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My name is Chris, and I’m Steppin’ Out into the light, into the night. SmackDown! Eddy Guerrero is my favorite wrestler. And Such, SmackDown! from El Paso (where much of the Garcia side of my family came from) was my cup of tea, as Eddy was the star. How could you go wrong opening a show with Eddy? He was more over than than any other hometown star I’ve ever seen. Even Flair in Charlotte isn’t this huge over. His story of his great, great, great grandmother coming over is nearly the same as my family’s story! The stuff with John Cena was pretty well done too. He is so creative in his baiting. Just by getting in Eddy’s face he got the best heel heat he’s had so far in his run. They must have edited the hell out of Cena’s set, as it felt disjointed. “I’ll pin you in the Gulf of Mexico and leave you with a broken wetback.” Sweet Christ, that was funny. I also wanna be able to get away with calling folks esse vato. This show did a lot to make Eddy into a big deal, not just a great heel, but a big star. It reminded me of Bret Hart being the biggest heel in the world, except for the shows in Canada where he was the only face. Great stuff. I want one of the new Club 619 t-shirts. Rey vs. Nunzio at least gave us a bit of time with my favorite FBI member. Nunzio is the only cruiserweight who is ground based, and he works so well. Awesome Misterio twisting plancha. Great Bulldog from Rey. Rey provided the awesome flying and Nunzio gave the frame. Nice stuff. A-Train vs. Benoit was not as good as their other meetings, but it wasn’t bad. Just there for your visual munching. I have to say that he’s the only one other than Angle who can get anything out of the lugs on SmackDown!. Mixing up Rhyno with A-Train is a step back in my opinion, and the end of the segment didn’t work. The missing tire thing is decent, but it’s very standard hometown face-baiting stuff. I’ve heard this tirade before when my Dad parked overnight at the Flea Market. Eddy flips out so well. Another part of his showcase night. Also nice to see that Eddy can take the FBI single-handedly when they are in El Paso. Brock is good on the mic. Not great, but good enough, with tons of whining heel charisma. I think he’ll improve, kinda like Vader in 1992. Brock proved himself a wrestling revisionist, which means we have a lot in common, as I am a Civil War revisionist (Blame Harry Turtledove). Kurt was strong, as always on the tape. He’s the best interview in the world right now. He can go seamlessly between comedy and intensity better than anyone else in the company. UT is not what he was even eight months ago.Big Show is fair on stick, if nothing else. Stephanie injected herself, but for
once, she didn’t steal any focus from the show. Maybe they understand a little more that the guys can actually draw heat on their own. I know, but it’s still a wonderful dream. Cena vs. Eddy was the best match of Cena’s career. It moved very well, had great heat, and just worked. Eddy has a way of making the pace of a match work so much better than anyone else in the company. I wanna see him in the Hall of Fame, but it’ll take a few more years of kicking it like he did tonight. The post match FU on the tire was a nice touch, and both of them are the better for this night. I would have liked to have seen Eddy get a pin, but it was still a great match. Man, the three-way was looking like death going in, but turned out that Brock is ½ miracle worker and turned out a decent match. Undertaker actually looked to have some energy. Excellent Last Ride to bring things into closure. As good as Kurt is, he’s never been great doing color. Still, the whole thing worked for me. Longer matches, great heat, good opening, all in all, a show that I will remember for a while. Do to many preemptions, it won’t do well in the ratings, but it was high quality. NEWS Matt Hardy suffered a mild concussion taking the West Coast Pop from Rey Misterio last week. He missed the El Paso SmackDown! is Guerrero, but should be back next week, or even on the road this weekend. I thought it looked like he hurt himself on the finish. My new favorite politician is California Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn of Saratoga (Home of the Bank, the official bar of Falls Count Anywhere). She has set up a hearing to look into regulating MMA in the State of California. Now, if they are finally looking into getting the state athletic commission to allow UFC-style events, that must mean that folks want to get into the state, meaning that I may get to see a UFC live! ABC's Nightline did a feature on the Rob Zicari (Rob Black) and Janet Romano (Lizzy Borden). They are peddlers of delightful smut, and producers of XPW. I’m not a fan of their wrestling stuff, though they have had a few good matches from the likes of Shark Boy and Chris Hamrick. Their other group, Extreme Associates, is a porn production company and they’ve been indicted on selling pornographic videotapes across state lines through the postal service. This happened now because, even though Zicari and Romano are not big fish, the Bush administration is getting more aggressive on obscenity prosecutions and they have a high profile. They could get a ton of time and millions in fines. A woman of Lizzy’s body type would not do well in the joint. I saw a bit of Stacey Keibler on The Best Damn Sports Show Period on Wednesday night after I got back from seeing Joe Jackson (great show, by the way) and she came off very well. I’ve always thought she lacked personality, but she chatted the hosts up nicely. The RAW rating this week, a 4.2, has been hailed as a sign of the creative direction being right. I don’t know if I fully agree, but there is an obvious, though difficult to sustain, upswing in the ratings over the last couple of months.
