YR's Pro Wrestling of the Day

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Yakuza Rich, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Foley's WCW run could be described as How to Win Friends and Not Influence People. As you can see with the debut match against the Steiners, Foley wasn't well respected by wrestlers going into WCW because of lack of athleticism and unshapely body.

    But, he started to win friends in the locker room with his ability to absorb tremendous punishment while making other wrestlers look like a million bucks an his ability to keep fans glued to the TV set.

    The most famous case was his match against Mil Mascaras.

    Mascaras may go down as having the biggest ego in the history of pro wrestling. Mascaras' ego is so big that he refuses to sell for anybody as we can see in this infamous 1997 Royal Rumble where Mascaras doesn't sell for anybody. The video doesn't show it, but Mascaras actually eliminated himself from the Rumble by doing a top rope dive to the outside as Mascaras' fragile ego would not allow for another wrestler to beat him:



    When Foley drew the shortest straw and had to wrestle Mascaras at a Clash of Champions and Mascaras refused to sell anything for him, he came up with the brilliant....although crazy...idead of using the 'Nestea Plunge' spot that would soothe Mascaras' ego, but still get Foley over in the long run.



    This led to WCW dropping the 'Manson' name from Cactus Jack simply because they didn't need to have it...Cactus Jack was crazy enough.

    Eventually, Cactus started teaming up with Maxx Payne and they had the famous Chicago Street Fight against the Nasty Boys where the Nasty Boys took liberties (as they were prone to do) in their victory against Cactus and Payne:



    Payne was a legit shooter and legitimately retaliated against the Nasty Boys and almost ended Sags' career with a nasty suplex weeks later.

    But in the process, Cactus was starting to get over with the boys in the locker room as the guy that would take extraordinary punishment, make others look good and make lemonade out of lemons. They were also starting to see that he was not a guy that just fell and took horrific bumps. He was a guy that actually took legitimate bumps for moves and they started to see the could fill time with a good 20 minute match instead of being a high spot/bump machine.

    This led to Cactus feud against Vader which will go down as one of the most brutal and intriguing feuds I have ever seen:



    And now Cactus was getting over with the fans as the guy that had this incredible ability to absorb punishment and was crazy like a fox. Obviously, he wasn't heavyweight champion material, so his feud with Vader ended like this:



    But, Foley was still expecting something for causing the ratings to climb in his feud with Vader as well as how much he was starting to get over despite having to wrestle against slugs like The Nasty Boys and egomaniacs like Mascaras.

    Instead, WCW started to bury the Cactus Jack character and that's when Cactus ask for and got his release from the company.



    CONTINUED
     
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  2. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps the greatest testament to Foley's intelligence was his foresight in leaving WCW. While WCW is considered a joke today, nobody at the time ever saw WCW closing down because as Ted Turner stated, as long as he has a television network, he'll have wrestling.

    The contracts for somebody like Cactus Jack were usually a standard $156K per year and he was giving that up for a largely underdeveloped indie wrestling scene. He was also doing it with the hopes that the WWF would call soon despite the WWF being so into body sculptor type bodies.

    Cactus' first big pay day was the Death Matches in Japan versus Terry Funk:



    But, he did not start to really find his true character until he started working for ECW.

    In ECW, Foley started out as a heel...a representative of the hardcore wrestling style. He was an intergral part of helping develop young ECW wrestlers like Mikey Whipwreck, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu and The Sandman. He also represented a key and unheralded factor of early ECW...

    Despite being a hardcore brawler, he could have quality matches against virtually anybody of any style of wrestling.

    Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini likes to say that 'boxers don't make great fights, styles make great fights.' The same can often apply to wrestling. And early ECW was the best I had ever seen at having two wrestlers of distinctly different styles work a program against each other and those different styles in the ring just added to the intrigue of the feud.

    But, it was in ECW where Cactus' interviews really started to take off.












    CONTINUED
     
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  3. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    And then it was off to the WWF.

    Where Foley was smart enough to take a gimmick that he didn't particularly care for and alter it enough to his liking and then having the gumption to sell Vince McMahon on the character so he wouldn't be saddled with a character he didn't like.

