Retro Interview: Brittany Wonder

Well, hello. Here’s a rarity, a new blog post!

I thought I would throw up some of my older written work that I was really proud of; mainly so it doesn’t get lost in the dark and cobweb filled corridors of The Internet, but also just to get it out there on my own blog. This might be the first, or only, instance of this – but I present to you an interview I did with California indie wrestler, Brittany Wonder. Continue reading “Retro Interview: Brittany Wonder”

WrestleMania 29

So that was WrestleMania for this year. To paraphrase the star of the straight to DVD epic and pre game show match winner, The Miz… really? REALLY?

So that was WrestleMania for this year. To paraphrase the star of the straight to DVD epic and pre game show match winner, The Miz… really? REALLY? Continue reading “WrestleMania 29”

TNA: Maximum Impact Tour 2013, Glasgow

TNA Maximum Impact Tour
Braehead Arena, Glasgow, Scotland
23rd January 2013

First things first – I was at the TNA show in Glasgow last year, and this year’s while good, fell short. A lot of empty seats – the entire top level was empty, when it was jam packed for last year’s (and indeed the last WWE show year a few weeks ago) and a ton of empty seats on the floor. Plus, a cut down roster – the amount of kids I saw that were disappointed that Hogan, Robbie E and Robbie T, Samoa Joe, Joseph Park and of course Jeff Hardy weren’t there was amazing. Doesn’t bode well for next year when TNA moves their annual show to the new Glasgow Hydro that can theoretically have twice the capacity. Continue reading “TNA: Maximum Impact Tour 2013, Glasgow”

Retro: Tommy’s Hardcore Church

Terry Funk, which art in barbed wire… hardcore be thy name. Thy promotion come, Thy will be done in Flaming Tables as it is in Barbed Wire Rings. Give us this day a Singapore Cane. Forgive us our piledrivers as we destroy those who powerbombed against us.

Been a while since I posted something here… I have something written ready, but I need to wait for it to be published elsewhere first. In the meantime, this is a little retro piece, back from the SmashWrestling.com days… to this day, it remains without a doubt, my favourite ever column, and the one I received the most feedback on. Enjoy!
Continue reading “Retro: Tommy’s Hardcore Church”

Definition of a Decade

Well, hello. As some of you may know, I write on-and-off for TWO – TalkWrestlingOnline.com and that little ol’ wrasslin’ site has reached the big 10 – double figures now, and finally, the training wheels off the bike! It’s been an eventful 10 years, perhaps one of the most eventful decades in the history of Professional Wrestling. Along the way, there’s been people that have risen above the industry, that have defined the business. Some in good ways, some in bad, but all of them in a way that ensures they won’t be forgotten easily.

For TWO’s tenth birthday, I figured I’d scrape the bottom of the barrel that passes for my brain and give you my list – in no particular order – of the 10 people I consider as the defining characters of the what I call “The TWO Years”… I get the feeling there’s gonna be arguments about this one…
Continue reading “Definition of a Decade”

Live Wire does Live Raw

Tales of limeade, late night wrestling and The Hoff…

Well, hello. It’s 1:55am, I’m sat in front of the TV waiting on Raw, which is airing “as live” from the UK, even though it finished over 2 hours ago. I’ve been a good boy and haven’t looked at the spoilers, so yay me! Little bit of background info – I’ve had the day from hell, losing my wallet, so a good Raw is just what the doctor ordered.

Your (or my, at least) snacks of choice are Barr’s Limeade, Nik Naks (in Spicy, Rib and Pickled Onion varities) and new Caramel biscuits from Cadburys. I’ll give ‘em a go, they were cheap.

2:00am Here we go, it’s THE SKY VOICEOVER MAN~~~!!! Followed by the WWE video clip opener, and straight into the Raw theme and credits.

2:01am Fireworks inside the O2 arena in London as Michael Cole’s nasal whine already annoys me after less than a minute.

2:03am KNIGHT RIDER THEME~~~!!! It’s The Hoff, and he’s driving KITT… and the Knight Rider music fades into The Hoff’s “Jump In My Car” – this is already the best guest host entrance, ever. Fact. You can’t deny it.

2:04am “Finally, The Hoff has come back to Raw” – Know something? This guy is awesome. He’s ragging on his career, his image and even his drinking. Love this guy, in a manly pat-on-the-back kinda way.

