The Iron Sheik and Chael Sonnen were on Michael Landsberg’s Off The Record to discuss saving Olympic wrestling, which is one of the Olympic sports recently scheduled to be cut from the 2020 Summer Olympics.
This short 4-minute video discusses the plight to save Olympic wrestling, but also includes Chael asking Sheik if the story was true that when he came up positive on his drug test if he told Vince McMahon that was good. Then Landsberg asks Chael about his own positive drug test.
Iron Sheik and Chael Sonnen? Maybe they should form a tag team in WWE.
In 2004, Vince McMahon gave die-hard wrestling fans their wish. Undervalued wrestlers, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit were at the top of the mountain and fans were happy. But soon thereafter, both men who were at the top of their careers, were soon beltless. Guerrero lost the WWE Championship to JBL who was a good character, but not a wrestler of Guerrero’s caliber. Benoit would eventually lose his World Championship to Randy Orton in August of 2004. In Guerrero’s case, he wasn’t ready to be champ according to him. He wasn’t ready to handle the responsibility of being in the main event every week and being the most important wrestler on the Smackdown brand. Benoit’s reason for losing was a little different. Vince McMahon wanted to capitalize on a hot Randy Orton, even though it killed Orton in the process.
As Wrestlemania 21 neared, the two champions were Triple H from the Raw brand and JBL from the Smackdown brand. Vince was ready to use younger (not by age in Batista’s case, but by how long he’s been around) stars and see if they could become headlining stars. These men weren’t undervalued ring generals like Guerrero and Benoit. You could actually make a case of them being overvalued and overrated. But one thing was certain. Both guys were over with their fans. Dave Batista wasn’t supposed to be the guy in the role of future champion. That guy was supposed to be Randy Orton. But when Orton beat Benoit for the belt at SummerSlam, he was subsequently turned face, and Triple H came in, killed him dead and picked up his lost pieces (the championship) in the process.
Orton was no longer championship material, and he was thrown into a match with The Undertaker. When Orton was floundering after the reasonless face turn, Batista became “the cool one” of Evolution. Big Dave was now being booked in Orton’s spot and he was a cool heel. His angle with Triple H was becoming a huge box office draw, and Batista was on his way. But was he ready to take the strap at Wrestlemania? Continue reading
I can start this off by stating that this is the single greatest WWE card from top to bottom that I have ever witnessed. Although there were a few rocky match-ups and it took a while for the Houston crowd to get into, this is the greatest of all the Wrestlemanias.
One thing that helps this show standout that might get overlooked is the announcing. Paul Heyman took Jerry Lawler’s place as Lawler had quit the company when his wife, Stacy Carter (The Kat) was fired. Carter soon left Lawler. Talk about being ungrateful. Anyway, Heyman is outstanding in building up feuds and making matches seem important, and not yelling “puppies” every 5 minutes. And Jim Ross is at his usual high standard.
The marquee match-up pitted the People’s Champ, The Rock against Stone Cold Steve Austin. It was a babyface vs. babyface match-up, however in Austin’s home state, Rock was going to be turned heel by the crowd. The show was held at the old Astrodome in Houston and Austin was over like nobody’s business. Continue reading
Vince McMahon had it right on his plate. The biggest dream match in the history of professional wrestling. And he flinched.
In the summer of 1991, Ric Flair was unhappy with what was going to be a pay cut with WCW. He was scheduled to lose to Lex Luger at the Great American Bash, but was then subsequently fired as he didn’t want to drop the title without a new contract. Instead, Luger faced Barry Windham in a cage match with very little buildup and started a very forgettable championship reign. Across WCW arenas around the world, the loudest chants weren’t for Sting, or the newly crowned champ. The loudest chants were for Ric Flair. I went to a WCW event in the fall of 1991 and throughout most of the show was a chant of, “We want Flair”. But Flair was gone. He showed up on WWF television in the fall and had the old ten pounds of gold with him. Immediately, fans expected he and then WWF Champion Hulk Hogan to battle. It was a dream match that everyone had been wanting to see for at least 8 years. He started to become a thorn in Hogan’s side immediately. When Hogan lost the belt to the Undertaker at the Survivor Series, Flair was in the middle of it. And then on This Tuesday In Texas, which was just 5 days later on PPV, Hogan supposedly won the title back, but it was the held up. The title would be decided at the Royal Rumble. Ric Flair won the match by wrestling for close to one hour and outlasting everyone. It would seem that the logical challenger would be Hulk Hogan. Vince McMahon could then show the world that his champion was better than the old NWA champion. And it could be decided on the biggest stage in wrestling. Wrestlemania VIII was held at the Indiana Hoosier Dome. It could have been perfect. But McMahon flinched.
