EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch for Donnie Abreu's column every Thursday.
Thursday, June 18, 1998
KOTR will be a classic
Sure, anyone of those could be up there ... and you could make arguments for a few others, but the one I'm leaning towards hasn't even happened yet ... King Of The Ring 1998. Go ahead, laugh if you will ... but this card has all the potential in the world. ESPECIALLY with the new stipulations that will be added to the main event. In case you haven't heard yet, insiders have been stating for several weeks now that Kane versus Stone Cold Steve Austin for the World Title will be a "first blood" match. Translation: Pinfalls, submissions, DQ's and countouts are all irrelevant. The only way you win is to make you opponent bleed. PLUS: if Kane loses, he will reportedly "set himself on fire". Obviously, this isn't going to appeal to all of you out there. I'm sure someone just read that for the first time is saying to themselves ... "That's so stooopid ... he's not REALLY gonna burn ya know!" .... well, duh. It's called entertainment. In my not so humble opinion, theses stipulations just raised the stakes and the interest level 100%.
Then there's Hell In A Cell. Critics will say that the WWF is starting to lean to heavily on the cell since people are still raving over the match Michaels and The 'Taker had back at Bad Blood in October. They used it this week on RAW and will haul it out one more time for King Of The Ring. While I've always maintained that Shawn Michaels is the greatest performer on the planet, it is conceivable that this match up will surpass the original. Nobody takes a beating like Mankind ... and The Undertaker excels in matches where his adversary is much smaller and lighter. Undoubtedly it'll be a blood bath ... add to that the fact that Mankind has promised some sort of a "MAJOR SURPRISE" ...
My sources also tell me that a match will soon be announced that will see Al Snow make his WWF in ring debut. Snow has competed for the WWF before as the clumsy masked man, Avatar, and as the dorky Leif Cassidy. Snow will be in a tag team match against "Too Sexy" Brian Christopher Lawler and "Too Hot" Scott Taylor - collectively known as Too Much. Al's tag partner? Who else? Head! The interesting stipulation on this one is that should Snow lose, he'll leave the WWF (Just like Sable??) forever! Hopefully Snow will be given the opportunity to showcase his abilities ... If he just starts clobbering everyone with Head, it'll stink ... but if he actually shows off his repertoire, the fans may completely fall in love. Some of you may recall a match up on RAW 2 years ago that saw Leif Cassidy take on Shawn Michaels ... that was one of the BEST technical matches ever shown on WWF television.
I still haven't officially heard who The New Age Outlaws will be defending their titles against. I suppose it could be Kane and Mankind, since they won the Tag Team Royal Rumble in impressive fashion this week, but they've already got their hands full on that night. Maybe it'll be "The Original Rattlesnake" Terry Funk and Scorpio. To be honest, it doesn't really matter. Any time the Outlaws are in a match, it's worth the price of admission.
Then there's the actual tournament to crown a new ruler. This must be the first time in history where you could make a case for ANY of the 16 entrants to win the whole thing. There weren't any easy matches to predict. I must say though, if I have one beef, it's the simple fact that half the tournament is shown on RAW and not on the pay per view. I like the idea of a one night tournament where the athlete must wrestle four times in one night. The World Wrestling Federation hasn't done that though since '94 when Owen became "The King Of Hearts".
That being said, the match-ups are still exciting and fairly unpredictable. Next week on RAW the second round begins. You'll see Ken Shamrock take on the man who turned on him upon joining the Nation Of Domination - Mark Henry. He's a huge long shot, but Henry does have an outside chance. He's big, incredibly powerful and his mobility improves with every match. Show me a 450 pounder that gets more elevation on a splash? Henry actually looks a lot like a younger, stronger version of Vader ... which is why their little side feud makes so much sense.
Then there's Double J and Marvelous Marc Mero. If these guys were in different brackets, there might be a chance of them meeting in the finals. In recent years, all tournament winners have been rulebreakers, despised by the fans, in need of some sort of a push. This applies to both of these underachievers. The addition of Southern Justice makes Double J a slight favourite, but wouldn't Jacqueline look lovely as Queen?
Two weeks ago The Rock went down to Triple H in an elimination match. This could be Rocky's revenge. It's Champion versus Champion and no matter what, it'll be a solid bout - one that you'll see for years to come, because these two pure breds will be fighting over the World Title before long - mark my words Expect the loser of this matchup to defend their individual title at the pay per view.
Then there's "The Beast" Dan Severn taking on "Danger" Hart -- (I HATE Owen's new tights!!) Severn has looked much better in recent weeks and even seems to be generating a cult following. Apparently there are some people out there who like a "wrestler" and not just a big talker who wears pretty robes. Another thing that EVERY King Of The Ring (and serious contenders to the crown) has had in common, is an intimidating finishing manoeuver. Just as this tournament is used to get an individual over, it's also used to create more awareness and to make fans familiar with the devastating qualities of a certain hold. The Stunner, The Sharpshooter, Mandible Claw, The Pedigree ... need I go on? Severn's "bow and arrow" or whatever he's gonna call it is something to marvel at. If he beats Owen this week with that very hold, who could be one of the favorites to win it all.
This means that the pay per view on June 28 could feature quite a few different scenarios.
We could see:
-The Rock take on fellow Nation Member Owen Hart.
-Double J face off against Triple H ... maybe The Road Dog would be at ringside.
-Mark Henry versus Marc Mero in ... the battle of the marks! (make your own joke!)
OR the match that many No Holds Barred fans would love to see for a 3rd time ... Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn. They've formed a tag team in recent weeks and speculation runs rampant that neither man wants to face each other in the WWF, but McMahon can be very convincing ...
