|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer
This is the WWF Byte This! report for Friday, 9 November 2001, and I'm a year older.
On today's show, Big Show gets a mega-push, Droz gets clairvoyant about what's coming up on Survivor Series, Tazz chows down on his words from last week, Les Thatcher gives us the latest news about Heartland Wrestling Association, The Iron Sheik may get a permanent spot on the show, and William Regal wonders if his new nephew's the right caliber.
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Howard Finkel, who express condolences to the Hart family on the passing of Helen Hart this week. Fink says she was everybody's mother, and a delight to be around.
Topic then shifts to the substitution of The Big Show for Vince McMahon on the WWF's Survivor Series showdown team. "Good decision or bad decision?" asks Kelly. "Size can't hurt," says Fink, "Show's finally got something he's been lacking for a long while; a sense of purpose."
Kelly and Fink spend the next few minutes putting The Big Show over, then drag Darren Drozdov into it before he can get a word in for this week's "Two Cents" column.
"He got attacked by a lot of people on Smackdown," says Droz, "but he cleaned house. He's getting that fire and sense of purpose back that he lost for a while. His confidence level can only get higher and higher."
Fink wants to know what Droz thinks of Vince McMahon's comments about Stone Cold Steve Austin defecting from the Alliance?
Droz says it's certainly shaken up the Alliance's confidence, and that Tazz was instrumental in confronting Austin about it; it showed Austin just where he stood as far as the Alliance was concerned.
After a brief recap of the results from Smackdown, (Stunner for Angle, RVD's heat with Booker T, Rock v. Jericho) Fink asks Droz about Test as the new IC Champ. Droz says that Test should be a good champ because he's got the motivation to hang onto the Title.
Speaking of Titles, Kelly remarks that there are a lot of them floating around now, and does that cheapen their overall value? Should they go back to the original WWF Titles? Fink says yes, because nobody knows who has what, and they change hands so frequently nobody can count them. What's needed is Title unification, Fink concludes.
After Droz leaves the show, Kelly wonders who he will pick as the winner of the Survivor Series? Kelly also says that some fans are saying that there's no way the WWF can lose the showdown, since Vince owns the company.
"Don't be too sure about that," says Kelly, "the Alliance is fielding its best five, so there's no clear favorite at this time. We'll do the break down and give our picks on next week's show."
Time for "Outthink the Fink." This week, Fink wants to know what the Iron Sheik's other two "in ring" names are? Winner gets a copy of Kurt Angle's new book.
Next up is Tazz with "Tales from the Hook," only this week, Tazz is on "vacation" at "Niagara Falls." You can tell because you can hear windy and gurgling noises in the background. Fink wants to know if that was Tazz's barrel going over Niagara Falls? Now the background noises sound like Tazz's front porch with the neighborhood kids playing.
"Is 'T-shirt Teddy' there with you, Tazz?" asks Fink.
"Nah, I'm here with a new guy. Captain Carlucci," laughs Tazz, "he's a big Yankees fan."
Kelly wants to know if Tazz is over with the World Series results?
"Yeah," says Tazz, "I'm cool with that. Though I'm not over beating the hell out of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Smackdown was the right time and the right place. Austin's days of handing out unanswered beatdowns are coming to an end. I let Austin know how I felt. If the other Alliance members like it, fine. If not, they can go to hell. I spoke my mind; I let this guy know, hey, enough with you already."
Fink wants to know if this could mean Tazz would be switching sides back to the WWF?
Tazz replies that his way is to stay with the Alliance and help get rid of Steve Austin. "We don't need him anymore," says Tazz, "Who thinks the Alliance will crumble with Steve Austin gone? Not me."
"There was a time in ECW when you didn't care about anything or anybody, Tazz," says Kelly, "Your attitude was FTW. It would be great to see that again."
"I'm proud of that FTW attitude," says Tazz, "it's not so long ago you saw Taz with one "z"; if that Taz comes back, the WWF will be a very different place indeed."
Kelly asks Tazz what he thinks will happen after the Survivor Series showdown? "With The Big Show on Team WWF," says Tazz. "Now they've got the size and power. The Alliance could lose this, and I hope we can get our spots back if we DO lose."
After some discussion of Tazz's appearance at a house show against Rob Van Dam, Tazz wants to apologize for his comments on last week's show about calling all the Internet writers brainless twerps, or words to that effect.
"I hate stereotyping," says Tazz, "but last week, I was guilty of doing just that. For those I offended, I apologize."
Fink says they've got a winner in the "Outthink the Fink" contest. The Iron Sheik's two other "in-ring" names were 1990's "Colonel Mustafa", and 1979's "Great Hussein Arab."
Fink then asks if Tazz has a book in the works? Tazz says not right now, but he read Kurt Angle's book and there was some good stuff in there.