2:05am Hoff is really doing a good job in the ring, here. I’m slightly amazed, and more than a little stunned.

2:06am Hoff stays in the ring as Eve Torres makes her entrance, and even dances with her. He vacates the premises before Maryse arrives, however. I myself use this opportunity to pour a drink, as frankly, I cannot stand Maryse. At all.

2:09am The Caramel biscuits are nice, for future reference.

2:10aam In the ring, the blonde one is laughing at the non blonde one, and there’s lots of slapping and screaming… oh, Eve wins. I presume Maryse is injured again? Meh…. and the crowd went mild.

2:11am ShowMiz! Walking! With belts! Michael Cole says they are about to make an Earth shattering announcement. Big Show is switching allegiances to Whoppers instead of Big Macs? We go to ads, and I ponder the imponderables… like… Why did they stop making Tab Clear? Where did Vanilla Coke go, too?

2:15am Floaty Raw logo signifies someone pressed the button too soon. Tut tut…

2:16am Show and Miz have mics and they’re talking. Miz just asked “Who better than Big Show?” which reminds me how much I miss Kanyon. Poor guy.

2:18am Heeeeeeeeere’s Bret! Man, he looks old and broken down walking down that aisle. It’s a shame.

2:19am “I’d put a sharpshooter on you faster than you could put a pair of cheap sunglasses on an ugly kid” — Miz

2:21am The Hart Dynasty are here. Gotta say, they look the business when they storm down to ringside like that. Oh, and Natalya? Raaaawr!

2:22am DH Smith speaks! He wants Miz one on one, and if he wins, title shot at Extreme Rules. Miz agrees despite Big Show’s concerns, but on the condition that if (Miz adds “when” to this equation) wins, Bret has to declare that ShowMiz are the greatest tag team next week on Raw…

2:24am Hart Family huddle… It’s Son of Bulldog vs. Mouth of Miz… and it’s NEXT!

2:26am Ads. A plug for Ricky Gervais and his new film. Let me right now just veer off into a side issue and say that Channel 4’s list of the top 100 stand ups for 2010 was horrific. Ricky Gervais at number 3??? Not just that, but one place HIGHER than the mighty Bill Hicks? Awful. Someone needs slapping for that one. As I finish venting, the floaty Raw Logo tells me we’re back.

2:28am DH Smith gets a cover and Natalya jumps up and down excitedly. Careful, love, you’ll give yourself a pair of black eyes if you’re not careful…

2:30am Delayed vertical suplex from DH… nice little touch, nodding to his father.

2:31am Smith is good but still learning his trade… lots of nice little touches that bode well for his future, hopefully. Works the crowd well… OK, if this crowd weren’t DEAD then he would. The guy in the ring is the son of The British Bulldog, yet the London crowd are sitting on their hands for the most part, even when DH slaps on the Sharpshooter.

2:33am Miz takes the win after outside interference from Show’s Hellboy-esque Right Hand Of Doom. Bret might just hold a grudge over this. Poor ShowMiz, they’ll be hearing about this for the next 13 years…

2:35am and it’s another break. Man, the Americans sure do like adverts; Raw always has loads of them! Even though this is technically a recorded show, bet we have an over-run on the end. How can it be called an over-run when it’s the same EVERY WEEK? Never understand that.

2:36am Not watching TNA right now… who knows what’s going on over there in RussoLand? Orlando Jordan could be fellating a goat in the ring right now. Hell, Jeff Hardy might even be making sense… na, wait, that’s too far, even for Russo…

2:39am We’re back, and it’s a recap of last week’s borefest with David Otunga. Something about that guy I don’t like, but his robotic, wooden delivery of his lines is right at the forefront.

2:41am I love the very simple image of Batista standing in the spotlight over a fallen John Cena as he declares a Last Man Standing match for Extreme Rules.

2:42am Otunga is DAVE’s coffee boy bitch! Hey, KITT is better at promo work than Otunga is! I swear Hoff’s either having the time of his life or drunk off his ass… and guess what? Another break!

2:45am Peeps in the UK will get this: If I find out who the hell wrote that Halifax “ISA ISA BABY” ad, I will hunt them down and gut them like a fish. That is all.

