Tuesday, 31 December 2002

The Two Sheds Review Archives - 2002

Random Ramblings March 2002

It has now been about three months since I stopped writing about the American wrestling scene on a regular, weekly basis. While many, okay, a few, have told me they miss my weekly comments, the same few have also asked me if I missed writing about them. If I am to be totally truthful here, then I would have to say that no, I don't.


There were two main reasons I gave for giving up something that was becoming nothing more than a tiresome chore. Last December, I wrote that I was finding it difficult to report on the US wrestling scene while living here in Britain. The demise of ECW and WCW meant that, because no British television station has the guts to take a chance on an American indy show, all we get here now is the WWF, and I didn't really find that inspiring.

And to be honest with you all, I still don't. I think the lack of competition is really starting to hurt the WWF. Back in the good old days of the Monday night ratings wars, someone from Titan Towers could watch what their rivals in Atlanta were doing, and think to themselves; "Damn, that's good! We'd better come up with something better than that next week!"

But with the demise of WCW, the WWF have no one to beat. Who do they have to compare themselves with? No one.

Don't get me wrong, I still find some parts of WWF programming highly enjoyable, but there are times when I think to myself that instead of watching Raw or Smackdown, I'd rather watch one of the comedy shows they have on BBC1 on a Friday night.

I came to the conclusion that one of the reasons I wasn't enjoying the WWF now was the difference between now and thirteen years ago, when I first began to watch them. Back in '89, there were just four pay-per-views a year, with the occasional Saturday Night's Main Event show to keep us going.

Back then, the big stars meeting each other on television was a very occasional thing. They only seemed to meet at the big, pay-per-view events, and this made their encounters all the more interesting. We had anticipation, excitement leading up to the big grudge matches.

A comparison here can be made between two feuds. About eight years ago, the Owen Hart-Bret Hart feud went on for months. It was probably one of my favourite feuds of all time. Bret and Owen had a falling out, a brief reunion at the Royal Rumble, before Owen attack Bret. About two months later, Owen beat Bret at Wrestlemania, before Bret beat the late Yokozuna to regain the WWF title. The following June, Owen won the King of the Ring, and faced Bret again for the title in a cage match two months later at Summerslam.

Last year, we had Edge feud with Christian. The whole feud lasted just six weeks. What could have been good left me feeling a little disappointed.

I'm not saying that the WWF should go back to the way they were ten years ago. The product, and the wrestling market place, has changed a great deal in those past ten years. I just feel that they could be doing a little more with the incredible talent pool they currently have.

I will continue to watch Raw and Smackdown as much as possible, but I will no longer be making an effort to sit down, every week, to watch the shows.

Chris Jericho - Your Country Needs You

Ever since July 4th, the anniversary of the day in which the Great British Empire got rid of a piece of dead weight called the USA, I've been getting a strange feeling of deja-vu. It all began when Canadian citizens Lance Storm, Christian and Test stormed to the ring during a Smackdown broadcast, and proclaimed that everything in the good old US of A sucked. And so, the Anti-Americans were born.

Obviously, I am not, and will not be, the first, or the last, to draw comparisons to two other Canadian/anti-American scenarios in the world of professional wrestling. But this time, there is one significant difference.

Let's step into the time machine and journey back to 1997. Bret Hart, now a Yank-hating heel, sought the aid of old comrades Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, Davey Boy Smith and Brian Pillman in forming the second incarnation of the Hart Foundation. Despised on American soil, they were national heroes in Canada. They proclaimed everything in the good old US of A sucked.

But let's just remind ourselves just what made up this new Canadian army. Of the five original members, only the Hart brothers were Canadian. Old Jim boy hailed from Nevada, if memory serves, and Davey Boy came from good old Blighty. The only reason they cheered for Canada was the fact that they were married to two of Stu and Helen's little girls, a form of guilt by association, if you will. Pillman, meanwhile, was only there because of his long-time association with the Hart family, going all the way back to being shown the ropes by Stu in the infamous Calgary dungeon at the beginning of his career.

Let's move forward a couple of years or so, to Team Canada. Let's once again look at the members of this second Canadian army. Lance Storm, it's fearless leader, was Canadian, and one of the finest grapplers to come out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada in recent years. But as far as I know, none of his other comrades did.

