A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
The Rock Battles WCW Champion Booker T at “Summerslam”
COMING DOWN THE AISLE
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – On Sunday, the 19th of August, the World Wrestling Federation will hold its annual pay-per-view event, “Summerslam”. For 13 years, “Summerslam” has held ground to some of the more memorable and influential matches in pro wrestling history. In terms of either ending or starting feuds and providing a forum for the industry’s next big superstar, this show is just as important as “WrestleMania”. Sunday’s card promises to be the best ever, thanks in large part to the current “WWF versus The Alliance” storyline, where wrestlers representing two different companies, ECW and WCW, have united and waged war against the WWF. Of the seven announced matches, three have the potential to set a new standard of excellence that others will be forced to follow. Here’s a preview of what’s to come Sunday night:
WCW Championship-Booker T (WCW). v. The Rock (WWF): Last May, I wrote that Booker T. “depending on how things pan out, could be wrestling’s newest breakout star” (“Black Star Power”, May 2001). Miss Cleo might be in line for some competition. This is Booker’s first singles match on a WWF pay-per-view, but because he’s 1) a member of the WCW/ECW Alliance and 2) defending his WCW championship against the industry’s biggest star, the champ is pretty much the underdog in the eyes of most wrestling fans. In the weeks leading up to this match, Booker has been telling anyone willing to listen that he’s better than The Rock on a variety of levels: wrestling, acting, and popularity, to name a few. There’s a strong hint of jealousy in his words when The Rock is the topic of discussion. It’s safe to say that a win by Booker T. would solidify his place as a top player in the wrestling world and help erase WCW’s image as a second-rate company.
Conversely, this is The Rock’s first championship match since losing the WWF title at last April’s “WrestleMania.” (He spent the last few months filming his new movie, “The Scorpion King.”) Because of his popularity, The Rock doesn’t really need this victory. History shows that a wrestling company stands to make more money when the good guy is chasing a championship as opposed to being the champion and pursued by his competition. If he were to be beaten Sunday night, the ovation he’d receive from the crowd the following Monday on “RAW” would still be the biggest of the night. It would be ideal, though, for Rock to win his return match and climb back up that championship ladder.
WWF Championship-”Stone Cold” Steve Austin (WCW) v. Kurt Angle (WWF): So here’s the story: Steve Austin, with help from his long-time nemesis, Vince McMahon, beat The Rock at “WrestleMania” to become WWF champion. When the Alliance first appeared on “RAW” and “Smackdown” telecasts, McMahon and the WWF locker room turned to Austin to lead them into battle, despite the fact that he wasn’t a fan favorite anymore and, because of his antics, had lost his reputation as the “Toughest S.O.B. in the Business”. Leading up to the “Invasion” pay-per-view last July, all signs pointed to the old “Stone Cold” assuming his leadership role and backing his company against the outside threat. However, it was all a front, as Austin instead joined the Alliance that night and took the WWF championship with him. It’s now Kurt Angle’s job to go into “Summerslam” and take it back. Angle, a gold medalist in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Olympics, has been riding a huge wave of popularity this past month. Since entering the WWF in 1999, Angle’s convinced that he’s the ideal role model for wrestlers and fans alike. He even let people in on the secret to his success: the “Three I’s”-Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence. Despite being an Olympian and former WWF champion, people didn’t take Angle as seriously as he would have liked them to. If he pulls out a victory against Austin, he’ll no doubt have the respect of everyone in the WWF for bringing the championship back home.
Chris Jericho (WWF) v. Rhyno (ECW): There aren’t any titles on the line for this match. And other than the fact that they’re on opposite sides of the fence, there isn’t much of a backstory involved either. But ask anyone who follows wrestling, and they’ll tell you that these two men are the future of the business. Jericho is as popular as anyone on the WWF roster right now. He’s probably a year or two away from being in the “WrestleMania” main event. Rhyno, well, I really can’t compare him to anyone in the sports world right now. The attitude and aggressiveness he brings to each match is second to no one. Whereas a victory over The Rock could boost Booker T.’s career, these two have the opportunity to raise each other’s popularity a few notches higher. Hopefully, you’ve all gotten a better understanding of what’s going to take place at “Summerslam.”
E-mail me at loh711@BlackAthlete.com if you have any comments or questions about the goings-on in the wrestling world.
Edited by Pam Gare