Welcome to a special Friday edition of the Wrath of Tito. I have yet to watch Smackdown, as I'm never home on Thursday nights to begin with, but I do have it taped. No, but the purpose of this column is to discuss my Indy experience last night, as I viewed the XWF promotion, live, in a high school gym in Bellaire, OH. I haven't been to an indy show in quite some time, and usually when I'm there, I go for the ringside seats so I can heckle the wrestlers bigtime. It's probably good that I'm doing a typed column, because if I did an audio commentary based on the show, my voice would sound very rough and scratchy.
More on that in a bit. But let me address something. No, let me address one man: Triple H. Yeah I know, it's like beating a dead horse anymore, but the recent topic of debate is the following: does Booker T have a chance of beating Triple H at Wrestlemania?. Ok, let me answer this briefly:
1) Kevin Nash is coming back soon. Just like those multi-million dollar feuds with Scott Steiner (sarcasm), Triple H is going to put his title on the line against Nash, who is schedule to return around Backlash. Nash is Triple H's boy! Here in 2003, those two are the biggest manipulative fucks around, who always must politic to win their positions instead of earning it with good crowd reactions or high ratings as champions. Triple H is just jacking off at the thought of him and Nash running RAW at the top, and they'll likely trade the title, back and forth between each other, and maybe pass around Stephanie as well.
2) It's Wrestlemania. Unless you're name is "Undertaker", you're not beating Triple H at the biggest WWE event of the year. Plus, simple logic dictates that Brock Lesnar is going to beat Kurt Angle, so you could argue that 2 faces winning World Titles might negate each other.
3) The Rock. 2 weeks ago, we were supposed to have Booker T vs. the Rock on Monday Night RAW, in which if Rocky won the match, he'd get the choice of fighting Triple H at Wrestlemania for the World Title or fighting Steve Austin. When the WWE ran that angle, it left me scratching my head. Why would someone turn down a World Title match at Wrestlemania? Not only that, why are you risking the jeopardizing of your #1 RAW contender by having Rock beat him in a wrestling match? And even if Rock chose Austin after beating Booker T, Booker T's credibility would be shot and Triple H would put more salt into the wounds at Wrestlemania. But, if Booker T won the match, Triple H would beat Booker T to make the Rock look bad. All kinds of political bullshit, but the end result was that Booker T was going to lose anyway, and the Rock saw that, and thank God he used his rare veto power to kill that match. Triple H shouldn't be injected into the Austin-Rock feud no matter what. It shows he's getting bored with his Booker T Wrestlemania feud already.
4) Usual bias against WCW wrestlers. Think about it. Would Vince McMahon put over a 5 time WCW champion, the best thing to come out of WCW in 2000, over his future son in law on the biggest state in American pro wrestling? Puh-leez! WCW wrestlers are never getting the benefit of the doubt, and especially against Triple H, who is Vince's boy and proud future son in law. But the main objective is that a former WCW guy, one that the WWE didn't create or improve, won't go over at Wrestlemania. (Note: characters such as Mick Foley, Steve Austin, Undertaker, and others are guys the WWE took from WCW but greatly improved. Booker T, however, is a character that hasn't changed much from his WCW character and he's more labeled as a WCW wrestler for being a regular staple of that program for about 7 years.)
5) Booker T is not named Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, or Shawn Michaels. Plain and simple. Hogan, Undertaker, and Michaels are the only guys Trips is going to lay down for. I believe Triple H is actually scared of the Undertaker in real life (which anyone besides Lesnar and Angle should be), but he also knows that the Undertaker is a loved wrestler of Vince's, too, so he's a "yes man" when it comes to the Undertaker. Triple H has high respect for Hogan and his work, and thus when immediately asked to drop the Undisputed Title at Backlash last year, Triple H was cool with it. That was good for Triple H at the time, but she's shit on everybody else in the promotion when asked to drop the title. Shawn Michaels is his former Clique buddy, and if you're in the Clique, you can take a dick... and the world title.
