Tossing Salt - Worldwide News
November 20, 2008
Well, I said I wanted to get back into the game, but did anyone really expect another column again this soon? From the great procrastinator? Surprise!
I'm Doug and after a nine hour shift at the Hellmouth II, two surveys, a blog and a four-page letter handwritten to a very special person, you'd think I'd be tired and ready for bed, wouldn't you?
But for some reason, I'm still wide awake. So I decided this would be a nice time to sit down at the computer and spend a little time writing about one of my favorite subjects. But then I realized that most of you folks could care less about American politics. Even I'm kind of burned out on them at this point. The whole "election process" ran about a year too long. And the wrong guy won, in my opinion.
But I'm not complaining or fussing about all that. Instead, I'm going to talk about the best professional wrestling has to offer. Or at least who I consider to be the very best. I'll keep it pretty short, but I just wanted to discuss some of the superstars I've been able to enjoy as a fan over the past thirty-plus years. The two topics I have in mind are pretty straight-forward. Who were the greatest wrestlers to never hold a "World" Championship? And who are the most likely prospects out there to be future "World Champions"?
And I want feedback on this. I want to know what you think of my opinions and I want to know yours as well. And I'll use the feedback for another column sometime within the next few days. How's that for a plan? And now...
"Six Minutes! Six Minutes! Six Minutes, Dougie Fresh and You're On!"....
Oops! Wrong column. This is "Pro Wrestling's Most Eclectic Column Since 2003", the one and only (thank goodness for that) "Tossing Salt - Worldwide News!"
Let's do this...
The Six Greatest Wrestlers To Never Be A "World Champion"...
Just a quick clarification before I start naming names. By "World", I mean WWE, WCW, NWA, AWA, ECW or TNA Champion. So if a wrestler has held any of these titles, he's not eligible for this list. (And yes, that includes the WWE's version of the ECW Championship even though we all know that it's actually considered a secondary title by the WWE. In my eyes, Matt Hardy is the ECW World Champion. Vince and company may not agree, but my column, my list, and my standards. So there!)
Arn Anderson: The man was legit tough as nails, well respected by his peers and the fans, and viewed by most as one of the most credible wrestlers to ever step foot in the ring. He even managed in less than one month to score wins over both Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair in WCW. Yet he was never seriously considered for a run with the WCW title. Yet Diamond Dallas Page, Kevin Nash & Lex Luger all got runs with the gold. And Arn could work circles around any of them.
I think this was strictly a political move. Arn was loyal to his friend, Ric Flair. And thus, while Ric was the champ or in power, Arn would be the faithful sidekick. And when Ric wasn't the champ or didn't have the stroke behind him, Arn would be used as the scapegoat by those in power to get at Flair.
This is one case where loyalty and friendship hurt Arn more than it helped. If he had played the politics, worked with Hogan & Bischoff, etc., he probably would have at least gotten a transitional run with the gold. But he wouldn't and didn't. And ended up in retirement due to injury before his "time" could ever come.
He has a reputation and legacy as one of the "Horsemen", as the "Enforcer", as one of the greatest tag team wrestlers of all time. But just think how nice it would have been if he could have added "World Champion" to that resume. He definitely had the talent, charisma and in-ring skills necessary. He just never had the title. And it sucks!
Scott Hall: Unlike Double-A, who had most of his problems due to his relationship to Flair, Hall's problems came mostly from himself. He had a great charisma. His in-ring abilities were top notch. The fans loved him, even when he was a heel. He has a great mind for wrestling and helped on the booking for the company. He could play the politics as well as anyone and had strong political ties with Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, , etc. There was no reason for him not to be the WCW World Champion... except for the personal habits and demons that kept pulling him down.
Love him or hate him, Scott Hall is a fascinating and amazing person. And he's a perfect example of someone who could have had it all... and should, but for those demons who he repeatedly embraces. I love to watch Scott wrestle and I love to hear him talk. I can't think of ever seeing a bad "Scott Hall" match. But I can't watch him much anymore because all I see instead of what was is what could have been. He could have been one of the greatest World Champions of all time. Instead, all we can do is just sit and wonder "what if..?".
Bruiser Brody: He could wrestle. He could brawl The fans would always turn out for Brody and pay big money to see him perform. And he was well respected by most of his peers. So why was he never the NWA Champion?
Simple! The man was a true "wrestling maverick" in that he lived by his own rules and did his own thing. The promoters were scared and intimidated by Brody. He didn't listen to them. He would come to a territory, make some money and then move on. And he did it his way.
The promoters wanted wrestlers that they could control, or who would at least show them respect. All Brody cared about was making sure the check cleared and moving on to his next territory. He created a legacy and legend that will never be matched. But he also paid the price for this legacy and that's that he was never given a run with what mattered most in wrestling.. the ten pounds of gold.