2:47am Oh, it’s a draft plug as Michael Cole fakes some enthusiasm. Shocker, eh? In the ring it’s Evan Bourne vs. Carlito. Guessing that Carlito is doing the job to a SSP here…

2:49am Cole declares himself a big Knight Rider fan as he rhymes off some trivia that Vince McMahon must have printed out from The Internet for him. Don’t try and be cool, you’re still a goatee wearing insincere jumped up accountant fuckwit.

2:51am Nobody in the crowd gives a damn about this match, because nobody cares about Carlito anymore. Or Evan Bourne outside of the SSP, to be fair. Such a horrific job of pushing him. We keep getting told by Cole that he’s exciting and high energy… yet he gets nothing to do bar being wheeled out to hit the SSP on Random Jobber of the Week, or be fed to monster heels as cannon fodder. Shocking.

2:52am I want to claw my own eyes out – after the break is Otunga vs. Cena. I can hardly wait.

2.53am That was sarcasm, by the way.

2:56am missed the ads as I was in the bathroom, making sure I had nothing left in me to barf up when Cena arrives…

2:57am SHUT UP MICHAEL COLE!!! Who cares about Raw being the longest running episodic whatever-the-fuck-you-say-every-week?

2:58am Otunga just fills me with apathy, and the bland NXT theme music does him no benefit either.

2:59am Bell rings and I’m already bored!

3:01am Is this… wrestling from Cena? Wow, Otunga is so bad, CENA is out wrestling him!

3:02am DAVE’s trousers are unfeasibly shiny.

3:03am Otunga takes weird looking bumps off of Cena’s suplexes. Just looks weird to me… maybe not, but meh. And Cena doesn’t even need to pay attention to what’s going on in the ring. An absolute demolition of Otunga. Compare that showing to how AmDrag Daniel Bryan did against Chris Jericho, and you see who the WWE are behind.

3:04am Dave and his shiny trousers are in the spotlight as DAVE rips his jumper, shirt and vest off… then walks away. Kinda counter productive and a waste of good clothes, but hey, nobody said he was a brainbox.

3:06am Michael Cole tries turning Raw into a zoo as we have The VIPER~~~!!! vs. The Animal later tonight… and the standard bimbo match. No doubt The Bellas will have top billing in that. Vince must be doing one or both of them on the side, the amount of exposure they get on Raw for no apparent reason,

3:08am Watching the ads, I really want an X-Box 360. Someone buy me one. You. Yes, that’s right, you. Get me one. Go on. Please?

3:09am Sky Movies HD ad. See when you’re buying me my X-Box? Get me an HD TV while you’re at it, there’s a good chap.

3:11am This is one long ad break, most of them Sky ads. Has someone pulled the wrong cable out of the magic box?

3:12am The floaty Raw logo of spinning awesomeness tells me no, they haven’t.

3:13am Cole and Lawler GET POLITICAL~~~!!! for a while… until Cole wets himself at a shot of Big Ben. That he must have seen every time WWE work a London show. Grrr.

3:14am Here’s Sheamus! Every time I hear his theme music, I just hear the words as “These words are true, and I’ll make love to you”. I think I need new medication…

3;15am “Street Foight” – awesome. Ooooo calling London a “Fallen Empire” – nice. Even enough to inspire some random, inaudible chant that may have been heat.

3:16am Here’s Kofi. This is not gonna end well for Kofi, I feel. Shame for Kofi, he seems to be on the road to becoming Iron Mike Sharpe for this generation. No glass shattering anywhere at this time…

3:17am Why do all the wrestlers throw their shirts into the same part of the crowd? Is there some kind of shirt eating monster there???

3:18am Cole hasn’t said “controlled frenzy” yet. There is a God.

3:21am Decent little match, Kofi hasn’t been destroyed, and had a believable near fall… then Sheamus gets DQ’d for using a monitor as a weapon. Haven’t the WWE heard of flat screen TV’s yet? Sheamus is going to do BAD BAD THINGS to Kofi now to let you know that he’s a bad bad man.

3:22am There’s something about Sheamus… he’s like an old school monster heel. He’s not top line material, but there is potential there. Let him mow through the card doing this kind of demolition job and he might just get over. Feeding him down our throats Rocky Maivia style just ain’t gonna work these days.

