By Scott Bowden
Scott Bowdens Kentucky Fried Rasslin
2006-03-30 - The Rowdy Scotts’ Rematch
The Rowdy Scotts’ Rematch:The KFR Colonel and the Comics 101 Professor meet in a no-holds-barred return grudge match to predict the finishes of WrestleMania 22.
Bowden: For years, the traditional Memphis rasslin’ formula involved babyfaces usually losing at least the first bout in a potential feud, with the fans paying money to see the babyface triumphantly regain the crown in the end. Well, line up, dear marks, as your very own Colonel is out to exact revenge for the woodshed beating he received at the hands of the evil Prof. Scott Tipton, the most diabolical mat academic since Profs. Toru Tanka and Boris Malenko educated several students in the school of hard knocks. But first, allow Tipton to make excuses for what could be an uninspired performance before the proverbial bell even sounds.
Tipton: Sad to say, this is probably the least-looked-forward-to WrestleMania ever around these parts at Comics 101 HQ. Why? A number of reasons, really. At least there’s no longer the prospect of having to listen to a defanged, beaten-down Joey Styles and an unfunny Jonathan Coachman for four hours while the best wrestling announcer alive, Jim Ross, sits at home – thankfully, WWE has realized their error, at least for one night, and restored Ross to his rightful place at the announce table. Still, ever since “Good Ol’ J.R.” was fired on-camera in one of McMahon’s more pointless and humiliating angles, I’ve found it harder and harder to enjoy WWE programming. The shameful manner in which Vince McMahon tried to capitalize on the death of Eddie Guerrero didn’t help matters, either. And in recent weeks, the nonstop parade of camera-whoring McMahons on my TV screen has made the show near-unwatchable. Combine that with the promotion’s refusal to acknowledge that Edge’s championship run was precisely what was needed to turn the company around, the departure of longtime underutilized performers like Chris Jericho and Christian, and the continued burial of solid workers like Chris Benoit and William Regal, and I find myself more often than not deciding that my pay-per-view dollar is better spent with TNA, who more consistently provides a much higher quality of matches (even with Jeff Jarrett on the card), without insulting my intelligence with moronic attempts at comedy.
All that said, WWE usually pulls out all the stops for WrestleMania, and even considering all of the above, I can’t see myself not buying a show that promises a Cactus Jack match. So it looks like I’m in. Let’s take a look at what we’re in for:
Torrie Wilson vs. Candice Michelle (Playboy Pillow Fight)
Eh. This is what it is, I guess. With Candice being the WWE Flavor of the Month, I can understand the desire to get her on the show, especially with her issue of PLAYBOY on the stands and all. But was Torrie Wilson really the best they could do? No one’s really cared about her for years, and she can’t work a lick in the ring. Seems to me they’d have been better off turning Victoria babyface, even if only for the short-term, just so Candice would have someone to work with who might actually be able to carry her to a brief but decent match. Or, if just eye candy was really all they wanted here, why not offer Stacy Keibler a nice little bonus to come back for one night and allow the company to cash in on some of her good publicity from DANCING WITH THE STARS? Instead, we get this. Look for Candice, the current undressed apple of WWE’s eye, to get the win over last year’s model.
Bowden: I hope McMahon shows better judgment than Tipton and doesn’t open the show with this bout. At any rate, I don’t think WWE is truly capturing the real Candice Michelle, who comes like a simple-minded bimbo on TV. A quick visit to www.candicemichelle.com revealed that there’s more to her than tits and ass: “I blame my Mom for my sweet tooth because she named me Candy! I have decided that the more sweets that I eat, the sweeter I get!” Brilliant. I can’t see how a pillow-fight loss will hurt Candice, so I think WWE will go with a crowd-pleasing babyface win here.