    And not only did Vince take to the Mankind character, he started him in a program with Shawn Michaels right away. This led to the famous match at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.



    This once again proved how great Foley was at having matches. Despite his limited athletic talents, but had a great ring psychology and could do enough crazy bumps to fit within the context of the match and get his opponent and the match over.

    And then there was the famous Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker:



    The first bump to the table was planned, although you couldn't believe it would be. And you just kept watching the bump on replay and each time it just looked worse and worse.

    And while the bumps were brutal and ridiculous, it once again showed that as a brawler, Mick Foley had brilliant ring/steel cage psychology and could give you a match that you would remember for years to come.

    But, once again it wasn't winning him any major favors. He didn't quite get over with the crowd at Hell in a Cell as you can hear plenty of 'Under-taker!' chants and no Mankind chants. Foley himself had doubts about his future given how quickly the Hell in the Cell match was being forgotten.

    However, this time things turned around and Mankind's character turned around after this series of interviews with Jim Ross:



    It was simple, paint yourself as the underdog. It's the easiest way to make money as a babyface. And it grew like wildfire. Despite the entire Mr. Socko gimmick, what really got Mick Foley over was those interviews with Jim Ross.

    And the fans started to believe in Mick Foley. And when Tony Schiavone discussed the results of the taped RAW where Foley won the WWE Championship for the first time and said those famous words 'yeah, that will really put fans in the seats', a funny thing happened...the fans rebelled against WCW.

    Who was Tony Schiavone or anybody from WCW for that matter to tell the fans who was a worthy champion?

    It also didn't help that the WWF told a beautiful story with the victory.



    Afterward, Foley continued to draw big money with him and the Rock as a tag team and then his best selling books and general greatness.

    But, it goes to show you, if you can talk on the mic, have great ring psychology, can work with wrestlers of a variety of styles and understand what it takes to get over...that will outself all of the 450 splashes, Asai moonsaults an 8 pack abs in the world.





    YR
     
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  4. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Mick Foley... I give the guy all the credit in the world for finding a niche in the business that he could establish a foothold and became a legend in many circles.

    Many of his matches were "car wrecks" and were intended to be. It was one big bump after another with any wrestling being an after thought.

    I enjoyed his first few matches as a maniac that would take just about any bump imaginable.

    The challenge I had was... Well it would be like buying a couple half-gallons of my favorite ice-cream and trying to eat them at one sitting.

    The first bowl would taste great!

    The second would still be good.

    But by they time I had my 11th or 12th... I pretty sick of it and won't want the same thing for a long time.

    That's how his shtick played out with me. At the beginning it was unique and fun and very hardcore. But like Jim Cornette has stated... Once you've gone into his end of the hardcore pool there wasn't any other place to go.

    And Mr. Socko was incredibly dumb, but I get that's what the WWE was about at that time (and many ways still is! LOL).

    Like what was pointed out... The guy ended up achieving far more than what his talent suggested. But in some ways I think it has contributed the problems the business has today with everything being about high-spots and bumps.
     
  5. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Foley was very good at keeping up the intriguing ways to do the hardcore match and still keep it fresh. What so many hardcore wrestlers that followed in his footsteps never understood was that he could take brutal, 'classical' bumps as well. He could take the german suplex bump or the rock bottom bump and make it look great. For the hardcore wrestlers, they weren't really bumping as much as they were falling...off a balcony, ladder, etc.

    The issue for me was that Foley didn't have much in the way of an offense and you start to see him as a wrestler that you cannot figure out what makes him 'good' other than he takes a beating. And after a while, he becomes the wrestler that is stupid enough to bring out the thumbtacks, chairs, etc. because it always backfires on him.

    As he got older, he struggled to perform like he normally does and his offense became weaker and he looked as bad as every indy garbage wrestler out there.





    YR
     
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  6. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    This. Nail on the head with him. There was no offense to speak of. He was a human-crash-test-dummy. Who somehow ended up winning enough to at least appear to be good.
     
