Yesterday I touched on Joe Louis’ infamous pro wrestling career. So infamous I never even heard about it. So, I did some research and found a spectacular video which appears to be one of Louis’ first after deciding to try his hand at the world of wrasslin’.
After watching last night’s premiere of the exceptional HBO Sports Joe Louis doc I can’t help but feel sad for the champ while watching this clip. It’s one thing for Floyd Mayweather to come to WWE in hopes of widening his fan base but it’s another to see one of the greatest be forced to do it so he can pay back the IRS. Man, that Irwin R. Schyster was relentless.
* No surprises in the Klitschko-Ibragimov fight other than how cautious Wladi was in the ring. Geez, it would have been nice if he broke out something other than the jab, no?
* While he did win, I thought this was a step back for the younger Klitschko. He looked very impressive in his last few wins but, just as his trainer Manny Steward said, there was no way that fight should have went the distance.
* I disagree with Klitschko on his take concerning what needs to be done to be considered the best Heavyweight in the world. You’re only as good as the opponents you beat but also how you beat them. Performances like this one won’t convince me he is the undisputed best anytime soon and, unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any Max Schmelings out there to his Joe Louis (more on him later).
* I agreed with Harold Lederman’s scoring of the ninth round. The point in question was whether or not the ropes saved Ibragimov from getting knocked down. Perhaps, but he did recover right away so no sense in scoring it a 10-8 round. Sorry, it was a pretty boring fight.
* Nice takedown by Ibragimov in the tenth. Maybe after this showing he should consider making the switch to MMA.
* Those Klitschko & Ibragimov entrances were very pro wrestling-esque weren’t they? While I enjoyed them, I do prefer when fighters come out with their trainers etc. Makes things seem much BIGGER.
* Loved Sultan’s entrance song too. I guess he hustles everyday except on nights where he is fighting for a title at MSG on the 23rd day of February.
* Goldberg and Rogan are fantastic in the booth but my dream team to call a bout would have to be Mauro Ranallo and Max Kellerman. Now that would be music to my ears.
* Is Jeff Mayweather really the brother of Roger and Floyd Sr.? Talk about night and day in terms of personality and demeanor.
* I had no idea the Duddy-Smichet bout would not be televised and given the action (or lack thereof) in the main event I’m pretty disappointed we missed it. Who made this decision? I mean, if Duddy is really being groomed to be Pavlik’s next opponent why wouldn’t you air his bout?!?! Makes no sense. Could you imagine the UFC ever doing some like that? I can’t.
* To add more fuel to my fire, Large, who was sitting ringside covering the night’s action for The Sporting Blog, tells me it was a disgraceful decision in favor of Duddy. Sounds like the second time in two months that a Montreal-based fighter is robbed (Malignaggi-Ngoudjo anyone?). No chance he deserves to fight Pavlik next but that seems to be where we are headed.
* I can’t endorse HBO Sports’ documentary Joe Louis: America’s Hero…Betrayed enough. Yet again, another exceptional film by one of the best production crews in the business. If you missed it do yourself a favor and catch the replay. By the way, I’m almost ashamed to say I had no idea Louis ever wrestled. It sounded familiar but I don’t have any recollection of hearing any stories of him actually doing it. (Full disclosure: I worked on two HBO Sports documentaries a few years back).
* Um, yeah, so much for that Sapp-amania running wild again theory.
* I wonder if that loss will lessen his worth in the eyes of Vince McMahon. I don’t think it should and if WWE comes calling again I would take that offer pronto. Although, he did mention 3/15 so I guess he will be on that DREAM card.
* Spirited efforts all around on the Strikeforce show but a dull offering that seemed to drag on forever. Cory Devela’s judo throw had to have been the highlight of the night. Hopefully Joe Riggs makes a speedy victory.
* Frank Shamrock didn’t seem as confident in that brother vs. brother match happening as he did when we spoke to him.
