SLAM! Wrestling's Best And Worst Of 2000
There are four full-time bodies working at CANOE.ca that also dedicate time to SLAM! Wrestling. We've asked each of them to let us know a little about the year that was, their highs and lows of 2000. And we've included links to the stories that will allow you to read some of what you may have missed!
What was your favourite interview(s) this year? Why?
I did so many this year covering such a wide range of performers that it's hard to remember them all. I enjoyed talking to Chris Benoit
at the SkyDome
back in March. Talking to Lance Storm
the day before the New Blood Rising pay-per-view
in Vancouver was great. Interviewing Barry Blaustein
about his film "Beyond the Mat" and the ad controversy with the WWF. But I guess three really stand out in my memory: 1) Mike Tenay
because I've always had a great deal of respect for him and count him as one of my biggest influences as a reporter; 2) Shane Douglas
, because I
always thought he was a loudmouthed jerk but after interviewing I came away with a newfound respect for him and 3) Sharon Valentine
, just because
the story she told of her husband Johnny Valentine was so heartbreaking and she was so emotional. That had to be the most difficult and challenging
interview I've ever conducted.
It's not until you look back at the end of the year that you actually realize how many people that you've interviewed! Ronnie Garvin
was fun -- I tried forever to get him on the phone, then when I finally sat down with him at a Lutte International 2000 show, he wouldn't shut up! ... I really enjoyed doing the feature on native star Don Eagle
, a big part of which was talking to Billy Two Rivers
... A good example of how one thing leads to another: Talking to Verne Gagne
led me to Nick Bockwinkel, who talked about his father for my 2nd-gen grapplers reflect on their Dads
story. For the flip-side, it was a big thrill to talk to Blackjack Mulligan
for the Fathers find raising wrestlers a challenge
story ... Of today's stars, I found Shawn Stasiak
interesting as he pleaded his case in the whole 'taping people' incident. He seemed relieved to finally talk about it ... And while some people have joked that three Ivory
may have been excessive, I disagree. She was easily one of the coolest people I've ever interviewed.
: Without a doubt, my opportunity to speak to Booker T
. He was very grounded, very articulate and I could identify with many of the life experiences he related to me during our conversation. Being a new dad myself it was special to be able to talk to Booker on Father's Day about his son and his life as a single parent. It was a really enjoyable and relaxed chat. Plus, he was as cool as cool can be. Rob Van Dam
was also a thrill simply because I am such a big mark for him. As far as my partners in crime at SLAM! Wrestling go, as an editor it made me proud to see John Molinaro's story on Johnny Valentine
published on our site. The piece does what really good writing should, exhibit genuine human emotion and feeling. "Johnny Valentine's fight for life" rates as one of the best articles we've ever had the pleasure of presenting to you.
Greg's chat with the legendary Lou Thesz
and Verne Gagne
as well as his Father's Day piece
were great reads and examples of what good quality, experienced journalism is all about. Alex's stories on Little Guido Maritato
and Julio Dinero
were eye openers.
Chris Gramlich's multi-part chat with Raven
was an epic symbolizing our new relationship with the WWF Stamford that myself and John Molinaro helped to forge despite the obstacles we had to overcome. Even Bob Kapur snuck in there with a Steve Corino
story which was fun because it was "Bloodthirsty" Bob's first big interview and he put his heart and soul into it. Thanks again for your enthusiasm, Bob!
My favourite interview this year had to be with one
. In an industry where answers are guarded, and many are
tight-lipped due to fear of reprisal, Kanyon laid it all out on the line
with his then situation in WCW, and verbally stood his ground in the
interview saying he would not come back until he knew the environment
would suit him. He also stood by his word. After a brief gimmick in
which he made fun of Diamond Dallas Page, he saw the writing on the wall
and went back home. Today, he is still waiting for the right
opportunity, which unfortunately may never come.
My favourite interview not conducted by me was by the fans of SLAM! Wrestling when the queried the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper
What was your favourite moment / most memorable moment in wrestling this year? Why?
What's your favourite?
As always, we love to get your feedback on SLAM! Wrestling. What was your favourite story that we did this year? What was a total waste of time in your eyes? What's your favourite part of the site? Why?
Send your emails to email@example.com.
Two stand out in my mind: 1) the Kensuke Sasaki vs. Toshiaki Kawada main event match at New Japan's Tokyo Dome show in October. A historical
match-up between the IWGP World Heavyweight champion and the top star for All Japan... my God that was a stiff, physical match; 2) the mask vs.
mask match between Atlantis and Villano 3 at EMLL's first pay-per-view show back in March. Classic storyline booking with masterful ring
psychology that reduced the audience to tears in the end when Villano had to unmask. A true ring classic. My pick for match of the year!
