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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    I never had a problem with trashing the belt because it was provoked by Dennis Coralluzzo who was about as low class of a promoter as I've seen. Coralluzzo would frequently advertise wrestlers he knew were not going to show, books shows deliberately running in opposition to ECW, tried to get ECW out of running certain building, taking down fliers, ripping off charities, etc. He was the owner of the belt and did everything to run against ECW until ECW started to develop a real following and was on SportsChannel Philadelphia. Then he wanted ECW to be a full fledged member of the NWA where he would profit from it while doing nothing.

    The NWA was, for all intents and purposes, dead at the time. There were no real territories outside of USWA and Smoky Mountain was on its last legs. It didn't get revitalized, to a degree, until Dan Severn started to appear on WWF tv.

    It's unfortunate that the NWA title holders like Thesz, Harley, Flair, Dusty, etc. were, by proxy, involved in Shane Douglas throwing down the belt. But Coralluzzo representing the belt did far more damage than Douglas throwing the belt down and declaring the NWA dead, for good. It really wasn't a 'cool' thing as much as it was the NWA...which was headed by Coralluzzo, getting what they deserved. As fan, I can tell you that me and my friends never thought about the rebellion/coolness of the throw down. It was more about karma hitting Coralluzzo smack dab in the face for the world to see.

    Heyman was a pretty brilliant booker early on. He lost me right after Barely Legal as he allowed the fans to work the boys instead of the boys working the fans. When he and Gordon were booking partners, the booking was more subdued. I could write a thesis on what went wrong with ECW, but one of the biggest issues is that he needed to take the ECW Arena shows across the country. The Arena shows were filled with more diverse wrestling and more logical storylines without the overkill of hardcore wrestling. When he got out of the Arena, they just did hardcore wrestling to please the fans (allowing the fans to work them instead of them working the fans). I went to the Elks Lodge twice and regretted it each time. I never regretted going to an Arena show. Completely different mentality from the fans and they were booked completely differently.



    YR
     
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  2. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Agreed that the stuff prior to Barely Legal was better.

    A thesis on the ECW would be interesting!

    It's existence certainly changed the business... Rightly or wrongly.

    Watching the shows in the mid-90s I would have never guessed the promotion would be dead in a just a few more years.
     
  3. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    At the time I was watching ECW I was always holding out hope for the promotion. When I started to go to shows I really enjoyed them. As Ray Mancini said about boxing...boxers don't make great matches...styles do. That's what ECW employed from 1994 to 1996. They had so much access to excellent talent that you got a lot of wrestlers with different styles. And you had veterans like Foley, Malenko, Benoit, Scorpio, etc. that could teach the younger talent how work with different styles of opponents. That's how you could see a Sabu vs. Shane Douglas or The Sandman vs. Stevie Richards. The different styles but the ability to work together added a new component to the match and the feud. Then combine that with some excellent angles and understanding of how to build a star like Heyman did and ultra hot crowds that were smart, but had no problem with being worked and played along...it was just better than anything WCW or WWF was putting on at the time.

    But WCW and in particular WWF wrestlers all thought they were above it. I remember going to a show and talking to Billy Gunn and he guffawed at the idea of me thinking ECW was clearly a better product. It was a thing where they felt because they ran shows out of nice arenas and were considered 'the big leagues' that they were automatically a better product. That type of arrogance and ignorance really bothered me. It was a 'surely you cannot like THAT' type of attitude from those guys. And then they started stealing ideas and then raiding the talent roster...all the while continuing to snub ECW.

    I also started to see some of the behind the scenes issues with TV and Athletic Commissions. The NY State Athletic Commission was the worst. It was like legalized mafia with how they would deal with ECW yet they would allow WCW and WWF run free. The MSG Network would refuse to take payment from ECW to be on their station even though they had a great demand from its viewers and one of the execs (forget his name) told us with a laugh that ECW will never be on his station as long as he lives. But ECW got the last laugh with that regard.

    PPV carriers were equally as crooked, hypocritical and mind numblingly stupid as well. It was literally going thru life of people telling the fans what they should and should not watch. And that is a big reason why it had such a cult following.

    But there were numerous financial issues I could not ignore. I felt like the ECW Arena shows were a must because they provided incredible television. But what the promotion needed to do was basically carry those types of shows to each market. And the other problem was that the Arena shows were literally turning away about 1,000 people at one point. That's at least $20k in revenue they were turning away each night at the Arena. They needed to find some alternate venues in Philly that could house more fans that they could occasionally run a show from.