3:28am Back from the kitchen with a full glass of limeade… just in time to see a trailer for Sky’s awful A League Of Their Own quiz show… James Corden would eat himself if he was made of chocolate. Quite frankly, he looks like he’s eaten a few people…

3:29am Carlito and Kozlov on screen cutting a promo together? Carlito saying that his career, his livelihood is going nowhere. Shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments, anybody? Kozlov threatens to destroy the guest hosts next week, the cast of some movie I’ve never heard of.

3:31am Love how Orton has a shot at the World Champion… who is on Smackdown. Brand extension be damned!

3:32am It’s THE VIPER~~~!!! And he’s scaring Josh Matthews!

3:33am It’s The Hoff. I’m sure he’s drunk… oh dear me… the Divas are running to the ring in swimsuits and in slow motion… It’s Kelly Kelly (so blonde they named her twice) and Gail Kim (who really must be getting paid tons more than she did in TNA to put up with this crap) and we’re going to a break.

3:35am Red Bull ad? I’ll take Inferno Relentless, thank you very much. Red Bull is overpriced and just for ponces who want to be seen with a cool brand name. Mixxed Up Energy Drink from Lidl tastes the same and is only 30p a can!

3:37am Here’s the pointless Bellas. No Raw is complete without them, after all. Hey, even Santino gets a slow-mo entrance.

3:38am It’s shit like this match that makes people embarrassed to admit to being wrestling fans, seriously.

3:40am One of the interchangeable Bella bimbos wins. Meanwhile, Santino has swallowed his whistle. Oh joy… Here comes Hornswoggle to rescue Santino from choking by hitting him with a tadpole splash as the Divas manage to applaud and breathe at the same time, miraculously. This is just painful to watch…

3:43am Great placement of a Kwik Fit ad featuring KITT. Someone pays attention to what they’re doing. And that 90 second ad was better than the previous 5 minutes of “entertainment” on Raw. Go figure.

3:45am Skechers Shape Ups? They look as uncomfortable as Ric Flair speaking to a divorce lawyer…

3:48am And here’s the “How great are the WWE?” video package for the European tour. To be fair, it does look like everyone involved does appreciate the fans, if not the travelling.

3:50am THE VIER~~~!!! Slithers to the ring for his match with Dave.

3:51am Love Dave’s heel entrance. No pyro, no fancy effects, just him, a spotlight and his character defined in one act. Brilliant.

3:53am Dave is such a bastard when he’s heel, and he revels in it. Putting Orton in with him is a smart move, as Orton’s tweener character just feeds off it – Orton can still be the ruthless, sadistic self absorbed nutcase he has been the past year and get the fans on his side without any trouble or character shift.

3:55am As we go to break it just occurs to me that if Orton does go full on face, I hope the WWE won’t overload it, complete with Cole trying to bleat on about how his actions of the past year can be explained or reasoned out. I have little faith in this happening, however.

3:57am Love this Adidas ad. Dunno why, as it seems to have N-Dubz in it. Sometimes, can’t help what you like, peeps.

3:58am Dave unloads on Orton outside the ring, and this match is slow paced and methodical. Not like the usual TV main event where it’s just hit spot after spot and finisher-finisher-done. Liking this. It’s not a classic, but it’s a break from the norm.

4:00am That shoulder into the steel ring post through the turnbuckle spot is a bit overdone now. Almost every big match has it now. The fans seemingly wake up long enough to chant for the RKO, then hit the duelling Boo-Yay chants as Randy and Dave slug it out.

4:01am Orton is pulling the RKO twitching. Some dorkm in the front row in a Cena shirt with fake tan and dyed blonde hair – he looks like a bad pint of Guinness 0 is intent on getting on camera by copying Orton’s ring post pose. Grrr!

4:03am Orton hits Dave with the rope assisted DDT and falls to the mat, ready to POUNCE like a VIPER~~~!!! Randy’s punching the mat must have tipped Dave off, as he blocks the RKO, hit’s a spine buster and starts stamping his feet signalling for the Batista Bomb. That must tip Randy off, as he counters into an RKO. Nice sequence to finish, but before the pin can be counted, Jack Thwagger runs in and gets Batista DQ’d

4:05am John Cena runs in and slaps Dave in an STF until Dave passes out, then freaks out and looks like his arms might just explode. Cena symbolically counts to ten with his fingers standing over Dave. Is it the only way Cena can reach ten? It’s a question we may never know the answer to as the show goes off air.

4:06am As Raw goes off, I go to my bed. G’night folks… have fun, go mad.

