Monday, 3 May 2004

26th April-2nd May 2004

Monday, 26th April, 2004;
Mention the name of Tiger Mask to wrestling fans, and they'll immediately know who you are talking about. They'll tell you of a Japanese sensation who, along with Tatsumi Fujinami and the Dynamite Kid, revolutionised the junior-heavyweight scene just over twenty years ago.

But before he donned the famous mask. Satoru Sayama came to Britain, and wrestled under the name of Sammy Lee. And he was as much a sensation over here as he was in Japan.

Thanks to the World of Sport shows, modern day fans have had a chance to see some of Sammy Lee's best matches while in Britain, and to say that these contests have left people buzzing would be an understatement.

It's easy to see why Lee got over so strongly. While the British style of wrestling is much admired, Lee's style was totally different. He could tie an opponent in knots with just a few quick kicks and dives (witness his match with "Cyanide" Sid Cooper), and had a great ring presence.

It's been a delight to see Lee in the ring, and I hope to see much more of him in the future.

While staying on the subject of British wrestling, Shirley Crabtree, better known to the outside world as Big Daddy, has taken quite a lot of stick over the past few years. Many in and out of the business credit him with the downfall of British wrestling fifteen years ago.

But what they seem to forget is the good he did for the business. This was evident from his first appearance on TWC, in a grudge match with perennial foe Giant Haystacks, in front of a rabid crowd at a sold-out Wembley Arena.

Although the match lasted less than five minutes, it served it's purpose. The crowd went away happy, content that they had seen their hero vanquish his much larger foe, even though the manner of his victory, a count-out, would leave many of today's fans baying for the promoter's blood.

I doubt, though, if you'd see a match or a crowd like this one. Well, perhaps if you go to Canada, and the match involves Shawn Michaels.

Tuesday, 27th April, 2004;
I've always been a fan of the wrestling manager, and I'm saddened that we don't get to see more of this dying form of art in the wrestling business.

So it was with great interest that I watched the first part of the Jim Cornette Shoot Interview. This is the first time I've gone out of my way to catch the first showing in it's entirety, I was looking forward to it that much.

And it didn't disappoint. Cornette is one of the legends of the wrestling industry, one of the greatest managers of the past twenty years or so, definitely up there with the likes of Heenan and Hart.

This was the first interview on TWC where the interviewee actually seemed to enjoy being interviewed. It made for a refreshing change. Even during the dullest moments, Cornette was able to reel you back in with a flippant remark or a great one-liner. The only disappointing thing here was that it had to come to an end. Ah well, at least we've got the second part to look forward to next week.

Wednesday, 28th April, 2004;
I haven't watched Sunday Night Heat for ages, but this week, I felt drawn to the show.

Lance Storm has been one of my favourite wrestlers over the past few years, but then again, being part-Canadian, I've always had a thing for Canadian wrestlers.

Storm was one of the best wrestlers to come out of ECW. He was one of the highlights of the final days of WCW. And let's not forget that he was one of the first WCW stars to win a WWF title during the Invasion angle three years ago.

The fact that his retirement match was on Heat, and not Raw, saddens me a little, but then again, the WWE creatives didn't seem to have much time for Storm anyway. It's a shame that he wasn't given a much bigger send-off, especially given the fact that that the show was in his home country.

So on a personal note, I'd like to say thank you to Lance Storm for providing me with countless hours of entertainment.

Of course, Wednesday night is also TNA night, and Jeff Jarrett continues to cement his status as the number one heel in the company, awaiting the imminent arrival of the immortal Hulk Hogan.

But while Hogan recovers from knee surgery, Jimmy Hart has brought along some friends for Double J to play with, in the form of "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, and the "Dog-Faced Gremlin", Rick Steiner.

I began to mark out like a f***er upon seeing old Hacksaw. Duggan was one of those larger than life characters I was drawn to upon getting Sky in 1989. Although some may compare him to a dinosaur, there's no doubt that he was, and still is, one of wrestling's great entertainers.

Having dispatched Duggan, the Mouth of the South brought out Rick Steiner. Years ago everyone thought that it would be Rick who would go on to great success as a World Champion. But seeing the older Steiner in action again, albeit for just a few moments, made you realise just how far his younger brother has fallen in the past year or so.

