The WWE and Madison Square Garden paid tribute on Friday night to the legendary Hulk Hogan. Kevin Nash, Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Jimmy Hart, and Triple H rolled out the red carpet for Hulk and while WWE cameras were not in attendance, plenty of smartphones were.
Thanks to all of the great fans who attended the big event on Friday night, there are plenty of videos floating around YouTube of the ceremony. The ceremony is awesome and the only disappointment in the video is that it didn’t capture what was reported to be a fantastic video tribute of Hogan that played during the ceremony.
It amazes me that the WWE didn’t capture any of this footage for the WWE Network. One of the ideas I proposed a year ago was the Network showing WWE house shows. I think in this case the WWE missed a golden opportunity to either simulcast the event or air it post-produced later on the Network. I think original, special content like that would really help in marketing the network.
Regardless, check out the entire ceremony here below. It’s long overdue and a real classy tribute to a man that sold out many Garden shows in his prime.
This week’s episode emanates from the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA.
We’re getting a rematch from Fastlane, as Erick Rowan, Ryback and Dolph Ziggler face the Big Show, Kane and Seth Rollins in the main event.
Daniel Bryan comes out, and he’s got a somber look on his face. A “Yes!” chant starts, but Bryan puts a stop to that by screaming “No!” He says, a couple years ago, that’s what he used to say instead of “yes”. He was frustrated, he didn’t feel like he had opportunities, or anyone in his corner. But, he was wrong, because the fans were in his corner. Because the fans gave him opportunities. We gave him so much opportunity, in the main event at Wrestlemania XXX, he finally, after scratching and clawing for 14 years, won the WWE World Championship. A big “Yes!” chant breaks out on this note. Back to Bryan, he says that, due to injury, he lost the title. At Fastlane, he got something most never get: a second chance. He got an opportunity to get everything back…and he failed. That means, this year, for Daniel Bryan, there’s no main-eventing WM, there’s no WWE World title match, and without that hope or dream, there have been a lot of people backstage asking him this: is the Yes! Movement dead? A big “No!” chant breaks out, and Bryan joins in. He will not give up or back down, and despite not being in the main event, he’s got big plans. This year, at Wrestlemania XXXI, he plans on going…
Bad News Barrett interrupts, sans IC title, and marches down to the ring. BNB asks how much longer Bryan is going to carry on with this nonsense. No one wants to here his sob story. It just so happens he’s got some bad news for Bryan, because Bryan won’t be getting a WM moment this year. Losers like him don’t deserve the spotlight, and there’s someone else who doesn’t deserve the spotlight, that being the “lunatic thief”, Dean Ambrose. Ambrose has stolen his IC title. He is still the champion. He has a warning: if Bryan doesn’t get out of the ring, he’ll show everyone exactly what happens when you step on his toes.
On that note, Ambrose walks down to the ring, IC title in-hand. Ambrose and BNB immediately go at, spilling to ringside, where Ambrose throws BNB into the barricade. BNB responds by pulling Ambrose into the barricade as well. Bryan is laughing in the ring, and then he spots the IC title. He picks it up as BNB climbs back into the ring, looking to get it back. Bryan teases that he’s going to keep it, so BNB starts screaming at him. Bryan hands it over, and when BNB turns around, he’s nailed by Ambrose. Bryan then takes a shot at him as well before Ambrose grabs the belt. Bryan then celebrates with the crowd as Ambrose smirks.
We’ll get an exclusive interview with Roman Reigns later.
MATCH 1: DEAN AMBROSE VS. THE MIZ
Miz comes out solo. He looks over his shoulder for Damien Mizdow, but Mizdow is nowhere to be found. Ambrose applies a side headlock, then hits a shoulder off the ropes. The two crisscross until Ambrose rolls through with a schoolboy for 2. He hits a bodyslam and a power-drive elbow for another 2 before throwing the Miz to the corner for some shots. Miz gets corner-whipped, hits a boot out of the corner and lands the Reality Check for 2. Miz rakes at Ambrose’s face, then applies a rear chinlock. Ambrose fights out, hits a boot off the ropes and lands a series of strikes. Miz eats a forearm off the ropes, then another. Ambrose throws him to the corner, stomps him down, slaps him in the face, hits a running forearm and a bulldog. Ambrose heads up top for the flying elbow, but before he can connect, Bad News Barrett runs down and grabs the IC title from the corner. Ambrose sees him, hits the floor, and lays him out with a clothesline. He grabs the belt and climbs back into the ring, where Miz hits a boot and tries for the SCF. Ambrose escapes and goes into a standing switch. Miz hits him with a back elbow, sending Ambrose into the ropes, leading Ambrose to hit the rebound clothesline. Meanwhile, BNB has grabbed the IC title once more and is heading up the ramp. Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds and gets 3.
WINNER: DEAN AMBROSE.
Renee Young tries to stop BNB in the back for some questions, but he cuts her off and says he reclaimed what is rightfully his from Ambrose. As everyone knows, Ambrose cannot hold a candle to him in the ring, and neither can that disgusting goat, Daniel Bryan. Now that the title is back in his clutches, he’s never letting it out of his sight.
MATCH 2: NAOMI (W/THE USOS) VS. NATALYA (W/CESARO AND TYSON KIDD)
Nattie starts off with a hip throw, into a side headlock. Naomi fights out, but then gets shouldered off the ropes. The two crisscross after a staredown until Naomi applies a sort-of crucifix for 2. Nattie comes back with a trip, but Naomi kips up and hits an armdrag. Nattie hits a double-leg, which Naomi counters into a headscissors from her back, which she then turns into a submission hold. Nattie powers her way back to her feet and goes into a modified airplane spin. Naomi counters that into a sunset flip, but Nattie rolls through. The two then crash in the middle of the ring off simultaneous cross-body attempts. Nattie is up first, but Naomi quickly kicks her in the leg she injured on Monday. Kidd jumps on the apron to check on her, so Jimmy jumps up and takes him down with a superkick. Cesaro pulls Jimmy down and looks to send him into the ring post, but Jimmy reverses, sending Cesaro into a superkick from Jey. Back in the ring, the ref pulls Naomi away from Nattie to see if Nattie can still continue. As he gets Naomi back, it turns out Nattie was suckering Naomi in, as she quickly drops Naomi with a discus clothesline for 3.
