Happy 17th Anniversary Hulk Hogan WCW Heel Turn

July 07, 2013 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seventeen years ago today history was made and a revolution was started. Hulk Hogan dropped the leg on WCW and joined Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to form the New World Order beginning what some would call the greatest angle in the history of pro wrestling.

It is easy for a lot of us to sit back and criticize the many mistakes WCW made but on one night they got it right. July 7 1996 at the WCW Bash at the Beach 96 one angle revitalized a legendary career, gave new life to a struggling company, created icons, and pumped new blood into an entire business that some had left for dead months earlier. The night Hulk Hogan turned heel is something that those of us that were fans in 1996 will never forget.

To fully appreciate the impact of this angle I have to give you a little background. WCW had been a place up to that point that was more appreciated by hardcore and longtime wrestling fans for legends like Ric Flair and young athletic stars like Brian Pillman and Steve Austin. It had a nice following but it was more southern than national. Eric Bischoff was determined to change that and made a stunning move by signing Hulk Hogan in 1994. Bischoff put his job on the line and offered Hogan a deal which the WWE opted not to match.

The deal was a huge gamble for WCW. Hogan had been on the downside of his WWE career. It was generally believed that Hogan would have been used as a guy to hand the torch off to the next generation of stars rather than be the face of the company had he stayed in the WWE. Hogan was also the poster boy of everything WCW fans hated about the WWE. Could Bischoff level the playing field bringing over new fans to outnumber the fans who would be tuning out of WCW?

It was a nice start for Hogan and WCW. Hogan feuded with Vader and Ric Flair early on and did fairly well on pay per view. The awareness of WCW was certainly higher with Hogan on top. Unfortunately the honeymoon would end faster than anyone expected. Hogan had run through everyone on top without returning the favor, no-sold finishers, and ate up every top heel in the company in a little over a year. Hogan without the oversight of Vince McMahon was becoming a real problem in WCW.

Fans started tuning out thanks to Hogan’s ridiculously cartoonish angles and just got tired of seeing the Hulk beat all of his repackaged foes. In addition to their own self inflicted damage, a little company called Extreme Championship Wrestling started making some noise. A big part of that noise was to expose the faults of WCW to their fans. ECW fans heard every week how lame WCW was and more people began laughing at the joke that was WCW.

Eric Bischoff played his ace card and developed a Monday night program to not only counter WWE programming, but steal some of their audience. In addition to the Monday night move, Bischoff slowly started poaching familiar names like Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage. Even with great talents like Heenan and Savage on board, WCW continued to come off as a company out of touch with the teenage audience and stale on ideas.

This all changed on May 27. Scott Hall clad in denim, walked out on WCW Monday Nitro and caused the biggest stir in the history of the program. Hall laid out a challenge to face three WCW wrestlers and said he would have two friends to join him in the match. A couple of weeks later Kevin Nash joined Scott Hall on Nitro. It was implied that Hall and Nash, seen on WWE TV for years as Razor Ramon and Diesel respectively, had invaded WCW. Nash and Hall were known as the Outsiders to play off of this. For fans that didn’t know any better, this was must-see television because anyone from the WWE could show up next.

WCW was starting to turn things around. Nitro had regularly done ratings in the low-mid twos yet were now pulling in ratings between 3.3-3.5. It may not sound impressive but to increase your ratings that fast and maintain them was a big deal. But even bigger than the ratings and the buyrates was the perception of WCW. WCW was cool again (well most of it).

The angle really kicked into second gear at the Great American Bash 96. Eric Bischoff accepted Hall’s challenge and said his three WCW wrestlers would meet them at Bash at the Beach. Bischoff refused to reveal the names to Hall and Nash. For that, he was powerbombed off the stage through a table by Nash. Today, this is something you probably see every week in wrestling. In 1996 the only place you were seeing anything like this was ECW. It was a very powerful angle and a historic moment in the angle.

To show you how big this angle was the Nitro rating that week shot up from a 2.7 to a 3.4. Nitro would only do one more rating below a 3.0 all year. A “random” drawing was held on Nitro the following week to determine who from WCW would wrestle Hall and Nash. Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger were chosen to represent WCW. Hall and Nash refused to reveal their partner. For the weeks up to the pay per view all of the talk on Nitro was, “who is the third man?” For fans at home not knowing any better, it could have been anyone from the WWE.

The week before Bash at the Beach, Hall and Nash invaded Nitro as usual. The Outsiders walked through the crowd in the middle of a segment with Bischoff and Heenan. The crowd was all over this and just eating it up. Hall and Nash wound up taking front row seats with popcorn in hand. Nash eventually grabbed the microphone and said, “It looks like we’re taking over a little early.” Hall and Nash proceeded to walk up the broadcast area where Bischoff and Heenan were sitting. Heenan left. Security stopped them and Sting, Luger, and Savage all madeup like Sting came out to confront them. Nash yelled, “look at the clowns!” The entire WCW locker room emptied out to support their company. Everyone had to be separated by security. It was an unreal moment and only added more excitement for Bash at the Beach.

Keep in mind the Internet was in its infancy so most of the scoops during this time period came from either the wrestling newsletters or hotlines. Most of the reputable sources reported that Hulk Hogan would be the third man for the Outsiders in the weeks leading to the show. Dave Meltzer on the other hand reported a week or so before the show that Hogan didn’t want to turn heel. Lex Luger was reported to be the backup plan with more sources leaning towards Luger in the days leading up to the show.

I remember watching Bash at the Beach 96 and thinking, “just get on with it.” It was torture sitting through two hours of undercard matches with so much anticipation for the main-event. All in all it was a pretty lousy undercard that night which certainly didn’t help matters. Finally though it was time for the main-event and you could cut the tension with a knife in the living room amongst friends and live on pay per view in the arena.

