Welcome back to PWA. You send in the questions, I provide the answers. It so simple that Courtney Love was heard to remark “Oh, I get it!”
I’m skimping on the introductory spiel this week due to an appalling lack of time. But let’s skim over the headlines just for the hell of it…
Randy Orton trashes hotel room, gets sent home from European tour. I hope that “trashing” is code for “taking a dump on the floor”. Young Randy seems to have an unhealthy fascination with #2s. Perhaps Undertaker should start potty-training him. Perhaps WWE should take the f*cking hint and fire him already. But should I start referring to him as Take A Shit Guy or stick to the Head Lock Kid?
Austin Aries acts like an asshole, gets suspended for 90 days by TNA. Who knew that wearing a ‘FIRE RUSSO’ T-shirt backstage could cause so much trouble?
Deep South Wrestling gets dumped by WWE, closes its doors. I’d imagine that Afa Jr, Ray Gordy, Mark Canterbury, Harry Smith, Nattie Neidhart, T.J. Wilson, Sonny Siaki, Cousin Ray and Tom Pritchard have little to worry about. The future could be a little more uncertain for the rest of them. It seems to be good news for Booker T’s conveniently new wrestling academy though. Good to know he has finally put his Voodoo Priest skills to use.
Mick Foley ignores my criticism of Hardcore Diaries, unsurprisingly, and may now be getting a reality TV show on which he gets to talk about himself. A lot. At length. Oh, goody.
Santino Marella adds himself to our ongoing list of people who have won titles in their debut matches, after nabbing the IC belt from Umaga in Milan last Monday. I’m sure you’ve all heard plenty about him by now but here are some info-nuggets anyway: His real name is Anthony Carelli. He was born in New York and is of Italian descent but was billed as a Russian in OVW. He first wrestled there as Johnny Geo Basco and played a pivotal role in Jim Cornette’s departure from the territory. Paul Heyman renamed him Boris Alexiev and gave him a shootfighter gimmick and a manager, Mr Strongko. WWE signed him to a proper developmental contract a few months later. He won the OVW TV Title twice earlier this year. He defeated Jamie Noble in a Smackdown dark match in February. His tattoos include a male lion on the back, kanji writing on the left arm and an angel on the right arm. He competed in judo tournaments when he was a teenager and worked MMA shows in Japan before heading to OVW. The Boogeyman is not coming to get him.
Grut has a Top Secret Super Duper Shiny Happy Fun Special Pulse Wrestling Feature in the works and is keeping us all busy with it. In fact, there are already two spin-off Top Secret Super Duper Shiny Happy Fun Special Pulse Wrestling Features being planned because of it. You will hear plenty about it in the weeks and months to come…
But if I’m to wrap this up and knock-off an article on British foreign policy in the latter half of the twentieth century before Doctor Who is on, I’d best get straight to the questions…
“1. The Undertaker has worked for McMahon for 17 years, and yet unlike
the likes of Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Hulk Hogan he has managed to
avoid falling out with Vince. How did hell has he managed to do this?
2. Which comic book writer would make the best wrestling booker?
3. There was a rumour that HHH was meant to win the UT/HHH match at
WM17 but the result was change due to HBK not being in a fit state to
take part in the angle that was going to cause Undertaker’ defeat. Is
this true or false?
4. Just watching Luger vs Pillman, and I have to ask…what the f*ck
happened to luger? He was f*cking good at one point.
5. How did the whole Shawn Michaels in Playgirl gig come about? Has
anybody else ever been tempted to do it, would seem to be a good
tactic to get some cheap heel heet.
6. C’mon man, tell us the truth. HHH is really The Master isn’t he?”
1. Well, for starters, The Undertaker gimmick is owned lock, stock and barrel by WWE. Had he been lured away to WCW or elsewhere in the ’90s then he would either have had to start wrestling as something like Mean Mark Callous again or get a character make-over similar enough to The Undertaker to appease the fans but different enough to avoid a lawsuit. True, he did manage to stay over as the American Bad Ass BikerTaker, but that was only after he had long since been established as a genuine icon. Still, he could easily have gone and earned huge money from Time-Warner but instead stuck with McMahon. Also, the gimimck put him in the enviable position of barely ever being asked to do a job, let alone sell during a match, which is usually a major bone of contention between promoters and top stars with inflated egos. That leads us to the next point, which is that Calaway does not seem to have anywhere near the level of egotism displayed by Austin, Foley or Hogan. He has shown no interest in crossing over into other entertainment industries. He just gets on with things in his admittedly surly way, including working King of the Ring ’98 with a broken foot and embarking on his current title reign whilst needing a hip replacement. That surly attitude, level-headed view of things and determination to work for this business above all others has also made him into a formidable locker-room influence. That’s “formidable” as in “a calming influence”, not “formidable” as in “trashing hotel rooms, crapping in gym bags and smoking a joint”. I’m sure everybody has heard the stories about Taker making sure Shawn Michaels didn’t f*ck up WrestleMania XIV and trying to right the wrongs of Survivor Series ’97. He demands respect and is renowned enough to get it. In the turbulent world of professional wrestling, having such a person on the books is beneficial to any promotion, regardless of how inane some of his unwritten rules might seem from the outside. Far better someone like him should be champion rather than the girly-fighting Batista and Booker T. So, we have the four essential Ls – Loyalty, Legacy, Leadership and Likability. On top of all that there is a character that can be temporarily written out and brought back with the greatest of ease and minimal damage to the fan’s perception of it. There was some backstage heat on him after the Dead Man returned, when people felt he had too much influence and sold even less than usual. That might flare up again in due course but it’s doubtful it would sour his relationship with management.
