Arguably, Hulk Hogan’s greatest WWE rival was “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. So naturally Piper would have a lot to say regarding Hogan’s recent fall from grace and TMZ Sports was lucky enough to get it all on video.
Piper has been fairly outspoken on Hogan’s mess ever since the first transcript of Hogan using racial slurs was released earlier in the week. Piper has never been a guy to mince words nor has he been afraid to embrace controversy. As a matter of a fact, Piper is currently involved in his own controversy with Stone Cold Steve Austin over a podcast. Needless to say, Piper has an opinion and isn’t afraid to give it.
Piper feels that we should all move on. Piper says we should get over it. Piper says that it was impossible to be racist in the pro wrestling business. Coming from a man who painted half of his body in black-face during a feud with an African American Wrestler, I wouldn’t expect much less.
Check out the video for yourself courtesy of TMZ Sports. A much more coherent performance than his appearance earlier in the week on the Rich Eisen Show.
Hulk Hogan isn’t making it easy. Transcripts released throughout the week featured the WWE icon using slurs and homophobic language. Unfortunately, it has gotten to the point that even his biggest fans are struggling to root for their childhood hero.
I have never been one to demonize a public figure over language. Yet I am still looking for a path of clarity and forgiveness for the Hulkster. I can’t find it and that path becomes murkier and murkier daily. Thanks for the memories as a 13-year old kid cheering on the Hulk in 1984 at the Spectrum, but what there is no excuse for your behavior.
We all know the story by now. Hogan is caught on tape using F and N-words that I don’t care to reprint in this blog. Hogan also claims in a conversation meant to be private, that he is a racist…little albeit but he does make that claim. As much as I hate to see a guy lose a 30-plus year legacy, the language and point of view he owned on that tape are just strong to forgive.
What excuse can you logically make for the guy? I have seen several, some even coming out of his own camp. The prevailing excuse is that the tape was recorded during Hogan’s darkest time, right before his divorce. I can certainly empathize with depression and despair over losing his family, and I won’t judge how broken up he was about it since that is all conjecture, but I am sorry. This is a poor excuse for using that kind of language in a private conversation. I also have yet to read the psychological evidence that supports a man going through the breakup of his marriage turning racist. If it’s out there let me know.
My second favorite defense of Hogan is that “the Hulk Hogan I know is not a racist.” Now if Hogan were on tape simply dropping the N-word, okay, maybe you can use this defense. The guy obviously has friends of all races. However, the one thing you cannot take out of this is that Hogan is on tape admitting to being a racist. You may tell me that the guy is not a racist, but the guy is on tape telling me is indeed racist. Compound that with the way he used the N-word when talking about Jamie Foxx and there is just simply not enough evidence to support that the guy is not racist.
Everyone uses the N-word, as a matter of a fact Hogan went on Twitter and retweeted a tweet in support of himself that compares his use of the word to Barack Obama using the same word. I was stunned when I read this. Talk about a complete lack of self-awareness from this guy! The issue at hand here is that Hogan says on this very same tape that he is racist. Not only that, again he uses the word when referencing Jamie Foxx in a very demeaning factor. Obama nor others who get passes have either used the word that way or claimed to be racist, at least that I have seen.
Staying on the lack of self-awareness that is probably my biggest problem with defending Hulk. Hulk seems to be confusing the outrage with him claiming to be racist with using the N-word. Not only that, Hogan’s camp claimed when issuing his apology that it was Hulk who resigned from the WWE, not that he was fired. The WWE continues to proceed as if he was fired and right now I have to admit, his credibility isn’t very strong. So going out and trying to give this impression at a time where he should be owning the comment and be as sincere as possible in apologizing, just leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.
One thing I will say is that it is hard to find a fan who has met Hulk that has said a bad word about meeting him. I have met him a few times myself and he was always exceptionally nice to everyone that asked for autographs and pics. The only demand I ever saw him make was women and children going first. Believe it or not, you won’t hear those same stories about most of pro wresting’s biggest stars. I’d often see Hogan spend early hours of the morning on Twitter retweeting anyone that asked him for one. For a guy as big and iconic as he was in his industry, he was always respectful to his fans.
Unfortunately retweeting fans and taking pictures with fans doesn’t erase the words and damage he did with his words. A self-admitted racist using derogatory words with hate, who doesn’t appear to “get it” is not a guy that I want to defend.
Fifteen years ago Monday, professional wrestling lost its story teller. Gordon Solie passed away, leaving behind a legacy that has been unmatched and a hole in the business of reporting professional wrestling. With all fairness to Jim Ross, no one can touch the subtle tones of Solie’s match calling and his interview skills from the desk at Championship Wrestling from Florida.
My friend and fellow Camel Clutch Blog writer Tom Clark said last month that when Dusty Rhodes died, he lost his second father. For me, as a sports writer and someone who was in awe growing up of sportscasters and play-by-play commentators, Solie was the teacher I never knew I had.
As a small child (I think six years old), my brother and I could not wait until noon on a Saturday when we could watch CWF with my dad. It was one of my first memories of watching “sports” as a family. Solie was at the announcers’ desk with Jerry Brisco and Barbara Clary and the wrestlers who came out – Dusty Rhodes, Bugsy McGraw, Terry Funk – they were larger than life heroes of mine.
Solie made me a fan instantly and I have loved the business ever since.
It seems a bit odd eulogizing a man fifteen years after his passing, but Solie has had such a profound impact on wrestling, open doors for the Jim Ross’s and Lance Russell’s of my generation. His descriptive tone, the style with which he interviewed countless wrestling personalities is unmatched and with the title of “The Walter Cronkite” of professional wrestling, he was every bit as important to the growth of wrestlers like Dory Funk, Jr., Jack Brisco, The Iron Sheik and Dusty Rhodes.
And most of all, he was one of my early childhood heroes.
