Post by codystarbuck on Aug 24, 2021 22:07:40 GMT -5
ps I will be interested to see if they talk about the one story I heard about FMW. Someone either hit or insulted a yakuza thug (the yakuza were/are involved in pro wrestling in Japan, controlling smaller arenas and related support businesses and services and are fixtures ringside, even in New Japan) and the whole crew was basically barricaded in the locker room, until Onita apologized and got them to cool down and not kill or maim everyone.
Vader supposedly ticked off some yakuza and was allegedly held down or tied down to a table, with them threatening to carve him up.
Rikidozan, who was Japan's first star, was knifed by a yakuza that he had a beef with, with a blade that had been doctored (supposedly urinated on it, but I don't think that urine would actually cause and infection, like fecal matter) to cause an infection and he tried to act tough and not go to the hospital and died from the infected wound.
I am not a huge Onita fan, though a lot of the people in my pro-wrestling circles are because of his charisma and the image he projected. I do think he deserves some credit for starting a promotion that made waves in Japan. Onita is an interesting guy. At one point, he was out of pro-wrestling and heavily in debt doing construction work and odd jobs. You could make a Netflix drama out of his life not unlike The Naked Director. He was able to latch onto the success UWF was having and staged dramatic pro-wrestler vs. karateka worked shoots that ended up as bloody brawls. As FMW gained notoriety, Onita introduced Texas death matches and street fights, which had been done before in Japan, but weren't prominent. He even copied Funk and Lawler's Empty Arena match with his first match against Tarzan Goto. The exploding death matches that came later were on a different level, but I've seen most of the famous ones and they're mostly staged spectacles. Onita wasn't the first Japanese wrestler to do death matches. Inoki was doing death matches in the late 70s and similar matches to Onita in the late 80s. FMW, at least in the years that Onita was there, did some positive things in regardless to signing All Japan Women rejects like Kudo and Toyota and giving them a stage to wrestle on. From memory, Kudo was working as a kindergarten teacher prior to working for FMW. Hayabusa ended up becoming the ace of the promotion, which wouldn't have happened in one of the major promotions. The documentary will probably focus on the sleaze factor of garbage wrestling and the yakuza involvement in Japanese wrestling, as well as Hayabusa's injury, but there's a romanticism to the promotion as well.
Funk was a greater technical wrestler in the 70s, particularly around the period where he won the NWA World Heavyweight title, but by the end of the 70s he was already working his wild man persona. Funk was a brawler from that point on. He had already built a rep for his matches against Sheik and Abby, Lawler, Flair, and his bouts in Puerto Rico, before he ever stepped into the ring in FMW, ECW or IWA. 90s feds took brawling to the next level, but Funk had spent more than a decade being stabbed by scissors and screaming about his eye.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 2, 2021 21:14:24 GMT -5
Shannon Spruill, aka Daffney, in WCW, and Shannon and Shark girl, in TNA, has taken her own life, after livestreaming threats of suicide, on Instagram, while brandishing a pistol. Spruill had been badly injured in TNA and sued the company for negligence, which was settled out of court. She had also suffered multiple concussions in her career. She had continued work, with SHINE and others; but, a combination of her injuries and undiagnosed bipolar had affected her mental state.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 3, 2021 11:22:08 GMT -5
Also RIP to longtime Georgia indie wrestler Steve Gower, aka Steve "The Brawler" Lawler. A Georgia native, he started wrestling in the mid-80s, working for such groups as "The Assassin" Jody Hamilton's Deep South Wrestling, "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell's Southern Championship Wrestling, Joe Pedicino's Georgia All-Star Wrestling and Dusty Rhodes' Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling. He was part of a 3-man team, known as Bad Company, with John Michaels and the Nightmare, doing a Freebirds-style gimmick. The team had a noted match against the Rock N Roll Express and Tommy "Wildfire" Rich, which was featured on the syndicated "Pro Wrestling this Week" (hosted by Joe Pedicino and announcer Gordon Solie). In Southern Championship wrestling he worked with a young Marcus Bagwell, Ranger Ross, Joey Maggs and Mr Wrestling II. I saw some of that work while I was attending the US Navy Supply Corps School, in Athens, GA, in 1988 (WATL in Atlanta broadcast an 8 hour block of wrestling, Superstars of Wrestling, hosted by Joe Pedicino and Bonnie Blackstone, which included Southern Championship Wrestling). He worked as a trainer for the Global Wrestling Federation, where he helped train Marcus Bagwell and Disco Inferno.
Gower passed away from complications, related to COVID.
(Steve Lawler is on the left)
There was another Steve "The Brawler" Lawler, Steve Kyle, who wrestled in Memphis, who passed away a few years ago. Both wrestlers were active under the name, around the same time.
Letterman named the Late Show band, The World's Most Dangerous Band, after Dick the Bruiser.
Bob Costas worked in St Louis (broadcasting the Spirits of St Louis ABA games), at KMOX Radio, which broadcast the Cardinals. In St Louis, Wrestling at the Chase, broadcast by KPLR tv, from the Chase Hotel, was an institution, until the 80s.
Here's Costas with Bobby Heenan....
Total kayfabe (Thesz, I miss those days!); but Costas feeds the heel well. By the by, Bobby had managed champions; the AWA World Champion, AWA World Tag-Team Champions, WWA World Tag-Team Champions.....In Vince's world, at that time, no other promotion existed, unless it was Jack Brisco (who was acknowledged as the former NWA World Champion, when he was there) or Kerry Von Erich (his NWA title win was actually covered in the first WWF magazine, back when Vince was trying to buy out Fritz, t get the Dallas-Ft Worth tv market). At the time, arguably, the AWA World title meant far more than the WWF title, when Heenan was managing Bockwinkel. Bob Backlund was WWF champion, but they were still part of the NWA (and would be, until 1983) and didn't even refer to their title as a world title. I liked Bob as champion, but, he was the straw that was stirring the drink in the WWF, of that period. The AWA title was second only to the NWA and the AWA covered a lot of major markets, from the Midwest to the West Coast, and into Canada. Of course, Vince raided the AWA talent and it went into decline soon after, as Verne didn't step up his game. It was sad to see the AWA in its latter days. You could kind of tell they were getting desperate when they turned the World title over to Memphis, as well as the tag titles.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 16, 2021 23:13:37 GMT -5
So, Dark Side of the Ring started back up tonight, with the WWE "Plane Ride from Hell." For those who missed that time frame, or never heard the stories, in 2002, the WWE had a 4 day tour of Europe, culminating in a PPV, in London, to a huge crowd. They chartered a private jet, from a company that specialized in transporting professional sports teams, in custom jets, in luxurious conditions. No incidents occurred on the trip over to Europe, or in Germany, the first stop. However, on the return flight to the US, the story was different. After a 7 hour delay, due to weather, the plane finally departed London, bound for the US. The wrestlers had been drinking since they got on the plane. Some of them were doing other substances, as well. The flight became notorious for numerous alcohol and substance fueled antics, which would embarrass a teenage boy after his first clandestine beer. The episode illustrates some of the antics and the dangers they created, as well as behavior that warranted criminal charges, and probably would have, if it had been a standard airline plane.