The Boogeyman vs. Booker T & Sharmell
Tipton: Poor Booker T. Even now, with his act the hottest it’s been in years thanks to the addition of his real-life wife Sharmell Sullivan as his valet, he can’t catch a break, being forced to wrestle the nearly talentless Boogeyman on the biggest show of the year. WWE has extracted a surprising amount of mileage out of the Boogeyman gimmick, which I assumed would flop immediately and go the way of other recent strokes of creative genius like Mordecai or The Dicks. This will most likely be brief but entertaining, with Booker and Sharmell wringing every last drop of comedy out of their fear of the Boogeyman before Boogey comes away with the pinfall victory, since WWE never knows when to end a clearly short-term bit, always preferring to run it into the ground. Just ask Tim White.
Bowden: I agree with Tipton that Booker is as hot as ever with the even hotter Sharmell in his corner. Given the limitations of the gimmick and his abilities, Boogeyman has been steamrolling everyone in his path in an effort to hide his shortcomings. I say the streak ends here, as I believe Booker has one last high-profile run that could make money for the company. For that reason, it’d be a mistake to feed him to Boogeyman on such a big stage. Booker steals the win, but Sharmell gets wormed in the end post-match.
Women's Champion Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James
Tipton: Now this should be quite good. One of the few examples of successful long-term storytelling on WWE Creative’s part, the long-simmering feud between Trish and her obsessed would-be paramour Mickie finally came to a head last week with that fantastic “bloody kiss” segment. Mickie James has throughout this storyline excelled at playing her part just on the wrong side of crazy, while still managing to keep her believable and almost sympathetic, while Trish has more than held up her end in trying to gently let Mickie down as things grew more and more unsettling. Best of all, both Mickie and Trish can really work (hell, Trish’s punches look better than Rob Van Dam’s), so the months of build-up should actually climax with a strong match. I think it’d be a waste at this point not to put the belt on Mickie after all this, so I see Trish doing the job here.
Bowden: I gushed enough about Ms. James last week. Mickie followed up last week’s much ballyhooed “bloody kiss” with a strong promo on RAW Monday. Loved the serial-killer-like handiwork: Trish’s eyes are cut out on the poster “looking” over Mickie’s shoulder. Gotta agree with Tipton here: Mickie gets the win and the strap, setting up a series of heated rematches.
World Tag Team Champions Kane & Big Show vs. Chris Masters & Carlito
Tipton: What would I like to see here? I’d like to see the SmackDown Tag champs, MNM, run down to the ring in mid-match and destroy all four of these guys in response to their not even getting a championship match on the biggest show of the year. WWE’s failure to push MNM mystifies me. A well-defined, talented tag team with a great gimmick and the best, most underutilized valet in the company, and they don’t even get booked on WrestleMania, and some weeks don’t even make it on SmackDown, and they’ve got the belts. I had hoped Melina’s short-lived angle with Trish earlier in the year would lead to more exposure for the trio, but no such luck.
Anyway, as for the match we’re going to get, we’ve seen Masters and Carlito get outfought and outwitted by Kane and Big Show so much in the last month, it would be a real mistake to give them the win here, especially since there doesn’t seem to be much else in the cards for either Kane or Show if they went back to the singles division. I smell yet another double chokeslam coming.
Bowden: Initially, I thought perhaps WWE was ready to pull the trigger on the upset, as McMahon and Co. apparently think Masters and Carlito are the future. (Don’t even get me started about MNM’s snub.) And the way Masters and Carlito have been outgunned and outwitted the last few weeks had me thinking they’d win the straps to get their heat back. Nah. Carlito causes his team to lose, and Masters turns on him, making Carlos Colon’s son the company’s hottest new babyface. Hey, it could happen.
