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Handheld reviews part 1


The place for wrestling positivity

Review of Animal Crossing

What does it take to make a great game?   In the past year Nintendo has given us many different answers to that question.  First there was Eternal Darkness.  This game was the first survival horror game to actually have good gameplay.  Its insanity meter was one of the neatest ideas in recent memory and things like seeing your memory card erased wont soon be forgotten by any gamer.  Then with Super Mario Sunshine Nintendo took Mario 64 and added new dimensions to it creating probably the greatest platforming game yet made.  With Metroid Prime Nintendo showed us how beautiful Samuss world truly was while bringing Metroid exploration fully into 3d with an innovative and deep control system that fully utilizes the Gamecube controller.  Just those three games with the coming release of Zelda would be enough to name this one of the greatest years ever for a software developer.

With the game Animal Crossing Nintendo seems to say it takes nothing to make a great game.  Its the Seinfeld of video games.  Major events of the game include Wendell coming to town.  What does Wendell do?  He asks you to give him food so you catch a fish and he eats it and in return gives you a carpet. 

You errands for the other members of your town.  This involves picking up and delivering items for small rewards.  Occasionally you get a big task like flipping the switch of the lighthouse 6 straight days (so far Ive made it through 3 straight.) 

You get NES games which you can play so far Ive got the joust rip off Balloon Fight.  I hear you can also get soccer and excitebike.  To bad they didnt go whole hog and give us a Zelda or Metroid game. 

You play interior decorator.   Trying to make your house as fashionable as possible.  You get rated each day on how your house looks.  To help with this you buy furniture and try to get matching wallpaper and carpet.  You can expand your house but to do so requires you to go into debt. 

You mail letters to other members of the town.  They write you back telling you usually that your letter made no sense to them.  You go fishing and sell your fish.  Or you take them to the museum which you can fill with fossils, paintings, insects, and of course fish.  Speaking of insects you also take a net to catch them in.  This net can also bonk other members of the town on the head which really pisses them off.                  You also play gardener.  You plant trees and cut down trees.  You dig up weeds and fossils as well.   You plant flowers.  All to make your town look perfect. 

The gimmick of Animal Crossing is it happens all the time wither you play or not.  Thats not really all that true it just changes things every time you play to make things look continuos.  You can visit other towns but unfortunately I cant because Im the only person I know with the game. 

The gimmick of Animal Crossing should be nothing.  You just kill time doing all kinds of different little things.  The game doesnt consume your life like some other games do.  But I also doubt it gets old as quickly.  Its just a pleasant diversion.

Analysis of Perry Saturn
My first contact with Perry came through the eliminators as it did with most people. Perry was easily the better of the two but I was never as high of the Eliminator's as most people. I always felt like I was watching a cool move exhibition when they wrestled. At the time the MPRO guys just blew them away for spots and could build the match so I never could get into them.

Due to an injury when Perry went to WCW he had to change his style a little bit to be more grounded. THIS WAS A GOOD THING. He started working the mat and kind of ripping off some of Taz's suplexes. Nobody in WCW worked like this and Perry really stood out. Perry got put in with Benoit to start which helped him out so much. Chris is a brillant carrier so it was difficult to tell how good Saturn was. We got some glimpses though that Perry could work decent. He and Goldberg had some pretty entertaining matches. The combination of garbage and both of their movesets worked well and it was one of Bill's better matches from those periods.

Saturn's limitations though were exposed during his program with Kanyon and then the three way program with Raven and Kanyon. They were asked to go long periods and the matches sucked. They turned into Sabu matches with the spot rest selling to long, spot, rest sellign to long rest. It basically showed Perry could work a fast pace 8 minute match or like he would at Fall Brawl against Raven a mega booked garbage match but when the length and situation called for good selling and psychology Perry was lacking. He never figured out how to pace his selling (though he got really good at selling impact.) Perry in late 98 showed he couldn't carry anybody multiple times. So so far we know Perry's strength's are and were (he hasn't changed much) he has a nice moveset, he has good energy, he sells impact well. His weaknesses are his psychology breaks down in long matches and he can't pace his selling. He also has a problem reacting to the crowd. This is Dean Malenko syndrome. Dean would go out in his world and work his match even if the crowd totally didn't want to see that match. Perry has the same problem. Benoit for instance is smarter and if he realizes the crowd isn't into the technical stuff will amp up a few bumps and some stiff chops to get them back into it.

The best situation for Perry is the way he was used in early 1999. Tag teaming with Raven and Benoit. Raven and Benoit both are pretty smart and good sellers. They could carry the bulk of the match and Perry would come in and be an awesome hot tag cleaning house with his excellent moveset. He was part of some truely excellent tag matches in 99 and probably the best he would ever be. Perry I think could be good as a heel tag team as well if he had a charasmatic partner. He could come in hit his moves against the face cheat, then sell the hot tag hard building to the end. If you remember his stuff in early 2000 when the radicals were hot was good but when the Radicals got cold Perry didn't have the charisma to stand out. Him and Dean were a bad tag team because neither of them knows how to play the crowd. Perry tagged well with Benoit for instance having a hot match with the Hardy but Chris has brains. So we know the situation Perry can succeed at (with a smart tag team worker or a charasmatic one). So in the WWE for him to ever succeed you have to find that guy for him to team with... Their is a guy on the roster who fits that bill who Perry has tagged with before and has history with who also is doing nothing. The WWE is looking for new tag teams why not give Perry and Raven another whirl?

