Archive for the 'Wrestling' Category


Meeting My Childhood Hero

Back when I was just a lad in the late 70s, grammar school was pretty boring. Believe it or not, I recall most of my teachers literally telling our class that they were a year or two away from retirement. There was no zest — no life in the content delivery. Worst of all, we stayed cooped up in the same classroom pretty much all day. (Not much movement from class to class for different subjects in NYC grammar school in the late 70s/early 80s). However, there was one time each week when we moved to a different room that I do recall fondly. Each Thursday, young children of African decent made their way down the hallway and entered a classroom for a lesson in Career Education.

What made Career Education different was that it was taught by a teacher of color. While this may seem slightly biased, understand that I don’t recall seeing very many teachers of color in school (even though my neighborhood was about 99.9% people of color.) I did have a few Caucasian teachers who seemed to really care, but Dr. Miles (our Career Ed teacher) had kids at home that looked like us. And we could tell. She was tough. But she put a lot of effort into working with us.

I vividly recall the events of one day in Career Education class. We were given a simple task. Write in our 2nd Grade Notebooks what we wanted to be when we grew up. Thewweundis2closelock.jpg answers started from the rear. (I was sitting up front.) There were some really inspiring answers.

“Miss Miles….I want to be a lawyer.”

“Miss Miles….when I grow up, I’m going to be a fire fighter”. (That answer came from a young lady.)

“Miss Miles… I want to be President.”

It was beautiful. Strangely enough, I was just about the last person to answer. But I’m sure I was the first to be done with the assignment. You see, back then I already knew what I wanted to do. I had known since I was five.

“And Mr. Grant…..what do you have for us? What would you like to be?”

“Misses Miles…..when I grow up…. I want to be…. WWF Champion.” Continue reading ‘Meeting My Childhood Hero’


WWE’s Teasing a “Hogan Injury”… (so what’s he doing in NYC with Pokemon geeks.)

hulkmain.jpg(This story courtesy of Joystiq.)

Joystiq reports that Hulk Hogan was in Bryant Park at some sort of Pokemon event. Here he’s wearing a Pokemon shirt and holding some sort of proclamation?? (“I, Hulk Hogan, hereby declare this day August 7 as POKEMON DAY!). Basically he looks like a tool. (But if he’s doing it to give kids some joy, that’s cool.) If he’s doing it to help Brooke get some sort of Nintendo tie-in with her album, this is quite shameful.

Regardless of the intent, the problem is that he’s scheduled for a match in two weeks at Summerslam and rumors have been buzzing around the Internet and even on WWE programming that he’s hurt with some sort of angle injury. There are other rumors that he’s faking the ankle industry and even one that I heard where he just flat out doesn’t want to job out to Randy Orton. Well, unless he was limping here, this looks a little suspect. And if he really is hurt, with only two weeks before a scheduled appearance, perhaps he shouldn’t have been here.

Last night it seemed like the WWE might have been teasing a possible Lawler rematch?? (I don’t think he returned to the announce table after his loss to Orton.)

I’d say that this is probably a lock that he’ll be at Summerslam. Either that, or he’s trying to make enemies with Vince McMahon.

Update (8/10/2006 – 2:25am): Hulk Hogan has confirmed that he will be facing Randy Orton at Summerslam.  Thanks to Brent for the update.


ECW Show on August 1: Back to True ECW Roots

cm-punk.jpgIn a previous post I talked about how I had the highest of expectations for the new WWE-branded ECW. It seemed like Vince McMahon was going to let Paul E. do his thing and just watch to see what the show evolves into. Recent weeks had been about as forgettable as ever for me. Largely because every headline match featured WWE guys. Why would you start ECW and then feel the need to bring in WWE guys? You have two WWE-branded shows already — Smackdown and Raw. Let ECW be ECW. Anyhow, I had just about lost hope on this thing. And then I turned the TV on last night and was reminded of why I love ECW.

There’s one thing that sets ECW apart from all other wrestling shows: the intimate relationship that the wrestlers have with the crowd. ECW fans respect two things: history and real talent. If a hero from wrestling days past show up, no doubt they’ll get a rousing cheer from the crowd. And ironically, even though the crowd is considerably smaller, the applause always feels much more heartfelt. (Both on TV and in the arena — I was there when Dusty Rhodes showed up to feud with Steve Corino.) Yes, WWE fans recognize those who paved the way as well. But ECW brings out the more hardcore fan (on a whole.) WWE fans will buy DVDs and may tune in to other wrestling shows. ECW fans buy tapes of Japanese federation shows and are knowledgeable of other promotions. (I’m sure I’ll get a debate on that, but those who watch and listen to chants know the deal.)

