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Chad’s Throwback Spotlight – Rick Martel

Chad D. Aaron shines the spotlight on a legendary performer inside the ring–and personality outside of it–Rick Martel!

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Rick Martel WWE Edit

Chad D. Aaron shines the spotlight on a legendary performer inside the ring–and personality outside of it–Rick Martel!

The Throwback Spotlight will bring you a profile on some of the under-appreciated stars of days gone by. Today, we look back at the career of Rick Martel’s and, of course, make a couple of comparisons to some stars of WWE today.

Martel began his career in the territory days, as many of his peers did in that era. He had a background as a stand-out amateur wrestler. That, along with his clean-cut looks and physique, helped make him a popular draw. He worked all over the globe, spending time in Georgia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and various Canadian territories before landing in the Pacific Northwest, where he really began to develop into a bona-fide wrestling star.

In July 1980, he came to the WWF and was soon paired with Tony Garea, a tag team veteran with three title runs to his name at the time. It did not take long for them to become top contenders and in November they won the WWF World Tag Team Championships. They regained the championships later in 1981 for a second title run together as well.

In 1982 he headed back west, this time for the AWA. Martel quickly became a crowd favorite and before long was regularly challenging Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA World title. When Bockwinkel dropped the title to Jumbo Tsuruta, Martel quickly stepped in as Tsuruta’s top challenger. Martel claimed the AWA World Championship from Tsuruta in May of 1984. Martel was AWA champion when I first watched the AWA on ESPN.

As I became a regular reader of the Apter magazines, I read of AWA vs. NWA Title vs. Title matches at large joint shows. I was (and still am) a big fan of Ric Flair and Four Horsemen, so this news really caught my attention at the time. And when I read about Martel and Flair going to hour-long draws at these shows, it made an impression on me. In my young eyes, it put Martel on the same level as Flair and Hulk Hogan, the guys who I knew as world champions.

Martel’s AWA title run lasted over a year and a half, which was impressive at the time for the AWA title. Martel’s 595-day reign ranks as the third longest run, trailing only WWE Hall of Famers Bockwinkel & Verne Gagne. Gagne, the promoter, always put his top belt on guys who had legitimate in-ring acumen. He never featured gimmicks as his champions. Verne keeping the title on Rick that long says something to me about his in-ring prowess and his ability as a top draw for the company.

After his AWA exit, Rick was soon back in the WWF, as part of a tag team he had formed in Montreal with Tom Zenk: The Can-Am Connection. They had good chemistry together and were starting to get a decent push on WWF programming. The duo got a win at Wrestlemania III. The team turned out to be short lived, but what followed that was one of the more popular tag teams of the 80’s

Tito Santana and Rick Martel were even more over with the WWF crowds than Martel and Zenk. Although they were both ring veterans at this point, they were presented as a young, exciting, pretty boy tag team much in the way the Rockers would be later on. Of course, it did not hurt that both men were top workers in the ring as well. Tito Santana was a former Intercontinental Champion and was regularly featured on WWF TV. The team had a number of matches with the Islanders and eventually turned their attention to the Hart Foundation. They succeeded in unseating The Harts as WWF Tag Team Champions, giving Martel his third such title run in the WWF.

After dropping the titles to Demolition, Strike Force split up and Martel transformed into his most well-known persona, ‘The Model.’ He sprayed his trademark ‘Arrogance’ perfume at his beaten opponents and became the textbook narcissistic heel. He had a series of really good matches with Santana, Jake Roberts, as well as a young Shawn Michaels in one of HBK’s first feuds as a singles wrestler. This was now the early 90’s WWF, filled with over-the-top characters, and The Model fit right in. His in-ring ability led him to be called upon frequently when a new champion needed to look good in a title defense, or if there was a new star needing a push. The WWF would put Martel across the ring, knowing that he would get them the result they needed.

Being a native of Quebec, English was not his primary language. Despite that, during this time, his promo skills made huge strides, as his character necessitated him talking down to his opponents and extoling his own virtues. Looking back at some of his early career interviews, such as in his AWA run, you can tell he is not comfortable talking in front of a camera at all. At the time, in certain places, you could be a legit superstar based on ring work alone. This was no longer the case. When forming Strike Force with Santana, he gave a passionate interview about “Striking back with lightning force” that helped coin the team’s name. The improvement was evident, but he still had leaps and bounds to go with that side of the business. As the Model, he became a much better interview and really helped get his character over.

Martel vanished for a few years and the business changed. He re-emerged, kind of out of nowhere, in WCW in the late 90’s and had a couple of really good matches with yet another guy getting his first real singles push, Booker T. Martel won the WCW Television title during this time. However, this run was cut short due to an in-ring knee injury. His comeback match resulted in yet another injury, and Martel retired for good soon after.

Martel was one of the 80’s and early 90’s most successful, yet least heralded wrestlers. With his clean-cut image and good physique, he was the epitome of the white meat babyface for much of his career. Later on, he showed his versatility by transforming into a heat-drawing heel. Martel had classic wrestling matches with legends like Flair, Bockwinkel, and Michaels He could mix that up by going toe to toe with the best of the brawlers as well, such as a Stan Hansen and Jake Roberts. An in-ring great, he developed into a solid promo guy as well.