The greatest gift Solie gave wrestling fans was the ability to tell a story, much like Vin Scully has done over the years with the Dodgers. His craft and quick thinking, inserting anecdotes throughout his program added the degree of realism wrestling needed in the era of Kayfabe. And some of the terms he used to describe both wrestlers and matches created the drama wrestling on television needed.
Not only was he the voice of CWF, Solie was the play-by-play announcer working for World Championship Wrestling. Solie was also the regular announcer for Georgia Championship Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida and Continental Championship Wrestling, among others.
The emphasis of storytelling is a lost art these days. Of course wrestling is not the same it was 30 years ago, but matches in the 1970s and 1980s told a story, built an arc and gave fans the chance to “want” to see feuds and rivalries. Frankly, if not for the give and take between Solie and the cast of characters, the careers of Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Dory Funk and Jack Brisco may not have been as popular or as successful. With the Solie/Rhodes relationship, I liken it to Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell in its development and entertainment value. The same can be said for Solie and his on screen “relationship” with Sir Oliver Humperdink and with Kevin Sullivan after he turned heel.
Wrestlers like Charlie Cook, Mike Graham, Steve Keirn and the masked Assassins would not have been held in such high regard regionally if not for the charismatic enhancement of Solie on the microphone.
My fondest memory of Solie was when he was working for Georgia Championship Wrestling and he was interviewing Ole Anderson who had just turned face. Anderson spoke from the heart, telling the fans in the arena he was pleased to be cheered after being booed for years as a heel. Solie broke character (if an announcer can do that) and thanked Anderson for his candor. It was one of the few times I recall as a youngster than I truly believed in the reality of the business.
Solie’s legacy lives on. Often tried to be imitated, it has never been duplicated. The debate can go on for decades over who may be better than Solie – with Jim Ross the only contender if there is one. But for everything Solie meant to me in my childhood, he will always be the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.
And in the end, all I really wanted to do was say thanks for the memories.
One WWE Hall of Famer may be out of WWE 2K16, but a recent Hall of Famer is coming in. A new video showcases a new member of the roster making his WWE video game debut.
Arnold Schwarzenegger will be making his WWE video game debut as the Terminator. Yes, the Terminator will be a WWE pre-order special character for 2K16. If they decide to go with a WCW classic mode, maybe you’ll have the opportunity to book a Terminator vs. RoboCop battle for the cruiserweight title?
I haven’t played WWE video games in well over a decade, but this one looks pretty cool. Best of all may be this promotional video WWE 2K posted on their YouTube channel, recreating a scene from the Terminator with WWE superstars. Of course, all sense of logic is lost when you see Daniel Bryan sitting at the bar.
WWE 2K16 hits the shelves October 27 in North America.
Mel Gibson has never had his name legally changed to Martin Riggs nor has he been known to stagger about Hollywood neighborhoods brandishing a prop LAPD badge shouting, “hey, where’s the bad guys?” Thus, socially just and conscientious action film fans can still watch Lethal Weapon and feel somewhat okay about it. It was Mel Gibson, the actor, who shocked the world with his raging misogyny and anti-Semitism, not the hero cop character from the movie. On the night of November 17, 2006, Michael Richards was not introduced as Kramer, nor was he sporting a lobster-print Hawaiian shirt and a wild, wavy, 6-inch-high hairdo when he took the stage at the Laugh Factory to unleash some seemingly deep-seated anger and hate-speak upon its unsuspecting patrons. This makes it easier for Seinfeld fans to push the incident to the back of their consciousness as they routinely tune in to its nightly reruns. For wrestling fans though, and more specifically, for a diehard sect of them who refer to themselves as “Hulkamaniacs,” things are a little more complicated.
Hulk Hogan is the most recent celebrity to join the ever-growing racist-rant list… more dreadful a list for a celeb to find themself on than even the C-list, and just slightly less dreadful for them to find themself on than the D-list. It has recently come to light (via The National Enquirer and Radar Online) that, at the tail end of a sex tape filmed (unbeknownst to the wrestler) 8 years ago, Hulk casually spews vile, ethnic slurs while sharing his wildly unprogressive views on interracial relationships. Prefacing his comments with the self-realization “I mean, I am a racist,” Hogan admits to being distraught that his daughter may be dating the black son of a black millionaire. “I mean I’d rather if she was going to f**k some n**ger, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot tall n**ger worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player.” His contract with WWE has since been terminated (or, he requested a release from said contract, depending upon whom you believe, the wrestling entertainment company, or Hogan’s attorney).
For those who grew up following his mantra of “train, say your prayers, and eat your vitamins,” for those who attended his matches waving American flags and chanting his name, for those who believed that Hulk stood for all things righteous in a world oft times fraught with evil, this recent revelation comes as a mighty big pill to swallow (not an easy-to-chew, naturally flavored Hulk Hogan multi-vitamin). You see, professional wrestlers are a different breed of entertainer than actors. True, these huge, athletic, grapple-prone entertainers are certainly NOT their characters (Terry Bollea was given the name and persona Hulk Hogan in 1979 by Vince McMahon Sr., owner of the then WWWF, soon to be the WWF, soon to be the WWE). And yet, in a rigged sport that for years attempted to retain the illusion of legitimacy, professional wrestlers were instructed by their promoters to always play the part. Never let on. Never give in. They had to maintain the illusion that they were their characters. Clint Eastwood never went on Johnny Carson to promote his new Dirty Harry film as Dirty Harry. Hulk Hogan would appear on talk shows though as Hulk Hogan. Every wrestler to make an appearance in any form of pre-‘90s media would do so as their character. Somewhere along the way, the public’s perception of these performers must get blurred. Perhaps even a performer’s own perception of self can get blurred. Has Dwayne Johnson ever casually referred to himself, in his own unspoken thoughts, as Rock? When somebody shouts, “Undertaker,” does Mark Callaway instinctively turn his head? Does Stone Cold Steve Austin (Steve Anderson) ever buy into the hype and believe he is actually the world’s biggest badass?