There were a couple of reasons why Vince would’ve flinched. For one, they went to Hogan vs. Flair very soon around the house show circuit and after a few runs, it wasn’t special anymore. And also, Vince has always been about pushing bigger guys. He saw a star in Sid Justice, formerly Sid Vicious. Sid was a huge guy with a jacked up physique who was supposed to be someone WCW was going to try and utilize as a top heel. He had one title match against Sting, but didn’t win it in an odd finish that saw Barry Windham dressed up as Sting and taking the pin. But the real Sting came out and then pinned Vicious. Yes, it was hoaky. But Vince came calling and Sid left WCW for New York. Initially, Vince put Sid with Hogan after SummerSlam 1991. Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior beat the team of the Iron Sheik who was at the time Colonel Mustafa, Sgt. Slaughter and their manager, General Adnan. Sid Justice was the referee. When Hogan and Warrior won, it was Hogan and Justice celebrating in the ring with Warrior no where to be found. If McMahon was going to flinch on the Flair vs. Hogan deal, this would be his backup. But who would Flair then wrestle?
In a hokey, but still effective storyline, Ric Flair promised the fans that he “had” Elizabeth before Randy Savage married her. The line was, “She was mine, before she was yours,” as if Elizabeth was some sort of property. Flair then showed pictures of himself with Elizabeth to further “prove” he was with Elizabeth before Savage was. Mean Gene Okerlund showed some investigative journalism later to prove that the pictures of Flair and Elizabeth were in fact doctored. Talk about going a long way for a storyline. Curt Hennig and Bobby Heenan promised to show some risque pictures of the lovely Elizabeth at Wrestlemania where Flair would defend his belt and against Savage. Talk about bait and switch. There were no pictures of Elizabeth. Instead of giving the WWF fans their dream match, Vince decided that Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice was a better fit.
After the huge main event at Wrestlemania VI where The Ultimate Warrior beat Hulk Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship, it was pretty much etched in stone that they would have a rematch at Wrestlemania VII. And after selling a ton of tickets at the Skydome in Toronto for Wrestlemania VI, Vince was going to try to do it one better. Actually he was going to try and do better than Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit where they claim to have put 93,000 butts in the seats. Wrestlemania VII with the Hogan vs. Warrior rematch was going to take place at the LA Coliseum, which can hold over 100,000 people. If you’ve ever seen Wrestlemania VII, you’ll know that Hogan vs. Warrior part two never happened, and it wasn’t held in the outdoor stadium in Los Angeles. Wrestlemania VII was held in the LA Sports Arena which barely holds 15% percent of what the LA Coliseum did, and it was main evented by Sgt. Slaughter as the champ and Hulk Hogan as the All American belt chaser.
How did we get there? Well, after Hogan was beaten by Warrior, the WWF struggled without Hogan. House show business was down and people weren’t really paying to see Warrior like they were Hogan. Let’s face it. Warrior was fun to watch jump up and down while shaking the ropes, but he wasn’t going to be the man. He was horrendous on interviews, couldn’t wrestle for long periods of time despite his awesome physique, which tells you a little bit of how he got that physique, and simply didn’t draw as well as Hogan did as a champion. Also, the Persian Gulf War was going on at the time, and Vince McMahon decided it would be topical if the main WWF storyline carried the same timeliness. Enter Sgt. Slaughter. But not as you’d think. This time the Sarge was as an Iraqi supporter with General Adnan and later, Col. Mustaffa, who is most well known as the Iron Sheik, in his corner. It’s a horrible storyline if you think about it. It was a fake sentiment created by a storyline that took advantage of a war situation. Typical classy wrestling.
Since there was no way the WWF was going to sell anywhere near the number of tickets needed for the LA Coliseum, they opted for the smaller LA Arena, but used the excuse that because the Iraqi supporting Slaughter was so hated, they were worried things could get out of control in an outdoor stadium and thus had to move indoors. But they never answered the question as to how they would fit all those fans who bought tickets into the smaller arena. It’s because they never sold enough tickets.