Welcome to yet another edition of the Wrath of Tito. Today, I'll do 2 things. For one, I'll discuss the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Year in Review magazine for 2002. Secondly, I'll finally review the Bobby Heenan book, which is my second book review in 2 weeks. Rather impressive, indeed. I can't find time to read Jerry Lawler's book lately, so I'm slowly getting through that. Stupid schoolwork.
Several readers got on me for this statement in yesterday's RAW column, concerning Bischoff's announcement about Austin returning: "Austin will make his return at No Way Out, which the fans boo." I believe that fans misread this. I didn't mean it that the RAW fans were jeering Austin, I knew damn well they were booing that Austin wasn't at RAW last night. Come on, rip me in the e-mails for something else!
I really hope you enjoyed the new LoP column, co-written by myself and William Martinez aptly named Wrestling's FACT or FICTION. I give major props to ESPN for making such a fun segment to Sportscenter, especially when John Clayton and Sean Salsbury go at it over the NFL. If you like it, let us know about it! Click Here to read this quality column.
On to the WRATH!!!
Then, one day, I tried out the internet at the library and read on an internet site that Raven and Curt Hennig were going to debut on a WCW Nitro very soon and actually listed the exact date in which they were showing up. Sure enough, the internet report was correct, and I began using the internet as my source of insider wrestling news. I was especially captivated by the whole Bret Hart situation around Survivor Series 1997, and by then, I was finished with my suscription of PWI, citing that I no longer need it.
HOWEVER, I still regularly buy the PWI 500, the PWI Almanac, and the PWI Year in Review every year and I consider them "keepers". The thing I especially like about the PWI 500 and PWI Year in Review is disagreeing with the picks. It's fun! For the PWI 500, I'm always disputing the top 10 and wondering why some guys in the top 50 weren't ranked higher. For the Year in Review, I look at the yearly awards and wonder what good drugs some fans were smoking when they voted for a certain category. Well, not that I'm saying fans choose based on drug habits, but it differs with my opinion to the point where I scratch my head in wonder.
I will say that this year's issue is a MUST BUY. Never before in a Year in Review magazine did I see so many good pictures of wrestlers or personalities before. The guys over at PWI deserve a lot of props for making this year's issue look great. Full color pictures, brother. If you disagree with the awards, then buy it for the great pictures.
Anyway, I'll do this review by looking at the PWI Achievement Awards, which actually has a long history going for itself.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR = Maven Didn't Maven debut in 2001, not 2002? And wasn't he out for a significant time with a leg injury? I call this award flawed. A problem I have with this award is the thinking, given that the magazine regularly looks at OVW wrestlers, while when someone like me sees them for the first time, it's in the WWE and it feels like they are rookies in the business. I disliked how only Tough Enough people made the top 4, as it was headed by Maven, Chris Nowinski, Nidia, and Taylor, all members of the first Tough Enough. That's all we have to look at? In terms of consistency, Nowinski or Nidia would have been a better choice, despite Nidia not wrestling very much in 2002. I guess I can't find a "rookie" to top these guys.
INSPIRATIONAL WRESTLER OF THE YEAR = Eddie Guerrero I agree with this, very much. Eddie came back from drug and alcohol problems and became one of the best workers in the WWE. He's in the best shape of his career, and seems to be injury free right now as well. Injuries hurt Guerrero in the past to push him to take drugs or drink more than normal. I'm happy to see him doing so well, despite not getting a strong push outside the Tag Team division on Smackdown. He should be one of the main heels there. I thought the other guys were great picks, too. Hulk Hogan came in at #2, wrestling with a screwed up knee and putting a good final spin on his career. Charlie Haas was #3, as he's had to deal with the loss of his brother, Russ. Chris Benoit was #4, as he made a strong comeback from a neck injury. All 4 were great picks. No problem here.