Elix Skipper, I admit, I know very little about his heritage or parentage. If truth be known, I never really liked the man. If he was born in Canada, I apologise now for giving out the wrong information, but if he wasn't, then I think I've proven my point.

"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan didn't really fit in at all. This whole defection thing didn't really work for me. Who, after all, would want to defect to Canada from America? This storyline would have worked around 1987, during the Cold War. It would have had more effect of Duggan had turned heel then and joined the likes of Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik in proclaiming his disgust of all things American.

Duggan's replacement, Mike Awesome, again didn't fit into the mould very well. Although his team with Storm on occasions was good, again, why would old Mike want to defect to Canada?

Major Gunns? I think we should leave it at that.

So let's come back to the modern day world of the WWE, and the new Anti-American army of Test, Storm and Christian.

For me, this angle shows more promise that the other two incarnations because of one simple fact - all of the Anti-Americans are actually from outside of America. They are all Canadian.

Having them feud with the all-American hero Hulk Hogan is another good way to go. If Kurt Angle had been face instead of heel, it would have been better to have him join the cause. But I guess that just isn't going to happen. After all, Rikishi, who not long ago was saying that American wrestling promotions were always against the "island boys", doesn't quite seem to fit into the mould.

Despite the fact that the Anti-Americans are a talented bunch, and Storm and Christian are now the tag-team champions, they are still missing one vital ingredient. Team Canada didn't have it, but the Hart Foundation did. What they need is a bona-fide, main event calibre star.

Could that man be Edge? When the tag match for Vengeance was first announced, my prediction was that Edge would turn on Hogan and side with his Canadian brothers. This turned out to be wrong. Edge will probably stay on Hogan's side, fighting the good fight for his adoptive country.

In my opinion, there is only one man who could come forward and lead the third incarnation of this Canadian army. He has the wrestling skill, the charisma, the personality, and he certainly has all the verbal skills to be the perfect anti-American spokesman for this new fighting force.

Step forward Chris Jericho. Your country needs you.

Ever since Wrestlemania, Jericho has been crying out for a good angle. His recent angle with John Cena was a perfect example. Although a good prospect, the days when Cena will be able to hang and bang with the upper mid-carders and main eventers is a long way off. His angle with Jericho was good, and exciting at times, but perhaps, on Jericho's part, it was just something to keep him occupied until he received his call-up papers from the new Canadian army.

Y2J is the perfect leader for the new Team Canada. He would be a more than credible opponent for Hulk Hogan. Hogan should be kept out of the WWE title picture, mainly because of his age, and this angle would be a good swan song for him, a perfect way to go out the way he came in, bashing the hell out of everyone who hates his beloved America.

Will we see this angle, in the way I have described, on Smackdown anytime soon? Probably not. I hardly think that Princess Stephanie and her writing team will read this little column of mine and think "my good, that's a brilliant idea!" If she does though, then perhaps I should ask the WWE for a consultation fee. After all, I could do with a bit of money right now
 

Detroit - Farewell To A Friend

I first saw Marty Reed eight months ago, at the WAW training school in Hingham. This was my first experience at one of WAW's training sessions, and while walking around and looking at the trainees being put through their paces, I began to take mental notes, trying to guess which of the trainees had "it", had what it takes to make it in the wrestling business. With his long jet black hair, and black outfit, he reminded me of the early days of Scott Levy's Raven gimmick. I made my mental note - this guy had the look.

A few hours later, Marty was working the door at WAW's show in Watton. We began to talk. Turned out that he was kind of a fan of mine. He'd read my column for a while, and told me that a lot of what I said made a lot of sense.

Later that night, Marty, adopting the name of Detroit, stepped into the ring to take part in a battle royal, part of the training that all those on a WAW course have to undertake. Marty did okay, even though he didn't win.

As the weeks and months progressed, Marty and I would meet up at various WAW shows and just talk about, well, stuff. His love for the wrestling business was infectious to say the least. He had been hooked on the industry for years, ever since he had seen Hulk Hogan wrestle the Iron Sheik on television. Ever since, he had tried to watch any form of wrestling, no matter what promotion it was, and now, as one of WAW's brightest prospects, he was starting to become part of an industry he admired.

In April, Marty took two big steps in his wrestling career. When WAW returned to their hometown of Norwich, for their first show there in five months, Marty took part in the battle royal at the end of the show. He won that night. Sadly, although the show was filmed, Marty's victory didn't make it to the video for as yet unknown reasons.

