Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Eve

For those of you who haven't been following wrestling until recently, the Katie Vick storyline mentioned was one of wrestling's most notorious low-points in recent memory. Ah, nothing like necrophilia ( which as it happens does not appear to be the act of making sweet love to the dead body of Dr Phil... who knew? ) to bring the family together.
But it's about to be a new year... so who knows what the future holds?!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Managers

You know me by now, and you know I like to gripe about the good old days, like some whiny old bastard you've got sat next to on a damp bus, on a rainy winters day. The bus is full, and you've got nowhere to go, all you can do is listen and nod. Well... I don't like to disappoint.

Managers in professional wrestling are a vanishing breed. Where have they all gone?Is it that long ago when we had "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Captain Lou Albano and the Grand Wizard?
Well what about Bobby " the Brain " Heenan, Jimmy "the Mouth of the South " Hart, "Doctor of Style " Slick, Harley Race, "Precious" Paul Ellering, Sir Oliver Humperdink, Gary Hart, "Gorgeous" George Gillette, General Scandor Akbar, Sheik Adnan Al Kaissie... Hell what about George "Crybaby" Cannon, Big Bad John, or "number one" Paul Jones?
Times change and the wrestling manager is becoming something for nostalgia. Marketing wrestling now involves eye candy, and I don’t mean in the manner of "Luscious" Johnny V. Now it is pneumatic bimbos, not sartorial splendour or eloquence. The wrestling Diva may be pleasing to the eye, but what does she bring to the ring? Certainly nothing that can turn a match as quickly as Mr Fuji’s cane. Now I don’t deny that there have been some fantastic women managers - the Fabulous Moolah, Sherri Martel, and Tammy Sytch immediately come to mind. But these were managers, not valets and certainly not diva contest winners.The only recent managers that I can think of, that have any level of success and staying power get props from me here today...

The first, made his return to the world of wrestling only recently, after much silence, and he did so in my homebase on the Sun online. One of wrestling's true visionaries and the man behind the late lamented ECW. Extreme Championship Wrestling in the mid 90's, is without doubt, the high-water mark for any promotion, any wrestling television show, in recent history. And most of that success was on the back of wrestling's true mad genius, Paul Heyman.The second has been a part of Smoky Mountain, of WCW, of the original ECW, and most recently in TNA. Originally under the name of the Daryl Van Horn, then James Vandenburg, later as the Sinister Minister, before settling in under his real name of James Mitchell. Most recently the manager of Judas Mesias, he never gives anything less than 100%, and is a throw back to another time ( which he manages to do, while still treading new ground himself ).
The last of these men, spends more time commentating than managing these days, but he is none the less a "Star-Maker" of the first order. In the last few years he has managed John Cena, Christian, Eugene, Mark Henry, Lashley, Rene Dupree, Rico, Rob Conway, Lance Cade, and most of the Spirit Squad ( amongst others )... I'm talking of course about Kenny Bolin. The "round mound of sound" to steal a line from another great manager ( Jim Cornette ) has been a mainstay of OVW since the start, and personally, more than anyone else there, I cannot imagine the show without him.
WWE issued a dvd late last year in honour of these men and women, titled "The World's Greatest Wrestling Managers", and my hat's off to them for it. But as the company most responsible for euthanising this great breed, I do have to point the finger their way as well.
For the sake of all the joy, all the heartache, and all the infuriation these managers have brought over the years, I only hope you will join me in honouring them all here today.