Yes, current and long time WWE president Vince McMahon eventually caved in and exposed the business as a work, as a fix, as “sports entertainment” rather than just as “sport.” But there still lingers that residue from the days of kayfabe. That foggy line of what is real and what is not. Professional wrestlers, in the public’s eye at the very least, have become strange amalgamations of their true identities and their larger than life in-ring personas. When you’re asked to play a character basically non-stop over the course of 10, 20, 30 years, can you actually keep that character from hijacking at least some small part of your identity?
Perform an Internet search. How many articles covering Hogan’s recently revealed racist diatribe contain a headline mentioning “Terry Bollea?” None? One? How many mention the name “Hulk Hogan?” Virtually all.
But when a wrestling fan hears or reads the words “Hulk Hogan,” he or she does not think of a depressed, over-the-hill, injury-riddled, two-timing entertainer, he or she thinks of the 24-inch python flexing, red, white and blue flag waving, red and yellow shirt tearing, Crucifix wearing, world heavyweight champion who fought for truth, justice, and the American way. Who inspired legions of people to stand up for what was right. He inspired legions of people to train and get in shape. He always overcame the odds, no matter how impossible they were. Who told us that we were all a part of him, and he was a part of all of us. Who body slammed Andre the Giant and pinned The Iron Sheik. That’s the man we think of when we read that Hulk Hogan said “f**king n***ers.”
Terry Bollea goes predominantly by his stage name, “Hulk Hogan.” He can frequently be found wearing Hulkamania shirts in public, the same type of shirts that he used to wear in the ring. Lastly, both he, and his character, say, “brother” more often than your average dog says “woof.” It is easy to fool oneself and accept that the man and his do-gooder character are one and the same, or at least almost the same. And perhaps that’s why a huge amount of his fan base is so willing to forgive him. It must have been a mistake! A slip of the tongue! He was in a bad place! His fans declare ardently that Hulk Hogan is NOT a racist, despite his being quoted as saying, “I am a racist.” No one enjoys finding out that Santa Clause isn’t real.
So was it all an act then? Is Hulk Hogan actually a bad man? Life is different from wrestling. Switching from wearing bright colors and high fiving spectators to wearing dark colors and spitting on them can easily indicate to any pro-wrestling fan that a wrestler has turned from “good” to “bad.” Hogan IS a self-confirmed racist. His words and views, no matter where he was at that point and time in his life emotionally, cannot be misconstrued. However, one can’t discount the countless charity work and all the Make-A-Wish visits. While some people are “bad” or “good,” most people lie somewhere in-between. What we do know, is that if Hulk Hogan is not a “bad guy,” he is at the very least, a heavily, heavily flawed human being.
He has taken to posting photos on Facebook of himself posing with black fans, as though somehow, that proves something. He is quick to point out his black celebrity defenders… Dennis Rodman, George Foreman, and to a lesser extent, former WWE superstar Virgil, all who claim the Hulkster has been nothing but kind, caring, and cool to them. As though that proves something. What it proves is that Hulk Hogan doesn’t hate all black people. He may not even hate most black people. Or any black people for that matter. And for those without a clear understanding of what racism is and can be, that may be enough.
That makes it okay for their hero to still be their hero. Racism exists in many forms though. It certainly exists as believing that one or some races are superior to others (why would it matter what the race of the man his daughter dated was unless some races were better than others). And it exists as formulating an opinion on entire group of people based purely upon their race (f**king n***ers). Sure, Dennis Rodman attests that, “There isn’t a racist bone in [Hulk Hogan’s] body.” But then again, isn’t it in Hulk Hogan’s nature to accept Dennis Rodman more than he would most any other black person? Sure, Rodman’s not quite 8 foot, but he is certainly very tall, is a former professional basketball player, and, in his heyday, was certainly worth a couple million dollars. Perhaps he should start dating Brooke. Maybe then the Hulkster wouldn’t mind so much.
Hours prior to comments Hulk Hogan made about being a racist hit the Internet, the WWE swiftly distanced itself from the icon. Rumors swirl that more of the cord may be cut, including the WWE Hall of Fame.
The WWE wasted no time reacting to a leaked conversation featuring its most recognizable legend in company history. While word of this alleged tape of Hogan using racial slurs including admitting to being a racist has been rumored for years, the WWE never appeared to be that concerned. That changed once the National Enquirer announced a D-Day of sorts and announced that it would be finally releasing comments from that tape to the public. It was immediately Code Red in Stamford as the company moved faster than an Ultimate Warrior vs. Andre the Giant match to let the world know that Hogan was no longer associated with the company.
The company started first by removing all merchandise of Hulk from the website. The company also removed his name as a search term and further, removed Hulk from the Hall of Fame page. This is where things got real interesting, because while many understood the immediate drastic reaction, insinuating that Hogan would be removed from the Hall of Fame touched a nerve with even the most disappointed Hogan supporters.
I am still trying to wrap my head around this entire thing. As a kid who grew up in the Hulkamania era, watching his first WWF title defense live at the Spectrum against the Masked Superstar, I always had a fondness for the Hulkster. Even when his haters ripped him apart for his alleged political manipulations in WCW and TNA, I stood by the Hulk. I never grew tired of seeing him cut his “Brother” promos whether he was wearing black and white or red and yellow, just the same way I sacrifice watching a crazy Ric Flair just to watch Ric Flair. However, at the end of the day this story has little to do with the “Hogan Chill” I experienced many times in 1984 and all about the world we live in today.
There are a lot of things that Hulk could have recovered from, including using the racial slurs. Many celebrities and athletes have been caught using racial slurs on tape only to recover as if nothing happened at all. Yet the one thing you can’t help but take away from that tape is Hogan saying he is a racist. Those celebrities may have used those words, but they all came out and said they weren’t racist. No matter what you think of Hulk, no matter how much you want to defend him, the one thing you can’t say is that he isn’t a racist when indeed on that particular day he says he is a little racist. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but that is just something the world’s greatest publicity company couldn’t save him from.