After some commercials, we are back, and Rusev & Lana are in the ring. Rusev holds the US title over his head and says this is a symbol of a true champion, a real champion, your American champion. Lana says an American champion is someone who stands tall, full of pride and above everyone else. Rusev stands above Americans that are beneath him. Far beneath him. And do you know what a champion does not do? Rusev pipes in says he doesn’t have to agree to anyone’s terms. Lana then cuts to the TitanTron to show a still of a pre-match Cena at Fastlane. She says he’s so sure and full of himself there. Look at your American hero, rising above all obstacles as always, except this time (we see Rusev putting him in the Accolade, which won the match). She says this is your American reality, slipping into unconsciousness. Rusev says when it gets tough, all Americans just give up. Lana says they were surprised when Cena begged for a rematch. Rusev is a champion. He answers to no one, especially someone who is falling asleep on the job. Anyway, they’re going to talk about something more important than Cena. Rusev has received emails from the greatest president on earth, Vladimir Putin (a shot is put up on the Tron), then a picture of what appears to be a letter in Russian. She translates it, and it’s supposedly a letter from Putin, saying how proud he is of Rusev for everything he’s accomplished, as well as refusing Cena’s demands. Rusev says he’ll have a great match at WM, against someone worth his time, who he’ll defeat like everyone else. However, that opponent won’t be Cena, because “Mr. Never Give Up” has been beaten, broken and crushed.
Oh, for sh*t’s sake. Here comes Jack Swagger. Please don’t tell me they’re going to do this feud for a third time. He asks if Rusev is scared to give Cena a rematch. If he’s scared to fight, he came to the wrong city. Rusev is surrounded by real America and real Americans. He climbs into the ring (looking kind of pudgy lately) and does his catchphrase. Rusev goes for a clothesline, but Swagger ducks and goes on the attack, hitting a series of knees in the corner before landing a forearm to the back of the head. Rusev rolls to the apron, where Swagger knocks him to the floor with a clothesline. Swagger rolls him back into the ring, but Rusev slides back out to the floor. Swagger tries to grab him through the ropes, but Rusev nails him in the face. He hits his thrust kick from the floor, then climbs back in the ring to nail Swagger with more kicks to the legs and body before putting him down with another thrust kick. Rusev then locks in the Accolade. Swagger taps out, apparently forgetting this isn’t a match. Rusev lets him go anyway, but then reapplies the hold as the Russian flag drops from the ceiling. A referee comes out to break the hold. Rusev does, only to reapply it again.
MATCH 3: INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION BAD NEWS BARRETT VS. DANIEL BRYAN (NON-TITLE)
R-Truth is on commentary, due to a non-title win over BNB last week. He calls Byron Saxton “Coach”. The match starts, and the two exchange several quick holds before BNB looks to make sure the IC title is still in the corner. He then boots Bryan in the gut before throwing him to the corner for an assault. Bryan gets whipped across the ring, but he hits a drop toehold on an incoming BNB into the middle buckle. Bryan nails a pair of European uppercuts, then begins to work on BNB’s left leg before going for a surfboard. BNB tries to power out and grab the ropes, so Bryan just stomps him in the back of his knees. BNB recovers and nails a headbutt before snapping off a suplex for 2. Bryan comes back with another pair of European uppercuts, then starts firing up the Yes! Kicks. Bryan comes off the ropes, and BNB catches him with the Winds of Change for 2. BNB throws Bryan to the floor, then grabs the IC title for a little celebrating as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, BNB has Bryan hung up in the ropes and is nailing him with kneelifts. BNB then drops Bryan to the apron with a running boot. BNB pulls him in for the pin, but only gets 2. He then applies a rear chinlock, but Bryan escapes after some elbows. BNB nails him with an elbow to the back of the neck and goes for a corner whip. Bryan flips out of the corner, ducks a clothesline and nails one of his own. He fires up the Yes! Kicks again, then drops BNB with one of the ropes for 2. Bryan continues hitting kicks in the corner, then lands a running corner dropkick. He tries it one too many times though, as BNB avoids a second attempt. He asks where his title went, as it’s missing from the corner. It dropped to the floor, so BNB goes out to put it back in the corner. Bryan hits him with a baseball slide near the announce desk, then wipes him out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Bryan goes up top. BNB recovers and crotches him, then goes for Wasteland. Bryan escapes and pulls him down into the Yes! Lock. Meanwhile, Truth gets up from the announce desk and steals the IC title belt, shoving it under his shirt. In the ring, BNB manages to get a rope break as Truth heads back to commentary. BNB hits a mule kick, then sends Bryan shoulder-first into the ring post. BNB sets up the Bull Hammer, but Bryan explodes out of the corner with the running knee for 3.
WINNER: DANIEL BRYAN.
After the match, BNB looks around for his belt and notices it missing from the corner once again. He looks around the floor and cant find it, then asks the referee to help him look. He asks everyone at the announce desk if they’ve seen it. Truth stands up and lifts his shirt up, where the belt was earlier. However, it’s gone now. BNB just slumps against the announce desk, looking distraught.