The Oustiders come out first with no third man. Gene Okerlund walks down the entrance way and looks confused. Dusty Rhodes says on commentary, “This is bogus!” Okerlund then enters the ring to confront Hall and Nash and says, “I don’t see three men here tonight. Where is your partner?

Hall answers and calls him “Scheme Gene.” Hall then tells Gene, “All you need to know little man is that he’s here, and he’s ready.” Okerlund then asks Nash, “Is your partner telling me your third man is in the building?” Nash says, “He’s here alright Gene. We’ve got enough to handle it right now, right here.” The WCW announcers are upset.

Before I talk about the match let me just say that Bobby Heenan is awesome here. He is selling this whole mystery like it is the biggest thing he has ever seen. Considering where he’s been, that said a lot. Heenan is mostly known as a witty commentator but when he had to get an angle over, he was a genius and highly underrated in that regard. We all talk about Heenan’s performance at the 1992 Royal Rumble but this may have been just as good.

Savage, Luger, and Sting all come out with war paint on. It’s your typical match early on, although very heated thanks to the audience. Lex takes a fall early on and is out on the floor. Luger is knocked unconscious on the floor. Heenan than tells the crowd that it’s now two against two, or three against two if the other guy is really in the building. Heenan tells Dusty, “Something’s up.” This was brilliant as it played into the whole drama surrounding the reports of Luger joining the Outsiders. Luger gets stretchered out and at this point just about everyone watching is thinking that Lex is coming back and turning on his friends.

The guys actually have a pretty decent match at this point. The crowd is red hot and everyone appears to be working their butts off. Savage was fantastic here. Savage wrestled with such aggression against Hall and Nash that he really got the whole idea over of how WCW hated these guys for invading their company.

Savage drops Hall with a double axe handle from the top rope. Nash and Hall are both down. Nash gives Savage a low blow. All four guys are out (Sting from earlier). Referee Pee Wee Anderson starts to count them out. The attention is turned to the ramp as Hulk Hogan walks out with the red and yellow and pointing fingers. The fans start screaming, yes screaming for Hulk. Once again this isn’t 2011 and most of the crowd had no idea at all about the Hogan rumors. God love that gullible WCW crowd.

Dusty and Tony Schiavone start screaming about Hulk Hogan being there to save the day for WCW. Dusty sounded a little phony but Schiavone was really believable. Dusty, “Hulk Hogan is in the building.” Schiavone, “You’re damned right he is!” Bobby Heenan asks the million dollar question, “Yeah but who’s side is he on?” Dusty won’t even hear of it.

Hogan enters the ring, Hall and Nash take a powder, and Savage is still laid out in the center of the ring from the low blow (he’s selling this low blow like he’s Josh Koscheck). Hogan leans back in the turnbuckle, looks around, and then drops the leg heard around the world across the neck of his old foe Randy Savage. Heenan announces that Hogan is the third man. Hogan drops another leg while Hall and Nash join the party and give each other high-fives. Heenan calls it, “the lowest shot ever given to professional wrestling.” Keep in mind this was before Dixie Carter’s state of the company address on TNA Impact.

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I hate to keep gloating about Heenan but I will. What made Heenan so great in this situation in addition to everything else was his credibility. Heenan tells the fans that he told them so and he was right about Hogan all of these years. Another heel announcer like Michael Cole would have suddenly started talking about his love for Hogan where Heenan actually turned himself babyface here.

Of course we all know what followed next. Fans started throwing trash into the ring at Hall, Hogan, and Nash. Gene Okerlund immediately entered the ring to ask Hogan what the hell this was all about. One thing to note here is that if this was present day wrestling, you would have turned into RAW or Impact to get this interview. At Bash at the Beach, you were certainly rewarded for the money you paid to watch this great moment.

Hogan cut what would become a historic promo in the center of the ring to explain the turn. Here is the entire transcript of the Hogan promo thanks to

Gene Okerlund: Hulk Hogan, excuse me. Excuse me. What in the world are you thinking?

Hulk Hogan: Mean Gene the first thing you gotta do is to tell these people to shut up if they want to hear what I’ve gotta say.

Gene Okerlund: I have been with you for so many years for you to join up with the likes of these two men absoulutely makes me SICK to my stomach! And I think that these people here and a lot of people around the whole wrestling world have had just about enough of this man and this man and you want to put yourself in this group? You’ve gotta be…kidding me!

Hulk Hogan: Well the first thing you’ve gotta realize brother is that this right here is the future of wrestling. You can call this the New World Order of wrestling brother. These two men came from a great big organization up north and everybody was wondering about who the third man was. Well who knows more about that organization than me brother?

Gene Okerlund: I’ve been there and done that. You have made the wrong decision in my opinion.

Hulk Hogan: Well let me tell you something, I made that organization brother! I made the people rich up there. I made the people that ran that organization rich up there. And when it all came to pass, the name Hulk Hogan, the man Hulk Hogan got bigger than the entire organization brother! And then Billionaire Ted amigo, he wanted to talk turkey with Hulk Hogan. Well Billionaire Ted promised me movies brother. Billionaire Ted promised me millions of dollars. And Billionaire Ted promised me world caliber matches. And as far as Billionaire Ted, Eric Bischoff and entire WCW goes, I’m bored brother. That’s why I want these two guys here, these so called Outsiders, these are the men I want as my friends. They are the new blood of professional wrestling and not only are we going to take over the whole wrestling business, with Hulk Hogan, the new blood and the monsters with me. We will destroy everything in our path Mean Gene.

Gene Okerlund: Look at all of this crap in this ring! This is what’s in the future for you if you want to hang around the likes of this man Hall, and this man Nash.