So, really, the answer is “By doing his job to the best of his abilities and being lucky enough to have an awesome gimmick.” It’s like the Anti-Boogeyman or something.
2. This is kinda similar to a question asked in my VS with Jacob York. Even though I find him the most over-rated comic book writer around nowadays, Mark Millar’s name springs to mind. His stories are built around “Holy Shit!” moments, have a simplistic structure, minimal yet often memorable dialogue and some pretty cool action scenes. He also has an unstated disdain for continuity, so he’d fit in perfectly.
By the way, I’m not saying Millar hasn’t written any good comics. If anybody reading this is planning to check out his work then start with The Ultimates, see if you can track down Superman: Red Son and delve in the cheap and cheery Superman Adventures. Just be careful about buying anything beyond those…
Other options include Keith Giffen, who would take over ECW and turn them into an irreverent bunch of wise-cracking wannabes led by an Oreo-addicted Bobby Lashley; Rob Liefeld, who would manage one PPV before postponing the rest for a couple of years; Garth Ennis, who would earn Raw an NC-17 rating and force numerous fans to learn the meaning of the word ‘scatological’ whilst earning a tidy profit from ‘Arseface’ T-shirt sales; Chris Claremont, who would somehow make Kitty Pryde the WWE Champion; Todd Macfarlane, who would do nothing but make the Jakks Pacific action figures a hell of a lot prettier; Alan Moore, who would begin introducing young OVW talent as various figures from Victorian literature; Grant Morrison, who would make RVD his own personal driver; Brian Michael Bendis, who would never get around to doing anything because he’d start a conversation with Mick Foley that would never actually end; Frank Miller, who would rely on cliches, homoeroticism and misogyny… oh.
Or, failing that, Raven.
3. I haven’t heard anything about the original ending to that match being changed. It wouldn’t surprise me, but then I think that was the year that people started to pay attention to Taker’s winning streak so I doubt they would ever have planned for him to lose the match. Then again, Michaels’ involvement could have caused Triple H the victory. Instead, his spot went to a sledgehammer. Oh, well. Michaels probably was meant to be involved somewhere or other. WrestleMania XVII was held about four hours drive away from San Antonio. Speaking to the WWF’s website in October 2000, Michaels said “I’m certainly healthier than I’ve been in three years. I feel better than I’ve felt in a very long time. I certainly have the desire to do it again. If all the circumstances were right, and a doctor felt like it was something I could try … everyone says you never say never. If all the circumstances are right, I certainly wouldn’t say no to [another match].” Jim Ross cryptically wrote “The Heartbreak Kid still has a lot of gas left in his tank from where I sit” in a Ross Report entry from December 2000. The WWF gave Michaels a new, long-term contract in February 2001, which led to nothing more than promotional appearances for a year or so. Then they got distracted by WCW and Michaels needed a bit longer to lose weight and build up his back muscles. Now it’s 2007 and he’s been WWE’s best performer so far this year.
4. I think after his motorcycle accident in 1992 it all went to suck. He never really caught on in the WWF, despite having a memorable debut, a good gimmick and the helpful assistance of Bobby Heenan, due to his lazy and selfish attitude. The Lex Express revamp of 1993 was doomed to fail from the get-go, with his failure to win the big one again adding to his image as a choketastic failure. That’s a whole lot of fail. By the time he wound up back in WCW in 1995 he clearly didn’t give a shit because, well, guaranteed big-buck contracts have that effect on people. $800,000 a year plus bonuses, by all accounts. I’m sure he might like to blame Flair, Rhodes, McMahon, Hogan, Hart, his elbow injury or the drugs but he should blame the man in the mirror instead. Or go beat on some woman, he seems to enjoy that.
5. I imagine it came about because they offered him some money, he was coked-up and thought “f*ck it” and then tried to get his ego laid off the back of the issue. Vito did it recently as well but WWE didn’t use it for anything, in stark contrast to the attention given to Plastic Ashley’s Playboy appearance. Michaels’ photos are here for those interested…
6. No, Triple H is just a Dalek who struck it lucky. The Master is actually Steve Lombardi. Just you wait and see…
“first I just want to say thanks for the answers and
your column continues to rule. Now, I think I’ve said
that Bret Hart is and will always be my favorite
wrestler and I think he’s the best. I’ve watched
Wrestling w/Shadows more than a few times, and after
watching it again recently I’ve got two questions.