We go to an interview recorded earlier between Byron Saxton and Roman Reigns. Saxton congratulates him on his win over Bryan at Fastlane, calling it the most hard-fought match of Reigns’ career. Reigns agrees and says that’s the type of competitor Bryan is. Bryan knows what it takes to get where Reigns is going, and that is Brock Lesnar. He’s going to beat Lesnar at WM. Saxton cuts to what Paul Heyman said to Reigns on RAW, where Heyman more or less kisses Reigns’ ass, only to turn around and say Reigns still can’t beat Lesnar. Back to Reigns in the interview, he says Heyman talks nonstop. Reigns hates the word “can’t” and being told he can’t do something. He can and will beat Lesnar. Saxton asks how he’s preparing for this match. Reigns says maybe he’ll get back on his boat and take a cruise (jokingly). He says he has to train harder and faster, as well as watch old tapes of Lesnar. However, it won’t be athleticism that beats Lesnar. This is a man who has done it all before, including WM main events. Reigns hasn’t been there yet. Normally, he wants to do it on his own, but he’s not a fool. He needs to tap into his resources, talk to his family, get advice and prepare him. Where he’s at right now, he can be cocky, but this opportunity is once in a lifetime. The rug can be pulled any moment. He’s had to fight to keep this opportunity. He hopes Lesnar is cocky and confidence, bouncing around, staring at Reigns with his arrogant eyes. Through those eyes, he’ll look at a man fighting for a proud family, trying build a future for his family. That’s a scary combo. He’s going to beat Lesnar at WM, and he doesn’t care if anyone believes it; he knows it, and he’ll prove it.
It’s announced that the Bushwhackers will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
We see R-Truth celebrating with the IC title in the back, when he’s stopped by Dean Ambrose. Truth makes up a lie about beating Bad News Barrett for the title, and Ambrose says he wants the belt back. Truth then hands it over before running away.
MATCH 4: FANDANGO (W/ROSA MENDES) VS. CURTIS AXEL
Apparently, Fandango will also be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal this year. Before the match, Axel says not to turn the channel (I should point out he’s now wearing an “Axelmania” shirt that looks similar to a “Hulkamania” shirt). Everyone knows, at the Royal Rumble, he was attacked from behind and didn’t get the opportunity to get in the ring. Therefore, he was never eliminated, therefore, he’s still in it. He set the longest record for time in the Rumble ever. He’s been in the match for 32 days, 7 minutes and 20 seconds (Axel stupidly says “32 hours”). Sorry, but Maven’s been in the Rumble match for over 13 years now, Axel. No superstar has eliminated him from the Rumble, just like no one will eliminate him from the Andre battle royal at WM. He then fails at an “Axelmania” chant attempt.
The bell sounds, and Fandango applies a waistlock. Axel elbow out, then stomps Fandango down before tossing him over the top and to the floor. He points up at the WM sign, and the temporary distraction allows Fandango to roll him up for 2. Fandango ducks a clothesline and hits a standing suplex before coming off the top with the Last Dance for 3.
We see Damien Mizdow in front of a green screen with two women, apparently shooting a commercial. The Miz tells them to cut, and says he hasn’t seen acting this bad since Michael Keaton in Birdman. Mizdow points out that Keaton was nominated for an Oscar for that. Miz then does an impression of Mizdow, mocking Mizdow, calling him useless and whatnot. Miz tells the director to ditch Mizdow in favor of an “A-lister”. The director didn’t know Miz was interested, and says he’d love to have Miz in the commercial. He hands Miz a script, which Miz tosses, calling his face a script. They start to roll as Mizdow looks on, angry.
We get a special video package for Sting.
Adam Rose comes out for his match, but before that, we get an inset promo from him, surrounded by his Rosebuds. He says this year’s WM will be the ultimate party, because for the first time ever, he’ll be crashing that party and walking out the winner of the Andre battle royal. To the other competitors green with a jealousy, don’t be a lemon; be a Rosebud.
MATCH 5: ADAM ROSE (W/THE EXOTIC EXPRESS) VS. GOLDUST
Rose nails Goldust from behind, then throws him into the corner for some kicks. Rose hits a forearm and throws Goldust to another corner for a chop. Goldust comes back with a drop-down uppercut, then unloads on Rose in the corner. Rose reverses a whip, but then runs into a powerslam for 2. Rose comes back with a couple boots in the corner, then comes off the top with a dive. Goldust moves, and Rose lands on his feet. It’s all for naught, however, as Goldust quickly drops him with the Final Cut for 3.
Goldust heads to the back through the Rosebuds, only to have one dressed like a sock monkey attack him. The Rosebud throws him into the ring apron, only to strip off the top half of the suit, revealing himself to be Stardust. At least he’s back in his less goofy-looking gear. Stardust rolls Goldust into the ring and throws him around like a ragdoll before hitting what used to be called Cross Rhodes. Not sure if he’s changed the name of it yet.
The screen cuts to black, which means it’s time for Bray Wyatt. Do his words mean anything to you, “Dead Man”? Sometimes, he wonders if you can hear him at all. Or maybe you’re just to busy clinging to whatever life you have left, that you can’t even heed his call. He needs you to know this: he is not just a man; he’s is the serpent. Even the bravest rat can only outrun the snake’s fangs for so long before fate calls them by name. Your ignorance mocks him, Undertaker. How wrong is it you think can hide from him? Hell is his playground, and he would go through the deepest, darkest depths just to see your face. Time is ticking. Wrestlemania approaches. So come on, “Dead Man”. Show yourself. Find him. Find him.