    The Elks Lodge shows in Queens were awful. What made the ECW Arena shows so great was the fans were about getting the promotion and the wrestlers over. With the Elks Lodge show, it was about the fans trying to get themselves over. It was also a Whitesnake disaster waiting to happen. It could comfortably seat about 600 people, but the max capacity was about 800 and they were squeezing over 1,000 people in there. And with the taxes and Athletic Commission fees, even at 1,000 fans they were losing money. A friend of mine worked for WWF's finance department and he told me that the WWF lost money at every RAW at the old Manhattan Center which was always sold out. The costs in NY are just too expensive unless you're doing shows of closer to 10,000 fans.

    But, Paul...ever the mark for New York City...insisted on running there. When he took over the company in '97 from Tod...he moved the headquarters there as well. Philly isn't exactly cheap to run a business in, but it's far less expensive than NY.

    Then you had TV where they had to pay to get on TV. It was $5k per week per network. The 3 main networks they were running were SportsChannel Philadelphia, MSG Network and the Sunshine Network (Florida). So that's $15k in the hole every week. And you're turning away at least $20k for every Arena show. Oh, and those tables that they broke cost roughly $100 a pop.

    And Paul's refusal to sign guys to contracts really stymied the promotion as well. They could just leave without giving notice. I can understand not wanting to keep a wrestler that doesn't want to be there anymore, but they needed those contracts so they can at least put their ducks in a row from a booking perspective and have that wrestler put over the wrestlers that were still there.

    And a big part of the issue was that if the product could have gotten more mainstream advertising and been put on PPV in 1995 it could have grown more because the WCW and WWF products were inferior. While Tod Gordon had money, he didn't have the mainstream advertising money and the PPV companies simply would not put them on PPV in '95. Even still, you would eventually have Heyman taking over the business and having to worry about his money management skills. But, had they gotten that partner to help fund for that advertising and gotten themselves on PPV in '95, perhaps Tod never sells his majority shares in '97 and the company manages their money better.

    ECW didn't fail for any reason other than it continually missed out on opportunities to add revenue, whether it was their fault or not. Once Heyman became the majority owner, they did not have a person like Tod who could keep their expenses in check.





    YR
     
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  4. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    There are two wrestlers that I commonly hear the criticism of that they only drew in one area. Jerry Lawler and Ole Anderson. Lawler’s criticism is more about how well he would get over in other areas of the country as most will acknowledge his ability as a worker. Lawler was not a technical wrestler by any means, but as far as being a ‘worker’ he was one of the best ever to grace the ring.


    Ole’s criticism is more towards his actual work and ability to get over. However, I completely disagree. Not only do I think Ole was an incredible wrestler and a worker as well as being great on the mic. But, unlike Lawler I think Ole would have been over in virtually any territory (as a heel) and in virtually any time.


    In fact, I think the criticism of Ole is misplaced and it shows how great of a worker he really is. I think the criticism of Ole as a wrestler is mostly due to the fact he’s such a miserable and unlikeable person. But, guess what? That’s what a heel is supposed to do!


    Here’s a fantastic video from Al Snow (who I don’t always agree with on wrestling) about kayfabe.





    I always find it weird that so many of today’s pro wrestlers treat kayfabe as a burden. Growing up as a wrestling fan I always thought kayfabe was one of the joys of being a pro wrestler. It’s a unique business and getting the people to believe that you’re something that you’re not. It boils down to a form of method acting and the better you are at method acting…the more money it makes.


    That’s a big reason why the older wrestlers…like Ole, would get downright violent with somebody that broke kayfabe. They understood that the more people believe in it, even if they know it’s fake or predetermined…the more money they will make. The less people believe in it, the less money they will make. And that’s how a guy like Ole, a 5’10” wrestler without a bodybuilder’s physique and often had a finisher like an elbow drop or a knee drop…was making the equivalent of $750K a year in today’s money and was able to get home almost every night to watch the 11 o’clock news.


    When you’re making that much money doing something…why would ever stop doing it?


    In essence, that’s Ole’s miserable nature. He was a heel that made a ton of cash getting people to believe that he was a miserable, dastardly SOB. The more people he got to believe that, the more money he made. And that includes the wrestlers. And now that he has been long retired, why would he ever stop being that miserable, bitter SOB?