MOST IMPROVED WRESTLER OF THE YEAR = Brock Lesnar I don't know... the problem is that not many people can see Ohio Valley Wrestling to know that Brock was only a tag team wrestler with Shelton Benjamin back then. I don't honestly see an improvement in his work from day one in the WWE, given the horrible amounts of opponents he's been given. I'll say that he's improved his personality, though, to look like a legit main eventer in the WWE and to now get some crowd response as a face. Trish was #2, and I thought she made improvements in 2001 instead of 2002. Jamie Noble, they say, has been a shell of what he was in HWA or WCW, as he was at #3. I agree with AJ Styles at #4, although I may push him at #1.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR = Hulk Hogan Agreed. Hogan was last seen on cable during the summer of 2000, before he was kicked out of WCW by Vince Russo. He came back in the WWE just as part of the NWO, but he transcended that and Hulkamania was reborn in 2002. That was an awesome comeback. I don't know about Eddie Guerrero at #2. I mean, he's made a great comeback to the WWE, but while he was gone from the WWE, he still wrestled elsewhere, even the WWA. Benoit was at #3 with his comeback from the neck injury, while Ron Killings could be classified as more of an improvement instead of a comeback, but I don't know because I don't watch NWA-TNA.
WOMAN OF THE YEAR = Trish Stratus Easy to agree on that one, given that she's been the strongest Women's champion this year. She always tries, despite the fans no longer wanting to see women wrestle. The rest of the list are there for looks or storylines, with Stephanie at #2, Stacy at #3, and Torrie at #4. I guess I don't disagree with this.
FEUD OF THE YEAR = Eric Bischoff vs. Stephanie McMahon I disagree here. Sure, sometimes it got heated, but it hardly got viewers watching or produced great things, like the #2 ranking of Edge vs. Kurt Angle. That feud was hot and it produced some of the best matches of 2002. #3 was Stephanie vs. Triple H, giving Stephanie more props than they should. That feud unfortunately ruined the Wrestlemania main event. Next, it was Molly Holly vs. Trish Stratus at #4. Huh? What a joke of a listing that was. Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar or Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, or maybe even Edge/Mysterio vs. Benoit/Angle being the top feuds. How about Flair and the Undertaker?
MOST POPULAR WRESTLER OF THE YEAR = Rob Van Dam I guess I agree. He's consistently popular, despite getting shit on by the bookers. Same with Booker T, who was at #3. Hogan was at #2, as you could argue that he was the most popular of the year, given those massive Canadian pops he got in 2002. But Hogan didn't wrestle all year, just like #4 in the Rock. I thought Edge should have been included here instead of the Rock, who has been booed at several points of 2002.
MOST HATED WRESTLER OF THE YEAR = Chris Jericho If he's the most hated, then why did Stephanie need to assist him in his feud with Triple H? No get. Kurt Angle should have been #2 (he's #3 here), but he does get a lot of face pops from the fans out of respect to how great of a performer Angle is. Eddie Guerrero gets great heat, as he would have been a better pick than the Unamericans at #2, and Triple H was actually a face for half of the year.
MATCH OF THE YEAR: Hulk Hogan vs. the Rock It seems that on ever Match of the Year list, it either has an Edge/Mysterio vs. Benoit/Angle match, Michaels vs. Triple H from Summerslam, or Hogan vs. Rock as the winner. Each were in the top 3. By the way, my good pals Da Ref and Schwab from the LoP Message Boards should be pleased with #4, which was Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam from an edition of Monday Night RAW. Other candidates could include the X Title match, the Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero No-DQ match from Smackdown, or maybe even Angle vs. Rock vs. the Undertaker from a Pay Per View. We can debate this forever.
TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR: Billy and Chuck Total disagreement here, as Billy and Chuck brought nothing to the WWE as champions. Benoit and Angle were the best wrestling tag team, while the Guerreros were close runners up. Edge/Mysterio weren't included either. 3 Minute Warning has been a big disappointment in the WWE to earn the #3 spot, while I agree that Booker T/Goldust should be on the list, but not ahead of Benoit/Angle, Guerreros, and Edge/Mysterio. Smackdown tag team division was red hot after it was created and the belts have a lot of credibility behind its early goings.
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR = Brock Lesnar A good argument here. I can see how he's #1, given his win/loss record and successful title run. However, I don't think he performed to his full potential just yet. Guys like Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero would be a great #1, as they were consistently great in 2002, putting on the best matches. However, both wrestlers weren't even in the top 4!!!! Come on PWI fans, how can you exclude these 2? Rob Van Dam, Mr. PWI 500 was at #2. I guess you can justify if you get #1 out of 500 wrestlers, you should be at least 1 or 2 on this achievement awards list. I thought Triple H could be #1, too, given his good win/loss record and strong title holdings, although I believe he's become a poor performer in the main event. The Undertaker was #4, which I guess I can agree with, as he's probably wrestled his best matches in 2002 than compared to other years.