MATCH 6: DOLPH ZIGGLER, ERICK ROWAN AND RYBACK VS. SETH ROLLINS, THE BIG SHOW AND KANE (W/J&J SECURITY)
Rowan and Kane start, with Kane applying an arm wringer. He turns it into a side headlock, then collides with a shoulder off the ropes, only to leave Rowan still standing. Kane hits a boot and sends Rowan into the corner. Rowan comes back with a shoulder that takes Kane down. Rowan hits a headbutt, then catches Kane off the ropes, hitting him with a fall-away slam. Rowan mounts the middle buckle and hits a spinning European uppercut for 1. Rowan rams Kane head-first into the top buckle, then tags in Ziggler. Kane drops Ziggler with a knee, then goes for a suplex. Ziggler lands on his feet and trips Kane, sending him into the buckles. Ziggler then hits a dropkick for 2. Kane backs Ziggler into the heel corner and tags in Rollins, who lands a punch, then sends Ziggler into the ropes. Ziggler knocks him into the corner with a kick, hits a corner splash and follows up with a neckbreaker before hitting the Shot to the Heart. He misses the rocker dropper, and Show makes a blind tag. Ziggler drops Rollins with a dropkick, then goes after Show. Show shoves him down, then swings Ziggler onto his back out of a cobra clutch. Haven’t seen him do that in about 9 years. Commercials.
Back from the break, Kane is now legal for his team, and he’s got Ziggler in a rear chinlock. Ziggler gets to his feet and punches his way out before Kane whips him down by the neck. Kane misses an elbow off the ropes. Ziggler turns around and misses a rocker dropper, then runs into a big boot. Rollins tags in and covers Ziggler for 2, then gets another 2 off a punch. Show tags in after Rollins throws Ziggler into Show’s boot. Show drops Ziggler with a big boot and goes to the middle rope for his version of the Vader Bomb, which connects for 2. Show picks Ziggler up by the face and throws him to the corner. Ziggler blocks a charge, then takes Show down with a rocker dropper. Kane tags in as Ziggler crawls to Ryback. Kane knocks Rowan down with an uppercut, then turns around into a leaping DDT from Ziggler. Ryback and Rollins tag in, and Ryback dominates before hitting a Thesz press. He then bounces Rollins’ head off the mat before hitting an overhead belly-to-belly. Rollins blocks a corner splash and comes off the ropes, only to be caught in a gorilla press, which Ryback then turns into an over-the-shoulder powerslam. Ryback signals for the Meat Hook, which connects. Jamie Noble jumps on the apron, and Ryback wipes him out. Joey Mercury enters the ring, and Ryback bounces his face off the mat. He picks Rollins up for Shell Shocked, then looks at Mercury and decides to pick him up as well. He gets them both up, but then drops them when Show tries to enter the ring. Show puts Ryback down with a boot, so Rowan comes in and clotheslines Show to the floor. Rollins wipes Rowan out with a suicide dive, then comes back in, looking for a blockbuster from the middle rope. Ryback catches him upside-down in mid-air and looks for Shell Shocked again. Rollins escapes as Kane looks for a chokeslam, only to have it broken up when Ziggler takes him down with the Zig-Zag. Rollins tosses Ziggler to the floor, then hits a thrust kick on Ryback. He goes for the curb stomp, but gets distracted when Rowan tosses Noble into the ring through the ropes. Mercury gets dropped on the outside. Rollins goes for the curb stomp anyway, but Ryback sees it coming, moves and sends Rollins right into a Ziggler superkick. Ryback then hits Shell Shocked for 3.
WINNERS: ERICK ROWAN, RYBACK AND DOLPH ZIGGLER.
Even when Rowan wins a match, he’s barely a factor.
The Twitter beef between Stephanie McMahon and AJ Lee has taken on a life of its own. Just days after the company slammed Lee’s husband CM Punk, Lee took the offense and humiliated McMahon on Twitter leading to all kinds of speculation from fans and media.
The tweet exchange came shortly Stephanie McMahon sent out a tweet in support of Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech on women’s equality. Stephanie tweeted…
“Thank You Patty Arquette for having the courage to fight for women’s rights on such a grand platform,” in response to Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech for winning Best Supporting Actress in the movie “Boyhood.”
Shortly thereafter, the WWE Diva responded with…
“Your female wrestlers have record selling merchandise and have starred in the highest rated segments of the show times. And yet they receive a fraction of the wages and screen time of the majority of the male roster.”
Ouch! Stephanie later tweeted that she thanked AJ for her opinion. According to a story in the new Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Stephanie was downright furious over the tweets. Stephanie felt humiliated and embarrassed. The newsletter also reports that Vince made her respond to the tweet. Finally the report indicates that AJ posted these tweets on her own and not as part of any kind of angle.
Anyone convinced that this is some kind of angle is working themselves into false hope. I don’t believe for a second that this is any kind of angle. I think what you had here was someone torn between her family and her dream job, on the brink of frustration and lashing out. Professional or unprofessional, I don’t think anyone could blame her in this situation.
That said, I would love to understand where she is getting her metrics. I can’t ever recall, at least during Lee’s era, a segment on RAW where the Divas drew the highest rating of the entire show. I have not read any reports of record-selling Divas merchandise as well. As for the wages, I don’t know what she makes but I always groan at entertainers or athletes who complain publicly about their salary. Nobody forced her to become a pro wrestler or work for the WWE. If her salary was that bad, she should go do something else.
On the flip side, Stephanie really opened a huge Pandora’s box with her tweet. Let’s call a spade a spade. Women have not exactly been portrayed in the best light in the WWE. Women are regularly mocked with dumb jokes and tasteless segments. They are booked as filler matches, rarely getting any kind of spotlight or promotion. It is what it is and unless Stephanie hasn’t watched her own show in the last five years, women’s equality is not a cause I’d jump on if I were her.
Regardless, this is just more fallout from the ugly divorce between CM Punk and the WWE. Unfortunately it looks like it is going to end with two of the most talented performers on the roster never to be seen again.