That weekend, Marty had been training at the WAW school, in preparation for his first singles match that Sunday. Watching him and talking to him I could tell he was as nervous as hell.

That night in Hingham, WAW gave several of their trainees their debut matches, outside of a battle royal environment. Marty, or Detroit, I should say, was second up, going up against the masked man El Skeletor. With his wife Christy and daughter Emmy in the audience, Marty came out like a house afire, not showing any signs of nerves as he stepped into the ring for his big match.

You know what? He pulled it off. The casual observer wouldn't have been able to tell that Marty was a rookie, and that this was his first proper match. He put in one hell of a performance that night, finishing El Skeletor off with a jumping DDT. He later told me that those three seconds after the DDT were probably the longest three seconds in his life.

During the next match, word got to me that the dressing room was buzzing with his performance. WAW head honcho Ricky Knight, and head trainer Julia (aka Sweet Saraya) were proud at what their pupil had done that night.

When the interval came, I went backstage, with the intention to shake Marty's hand, congratulating him on his performance. The big lug wound up giving me a big hug!

In the weeks after that successful debut, Marty again put in top notch performances against the likes of Ricky Knight, Paul Tyrell, Phil Powers and Bash, getting better with each performance, earning rave reviews and new fans wherever he wrestled.

During that time, my admiration for Detroit the wrestler grew enormously, as did my friendship with Marty the man. During what was a very difficult time for me, Marty would take time out of his life to give me a call, just to ask me if I was okay. This meant a lot to me. It showed just what true friends Marty and his family had become.

One setback in Marty's flourishing career came this past August. Having suffered a knee injury at one of WAW's holiday camp shows, Marty was unable to team with his friend Bret "The Kraft" Meadows against the U.K. Pitbulls at WAW's big summer show in Clacton. He told me how disappointed he was at being unable to compete that night.

However, two months later, Marty and Bret got to team on one of the big shows.. Fast (Marty/Detroit) & Furious (Bret/Kraft) got together to enter the Crusher Mason Trophy match at WAW's October Outrage IV show in Norwich. Although they were the second of the four teams eliminated that night, many were impressed by their performance. One fan said that they should have won the match and the big-ass trophy, instead of the Battlekats.

On Sunday, October 27th, Marty will return to the Watton Sports Centre, to wrestle his last match for WAW. In his brief career, he has wrestled not just for WAW, but also for the Ultimate Wrestling Alliance and Brian Dixon's All-Star Wrestling.

The reason that the Watton show will be his last match in a WAW ring is simple; his wife, Christy, is being posted back to the States in her career in the military in November. Marty hopes to continue his wrestling career back home.

Just a few days before this match, I am left to ponder just what Marty Reed, Detroit, means to me personally. He started off as a fan of my work, but now, I'm a fan of his. The best way I could describe Marty, Christy and Emmy is that they are genuine people. What you see is what you get, and I really couldn't ask for any better friends.

While it's been an honour to chronicle Marty's career in the past eight months, it's been a pleasure to be his friend, and in conclusion, I would just like to say, to Marty, Christy and Emmy, you will always have a place in my heart. I wish you all the best with whatever you do with your lives, because I know, it will all be good!

Take care my friend.
 

Raw Has Lost A Viewer

It's Tuesday night, around 11:20pm, here in Britain as I write this. I haven't watched No Mercy yet, because I didn't have the stamina to stay up until four in the morning, having partied the night away with my World Association of Wrestling buddies.

I've just taken one of my antidepressants. The pill takes a little while to kick in. I normally get a little sad this time of the evening, but tonight, I'm sad because I feel like I've lost an old friend, something that has been with me, through good times and bad, since 1989.

I haven't seen Raw yet. Us Brits don't have that honour until the Friday after it airs in the US But this Friday, I probably won't be making the effort to gather together some heavily-salted snacks, a few soft drinks (I'm not allowed my beloved beer at the moment), and a couple of chocolate bars, in anticipation of two hours of top notch entertainment.

I've read the reviews, and the condemnation. It's all over the Internet. Triple H gets dressed up as Kane, and, well, you know the rest.

I've watched the WWF/E every week for thirteen years now. From my first Wrestlemania at the Trump Plaza, I've stuck with the product. When business started to take a downturn around the mid-nineties, when Vince McMahon finally realised that plumbers wrestling clowns wouldn't cut it anymore, I stuck with the product, because I believed in it.