Talk slides into the upcoming Iron Sheik segment on the show. Kelly thinks the segment will crash and burn, that the idea had just "run amuck."
Fink and show producer "Big Country" disagrees, saying that the new idea that needs to be given a chance. BC's a huge mark for the wrestling legends and what they can add to the program. Fink sneers that Kelly is anti-nostalgia. Kelly disagrees, saying that he wants fans to call the show and do their best Iron Sheik impressions.
Caller One wants to know when Rikishi's coming back. The answer is "hopefully soon." BC gets back on the air, at which point, Tazz says most folks don't know that BC is really six eight, and towers over Tazz. BC gets in on the conversation, saying that Tazz just got older, and started crunching together. Tazz says they gotta get some of the old guys on the show, Johnny Rodz, Jimmy Valiant, Al Snow, guys like that.
Fink wants to know about next week's "Tales from the Hook." Tazz says he'll still be on vacation. Next week: Albuquerque!
Fink remarks that Tazz could be an outstanding European Champion. Tazz obligingly shows his lack of geographic sense by saying that Christian, the current WWF European champ, has a French-type jaw line and bean head on him; all he needs is a beret to complete the ensemble. Kelly and Fink do the eye-rolling bit before saying good-bye to Tazz for another week.
As Fink tries to get the Iron Sheik on the phone, Les Thatcher joins the show for this week's report on the WWF's developmental territories. Thatcher is in charge of Cincinnati's Heartland Wrestling Association, and gets going by saying that they ought to bring some of the wrestling announcers down to the HWA for a little seasoning.
Fink says he'll be an announcer forever; he's got nowhere else to go!
Kelly asks how Thatcher got started?
Thatcher says that he started training wrestlers about seven years ago, and needed to get his wrestlers some authentic match experience. Voila, the HWA was born, and they started promoting shows within a hundred miles of Cincinnati. Thatcher then had the idea of mixing and matching with the WWF, giving the wrestlers another place to develop and get their ring savvy. Vince McMahon and Jim Ross both approved the idea, and HWA was signed as a developmental promotion for the WWF.
Kelly confirms that Thatcher's been in the business or over 40 years, and Thatcher says that his first match was back in 1960. "Since then," says Thatcher, "I've seen all sides of this business, and I try to bring that to the training sessions I do, as well as the promos and the in-ring persona.
"With my guys, the more facets they have to their character, the better they will be when they get out on their own."
Kelly remarks that Thatcher got a gift with the sale of WCW to the WWF. Who looks like they're ready for the big time?
"Jamie Knoble jumps right off the page," says Thatcher, "a great Cruiserweight and a tremendous talent.
Kelly asks about the Island Boys; are they ready yet? Thatcher says they are learning their nutrition regimen; once that's accomplished, they're good to go.
As for everybody else, they are getting along. Veterans like Haku, Steve Blackman, Val Venis, Eddie Guerrero, Brian Adams, are all welcome for the experience they bring.
"Tuesday nights," says Thatcher, "they can sell out our gym, all 147 seats, and these guys work the match as if it was at Madison Square Garden. Lead by example is my credo, and these guys do it each and every week."
Kelly wants to know about Brian Adams.
"He got hammered by the Internet a lot," says Thatcher, "and then there was that bad PPV match. We talked just after that, and Brian said he was making a major adjustment, doing all that the others were doing. He's helped with the booking, and helped out in the locker room. He's lost weight, and does the same cardio routine as the younger guys do. When Dean (Malenko) was in this week, I told him we were getting Adams ready for a run at the Cruiserweight Title! As a rib, you understand."
Kelly asks when Thatcher decided to switch from wrestler to backstage worker? "1979," says Thatcher, "After doing TV spots in Canada, I came back to the US, and Jim Crockett heard about it. Before I knew it, I was writing the scripts, going to Knoxville to get them produced, and still doing my matches, really burning the candle at both ends. In 1978, I phased out the wrestling because I couldn't do it well enough to feel proud of what I was doing in the ring.
Kelly thanks Thatcher for being on the show. Thatcher shills for his website, HWAonline.com and thanks Kelly.
And here's the Iron Sheik. Fink is excited to have the one and only on the show today. Sheik says he's glad to be there, respects all wrestling fans, and is the only Middle Easterner to talk to his fans in America.
Sheik talks about training and wrestling with Tom (Dr. Tom) Prichard, and that he's glad to be known as one of the great coaches in America.
Fink asks if the Sheik follows the WWF today? If so, what does he think about Kurt Angle?
The Sheik says that wrestling today is different than it was in the old days, but Kurt Angle impressed him very much, being an Olympic Champion.
"I respect him, "says the Sheik, "he has done a great job."