Deja Vu…

Elimination Chamber has come and gone, and lordy lordy, strike me down with bolts of lightning, SuperCena got the strap and lost it within minutes. Shocker! Or would have been had it not been done before by Edge… and Batista being a hired gun for Vince McMahon? Also a nice angle… had it not been done before by countless others in the not-so-distant past.

Well, hello. It’s one of those weeks for this column, I’m afraid. As in, it’s the week that’s it’s due to be submitted. Folks, I’ll be honest with you, not a lot in wrestling over the past fortnight has inspired me to whip out the old metaphorical pen and paper… or in this modern age, hold down CTRL + SHIFT + `(which is the keyboard shortcut for my word processor, fact fans) and set the old noggin working.

Elimination Chamber has come and gone, and lordy lordy, strike me down with bolts of lightning, SuperCena got the strap and lost it within minutes. Shocker! Or would have been had it not been done before by Edge… and Batista being a hired gun for Vince McMahon? Also a nice angle… had it not been done before by countless others in the not-so-distant past.

Maybe it’s just me getting old, and maybe it’s just the fact that there are only so many storylines to go round, but this current crop of angles and storyline that the WWE – and their illustrious competition – are throwing up just feels recycled and stale.

Over in TNB – Total Nonstop Bischoff – Jeff Jarrett AND Mick Foley are being persecuted by Eric Bischoff… Kurt Angle is being inspired by the armed forces of the US… AJ Styles is a young champion being “shown the way” by Ric Flair… all sound familiar?

Rehashing older stuff isn’t always bad. The HBK/Taker angle is basically about two guys wanting to fight to see who’s better. Taker didn’t want to, so HBK was forced to resort to underhand tactics to force the issue. At its essence, it’s an old-fashioned “respect” feud – but the sheer personality of the two guys involved is carrying it.

Of course, there’s the matter of that simply incredible video package the WWE put together for the feud. Set to Placebo’s amazing cover of the old Kate Bush track “Running Up That Hill”, that video was as perfect a hype machine as you could hope for. It was passionate, it was emotional, and it used the lyrics perfectly.

That is an example of how you CAN go to past glories and revisit them, but still make them relevant, exactly the opposite of how the WWE have coped with the Bret Hart angle. For years, Bret vs. Vince or Bret vs. Shawn was THE big unresolved issue in wrestling and was just money waiting to be printed… if done correctly.

While it’s nice to see Shawn and Bret be professional with each other, admit it – you’d have bought into Bret’s return a little more if HBK had been the cocky little son-of-an-unnamed-goat that he was back in the day, and that there was still a little spark between him and Bret, even if it was just on-screen.

I totally understand that Bret can’t put in an in ring performance to blow off the Montreal cobwebs once and for all. I even understand transferring the perceived anger from Shawn to Vince to allow for an even playing field. I EVEN understand Vince taking Big Dave to fight his corner – he is a big, bad man after all… I just don’t get the involvement from SuperCena.

It should have been DH Smith, or Tyson Kidd – someone actually connected to Bret. Even if that meant “downscaling” Batista, to someone like say… Drew McIntyre – the Vince/Bret animosity if channelled correctly would have been enough that could have slotted in anyone against a Hart family member and peeps would still have bought into it.

Imagine the rub that McIntyre vs. DH Smith would have had with Vince and Bret in their respective corners. A rub that neither Batista nor Cena need – and they could still have been programmed into an inter-brand match somehow, without being tacked on to the Bret issue.

Maybe, just maybe… I expect too much. Maybe we all do. It’s easy to be an armchair booker, sat behind a keyboard, observing from a distance. I always at least try to enjoy the positive, make it mean more than the negative. Food for thought, peeps.

Have fun, go mad.

Time is on my side… or maybe not.

Know what’s annoying about wrestling these days? Time. Everything is in a rush…

Know what’s annoying about wrestling these days? Time. Everything is in a rush… this guy is the next Rock, this guy is the next Austin, this guy is gonna be the new Hogan… it’s bull.

Back in the day when I watched wrestling most, there were 4 pay per view gigs a year in the WWF/E. Matches, feuds, personal issues – they were all built up over time. By the time the eventual PPV match came round, you’d actually invested some quality time into the problems between the two guys/teams, whatever. Gimmick matches were once in a blue moon, triple threat matches even more so.

