Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: The West Hollywood Blondes

The West Hollywood Blondes – WCW, 1999

History
It all started off so calmly. It was the June 21st Nitro when we saw our old pal Lenny Lane backstage. No, he wasn’t listening to Chris Jericho’s Loverboy tapes – he was trying to decide what tights he wanted to wear that night: purple or yellow. Then Lodi (formerly of Raven’s Flock) walked up and commented that he loved the purple. Then Lodi started giving Lenny a backrub, and Lenny mentioned how Lodi had great thumbs.

Speaking of great thumbs, you’ve got to have them to have a great Tongon Death Grip. And that’s what Lenny experienced when he took on Meng later in the night. After Meng released him, Lodi slid into the ring and began rubbing him; I guess to help him recover or something.

The next week we saw the two pals painting their fingernails purple backstage. Lenny was concerned about what WCW would do when they found out about them, and Lodi just reassured him that everything would be okay. A backrub then convinced Lenny that everything would be fine.

Eddie Guerrero took on Lodi next. After Eddie hit a brainbuster, he climbed up top to prepare for the frog splash. Lenny slid in to try to save his pal, even going so far as to lie down on top of him. Eddie splashed them both for the three, and then cleared out as Lenny and Lodi lay there.

On the next Nitro, Lenny had a present. Lodi had given him a new pair of wrestling tights, because he knew all of Lenny’s measurements. Lenny loved them, because they were his favorite colors. WCW then showed their trademark subtlety by showing us the door behind them, which was helpfully labeled “Closet.”

Lodi then took on Van Hammer. Despite some helpful slaps and cheating from Lenny, Lodi was unable to overcome Hammer’s offense.

From there, we reached a history-making event. On the first ever episode of Thunder, Lenny was facing Eddie Guerrero. Outside, Lodi had a sign urging to bring back Boy George. Anyway, Eddie was attacked by the masked luchadores (after he had made them unmask earlier) and Lenny was able to score the win. Lenny and Lodi celebrated by hip bumping.

On Saturday Night, Lenny and Lodi teamed for the first time to take on Evan Karagias and Kaz Hayashi. The match was going well for Lenny and Lodi until Lodi accidentally got hit by Lane, which allowed Evan to tag out. Kaz quickly pinned Lodi for the win.

Lenny and Lodi vanished for a week, and then reappeared on Nitro. We caught up with our heroes backstage as they met with JJ Dillon. Dillon informed them that their contracts were coming up, and noted that they had been signed incorrectly. Dillon then dropped the bombshell that the two were brothers and had them re-sign.

Next, we saw Lodi taking on Norman Smiley. After a quick hug between Lenny and Lodi, the match was on. Unfortunately, Smiley hit the Norman Conquest and rolled Lodi up for the win.

We then went to a historic Thunder, which is notable as the first show after Chris Jericho’s last WCW match. Anyway, we opened up as the guys argued over their bad luck recently. Later, they were hiding as Sid walked by. After discussing what a monster he was, they decided to ask Jimmy Hart for advice on their match with Sid later that night. Jimmy’s advice? Have a doctor at ringside.

The match went pretty much as expected. Powerbomb for Lodi. Powerbomb for Lane. Then Lenny (face down) crawled on top of Lodi (who was face up and lying the other way). Sid just put a foot on top of the pile for the three count.

Lenny and Lodi disappeared again after that to recover, but were back in action on the September 2 Nitro. This time, Lenny was taking on Ernest Miller. Lodi came out with a sign that read, “When Lenny and Lodi are in town, somebody’s going down.” After a vicious trick by Ernest Miller (luring Lenny and Lodi into the ring by promising to tell them where he got his pink slippers and then slamming their heads together), Miller was finally able to hit the Feliner and put Lenny away.

Things went really downhill on Thunder. Lenny and Lodi were tagging together, and came out sharing each other’s lollipops. Lenny even had his hair in pigtails. Of course, they were facing BA and Swoll from the No Limit Soldiers (a failed attempt to get some publicity by bringing in Master P). Of course, the match went to the Soldiers in a total squash.

On Nitro on the 16th (after another disappearance), Lenny was taking on Rey Mysterio Jr. Lenny gained a quick advantage as Rey got a waistlock on him, so Lenny started wiggling, forcing Rey to release him instantly. They were getting a good match going, but Sid was on a rampage, so he came out and obliterated them both before lumbering out again.

Lenny got a rematch against Rey for the cruiserweight title on Thunder. After a hard fought match, which involved Lodi being sent to the back (and sneaking back out), Lenny was able to win the match and become the new cruiserweight champion.

On Worldwide, Lodi took on Johnny Swinger. Lodi pulled out the win after Swinger went for a suplex and Lenny tripped him. On a plus note – this contained the Dusty Line of the Night. The No Limit Soldiers ran around yelling Hooty Hoo as their battle cry. When Lodi got crotched on the turnbuckle, Dusty said, “That’ll make you holla hiney ho!” Line of the Night.

On the 23rd’s Nitro, Lenny defended his cruiserweight belt against Juventud Guerrera. The crowd was really into this one, with chants like “You are gay” and “Faggot.” Keep that in the back of your mind as it will come back into play. The match ended when Sid showed up, powerbombed Lenny, Lodi, and Juvi, and then started rambling on the microphone.

On Worldwide, Lenny defeated Scott Armstrong. Nothing else to really say.

The following Monday, Lodi was taking on Kaz Hayashi. Lenny, of course, accompanied Lodi to the ring and we discovered that he had added tassels and a big purple bow to the cruiserweight belt. Lenny then gave Lodi a back rub while checking out Kaz, which freaked Kaz out. Kaz wound up winning the match, and then Lenny and Lodi attacked and left him laying.

