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SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

SLAM! Sports
SLAM! Wrestling







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

Thursday, September 24, 1998

Benner's likes and dislikes

Eric Benner
By ERIC BENNER
Special to SLAM! Sports


A weekly
SLAM! Wrestling
Editorial Column

Previous columns
Each and every day, I log into my email and see what SLAM!'s readers have to say to me. I get a ton of mail, so I don't usually answer it unless it's really called for, and I post the good ones in my column that week. Something occurred to me this week. A lot of people out there, people who are writing suggestions for columns or just to chat, have no idea what I like or dislike about the sport. To save myself a whole lot of "sorry, I'd write about how the Bulldog and the Anvil deserve the WCW tag titles, but I just don't feel that way" responses, I'm going to do what took me months of columns to do when I wrote elsewhere: I'm going to just tell you what I like and dislike about the sport of wrestling.

When given the choice, I always take the bad news first, so I'll start this column off with what I don't like about wrestling.

Gang warfare done wrong: I hate it when -- and WCW is probably guiltier of this than the WWF -- interference is used so often that people's records start to look like 1-0 with 1 pinfall, 57 DQ wins, and 34 DQ losses. This applies to far too many WCW main events. Fine, interference and counter-interference can be cool from time to time, but if I don't get a few good, clean pinfalls on every card, wrestling loses its continuity.

Eric Bischoff on-camera: I say this with two meanings in mind. First, I don't think that Bischoff is so hot as manager of the nWo. I think he's quite boring, actually. "Town that Hollywood built, nothing but love," alright, got it, enough. Secondly and far more importantly, this guy is too involved in what he's producing. Maybe he'd be making the booking decisions that attracted me to WCW in the first place if he removed himself for awhile.

Forced-down the throat gimmicks: Try a gimmick once. If it doesn't work, ditch it. If fans don't react to something the first time, or the second time, or the third time, the odds that they'll care about attempt number four are slim. Don't waste my time with your efforts to capitalize on all those promos you made for Glacier, or your roller-coaster ride that is Vader's push. I just don't care anymore.

Ric Flair: Don't get me wrong. This guy is an icon, and he's fun to watch. But he's an old man, he gets out of breath during interviews, and I hope he never dons tights again. Stick around, cut interviews if your lungs can handle it, but please, stay out of that ring.

Stiff wrestlers: I've never been a fan of stiff wrestling. Ken Shamrock, Steve Blackman, Dan Severn, Ernest Miller, and so on. Fine, they could probably kick the tar out of someone behind the scenes, but I'd rather see some wimp who actually looks tough than a real tough guy who can't sell his own moves.

Scott Hall/LOD's gimmick: I think this is shameless. Stop it. Some people, including Scott Hall, have real problems with drinking. Don't embarrass your sport with this ridiculous display.

I don't think wrestling is all bad, obviously, since I watch it every week and venture so far as to write about it. Here's what makes me happy to be a wrestling fan.

Gang warfare done right: I love interference, when it's well-done. A great example of this would be RAW is War from the week before last. Rock on Kane. People's elbow. Rock is winning. Undertaker interferes. Mankind levels Kane with a sledgehammer. Rock, who was winning before the interference began, takes the match with a pin. Another good example: Bret Hart's numerous uses of brass knuckles in WCW. That's cheating well-done.

Eric Bischoff off-camera: Don't get me wrong. I've got nothing for love for the town that Eric built. If he'd just stick to what he does best, running a company, I think he'd have as much or success as Mr. McMahon.

Surprise gimmicks: I love it when something unexpected happens. When fans react not as expect to a gimmick or match, the true stars emerge. Those who are able to capitalize become superstars shortly thereafter. After his clean WrestleMania loss to Bret Hart, the crowd chants 'Austin, Austin.' The man who would eventually become the heavyweight champ responded in kind, giving the crowd what they wanted - him on the turnbuckles, hands raised in the air in that familiar pose. Or maybe when third generation wrestler and unpopular face, Rocky Maivia, got booed ("Rocky sucks, Rocky sucks"), that one good eye-brow to the crowd was all it took for him to become the organization's future top-dog heel.

Saturn: This guy is so good. I love him. I hope he gets some good angles so he can pose a threat to the two big titles.

Kidman: Same, but he's already got his title. I predicted that title win months ago, by the way.

Bret Hart/Jeff Jarrett/Sting/Curt Hennig: These guys are what make wrestling fun to me. These are the guys who, though their popularity may vary, live and breath wrestling. Without them as foils and straight men, all of the odd-balls would just seem silly.

WWF main events: I think everyone thinks these rock. Even with a weak undercard, you can always count on a WWF main event to deliver. Attribute that to solid booking.

Chris Jericho: This guy is so funny. Despite his small size, he will win a heavyweight championship, I guarantee it.

Rocky Maivia: I don't even have to say anything here. I was rooting for him as a heel (maybe that's why I hate Mr. Shamrock so much). All I can say is I hope they don't make him lose the attitude, even as a face.

Randy Savage: Of all the old men, this is the guy who, to me, can still put on a show. Angled as some kind of deranged mad man who will stop at nothing for a victory, and with more catch-phrases than Maivia, the Macho Man could beat Goldberg and I'd believe it.