Hulk Hogan: As far as I’m concerned, all this crap in this ring represents these fans out here. For two years brother! For two years, I held my head high. I did everything for the charities. I did everything for the kids. And the reception I got when came out here, you fans can stick it brother. Because if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, you people wouldn’t be here. If it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. And if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, all of these “Johnny come latelys” that you see out here wrestling wouldn’t be here. I was selling the world out brother while they were bumming gas to put in their car to get to high school. So the way it is now brother, with Hulk Hogan and the New World Organization of wrestling brother, me and the new blood by my side. Whatcha gonna do when the New World Order runs wild on you? Whatcha gonna do?

Hulk Hogan: What are you gonna do?

Gene Okerlund: Hey, don’t touch me! Don’t touch me, I’m going to see the lawyers! Tony, Dusty, Bobby, Dammit let’s get back to you!

Tony Schiavone: “All right. We have seen the end of Hulkamania. For Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, for Dusty Rhodes, For “Mean” Gene Okerlund, I don’t know…I’m Tony Schiavone. Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell! We’re outta here. Straight to hell.”

What made this equally memorable was the scene of Hogan talking as endless amounts of trash rained down on him in the ring. I never saw anything like that and man did it give this angle some extra punch. Seeing how much the fans hated this made it even that much more powerful to the fans at home watching on television. It was a moment that I and many others will certainly never forget.

Jeff Peck and I break this down on an upcoming edition of the Still Real to Us podcast. We debated whether this was the greatest angle ever. I argued that next to Hogan dropping the leg on the Iron Sheik and beginning Hulkamania that it was. It pumped new life into the wrestling business which was struggling across the board. It saved what looked like was the end of the career of Hulk Hogan. It turned Scott Hall and Kevin Nash into icons. Was Stone Cold Steve Austin’s confrontation with Mike Tyson more successful? Maybe, but I don’t know if we would have ever even seen Stone Cold if it weren’t for the N.W.O.

The angle also ended a lot differently than it started. The same angle that revitalized the business and shot WCW to the moon was also badly mismanaged and would end up hurting WCW in the end more than it helped it. It had nothing to do with the Bash at the Beach angle but more to do with the incompetent booking of Eric Bischoff, Hall, Nash, and Hogan.

I could also make an argument that this was the greatest heel turn ever in the business. Bruno Sammartino, Steve Austin, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan were probably the biggest money makers in pro wrestling. All made money as blockbuster babyfaces but only Hogan did it as a blockbuster heel. While I am sure that someone will argue differently, I can’t think of a bigger heel that drew more money than Hogan did during his N.W.O. run.

Happy 17th anniversary Hollywood Hulk Hogan, the N.W.O., and Bash at the Beach 1996.

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The Greatest Pro Wrestling Angle Ever: Inside the Wheelhouse

July 07, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s been 17 years now since the birth of quite possibly the greatest wrestling angle of all-time, the birth of the New World Order (n.W.o.) at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996. Many wrestling fans remember this moment of the birth of the n.W.o. so vividly and as if the angle happened yesterday. It impacted the future of wrestling and is without a doubt the greatest angle in the history of wrestling.

Now before you jump down my throat for such a bold statement as it being the “greatest angle of all-time,” let’s look back at what the angle helped accomplish for the world of wrestling in the late 1990s. At the time it cemented WCW as the #1 wrestling company in the United States and in the World. I title that had been held by the then WWF for almost 20 years. It was earth shattering in wrestling as it always appeared that the WWF would be atop the wrestling world forever.

From a WCW standpoint it was their birth into an “attitude era.” If WCW was the one that put the WWF out of business we may have been talking about this being WCW’s Attitude Era as the changes we would see on WCW TV after this were revolutionary. No more was it all about saying your prayers and taking your vitamins. WCW adapted the revolutionary aspects that ECW was already doing and what society was starting to preach. It was a game changing moment.

It did multiple things from the standpoint of grabbing the wrestling fan’s emotion. It made Hulk Hogan into a heel. For the most part those watching wrestling at the time were bred into wrestling during the “hulkamania era.” These were little Hulkamaniacs now becoming adults and watching their hero growing up turn their back on them for the “money” of the n.W.o.. It was a riveting from the viewpoint of the wrestling fan watching their television.

It also made fans feel like there was a legit wrestling invasion going on with the boys “up north” (the WWF) coming down to WCW to attack Ted Turner’s promotion. Despite the early stages of the internet fans were under the impression that what was going on was legit. That maybe Vince McMahon and Ted Turner came together for the good of the angle. It was a modern day Civil War of wrestling, something we later & quickly found out to not be true at all.

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The angle also had implications on their competition in the WWF as it made them have to change their game plan as a company. No more stupid gimmicks, no more “make believe” storyline, the WWF would soon enter into the “Attitude Era” with their backs against the wall. It’s very ironic that days before the n.W.o. angle we also had the birth of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at the 1996 King of the Ring. It was a pretty instrumental stretch of days in the world of wrestling.

However you look at it wrestling was molded and shaped because of July 7, 1996 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The birth of the New World Order is what started the golden ages of wrestling for WCW, WWF & ECW. It was a chess match of “who could out do who” and it was the fans who were the eventual winners in it all.

I could go on and on with my thoughts & reasons on why the n.W.o. angle is the greatest wrestling angle of all-time but that defeats the purpose of downloading this week’s edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” where Eric Gargiulo & I discuss such. Develop your own opinions and thoughts on the angle, but when you look at the scope of things you might be surprised with how important in history it truly was. One thing is for certain, if you are a wrestling fan you remember the night of July 7, 1996 very well and the birth of the new World order.

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10 More Matches Where Pro Wrestling Turned Real

May 15, 2013 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog looking back at 10 instances where things got real inside of pro wrestling rings. The good news is that there are plenty more where that came from and I found 10 new matches where worked matches turned real in professional wrestling.

