A FINE COMPETITOR
What do you start the second installment of a gay pro wrestling column with? A link to the last one!
It's been two years, so there's a lot of news to cover. How about that Eminem on Farmclub? I love that guy!
The second Fine Competitor's appearance was originally pushed back because of the Radicalz' impending debut with the WWF. That and pot. Chris Benoit walked away from the WCW championship and WCW and took Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero and Perry Saturn with him for good measure. Billy Kidman and Shane Douglas wanted to go but there was this thing. Two years later, let's take a look at how the whole thing turned out.
As the storyline goes over on the USA network, they were invited to the WWF by commissioner Mick Foley after walking out on "their former employers". They scored front row tickets for Raw Was War on January 31, 2000 and used the opportunity to meet the boys in the back, ask for a job and hit Billy Gunn with their signature moves (or suplexes if they didn't happen to have a high impact finisher). Beating up the bosses' friends wasn't the best career move for the fledgling Radicalz as the McMahon-Helmsley Regime decreed the troublemakers' services weren't needed. That's what you get when you fuck with Hunter's Ass.
So, fresh from Nitro, they helped provide the evening's main event schmoz by beating down Triple H and feeding him to Cactus Jack. Don't blame them for running in - that's just the way they were raised.
Jim Ross: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!
Chris Benoit: All we want is an opportunity.
Our so-called Jeff: Isn't this our gimmick?
Shane McMahon: Does anyone really own a gimmick?
Rob Van Dam: Apparently not.
Vince McMahon: Well I sure as hell do.
Warrior Hellwig: Word.
Punking out Hunter proved a better employment strategy because The newly-monikered Game thrives on competition, as well as T.G.I. Friday's. He offered the group a best of three series on the following Smackdown! - if they somehow managed to overcome Degeneration-X (and the attendent onslaught of nut shots) to win two of the three matches, they would get those shiney, candy-like contracts. It's a good thing Triple H was feeling so magnanimous too, since there weren't too many other opportunities for a professional wrestler at the time.
Paul Heyman: I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a barbwire match tonight.
Our so-called John: Seriously dude, this is our gimmick.
In their first Federation matches the Radicalz went zero for three. X-Pac pinned Dean Malenko with the X-Factor following a low blow. Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero lost to The New Age Outlaws after Eddie forgot to cheat to win and dislocated his elbow to lose. The WWF's standard bearer himself, Triple H beat Chris Benoit in the night's main event after surviving a swan dive head butt, punching Benoit in the jimmy and hitting the pedigree.
Despite being ostensibly unemployed, the foursome showed up on the next Raw to thank the WWF fans for their support and give Mick Foley some hugs. All five stood in the ring as Triple H came out to challenge Foley for the career versus title match at No Way Out 2000. Mick accepted, so the Radicalz beat the hell out of him for Hunter. You gots to do what you gots to do to your ends.
Pat Patterson: Yes. Yes, you do.
Terry Gordy: I hear that!
Our so-called Rob: Look man, we're not going to tell you again.
Two years after their Federation debuts, the Radlicalz are a scattered lot - and so are their first opponents. Dean Malenko is working as a road agent and has effectively retired, while X-Pac is nowhere to be seen. (Yeah, that's when I decided to actually submit this.) Eddie Guerrero and Road Dogg were both fired because of substance abuse problems and both were advertised for the World Wrestling All-Stars pay per view. Perry Saturn is working the syndicated shows and routinely stretching the rookies' asses, which was also Billy Gunn's fate until being teamed with Chuck Palumbo. Now he's enjoying a tag title run and just stretching the one guy's ass.
Our so-called Lance, Jr.: No, no, no, no.
Rounding out the bunch, Hunter has just returned from a months-long quad injury while Chris Benoit is still recooperating his neck. It's funny the way shit works out sometimes.
Chuck Palumbo: Isn't it?
John: That's it. Call the lawyer.
Lita: Ooh, tag!
Derek Burgan: But wrestling is based on recycling gimmicks!
Michaelangelo: Hey Rob, you can use my cel.
Years before Chris Jericho would officially unite the WCW and WWF heavyweight championships, Triple H beat the unbeaten WCW champion. Three months later he pinned the recognized ECW champion when Tommy Dreamer knocked Tazz loopy with a chair and left him easy prey for the pedigree.
Both the Tazz and Benoit matches happened on Smackdown!, by the way. In fact, the only North American world championship that hasn't been defended on Smackdown! is the NWA title.
Jeff Jarrett: I'm free on Tuesday.
Rob: And I'm dialing the phone.