Overall, I disagree with many of the awards, as usual, but the magazine is still a fun read and it's worth going out and getting right now on your local bookstand.
Heenan starts with his early life and how he became quickly interested in wrestling as a youngster. From there, he found his way into pro wrestling by doing odd jobs for wrestlers, like carrying luggage or maybe setting up the ring. He eventually learned to wrestle by experience instead of going to a wrestling school, like most do. He would double as a manager and a wrestler, which was a promoter's dream back then because he'd only get paid for one job.
Next, he talks about getting into certain promotions, and then into his long run with the AWA. I liked how Heenan liked the Gagne family, but yet he's able to tell you flaws in the way they run a business. That's something he didn't do for the McMahons later on when he talked about the WWE. Heenan would also talk about how the fans seriously hated him, as opposed to today, where fans know wrestling is fake. He makes it very clear that business back then was different than it is today. Back then, the business had to be secretive and whatnot.
Then, Heenan was brought into the WWF. Heenan talks about how appreciative the AWA was of him because he actually worked out his notice. That was good of him, especially in the heat of competition back then. Then, he goes up to the WWE, which was very successful. I liked how he talked about how he wasn't able to take the manager bumps anymore, given how his neck bothered him and from old age. That's why he was turned into a color commentator after a while. Heenan also praised Hulk Hogan very much, contrary to what he said as a manager or on commentary. He thought Hogan brought a lot of people nice paychecks and was underappreciated for that, and guys like Jesse Ventura were nothing but jealous of him.
Heenan would then leave to join WCW after his WWF deal ran out. He joined WCW for more money, less dates, and to be close to his daughter in the South. In the beginning of the book, Heenan talks about how Shane McMahon was mad at Heenan, thinking Heenan walked out on his dad, Vince McMahon. Heenan never addressed that again in the book or to why Shane may have thought that. Argh! Heenan ripped WCW pretty good in the book. He said that they didn't have the personel like the WWE, and guys like Tony Shiavone weren't dedicated enough on the job. He rips Tony pretty good, like he has in many interviews.
Heenan also talked about Russo, who wanted Heenan off of WCW television. Eventually, Russo pushed Heenan off of WCW television all together, and Heenan then let his deal run out. Heenan did the WOW Pay Per View and then appeared at Wrestlemania 17 for the devastating Gimmicks Battle Royal. Heenan tells some great backstage stories before that match, with some funny stuff involving the Iron Sheik.
Heenan then briefly gives his thoughts on EVERY wrestler he's ever managed. I liked that part, along with Heenan's final thoughts on today's wrestling industry. Talking about some of the stuff in today's WWE was the only thing he really bashed the WWE for. Things like having women as valets and certain ways you come to the ring, etc. He also talks about having more male managers in the business and how they should act. I liked that.
Overall, though, this book is a tough read. It is short, yes, but I don't like the way the book was written. The book is very unorganized, in that Heenan will ramble on and on about something in the middle of discussing something else. Secondly, the writing style of Steve Anderson wasn't as easy to read as the other co-writers like what Hogan had or Kurt Angle. Anderson just seemed like a poor choice of a co-writer, and the book didn't seem to deliver famous Bobby Heenan one-liners as it should have. You'd come across the joke, but the way it was worded just hurt the effect of laughter you may have had on it. This book should have been made longer, too, given that Heenan has 35 years in the business. You could have spaced out the stories much better, but I believe Triumph Books wanted to keep it short to sell it as a hardcover at $19.99.
LAST WORD: For the most part, I liked the content of the book and the opinions made by Bobby Heenan. A problem also arises in this book considering the MANY interviews that Heenan has done for radio stations or websites throughout the last 2 years. Many of the things in the book has already been said in the interviews, like the Tony Shiavone bashing, etc. If you haven't heard those interviews, then maybe the book will be more fresh to you. Also, the book is one of the more harder ones to read, as I described above with Steve Anderson's writing style and the rambling on from topic to topic here. I'll give it a [ B- ] (B Minus), saying that the content of the book was good, although it could have been spaced out better, while the writing of the book could have been much better. Recommended if you love Heenan or if you need something new to read, outside of the best wrestling books out there (Foley, Angle, Hogan, DDP, Goldberg, and Dynamite Kid).
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