* Like I said in yesterday’s Muesli, HDNet is doing a tremendous job of establishing itself as the leader in MMA programming, however, those pre-fight video packages need to be spiced up just a tad.
* Why was the Tacoma Dome so damn dark?
* I bet no one thought Maurice Smith would win via submission but definitely a brilliant game plan. I would have much rather seen that fight under K-1 rules though.
* Final verdict: last Saturday’s MMA/boxing double-header blew this one out of the water. Not even close.
* Now the real question remains: What the heck am I going to watch tonight? No fights!
* I very much enjoyed last night’s Maximum Fighting Championship telecast on HDNet. Partially because the fights were all very explosive (especially the last two) and mainly because it featured a lot of up-and-coming Canadian talent. The best purchase I have made this past year has to have been buying an HD television because without it I would have missed all these great MMA cards on the network. I like MFC but two things need to go: 1) the ring and 2) allowing journalists to interview the fighters in the ring after their fights. This could work if the event wasn’t televised but it doesn’t make for good television.
* Sam Caplan has another great article out at CBSSports.com. This time he analyzes which non-MMA athletes would be prime candidates to follow in the successful footsteps of Kimbo Slice and Brock Lesnar. I’m quoted a few times throughout the article as Sam was kind enough to reach out to me for my views on several athletes. Check ‘er out.
* Speaking of great reading material, solid article in the New York Times by Nicholas Kulish breaking down the tremendous boxing scene in Germany and how it differs Stateside – particularly in the way our media covers the sport. I found this quote from Kevin Monahagan, a former boxing coordinator at NBC Sports and currently a Senior VP at the network, to be particularly interesting:
“We had a meeting with the pay-TV guys in the United States,” Monaghan said, “and we said, ‘Hey, the bottom line is if you don’t build the next generation of fighters through network TV, you may not have a business in the long term.’ ”
Kind of sounds like a certain reality show that airs on Spike TV, doesn’t it?
* Love the idea of a Justin McCully vs. Brock Lesnar bout. Makes total sense for both men. And, by the way, McCully is one of the best guest to be booked on Inside MMA. Some of their guest bookings are very questionable but McCully has a future in TV, no doubt.
* Keith Jardine will beat Wanderlei Silva.
* You know, when the Edgeheads faction was initially formed I had high hopes for the former Major Brothers but I think it’s a bad sign that a) they’re still blander than ever and b) I still can’t tell the difference between the two. I don’t blame Rider and Hawkins entirely because they just haven’t received any mic time.
* My pick not to win the Money in the Bank at WM 24? Shelton Benjamin.
* Seriously now, has there ever been a better time to be a combat sports fan? We used to be lucky to get one great event every second week. Now, it’s strange when there aren’t at least three. Tonight we have Klitschko-Ibragimov/Duddy-Smichet, Strikeforce and ROH in NYC. Next Week? IFL, UFC 82, Vazquez-Marquez III and Kim Couture’s smoker!
Enjoy the fights, my friends. Let me know what you’ll be watching and we’ll break it all down tomorrow.
You might have heard that a certain Bob Sapp was making his American MMA debut this evening at the StrikeForce At The Dome show in Tacoma, WA (HDNet 10:30 pm ET). This fight also marks Sapp’s debut in a cage…Wait, what? You’ve never heard of Bob Sapp? Well, if so, you’re in the minority my friend.
North American pro wrestling and/or boxing fans might get a pass for not knowing who the Beast is but all that might change very quickly. The former National Football League bust made a HUGE name for himself in Asia as a dual MMA/kickboxing legend for K-1 and PRIDE.
It’s hard to truly explain how popular Sapp is (or was) overseas but I think the following three videos will do the trick. They’re Japanese commercials starring Mr. Beast himself in all his hilarious facial features glory. I dare you to watch these and not laugh hysterically (and, just for the record, I have nothing but love for Sapp. I think he’s a brilliant showman). He actually starred in over 20 of these commercials overseas, released an R&B album and even had a variety store devoted to all things Sapp. Forget MMA, could you imagine any popular athlete in our culture acting like this on television? The only one I can think of might be Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards but I doubt he could be such an effective salesman.