  7. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    I liked the Cactus Clothesline and the elbow drop. He then started to use the double underhook DDT, but he didn't pull it off very well. His piledriver was pretty sloppy, too. Other than that, he just basically ran into his opponent.





    YR
     
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  8. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    LOL!

    Yeah, that's about it.

    He'd never be in my list of top-100 wrestlers, but be it as it may the guy was certainly successful.

    And he's become a critic of the current WWE which scores points with me.
     
  9. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    A tag match in '78 with Andre & Blackjack Mulligan vs. Ric Flair & Ken Patera



    A good example of what made Flair so good... Especially in the late 70's.

    He had good offense that wasn't so cookie-cutter like what happened after he became NWA Champion.

    And Flair was terrific at working the crowd as a heel... Just outstanding how he could get under the crowd's skin.
     
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  10. timb2

    timb2 Well-Known Member

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    WWE is going to have the first ever Women's Royal Rumble .I have a feeling this is when Ronda Rousey will be introduced as the last wrestler to enter and she will wipe out the remaining women wrestlers in the ring,unless they want to hype a Rousey vs Isuka fued.
     
  11. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    That would make sense.
     
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  12. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Supposedly these were the annual sales figures for Titan Sports (WWF) for the years listed:


    Titan Sports, Inc. Gross Income

    1984: $ 29,596,974
    1985: $ 63,125,159
    1986: $ 77,413,379
    1987: $ 85,326,277
    1988: $112,674,793
    1989: $137,553,873
    1990: $138,336,119

    Total: $644,026,574
     
  13. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    One of the most unheralded wrestlers I can think of is one of the biggest puzzling mysteries as to why he is almost never talked about anymore as he was a complete package as a wrestler. He was one of the best workers I've ever seen. He was wayyy ahead of his time in the ring. He was also a really good promo guy and looked the part to match him gimmick.

    Sure, he died young. But that didn't stop the praise that others that passed away young like Eddie Gilbert and Eddy Guerrero have received.

    Yes, he never had a real run in the WWF (or WWWF). But, neither did Bruiser Brody and Harley Race didn't have his run until he was way past his prime.

    He wasn't big an imposing, but neither was The Shiek or Flair or Harley Race for that matter. And neither was pre-roided Dynamite Kid.

    But, he had the big feuds. And those feuds were on TV as well. And he was a wrestler when I was growing up that scared the marks like myself while being a well respectedand talented wrestler.

    That man is Buzz Sawyer.

    [​IMG]

    Bruce Woyan grew up in Florida and got his start in pro wrestling thru Championship Wrestling from Florida. He was a state wrestling champion in high school and finished 3rd nationally before losing to UFC legend and former NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Dan 'The Beast' Severn.

    CWF was really an interesting territory because not only was it owned and booked by the brilliant mind of Eddie Graham. But, Graham had a phenomenal rapport with the community despite almost every week you could read Pro Wrestling Illustrated or The Wrestler magazines and seeing a CWF wrestler like Dusty Rhodes with a face engulfed in blood from a blade job.

    Graham gave back to the community, particularly high school wrestling. And he would treat high school wrestling legitimately like it was amateur status and that the amateurs would eventually become a legitimate 'pro wrestler.' Much like watching a college football player moving onto the NFL.

    The Florida high school amateur ranks is where Graham nabbed his son Mike, Dick Slater, Ricky Steamboat, Tommy Rodgers, Jimmy Del Ray, Dean Malenko and a host of others.

    What was amazing to me was that CWF was that the wrestling wasn't bad, but it was rarely outstanding looking on TV. Then these CWF wrestlers would go to another territory and you would see truly amazing work. And out of the wrestlers mentioned, Buzz was arguably the best of the bunch. Yes, arguably better than one of the greatest faces of all time in Steamboat. Tommy Rodgers is one of the best workers I've ever see as well. And Dory Funk, Jr. once said that when he was on his A Game, Dick Slater was the best he ever saw in the ring. Then you have noted technician in Malenko and Del Ray was fantastic in the ring.

