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My name is Chris and if anyone knows how to set up a Commodore 64 so that I can play Seven Cities of Gold, let me know! RAW This gimmick of the bounty is solid, as it allowed for an opening segment that let Flair do some great talking and Michaels to do some great reactions. Good stuff before the opening. The Highlight Reel? Is it? They didn’t set it up as such, but it seemed like it was the Jericho segment. The first WWE Recall gag comes to light. The Jericho and Austin feud is getting OK, and if they can actually get a match out of Austin (preferably at Survivor Series) that could be cool. Wow, they actually used house show footage to get Test’s injury over(see NEWS). They need to do things like that more often. Doing that and combining it with the selling of injuries on house shows and even exterior appearances can only help live gates. Shane comes out and gets huge reaction. He does a heel act and he becomes a bigger face. The turning down of the match by the heels is a nice old school touch. Goldberg almost got run over. A good touch, but again it’s kinda dangerous to put the guy who’s gonna be drawing your money for the foreseeable future in that position. The Steiner vs. RVD battle was OK, with RVD looking very good this time. Steainer didn’t do too much, but that suplex was kinda sweet to open. The fact that it led to a beat down by Stone Cold helped the audience, as did the drinking of the beers by Stacey and Austin leading up to the Stunner. It was sweet. The line between face and heel actions is blurred further. Ric Flair was “injured” so he couldn’t have his match with Maven. Well, it was an angle, but it’s also bad timing, as he had a lot of momentum that was killed by a match with Rico. Rico got absolutely no reaction. The best part of the match was Ric’s commentary. Maven didn’t look good, but Jacky Gayda certainly did. Maven hit that cool float over bulldog for the win, but then Flair, predictably, got up and beat on Maven, adding a little, but it would have been better to do the match and make it matter. Rooseveldt the Photographer made an appearance. Hurricane came out to do some comic stuff. It wasn’t great, but it would have to do. Crowd seems to like the Dudleys and Shane and Mr. X getting a tables match with Jericho and company. Goldberg dodging the falling pipes while talking with that Kevin Smith look-alike was a nice touch. It’s working! Goldberg got an OK pop, and so did Michaels. The segment wasn’t great, but it was acceptable to build tension in this angle. Dreamer got a little face time trying to collect,
and having Flair do one of his classic flip outs was sweet. Teddy Long got involved too, which unfortunately meant that Mark Henry was there as well. Bischoff coming out and making the match was predictable, but it could work. The tag match with La Resistance, Jericho and Christian taking on The Dudleys, Shane and Booker was a hot match, especially for Booker’s entrance. Booker was himself, which is pretty good. He’s always been very good coming off an injury. Jericho and Booker had a nice opening portion. The match was fast-paced and had some strong work from all involved. Does Shane have a single move that doesn’t involve his Elbow? It’s like HHH back when everything involved his knee. The WWE seems to have learned from All Japan that you can do eight- and ten-man tag matches and get great results because of all the people and all the stories you can fit in them. They had a bunch of spots all in a row that really got the crowd into a tizzy. Spike gets involved! This match ran like an old ECW match where they started out with wrestling and then got more and more into the storyline. I like it! Booker got the win in his return, which was the right call. Man, they are really trying to get folks interested in the house shows again. It makes sense, as money times are not the best, but the packages may have been a little overkill. Still, we’ll see if they get a notable bump over the next few months and if ratings can stay as they are. The faces celebrate in the ring, but are interrupted by the Coach, doing his heel thing, prepping for his interview with Kane. Shane takes over and incites Kane, leading to him going nuts and getting a bit of a pop. Still, I don’t think it’s what they should be doing with him. Well, a six woman tag match is always fun. Lita, Ivory and Trish are a strong team, and then again so is Gail, Molly and Victoria. The match wasn’t very crisp, but I thought it worked for the most part. Lita looked a bit better than last week, Victoria looked good for what little she got to do. They worked it right, but the crowd ebbed and flowed in their interest. Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these every now and again. I’m not sure what the deal with the Jericho attack on Richards was, but they are teasing something with Trish. Michaels and Goldberg beat Flair, Mark Henry and Orton in a match where Goldberg looked stronger than usual. HBK did some great stuff, especially with that sweet somesault plancha. HBK hitting Goldberg with the Sweet Chin Music was a nice touch, as it still left enough doubt as to which way he was going. And setting up the match for next week was good stuff. I’d say that this show was mostly good, but not great. The Goldberg angles are solid, and the Jericho and co vs. Shane Co. was a really strong match. There was a bit of Paul E. on this show, which helped a bit. I dunno how this will effect ratings, but the next few weeks should be up.
Velocity Thoughts I watched Velocity for the first time in ages, and it was a nice little throwback to the 1980 and early 1990s, where there were real wrestlers taking on real jobbers in short matches. Kanyon and Rey Mysterio had a fine little match whish actually worked as a back and forth for about 7 or so minutes. Matt Hardy had a little match with a guy named Tyson Dux which was a good crushing for the most part. The Billy Kidman vs. Bobby Rude match wasn’t as good, but Kidman looked good, which I like as he has been on the backburner. Charlie Haas and Funaki had a match that was fast paced and enjoyable. The packages were a bit understandable, but still kinda annoying. I may try to watch more.