Lashley vs. Finlay vs. Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Ric Flair: Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Tipton: Last year’s Money in the Bank match was a surprise highlight of the show, and I expect the same here. I like the Money in the Bank gimmick, as it provides a great way to supercharge a guy’s push and keep him close to the top of the card without having to use him in main-event matches every week. With the ring skills of five of the six guys in this match (how Lashley earned such a high-profile spot is beyond me) we should see some amazing spots here, with Hardy, Benjamin and RVD all looking to outdo one another when it comes to aerial derring-do, and Flair determined to put on another standout performance following his first ladder match with Edge. The smart thing to do here would be to give it to Flair, with Lashley and Finlay continuing their brawl-heavy feud on the outside, while the Nature Boy takes advantage of Hardy, Shelton and Van Dam breaking each others’ backs from the top of the ladder. Having the crafty old man sneak away with the win would not only fit the Dirtiest Player in the Game’s character to a T, but giving him the guaranteed title shot would be a perfect way to keep Flair in the spotlight without forcing him to wrestle every week, and eventually giving him one more well-deserved title run, preferably with him winning the belt on one of the off-brand PPVs, guaranteeing a good buyrate on an otherwise unnoteworthy show. My money’s on Flair.
Bowden: Judging from the direction of the TV of late, it appears as the company is gearing toward a program in which Flair chases the World title one last time. If handled correctly, this could be similar to the effective Terry Funk retirement tease that was effective for All Japan for nearly two years in the early ’80s. Plus, given the makeup of the card, which seemingly doesn’t offer much of an opportunity for a “WRESTLEMANIA moment,” imagine the pop when Flair carefully snags the briefcase and the title shot. RVD could really benefit from the rub, and time is running short on the big push that never seems to come his way. But anything other than Flair winning would be a disappointment to the fans, in my opinion. For what it’s worth, I like Lashley getting a spot in this bout, if anything because the guy’s got potential—though I wonder how his physique will hold up if WWE’s new drug policy is as stringent as advertised.
United States Champion Chris Benoit vs. JBL
Tipton: This match is on the show? Really? You wouldn’t know it by me, as it seems like Chris Benoit is practically a forgotten quality on SMACKDOWN!, pushed back down to the undercard after a run with the belt in 2004 that never really got a fair chance to succeed. I don’t even think Benoit has gotten any promo time in months. As for this particular match-up, I have to admit that JBL has grown on me since his title run, and I hear these two are delivering some awesome matches on the house-show circuit, so maybe this will be a sleeper. I pick JBL to get the U.S. belt here, which will fit nicely with his jingoistic gimmick, and perhaps freeing up Benoit to feud with either a new heel champ in Orton or a tweener Kurt Angle.
Bowden: I disagree with Tipton: This match isn’t on the show. Can’t be. Wait. Never mind—it is. That said, I’ll still disagree with Tipton and say Benoit retains. JBL would actually make an ideal U.S. champ, solidifying him as WWE’s resident Republican heel. Given the fact that these two won’t be given much time to develop a bout, I see Benoit winning a quickie. Then JBL takes the belt in a WRESTLEMANIA rematch on SMACKDOWN! and becomes the U.S. champ who continually explains what’s wrong with the country he represents.
Edge vs. Cactus Jack (Hardcore Match)
Tipton: Now we’re talking. This is probably the main reason I’m still interested in the show. It was Foley’s excellent memoir that first got me interested in wrestling, and it would take a lot to make me skip a Foley match (like, say, the horrible build-up for this year’s Taboo Tuesday). The build-up for this one doesn’t nearly compare to the excellent story Foley and Randy Orton told in 2004, culminating first in his team-up with the Rock against Evolution, and a month later in his classic match against Orton at Backlash. After a slow start, the old magic started to return, first with a brief encounter with thumbtacks on SATURDAY NIGHT’S MAIN EVENT, then with a great promo last week on RAW and again this week. It doesn’t hurt that Edge is handling it exactly right, and doing everything that Triple H refuses to in his current angle with John Cena: showing the proper amount of fear and respect for his opponent. Edge really should be in the main event here, as his short-lived title run re-energized the brand and popped the ratings. However, he and Foley have a real chance to steal the show here, and I’d love to see it. Look for Edge to get the win, but not before Foley comes away a winner in his own right with his “defining WRESTLEMANIA moment.”