    Here's a match with Sawyer that occurred sometime in the early 80's. I'll just say that wrestlers back then did not have matches like these under any circumstances. And that powerslam finisher at the end was a real thing of beauty:



    Or watch this ridiculous bump:



    I remember Ole Anderson really liking Buzz, but he got rid of him due to his drug issues. In order for Ole to like you the wrestler had to either be a legit tough guy (which Buzz was) and/or an instant draw (which Buzz was as well).

    He not only had 1 massive feud, but 2 massive feuds in him vs. Tommy Rich in the 'Battle of Atlanta' and then his feud with Roddy Piper.



    It was really this weird mix of a wrestler. He was wild like Brody, except he bumped like Flair. And yes, he often yelled ridiculously in his promos...but, he did it with so much intensity that you really started to believe this was a scary guy. And he could not only wrestling in the ring, but he could carry out the booker's orders and progress the story.



    And even with the craziness, fierceness and intensity and working against massively over faces in Rich and Piper...he was still able to turn the switch and become a face:



    Sawyer was not well liked, but Brody wasn't always well liked either. Yet, his style is more similar to the modern style in the ring and yet aI rarely hear peopel talk about him as a worker. It's really a crying shame.







    YR
     
  14. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Big Buzz Sawyer fan here.

    The guy was a great athlete and a guy who could legitimately wrestle.

    But his drug use was apparently a career & life killer.

    Supposedly he treated the "enhanced" talent (jobbers) like crap. There were times when he'd show up at an arena with no trunks & boots and would take them from jobbers.

    Cornette tells a story about a match with he and the Midnight Express were facing Buzz and someone else. Anyway Cornette hit Buzz with his tennis racket (as part of the match) and Buzz turned around and slapped the snot out of Cornette... And it wasn't a pro-wrestling slap. This one made Cornette see stars.

    After the match Cornette, Buetuiful Bobby, Dennis Condrey and the ref from the match were in one of the trailers supplied to the wrestlers.

    Sawyers comes stomping up the door, rips the door off, stomps inside the trailer and wants to know why Cornette hit him with the racket...

    Cornette says he was scared to death because he knew Buzz could beat up all four of them. In the mean-time Dennis Condrey went for his gun.

    Eventually Sawyer calmed down and left... But that was the type of hot-head he was.

    He was unstable without the drug use.

    Prior to the time of Sawyer being part of Kevin Sullivan's group in Florida, Sawyer and Sullivan feuded in Georgia. It was an interesting feud in that you had two guys of about the same size, build and both were good workers.
     
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  15. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    A collection of Roddy Piper eye-pokes... He made an eye-poke a high-point in a match.

     
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  16. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    The only thing I could think of in terms of Buzz Sawyer's underrated-ness is that he was never quite in the main event feud.

    Sawyer vs. Tommy Rich in the Battle of Atlanta was a legendary feud, but it wasn't a main event feud like Harley Race vs. Ric Flair or Piper vs. Hogan. The same with Piper vs. Sawyer or Piper vs. Duggan. But he was still a phenomenal wrestler.




    YR
     
  17. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Bret Hart always has a special place in my heart (pun somewhat intended) as I remember watching him on WWF television on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting) when he first came to the WWF. He was actually a babyface as you can tell by this promo:





    Meanwhile, Jim Neidhart was making his debut as a heel under Mr. Fuji as his manager. Both wrestlers looked promising, but they just were not quite made for singles wrestling. And then all of the sudden, with no angle or setup, they became a heel tag team. I still remember the broadcast saying that they were going to team up and immediately you knew that they were going to be a great tag team even though they had yet to wrestle as one. Then they added Jimmy Hart and became the Hart Foundation and boy did that click.


    When I was a young kid, me and my friends decided to create our own ‘tag teams’. We had two of my friends were The Islanders, two other friends were the Midnight Express, another couple of friends were the Road Warriors and my best friend Rob and I were the Hart Foundation. Mind you, I look nothing like Bret Hart, but my friend Rob had that stocky resemblance to Neidhart and he could do a helluva Neidhart impression (he could also do a great Piper impersonation as well).


