Nice being home for one day before leaving for Orlando and Thursday night's taping of NXT at Full Sail University. Let's roll with some random thoughts from Monday Night Raw 1000.
I arrived Sunday night at the Union Station Marriott in St. Louis which was loaded with fans who were seemingly all armed with camera phones. It was amazing the distances many fans traveled to attend Monday's 100th episode of RAW. The hotel y had a Wrestlemania like feel but the staff wasn't quite prepared for the onslaught.
Enjoyed visiting with everyone Sunday night and held down a bar stool with Mean Gene Okerlund and Road Warrior Animal after having dinner with Paul Heyman.
It was surprising to see Alicia Webb aka Ryan Shamrock in St. Louis as she was there doing some charity work with disabled fans. Alicia looked great and is doing some wonderful work with some deserving people. Alica's husband is a professional poker player...cool job.
Monday we arrived at the arena around 12:30 to begin what would be a long but rewarding day. Catering, with all the tables and chairs, served as the 'Student Union' for the day and was the place that everyone gathered.
The entire day felt like a family reunion of sorts. Lots of stories were shared, family/marital status updated, replaced joints discussed, and plenty of "back in my day" stories.
Like my Dad used to say when old fishermen gathered to shoot the breeze, "The first liar doesn't have a chance." The next guy's fish is always going to be bigger than whoever preceded him in the 'fish talk.'
Shawn Michaels and his crew from McMillen River Adventures were on hand and we arranged a hunt for Michael Cole and myself to hunt hogs on HBK's Ranch this winter. It will be a tag team hunt and, no, Cole won't be my partner. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that HBK will be stuck with me. More on that later but it should make for a fun TV show. I ain't laying down for anybody in Texas!
Had a lengthy talk with Mick Foley regarding his ever growing comedy career. It's amazing how many parallels there are with comedy and the wrestling biz especially when strategizing a bout and comparing it to doing standup.
Harley Race is moving around a little slower but he commanded his table with earned grace and respect. Everyone made their way to his table to pay their respects. It's always great seeing one of my wrestling heroes. I have told the story many times of refereeing a one hour draw between Harley and Dory Funk, Jr back in the day in Tulsa for the NWA Title. One of my career highlights. I made $60.
Quite the selection of Hall of Fame rings in catering. Loved how some guys ate whatever they wanted while others ate what they wanted others to see them eat.
Everyone was interested in the great work that John Layfield is doing in Bermuda with at risk kids. John's mountain climbing adventures are going to be memorable when all is said and done. Seeing John and Ron Simmons together brought back many memories for me. Loved the APA and without question JBL can still deliver a tremendous, Clothesline From Hell and Ron never leaves home without a pocket full of "DAMN!"
Mae Young, a fellow Okie, is nothing short of extraordinary for a lady her age. If I had the time and the intellect, I'd spend a few days with Mae with a tape recorder and document some of her classic tales of life on the road in the world of old school wrestling from her gender's perspective. Mae had 'ink' and was smoking cigars before any attitudinal, female, pop star found it to be fashionable or cool.
Good to see The Rock as he made his rounds to say hello to everyone before preparing for what was obviously a busy and entertaining night. Rock committing to perform in the main event at the 2013 Royal Rumble obviously has Wrestlemania 29 implications or it would seem.
Ate lunch with the Undertaker and we essentially talked about one thing...the upcoming football season. I suggested that he needed to come to an Oklahoma-Texas game in the Cotton Bowl some day and he quickly corrected me by calling the Red River Rivalry the TEXAS-Oklahoma game.
It was also great catching up with Brock Lesnar who I hadn't talked to since the night he beat Shane Carwin in a UFC Main Event in Las Vegas. That was one where Brock weathered a fierce storm to submit Carwin in the second round. Lesnar looks great and was beet red from being outdoors doing all the farming that he undertakes. I assume that WWE fans will see much more of the "Next Big Thing" between now and Summerslam when he faces HHH in the main event. You can tell a great deal about a man by not only how they shake one's hand but also by the "feel' of said hand. Lesnar's reminded me of my Dad's hands, large and calloused.
If I could 'manufacture' a wrestler he likely would resemble Brock Lesnar. Big, strong, fast and nasty. It's hard to fully understand an athlete like Lesnar who is so big and still retains amazing agility and speed.
Caught up with Lita and Trish and that was really cool. Both are happy and doing well in their post WWE lives. Being happy certainly accounts for a great deal no matter who we are. The two, amazingly popular Divas and I talked about them closing a Raw broadcast which is rarified air for so many talents much less the Divas who saw, at times, significant but often times limited TV time.
Lita said she felt like she had never left Raw and being in St. Louis Monday felt natural to her. BTW all the yoga that Trish, Lita, and even DDP practice works as all those individuals really looked healthy.
As a matter of fact, I don't think that I've ever seen Lita look any better. I vividly remember the day that I interviewed Lita in my Stamford, WWE office back in the day and kidded her about her "litte, shoulder tattoo" that I heard she sported. I loved her independence and the fact that she had gone to Mexico, alone, and got valuable in ring experience.
I hope that many of today's Superstars took the opportunity to interact with the many legends that were backstage Monday. If not, they missed a great learning experience.
Great exchange with Big Show and a St. Louis Ram, not James Laurinaitis a former Ohio State Buckeye who was at the event to see his Dad, Road Warrior Animal, when Show asked the player if he 'really' went to Penn State. I guess you had to be there. Show is a natural antagonist.
The list of my old friends that were there goes on and on. Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Jim Duggan, Vader, among so many others. The brotherhood that exists between many of these men is so prominent. One can only hope that the young talents develop the same relationships in their careers.
We all missed Steve Austin not being there but with Steve under going major knee surgery just a few weeks ago and still hobbling around on crutches, it just wasn't in the cards. I can assure you from talking to him on numerous occasions that he wanted to attend but it simply wasn't physically feasible. Steve's knee was in deplorable shape from the years of wear and tear on the football field and in the ring. Flying in an airplane for a few hours isn't the smartest thing a guy can do in that condition especially so soon after surgery and before rehab has commenced. Most fans understand while a handful of jackasses who go into business for themselves don't.
For anyone to truly think that Stone Cold Steve Austin, a man who defined Monday Night Raw during its biggest years, wouldn't want to attend the very broadcast that he helped put on the map is pet coon goofy.
I loved the perplexing and thought provoking conclusion of Raw if anyone cares. Most times when a broadcast goes off the air with more questions than answers, it's usually is a winner.
Over six million people watched Raw Monday night. It was far and away the number one show on all of cable TV and the #3 watched program on ALL OF TELEVISION. I thought the graphics and overall look of the show was restaurant quality. My dancing, and I use that term loosely, even made the 1000th show open.
I told ESPN.com that would have gone to St. Louis even if I had not been booked. I am proud that I got to appear on the 1000th Raw. Hearing Boomer Sooner being played and walking down that ramp was a bucket list moment for me. I enjoyed every moment of the day because there are no guarantees where any of us will be when Raw 2000 rolls around.
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I'll soon be heading to Orlando to tape three, one hour NXT broadcasts this Thursday night at Full Sail University. I'll keep you posted on what I expect will be a great night where the first NXT champion will be crowned.
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