Well here is who got in.  We basically had 4 amazingly strong people make it, Rikidozan, El Santo, Lou Thesz, and Giant Baba, we had 3 very strong candidates make it Harley Race, The Destroyer and Dusty Rhodes they are not as strong as the first four but defiantly deserve it.  Then we have Piper and Gordy who were bad choices on this ballot.  Other ballots maybe but they went in over about 15 guys who had much much stronger cases.  Then we have Ultimo who was probably with Undertaker as the weakest candidate on the ballot.  Its a joke that he made it. 

* Rikidozan-  Wrestling observers wrestler of the century.  The man who literally created Japanese Pro Wrestling.  His match with 2. Lou Thesz was seen by 70 80 million people and is by far the most watched match ever (I believe he holds the top three spots.)  Id been embarrassed if he hadnt made it on it.

*El Santo- The top wrestler in Lucha history. Is so beloved that they do morality plays with El Santo.  Under his mask he was an action hero in movies.  A top draw for 40 years.  As the most loved wrestler ever he is a bedrock for a hall fame. 

*Lou Thesz- Called the babe ruth of wrestling for a lot of reasons. One of the most technically sound wrestlers of his era.  And the main champion from 1948-1958.  Another guy who shouldnt have even needed to be voted on.  I am always impressed by how Lou adjust to his opponent. 

 Terry Gordy-  Influential due to the freebirds he was the badass who gave them credibility.   Had a great run in All Japan including being triple crown champion and before his first overdose was looking like a candidate to become the top gaijen in All Japan.  An excellent big man wrestler.  He mainevented in every promotion he worked for basically and was part of two legendary tag teams.  If not for his drug overdoses might have been a true legend but I think he is just so much weaker a candidate then some who were left off. 

*Giant Baba -  Along with Inoki the second most important person in Japanese wrestling behind Rikidozan.  The top man in his promotion from the late 60s till the early 80s always a great draw and loved.  A very good worker for his size and a legendary promotor and booker from 1972-1999 for All Japan.  A giant in this industry no doubt, ranking above Andre in basically every category.  Hes one of those a Hall of Fame must blush if hes not in.

Ultimo Dragon-  Behind Benoit and Liger and with Ohtani the top cruiserweight of his era .  But he shouldnt have went in till Benoit did in my opinion off his wrestling skills.  He does get added points for starting his own promotion and training them but I think the jury is still out on Toryumon so he shouldnt have gotten in for backstage stuff (Choshu would be a stronger candidate based off his booking alone).   I think hes romantized like Shawn is due to his career being cut short.  For instance in the ring he really is a weaker candidate then Benoit in everyway.  I dont Toryumon is such a success that he should get in just for that.

*Harley Race-  The best wrestler in my opinion of the 70s save maybe Jumbo Tsuruta.  The dominate NWA champion between 1976-1983.  Always drew as such and delivered in the ring.  Very close to Flair as far as how good he was in his prime.  Though not as strong a candidate as Flair his work and his champion  time makes him a hall of famer to be proud of.

*The Destroyer-  The top gaijen draw in Japan from 62-the late 70s.  A top draw in the AWA and the best draw in California maybe besides Blassie who I forgot to put on the nomination.  Trained or help train Jumbo Tsuruta, Toshiaki Kawada, and Mitsuhara Misawa.   Was possibly the best worker in the World for a decade period and a total master of psychology.  So a great draw, great worker, and great trainer hes a really good addition

Roddy Piper-  A good regional draw in several regions.  Had a couple of good runs with Hogan on a national level and was always over even till late in his career.  A great Mic worker and a good brawler.  Maybe overrated in many ways.  A stronger addition then say Ultimo or Gordy but this addition looks silly when you compare him with some one like say El Hijo Del Santo, or even dumber next to Gorgeous George or Londos.

Dusty Rhodes-  A bad worker.  A great draw in every region he every worked in.  Everyone in those regions talks about the difference Dusty made.   Did good business on a national level as well.  Amazing charisma.  He also had a long and in someways influential run as booker.  Really strong addition despite his work.