Michael Hayes was an agent for the WWE and was not well liked by some factions. It is believed that he was "H-Bombed;" that is, someone slipped a Halcyon tablet into his drink. His behavior became loud and obnoxious and he suddenly punched John Bradshaw (JBL) Layfield in the head, in a wound from his match that night, causing it to reopen. Layfield got out of his seat and slapped Michaels with an open hand and knocked him out. Sean Waltman then proceeded to take scissors and cut off his ponytail. At the time, I believe the Wrestling Observer may have reported additional vandalism to his beard or eyebrows, but I don't recall. That was a relatively minor incident.
Dustin "Golddust" Runnels (aka Dustin Rhodes), got heavily drunk and took over the PA and sang a David Allen Coe song to his ex-wife Terri, who was also on the plane, until Jim Ross finally went up to him and told him to sit down and he soon passed out. The flight attendants were finally able to retrieve the microphone from him.
Curt Hennig decided to rib Brock Lesnar (both Minnesota boys) and poured shave cream on his head and smacked his hand down onto the pile. Lesnar chased Hennig down the aisle of the plane and double-legged him and slammed him around. Their scuffling ended up throwing them into the bulkheads and against an emergency exit door, until other wrestlers, afraid for the safety of the plane, stopped them from further play fighting.
Scott Hall was passed out (possibly H-Bombed, though he was on enough pills to do it to himself). In the morning, as they were nearing the US, he woke up and the flight attendant offered him breakfast. He grabbed their blouse and pulled them close, breaking of buttons, then made suggestions of what he wanted to do to them, then passed out again.
Ric Flair donned his ring robe and nothing else and paraded up the aisle, swinging his penis around by wiggling his hips.
After the wrestlers departed the plane, which was in a horrible state, items like syringes were also discovered, prompting the flight attendants to stop cleaning the plane for their own safety.
Curt Hennig was fired by the company, as was Scott Hall. Dustin Rhodes was fined. Some others may have been fined. Nothing happened to Ric Flair.
The episode elaborates on some of the stories, with input from Jim Ross, Rob Van Dam, Justin Credible (PJ Polaco), Tommy Dreamer, ref Mike Chioda, Terri Runnels and flight attendant Heidi Doyle. Ross takes responsibility for the wrestlers getting out of hand and poor decisions by the company, though he also passes a few bucks (or shares them with Vince, which is earned). Ultimately, it was Vince McMahon who allowed this behavior to go on and he was present on the aircraft, as was Linda McMahon. He did nothing to put a stop to the hijinks, other than send JR back to deal with Dustin Rhodes and the singing over the PA.
The episode sets the stage and the 7 hour delay is a big factor in the alcohol consumption. Heidi Doyle says that the group consumed 3 liquor carts worth of alcohol. These were stocked with regular bottles of alcohol, not the small travel bottles, like on commercial flights. She has worked flights carrying the Phoenix Suns and other groups and has never gone through more than one cabinet on a flight. They went through 3.
RVD and Justin Credible both basically said the boys were out of hand and were pretty much behaving as you would expect, if you spent time around wrestling locker rooms of that era. Terri Runnels confirms the same, yet she was always told to never "sell" affronts to her, or she would be targeted for more behavior and it was easier to act like they barely noticed to get the wrestlers to move on to another victim. She relates a story of Brock Lesnar exposing himself to her at an arena, previous to the plane incidents, but she no sold it).
Heidi Doyle relates the Flair incident and says he came back to the galley, where she was working, for another drink, swinging his naked penis and wanting her to touch it and essentially cornered her and wouldn't stop, until Dustin Rhodes finally got him away from her. She also relates that is part of why she wasn't so mad at Rhodes for his serenade, since he was obvious emotionally hurting, as this was after his divorce from Terri. She was also the one who dealt with Hall and he said, among other things, that he wanted to lick her and and started to try, when he passed out again. No one could wake him, after the plane landed and Justin Credible carried him to a wheelchair, put sunglasses on him and got him through customs, claiming Hall had a medical condition. he then ran into JR, who gave him a look of disgust and he replied he was just getting Hall off the plane.
Heidi Doyle and another flight attendant later brought suit against the WWE, after the charter airline refused to address the situation and tried to get the women's silence. They eventually settled out of court with the WWE. JR said the WWE basically wanted the episode ended and paid out to make the incident go away.
The episode is pretty damning of Flair, though there are tons of stories of similar behavior, on commercial flights (and bars); and, to my knowledge, no charges have ever been brought against him for it. Alcohol is always involved and alcohol and Ric Flair have been tag-team partners, for decades. It doesn't excuse his behavior, which to call juvenile does a disservice to actual juvenile. I love Flair's in-ring work and performances on the mic; but, outside the ring, Flair comes across as a tragic figure who is desperate for attention, throwing money around and living the gimmick to get it. It is sad that he can't enjoy a well-earned retirement, because he squandered everything. His family life has always been a mess, and the death by overdose of son Reid only made things worse. He gets a pass because of his legendary status and he got a pass from the WWE, for his antics, on that plane. JR is questioned about why nothing happened to Flair and he hesitates and then says Flair was like a "made man," in Mafia terms. That's a pretty apt description.
Flair comes off badly; but, if you have read the bios or listened to the shoot interviews, including Flair's own, there is nothing in the episode that would surprise you. How charges have never ben brought may astound you. Doyle says she doesn't believe Flair intended to rape her; but, she did not give consent to his display and that in itself is a crime. His attempts to get her to touch him would warrant at least an assault charge.
