SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.

Friday, August 31, 2001

Letters to Eric

Eric Benner
Special to SLAM! Sports

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Greetings wrestling fans, welcome to a special reader feedback edition of this column. I'm still on vacation, so if there was some kind of big controversy at SummerSlam or since then, you won't see it discussed here. Let's get right to it.

We start with Baron von Imhoof, from, who writes:
"For those of us not able to find out elsewhere, what is the deal with Goldberg? I'm not saying he's the best wrestler I ever saw, but the guy was a DRAW. He reminded me of Dick the Bruiser in his Indianapolis heyday.

Is this business really so small that the one company of any import cannot make people like Goldberg, Nash, Scott Hall et al happy and keep the Austins, Undertakers et al satisfied? Or are there personality problems here? I'm just a fan, not an expert."

Goldberg, unlike most of WCW's talent but much the same as Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, and others, had and still has a guaranteed contract with AOL-Time Warner, which was not purchased with the rest of the federation by the WWF. His contract is worth a lot of money, and he would lose a lot of it to go to the WWF.

That means either he has to take a big pay cut and actually work for his money, or the WWF would have to offer up some big money to get him to work. Offering Goldberg, a successful but not entirely proven star who has been less than cooperative in the past with bookers and management, a high dollar contract might upset other wrestlers and create a pretty bad working atmosphere. For those out there who think that doesn't matter, try to remember the Clique during its heyday.

Goldberg was a draw, but I am not convinced that he still is. He certainly wasn't when he "turned heel".

Blair Burch, from, writes:
Ken Shamrock "I disagreed with your portrayal of Ken Shamrock last week but this week when you said my favourite grappler of all time just plain sucks I had to respond.

I very much enjoyed watching Ken in the WWF. His moves looked like they hurt, a lot. He never really tried to act, he just went out and mauled people -- sounds like Chris Benoit in a lot of ways there and you've never dissed Benoit for not being able to act. Some of us actually prefer as little mike work as possible in a show, hence the reason I have always supported the fed that had the most wrestling and least talk. I would love to see Shamrock back in the WWF and hope his current negotiations work out so I can see him kick Kurt's little girl Olympic ass all over the ring, because KURT SUCKS. He isn't half as good in the ring as Shamrock, and not half as funny with the stick as the likes of Jericho and Edge & Christian. At least Shamrock was always honest about the fact that he wasn't a mike worker, but that was never what he was paid for."

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Ken Shamrock never tried to act? His whole gimmick was an act. Between the screaming and the snapping and the faux intensity, he seemed way too over the top. A poorly acted way too over the top, to boot.

You're right, there are comparisons to be made between Chris Benoit and Shamrock. And I have taken Benoit to task in the past, for this. I've never been light on him. As much as I love him as a wrestler -- and make no mistake, Benoit is twice the professional wrestler that Shamrock was, I've always thought he needed to improve his presence. He's improving, but a charismatic man with his in-ring skills would have been WWF champion by now. He's still not.

As far as Kurt Angle 'sucking', I refer you to the first line of this reply, but Angle in my opinion combines the best of all worlds: great in-ring moves, strong psychology, dedication to the sport, a seemingly endless willingness to job, strong promos, and even a defiance of the stereotypical 'crazy muscle-bound wrestlers' you speak of. He'll be wrestling's poster boy in 2002.

Still, that's besides the point. Ken Shamrock may be a superb ultimate fighter, and he could probably kick all of our collective butts while holding his breath, but he's a poor pro wrestler in close to every category. Every category except 'suplex', because he's really good at that, I admit.

Bayu Dharmasetia, from, writes:
"Lost in this Invasion angle are HHH and Benoit. When they return from injury, where do you see them go? What if....

1) HHH joins his wife in ECW? Would giving this faction a bonafide main event heel make things redundant (with Austin as another main event heel), or can it set up a split in the Alliance, making it a three-way dance like it was for real a while back (which is something I was curious to see from the beginning)?

2) Heyman had been saying for a while that Benoit was WCW's undefeated champion. Given that, and the way Benoit left WCW, and the great matches for the WCW TV title he had with Booker T, is this feud the obvious way to go? Oh, and one more thing....

3) Is Jericho doomed to be held back to mid-card status for life? I'm glad Angle is benefiting from this storyline, but it seems you were right in predicting Y2J's push would peter out. Will he ever go over the hump? Thanks."

I agree with you on all three counts, Bayu. I think that Triple H's return, especially if followed by a turn to ECW to join Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, could bolster the Alliance's lineup sufficiently that it could break up. The problem is, the Alliance is already smaller than the WWF, so I think more WWF stars would have to turn to make it a viable three-way dance.

Chris Benoit would make an excellent opponent for Booker T, for sure. Both men have always said their favourite WCW matches were against each other. However, I think the WWF is trying to develop Booker T less as a wrestler and more as a performer, and I think it's working. So a program with Benoit may or may not be in the works when he returns.

I'm not entirely sure that Chris Jericho is being buried right now, having watched him in his share of main event matches on Raw and Smackdown! over the past month, but he sure doesn't seem to be gaining much from the new order of things. I still don't think that WWF management is entirely pleased with Y2J, and that we may not see much more of him until they are.

Keith Wilcutt, from, writes:
"The promotional poster for the September World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view, Unforgiven, has been released, and it seems as if the focus will be on the current WWF Champion, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin. With Austin set to defend the WWF Championship against Kurt Angle at this month's SummerSlam, along with The Rock meeting Booker T, more than likely for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship taking place at the same pay-per-view event.

In all likelihood, Austin will retain the WWF Championship after his meeting with Kurt Angle, as it will draw more importance to his inevitable meeting with The Rock down the road, more than likely at Unforgiven or No Mercy (in October) at the latest.

On the other side of things, it would make perfect sense for The Rock to defeat Booker T at SummerSlam, thus taking the WCW Championship. With both Austin and The Rock possessing World Championships, a match between the two would be much anticipated and would probably be labeled as a 'Title for Title' match-up. 'The Greatest of Battles are Fought From Within' is the tagline for the Unforgiven pay-per-view in September. The image makes it appear as if at the time of this show, Austin will be battling his inner demons. By the time the event takes place and judging from recent happenings on WWF Television, Debra very well may leave Austin, and 'the rattlesnake' could very well be on the outs with the 'Alliance'."

Actually, if the WWF were planning a big match between Austin and The Rock, then to me, you'd have an Unforgiven poster featuring both of them. Instead, I think that they are or were uncertain of how things would proceed after SummerSlam, and so they left Austin alone on the poster. That gives them more leeway, as he can fight anyone without contradicting their promotional poster, whereas had they also added The Rock, then that match would be the only plausible main event.

It's also just as likely, to me, that Angle should defeat Austin at SummerSlam, and that the Austin poster (which portrays Steve Austin as insane or something) might reflect a frustrated Austin without his title, maybe even seeking it back from Angle. After his berating session against Alliance members on the Raw before SummerSlam, that seems as likely as anything.

Then again, by the time you read this, all will perhaps be clear, and this won't even be an issue. Or maybe the WWF will continue its pace (a pace broken before SummerSlam) of only announcing the show's actual card a week before the show.

Regardless, that's all the time we have. I'll be back next week with a brand-new column. Until then, have a nice weekend and enjoy your summer.

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