimmy Londos, and if these qualities don't prove he's a future world's champion, I'll eat any hat you choose in any manner you cook it.
Bastien's but 24 years of age right now and in his short wrestling career has rolled up the greatest string of wins on any grappler's record . . . bar none!
Did I say "short" wrestling career? Chronologically, it's long, but reckoned in wrestling terms it signifies Red's a mere beginning despite the fact that he's been hitting the mat for nine years, and has had eleven hundred bouts.
He's a natural athlete, starred in high school swimming and football and was good enough at 16 years of age to take on all comers in a carnival wrestling tent. He was a rangy 145 pounds at that time, but he beat every one who challenged him, from 180 pounders to a 340-pound tub of blubber whom he belted in two minutes flat.
The great old time middleweight champ, Henry Kolln, cottoned on to Red when the boy was working in a backwoods lumber camp. During the idle evening hours, Henry taught Bastien every facet of the game, the holds, counters, take downs, go-behinds . . . all the rough stuff, too . . . and soon the youngster was able to join up with the carnival.
His weight jumped with his experience as the years passed and Red, ever with the urge to travel, joined the United States Navy. He served two years in European waters during which time he wrestled in Paris, London, Rome, Athens and Berlin. He fought anyone in any style . . . judo jackets . . . Graeco-Roman . . . All-In . . . Catch-as-catch-can . . . you name the style . . . he used it.
Verne Gagne and Joe Pazandak took up Red's tutelage when he got his Navy discharge. They're both past masters at offensive and defensive grappling . . . and they soon tabbed Red as the man most likely to upset Ed Francis, present Junior Heavy champ of the world.
His power-packed flying dropkicks and skilled reverse Japanese leg lock have made him the idol of the bobby sox crowd who rise in their seats and cheer with delight when Red hits his opponents to soften them up for a pin.
It hasn't been easy for him to give weight away, but Gagne and Pazandak have been spending lots of time with him on the training mat, and with his ever increasing experience and skill, it's a cinch for him to win his first world's crown within the next year.
CARNY FIGHTS -- BULLIES, SWEAT, PRIDE
(Minneapolis Tribune, Sunday, May 3, 1970)
By Merrill Swanon
The hundreds of nameless faces have been swallowed up by time, but the smells, sights and sounds of the carnival fighting shows remain fresh.
The smell of ripe sawdust and sweat, the sight of countless town bullies crawling through the ring ropes, the sound of fists on flesh and breaking of bones will remain forever with Jim Morgan and Red Bastien.
Those two, brothers-in-law now, were carnival fighters like Ruby Robert Fitzsimmons and Jack Dempsey were before them. The two hit the carnival circuit as teen-agers in the late 1940s and saw the "athletic shows" outdraw the girlie acts. Ten years later they also saw the athletic shows wither and die.
"One of the best fighters I ever saw," Morgan said, "also was a pretty good drinker. Half the time when you had a good fight for him you couldn't find him. He was apt to have been at a local tavern and fighting the town bully out in the street instead of bringing him back to the carnival where we wanted him."
Both Morgan and Bastien found their carnival background influenced their present and their future. Morgan, who used to paint the banners on the tentfront, got out of the wrestling and boxing circuit after 10 years to become an artist for the Bloomington school system, to raise a family of boxing sons and to coach in the Golden Gloves program; Bastien, who became a carnival wrestler at age 16, is using that experience in the studios of Ch. 11 and in auditoriums and arenas around the country as a professional wrestler.
"The only rich we got at the carnivals was rich in experience," Bastien said. "Our pay wasn't weekly - it was weakly. But I wrestled all sizes, shapes and colors, even though I weighed only about 145 pounds at the time. Most of the carnival wrestlers were middleweights - the biggery guys, the heavyweights, super heavyweights and dreadnaughts, could get work other places."
There often would be a stable of 8 to 10 fighters in the athletic shows - either boxers or wrestlers or both, as Morgan was.
Frequently, when things got dull around the midway, the wrestlers from one show would hop into a car and roar into another carnival town to challenge that show's wrestlers.
"If you wrestled against another carnival fighter," Morgan said, "you'd tell that promoter you'd want 50 percent. Then they'd argue and maybe you wound up with 30 percent. Or maybe you wound up laying outside the tent someplace instead of getting your money. Sometimes the worst fight was afterwards."
Some of the carny wrestlers had no names or nicknames or pseudonyms by choice or necessity - like Smiling Irish (a Jewish fellow who never smiled).
Some wore masks to protect their identity, for a number of reasons. Bastien wore a mask on the West Coast when he was in the Navy and wrestled the carnival circuit - against regulations. Others were collegians who wanted to protect their amateur standing. Still others didn't want to be recognized - period.
Many, however, were proud of both their names and reputations and went on to become premier wrestlers on big-time cards, men like Bastien, Bobo Brazil, Johnny Moochy, Jack Guy and Chief Littlewolf.
These men often fought each other for sport and for money on the carnival circuit, but more often it was the biggest and toughest man in town who answered the challenge.
"I remember one guy who was exactly 100 pounds heavier than I was," Morgan said. "He lifted bales of paper all day, and believe me he was strong. He could have lifted me like a feather. But I just moved around behind him, got him on the mat and that was the end of it. I wouldn't let him up."
The lure for the challengers varied from money to the urge to prove their masculinity and toughness. Most shows offered from $100 to $150 to beat one of the house fighters.
"That $100 was a come on," Morgan said. "Most guys seemed to think that they'd get the $100 for wrestling for five minutes, which was the standard time limit. But they found it was $100 if they beat the carny fighter - and beating one of those pros was doggone hard to do."
Between them, Morgan and Bastien wrestled close to 1,500 challengers in tiny rings and tiny, sweltering tents in tiny towns around the Midwest. Neither one lost a single bout to a tank-towner.
"And it was all or nothing," Bastien said. "There weren't many rules and it got pretty rough at times."
"In boxing you'd just box," Morgan said, "but in wrestling you'd never know what was going to happen. A lot of them didn't know how to wrestle and they'd as likely come in and fist-fight with you. You learned pretty fast to hold your hands pretty high and keep your chin tucked down."
"In just about every town," Bastien said, "somebody was recognized as the toughest . . . the town bully. The people would go get him when the athletic show hit town and he'd have no choice but to get into the ring. Some of them were pretty tough, but they couldn't compete with the experience and knowledge of the pros."
The usual procedure was to take it easy on the first candidate on the program. He wouldn't win, but he more than likely would climb out of the ring and tell his buddy that "it ain't that bad."
Then his buddy would pick up the challenge . . . and his buddy, and so on through the night.
But pity the last one on the show.
"You're not going to chop up the first guy," Morgan said. "But late in the night, when the crowd was getting slim, the guy running the show would say 'let's go home' and you were supposed to take the last guy out of there in a hurry."
Most whipped the last opponent of the night fair and square. But there were some carnival wrestlers who were not nearly so gentle.
"Some of them would break a guy's finger . . . or maybe even his arm . . . to get him out of there," Morgan said. "Or they'd cut him with an elbow. But if you were traveling with the carnival a broken ear or a broken nose didn't mean you had a day off coming. You'd just keep on going."
Sometimes the victim resented the beating he took. One, Morgan remembers, pulled a knife on the carny wrestler and Jim had to sneak into the ring and disarm him from behind.
"It was about the biggest knife I've ever seen," Morgan said.
With an unruly crowd packed into the tent so the sides bulged, the famed "Hey, Rube" - a carny's call for help - was a very real thing.
"I've seen it used," Morgan said, "but only as a last resort. No carnival peron would ever say it unless he really is in trouble."
Toward the end of the era, gimmicks became more popular than carny wrestler vs. town bully. There were tag-team matches, pitting carnival wrestlers vs. carnival wrestler, and there were women who issued a challenge to any male in the audience.
"Mildred Burke (who later became the women's world champion) was one of the women who toured the circuit," Morgan said. "I saw a couplee of women in the carnivals, but I never saw them wrestle. I guess the guys in the crowd didn't dare challenge them. I don't know if they weren't sure of how to wrestle them or were afraid of being beaten."
And that gets back to pride, which more than anything kept carnival wrestling alive for as long as it was.
"It was a tough life," Morgan said, "but there was something about it that kept making you come back to it. I remember that one day in some town in Minnesota - it was like all the little towns we wrestled in - where I had 13 straight matches.
"I won every one. I didn't win because I was making that much money, but because I enjoyed wrestling and I was proud of it. I didn't want to lose."
And he didn't.
But after a time, town toughs found other areas in which to emphasize their masculinity; soon, girlie shows were outdrawing the wrestlers.
An era of American folklore was ending. But the smells, sights and sounds remain fresh to those who were there.
(ED. NOTE - The above articles centering about the early days of Red Bastien are in a "tribute" book presented to the former wrestler, now 69, by his daughter-in-law, Marla Bastien, and her daughter, Keela, at the time of Bastien's ascension to the Cauliflower Alley Club presidency in February, 2000. Some of the correspondence, in response to Marla's Internet plea for photos, clips and other Bastien career memorabilia, is included below.)
Here are the copies of stories about Red that appeared in Australian Wrestling News from 1967 to 1969. You will notice that the same two photos of Red are used in the stories but that was the normal thing back in those days with this publication. I'm not too sure how "accurate" these stories are as it seems that quite a lot of "wrestling interviews/stories" from the publications of this era are questionable as to whether the wrestlers were ever interviewed or whether the writers just "scripted" the stories for publicity purposes.
One thing I can tell, though, is that Red Bastien was a main event wrestler in Australia and very popular with the fans here (one of the pin-up boys of the female fans I have been told). He was very respected as a genuinely skilled and talented wrestler in an era where Australia saw nearly every great wrestler there was and Red Bastien is regarded as one of the very best to tour here.
Red's name comes up whenever people talk about the "Golden Days" of wrestling here. I was fortunate enough to track down this copy of the "Wrestling Holds Book" that features Red and Mario Milano demonstrating holds that wrestlers actually used back then (unlike today's version of wrestling where a bout usually consists of someone being hit over the head with a chair or thrown through a table). Red and Mario did the book in 1967 and it was released in 1968.
You will not on the list of titleholders I have included that they held the IWA (Australian version) of the World Tag Team Title on three occasions. Wrestling was very big here at that time on television and always had full houses at the stadiums. His old tag team partner, Milano, lives here in Melbourne and whenever he is interviewed and asked the question of "Who were some of the memorable wrestlers from the old days?" he always mentions Red Bastien and always adds what a good wrestler he was.
The interview I did/wrote with Mario is for an American nostalgia newsletter called Wrestling Then & Now that pays tribute to wrestling history before it became the "circus" that it has become today. I am just a subscriber to this newsletter but I write the occasional article about the Australian wrestling scene from the '60s and '70s. I myself was born in January, 1960, and unfortunately was too young to ever get to see Red in action here but being a wrestling nostalgia buff (I hate the term "historian"), I am very familiar with Red's contribution to wrestling both here and in the U.S.A.
