Reviving something I tried earlier in the year, mixing clips of matches and shoot interviews. This one is with Alex Wright, who’s recently completed an interview with James from the excellent WSI. Alex is a second generation wrestler, son of the Englishman Steve Wright and nephew of Bernie Wright, both of whom I’ll be including matches of. He joined a WCW tour in 1994 and was taken onto contract by Turner Broadcasting and pushed heavily by Ric Flair, with some flak as a result. He floundered for a year or two before a heel turn as an arrogant, hip swiveling heel. That was going great until he suffered a brain aneurysm at the end of 1997, and although he came back from it he was never quite the same and declined to be taken up by the WWF when they bought WCW. Since then, he’s been a trainer and promoter in Germany.
Fit Finlay and Hiro Yamamoto vs. Steve and Alex Wright
Alex is just a teenager here. Hiro Yamamoto is Hiroyoshi Tenzan getting seasoning under his real name before returning to New Japan. Finlay was one of the most fearsome heels in the world at this stage, I always thought that he never really projected how tough and nasty he was as well in WCW and WWE as he did before he got there. Steve cartwheels into the ring and Alex does his backflip off the top, wearing black tights that are probably a bit too tight. The German fans chant “Finlay go home!” at him and Hiro hasn’t even grown out his mullet yet, having a not dissimilar haircut to Alex at this point. The youngsters start out, or appear to, before switching with the veterans. Finlay takes the arm, which Steve tries to flip out of, but Hiro trips him. Despite that, Steve gets a hip toss into a pin for two. Alex comes in and uses speed to outfox Finlay. You can tell he’s green with the quality of stuff he’s trying, but he is trying. Finlay shoves off a dropkick and brings in Hiro to beat him with his trademark blows. A headbutt crumples him at one point. The heels split a wishbone with him. Steve pulls Finlay’s leg from the outside to kill some of that momentum, but Finlay quickly clobbers Alex with a clothesline to keep him there, then a short clothesline. Out of chance, Alex tags out behinds Fit’s back and Steve attacks both heels with forearms and dropkicks. During a double team spot, Alex gets caught in there again and Finlay reverse atomic drops him to regain the advantage. Alex’s comeback comes when he gets a powerslam on Hiro and tags his dad back in. Hiro is just a bumping machine at this point, a lot lighter. He manages to clothesline the older Wright, but misses a second one and almost falls to a flying headbutt. He gets out of the way of a second one, with Wright clotheslining himself on the top rope, and Hiro following with a flying legdrop for the three count. Must be best two out of three falls as the match continues.
Hiro keeps Steve on the defensive in his weakened state. Steve tries to flip over a back body drop, but botches it a bit. He tags in Alex, who gets caught immediately without striking a blow. He manages to backflip over a charge and gets a huracanrana for two. Dad tags in with a flying stomp and shot at Finlay on the roll through, then gutwrench suplexes Hiro to equalize.
Final fall. Monkey flip on Hiro from Steve, with Alex tagged in and caught again. Finlay comes in off the top with clubbing blow. He misses a shoulder charge and Alex gets a suplex for two. More backflippery and a second attempt at that huracanrana, but Finlay reverses it into a powerbomb for the pinfall. Good match, with Alex holding his own as good as the rest of the guys in there.
Alex Wright vs. Dave Young
An early match in WCW for Wright, as Gordon Solie is on commentary for the Pro at this point, and he was gone by the end of 1995. Opponent is Dave Young, better known for his TNA run as David Young, and he looks pissed off. If I had his mullet at the time I would be too, no wonder he shaved his head. Dusty loves the dance, but Larry wonders “What’s wrong with this kid?!”. The commentary places this before Starrcade ’94, where he wrestled Jean Paul Levesque (Triple H). Alex uses his agility to flip out of and reverse a wristlock, going into an armbar. Gordon goes into a history lesson about the King of England wrestling the King of France centuries ago (Larry: “Did you commentate on that match?”, Gordon: “Yes, I did!”). Turns out it was Henry VIII, by the way. Young gets some knees and punches in the corner and a nice clothesline, but a monkey flip reverses fortunes for Wright. Flying leg lariat, then kind of a back elbow. Young reverses an Irish whip, but Wright uses it to run up the corner and spring back out with a cross body block for the win. Upon the victory, Alex does his dance or “whatever” according to Gordon.
