The Benoit Tragedy, Eddy Guerrero, MMA/Wrestling & More

Mark Madden

AH, WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN…

NOTE: Email questions for future Mark Madden Mailbag columns to wzmarkmadden@hotmail.com.

And now – from your uncrowned Intergender Champion of the world – you write to me, and I write back to you. Not quite as much fun as feeling up Pam Paulshock, but close.

From: Zoso

*Why didn’t you sell the Muta mist when he sprayed it in your face at ringside?
 
Because Muta wasn’t supposed to spray his mist in my face. He was supposed to spray it at my chest, ruining my Hawaiian shirt. I was then to go to wardrobe to get cleaned up, only to be overwhelmed (to what end, I’m not sure) by the charisma of Kwee Wee. I knew Muta was going to spray it in my eyes no matter what he was told, so I wore sunglasses to make my perseverance (and subsequent trip to wardrobe) more plausible. That was the twisted logic of WCW booking then: We compromised Muta’s longtime gimmick in a vain attempt to get over a jobber using a ripoff of a weak Saturday Night Live character.

From: Shaun
 
*With MMA being so successful, should American pro wrestling promotions incorporate more MMA into their matches, such as Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe did in TNA?
 
It might be worth a try, but I’m not sure it would work. WWE is losing the younger demographics, the so-called entry level spectators, to MMA. Kids want to see real fighting, not fake fighting, especially when MMA has better storylines. It’s been years since WWE came up with a storyline to compare with Brock Lesnar rampaging through UFC, or with Dana White going ballistic on rival companies (though the latter has no payoff unless White co-promotes a Lesnar-Fedor bout with Strikeforce, and that’s not going to happen). Incorporating MMA style into pro wrestling wouldn’t convince kids it was anything besides fake fighting. This is one instance where a brand name like WWE actually hurts. WWE can’t make their product real enough to be considered anything but fake.

From: Dennis
 
*Do you have any favorite Eddy Guerrero moments?
 
Eddy was one of the best all-around performers ever. The first time I ever saw him was as a jobber for Terry Funk on WCW TV in 1989 and boy, even in that role he was absolutely amazing. There was nothing Eddy couldn’t do. He just didn’t have a weakness. Eddy wasn’t huge, but he was so good you didn’t even consider his size. Eddy was a great guy. I miss him, and think about him often, especially when I see Chavo on WWE TV. My favorite Eddy memory personally was seeing him work an indy show in Pittsburgh. He was just completing a WWE suspension and was about to return there, and I vividly remember Eddy saying, "Watch my match very closely. You need to tell me if my work’s good enough to go back. I need you to tell me the truth." I was honored that Eddy valued my opinion and needless to say, his match was superb. On a funny note, I remember being backstage at a benefit show for cancer-stricken WCW referee Mark Curtis when Eddy, Kidman and Shark Boy were laying out their three-way dance, and Eddy asked Shark Boy what his highspots were, and he said, "I bite people on the ass" and Eddy just cracked up, then quickly composed himself and said, "Really? We can use that." Shark Boy did very well that night, and Eddy was the first to compliment him after. Eddy was fun to party with. He was fearless sober, but took fearless to a whole new level when he had a few drinks. The boys called him "Eddy the Giant." One time he was playing pool with Sherri Martel, Sherri cheated and Eddy got so mad, he nearly started a riot. Arn Anderson, of all people, calmed him down. The irony was not lost on those present.

From: Rich
 
*Why was Stan Hansen a success everywhere in the world except WWE?
 
Very good question. I’m not sure you can say Hansen was a flop in WWE, because he had a big feud with Bruno Sammartino based on accidentally breaking his neck (with a clumsy bodyslam, not the lariat). I’m also not sure you can say Hansen was a success in the AWA. Sure, he was world champ, but didn’t draw much money in what was a quickly fading promotion. Perhaps the most accurate thing to say is that Hansen’s physical style and in-your-face demeanor was tailor-made for a top foreigner in Japan. Look at guys like Hansen, Terry Funk, Bruiser Brody – lots of similarities there. Even the young Hulk Hogan kind of fit that bill.
 
*Has there ever been anything dumber on WWE TV than Bob Backlund walking up and down steps for an hour?
 
Yes. Plenty. As far as Backlund doing the Harvard Step Test conditioning exercise on WWE TV (something he reprised on TNA TV), I’m a big fan of things that are aggravating, interminable but also riveting, such as Chris Jericho reading his list of 1,001 holds. At first you hate it. Then you wonder if it’s ever going to end. Then you wonder what the upshot will be. It perversely keeps your attention. If I recall correctly, the first time Backlund did the Harvard Step Test on WWE TV, nothing happened. He did it for the entire show. The second time he did it, I believe he was jumped by Sgt. Slaughter.
 
*Did you ever meet Gordon Solie?
 
Gordon was still doing some announcing for WCW when I started doing 900#s for the company. He was a very gracious man, a great storyteller, and boy, could he drink. Straight vodka, and lots of it. Gordon was a great announcer for his time, especially when kayfabe hadn’t yet been trampled. He gave wrestling an Al Michaels-type feel. Would that work today? I doubt it.
 
*How do you rate Larry Zbyszko as a heel?
 
One of the best ever. A terrific heel interview. Simple, uncomplicated, to the point. Larry had a knack for taking dumb little buzzwords like "spudheads" and "Larryland" and making them part of his promotion’s lexicon. Zbyszko wasn’t a great worker, but his use of stalling as a heel tactic was innovative, and he used props like nunchakus to great effect. Keep in mind, Larry got a big head start when it came to being a top heel: He turned on perhaps WWE’s most beloved babyface ever, Bruno Sammartino. I saw several Zbyszko-Bruno matches in 1980, and the heat was INCREDIBLE. You actually feared for Larry’s safety. Larry spent most of the ’90s in WCW, and I feel his run there was underrated. The Enforcers, Larry’s tag team with Arn Anderson, was excellent.

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