    Perhaps it is a shoot. Or maybe it was a work and he has done the work for so long that he truly became the miserable SOB. But, it worked brilliantly and I think it would have worked brilliantly anywhere as long as you had an over babyface.


    This was Ole at his best. After 18 months of turning face he then turns back to heel on the mega-over Dusty Rhodes:





    The brilliance of this is not the angle. This angle has been done in some form or fashion in wrestling for years. But the brilliance is how Ole convinces everybody that it was his plan all along. And like a true heel…a heel that gets over as somebody the fans truly hate and want to see him get his comeuppance and will pay to see that happen…right after Ole says ‘I rode a few places with them…and I hated every minute of it!’ the fans start to laugh. But Ole turns it right around to remind the fans how he lured their hero into his trap.


    I mean…seriously…this couldn’t get over in another territory?





    Meanwhile, Ole was a heckuva in-ring talent. His tag team with Arn was one of the best tag teams I’ve ever seen and according to Tommy Young (greatest referee of all time), Ole and Gene Anderson was the best team he ever worked for…and Tommy couldn’t stand Ole.


    It’s like they say…it’s not show friends, it’s show business. Just like it’s not pro wrestling friends, it’s the pro wrestling business. You may not like Ole for who he is, but wherever he would have went he would have made the promotion money.





    YR
     
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  5. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Yeah, Ole seemed to be a miserable SOB when he was an active wrestler and is even more so now!

    Very much enjoyed Ole as a tag-team wrestler. And certainly he had success in the ring be it with Gene or Arn.

    Gene is a little under-rated IMO. His grip was supposedly incredible strong and he had this "twitch" thing going that added to his persona.

    As far as Ole goes he didn't knock my socks off as a single's wrestler. He was a brawler without a big variety of offense. For me it worked in a tag match but for a 20-minute singles match... No.

    Needless to say you don't see an Ole Anderson-type character in wrestling today, which is unfortunate.
     
  6. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    As I mentioned previously in this thread, one of my favorite promotions of all-time was All Japan Pro Wrestling in the 1990’s. All Japan was brilliant at using the ‘less is more’ concept with pro wrestling and created this super serious and realistic style of wrestling. But, it was amazing that despite their low key nature, how so many of the personas of their wrestlers stood out.


    Jumbo Tsuruta was the elder statesman that had been a superstar since the 70’s and went from a high flying type (by 70’s standards) to a more technical style in the 80’s to more of a brutal striker in the 90’s that invented moves like the powerbomb. Mitsuharu Misawa was the prodigy who invented incredible moves like the Tiger Bomb and the Tiger Driver ’91 and was known for always delivering in the big matches.





    Toshiaki Kawada was the ugly duckling of the group. He never quite had the fanfare that the others got, but he was a vicious striker with neat moves and one of the greatest wrestlers I’ve ever seen. Akira Taue was the heir apparent to the Giant Baba, but was never quite on Baba’s level. And Kenta Kobashi was the young newcomer that had it all…the size, the looks, the athleticism, the innovator of moves and the fighting spirit.


    But, what made All Japan so great to watch was the use of the gaijin wrestler (American). They didn’t beat the fans over the head with the gaijin wrestler and in fact, wrestlers like Terry Funk and The Destroyer were massive fan favorites in Japan. However, there was always some tension and rooting interest against the gaijin wrestler and my personal favorite was Dr. Death Steve Williams.


    Steve Williams grew up in Denver and was a highly recruited high school wrestler and football player. He later went to Oklahoma where he went on to be an All-American guard on the football team and a four-time All American wrestler. In fact, he finished 2nd in wrestling his senior year, only losing to the legendary Bruce Baumgartner who was a two time Olympic gold medalist. This should not be viewed as anything less than incredible as Baumgartner (and the other wrestlers) trained all year long for wrestling while Williams had to take time off in the spring, summer and early fall to train for football.


    You know you’re going to be legendary when you receive the nickname Dr. Death. Especially when you receive that nickname when you’re in JUNIOR HIGH. Williams had to wrestle in an old hockey goalie’s mask in junior high after shattering his nose and that’s where he got the nickname.


    After college he played for the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. The money in the NFL is nowhere what it is today. Conversely, pro wrestling was a hotbed, particularly in the Oklahoma area and Williams trained to be a pro wrestler by Bill Watts and joined Watts’ Mid-South wrestling program.