There was no such thing as a match being made just days before PPV or even thrown onto the PPV as a result of a confrontation actually ON the PPV itself!

Take, for example, Kofi vs. Orton – as I write this, already they’re planning (or that’s the road it seems to be going down) a one v one match for these two. The problem between them started, what, two-three weeks ago?

Orton vs. Cena has been going on for months, and personally, I’m tired of it. Why? Because they have been fighting on every PPV once a month at least in ever escalating gimmicks, higher stakes, loser leaves town, last chance at the title, mother on a pole, you name it matches. It’s overkill.

Edge vs. Cena was the same – total overkill. What’s the next big money match on the horizon? Where’s the next Rock vs. Austin? When Edge comes back from injury, he’s gonna be thrown into a feud with someone he’s probably already fought hundreds of times before. Cena and Trips and HBK hit the nail on the head with their little throwaway promo on Raw – they’ve all beaten each other so many times, that personally, I don’t care anymore.

Yes, I know wrestling is pre-determined (never use the word fake, trust me) and that these guys are all good buddies “in the back” – but you know what? It’s about suspending belief for that period of time that they are on your screen, in that ring. For example, I know that the characters in House and Bones are acting – doesn’t stop me becoming engrossed in the stories they tell. I know that Guybrush Threepwood in the Monkey Island games is just a collection of pixels, but it doesn’t stop me getting involved in the next chapter of the game.

All these things… they tell stories. Wrestling is all about telling a story. It shouldn’t just be a case of “I’m a good guy, you’re a bad guy, let’s have a fight” and they fight on and off for 6 months and end up pretty evenly matched in wins and losses. What does that prove?

Look back at the last time you got excited about a title change. For me, it was Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. Why? Because they were the underdogs. They clawed and scratched and dug their way to the top based on the fact that got in the ring and told actual stories that drew the punters to them. It doesn’t matter that they weren’t particularly well supported “backstage” or that they sold lots of merchandise, or whatever.

The people that count, the fans – that’s you and me, brothers and sisters – invested in these guys. They bought into the story they were trying to tell. It didn’t matter how The Powers That Be tried to alter things so that peeps were buying into the magical cash cows that sold shirts. Those guys won the belts because of fan power.

It’s the exact same reason why Hogan, for example, is a multi time champion and still a huge deal, even at his age and with his level of performances. It simply doesn’t matter that he’s not the greatest wrestler to ever lace his boots up – I highly doubt even Hulk would argue with that. The fact is that Hulk is amongst the best at understanding the bigger picture.

Hulk gets it. He gets that to be successful, fans have to want to see you. Whether it’s to see you get your ass kicked from Albuquerque to Parts Unknown, or to see you finally get your revenge – if the fans don’t buy into the character, the story… then it’s gonna come off as half assed and forced… See Cena, John for an example of that.

Can anyone seriously say they give a damn about John Cena vs. Randy Orton part 15 when you know that it doesn’t matter what happens, they’ll be fighting again next month? Don’t just keep throwing these guys together because Cena is the “top face” and Orton is the “top heel” – give them a real, genuine reason to be at each other’s throats.

Kofi and Randy has the beginnings of a story like that, but this being the WWE and post-Russo crash TV era where everything has to be resolved within a month, they’re more likely to blow that than do the right thing with it… I sincerely hope they don’t. Kofi is a unique talent in the WWE – he does things in a different way to almost everyone else. If we could just stop Michael Cole saying “Controlled Frenzy” when he’s wrestling, that would be even better…

Show me the feud just now that’s on a level with Randy Savage taking issue with Hulk Hogan; show me the match that has the fans buying into it like Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart; show me the personal issue that’s festered for as long as Raven vs. Tommy Dreamer… Hell, even something like Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy should have been a lot more epic than it actually was… but it all felt rushed and hastily pieced together.

There are people in the business today that have the capabilities to make people buy into them, hell to DEMAND that you watch them, to invest in their “character” – but do the creative powers that be have the guts to let them do it? Or do they just want to throw them into a short feud so they can throw on a gimmick match to try and spike the buy rates on the next PPV, just 3-4 weeks after the last one?

And you know that these are the same people that will make excuses to their shareholders that the business just isn’t the same these days… and they’re right. It’s not. And it’s definitely not for the better.

Have Fun, Go Mad…

“I respect you, Bookerman!”