Whatever it is ... I'll be honest with you ... I'm excited ... and it's been a looong time since I've been able to say that I was even interesting in an upcoming card!
Each week at the end of my article I will include a random selection of letters I received from the readers of SLAM! Wrestling.
What ever happened to Glen Kulka??? He was supposed to wrestle in November on RAW from the Corel Centre, Did this match ever take place? What is he doing now, is he still with the WWF??? Me and my friends are mystified by this and keep wondering what happened to him,
Trevor Lefler email@example.com
You and your friends aren't alone in wondering. Kulka received a lot of hype from the WWF Hotline, his appearance at various community events and on Off The Record. Then he seemingly disappeared. Just to let you know, Glen IS still under contract. He was competing in dark matches and at house shows until last December when he tore his ACL. He is now almost totally recovered and will spend a few months shaking off the rust and getting himself into top rookie form! By the way, you'll be interested to know that since the injury, Kulka has done little more than work out ... he's BIGGER than ever!!
I'm sorry that I'm now just reading your article about the Junk Yard Dog. Those are good pictures from wrestlemania 3. You are right if anyone should be in the hall of fame it is JYD. Plus don't forget he came close at winning the IC belt from Greg Valentine at WrestleMania one, wich he won by DQ, he won several regional belts and even won the USWA title from Jerry Lawler (from the PWI alamnac). But my favorite was his tag team matches with Tito Santana.
Great article, and keep wrestling history alive
Mick Lewis firstname.lastname@example.org
I start feeling a little like Jim Cornette when people tell me to keep wrestling history alive! Well, I'll do my best! And by the way ... a few of you seem to have doubts about my ability to discuss wrestling history or just wrestling in general. You've sent email to me, (or to other members of The SLAM! staff) saying I'm far too young to remember anything prior Hulkamania. Well, I've been following the sport my whole life (I'm 22 now), and anything I missed I either watched in on tape or read about it long ago. I've been to more live wrestling events than I could even attempt to remember. I've interviewed some of the biggest names in the sport and feel I'm just as qualified as anyone else to report on it .. but I digress ...
I definitely agree that JYD should be in the Hall of Fame. I remember watching him back in the "Good 'ol days" when the WWF was still family entertainment, and I loved him.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind, however. Every inductee in the WWF Hall of Fame is retired (I know, I know - Snuka came back and wrestled the night after he was inducted, but still...). As far as I know, JYD was not retired. Also, as you yourself mentioned, he wasn't at the very top of the list of possible inductees.
Gerald DesChamps gdesch@MAILHOST.NET
Thanks for the letter Gerald. Well, it is true that JYD was still accepting limited bookings for some indy shows, but I don't think you can really call that an active career. Jimmy Snuka STILL competes in various independents throughout New York and New Jersey. Regardless, Ritter is retired in EVERY sense of the word now ... I simply hope he gets the respect he so rightfully deserves.
I wanted to comment on your JYD article in SLAM!. You think people should be sad even if they didn't know him?! Yes he was good for wrestling and the fans, but I don't think we should iconize every wrestler that passes if we didn't know or watch them. Should we idolize Alexander Graham Bell on his birthday every year because he made the telephone? No, we should remember and keep positive memories of those who contributed to our lives and society. The JYD is in his own Hall of Fame, and could care less. And if we need Halls of Fame to remember people, then we are just as shallow.
By the way, can't you say anything good about anybody?!
Tom Kralidis email@example.com
Tom, I suggest you go back and read last week's article again, because you obviously missed the point. I never said everyone should be sad! I merely suggested that the WWF pay tribute to a man who was as popular and as hard working as anyone else throughout the '80s (the golden era). If you don't remember JYD then I seriously wonder why you're even reading this article. Yes! I do think we should honor Bell's birthday every year! Without him we wouldn't have the phone, or modem or Internet. God Bless Graham Bell!!
We are not a shallow people for building Halls OF Fame ... it's simply a way of immortalizing those who gave so much to an era. Should we tear down The Hockey Hall Of Fame in Toronto, or the Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown to avoid being "shallow"? Of course not.
To answer your last question ... I once again suggest you attempt to actually "read" the article, because I didn't say anything negative about JYD ...
Can you address the idiotic remark that BOB COSTAS made towards wrestling and its fans in general. He said he does not understand why Malone will degrade himself in a bogus event. This makes all fans of wrestling idiots for enjoying sports entertainment. I think there should be an internet boycott of NBC. Since you do have the power to write a frigging article in a publication that reaches many wrestling fans, do something about this. Look what they did with Ric Flair. The internet is a place where many people can voice their true opinion and will get alot of media coverage.
What DID they do for Flair? They had him voted second to Hank The Angry Drunken Dwarf as the World's most beautiful person. What did that do for Flair? Is he working? I question how much strength these online protests or boycotts carry.
I really think that wrestling fans are far too sensitive. If I wrote an article saying that Football was only for steroid infested meatheads, and you have to have an IQ smaller than your waist size in order to watch it, would people get all that offended? Would they try to boycott SLAM! ? Of course not ... you'd think I was nuts and that was that. Bob Costas is entitled to his opinion. He's a major public figure covering a "legit" sport and he probably feels that any endorsement towards pro wrestling by him would weaken his image. He may be right, I don't know. Don't let guys like Costas or Phil Mushnick bother you so much. Not everyone likes wrestling ... and that's ok.
Send your comments to me, Big Daddy Donnie. firstname.lastname@example.org. I can't promise that I'll respond, but I'll definitely read them all! My personal address is email@example.com