Even when Eric Bischoff was kicking the WWF's backside with talent that McMahon had made famous, I stuck by the product. Sure, it was pretty bad at times, but I still watched, preferring to watch a video on whatever show WCW broadcast at the same time as any WWF show.

I watched the WWF push the envelope out, inspired by Paul Heyman's Extreme product. I tuned into ECW, liked what I saw, but still preferred to drink McMahon's kool aid. McMahon fought back in the ratings war in America, before finally emerging on top, kicking WCW's ass so much, the company eventually folded and was absorbed into the WWF.

I watched the failed Invasion angle, an angle that only really had three good nights, the last one being when the angle was finally put to rest. I watched the return of the New World Order, wanting more than ever to relive their glory days, feeling sad when  the angle bombed.

I've continued to watch over the past few months, sometimes alone, sometimes with a few WAW friends after attending a WAW show. Despite the poor skits and the like, I continued to watch. I watched the Billy and Chuck angle with interest. What was wrong with that? McMahon had come up with far worse a few years previously, hadn't he? We all remember the angle where Goldust gave Ahmed Johnson the "kiss of life", don't we? Through all this, I stuck with the product, because I believed in the product. I wanted it to get better, and I wanted to be there, in front of the television, when the product got better.

But this Friday, I won't be. I've seen this angle begin. I hoped that Sky, in their infinite wisdom, would perhaps edit Hunter's comments this past Friday in the way they edited out Rosey and Jamal's attack on Moolah and Mae Young a short time ago.

Having read all the reports on the Internet, I find myself asking what the hell is Vince McMahon thinking? Has he really lost the plot this time? I have no children of my own, but I have nephews who are mad on wrestling. I would advise my brothers not to let their kids watch Raw this Friday.

I hope that Sky don't show this part of Raw on Friday. However, I won't be watching to find out if they have. I'll continue to watch Smackdown on Saturday, but Raw may have lost a die-hard fan in the long run.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm losing faith in Vince McMahon, and his ability to even put something out that closely resembles the wrestling product that I would ever consider watching.

A friend of mine recently wrote about how the Internet is slowly killing the wrestling industry. Perhaps she was wrong. Vince McMahon is doing a pretty good job of that by himself.
 

The Next Big Thing - Bubba Ray Dudley

Ever since the departure of Stone Cold Steve Austin from the WWE a few months ago, many names have been mentioned with regards to who will become the next big name of the Raw brand. A name that has been mentioned countless times is Rob Van Dam. However, while I am a great admirer of RVD's work, I don't think that RVD is the man - yet.

So who is going to be the man to step up to the plate, to step up to the plateau that is currently occupied by Triple H?

Booker T? He shows promise, but perhaps not yet. Chris Jericho? He had his chance. Kane? See Jericho. Shawn Michaels? HBK is really only a short term solution. Scott Steiner? Depends on if he goes to Raw or Smackdown.

While all of the above could join Triple H at the top of the ladder, there is one member of the Raw brand who, given the right push, could become just as popular and successful as Steve Austin. That man is Bubba Ray Dudley.

Dudleyville's favourite son may be a surprise choice to many of you, but let's take a look at his tenure in the wrestling world. He is one of the most successful tag-team wrestlers in the industry. Having achieved legendary status in ECW, he achieved greater success in McMahon-land, not only holding the WWF titles, but the WCW straps as well.

As D-Von struggled somewhat on Smackdown, Bubba seemed to excel on Raw, winning the hardcore title, before joining the tag ranks again with a variety of partners, most notably Little Spike and former enemy Jeff Hardy.

So what makes Bubba so special? He will never put on a mat wrestling classic with the likes of Kurt Angle or Chris Benoit, because that's just not part of his character. Bubba, like Stone Cold, is a tough SOB who doesn't take crap from anybody.

Bubba Ray Dudley appeals to the average wrestling fan for one simple reason - because he is one of us, he is everyman. He's not an upper-class blue blood, he's not a plumber or a refuse collector, he's just Bubba Ray Dudley, your everyday kind of guy who could appeal to young and old alike, just as Stone Cold did before him.

So while we wait for the powers that be to come up with someone who will stand at the same level as Vince's future son-in-law, maybe they should look towards Momma Dudley's pride and joy when they search for the new Stone Cold.