I hope you and your daughter enjoy what I have sent and if possible please pass on my best wishes to Red and let him know that he is still well remembered here in Australia. He may be interested to know that Mario Milano is still active as a wrestler here in Melbourne, Australia. I see him at a local promotion here in Melbourne every few months. If Red would like to pass on his regards to Mario I can do that for him as I usually get the opportunity to speak with him at these nights. Please feel free to contact me anytime if I can be of assistance in the future.
My best wishes to you and your daughter,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
I remember Red when he was with Lou Klein as the Bastien Brothers working for McMahon Sr. in the late '50s. They had a gimmick of adding $50 to a treasure chest every time they won a TV match.
It was held out as a challenge to Jerry and Eddie Graham, who held the straps. I thought it was a nothing gimmick . . . a bore.
. . . Until they got the match with the Grahams.
Jerry Graham was enough of a genius to make the thing work . . . he bladed himself in the first fall and was sent to the lockers to get himself stitched up, leaving Eddie to end the fall by himself. I don't recall if Eddie won the second fall or if it went two falls straight, but near the end of the match, along comes Jerry trailing a streamer of bandage behind him . . . does he go to the ring? No!! He goes to the announcer's table, grabs the treasure box from announcer Ray Morgan, and starts to fling handfuls of silver dollars into the audience!
The match ended somehow, with the Bastiens holding the straps . . . I don't know how . . . it ended for me with the cartwheels sparkling in the spotlights. For me, it was the neatest match ending I've ever seen and makes me smile, even today.
THE PILL FOR A CHAMPION?
(Wrestling News, Vol. 4 (1969), No. 16)
By Maurice Jacques
Powerful Red Bastien is a fitness fanatic who is back in Australia for a very special purpose.
It is not to surf on our wonderful beaches . . .
. . . or to soak up the incredible Australian sunshine . . .
. . . or to enjoy those daily workouts in well appointed gymnasiums.
"I am back in Australia for the third time for a very definite reasons. I am to be the world champion when I leave your great country," a confident Bastien said.
Certainly, the fast moving, talented Bastien possesses the ability to take the world wrestling title.
After being hurt in a championship bout at Sacramento, Bastien remembers being surrounded by doctors and nurses in the operating theatre before passing out.
Some of the United States' top specialists worked for hours while Bastien was on the operating table to repair the extensive and crucial damage.
On being told six months later he could get out of bed, Bastien was jubilant.
Then came the morale shattering decree from the specialists:
"You have wrestled for the last time. The best you can hope for is that you will walk normally," the doctors told a youthful Bastien.
This "fired" Bastien - the champion with boundless energy.
He worked for more than 12 hours daily in his North California health centre to get back into top physical condition.
The specialists shook their heads in bewilderment when Bastien announced he was ready to resume wrestling.
Bastien's comeback was successful and sensational.
He beat a string of district champions in stepping back into world championship ratings.
Bastien always carries a box of his special vitamin pills and tablets with him.
"For years I have taken these health giving pills and tablets. They are wonderful. Everybody should try some with his or her diet," Bastien added.
Bastien has never been more determined than he is now.
"I am going to win the world championship," he says with a purpose that is frightening.
If there were a wrestler standing in Red Bastien's path to the world championship, there is one thing I would regard as essential:
Swallowing packets and packets of Red Bastien's
special vitamin tablets!
The WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 743
(ED. NOTE - To continue Yasuhiko Morozumi's scan of bouts involving top Japanese talent, here are the Giant Baba vs. Antonio Inoki results from the early years - apparently the only times they ever met head-on in the ring. Coming soon, we hope, will be the results involving the Baba-Inoki tag team combination of later years. Again, our sincere thanks to Mr. Morozumi for the contributions. And if you can handle Japanese, you'll want to investigate the following web site: http://www.ne.jp/asahi/wrestling/history)
SHOHEI (GIANT) BABA VERSUS ANTONIO INOKI
By Yasuhiko Morozumi
The Rikidozan vs. Baba, Inoki and Kim Il (oops, my previous report had the wrong spelling for the Korean version of Kintaro Oki's name) bouts were not held, because Rikidozan's position was too far from other Oriental wrestlers. He wrestled against only "gaijin" (foreign) wrestlers from North America and South Asia, example for Dara Singh and King Kong (Hungarian native Emile Czaya, wrestled mainly in Singapore and Australia). Perhaps Rikidozan's last match against a Japanese wrestler was versus the Great Togo, about 1959.
But -- in the TV movie program "Champion Futoshi" of 1962 -- Rikidozan met Inoki, who played the role of "Shinigami Shoochou" (a chief from hell). I was born in 1960, so I don't remember that.
I hear Rikidozan wanted to name Inoki "Shinigami Shoochou" but Inoki refused.
Following are the all the Baba vs. Inoki bouts:
09-30 At Tokyo's Taito Ward Gym, both Baba and Inoki made their debuts. Baba beat Y.Tanaka (later referee of Inoki's New Japan) via submission (5:15). Kim Il beat Inoki via submission (7:06).
05-01 At Tokyo Met's Gym, Baba wrestled against Mr. X (aka Dr. Bill Miller), lost via submission.This was his first match with a foreign wrestler. It was the test match for Baba to go abroad, of course, the USA.
After that both Baba and Inoki wrestled one another the first time in Toyama.
Baba beat Inoki via submission (10:00).
Baba beat Inoki via submission (5:30).
Baba pinned Inoki (9:50).
06-16 Yahata, Fukuoka
Baba pinned Inoki (8:05).
Baba pinned Inoki (9:19).
Baba pinned Inoki (11:27).
On July 1st, Rikidozan let Baba go to the USA on a wrestling tour.
On March 17th, Baba came back from the USA with Rikidozan.
On March 24th, Baba drew Wladek Kowalski in Tokyo (45:00), it was one of the
best bouts in 1963, so Baba become a top star.
Baba pinned Inoki (12:03).
Baba pinned Inoki (17:21).
Baba beat Inoki (2-3).
1st, Baba pinned Inoki (9:20).
2nd, Inoki pinned Baba (4:56).
3rd, Baba pinned Inoki (4:51).
08-03 Kishiwada Osaka
Baba beat Inoki(2-3).
1st, Baba pinned Inoki (10:28).
2nd, Inoki pinned Baba (5:15).
3rd, Baba pinned Inoki (1:22).
Baba pinned Inoki (10:26).
Baba beat Inoki(2-3).
1st, Baba pinned Inoki (11:45).
2nd, Baba pinned Inoki (4:08).
09-04 Kariya, Shizuoka
Baba beat Inoki(2-3).
1st, Baba pinned Inoki (12:06).
2nd, Inoki pinned Baba (2:18).
3rd, Baba pinned Inoki (2:48).
09-23 Ohmagari, Akita
Baba pinned Inoki (14:05).
Baba pinned Inoki (11:55).
Baba pinned Inoki (12:00).
P.S. - The Kim Il retirement ceremony was March 25, not March 26. Sorry.
SUPPLY SIDE SMACKDOWN
(Orange County, Calif., Weekly, April 7-13, 2000)
By Jim Washburn
The Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana began its days as a dinner theater, a classy spot where one might sumptuously sup to an evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein (though I know an actress who once looked up from the stage to see a couple screwing in a balcony box). When Gary Folgner took over the Galaxy as a concert club several years back, he expressed a wish to maintain the room's classy character and decorum.
I had cause to reflect on that wish last week, at just about the time Hoosier Dave Dempsey was smacking a metal trash can upside the head of one Samoan Joe. Man, what a dent it made in that can! You'd think it was made of flimsy aluminum. Joe got so mad that he dragged the fight out of the ring erected in the Galaxy's pit and started whumping on Hoosier Dave all through the aisles. But then Dave's gal pal, who was named Scabby or something, got a chunk of Joe with a folding chair, a sentiment that was immediately reiterated by Hoosier Dave himself as he whipped Samoan Joe with an Ice-T-sized metal chain. I tell you, the shills were alive with the sound of vengeance.
With the encroachment of the Sun Theatre, the new, bigger Crazy Horse and other venues into Folgner's turf, it's a far tougher concert market than it was just a few years back. Everyone is having to reach farther afield to keep their seats filled. The Galaxy has been hosting wrestling events and this past week also featured the Genitorturers, who, last I heard, were performing live genital mutilations on audience members. That was a while ago, so they may have moved on to pancreas removals now. On Tuesday, the Galaxy will have the Insane Clown Posse's take on wrestling, "Stranglemania," promising a "man vs. woman thumbtack death match."
I suspect cockfighting could also be a big hit, or maybe a man vs. rooster tag-team event. You can laugh, but you've never been on the receiving end of a sharp beak and chicken feet. There is no greater humiliation than when a rooster makes you his bitch.
(Attention, Laguna Beach: if you and the Festival of Arts board of directors are so dumb as to let the Pageant of the Masters leave town, you're going to have to do something with the Irvine Bowl amphitheater. May I recommend "Stranglemania"?)
The March 29 event at the Galaxy was under the aegis of Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW), which I gather is some manner of farm league peopled by aspirants honing their act for the majors. Not ready for television, the matches were "broadcast live over the Internet," which is shaping up to be the 21st-century version of paper cups and a thread.
Ringside, we had a dreadlocked announcer named Doc Marley, menacing manager the Big Schwag, and a Miss Delicious, who didn't appear to be so much clothed as dipped in that stuff they make candy apples with-all providing some manner of running commentary amidst prerecorded slag-metal hip-slop.
The first bout was the German Pretty Boy-330 pounds of Kraut, whose signature quote is "America, I hate your country, but I love your women"-vs. Suicide Kid Mike Henderson. Within two minutes, they were out of the ring, battering each other with a trash-can lid. Did I mention that they didn't shake hands first? The ref didn't even notice when the Big Schwag goosed the Suicide Kid with a German flagpole. The ref never notices. They might as well have George Shearing in there. The Kraut had a red heart on the crotch of his yellow shorts, shorts he pulled down to moon the crowd after he won.
Bout two: Dirty Dave Sanchez vs. Smooth Billy D., a man in a dashiki and puffy Afro wig. Smooth Billy had the drop on Dirty Dave until the latter gave the former a back-kick to the nuts. The tykes in the audience liked that. But soon, the Canadian Ballard Brothers-in hockey outfits, of course-waded in, doing a Rodney King on Billy D. Suddenly, there were seven guys in the ring duking it out. That poor ref!
According to the announcers, this and apparently every one of the night's events was a world-championship match. Things began heating up when the robotic muscleman Prototype "from Area 51" squared off against Funky Billy Kim. Lotsa good slapstick here, particularly when the Prototype coldcocked the referee. Next, Rio Storm, a very mannish girl, took on Stretch, and in a decisive moment, she head-butted his groin.
Tag-team time with the Prodigy and Little Cholo-you just know he was doing lots of gang signing, don't you?-vs. Los Cubanitos, who had a flying drop maneuver described by the announcer as "the Cuban Missile Crisis." Lots of great acrobatics and kung fu moves here.