Flair comes of well, though, compared to Tommy Dreamer. JR gets a bit testy at parts, and passes (rightfully, in many cases) the buck, in spots and Mike Chioda is way too much "That's the boys," with Credible and RVD both acknowledging that's how wrestlers behaved but this was extreme even for them. They don't try to defend it, though. Dreamer tries to defend it and comes across as an apologist for pathological behavior, like he is angling to work for the WWE again. He especially tries to brush off Flair as just carrying out a joke, like all he did was recite a dirty limerick. You can blame editing for the portrayal, but these aren't fast clips and there are multiple instances where he is making excuses for inexcusable behavior. Quite frankly, I think Dreamer has damaged his image, with this and if he thinks he has a chance to work with a big company again, I think his performance here will make any company think twice about hiring him, in a backstage job.
If you are familiar with the story, the episode will not bring anything new to it, other than Heidi Doyle's perspective; but, it was, as RVD says, a definite example of the phrase, "Never meet your heroes." Performing arts often draw people who are looking for acceptance and approval and have psychological issues. Fame often exacerbates these issues and can magnify them, especially when bad behavior goes unpunished. Some actors have talked about how fame removes barriers, beyond what can be healthy, to the point you can believe you can act with impunity. Professional wrestling has a high percentage of those kinds of psychological issues. Wrestlers from several generations have talked about how "crazy" you had to be to be in the wrestling business and stories of behavior that ranged from the eccentric to the psychotic are numerous. Some try to pass that off as the past, the "carny days;" but, it has continued into the modern realm. Modern locker rooms have improved in some, and the younger generation has been said to be relatively "cleaner" than the 80s/90s generation, in terms of drug use and less stressful tour schedules; but, there have been enough incidents on the independent scene and within the WWE and other larger-sized promotions to say it is entirely a thing of the past. So long as it is tolerated, at some level, by management, it will still be a part of the locker room. Within the WWE, it hasn't helped that Vince McMahon has been accused of similar antics.
This is definitely not an episode if you are wanting to hear road stories of colorful individuals, with humorous lives. It comes across as rather pathological and grossly immature. It definitely fits the name of the show.
The next episode features a look at the life of wrestler Chris Klucsartis, aka Chris Kanyon, aka Mortis, aka Kanyon. It is not likely to be uplifting (wrong series for that); but, he was someone who had tons of talent, but never seemed to get the push he deserved and that didn't help with the issues he faced, in his life, including his sexual identity, within the hypermasculine world of pro wrestling. I'm hoping that this one has some good insight into the person, who should have been a much bigger star. DDP is one of the people featured, in interviews.
And now for something completely different and definitely on the lighter side. Our man BIG E has proven the naysayers wrong as he and his comedic laden style has now become WWE Champion after cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to defeat an exhausted Lashley who defended against Orton.
Congratulations Big E! How long Vinnie the idiot Mac will allow him to hold the title remains to be seen, but let's hope it is a decent run and NOT just a joke. Nobody will laugh at that...Big E deserves the respect and he puts on a helluva show. So don't be sour, eat your pancakes and celebrate the big man's power, as your 1st time ever Heavyweight title holder!
Gimme a home on the ol' prairie where I can sit in my rockin' chair reading my favorite old comic books of yesteryear!
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 18, 2021 18:13:08 GMT -5
Of a similar positive, though a couple of weeks back, now, Trevor Murdoch was rewarded for his hard work at NWA 73, at the Chase Hotel, in St Louis, with a win over Nick Aldiss for the NWA title. I haven't followed closely, since they originally shut down Powerr, with COVID; but, Trevor was one of the guys I really enjoyed. He isn't a cookie-cutter wrestler (style, look or promo) and is a mic mix of old school attitude with new school moves, with better psychology than a lot of his contemporaries and juniors. Trained by Harley Race, spent time in the WWE, with Lance Cade, but let go because of Cade's issues and "no plans from creative, had actually left things behind, for a bit, before Corgan started up Powerrr. Really good matches with anybody and everybody. With some of the cross-promoting with AEW, lets hope he gets defend the title on their stage.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 18, 2021 18:41:57 GMT -5
Meanwhile; it didn't take long for fallout to happen from the Dark Side episode (about 12-16 hours). An advertising agency pulled spots for Carshield, with Flair, over the revelations within, and Tommy Dreamer was suspended from Impact Wrestling, over the comments he made in the episode, defending the sexual harassment of the flight attendant and implications he made about her lawsuit against the WWE (which they settled). Sports Illustrated and other mainstream outlets picked up the story the next day.
Vice has a preview of the remainder of the season, on Youtube, with Chris Jericho talking to the creators about the episodes. here are some clips from some of them, too..
They interviewed Atushi Onita, terry Funk and Sabu, about FMW (Foley, too, I believe) and have a clip about Onita addressing the suicide of the later owner of the promotion, when he ran into money problems. There were rumors about owing money to the yakuza, which Onita dismisses (though he says some cold stuff about the guy). I had forgotten about his suicide. I'm sure the episode also talks about Hayabusa's career-ending injury. Also forgot Jericho had done some shows for them (I believe he took on Ricky Fuji, one of their junior heavyweights). The creators talked a bit about the flaming ring rope match, with the original Shiek, Terry Funk and Sabu, where it got so hot inside the ring they couldn't breathe and the Sheik either had a seizure or came close to it.
A clip of Lance Storm was shown, from the Johnny K-9/Bruiser Bedlam episode, where he got very emotional trying to reconcile the guy who went to prison for murder and was implicated in other violent crimes, with the guy he lived with in Smokey Mountain. Lance is always a great interview subject, as he is articulate and thoughtful.
New Jack contributed to the XPW episode, with probably his last interview.
