Eric’s Blog: One of my top 5 favorite matches, Ric Flair vs. Vader, 20 years ago today

Once upon a time, World Championship Wrestling, and Jim Crockett Promotions before it, promoted Starrcade as its most prominent and preeminent event of the year. Originally held Thanksgiving night, pressure from the WWF in 1988 forced WCW to move its flagship event to the week of Christmas, which means if the event were being held today, well, it might be held today.

In fact, 20 years ago today, the 11th Starrcade was held in Charlotte, N.C., with the original plans pitting WCW Champion Big Van Vader against Sid Vicious in a bitter battle of former tag team partners who were, well, thrown together about six months earlier, um, because they were both big and, uh, they both used a power bomb as their finisher.

In December 1993, Vader was 18 months into a spectacular run as a monster heel champion, and Sid was, you know, Sid, the underachieving heel whose babyface turn was predicated on a fumbled, accidental double-cross by his comedic manager, Col. Rob Parker, and who could never connect with a crowd at-large beyond the pop he received on his entrance. (Never mind the fact that Dusty and I think he’s, as Sid himself used to say, “the man.”)

And then came the little issue of the night Sid stabbed Arn Anderson with a pair of scissors 20 times in a hotel in England that October, effectively removing himself from the main event of WCW’s biggest show of the year. This put Eric Bischoff’s team of bookers in quite a pinch, and what did WCW pretty much always do when they were in a pinch?

Paging Ric Flair.

Flair was programmed with Vader beginning at Battlebowl, a half-crocked concept launched by Dusty Rhodes at Starrcade 1991 that, somehow, got its own pay-per-view in November 1993. During the ceremonious final battle royal, Vader attacked Flair outside of the ring, eliminating Flair from the match.

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Dan’s Blog: I Swiped Dusty’s Mailbag

shrug

While catching up on my reading of all things on the Stunt Granny site I realized that Dusty has been jumping into the mailbag with both feet answering questions that the wrestling intelligentsia needs to read up about. Not being all that creative myself I visited the Stunt Granny World Headquarters (Don’t ever show up unannounced again. -Jeremy) and managed to grab a bag full of mail for myself. Then I stopped off in New York and took a few things off Matt Brock’s desk also (it was interesting that no one seemed to care about taking that stuff but I digress). I tried to figure out how to break into Wade Keller’s email so I could steal some of his “Ask the Editor” questions but he’s got that account triple protected.  I suppose it’s because “Ask the Editor” seem to make up the majority of the Daily Keller Hotlines!

Anyway, I digress.  Speaking of the Torch, let’s jump into Question One.

Question #1: What’s this I hear about super internet phenomenon “zourah” going on a rant about the way the Torch deals with Bill Watts?  Doesn’t this guy know that Watts was the most racist, sexist, homophobic, all around bad person that ever existed in wrestling?  (M.M.—Pittsburgh, PA)

Answer #1:  Yes, unfortunately my rant is still somewhere stuck in Eric Nelson’s phone because he could not figure out how to get a one hour audio from his phone onto the web. I should mention that I have had a very polite discussion with Mr. Keller about my feelings on this particular subject and I now do respect his view on the entire situation when Watts was fired. I still don’t see things the same way myself but that’s fine.

As for the meat of the question, let’s just compare Watts to everyone’s current God of Wrestling Vince McMahon.

McMahon wins the “PC” game for sure in his public statements. Both he and Watts worked with well known figures in the wrestling business who happen (ed) to be gay.  Again, McMahon has worked more closely with Pat Patterson but Watts did work frequently with Jim Barnett and with a few exceptions he worked fairly well with him.

As for acceptance of gays, Watts said some very un PC things to be polite in an interview. McMahon had his baby face tag team leading children in chants of F***** for at least six months in the early ‘90s.  Advantage Watts

If you were/are an African American wrestler who would you want to work for?  Well unless you really hated distasteful language I’m thinking you would be better off working for Watts. I know The Rock is arguably the biggest deal ever in wrestling but Watts promoted JYD as a hero in Mid South while Vince promoted him as someone who could barely speak complete sentences. No promoter has ever given so many African American wrestlers chances to be at the very top of the card than Watts.

In closing, I’d argue that the premise of your question is ridiculous. I can go into great detail about my thoughts on sending that interview to higher ups at TBS eighteen months after the interview was conducted but that’s a topic for another day.