Alex Wright vs. Casey Thompson
A squash match from early in 1997. Alex has a few more months before he turns heel. Casey works heel in the match. Alex uses his agility to get out of a wristlock and uses his leg lariat and back suplex to take over, but Casey gets him in the corner. The corner’s a good place for Alex as he uses it backflip out, then powerslams Thompson in the opposite corner and gets a sweet springboard pump splash, with some pretty good hang time. Casey clotheslines him on the rope and gets a back elbow and some quick elbowdrops. I’ve never actually seen him before, but he’s pretty capable. I thought it might be some relation to Curtis Thompson, but they’re not in the same shape at all. Casey goes up but meets a dropkick on the way down. European uppercuts and a corner elbow set up a superplex off the top and a missile dropkick is the finisher for the win. Nice, competitive win. He didn’t have the same charisma or speaking skills, but facially Alex reminded me a lot of Shawn Michaels with some of his expressions.
Athol Foley vs. Nobuhiko Takada
Bernie Wright, the uncle, wrestles in Stampede as the son of heel manager JR Foley, with a Mr. T haircut. Takada is of course the later king of UWFI. As per normal for Stampede, it’s joined in progress with Foley holding Takada in an arm scissors. Wayne Hart referees. Ed Whalen asks a rhetorical question that JR Foley answers and then gets embarrassed about. Foley tries a monkey flip and Takada just refuses to go with it and snapmares him powerfully. Ed promotes a really good upcoming card featuring the Dynamite Kid, Dave Schultz, Nick Bockwinkel and Andre the Giant. Athol gets a yellow card for raking the eyes. Ed makes a joke about Foley’s haircut that pretty much mostly amuses himself, which is one of his quirks. Takada dropkick sets up a top rope move, but Athol is too far, so he comes down and goes for a suplex at ten minutes. That sets up a missile dropkick, but Foley is in the ropes. Gourdbuster, which I imagine was a massive rarity at this point, sets up a rolling cradle with a bridge for the win. Good couple of minutes, of which Ed said the entire match was just as good.
Ed speaks to JR and Athol Foley
“There have been some great families in sports,” begins Ed, “Most of them better than… others…”, before his Charlie Chaplin-moustached interviewee quickly throws to his son to Ed’s delight. Athol starts moaning about his treatment in North America and gets jealous about Dynamite Kid coming back into the army and says he’ll go home to his mummy if he can’t be number one. “Dynamite’s not in my class!”, complains Athol. “That’s true, he’s way above it!”, replies Ed. Daddy says he’ll get his son a title match as Ed laughs them off. Great, goofy bit to put over what a screw-up Athol is.
Flyin’ Brian vs. Alex Wright
The whole California Brian repackaging sucked, but Brian’s “Blondes Have More Fun” song was better than what he was using before. He’s at least cut the extensions out and is about to turn heel at Fall Brawl to become a Horseman. These two had a couple of really good matches in 1995, including at the Great American Bash. Brian takes the arm and is trying to turn it into a hammerlock/three quarter nelson, to no success. Alex cartwheels around a back body drop and gets a dropkick from the side, then a fancy rolling armbar. Brian responds with his own dropkick to get an armbar again. The heat machine is in obnoxious effect and Tony and Bobby are talking about anything but the match, sadly, with Tony talking up this fancy new Nitro show and Bobby kvetching about Dusty Rhodes joining Saturday Night. Alex uses headscissors to take the armbar again, but a flying double armdrag puts Brian back in control. Brief bow and arrow, then it heats up with a duel of chops from Brian and European uppercuts from Alex. Alex tries a German suplex and Brian reverses into a cradle for two. Spinwheel kicks from both men against one another, including at the same time. Alex gets a sunset flip off the top for two, then a belly-to-belly for the same. Bodyvice is reversed into a series of pinning combinations that basically collapse, but Brian keeps Alex down with a backslide, with Alex’s legs possibly caught on the ropes, for the pin. Quite disappointing, actually, although the story told implicitly is that the nearly-heel Pillman will take the win whichever way he can now.
Now the shoot bits!
Why didn’t Alex go to the WWF after WCW folded?
Alex was actually signed to Time Warner, so his contract was a lot different. He declined the offer from the WWF at the time and took the money instead and saved his body. According to James, it was a very good contract. He was approached subsequently when he returned to Germany, but he was pretty much burnt out, so he decided to stay where he was and didn’t take the offer. He didn’t want to end up in the same dismal boat as some of his old colleagues.
Being a meme
The Wrestling Bios YouTube guy has created a meme of Alex doing his dance and put it to a song called Saturday Wright Fever and talks about his “big bratwurst”. Alex reckons at first he might be jealous, but then appreciates the appreciation from the guy for making him a feature in his reviews.
Why was Berlyn a flop?