Recently, WWE and TNA have talked with Sapp about working for their respective promotions but nothing ever materialized. Something tells me he might be headed back to Japan sooner rather than later.
By the way, Sapp is facing Jan “The Giant” Nortje in the main event of a card that also features Maurice Smith vs. Rick Roufus, Joe Riggs vs. Cory Devela, Jorge Masvidal vs. Ryan Healy and Brad Blackburn vs. Ray Parales.
As some of you might know, I used to write on a more consistent basis for another great website entitled No Mas. Some guy from there always bangs on the Jarry Park headquarters’ door whenever a big boxing match is coming up.
Anyhow, last year around this time, I ran the “No Mas Top 23 Wrestlemania Moments.” Well, we’re now on the road to WM 24 so I thought I would update it and make it the “Jarry Park Top 24 Wrestlemania Moments.” Every week we’ll count down all the great memories leading up to the grandaddy of ’em all on 3/30. Feel free to throw in your two cents along the way. Today we look at #24 to #21:
#24: It’s Not A Toupee
Ford Field, Detroit, MI
April 1, 2007
The Match: Bobby Lashley (w/Donald Trump) vs. Umaga (w/Vince McMahon) in a hair vs. hair match
The Moment: I already mentioned that I didn’t love this angle but one can not deny the fact that it was solely responsible for WM 23 being the highest grossing live event in WWE history ($5.38 million). And, despite not being enthused by its build up, the sight of Donald Trump shaving Vince McMahon’s head will forever live as one of the most absurd moments in wrestling history.
#23: Bad News for the Hitman
Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, NJ
March 27, 1988
The Match: 20-man over-the-top rope battle royal
The Moment: This was the opening match of WM IV. The final two men left standing were a young Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Bad News Brown. Hart and Brown seemed to have agreed to share the win, that is until Brown double-crossed the Hitman and kicked him in the back of the head and over the ropes. Why the hell did Hart trust him? I mean, look at the guy. While not the greatest moment of Hart’s career it was on this night that he truly started his babyface turn.
#21: Gridiron vs. Squared Circle
Nassau Coliseum/Rosemont Horizon/The Sports Arena
April 2, 1986
The Match: WWF vs. NFL stars battle royal
The Moment: Vince McMahon pulled out all the stops to insure Wrestlemania would not be a one-trick-pony. Not only did he hold this event in three different arenas across the country he held the first-ever WWF vs. NFL battle royal. Check out some of the participants: Andre the Giant, Jimbo Covert (Chicago Bears), Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin (Dallas Cowboys), Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes (Pittsburgh Steelers), Big John Studd, B. Brian Blair, Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell, Bill Fralic (Atlanta Falcons), Bret “Hit Man” Hart, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Russ Francis (San Francisco 49ers), Bruno Sammartino and William “Refrigerator” Perry (Chicago Bears).
While the incomparable Andre “The Giant” was the last man standing, The Fridge was definitely the star of the match. His performance even got him elected to the WWE Hall of Fame last year.
* I love this quote from Dan Rafael’s ESPN boxing blog: “If Mayweather is cool with fighting a mountain of a man like Show, why does he keep running from a man his own size, Miguel Cotto.” Um, I dunno, maybe because he doesn’t actually have to fight Show?
* Why do the Boxing Writers Association of America announce their fighter of the year two months too late?
* Sadly, it looks like DLH-Steve Forbes is signed and sealed for the first weekend in May. That sucks. Nothing against Forbes, I was just hoping Brooklyn’s own Dmitriy Salita would finally get a shot to shine on the national stage.
