Saturday Evening Post 11.01.03

Archive

Hello, I’m Flea and here is the Saturday Evening Post. Let’s get right to
it…

TOP STORY

I just watched the BloodBatch Greatest Steel Cage Matches DVD and it, for
sure, Has The Flea Seal Of Approval. A couple of things that I want to address
an then I’ll do a brief run down of matches with an even more brief synopses.
The words of a recap, no matter how good it is, pales in comparison to what your
own eyeballs are seeing. There is no better example of the old saying " a
picture is worth a thousand words" than a Classic wrestling match,
especially one inside an unforgiving steel cage and a copious amount of blood,
just for the entertainment value. That doesn’t mean that everyone should go out
and start making wrestling themed cartoons…too late. Fangol. But I do want to
type about a couple of issues that I foresee becoming the "hot button"
items as we finally get our wish – we get to see the classic matches in a
format that isn’t a second hand copy of a third rate dubbing, bought from an
online source that would be better off running in front of a bus than have
Popeye shatter their kneecaps via a lead pipe filled with cement. So God Bless
Vince McMahon for giving the viewing public what they want…

The first item of discussion is "this stuff sucks, why do they have to
cut the matches and ‘Join in Progress’!!". Good Lord, Vince, this is the
shit you have to deal with to separate these low budget marks from their hard
earned (ha!) money. Of course they are matches Joined In Progress! Do you really
want to have precious DVD time wasted on lame entrances and Howard Finkel
explaining the rules for the benefit of those that couldn’t figure it out for
themselves? Or an over melodramatic post match celebration from a bunch of Old
School Fruits? There is only one, I repeat ONE match, cage or otherwise, that I
like from entrance to exit…Undertaker vs. Mankind Hell in A Cell. Cactus
climbs the cage while Jim Ross tells of an ear missing and a limp and then BOOM!
As Mick says, a "Six  Foot Ten Inch John Wayne" enters the
building, only to forego lighting the turnbuckles on fire in lieu of ascending
the cage his own damn dead self. You know the middle part. End of Match, Cactus
tells the chumps with the stretcher to go f*ck themselves and is escorted to the
back by a tear-filled Terry Funk and Francois Petite, who wonders, almost in a
state of shock how he will put Humpty Foley back together again…

Now then. Who can top that? It sure as hell ain’t Bret Hart and Issac Yankem.
And the HIAC ain’t even that good of a match. Bret / Owen, Bruno / Koloff and
the first Hell in a Cell match are much better for wrestling / stiff ass kicking
content, but from top to bottom, I’ll take the Drama of Hell in a Cell Pt 2.

So quit whining about the matches being clipped – it’s for your own good.
Which segues quite rightly into my next topic – THIS is the Future of Wrestling.
"THIS" being DVD compilations. It’s not John Cena, it’s not Kurt
Angle, it’s not Rob Conway, it’s not AJ Styles, Chris Sabin or Frankie Kazarian…would
you like me to keep going? The best things in wrestling have already happened
and the future is Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment bringing a
high definition, state of the art, digitally restored Wrestling DVD to your
doorstep for the Average Retail Value of around $20. Wrestling will still exist,
of course, but the House Show and PPV dollars will pale in comparison to DVD
sales and rentals, most likely released 2-3 at a time quarterly, with the heavy
hitters coming just in time for the Christmas Season. You do know that Vince
owns just about every piece of televised wrestling history for the last 30
years, right? And it’s history that is already classic, due to tales of lore and
rewrites of history, as most people have only read revues of said classic
matches, but have never been able to view…whoa…I already got into this
above. Point being that the future of wrestling is the past and what is going to
"draw money" today had already "drawn money" a decade or two
before Hogan claimed to have invented putting asses in the seats.