I had to dig a little deeper for the ten I highlight in today’s blog. The previous blog spotlighted the more famous shoots but there were plenty of others that you may have never even heard of or seen. I had to rattle the old Gargiulo brain to think back on shoots I have watched, heard about, or witnessed and it didn’t take long to come up with another ten.

This list isn’t in any kind of order. One thing I want to mention here is that not everything turned into a shoot on this list because of any bad blood between the wrestlers. Some of these shoots evolved from a badly timed spot or a worked strike that wasn’t so worked. In other words some of these matches make the list simply due to a clumsy moment. Unfortunately for some of these guys, a clumsy moment resulted in either lost ear or eye.

Mick Foley vs. Big Van Vader:  This match is legendary and has been discussed many times over the years but it certainly deserves to be included in the match. This isn’t a situation where someone decided they didn’t want to cooperate or there was heat between the two wrestlers. This was a case of a terrible oops. Foley was tied in the ropes and while slipping out losing his left ear due to the tight tension. Too Cold Scorpio wrestled earlier in the night and reportedly complained that the ropes were too loose. Foley’s ear eventually fell off and lucky for him the referee picked it up.

Big Van Vader vs Stan Hansen: Vader and Hansen were known for stiff wrestling in Japan but this one takes stiff to a whole new meaning. Hansen was known for being real stiff and many wrestlers have told me stories about Hansen being practically blind in the ring and just swinging. Vader and Hansen were trading punches when one of Hansen’s punches wound up taking Vader’s eye completely out of its socket. Vader was able to adjust the eye since it was underneath his swollen eyelid and continued the match.

New Jack vs. Gypsy Joe: A legendary match among hardcore wrestling fans is the Gyspy Joe vs. New Jack match. New Jack went absolutely nuts on Joe at the end of the match. Jack was angry because he was booked against an old man and felt it exposed the business but more importantly, Joe didn’t sell his moves. Jack also reportedly went to the promoter before the match and told him that he’d kill Joe and wasn’t going to lose value against a comedy act. Jack claims that Joe headbutted him for real in the nose which is what caused him to go off on Joe. Regardless, it is a bizarre match and easily accessible on YouTube for anyone interested in watching Jack beat up an 80-year old man.

William Regal vs. Bill Goldberg: This is an interesting one because it is not nearly as infamous as some of the others but fans who watched it remember it like it was yesterday. There is something about watching a shoot where even the most casual fan can immediately tell something was up. Anyone watching this one on Monday Nitro knew something was up immediately. Goldberg was expected to squash Regal but Regal instead toyed with him for a bit. Regal but him in all different kinds of moves making Goldberg work his way in and out of them. He never stretched him or punched him but this was certainly not the cooperative match that Goldberg was expecting. Goldberg won but he was embarrassed and made to look like fool. Fortunately for him the biggest fool turned out to be Regal who was fired over it. Regal has written about it in his book that this was not a shoot although Goldberg has said different.

Taz vs. Paul Varleans: Here is a match that I can give you some first-hand history on. I helped ECW book Varleans after I read in the Wrestling Observer that UFC fighter Paul Varleans was looking for pro wrestling gigs. A match with Taz seemed like a natural since Taz was being booked as an MMA killer at the time. Varleans was on board originally but had some reservations about losing as the match got closer. From what I knew at the time Varleans did eventually agree to lose the match, although Paul Heyman needed to be sure.The match itself is not much of a shoot as the two look like they are working fine together. It was the finish where things got crazy. To ensure that Varleans would do business, Heyman booked a finish where Perry Saturn came off of the top rope with a missile dropkick to the back of Varleans’ head. Did he ever? Saturn nailed Varleans with a full-force missile drop kick that KO’d Varleans, allowing Taz to go to the finish.

Lou Thesz vs Karl Gotch: I remember reading Thesz’s book and there was a story in there about Lou breaking his ribs in a match against Karl. It was so long ago that I figured I’d do a Google search and try and refresh my memory. The basic gist of the story here is that Lou wrestled Karl numerous times and let his guard down against Karl. He felt Karl double crossed him in a match which resulted in broken ribs and Lou immediately hooked him. Here is how Lou’s biographer recounted the story on the message board.

Mostly, Lou said, he was pissed at himself for “going to sleep” (Lou’s words) that night against Karl. He always was alert to the possibility of a doublecross, but he trusted Karl enough, once they’d started working, to lower his guard. When Karl blocked him, it hit Lou immediately that something was up, and he ended things immediately. “I made him howl,” is how Lou put it.

So yes, Lou believed it was an attempted doublecross. And he was mad at himself for almost allowing it to happen. He once said to me, long after that initial conversation, that Karl was an excellent choice to do it, because he was a good wrestler and probably could have pulled it off if Lou hadn’t been so quick to snatch him and end the match.”

Steve Williams vs. Steve Ray: I completely forgot about this one until I came across some information on it while researching a different match. The moral of the story here is don’t sleep with a promoter’s wife when that promoter is booking Steve “Dr. Death” Williams. From, “In 1991, Herb Abrams was owed money by Steve Ray and wrongly suspected that Ray was sleeping with his wife. On May 10, 1991 at a television taping in New York City, Abrams paid Steve Williams an extra $100 for the night to break Ray’s nose during their match. The ensuing shoot aired in its entirety on an episode of Fury Hour.” There is a weird scene after the match where Abrams comes into the ring and whispers something to Ray and Ray gets up and takes a swing at him.

Super Tiger (Satoru Sayama) vs. Akira Maeda: It should be of no surprise to Puro fans that Maeda makes the list for a second time in a row. Sayama, otherwise known as the original Tiger Mask originally embraced the work/shoot style of Pancrase and UWF and had some pretty decent worked/shoot matches. Unfortunately for him he ran into Maeda who had plans of his own. Maeda and Sayama were business partners who allegedly had several disagreements including one over the content of their match. The match is known for the finish where Maeda nails Sayama with a hard low blow. Maeda was disqualified for this and Sayama quickly left the company. According to several reports, this result led to the collapse of UWF.