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper: Piper was a case of someone who didn't need the WWF title to be over. Hogan was the champ, but Piper was the man that the fans kept paying to see and wanted to hear. Putting the title on Piper back in the mid-eighties would have been like sticking another ornament on a Christmas tree. It might be pretty and make you feel good, but it's just an ornament and doesn't really mean anything.
There's only one "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and unlike the rest of my picks for this topic, I don't think his being overlooked for a title run is really any kind of disgrace to the wrestling business. I just feel that Piper, especially the Piper of the early and mid-80's was so over, he didn't need the title. But it still would have made a nice notation for his resume.
"Magnificent" Don Muraco: Talk about wrestlers who could talk, had great in-ring ability, could work a crowd and have a good match with anyone, and you have to include Don Muraco on that list. Don was arguably one of the best workers around in the mid-80's, but instead of being given respect, a strong push and a run with the WWF title, he was stuck with Mr. Fuji doing "Fuji Vice".
Don't get me wrong. That was funny. But Muraco deserved far better. I had the opportunity to see Muraco in a feud with Wahoo McDaniel here in the Carolinas in 1981-82 and then get into a feud with Roddy Piper on Georgia Championship Wrestling a few years later. Muraco more than held his own against both Wahoo and Piper and was a savage beast.
It's just too bad that he was lost in the shuffle of the WWF, with Piper and Hogan hogging the top spots because he deserved to be in those spots. He deserved to be a champion. But alas, he never was.
"Playboy" Buddy Rose: A dark-horse contender to be sure, but think about it. As any wrestling fan from the Pacific Northwest in the late 70's and mid-80's can tell you, few men could get in that ring each and every night and compare to "The Playboy". He could work the crowd and play the face. As he proved time and time again during his run in the AWA, along with partner Doug Somers, he could manipulate the crowd and generate heel heat second to none. And he could wrestle. He could talk.
He certainly wasn't a conventional athlete with his "dough-boy physique" and antics, but looks can often be deceiving and the guy was a top notch worker in all ways and could have a great match with anyone. And he could put butts in the seats.
While I can't see Rose as a long term champion, aka Harley Race or Ric Flair, there was no reason that he couldn't have been a transitional champ, aka Kerry Von Erich or Tommy Rich. It would have worked and he would have been extremely awesome and credible in that role. It just didn't work out that way though and all we can do now is think about what "could have been"
Guys who get honorable mention in this category include: Blackjack Mulligan, "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, Magnum TA, Wahoo McDaniel & Bill "The Masked Superstar" Eadie.
Moving on from guys who should have been champion to the next category, which is at the other end of the spectrum. Again, this is strictly my opinion, but the next six names are wrestlers who I feel WILL BE World Champions at some point in their career. They've got that special "it" factor that sets them apart and makes them shine just that much brighter than the rest of the names out there. If you don't agree with my picks, or feel I've missed someone, feel free to let me know who and why. And that being said, let's do this...
The Six Wrestlers Who Will Be "World Champion" Someday...
"The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels: Why Daniels is wasting him time in TNA right now as the "Curry Man" is beyond me, but the man is without a doubt one of the best talents in wrestling today. He splits his time between Japan and TNA, which is probably the only reason he hasn't worn the TNA Championship yet, but it's just a matter of time.
Whether it's in the ring or on the mic, as a heel or as a face, Daniels is just one of those men who stand out in the crowd. Along with AJ Styles, Daniels is, in my opinion, the heart and soul of TNA. And eventually, he'll be their champion as well.
William Regal: The WWE and the McMahon's love William Regal. Ever since he first joined the WWE roster as the "Man's Man", left for a brief time, and then came back, WWE Creative (meaning Vince) had made it a point to keep Regal in a prominent position on the roster. He's been a "Commissioner" , a "General Manager", a multi-time Intercontinental Champion and a Tag Team Champion. And despite a trip to rehab, two "Wellness" violations and a long illness, he's still getting that push as the "King of the Ring" and the new Intercontinental Champion. Which proves one of two things - either Regal has some great blackmail material on one of the McMahons... or no matter what he does outside of the ring, they realize that the man can talk better than 98% of the roster and wrestle circles around them as well.
To be honest, I feel that if he hadn't gotten those "Wellness" violations, Regal would probably have already been the World or ECW Champion by now. I don't think he'll ever get a long and defining reign as a World Champ, but before his days as an active wrestler end, I strongly suspect that his lovefest with the McMahons will pay off and we'll see him with a short reign as "the man". And who can argue that he doesn't deserve it? Certainly not I?
Ted DiBiase: His dad never got a chance to wear the WWE title, but I have a strong suspicion that the younger DiBiase will have that chance. After just a short time in the WWE, the WWE has pegged Ted Jr. to star in the movie for WWE Films, "The Marine II". If they're putting that kind of faith in him now, just imagine what they'll do when he returns to the ring after filming the movie and the kind of push he'll be getting. Lots of TV time, a major feud, and maybe even a run with one of the major titles. Now that really would be "Simply Priceless".