Bowden: This is a hard call. My gut tells me they’ll give the win to Edge, who could use it after dropping the title back to Cena. But if they keep bringing back Foley in high-profile bouts only to have him lose, it’s going to hurt his appeal—especially at this time, when he’s regained his hardcore edge (no pun intended). Then again, if Foley merely gives Edge a good thrashing, he’ll keep that. Ah, the hell with it: I’ll play devil’s advocate and say Foley gets the win, and then Edge gets his heat back with a post-match attack. Could set up a rematch, as they apparently aren’t in a hurry to push Edge back into the WWE championship picture anytime soon.
Undertaker vs. Mark Henry (Casket Match)
Tipton: Please, let this be mercifully brief. Henry certainly shouldn’t be the one to break Taker’s WrestleMania winning streak, and we know he can’t deliver a good match, so let’s just get his fat ass in the box PDQ. Taker gets the win in under seven minutes (not counting Taker’s 10-minute entrance).
Bowden: ‘Taker buries Henry to keep the streak alive.
Mr. McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels (No Holds Barred Match)
Tipton: You’d think this was the main event for all the time that’s been devoted to it, but I just can’t get that excited about seeing Shawn Michaels bump all over the ring for a 60-year-old overtanned businessman. And considering that McMahon tore both his quads running to the ring at last year’s Royal Rumble, I can’t imagine that there’s going to be a tremendous amount of action here. I’m sure that at some point we’ll see McMahon get Shawn Michaels in the Sharpshooter so he can get his jollies reliving the Montreal Screwjob for the umpteenth time, then Michaels will get to the ropes, knock McMahon down, elbow off the top, Sweet Chin Music, one, two three. And hopefully, that’ll be the last of Vince McMahon on camera for quite some time.
Bowden: I know a few years ago that the company considered having McMahon vs. Hogan work last—I hope they aren’t toying with that idea again. Although, granted, judging from the amount of TV time devoted to this match-up, it appears this is the main event. Shane interferes to give Vince an advantage before Shawn makes his formulaic comeback and gets the pin. I’m not necessarily hoping for a great match—I’m only hoping Linda and Stephanie stay out of it.
World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle vs. Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio
Tipton: Has there been a world title match with less excitement going into it? What should have been a no-lose proposition with the momentum behind Rey Mysterio’s surprise Royal Rumble win was quickly squandered away by WWE’s insistence on cheapening Eddie Guerrero’s memory as a way to garner Randy Orton some cheap heel heat. When fans realized that not only had they been sold a bill of goods in WWE’s supposed respect for Guerrero, but their feel-good moment at the Rumble was also a fake-out just to promote Orton, they turned on the company and fast, so much so that the McMahons were forced to backtrack and re-insert Mysterio into the title picture with Orton and Angle. While I’d love to see Mysterio get the win here, I don’t think it’ll happen. On the strength of his outstanding performances with Undertaker in the last couple of months, I think Angle has earned himself a longer run with the strap. The outcome? Angle over Orton, with Mysterio preventing a post-match beatdown on Angle for a nice heroic pop for Rey.
Bowden: To answer Tipton’s first question: Yes, or don’t you recall Mark Henry challenging Kurt Angle at the Royal Rumble? Tipton also wasn’t around during WCW’s dying days when the World title shifted from Diamond Dallas Page to Jeff Jarrett to David Arquette in a series of thrilling (cough) bouts. (Tipton: Oh, I was around, I’ve just mercifully blocked out most of those memories…) Hell, even on the WRESTLEMANIA stage, I’d put this one ahead of Undertaker vs. Sid Vicious (1997) and Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna (1994). The question is: Do they have the guts to put the strap on Rey? I’m betting on it. I’m also betting on this bout to steal the show. Orton’s definitely in line for another run with the World strap later this year, but I don’t think it will start here.
