Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Unbelievable Shocker: WWE Hall of Famer Ultimate Warrior Passes!

Heartbreaking news out of the wrestling world.  The Ultimate Warrior, who was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and was seen on Monday Night Raw just this past Monday, has passed away at the age of 54.

The former WWE World and Intercontinental champion received his Hall of Fame accolades just this past Saturday during Wrestlemania week in New Orleans, LA.  Sunday, he was in attendance at Wrestlemania XXX and Monday, he was at Raw where he made a wonderful speech with a Warrior mask on.

Warrior (his legal name) had just signed a multi-year deal with WWE.

Just absolutely stunned by this news.  I, admittedly, was not a big Ultimate Warrior (or Dingo Warrior as he was in World Class) fan during his tenure -- although I have no issue with his placement into the Hall of Fame.  Having said that, this goes to show that we need to honor those who have paved the way in ANY walk of life while they are still here to receive the honors due.  Deepest condolences to Warrior's family and the wrestling community.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

WWE 2014 Hall of Fame Class Receives Honors!

It was a very long WWE Hall of Fame ceremony Saturday night in New Orleans, LA.  As one wrestling site has said, these were some long-winded people.  However, the 2014 class of hall of famers received their accolades.

The best speech of the night came from Jake "The Snake" Roberts who was brutally honest in reliving his career.  Roberts, along with Scott "Razor Ramon" Hall, put a gold star on their roads to redemption by their inductions.  Wrestling fans should be eternally grateful to Diamond Dallas Page for his DDP Yoga and how this program has literally changed lives.

By the way, it was nice to see "The Kliq" -- Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash and Sean "X-Pac" Waltman -- all there to support Hall.

Lita, being the first honoree of the evening, set the tone for the night with a brutally long, yet somewhat entertaining speech about her life in the business.  She even gave a shout out to a local promotion in Maryland -- that was cool!

Speaking of cool, it was nice to see Carlito in the building as he joined his brother Primo and his cousin (not brother, Jerry Lawler), Epico, induct the patriarch of their family dynasty, Carlos Colon.  Many people were against Colon's induction because of his possible cover up of the murder of Bruiser Brody in 1988.  It has also been alleged that Colon's induction was done strictly so the WWE could obtain the video library of Colon's promotion, the World Wrestling Council.

Whatever the reason, the best part of Colon's speech was his acknowledgement of perhaps the very first Puerto Rican wrestling star, Pedro Morales.  This is a name that rarely comes up when the great WWE stars are mentioned.  Morales was the first man to win the "Triple Crown" of titles in the WWE -- The world title, the Intercontinental championship and the world tag team titles (with Bob Backlund).

For celebrity wing honoree Mr. T, he was not allowed to speak after a long-winded tribute to his mother, actually being taken off the stage, Sandman Sims-like by Kane. Those of us who were hoping for maybe even a burying of the hatchet with Roddy Piper, were severly disappointed.

Paul Bearer was very well-honored -- first by Kane, then by his sons, one of whom did a great Bearer voice impression (he even looked like him, eerily enough) and then by The Undertaker in a beautiful visual ceremony.

As far as the main event of the ceremony -- the induction of The Ultimate Warrior -- well, whether in or out of character, the word "coherent" has never been a part of his vocabulary.  Warrior (his legal name) rambled through his speech, however, there were points that were somewhat inspirational.

I have to admit, I'm a sucker for hall of fame ceremonies in any business because it gives fans an opportunity to thank those who have been so important in their lives as fans.  Congratulations to all the inductees!

Monday, March 10, 2014

WWE Network is Like the Miz..AWESOME!

Now that we are two weeks into the launch of the WWE Network and most of the kinks are worked out, I can truthfully say that the network has been a major godsend to this wrestling fan.