Jeff Hardy: Let's put it like this. If Jeff Hardy does not win the WWE Championship this Sunday at the Survivor Series, then they may as well just give up on him entirely. The push is there. The character has been reworked and the fans actually give a damn about Hardy, despite the fact that he's lost two PPV title shots in a row against Triple H. It's his time and he's peaking. And come this weekend, unless the WWE is totally stupid, Jeff should become the new WWE Champion.
The Miz: No, I don't expect Miz to pop up next week and be the WWE Champion, but the improvement the man has made over the past year has been next to amazing. If he continues to wrestle like he did on Monday night against Shawn Michaels and improve as he has over the past year, I don't think it's too far fetched to see Miz as a future ECW Champion. He's always gotten on my nerves from day one, but now I'm finding myself looking forward to watching the man talk and perform. He's got charisma and the ability to talk, and he's becoming quite a decent wrestler as well. Miz as the WWE or World Champion? It'll happen. Can you say, "Hoo-Rah!"
Santino Marella: OK, I don't really think that Santino will be a World Champion anytime soon... or ever for that matter, but I just like the idea of a "Hulk-A-Meter" or maybe the idea of Santino comparing himself to such great former champs as Stan Stasiak, Vince Russo, David Arquette, Kane, etc. The promos would be incredible and funny.
The "Honk-A-Meter" may be dead and gone now and Santino may not end up as the "Greatest Intercontinental Champion of All Time", which is a shame, but the gimmick is a good one and it would be fun times for all of us... and the way WWE has been lately, we need all the "fun times" we can get.
And there you go, my opinions of who the best that never were are and who are the best of who might be. Just sayin'.
And now, because ya'll like it..
Who Am I?
This was my question last week in the previous column.
I made my wrestling debut in 1973 after being trained by Verne Gagne and Billy Robinson and went on to a pretty good career wrestling primarily in the Pacific Northwest and the AWA. My best known feud is probably against a young "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, although some fans may know me best for a tag team feud my partner and I had against The Midnight Rockers in the late 80's.
I've always been good at inciting the crowds, whether it be by doing "pose-downs" with my unique physique, one armed push-ups in the ring, or arguing with the ring announcers at their obvious "mistake" when calling my weight. I did a run in the WWF in the early 80's where I was managed by the "Grand Wizard" and had several great matches with Bob Backlund and Pedro Morales. I was also in a very important match at the first Wrestlemania. Some people felt that I would "blow away" after my WWF run ended, but I kept wresting for many years afterwards, before finally retiring in 2005. I currently run a wrestling school with a long time associate and continue to make personal appearances. Who am I?
And the answer was (drum roll please) "The Playboy" Buddy Rose.
Correctly guessing the identity of the Las Vegas Love God were Harold Schwan, "The ICP's Favorite Juggalo & Uncle" Uncle JJ, and Big Davey Cool! And thanks to Tecty too, just for being so awesome and cool.
Awesome job, my friends.
And now for the newbie, if you will.
I began my wrestling career in 1981 after graduating from Syracuse University and quickly became a fan favorite in Florida as part of a tag team with my future brother-in-law. I did a brief run in the Carolinas where I was the "protege" of "The Boogie Woogie Man" Valiant where he tried to make me "street tough".
I moved back to Florida and then my partner and I then moved to the WWF where we were "Expressed" to the top of the tag team division and quickly became the top faces on the tag team scene. We won the titles only to lose them at the first show of a now long-running WWE tradition. My partner left and I was teamed up with a replacement partner, but we only had limited success.
I returned to Florida for a while and then became part of a "club" in WCW where our academic status figured prominently. It was around this time that I began to learn about the fundamentals of "Wall Street". I moved back to the WWF and formed a big-money partnership with a major name and Jimmy Hart. It was around this time that I decided that April 15th was my favorite day of the year and someone needed to go after the "real crooks" and "tax cheats".
After an injury to my partner, I went solo for a while, traveled down South for a while to become part of the biggest faction / angle in wrestling history, and then, after being kicked out of that group, I helped reform an earlier faction which centered around Kevin Sullivan and a trampoline bouncing valet. I then moved on to Japan where I wrestled for several years before retiring in 2004.
In 2006, I became part of the backstage scene at WWE, working as a "Producer" and occasionally popping up on the TV as well. My last "match" took place in March, 2008 when my brother-in-law and I faced off against two old rivals in a Wrestlemania Rematch.
Who Am I?
Yeah, those are a lot of clues and hints. Think you know the answer? Well, let me know who you think this coniving schyster is. Send your answers to Doug28352@yahoo. com and tell me what you think. Any comments and questions in regards to the "Who Am I?", or anything I've talked about in this column are definitely welcome.
And that'll do it for now. I'll be back in a couple of days with my Survivor Series predictions and some more thoughts and comments on different stuff. So you've been warned.
Come visit me on MySpace at www.myspace. com/salt_ palace. Add me as a friend. You know you want to.
And that's it. I'm Doug and I'm gone. Until the next time, "Dat is all de' people need to know!"
See you in two!