WWE Champion John Cena vs. Triple H
Tipton: I don’t think there’s much mystery in what’s going to happen here. If the company wasn’t going to derail their yearlong plan for Triple H to take the belt off Cena in the face of the uncontestably improved ratings for a champion Edge, they’re certainly not going to back down now. I wouldn’t mind so much if the whole thing didn’t blatantly feel like a fait accompli. It’s one thing for Hunter to want his character to look cocky and confident, but the degree to which he demeans Cena’s character by never showing even a centimeter of concern over his opponent (not to mention hamstringing Cena by outright declaring him a poor wrestler, and leaving the Champ with no means of refuting it), is just idiotic. Compare it to the Triple H of 2000, who sold for Mick Foley as if he was a combination of Bruno Sammartino and Arnold Schwarzenegger, all just because Foley called himself “Cactus Jack” and changed his shirt. If Hunter was willing to show an ounce of that flexibility in his current angle, people might actually believe Cena has a shot, and be more inclined to pay to see it. As it is, the prospect of a HHH/Cena match leaves with the same impression as most of the rest of WWE’s current output. Meh.
Hunter wins with the Pedigree. WWE fans lose, with the prospect of another year with Hunter as the champ. Give me Samoa Joe any day.
Bowden: Stop me if you’ve seen these spots before: Triple H splits open his babyface opponent with a sledgehammer. Babyface narrowly kicks out of numerous pinfall attempts. Babyface valiantly fights back. Trips regains advantage. Babyface backdrops his way out of a first pedigree attempt. Ref gets bumped. Trips again uses sledgehammer, and then hits the pedigree for the win. Loathe, wince, repeat—you just can’t get Triple H outta your hair. After dropping two straight WRESTLEMANIA title matches in 2004 and 2005, Trips ascends to the throne of his father-in-law’s kingdom once again.
If they’re smart, they’ll have Cena start strong, with him taking the fight to Trips hard in the early going. Really, given the way Trips and Pops practically crucified Cena and HBK on RAW, the Champ should come out smoking, taking the fight hard to the challenger. I’m not a huge proponent of blood; however, HHH should really get juice in the early going, selling the fact that he took Cena too lightly—a fact the announcers should push as well. WWE took a step in the right direction on RAW last week with the Cena training video, and they need to cement that image with an intense performance by the soon-to-be-Ex-Champ.
The strap needs to come off Cena for a while, but I still think that Edge was clearly ready to take the role of the heel champion in a fresh direction. I doubt many fans are intrigued by the idea of Trips regaining the strap, but I suppose the ratings and buy rates over the next six months will tell the tale.
This bout will be better than most expect, as HHH carried Batista to a solid bout last year, and I expect him to do the same with Cena.
KFR’s Countdown of the Top 10 Tag Teams (continued)
7. Phil Hickerson and Dennis Condrey: When my dad first started forcing my sister and me to abandon Foghorn Leghorn for Lance Russell (the difference was, in some ways, negligible) around 1976, the names I recall hearing most often were Lawler, Dundee…and the team of Phil Hickerson and Dennis Condrey.
With good reason, these two were a dominant team who, according to promoter Jerry Jarrett, were “a great team that were magic from the moment they first teamed.” Although a lot of fans remember Hickerson’s comeback in the mid- to late ’80s working for Jarrett and Lawler, he was in his prime teaming with Condrey—a great big man who could move around the ring. Condrey of course went on to team with Bobby Eaton to form another top team, the Midnight Express with Jim Cornette. Overall, Condrey has to rate as one of the better tag-team wrestlers of his era.
6. Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson: Tully and Arn jelled from the start as the World tag champions of the Four Horsemen for JCP in the mid-’80s. Excellent single wrestlers in their own right, when teamed together, Blanchard and Anderson could have wonderful bouts with anyone, including the Road Warriors. (Great as the Warriors were, they needed consummate pros like Tully and Arn to make them look their best.)