But it wasn't until the match between Smelly and Maddog Mike Bell that the blood started flowing at the Galaxy. The sparring once again moved into the audience, where Smelly pounded Maddog's head on the Galaxy's nice wooden railings. Is that maple? Now I was getting into it. When Maddog's manager tried to call a time-out, I found myself shouting, "No! He's not done bleeding yet!"
They knocked the ref out for good measure, and then Smelly's female sidekick, Looney Lane, dressed in a Catholic-schoolgirl outfit, leapt from the ropes to deliver a flying muff dive to Maddog's face. Evidently no great respecter of virtue, he slapped her down hard.
"Slap the lice off her head!" I yelled, lest someone think I wasn't into it.
The evening wrapped up with the hockey-stick-toting Ballard Brothers returning to battle Team Hardcore, comprising the Hardcore Kid and a fellow named Just Insane. The latter took such a beating that I'm just glad Ma and Pa Insane weren't there to see it.
I used to watch wrestling on TV a bit when I was a kid, seeing folks like Freddie Blassie, Bobo Brazil and the Three Death Missionaries spar at LA's Olympic Auditorium. Even then it was goofy stuff, but they tried to lend a semblance of realism to the proceedings, with maybe 80 percent of it authentic grappling like you see in high school wrestling and 20 percent of it eye-gouging pretense. Now the "sport" has taken on a sub-cartoon quality. Compared with these guys, Scooby-Doo is the hard slap of reality.
Many of the kicks and blows that had contestants reeling at the Galaxy clearly didn't come within 10 inches of actually contacting with flesh. To accept it as real, you'd have to suspend your sense of disbelief so high it's beyond the pull of gravity, yet millions of people do every week. Why? What's really going on here?
Maybe they subconsciously see a model of contemporary American life in the ring. Assume that the wrestlers represent corporations. They are branded. They belong to teams. There used to be good guys and the dirty-fightin' bad guys. Today, some may have a "good" image-meaning they're handsome-but they will all smack ya with a folding chair, which always seems to be at hand.
THE READERS ALWAYS WRITE
Subj: Kim Ill vs. Baba, and Kim Ill vs. Inoki
Date: 4/7/00 8:28:04 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: JW1Y-MRZM@asahi-net.or.jp (Yasuhiko Morozumi)
Hello from Yasuhiko Morozumi, Saitama, Japan.
On March 26th, at Seoul, Korea, was held the retirement celemony of Kim Ill (Japanese name = Kintaro Ohki, or Oki), former WWA World Heavyweight Champion and NWA International Champion.
Lou Thesz attended the celemony,and we Japanese could watch it on TV news.
Though it was held the retirement celemony of Kim Ill in Japan,on April 2nd ,at Tokyo Dome, but not in Korea.
I investigated the results of Kim Ill vs. Baba, and Kim Ill vs. Inoki.
They were all sutudents of legendary hero Rikidozan. It is said Baba, Inoki, Kim, and Yukio Suzuki were four big rookies of Rikidozan's Japan Wrestling Association in the early '60s. As you know, Baba and Inoki were the leaders of the industry past 30 years.
09-30 Tokyo, Inoki, won (Inoki's debut match)
10-14 Sapporo, Baba, drew (Baba's third career match)
10-25 Kure, Baba, won (Kim says it was a shoot)
10-27 Okayama Usushima, Baba, drew
10-29, Kumamoto, Baba, drew
11-13 Takaoka, Baba, lost
01-25 Kumamoto, Baba, drew
04-23 Tokyo, Baba, lost
05-08 Kure, Inoki, drew
05-16 Karatsu, Baba, lost
05-21 Okayama Tsushima, Baba, drew
05-24 Kyoto, Baba, lost
05-26 Fukui, Baba, lost
05-28 Utsunomiya, Inoki, won
06-23 Fukuyama, Baba, lost
07-01 Hiratsuka, Inoki, won
(On July 1st, Rikidozan let Baba go to the USA for studying wrestling.)
11-13 Itoigawa, Inoki, won
12-08 Tokyo, Inoki, drew
01-16 Gifu, Inoki, drew
03-02 Tokyo, Inoki, drew
05-10 Osaka, Inoki, drew
06-20 Utsunomiya, Inoki, drew
09-17 Tatebayashi, Inoki, won
09-23 Nanao, Inoki, drew
09-26 Ohmagari, Inoki, drew
10-02 Asahikawa, Inoki, drew
10-05 Sapporo, Inoki, drew
11-02 Tokyo, Inoki, drew
11-07 Nago, Inoki, drew
11-23 Tokyo, Inoki, drew
01-18 Tokyo, Inoki, drew
01-25 Toyohashi, Inoki, dcor
03-02 Tokyo, Inoki, dcor
(Baba came back from the USA)
04-07 Kitakyushu, Inoki, drew
04-09 Karatsu, Inoki, drew
04-16 Naha, Inoki, drew
05-01 Honjo, Inoki, drew
05-03 Aomori, Baba, lost
05-05 Sapporo, Baba, lost
(On May 5th,Inoki injured leg in match against Endo)
05-13 Urawa, Baba, drew
(On June 7th,Inoki returned to the ring)
07-31 Fujisawa, Baba, lost
08-02 Tokyo, Inoki, drew
08-13 Odawara, Baba, lost
08-15 Kofu, Inoki, drew
08-23 Tokyo, Inoki, drew
08-30 Tokyo, Baba, lost
(Rikidozan let Baba and Kim go to the USA for studying wrestling)
(After Rikidozan's death, Kim suddenly came back to Japan)
02-28 Tokyo, Inoki, won
(JWA's new leader Toyonobori let Inoki go to the USA for studying wrestling)
(Inoki returned to Japan and jumped to the Tokyo Wrestling Association in 1966, and come back to JWA in 1967)
(As It was taboo the match between Japanese top stars in those days,
Kim-Baba , and Kim-Inoki matches were not held because they all become top stars in Japan late '60s)
1974 (New Japan)
10-10 Tokyo, Inoki, lost (Kim challenged for Inoki's NWF title)
03-27 Seoul, Inoki, dcor (Inoki challenged Kim's NWA International title)
1975 (New Japan)
04-04 Tokyo, Inoki, won via cor
1975 (All Japan)
10-30 Tokyo, Baba, lost
04-18 Ohmiya, Baba, dcor
04-30 Sendai, Baba, dcor
10-05 Osaka, Baba, dcor
(All Asia title-to-PWF title)
10-30 Kuroiso, Baba, lost
(All Asia title-to-PWF title)
04-01 Ohdate, Baba, won (Pinned via punching on Baba's vital part)
03-05 Tateyama, Baba, dcor
Maybe Kim's last match was held in 1982, against Hara or Ming in Korea.
WRESTLERS CUT UP IN BLOODY SPECTACLE
(Sunday Telegraph, April 4, 2000)
By James Langton
NEW YORK -- Americans are flocking to a new bloody and brutal form of wrestling where competitors attack each other with everything from barbed wire and cheese graters to razors and machetes.
Audiences are even invited to nights when "fans supply the weapons". Matches frequently end with contestants covered in blood and with broken glass and nails sticking from their bodies.
Organisers say the fights are legal because they exploit a loophole in the law which classifies wrestling as "sports entertainment" and frees it from the strict regulations governing more mainstream contact sports such as boxing and football.
One of the most recent bouts, held in Bayonne, New Jersey, two weeks ago, featured a three-way tag match between "Homicide", "Axl Rotten" and his teammate "Psycho Derik Domino".
The men attacked each other with scissors and battered each other over the head with metal chairs, urged on by a crowd several hundred strong which included children as young as five.
In another fight, where the crowd supplied weapons, four fighters attacked each other with hockey sticks, golf clubs, a door and a video recorder.
The Bayonne events, which are recorded for pay-per-view television, are organised by Jersey All-Pro Wrestling, whose motto is: "Blood is better."
Jersey All-Pro is run by "Fat" Frank Iadavaia who likes to boast that "the only rule is that there are no rules". Another bout between "Lowlife" Louis Ramos and Glenn "the Maniac" Strange involved one using a cheese grater on the other's forehead.
Ramos was eventually thrown on to a table outside the ring covered in tacks, several of which became imbedded in his head. Finally a sheet of plywood covered with barbed wire was placed on his chest, and Strange jumped on it.
However, serious injuries are rare.
Competitors know how to make minor wounds look serious by inflicting them on parts of the body like the forehead, which bleed most freely. They also wear white to make the bloodstains more prominent.
"Lowlife" Ramos said: "For a ghetto kid who grew up tough and barely went to school, to have people come and see me like I do? I consider myself lucky to do what I love to do."
But the authorities are concerned at the violence and bad language as well as the number of children who attend. Organisers excuse their presence by saying that they can come only with a parent or responsible adult.
Joseph Doria, the mayor of Bayonne, called the bouts "a grotesque and depraved activity" last week. "It's a blood sport with no redeeming value for our children." New Jersey is considering legislation to restrict bouts, and is looking at whether the blood is a health hazard.
The state inadvertently made extreme wrestling legal in 1997 when it reclassified professional wrestling as entertainment for tax purposes. By deregulating it as a sport, promoters were able to dispense with licences, ringside doctors, inspectors and medical checks.
Christine Whitman, the Republican governor, said that New Jersey wanted to ban children under 16 from fights. "It is one thing for consenting adults to attend these events, and quite another to allow impressionable children to sit ringside as participants set out to maim and attack each other," she said.
An evening of bouts in Louisiana last year attracted an audience of nearly 2,500 who watched wrestling in a ring where the ropes were replaced with barbed wire.
Children attending the fights say they enjoy watching scenes like the recent match that ended with two wrestlers tying a third to the ropes, attacking him with garden strimmers, rubbing salt and lemon juice into the wounds and trying to set him on fire with lighter fluid.
Billy Garfield, nine, said at the New Jersey event: "I love the blood. I love the cursing. I love all of it."
Jeff Shapiro, who co-owns Jersey All-Pro, said:
"We do it because the fans want to see blood."
The WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 744
PETE ROSE SINKS TO AN ALL-TIME LOW, HE SAYS
(Philadelphia Daily News, April 4, 2000)
By John Smallwood
There's something that smells bad about this.
There is no way to say this other than Pete Rose sunk to an all-time low.
Baseball's hit king increased his monetary assets Sunday night by letting a 400-pound Samoan wrestler named Rikishi Phatu rub his ample personal asset in his face.
While a lot of Philadelphians were tuning in to the championship game of NCAA Women's Final Four at the First Union Center, one of our adopted favorite sons was allowing himself to become the butt - and I do mean that literally - of jokes in front of a huge pay-per-view audience during the World Wrestling Federation's "Wrestlemania 2000" event.
We've already seen that "Charlie Hustler" would sell just about anything to make a buck, but I really didn't think that included his dignity.