The Blue Meanie vs. John Bradshaw Layfield: This infamous incident is one of a few that played itself out live on a World Wrestling Entertainment pay per view. The finale of the first ECW One Night Stand was a big brawl between the ECW guys and the WWE guys. Bradshaw immediately went after Meanie and wound up peppering him with punches until he was pulled off. JBL had taken offense to something Meanie said about him in an interview. Meanie needed 12 stitches after the attack but wound up getting a spot in a SmackDown angle the next week so it wasn’t so bad for the Blue Guy.

Perry Saturn vs Mike Bell We all know how these WWE enhancement matches are supposed to play out right? The jobber gets his butt kicked from the superstar who toys around with him for a few minutes before finishing him off. That was the likely plan yet unfortunately for Bell thinks got a little too real. Bell botched a spot in the match and Saturn just went absolutely ballistic. I remember as a ring announcer in ECW seeing Perry flip out backstage on Pablo Marquez after Marquez didn’t sell enough for Kronus so this wasn’t completely out of the ordinary. Perry at one point grabs Bell and yells, “You dropped me on my head!” The difference here is that this was WWE and not ECW. Saturn was in the dog house after this match.

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Chael Sonnen Talks WCW Tryout and UFC Contracts with Steve Austin

April 26, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

I don’t think you will find two better talkers than Stone Cold Steve Austin and Chael Sonnen. The worlds of WWE and UFC recently crossed when Austin had Chael on his podcast. According to Sonnen, their paths may have crossed sooner.

Before I go on let me say this. This interview Austin conducted with Sonnen is absolutely phenomenal. Austin asks every question I’d ever want to ask if I was interviewing Austin. The sad fact here is that Austin who is not a journalist conducted a better interview than the paid MMA reporters who have interviewed him.

The interview touches on a variety of topics over the course of an hour. One of the more fascinating parts of the interview is when Austin has Chael take him through his routine from training to a fight, fight day, what he is thinking about as he walks to the octagon, and after the fight. It is great stuff!

From a pro wrestling fan’s perspective I thought the most interesting piece was when Chael told Austin about his attempt to get into professional wrestling. According to Sonnen, he may have been talking trash and throwing elbows on Monday Nitro as opposed to the UFC if World Championship Wrestling remained in business.

“I went down to the WCW Power Plant in 1998, Sarge was running it. “We had a tryout.” (Austin laughs and asks Chael if he knows Sarge) Yeah I knew him for three days, he tortured us, I mean he absolutely abused us absolutely abused us. It was a tryout, it was real simple, it was a lot like the Navy SEALs. Here’s what we’re going to do and as soon as you’ve had enough say “I quit.” That was it. Once you quit you get your stuff and go home. It was two and a half days, I showed up in very good shape, I just came out of a wrestling season, I was an All-American, it took every bit of grit that I had. They turned a bucket upside down and you had to do a squat. You had to throw your hands up, come up on your tip toes, your squat was down when your butt hit the bucket. That was it. Squat, squat, squat. But we just kept squatting. We squatted so much that there’s a little lining on the bottom of the bucket and that thing dug in to the back of my legs. I went down so many times. Once I was done you drop down, you do your pushups, you jump up, you squat, down, you do. All day long! I cant remember how many guys we had but we had some monsters in there, we had some big dudes in there. On the second day there was only two guys left, me and a guy from Jamaica. On the third day it was still just the two of us, and that was it. Both of us made it, both of us got invited back, I went and finished college and by the time I had, the WCW was gone.”

Wow! There are a lot of takeaways from that quote. One, this goes back to all of the stories I have heard about those Power Plant tryouts. Maybe WCW would have done a better job of creating more stars if they weren’t more concerned with bullying guys and breaking them down physically in training. I understand the mental game but what if Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan, or The Undertaker walked into the Power Plant. It’s doubtful any of those guys would have survived those kinds of workouts. It’s just ridiculous and talk about the money wasted on the Power Plant on top of all of the other wasted WCW money.

Austin then asked Chael if he had any desire to ever dabble in pro wrestling once his UFC career is over. Chael was non-committal but it didn’t sound like he was going anywhere.

“I appreciate that and I’ve talked with those guys and they do have big offers and it’s enticing but I’m a loyalty guy, I’m a Dana White guy, and the only way it would happen is if Dana said “this is what I want you to go do.”

The other part of the interview that people are talking about is the things that Sonnen said about his contract with the UFC. Chael told Austin that he didn’t have a contract to fight Anderson Silva and he still doesn’t have one going into the Jon Jones fight.

“I never, to this day I don’t have a contract to fight Anderson Silva,” Sonnen stated in the interview. “I never signed an agreement that said I would fight him, we never picked a dollar amount, we never picked a weight class. Nothing. I told those guys I would show up and I did.”

“They never had a contract with me, they said what they would do and they did. My UFC contract expired about four months ago, I don’t know if they just haven’t realized it because they’re so busy, or if they just know they don’t need one with me. But, I got a world title fight coming up, we’ve got a sold out venue — I don’t have a piece of paper with my name on it or Jon Jones’ or anything else, but I don’t need one either.”

Take away from that what you will. According to a story in that is just not possible due to the rules of the NSAC. Speaking of Anderson Silva, Sonnen’s comments about his fights with Silva were also very interesting, especially when he talked about Silva’s comeback in their first fight.

Why Steve Austin is doing this podcast on and not is probably the biggest mystery of all. Check out the entire podcast here.