    Anyway, I got to see Bret progress thru his career. From this heel tag wrestler, to a babyface tag wrestler to a great I-C champ and to the shock of all of us...to the Heavyweight Champion.


    You see, Bret was always over with the fans. But after the ridiculous run that Hogan made and then it was followed up by Warrior’s title run, you just never thought they would make somebody that was not a bodybuilder type into a champion. It’s also easy to forget that it was not that long before Hogan’s title run that Superstar Billy Graham was the champ. And it was blatantly obvious to any fan that Vince loved the wrestlers with the great bodies.


    But Bret was really an artist in the ring. And while the fans are a lot smarter today than they were back then, they could still appreciate it. And that may be the greatest credit to Bret’s artistry, getting the masses to understand how great he was and how his work was really more art than ‘pyro and ballyhoo.’


    This video is a great example as you do have three excellent workers in the ring with Tito Santana, Rick Martel and Bret. And Neidhart was a solid tag worker. But Bret really makes the high point of the match by taking a simple front ram into the turnbuckles.





    The beauty of it is that the bump wouldn’t hurt a fly. But the visual and the sound of the bump gets the crowd into understanding that the tide just turned, big time, to the Strike Force’s favor. These days you would usually see a wrestler duck a clothesline or have to go thru a table and still not get the crowd’s attention.


    Bret grew up in Calgary with seven brothers and four sisters. His father Stu was a pro wrestler and started his own promotion in Calgary. Bret was not all that keen on wrestling in his teenage years, but got the wrestling bug when Stu brought in The Dynamite Kid and the Dynamite Kid was doing things that Bret had never seen before.


    I’ve seen footage of Stu wrestling and he was pretty awful in the ring even by the standards of those days in wrestling. His son Bruce was a great wrestling mind as a booker (very underrated booker), but for the most part...outside of Owen and Bret...none of the Hart boys were very good in the ring.


    Owen was a phenomenal talent. Stu wanted to have a son that would make it on the Canadian Olympic wrestling team and they all thought Owen would be the one to do it. However, Owen got the pro wrestling bug as well and in order to keep his amateur status, he would wrestle under a mask. He eventually got pulled away from amateur wrestling by pro wrestling and never made the Canadian national team.


    But as talented as Owen was, he liked to goof around too much in the ring. And while he was a better athlete than Bret, he could not call and design matches nearly as well as Bret could. And in wrestling I will take the better the psychologist and match planner over the better athlete any day of the week.


    Back in the 70’s and 80’s it was extremely common for wrestlers to call the entire match in the ring. Randy Savage liked to plan out everything. But Bret was doing something more ahead of his time where it was a hybrid of planned out spots that have been worked on numerous times and calling the match in the ring.


    When Bret became the heavyweight champ he did interviews where he really bashed Ric Flair’s in-ring work. At the time it was difficult to know if he was working or shooting, but it fell like a shoot and later on we see that it was indeed a shoot. As Bret said, he felt that Flair was ‘stuck in the 70’s’ when it came to the ring.


    It took me years to believe/grasp that idea which was sacrilege. But the more you see of Flair the more you see how right Bret was. Flair was using a very limite offense, bumping like crazy, begging off and taking a powder. Bret was combining catch wrestling along with some Japanese and American style in his in-ring work:





    And that’s why I preferred Bret’s work over Shawn Michaels. Bret had more variety to his arsenal and could really put together some brilliant matches. Michaels was a phenomenal athlete with spectacular timing, footwork and positioning. He could make things look so easy. But Bret really understood the psychology and how to create a nice ebb and flow to the match and how to use almost a library of different stories to tell in the ring. I particularly enjoyed this brilliant one:





    Diesel is very limited in the ring, but the idea here was to use everything involving the ring as a weapon. And in the end when it looks like Diesel should have won, Bret pulls a small package out of his arse to get the surprise victory.


    But to me, this match is Bret’s greatest work.





    Not only was it such a great match, but I always felt that Davey Boy Smith was severely overrated as a singles worker. And it didn’t help that as Bret planned out this match for months prior and Davey Boy was going to be put over by Bret...Davey Boy returned the favor by getting addicted to drugs during those months and completely forgetting everything they went over in the first minute of the match.