Let's be clear about this: Rose let a 400-pound man, wearing a thong, rub his big, ol' gluteus maximus in his face for a sellout audience at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Calif., to laugh at.
This isn't a shot at wrestling. There is a huge audience for it, and WWF owner Vince McMahon does an excellent job of understanding who he is selling to and giving them exactly what they want.
This isn't a shot at legitimate professional athletes who like to dabble in the world of sports entertainment.
Reggie White, Kevin Greene, Mike Tyson, Karl Malone, Dennis Rodman, William "The Refrigerator" Perry, Bill Fralic, Dick Butkus, Darryl Dawkins, Joe Frazier, Tommy Lasorda, Billy Martin, Bob Uecker, Lawrence Taylor and even the great Muhammad Ali have played roles in wrestling story lines.
But be realistic: Officiating a match, getting body slammed, being hit over the head with a briefcase or tossed out of a ring isn't anywhere near as humiliating as getting a butt rubbed in your face.
Rose kissed rock bottom - and I do mean that literally.
Apparently, this was the culmination of three-year Wrestlemania story line with Rose playing a different stooge in each sequel.
Two years ago, Rose got in a tiff with a wrestler named Kane for berating the fans at the FleetCenter in Boston. Kane proceeded to choke-slam Rose in the middle of the ring.
Last year, Rose tried to extract his revenge by sneaking up on Kane while wearing a chicken suit. Kane saw through the deception and slammed Pete to the canvas again.
So Sunday night, after Kane and Rikishi won a tag-team match against D-Generation X -- a match in which Rikishi butt-mopped the face of D-X's female manager -- the guy in the chicken suit appeared again.
Kane was about to demolish the chicken man again when the real Rose came running into the ring with a baseball bat.
But before the man who passed Ty Cobb on major league baseball's all-time hit list could record his 4,257th hit, Kane turned around, grabbed Rose by the throat and once again slammed him, supposedly knocking him unconscious.
Rose was then dragged into a corner and set up to became a victim of Rikishi's signature move: the Butt-Face. The wrestler backed into Rose, who was sitting, bent over and shoved his butt cheeks into the wannabe Hall of Famer's face - which certainly gave a whole new meaning to the term "suicide squeeze."
Perhaps I am overreacting. If Rose doesn't care that he had his dignity smeared over some guy's rear end for a few bucks, why should I?
Certainly Rose didn't do anything wrong. He made an honest, if somewhat soiled dollar, and provided another group of his fans with some entertainment.
Still as a sports fan, it disturbs me to see one of baseball's greatest players devolved further and further into the role of cartoon character.
Part of the romance of sports comes from being able to remember the retired legends at their greatest, the way they played the game and conducted themselves.
The images of Rose stretching a single into a double, throwing out a hip to get hit by a pitch for a walk, crashing into Ray Fosse to score the winning run in an All-Star Game, become kind of tainted when I think of a 400-pound guy sitting on his face.
Even the most ardent supporter of Rose has to be a bit saddened by that particular image.
I can almost see how McMahon's negotiations with Rose went.
"Hey, Pete, I'll pay you to be a celebrity
guest at Wrestlemania."
"Sure, Vince, why not?"
"Hey, Pete, how much more for you to let the big guy in the red leather mask pick you up and body slam you?"
"Well, I don't know, Vince. How about double and you let me hawk some autographs outside the arena?"
"Hey, Pete, how much more to let the 400-pound guy sit on your head and rub his rear end in your face for a minute or so?"
"I don't know, Vince. I've played more baseball games than anyone in history. I'm a respected major league legend even if the commissioner has conspired to keep me out of the Hall of Fame. . .How about triple?"
Actually, McMahon made a rare marketing mistake when he put Rose in a match with Kane and Rikishi.
The WWF has another wrestler called the Godfather. He enters the ring with an arm full of women known as the Ho Train and tells the crowd that "Pimpin' ain't easy." His signature move is the "Pimp Drop."
That's the guy Pete Rose should have been in the ring with. Because after Sunday night, it's even more obvious the Rose is willing to jump on board for the right price.
WRESTLEMANIA & HOOTERS: DOES IT GET BETTER?
(Detroit News, Saturday, April 8, 2000)
By Darrin Hill
Wrestlemania. The pageantry. The glitz. The glamor. The celebrities. The extravaganza. Even though there are 12 pay-per-views a year, this is truly the Super Bowl of professional wrestling.
So why not enjoy it in the same way you would the Super Bowl -- throw a party. Invite a bunch of your friends to watch it on a couple of wide-screen televisions. But, instead of chips and dips, how about some wings and some Hooters girls. Now, that's a party.
"Wrestling, beer, and scantily clad women, it doesn't get any better that this," said T.K., head of security at the State Theatre.
On April 2, WRIF (101 FM) hosted a private Wrestlemania viewing party at Hooters of Troy. About 90 wrestling fans enjoyed the matches, the wings, and the service with a smile. It was kinda sad that the Riff's resident wrestling fan, Markdown, wasn't at the party. But, disc jockey Carolyn Stone filled in for him, and was much easier on the eyes. Give her a pair of orange shorts and a crop top, and she could be mistaken for one of our waitresses.
"I'm suppose to be at a concert at St. Andrew's Hall, but Meltdown is the M.C. down there, so I'm here," Carolyn said. "And from the looks of some of those wrestlers, I'm glad I came. I'm really enjoying myself."
Beside the Hooters girls, poor Carolyn was one of just two women who attended the party. Susan Cook, 32, Warren, was the other non-working woman in attendance.
"It doesn't both me that I'm surrounded by a bunch of guys drinking beer and watching wrestling. Guess what, so am I. I won the passes from the Riff, and I'm happy that I'm here. That's $34.95 that I can use toward drinks."
Amy Lamert, Area Marketing Manager for Hooters of America, said: "The response is so great that we are planning on doing another one in August for the WWF's Summerslam. It will be held at the Hooters in Roseville. We also supply some of the Godfather's "Hos" when the WWF comes to town."
Miss Lamert also made a donation to the Dan Curtis Memorial card that will be held Friday at Troy Athens High School. There will be three passes for one winner and 10 guests to have a VIP wing party at Hooters of Troy. The value of this pass is $120. Too cool.
The festivities were lively until showtime rolled around and the pay-per-view was nowhere to be seen on any screen. While the managers scrambled to get the event turn on, Carolyn tried to calm the masses by asking various wrestling trivia questions for prizes. She played Alex Trebek until 8:25 p.m. The crowd missed the first match with The Godfather.
Many of the fans was disappointed in the outcome of the main event. After 15 Wrestlemanias, this was the first one in which the heel/bad guy won the main event. "I wanted Mick Foley to win," said Steven Jackson, 30, Troy. "He was just my sentimental favorite because he was retired, but came back for this main event. I guess that (WWF owner Vince) McMahon's ego got the better of him."
It was announced that Wrestlemania next year would be held at the Houston Astrodome as the WWF tries to break the largest indoor attendance record that they set back in 1987 at The Silverdome. This statement did not go over well with the fans.
"I think that sucks," said Robert Smith, 38, Detroit. "I was at Wrestlemania III. It feel great knowing that I was part of the 93,000 plus fans in the Silverdome that day."
THE FIRST 15 WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENTS
I: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T defeated Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.
II: WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defeated King Kong Bundy in a cage match.
III: WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defeated Andre the Giant via pinfall.
IV: Randy Savage defeated Ted DiBiase for the WWF Championship.
V: Hulk Hogan defeated Randy Savage for the WWF Championship.
VI: Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan.
VII: Hulk Hogan defeated Sgt. Slaughter.
VIII: Hulk Hogan defeated Sid Justice via DQ.
IX: Hulk Hogan defeated Yokozuna.
X: Bret Hart defeated Yokozuna.
XI: WWF Champion Diesel defeated Shawn Michaels via pinfall.
XII: Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart in an Iron Man Match.
XIII: Undertaker defeated Psycho Sid.
XIV: Steve Austin pinned Shawn Michaels.
XV: Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock.
WRESTLEMANIA 2000 RESULTS
Bull Buchanan/Big Bossman beat D'Lo Brown/The Godfather via pinfall. D'Lo was pinned by Buchanan after a top rope leg drop and a sidewalk slam by the Bossman.
In the 15-minute battle royal for the Hardcore title, the participants included: Tazz, Viscera, Pete Gas, Rodney, Joey Abs, Hardcore Holly, Taka Michinoku, Sho Funaki, Mosh, Thrasher, Faarooq, Bradshaw and Crash Holly.
Pinfalls happened like this: Tazz pinned Crash at 14:36, Viscera pinned Tazz at 14:02, Sho Funaki pinned Viscera at 7:48, Rodney pinned Sho Funaki at 6:52, Joey Abs pinned Rodney at 6:37, Thrasher pinned Joey Abs at 6:18, Pete Gas pinned Thrasher at 5:32, Tazz pinned Pete Gas at 4:46, Crash Holly pinned Tazz at 0:37, and Hardcore Holly pinned Crash Holly at 0:01. Thet awarded Hardcore Holly the belt even though the referee didn't finish his three count.
T & A (Test and Prince Albert) beat Al Snow/Steve Blackman via pinfall. Test pinned Blackman with a elbow off the top rope. According to Jim Ross: "Neither team got it on track tonight."
In the triangle ladder match, Edge/Christian upset both the Dudley Boyz and the Hardy Boyz in become the new WWF Tag Team champs. Christian and Matt Hardy brawled on a table on top of two ladders until Edge threw Matt Hardy off the top and through another table. High spot of the night was Jeff Hardy climbing a 20-foot ladder and putting Buh Buh Ray Dudley through a table. Unreal!
In the cat-fight match, Terri beat The Kat. To win, one of the ladies had to throw their opponent out of the ring. Stupid match. While trying to do the humane thing (covering up some ancient puppies), special guest referee Val Venis had a lip lock smacked on him by Mae Young.
Too Cool/Chyna beat The Radicals' Dean Malenko/Perry Saturn/Eddy Guerrero via pinfall. Chyna pinned Guerrero with a sleeper drop. During the match, Chyna had her pants ripped while being restrained by the referee.
In the two-fall triangle match, Chris Benoit pinned Chris Jericho with a diving head butt to win the Intercontinental Title. Jericho pinned Benoit with a springboard moonsault to win the European title.
D-Generation X's Road Dogg/X-Pac lost to Kane/Rikishi Phatu via pinfall. Kane pinned X-Pac with a tombstone pile driver. After the match, Too Cool and "The Chicken" came to the ring for a victory dance with Rikishi. Kane eyeballed the chicken during all this, thinking that it was his favorite whipping boy, Pete Rose. When the dancing was over, Kane grabbed the chicken. Pete Rose tried to attack Kane from behind with a baseball bat, but was stopped by Rikishi. Kane then chokeslammed baseball's all time hit leader for a third time. Too Cool then setup a cheek-tocheek meeting between Rikiski and "Charlie Hustle."