Rey Mysterio is free! The former WWE superstar and champion has reportedly reached a settlement which allows Rey to become a free agent. Rey becomes the second biggest Latino star to leave the company in recent months, leaving a huge void in that market place.
The Rey Mysterio-WWE contract saga has dragged on for almost a year. Mysterio has been trying to get out of his contract for several months. While Rey’s contract technically expired some time ago, the company believed that Rey’s time off due to injury extended the contract. Mysterio’s contract has officially expired, ending what some called the “Free Rey” campaign.
Mysterio may be one of the biggest overachievers in WWE history. At 5′ 6″, Rey is probably the shortest, most successful wrestler in WWE history. Rey peaked as a WWE world champion in 2008 and has been a big merchandise seller with kids throughout his tenure with the company. I think it is fair to say that Rey has probably been the most consistent performer in terms of match quality. Rarely would you ever see anything less than a pretty good Rey Mysterio match.
Mysterio has been hampered with injuries in recent years, expected due to his acrobatic style over the last 25 years. Since 2012, Rey has been on disabled list with injuries ranging from knee to wrist to concussions. Rey’s last WWE match was a match on RAW the night after WrestleMania 30 in which we was defeated by a returning Bad News Barrett.
Most recently Rey will probably be remembered as the sacrificial lamb in the 2014 Royal Rumble. Rey entered the match as number 30 and was booed out of the building. The rowdy crowd in Pittsburgh took out their frustrations over Daniel Bryan not being booked in the match on poor Rey. Steve Austin even joked on his podcast that he would have taken that spot in favor of sacrificing “Rey Rey.”
Mysterio is expected to return to the ring in Triple A and Lucha Underground. A free agent for the first time in 13 years, Rey could easily clean up on the independent circuit here in the United States if he wanted to. I am just uncertain on how much Rey wants to wrestle at this point. After years of nagging injuries, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Rey take a greatly reduced schedule, picking his U.S. spots randomly throughout the year.
Rey’s void will not only hurt match quality but it will greatly impact the Latino market. In recent months the WWE has now lost both Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio, their two biggest Latino and Hispanic draws. I’ll tell you what, if you are a Latino wrestler who can work with a great look you can probably get yourself a hell of a deal these days from the WWE. I can’t recall a time in recent memory where the WWE didn’t have at least one Latino star to cater to that market. It’s a huge hole and I am not sure how they fill it.
Rey will be missed and the real shame here is that he never got a good run with the title. Sure he got the title, but Vince McMahon never believed in him, and he was booked as a fluke champion. Rey was red hot when he won the title and could have become an even bigger star if the company went with him. They didn’t and it showed in his booking as champion.
Thanks for a great 13 years of WWE action Rey Mysterio. Your presence will greatly be missed.
I have to say I am a bit skeptical of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the Von Erich Family that will air tonight on the mother station. The short, which is part of an amazing series by the network that focuses on triumph and tragedy in all sports genres, is taking aim at one of the famed wrestling families of my generation. The show is expected to present the personal side of their successes and failures and a family that had its highs and lows before the peak of Hulkamania and in the beginning stages of the changes in wrestling culture.
For all you out there who are too young to remember the story, Their actual birth names are “Adkisson”, but every member of the family who went into the wrestling business used the ring name “Von Erich”, after the family patriarch, Jack (Fritz Von Erich) Adkisson.
Although the family patriarch Fritz lived to the age of 68, five of his six sons preceded him in death (three by suicide). The firstborn son, Jack Jr., died at the age of six. In 1984, David Von Erich died in Japan from acute enteritis of the upper intestine. Michael, Chris, and Kerry all committed suicide in 1987, 1991, and 1993 respectively. Mike died after taking an overdose of Placidyl. Chris shot himself in the head with a 9mm handgun at his parents’ home in East Texas. Kerry shot himself in the chest behind his father’s house on Shady Shores Road. Kevin Von Erich is the sole surviving child of Fritz (Jack Adkisson) and Doris Adkisson.
It was one of the first instances where the “dark” side of the business was exposed. Before Hulk Hogan was accused of taking steroids and long before Owen Hart fell to his death, the Von Erich family were the poster children for everything that wrestling did to cripple competitors, as some would say, because of the pressures of the business, the success and the family name.
Wrestling has a way of grabbing athletes and sucking them into the walls of the business, one where they eat, sleep and breathe everything around them. That may be why Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Jake Roberts and even Hulk Hogan to some degree cannot get away from the squared circle. They are sucked in like a magnetic field and never released from its clutches. The demons like alcohol, drugs, women and the mystique of staying in character ultimately destroy them.
Other wrestlers, most notably Ric Flair in “To Be The Man” spoke candidly about David’s death and how it affected the NWA at the time because as a rising star, he was viewed as a performer who could carry the banner of the promotion and lead it well into the 1980s.
The official doctor’s report allegedly states that he died of acute enteritis, but Ric Flair in the autobiography, said, “everybody in wrestling believes” that it was a drug overdose that really killed him and that Bruiser Brody (a fellow wrestler who found David) disposed of the narcotics by flushing them down a toilet before the police arrived. Mick Foley also claims that he died from an apparent drug overdose.
Kerry’s death was just as tragic. He was in a motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life. He suffered a dislocated hip and a badly injured right leg. Doctors were unable to save his right foot, eventually amputating it. According to his brother Kevin, Kerry injured the foot following surgery by attempting to walk on it prematurely, thus forcing the doctors to amputate it.
He was able to continue wrestling after the accident with a prosthesis and until his death, kept the amputation secret to the majority of fans and fellow wrestlers, even going to the extreme of showering with his boots on.
Due to the amputation, Kerry became addicted to pain killers, followed by several drug problems. Amongst the many of them were two arrests, the first of which resulted in probation. After the second, which violated the probation and likely would have resulted in extensive jail time, Kerry committed suicide by a shot to the heart on February 18, 1993 on his father’s ranch in Denton County, Texas. Bret Hart states in his biography, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, that Kerry had told him months before about his plans – he had wanted to follow his late brothers, that they were calling him.