Maybe times will change, and we will see a rise of wrestling managers again. Maybe, but probably not. Now is the time of the diva and the celebrity guest. I think this breed may well soon be as extinct as a gobbledy-gooker.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Brower Power

After stints in Australia, the WWWF and the rebel International Wrestling Association, Bulldog Brower proved that he had the ability to work with just about anyone... provided they were happy to be hit by things. He was, after all, perhaps one of the best "furniture movers" in the history of the sport. ( - from Stephen Johnson and Greg Oliver's fantastic book "The Heels" )
To the average fan, Brower was a larger than life character that hooked them right in, and kept them coming back. "Bulldog Brower was one of the great old-time heels that made me want to get into the wrestling business" said wrestling manager James Mitchell. " They called Brower the one man riot squad and it was easy to see why" added Southern Cross Champion Adam Bruiser, himself a throwback to the tough guy heels of yesteryear. " Nothing ever got in his way and anything that did was never the same again".

He's not wrong though, by any stretch of the imagination. In the last few weeks, I've revisited the Bulldog in various stages of his career, through the "Old School" telecasts on WWE 24/7, and Ron Miller's "Ruff Tuff and Real"... and what I've seen holds up real well to any of the modern madmen of the mat. Brower was a star for many years, in many territories, and his unique look I'm sure, caused many nightmares. But even now, many years after his death, there is no known defense, to "Brower Power".

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mike Awesome

Mike Awesome grew up in Tampa Bay, and attended King High School, where he would meet his future wife, Delisa Bowers. They married in 1991, and have two children, Casey and Carissa. After 3 years in college, he began training as a pro wrestler under Steve Keirn. The 6-foot-6, 292-pound Awesome debuted in the Florida indies in 1989.

"I watched professional wrestling as a teenager," Awesome said in Thom Loverro's book, The Rise and Fall of ECW. "I was always interested in it. My Dad's sister married Hulk Hogan's brother, and they produced a son who was about a year younger than me, my cousin Horace Hogan, who also wrestled and whose real name is Michael Bollea. He and I grew up together. Because his uncle, Hulk Hogan, became a popular wrestler while we were in high school, my cousin got interested in it. We talked about it, and it got me interested in it."

From there it was to Japan, where after years of establishing himself and developing a cult following in Japan's FMW promotion, Mike Awesome made a big impact on the American wrestling scene. Competing in the main event of ECW's Anarchy Rulz PPV from Chicago, Mike Awesome captured the ECW Heavyweight title, outlasting Taz and Masato Tanaka in a three way dance. For Awesome, the victory was a vindication of sorts. He's long been ingnored by promoters in the U.S. In need of a new champion with credibility to replace the departing Taz, Heyman handpicked Awesome for the role of ECW World Champion.
Heyman, an astute follower of international wrestling, had been following Awesome's career in the Far East, first brought Awesome to ECW on February 5, 1994 when he wrestled J.T. Smith. Although Awesome had other matches with Sabu that year, the match with Smith will long be remembered for Awesome over the top rope dive onto Smith, nearly snapping his back into two over the guardrail. It was one of the most memorable high spots of the year.

Awesome jumped ship to WCW while still ECW Heavyweight Champion in April 2000. ECW head honcho Paul Heyman threatened legal action for the departure, and an agreement was made that Awesome would return to drop the title to a wrestler of ECW's choosing. In a surprise move, that wrestler turned out to be former champion, and WWE employee, Tazz. "We made history that night," Tazz told SLAM! Wrestling's Bob Kapur in August 2001. "Here you have a WWF wrestler wrestling a signed WCW wrestler on an ECW event for the ECW title. That's history, and I'm a part of that. And I'm happy I did it."

Once he settled in with WCW for his second stint (he was a masked jobber named The Pro and hailed from San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1989), he was part of The New Blood gang. He also became "That '70s Guy" for a spell in a gimmick that included him driving an old-school bus and hosting a cheesy segment called "The Lavalamp Lounge." Other gimmicks in WCW had Awesome being billed as "The Career Killer" (after throwing Chris Kanyon off the top of a three-tiered cage) and "The Fat Chick Thriller" along with being part of the Team Canada contingent with Lance Storm.
Awesome has been out of the wrestling spotlight since the acquisition of WCW by the WWE (then WWF). He worked a short program after the merger, but never attained the heights he had as a headliner in ECW and in All Japan. On a major scale, Awesome was last seen beating Masato Tanaka at ECW's One Night Stand in 2005. Awesome pinned Tanaka on the floor of the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City after an Awesome Bomb through a table. The match had the fans chanting "This match rules."