I have said this before, but it bears repeating – the high water mark for
Professional Wrestling / Sports Entertainment was Over The Edge 1999, the day
Owen Hart died…that was the day that every mark and smark and casual viewer
was shown that It Ain’t Fake. Shane Douglas can run his mouth about
"shoots" and Kevin Nash can make all the clever inside jokes he wants,
but a guy dropping 60 feet to his death on Live TV and The Announcers can only
say "Folks, This isn’t part of the show" kind of burns down the
Curtain, don’t you think? Since that time, Vince McMahon has won "The
War", casual viewer ship has dropped, creative staffs seem to be at a loss
to maintain any kind of coherency and the wrestlers are trying to trump history
with more dangerous High Spots and more "creative" maneuvers, most of
which have a long term payoff of a visit to Birmingham, with a year off from work as a bonus.
It’s all the means to an end, as wrestling will never again reach the heights of
the late 90’s, which is why Vince and WWE should be supported with your
"hard earned money" as they bring to us a product that can never be
duplicated – the history of Professional Wrestling before the Cat was let out
the Bag.   

Here’s how the matches shape up…

Bruno Sammartino vs. Ivan Koloff (1975) – beautiful, brutal match. Koloff was
better than most people give him credit for and Bruno was just absolutely
believable. 

Bob Backlund vs. Pat Patterson (1979) – another good one, as most people only
know Patterson from his days as a stooge. He was a brilliant, innovative
wrestler, even though this match took place in the later stages of his career.
Backlund, as always, is awesome.   

Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko (1980) – More Bruno – fine by me. Larry Z
was another talent that is more remembered for his ridiculous television
behavior than his wrestling ability. Goddamn, the old stuff is good.

Bob Backlund vs. Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka (1980) – 1st time didn’t
work out to well for Superfly – he missed the splash. I originally saw this
match on a rental tape when I was about 12. 21 years later and I still get
chills hearing the crowd go apeshit like that. This match prompted me to arrange what will be described to you, the reader, later, on Page
Six.   

Bob Backlund vs. Stan Hansen (1981) – Wanna get heel heat in MSG? Be a Big
Dumb Redneck. I’ve loved Hansen for years and this match was top of the list for me
reason of purchase. Not that I wouldn’t have anyway, but I would have bitched if they
hadn’t included it. This is a fight! And a good one.    

Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka vs. Don Muraco (1983) – 2nd time’s a charm.
Snuka, knowing that a very impressionable Mick Foley was in the audience (how
can you miss the afro and red flannel) makes good on the splash from the top –
even though Muraco had long since won the match. Again, all this MSG stuff
caused me to make a few calls and…Page Six, I’ll tell you. Also included
in is the Snuka promo leading up to the match, performed the way only Superfly
can, complete with chair throwing and screaming! Watch in amazement as young,
blue sportscoat attired Vince attempts to maintain control of the madman, but
not really fearing for his life like Lance Russell or Gordon Solie would…but
then again, neither of them had to cover up a murder for the guy, so, I guess
from Vince’s point of view, chair throwing and yelling is small
potatoes.      

Magnum T.A. vs. Tully Blanchard (1985) – classic, classic, classic. The bitch
of this is that the Writing Staff and Coach (who narrates) have no clue how to
properly build anything that 1) ain’t WWF or 2) ain’t newer than 1995. This, my
friends, blows away most of the standard Cage Match brutality and puts to shame any of
this modern day highspot cage bullshit. Violence the way it should be, including
a marvelous Television Promo by Magnum to set it up. See, back then they made
you care. But that’s only because we were suckers. Must see
match.      

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes (1986) – Dusty moved
very well back in the old days and the psychology between these two is worth the
price of admission. Not a "great" match by any means, but the
interaction between Naicth and Dusty will get you suspending disbelief faster
than you can mark out.  

Rock & Roll Express vs. Ole & Arn Anderson (1986) – THIS is how tag
teams should wrestle inside a cage. The crowd is almost in tears as The
Minnesota Wrestling Crew makes mincemeat out of Ricky Morton…f*cking A, how
tough is it to have a brutal, amazing cage match like this? On the surface it
seems simple – They don’t like each other, the good guys throw the bad guys
around a little, the bad guys take the advantage, good guys make a comeback,
blood everywhere, bodies flying into steel mesh…is it really necessary to jump
off the top of the cage? Nope, I like violence and intensity – this one is
good.   

Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff (1987) – horseshit

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. Ron Garvin (1987) – decent, but not
all that great. Flair’s promo for the match was better than the match itself. I
imagine they are saving the better Flair stuff for his DVD. 

"The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty (1993) –
This ain’t bad, but it’s two years prior to HBK being brilliant and about two
years after Marty decided to become a has-been. This could have easily been
replaced by another NWA match. 

Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. "The Rocket" Owen Hart (1995) –
another classic, but not in the same style as Tully / TA. Bret and Owen were
always so good together because they trusted each other to get stiff – much like
Flair and Steamboat. With Tully and Magnum (or Backlund / Hansen), the fun of
the match is sitting on the edge of the chair waiting for something to go wrong
and one of them to start shooting. Moreso in the Backlund match, as Hansen was a
notoriously stiff worker, the kind that hurts you, but good. But Backlund could
f*ck anyone up, at least that’s what the toughest of the tough say. As much as
he looked like someone you could mug and then make cry, he would knock you dick
in the dirt. If you haven’t seen Owen / Bret, another reason to buy this disc…     

Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Isaac Yankem (Kane) (1995) – someone has a
sense of humor and I hate funny. 

Triple H vs. Mankind (1997) – One of my favorites. For someone who claims to
"as a general rule, suck in a cage", Cactus puts on some awful good
matches. Case in point – after taking a cranium crushing cage door shot to the
head, Mick recovers and eventually has the choice of winning the match right
then and there, or granting the fans wish, as they loudly chant "SUPERFLY".
As always, Cactus chooses to give the fans their money’s worth – drop the mask,
ascend to the top of the cage and drop a brutally stiff elbow that almost ends 5
years of IWC bitching before it even gets started. Yet another must see match.

Triple H vs. Rock (1999) – this one is okay, but pales in comparison to
the*  really *  good stuff on the DVD.  Both guys were coming
into their own as performers and work the "modern day style" well, but
they give you no reason to believe that someone will not walk out of their
alive.   

Vince McMahon vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (1999) – Classic, but
not in the same way as the others. This was supposed to be the "blowoff"
match, before they decided to beat the dead horse into the ground. WATCH in
amazement as Vince yells "Foley is a PUSSY" before dropping 15ft to
the Spanish Announce Table. Brilliant psychology, and BLOOD, with the Giant
ending being the only thing wrong.      

Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz (2000) – "okay" match, but
not my cup of tea. As you can probably tell by now, I like brutality over
acrobatic antics eight days a week. But if you need someone to have match like
this, call these four. All four revolutionized the highspot form of cage
matches, so if you like it, I can’t  say I blame you. I would rather see a
broken piece of chair to the eye.  

Kurt Angle vs. "The Crippler" Chris Benoit (2001) – match best
known for a missed top of the cage headbutt and a missed moonsault. I just,
literally, watched the match 15 minutes ago and that’s all I remember. Hardly
my definition of a classic, but to each his own.

Edge vs. Kurt Angle (2002) – not even sure why this is included. 

All in all, a top notch product and well worth the money. My only complaint
is the NWA matches and angles getting short shrift while Lawler acts like his
Dentist’s Championship Match is the most important in history. Missing off the
disc is the legendary "Last Battle of Atlanta" between Tommy Rich and
Buzz Sawyer, which may or may not have been filmed. IWC Urban Legend says there
is a tape floating around somewhere, but I ain’t seen it. I imagine if WWE had
it, it would have been included. But god forbid they would bump the Hogan match
to include it. And it’s nice to see cage matches the way they should be, before
everyone and the owner’s son decided that what we needed was more flying and
less punching. That’s just the way it is. The DVD machine should start rolling,
as next available will be the Flair retrospective – they damn sure wouldn’t dare
do a hatchet job on it – the fans wouldn’t stand for it.  