1. At Summerslam 97, were the reactions by the guys
watching the monitors a real reaction? Pritchard went
“OH SH*T!!” Did they really not know what was planned
and were genuinely reacting to the chair hit?
2. more of a “your opinion” type question
What would have happened if Bret had stayed with the
E for any deal? I believe Bret was right when he said
that that same event had made Shawn the #1 heel and
there was no way he could go back to being a face
again. Bret was in limbo and if he had stayed, what
position would he have had to go? Hopefully not more
Patriot matches! Thanks again.”
1. It was definitely planned and not an especially big secret. They may have been taken aback at how utterly awesome the chair shot was, not to mention Bret’s loogie and the angle in general, as can just about sorta kind of be seen in this clip:
2. For Bret to have stayed with the WWF in 1997 two things would need to have happened. Firstly, he’d have had to drop the title. Regardless of when and where that took place, or who he dropped it to, everything was headed towards Austin winning it at WrestleMania after an angle involving DX, Tyson and McMahon. That would have gone ahead regardless, so Bret would certainly have been kept out of the title scene for a long time. Secondly, he’d have needed to renegotiate his contract into a far less lucrative deal, which would have severely diminished his spot on the card and overall value to the company. His position would have become something akin to what Kurt Angle’s would be, since he was over enough to be shoved into a main event spot at short notice, talented enough to work wonders with the mid-carders and yet remain overshadowed by more favoured and marketable headliners. In the short-term they would most likely have used the remnants of the Hart Foundation to get the Nation of Domination over, which would of course have been little more than a part of The Rock’s push. Perhaps that would have seen Bret enter the IC title scene to feud with Rocky and Ken Shamrock. Perhaps he would have taken Mick Foley’s spot to feud with Austin after Mania since Michaels would have been forced into retirement by then. Perhaps they would have just kept the Hart Foundation around to feud with the H-led DX and put them over. No matter what, the chances of him getting treated with anymore respect than WCW gave him would have been rather slim. However, in the long-term, assuming he avoided getting that concussion, he could have wound up playing a huge role in ROH on account of their focus on wrestling rather than soap opera drama…
“About the N.O.D. thing…they could just not go into the original backstory. I mean, Farooq and Bradshaw were calling themselves the Acolyte Protection
Agency for YEARS after the Ministry of Darkness went bye-bye.
As long as they’re badass enough, as the guy they got over the first time
would say: “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE THEY CAME FROM”.”
Well, they were calling themselves the APA and hoping nobody remembered the Ministry, in that curious way WWE views continuity. If a new Nation of Domination was indeed badass enough to get over then why not just give them a new name? The only reason to reference the old Nation would be if the heavens parted and The Rock came back to work a match with the leader of the new incarnation… but if The Rock did return it would be utterly bewildering for them to focus on his NOD days.
Again, in the meantime, be sure to turn your browser onto the following:
Brashear and his eyewitness account of a TNA house show. It sounds like a hell of a lot more fun than a TNA TV show or PPV.
Aaron and a shitload of links. Oh, and ten reasons why Pulse Wrestling should cover ROH. A lot of the staff seem to have been spending time debating ROH coverage lately. It strikes me as a rather futile argument. A wrestling website covers a wrestling promotion! Shock! Horror! Expected! Yup.
Keith continues to prefer living in the past, recapping the latest edition of the Monday Night Wars from WWE 24/7. Can’t we all just forget stuff like Meng/Luger and Glacier/Eaton?
Allen takes a look at the history of Wargames. That’s the match, not the Broderick movie… although that’s also worthy. Here’s how it all ended:
And that’s why Allen, me and so many others are in full support of having a Wargames in WWE…
Murray might need some convincing about Jim Duggan being a future Hall of Famer. Nikolai Volkoff, Junkyard Dog, Tony Atlas, Mr Fuji and Tito Santana ought to cover it. Oh, and James Dudley. Duggan might never have been much of a worker or a champion but he was as iconic as many of those who were and hugely over for a long time. He’ll get in.
Wheeler points out the flaws of WWE running 16 cross-brand PPVs a year, covering all the necessary bases in a well-written manner. Nice work, although I’m afraid it makes you completely unsuitable for a job in WWE. Oh well, that’s probably a good thing anyway.
And, of course, VS has reached Pulse Wrestling courtesy of Rob Blatt. Eric S and Big Andy Mac kicked it off last week, while yours truly and Jacob York from Not A True Ending are up for this week’s edition. Keep an eye out for it…
Time for an Observer quote before I go:
“Undertaker pinned Henry with a choke slam in a dark match. This match wasn’t good at all. Slow and plodding with a simple finish. It looked like Tazz was falling asleep at the table and there was a Ã¢â‚¬ËœWake up Tazz’ chant during the match.Ã¢â‚¬Â