At the same time, there is a part of me that wants the Hulk to get a chance to redeem himself. Did the WWE waste a golden learning opportunity? It’s ironic but if you think about it, he would have been better off caught on tape for domestic abuse than admitting he is a little racist. Look at all of the athletes and celebrities who are on our radio and televisions today, cheered and admired for their talents with no regard for their domestic abuse history. Not even the pictures of these celebrities either caught in the act or of their bruised up victims can stop a number one pop hit or a run at a Super Bowl. Yet the guy that is probably responsible only behind Vince McMahon for making the WWE a world-wide conglomerate didn’t even get the chance to say he was sorry.
This brings me to the Hall of Fame. The second that the WWE allowed a convicted, yes convicted rapist into their Hall of Fame, all bets were off. You can search for Mike Tyson on the WWE website but not Hulk Hogan? What about Jimmy Snuka? His indiscretions are easily searchable online. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has had plenty of allegations leveled against him which are easily found online. For goodness sakes, one of the most powerful people in the company has been accused on more than one occasion of suing the “N-word” to talent. That guy incidentally is rumored to be going into the Hall of Fame next year. Has anyone spent five minutes on YouTube watching some of the Ultimate Warrior’s greatest hits outside of the ring? This isn’t a rose garden full of Nobel Peace Prize winners.
My point is that removing Hogan from the Hall of Fame seems drastic, if not downright ridiculous. You cannot erase the biggest icon in your company’s history from history simply by deleting him off of your web page. Several generations of fans have watched Hulk Hogan at one time or another on WWE television. Unless Vince McMahon is going to write a check for all of the revenue Hogan brought into the company since 1984 and donate it to charity, erasing him from history seems naïve and downright ignorant.
I can’t say I blame the WWE from terminating him (although to be fair Hogan’s attorney claims that it was Hogan who resigned). Hogan said what he said and whether he didn’t know they were going to be public or not, he has to face the consequences of his own words. Yet if the WWE is going to place more value on someone’s moral values than their in-ring contributions on Hall of Fame inductions, they may as well blow the whole thing up altogether.
Someone said to me the other day that he preferred the current role of Triple H to that of his father-in-law, none other than Vince McMahon, or the “Mr. McMahon” character he created at the height of the Attitude Era.
What? Excuse me? Are you serious?
Honestly, I was floored by the comment, especially since this person is quite knowledgeable about wrestling and has been a fan more than 40 years and watches Raw and every other wrestling program on weekly television as if it life and death.
Yes, I have told him he needs a hobby other than living and dying by what new promo Paul Heyman cuts on a weekly basis.
This being Triple H’s birthday (it’s also Dolph Ziggler’s, and there is some irony in that, but I’ll save it for another blog), the subject of which boss may not be worth a conversation, or it could be worth hours of point and counterpoint. Personally, it could be somewhere in the middle and here is why.
The WWF/E was not the first wrestling promotion to use its owner as part of the growing soap opera that brought thousands to turnstiles over the years. But the company may have been the best at make Mr. McMahon as one of the greatest wrestling characters of all time.
With all due respect to the likes of Fritz Von Erich in World Class Championship Wrestling and Vern Gagne in the AWA, McMahon was so over the top, that regardless of the fact he was never a trained wrestler and was never taken seriously as a long-lasting champion, he did bring wrestling angles to another level.
The McMahon-Steve Austin feud and program was and still is one of the greatest feuds of this generation and the reason why the Attitude Era was so highly popular. The premise of an employee hating their boss so much that he can beat the holy hell out of him in the squared circle is another stroke of genius and another checkmark on the McMahon resume.
The probability of another angle taking on such a life of its own will never happen again – no matter how hard the WWE or any other wrestling promotion tries to recreate or duplicate brilliance.
McMahon played the on-screen character based on his real life persona. He is a two-time world champion, having won the WWF Championship in 1999 and ECW World Championship in 2007. He was also the winner of the 1999 Royal Rumble. He headlined multiple pay-per-view events from 1999 to 2000 and participated in the main event of WrestleMania 2000, as a cornerman for The Rock, and he was also involved in the main event storyline of WrestleMania X-Seven.
Now that the Mr. McMahon character is retired, with Vince now approaching 70 years old and taking a backseat to his son-in-law Triple H and daughter Stephanie McMahon Helmsley, the “new” boss is turning heads in a completely different direction.
Triple H may never change the perception of fans and wrestling faithful that he is better than his predecessor, but could the successor to the McMahon throne wind up becoming a more hated villain.
All I can say is “Hell Yeah!”
The McMahon character, as it was explained to me, was so over the top and “fake” (yes, there is irony in that as well) that no one could believe him. And of course, everything in wrestling is believable.
Triple H is the boss everyone hates, is the SOB who you hate answering to and the one who just doesn’t give a damn about his employees. His role has a greater degree of realism, even in the land of make believe.
But which one is better? Neither because they were put on display during different eras in the business. McMahon wins because of the higher creative idea that a boss who doesn’t like his employee can get in the ring with them. Triple H wins because when he gets in your face, it sounds more like your boss chastising you for getting your work wrong.
I’m not going to rate one over the other. They have their place in WWF/E history. Whichever character excites you, you follow. And with that comes the next question… How long will the Attitude Era remain the greatest era in wrestling?
Since I’m usually overly hyped about Kayfabe Commentaries, I avoided a couple of interesting ones (Raven on ECW, Jim Cornette, Booking with Gabe and Kevin) and went to one that I had mixed feelings about.
Rikishi brings up images of the worst aspects of the “Attitude” era: a more comedic wrestler, a fat guy sticking his butt in other wrestlers faces, and all that “Kiss my ass club” that just made wrestling gross and disgusting and often unwatchable. Yeah, the dancing was entertaining and Rikishi was always a fan favorite* (in part because of his antics, undeniably because his tactics, and grudgingly-to-admit, that thing where he backed up in the wrestler laying in the corner).