Mid Year Awards
Ehren has the nominees over at cpwtapes.tripod.com but his list sucks with no international flavor so I'm ignoring it.  I start at December for internationals but don't count August availability. 
Wrestler of the Year-
1. Shocker-  He gets the nod because his work is equal to Kurt Angle's but he is a top draw in Mexico right now where as Kurt is getting buried. Plus Shocker has really broke out this year to be one of the men in Mexico which is tough for young wrestlers to do.
2.  Genchiro Tenyru- Is Anchoring All Japans rebound.  Mutoh is the bigger draw but Tenyru draws to but also is having a great year in the ring as the base for the promotion.
3. Kurt Angle-  Just having an awesome year in the ring and the only consistent guy in the promotion.
Tag Team of the Year
1. Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Buccanero-  They are just the best in the world right now.  They put on a hell of a show everytime out.
2. Negro Casas and El Hijo Del Santo-  A great legendary pairing that gets the fans fired up.  They arn't as flashy as Ultimo and Rey but are a very solid base for excellent matches with Santo still being among the top 5 best wrestlers in the world in his own Right.
3.  Chono and Tenzen- Another solid team that always gets the fans fired up.  I hate Chono's work but Tenzen is good and they are smart so usually deliver good matches.
Big Show of the Year
1. Summerslam-  Top to bottom consistent card.  Nothing sucked.  Really memorable matches and some really good ones in the undercard.  Plus you had the elevation of Brock Lesnar.  The insane overrating of Shawn vs HHH withstanding this card deserves much of the praise it has gotten.
2.  NOAH 2-17-02 show-  The best Japanese card of the year.  It featured the memorable return of Kenta Kobashi.  Not only did Kobashi return but he put in an awesome performance that put the egofuck Shawn Michaels did to shame.  Plus a consistent undercard featuring a MOTYC Junior tag match between Liger/Inoue vs Kikuchi/Kanemura. 
3.  EMLL's Sin Piedad Show- this is from December but it gets in.  Again had a great 6 man and a great 8 man.  Super Porky even brought it for his hair vs hair match.  This card has it all and is a great place to start for Lucha beginners.  EMLL is the best promotion in the world right now.
Match of the Year.
Santo vs La Parka Monterrey-  This is also from December.  This match had it all heat, blood, mat work, and drama. Santo does rip the greatest blade job I've ever seen and it adds to the intensity of the match.  Leading into the great 3rd fall where they go back and forth with great lucha roll ups before Santo finally gets sick of La Parka kicking out and gets frustrated and nuts him.  Brillant stuff.
Santo vs La Parka really stands out but nothing else does so I'm going to wait to say on any others.  I hated the finish of Tenyru vs Kojima.  Edge vs Angle from Backlash would be my best from the US so far.
Disappointment of the Year
1. Toshiaki Kawada gets injured-  I was looking forward to Kawada finally getting the nice long triple crown reign he so richly deserves.  I was just really bad luck to get injured then.
2.  Austin-  Austin quiting the company for good reasons was one thing but taking out his frustrations on his wife is another.  Hopefully Steve turns things around.
3. NWA TNA-Just a disaster
Those are really the only things I care about.  Hopefully the year will improve as far as great matches go in Japan and the US so I can actually have a reasonable list of those.

Worth the Price of the Tape


Im sorry for the lack of updates lately.  Ive been in class from 10:30- 5:00 almost everyday.  Those are usually the hours I write so I havent had much time to do it.  However now Im done with most of the classes so hopefully Ill get back to my regular schedule.   I appreciate Tim writing an article while I was gone.  Of course I havent had cable much for the last 4 years (I think during 1 year of that time Ive had cable) and what I do is collect wrestling tapes.  I used to be an absolutely voracious reader but I think I killed myself of that my Senior year of High School and it wont be till Im done with College that Ill get that passion I once had for it back.  I just recently rediscovered my love of history which I had totally burned myself out on at the end of High School.  Its funny when I won the State Academic Championship in Social Studies my Junior year I really didnt feel like trying to repeat.  I had nothing left to prove I had done what I wanted to do and beat who I wanted to.  But the school really wanted me to and my team did as well so I struggled on and history became a job more then a passion.  Its took me four years to get back to where its fun again.  So basically I can really see where Tims coming from on that article.   


When Im collecting tapes I always focus on the wrestlers I want to see more of.  The wrestlers I believe are worth the price of the tape basically.  They are basically the guys who when I see them on a matchlist basically next to anyone I want to see that match because I trust these guys to deliver and entertain me.  Here are the guys I have that respect for and why. 


El Hijo Del Santo-  If youve paid attention to my updates you know Im  hunting down as much Santo as I can find.  Ive yet to see Santo not give his best to try to entertain the fans who pay to see him.  With Santos lineage and his mask he probably could have been a top star in Mexico without being an awesome wrestler.  Santo though has never been happy to live off his name and hes always busted his ass.  Thats why hes not just a top star he is the top star in Mexico.  Santo doesnt wow you with his high spots its more how beautiful everything he does looks and his profound understanding of psychology that keep you coming back for more. 


Toshiaki Kawada- Either my favorite or second favorite wrestler ever (the other one is Jumbo Tsuruta).  I would say Kawada is the best storyteller Ive seen yet in the ring.  With a kick to the face or a stare he can tell us more about himself and the match then most wrestlers can in a 20 minute promo.  His intensity is perfectly matched with his almost sickening brutality in the ring.  Kawada knows how to make everything he does count.  Hes also probably the most gifted seller Ive ever seen.  Nobody sells a suplex quite like Kawada or a stiff shot.  Whither it is a scream to show his determination or falling on his ass like a drunk man Kawada knows how to put over a move (though occasionally he pulls the All Japan no sell card.) 


Jumbo Tsuruta- When I think of the man I think of Jumbo.  To me Jumbo personifies more then Flair, more the HHH, more then Inoki, more then Misawa how the top man in a company should carry themselves and how they should wrestle. Jumbo knew exactly how to show where his opponent was relative to himself and how to win while putting someone else over.  An example of the aura Jumbo had was in a match in the early 90s.  Jumbo and his partner (Taue I think) were just dicking the hell out of their opponents and the crowd was starting to really get into booing Jumbo.  So Jumbo just turns gives the crowd a dirty look as if to say who the hell are you to boo ME!  And the crowd gives him a cheer as if to apologize for booing him.  Surreal. 


Harley Race- Im really starting to get into Race more and more.  The only place that really pimps him is TOA but after hearing them rave I got a hold of some Race and lord was I impressed.  Race probably due to the time period he wrestled in gets less credit then he deserves.  Most people would probably rank him well behind Flair on the list of great old school workers and while they are both great Race is as good if not better.  Race had the top moveset for his time and it shows as when he has to control a match he almost never runs out of offense.  Plus he did an amazing knee drop that looked totally deadly.  You need and I need to see more Harley.  (is about to order Harley vs Jumbo cant wait to see that!) 