The creators also ask people to continue sending suggestions for episodes for the next season. That's part of how the Chris Kanyon one came about. I wouldn't mind seeing more promotion profiles, like FMW and the Herb Abrams UWF (from season 2), especially Global Wrestling Federation, with the whole Nigerian businessman con/fiasco. They mentioned World Class (been done, both by the WWE and an independent one; but, might still be some interesting stories. They did talk to Kevin Von Erich for the episode about the family, back in Season 1). Also like to see one on the Fuller/Welch family, since they controlled or had a piece of wrestling in Knoxville, Pensacola, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and elsewhere. Both Ron and Robert Fuller are still around, as is cousin Jimmy Golden. Corny would have a lot of insight (he is interviewed about Johnny K-9, from his time in SMW, as Bruiser Bedlam). The WWA could be an interesting one, though not many people left alive that worked there regularly, apart from the last generation of younger guys (Steve Regal, Spike Huber, Greg Wojokowski, Scott Steiner). Hawaii and the Maivias could be a good one, but the Rock wouldn't likely cooperate with anything that dredged up his grandmothers trial for extortion and some of the stuff that went down, surrounding it. She was acquitted, but there were some questions about some things that did occur.
You could do a two-parter on the fal, rise and fall again, of WCW, from the time that Turner Broadcasting bought out Jim Crockett. Probably wouldn't get Flair to give an interview, at this point, but guys like Corny, Kevin Sullivan, Eric Bischoff, Nash and some others might be open to it.
Memphis and the whole Andy Kaufman period would be good, if Lawler would speak to them (not likely, while still working for the WWE). Kaufman did multiple matches there, not just the one. They did the whole memphis cycle with him, including a babyface turn/doublecross.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 19, 2021 11:30:40 GMT -5
Yeah, Scott's alive and relatively cleaner, last I heard. DDP's documentary, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake, featuring the time they spent together, getting him cleaned up, also featured them bringing Hall in to try to get him sober. He has stumbled a few times; but I haven't heard of anything major, in recent years. He was trying to help his son break in, last I knew of anything. There is an ESPN 30 For 30 about him (he participated) which gets into his backstory. When he was working as a bouncer, at a strip club, in Florida, he got into an altercation with someone, who pulled a gun. Hall got it away from the guy and shot him dead. It seems that a lot of his substance issues revolve around that incident. Doesn't excuse his behavior later, but it does give you some insight into why he got so messed up.
I'm looking forward to the Luna one, as well. They did talk with Dave Heath (Vampire Warrior/Gangrel). I once watched a shoot interview with them, that was pretty entertaining, though both seemed to be on something. The clip shows footage from the start of her angle in Florida, where she becomes part of Kevin Sullivan's coven. That's where I first heard of her, via the Apter magazines. Mad Maxine, one of the women she wrestled in Florida, is an interviewee and I haven't seen or heard of her since the mid-80s. She had an interesting life before wrestling: adopted daughter of "Butcher" Paul Vachon, grew up idolizing her aunt, Viviene Vachon (who was not only one of the top lady wrestlers of her era, but also a pop star, in Canada). She was driving a truck, after wrestling, but she had severe mental health issues, which years of substance abuse hadn't helped. By all accounts (well, maybe not Sable), she was just a sweet person who grew up in a crazy business and clawed her way into and through it, then got tossed aside by promoters (Vince, really) because they weren't creative enough to cater to her talents (though her drug issues are a big factor, too).
Luna was one of the lady wrestlers who didn't work that tired old Moolah style of hair mares and butt bumps. She went out there and fought and wrestled, as did Jackie Moore (aka Ms Texas), Madusa Micelli (she actually really learned to wrestle, during her time in Japan), Sheri Martel, Debbie Malenko, Magnificent Mimi Lessos, Reggie Bennett and a few others of their era.
Hope they have some footage of her and Heath's early days, when he was masked, as part of the Blackhearts, with Tom Nash, and Luna as their manager. She was married to Nash, but it broke up and she ended up with Heath (kind of happened to Tully Blanchard, as his ex-wife ended up married to Magnum TA).
I saw a clip of Madusa, from that episode, so she is interviewed. She would make a good subject for an episode, as she has been through the ups and downs, and then was a pioneer for women on the Monster Truck circuit. Would certainly have more positive elements than many episodes.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 25, 2021 18:09:10 GMT -5
The Chris Kanyon episode of Dark Side of the Ring is up now. Featured interviews include (lot of AEW presence, here) Chris Jericho, Kevin Cage, the Young Bucks, Luke Hawx, Rafael Morfi (who grew up with him), DDP and Jim Mitchell, aka James Vandenburgh (WCW) aka Sinister Minister (ECW & TNA).
It does a decent job of conveying the fact that Kanyon was very popular in his circle of friends, was respected for his ring abilities and those in charge, in WCW and WWE, seemed high on his talents and wanted to use him. What also becomes clear is that he was deeply conflicted about his sexuality and he had severe mental health issues, that went undiagnosed and/or untreated, for far too long.
Morfi describes him as a popular kid in school, but he came from a deeply Catholic family and neighborhood. He cursed at a teacher and got sent to see the priest (I assume a Catholic school, though I don't recall if that was said) and he told the priest he was gay, but the priest told him not to give into temptation and reacted as if that was a sin (won't go there). That seemed to deeply affect how he felt about himself and his orientation and he was very underground with his sexuality, covering it with homophobic talk, which is a common defense mechanism.
They quickl describe his time in WCW, talking about starting out in the tag-team, Men at Work, with Mark Starr, before getting the Mortis gimmick, which I personally loved (and DDP puts over, rather heavily). It was a great look and he had the size to be intimidating and the ability to make his ring work look spectacular, while doing pseudo-martial arts moves. What hurt was that he had a speech impediment (a bit of a lisp) and was self-conscious about it, which inhibited him on promos, which is part of how Mitchell ended up as his manager. WCW really undervalued managers and Vandenburgh was never really given a chance to cut loose, like he did in ECW and TNA. Kanyon got "married" to the Glacier gimmick, since it was introduced to rip-off Mortal Kombat, with Ray Lloyd given a massive build up and a high tech (and costly) entrance. Mortis was supposed to be his big rival, from the world of pit fighting; but, Ray Lloyd wasn't quite the polished worked that Kanyon was (he was decent, but didn't really have that extra spark that Kanyon did and didn't execute as well) and crowds just laughed at it, especially as the NWO angle became central to everything and everything else was devalued, unless they were buddies with Bischoff (like DDP, who worked hard, but being Bischoff's neighbors helped promote himself than some of the other guys, who worked hard, but didn't have the political chops that DDP had). They then show his unmasking and re-intro as Kanyon, but zip through it.