In my eyes, The Model was the clear inspiration for Tyler Breeze’s gimmick in NXT. Where Rick had his Arrogance, Tyler had his selfie stick. They filled similar roles in the company as well. When WWE needed a good Takeover match with Jushin Thunder Liger, or someone to main event an NXT show with the likes of Adrian Neville or Sami Zayn, there was Tyler Breeze to fill the spot. He made it believable, made his opponent look good, and keep the crowd invested.

Martel’s early career could be compared to someone like the early WWE run of Daniel Bryan. A top-notch ring technician who was not considered a good promo guy. Luckily, both were able to overcome that and show their abilities. Much as Bryan was often considered too small as well, the WWF of Martel’s day was the land of the giants. His 6-foot, 230-pound frame was looked at as perhaps too small. But, transplant Martel into today’s WWE, his body type and ring ability makes him a real candidate to grab a top spot.

So, as we talk and argue about the best wrestlers of all time, make sure we give Rick Martel his due. He found success everywhere he went, he could hold up as a top worker, he could play a gimmicky character. He was a top baby face and a heat-drawing heel.

Until next time, watch some wrestling this week, stay safe, and never forget to #UseYourHead!


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Coverage

Greg DeMarco’s 2023 WWE SummerSlam Review

The biggest party of the summer comes to Detroit, when WWE SummerSlam 2023 delivers an action packed event that easily exceeds expectations.

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Cody Lesnar SummerSlam

The biggest party of the summer comes to Detroit, when WWE SummerSlam 2023 delivers an action packed event that easily exceeds expectations.

WWE presents SummerSlam 2023 live from ford field in Detroit in front of over 59k fans–who provided an electric atmosphere. Overall the card featured either matches, many of them delivering at or above expectations.

Read on for my thoughts, and even some ratings!

How I am rating segments:

I am using “The Line of DeMarco-cation,” which is for entertainment. the line is if I was entertained. You can have three main results:

  • ABOVE the Line of DeMarco-cation
  • AT the Line of DeMarco-cation
  • BELOW the Line of DeMarco-cation

If necessary, i reserve the right to go WAY ABOVE or WAY BELOW. Significant segments can be rated. individual and overall ratings are totally subjective.

It’s simple: ENTERTAIN ME!

Logan Paul vs. Ricochet

  • Welcome to the biggest match of Ricochet’s career.
  • Samantha Irvin’s outfit matches Logan Paul, not Ricochet — SWERVE, BRO!
  • Ricochet is a star, and I love seeing him treated like one.
  • Rocket Mortgage is donating $5k for every move off the top rope? This match alone might accumulate half a million.
  • I know Logan Paul needs to catch a private jet to Dallas and that’s why this is on first, but this is the perfect opener.
  • If you didn’t know who Logan Paul was, you’d think he was just another member of the roster–and that’s the biggest compliment you can give to him. He’s a damn good heel, too.
  • Paul using Braun Strowman’s powerslam–will we get Logan vs Braun?
  • LOGAN MUST POSE!
  • SPANISH FLY STICK THE LANDING.
  • This might be the best match either have had in a LONG time.
  • Logan Paul just hit a Buckshot Lariat over the top rope and to the floor. Sorry Hangman.
  • I love that refs continue to have names – like former Greg DeMarco Show guest Eddie Orengo (as El Bandido Jr).
  • I’d love to know Ricochet’s powerlifting numbers. Dude is deceptively strong.
  • Logan Paul flew two-thirds of the way across the ring on the Springboard Froggy Splash
  • This match is spotty–yes–but watch and learn Young Bucks. They are strung together by psychology and it all makes sense,
  • LOVE that finish. Logan Paul wins (as expected), but Ricochet is protected.
  • Think about that – RICOCHET IS PROTECTED.
  • Hell of a match.

Winner: Logan Paul (pinfall brass knucks shot)

WAY ABOVE The Line Of DeMarco-cation.

Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes

  • That video package–amazing. It likely telegraphed Cody’s win, but I don’t think many expect Cody to lose.
  • I love when people question Brock’s presence. Did you hear that pop?
  • Cody got a hell of a pop, too.
  • You can tell how much Brock Lesnar respects Cody Rhodes, as he opens up the arsenal for him.
  • I love that Brock simply stands center ring as the ref counts Cody out. Brock wants to win–doesn’t care how. That’s a little detail that shows how brilliant of a character Brock Lesnar is.
  • This is the fifth time Brock has gone for the count-out–and I love the psychology.
  • Now Brock does care how he wins–he wants to break Cody’s will.
  • Wait, is this Cody Rhodes’ mystery twin brother Cory Rhodes?
  • That top rope Cody Cutter was fantastic.
  • Not sure when Brock’s shorts got ripped, but it adds to this fight.
  • That’s what this is, a fight. And that is Brock Lesnar at his finest.
  • It might have been a happy accident, but Cody’s hand bouncing off the bottom rope before he finally grabs it to break the Kimura is another amazing little thing.
  • Brock is so slow and methodical, but snatches people up for the F5 in a flash. So good.
  • Cody Rhodes wins, after THREE Cross Rhodes. Good shit.
  • Interesting that the show of respect from Brock to Cody is considered Cody’s arrival.
  • Or maybe it’s just the arrival of “The American Nightmare.”
  • I will be very interested–as will all of you–to see what’s next for both men.