I don't know why any wrestling fan -- other than price -- would not want this gem of a streaming service.  It has everything for any wrestling fan at any age.  For me as an older fan, the ability to see every WWE, NWA/WCW and ECW pay-per-view in existence is fabulous and, of course, the freedom not to have to pay $50 or more each time a current pay-per-view takes place makes this a wonderful investment at $9.99 a month.

The network currently shows episodes from World Class Championship Wrestling.  I'm hoping that WWE will open its vault completely to show cards from Mid-South/UWF, AWA, Jim Crockett Promotions, Georgia Championship Wrestling and the original Florida Championship Wrestling.  WWE owns all of those territorial libraries and would make the network even better if those legendary programs could be shown.  This would be great for the younger fans because they can really see how this business has evolved.

I am also impressed with some of the original programming on the network thus far.  The Raw and Smackdown Pre-Shows are really done well, much like the NFL and NBA pre-game shows. Also the Countdown show is really a fun show to watch and the Wrestlemania Rewind is a great historical show about how "The Show of Shows" has developed.

By the way, I am withholding full judgement on the "Legends House" reality series until I actually see an episode.  Not expecting much there.

There are still minor issues with the network -- The on-demand videos occasionally lag and they really need a way to pick up a video from where you leave it instead of forcing you to start from the beginning and find your way to the point.

However, this is a wrestling fan's dream channel and it is great to see it in service!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thoughts on WWE Hall of Fame!

Again, I apologize for not posting more on this blog.  I just wanted to express my thoughts on recent events that not only embrace the present and future of pro wrestling but also embraces its past.

So far (and I don't know if they will go any further), I am impressed with the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame class. I pay even more attention to it and think that it's more legitimate now that Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund -- two of the longest reigning champions in WWE's history -- are finally in the hall.

The 2014 class -- The Ultimate Warrior, Jake"The Snake" Roberts, Lita and, most recently, Paul Bearer -- is a good class.  In the Warrior and Roberts, you have two tremendously popular characters.  With Roberts in particular, it is a great moment in a recent life that has had some difficult bumps in the road, including his most recent cancer surgery.  Lita was one of the greatest Divas ever and Paul Bearer was a very exceptional manager.

I don't think the class needs a celebrity induction this year and I'm not sure who would be a good selection anyway.  I do believe one more solid performer would be good to add.

A lot of people want to see the late, great Randy "Macho Man" Savage inducted this year and that is way overdue.  Definitely one of the more popular wrestlers in WWE history.  I'm not sure that Savage left the WWE on the best of terms and that could be why he is not in there already.

Two wrestlers I really want to see inducted are "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff and the original tag-team specialist Tony Garea.  Koloff pulled off the first really big wrestling upset of my lifetime in 1971 when he beat Sammartino for the WWWF championship in Madison Square Garden.  Garea won the federation's tag team titles six times with four very diverse partners (Haystacks Calhoun, Dean Ho, Larry Zbyszko and Rick Martel). Garea also worked behind the scenes for the WWE for many years.  This may be a personal preference as to why Garea may not be in the hall -- he may not want to.

By the way, you could make an interesting choice for Martel in the Hall of Fame since he was in two of the most popular tag teams in WWE history -- his team with Garea and in Strike Force with Hall of Famer Tito Santana.  Also, Martel was the AWA Heavyweight champion and later came back to the WWE as a heel (The Model) and did well.

Those are just some of my thoughts.  I am happy that I will be able to see the ceremony live on the WWE Network.  I will have thoughts on the Network in a later post.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

William Moody BKA Paul Bearer, Percy Pringle, Passes at 58!

The wrestling world is saddened by the passing of 58-year-old William Moody, who gave us two very unique characters in the business.

Many of you may remember his persona in the World Class Championship Wrestling territory in Dallas -- Perceival "Percy" Pringle III -- where he managed some great wrestlers including The Missing Link, the PYT's (Koko B Ware and Norvel Austin) and the tag team of "Maniac" Matt Borne and "Mad Dog" Buzz Sawyer. Moody was also one of the key on-camera figures when World Class made the transition to the USWA as Fritz Von Erich sold the territory to Jerry Jarrett.  The Pringle character was a face at that time as he was the advisor to "Flamboyant" Eric Embry.