Kelly recalls the Sheik ribbing Angle by telling him the Olympics were rigged the year he won, and everybody gets a good laugh from it.
After a clip of Wrestlemania 3, with the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff being introduced by a young Howard Finkel, the Sheik says that he thanks all his Russian friends in New York City and America.
Caller Two is on the line, but just as quickly hangs up. Kelly tells the Sheik that Tazz says "Hi", to which the Iron Sheik replies that Tazz is a good man
Kelly asks the Sheik if his training regimen includes working out in the rain.
Fink asks about two of the Sheik's greatest opponents, Bob Backlund and Sgt. Slaughter.
The Sheik says that Backlund was one of the greatest wrestlers ever in the WWF. "A tough man, always in good shape," says the Sheik. As for Sgt. Slaughter, "not in as good a shape as Backlund, but had plenty of ring savvy and business psychology."
Kelly says that Backlund says he never lost the Title, so he should still be the Champ, to which the Sheik replies that God and Jesus both know that the Sheik has done it all, wrestling, Olympics, everything. "I am a true shooter," says the Legend, "not that big blond jabronie, Hulk Hogan. He told everybody not to do drugs but he did them himself. Hypocrite! Backlund was best in our sport, good shape all his life, but never competed in the Olympics."
Fink wants to know about the many managers the Iron Sheik had over the years.
"Freddie Blassie was the best," says the Sheik, "Adnan was jabronie."
"What about your relationship with your partner, Nikolai Volkoff?" asks Kelly.
"He was good friend and partner," says the Sheik, "even through tough times, he was best friend. Like Russian Jew, we always thinking about money then. Always got along with Nikolai."
"All those years you spent with Nikolai," says Fink, "I remember he carried all his food with him. Was he a good cook?"
"Nikolai wasn't too smart sometimes," says the Sheik, "one time, I lose my gold medal, and all Nikolai cared about was forks and plates."
"What was it like to come back to Wrestlemania at Wrestlemania X-7?" asks Fink. "You were the first man I contacted about participating in the Gimmick Battle Royal? What was it like? And what was it like to be put in the Cobra Clutch again?"
"God bless Mr. McMahon and his father or inviting me back," says the Sheik, "it was the biggest pleasure in my life to be at Wrestlemania again; I prayed to Jesus and to God to be part of it one more time, and I was. It made me very happy!"
"Is the challenge of the Persian Clubs still open?" asks Kelly, "Who was the best?"
"Bob Backlund was the best, but not as good as me," says the Iron Sheik, " and yes, the challenge is still open. No one has broken my record."
"Considering your long history with the WWF," asks Fink, " which of the current WWF superstars impresses you the most?"
"The Rock and Steve Austin are great," says the Sheik, "but, shooting-wise, it would be Kurt Angle. Austin and the Rock are entertainers. I brought the word jabronie to America, and now, the Rock uses it all the time."
"I think he does it out of respect for you," says Fink, "What do you see the future holding for you?"
"I want to share my experience with the new generation in the WWF," says the Sheik, "to train them. Be a referee, maybe? I would be very happy. I love all fans coast to coast, and if I could run the WWF, I would be happy the rest of my life. Hello to all my wrestling fans, and God save everybody."
With that, the Iron Sheik leaves the show. Kelly and Fink sit there for a second or two.
"That was the single greatest segment of Byte This!, ever," says Fink.
"We need to have the Iron Sheik back on again," says Kelly, "and get his thoughts and views of what's happening. The Iron Sheik viewpoint is priceless."
Well, next up, with a hard act to follow, is WCW Commissioner, William Regal. Kelly tells Regal that the Iron Sheik was just on the show, and Regal sneers that he was glad he wasn't listening.
Kelly asks about Regal's days wrestling in Blackpool, England. Regal says they had a lot of fun recently with a film crew over in Blackpool. He's not sure if it will be on a video or on WWF Excess, though.
"My sister still works at the circus there in Blackpool," says Regal. "She's the fat bearded lady. She's pregnant, and marrying the sword swallower. She was asked whether she wants a boy or a girl, and she said she didn't care, as long as it fit in the cannon!"
This cracks everybody up.
Kelly asks about Regal's being a herpetologist, that is, collecting and raising reptiles.
Regal starts to reply, but gets cut off. We get about five minutes of broken connection work on the phone, and Kelly whining about it before communications is restored.
Turns out Regal is calling from his menagerie, and having a good time about it.
"I always had a fascination for lizards, especially big lizards, says Regal, "I've got one now that will reach eight feet and weigh over 110 lbs. when fully grown. I'm really looking forward to going to Boston this Monday, because they've got a great collection of reptiles up there."
Fink says that, with Survivor Series coming up, and the current problems the Alliance is having with Steve Austin, was his accepting the WCW Commissionership a wise move?