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Jim Crockett Promotions Documentary Kickstarter Campaign Underway

April 19, 2013 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Kickstarter phenomenon is certainly sinking its teeth into pro wrestling. Fresh off of Scott Hall’s successful campaign to raise $80,000, a new Kickstarter is looking for fans to invest in what they are calling the definitive documentary on Jim Crockett Promotions.

Highspots owner Michael Bochicchio is back at it on looking to raise funds for his next documentary. Mike was successful in his first campaign to raise money for a Dynamite Kid documentary. Now Bochicchio wants to take on a subject close to my heart, the rise and fall of Jim Crockett Promotions.

Bochicchio has posted a couple of videos previewing what the documentary would look like. The clips feature a ton of heavy hitters from the old NWA wrestling territory including Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Arn Anderson, Ronnie Garvin, and Ricky Morton of the Rock and Roll Express. This begs the immediate question as to why they need a fund raiser when it looks like they have a documentary ready to go.

Mike says that they need money for traveling expenses. The fund raising page says (with errors but who needs perfection when you are asking for $15,000 right?) that they want money to travel around to interview ex-JCP performers and arranging trips with interview subjects, or at least that’s what I think he is asking for. The project won’t launch without meeting the $15,000 goal.

Donations will be rewarded with various awards from Mike. Pledges of $20 and up will receive anything from DVDs, posters, t-shirts, and “thank you” credits in the documentary. A donation of $599 will grab you a ring worn jacket from Bobby Eaton (which has been claimed) while a $499 donation can win you an authentic autographed ring worn outfit from Ricky Morton which is still available.

The new trailer posted from Mike features Magnum T.A. The trailer has quotes from all of the heavy hitters in the area on Magnum. The basic gist here is that Magnum was groomed to be the Hulk Hogan of the territory and if not for his car accident, would have been the heir to the NWA championship and the win to beat Ric Flair.

I grew up watching JCP in the 80s so I am certainly a big fan. I just really don’t understand the need for funds when I am watching a trailer featuring all of the big superstars of the territory. In addition, RF Video has tons of shoot interviews with those guys that Highspots could attempt to use with permission. I am sure the documentary would be a great trip down memory lane but I can’t imagine that there is a story to be told that hasn’t been told already in countless shoot interviews.

Regardless, it is not up to me and at this point they have raised over half of the $15k they are asking for and have less than a week to go. I would definitely watch the documentary if it ever comes to fruition. I just won’t be plunking down any money to invest in it.

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Bret Hart Compares Current WWE Product To WCW

April 16, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Bret Hart is doing a fantastic job lately of trying to burn any bridges that have been repaired with the WWE over the last few years. Hart did a Q & A recently and in addition to slamming Triple H once again, took a shot at the current product that may have been the final straw.

Arda Ocal recently sat down with Bret Hart and did a lengthy interview with him on a variety of different subjects. Triple H was of course brought up but so was Hart’s take on the current WWE product. While Hart is certainly entitled to his own opinions, I can’t imagine that these are the kinds of things that the WWE wants someone affiliated with the company saying about them.

Interestingly enough it should be noted that Ocal has since removed the video from YouTube. He changed the settings to private. I have no idea why or if this is something he will change but unfortunately it is not available for viewing. Fortunately for us, enough people including yours truly have seen it to get the word out.

Bret took his usual shots at Triple H, which have become comedic at this point. Hart said that he has no relationship with Hunter other than a casual hello. Bret also gave Hunter’s match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 29 a 4 out of 10, which is what is making the headlines. Let’s be honest. The match wasn’t great but I’d certainly give it more than 4/10.

I was really disappointed with the last two (WM matches) – well, Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H. To me, it was everything I imagined in my head before I watched it. There was nothing new or creative,” Hart said. “Whereas Punk and Taker stole the show. The way the story flows and a match goes – some of the other matches could have been much better. I know Rock and Cena worked hard, but I think they were missing a little Bret Hart in their matches.

Bret has backtracked from this remark and clarified his response on his Twitter account.

My comments to Arda about Trip H Lezner match being 4 out of 10, was in reference to a sign someone held up on Raw. In truth, I thought they had the second best match of the night, and both worked very hard. Hope that (clarifies) things.

In all fairness to Bret, I do remember seeing that sign on RAW.

But to me, it was what Bret said about the current WWE product that was my biggest takeaway.

I think there are a lot of people in charge of the wrestling who have no business being in charge…I think it’s turned into a little bit of WCW. They’ve hired a lot of guys who, to me, are not more skilled than the wrestlers they’re talking to…The way they control them (characters) in wrestling now, there’s no room for ‘Bret Hart’ anymore with my own look from my head…Today in wrestling, it’s ‘You’re going to be a dancer. We’re going to give you six weeks of dancing lessons and send you out to the ring.’ Kudos to Fandango for making it work.

While I am sure the response will get Bret some heat with the company I don’t think he is off the mark at all. As a matter of a fact this is one of the few things I do agree with Bret on. The promos all come across as superficial and phony compared to the raw emotion I saw from guys as a kid and teenager. On the other hand there are writers on the team like Dusty Rhodes, Michael Hayes, and Triple H that have been in the ring and understand it. Unfortunately Vince McMahon is the one who sees his product different from people like myself and in this instance Bret.

What is funny about this is that Hulk Hogan was recently interviewed about TNA Wrestling. Hogan compared to TNA Wrestling to WCW, but used it as a positive. Here you have Bret comparing the WWE to WCW as a negative example. It tells you everything you need to know about how differently WCW is viewed between Hogan and just about every other wrestler who ever worked for both the WWE and WCW.

Let’s hope the video goes back online because it is a fantastic interview with Bret, regardless of whether you agree with what he says or not.

Thanks to for the transcription.

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Dustin Rhodes Talks WCW Uncensored, Cody Match, and More

April 12, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Dustin Rhodes has certainly had one of the more interest careers in pro wrestling. The former WWE intercontinental champion most known for his role as Goldust is entering the 25th year of his career and gave a rare and fascinating interview to the Wrestling Observer website.