    That’s what I hate about the Montreal Screwjob (which I believe was legit). Not only do I side with Bret (he was given a 20-year contract for $1 million per that Vince reneged on). But that’s really Bret’s legacy in the end. His legacy should be his great work in the ring and how he created a character that the fans believed in as being right and just and they appreciated the artistry of his performance.






    YR
     
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  18. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Agree with you in that I'd rather see a guy in the ring who understood pro wrestling and the psychology behind it as opposed to the incredible athlete. The NWA was the "thinking" company. The WWWF/WWF was the "body" company. I'm pleased Vince gave Brett an opportunity to shine even though he was the muscle-heads he preferred.

    I think the Montreal "screw-job" was legit IMO. Brett had no idea what Vince had up his sleeve.
     
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  19. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    A lot of people get credit for the wrestling boom in the 1990’s. From Kevin Nash and Scott Hall creating the nWo to Shawn Michaels creating DX to Paul Heyman’s booking in ECW to Eric Bischoff creating Monday Nitro and the Monday Night Wars to Vince Russo’s Crash TV concept to Vince McMahon creating the Attitude Era to The Rock, Mick Foley and ultimately Stone Cold Steve Austin. Even Mike Tyson gets some credit for bringing the WWE mainstream attention. But, one of the major players that never gets discussed is this man:


    [​IMG]


    Tod Gordon is a successful Philadelphia business owner that owns and operates Carver W. Reed, a high end pawn shop that has been in operation since 1860. Despite the label of a pawn shop, Carver W. Reed is more or less a high end jewelry store.


    Gordon was a huge wrestling fan growing up and was attracted to Joel Goodhart’s pro wrestling radio show on local Philly radio. Goodhart was running a federation call Tri-States Wrestling Alliance that would hold regular ‘supercards’ and sell out the Philly Civic Center. Gordon helped bankroll TW, but that was not a plausible business model given the payroll expenses. Eventually the promotion folded without Goodhart telling anybody.


    Gordon was approached by wrestlers from TWA about starting his own promotion. He felt it was worth the risk because he believed that he could start a local territory in the Philly area that would go to New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and occasionally Maryland and form a similar business model like Jerry Jarrett had for over 3 decades with the Memphis territory. Gordon also felt that he had the money if it didn’t work out and he could have fun doing so at the same time. And that was when Gordon formed Eastern Championship Wrestling.


    Originally, Eastern Championship Wrestling ran shows out of Mike Schmidt’s sports bar. Then Gordon was introduced to Butchie D’Amato, the owner of The Viking Hall…a former railroad warehouse that stored equipment for the Mummer’s parades in Philadephia and where the Mummer’s would congregate in planning for the parade. This is now the 2300 Arena or what was known as The ECW Arena.


    A lot of people refer to the ECW Arena as a Bingo Hall, but it actually was not a bingo hall. The mummers would occasionally hold bingo in order to help collect money for their supplies for the parade. Instead, it was this old freight warehouse that was later bought out by a law firm and then bought out by D’Amato that provided for great acoustics for pro wrestling. Furthermore, Gordon was right in that the Philly area was a great place to base the company out of.


    Philly was a unique area in that it was the one major city that both the Crockett Promotions and the WWF regularly ran out of. Philly is a wrestling crazed city as at one time in Philly residents could get WWF, Crockett Promotions, Mid-South, Championship Wrestling from Florida, Memphis, World Class (Dallas) and Southwest Championship Wrestling (San Antonio) television shows. In fact, one night both the WWF and Crockett ran shows on the same night with WWF at The Spectrum and Crockett at The Civic Center and they both sold out with over 10,000 fans each in attendance. Furthermore, you had other crossover cities (although not as much crossover) with Baltimore and Washington DC nearby. And you had fans from New York that also grew up watching Crockett and the WWF.


    Of course, Gordon faced immediate opposition from promoters like Dennis Coralluzzo who ran the New Jersey chapter of the NWA. I remember being told by one certain ECW wrestler that Coralluzzo recommended Eastern Championship Wrestling to him because he felt that Gordon was an easy money mark for the wrestlers to take advantage of.