Central to everything is a paranoia about people finding out he was gay. Mitchell knew it and helped him cover it; but, Kanyon's mental health issues, on top of the paranoia (which was probably tied into his mental problems), caused him to have sudden explosions of violence, with Mitchell often bearing the brunt of it.. It was bad enough that Mitchell said, at one point, he pulled out a gun.
Despite that, the young AEW guys talk about working with him on the indie circuit and how he really helped them improve, gave them advice about the business or just hung out with them. As mitchell says, all of these people loved him, and when he did come out, they were mostly, "Okay...." It seemed he feared the reaction of others far more than anyone ever bullied him or depushed him because he was gay. It seemed like no one really had an inkling, though Mitchell describes a big party Kanyon threw, with all kinds of women around and several were hanging on his every word and pretty much waving flags that they would love to sleep with him but he showed them nothing. One of the women then said to Mitchell, in passing, "I think your friend might be gay." When Mitchell told him, he got more paranoid about it.
They describe some of his worst behavior, with obsessive actions, violent mood swings, deep depression, suicidal acts. They also describe him as opening up hus home to Luke Hawx, after Hurricane Katrina hit where he lived.
They show some Howard Stern clips, after he came out, with John Cena and Ric Flair responding, where they do not come off well. Both towed the company line (he claimed he was fired because he was gay, which sounds like his rationalization or him trying to work them into rehiring him) and said he didn't have what it took to succeed, with Cena saying he wasn't any good. Anybody who saw Kanyon's work knew that was total BS, supplied from above. Flair knew better than anyone how good Kanyon was, but he had old school attitudes and came across as both towing the company line and being somewhat homophobic.
It's a pretty good balance of the good side and the unhealthy side of the man and I think is pretty fair, though the Cena and Flair moments are taken out of context from everything else they said, in their appearances (Cena)/phone-in (Flair). For Flair, who has already suffered a damaged reputation after the previous episode, it was another shot to his future as a spokesperson. The idea that Kanyon suffered discrimination is given discussion, but the consensus seemed to be that his mental health issues and behavior and how they affected his work, had far more to do with things and that most people didn't know he was gay. However, they show an infamous bit he did, after being out with injury, where he came out of a large box, as a surprise for Undertaker, dressed as Boy George and singing "Dou You Want to Hurt Me?" and then getting thrashed by Undertaker. It definitely killed any momentum he had (not that injury didn't derail him) and it seemed like a combination of having no good ideas for him, and Vince McMahon's own sophomoric locker room sense of humor (which has been shared by others in that organization), which Jericho points fingers at (and Morfi, who worked for Creative in WWE and AEW, dismisses).
It's not a happy ending; but, it does make strong points about illustrating how mental health issues can manifest and if someone suffers wild mood swings and behavior out of their norm, there is likely far more going on there and professional help may be required. They also make a point about suicide hotlines.
Next up is FMW, the Japanese promotion that pioneered deathmatch or "garbage wrestling" in the 90s. Should be pretty interesting, given how big it was, at one point, how quickly it fell, its influence on other promotions (including ECW, with whom it often worked) and some of the people involved (including Terry Funk, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Mike Awesome, Hulk Hogan's nephew, Horace Boulder, and the former Cpl Kirchner, from the Hulkamania days of the WWF). Also home to junior heavyweights Ricky Fuji and Hayabusa, plus female stars Combat Toyoda and Megumi Kudo.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 29, 2021 19:27:02 GMT -5
Bit of fun from Cornette's podcast, featuring a spot for one of his sponsors, that just goes (literally) into insane territory...
WARNING: Usual Cornette language. Mama Cornette didn't use enough soap!)
That had me on the floor, in hysterics!
I listened to a couple of recent ones and he had some good praise for AEW, with Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega (and gave Omega as much props as Cornette ever will) and some useful criticism. A certain segment of fans likes to dump on Cornette for criticizing AEW (and another for criticizing WWE, so he must have a few points); but, he gave some pretty sound reasoning for the things he felt could be better, why some things shouldn't be aired, and what was really great and should be continued. Sound booking strategies and the rationale for doing things, not just because it might look cool (thereby achieving both the idea of making it look cool and have it mean something, in your storytelling). He also took NXT to task for a really bad show, pointing out how they could have done the intended idea in a better manner and why so much of their talent is leaving or planning to do so, when their contract is up.
He is (not surprisingly) very high on Rick Steiner's son, Bronson, aka Bron Breakker. Said he even sounds like Rick (who I always enjoyed, even more than Scott).
Man, typing that, I felt ancient. I remember when Rick was a rookie, in UWF, called Rob Rechsteiner, before it was changed (while still there). I also remember when Scott was in Memphis though I missed his real glory days, when he started out in what remained of the WWA (the old Indianapolis territory). Scotty was flashier, but Rick was more entertaining and more sound on the mat. Neither one made sense on the mic. Still recall Rick being punked out by a puppet (Chuckie) on Nitro, when they did a cross-promotion with a Child's Play movie. Typical WCW! Botchamania had a clip of Scott's math skills.
Also high on Brian Pillman Jr but pointed out he has yet to show that he can play an angry babyface, chasing after the heel, after some dirty deed, based on the match he had. Felt he needed to be sat down and explained when you soak up the adulation of the crowd and celebrate with them and when you should look like you mean business, in an angle. Some good points on babyface psychology, for the rookies out there.
Also heard a little bit about his thoughts on the Kanyon Dark Side of the Ring episode and he offered anecdotes of Kanyon's selfless work with OVW, when Corny was still running it, with Danny Davis, for WWE Developmental. Kanyon worked with them while rehabbing injury and loved to come in there and work with the young guys and even did it on his own dime, to finish up and angle they had done to put one of the young talent over. Here was a guy who had worked national tv, for 2 major companies, offering to job to their up and comer, on his own. Could have been a great trainer, if his mental health issues could have been regulated better and been given the chance. Such a waste and a shame.
Post by codystarbuck on Oct 1, 2021 23:26:30 GMT -5
Latest episode of Dark Side of the Ring appeared, focusing on the Japanese promotion, Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling, or FMW and Atsushi Onita. I like these that focus on a broader topic; but, it was a bit too much for a single hour long (well, 45 min) episode. This one could have easily filled a double episode. Since it's a single, a lot of stuff just gets glossed through or barely mentioned (if at all).