Brian Pillman was one of wrestling’s greatest ever rebels, but unlike so many, he could back up his rebellion with sheer unadulterated talent in a way that nobody before did, or has since.

I wanted to do a piece on a guy who I loved, but time and wrestling history have often overlooked, yet he was one of the true rebels in the business; Brian Pillman.

Pillman was always a rebel of sorts. As a college American Football player, he was a stand-out for his position, despite being shorter and lighter than almost all his peers. Relying on speed and technique to get by, he ended up on the second team All American line-up – amongst his counterparts, one William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Despite playing to such a high college standard, he went undrafted to the NFL.

He did briefly make it to the NFL, however, with his hometown Cincinnati Bengals, but his career petered out. He had a failed attempt to extend it with the Buffalo Bills and eventually ended up playing in the Canadian Football League for the Calgary Stampeders, a fateful destination, as he would meet Owen Hart and eventually end up training in the legendary Stu Hart dungeon.

Making his debut as a wrestler for the Calgary-based Stampede Wrestling promotion in 1986, he quickly built a reputation as a high flier. By 1989, he’d returned to America and began working with WCW, where he established a reputation for being a quality high-flier, incorporating Mexican-style lucha moves into his arsenal. Pillman’s matches with Jushin Liger and Barry Windham during this time were especially noteworthy.

In 1992, Pillman tagged up with a then “Stunning” Steve Austin to form the Hollywood Blondes and became arguably the best tag team in North America, even headlining a Clash of the Champions against The Four Horsemen, who Pillman would later become a member of in 1995.

Up until now, Pillman’s story has been pretty much standard; ex-NFL star takes up wrestling to make ends meet, becomes quite good, finds his spot in the mid-card. Right? Wrong. The mid 90s is where Pillman comes into his own. It’s where “Flyin’ Brian” dies and “The Loose Cannon” is born.

Superbrawl 6. Eleventh February, 1996. Brian Pillman vs. Kevin Sullivan in an “I Respect You” strap match; the loser would be the man who said “I respect you” to the other. Sullivan and Pillman start fighting, for maybe less than a minute… then Pillman grabs the mic and utters those four words “I respect you, bookerman” and walks away. Kevin Sullivan was not just his opponent that day, but was the booker for WCW at that point.

Remember, this is in the fledgling days of the internet and ‘smart marks’ were few and far between. Bookerman was such an inside term that practically nobody would have understood it back then. Pillman had come up with this idea for him to be a loose cannon – to portray this insane, over the top lunatic. What made it unique was that Pillman wanted to base his character in reality – to work not only the people watching, but the guys in the company too.

Wrestling lore has it that only Pillman, Sullivan and WCW boss Eric Bischoff were in on it. Pillman would bemuse his peers and fans alike with his bizarre behaviour, leading up to his firing in 1996. The plan was supposedly for Pillman to be “fired” go to ECW and build up some legit heat and return to WCW in a blaze of glory.

Well, the plan was slightly different in Pillman’s mind. He’d decided that his career was nearly over and he needed one last big pay day. What better way to get that than to make himself the biggest talking point in wrestling, and then become a free agent, able to basically name his price? By working Bischoff and WCW to the point that they actually legally fired him (Bischoff under the impression that he and Pillman were working the whole angle together) Pillman became a free agent.

He did go to ECW. Not for Brian Pillman a quiet, understated entrance, doing the all conquering hero act… no, he “invaded”, insulted and actually threatened to piss in the ring, even having a planted fan to beat up just so the notoriously smart ECW fan base would boo him out of the building. They did, and he duly worked a few dates and built a name for himself, much like former tag partner Steve Austin.

Pillman’s days in ECW were numbered as he was never going to stay out of the limelight that the Big Two at the time offered – everybody knew it – but before he could leave, he was involved in a major car accident that would eventually lead to his ankle being surgically fused, putting a halt to his high flying and forcing him to adapt his style. He would return to the ECW airwaves in a wheelchair, still antagonising the ECW faithful, then signed a guaranteed deal with the WWF – one of the first to get such a deal.