    That’s the thing about wrestling, the outsiders that have specific skills that translate to good business are often shot down by the insiders who are woefully incompetent. But the joke was on Coralluzzo who was literally running shows at truck stops off the Jersey Turnpike while Gordon was helping slowly build a product that was drawing crowds north of 1,000 fans per show.


    Gordon also garnered the respect from the wrestlers as good payoff guy that always sent the wrestlers home with so money for working no matter how poorly the show did. With the fans he started to gain their respect as he helped alter the product to appeal to the modern fans while giving the older fans what they yearned for that was missing from the current day WWF and WCW.


    Meanwhile, he created a unique locker room atmosphere where the wrestlers would watch the matches going on before them and stay to watch the matches after they were done for the night. The objective was clear…push each other to tear the house down and the more wrestlers that tear the house down the more over the promotion and feuds will be and the more money everybody makes.


    And that atmosphere creeped into the fans and you had this unique environment where both fans and wrestlers became extremely loyal to the company in an industry where loyalty of wrestlers and fans never really existed.


    In the meantime, Gordon fired well known and respected booker Eddie Gilbert and hired the unproven Paul Heyman to book for the company. In hindsight, Heyman was a perfect candidate as he had been around the wrestling business since he was 13 years old and learned from greats such as Captain Lou Albano, Ernie Roth, Eddie Gilbert, Vern Gagne, Bill Watts, Freddie Blassie, Vince McMahon, Kevin Sullivan and Dusty Rhodes. But at the time it was considered to be a bad move given how well Gilbert was respected as a booker.


    But when Heyman proved to be a tremendous booker now the company was onto something. They had a lot of quality leftover talent from the death of the territory system and plenty of quality young talent that had trained to become wrestlers during the late 80’s boom period of pro wrestling. They also had the customer base and access to television for it.


    I would occasionally make the 5 hour trip to go see some ECW Arena shows (I despised the Elks Lodge in Queens). But, I knew two fans that drove from Cincinnati to Philly EVERY WEEK when ECW was holding weekly shows at the Arena. That’s 8 ½ hours thru a state with arguably the worst roads in the country…every single week.


    And while Heyman gets pretty much all of the credit for the rise of ECW, ECW’s best years (1994 to 1996) were when Gordon was heavily involved with the booking as he owned the company. It was not until 1997 that Gordon sold his shares to the company to Heyman after a business dispute and that’s when the product started to decline. It would still put on strong shows, but they were not as consistent and the product started to rely more on gimmicks, gimmick matches and sex appeal.


    Obviously, ECW never hit that mainstream popularity or even got close for that matter. But, it certainly did inspire the WWF with the Attitude Era and characters like Steve Austin resembling The Sandman and the sex appeal that the WWF started to find. The nWo certainly played a large role in the 90’s wrestling boom, but you have to wonder how Vince McMahon would have ever responded if ECW was not around. I highly doubt that any company would have given Heyman a chance to book for them. And the attitude of the top wrestlers in Austin and Foley was inspired by ECW’s locker room behavior where they wrestled at prior to coming to the WWF.


    It’s one thing to be a top star, but it’s another to be a top star and be locker room leaders like Austin and Foley were. That inspired The Rock to be a leader as well and you had 3 mega-over stars that didn’t take days off, were willing to get other wrestlers over and everything fed on itself and everybody made more money.


    And it all stemmed from a money mark, pawn shop owning wrestling fan that wanted to see if he could make a territory out of the Tri-States area.







    YR
     
  20. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

    46,810 Messages
    25,338 Likes Received
    The entire EWC thing seems improbable at this point... And I had a love-hate relationship with it.

    I hated the night they trashed the NWA belt... It got over with the fans but I thought it lacked class... Not that ECW ever claimed to be a "Classy" organization. If anything they were the bad-boys of wrestling and played up to it.

    I'm not as big on Heyman's booking. Mostly because as I've posted before he took matches to a point where there was nothing else do to top them. His booking was OK IMO. His business management skills? Lower.
     

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