Mike Awesome was found dead in his home on Saturday evening, February 17, 2007. He was 42 years old.

( ...again, much of this article was taken from the great SLAM wrestling. They, as always, have my thanks and admiration )

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

There is a new Pro Wrestling Illustrated on the stands and this issue, even more than usual, is well worth your time and money. There is nothing like the enjoyment of print media and my cartoons for "Drawing Blood" in PWI can be seen nowhere else - which I guess makes each issue a collectable.

And, since it's Boxing Day, and your least favourite relative has already ransacked yesterday's leftovers, you should perhaps consider some home delivery instead. Just don't make the same mistake I did...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Fuggin Christmas

Xmas in wrestling is always an interesting time.

Whether it's Michael Hayes dressing as Santa to get the jump on those Von Erichs, or Xanta Claus coming to the WWE all the way from the South Pole to steal your presents, or even Stone Cold stunning the crap out of out portly bearded friend ( Santa I mean, not Michael Hayes, nor Balls Mahoney ), Christmas has always been a time for a celebration of the year that has been, and to set up some of what is to come.
In a year where there has been much to complain about in wrestling, I thought I would list a few of the things that never fail to amuse, amaze, or just make thoroughly enjoyable viewing, in the world of professional wrestling.

...and so, in no specific order...

Santino Marella's promos...
Ron Simmons just being...
the TNA Knockouts...
Adam Bruiser bringing back old school...
a new wrestling book by Greg Oliver...
Finlay and Hornswaggle ( no apologies for this one )...
the Human Tornado dancing...
Father James Mitchell...
"Rollerball" Rocco's "fantastic" tan...
"Legends of Wrestling" and "Old School" on WWE 24/7...
the match I watched live the other night between Chris Hero and Shadow Phoenix...
Al Snow and whatever he is doing right at this very moment...
Daffney and Sara Del Ray in Shimmer...
the veterans making appearances, and the WWE Hall of Fame in general..
Kendo Nagasakis mask...
Balls Mahoney's name...
The Big Daddy annuals from the early 80s a friend just sent me...

... and from there my friends... Merry Xmas. I hope Santa ( but never Xanta ) Claus is kind to you all. And I hope to see you all again ( perhaps in slightly, more festively plump forms ) soon. much love
mister J.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sting?

The Black and White Minstrel Show was a British television series that ran from 1958 until 1978. It was a weekly light entertainment and variety show presenting traditional American minstrel and Country songs, as well as show and music hall numbers, usually performed in blackface, and with lavish costumes.

The show was first broadcast on the BBC on June 14, 1958. It was popular and soon developed into a regular 45 minute show on Saturday evenings, featuring both solo and minstrel pieces as well as "comedy interludes". Audiences regularly exceeded 18 million. While the show started off being broadcast in (genuine) black-and-white, the show was one of the very first to be moved to colour by the BBC in 1967.

In a move that should surprise no one, the show's premise began to be seen as offensive on account of its portrayal of blacked-up characters behaving in a stereotypical manner. A petition against it was received by the BBC in 1967, but the BBC1 TV show was not however cancelled until 1978. Since cancellation it has come to be seen more widely as an embarrassment, despite its popularity at the time. ( from wikipedia )

Black and White Minstrels...The wrestler known as "Sting"...Thank you for your time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Blackjacks

The Blackjacks. Then......and now.
Sometimes the good guys DO wear black hats.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan...
...surely you remember the guy even if you aren't a wrestling fan...

Star of such great Hollywood fare as Suburban Commando,Mister Nanny,Santa With Muscles,
...and of course, 3 Ninjas High Noon at Mega Mountain.Each of these films an equal of Citizen Kane, and Hogan himself this generation's Olivier.