Jushin Liger-  How ever you want to spell his name your writing the name of the best light-heavyweight ever.  Jushin is just cool.  He taunts, he poses, he incites the crowd for him or against him and he puts on amazing matches.  Liger is so good that people often make the mistake of thinking his opponents are better then him.  Mainly Ohtani and Benoit (both great) get this praise but neither of them were as good as Liger or are as good as Liger most likely.  Id have to see how Benoit is doing to make sure Jushin is still better.  Jushin also is showing amazing longevity as hes been one of the top wrestlers in the world for about 13 straight years.


Some other guys who are close but either not quite there or Im just not sure about are Kenta Kobashi, Chris Benoit, Bret Hart, Ric Flair, The Destroyer, Misawa (prior to 98),  Akira Hokuta(prior to 95), Aja Kong, Blue Panther, and Jaguar Yokuta.   Which ones arent quite there and who I just havent seen enough of youll have to decide for yourself because Im not telling.

Review of Wrestlemania X-8 for the Gamecube
This is a pretty eagerly anticipated title. I've had it for about a week so I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on it.  We'll do it in good/bad format.
Good-  Is fast paced and easy to pick up.  Yet even a week later I'm slowly improving because the counter system adds some depth.
Bad-  Even with the counter system its not to deep.  It misses the psychology system that No Mercy had.  I wanted to see my opponent limp or hold the arm.  You can't build towards a finish its just all about the color next to their name.  Submission finishers also arn't nearly as effective as regular finishers. 
Good- Sweet looks, and very smooth.  I haven't noticed any framrate problems.  Very nice.
Bad- Some of the wrestlers don't look very good at all in the face.
Good-  Basically everything is really good here.  The menus are easy.  The create a wrestler needs a tad bit of work but allows you a great deal of flexibility you can even basically put them on steriods!  The best thing is the ring entrances.  Just spectacular detail and realism except for a few people don't use their actual theme music.  Ric Flair if you choose to wrestle in his tights wears a robe.  The gold sprays for Christain.  They do their poses etc.  
Game Modes
Good-  Basically every type of WWE match is available in this game.  You have Hell in the Cell where you can toss them through or off the cell.  You have ladder matches and cage matches and TLC.  All the modes work very well and I must say the cage and ladder matches are the most fun and least frustrating I've ever played.  You can end them at anytime but you need momentum on your side usually to win espiecally in a cage match.  Its easy to climb but its equally easy to knock off.
bad-  The career mode is basically fluff.  Not nearly as cool as No Mercy.  Its just beat a bunch of people and win the title.  Pretty lame compared to No Mercy or even Smackdown's system.  Definatly needs some work. 
Overal it's fun and would be a super fun rental.  Not enough depth to keep it interesting though and I'll probably trade it in pretty soon. 


DDP gets the Cheappop

Well its nice to see someone look out for their family.  Retired last week.  DDP had a major spinal problem which could have gotten worse at anytime had he continued.  Deciding that wrestling isnt worth being in a wheel chair over.  Good for Dallas. 

There are some bad things that can be sad about DDPThe man was certainly one of the most overbearing self promoters in the industry.  Constantly saying any good thing he could about himself. DDP was Bishoffs neighbor.  And that did without question increase his push beyond what it would have been any other way.  DDP had at most upper midcard ability and was always pushed as hard as he could get pushed in WCW.   Lord was he ever overbearing about his positivity and peoples champ BS. 

Still I think there is more good you can say about DDP then bad.  He didnt have one of the more roided up bodies.  He never had many of the character issues that many of them did.  He always worked hard, and seemed to genuinely care about connecting with the fans.  Such as with his webpage where he would talk to his fans and other things.  Unlink some of the other wrestlers Ive written about DDP is a wrestling success story. 

In fact his success story is very interesting.  I dont know of any wrestler who started as late as he did in his career and had the same type of success.  He started as a wrestler in his mid to late 30s and finished at the age of 46.  A unique career for sure.  DDP I think had a pretty good mind for it but being older he wasnt very flexible.  DDP liked to have everything plotted out for him beforehand and hated adlibbing.  This usually led to solid matches but rarely great ones.  It also allowed him to carry someone like Bill Goldberg to the best match of his career but kept him from really ever breaking 4 stars. 

DDP while always getting pushed never had a problem working with a younger talent.  He was the only maineventer to ever cleanly put over Chris Benoit save Sid Vicious.  Yep WCW main eventers put Benoit over clean and WWE never have.  DDP took some bullshit as well.  In the WWF he was the number 2 guy they had for the invasion.  Vinces vendettas and Undertakers ego made DDP a joke in the WWF.  It would have been easy for DDP to walk out, quit, or just stop trying.  DDP didnt quit and he continued to work as hard as he could to succeed.  He put over people.  It didnt mean anything  because he didnt mean anything but he still did it and acted happy to do it.  He had a lame gimmack meant to make fun of him and he tried his best to deliver even when he got over and they changed it to try to stop him from getting over. 

They come better and they come worse then DDP as with almost everyone.  Still after initially hating him he gained my respect.  He wont be sorely missed but I wish him all the best in his retirement.  Here is hoping that he will do something helpful for the company in the future. 


Jak and Daxter rant

Well this game sure has gotten quiet a bit of hype.  Universally high reviews and praise have been heaped upon it.  Im a big fan of a good platformer and wanted the game but being poor I decided to just rent it.  I totally made the right decision.  It took me probably 7 hours (if that) to beat the game and complete 80% of all the possible things.  I may piddle around with it till it is due back and try to get 100% but really Im not all the concerned about it.   I doubt it would take much more then 4 more hours to complete everything especially if I used online help to open the mysterious precursor door at the end. 