As a young teen, I can remember watching Fritz march his boys out on television every Saturday morning to the screams and cheers of the fans, like rock stars and entertainment gods. It’s a shame the adulation the fans gave the family only magnified how sad the losses were to the family and the wrestling community.
While I want to watch in anticipation, I hope the “short” is as well played as others that have left their mark on television and sports documentary coverage. Wrestling takes too many hits for its scripted outcomes, the breakdown of kayfabe and of course, the characters who come clean and tell everyone it is
Legendary pro wrestling journalist Bill Apter talked with former wrestling great (and one of my personal favorites) Austin Idol. Idol and Apter talk about the 40-year anniversary of one of the worst plane crashes in wrestling history in a fascinating interview.
It is amazing if you think about it that I can only name two well-known plane crashes involving pro wrestlers over the last forty years. One is the plane crash that almost ended the career of Ric Flair and the other is the plane crash that killed Bobby Shane. Austin Idol was on that plane and recounted all of the events surrounding that horrific crash with Bill Apter.
I can’t encourage you enough to go check out this interview. It is incredible from beginning to end and the details Idol provides are just downright scary.
The punchline is, “D-Generation X fired the first, and most important, shot in the Monday Night Wars.”
As with all things in Triple H’s legacy spit-shining, it’s an absurd statement, and most certainly on the more gut-busting end of the meter. The claim that an Army fatigue-clad DX turned the tide in the Monday Night Wars was first offered by WWE in the summer of 2002 on a show called Confidential, a Saturday night parade of fluff hosted by Mean Gene Okerlund. Some theorize that the statement was made in conjunction with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s ugly walkout of WWE that June (compounded by domestic assault charges later that same week), and the company began a slow whitewash of Austin in order to distance themselves from a potential felon.
After all, nobody was more important than Austin himself to turning back the challenge of Eric Bischoff’s star-studded World Championship Wrestling (well, him and the dips–ts at Time Warner, they’re pretty important as well). If Triple H challenges Vince McMahon to a brawl on the April 13, 1998 edition of Raw, do they win the ratings that night? If Triple H confronts Mike Tyson the previous January, does the news media go just as gaga? Saying Triple H led the charge against WCW is like saying The Departed won Best Picture because of Marky Mark.
Even with Austin restored in his place on WWE’s all-time Mount Rushmore, Triple H is sticking to the in-character claim that he was General Patton with a “Suck It” shirt. Granted, it could be easily dismissed as the claims of a deluded villain, thinking he was somehow responsible for a monumental shift of the upper hand in wrestling lore, but nobody calls him out on Front Street for it. Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and former WCW Champion Booker T say nothing to dispute the claim. Rambling parrot JBL (a pull-string doll could do what he does) will confirm the story, even at one point Monday saying he helped bring WCW down (which is like saying The Departed won Best Picture because of Martin Sheen’s desk blotter).
It is what it is: Triple H has to be the heel, but he can’t be a weak heel. Whether face or heel, his greatness will always be confirmed, never questioned. It’s why Ric Flair was his running buddy on screen for so long, to remind everyone (WHOO!) by God (WHOO!) that Triple H (WHOO!) is the King (WHOO!) of Kings! WWE is to be a living legacy to its inheritor, and history is written blah blah blah.
WCW’s legacy, on the other hand, is a paradox in WWE storytelling. On the one hand, episodes of the former YouTube show “Are You Serious?” would air clips of WCW’s foul-ups (of which there were more than plenty) with an affixed hash-tag, “#WCWRuinsEverything”. Nevermind the irony of WWE, the land of blown opportunity, casting aspersions on another wrestling company’s errors, but the tag is a good look into the mind of WWE thought: maybe if we remind everyone how stupid WCW was sometimes, everyone will forget our own creative incompetence. That “Are You Serious?” aired around 2012-13, over a decade after WCW died, makes the grave-pissing reek of desperation and insecurity.
Insecurity brings us back to Triple H, he of the phallic sledgehammer that symbolizes his might and will. So Triple H rambles about helping put WCW out of business, and makes the story about Turnerland lifer Sting waiting 14 years to exact his ultimate revenge. This is the weird part of Triple H that has to look oddly heroic, even as the obvious villain in the tale. During the Monday Night Wars, fans gradually, then swiftly, shifted to WWE until the ratings were as lop-sided as Rick Allen on a trapeze bar. Only the diehards really stood by WCW as it crumbled without pause.
WWE always taught its fans that WCW was the bad guy in all of it, filling their cards with old fossils (who does this sound like?) while underselling venues (I ask you again) and not pushing the younger talents (maybe WCW didn’t have enough brass rings). Smear tactics in the name of war aside, it’s kinda silly that Triple H is portrayed as both a ruthless asshole that rules as a dictator over his roster (which is fine) while also playing conquering guerrilla that single-handedly altered the course of wrestling history (zuh?).
It’s especially bizarre thanks to the very WWE Network that Triple H and others (understandably) whore incessantly. Thanks to the service, I can watch every WCW pay-per-view ever, plus the first 16 months of Nitro, a period in which the company was as revolutionary as anything we’ve ever seen in wrestling.
1995 episodes of Nitro give us eight-minute junior-heavyweight showcases, rapid-fire stories, and a “who’s gonna show up?” chaotic vibe that blew away the slogging Raw of the time. And I find that most 1995 Raws wipe the floor with the modern product’s awful pacing and self-congratulating, so you can imagine how I feel 1995 Nitro compares to WWE today.