HEADLINES

When asked about the McMahon overload on WWE TV…Konnan thinks it’s
because of WWE profits being down, “What’s the first thing Vince did? Got
back on TV and paid himself as an on-air talent.” And that using Stephanie and
Shane, is “one less wrestler he has to pay..one less headache.” 

 – Konnan in an interview for Get in the Ring Radio, last week.

From the reports we got on last night’s house shows, they both drew in
the area of 2,000 paid, or less, and in the area of a $40,000 house. That
isn’t good for WWE no matter how anyone tries to justify it. Most house shows
continue to do bad business, and everyone in the company is aware of it,
especially the wrestlers, many of whom have seen their bonuses from the
non-televised events go lower and lower over the last year.

 – Dave Scherer, 1wrestling.com, earlier this week

Man, that’s creepy. Especially after reading WWE Financials and seeing that
Vince paid himself nearly ONE MILLION DOLLARS for being an "on-air
talent", which rules out anyone who was thinking "Fuck Konnan! He’s
just bitter and talking out his ass!". Konnan hit the nail on the head
and  Scherer
adds the hard, cold facts – numbers don’t lie. Vince literally stole that money
from the wrestlers and lined his already deep pockets with money soaked in
Blood, Sweat and Frequent Flyer Miles from people that he would that are simply
trying to live out their dreams. 

And that’s when I realized that Vince is 100% correct. He provides the means,
handles the overhead, the merchandising, the day to day fights from the angry
malcontents whose sole purpose in life is to pour the grease on the slide and
send Vince and his type straight to hell. Basically, all the wrestlers have to
do is show up on time in a reasonably coherent state of mind and in semi-healthy
physical shape and lace up the boots. Vince is taking all the risks and each and
everyone of the employees at WWE should be grateful. They are given the platform
to perfect their craft in front of an audience, which is the ultimate goal of
any artist – an "artist" being anyone who has the stage to live out their
dreams and hone their talents to a reasonable degree of perfection. If they are
unhappy or bitter, there is plenty of work elsewhere…and if they are
passionate enough and talented enough, they can make it anywhere. There should
be no bitterness or hostility towards someone who has given these artists an
opportunity to fulfill the dream, to perfect the craft and to hone the talent,
even if it is for a low pay / no pay at all. Basically, it does no good to be a
whining little cunt about things – all that proves is you were not serious about
the pursuit of your dream and are ungrateful for having being given an arena in
which you could develop your talents. Bottom line – when you expose your * true
* self as a greedy bastard instead of an artist out to fulfill their dreams, no
matter what the cost, the people who may have been there for you will not
be…loneliness and bitterness are the two signs of anyone who has failed
miserably, but that’s how it is…Only the strong survive and if someone is not
willing to make a sacrifice to turn their dreams into a reality , then they just
might as well give up…and get lost.

DAVE’S NOT HERE

I had planned to include a recap of Dave Scherer’s 1wrestling.com’s Weekly
Premium Hotline – it is always good for a listen.  But I got stopped dead
in my tracks at the climax of Dave’s thoughts on the recent ratings. Basically,
Scherer pointed out that the quarterly ratings tanked, which is a story for
another time that I had planned to do NOW, but this right here almost made me
sober…       

"…so basically, like I wrote yesterday, and I have been waiting a
little while to use that analogy, because it’s really perfect, quite frankly,
and I talked to a number of people in WWE after they read my column yesterday
that said ‘You’re right on the head with that…you hit that nail SQUARE on
the head and drove it into the wood’ when I said ‘Vince is like Nero, in Rome,
playing his violin as the city burns around him and that’s the problem right
now’…"

Well Goddamn. Yes, that is a good analogy, but it floored me when Dave not only
used it in his column, which is fine, but he goes on to CROW about it, even
bragging about the fact that "the boys" are reading and care. HI-AintIGreat
getting down with Tammy and Mrs. Trish Hyatte is one thing, but at least he’s
not saying that they are fingering themselves over his analogies. Well, he
doesn’t say
that in print anyway. Pont here is, for all of Dave’s crowing and for as much as
"the boys" are congratulating him over his recent stroke of his
genius, he should have given credit where credit is due…

Not sure if you noticed…

RYDER: NERO DID A
BETTER JOB WHILE ROME BURNED  

by Bob Ryder

11/9/2001 2:11:00 PM  

The rapid self destruction of the
World Wrestling Federation has been breathtaking to watch, and the worst may
be yet to come.