The thing that amazes me about the good reviews is how absolutely derivative this game is.  There isnt an original concept in this game.  Like all 3d platform games (unless you count the awesome Jet Grind Radio as a 3d platform) it follows the Mario 64 format.  Which is have a bunch of boards in which you complete task to get an item (in this a power cell), each board has multiple task and as you get more of these items you unlock more of the world.  Its the standard format and actually quite a good one.  However Jak and Daxter take the coping one step further.   The gameplay is totally (and I mean totally) based off Banjo-Kazooie. 

Have all these reviewers never played Banjo?  I cant imagine they have with all the great reviews.  Are Playstation owners that  devoid of good platformers that they praise a total rip off as a great game? There is your hero with his smart mouthed little sidekick who team up to do combo moves.  Literally every action in Jak has a comparable action in Banjo.  Plus Banjo has many more options that arent  contained in Jak.  Also Banjo is probably 3 times bigger then Jak.  Basically Banjo is an awesome game and when compared next to it Jak sucks.  Jak may be the best platformer out yet for the PS2 and it may even be as good as anything for the PSX but lets face it, no PSX platformer were on the same level as Mario 64 or Banjo.  Right now Jak may even be the best platformer on a cutting edge system but in a three months Mario Sunshine will come around and probably absolutely smoke it. 

Jak and Daxter is a fun little game.  For the seven hours it takes to beat it youll have fun.  Yet that doesnt change the fact that it represents everything wrong with the industry.  Games that cost $50 dollars that you can beat in a half a rental and games that are just exactly like other games youve played.  However its not all the companies fault.  Naughty Dog has made a good buisness off of totally ripping off RARE or Nintendo.  Naughty Dog had better hope RARE stays second party because if they have to compete with RARE Naughty Dog will be running like a scalded dog.  Till then people buy their cheap rip off games and reviews continue to praise them.  Meanwhile a truly creative game like Conkers Bad Fur day totally bombs and the Dreamcast loaded with innovative games such as Shenmua, Crazy Taxi, Jet Grind Radio also bombs.   Stop buying these games!  Demand original games that actually are worth the money you spend on them.  Do not buy Jak and Daxter.  If you have some time and you only own a PS2 and you are desperate to play a platformer then rent it.  Or with the $50 dollars you were planning on wasting on this game buy a Dreamcast and have hundreds of hours of fun. 

dead at the age of 39

The British Bulldog becomes another wrestling tragedy
Tim and I were going to Judgement Day together in 2000.  We worked together at a shitty factory job and usually burned the hours talking about wrestling or exchanging dreams and such.  You were on this day planning on trying to get the best tickets possible for the big PPV.  We were hoping for right in camara view and if we got it (we didn't) we would bring some very negative signs. The main target that night for some reason became the British Bulldog. The best idea was Tim's of one saying "The British Pillhog",  I had the idea of a picture with Road Dogg and Davey saying Bettie Ford : The real Dog pound and the kicker Davey Boy 3:16 says i sold my family out to get a job.  Back in 2000 it was already clear Davey was going to end up as another wrestling tragedy.
What made me a fan of wrestling was the Hart Foundation angle in 1997. As a fan of the Harts I naturally became a fan of Davey Boy.  I proclaimed him and Owen the best tag team in the buisness with most WWF fans (i didn't know of the LCO or Kawada/Taue).  When he jumped to WCW I was frustrated by how poorly they used him.  I was mad at it.  He was lost and I wanted to see him.  So early in my wrestling fan life Bulldog was one of my favorites.  At the time though I didn't know so much.  I didn't know Davey was a drug addict.  I would have guessed he used steriods but I never comtimplated I was watching a dieing man.
In 1999 much more of the buisness was clear to me. It was rephrenseable how he used the tragic death of Owen to spring board into a job in the WWF.  It was equally terrible how the WWF used him as a public relations ploy saying they wanted to help him with his addiction then cut him lose when he was no longer of use for that. His problems with his family and domestic violence issues made me lose all respect for him. 
What is a tragedy?  Would Davey be alive now if he hadn't been a wrestler?  Probably.  Did he do this to himself?  Absolutely.  Davey took his drugs no one made him.  Davey surely knew the risk and just because he lived in a hard lifestyle is not an excuse.  In many ways his death is like a suicide.  A slow suicide.   The sad thing is that no one intervined.  Everyone knew Davey was going to end up dead but they let it continue till it was to late. 
Davey's finest moment in Wrestling can't even be credited to him.  In 1992 at Summerslam Bret Hart and him had one of the greatest matches in the history of the WWF.  And it was all due to Bret.  A totel carry job.  He was part of one of the best tag teams in the company as well  mainly due to how amazing his partner was the equally sad Dynamite Kid. 
Despite all this its still sad.  That we all were watching Davey die and could do nothing about it is sad.  That it happened as it had to happen isn't as sad.  That the way wrestling is will continue to facilate more Davey's is sad as well.  Davey isn't really a tragedy he is part of the larger wrestling tragedy that no one is doing anything about.  Is Eddy Guerrero next or is it HHH?  When will a truely big star die suddenly of drugs forcing media attention.  The way HHH looks it could be any day.  Although Hogan has made it this far.  Maybe instead of writing mournings for Davey we should come up with some solutions.   What they are I have no idea except for the federal government to enforce drug testing.  It may be time to stop crying and start demanding change.  RIP Davey Boy Smith. 