* Yahoo.com is really establishing itself as player a major player in the MMA world not to mention the entire sports world. When it comes to sports news, I check them out right after Deadspin. Sorry, ESPN. That said, I do think it’s a mistake to charge the same amount as if you were ordering the PPV through your television. I bet if they made it cheaper they would end up making more money.
* I guess the fact that 522,00 viewers tuned in to watch Kimbo vs. Tank (the most for an MMA event on Showtime) should shut the Kimbo haters up for ohhhhh eight hours or so.
* Happy birthday to Ring of Honor. It feels like just yesterday when the owner of the company was…oh forget it.
* Solid showing by TNA last night in NYC but, again, weird venue for wrestling. The ring was on some kind of makeshift stage and there were no seats – standing only. Final tally: No run-ins, no DQ finishes, one ref bump and Tommy Dreamer sighting.
* My heart goes out to the family of 20-year-old Rene Ayangma. What a horrible story.
No disrespect to Las Vegas but there really isn’t anything like a big fight at Madison Square Garden. Throw two heavyweight title holders in the mix and things get really interesting. So, while I have no doubt that Wladimir Klitschko will defeat Sultan Ibragimov tomorrow night at the Mecca, I’m still all jazzed up about the bout (that might have something to do with the fact that New York City subways have been plastered with posters for this fight – that always does the trick for me). For the record, the IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight crowns will be on the line.
And, as you know by now, whenever there is a big fight to be previewed we always call upon our trusty Sweet Scientist Large from No Mas and The Sporting Blog to break it all down.
However, this time around our discussion was not limited to the Heavyweight title scene. Oh no, we also spoke about:
* What the future holds for Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor
* Would John Duddy have a shot at defeating Pavlik?
* What does Ibragimov have to do to knock off Klitschko
* In their prime, who’s the better fighter: Vitali or Wladi?
* The Heavyweight scene
Oh yeah, I also had to ask Large about Money May’s involvement at Wrestlemania. Always interesting to hear a boxing writer’s point-of-view on a wrestling angle.
5. WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 – Dennis Rodman & Karl Malone: One of the few things WCW actually did right was their execution of the Rodman/Hogan vs. Malone/DDP angle. Both men had just met in the NBA Finals and when Bob Costas mentioned their upcoming bout in the middle of a Finals telecast you could hear Bischoff and co. celebrate all the way from Hotlanta.
4. Wrestlemania XI – Lawrence Taylor: I still have a hard time believing LT actually headlined a Wrestlemania but, just to make sure, I checked Wikipedia and it’s true – he did. I give him credit, though, of all the names on this list he certainly performed the best in the ring during his bout against Bam Bam Bigelow. Also, the genesis of this angle (when Bam Bam shoved LT ringside) was very Mayweather-Show ‘esque, wasn’t it?
3. Wrestlemania XIV – Mike Tyson: I’ve already made it known that Tyson-Austin was my favorite angle of the last decade. I mean, it was Mike frickin’ Tyson in there mixing it up with Stone Cold?!?! His appearances made such an impression on me that for the next five years or so, my friends and I would always imitate Tyson’s annoying (yet funny) way of flashing the DX sign. Gotta love Iron Mike.
2. Wrestlemania I (and II but that wasn’t as memorable) – Mr. T: Tyson was tremendous but Mr. T’s involvement in WM I really put this event on the map. Apparently he was a pain to deal with but looking back that really isn’t relevant. T gave Hogan and the rest of the WWF the rub and, for that reason, I am kind of shocked he has yet to be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame. I know you must be shocked that Kevin Sullivan vs. Mr. T from WCW Starrcade ’94 didn’t make the cut.
1. Memphis wrestling – Andy Kaufman: We can watch wrestling for another 200 years and I am certain we’ll never see a better celebrity angle than Kaufman-Lawler. The women matches, the piledriver, the Letterman appearance – it was all so brilliant. Kaufman truly appreciated the art of getting thousands of people to hate him. If you’ve never seen it (and even if you have) do yourself a favor and watch the Letterman clip below. Just amazing.