Dustin Rhodes is really an interesting character and person. The son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes has wrestled and headlined all over the world through various eras of pro wrestling. He’s got plenty of stories to tell, yet rarely does media or shoot interviews. That is why I was immediately drawn to a lengthy interview he did with Gary Mehaffy on

I certainly won’t spoil Gary’s hard work and copy and paste the entire interview here. I will however pick out a couple of highlights that I found fascinating. Dustin is no stranger to controversy. Most associate him and controversy with Goldust. Yet he found controversy way before that in WCW.

The story about his firing from World Championship Wrestling in the early part of his career is well known, yet I don’t recall ever seeing him open up about it. Dustin was wrestling Barry Darsow (although the interviewer incorrectly says it was Bunkhouse Buck, it was certainly Darsow) on a taped WCW Uncensored pay per view. Dustin bled in the match and was fired. I interviewed Barry before so I got his side of the story but here is what Dustin had to say on the match.

Well, I think it was a number of things. What was said to me was that we had a rule at that point that there was no bleeding to be involved, and if you were going to bleed you were going to get fired. Then it came to the table, and I was asked if I wouldn’t mind doing it (bleeding), and I never have, I think it’s good business. So, I made sure to call all the right people and get it okayed – it was okayed – and we did our thing and I got fired the next day for it. And this was two weeks before the actual Pay-Per View. They had time to edit it, or we could have scratched it all together or whatever. But there were some other top names coming in and things like that. I think they (WCW) were looking to find an excuse to rearrange some money, but I don’t know. I was mad at the time, I was frustrated, but I didn’t pursue it in a court of law. I have a good heart – and sometimes I don’t have the best business sense in professional wrestling – but it worked out and it came around, and Bischoff made up for it when I went back. He made up for it in a big way and I’ll never forget that. I’ll never forget Eric taking good care of me. Even though the circumstances when I got released (in 1995) weren’t the best, and I didn’t see clearly why, it came back around.

What a joke that whole deal was! Unfortunately for Barry, he never had the same kind of success after this that Dustin had. It just goes to show you how poorly mismanaged WCW was at the time.

That wasn’t the only controversy Dustin encountered with WCW. Dustin had a second round of controversy when he came back and appeared briefly as an odd character, Seven. I am sure if you watched WCW you remember the gimmick but it came and went quickly. Dustin breaks down the history of the gimmick.

Well, you know, I was pulling for the Seven character. It was my creation and Vince Russo came in at the time of its debut and shut it down. He did give me the option and, for whatever reason, he kind of swayed me into “Let’s kill this gimmick.” I can’t remember why I did what I did but we killed it. I made the interview as straightforward of a shoot as possible – that I could get away with – because to see stuff with my father happen and to see stuff with my characters over the years, I just felt like saying certain things. It just happened. Nothing bad has come from it, or anything like that, it was just one of those in the moment things. I was kind of pissed off about it, but also I got a job so if you don’t want to do this Seven character, fine, let’s do this. But I’m going to make you rethink it, you know?

Another topic that Dustin is constantly asked on his Twitter account is about a match with his brother Cody Rhodes. They went at it in the Royal Rumble and most presumed that it was the set up for a WrestleMania showdown between brothers. It never happened. Will it happen and is Dustin interested?

I always hope that, because the Royal Rumble this year was very special to me. It’s probably the best moment I’ve had in my career. A very close second would be the Roddy Piper “Backlot Brawl”. To get that reaction – I had no idea I was going to receive that kind of welcome back, being a surprise or whatever – but it was like “Holy shit!” To get in there and we get a little piece of each other it kind of set the stage, but it could be my path. All I can do is keep trying. I’ve tried for two years now – last year’s WrestleMania and this one – to get this match. The interest is definitely there as far as the fans are concerned. I don’t know how many fans want to see it. I know my fans on Twitter and things like that want to see it. I don’t know why Vince doesn’t think that that would be good for the company and good for business. It’s a story driven angle. It’s not a main event match, it’s a story driven fight between brothers.

It’s interesting that the Rumble deal wasn’t to set up the match. It seemed like a natural and it wasn’t as if the company had big plans for Cody at Mania. Unfortunately I think that if they didn’t capitalize on it after the Rumble, they never will. It is very odd when you think about it since it appears to be a natural match.

I wish Dustin did more interviews. The guy has a ton of stories and perspective and could probably share some great stories. I would suspect at some point that he’ll either do a full blown shoot interview. I think it would do real well.

There is a ton more on the Observer site to this interview. He talks a lot about the early days of Goldust and obstacles he faced early on, living in his father’s shadow, his battles with drugs and alcohol, breaking into the business, and a ton more. Well worth a read if you followed the career of Dustin.

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Ric Flair RF Video Shoot Interview Review

March 27, 2013 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Ric Flair certainly isn’t afraid to speak what is on his mind. The dirtiest player in the game is the subject of a new RF Video Shoot Interview and just like he has for over 30 years in the ring, he delivers.

I should note in the object of fairness that I did write the questions for this shoot interview. At the same time this is not any kind of a paid review. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of the interview for review, good or bad. I can tell you quite honestly, it is great.

I watched the entire shoot during an early morning commute on Amtrak and it made the trip fly by. This isn’t Flair’s first shoot interview. Flair did a series of shoots a few years ago, but this is the first one he has done regarding his TNA Wrestling run. Flair talks plenty of TNA and much more in this fast-paced two hour interview.

Unlike some previous shoot interviews, Flair looks like he wants to be there. Nothing asked offends Flair and believe me when I tell you, there are a couple of questions I wrote up that I thought would ruffle the Nature Boy. Flair addresses all of the TNA controversies and finally has his say after sitting quiet for almost a year.