One of the Greats

The Babe Ruth of Wrestling passes at the age of 86
Well Pro Wrestling recieved the news that the great Lou Thesz had passed this weekend.  Truely this is a huge story but not a really sad one.  Thesz was 86 and by all accounts was healthy for the vast majority of it.  Lou Thesz represented everything that was good about wresting and also a link to wrestling history.  So he should be celebrated this is no wrestling tragedy.
Lou Thesz's accomplishments are among the greatest in wrestling history.  He was world champion 6 times for more the 4600 days. .  In his first NWA reign he defended the belt 936 times with wins.  An amazing accomplishment.  Thesz wrestled his last match in 1990 against his best student (Masahiro Chono) and reportedly did quite well for a man in his 70's.  Thesz himself was a great student of one of wrestlings legends Ed "Strangler" Lewis.  Lewis being the man who really popularized the headlock.  Lewis thought enough of Thesz to be his manager.
Its tough to gauge how good most people from the 50's and 40's were.  More tape exists of Thesz then probably anyone else.  This is a good thing because Thesz looks to be as good or better then anyone else of the era.   No one from the era looks anywhere near as good as the best of the 80's through today so Lou was not the best ever.  He also not the best draw ever and in many ways Gorgeous George was a bigger draw at the time.
Lou in the ring though for his time was really great though.  The first thing is he had an aura. Very few wrestlers just have an aura where you feel like they are a badass and can hurt someone.  Thesz walked and carried himself like a bad ass.  He did holds that looked vicious.  He hit hard and was no bull shit.  Lou was cool.  Again when you talk about innovative wrestlers Lou has to come up.  He invented the powerbomb although he didn't use it often and it wasn't popularized till later.  His most famous move was of course the Thesz press which was one of the more exciting finishers of his days.  Lou could grind a wrestler on the mat, punish them with strikes or do high end moves for the time such as a flying head scissors.
Another thing that always strikes me about Lou is how he truely seemed to be the one who invented the prototypical champion.  Lou was played the role that the match demanded in every case.  If he was facing the evil heel he played the determined babyface.  Against a young face he would play the craggy old heel.  Against a cocky shit eating heel he'd be the mean face giving them the ass kicking they deserved.  Lou always tried to play the role that would help the guy he was facing the most.  He was the champion he was the man he could give rubs.  Ric Flair tried to do that but in my oppinon was to over the top with it to be as good at it as Lou was.
Lou also has a major hand in the development of Japanese Wrestling.  He gave strong rubs to Rikidozan and later Inoki.  He was the first and maybe one of the few truely respected American Wrestlers.    Lou was to many just the champion and hense many champions after him have tried to pattern themselves after him. 
Thesz didn't have a major impact on wrestling after the 70's.  He didn't like the direction the buisness had taken.  He never became as silly or as bitter with his criticism as did say Sammartino but he did make clear his distaste.  Still he never harmed his legacy and is revered by many as the greatest ever. 

Old Man Tenyru gets the Cheappop.
First off let me say that I don't endorse picking on the worlds greatest referee: Kyohei Wada.  If he continues down that path he'll move down my list of favorite wrestlers really quick!
But anyway what is not to love about Genchiro Tenyru?  He's old, he's mean, he's over, and he still is one of the best wrestlers in the game.  When I say that don't get confused.  He is not nor has he ever been one of the elite wrestlers out there.  Yet for amazing portion of his career hes been a top 50 in the world (though rarely a top 10.)  Tenyru has a few unique honors.  According to many experts he had the best tag match ever up to the time when he and my hero Jumbo Tsuruta wrestled Chosyhu and Yatsu in 1986.  I haven't seen the match yet but its high on my want list.   Then in June of 1989 he had the best singles match up to the point against Jumbo.  Now have no doubt that match was what it was mainly because of Jumbo.  Jumbo may well have been the best wrestlers ever and no worse then top 3.  Yet Tenyru was excellent in that match and I think he deserves some credit for being in the match that established the style that AJPW would use for the 90's. 
Tenyru has a couple of unique honors.  He is the only native to hold both the IWGP title and the Triple Crown and he is the only native to have pinned both Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki. 
Its tough to sum up what I like about Tenyru.  Maybe its the fact that he's a tough bastard.  This is a guy who is not afraid to take as stiff as strikes as you want to give and then give it right back.  His match with Hashimoto is considered one of the stiffest ever in New Japan and his match with Kawada in 2000 is probably the stiffest I've ever seen. 
The thing that really seperates Tenyru is I still enjoy seeing the lumpy old bastard go.  He's not like Flair or somebody who when I watch them I feel like they are just a shadow of their former self.  Tenyru by amping up the stiffness and using his brain and experience has allowed himself to stay as good as ever. He really is as entertaining to me now as he was in the 80's.  Plus he's a total old asshole which you just have to love.  So to Genchiro Tenyru enjoy your cheappop!

A man who should be the smart's champion as well

The Rock gets a cheappop.

I remember years ago way back in 1998 the Rock became the smart's champion. As a smart alecky heel with charisma and good looks we all snickered when people would chant Rocky sucks. We were smarter we knew he would be the next big thing. We loved the people's elbow what a great way to taunt and show your attitude we said. When the Rock won the belt we felt justified for saying it. The only people who didn't like the Rock would be purofreaks like I am now who critized the gapping holes in his psychology and his use of the peoples chinlock and such. Looking back we were all right. When I watch Rock matches from 1998 he was pretty bad in many ways but damn he's just got that charisma thing down.

