Recapping Monday night’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, a Podcast with Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez
Show kicked off with Dave giving a heavy sigh before gleefully commenting on how much was going on. Meltzer thrives on busy news weeks.
They begin with coverage of the Jon Jones situation. Jones is the UFC fighter who was wanted by the Albuquerque, NM police for fleeing the scene of the three car collision that hospitalized a pregnant woman with a broken wrist and arm. Alvarez was beside himself with the idea that, after turning himself in 48 hours after the accident, Jones was released on a $2,500 bond. Meltzer confirmed three times that Jones was in a rented car (a Buick… no word on if it was a Young Buick, or an older model) before stating that his concerns were with officials saying that the woman’s fetus was not damaged in the accident. In a bizarre twist, Meltzer stated. “I’ve been around that type of situation a lot…” before going on to say that it’s sometimes a while before those types of traumas show up.
Meltzer would go on to talk in circles for a little while, somehow try to tie this sort of behavior from Jones to the discretions of Floyd Mayweather’s high profile domestic violence issues and felonious behavior. His point kind of got lost in translation, I think. He seemed to be asserting that it would be a bad idea if UFC overlooked this, and that he didn’t think they’d sweep this one under the rug since the incident comes just 4 1/2 months since Jones’ positive test of cocaine prior to one of his fights.
Next, the guys talked at length about the life and career of Verne Gagne, with Meltzer reiterating what an outstanding amateur Gagne was, even going so far as to say he would have won a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics had it not been for the fact that Gagne wrestled in the same weight class as a wrestler who was better than Danny Hodge, Dan Gable and Kurt Angle combined named Henry Wittenberg.
Meltzer recapped Gagne’s high profile career as TV’s number one babyface, and the star of Chicago wrestling on the DuMont network. Due to the NWA being jealous of Gagne’s success as a TV attraction, and therefore being, nationally, one of the top acts of the era without needing the NWA, they never considered him for a world championship—so Gagne created his own world title in starting the AWA, which ran out of Minneapolis-St. Paul down to Chicago, Omaha, Denver, Las Vegas, and eventually San Francisco.
If there is one flaw to Gagne, Meltzer said, is that he pushed himself too much and too long toward the end.
He covered, too, the raids of Gagne’s AWA territory by the upstart Vince McMahon who took Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan, Gene Okerlund and others. Meltzer said the joke at the time was that McMahon would even steal Gagne’s janitor if he wasn’t careful.
Meltzer covered the sad end of Gagne’s life, dealing with dementia, killing his roommate in his rest home and not realizing what he’d done after throwing him on the ground, which broke the guy’s hip and he’d later die a couple weeks later. Gagne spent the last few years of his life being cared for by his daughter.
As far as his legacy, Gagne trained and/or polished an entire generation of high profile wrestlers of the 70s & 80s, from Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Ken Patera, Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, Sgt. Slaughter, Curt Hennig, etc.
Coverage would then turn toward the recap of Monday’s WWE Raw with the two running down the show, segment by segment.
They talked about how good Kane is currently, how talented Fandango is, how over Neville is getting, despite being predictable in the ring with his matches. Meltzer made the point that Neville, while good, and smooth, has the same format to all his matches. Funny, I thought that was the problem with all matches these days, and one of the reasons more guys don’t get over—because everything is same style, and cookie cutter.
Losers on the night according to Meltzer and Alvarez were R-Truth who, Meltzer said, set the clock back on racial stereotypes
45… 50… easily 55 years ago with his junky delivery. Stardust got a thumbs down for sounding fake, and Brie Bella got a raspberry for seeming overly fake and rehearsed in talking about her very real husband and his very real medical clearance issues.
This week’s biggest dose of irony came as Meltzer mentioned, with regard to Vince gleaning anything from what Stephanie learns on her international sojourn with the Eisenhower Fellowship, that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. He quickly corrected himself, though asking if we thought that the old Vince McMahon would ever have had Neville beat Luke Harper if he hadn’t learned some new tricks, before answering, “No fuckin’ way.” So maybe there’s hope yet…?
In completely unrelated news, Meltzer and Alvarez reminded us that Meltzer’s weekly newsletter ranging between 35,000 to 50,000 words of coverage and analysis of all the major news, plus breaking down major news stories with the most complete look at the wrestling and MMA business anywhere will be posted online to the “always on” Internet this Wednesday. So looking forward to that.
Late in the show we had something of a cross over with Bryan Alvarez’s Friday “After Dark Radio” programming dealing with the supernatural and unexplained as Meltzer recounted the eerie story of how Verne Gagne and Ashura Hara once wrestled in a match together and they both died ON THE SAME DAY.
SUMMARY: Really decent show from the guys here. They both seemed energetic and enthused to be covering the latest misadventures of Jon Jones and the sad passing of a wrestling legend, as well as not being too put upon by needing to watch and cover Raw from Monday. This was the most animated and colorful the hosts have seemed since their coverage on WrestleMania Sunday. Hope it lasts.