In the main event, the Fatal Four Way elimination match for the WWF heavyweight title, The Big Show was eliminated by The Rock via pinfall with the Rock Bottom, Mick Foley was eliminated by Triple H via pinfall with the pedigree onto a chair, and Triple H retained his title, eliminating The Rock via pinfall after two vicious chair shots by Vince McMahon. After the match while the McMahon hugging and kissing reunion, the Rock returned to let Vince and Shane feel "The Rock Bottom." Stephanie wanted a little more attention, so she slapped "The People's Champion." In return, the Rock hit her with "the Rock Bottom," and "The most electrifying move in sports entertainment," the people's elbow. Huge crowd pop.
WRESTLER BASH & TRASH ALL FOR FANS
(Huntsville Times, April 10, 2000)
By Megan N. Walde
A beginner's guide to the WCW:
Hellooo, Huntsville Al-a-bama!
It's Sunday night, and welcome to the World Championship Wrestling's World's Championship at the Von Braun Center. Are you ready for a bone-bashing, muscle-tearing, skin-bruising good time? I hope so, because we've got at least as much action as the Broadway musical going on next door.
So grab a beer and some popcorn, and get ready. You're about to enter a world where the moves are dirty and the blows are low. If you can't play by the rules, step into this ring.
It's a world where grown men don costumes fit for toddlers at Halloween and aren't laughed at -- too much.
It's a world where the attitudes are bigger than the biceps, the belts and maybe the brains.
Here come Norman Smiley and Fit Finlay. Ouch, a knee to the head, a body slam, followed by several fast punches. And there goes Smiley, right down on his bright, yellow behind. That had to at least be uncomfortable. Oh, but there they go, outside the ring. There's Finlay dropping Smiley on the metal railing, and ouch, that looked real.
Was that for real? Ask Danny and Cassie Terry, of Moulton. He's been following pro wrestling for about 20 years because ''it's fun, and just good entertainment.'' She was snapping pictures of each wrestler who came down the catwalk, so to speak.
"It's just like a soap opera every week," he said. "I have to give them credit because you have to be in good shape to do what they do."
Back to the action, where -- maybe fake -- blood will spurt out at least several rows back, and you can keep anything the wrestlers throw from the ring, as long as you don't throw it back. That includes water bottles, towels and droplets of sweat.
Let's see what the next two muscle-heads can do in the ring.
Here comes Hugh Mannus followed by . . .a fifth member of KISS? No, it's The Demon, in KISS regalia, complete with leather pants and blood-red tongue.
Hugh Mannus isn't impressed.
He swings The Demon, he stomps The Demon. The Demon goes down on the ropes. Keep it up everybody, let Hugh know how you feel. But wait, here comes The Demon again. He's not giving up and oh - look at that left jab, a right, a left, a right. (Watch out for the flying spit.) Was that The Demon's foot making the smacking noises?
Let's ask Greg and Kathy Moore, of Huntsville, who saw wrestling on TV Friday night and thought it would be fun to come see it live. They came on a whim, really.
"It's interesting to see grown men act like they do up there," he said. "We missed 60 minutes and our regular shows, but it's been fun," she said.
Look what we've got now - a tag team match-up between the Young Dragons and Idol and Frog. Idol and Frog aren't gaining any new fans tonight. Making cracks about Alabama definitely is not the way to go with this crowd. And sure enough, after some mighty fancy footwork, the Young Dragons' temporary loyalty to you all won them the match.
Oh, sorry kids. Remember? No throwing allowed. Just because Idol and Frog are carrying signs that say "We Hate Alabama" doesn't mean you can launch your Coke cups at them. You'll have to leave now. As a matter of fact, this might just be a good time for those of you with kids as young as 2 to head home for the evening.
All that's left now is a bigger, meaner version of what you've already seen. With names like The Cat, The Maestro, The Wall and Bam Bam Bigelow, these guys are wearing more attitude than Spandex.
They'd knock each other silly if only their hands actually touched each other.
EXAMINING JERSEY ASSEMBLY BILL
(Philadelphia Daily News, April 11, 2000)
By Michael Tearson
New Jersey Assembly Minority Leader and Bayonne Mayor Joseph V. Doria has had more to say about his bill to regulate so-called "extreme wrestling" in New Jersey.
During an interview on Jim O'Malley's "Rasslin Radio" show, Doria said he targeted extreme wrestling for regulation, but also hoped his legislation would drive Jersey All-Pro, Combat Zone Wrestling and all other indie promotions out of the business.
In the interview, Doria mentioned that he had never been to a wrestling match. O'Malley related to the Dog that Doria stated that he wasn't concerned with the WWF because it was all fake: fake chairs, fake blood and all staged.
On this at least, he is very misinformed.
Here is the Dog's take on the bill:
First, the bill does not clearly define just what "extreme wrestling" is. From statements by Gov. Christie Whitman and Doria, it could easily be read to include the big three -- WWF, WCW and ECW.
The targets as laid out by Whitman and Doria are clearly the little guys like CZW in Mantua and Jersey All-Pro in North Jersey.
The big guys would not be affected.
The big guys have plenty of mayhem, too. But their sold-out big-arena shows bring big bucks into the state.
In 1997, Whitman got legislation passed to deregulate pro wrestling. Immediately after that, the WWF returned after a long absence to do New Jersey shows at the Meadowlands, including that year's "SummerSlam" without having to pay sports taxes.
The federation also has shows at the new Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton.
In that light, the WWF's press release supporting the bill sure looks like a payback.
Seemingly, the WWF's statement is an attempt to distance ifself from the the indies where performers put themselves through hell to entertain the fans.
Jersey All-Pro has already reacted. Its show in Bayonne last Friday eliminated the machetes, cheese graters and barbed wire from its matches. There was still blood, but much less than usual.
Before the show, All-Pro co-owner Jeff Shapiro had told the Star-Ledger, of Newark, "We want to continue doing this, and in order to continue we need to change. We don't need the state to come in and regulate us. We got the message loud and clear."
You may check out "Rasslin Radio's" Doria interview at rasslinradio.com.
FOR PETE'S SAKE: Pete Rose caught a whole lot of hell from critics, including John Smallwood in this paper following his third straight "WrestleMania" appearance.
At this year's Mania, Rose was choke-slammed from Kane, and then Rikishi rubbed his behind on the former Phillie's face.
Let's ask why the WWF even booked Rose again at all? His unbilled run-in had to draw zero buys when the show aired live on April 2. But all that talk had to get a bunch of people who would not have bought the replay on pay-per-view to pitch in their $34.95 to see it.
Rose reportedly got $100,000 for the gig. At that rate, it takes about 2,861 buys to add $100,000 to the gross.
That is a smart angle. It drew money, and that is the name of the game.
And as for how it demeans Rose, folks, this is
still just professional wrestling. Rose is a huge fan, and he loves doing this
show each year. How will they abuse him next year at "WrestleMania
The WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 745
DRUGS CHOKE THE WRESTLING WORLD
(New York Daily News, Friday, March 3, 2000)
By Kevin McCoy
Government regulation of professional wrestling islike some of the matches themselves: Virtually anything goes.
Fewer than half the 50 states regulate wrestling, and most of those that do, including New York, do not require testing for drugs or steroids, a Daily News survey found.
As a result, oversight of health, safety and any drug use most often is left to wrestling promoters - even as the athletic demands and potential danger of the ring stunts increase.
Occasionally, the result can be fatal.
On Jan. 7, Gary (Air) Albright stepped into a Hazleton, Pa., ring for World Xtreme Wrestling, a regional company headed by his father-in-law, renowned former wrestler Afa (Wild Samoan) Anoai.
Minutes into his contest with Bill (Lucifer Grimm) Owens, Albright, a popular veteran of the Japanese wrestling circuit, suddenly went limp. He never regained consciousness.
An autopsy by the Luzerne County coroner's office concluded that the 6-foot-4, 330-pound wrestler died of a heart attack. The report also said he suffered from diabetes, an enlarged heart and blockages of several coronary arteries.
"Would Gary Albright have been allowed in the ring? Would he have been allowed to wrestle if he had been tested" by a doctor? asked Wade Keller, editor and publisher of the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter. "That's a very good question."
One that will never be answered. Pennsylvania scrapped its wrestling regulations in 1989. Although the Keystone State requires wrestling promoters to obtain a $100 license and post a $10,000 bond, it doesn't require physical exams or other tests of the men and women who earn their living in the ring.
"We don't do anything with the wrestlers," said Gregory Sirb, executive director of the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission. Neither do many other large states, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida and California. During the 1980s, wrestling promoters lobbied for deregulation on grounds that their industry is entertainment, not a sport.
Vincent McMahon, whose World Wrestling Federation is the nation's top sports entertainment firm, said government regulation is unneeded because his company features well-trained athletes trained by stunt coordinators and checked by doctors.
"We're a show," McMahon stressed. "If we should be regulated, when the Harlem Globetrotters come to town they should be regulated."
Specifically citing Albright's death, several state athletic officials disagreed.
"I'm not in favor of deregulation," said John Burns, Connecticut's boxing director. "Not in something like this, where you can have an accident."
Just ask Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of the biggest stars of the promoter McMahon's World Wrestling spinal surgery in a Texas hospital last month to remove bone spurs caused by years of body slams.
Or try Bill Goldberg, the superstar of Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling. He cut a tendon in his right arm in December, when he punched out the window of a limousine.
The punch, though not the injury, was part of the script.
Darren (The Droz) Drozdov, 30, was paralyzed from the waist down in October, when he fractured his neck during a WWF match at the Nassau Coliseum.
Most tragic of all was the death in May of Owen (Blue Blazer) Hart. The 35-year-old WWF wrestler fell nearly 78 feet from the ceiling of the Kansas City's Kemper Arena when a safety harness intended to lower him to the ring opened without warning.
A lawsuit filed by Hart's family last year accused McMahon and the WWF of "conscious and reckless disregard for human safety."
The headline tragedies tend to obscure many lesser injuries that occur as pro wrestling, responding to fan demand, incorporates more demanding and dangerous moves. Concussions have become so common that Keller said he's noticed mental deterioration in several wrestling friends.
"Even though everything is choreographed, that does not mean it will go as planned," said Patrick Pannella of the Maryland Athletic Commission. "It also does not mean it's not inherently physically dangerous."
New York, along with states such as Maryland, Nevada, Missouri and Virginia, has detailed regulations designed to minimize the chance of ring injuries.
Wrestlers must pass an annual physical exam. A doctor appointed by the New York State Athletic Commission must conduct checkups, including a blood pressure test, just before each show. A doctor and ambulance must be on hand for the performances.
But officials in New York and most other states that regulate wrestling acknowledge they don't require tests for drugs or steroids. Financial considerations sometimes figure in that decision.
"If you become too restrictive on these people, they may not come back and hold matches in your state," said Tim Lueckenhoff, administrator of the Missouri Office of Athletics.
Moreover, the cost of drug testing could put smaller wrestling promoters out of business, Lueckenhoff said.