However 1999 came and so did the Rock's face turn. Vince Russo had the book and in his genius he decided that catch phrases were over so he would just have the Rock spew on catch phrase after another. Rock got hugely over but was about as stale as possible. He was put in fueds with Billy Gunn, the Big Show, and the NAO naturally these matches sucked. I was very Anti Rock at this point and hoped he would just go away.

Around Wrestlemania things changed the Rock started cutting creative promos again and stepped up his work rate. Since that time Rock has been as consistently entertaining as anyone in the WWF's roster. More entertaining then HHH or Kurt Angle and almost as good as Austin.

In the ring Rock will never be Jumbo Tsuruta (i worked Jumbo into a column again!!!!) In many ways he is a male Manami Toyota in the ring. Manami was never a psychological marvel and she had pacing problems which are the Rock's two main problems although I think he paces better then Manami. Rock has a good moveset (Manami had a great one), Rock has excellent timing as in he knows when to comeback how hard to comeback when to tease a comeback and when to sell (Manami was excellent at this), and Rock sells hard (as did Manami.) Rock can actually sell his injuries pretty well when that is the story of the match when its not he doesn't but usually no injury is established so it doesn't matter now does it. What this means is that Rock isn't going to go in there and carry Billy Gunn to a great match but he is a very light load to carry just like Manami was.

An example of this is his match against Jericho. Now some Jericho bashers may not realize this was a Jericho match but it was. The structure was a carbon copy of Misawa/Kawada 6-3-94 and for some reason I doubt the Rock has been boning up on his Kawada recently. I know Jericho does study Japanese tapes. The match starts off with Jericho taking it to Rock hard in a very heelish manner showing how badly he wants it and his frustration with being held down (just like Kawada did.) Eventually this peters out and Rock takes control and just beats the living hell out of Jericho. He is pissed off from Jericho's behavior earlier and the fact that Jericho is trying to steal is spot and just goes ultra dickish on him (just like Misawa did). Then the go to the big finish where Jericho throws everything he has at Rock but just can't finish him off (just like Kawada couldn't). This is wear sports entertainment breaks in. In the Misawa Kawada match most people who probably visit this site know (if you don't you are ordered to buy a custom comp from me featuring that match) Misawa regroups and unleashes an absolutly viciuos assualt on Kawada that even no one could withstand. In this match Stephanie interferes and Jericho cheats to win. If your wondering that and many other reasons are why Misawa/Kawada is 5 stars and this match was 3 1/2 stars. The thing that impressed me is that Rock played the ace. He allowed the crowd to get behind Jericho and his quest. He did it quite well actually. This is not something a bad wrestler could do. It again showed that while Rock is not a psychogist out there he can easily accomplish someone elses goals. In other words as a load that has to be carried Rock just like Manami ways about 1 pound. This is why even though he has psychological flaws and isn't as stiff as some of us would like he consistently puts out good to very good matches.

His interviews are outside of Austin's easily the best in the buisness. He has smooth delivery and a great wit. The Rock's character has actually developed into something likeable as of late. He is smart, he stands up for what is right, he doesn't get fooled, he fights as hard as he can but he fights fair, and he is an individual. Plus he actually kisses girls which is a nice change from all the homoerotic stuff the WWF likes to throw our way. In other words if you think the Rock sucks you are wrong and its just that simple. Rock hasn't had to grow but he consistently has. Hell he doesn't even have to wrestle anymore but he does. The Rock could refuse to job but he always does the right thing. Bottomline Rock is everything right about wrestling.