MAILBAG

The response to last week's column was great. My email-box was flooded, and the opinions were split down the middle between "you're the man" and "die, die, die, you stupid moron." I also appreciate the many of you who sent me some of Shamrock's various stats - I am now the world's foremost expert in the field of Shamrockdom. Here are a couple of samples:

Josh Ford, from treeline@mail.ntl.sympatico.ca, writes:
*You have not a single clue what your are talking about Ken Shamrock! You are not a wrestler, you do not go to the ring and fight at least 2-3 times a week! You Do NOT take the punishment Shamrock or any other wrestler does! You do not know what it feels to fight "The Rock" "Stone Cold" or any other wrestler! You are not a professional wrestling analyst! BUT You are criticizing Ken Shamrock's work as a wrestler! I myself am none of those either but i am a wrestling fan not a judger like you! I can relate i watch them all the time and i study which has a better drop kick etc..! I wanna know how they wrestle not just their attitudes and mic skills! ou have no right in the world to say what you said! So he was cranky at an autograph session is that the only time you've seen him in person!? Probably and so he's mad at 1 event (and the airport story most likely was true, myself knowing what a hassle it is at an airport!) and you judge him as a person with a bum personality, a person that does not like children or does not like to interact with the fans! This man is a wrestler! All 6 feet and 200 and however many pounds of him! He can perform moves better than anyone in WCW and most people in WWF! He is a submission technician! You can compare his moves to a Dean Malenko or Maybe Bret Hart! He is hardcore! The WWF wouldn't put him as a low-high carder in WWF! They wouldn't tag him with the name "The Worlds Most Dangerous Man"! In my books he is tops alongside Steve Austin, Rocky Maivia, HBK, HHH, Mic Foley, and UT! Ken Shamrock is a contender he will 1 day hold the most wanted belt in the sport and I believe in him!!!*

The first thing I have to say about this is that if Mr. Shamrock wins the WWF heavyweight title anytime soon (anytime soon meaning before some major personality surgery), my column the week after will be a description of what it was like for me to eat my hat. Secondly, there's no way you could ever realistically group Mr. Shamrock with such entertainers as Undertaker, Austin, or Maivia. Those people are interesting, funny, and main-event caliber. Mr. Shamrock most definitely is not. But is he a legit extreme fighter? There are pro wrestlers I'd put my money on over him. Aside from Dan Severn, I think that super heavyweight Paul Wight (The Giant) would make short work of him, as well as former army ranger Saturn. Mr. Shamrock is tough, and would beat the heavens out of me, but he isn't the best, and he's bo-ring to watch. Period. If you're really into him for his supposedly grand history in UFC, then please read the following letter.

Mike Naimark, from mnaimark@spamutmem1.utmem.edu, writes:
*In regards to you recent article on Ken Shamrock, I thought I might be able to give you a bit more background on the man and his status as the so-called 'Most Dangerous Man in the World'. As a long-time no-holds-barred fan, I've been familiar with Shamrock since his days in the Japanese Pancrase organization (Pancrase is NOT no-holds-barred, but essentially a submissions wrestling organization that allows open-handed striking when both men are standing). Perhaps you'll find these fact salient:
  • Ken Shamrock has entered 3 UFC tournaments (1,3, and the Ultimate Ultimate '96), and hasn't won a single one.
  • Ken Shamrock has a career UFC record of 6-2-2. The Most Dangerous Man in the World apparently can't manage to win more than 60% of his matches.
  • The combined no-holds-barred records of the men Ken Shamrock has beaten in the UFC is 13-15. And that record INCLUDES Dan Severn, who is 9-3. Throw out Shamrock's one win against 'The Beast', and his competition manages a dismal 4-12 record.
  • 180lb Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Royce Gracie made the over-muscled Shamrock submit in just a few minutes in the UFC. In the rematch (UFC5), Shamrock refused to do anything other than stall and hold, and managed a draw. He followed this embarrassment up with another draw (v Taktarov, UFC7). After beating Kimo in UFC8 (career NHB record 3-5), he fought to a time-limit decision against Dan Severn at UFC9 in what most NHB fans have called the single worst and dullest NHB fight ever. I don't advise that you watch it to test my assessment.
  • So if Ken Shamrock feels that his mediocre fighting credentials make him 'The Worlds Most Dangerous Man', what do we make of the following no-holds-barred fighters:
    Tank Abbott, 8-6, 8 KOs, 0 titles
    Jerry Bohlander, 5-1, 1 title
    Mark Coleman, 6-2, 2 titles
    Randy Coutre, 6-0, 1 title
    Mark Kerr, 6-0, 1 title
    Oleg Taktarov, 6-2-1, 1 title
    Don Frye 9-1, 2 titles
    
  • And so forth; I have specifically included only UFC fighters, and its pretty clear to me that including other NHB fighters such as Gokar Chevercian (undefeated, 200+ matches) or Rickson Gracie (undefeated, 300+ matches) would just belabor the point. Shamrock is a solid fighter, but clearly not at the elite level. The list of fighters with better credentials is a long one, and probably includes both Shamrock's brother, Frank, as well as some of Shamrock's 'Lions Den' students.*

If you don't believe me, or even if you think I'm an idiot and I don't know what I'm talking about, fine, but these statistics speak for themselves.



Thanks for tuning in this week, folks. See you in seven. Send email to ebenner@hotmail.com.


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