For a bit of background: pro wrestling, in Japan (puroresu) has always been dominated by the biggest promotions and the tv networks. The Japan Wrestling Alliance was the original pro wrestling promotion of Japan, begun in 1953, with the backing of Nippon TV. It's star and promoter was Rikidozan, who had come over from sumo and learned to do worked pro wrestling. Another sumo wrestler, Toyonbori, was his chief rival. A dojo was established and it's next generation of stars were Shohei "Giant" Baba, who had come from professional baseball, and Kanji "Antonio" Inoki, a track athlete and martial artist. After the death of Rikidozan, the JWA continued, with Baba as the top star and Inoki in his shadow and as junior tag partner. In 1966, Toyonbori split off and started Tokyo Pro Wrestling, with Inoki joining him, but a falling out with the money backers killed the promotion in about a year and Inoki came back to the JWA, with tail between his legs. Eventually, with the backing of a rival tv network, the JWA was dissolved and replaced by All-Japan Pro Wrestling, under Baba and New Japan Pro Wrestling, under Inoki. Toyonbori did find additional financial backing and started a rival International Wrestling Enterprises, which had an affiliation with Verne Gagne's AWA, in America, as well as Stu Hart's Stampede promotion, in Calgary, and other foreign promotions. It lasted until about the early 80s. The first real change to the pro wrestling scene in Japan came in the early-mid 80s, when a group of wrestlers broke away from New Japan, to form the Universal Wrestling Federation, including Satoru "Tiger Mask" Sayama, Akira Maeda, Gran Hamada and other who would factor into the independent scene in the 90s. The UWF broke up after in-fighting between rivals and financial scandal. A few years later, a second attempt at the UWF was founded, which began the "shoot" revolution, in Japan, with a more realistic presentation of pro wrestling (though still worked fights) that would again fail, but, various factions split off to form new "shoot promotions, such as the UWFI (under Nobuhiku Takada), Shooto (Under Sayama), Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi (under Yoshiaki Fujiwara) Pancrase (under Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki. This would feed into the new MMA promotion in the US, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (which was a mixture of Brazilian Vale Tudo matches, Japanese Shoot Wrestling, and American "Tough Man" contests).
Meanwhile, the rise of cable and pay tv alternatives in Japan brought out money marks to start rival wrestling promotions. The first major one, after the UWF, was Super World Sports, featuring Genichiro Tenryu, a former top star for All-Japan. The backers were an eyeglass company and they threw around big money to attract stars from both All-Japan and New Japan and were to book a deal with the WWF for co-promoted tours, in Japan, featuring talent from both promotions (including the infamous "shoot" match between SWS wrestler Koji Kitao and WWF wrestler John "Earthquake" Tenta). Hulk Hogan returned to wrestle on one of these tours, for the first time since about 1984, when he was exclusive to the WWF. SWS eventually went under, as the Japanese economy took a hit. However, around 1990, other promotions started popping up, with various financial backers, with the common feature of a star who had made a name at either New Japan or All-Japan. One of these was FMW, with Atsushi Onita, as its star.
Onita trained in the All-Japan dojo, after Baba relented from his policy of requiring a high school diploma to train there. Onita did not have one; but, his passion impressed Baba and he broke his own rule and allowed Onita to train. Onita then debuted in 1974. It was common practice for rookies to go oversees and learn other wrestling styles, to gain experience. Satoru Sayama spent time in Mexico and the UK and Akira Maeda worked in the US and UK. Onita was sent to the Amarillo territory, promoted by the Funk family. Dory & Terry Funk had been longtime wrestlers for All-Japan (including their time as NWA World champion) and they actually booked foreign talent for Baba. Onita went to Amarillo, after some time in Puerto Rico, where he got beaten up by the locker room, after refusing to job to what he considered an inferior wrestler (this is covered in the episode). Texas, in general, and Amarillo in particular, was notorious for bloodier matches and special stipulation matches, which Onita witnessed. From there, he went to work in Memphis, where he teamed with fellow dojo trainee Masa Fuchi. There, they took part in the third Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl. The first had been a wild match, in Tupelo, MS, that spilled out of the ring, down the aisles and into the concession stand area, with a battle between Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee and the Blond Bombers (Larry "Moondog Spot" Latham & Wayne "Honkytonk Man" Ferris), with manager Danny Davis (later of the Nightmares and co-owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling, when it was a WWE developmental territory). It was a brawl, with condiments and food smashed and destroyed, wrestlers thrown across counters and tables and slams onto the concrete floor. it is considered one of the pioneer matches of so-called "hardcore" wrestling). Memphis was never one to try things just once and had a second Concession Stand Brawl and then this third one, between Onita & Fuchi and Ricky Morton & Eddie Gilbert.
Onita returned to Japan, where he was the star of All-Japan's more limited junior heavyweight division, battling stars like Chavo Guerrero Sr and others. However, he suffered a major knee injury (kneecap shattered) and he was never the same, after and was forced to retire. He spent about 3 years retired, before returning to work with an upstart group, Pioneer Senshi. Soon, he decided to try to promote his own shows and issued challenges to the UWF, but they didn't want to deal with him. Instead, he put together a match against World Karate Association fighter Masashi Aoyagi, which saw him disqualified for using wrestling moves. He then used this to challenge Aoyagi in his own shows, where rules were open and defeated Aoyagi in stiff, but worked fights, becoming the World Brass Knuckles Champion. This was the foundation of his new promotion, Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling.