the mans man

JHM- Thanks Vince for granting this interview.
VKM- Your very welcome I always am willing to speak to the average everyday fan.
JHM- First off what is with all of this showing off your ass?
VKM- Well thats a very good question and one that has a very simple answer. It so happens that Ive been reading in my wrestling observers about how the WWF has been losing fans in the over 30 market.
JHM- What does this have to do with your ass
VKM- Bear with me remember I once took down a group of Navy seals by myself.
JHM- I thought it was you and your friends beat up some Marines.
VKM- Notwithstanding that this is another story. They basically were hitting on my wife a few years back and so I ran up behind them with a crowbar and beat them all silly. You know they teach you fitness and stuff in the Seals but that doesnt help much when someone beats you over the head with a crowbar. Back to your original question. Basically I was sitting back and thinking about the current product and I realized that we werent offering T and A for an adult audience.
JHM- Huh?
VKM- Thats right I realized that older people want to see older people so I figured if it got around that I was showing off my ass that older people would be attracted. I think this will help the WWFs image.
JHM- Huh?
VKM- Thats right we are standing up for the rights of old people to show off their bodies. Were saying that your body is still beautiful after 50 and should be shown off just as much. In fact we are planning in showing off my beautiful wife in a thong bikini soon.
JHM- Are you out of your mind?
VKM- Absolutely not. You see Im not worried if the ratings dont reflect it right now because you see at rest homes 20 people crowd around one television. I feel confident that we will start getting those TVs switched to the WWF. So the ratings may reflect no change at first nevertheless we are confident in our new older brand. Were considering starting new older brands such as adult body building and a senior football league. We feel here at the WWF its for the whole family.even Grandpa and Grandma.
JHM- Do you think you and your wife are enough?
VKM- Why do you think Im bringing in people like Ric Flair? Do you remember the outfit Billy Gunn and Chyna wore at Fully Loaded 1999?
JHM- Im trying to forget.
VKM- Well that is the outfit the nature boy will wear in his return to the ring WHOOOOOO!!!
JHM- Shivers
VKM- Moolah, Mae Young, Lilani Kae, Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, hell I think Mae Young wheeling Freddie Blassie in matching g-strings would be ratings gold. Or maybe I should save that for a pay per view?
JHM- Maybe a house show instead?
VKM- Good idea good idea.
JHM- Can we change the subject?
VKM- Youre the one giving the interview.
JHM- Now many people have critized the WWFs drug policy in recent years.
VKM- We dont need a drug policy because the WWFs lockerroom is the cleanest its ever been. Why now instead of going to Bars everyone stays together and watches wrestling tapes and plays Dungeon and Dragons. In fact I happen to have the strongest Wizard in the locker room.
JHM- Really what else do you do in the locker room?
VKM- Well recently the Undertaker, the Big Show, and I have been studying Japanese tapes.
JHM- Wow you do you like.
VKM- I got to tell you there is some revolutionary stuff going on there I was just wowed that we would let Giant Silva go. His match with Scott Norton was UN BE LIEVABLE.
JHM- What do you think about Kawada?
VKM- Oh much to small and way to stiff. But Ill tell you what he had a couple of whatamaneuvers.
JHM- Many people criticize the WWF for not creating new talent what do you have to say.
VKM- I find this funny because Chris Jericho is older then the Rock and Chris Benoit is older then HHH so how are we not pushing young talent? Notwithstanding though we are going to be bringing in some new talent.
JHM- such as?
VKM- Well this is going to be a huge story but we are going to be bringing in a major face to renew a feud with the Undertaker!
JHM- Who?
VKM- Guess!
JHM- Um Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Golddust!
VKM- Giant Gonzalas!
VKM- We feel that one of our problems has been that we havent paid off feuds well enough. There was never a satisfactory end to the Giant Gonzalas Taker feud so were going to bring him back as a face. We feel this will renew the Undertaker as a heel.
VKM- When we bring in the Giant Gonzalas it will reinforce that anything can happen in the WWF. In fact were hoping to build up for a three way mega dance between The Big Show/Giant Gonzalas vs Undertaker/Kane vs The Outsiders for RRRRRRRRRSTLEMANIAAAAAAAAA!!!!
JHM- Why not just throw Mable and King Kong Bundy in and make it a four way.
VKM- (gets a thoughtful look on his face) Hmmmmm maybe we should save that one for Summerslam we dont want to hotshot.
JHM- Your probably right.
VKM- Hey Im VINCE MCMAHON Im never wrong.
JHM- But yet you have your critics on the Internet.
VKM- What? What about Wrestleline!
JHM- They are out of buisness Vince
VKM- Damnit that mean I have to pay off another website. Is the torch still in buisness?
JHM- Yes
VKM- Good that means I only have to pay off one more.
JHM- Vince I think we should end this interview.
VKM- Your welcome Jerad anytime. Just try to keep the calls between 4 and 6 the nurses here in the sanitarium dont think its good for me to talk to often.

the dangerous queen

Akira Hokuta

I definatly won't be the first or the last to anthologize the Dangerous Queen. I think she has the most loyal internet fan base of any female wrestler. Deep down we all know Mutoh isn't nearly as good as Misawa but for some reason we love him and just like with him we love Akira. Akira in many ways always reminds me of Mutoh. Her body much like his is totally broken down and she has a willingness to phone in matches like Keiji. Yet on some days that magic returns and she is again the best female wrestler on the planet. I haven't seen her match with Satamura yet but I'm sure I will love it and just watch as Hokuta shows hows its done.

Hokuta in many ways is like Kawada as well. She's tough, determined, yet she always fells a bit short just like Kawada. Just like Kawada at the Tokyo Dome she shared her greatest moment with the promotions greatest moment. They both were shapped by this in their character's. Hokuta's whole persona was a grug condescending tough girl image. yet this was a woman who cried, who bleed buckets trying desperatly to salvage a victory from an unbeatable opponent. Hokuta seemed to live her gimmick and the best example of that is her 1991 match against Toyota. This match is famous for her busting her knee so she couldn't walk with it and it bleed profusely. Hokuta tried to continue desperatly begging them not to stop the match. Crying as she did. Watching her we know this is not the reaction the Dangerous Queen would have wanted to give but we know that is the one she would have given. I don't think their is a more powerfull example of what a worked wrestling match can mean to a wrestler then that.

This is a woman who wrestled for months with a slightly broken neck and then rebroke it and finished the damn match. These are the most amazing stories of toughness I've heard in wrestling and they are about a woman. When we watch women's wrestling often times we are dazzled by their beauty and sometimes its hard to not focus on that or to take them as seriously as a man. Hokuta was hot in her prime but I could never look at her like that. Before I even knew the stories I took her seriously it was just in the way she carried herself and the deep story her matches told. There was just always a determination and a vulnerablity in her that I've never seen in anyone else.

Like I say I think the key to that is that is the way she actually is. Hokuta respects tradition and the promotions she works for. It had to be hard for her to come back after having a baby. It had never been done. Yet she did and remains one of the top women draws in Japan. She had to be scared but she did it and succeeded. Akira's body is beaten down and ravaged but occasionally we see sparks that show that she was at one point the best women's wrestler I've ever seen. (Jaguar Yokuta is the best ever due to longevitiy and consistancy, Akira was better on a given night IMO.)

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