And when Booker T loses his match at Wrestlemania, he's FUCKED in the storylines because of past examples of opponents Triple H has had since his return in early 2002. We can start with Kurt Angle, whom Triple H fought at No Way Out. Angle's spotlight was disappeared when Stephanie suddenly faked a pregnancy and tried to renew her wedding vows with Triple H in a 2 week period of time. After No Way Out, Angle was stuck in a feud with Edge, but that actually turned into a great feud and turned Edge into a star for Triple H and company to try to sabotage. Then, we have Chris Jericho. Instead of having Jericho jump Triple H, cut heel promos on him, and whatnot, Jericho was stuck as Stephanie's errand boy, getting her hand lotion and taking care of Triple H's dog. Jericho would lose 2 matches straight to Triple H, one at Wrestlemania and one with Stephanie on RAW, and not even wrestle at the next Pay Per View in 2002, Backlash, just a month after headlining Wrestlemania as World Champion! Jericho would get his rematch against Triple H in the Hell in the Cell match during Judgment Day, and lose again to Trips, and then lose in the first round of the King of the Ring tournament the next month for his efforts.
Oh, did I mention the Jeff Hardy fiasco in 2001? Hardy won a total fluke off of Triple H for the Intercontinental title on Smackdown (a belt Triple H didn't need), only for Triple H to completely squash him on the RAW following this show. I mean, it wasn't made as if Hardy could have any chance, whatsoever, to win the bout. Triple H just beat the living shit out of him and cleanly beat him at the end.
OK, so where were me? Whenever Triple H feels that he should rule on top, he summons Kane for a feud and an easy job. They headlined a Pay Per View in 2002, and to really take a shit on Kane to make sure he never gets over as face (which Kane was getting entertaining at with the added personality), Triple H debuted the Necrophilia angle, where a story was whipped out of Kane drunk driving 10 years ago and killing a woman in the accident. Then, Kane was said to fuck the remains. Triple H even dressed up as Kane to reinact the scene in one of the most embarrassing moments in pro wrestling history. Kane's face pop was killed right then and there, and his fun personality that was growing at the time hasn't been seen since!
How about Rob Van Dam? The WWE at least tried to not embarrass RVD's face status, to their credit, but in the end, Triple H remained champion after their Pay Per View match. But the point wasn't that RVD lost, but where he ended up after the feud: midcard hell? RVD would start doing lots of offhand tag matches and 6 man matches on RAW, and now, he's been with Kane as a team for quite a while now. But he's not in the main event anymore, like the rest of Triple H's opponents.
Any Triple H mark CAN NOT argue against any of the proof provided by yours truly. Booker T will get thrown into the pile like the rest of them, and that's a shame. For Triple H, it's one thing to remain champion as a heel, but it's another to purposely squash your opponent and then to suddenly see them wrestling in midcard feuds, which you probably tell Stephanie to orchastrate or you do it yourself at the production meetings that he attends. It's so sad, because Triple H, I feel, can still be a good performer here in 2003. The difference between Triple H of 2000 and Triple H of 2003 is that in 2000, he gave back to his opponent, meaning he'd let his opponent hit him with moves and set up many near finishes. In 2003, it's total squash jobs of Triple H. Nobody has a winning chance of ever pinning him, unless they are named "Michaels", "Undertaker", or "Hogan". Everyone else is a bitch to Triple H.
But hey, let's keep him dominant. Let the ratings tank, especially when the Rock goes back to Hollywood after Backlash. The Rock's return is the only thing adding some increase to the RAW shows, which were tanking when headlined by a terrible World Champion in Triple H. Oh Evolution, what a great stable that was! How about that feud with Scott Steiner? Sure, you could argue that Steiner was behind the times, but look at their feud. Arm wrestling? Posedown? Bench press contest? There you go.
And does anybody honestly want to see Maven getting the shit beat out of him for 5 minutes? Do you find anything like that entertaining, whatsoever?
Anyway, I thought that was a pretty good argument against the biggest asshole in professional wrestling, Triple H. His feud with Kevin Nash on RAW this summer might make the Wrath of Tito becoming a Smackdown exclusive column.
On to the indy show!
This show was a very watered down version of the XWF, which doesn't say much in praise of these guys. I believe Doink the Clown, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Viscera were probably the only ones receiving a strong payday from the promotion, while the rest of the guys were either local regulars (Lord Zoltan, Dick Flanagan, and T-Rantula) or cheap indy talent who will do anything to kick their name around. The Bellaire High School gym had a pretty decent turn out. Usually, when you go to an indy show in my area, you're extremely lucky to get 50 - 100 people. Seriously. This area is losing people to Columbus or Pittsburgh in terms of jobs and industry, so to attempt a form of entertainment here is pretty suicidal in some aspects. This show had roughly 300 or so. That's really not that bad, and ticket prices were $10 and $14. So you're looking at an average ticket of being around 12, for example, and so the promotion made possibly $3,600 alone. They probably didn't have to pay much to rent the high school gym for the evening. Plus, pictures with Duggan, Viscera, Doink, and even the Stone Cold Steve Austin rip-off (which I'll get to in a bit!) cost $10 alone. Plus, refreshments were expensive and Rey Mysterio masks were $30 a pop, and I saw several kids wearing them during the evening. So the XWF probably turned a profit, and I say, good for them.