Only one state, Oregon, clamps a headlock on potential health risks and drug use among wrestlers.
Grapplers who perform in the state can't use chairs or other props. They must stay in the ring. And they must pass annual physical exams.
In addition, wrestlers must present results of recent lab tests for the AIDS virus, hepatitis and drugs like cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines.
The result? It has been years since WWF and WCW staged shows in Oregon, said Jim Cassidy, executive director of the state athletic commission.
"They know our regulations would curtail their act considerably," he said.
(New York Daily News, March 3, 2000)
ANGLE: Action in a match or shortly afterward that explains, influences or changes the story line.
BLADING: Using a concealed razor blade or other sharp object on yourself to cause superficial bleeding in the ring.
BOOKER: The person or persons backstage who script the action and outcome of a wrestling match and how long it will take.
FACE: A good-guy wrestler. Short for babyface.
FEEDING: Booking a wrestler to lose to a more popular star.
GIMMICK: A wrestler's unique persona, costume, style or biography.
HEEL: The opposite of a face; a wrestler with a bad-guy persona.
JOBBER: A wrestler whose main purpose is to lose matches and make more popular stars look good.
JUICING: Bleeding caused by blading.
KAYFABE: A deception, technique, descriptive term or other secret known only to wrestling insiders.
OVER: A wrestler who generates positive audience response is described as getting over.
POP: Audience response prompted by a wrestler's actions or microphone comments. Also known as heat.
PUSH: The process of building up a wrestler's popularity.
SELL: An exaggerated reaction, for the benefit of the crowd, to a ring opponent's attack.
SHOOT: A match that features unscripted moves or outcome.
SHOOTER: A grappler who wrestles for real instead of following the story line.
TURN: A wrestler who switches personas from heel to face or vice versa.
WORK: Any con or deception in the ring.
ECW FEUD WITH TNN BOILS OVER
(Philadelphia Daily News, June 6, 2000)
By Michael Tearson
ECW's feud with TNN really boiled over on last Friday's show. Paul Heyman and Joel Gertner both taped vicious, profanity-laced rants against TNN. The network aired the visual portion of the tirades, but the audio was totally muted.
During Heyman's rant, crawls ran at the bottom of the screen that read, "Please excuse this gentleman's temper tantrum. Could it be he's been thrown through too many tables?" and "TNN harbors no ill will against ECW. TNN fully supports ECW Wrestling and all of its redeeming qualities." Their bitter, tongue-in-cheek nature was obvious.
TNN had asked Heyman to ditch the rants from the show and he refused. TNN deleted the sound. This made the segments one of the oddest viewing experiences in memory. By the way, the wrestling that night was first-rate.
Ever since Cyrus was made lead heel as the "Network" rep, the jibes against TNN have gotten ever more frequent, pointed and nasty. It is no secret that within ECW there is tons of resentment about how TNN has treated them. They hate the Friday 8 p.m. slot, and rightfully so. The show should run later.
Worse, TNN has done next to nothing to promote ECW despite the fact that ECW is TNN's highest-rated show on Friday nights. But ECW still regards the time slot as a problem. ECW feels its hard-edged show needs a later slot - at least 10 p.m. ECW has served as a lead-in for Roller Jam, the updated roller derby show that follows - a bomb that isn't improving.
But that bomb is an ash next to Rockin' Bowl, a bizarre, virtually unwatchable blend of bowling and Nickelodeon's Double Dare that has had awful ratings from the start. ECW has rightfully taken mortar shell sized potshots at it for months.
Here's the back story.
Viacom/CBS is looking to steal the WWF from USA Networks. And while insiders expect that to happen, it is not yet a done deal as USA is suing to keep its WWF shows. The Dog expects an out-of-court settlement at any time with the June 12 court date looming.
Should the Viacom/WWF deal go through, ECW will almost surely leave TNN. From appearances, ECW has been counting on that for months. The ECW/TNN storyline feud is designed, at least in part, to help make that divorce fly and let ECW become a free agent.
Where would ECW's national cable show end up? Well, USA sure looks like an excellent fit. They know how powerful pro wrestling is. Most weeks, Monday night's WWF Raw show is the top-rated cable show, and the Sunday night Heat show isn't too far behind.
But if USA keeps WWF programming, then what about ECW?
Of course, ECW could stay on TNN. But that ain't gonna happen.
ECW's possibilities are there. Fox had been an early player in the WWF negotiations before bailing. They could get involved here and put ECW on its FX channel. One thing is sure. This TNN/ECW feud isvery real and the stakes are high, especially for ECW. Paul Heyman has told 1wrestling.com he has had five suitors looking for at least a piece of ECW. Expect some sort of deal that will pour some real money into ECW, and expect it before summer is done.
QUICKIES: Congrats to ECW's Simon Diamond and Dawn Marie on their engagement. Late summer nups are expected. . .Both The Rock and Crash Holly have signed WWF contract extensions. Rock is negotiating for a pair of movie roles. . .On the medical front, Big Show's arthroscopic surgery will keep him out at least until July, and Tazz might be back for King of the Ring. According to Jim Ross, Tazz is now 20 pounds lighter at 230. . . The reason Daffney missed some TV is she was having her tonsils removed. The way she shrieks, it's is no wonder. . .Juventud Guerrera has been sentenced in his DUI case in State College, Pa. He will do 48 hours in jail plus community service. WCW feared he would be deported.
PPV PREVIEW: WCW's Great American Bash PPV Sunday at 8 has some promise. Hulk Hogan will retire if he loses to Billy Kidman, and Ric Flair's career, too, is on the line in his match with his son, David. The big surprise Eric Bischoff has been talking about will be unleashed against Kevin Nash, no doubt impacting his WCW title match with Jeff Jarrett. Then there's the "Human Torch" match between Sting and Vampiro - the winner sets his opponent on fire. That makes the Dog queasy. Should be a fascinating show.
CZW PPV: The proposed Combat Zone Wrestling PPV is set. It will be taped June 25 at Philadelphia's Electric Factory. The Main Event will pit Japanese legend Onita against Terry Funk, likely in a tag match with special stipulations for a later air date. Video release is slated, too.
LIVE AND LOCAL: CZW's next show is 7:30 Saturday at Champs on Sewell Road in Sewell, N.J. Justice Pain has a no DQ, no time-limit steel cage match against Ric Blade. Trent Acid and Johnny Kashmere battle tag champs the Haas Brothers in a title match. Ticket info at 856-848-6778.
POW has a show 7:30 Saturday night at the National Guard Armory, 226 N. High St., West Chester, Pa. The Mad Dog will be there as ring announcer with Rockin Rebel, Smooth Daddy Buff, Nate and Shatter of Hatred Inc., Krash Krew and Iron Man Tommy Cairo all slated. Info at 610-659-0341.
Bloody Rage (BRAWL) returns to Imaginations, Route 130 in Yardville, N.J., Saturday at 8 with Duke Dastardly and 911 taking on General Mussolini and Hasheem Ali. Stacey meets Abe Yusef in an intergender match. If Yusef wins, Dastardly must relinquish his American Championship to BRAWL Commissioner Spanky Marosi. If Stacey wins, Lupus becomes commissioner. Info at 609-581-9313 or 856-783-1966.
Also Saturday, WWA runs at Mega Sports Center in Runnemede Plaza, Clements Bridge Road in Runnemede, N.J. at 8 p.m. WWA champ Surfer Ray Odyssey must run a gauntlet of four matches in one night.
In a match of giants, Randy Edny meets Dead Man Walking. Info at 856-456-5000 or 856-939-6352.
THE POINT IS TO ENTERTAIN, NOT TO HURT
(Scripps Howard News Service, June 8, 2000)
By Terry Morrow
When Rico Constantino was 14, he was 4-foot-11 and 82 pounds -- small enough to be carried by his fellow students to the lake for a daily dunking.
"It took three of them, every day. One to grab my arms, the other to grab my legs, and the third one to hold the door open," Constantino says, grinning. "I got past it by learning how to run. Fast."
Looking at Constantino now, it's hard to image he was anyone's patsy. He's 5-foot-11, 240 pounds of almost all muscle. He's definitely the "after" image in a before-and-after shot.
"When people ask me what I do for a living now," he says with a laugh, "I tell them I beat people up."
Small leather bands wrap around his mountainous biceps. His black pants are accented with airbrush art of a cobra at the end of each leg. The guy's got attitude. As one of the World Wrestling Federation's "superstars of tomorrow," Constantino, a 38-year-old Las Vegas resident, is being primed by the organization for the sort of celebrity afforded the Rock, Mankind, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
If Constantino clicks with crowds, it could be worth millions to WWF and to himself. To many, he is on the cusp of stardom.
"I think his chance for success is better than anyone I have seen in the past few years," says Jim Cornette, a veteran talent scout for pro wrestling organizations such as WWF.
Cornette's eye for talent has opened the door for performers, including Kane, the Headbangers, and D'Lo Brown, to be discovered by the WWF.
"Rico has the athletic ability, and he can adapt and learn. His marketability is just as great as his talent in the ring."
For now, Constantino is climbing through the ranks as he appears across the country in local matches to garner a following. He usually enters the ring at non-televised matches for WWF.
"All it will take for him," says Cornette, "is an opening to happen [within the ranks of] the WWF."
Constantino maintains he is not a fighter by nature, though his resume might indicate otherwise. He was a police officer for three years for the North Las Vegas Police Department. Later, he was a private bodyguard for corporate executives.
"I've never been bored with my work," says the former champion on television's "American Gladiators." "I'm not really a fighter. The jobs I have had didn't encourage me to fight. As a policeman, I tried to break up fights. As a bodyguard, I tried to avoid fights. A good bodyguard will not be in a fight. As a wrestler, I try to think ahead to bring [the fight] to a fast end without anyone getting hurt."
Friends recommended he try professional wrestling less than two years ago. Reluctantly, he climbed into the ring at a small wrestling school, where he learned his craft.
"My friends see me now and say, 'That is YOU. That is so you!'" he says.
Grooming for wrestling success is grueling. Constantino, who started out wrestling for an independent promotion in Southern California before WWF headhunters discovered him a few months ago, lifts weights seven days a week. He pumps for a cardiovascular workout five days a week. He practices in the ring for two to three hours each session three days a week.
None of this factors in matches around the country, either. Constantino is based in Louisville, Ky., while his family -- his wife and their 19-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter -- remains in Las Vegas. He sees his family one week a month. Despite his confidence, he says going out to a wrestling ring makes him nervous.
"The butterflies are churning," he says. "All I want to do is my best and not be embarrassed. My first time in front of 20,000 was a whole different story. There are the people and the noise and the lights. You have to be larger than life. I was nervous. I'm nervous now. I am before every match."
He has had broken ribs, cuts above his eyes, and a sore back to remind him of past battles.
"What's a bad day in my profession?" he asks. "It's when somebody gets hurt."
But isn't that the point of pro wrestling?
"No," he says quickly. "It's to entertain."
