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My name is Chris, Today is my birthday, so you’re just gonna have to sit back and groove on it! Goodson, that means you… RAW At least they acknowledged the death of Road Warrior Hawk with a graphic before the show. They need to do a better job of recognizing deaths in the business because they are the only game in town and the convergence of the WCW and WWE means they should mention every death. The Austin / Test w/ Stacey stuff was awful except for the reaction that Austin got for everything he did. Test is awful on the mic, and the story with Stacey needs to end. The idea of the Austin vs. Bischoff teams facing off to get Austin the right to wail on guys is not a bad idea, so long as they get the right teams. Steiner is not right, Jericho is right. Austin is right too, if they put him in the ring. Wow, La Resistance were bumping like madmen for the Dudleys. The match wasn’t much, but it moved nice enough, Dupree looked good as a heel, and the crowd gave the Dudleys a big pop coming in to the ring. The heat picked up towards the end with the USA chants. They mentioned that Buh-buh dedicated the match to Hawk, and they even used the Doomsday Device to beat the Frogs. Nice to see this sort of thing as a way of paying tribute. The backstage interviews are taking too much time. I do have to say that both Flair and Booker were great in their roles. The way Booker set up his match with Randy Orton was good. Booker vs. Randy Orton wasn’t bad, as they are both athletic. I didn’t like the ending, but if they keep doing these DQ finishes with just Randy and no others and it may get him over bigger. The adding of Booker to Austin’s team was a good touch. The entrance for Shawn Michaels was strong. He gets a good pop coming out, which is odd considering the ones he would get in the WWF back in 1996. The attack by Mark Henry was good, as they have established that you follow Goldberg from the locker room to the ring, which allowed this to not feel forced. The bounty deal is strong, and the postmatch where Michaels came to the dressing room to check on Goldberg was a nice touch. Steiner and Jericho met Lance Storm and RVD. RVD got the great reaction he’s been getting all along. Why isn’t he getting the big push? Because he doesn’t get great ratings (+50K or so on the ratings every time he’s out according the Observer, which puts him behind folks like Gail Kim, Randy Orton and Christian). The match wasn’t great, and the crowd was Best line “All due respect to the Honky Tonk Man.” Wayne Ferris is smiling somewhere. Jericho did some nice old school heeling stuff, especially the stuff that mocked Steiner. Lance Storm busted some strong flying moves, including a sweet
jumping back elbow off the top rope. An OK match that lacked cohesion, but had action and gained the crowd a bit towards the end. They talked about Stu and Hawk and gave them a package that worked as a rare bit of class. They need to do this, and I think they may be seeing that now. There are signs that the WWE is actually getting its role. What in the blue hell is this Trish thing they are doing with Jericho? A turn? A twist featuring a twist? I have no idea. But it might be fun. Hey, Jinraik and Cage took the money and ran. Sweet idea. Still, it didn’t work. Molly and the Majestic Victoria took on Lita and Trish in a match that felt like all of the women’s tags recently. Victoria looked good, but Lita is behind the rest of them. She’ll catch up. What’s with all these heel dudes saving face chicks? Flair vs. Maven was as good as Flair could make it. Maven just needs some time in the ring on the lower rungs and he’ll do something above what he has now. Flair is old, but he’s working well and setting other guys up. This match worked very well, and they should give Flair to all these young guys on house shows to build them up. Kane did his thing in all sorts of make-up. They made a distant reference to the Katie Vick angle too. The way Flair came to the decision that Orton lost the money was funny. HHH made an appearance to get back his cash. Nice to see that he’s only playing a midline role this week. The Goldberg vs. Michaels match was exactly what I expected, except I thought that HH would do the run-in and not Bautista. He can be valuable, if they use him right. A Bautista vs. Michaels match could work, as could a Goldberg vs. Bautista match after that one has played. He fits in with Orton much better than Flair and HHH. The Pillmanising of Goldberg’s leg was a nice touch. Overall, a strong show that seemed to respond to all the external, and the considerable internal, criticism. Let’s see if it continues, and more importantly, if it draws ratings. No Mercy I haven’t been that psyched for WWE PPVs of late, but this wasn’t bad. Again, too much McMahon influence, but still there was a lot to lift this up where it belongs. The opener was SWEET!!! Tajiri deserves a big a push, and having a Yakuza storyline build with Jimmy Yang and Ryan Sokuda was a nice touch. I love Mysterio, but they need to keep the belt on Tajiri and build to a big match between the two at Survivor Series. Maybe two of three falls?