But more than their respect of history, the thing I love about the real ECW crowds (like the one in the Hammerstein last night) is that they go completely away from the standard wrestling script. CM Punk and Justin Credible had a four-star match. Probably one of the best matches I’ve seen all year (and that’s not saying much since I barely watch like I used to.) I had never had the opportunity to see CM Punk wrestle. I was kinda turned off by the vignettes where he talked about how “streetwise” he was. Well, he surely proved his worth in the ring. Incredible innovative style, good grappling, great high spots, and finished the match with a submission move I’d never seen (almost like a sitting front-face lock and cobra clutch, combined.) I was very impressed and I will be tuning in to watch him again. But what made the match so enjoyable was the crowd appreciation of these guys putting on a great show. You heard applause throughout the entire match — something you’ll never see on USA or whatever channel they have Smackdown on these days. WWE crowds sit and drool into their popcorn until, 1) the finish of the match 2) someone breaks a table/falls through the ring, or 3) someone does a run-in. Perhaps it’s not fair to compare? Maybe if Raw had a house of only a couple of hundred people we’d see a more intimate reaction. Nonetheless, you can totally appreciate the crowd reaction at a real ECW show. Continue reading ‘ECW Show on August 1: Back to True ECW Roots’


Please put “ECWWE” out to pasture already….

When I heard the announcement that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) was going to revive the Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) brand, I had the highest of hopes. My thoughts went back to a trip I made to Philadelphia in 1997 and the feeling of sitting in the ECW area. It was probably one of the most memorable wrestling events I’ve attended since watching Bob Backlund and Jimmy Snuka fight in a steel cage in 1981. (Yes, I’m that old.) But ECW was something truly special. Many who talk about ECW today like to focus on the “Extreme” aspect and translate it to mean blood, barbed wire, insane jumps from scaffolds and leaps into the audiences. And yes, ECW was all of that, but it was so much more. Pure luchador wrestling….almost as if the Mexican federation AAA had flown their entire fed to Southern Philly for the night. Wrestlers from Japan that didn’t need to conform to a “western” wrestling style. When they wrestled in ECW, they were there to show us why they were world-renowned. And more than the all out brawls, there were pure tactical, scientific wrestling matches. ECW matches had all of the scientific element and the story within the match that made wrestling popular in the pre-WWF 1980s when men like Dusty Rhodes, Buddy Rodgers, Lou Thesz and Bruno Sammartino ruled. ECW was a breath of fresh air and a throwback to a time when you didn’t need to have a gimmick or to be at least 6’4″ to be taken serious. The wrestling spoke for itself.

As much as WWE Chairman Vince McMahon likes to control the direction of his products, somehow I thought this new ECW would be the one section of the WWE empire that he would trust to Paul Heyman, the man that made a small low budget federation like ECW so popular. What’s the harm in letting Paul write the storylines and book the wrestlers HE wanted to book? This go round, it would be even more popular since Heyman would have more resources at his disposal than he ever had in Philadelphia. If I were Vince, I would welcome this alternate take on wrestling, devoid of my influence. Let’s face it — if Heyman can take lesser known talent and create stars in ECW, suddenly Vince McMahon has a whole “minor league” of sorts at his disposal that he can leverage. At best, the popularity of ECW would become so huge that loyal fans of WWE Monday Night Raw would start tuning into ECW perhaps more than Raw.

Oh, when I heard that ECW was coming, I had incredibly high hopes. I saw wrestling going back to the interesting times of 1995 when the ratings wars between the then-WWF and WCW led to some of the most creative and storylines I had ever seen. And while the two big feds were duking it out on Monday nights, the underdog ECW was displaying some of the most innovative action and creating new trends, many of which are still being copied today. At best, I saw Vince not only letting ECW grow and become popular again, but I also saw him taking the increasingly unpopular “Smackdown!” show and changing it to….what else….WCW! (After all, Vince now owns all three licenses). He could re-unite all of the old WCW guys (that is, whomever might still be around) and perhaps build the pride that was once WCW back again as it was in the late 80s and 90s. And then instead of having a somewhat mediocre Wrestlemania (as it has been in the recent past, IMHO), you could have a Wrestlemania which was a Super Bowl or World Series profiled event….featuring a 3-way dance between the champions of WCW, WWE and ECW. All of which culminates in the winner being dubbed “Wrestler of the Year” and getting a million dollar bonus or something. Yes, I had extremely…..high…..hopes.

So you might understand my disappointment upon tuning in to the new Tuesday night ECW show where they’re featuring a stripper who teases taking off her top every week (until her boyfriend, another wrestler, comes and covers her up), a new “villain” from the audience every week who bad-mouths ECW until the Sandman comes down to “cane” them and maybe 3 or 4 mediocre matches in the hour of coverage that they’re given. Watching the show, regardless of how many old ECW faces you see, any wrestling fan who knew about ECW can plainly see tell that something is just not right. Heyman is not pulling the strings. Continue reading ‘Please put “ECWWE” out to pasture already….’