Well, as you are by now more than well aware, mister Hogan, is in the midst of divorce proceedings. " Kind of shocked " was how Hogan first described the news of impending divorce, when told that Linda, his wife of 24 years, had filed the papers earlier that day. "You caught me off guard. My wife has been in California for about three weeks," Hogan was quoted as saying. "Holy smokes. Wow, you just knocked the bottom out of me."There were stories at the time, that the divorce itself may have be a ruse, to protect some of Hogan's fortune from a pending civil suit in relation to his son Nick's motor vehicle accident...
But that isn't what I want to talk about...

Wrestling is a business that can tear families apart. The constant pressure to perform, the life on the road, the travel, the wear and tear on the mind and the body, and so much more adding to the regular relationship pressures. It takes a lot to keep a marriage going in this biz.

The Hogans have worn it all for almost 25 years, and I for one, hope they can work it out. After all, they're a cute bunch...and I hope to date his daughter one day.

Here's todays toon...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

HHH returns

Though he has returned so many times, I'm not ACTUALLY sure what he was returning from when I drew this cartoon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Great Tojo

I always thought that late in his career, Hiro Tojo was promoted by the Imperial Japanese army, and became General Hiro... Turns out, they were in fact two different guys....

Tomotsugu Kutsuwada wrestled as a heel in South Korea, using the name "Ultra Tiger Mask", long before Satoru Sayama was credited as the first wrestler to use the gimmick. He also wrestled throughout the Orient, specifically in Japan with JWA and later All Japan Pro Wrestling. As Samson Kutsuwada he held the AJPW All Asia Tag Team Championship with Akihisa Mera. As Hiro Tojo, he was a regular on World Championship Wrestling in Australia for many years, first coming to prominence as a part of Big Bad John's Army. It was there he first won the NWA Austra-Asian Tag Titles ( with Waldo Von Erich ). He was later joined by his "brother" Hito Tojo ( as portrayed by Akihisa Takachiho, who would go on to more fame, much later, under the name of the Great Kabuki ), and the two enjoyed a tag-team title reign for many months, feuding with the likes of Mark Lewin, Spiros Arion, Mario Milano, and others. In 1976 he returned to Australia again, this time on his own, under the name of The Great Tojo. He wrestled predominantly as a single, but again went on to hold tag team gold, this time with Les Roberts. He retired from wrestling in 1977.Tomotsugu Kutsuwada passed away in 2004 after a lengthy battle with leukemia.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Snitsky

World Wrestling Entertainment has come to terms on the release of Raw Superstar Gene Snitsky as of today. WWE wishes Gene the best in all future endeavors.

Snitsky had been with WWE since October 2003, when WWE officials sent him to Ohio Valley Wrestling following an impressive RAW dark match. He made his WWE TV debut a year later, wrestling Kane on Monday Night RAW.

I wonder, if upon his release, the first thing he did was rush home and clean his teeth??

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sara Del Rey

Sara Del Rey is a child of the 80's and, perhaps unsurprisingly, a big fan of wrestling. As a child, Sara became so caught up in some of the storylines, that her mom thought it may be for the best if she stopped watching, and so, she went cold turkey for many years. But with the sports resurgence in the mid to late 90's, she found herself caught, once more, in wrestling's tractor beam. "At that time the women were getting to wrestle more than I remembered but they just looked so delicate and moved so awkwardly. I thought I could do what they do but better", Del Rey said recently.
Sara originally trained under Bryan Danielson (regarded by many as the best pure wrestler in the world today). "I have so much respect for him professionally and personally. He was the first trainer I had to really push and believe in me and I owe him a lot ". Del Rey made inroads quickly and, in the past few years has taken big steps in establishing herself as one of the sports top stars, becoming a mainstay in both the Ring of Honor, and Shimmer promotions, as well as working for a variety of independent federations both in the US and abroad.