Lenny defended his cruiserweight title against Kidman on Thunder, with Kaz Hayashi facing the winner at Fall Brawl. Lenny retained when Lodi interfered to save him from the Shooting Star Press.

Lenny and Lodi teamed again on Worldwide, this time taking on Disorderly Conduct. The match ended when Lenny got the pin on Mean Mike.

Lodi started off Nitro by taking on Evan Karagias. Lodi got the win when Vampiro and the Dead Pool showed up to distract Karagias.

Lodi then worked again on Thunder, taking on Kaz Hayashi this time. Special note – the cruiserweight title’s bow was now pink. Kaz won after a miscommunication by Lenny and Lodi, then rolled away as Lenny kept trying to drop elbows on him.

That brought us to the 1999 Fall Brawl. Kaz was taking on Lenny for the cruiserweight title. Lenny finally hit a full face slam and got the three.

The next night, Lenny and Lodi teamed to take on the Insane Clown Posse. Finally Lenny and Lodi were able to get their momentum back by stopping an irish whip by hugging each other. Well, that’s new. Anyway, the match ended when Lodi missed a top rope move, and Shaggy 2 Dope rolled him up for the win.

On Nitro, Lenny was defending his cruiserweight title against Shaggy 2 Dope. Shaggy was prepared. He’d listened to Vampiro’s advice to prepare for the match – things like “Don’t worry if they grab you down there for a bodyslam and it feels funny,” and “Don’t let them get at your rear end.” Unfortunately the advice should have been, “Keep an eye on Lodi,” because Lenny shoved Shaggy into Lodi (who was on the apron) and then rolled him up to again successfully defend the belt.

Thunder opened with Lodi taking on Kidman. This match was noticeable because WCW had finally begun calling Lenny and Lodi the West Hollywood Blondes. Unfortunately, Eddie Guerrero came out of the back to counter Lenny’s interference, and Kidman picked up the win.

Later in the night, Lenny defended his cruiserweight belt against Evan Karagias. Lodi was at ringside with a sign that read “Lenny is hard to beat!” to cheer on his partner. After catapulting Evan into Lodi (who was again on the apron), Lenny hit a full-nelson legsweep for the win.

Lenny was back in action on Saturday Night, this time defending against former Lita love interest (but who isn’t?) El Dandy. El Dandy proved his rudo-ness by waiting until Lodi was giving Lenny a hug and kicking him in the butt. Lodi got involved, and the two of them were able to teach El Dandy a lesson about jumping people from behind. Lenny once again retained.

And that was the end of the angle. While the team was getting over with the fans, Time-Warner was feeling the pressure. Organizations such as GLAAD were furious about the crowd’s responses and leaned on Time Warner. As a matter of fact, Lodi said in a 2004 interview with Lords of Pain that GLAAD had informed Time Warner that they would prefer for an established wrestler to come out of the closet! They would get their wish (sort of) with the Billy & Chuck tag team, and would wind up with egg on their faces over that incident.

In addition, I believe I remember reading an old interview where Lenny Lane described what happened the night of October 3rd. He was told to give an agent the cruiserweight belt (it was given to Psicosis, who was announced as winning the title at a house show). He was also warned that GLAAD was watching very carefully and were prepared to shut the show down, probably referring to a threatened boycott.

Whatever happened backstage, the end result was the same. Lenny and Lodi were off TV. At least until Vince Russo showed up…

Analysis
The success of the West Hollywood Blondes is surprising. Although Vince McMahon had succeeded with getting outrageous WWF characters over (with the originally-ambiguous Goldust at the top of the list), WCW had always been tamer with their storylines.

Something else interesting is the fact that Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo were used in a similar manner by the 2001 WWF. This angle where the two tag team partners (and their flamboyant manager Rico) eventually planned a civil ceremony met with GLAAD’s full approval. A GLAAD representative even appeared on the Today show the day the “wedding” would be aired and presented them with a gift. (Remember, I said the day the show would be aired. Smackdown is taped on Tuesdays, and aired on Thursdays.) That night, to the surprise of no wrestling fans, the wedding was revealed as a publicity stunt by Billy and Chuck, who were then attacked by Three Minute Warning and Eric Bischoff as Rico defected to Raw.

This illustrates one of the most inherent dangers of the whole “gay” angle. Wrestlers such as Exotic Adrian Street successfully made a career out of it. The problem comes when the promoter tries to take it too far. Back during the Too Much days, Vince McMahon had reportedly wanted Scott Taylor and Brian Christopher to get “married” at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view in February of 1999. This angle was thankfully squashed (reportedly by Christopher’s father, Jerry Lawler), who acknowledged that 1) this would destroy both men’s careers, and 2)doing this in Memphis Tennessee (where the pay-per-view occurred) could likely result in a riot.

Overall, the Blondes did the best they could with what they were given, and much like Matt Hardy’s V.1 gimmick, succeeded in getting themselves over despite little support from WCW. However, WCW should receive credit for the bold move of putting the cruiserweight belt on Lenny, as well as the fact that they had reportedly planned to move the tag belts from Harlem Heat to Lenny and Lodi at the Halloween Havoc pay-per-view. Still, in the end, WCW could not resist the wishes of their parent company, and the angle was killed.

Where are they now?

Lenny Lane left WCW before the company closed and wound up appearing in TNA at their startup as part of the Rainbow Connection with Bruce (a renamed Allen Funk). His website can be found at http://www.lennylane.com .

Lodi also left WCW before the company’s close. He was signed to appear in TNA as well as Lenny, but was unable to due to having severe neck surgery. He has since returned to action on the independent scene. His website is http://www.lodirulz.com .

Next week
The first version of the World’s Largest Lover…

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