The WWF has been sent reeling with
declining ratings, and plummeting revenue caused by diminishing attendance and
PPV buys.

In what some are already calling
"Black Thursday", the WWF axed 39 office staffers…including
President & COO Stu Snyder.  In a statement issued by the WWF, Linda
McMahon said "We thank Stu for his efforts, and wish him well in his
future endeavors". 

The WWF is trying to spin this as a
"restructuring to enhance operating efficiencies", but the timing of
these drastic layoffs is likely designed to soften the blow for the earnings
report expected to be released on November 21.

As Dave Scherer pointed out in a
Newsline item, rumors are circulating that Viacom may at some point want to
revamp their agreement with the WWF because of lower than expected
ratings.  A bigger immediate problem financially is the probable
"make goods" that will be necessary because ratings promised to
advertisers fell short of guarantees.

Take a look at events of the last 18
months.  The WWF abandoned a relationship with the USA Network, a company
that understood the wrestling business and that had stuck with the WWF through
down times in the past; Millions of dollars were wasted on a fumbled attempt
at launching a new football league; Vince McMahon bought his competition and
continued trying to kill it even after he owned it; WWF programming became a
showcase for members of the McMahon family;  The behind the scenes
creative process was placed in the inexperienced hands of Stephanie McMahon;
The WWF played and lost an expensive game of chicken with DirecTV, and is
losing millions in the process.

Through it all, nothing has been done
to stop the free fall that resulted in the mass layoffs yesterday.

Nero did a better job while Rome
burned. 

Something has to be done, and it has
to happen fast.  This isn’t a wrestling storyline…it’s serious
business.  The WWF is in trouble, and they need some strong leadership
from Vince McMahon.  The layoffs were probably necessary…but that’s not
the solution.  Vince McMahon needs to get control of this situation and
needs to do it today.  Not tomorrow, not next month, not after
Wrestlemania….TODAY. 

Vince should do two things
immediately.  First, he should reach out to people totally unconnected
with his company and ask them for their thoughts on what is wrong and what
should be done to correct the problem from a storyline standpoint.  He
doesn’t necessarily have to follow their advice, but just giving it honest
consideration would be a step in the right direction.  Traditionally,
Vince has surrounded himself by "yes men" who tell their boss what
they think he wants to hear.  Advice from "yes men" is the
worst possible kind of advice in a time of crisis.

Secondly, he needs to realize he’s in
the wrestling business.  He’s spent so much time in the last 10 years
trying to downplay the word "wrestling" that in the process he has
helped make it a dirty word again.  In the 80’s, Vince McMahon made it
acceptable to be a wrestling fan.  He made it "hip" to talk
about wrestling at school or at the office.  He’s spent the last 10 years
trying to make "Sports Entertainment" a part of everyday
vocabulary.  To steal a line from Jim Carville….IT’S WRESTLING STUPID!

I don’t know what Vince McMahon plans
to do to turn things around.  Hopefully he’ll take whatever steps need to
be taken to shake things up enough to make a difference. 

Maybe he won’t do anything at
all.  If that’s his choice, I hope he finds himself a nice fiddle. 
It worked for Nero.

Yes, folks, it all revolves around BOB and the sooner you realize that, the
better.