It’s weird, but the very person who will be running WWE when Vince finally goes has actually made me miss WCW, in large part because of his constant mentioning of it. Triple H was once the logo for his own self-importance, but now he’s an avatar for a WWE that makes me miss spectacular alternatives. And forget Nitro; the Network has War Games out the ass. Sure, the 1998 version was crap through a strainer (#WCWRuinsEverything, LOL!), but the 1991 and 1992 editions are a nice alternative to Daniel Bryan and Paul Heyman trying to convince me that Roman Reigns is Jesus in SWAT attire.
There’s a thick, viscous irony in a red-hot WWE once leading the charge against a rotten WCW, followed by an eventually-sterile WWE exhuming WCW through an inadvertent call for sympathy, and a treasure trove of video history that brings back memories.
WCW isn’t the heel anymore. Given what WWE presents to its fans, the departed promotion is now the default babyface.
The dynamic between Vince McMahon and his wrestlers is always a fascinating topic. WWE.com offered up some new insight with a great piece featuring several WWE superstars who recounted their first meeting with Vince McMahon.
Even guys who worked for Vinnie Mac like Chris Jericho and Steve Austin are always talking to their podcast guests about Vince and his dynamics. Just recently Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels spent quite a bit of time discussing it. WWE.com nailed down several superstars who recounted some fascinating stories about meeting Vince. John Cena’s may be the best of them all.
“I didn’t have time to be nervous. It was in Chicago, Ill., on the day I had my debut match against Kurt Angle. I wasn’t supposed to have a match that night, but in the final moments, it was decided that I would debut on television against an Olympic Gold Medalist. Higher-ups said, ‘If we’re going to put the kid on TV, he’s gotta meet Vince!’
“They literally dragged me by the arm to Vince’s office, threw me in and asked him, ‘What do you think?’ I had ridiculously ugly, long, super-dyed blond hair that was shaved bald on the sides. He turned around and with a disgusted look on his face, he said, ‘Cut his hair,’ and I was whisked away from Vince like an assembly line.
“That was the first time I met Vince McMahon and he was disgusted to look at me. They shipped me out and I immediately got a haircut, which was not dyed blond, but equally as horrible.”
That is a great story. Think about that one for a second. The man who would later become his flagship initially disgusted Vince McMahon when they first met. It is funny how things wind up playing out sometimes isn’t it?
JBL had another great story. JBL would of course ascend through the ranks and eventually become a WWE world champion. According to JBL if Vince had it his way, JBL would have been performing Swan Lake on Monday Night RAW.
“I had to go up to Stamford to meet Vince for the first time. I walked in the room and it was JJ Dillon, [Human Resources executive] Lisa Wolfe and Vince. He sat me down, and with a complete straight face he said, ‘We’re going to make you a bad guy ballerina.’ I’d always been a cowboy and I’d already told WCW I wasn’t coming. I looked at him and thought, ‘Oh god, I’ve made the worst decision of my life.’ I said to him, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, it’ll be great. You’re going to be a ballerina that’s a real bad guy.’ Then he started laughing and said, ‘No, I like the cowboy. We’ll do that. That sounds good.’
“He threw this contract out there for virtually no guaranteed money and said to me, ‘That contract’s not worth the paper it’s written on. All I can guarantee you is the handshake behind it.’ And that’s all I needed. I could live with that.
“He’s charismatic. No doubt about it. I don’t think anybody’s that ever met him will say any different.”
Wow! Could you imagine? Daniel Bryan describes his meeting and sums it up quite eloquently.
“It was very awkward and very uncomfortable. Vince takes these very long pauses after he asks you a question and you answer him. He’ll just look at you. Some will start talking, which I think he likes because it shows they’re uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable, but I just looked at him. I was waiting for him to talk and he was waiting for me to talk. It was surreal. I was very nervous and even in in my $500 suit — which I thought was the most expensive suit in the world — I knew I was inadequately dressed. This guy has the power to control your destiny.”
Check out the entire article on WWE.com with more comments from WWE superstars and their first meeting with Vince McMahon.
“Wrestling can drive you nuts from all the lies!” Those were the words from one of the most celebrated legends of pro wrestling, Bruiser Brody. The book Brody: The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel is a great read that pays tribute to one of wrestling’s greatest outlaws, Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish.
Bruiser Brody is legendary for a lot of reasons in pro wrestling. Brody’s in-ring ability, his influence, his wrestling psychology, his business sense, his thirst for blood and violence, his true rebellious ways, and his devotion to his family are many of the reasons that Frank Goodish is just as much a part of pro wrestling today as he was during his glory years.
Larry Matysik is the protege of the famous NWA kingpin, Sam Muchnick, as well as an iatrical part of the St. Louis wrestling territory in and out of the ring. Matysik along with Brody’s widow, Barbara chronicle the life and times of Bruiser Brody in a new book – Brody – The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel.
Bruiser Brody went from the NFL to headlining Madison Square Garden against Bruno Sammartino, selling out the Tokyo Dome against Antonio Inoki, drawing big box-offices challenging the NWA World Champions Harley Race and Ric Flair, and terrorizing the country with his bloody battles against Abdullah the Butcher. While nobody could stop him inside of the ring, Brody faced a challenge before a show one night that would take the big man down for the count.
The first chapter of the book is entitled, “Murder.” The chapter is written from the point of view of Brody’s friend Larry Matysik, and includes comments from several of Brody’s peers. It is without a doubt one of the most riveting single chapters I have ever read in a book period. The second chapter entitled “The Nightmare” is written by Barbara as she reflects her final days with Frank, how she found out about the incident, and how her and her son dealt with the loss of their husband and father.
The death of Bruiser Brody is still one of the most talked about and controversial stories in pro wrestling nineteen years later. I recently had a chance myself to discuss this night with Dan Spivey who was Brody’s scheduled opponent. This continues to be one of those stories that have about twenty different interpretations from the people that were there which includes witnesses to the actual murder.