Patron Saint of Falls Count Anywhere, Dr. Tom Pritchard, is holding a camp in West Patterson, NJ for wrestlers with at least one year of experience. I’ve been told that these are actually the WWE’s new way of keeping their eye on rising indy talent. Dr. Tom is supposed to be one of the best at judging young wrestlers and just having them work with him will help aspiring stars pick up their game. FlashBack! Brian Pillman was a man who saw the future of wrestling very clearly at a pivotal point in the evolution of the product. While Eddie Gilbert had amazing forward vision in the territories, Pillman was the man in the middle of major promotions doing the things that would forever change the industry. Even though he is best remembered as the guy who brought us big time kayfabe-breaking interviews and angles, he was also one of the best wrestlers in the world in his prime. Brain Pillman started out having to fight his way through life. He had numerous throat surgeries to deal with the throat cancer he had been born with, which left him with his distinctive raspy voice. He played football, including walking on to his college team and later playing for the Cincinnati Bengals. For much of his career he wore the tiger striped trunks as a tribute to the Bengals. He was trained to wrestle by Stu Hart, and debuted in Stampede Wrestling in 1987. He formed a great tag team with Bruce Hart called Bad Company. They held the tag belts in Stampede several times, and Pillman was way over in his home territory. When Jim Herd took over the running of WCW, he was looking for new wrestlers that no one had seen to boost the product. Pillman was a favorite on the circuit and had many admirers among active wrestlers by 1989, so he got his shot at the big time. He was a breath of fresh air in the days of the muscled-up freak, as his athleticism and charisma showed in every match. He was a mid-carder, though he had a nice little feud with Lex Luger, and didn’t really come into the limelight until SuperBrawl II, where he had what may have been the greatest opening match in the history of wrestling up until that point, the classic against Jushin “Thunder” Liger. He was the perennial WCW Jr. Heavyweight Champion, and I believe he held the TV title as well. He joined up with Steve Austin in 1993 to form one of the greatest tag teams ever: The Hollywood Blondes. The Blondes were great, they won the Wrestling Observer Tag Team of the Year award, but as was the way in WCW, if you were a team of smaller wrestlers who were getting over, they broke you up so you wouldn’t over shadow the top flight stars. The Blondes held the tag team titles for six months and had abunch of great matches. It’s a shame they didn’t let the run go on, since I would say that could have been the best tag team of the 1990s. After the Blondes, they packaged him as a surfer dude, which didn’t work. It looked like he was done, but then a brainstorm happened that set the wrestling world on fire. Brian Pillman became the Ticking Timebomb, the Loose cannon. The gimmick was that he would do anything and say anything, sometimes getting the WCW into trouble with the
censors. I loved some of his stuff, as his interviews were classically delivered to play up his insanity, making it seem like he had lost it by “living the gimmick.” Some folk thought that he really was living the gimmick, as there were some classic stories of Pillman acting crazy on the road. The highlight of the WCW portion of the Loose Cannon had to be the feud with then WCW booker Kevin Sullivan. This was the height of work-shoot back in 1995, and it ended with eth classic Respect match in which Pillman grabbed the mic and said “I respect you, bookerman.” Dropped the mic and left. Now, this got weird. They fired him in the sotry line, and to work everybody, they actually fired him. He went to ECW to get some heat for his return. That is the best part of the story. ECW was truly the renegade outlaw promotion in 1995/6. Pillman came in and used some classic obscenity-laced tirade, including one that got him in trouble with New Jack for dropping the “N-Bomb” and led to a legit scuffle backstage. His first angle is legend. Pillman entered the ECW arena and called all the fans Smart Marks, and then announced that he was going to take a piss in the ring. He whipped it out, but Heyman comes out and say “That wasn’t in the deal!”. Pillman left through the crowd, which hated him so much at that moment, and a plant took a swing, and Pillman clocked him. I’ve never seen the arena get so close to full-blown Memphis-style riot, but there it was. Pillman did great interviews, including one package where he wrestled, and I believe gets pinned by, a giant pencil. It was around that time that Pillman got into a car crash and had to have his ankle fused. It set him back, and many thought he would never wrestle again. He could still do his classic promos and his angle ideas were thought to be some of the freshest, if not the best, that were being pushed by the stars. Pillman’s lawyers knew where the money was, and they managed to get him into the WWF. He feuded with Austin, who was slowly starting to build, and it featured the famous “Pillman has a gun” angle. Pillman joined the Hart Foundation (aka Team Canada) and was a huge part of the summer 1997 action. Pillman led a reckless lifestyle. He was a partier, and since he was so much smaller than most wrestlers, he was on the juice pretty much from day one, and had been using Human Growth Hormone (HGH). In October of 1997, hours before he was to face Goldust on the Bad Blood pay-per-view, Pillman was found dead in his hotel room. He was 35. Most thought he had overdosed, or that the years of drinking and partying had finally caught up. Eventually, it was discovered that Pillman had a rare genetic heart malady, the same one that had killed his father, and that using HGH had aggravated it. This was another moment that changed the WWF, though this time in the eyes of the fans. As word got out about Pillman’s partylust, the image of the WWF took a major tarnish. There was some high profile mainstream press on the situation, and the WWF took a slightly harder stance on drug. Much of their current drug policy is directly related to the wake of the death of Brain Pillman.
Just a month later, the famous Montreal finish that screwed Bret out of the belt happened, and Pillman was lost to the memory of guys like me. I remember talking to a friend once and him saying “It’s a shame Pillman didn’t live another couple of months. I think he really would have loved to have seen Montreal.” That’s another edition of Falls Count Anywhere. Next week, a look at wrestling theme music in the 1980s, and on Friday, a look at another heartbreaking loss for wrestling: the great Bruiser Brody.
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