*(Until that heel turn that didn’t quite go as far as he would have liked. And that forgettable Sultan run, and the even more forgettable TNA run).
When I saw Rikishi’s announcement for the WWE Hall of Fame, it made me wonder on a few levels: what is the criteria? What achievement did Rikishi accomplish? Or was it an “in your face” inclusion, just to show who’s the boss at the WWE?
Not that I dislike the man or his talent. Despite the comedic overtones, Rikishi is a well trained talent that has the knack for the in-ring and the entertainment aspects of the business. But even Rikishi’s own words on the Hall of Fame – that everyone should be included – seems to me more of a diminishment of the achievements of others rather than an award of merit.
But debating the Hall of Fame is well beyond beating a dead horse.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this YouShoot. I got a lot of what I did anticipate – the videos and questions by modern day wrestling commentators that make me cringe, a further appreciation of Sean Oliver’s handling of the more serious and/or insightful questions, and a solid understanding of the person doing most of the talking.
As always, there’s a lot of history, a lot of great storeis, several swerves and twists and interesting insight into the life, career and family of the wrestler in the spotlight. Remember Rikishi as a member of the Samoan Swat Team? I sure do, but forgot all about the WCCW days.
All that is in there, and much, much more.
In the end, this was a very pleasant conversation by a guy who knows a lot more about wrestling than he often portrayed in the ring, a lot of stories about the vast Samoan family over the past 30 years or so of the business, a lot of personal stories and a better appreciation for who Rikishi is and how he is guiding the next generation of Samoan professional wrestlers.
What’s amazing is the talk about Rikishi not always being in agreement with the writers, and his obvious understanding that there are a lot of writers that just don’t have a clue about the business.
What’s scary is that Rikishi said there were things he refused to do.
I don’t have that kind of imagination to conceive of things he could have refused, or things the WWE hasn’t done, that they might have wanted to do.
What’s funny about Rikishi is his take on the classic Samoan “no sell”. Here, he’s completely indifferent to several lines of questioning about that “stinkface” move. He does explain where it came from and who egged him on, much to his career’s benefit. Rikishi also “no sells” any comments about a few of his friends, some for obvious reasons, others for no apparent ones, including a weird beginning of the discussion where he names some names he didn’t name during the Hall of Fame speech.
Strangely, Rikishi has a combination of amusement and indifference to the ongoing insanity of the video question clips. He also plays along to the classic YouShoot games, although I don’t remember the one about marrying and killing being played. Somehow Mrs. Rikishi must have been on the big man’s mind.
On that subject, the family focus is definitely on display, especially in regard to training.
Rikishi’s stories about getting trained (by his Uncles, the Wild Samoans) and how he got slapped around when he laughed at others is really odd. What do Afa and Sika think of him now?
Oh, yeah, I think it’s in there.
Rikishi is now training, and his star pupil thus far is that Russian guy in the WWE, Rusev. Which of course is odd, because Rusev is anything but an entertainer in the ring, and has the basics in believability, selling and presence that trace back to the Old School stuff I greatly appreciate.
Which tells me Rikishi has a lot more inside his head than what he showed in the ring with Too Cool.
Rikish’s impact upon his kids (the Usos. I’ll let the reader watch the video or google for the meaning of the name) are very much interesting and shed a lot of light on the Anoa’I Family. It seems like the big man isn’t doing a lot of training of his own kids, and keeps his advice simple, but best to hear it from his mouth.
Like he says, he doesn’t know the current agents or the people doing the training these days…
His remembrance of his late brother Umaga (Eddie Fatu) and how his children continue to pay their respects to him take this YouShoot to a more serious level. Odd that one of the Uso’s was on TV the other day, with the half-painted face which reminds one of Umaga.
Odd, even more, the serious side takes center stage in the end, so much so that it becomes awkward at the conclusion, with talk of family, expectations and a potential great he’s training as the next generation superstar of the Samoan Family.
Overall, it was enjoyable and another must-see chapter in the excellent (but often awkward) YouShoot series.
The WWE moved swiftly to distance itself from Hulk Hogan after news of his use of a highly sensitive racial slur became the hot topic on the Internet and with media outlets worldwide. The former face of the WWF/E for lack of a better word, has been obliterated from anything having to do with the company that made him a household name in the 1980s and 1990s.
The move, which was the right one by the wrestling promotion, has given us all pause for a few moments – and shown how mainstream professional wrestling, particularly Hogan and the WWE, have become. The stories streaming across the web were not just from wrestling sites, rather the kind we all turn to so we can get our news and entertainment gossip force fed to us. The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone and Fox News were just some of the high impact news sites that led with the announcement of Hogan’s firing from WWE programming and his erasure from the main website.
No mention of him about Tough Enough. No credit in the alumni pages. Merchandise from the company’s parent store has halted. This is HUGE news and a story that could all but cripple Hogan and his legacy. No one in this business has more of an impact on the success of the business becoming mainstream as it has as Hogan with his “Rock and Wrestling Connection” that helped establish WrestleMania. It also put Vince McMahon on the map as a pioneer in this business and a man who changed our perception of how we look at entertainment.
Professional wrestling has had its issues in the past. Eddie Mansfield’s admission in the early 1980’s that wrestling was fake. McMahon’s federal trial over steroid use. The Von Erich’s and deaths of prominent wrestlers in “World Class Championship Wrestling” that were alleged to be because of drug use.
The list goes on and on.
Add Chris Benoit to that list as well while you are at it.
But none, because of the timing and the sensibilities of this country, could be as damning as Hogan and his comments that have gone viral.
WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan). WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.
Yes, this was what was best for business.