    I’m not the greatest fan of Williams’ work in the US outside of his time in Mid South. The big reason is that the US style became very dependent on running the ropes and that was never Williams’ forte. And I have always thought the US style uses the ring ropes way too much and it hurts the product. It’s not very plausible to sling another wrestler in the ropes to begin with, but it’s something that I can suspend by belief if done occasionally and at the right time. To constantly pick the opponent and sling him into the ropes is just completely illogical and improbable.


    The ropes used to be used for two things. One was to create a high spot to momentarily get the crowd into the action or to be used as a finisher. If the crowd needs to liven up a bit, the wrestler would sling the other wrestler into the ropes and call for a high back body drop and that would perk up the crowd a little. The other reason to use the ropes is when you had a clear size differential and the smaller wrestler would use the ropes to get more momentum/force to attack the bigger wrestler with.


    Somewhere along the lines US wrestling changed and it became very ring rope centric and now everything looks like a high spot and the fans do not pop for it. And the smaller wrestlers rarely use the psychology of using the ring ropes against the bigger wrestlers. Furthermore, the matches look more participatory instead of a real battle. And that was one of the great things about All Japan’s matches…they looked like a shoot. And with Dr. Death that was right up his alley.


    Also, with All Japan you had to legitimately have some offense in your arsenal. You just couldn’t rely on strikes. Nor could you just bump your way to create a match. While I can appreciate the talent of the worker who can make a match interesting using little in the way of a moveset, I don’t think somebody like Ric Flair would have ever really been as appealing in All Japan. Dr. Death on the other hand had his fair share of devastating power moves.





    My favorite was the Back Drop Driver:





    The other factor that Dr. Death had going for him was his presentation. He didn’t have the bodybuilder physique, but he looked like an athlete. Right in line with All Japan’s ‘less is more’ attitude, his robe with the hood helped him get across as the Grim Reaper of pro wrestling.


    [​IMG]


    Of course, it helps having the nickname Dr. Death as well.


    Williams was all set to have a feud with Steve Austin in the WWE when his friend Jim Ross signed him. In an attempt to try and legitimize Dr. Death (like he needed any legitimizing), they created the Brawl for All which went down as one of the dumbest concepts ever created. It forced the contestants to wear boxing gloves and takedowns were legal, but then you had to allow the opponent up after the takedown. That didn’t work for the grappler Williams and when he faced Bart Gunn, who had some legitimate boxing experience, Williams tore his hamstring during the match and was KO’d by the younger, better boxer in Gunn.


    Unfortunately, that’s probably what Williams is most remembered for. And the think-tank at the WWE didn’t trust a guy who got over everywhere he had ever been to get over for them and create a legitimately scary heel for Austin.


    Thankfully, I have all of the memories…particularly in All Japan…of how awesome Dr. Death really was.





    YR
     
  7. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Yeah I can see where Dr. Death would go over better in Japan.

    Like you posted, in the US he just didn't pop in most areas. Or at least didn't pop in the US like he should of or like other American wrestlers like Brody & Hansen who were incredibly popular in Japan and were able to maintain that in the US also.
     
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  8. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    I have to disagree on this one.

    Zero use or respect for Ole Anderson.

    None.
     
  9. JohnnyTheFox

    JohnnyTheFox Achilleslastand

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    @Yakuza Rich
    Love your in depth analysis of wrestling/wrestlers from my favorite time periods of wrestling. You always surprise me with a tid bit here or there that I didn't know about. I have a particular fondness for NWA/Mid south circa mid 70s to mid 80s as well as Georgia Championship Wrestling. Loved watching the Assassin, Scandor Akbar, Bill Watts, Ernie Ladd, Ray Candy, Dick Murdoch and countless others. Good times.
     
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  10. JohnnyTheFox

    JohnnyTheFox Achilleslastand

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  11. cowboyec

    cowboyec Well-Known Member

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    as a pro rasslin' fan...this is amazing.
    thank you.

    on a side note....I miss The Undertaker.
    THANK YOU TAKER!!!
     
  12. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Ladd one of the all-time greats...

    Maybe even a bit under-rated.
     
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  13. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Spiros Arion is a guy you hardly hear about today but during the mid-70's had several hot feuds in the WWWF.
     
  14. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    I don't like Ole the person, but as a wrestler he was excellent.




    YR
     
  15. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Thank you.

    There are a lot of wrestlers and personalities that I would like to do, but I don't have the corresponding videos that would really bring a post on them to life. Dick Murdoch is one of them.