At WrestleMania this year in Anaheim, I got to meet Trish Stratus for the first time. It was pretty exciting to learn that she was excited to meet me too!
: When the WWF announced they were not buying WCW. It's nothing personal against the WWF, I just strongly felt that it would be bad for the business as a whole and the fans to have one company be in control of the Top Two promotions. Otherwise, the efforts of Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Jeff Jarrett, Booker T., Lance Storm, Kurt Angle and others to bring back a more traditional style of wrestling exhibition. When the WWF blacklisted us for a short time.
My favourite moment isn't actually captured in one single time period,
as it's more of a concept. The year 2000 had several favourite moments
for me, and that concerns comebacks. It was amazing to see Steven Regal (now William Regal) come back from a drug addiction problem. It was amazing to see Raven do
the same. And the legendary Terry Funk also returned to ring action.
While many veterans are past their prime, these three, among others,
proved that they can still carry the ball, especially after recent
factors having negative impacts on their respective lives, and can
contribute in major ways to the action we all love.
What was your least favourite moment in wrestling this year? Why?
Least favourite in terms of sadness had to be the death of Jumbo Tsuruta
. I really took that one hard because I'd been a big fan of his. It really
signalled the end of an era in Japanese wrestling. Least favourite in terms of in-ring stupidity: David Arquette winning the world title (I don't have
enough words to describe how stupid that was), anytime Chyna wrestled on TV (I'm sorry folks, she sucks... end of story!), Kevin Nash's career in
general, WCW's misuse of The Great Muta, Eddie Guerrero doing that moronic Latino Heat gimmick, Linda McMahon doing those longwinded
monologues on RAW that dragged on forever, Mark Madden's commentary on any match, The Rock setting a new record at Armageddon by referring
to himself in the third person 13 times during a 90-second interview, Dean Malenko having to sell 'The Worm', Mae Young exposing her 'breasts' at
the Royal Rumble, Oklahoma winning the cruiserweight title.
It's tough calling up people and talking about their friends who have died, as I did with Gary Albright
, Gordon Solie
, Jumbo Tsuruta
and others ... But it was a first for me to tell someone that they had been fired, as was the case when I called Glenn Kulka
in February. Seems the WWF.com website reported his relase before ever calling him.
The continued use of the McMahons in WWF storylines. The misuse of Raven, Tazz and Saturn in the WWF. WCW's Halloween Havoc and the WWF's Armageddon pay-per-views. Each and every time someone had to sell Scotty Too Hotty's Worm and Rikishi's Stink Face. When the WWF blacklisted us for a short time.
When Roddy Piper launched a very vicious attack on Greg via his Web site. Knowing how much everyone at SLAM! Wrestling are big fans of Piper, it hurt a lot to read those comments. I am just glad that everything got worked out in the end through some open discussion.
Really too many to mention. The comeback of Vince McMahon to
television, because he marks the return of the 20-minute opening
monologues on RAW. The downfall of ECW's TV deal, because they deserve
the coverage, and the people who want to see it can't. The WWF dumbing
down the abilities of wrestlers like Chris Jericho and Perry Saturn,
making great wrestlers look ordinary. WCW's elevation of rookies to
stars before they are actually ready. These stick in my craw the most.
What was your favourite story on SLAM! Wrestling this year?
John Molinaro: John Powell's editorial
on the WWF's media policy. I think it was among his best work. I loved it because it differed from mine in its tone and
approach and managed to further the dialogue between Jim Ross and SLAM! which eventually led to the WWF rethinking their media policy...
Powell's interview with Booker T
and The Maestro
; Greg's collection of Olympic stories
(especially the one on Earl McCready
) and his interview with
... Gramlich's editorial on The sorry state of 'hardcore'
I love when John Molinaro takes us to school, and allows us to learn about the history of wrestling. My favourite piece was probably El Santo
. His Full story
story about the 1975 plane crash with Ric Flair, Johnny Valentine, David Crockett and Tim Woods was a great piece of work as well, particularly because the first version didn't have quotes from either Woods or Valentine, and we hung in until we got them (now for Flair) ... Chris Schramm's Superstar Billy Graham: Ring legend
story was great too.
: John Molinaro's story on Johnny Valentine
and his editorial
on the WWF.