This just proves to me, in a business where diversity is such an important part of character development, fan acceptance and marketing, even the biggest names of the past and present can be just as guilty of a failure to see consequences of their actions.
While there is always two sides to every pancake – no matter how flat it is – the way this was handled and the severity to which the WWE has distanced itself from its former ring leader is an indictment of what has happened and the fact there is no presumption of guilt. Hulk Hogan has been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and will now face the jury of public opinion.
Forget the talk of a match at WrestleMania 32, forget the notion that Hogan was good for the company as a marketing tool. The WWE does not need this now or in the future to be in bed with someone who is altered racially.
The best thing for the WWE to do now is move forward and say nothing else. The black eye has been given, the shadow cast. This is a company that has dealt with lack of fan support, failure to book wrestlers properly and plan for the future once superstars of today like John Cena, Kane, and Randy Orton finally hang up their boots. The company is already engrossed in lawsuits by former wrestlers and their families over medical care and whether or not the company today tries to prevent concussion injuries.
This is a stain that will linger, and could have some backlash, but the WWE is not at fault here. Just carry on as planned. Prepare for SummerSlam and hopefully the dust will settle. This kind of news and action could not have come at a worse time. But swift thinking and climate control will be the best medicine to cure this kind of pain.
WWE Thursday Night SmackDown kicks off with Dean Ambrose coming down to the ring. Looks like we’re going to go into our first match.
MATCH 1: DEAN AMBROSE VS. SHEAMUS
Before the match, Sheamus says Ambrose may have the WWE Universe fooled, but not him. Everyone believes Ambrose is some crazy lunatic, but Sheamus knows he’s simply reckless. Last week, Ambrose and Big Show went through the announce desk. Some people might think it was courageous, but Sheamus thinks it’s just cowardice. He got out of fighting Sheamus last week that way, but guess what? Tonight, there’s nowhere to run or hide. There’s no escape, because Sheamus promises to give Ambrose a good, old-fashioned arse-kicking from the next WWE World Champion. Ambrose says those are profound words, and they got him thinking. It is true what they say: Sheamus does look stupid.
Sheamus throws Ambrose to the corner, but Ambrose escapes and applies a waistlock. Sheamus rolls through and gets under the bottom rope before sliding to the floor. Back in, Sheamus goes for a test of strength before clubbing Ambrose down. He hits a few more shots before Ambrose comes back with rights. Sheamus hits him with a kneelift and a kick off the ropes. Ambrose comes back witha kitchen sink and a seated dropkick against the ropes. He goes for it again, but Sheamus catches him in a tilt-a-whirl. Ambrose escapes and clotheslines Sheamus to the floor. He goes for a suicide dive, but Sheamus nails him with a forearm through the ropes. Ambrose rolls to the apron, where he hits Sheamus with a few punches before hitting a tornado DDT from the apron. Commercials.
Back from the break, Sheamus cuts Ambrose off on the top rope and goes up for a superplex. Ambrose blocks, escapes and pelts Sheamus with forearms, knocking him down. Sheamus recovers and crotches Ambrose by kicking him in the leg. Sheamus slams Ambrose, with Ambrose’s now-bad knee catching the bottom rope. He does it again, then applies a stretch muffler before powering Ambrose up. Ambrose pulls himself to a seated position for a hurricanrana, but Sheamus counters with a sit-out powerbomb for 2. He then applies a half-Boston crab. Sheamus drags Ambrose to the middle of the ring and sits down all the way, only to have Ambrose roll through and break free with kicks. Sheamus hits a European uppercut, but that leads to a rebound clothesline from Ambrose. Ambrose starts slapping his knee, and now the two are trading punches. Sheamus goes low with a kick, misses a clothesline and eats a pair of forearms. Ambrose hits another one in the corner and goes for a bulldog. Sheamus shoves him to the buckles and charges in, misses and gets rolled up for 2. He goes for the Brogue Kick, but Ambrose ducks, sending Sheamus to the floor. Ambrose hits a suicide dive, rolls Sheamus back in, then comes off the top with a flying elbow.
Bray Wyatt’s music hits, and he walks down to the ring. The lights come on, and that’s when we see Luke Harper on the other side of the ring. Ambrose goes out after Harper, only to get blasted by a Brogue Kick from Sheamus. Sheamus rolls Ambrose back in and connects with a second Brogue Kick for 3.
Jo-Jo is standing by with Neville. She points out what happened last week with Stardust, and Neville says Stardust is unlike anyone or anything he’s encountered. Stardust is a nut. He refers to Neville as a superhero and himself as a supervillain. Neville sees him as nothing but a coward, and Stardust will learn you can’t hold down what gravity can’t contain. The “Altitude Era” is now. After Neville leaves, the screen behind Jo-Jo scrambles, only to have Stardust appear on it and do nothing except hold his gloves together.
MATCH 2: ADAM ROSE VS. NEVILLE
Why does Rose still have a job? Can anyone give me a legitimate reason? Neville goes for a waistlock, and Rose counters into an arm wringer. Neville flips off the ropes and counters into his own. Rose backs him into a corner, then stomps him down. Rose stomps him in the adjacent corner, then snaps off a suplex for 1. Rose applies a rear chinlock. Byron Saxton referred to Rose as having a new “aggressive streak”. Apparently, “aggressive streak” translates into “expert jobbing abilities”, as the same crap was said about Fandango when he returned and then proceeded to lose most of his matches. Same with Bo Dallas. Anyway, Neville gets back to his feet and fights out of the hold. He reverses a corner whip, runs into a back elbow and gets hit with a hurricanrana off the middle rope. Neville rolls to the floor, and Rose goes for a suicide dive. Neville blasts him through the ropes, flips back into the ring, hits a series of kicks and a flying forearm. Rose backdrops him in the corner, but he lands on the apron and nails Rose with a kick, causing Rose to fall to the floor. Neville hits an Asai moonsault as an “NXT” chant breaks out. Rose is rolled back in, and Neville comes off the top with the Red Arrow for 3.