The Gremlin looked to be in great condition, much more mobile than his brother, and still able to deliver crisp-looking suplexes. He may not have lasted long against Jarrett, but his appearance still got me thinking that perhaps we were wrong all those years ago, that perhaps we, the wrestling fans, backed the wrong Steiner brother. Rick may not have become a genetic freak, but at least he can still move around the ring with relative ease.

Thursday, April 29th, 2004;
I'm going to begin today's entry by commenting on the upcoming TWC schedule changes.

Firstly, no more repeats after midnight. Instead, TWC will become the umpteenth channel to carry the Babestation broadcasts. The powers-that-be over at TWC claim they are losing money in this time-slot.

Say what? The channel has only been running for what, under two months? Surely they could have given the graveyard shift a little bit more time! Unless they fear competition from the new Horror Channel which starts this coming Monday.

Ah well, at least the early morning slot will be taken up with actual wrestling action, instead of those damn info-mercials, and we'll be able to see the TNA shows in full!

For the first time in ages I watched the first showing of the FWA profile, this week taking a look at Burchill and Nikita.

I'm left scratching my head and wondering why Burchill was given such a profile? Sure, the guy has been impressive, but does someone who has had such a short professional career deserve a profile?

I was interested to see Nikita's profile though. She has come a long way since I first saw that awful match of hers at Revival just over two years ago. She didn't impress me that night, but over the past couple of years she's come on leaps and bounds. Is she, as the commentators say, the best in Britain? Well, I think you know my views on that.

One thing still baffles me about these profiles though - when are we going to see the FWA's main man, Alex Shane, on television?

And do you think that someone should tell the FWA that Nikita is actually a man's name?

Friday, April 30th, 2004;
Those of you with good memories may recall that at the beginning of this week's instalment, I was singing the praises of Satoru Sayama, aka Tiger Mask, aka Sammy Lee.

When I found out that the New Japan Classics show would be showing a Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid match from about twenty-odd years ago, I was virtually salivating. I was willing to miss the first hour of Raw for this.

And I wasn't disappointed. The match was great. But what surprised me was that the second match of the show, pitting Antonio Inoki against Stan Hansen for the vacant NWF World Title, entertained me a great deal more.

I've never actually seen much of Hansen's work, except for his feud with Lex Luger over the WCW United States Championship a few years back. And, of course, his cameo appearance in the Hulk Hogan film No Holds Barred.

But this was Hansen in his prime, and it's easy to see why the Japanese fans and promotions hold him in such high esteem. It was an excellent example of a wrestler in his prime, and well worth missing the first half of Raw for.

Heading back to Raw, one thing I'm left wondering about is the choice of logo for Triple H's new T-shirt. It was brought to my attention that the new logo is very, very similar to the Nazi's eagle logo. Me thinks this may not be a popular item of clothing to purchase.

Saturday, May 1st, 2004;
Screw wrestling. I'm going round my mate's house to sink a few Budweisers!

Sunday, May 2nd, 2004;
It's Supercard Sunday time again, and this time we're given a dose of British supercard action with the FWA's British Uprising show from October 2002.

A couple of these matches, Doug Williams v Jerry Lynn & Jonny Storm v A.J. Styles have been shown on TWC numerous times before, but it was still refreshing to see some of the other matches, especially the fist Zebra Kid/Hade Vansen match. I was eager to see this encounter given the publicity their most recent FWA matches.

It wasn't the best show I've seen, but then again, it's not the worst show I've seen. To be honest I was probably more interested in watching this show because I've met most of the guys competing, and they've always treated me and my work with a great deal of respect.

I remember at the time of the show reading the reviews of the Robbie Brookside/Drew McDonald match. The FWA fans absolutely hated this match, but for me, it was a good match, between two legends of the British scene. I could see why some fans were critical of Drew's performance, but at the time he was in a great deal of pain, and about to undergo major back surgery, so it was no surprise that some were critical of him.

My one major disappointment was the Flash Barker/Jody Fleisch ladder match for the FWA title. At times their styles just didn't seem to gel together. Mind you, it was nice to see that the FWA bookers were actually putting a storyline together for their main championship, instead of just shipping over a big American name and having them face whoever is the champion for the title.

But I must admit it was better to see an FWA card in full, rather than the chopped apart and edited together programmes that have been on TWC so far.

Highlight of the week - any appearance involving Satoru Sayama, aka Sammy Lee, aka Tiger Mask.

Low-light of the week - the announcement of the schedule changes.