The episode breezes through this (and suggests that Onita's Concession Stand Brawl was the legendary one, which was actually the first one), but features Terry Funk getting in a few good lines in an interview, about young Onita, as well as footage of his kneecap injury. The footage I saw was on Youtube and the poster messed with things, so it was a little confusing; but, it looked like he jumped to the floor, at the end of a match and his kneecap shattered, with the bone protruding through the skin (according to Onita's interview). They have some footage of his early martial arts matches and then the beginnings of FMW, with guys like Tarzan Goto and Mr Pogo, as well as foreigners like Dick Murdoch and Joe LeDuc. FMW became a big deal, drawing big crowds around Tokyo and they put on bigger and bigger cards. At first, they did things like barbed wire ring matches, which had been done in Texas (by the Funks, in Southwest Championship, and even in the Watts UWF, with a barbed wire cage match between the Fantastics and the Sheepherders). Onita then brought Funk in to work some matches, after he had retired from All-Japan, in a big send-off and a few years away. The episode doesn't mention that Funk lost some status in Japan for reneging on his retirement, which is taken seriously in pro wrestling fandom and the promotions. FMW used several wrestlers who had previously worked All-Japan or New Japan, like Abdullah the Butcher, the original Sheik and Funk. They also brought in some young talent, to work with their junior heavyweights, including Chris Jericho and Lance Storm (Jericho both narrates and is interviewed). One of the interview subjects is Ricky Fuji, one of the juniors, who had worked in Calgary and elsewhere in Canada and spoke passable English. Fuji patterned himself after Shawn Michaels and was a big deal in FMW and very popular with their fans. He also got booked for cross-promotional matches and was booked into the legendary Super J Cup, in 1994, for New Japan (along with Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Great Sasuke, Negro Casas, Taka Michinoku, Shinjiro Otani, Gedo, Hayabusa, Super Delfin, El Samurai, Masayoshi Motegi, Jushin Liger and Chris Benoit). This was not covered and not much time is spent with Fuji.
They cover the wild death match stipulations, though they didn't get into the really bizarre ones, like tanks of piranhas and stuff, focusing more on the exploding ring, electrified rope (and pool!), and the infamous fire rope match, that nearly killed the Sheik. The Sheik had brought along his nephew and protege, Sabu and the ropes were wrapped in cloth and set ablaze. The heat skyrocketed and fire sucked up oxygen and wrestlers started bailing out. The Sheik was burned on his back and there is footage of Sabu dowsing him with a bucket of water. He started to have a seizure, due to the trauma. Onita and Funk had an exploding ring death match (and Funk has a great line about the marks who bought "ringside" tickets, where the ring was going to explode), where Onita gets the pin an exits the ring, as the timer counts down to the explosion, but Funk isn't moving. Onita goes back into the ring and tries to revive him and then shields him as the ring explodes (in pyro and smoke, though they are close enough to get burnt and get debris), which Jericho called the "greatest babyface move, ever." They make it clear about the connection Onita had to his fanbase, as he would give emotional, inspiring speeches at the end of his matches, be in tears, and demonstrate "fighting spirit," which is highly prized in Japanese pro wrestling, more than titles.
Onita's charisma is clear, but they do cover some of his shadier sides. It is brought up how much money he made and how little many of his wrestlers did, and how he stiffed payments (or shaved) to even his mentor, Funk (though Funk seemed pretty comical about it). Onita was earning millions, while many of his guys were getting injured, cut up and shaving years off their lives, for middling money. Many were there because they were not good enough for New Japan or All-Japan and would kill themselves to get a pop from the crowd.
The episode barely brings up the women's division there, beyond highlighting an injury suffered by Megumi Kudo, one of the two top stars of the women's division, who took on Shark Tsuchiya , in a deathmatch. Tsuchiya shoots a fireball at her (flammable liquid spit through a flame, not flash paper, as in Memphis and elsewhere, in the US). Kudo's ring outfit, which was heavily synthetic fibers, caught fire and portions melted into her skin, causing major burn damage (Kudo retired in 1997, after multiple injuries). No time is really given to discussing the women, like Kudo (who also did a Great Muta gimmick, at times), Shark Tsuchiya or Combat Toyoda. Most of them came from All-Japan Women, but had been let go or never rose to higher level and left, apart from Shark Tsuchiya, who was trained by Tarzan Goto, and started in FMW. Tsuchiya later lost her right lower leg to diabetes and a breast to cancer. None of the women were interviewed.
They talk a bit about Hayabusa and how he was tapped as the next star, as Onita retired, in 1995, as he went off to try to become a star in movies. Hayabusa was trained by former All-Japan wrestler Takasi Ishikawa and worked the small independent circuit, before coming to the FMW dojo, training under Tarzan Goto. He worked under his own name, losing matches as a young boy. he then spent time in Mexico, where he adopted the masked persona Hayabusa, while working for the Tijuana-based WWA and the Mexico City-based CMLL. He returned to Japan as Hayabusa, and was booked into the 1994 Super J Cup, as one of the rising stars (losing to Jushin Liger, who booked the tournament). One of his early FMW rivalries was with Chris Jericho, who had also been working Mexico, as Lionheart. Jericho talks about spending most of his first tour wrestling Hayabusa. Hayabusa did some spectacular stuff, but, never quite had the connection to the crowd that Onita had and the promotion faltered without Onita. Onita returned, after the movie career didn't pan out and turned heel, aligning himself with a group that had come in from the defunct W*ING "garbage" promotion. He so overshadowed Hayabusa that he reveals that the executives of the company (Shoichi Arai and booker) asked him to leave because he so overshadowed hayabusa. They then go into a quick look at Hayabusa's career-ending injury, as he goes to execute a quebrada (aka a Lionsault) and his foot slipped on the ring rope and he landed on his neck and was paralyzed. Hayabusa's daughter speaks about her father, the depression he suffered and his rehab work, as he would later walk a few steps to the ring, in a highly emotional display. He passed away a little bit later.
Onita turned over the company to ring announcer Shoichi Arai, who brought in Kodo Fuyuki to book, who pushed for a more "entertainment" style of wrestling, copying American styles, though with even more tasteless stunts. The promotion drew smaller and smaller crowds and went deeply in debt. It was already in debt under Onita, who pocketed a lot of money that should have gone to upkeep, as the crowds became numbed to the gimmick matches, while the Japanese economy also continued to get worse. Arai borrowed money from loan sharks, who began harassing him for their money. His wife eventually took their daughter and left, divorcing him. he then committed suicide for insurance money, though much of it went to pay his debts. Onita dismisses the idea of the Yakuza out to kill Arai, as was rumored. Arai's daughter is interviewed and throws a lot of blame towards Onita.
They show clips of Onita in his Great Nita persona, a take-off of the Great Muta, which eventually led to a match between the two. However, they do not discuss the persona, you just see him with the facepaint.