A-Train and Benoit had a match that was physical, nearly saw Benoit break his neck again, and wasn’t bad…or it was great for A-Train. This feud should have been canned long ago, but this was acceptable. The use of the Sharpshooter as a tribute to Stu was a nice touch and the announce put it over right. Zach Gowen had his best performance to date with Matt Hardy. Matt looked good, but losing in this position needs to be played right or it really hurts Hardy. Zack’s Moonsault is awesome. Wow, Bashems vs. APA was not good, but it did allow the WWE to prove me right that Shaniqua is the next Chynna by having her get the implants after making the grade as a brawler lady. She can be huge next year if they book her right. OK, Vince vs. Steph. I thought the match moved well, the story was OK, the work was what it was, but the crowd seemed to love it. Why do they do this to me? Seriously, there was McMahon all over this show and it overshadowed everything else, but the payoff, which won’t matter in a month, was at least on the level that I expect from Vince on the big shows. He played an excellent heel in this match. Kurt Angle may be wrestler of the year again for getting this match out of John Cena. Cena looked like a million bucks in there with the master, and Kurt made it look effortless. He is that good. This feud could continue and I would have no problem with it whatsoever. The match was built right with every move meaning something. That is missing in many matches today. Eddy lost the US title to the Big Show. They seemed to have started the countdown to the Chavo vs. Eddy feud, but it’s not quite time. Have Eddy win back his belt and then do the feud. Eddy is on the road to greatness, though Angle was better at carrying Show. Undertaker and Brock had a match that went far too long, and that was muddled at parts. Brock was good, but he couldn’t contend with that lumbering oaf UT. All in all, a decent show with Angle and Cena stealing the show in my eyes, and nobody really embarrassing themselves. NEWS Other than people dyin’, there wasn’t much. I should mention that the Observer reported that the WWE has told wrestlers to stop pre-planning matches and to call them entirely in the ring. Many of the WCW boys, like DDP in the day, had been used to working out their matches backstage and then going out and going through them. There are famous stories of guys faxing the match plans back and forth to each other. Over the last few years the WWE has been using the pre-planning as standard, so to have them calling it in the ring is a big change. The fans shouldn’t notice much, but it could lead to a few workers having off matches over the next few months. FlashBack!
For some reason, people think that wrestling was small potatoes back in the 1920s and 30s. There was no TV and wrestling doesn’t lend itself to radio, while visions of carnival hucksters barking challenges come to mind. It’s not at all true, as wrestling drew big crowds to ballparks around the country. Wrestling during this era was likely the same as it is today, predetermined finishes with the guys in the ring calling a match. There was still some legit aspects, and shoots and double crosses happened a lot, but it was mostly working. In this era before TV, most territories had huge stars that ruled their areas and maybe toured and did money in a few key cities. On the other hand, there was Ed “The Strangler” Lewis. A huge star around the world. His name was among the most recognizable of all celebrities, even many of the top movie stars of the day. He was the top guy, the perennial champion in the eyes of most fans even though there were several people who claimed to be “World Champion”. Robert Herman Julius Friedrich in Wisconsin, he was a smart kid who was born big and loved playing sports and reading and doing the whole Wisconsin church thing. He came across one of those physical culture books that were catching fire at the time, this one written by Evan “The Strangler” Lewis. He instantly fell in love with wrestling and by the age of 14 he had already had his first match. He was already 200 lbs by this point, and won the match. He wrestled under the name Ed Lewis as a tribute to the great champion of the previous generation and to hide the fact he was wrestling from his family. Oddly, he apparently didn’t pick up “The Strangler” portion of his name until two years later, which is odd considering that was the nickname of Evan Lewis back at the turn of the century. From his first match in 1904 to his first meeting with the legendary Joe Stecher in 1916, Lewis faced hundreds of opponents, and his record was likely 80% wins. This was in a time when there were still legitimate contests on the lower levels, but most of these were likely works. His match with Stecher was a five and a half hour draw. He was a big star by this point throughout the mid-west, but with that match, he was gaining greater attention. In 1920, the match was put together where Lewis would win his first World Title. Lewis holding the world title for much of the 1920s is most significant for his positioning in history. As he was a world-wide star, he needed the belt, but he was also the type of guy you couldn’t shoot on and beat. He was the most powerful and best trained wrestler in the world, but he also knew when to do business. He was double-crossed out of the title at least twice in his career, but those were cunning plans with crooked refs and various others distractions. He held the belt most of the time though 1932, when he dropped the belt to Gus Sonnenberg, the inventor of the flying tackle who was an exfootballer and many consider the father of showmanship wrestling. Lewis’ most famous move was the headlock. While it’s hard to imagine wrestling without the headlock, and even more so, wrestling where the headlock is a finisher, but The Strangler was known for his headlock above all else. He would actually carry a wooden head around that had a spring in the middle that he would squeeze, saying that it
increased the strength of his grip. It was likely just showmanship, but the move was over crazy from that point forward. He retired from the ring in the 1930s, claiming that he didn’t like the new “slambang” style that had evolved. He wrestled once and a while until the late 40s, when he had to hang ‘em up for health reasons. It also didn’t help that his name wasn’t drawing anymore. He claimed to have wrestling 6,200 match and lost 33. These numbers are obviously wrong, though the number of matches may be close, within a couple of thousand or so. In his later years, Lewis retired, trained a few fighters, allowed his old belt to be used as the “genuine” belt for various federations. He eventually went blind due to trachoma, a disease that wrestlers got in the old days from working on the filthy ring mats that toured from town to town. He had also squandered all his money away, but was a popular man with his friends from the olden days and was comfortable up until his death in 1966. That’s all for today. On Friday, I’m gonna do a little Road Warrioring with the tale of the scaffold match.
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