However, it was the persona of Paul Bearer -- the manager and confidant of The Undertaker -- that brought Moody to the masses.  Who can forget Bearer (who actually was a licensed mortician) holding the urn high as he led the Undertaker to the ring?  Who can forget that lovingly creepy voice (OHHHHHHH YESSSSSS) that he spoke with?  And of course, the legendary storyline that brought Undertaker and his "brother" Kane together.

The picture above is one I took of Moody at the NWA Legends Fanfest in Atlanta in 2011.  I didn't, unfortunately, get a chance to speak with him very long that day but he seemed to be a very nice man and loved being around the fans and the other legends that were in attendance.

A very good friend of mine -- Daniel Donnelly -- has a nice story on his great I Met A Wrestler blog about meeting Moody a few years ago.  I think it is a fitting tribute to him.  Please read.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sammartino And Backlund Are In The Hall!

"While I have always applauded the WWE's Hall of Fame efforts in chronicling the history of the business, I have always felt that the Hall of Fame was not legitimate without (Bruno) Sammartino's inclusion.  There are other longstanding alumni of the WWE that have not been recognized as yet including another long-time world champ in Bob Backlund." -- December 19, 2012

And now..BOTH ARE IN!

The WWE announced on Monday  that "THE Living Legend" Bruno Sammartino will finally be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  That, coupled with the inclusion of former world champ Bob Backlund announced earlier, brings immediate legitimacy to the Hall of Fame.  Congratulations to both!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bruno Sammartino Asked to Accept WWE Hall of Fame Induction!

Reports are circulating that former two-time WWE (then known as the WWWF -- World Wide Wrestling Federation) Heavyweight champion "The Living Legend" Bruno Sammartino is being courted to accept the WWE invitation to be inducted into the organization's hall of fame next year.

Sammartino has repeatedly turned down WWE's invitations into the hall of fame because of long-standing differences he has had with the company and its direction.  Also, there are reports that Sammartino believes he is due revenue from merchandising.

I unabashly say that Bruno Sammartino is and for as long as I have been a wrestling fan, my favorite wrestler.  My early days as a wrestling fan were spent at the old Capital Centre in Landover, MD to watch Sammartino take on the likes of Ivan Koloff, Stan Hansen and Larry Zbyszko.  The battle against Zbyszko, his former protege, was a lumberjack match that drew the first wrestling sellout in Capital Centre history -- 20,000 -- a week after the two drew 41,000 at Shea Stadium in New York.

What is well known about the history of the WWE is that, without Bruno as champion and its main draw during the 60's and 70's, the company may have never experienced Hulkamania or Wrestlemania.  There were a number of times that the McMahon Family looked to Sammartino to pull them out of financial despair.  Sammartino still holds the record for the longest championship reign (eight years from 1963-1971) in WWE history.  Sammartino's second reign was three years.

While I have always applauded the WWE's Hall of Fame efforts in chronicling the history of the business, I have always felt that the Hall of Fame was not legitimate without Sammartino's inclusion.  There are other longstanding alumni of the WWE that have not been recognized as yet including another long-time world champ in Bob Backlund as well as one of the greatest tag-team wrestlers of all time, Tony Garea.

Reports are saying that Triple H is trying to set up a personal meeting with Sammartino to discuss this situation.  I'm not holding out too much hope that "The Living Legend" will accept the invitation but it would make things very complete if he did.

Bruno Sammartino was the first and only pro wrestler to be featured on the old syndicated sports TV show "Greatest Sports Legends" (sometimes known as "Classic Sports Legends").  Here is that episode, hosted by hall of fame baseball pitcher Tom Seaver.

Bruno Sammartino -- Greatest Sports Legends 1979