AS I SEE IT - 5/06/2002:
R-e-s-p-e-c-t? It's Apparently Hard To Find in Stamford
As I alluded to at the end of last week's column, the Wrestling Observer's Dave
Meltzer reported that Vince McMahon apparently chose to prohibit his announcers during
Monday Night RAW pre-show production meetings to make any mention of the passing of Lou
That Meltzer report started a flood of heavy criticism from a large number of online wrestling sources, and complaints from wrestling fans in general...which finally produced a brief mention of Wahoo McDaniel (albeit two weeks late) and of Lou Thesz on last Thursday's Smackdown. Judging from the flow of the show following it, it appears that the segment was dropped in as a last minute decision in response to the criticism of last Monday's inaction.
It's inexplicable to me that McMahon did such a senseless thing on Monday, given (seemingly the most important thing to McMahon all too often) the fact that there was no heat with Thesz. The worst thing Thesz ever said about McMahon is that the current product doesn't resemble the product he was a part of...a fact that Vince McMahon joyfully reminds people of on frequent occasion.
The WWF certainly had no problem mentioning the name of Lou Thesz when it wanted to put over Chris Jericho as an "undisputed champion". It had no problem doing so to put over Kurt Angle...on WWF.com, back in February at this URL.
Let me include one paragraph from that article:
"...Perhaps chief among these observers is a man regarded by many as the greatest World Heavyweight Champion in pro wrestling history, Lou Thesz.
During his days as the top man in the sport in the '40s, '50s and '60s, Thesz was considered the most legitimately skilled professional grappler anywhere in the world. For years, he held the coveted NWA Heavyweight Championship -- but more importantly, he earned the respect of promoters and fans who recognized him as the very best wrestling had to offer.
Never needing to rely on gimmicks or catch phrases, Thesz established a reputation based solely on ability.
There was also this tribute on WWF.com found here
Here is a paragraph from that article:
At the time, the NWA World title was the most important and widely recognized championship in the sport, and Thesz was its premier holder, spending an accumulated 13 years with the belt around his waist. In an era of regionalized wrestling, he defended his title in virtually every territory in the United States, as well as all over the world. His fourth reign went uninterrupted from 1948 to 1956, during a time when wrestling was experiencing a golden age thanks to the advent of television.
Since two such well-written tributes to Lou Thesz could be written on the pages of WWF.com only three months ago...why did it take such a response from wrestling fans to get Vince McMahon to make the proper acknowledgement back last Monday for Thesz, and at least two weeks after Wahoo McDaniel died?
Jim Ross also added his thoughts in this past week's Ross Report about the last time he saw Lou Thesz and his mentor Gordon Solie at the NWA 50th Anniversary Convention in Cherry Hill, NJ. I remember that event fondly, because it was the one and only time I ever met Gordon Solie. It was also the occasion I got to meet the legendary Danny Hodge.
Ross said about his meeting:
"...One of my most vivid memories of Lou Thesz occurred at a Cauliflower Alley banquet I attended in New Jersey [at the NWA 50th Anniversary in Cherry Hill, NJ]. I was there to speak on behalf of two of my heroes, Danny Hodge and the late Gordon Solie...After the event concluded, I went to say my good-byes and had my last beverage with "The Dean". We left the bar and ran into Lou in the hotel lobby...
I thanked Lou and shook his hand and then I hugged a frail Gordon Solie goodbye. As I walked away my eyes filled with tears as I began to realize I may never see either of those two giants of our business every again. When I turned to look back toward the lobby, before leaving the hotel. There they stood, Lou still talking with his hand on Gordons shoulder. And they were smiling. Thats how I will always remember Lou Thesz: regally holding court, dapperly attired, tanned, with a smile on his face. Goodbye, Lou, and thanks again."
No one expected Vince McMahon to give Lou Thesz the kind of treatment on RAW that Owen Hart or Brian Pillman received...even though he deserved it. In today's world, it would have required little more than to reprise the well-written articles on WWF.com, and to do a brief acknowledgement of Thesz's passing on RAW.
It would have at least given the smallest amount of tribute to a man who, through his years within the wrestling business.... as that article said so well "...A a wrestler in seven different decades and a World Champion in four, Lou Thesz is recognized by many as pro wrestling's greatest living icon.
Whether or not Vince McMahon considers himself to be a wrestling promoter or a sports entertainment promoter...the name in the middle of his corporation's title is still Wrestling. McMahon's failure to recognize Lou Thesz, the man who Vince McMahon's website said was "pro wrestling's greatest living icon" was inexcusable. The fact that wrestling fans cared enough to fight to make McMahon do the right thing is at least encouraging.
On a slightly different note... for those of you living in the South and Mid-South areas who do still respect wrestling and are looking for something enjoyable to do on Memorial Day weekend... to see some Southern style wrestling, and to relive some old times and wrestling history, I wanted to tell you about the following...
Southeastern Championship Wrestling will present the Wrestlefest Convention/Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show from May 24th to May 26th, 2002; at the Holiday Inn/Lexington North, 1950 Newtown Pike, Lexington, KY (located at Exit 115 of I-64).
Talent appearing for the weekend will include: Doug Gilbert, Jim Cornette, the Rock and Roll Express, Larry Zybysko, Buddy Landel, Terry Taylor, Jimmy Snuka, Road Warrior Hawk, Virgil, Mike Barton (Bart Gunn) and Curtis Hughes.
The Wrestlefest Convention/Eddie Gilbert Memorial Roast will feature legendary WWF and WCW announcer "Mean Gene" Okerlund as master of ceremonies.
Here is the weekend's event schedule:
Friday, May 24th
Wrestler's Roast 7:00-10:00 pm (Formal dress required)
Some of the best road stories and old times relived...
Saturday, May 25th
Wrestlefest Convention 11:00 am-5:00 pm
Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show 7:30-10:30 pm
Aftershow Party 11:00 pm-1:00 am
Meet and party with SECW stars and legends of the wrestling world.
Sunday, May 26th
Wrestler's Roast $10.00
Wrestlefest Convention $15.00
Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show $15.00/$10.00
Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show After Show Party $5.00
If you pre-register for the Wrestlefest Convention/Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show, you will get a Wrestler's Roast ticket free.
Hotel rates for the Convention are $74.95/night (you must tell the Hotel that you are attending the Convention/Show for the rate, a 30% discount over normal rates).
For reservations, call the Holiday Inn/Lexington North at (859) 233-0512.
Vendor Information-Wrestlefest Convention/Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show
$150 first table/$50 each additional table. All vendors get two free tickets to Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show.
To reserve tables, contact Kathy Fitzpatrick at (856) 627-5123 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
For information, contact the following:
Kathy Fitzpatrick (856) firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sherri Russell (859) 269-5043
Donnie Prater (859) 266-5969
Kathy Fitzpatrick (856) email@example.com.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)