THE HIGH(8)SPOT

After much deliberation, I have decided to include a new section in the
Saturday Evening Post. You see, there is only one person to blame for me being
here, besides myself for not being able to say no to BOSS, and that’s You Know
Who. Much to my dismay (although I has suspected, even accused for quite some
time now), the Ignorant Coc….The Paranoid Hooligan doesn’t even bother to
read. Sure, I get the hits, but from there it’s a Word Search for himself. I was
going to f*ck around, but I’ll just make it easy – new section created. As with
anything new, the origins must be dutifully explained, so people do not think
that Flea Paranoia came from whatever empty bottle managed to be in the way of
the pipe at that time…so here you go!      

Hyatte1com: I doubt they are wholly Christian, Jesus Loving soldiers

Hyatte1com: but who knows

Ryder Fakin: [edited] would probably give you head

Ryder Fakin: Visually, I’m scared shitless of Batista, but I’d rather take a beatdown than a AA tire iron across the kneecap or skull. That’s why Arn ruled, despite his lack of supposedly necessary size for the Enforcer gimmick. He would f*ck you up all sneaky like and then gloat about it, while you pondered how to stop the bleeding or if limping to the hospital is really how you wanted to spend your Saturday Night.

Hyatte1com: who was that?

Ryder Fakin: guess

Hyatte1com: please don’t be quoting Scooter to me… because I’m not above blocking you for a night or two

Ryder Fakin: FLEA – in the column you didn;t read

Hyatte1com: I read it 4 days ago… 

Hyatte1com: you ain’t that poetic

Ryder Fakin:  I ain’t?

Ryder Fakin: just word search for Arn…no sense it reading the rest of it either

Hyatte1com: ahhh shaddup

  Tune in next week for jokes that won’t be sold! There’s your
High(8)Spot! Hyuck!

ROLL THE DICE

Depending on your point of view, RAW may have been the better show this week,
as it actually contained wrestling content, as opposed to Smackdown, which emphasized
talking and backstage segments over matches. It should be obvious to anyone who
has watched for any length of time that Vince is not convinced that the
wrestlers can "get a match over in the ring", although it was nice
when they had the run of 15-20 minute tag matches in the middle of the show and
another 20 minute contest as the Main Event. So, hence the need for an
overabundance of backstage segments, some of which worked, some didn’t.
Personally, I’ll take a Paul Heyman or Eddie promo over that self indulgent
bullshit that was Test vs. Shane. "C’MON KANE!!" said Test, showing of
his finely tuned emotional acting skills and wondering why The Creative Staff
will book him and his broke foot in a 15 minute Hardcore Match but won’t book
him on the PPV, where he could make some money. Oh well…see the ramblings on
that above. 

PAGE SIX

As alluded to in the Steel Cage match section, watching the DVD made me
curious enough to make a few phone calls and track down what I think is a very
interesting Point of View – someone who was actually THERE during the WWF’s
Madison Square Garden heyday. I was watching, scanning the crowd and thought
"Damn, these people are MARKS! Lookit how they go nuts for Backlund and
Bruno! I wonder what they think of the current product?". So, I got on the
horn and started asking my friends in NYC if they had a Father or Uncle, etc.
who religiously followed wrestling and want to bullshit about the Way Things
Were. A Three Hour conversation later and I have what I want…Coming next week
will be a transcription of the wrestling portion of the phone call, which I
think you’ll enjoy. It’s a brutally honest opinionated look at wrestling from an
old Italian who finds it hilarious that people actually GO ON THEIR COMPUTERS to
discuss wrestling, among other things. "Wasn’t computers supposed to be for
the f*ckin scientists?". So come back next week…

In the meantime, don’t forget to visit 1ryderfakin.com. I’ll have some
updates during the week and COMING SOON – a sneak preview of what is sure to be
another IWC Classic – The Taking of Triple H. I don’t know how soon
"soon" is, because you can’t rush genius…well, YOU can’t but I most
certainly can…CHOP! CHOP!

Thanks for reading, I’m Flea

FLEA – WWW.1RYDERFAKIN.COM

FLEA is an Inside Pulse Original in every sense of the word, from his unique style and viewpoint. You can send any feedback to ryderfakin@yahoo.com, or just type it the comment box below. also but follow FLEA on Twitter @ryderfakin.