I, of course, bought the $14 tickets, which granted you the first 2 rows. I went for the first row to heckle the wrestlers. I went to the show with 6 of the WXW backyard wrestlers I know and have become good friends with, and all 7 of us were ALL OVER every wrestler that came out. We were even heckling the referees and the local ring announcer, Tony Summers of WTRF, a local CBS affiliate in my area. I lost my voice from shouting, and by the Viscera match, I wasn't able to shout at him whatsoever. Let me go match by match.
XWF started off with a "dark match". Huh? That's what the ring announcer said. As if they'd ever tape this crap for someone to actually watch on television. The dark match featured 2 guys who looked the same. Same tattoos. Both wearing wifebeaters. Both of them wearing stretch pants you can find at Wal-Mart. Terrible match. One guy was named King Tut. Didn't look like he was from Egypt to me, but maybe I wasn't looking hard enough.
Next bout was Brian O versus ??? Brian O was one of the few heels we actually screamed at. We were biased for the heels all evening, but this guy was a total douche. He had flames on the sides of his tights, and we couldn't help but shout "flamer" at him for his whole match. He was feuding with the XWF commissioner. It was a "she", and she had the figure of Stephanie McMahon! Kinda big boned, wearing the tightest stuff to showcase the goods. Even worse, she had a screeching voice just like Stephanie. She kept changing Brian O's match stipulation. By the way, his opponent was badly out of shape, along with nearly everybody on the roster that night.
But then, the biggest Copyright Infringement of all time walked out. Steve Austin's WWE trademarked music hit and Even Colder Mike Austin walked out. He's a Stone Cold look-a-like, only without any wrestling talent. Big Truble, one of the WXW guys with me, told me a great story about Mike Austin: he was talking with a promoter about Mike Austin. He said he looks, acts, and plays Steve Austin well, but he can't wrestle! A PROMOTER said that. Anyway, Mike Austin has a Steve Austin fake vest on, only it has "Austin 3:19" on it instead of Austin 3:16. He came in with terrible looking punches and kicks, and then hit Brian O with a Stunner. He then went to each corner and did the 2 beers salute. Then, he got on the mic, talking like Steve Austin and whipped out many Austin catchphrases. But it gets worse... Later, during the intermission, Mike Austin was in the ring and CHARGING MONEY for kids to take pictures with him and to get autographs. Wow, the WWE better snatch this HUGE copyright infringement, especially when he uses the gimmick to make a little extra money on the side.
I can't remember who T-Rantula wrestled. I couldn't help but notice how unhappy he looked. I've seen him wrestle on WWE dark matches and independent circuits for years, and he didn't look to pleased to be there. Poor guy. After the last match, he was one of the ones taking down the ring, and again, he didn't look pleased to be there. A fine example of how tough the profession of pro wrestling is. I know he's tried out with the WWE several occasions, but come up short and appears to be stuck on the local indy circuit, taking a beating on his body at his age.
Then there was this one match with a team of Hillbillies against a skinny Matt Hardy look-a-like and an overweight looking Michael PS Hayes look-a-like. A hard match to watch, let me tell you that much. It seems like every local indy has a Hillbilly team, given that this area is close to the West Virginia border. Jesus.
I liked the next bout, but only for the wrestlers in the match. It was Doink the Clown vs. Lord Zoltan. I've seen Zoltan before, as he's a local talent with terrible tights, a mullet, and face paint. But our row was cheering for the guy against the Doink. Bastard Doink came out to the ring with a Super Soaker, and I took a nice squirt to the face. The Doink Costume looks terrible now, in that the hair isn't puffed up like it used to be. Plus, the wrestler had a bowling ball hidden in his tights... We were all over Doink, and I screamed "Vince doesn't want you anymore", which was rather cruel on my part. Oh well, truth hurts. I'll give this Doink credit, though. He has the voice down pat. The funny thing is that the sound guys have both Doink themes, the good and evil Doink ones. The Evil Doink one accidentally played, which made me laugh, as they probably have this Doink playing heel from time to time. Plus, they probably dug up the themes off of the internet somewhere.