Pillman debuted and carried on his loose cannon ways, but would need more ankle surgery before his WWF in ring career could properly begin – Steve Austin would shoulder the on screen blame for the ankle injury – targeting Brian’s ankle with a steel chair in a move that was christened ’Pillmanising’, but even before Pillman was fit to return to the ring, he would participate in a memorable angle with Steve Austin, where Pillman would defend his home during a ‘live’ interview and threaten Austin with a gun, featuring one of my favourite ever wrestling moments:

“Steve is a dead man walking, because when Austin 3:16 meets Pillman 9mm, I’m gonna blow his sorry ass straight to Hell!”

Brian would become an adopted member of the Hart Foundation, some said even of the Hart family, and feud with Austin some more, then move onto Goldust and Marlena – again blurring the lines between fact and fiction by referencing the fact that Pillman and Marlena (Goldust’s real life wife, Terri) had dated in the past. Pillman’s feud with Goldust was due to come to a head and he was scheduled to face him at the In Your House 18: Badd Blood show. Brian never made it to that match as he was found dead in his hotel room the day before the show.

In my own humble opinion, Pillman was one of wrestling’s greatest talents, vastly underrated in the ring and out of it by fans. People including Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff, William Regal, Paul Heyman, Jim Ross and many, many more cited him as a genius.

Pillman’s promos and delivery were way ahead of his time. His Loose Cannon character was the first to intentionally break kayfabe on TV and ushered in a new, darker direction for wrestling. The Attitude Era was foreshadowed by Brian Pillman. Even in the ring, in his injury free days in WCW, he was a true innovator, blending the American style with fresh foreign moves and wowing the crowd.

Pillman was one of wrestling’s greatest ever rebels, but unlike so many, he could back up his rebellion with sheer unadulterated talent in a way that nobody before did, or has since. If you get a chance, check out the Brian Pillman: Loose Cannon DVD as a fitting tribute to a huge character, a great wrestler and a ground breaking innovator.

If you don’t get wrestling, turn away now!

So, Vince McMahon – the guy that owns the WWE and thus owns wrestling – has taken over as CEO of his own company. Slightly boring news, no? Not really. You see, he’s done this to replace the outgoing CEO… his wife, Linda McMahon. Where’s she going? She’s running for senate. Yep, a McMahon in power! Dontcha just love the way life imitates art?

So, Vince McMahon – the guy that owns the WWE and thus owns wrestling – has taken over as CEO of his own company. Slightly boring news, no? Not really. You see, he’s done this to replace the outgoing CEO… his wife, Linda McMahon. Where’s she going? She’s running for senate. Yep, a McMahon in power! Dontcha just love the way life imitates art?

So she put out this very slick video package – no surprise really, the WWE are top notch video producers and they know how to promote as well as anyone.

The video was very safe, very middle of the road, and had no mention of her former job, only stating that she was a CEO of a company that created over 500 jobs… but you see… I can exclusively reveal there is another video that had to be extensively re-shot after the cameras stopped rolling… but being the intrepid journalist that I am – HA! – I have found a transcript…

“Hi, I’m Linda McMahon. I’m a former CEO of a publicly traded company, whose name I won’t tell you in case you think I’m some kind of bemused redneck who gets confused by electricity.

When you’ve run a successful company for as long as my husband has – sorry… for as long as I have, then you learn a few things. But then again, you forget more than you learn due to repeated steel chair shots and concussions. You also forget more than you learn due to repeated steel chair shots and concussions, not to mention forgetting things due to repeated steel chair shots and concussions.

My husband’s – sorry, my previous company created over 500 jobs right here in Connecticut, most of them done by Chavo Guerrero.

I am a firm believer in equal opportunities, as long as you’re not Canadian. I promote family values, you only need to look at some of my TV work, where my husband flaunted his affairs in front of me and my children on live national TV, all in the name of good clean family entertainment!

Of course, any candidate is only as good as their policies, and as such, I propose the following key points

  • Creating more jobs for Connecticut residents by expanding the manufacture of steel chairs, wooden tables and bamboo canes.

  • Every family to be given access to Pay Per View television.

  • Strengthening Connecticut business in the Sports Entertainment sector by lobbying for closure and/or purchase of Florida based “wrestling” companies.

  • Declaring November 9th as National Screwjob Day, where the nation remembers great betrayals of our time.

I trust each and every one of you to make the right decision. And remember, if you work for my husband, and you don’t vote for me… YOU’RE FIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRED!

Vote smart. Vote McMahon… and that’s the bottom line, ’cause Mrs. McMahon said so!”