MOOLAH, MAE YOUNG AND GILLBERG TEAM UP
(http://wrestling.ign.com/news/20856.html, June 13, 2000)
By Michael Tavares
This past Saturday night on June 10th, Maryland Championship Wrestling held their event near Ocean City, Maryland. This event had a little from both the past and present of the WWF.
The Fabulous Moohlah teamed up with Mae Young and Gillberg against the team of Platinum Nat and the Executioners (1 and 2). The referee, Dave "the Wave," made sure that neither of the WWF legends were not slugged by the opposition. He lost his cool and took off his referee shirt and was ready to go after them, but Gillberg had to restrain him. Gillberg was then triple teamed and finally was able to spear both Executioners. That gave Moohlah and Young an opportunity to give the Executioners the bronco buster. Gillberg then executed his finisher of the jackhammer and scored the pinfall on Platinum Nat at the 10:37 mark.
In the main event, George "the Animal" Steele took on Romeo Valentino. Romeo remained away from "the Animal" for as much as he could. Steele got the first hold in the match. We'll call it the "Greco-Roman Teeth Hold" as Steele's teeth grazed on Valentino's arm. Following that well planned move, Steele went for the "Greco-Roman Chokehold." The referee asked Steele to remove his shirt. Why? You got me. Valentino saw this as a window of opportunity and took full advantage of it as he was able to take over the match by blindsiding him. Steele was finally able to get out of his T-shirt and reached for a foreign object that was hidden in his trunks. In what seemed to be a mistake in the match, Steele dropped it on the canvas. He was asked to get rid of ti and Steele made it seem like he threw it into the crowd. His plan actually worked and Steele then used it on Valentino for the win at the 9:02 mark.
Joey "the Future" Matthews and Christian York successfully defended their tag team titles against the challenge of Total Quality Management's Jimmy Cicero and Chip Bowman. Originally TQM had some back up help in their corner, that is until they were sent to the back. However, Tara was allowed to stay thanks to a chant from the fans of, "Leave the slut." Cicero executed a suplex on York, but Chip missed a follow-up sit in. York was then able to make the tag to his partner of Matthews, who got a facebuster on Cicero. That lead to only a two count as Chip made the save. Cicero was then thrown out of the ring. This left Chip to the tag team champions' mercy as Matthews got in a huracanrana and then York followed that up with a top-turnbuckle body press for the victory.
"The Policy" Orlando Jordan is making quite a name for himself and this past Saturday night was no different. He took on "Soda Pop" Ronnie Zukko. In Zukko's corner was Candie. To counter that, Jordan had his own policy in former ECW and WCW star Chastity. She did her work to insure Candie would not help her man win as "the Policy" was able to finish off Zukko with a pile driver.
Other matches included a battle royal which was won by Romeo Valentino, who was able to outlast Zukko and "the Policy." Zukko was clotheslined outside of the ring by "the Policy" and he went outside of the ring with him due to the momentum.
Qenaan Creed pinned "Black Dragon" Marcus Jordan thus making Jordan's wrestling debut in MCW an unsuccessful one.
The Ghetto Mafia (2 Dope and Sydeswype) defeated TQM's Christopher Carmichael and Dino Divine. Also, Chad Bowman successfully defended his MCW Crusierweight title against challenger Adam Flash. Finally, the MCW Heavyweight champion, The Bruiser, held onto his title by pinning "Street Punk" Ricky Blues.
MCW will return to this venue on Wednesday, August 2nd at the Convention Center.
The WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 746
(ED. NOTE -- A related article appeared in WAWLI No. 739. The following article is taken from the first issue of Mat Digest, published six times a year. It aims to provide an in-depth, serious look at a major issue affecting the wrestling business. Future editions will look at the Monday night wars, the past, present and future of British wrestling, the Double Cross, and the death of the territories. It costs £1 an issue or £5 for six issue ($2.50 an issue for overseas), with cheques made payable to K. McBride at 2/2, 2 Norval Street, Partick, Glasgow, G11 7RX, Scotland.)
By John Lister
Professional wrestling is a business, not a sport. Any further confusion can be resolved by Dave Meltzer's two golden rules of pro grappling: 1) Everything you see is a work designed to draw money. 2) If you ever suspect something may be real, refer to rule 1.
This concept is the entire essence of professional wrestling. Once this rule is breached, whatever is being presented ceases to be pro wrestling. But giving such an illusion has been the basis of countless successful sells, what we will term here as the worked shoot.
Ironically, for a phrase that garners so much discussion, the pure meaning of a shoot -- a professional wrestling match without a predetermined outcome -- does not exist. Not now, and not in any but the extreme geriatric's lifetime.
Naturally there isn't a single date when wrestling 'became' a fix, merely a gradual process across the first couple of decades of the century. The first elements of working came with late 19th century Greco-Roman wrestler William Muldoon, the first 'World Heavyweight Champion', who would regularly lose suspicious decisions to competitors in other styles of grappling, before winning a rematch under Greco-Roman rules.
What is probably the first bout we can record with any degree of certainty as a work saw American champion Frank Gotch lose his title in a major upset to Fred Beel (the originator of the hip-toss style throw bearing his name) on December 1st 1906. The result was almost certainly prearranged to promote a rematch 16 days later, in which Gotch regained his crown.
'Fixing' matches at this time was generally in the traditional sense, i.e. to defraud gamblers of their money. A popular con involved a fall guy throwing matches to unsuspecting challengers from the audience, who would then be invited to take on a second grappler at a later date. Of course, the challenger's friends and family would back him with the bookie/promoter, who was the third leg of the triangular con. Local stepped in the ring, second wrestler destroyed him, and all three jumped town with the takings.
The credit for inventing the business we now know as professional wrestling, belongs to Joe 'Toots' Mondt, a highly talented legitimate wrestler who hooked up with then arguably the greatest real wrestler in history, Ed 'Strangler' Lewis, and his manager Billy Sandow- - the Gold Dust Trio.
After the First World War, Mondt came up with the idea of taking the con process to the next level. Instead of wrestlers travelling around the country on their own ('barnstorming'), Mondt decided all concerned would benefit from a central promoter organising a company of workers, who would trade wins amongst each other for the benefit of promoting rematches.
To put things into context, a legitimate July 4th 1916 bout between Lewis and Joe Stecher had gone to a draw when the referee called a halt after five deathly dull hours in Omaha, Nebraska. (Both Fall Guys, a 1934 expose on the business, and Hooker, Lou Thesz' autobiography, place this bout in 1926. It is possible a lengthy match between the pair took place in this year, as Lewis and Stecher had several epics, but the legendary Omaha bout is reported in a series of 1916 newspaper articles.)
Such results, and the need to placate egos for the sake of business (the 1911 Gotch-Hackenschmidt rematch, which drew a then record $87,000 gate, had a two falls to one finish negotiated in favour of Gotch - though in the event, Gotch ignored the planned finishes in the ring) led to Mondt and company doing record business with pro wrestling as a show, where drawing heat to sell tickets replaced legitimate grappling as a wrestler's job.
Working was thus pretty much the rule after Gotch retired -- while he was involved in predetermined finishes, his era was the last in which any real level of 'shooting' existed. Certainly when Gotch's former training partner Martin 'Farmer' Burns followed Mondt into promoting and introduced submissions as a finish in the early 20s, most claims of shooting were pure kayfabe.
But while the development of wrestling as a form of entertainment inherently exposed the business, with anyone who knew what legitimate grappling involved being able to spot the difference, and athletic commissions such as Washington (1940s) and California (1950s) refusing to sanction wrestling as anything other than exhibitions, the backlash against the fake product inherently created a demand for reality - or at least a passable illusion.
Possessing legitimate wrestling ability was now far less important than giving the impression that you had such ability, whether this involved good P.R., booking politics, or simply double-crossing a weaker opponent mid-match; a widespread practice between the wars, leading to the need for many years to put title belts on those with legitimate grappling skills, such as Lou Thesz.
And at the heart of the whole business of promoting a particular wrestler or match as 'real' was the implicit acknowledgement that everything else was fake. As early as May 6th 1921, Strangler Lewis used this policy to limit the loss of face from a planned title loss to Stanislaus Zbyszko, claiming in the press that he had (in his exact words) been "jobbed out". The implication being that, while throwing matches existed, he did not usually follow such practice. When the supply of shooting appeared so limited (and was realistically non-existent), the laws of economics drove up the price people would pay to see it.
Ironically, it was the defenders of genuine sport, the New York State Athletic Commission, who helped legitimise worked matches in the public eye. They ruled in the mid '30s that all wrestling bouts must be promoted as 'exhibitions', with only title defences against serious contenders billed as a 'match'. The fact that such contests, for example the June 26th 1934 title win of Jim Londos over Jim Browning, were as legitimate as a three pound note (Londos and Browning were part of a recently formed promotional cartel dominating the business at the time) didn't diminish the popularity of these 'shooting matches.'
That's correct -- the term that today's smart fans use like it's going out of fashion was a popular promotional tool a good fifty years before most of us were born. The most successful example was when Londos finally accepted Lewis' title challenge on September 20th 1934, after years of refusing to fight him (with the quite probably correct assumption that Lewis would have taken the belt whatever the planned finish).
With so many 'knowledgeable' fans sure that Lewis would never lay down for Londos, the scene was set for what was openly promoted as "the last shooting match in history". 35,256 fans paid a record $96,000 to fill Chicago's Wrigley Field and see... Lewis pinned by his rival. Of course, Lewis had joined the cartel, and the whole affair was business as usual.
Between the emergence of Gorgeous George (who didn't end real wrestling as his contemporaries would have you believe, but merely popularised showmanship rather than wrestling holds as the basis of his worked performances) and Antonino Rocca (the first television wrestling star with no tangible wrestling ability - perhaps the Hogan of his day), the worked shoot lost its appeal in the U.S. after the Second World War.
People have always only been prepared to believe a wrestling bout is really, truly, for real when it appears neither man would throw the match. For the next development in fake reality, we need to follow the wrestling business across the Pacific where, after a few false starts going back as far as 1887, the Japanese wrestling business made its real beginnings in July 1953.
Among the first promoters was the legendary Mitsuhiro Momota, better known as Rikidozan, whose Japanese Wrestling Alliance was the first successful promotion. On December 22nd 1954, Rikidozan became the first Japanese Heavyweight Champion by beating then world judo champion Masahiko Kimura in what was naturally promoted as a shoot with neither man prepared to lay down.
As it was, this was true, hence the pair prearranging a drawn result. In the event, Rikidozan double-crossed Kimura, matching Gotch's bizarre 1911 achievement of shooting in a worked shoot...
After this incident, the Japanese business returned to the usual affairs, with Japanese babyfaces taking on the heel American tourists in traditional worked bouts, a policy that continued on past Rikidozan's 1963 death, to Antonio Inoki starting New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972. On October 5th the following year Inoki began a career of introducing new concepts to the wrestling business, many of them variants of the worked shoot.