    YR
     
  16. JohnnyTheFox

    JohnnyTheFox Achilleslastand

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    Agreed, his skills on the mic were second to none.
     
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  17. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    I’ve always been fascinated by the sport of judo and always look for it during the Olympics. And one of the things I’ve noticed is how judo produces so many great athletes. The power and explosiveness the sport requires translates into so many other sports. And I find it translates well into pro wrestling. One former judo player mentioned here was Jos Leduc who was this extremely powerful athlete and fantastic bumper. Leduc also translated well to pro wrestling because he knew how to play the scary heel. Another judo practitioner that got the help with the addition of Gary Hart was Keiji Mutoh. Better known as the Great Muta.


    [​IMG]


    Mutoh was a judo black belt that was recruited by New Japan Pro Wrestling. He was a prized recruit because of his athleticism and was eventually sent off to Puerto Rico and later the US to get experience and learn different styles of wrestling.


    Prior to the Great Muta, manager Gary Hart had created the Great Kabuki gimmick. Hart was a fan of the kabuki theatre and wanted to create a gimmick that followed along those lines. He did that with the Great Kabuki who was limited athletically, but knew enough martial arts and with Hart’s brilliant booking he got way more over than he ever should have and was a scary heel in Hart’s stable. Then you enter Mutoh, an incredible athlete and was booked as Kabuki’s son and you had a legendary heel.


    It also helps that in one of the more memorable angles of all time (unfortunately, not on video) Mark Lewin quits wrestling in World Class when he hears that the Great Kabuki was coming to the promotion. Lewin stated that he had seen Kabuki in Japan and wanted nothing to do with him (in real life, Lewin was leaving the promotion to wrestle in Florida and wanted to do Gary Hart the favor and get Kabuki over).


    This is how you debut a very gimmicky heel:





    A lot of young wrestlers can learn a lot from Muta just in terms of his work. He had some flashy moves and some aerial high spots. But Muta has sound fundamentals like his headlock takedown, his strikes look good and his high spots look plausible instead of making it look obvious that his opponent has to catch him.


    Little things like the Lyger Flip back into the ring, the corkscrew elbow, the tumbling roll on a leapfrog, etc. All of it stands out as different, but very plausible. And it looks less participatory. And it gets over with the fans. As you can see with his debut, Muta is being laughed at by the fans at first, but by the time he’s done they are in awe of his athleticism.


    And then there’s the mist:





    It’s not Lou Thesz or Billy Robinson, but it creates a spectacle and adds another element to his character. And if used sparingly, it creates a greater impact when he finally does use it.


    Unfortunately, WCW killed off Muta shortly after by having him job out years later for no particular reason. It was the killing off of not only a great heel, but a guy that could have gotten over as a babyface later on.


    He went back to Japan and was a star in New Japan often wrestling as Keiji Mutoh with his alter-ego, The Great Muta. He was the biggest star in the New Japan vs. UWFi feud (where the idea for the nWo came from). He then shocked everybody and defected to All Japan Pro Wrestling when there was a mass exodus of AJPW wrestlers to the NOAH promotion. Mutoh’s defection to AJPW saved the promotion.


    I don’t think he was the greatest worker ever. His matches in Japan were not always up to snuff and if he wasn’t hitting his high spots he seemed to lose interest. His knees were also shot from years of bumps and moonsaults. But he had a great aura about himself, even when he was using the plain ole Keiji Mutoh personality. And he eventually took the presentation of the Great Muta gimmick to incredible heights.









    YR
     
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  18. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Looking at that clip I miss that in pro wrestling... The small confines... The squash match.

    They gave the presentation a legit feel by introducing the refs, the doctor at ringside, the mention of the state athletic commission and finally the ring announcer.

    The then WWWF wasn't artistic but their presentation was functional and very consistent until Hogan won the belt.
     
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  19. cowboyec

    cowboyec Well-Known Member

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    I miss Mid-South...I was a BIG fan of JYD and The Rock n Roll Express.
    I loved the feud JYD had with "hacksaw" Butch Reed...then the Big Cat got involved with it also.

    Loved the feud between RnR Express and midnight express....AWESOME....very innovative too.

    those were the days...I discovered it as a kid in the early 80s...thanks for this thread...so many memories.
     
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  20. cowboyec

    cowboyec Well-Known Member

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    I remember his great feud with one of my all-time favorites...Sting.
     
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