Stardust shows up on the big screen, wearing a party hat, with horns blowing in the background. He says a bunch of stupid crap I don’t care about, then asks Neville to be his hero and embrace the strange.
We get a video for Sasha Banks. I can’t tell you how much I hate her gimmick. She’s decent in the ring, but her gimmick is just boring and lazy.
King Barrett comes out and asks for some decorum. At Battleground, amidst all the hoopla concerning the return of the Undertaker, the peasants lost sight of what truly matters, and that is the greatest king in the history of WWE, the “King of Bad News”. At the KOTR tournament a couple months ago, he beat three top superstars in less than 24 hours to wear this cape and crown. At Battleground, he showed the world what happens when you try to mock his accomplishments. In layman’s terms, if you want a shot at this king, you better hit him right between the eyes, because you won’t be getting a second chance. Be warned. The world is now on notice, because this king’s crowning moment is still to come. All hail King Barrett!
MATCH 3: KEVIN OWENS VS. RUSEV (W/SUMMER RAE)
Before Rusev comes out, Owens says that ever since his match with John Cena at Battleground, he keeps hearing three words everywhere: “Tap, Owens, tap”. It’s cute, but not accurate. What did happen is he gave Cena the toughest fight of his career. So he has no problem looking in the mirror, because he’s not the one who goes by the motto “Never give up”. He’s smarter than that. His outlook is “Live to fight another day”, and that’s exactly what he did on Sunday. People can chant all they want, but he has a family to think, kids whose futures depend on him, so he wasn’t about to suffer a career-ending injury at the hands of Cena. That’s probably a hard concept for many to grasp, but the fact is he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He does what he feels is best for his career always, and it was no different on RAW. Once Sheamus left his team high and dry, he knew there was no point in sticking around. Again, he wasn’t going to risk injury fighting three top superstars when his team is one man short. If Rusev if wasn’t so busy trying to figure out which Lana he wants to get to second base with, he would understand that was the right choice.
Rusev marches down to the ring and goes right after Owens with punches. The bell rings, and Owens rolls to the floor. Commercials.
Back from the break, Owens is stomping Rusev down. He nails a right, then hits a chop in the corner. Rusev fights out of the opposite corner with headbutts before Owens hits a forearm. Rusev comes back with a suplex for 2, then gets hit with a back elbow off the ropes. Owens kicks Rusev in the spine, then pelts him in the temple with rights before kicking Rusev down. Owens goes for a German suplex, but Rusev reverses. Owens fights him off before getting hit with a vertical splash. Rusev connects with a fall-away slam. Rusev misses a splash in the corner and gets hit with a superkick. Owens connects with the cannonball, then drags Rusev away from the corner for a pin that gets two, while yelling “God, lose some weight!” Owens hits a couple rights and a short-arm clothesline for 2, then applies a rear chinlock. Jesus, keep the camera off of Summer Rae. She’s repugnant. Rusev gets back to his feet and slugs Owens in the gut before Owens hits a lung blower for 2. Owens goes back to the chinlock, grinding Rusev to the mat. Owens pulls Rusev back to his feet and breaks his own hold with some punches. Rusev starts punching back, knocking Owens down several times. He connects with a kick to the chest, another kick off the ropes and a swinging back suplex. Rusev runs into a back elbow in the corner, ducks a clothesline and hits a spinning heel kick. And by “kick”, I mean he connected with his upper quad. Rusev hits the thrust kick, stomps Owens in the back and goes for the Accolade. Owens slides out and rolls to the floor. He starts to climb back in at 6, but then decides he’s had enough and heads up the ramp, losing via count-out.
WINNER VIA COUNT-OUT: RUSEV.
Owens screams up at Rusev that he fights on his own terms, that’s he’s Canadian and not a stupid American.
New Guy is standing by with Cesaro. New Guy says Cesaro has been picking up a lot of momentum lately, and tonight, he faces WWE World Champion Seth Rollins. Cesaro says this feels right. Pushing John Cena to the limit is in the past. Tonight, he’s got the champ. He always wanted to be in this spot. He spent years honing his craft. He hasn’t spent Christmas with his family in 11 years, but he wouldn’t change anything because he loves this. Tonight, he faces the champ, and success doesn’t come overnight. For everyone in this country that has hopes and dreams, he wants to prove that hard work pays and the American dream never dies.
Kevin Owens interrupts him and says no one cares. He beat Cena in his first night. He accomplished more in one night than Cesaro has done his entire career, and nobody cares about his dreams or how he abandoned his family, which is what he did. Cesaro says Owens is the authority on abandoning things since he’s abandoned half his matches since coming to WWE. And where did he come from? Catering? Oh, no. He came from another abandoned match. Owens says he’s headed to catering now to grab a bite and watch Cesaro lose to Rollins. Cesaro tells him not to choke on his food, like he did against Cena at Battleground. Now, why doesn’t Owens do what he does best and “Walk, Owens, walk.” Owens wishes him a sarcastic “good luck” and walks away.