Question #2: That brilliant “zourah” guy hasn’t chimed in much on Prime Wrestling lately.  What’s up with that?  (A.MG – Cleveland, OH)

Answer #2: I think my contributions to the audio side of things lately have not been of sufficient quality to impress the premier reviewer of Prime on the ‘net Kevin DiFrango I suppose. (It’d really help if I stayed current with the product. They’re even going every other week and I’m still slacking off. – Kevin) If you haven’t been reading his reports go ahead and do so before you read this. I’ll wait for you to finish!

I’m pleased to see that they are going to have “Wrestlelution 6” this year as I was starting to wonder. It wouldn’t work so great if WWE said they were having WrestleMania “sometime between April 1 and May 30” but I know Prime Wrestling is not WWE. (Their next taping is this weekend being billed as a “Wrestlelution Prelude” in Parma OH. -Kevin)

There are things I like about the “Evil Vic” storyline. He does have good timing in his segments but man the evil GM thing just seems too derivative for this promotion. I expect better. I do not agree with Kevin on Ricky Shane Page. I’ve warmed up to him and like his promos (although hitting the announcer has no place on TV. Joe should hold himself to a higher standard than that.  What would Gordon Solie do?) quite a bit.  He’s not at Krimson level on the promos but he is quite good. Nicki Valentino is hilarious and adds quite a bit to the show. I really liked his interaction with Bryan Castle a couple weeks ago. We will see what the big event is for WL 6 and I’m sure we will have a good discussion about it.  Aaron Maguire continues to be the highlight of the show on a week in and week out basis. (More on some of these subjects in my Prime Review after I edit that column. -Kevin)

Question #3:  So what else is out there under the radar that I’m missing? I hear that super smart “zourah” guy always watched USWA, SMW, ECW and other indy feds back in the day.  (S.S. – Rockville Centre, NY)

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Stunt Granny Audio #192

This an excruciatingly special edition of Stunt Granny Audio because it features the reuniting of Jeremy, Eric and Dusty for the first time in a long, long time. And not only that, but it also features the debut of several different new features of Stunt Granny Audio, including the Top Five At Five, Match Game and the Mount Rushmore game. Can you barely contain your excitement!? They talk about the nine hour long AJ-Daniel Bryan-CM Punk segment that opened Raw, they talk about the heart warming ascent of Austin Aries, they talk about Iowa’s own Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and who will all be there, and they talk about a whole lot more things that you can only know about if you listen to the audio. So why don’t you do that? NOW.

Stunt Granny Audio Show #192

Stunt Granny Big 11, Week Ending 9/17/2011

1. Claudio Castagnoli – All signs point to Claudio finally signing (well, re-signing, after one failed attempt) with WWE. Various reports have him heading to Florida Championship Wrestling under the name Antonio Cesaro. Other reports have me heading to Olive Garden to order the antonio cesaro with a breadstick, but whatever. Good move by all parties. – Eric
2. Hulk Hogan – Hulk Hogan’s Micro Championship Wrestling debuted this week on TruTV. I didn’t watch it, I don’t think the other SG guys did… I don’t think anybody did. If this even appears on the Nielsen ratings, I bet it’s a… SMALL number!!! Christ, get me out of here… – Eric
3. Matt Hardy – OK, let’s face it, it’s impossible to fill this up with 12 things if you don’t mention the literal white elephant in the room. (You’d think with all the drugs he does, he’d be skinnier, right?) Days after calling people out for being mean to him based on his personal choices (which he freely Tweets about and also which become a matter of public record because he’s a danger to others), he gets arrested for another DWI, this time in an airport. And then he claimed he was framed. By cops who have a vendetta against him. Wow. Not sure where the radiation came from that’s killed his brain, his antique North Carolinian computer monitor he sits in front of all day, or the microwave that nukes his daily 12-Hot Pocket lunch. – Eric
4. The Rock – He is flaunting the idea that he and John Cena will meet for the first time at Survivor Series. In other words a year was too long to wait for the first ever match up so let’s hype it all in two months. Long term planning be damned – Jeremy
5. Night of Champions – Why hasn’t the question been brought up more – neither Triple H nor CM Punk are champions. Why are they on this card? – Jeremy

6. Ric Flair/Sting – Really, this writes itself. They main event an episode of Impact Wrestling and it was a barn burner. It encompassed everything wrong with TNA. One guy can’t go and the other is bored but won’t retire. You figure out which is which. – Jeremy

7. Alex Riley – This is fake, but I don’t really give a flip:

I believe WWE is still presenting this as if it’s Riley official Twitter page, and therefore this gives me carte blanche to pretend this is a real news story. – Dusty

8. Teddy Hart – We’re talking new wrestling with keys to unlock weapons, robotic turnbuckles that can adjust the height, skateboarders, dogs running interference, etc. We’re talking about http://www.fightnetwork.com/news/wrestling/john-pollock-wai-ting-chat-w-teddy-hart/. We’re talking about Persian cats being the best cats the cat world can possibly offer. – Dusty