Thank God for intermissions. The funny thing about the break was the band that was supposed to play during that time. They were called "Menace Blindfold", and they consisted of a bunch of high school kids. Anyway, 3 minutes into their performance, they were cut off by someone on the mic in the ring who had to make an announcement about autographs, and that was the last we heard of the band. What's really funny is that those kids spent a good 2 hours before and during the show setting up, doing billions of mic checks, and fine tuning their instruments only for 3 minutes of playing. Now that's sad.
During the intermission, I was bugging Hacksaw Jim Duggan the whole time. I kept shouting "USA! USA! USA!", just to fuck with his head, as well as "HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO". He just smiled, as he probably hears this all the time. I asked him who he was wrestling, and he said the Cuban Assassin. I laughed, and he said "it's an easy night's work". The ring announcer kept hyping Viscera, who was also taking pictures and signing autographs, as the 1995 King of the Ring champion, and Viscera had his KOTR championship belt with him. Oh boy. Nothing like hyping a guy of a tournament which no longer exists. I actually patted Viscera on the arm as he walked by and it's ALL flab. But for his credit, he looks a little lighter than during his final WWF run. Although, it's hard to tell because he used to wrestle in those big jackets. He seems shorter than what he looked on WWE television, although I'm convinced it was from having lifts in his shoes.
Returning from break, it was Original Sin/Evil Elvis vs. Dick Flanagan/Michael Cruz. Sadly, this is your match of the night. It wasn't too bad, as they did a lot of regular tag format, although they did 5 face in peril moments (that's a lot for a tag match!). They had a good bit of double team moves and they all seemed to know how to work a match. Good enough for an indy bout. The sad thing, though, was that this was for the XWF World Tag Titles. Well, that's not bad, but the title belts were WWF Tag Team title replicas, the $250 ones. That is bush-league if I've ever seen it, and they should have at least bought the old NWA replicas or something instead of using those fake WWF titles.
Viscera vs. Sweet Stevie Lee was next. Stevie Lee was probably in the best shape out of all of the wrestlers there, which is probably why he's wrestling Viscera, to you know, make the big guy look good. Lee had a companion with him who looked very much like Shannon Moore and acted just like Shannon Moore. Sad. This match was watchable, thanks to the bumping of Lee, and I thought Viscera killed the guy with his Albertbomb finisher. The ring had a loud microphone under it, and any move Viscera did just made the ring BOOM like no other.
Speaking of the ring, before the event, 2 XWF Inc. guys came down and they placed a gimmicked table underneath the ring. They forgot to use it, d'oh, but I laughed because the table nearly broke in half when they brought it out. Solid oak table, eh?
The main event was Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. the Cuban Assassin. The Cuban Assassin was probably one of the previous wrestlers doing double duty, especially with the horrible looking tights and the Wal-Mart purchased halloween mask he wore. Jesus, at least go get a Rey Mysterio mask to use to make yourself look somewhat professional. I couldn't help but cheer for Jim Duggan, probably the only face I wanted to win all night. He won with the 3 Point Stance. I got to give him high five at ringside when he walked by before the match. I consider it an honor.
LAST WORD: Was it worth $14 bucks? Well, the wrestling on the show was very cliched, in that it resembled cheesy 1980's wrestling. Many gimmicks were somewhat entertaining to cheer or to heckle, and after having finals this week, it was nice to have an outlet to scream at for the evening. This show was taped, although I don't know where it will be aired or if anyone will be watching. It seemed bush-league in many aspects, such as the Austin rip off, the Tag Titles, and some storylines they tried. What independent feds don't realize is that innovation will take you somewhere. Ask Paul Heyman, who was a great innovator in ECW and almost took his fed into a national spotlight. Just a few ratings successes on TNN and a few million dollars short of doing that.
But still, it was entertaining for the most part. That's all of these guys are getting paid for, even it's it's just something like $50 per night to take a beating. It's sad, though, that former WWE/WCW wrestlers have to travel to small towns for a quick buck, but I am glad to see that Jim Duggan is now getting regular work on NWA-TNA (which this fed hyped).
By the way, the funny thing about XWF was the newsletter you could pick up at the door. It was dogging the WWE, saying that the WWE makes their appearances based in the Ohio Valley whenever the XWF runs a show. HUH? Such is the case this week, as Shawn Michaels will be signing autographs at the minor league hockey game. That's pathetic. If anything, the XWF is riding on the WWE's popularity, hyping Viscera as a former WWF star and King of the Ring Champion, while ripping off Steve Austin's gimmick. Oh the hypocracy!
But I had fun and that's all that matters.
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