On April 6 1998, Dan Severn made his wrestling debut on Raw with fourteen belts in tow, including the NWA championship. I can only assume his match with 2 Cold Scorpio wasn't saved for Smackdown! because the show wouldn't debut for another sixteen months.
Dan Severn: I am the champion, my friends!
Rob: It's ringing.
Dan came to the WWF as part of the first failed invasion of the WWF by a (national) wrestling Alliance, this time led by Jim Cornette. It all started some weeks earlier when he vented his feelings about "Attitude" in general and the nWo's treatment of Arn Anderson's retirement over on Nitro in specific.
Jim Cornette: They want you to think they're two seperate companies - but they're owned by the same guy!
Jeff: (to Rob) He's in Illinois I think.
In the weeks surrounding Wrestlemania 14, Corny brought several NWA titles back into the light of the day. Jeff Jarrett popped up with the covetted North American heavyweight title and the Midnight Express brought the tag straps. The old school didn't fare too well in the WWF and the group was soon dropped from TV without so much as a Survivor Series main event.
The NWA came in with a lot of history but no national TV show. How is it years later two WWF rivals would appear to challenge the throne - both with TV - only to suffer the same fate? I have a theory on this and the man responsible is Oliver Stone.
Let's start when with the WWF went public. Before they traded stock, WWF Entertainment, Inc. was known as Titan Sports, Inc. Apparently they didn't think the average day trader would recognize the name, despite the Linda McMahon media barrage on "branded" and "event driven" entertainment. They wanted the easily recognizable "WWF" to be in their name to spike the initial public offering. They didn't shoot themselves in the foot here, but they were taking aim.
The Ghost of Kerry Von Erich: You know I...
John: Don't say another word, Kerry.
The IPO went well enough and the company used their new capital to found the XFL. Now, there was enough wrong with the league for it to fail regardless, but how might things have been different if instead of being in bed with WWF Entertainment, Inc., NBC had a deal with Titan Sports, Inc.? If the WWF logo didn't appear at end of the inaugeral broadcast? If no wrestlers appeared anywhere on the show? This is just splitting hairs though.
The XFL went tits up and WWFE and NBC both lost a bunch of money. WWFE didn't lose enough money to pass up buying WCW though. Maybe if they had more capital to work with the company would have bought out a couple of big name Time-Warner contracts. Imagine a WCW invasion led by Flair, Sting and Goldberg. Who knows, though?
Random Smark: I do!
Rob: (on phone) We're not paying if you're not collecting.
Michaelangelo: Cyan needs to make a call, dude.
WCW failed to ignite the crowds on its own, so six weeks after Lance Storm super kicked Perry Saturn in the head to launch the Invasion, the powers that be decided to turn to fan the appeal of ECW. Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer ran through the crowd on Raw Was Still War and busted up a tag match where Chris Jericho and Kane took on Mike Awesome and Lance Storm. Tommy and RVD were still owed $100,000 and $150,000 respectively from HHG Holdings, Inc., so they couldn't afford ring side tickets.
ECW was reborn that night, much to the chagrin of its creditors. The WWF went on to broker a deal to use the ECW name and logo, so long as they didn't give the impression the promotion was actually still in business. Thus began the Alliance, born of the tarnished image of WCW and the legal obfuscation of ECW.
Shane McMahon announced the merger of the two promotions in Raw's over run. How long would that merger have lasted if WWFE had the resources to buy ECW's trademarks outright, instead of using marks they "considered abandoned"? What if ECW could have been its own entity and made the Invasion (pretty f'n appropriately) a three way dance? What if all of this happened under the Titan Sports banner? Who knows?
Random Smark: I do!
I'll tell you one thing - I haven't heard an "E C Dub" chant since. But what does all of this have to do with Oliver Stone?
Oliver Stone: I was wondering that myself.
Any Given Sunday hit theaters on December 22, 1999. The movie provided an all access pass to the operations of the International Football Franchise Association. On game day, you heard the coach yell at the quarterback for changing the play, you saw the starting and second string quarterbacks bump heads, you listened in on the half time pep talk and / or bitch out. You saw smash mouth football from new and inventive camera angles. You even saw Lawrence fucking Taylor!
Bam Bam Bigalow: I hate that guy.
A little more than three months later, on March 29, 2000, Vince McMahon announced the XFL. He saw the movie, contemplated his grapefruits and said "I can do that!" When the league officially folded, NBC and WWFE reportedly lost $35 million each. When the wrestling ratings started to slide, that would have made a swank war chest to dip into and sign some WCW guys still under Time-Warner contract. It might even have dissuaded a gimmick lawyer or two.
Clarence Mason: Mr. Glitter? I have papers for you.