Sabu speaks a bit about the run-in with the Yakuza, after he fought into their reserved area, after being warned to stay out of that part of the crowd. Angry Yakuza men came looking for him in the locker room. The version I heard was that they were barricaded in the locker room and Onita or someone else had to broker a peace. Sabu says he got cornered in a hallway and was getting stomped by the goons, when Mike Awesome turned up and started hurling bodies off of him and got him out. they do talk a bit about how the Yakuza are figured into pro wrestling, in Japan, as they control the arenas and are a ringside presence in every promotion, including New Japan and All-Japan and have been there since the JWA. The Yakuza are involved in many levels of Japanese society and are also silent partners in many of the major corporations, as they provided a lot of the early capital to launch those businesses, after WW2. That has never really gone away.
Mike Awesome doesn't really get featured, at all, beyond Sabu's story and is in a couple of quick jumps between clips; but, nothing about his matches with Hayabusa or Masato Tanaka. They also do not really discuss the FMW-ECW co-promotion events, though that was in both their latter days, primarily.
It ends up being a pretty interesting encapsulation, but the subject demand more room to dive deeper. FMW is a pretty good illustration of the Japanese scene, at the dawn of the 90s. New independent groups popped up all over, with money marks and cable tv presence, many with specialty focus. FMW pioneered the "garbage wrestling," but were soon followed by W*ING, IWA Japan and Big Japan. However, as fast as the rose, they declined, as crowds grew numb to things. There were lucha-oriented promotions (Gran Hamada's Universal Lucha Libre, which spawned Great Sasuke, Super Delfin and Ultimo Dragon, who then formed Michinoku Pro, Toryumon and Osaka Pro), shoot-style (UWFI, Pancrase, Kingdom, Battlearts, RINGS and then Pride) and hybrids (Tenryu's WAR promotion, featuring him and Ultimo Dragon). All of these promotions were built upon one or two key stars from New Japan or All-Japan, a a mix of older guys and rookies who couldn't make the New Japan or All-Japan dojos and then fell into decline, as talent left for their own splinter promotions, or the promotions crashed and burned. One by one most of these promotions fell by the wayside and All-Japan fractured after the death of Baba, leaving New Japan as the de facto leader. These new indies allowed a lot of American, Mexican and Canadian talent to work Japan, who might never have been brought into New Japan or All-Japan, though not for the same kind of money as people like Stan Hansen or Bruiser Brody, or the Road Warriors and Funks, in the previous decade. Some of these American wrestlers lost money to work Japan, hoping to use the exposure to raise their profile in the US. Of the gaijin who regularly worked FMW, Mike Awesome was really the only one to make it, to any major extent, in the US (not counting Sabu, Jericho, Lance Storm and Mick Foley, who had worked in the US and other Japanese and Mexican and Canadian promotions, before, during and after FMW). Horace Boulder, Hulk Hogan's legit nephew, did not get mentioned, though he was never a major player in FMW and only got a brief stop in WCW, in the later days.
Conspicuously absent in all of this was any talk of Victor Quinones. Quinones worked as a manager and promoter with Capitol Sports, aka the World Wrestling Council, in Puerto Rico. That promotion was started, in part, by Robert Morella, aka Gorilla Monsoon and Quinones may have been Monsoon's son and was listed in a New York Times obituary as such. Dave Meltzer said Monsoon claimed he was a godson, but that Quinones' family said Monsoon was his father. Regardless, Capitol Sports dominated Puerto Rico, putting on big shows, into the 90s, until the murder of Bruiser Brody cast them in a different light and a lot of foreign talent wouldn't work for them. Quinones was the foreign booker for early FMW and was a manager, leading a faction of the heels. In 1991, Quinones left FMW and joined the W*ING promotion, helping to broker a talent trade with the WWC. That promotion went under in 1994, and several of its wrestlers went to FMW, including star Ykuihiro Kanemura (aka W*ING Kanemura). Quinones then started up IWA Japan and acted as manager to the Headhunters, a pair of pudgy Puerto Rican wrestlers who looked like the children of Abdullah the butcher, but did high flying stuff. they got a cup of coffee in the WWF, in the proto-Attitude Era. Quinones then started the IWA in Puerto Rico, as a rival to the faltering WWC, with Savio Vega as his star and a connection to the WWF, which brought some of their talent to the island, for his big shows. This seriously cut into the WWC, who were struggling to draw, with Carlito Colon as the top babyface. Quinones was a major factor in FMW booking, as well as W*ING and IWA Japan, before starting his own promotion in Puerto Rico.
There is also no talk of a rather despicable angle that Onita did, in Puerto Rico. He went there, with a film crew, to shoot an angle with Jose Gonzales, aka Invader I, the man who murdered Bruiser Brody. Onita gigged himself and claimed he had been stabbed by Gonzales, hoping to set up a match in Japan. Gonzales couldn't (or more likely, wouldn't) travel to Japan, as there was a supposed bounty on his head, by the Yakuza.
Personally, I liked the junior and women's matches in FMW and some of the non-gimmick stuff (like Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka) and cannot stand "garbage wrestling." To me, it is self mutilation by guys who don't have the talent to make it in real pro wrestling, though there have been exceptions. I never liked the stuff that spawned this stuff (bloody brawls and ridiculous gimmicks and violent angles), as I prefer wrestling as a performance sports presentation, rather than barbaric gladiatorial fights.
Next up is the episode focusing on Jonny K-9/Bruiser Bedlam, with interview subjects Jim Cornette, Chris Jericho and Lance Storm, including a surprisingly emotional moment from Storm, as he tries to reconcile the man he knew in Smokey Mountain and considered a good friend, with a possible murderer and violent criminal. Cornette actually pitched the subject matter to the producers, when they were interviewing him for the previous season.
I will say one thing about this season. On their recap of the Kanyon episode, on Jim Cornette's broadcast, co-host Brian Last heavily criticized Jericho's narration (and suggested Jim Mitchell would have been so much better, based on how he was in the episode and his promos) and suggested the main reason he is there, aside from his AEW profile, was that his Canadian citizenship gives the production company a Canadian tax break (it is a Canadian company). I suspect the name value is the key reason, though the tax break probably doesn't hurt. However, I do agree that his narration tends to be rather flat and not as compelling as someone like Mitchell could be. I also think a narrator being an interview subject is a bit of a conflict of interests. The first season had Mick Foley and Dutch Mantell narrating, though they did not narrate episodes where they were interviewed (as I recall; haven't watched those since they first aired).