9. Bill Watts – So apparently he sucked a guy off once?

…Certainly, the sins above mentioned, we cannot overlook in our “judgmental pride” of being heterosexual—and I personally have been so guilty of them, and in my depravity of these abominations have so grieved the Spirit of God as I transgressed in them—–including even foolish, but not innocent homosexual experiences (not that I ever participated in committing a homosexual act myself, or even any homosexual touching, or being touched, or have even entertained any homosexual feelings—-but allowed myself to be orally gratified—-and that strictly one person’s oral stimulation only, by this homosexual at one point in my life)—-in my youth, as I reached that age of puberty, and hormonal rages, and sexual exploration——and worse, even allowing myself to be gratified by this homosexual for financial reward—–as many of us “young athletes did” (and I’m also speaking here of some of these athletes who became real stars in their sports, so we are not talking about “just ordinary people”—–or ignorant, or poverty trapped victims, but some exceptionally gifted athletes)—–as we were preyed upon by this influential and wealthy pervert in our youth——which does not in anyway excuse me in this abomination. (Yes, he also preyed on others, the non-athletes too.)Now, this person who I’m referring to above, was allowed to function in a very influential position by both of the major universities in our state, recruiting young high school athletes to their programs, (and as I have already indicated, many of whom he “gratified” later became stars in their sport—-football, wrestling, baseball, etc.) though these universities were “unaware” of his perversion—-at least initially, or else, they just “looked the other way.” (And, at some various points in time, he was even arrested for his perversion on young boys, but released, and went on as if nothing had happened, and continued in his relationship with these schools too, until the publicity of his activities became too well known.)

But I can tell you, he used that position to feed his desires by orally gratifying many “weak and impressionable,” and “morally weak” young boys and men—–and has continued to integrate himself into situations that would allow him to seduce even more—–for years and years and years now. When last I heard, he was still in charge of promoting youth wrestling in our state’s capital city.

If you consider how many young men and boys this one person practiced his perversion on—–even clear back when it was illegal——-can you imagine now, when we have created a “protected status” for them?!

He also introduced many of us to pornography—–to stimulate us while he indulged himself with us, because we certainly were not stimulated by him. I do not say this to excuse myself for allowing him to gratify me. I am totally responsible for my own actions in this!…

He’s the best booker ever, so I have to believe he did the right thing in this instance. – Dusty
Edit: Since I was a lazy and forgetful bastard, my choices got left off so I’ll add them now.
10. Night of Champions II – I’ve been excited about the recent resurgence of the tag team and to a lesser degree the Women’s division. It just dawned on me though that this could just be a longer term plan to make this pay per view more interesting then both of these divisions will be shuttered much like they have been for the past five years. Why else would the WWE give the main face of the tag team a division a name as terrible as Air Boom? -Kevin

11. Super Shows – I’m glad we have super shows now so that everything good that occurs on Smackdown will be repeated on Raw so that a much larger audience sees them. (That’s sarcasm.) See Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes and Mark Henry’s promo from each. I guess it’ll save me time in the future viewing both shows. -Kevin

12. What TNA Did Right This Week – I know I stole this gimmick from Jeremy quite some time ago but I will admit to liking the AJ Styles and Devon promos on Jeff Hardy. It’s a small consolation prize after watching the remainder of the crappy show including the awful finish from the aforementioned Sting vs. Ric Flair travesty. -Kevin

Dusty’s Blog: A Closer Look At The Jeff Hardy Situation

I have been conditioned to believe that everything involving a Hardy brother right now is a work. A rib. A con. A ruse. An implement used to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Not kosher. You get the general idea. So when I saw Jason Powell post this yesterday afternoon, I read it with a jaundiced eye, to be sure:

TNA officials came close to pulling Jeff Hardy from Sunday’s TNA Final Resolution pay-per-view. At one point, there was concern amongst TNA management that Hardy was in no condition to perform. There was talk of making an announcement that Hardy was injured, and that he was being stripped of the TNA Title.

Replacement main events were discussed and they were planning to go with an alternate main event at one point. However, the original main event of Hardy vs. Matt Morgan with Mr. Anderson as the special referee was back on as of last check.

Everyone’s immediate instinct is to get all up in arms when they read something like that. How could TNA let him perform under these conditions? They should fire him for being so unprofessional!