Del Rey is already regarded as one of the top women workers in the world, but when pressed on wrestling's specific appeal to the masses, she found it harder to tie down. "I have no idea... I know I love it for the physicality but it seems like the majority of fans here in the states like the story lines or the good looking scantly clad bodies. I really don't know what it is about wrestling that appeals to people other than the emotion. I just wish more people saw the sport in it. It hurts my heart to see girls and guys get ahead in wrestling because of how they look. Really I think that is the problem with our society. Talent and ability is second to how attractive we are...it's horrible. I would just like to see wrestling returned to being viewed as a sport."
But Sara Del Rey has a veritable untapped future in this great sport. Whether she is pulling out her Death Ray to confound opponents and amuse the fans, or whether she is slapping on a Royal Butterfly, and gaining yet another victory, she is always first and foremost an athlete, a wrestler... but never, a "diva". That much is clear. I asked her whether with all the success she has already encountered in such a short time, there was a point she stood there and thought "wow, I've finally made it"?

"Honestly no, not yet. I have had some moment's I look back on and I am proud of but when I think of my career I see the road ahead of me and not the road I have already traveled." Personally, I think that for the many stars she will face as time goes on, the road is going to be a very bumpy one.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bam Bam Bigelow

Scott "Bam Bam' Bigelow got his start in wrestling in 1986, first managed by his trainer "Pretty Boy" Larry Sharpe. He'd been a decent amateur wrestler in his native New Jersey at Neptune High School, and as a senior, was the top-seeded heavyweight in the state tourney. His training for the pro-ranks went quickly, and on July 28, 1986, as Crusher Yurkof (a name which I always assumed, perhaps erroneously, was given to him as a rib) , he won a battle royal in Memphis to be crowned Southern Heavyweight champion. Later that year on Oct. 20, having already moved on from Memphis (a trend he continued for much of his professional career) he won the World Class TV belt from Steve Simpson in Fort Worth, Texas.

"I knew from the start he'd make it big," said Sharpe in a 1986 Sports Illustrated article about his training school, The Monster Factory. "Bam Bam is like money in the bank ... I just can't write a check on him yet."

In 1987, Bigelow came to the then-WWF as a "free agent" and had all the heel managers at the time vying for his services on tv in the weeks preceding his debut. Oliver Humperdink, himself new to the fed, was eventually picked, and Bam Bam debuted as a face, and generally at the top end of the card. The big man from Asbury Park, New Jersey, also saw time in NWA/WCW on a couple of occasions. At StarrCade '91, Bigelow and Big Van Vader beat Doom in front of more than 64,000 fans. Three years earlier, Bigelow wrestled Barry Windham at the annual December event. Once Bam Bam hit ECW, his battles withTaz, and his formation of the Triple Threat (with Shane Douglas and Chris Candido) became the stuff of legend.

He had many ups and downs over the past 20 years. He did well in some places, and not so well in others," said Dave Meltzer on WrestlingObserver.com. "Some saw how he looked as a positive, and others didn't. He was one of those guys who fell out of organized sports young, because with his size and agility, he probably should have been a football star. He was a very good high school wrestler, but never went any farther with it. He also had the drawbacks mentally that come with being a star from day one, and then going to WWF where some didn't respect that he had proven anything, but started out at the top there, often teaming with Hulk Hogan. Some tough veterans like Andre and Sika roughed him up on that first run. He became a bigger star in Japan, where he became the foreign monster with credibility, who could carry newcomers and get them over."

In the St. Petersburg Times, Bigelow admitted that his life had been a real roller coaster. "I don't know if it's hiding or disappointment or what," he said. "But being Bam Bam Bigelow is a pain in the a--. You did this the first half of your life and now this is the second half and now you're bruised and battered. So what the hell can you do? What can you do?" Bam Bam Bigelow was found dead in his home on 19th January 2007. He was 45 years old.

( thanks again go to SLAM Wrestling for much of the info in this article )