* Nice to see Yves Edwards get back in the title picture. I always compared his fall from grace in MMA to that of David Loiseau’s but, unlike “The Crow,” he has done a great job of reinventing himself with his new camp, American Top Team. So, KJ Noons or Yves Edwards? I know Noons looked great against Nick Diaz but I got all my money on Mr. Thugjitsu.
* This Randy Couture situation keeps getting weirder and weirder and you know what? With each passing day I continue to find myself siding with Zuffa. Where I come from it goes a little something like this: You have a contract, you honor it. No one forced Couture (above right) to sign that new deal. I have the utmost respect for him as a fighter and have worked with him on a couple of occasions but I wish he would just honor the contract and move on.
* Speaking of the Couture family, gotta give props to his wife, Kim, for telling Mauro Ranallo (is it that hard to spell the man’s name? A little respect is in order for one of the best in the business) that she will be making her official MMA debut on April 5. I wonder if she would put aside her friendship with Gina Carano to fight her because that seems to be the obvious “money-making” matchup (as much as women’s MMA can make money).
* What’s up with all this Wanderlei Silva (above left) moving down to Middleweight talk? Way too many big fights for him at 205. Keith Jardine and Chuck Liddell come to mind. I doubt we will see him at 185 anytime soon.
* I’m actually pretty excited for Klitschko-Ibragimov this weekend. I know it doesn’t have the same kind of feel as the Lewis-Holyfield unification bout at the Garden nine years ago but, still, I have enjoyed watching Wlad mature into the best Heavyweight in the world over the last few years. Manny Steward continues to prove his worth.
* I wonder if John Duddy will look past Walid Smichet knowing full well that a huge payday is waiting for him in the form of Kelly Pavlik. I know one thing, never…eeeeevver underestimate Montreal(-based) fighters.
* This will be another friendless busy Saturday night for yours truly with the Bob Sapp Strikeforce fight, Klitschko-Ibragimov and the Joe Louis HBO Sports documentary. No one does them better than HBO Sports…no one (that was kind of a play off the Real Sports with Bryant Gumble commercial but I don’t think it will resonate).
* Tough break for Mr. 619. He had the angle of a lifetime waiting for him with Mayweather before the dreaded injury bug nailed him. Hopefully, for his sake, he can still be involved in some way but I hope they leave him out. The whole Mysterio-Mayweather friendship seems a little forced.
* TNA has finally arrived in the Big Apple! Kind of underwhelming that tonight’s house show is going down in a place I have never heard of (Webster Hall, anyone?) but I guess it’s a start. I’m wondering why they didn’t book the Hammerstein Ballroom?
* I don’t care about De La Hoya turning down WWE’s offer to appear ‘Mania as long as Roger Mayweather makes at least ONE cameo. Please make my dreams come true, Black Mamba.
Four days later and I’m still jacked up over the Mayweather-Show Wrestlemania angle. It partially has something to do with the thought of my combat sports worlds colliding but I think more about the lost art of surprises in wrestling. That said, I will never forget the night Money May broke Big Show’s nose in a WWE ring (that and Leonard Ellerbe tripping over the guard rail).
Anyhow, you’ve all heard my opinion on the greatest angle of the last decade so I wanted to invite the producer of Live Audio Wrestling and Fight Network Radio, “The Prodigy” John Pollock, to share his views on this money-making angle as well as some of the key matches on the Wrestlemania 24 card.
We also spoke about:
* His initial reaction to the angle
* How he would book it from this point forward
* Did Mayweather really break Big Show’s nose?
* Should WWE try and turn Mayweather heel?
* Who deserves to win more: Edge or Undertaker?
* HHH’s involvement in the WWE title match
* Why is HBK wrestling Ric Flair at WM 24 and should Hulk Hogan replace him?