With the possible exception of the Midnight Express, no team had more consistently good matches than Tully and Arn during the era. Combine that with Arn’s strong interview skill and Tully’s natural cockiness, and you had a winning combination. Just as the team appeared ready to be paired with the Midnights for a heels vs. heels feud that would have done major box office, the two jumped for the WWF, where they also became tag champions and had memorable bouts with the Hart Foundation and the Rockers.
5. Freebirds Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts (reprinted from a previous KFR): Brash upstarts Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy had an auspicious debut as The Free Birds (later becoming “The Freebirds,” perhaps to avoid legal trouble) in Memphis rings in 1979. The two young grapplers had met the previous year in the Culkins’ promotion in Mississippi, eventually forming a tag team. A short time later, “Pretty Boy” Michael Hayes and “The Master of Disaster” Terry Gordy moved on to work for the Nick Gulas end of Tennessee, becoming Mid-America tag-team champions. After months of appearing in main events for Gulas, Gordy and Hayes were summoned by Memphis booker Jerry Jarrett. They first appeared under the moniker of The Free Birds in the WMC-TV studios on Union Avenue in Memphis.
Throughout the show, Gordy teased the unveiling of his partner—who had a towel draped over his head—prior to their TV main event match, an expiration-of-time bout with established heroes Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee. More surprising than seeing a huge, rugged Southern redneck like Gordy bragging to announcer Lance Russell about having “the sexiest man alive” as a partner was the result of the first fall: a clean pinfall on Dundee. Hayes backdropped Dundee to Gordy, who caught the Aussie in midair and jammed him into the canvas. Although “Pretty Boy” Hayes was pinned in the second fall, it was apparent to Memphis fans that the ‘Birds were for real—they had taken the King and the Superstar to the limit. SIDE-NOTE SLAM:Lawler was clearly out of the running for “Sexiest Man Alive” that year, as the King at the time was sporting a perm that made him like Paul Michael Glaser of STARSKY AND HUTCH.
The ‘Birds complemented each other quite well—Hayes resembled a rock star, while Gordy could have been his roadie. It was this oddball chemistry that convinced promoter Jarrett that they could be stars, although clearly Hayes was not in the same category work-wise as his partner, who was already proving himself to be capable, despite his limited experience. Still, though, Gordy could work, and Hayes could talk, so that was enough to get a push in Memphis.
Hayes and Gordy won the Mid-South tag titles for the first time on November 24, 1979, defeating Bill Watts and Col. Buck Robley in Shreveport, La. Supposedly, Mid-South booker Bill Watts wasn’t high on Hayes as a worker, so he brought in Buddy Roberts to pick up the slack, enhancing their gimmick. For months, Hayes mostly worked as the team’s mouthpiece while he further developed his in-ring craft. This infuriated the fans, as Hayes came off as the chicken-shit coward of the trio.
By 1981, entrance music was starting to catch on in the business, especially with babyfaces; nowadays it’s hard to imagine anyone coming to the ring without some kind of theme. By 1982, the rock-n-roll influence was everywhere in wrestling, but the Fabulous Freebirds were doing it years before the Fabulous Ones debuted to Billy Squier’s “Everybody Wants You.”
The team spilt in Georgia, proving Hayes’s marketability as a babyface in the process, as he teamed with a variety of partners to feud with Gordy and his partners of Austin Idol and Jimmy Snuka, while Roberts left the Birds’ nest altogether. Gordy and Hayes reunited in Fritz Von Erich’s promotion in Texas in 1982, with Roberts not far behind. Although they debuted as babyfaces, the plan all along was for them to go heel and feud with the Von Erich boys, David, Kerry and Kevin—a natural. Gordy and Hayes turned heel on December 25, 1982, costing Kerry a win over Ric Flair and the NWA World championship, ruining Christmas night for marks throughout the state of Texas. In one of the greatest feuds the business has ever seen, the Birds and the Von Erichs battled over the “World six-man” championship, a title created especially for the feud.
As the song goes, without the Birds in the business, “things just wouldn’t be the same.”