MATCH 4: NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPION SASHA BANKS AND NAOMI (W/TAMINA) VS. THE BELLA TWINS (BRIE AND WWE DIVAS CHAMPION NIKKI, W/ALICIA FOX)
Naomi and Nikki start with a lock-up. Nikki hits a monkey flip out of it for 1, then follows up with an arm-drag into an armbar. Naomi whips her down by the hair, then hits a low clothesline. She walks into a spinebuster for 2, and now Brie tags in. The Bellas hit a double flapjack for 2. Brie goes for a neckbreaker, but Naomi spins through and hits a couple kneelifts. Banks tags and gets kicked. Nikki tags in and hits a dropsh*t for 2 before applying a headscissors. Nikki then does some push-ups in the hold for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Banks eventually kicks out of the hold, then walks into a side headlock. Brie tags in and hits a missile dropkick off the middle rope for 2. Brie hits a knee against the ropes, hollers like a banshee and goes for a running knee. Tamina pulls Banks to the floor, avoiding the move. The ref apparently gets distracted by Fox as Brie grabs Banks through the ropes, allowing Tamina to hit her in the face with a superkick. Brie falls to the floor. Banks stomps Brie down as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, Naomi is now legal, and she’s stomping Brie in the corner. Naomi kicks Brie, follows up with a kneelift, a bodyslam and a legdrop for 2. She runs Brie’s head into the middle buckle, and Banks tags in for the cover, getting 2. She throws Brie to the corner for a foot-choke, then sets Brie across the middle buckle and drops a pair of knees into the midsection for 2. Banks knocks Nikki off the apron, then throws Brie to the corner for some illegal double-teaming as Nikki argues with the ref. Naomi tags in and hits a snap suplex for 2 before applying a rear chinlock. Brie fights out before running into a flying back elbow. Banks tags in as Naomi hits a full-nelson bomb. Banks kicks Brie in the chest for 2, then applies a straightjacket. Brie eventually snaps Banks off and dives for a tag, but Banks catches her and powers her to the corner for a tag to Naomi. Naomi hits a version of Eat Defeat for 2, then applies a rear chinlock. She breaks the hold and hits some crossface shots before going back to it. Brie fights out before Naomi clocks her and throws her to the corner. Naomi connects with a splash in the corner before getting backdropped to the outside. She lands on her feet on the apron, only to have Brie dropkick her to the floor. Tamina rolls Naomi back in as Nikki makes the tag. Nikki connects with two clotheslines, a dropsh*t and a back-body drop. She knocks Banks off the apron and connects with an Alabama Slam for 2. She goes for the Rack Attack, but Banks nails her in the gut. Brie tackles Banks, and the two roll to the floor. Brie gets to her feet near Tamina, and she & Fox take Tamina down with a double clothesline. In the ring, Naomi rolls Nikki up with a handful of tights for 2. Nikki avoids the Rear View and connects with a forearm shot. She hits the Rack Attack and gets 3.
WINNERS: THE BELLA TWINS.
For Banks’ big Smackdown debut, she did next to nothing, then jobbed to the Bellas. Good booking, WWE.
MATCH 5: WWE WORLD CHAMPION SETH ROLLINS VS. CESARO (NON-TITLE)
Cesaro goes right after Rollins, causing Rollins to immediately bail to the floor. He gets back in and Cesaro rolls him up in a schoolboy, which he turns into a front chancery. Rollins counters into an arm wringer. Cesaro does the same and hits a snapmare for 1. He catches Rollins in a gorilla press off the ropes and drops him in a front Warrior Slam. Cesaro goes for a European uppercut in the corner, but Rollins moves, causing Cesaro to collide with the buckles. Rollins knocks him to the floor with a knee to the back. Rollins follows up with a suicide dive as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, Rollins has Cesaro in a scissored sleeper. Cesaro manages to get to his knees and power himself up. He breaks the hold by falling into the buckles, but then turns around into a complete shot into the middle buckle. Rollins hits a short-arm clothesline for 2, then applies a rear chinlock. Cesaro gets to his feet and breaks the hold with a very nice Saito Suplex. That’s a move we don’t see enough in American wrestling. Rollins recovers, charges in and gets shoved to the floor. He lands on his feet and heads up top for a flying knee. Cesaro moves, but Rollins lands on his feet. He goes for a corner forearm, which Cesaro also avoids. Rollins collides with the buckles, then turns around into an overhead belly-to-belly. Cesaro connects with his series of corner European uppercuts, then goes a spinebuster. Rollins tries to counter into a sunset flip, but Cesaro powers him up into a suplex for 2. Cesaro goes for a Sharpshooter, but Rollins squirms too much. Cesaro says “screw it” and goes for a double-stomp instead, getting 2. Rollins recovers and backdrops him to the outside. Cesaro lands on his feet, fights Rollins off and hits a top-rope cross-body. Rollins rolls through for 2. A backslide gets another 2, as does a low thrust kick. Rollins sets up a powerbomb, but Cesaro sandbags him. Rollins hits a couple kneelifts and goes for it again. Cesaro counters with a back-body drop. Rollins lands on his feet, only to get taken out with a surprise dropkick off the ropes for 2. Rollins rolls to the apron and begins crawling to the corner. Cesaro meets him and goes for the outside-in superplex. Rollins blocks and nails a kick from the apron before slingshotting in for a sunset flip. Instead, he holds Cesaro up and runs him across the ring for a corner powerbomb. Rollins goes for the Pedigree, but Cesaro breaks free and locks in the Sharpshooter. Rollins tries to get a rope-break, so Cesaro blocks his arm and transitions the hold to a crossface. Cesaro then rolls himself over, keeping the hold locked in and rolling Rollins away from the ropes and more towards the center, all in one fluid motion. Rollins tries to crawl to the bottom rope. Cesaro sees it, breaks the hold and goes for a leglock. Rollins grabs the ropes, and when Cesaro tries to snap him down, Rollins lands on his feet and hits Cesaro with a Ghetto Blaster. Rollins comes off the ropes, but Cesaro catches him with a Very European Uppercut for 2. Rollins rolls to the floor and grabs his title belt, looking to bail on the match. Cesaro rolls out on the other side of the ring, charges around and blasts Rollins with another European uppercut. He rolls Rollins in, kicks the title belt out of Rollins’ hand and hits a spinebuster. He goes for the Cesaro Swing, but Rollins thumbs him in the eye while the ref is taking the belt out of the ring and sends him shoulder-first into the ring post. Rollins hits the Pedigree and gets 3.
WINNER: SETH ROLLINS.
Kind of a crappy finish, but that was a killer main event.
As Rollins is celebrating on the stage, Kevin Owens marches down to the ring and proceeds to assault Cesaro before hitting the pop-up powerbomb.