The problem with this logic is that this kind of thing has been TNA’s M.O. for a long time now. WWE released Kurt Angle because he was in such bad condition, they didn’t want him to die in a WWE ring. Desmond Wolfe failed a WWE physical so badly that they wouldn’t even consider signing him to a contract. They handed him to TNA, so unconcerned were they about losing him as a prospect.

So this really shouldn’t be anything new, work or shoot. But I hesitated on posting something about it until today because I wanted to read about (couldn’t be bothered to actually watch the show live, mind you – making me exactly like almost every other fan of professional wrestling) exactly what happened on the show and whether he wrestled or not. And, of course, he did. He wrestled a 12 minute main event title match against Matt Morgan, who obviously deserves much better than that, and is likely just counting down the days on his contract until he can go back to WWE and become a star.

As I indicated before, I figured it was a work from the beginning. Like in any good murder mystery, you have to look for the person ultimately responsible. In this case, you have to realize that Vince Russo still books TNA. Against all better judgment, all sense of reason and common sense, it’s still Vince Russo who is responsible for TNA’s murders. Let’s examine that more closely for a minute, shall we.

People can get in for free at the Orlando Fairgrounds. So there is no way to judge whether their booking is effective in getting people to pay money to come to the live events. The same amount of people every month watch their PPVs. Most people who view their PPVs opt to do so less than legally online. Apparently only people without an internet connection are willing to pay to see the product on pay-per-view. So that’s not the best way to gauge the product either.

The bottom line here is that there exists no system of checks and balances to show whether Vince Russo is doing a good job or not. I mean, I don’t know how to cook worth a damn, but I can tell you when you just burned your soufflé. But if you want statistics to back that up, I come up woefully short. If TNA does anything well, it’s keeping you from knowing just how not well things are going.

So back to Jeff Hardy. He’s looking at serving prison time for drugs, so when you hear something like “in no condition to perform” you automatically think he’s up to his old tricks. And whether it’s a work or a shoot, it’s a sad situation because no one is able to say, “Well, wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense!” Because it does. It’s perfectly plausible that Jeff Hardy would show up to any given show higher than ten kites stacked on top of eleven kites, being flown by Kevin DiFrango.

In a true professional wrestling organization, well run with discipline and accountability, Jeff Hardy would never have been booked in a main event World Title match at a PPV in the first place. He probably wouldn’t be employed. Once again, I go back to the example Bill Watts gave in his RF Video shoot interview. In 1995, when Shawn Michaels, Sean Waltman and Davey Boy Smith got beat up by a bunch of Marines in a bar that time, that’s three guys who should have been fired on the spot. They were drunk and hopped up on whatever, and they got beat up and made to look bad to boot. Which, in turn, makes the company look bad. It doesn’t matter if these are top guys or not, what they did was profoundly stupid and unprofessional, and you can’t be having that in your company. You need to send the message that it is unacceptable.

In TNA, there is no such accountability. They are willing to hire people with drug addictions, pain killer addictions, people so broken down they can’t even pass a basic physical examination. And you can’t argue that they can’t afford to lose Hardy because he’s too important to the company. We’ve already established here that they have no business model for financial success. They can’t even market him properly; the top babyface in all of wrestling in 2009 is now being utilized as a heel, thus potentially castrating his ability to sell merchandise.

So I refuse to get all up in arms about whether he really was in no condition to perform (Powell’s suggestion that he must have “slept it off” before going out to wrestle is wholly laughable here), because the problem isn’t with Jeff Hardy. Jeff Hardy is simply doing what he always does: get high, have fun, mess around, be a big kid. It’s the company’s fault here. They are sending him the message that it is perfectly okay to behave in that manner. No repercussions will follow. He’s a former WWE superstar, and that’s all that really matters to TNA anyway.

 Because for as long as TNA exists, it does not exist to make money. It does not exist to get good television ratings. It does not exist to sell a bunch of pay-per-views. It exists as somebody’s vanity project, a chance for them to rub elbows with superstars and get their face on TV. And after all, isn’t that what’s really important?

Stunt Granny Nostalgia Audio: NXT And Jobbers!

Stunt Granny Audio is never BLANK...

Dusty takes time out from nursing his back to health with chocolate ice cream and a Crazy for Swayze Movie Madness Marathon to join resident Stunt Granny nostalgia specialist Dan “Zourah” Kuester in talking about a veritable plethora of things, wrestling and non-wrestling related alike. Who do the guys think is going to win this season of Survivor? Which one reminds Dusty of Kaiser Soze? What do the kind young gentlemen think of the NXT guys? What does that have to do with nostalgia anyway? Find out how everything gets tied together like an Encyclopedia Brown novel in this audio spectacular! Or else!

Stunt Granny Nostalgia Audio: NXT And Jobbers!

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