Brody was scheduled to wrestle Dan Spivey in Puerto Rico. Brody wound up in a secluded room with the booker and fellow wrestler, Jose’ Gonzales. Exactly what happened next has been told in so many different forms and versions that the real story may never truly be told. The bottom line is that Brody entered that dressing room a healthy man. Brody left that room stabbed, bloody, hanging on to dear life, and shortly after dead.
The book proceeds to chronicle the rise of Bruiser Brody from the gridiron to the wrestling ring. Brody had one of the most storied careers in such a short time. The book fairly points out some of the controversies that Brody had throughout his career.
Brody had a reputation for not always doing what was right for business. Several of Brody’s peers I have talked to over the years including Bobby Heenan and Nick Bockwinkel don’t remember Brody fondly at all. Both describe him as bad for business and not worth the trouble he brought with him to a territory.
Matysik is fair to discuss this issue and even one of Brody’s closest friends Gary Hart talks about the troubles he even had controlling the big man. Brody was so intelligent when it came to pro wrestling that he was usually two steps ahead of the game if he felt he was being used or misused. Another story talks about the infamous night Brody and his partner Jimmy Snuka walked out in the middle of a sold-out Japanese tour.
My memories of seeing Bruiser Brody live go back to about 1987 in Wildwood, NJ. I took a fan-trip to see Brody live since it was the closest that he had ever come to wrestling in the area since I had been a fan. Brody was headlining the show against his most notorious rival Abdullah the Butcher.
There were only a couple of hundred fans in attendance if that. Most of the matches were terrible. For fans that complain about independent wrestling today, try going to a show 20 years ago and tell me how much fun they are? Anyhow, Brody and Abdullah came out and immediately brawled all over Convention Hall. The two went into the concession area, the stands, the chairs, the bathrooms, no place was safe. I remember a moment where the two went into a room and Brody returned with a broomstick and began clubbing Abdullah with it. 1 fans, 200 fans, 20000 fans, the two gave everyone a hell of a show. I had never seen anything like it live and I wouldn’t again until 8 years later and ECW.
One fantastic story that describes Brody’s smarts was a match he had in St. Louis challenging Harley Race for the NWA World Heavyweight title. Brody promoted the match with crazy interviews leading up to the event. As crazy as Brody got about the match, he never once promised that he would beat Harley Race for the title. He only promised to beat up Harley Race. Brody understood that babyfaces should never make promises they won’t be keeping to the fans. How many times in today’s wrestling do you see babyfaces predicting victory against the heels only to come out with a loss? Wrestling 101 my friends.
In reading about some of the stories I felt as if I was riding in the car just listening to these people crack open a cold one and start storytelling. It is amazing to me that almost twenty-years later and nobody has been charged with Brody’s murder. The man be gone but his legend will always live on. Bruiser Brody is the kind of guy I could see myself easily becoming friends with on the independents.
The man was smart, loyal, and dedicated to his family and his craft. It is a shame that the new generation of fans will never have the experience of seeing Brody live. The story of Bruiser Brody is one that should have been told a long time ago. Frank Goodish was very lucky to have Larry Matysik and Barbara Goodish in his life. The two tell a great story and one that should be read by all aspiring wrestlers and fans. It is the kind of book old-school wrestling fans only wish that some of our legends would write about.
A classic Bruiser Brody promo
Click here to order the book Brody – The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel.
See Bruiser Brody wrestle Ric Flair to a classic one-hour draw on the Classic St. Louis Wrestling Vol. 12 DVD by clicking here.
See Bruiser Brody take on Abdullah the Butcher in a Steel Cage on the The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD by clicking here.
The big news coming out of Monday Night RAW was not a dull kickoff to WrestleMania. The big story was Brock Lesnar and where he was. Lesnar walked out of RAW and a new report indicates that there could be trouble in paradise.
It was a strange Monday for Lesnar and the WWE. Earlier in the day WWE.com promoted that Brock would be appearing on RAW. Yet by the end of the broadcast there was no Brock and people were talking. Dave Meltzer reported on his podcast that Brock walked out but could not provide details. Well some details have now emerged.
Mike Johnson over at PWInsider.com has the scoop. According to Mike, Brock did indeed walk out. Mike reports that the disagreement was not over anything related to creative. Mike reports that the disagreement was simply over business between the two parties. Mike did not have much more to it other than that Vince McMahon confirmed the blow up the following day at SmackDown.
Ironically this comes only a few days after news broke that Brock was leaning towards staying with the WWE. Meltzer reported in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Lesnar was hesitant to return to MMA over concussion concerns and Brock was leaning towards re-signing with the WWE. I do not think any of this is a coincidence whatsoever.
Brock’s behavior has always been a concern by WWE officials. Many believe that John Cena was booked to go over Lesnar in Lesnar’s debut simply because the company was unsure whether Brock would be around long enough to return the favor. That said, there has only been one reported blow up between Brock and the WWE and that was over Cena’s promo after their Extreme Rules match. Other than that, most have painted a rosy picture of Brock and Vince’s relationship.
Meltzer also reported on his podcast that the WrestleMania 31 main-event is not in jeopardy. Brock is under contract and is expected to fulfill all of his obligations. That said, Brock never returned to NJPW to drop the IWGP title but those were different circumstances. Whether the match is in jeopardy or not, there has to be people worried in the company when the headliner walks out a month before the big show.
As for Brock’s future post-Mania, I wouldn’t be too worried. These two parties survived a nasty lawsuit and continue to do business together. Brock had a similar reputation when dealing with the UFC and Dana White would take him back in a heartbeat. I expect things to be smoothed out but until then, I’d be slightly worried if I were Vince McMahon.