The lead in to this is Alex’s brief appearance on an episode of Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends in 1999, backstage at the episode where Roddy Piper sent Ric Flair to a mental hospital. He can’t remember it, but James mentions that he introduced himself in the Berlyn look as Alexander Wright. Alex reveals that he was told to kayfabe Louis a little bit, but he didn’t know the name was going to be Berlyn. It was supposed to be a “Gothic vampire” character, to move him away from his pretty boy image. Alex credits himself with being a little cooler and trendier than the other guys, but then he is German, so that’s a sliding scale. Jerry Tuite, the Wall, was a friend of Bam Bam Bigelow’s who was brought in. He thinks it was a shame he died because he was very calm and fun, but he got drawn into bad habits by other people when he switched from riding with Alex to others.
Why wouldn’t Paul Roma sell for him at Superbrawl?
Alex felt awkward about it, because he respected Paul as a veteran and a worker and they’d had great matches before, but Paul got pissed off about having to lose, so he decided to be unprofessional. Alex didn’t want to rock the boat and lose his job by fighting back. The people backstage asked him about it and gave him the OK to fight back if it happened again, and Paul got fired a few weeks later for it.
What was Alex’s worst injury?
A kick to the head from Prince Iaukea led to a bleed on the brain and Alex going temporarily blind at the end of 1997. He says they were lining him up to be the US champion eventually, and he’d just got married and bought a new house, but an enziguiri popped a blood vessel in the back of his head and his eyesight started to decline until it was totally gone by the time he was backstage. He’d already had some concussions anyway, but kept going. They rushed him to the hospital. The vision returned in a day while they waited to see how his body reacted. If the pressure had gotten greater they would’ve had to open up his head, but his body reabsorbed the blood. He had a plastic device longer than his bratwurst inserted into an artery to check the blood flow in his brain. He had to lie down for one week without moving, with his wife doing the chores for him. Then one month in a dark bedroom doing nothing. He went back to wrestling because he loved it, building up his bump tolerance and training to return at the Power Plant when he was getting better. The office said he was barred from wrestling for medical reasons, so he went to an independent specialist who gave him a non-committal endorsement that he could return, so WCW made him sign something that waived their responsibility if he had a terrible injury. There were times he’d wrestle and then drive to the next town and felt so sick that he thought he was going to die and nobody would be able to find him to help him, but eventually the bad feeling went away.
(So, if anyone wonders why he wasn’t as big or as good when he came back, that’ll be your reason why.)
What was it like being in the infamous Thunder video game?
The promos and moves were filmed at the Power Plant, doing multiple takes of his moves, then it was a case of wait for the cheque. Alex smiles and laughs when James recites the “Pick me!” promo the German cut on it. James also recalls that if you listen carefully you can hear people making noise in the background. WCW vs. the World was the game that paid the best, but Alex never played it.
(Danny Doring said on his YouShoot that during the making of the ECW video game he makes a pussy eating face and Tommy Dreamer’s pained sound has him shouting “Where’s my draw?”.)
How did Juventud Guerrera get fired from WCW?
“Crazy little guy!” They were in Australia and Alex was with Sting and others were in the hotel restaurant when the door burst open and Juvi ran in naked. Five policemen couldn’t restrain him. The Australian government were not happy about it.
(What’s unsaid is that Juvi was apparently high on PCP and I believe was screaming “I AM GOD!”. Paul London, on Rene Dupree’s show, has said that Juvi talked himself out of a job in WWE when he started riding with Randy Orton and then started knocking on his door at night and asking him to “Kiss me, Randy”.)
What was it like wrestling for Otto Wanz and with Fit Finlay?
Bringing it back to where it began, Alex debuted in Germany in 1992 aged 16. He toured with the CWA for a year and had an amateur wrestling background as well as being a swimmer, weightlifter and trained by his dad from a very young age, although it was his decision and no pressure on him. He was one of the tallest kids in his school and looked much more developed than his peers. He never wrestled Otto, but he was a beloved figure. The travel was better in Germany and Austria than in the US because they stayed a little longer in towns rather than one after another after another. Fit Finlay was one of his first opponents and he was very tough and strong. Steve Wright had trained him to wrestle strongly anyway, but he got knocked out in the first round one time against Fit and retreated to his corner and commented on it to his dad. Dad’s response: “Get up! Just keep wrestling!” He thinks that was fair, because it prepared him well. Nobody took it easy on him, which he thought was fine because he was holding himself to a high standard. That continued into WCW
The meltdown: Alex has left a mark on wrestling, if not too indelibly, and the tragic story of his injury probably explains why. Now, he’s a pretty cool, calm and straightforward guy with no bitterness, so it’s fun to listen to him.