On said date, Inoki was happily walking down Tokyo High Street when an unknown Indian gentleman beat the crap out of him. Naturally the media went into a frenzy and, when the assailant turned out to be a wrestler by the name of Tiger Jeet Singh, the pair's eventual match had to be for real. Needless to say, Inoki had just innovated the shoot angle and, to cap it off, won the June 26th 1974 grudge match by apparently breaking Singh's arm with an armbar, a move that is consequently still over as a believable submission in Japan today.
Earlier in 1974, on March 19th, Inoki participated in the first apparent inter-promotional match. Shozo 'Strong' Kobayashi, champion of the country's number three promotion, the IWE (All Japan being #2), jumped to New Japan. Surely, the logic went, a champion wouldn't job for somebody from a rival body. Despite the IWE stripping him of the title beforehand, Kobayashi's worked loss to Inoki drew a then record 16,500 fans.
Inoki took the concept a stage further by defeating a star from another sport, in this case Olympic judo champion Wilhelm Ruska, on February 6th 1976. The match was designed to set up the ultimate worked shoot on June 25th of the same year: World Champion wrestler Inoki against World Champion boxer Mohammed Ali. Budokan Hall sold out to the tune of $2.5 million - a bigger gate than any in the U.S., even to this day.
All was set for Ali to do the job for a $6 million payoff. The finish would see a bloodied Inoki take advantage of Ali's momentary lapse of attention (played up outside Japan as a gesture of sportsmanship) and land the enzuigiri for the win that would set him and New Japan up for life. Unfortunately, Ali backed out at the last minute and, with no suitable finish agreed on in time, the worked shoot became a real shoot, a dull 15 round draw, with Inoki flat on his back the whole time, and both men too petrified of defeat to aim for victory. It was Lewis vs Stecher all over again.
The fiasco could easily have killed Inoki's career, but fortunately TV-Asahi, the broadcast network who held stock in New Japan, and recorded a massive 54.0 rating for the match, kept the company afloat. The subsequent damage repair exercise saw Inoki defeat stars from a variety of martial arts, from World Karate Champion Eddy 'Monster Man' Everett to Olympic judo medallist Allan Coage, later billed as Bad News Brown.
Highlights of these, and the Ali bout can be seen on a martial arts documentary Kings of the Square Ring (keep an eye out on market stalls). As per usual, the popular belief was that a real competitor wouldn't throw a match to Inoki, and he wouldn't even lay down for the greatest boxer in the world, so the matches had to be shoots. In three words, it was business as usual.
Come the early '80s, Inoki returned to the inter-promotional concept. 1981 saw Rusher Kimura and Animal Hamaguchi jump from the dying IWE for a rerun of the Kobayashi feud. But the idea hit its real height on October 8th 1982 during a six man tag match, when Riki Choshu turned on partner Tatsumi Fujinami, telling him after the match that "I'm not a dog that lets you bite me."
Translated, Choshu was apparently expressing his dissatisfaction with his lack of a push - something the smart fans knew about, and consequently thought the angle had to be real. Indeed, other workers in a similar position, such as Hamaguchi, Killer Khan and Kuniaki Kobayashi, joined Choshu as the Ishin Gundan (Restruction Force) faction, feuding with the established stars.
While the feud set record business over the next year, with the company achieving a 90% sell-out rate at house shows, behind the scenes disputes raged. When the sell-outs continued after Inoki missed three months with injury, Choshu and company's shoot-style angle became too real - their concerns over office politics were still genuine. The repercussions were to completely change the course of worked shoots.
First, in August 1983, several wrestlers attempted to seize control of the company, with the coup's failure seeing Satoru Sayama thrown out of New Japan. He responded by exposing the business in his infamous book Kayfabe. Meanwhile, the remaining New Japan stars uncovered massive financial misbehaviour - the massive profits that should have been reflected in their payoffs had been diverted to support Inoki's failing businesses elsewhere.
Inoki being Inoki, he shifted the heat onto business partner Hishashi Shinma, who was unceremoniously given the boot. The angered Shinma decided revenge would best be served by starting his own company, the Universal Wrestling Federation, and basing his group around the young former karate star Akira Maeda. With Maeda on tour in the WWF at the time, Inoki got on the blower to Vince McMahon Sr., and Maeda found himself staring at the lights for such credible grapplers as George Steele.
On returning to Japan, joined in the UWF by New Japan's Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Nobuhiko Takada, Maeda decided he wanted to work a new style of wrestling: realistic, submission based, with no room for showmanship. In other words, the worked shoot. Shimna's traditionalist views earned him a spell on the dole, and Sayama was persuaded to return to the ring. With the UWF's stars condemning traditional pro wrestling as fake, the Tokyo hardcores bought the style hook, line and sinker.
(Back in New Japan, leading house show promoter Naoki Otsuja, angered with Inoki's business practices, got talking to Giant Baba, and on September 21st 1984 Choshu's brigade left to form their own promotion - Japan Pro Wrestling. Of course, it was part of a worked promotional feud, and the Ishin Gundan stars were soon in All Japan.)
The UWF failed to draw outside of Tokyo, mainly through a lack of television exposure, and Sayama moved into traditional martial arts, while the rest of the crew returned to New Japan in February 1986. The natural dream match was soon signed, and Sumo Hall sold out in a matter of hours for Inoki vs Maeda. The Tokyo hardcores knew this one had to be for real -- neither man would put the other over.
Unfortunately this was the exact truth of the matter. A finish couldn't be negotiated, and the bout was switched to a ten man tag. The shooters vs wrestlers feud continued to draw well at the houses, with the former UWF workers most popular in Korakuen Hall among the hardcore fans, but the casual audience was less interested in the realistic style, and the television ratings dropped until New Japan's prime time slot was axed, banishing them to the early hours.
Between Inoki's refusal to step aside in favour of the more popular Maeda atop the promotion, and the return of Choshu in October 1987, Maeda soon grew disgruntled with his position. Much like last year's Hart-Michaels situation, the office failed to keep matters under control, and matters came to a head with the infamous shoot-kick. On November 27th, Maeda threw a legitimate kick at Choshu during a six-man Korakuen Hall main event, shattering his orbital bone and removing him from the annual tag tournament.
Rather than publicly acknowledge Maeda's offence (which would effectively admit that New Japan's product was a work), management offered him two alternatives: go and work 'unrealistic' lucha in Mexico and then put Choshu over clean, or pack his bags. Maeda chose to reopen the UWF, taking Takada and others with him, and with television exposure having educated the mass audience to the new style, the promotion was a huge success.
The first UWF show, at Korakuen Hall on May 12th 1988, sold out in 15 minutes, with only one show in the next two years failing to sell out. The group peaked on November 29th 1989 for the U*Cosmos show at the Tokyo Dome, the first to sell out the Dome, including a record 40,000 tickets sold on the first day.
Many of the UWF's biggest matches pitted Maeda against stars of other martial arts, such as Gerard Gordeau and Chris Dolman, in a rerun of Inoki's '70s bouts. Inoki himself opted to revitalise New Japan by bringing in Soviet amateur wrestlers for a series of bouts, including the first Tokyo Dome show on April 29th 1989. Once again, the worked shoot was successful, with fans assuming that the Russian wrestlers would not be amenable to the concept of predetermined finishes.
The UWF's success led to the seemingly inevitable financial mismanagement, and the group fell apart in late 1990, leaving the workers to split off into their own groups. While Maeda formed the martial arts influenced RINGS, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara started PWF-G, it was Nobuhiko Takada's UWF International that had the quickest success.
With Takada regularly denouncing New Japan as fake, and scoring a much publicised victory over former boxing champion Trevor Berbick (which was actually a double-cross in the ring), the UWF-I product probably had the largest believing audience in the history of worked shoots. Everyone from Combat magazine to my old landlord thought it was the real deal, while even Lou Thesz was temporarily persuaded that he was watching a competitive sport.
As per usual, the accountants screwed things up, and a heavily indebted UWF-I found itself taken over by New Japan, leading to the most successful worked shoot in history: Nobuhiko Takada vs Keiji Muto. 67,000 set a new gate record of $6 million for the first bout, and Takada became the biggest short term draw in history, selling out the Tokyo Dome three times in six months.
The most important development in worked shooting, though, rose from the ashes of the floundering PWF-G in 1993, when headliners Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, along with businessman (and former Weekly Pro writer) Masami Ozaki set up the Pancrase promotion, a product that rewrote the concept of pro wrestling.
Since its stunning September 21st 1993 debut, which saw six matches last a combined 13 minutes, Pancrase has taken an entirely different perspective on working and shooting. Instead of a worked product with a shooting influence, Pancrase was basically a legitimate sport, albeit with the tampering that is common with most sports. Like boxing, a proportion of matches are fixed for the benefit of the promoters, but the essence of the sport is genuine competition.
Along with RINGS, where the work/shoot divide is often blurred, the element of working between competitors in Pancrase is most commonly in the form of an agreement to fight in a particular style or avoid working on an injured bodypart. To the Japanese culture, this does not represent working, as martial arts in the country place a stronger emphasis on the performance (hence RINGS 'Fighting Spirit') than mere wins and losses. This ideal partially explains why the likes of Kenta Kobashi or Hiroshi Hase can continue to draw in traditional pro wrestling despite regularly putting opponents over.
Such cultural differences are one reason why the worked shoot has not developed in the United States in the modern era. Certainly the crossover appeal of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, which debuted two months after Pancrase, resulted in a short spell of pay-per-view success for no holds barred events, but pro wrestling has survived; the sight of genuine competition hasn't harmed the soap opera that is the WWF, WCW and ECW.
Ironically, in an era where the shoot-style angle is the staple diet of Western style pro-wrestling, the true worked shoot seems unlikely to succeed. As Scott Farrell explains elsewhere, the influence of the Internet may not have benefited many fans' intelligence, but more people now know for sure that wrestling is a business rather than genuine competition.
For example, once somebody knows enough to understand why Vince McMahon could screw Steve Austin out of the WWF title, they will usually realise exactly why it isn't going to happen. True shooting such as the Brawl For It All is ineffective, with the pure mark not grasping any difference between works and shoots, and the majority of 'smart' fans cynical about any apparently legit product. In any case, the need for safety and entertainment means the product bears little relation to pro wrestling, instead being glorified boxing.
Indeed, the major reason for the success of today's U.S. product is that both the hardcore and casual audiences are catered for. Despite what the hardcore might think, most fans likely see McMahon and Austin as a simple soap opera storyline of a boss and employee, paying little attention to the 'shoot' overtones.
As we have seen, the worked shoot (that is a match, rather than any storyline) requires the paying customer to perceive a difference between the traditional worked product and this 'real' contest. In today's market, any fan who understands that the usual bout is predetermined will realise that if neither competitor is willing to put the other over, the match will not be happening.
When wrestling is primarily a form of
entertainment, it would appear promoters would be best advised to concentrate on
providing that entertainment, rather than trying to fool all of the people all
of the time. Working people doesn't pay the mortgage by itself -- drawing money
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