NEWS Well, Hulk Hogan wrestled in Japan this weekend, beating Masahiro Chono in their match and then getting attacked by Jeff Jarrett during his press conference. It’s a strong start to their feud over the NWA title that will take place in TNA. This could be huge, or it could be a big mistake. TNA fans are used to exciting matches, but they may give it up for Hogan just due to the fact that he’s Hogan. Still, there may not be enough interest even with the Hulkster to make back the money he cost them. Test broke a couple of bones in his foot and will be out up to two months. He hurt it at a house show taking a Van Terminator from Shane McMahon over the weekend. Tough, as foot injuries can take a lot of time to heel fully. Hey, SmackDown!, which I didn’t think was great, got a 3.6 rating, which is very high for SD! as of late. I don’t know why, but it may be the same thing that was happening when Austin was getting his 1997 push. Eddy is being built and getting the prime spot on the show that allows him to get ratings. I think this bodes well for Eddy Guerrero (is my favorite wrestler) Nothing new on Dr. Tom Pritchard, though I am going to buy a tape of old Smoky Mountain Wrestling matches in the coming weeks. FlashBack! I thought it would be a good time to talk about one of the great wrestlers of the 19th Century. In many ways the man who helped solidify wrestling’s hold on America was Farmer Burns. When he started, wrestling in the US was a simple way to pass time with little actual organization or techniques that were only half-formed. By the time he had finished, there was an international champion, one that he trained, and there was wrestling all over the US. Martin Burns was born in 1861 in Springfield, Iowa. According to legend, he had his first match for money at the age of eight, beating a kid who was 11. The stake was
supposedly 30 cents. His father died when he was 11, so he had to take small jobs like digging graves and plowing fields on a neighbor’s farm. This likely helped him gain his famous physique. He would work during the day and wrestle every night. He gained quite a reputation for his skill throughout the state. He wrestled his first major match with a wrestler who was on the Carnival circuit in 1880. That match turned out to be a draw, but it did go a full two plus hours. Burns really started to make an impact when he went to a work camp. Every payday he would take on all comers and he would always win and walk away with the money. He developed many of his famed techniques during this period, including his famed double wristlock. After that, he was established and started wrestling the big names. One of them was Evan “The Strangler” Lewis, who would go on to write a wrestling book that would inspire Ed “The Strangler” Lewis. He fought Lewis several times, losing in their first meeting, but taking most of the others. It wasn’t until an 1889 trip to Chicago that he got the nickname Farmer Burns. A comedian named J.W. Kelly was MCing the night of his match with Jack Careek. The show was only part wrestling, and the rest was a typical Vaudeville comedy night. Kelly, apparently drunk at the time, came out and said ‘What would you call a man who hoes potatoes and squash and shucks corn?’ ‘A farmer” replied one of the musicians in the pit. ‘Well, then, if this farmer would get locked up in a house and the house would catch fire, what would happen to the farmer?’ ’I do not know,’ ‘Farmer Burns,’ replied Kelly. This dumbfounded the audience, but then Martin came out in overalls and shook hands with his opponent. When the match started, it was obvious that Burns was going to be the next big star. William Muldoon had been the first major star in the US a decade or so before, but he never had a match like Burns had that night. He throw Careek all over the mat and tossed him about the stage, knocking down some of the scenery for the other portions of the show. Burns was declared the winner after 15 minutes since he had not been thrown by the “professional” in the match. The next night, he took on Evan Lewis again and Lewis couldn’t throw him in 15 minutes either. The papers picked up on the Burns phenomena and made him a star in the MidWest. During this period, the product was certainly a mix of work and shoot, with wrestlers throwing matches occasionally to build to returns and get odds up from the bookmakers. Wrestling was mostly about gambling, since there was little to no national exposure. From 1890 to 1993, Burns didn’t lose a fall. He beat wrestlers from all over the world in all sorts of types of contests. He excelled in matches where pinfalls were the rule, as well as those where submissions or takedowns were the way to victory. In 1893, he opened a
gym in Rock Island, IL, where he trained hundreds of students in his style of wrestling, but also in general fitness. This was the time that Sanitariums like the Kellog Battle Creek San were all the rage. He made huge advances in the state of the art of fitness. In 1899, Burns was doing the old “If you take me off my feet in fifteen minutes, I’ll give ya 25 bucks” gimmick. One of two things happened: either Gotch lasted the time limit or Burns managed to beat him in 11 minutes. The version with Burns winning goes that Burns was impressed and took Gotch under his wing and trained him. The two went about building an empire. The two of them set out and made history, with the two of them wrestling and trading victories and losses to build up gates for return matches. Along with Gotch, future world champion Earl Caddock and Joe “Toots” Mondt trained under Burns. He also began what would evolve into a big business by selling mail-order wrestling lessons. His 1914 course Lessons in Wrestling and Physical Culture is the classic work of that era. He made good money and actually helped introduce techniques from Judo and other forms in to the US. To this day, there is a huge mail order business in fitness. His influence was felt in the next generation, as Frank Gotch became the best-known wrestler in the US, even though some of his tactics may have been frowned on by Burns himself. Many of the men he trained went on to grand status in both professional and amateur wrestling. His influence is still felt today. He taught wrestling in many Iowa high schools, which led Iowa to become the top state for amateur wrestling. They have produced more national and international champions than any other municipality. It’s amazing at how powerful his influence was. His death in 1938 was really the last nail in the coffin of the pre-1900 era of wrestling. I should also mention that Farmer Burns was not only a great wrestler, but a great personality. He would talk to the papers everyday and would perform on many of the Vaudeville stages. His most famous carnival stunt was made possible by the fact that he had a 20 inch neck on a 165 pound frame. He would actually tie on a real noose and jump off a platform and hang there by his neck, smiling for the crowd and sometimes whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy. He did this stunt hundreds of times before tens of thousands of people. That’s showmanship from a man who would probably say that today’s wrestling is a bunch of hooey. That’s all for today. I’m out of here on Friday, so someone will be bringing you their thoughts on SmackDown! I’ll be doing a bunch of articles over the next month or so about the Hall of Famers that many have forgotten, starting with one of my favourites: the great Ed “The Strangler” Lewis.
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