March 3, 2007
A long February
By "Hotshot" JOHNNY DEVINE - SLAM! Wrestling
Wow. What a month. It seems every year lately we've had a lot to talk about in February. Last month was no different, it seems, with the deaths of Bam Bam Bigelow and Mike Awesome, to the silliness of Vince vs the Donald hair for hair. Never a dull moment in wrestling.
The sadness we seem to always be dealing with in the wrestling business continues this month with the deaths of Bam Bam and Awesome. I am still convinced Bam Bam was one of the top big men of all time. The agility he displayed for a 400-pounder was staggering. He always had that "if you mess with me I'm going to bury you and your family" look which has become lacking in this day and age. Other than some notable exceptions -- Umaga, Samoa Joe, Abyss, Kane, The Undertaker -- there aren't too many guys who scare you when you look at them and consider the possibility of stepping into the ring with them. Bigelow's tattoos were definitely a help in that matter as skull tats can always add a little something to a character! As is always the case, though, some guys never rise above a certain level in the wrestling business, be it for political, personal or physical reasons. Whatever the reason Bam Bam was never a heavyweight champ in WWE or WCW, it seems a bit of a travesty in my eyes. But then again things are the way they are for a reason.
Mike Awesome is best remembered in North America for his ECW heavyweight title run and subsequent jump to WCW while still holding the belt. His batlles with Masato Tanaka were a thing unseen in North America at that time. A super heavy who could do the things Awesome was doing was a big deal. And the beatings his Japanese opponent was taking were the stuff of legend and tall tales. Rick Bognar (Titan, Razor Ramon 2), whom I got to hang with a bit in Calgary, was Awesome's partner for a bunch of Japan tours and always spoke very highly of Mike and his work ethic. Now granted I never had the pleasure of meeting Mike in person but Rick would regale me every once in a while, when I asked, for tales of Japanese shenanigans two 6'8" gaijin could have in the Land of the Rising Sun. So a part of me knew a small bit of Mike a lot of people didn't know.
For those who knew him and for those who knew Bam Bam just the knowledge that they got a little of these great guys while they were around is a comfort while grieving. They will both be sorely missed and thought of often.
Vince's plans for Wrestlemania seem to be moving along nicely, although with the loss of Hulk Hogan a wrench has been kind of thrown in the plans. The use of Bobby Lashley in this spot has me scratching my head a bit. Now granted Lashley has been given the big push by management and is considered a future company carrier, but in an angle like this for the less than enthusiastic non-wrestling fan demographic they are going for here, shouldn't it be a more recognizable name? I mean even the Donald forgot Lashley's name in an interview. They couldn't get The Rock?? Ah well, it still promises to be interesting because of the obvious "McMahon will be the one to lose his hair" smark response and the possibility, however slim, that Trump could actually chose to finally lose that hideous haircut and stop looking like a Hairclub for Men victim.
The rest of the Wrestlemania lineup seems pretty solid at this point. John Cena and Shawn Michaels promises to be quite good with a good job done on the buildup and Micheals being able to carry just about anyone to a great match. 'Taker and Batista, I won't hold my breath on. 'Taker is fantastic and looks about half his age and can definitely still go when it's big show time. The Animal, on the other hand, is lackluster at best and seems to be content not to improve his in-ring ability and coast on the popularity he gleaned from the likes of Ric Flair and Triple H. Very disappointing as he has the potential to be a major star if he can pull together some good matches.
To me match of the night will probably be Randy Orton and Edge. These guys are just trucking along as far as storylines, heat and great matches go and are in no fear of slowing. Their relationship and friction has been done exceptionally well. Which is a surprise considering the current lack of good writing WWE has been guilty of in recent memory. I hope no sudden attacks of brainus degeneratus attack the writing team, because if they screw this storyline up they are killing their best built feud in a long time.
I would like to congratulate my good buddy Cassidy Reily on getting signed but WWE and heading to Louisville to get his TV timing down. Cass is a guy who deserves a spot on a show somewhere and I am glad he is getting the chance to shine. Condolences go out to A1, Elix Skipper and David Young on their releases from TNA. Although they asked for releases, it's always frustrating to see great guys not being used to their full potential. Time constraints being what they are for TNA it is to be expected (I expected it on more than a couple occasions) but that is the nature of the business. Everyone can't be on top.
As always I appreciate any feedback, question or concerns and will take them either at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.myspace.com/canadiandevine. As well anyone looking to book myself, Kazarian, Matt Bentley or Raven or the entirety of Serotonin can email above or to email@example.com.
In the mean time and in between time, that's it. Another edition of Devine Intervention.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Hotshot" Johnny Devine's column will run on Saturdays (or whenever he delivers) on SLAM! Wrestling. Be sure to visit each week!
For more on Devine's career, see his biography in our Canadian Hall of Fame.