I don’t want to give away too much of the interview but they immediately jump right into his reunion with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. If you are expecting Flair to bury these guys forget about it. He loves them, especially Hulk. Flair does address their past heat and even throws a slight dig in at Hulk. It is interesting to hear Flair talk about how their fond friendship came to fruition.

Flair then jumps right into TNA. Flair talks about a conversation he had with Vince McMahon before joining TNA. Flair reveals what Vince said and whether his old boss was supportive or not with the move. Flair also talks a lot about Dixie Carter and is asked flat out whether he thinks Hulk and Bischoff are working here. Flair is a Dixie fan but he does have a problem with one TNA executive which he gets into on the DVD.

Flair is asked about all of the controversies during his TNA run. Flair addresses everything from holding up the bus in Europe to refusing to sign autographs. I will say this. After hearing Flair tell his sides to these stories I do have a bit of a different outlook on it. I won’t say I’m sympathetic to Flair but I can certainly understand why things happened.

Flair also digs into the past a little bit and offers up two very interesting stories about Haku and the Bruiser Brody murder. Flair reveals some facts about the murder that I had never known. Flair also recalls a story about a fight Haku and Road Warrior Hawk got into in Japan against fans that got Haku banned for life. Flair tells RF Video that he has plenty of more stories where that came from.

What impressed me more than anything was Flair’s memory. He was off on some things but other stories and memories he recounted I wouldn’t have expected to hear from someone his age. I do know that RF Video are doing a series on Flair so hopefully he can be as insightful when they cover his early career as he was in this interview.

Flair is pretty complimentary when asked about most of his opponents and ex-bosses in TNA. There is one wrestler who gets the brunt of Flair’s anger. It’s obvious that those promos Shane Douglas cut on Ric Flair in ECW hit hard because here we are about 20 years later and Flair is burying Shane. You have seen the preview so I am not giving away a big reveal here.

Overall I’d highly recommend the DVD if you are a Flair fan or just enjoy hearing someone who has been through as much controversy as Flair address all of the hot button topics. This DVD is like one big high spot as there isn’t anything asked of Flair that isn’t interesting. I can’t wait for the next one!

Check out more information on the interview at

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Eric Bischoff Responds To Bret Hart

March 22, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan has had his chance to respond to recent criticism from Bret Hart about being worthless to TNA Wrestling booking. Now it’s Eric Bischoff’s turn and if you expected Eric to be as diplomatic as the Hulkster, you have got another thing coming.

The war of words between Bret Hart and TNA head honchos Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff continues to heat up. Unless these guys are promoting a future handicapped (no pun intended) match at WrestleMania or Bound for Glory, none of it makes a whole lot of sense. That said, as a blogger I hope they keep it coming.

Bret Hart was the first to fire comments at Hogan and Bischoff in recent interviews, most recently with WrestleTalk TV. Bret doesn’t think much of either one and questioned what they could bring to the table at TNA Wrestling.

I’ve got no faith in either one of them,” Hart said. “If anything, they’re [TNA] going to lose a lot of ground. They’re spending a fortune on a guy who’s worthless. And Bischoff’s as worthless as Hogan, the two of them have zero to offer the business.

Hogan offered a fairly tempered response to Bret basically saying that Bret doesn’t know what he’s talking about and while it is easy to criticize from the outside, Bret doesn’t know enough about the inner workings of TNA to give an educated opinion. Eric on the other hand had a little more fun with it on a recent broadcast of Inside the Ropes. Transcript courtesy of

knows nothing about wrestling” and calling him “an idiot”: “It’s not unusual for guys like Bret Hart, from that era….the only way they know how to get over is to get over at the expense of someone else. Bret Hart’s trying very hard to stay relevant. Unfortunately, he’s no longer relevant. He was a big star, he had a big name at one point, he was an important character in the history of the business but he’s not any longer and I’m sure that’s hard on him. I know myself how it feels to realise that that your biggest and best days as a performer are behind you. I’m very comfortable with that, I’ve embraced it but it’s hard for a lot of guys who’ve never been anything other than performers. They have a hard time with that. It’s not easy getting older in the wrestling business, believe me, when you’re surrounded by younger and younger people who in many ways aren’t as over or as skilled or as popular as you may have been or still are now. But this business is a business that’s served by youth and change. And for someone like Bret, that manifests itself in his personality, lashing out at others. It’s funny, when he came to me he hated Vince McMahon, he hated everyone in the WWE from the office to half the roster. He didn’t have a good thing to say about any of the McMahons. Then when he got the opportunity to go back and work for them, he had to shift that. Then his hatred was for someone else like Bill Goldberg for giving him a concussion and now it’s for me and for Hulk, there’s no rhyme or reason for it and as far as his opinion of my value and what I’ve achieved in the wrestling business, I’ll let my body of work and success speak for itself.

Eric also talks a bit about Bret’s disappointing run in WCW after Bischoff signed Bret away from the WWE.

I had spoken to and met Bret several times before he made the jump. I was obviously excited to have him but clearly Bret Hart was a very broken….and in my opinion still is, from the interviews I hear him do, a very sad, broken and bitter person. That was pretty evident when he first came over. He was a shadow or a shell of his former self. Wherever Bret was, the high point of his character, what I got was a kind of broken, sad shell of that and quite honestly I don’t think he’s ever come out of it.

As much as I can’t stand Bischoff it is hard to feel sorry for Bret here. Bret has been absolutely brutal in his attacks lately, which have come out of nowhere. Additionally it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me as to why Bret is so bitter about Bischoff in particular. Bischoff made Bret an extremely rich man and signed him to one of the biggest contracts at the time in pro wrestling history. There comes a point here where I think Bret has to take a little accountability here for his run in WCW and stop pointing the finger at everyone else.

Bret you’re up!

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