Regal replies that any fan or wrestler can put his trust in Steve Austin, because, "if you can't trust Austin, whom can you trust?"
Kelly asks about the explosive breakup of Regal and Tajiri. Regal snorts, and says that Tajiri had it coming to him after he refused to join the Alliance. "It all comes of listening to that little tart, Torrie Wilson. I gave him the chance to become a superstar in both the WWF and the Alliance. Tajiri forgot that. He forgot that, though I am a polite individual, you shouldn't mistake politeness for weakness. And you don't EVER cross me, because I am not a good enemy to have coming after you."
Kelly, somewhat rattled, changes the subject to Regal's "Queen's English" speaking style. "You've brought some unique expressions to the world of wrestling," says Kelly, "but some of them aren't as familiar to fans in the United States. For instance, what does "pillock" mean?"
Regal snickers, and says that it's interesting hearing Kelly use that word, because a "pillock" is the type of person who, if you lived next door to him, you could get up every morning, kick down his fence, dump your rubbish on his door step, walk back home, and you'd never hear a word about it from him. No backbone at all."
"What about toe-rag?"
"Oh, a toe-rag comes from years ago, when people working the docks couldn't afford a pair of socks," says Regal, "so they used to rip up rags and wrap them around their feet.
Lowest form of life on the planet."
"Besmirched means soiling one's reputation," says Regal, who's beginning to sound a bit put out at having to play "My Word" with the likes of Kevin Kelly.
Fink says that Regal's neckbreaker is one of the best moves in wrestling, and wonders where it came from. Regal replies that, when he was in WCW, he was trying to find a new finisher to back up his submission finisher. A submission finisher isn't easy, and he couldn't use it on everybody, but the neckbreaker works every time.
"Got a special name for it?" asks Kelly.
"No, I ...why does everything have to have a name with you?" asks Regal, somewhat testily. "I simply haven't thought of a fancy name yet. 'Neckbreaker' sounds just fine to me."
"You've had many good matches with Chris Benoit..." begins Kelly.
"And I'm looking forward to many more when he returns," says Regal. "Few wrestlers can count on a good rivalry like Mr. Benoit and I have. Fit Finley is one, and Benoit is the other. Wrestling Chris Benoit, you know you are in for a terrific match, and you sure feel it the day afterward, but you are thankful to be in the wrestling business with such outstanding talent."
Kelly remarks about, "the match that put you on the map had to be the one you had with Chris Benoit at the Brian Pillman show two years ago. Your two heads collided, and it split you wide open."
Regal laughs, saying that he thinks Benoit must stick his head in a bucket of vinegar every day to toughen it up. "I've been trying to split Benoit's head for years. Nothing I've tried works, and I'm usually the one who ends up bleeding. About the Pillman show, I was proud to be a part of it. Brian Pillman was my friend. There were people at that show who didn't know Brian like Chris and I did, and it was great to hear the response that we got; that people still cared after all I'd put myself through. I'd wasted time in my career and my life, and it was nice to have the fans care about me.
"What about the injury to your arm?" asks Kelly, "You seem to be working through it."
"I felt it pop," says Regal, " but its not been painful. The MRI the doctors gave me says it's a torn biceps, but it's fine, it's healing, and I can pretty much do whatever I want; just be careful with it."
A fan from the Chat Room wants to know what it was like being on the "Weakest Link" TV show?
"They take an inordinate amount of time producing that show," says Regal, "for a one hour show, they shoot three and a half hours! Amazing. All those different camera angles take a lot of time. As for my performance, well, I've been seeing to my family and friends, and don't concern myself with world problems. Still, I thought I did quite well, considering. And it was interesting to see how other people work on television."
"Didn't the host get on your nerves?" asks Kelly, "she's popular with fans in the UK, in part because she loves to heel on the contestants."
"The silly woman didn't think I was English?" says Regal, "she tried to catch me out with silly questions, but didn't succeed."
Kelly winds things up by saying that he hopes to have Regal back on the show very soon. Regal thanks them both, and says he will see them this weekend, and departs.
Fink exhorts the fans out there to email him at wwffink.com with ideas about who they should have on the new Legends segment.
Email (well, that AOL Instant Messenger nonsense, really) is running overwhelmingly and enthusiastically for making the Legends segment a part of WWF Byte This! and for Kelly to stop putting Fink down when he comes up with something that will add to the show.
Big Country suggests that they have another show during the week devoted solely to the WWF Legends.
Fink says to let the fans decide.
The winner of the Classic Iron Sheik Clip o' the Week (voted on by the fans on last week's show) is the Iron Sheik winning the WWF World Title.
Next week's show should be a good one, as they've tentatively scheduled Kane as the guest.
Y'all come back now, y'hear?
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