My favourite story, or in this case its actually a running story, was
John Molinaro's criticisms of the WWF in an editorial
. Not only did it
spark interesting debates, but it also enabled SLAM! to actually open a
running dialogue with the WWF. If John hadn't taken the ball and run
with it, the WWF would still have a low view of dot-coms everywhere, and
as sappy as this sounds, I'm proud to be a part of team that's an
innovator for change.
What's one thing you'd like to see happen in 2001 in wrestling?
I'd love to see WCW become a strong number two promotion again (I won't hold my breath) and I'd like to see ECW sign a deal with a major
network and gain some stability. And I'd like to see WCW bring back the Mexican and Japanese talent and push them properly.
I'm really pulling for WCW to become a legit #2 promotion again. Wrestling really needs it. It can't survive with just the WWF as the only power ... And I'm rooting against the XFL, but that's mainly because I'm a die-hard CFL fan for life.
: More wrestling. Less yapping. A television deal for ECW. Less pay-per-views with better planning behind them. Chris Jericho or Chris Benoit as WWF champ. WCW FINALLY getting their act together! The McMahons written out of WWF storylines. The Rock to cut a promo without referencing himself. The return of Mick Foley to the ring.
I for one would like to see some stability in all three of the feds,
because it would make for a better all-around product, and give fans
more outlets to see what they want to see. If WCW can make a comeback,
the WWF would be forced into writing less boring and repetitive story
lines. If ECW can get a TV deal, they would have more income, and could
afford to pay their guys so they won't lose them. Plus, it would make
them a viable place for other wrestlers to go to if the other two major
feds can't properly utilise their talents. As for the WWF, lack of
competition is starting to make things stagnant -- they either need a
better writing team or a good swift kick in the ass to shake them out of
Who would be your dream interview, living or dead, and why?
1) Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask. He absolutely revolutionized the business and paved the way for the likes of Rey Misterio Jr, Owen Hart,
Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho Jushin "Thunder" Liger and every junior heavyweight that's followed him. 2) El Santo. The man was revered and
considered a God in Mexico his entire career. I'd love to know what it was like to keep his real identity secret all those years and how he dealt with the
adoration. 3) Ric Flair because he was my 'wrestling God' growing up.
Dave McKigney, aka The Canadian Wildman. Thankfully, Jim Freedman has him down pretty good in the wonderful book, Drawing Heat.
: Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Ric Flair because I have respectfully followed them for more than twenty years as a fan. It would be an honour to speak to either man.
Ricky Steamboat (which may just happen sooner than you think). I choose
him because in my eyes he's somewhat of an enigma, not too mention that
he's my favourite wrestler of all time. He was technically sound, knew
how to fly in the ring, was fluid and smooth with every motion (watch
and compare to today's product and you'll see what I mean). And in every
incarnation I've ever seen him he was always, always a face. In an
industry where shake-ups are the norm, and people will do anything to
get over, he was always a popular "good guy," and always remained
popular even until his retirement, without having to change -- that's
staying power. Plus, his matches with Ric Flair and Randy Savage are
What are you working on for the future with SLAM! (interviews, etc)
I'm going to do a feature article on the life and times of Rikidozan, the Godfather of Japanese wrestling. Rikidozan was to Japan what El Santo was to
Mexico. The piece will focus on his in-ring career and why he was so influential and hopefully I'll be talking to Dick Beyer, the masked Destroyer
most famous opponent... I'm putting together a year-in-review package for Japan and Mexico which should run the thrid week of January... That
feature article I've been promising to write for the longest time on the evolution of the wrestling media.
I've got a story on Yvon Robert and his son Yvon Robert Jr. coming down the road, as well as more from Ernest 'The Cat' Miller. Plus, I'm going to the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in February in Las Vegas, and maybe to WrestleMania in Houston.
: As far as interviews go, I haven't been able to contribute as much to SLAM! Wrestling as I would like to in 2000 due to my new responsibilities as a father. I still handle much of the news, rumours, the pay-per-view reports and the pay-per-view countdowns but would very much like to conduct more one-on-one chats as feature writing is my favourite style. There is nothing more interesting in journalism to me than sitting down with someone and getting to know more about them and their life. Everyone has a story to tell. This year, it is my hope that I can devote more time to that especially in tracking down Macho and Flair.
Currently, I still perform my monthly Mat Matters columns and tackle certain
projects whenever they come my way. I actually am trying to arrange with
Ricky Steamboat for an interview, and may be performing ones in the near
future with Paul Diamond and Nikita Koloff.
COMING UP: The results of our 2000 Year In Review Poll!