Winner: Cody Rhodes (pinfall, three Cross Rhodes)

WAY ABOVE The Line Of DeMarco-cation.

NOTE: Very interesting that Roman Reigns was featured in the PayBack promo, as well as Logan Paul. I wouldn’t expect either to be on that card.

Slim Jim SummerSlam Battle Royal

  • I have to admit, it just feels right to have Slim Jim back in my wrestling.
  • This better be good since it cost us Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus.
  • I hope Sheamus got a full entrance for the crowd.
  • Oh look, Omos still works here!
  • Chad Gable is so damn good.
  • Austin Theory is in this match? And didn’t get an entrance?
  • At WrestleMania 30, Big E was in the Andre The Royal Giant Memorial Battle Rumble, didn’t get an entrance, and didn’t even get to carry his Intercontinental Champion. And I don’t even think his elimination was mentioned by commentary (I’d have to go back and check).
  • Santos Escobar eliminating Austin Theory at least makes sense.
  • LA Knight barely breathes and the crowd gets ELECTRIC.
  • I haven’t made as many bullet points because this has actually been a really good battle royal!
  • I’d love to know who the agent was–fantastically done.

Winner: LA Knight (last eliminates Sheamus)

AT The Line Of DeMarco-cation.

MMA Rules Match – Ronda Rousey vs. Shayna Baszler

  • Some of the shots during the entrance make me want WWE to get rid of stages altogether, and stick with this type of entrance.
  • Also, it’s a reminder that I hate major wrestling events in daylight.
  • This being an MMA Rules Match seems to be a missed opportunity at having a special guest referee.
  • The fans DO NOT CARE About this match, and I see why.
  • I am all for Ronda being able to go out how she wants to go out, and the talent pushing their own idea forward. But sometimes, you gotta say no.
  • Some matches also play much better in an arena instead of a stadium (Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair from WrestleMania comes to mind). This is one of those matches.
  • Whenever NXT had an “unsanctioned match,” the ref wore all black. That’s what we should have done here.
  • Now we have doctors checking on Shayna? Really? I know we want to put over how tough she is, but…..
  • The crowd pops out of relief when it’s over.
  • Do this on Raw, not here. Give Becky and Trish this spot.

Winner: Shayna Baszler (technical submission, Kirifuda Clutch)

BELOW The Line Of DeMarco-cation.

Intercontinental Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. GUNTHER (c) 

  • My Peacock membership doesn’t let me see the video package here, and I am fine with that–it’s been a while since I’ve seen that AFLAC Duck, though.
  • Ludwig Kaiser must love doing the entrance, but honestly the act might be getting stale?
  • Corey Graves very poetic in pointing out that “records are meant to be broken.” That’s one of the core values of WWE at this point.
  • It does appear GUNTHER will be going it alone tonight as Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci are headed to the back. Let’s see if they stay there.
  • Interesting placement for this match, right after the ill-received MMA Rules Match.
  • Didn’t the internet tell us Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor was going on fourth?
  • Btw, this match is brought to you by Rocket Mortgage. Money talks, BAYBAY!
  • GUNTHER truly lives the “Ring General” gimmick.
  • As the match progresses, I honestly can’t see Drew winning here.
  • The simplicity of the finishing sequence really adds to GUNTHER: top rope slap fest, McIntyre crotched on the ropes, splash, lariat, powerbomb. Nothing fancy–trademark GUNTHER.

Winner, #ANDSTILL the Intercontinental Champion: GUNTHER (pinfall, powerbomb)

ABOVE The Line Of DeMarco-cation.

World Heavyweight Championship: Finn Balor vs. Seth “Freakin'” Rollins (c) 

  • I presume we will get a bunch of Judgment Day shenanigans here, but I really needed Seth to go on last to further establish his championship. Instead, we are smack in the middle of the event (according to the Peacock slider, anyways)
  • Seth Rollins’ entrance + 58k people = a beautiful sight
  • The worst thing about this, to me, will be when Balor and Rollins are partners after Balor turns babyface.
  • Love Rollins tossing the vest at Balor.
  • Love the more unique start to the match.
  • Interesting that Rollins, with a win, moves to 5th all time for SummerSlam wins? I had no clue! Mr. SummerSlam anyone?
  • We keep naming refs, and I love it,
  • If you want an “inside look” at a match, start paying really close attention for a few minutes starting with the triplicate of dives from Seth Rollins. You’ll see a few things that the cameras picked up.
  • LOVE LOVE LOVE the Buckle Bomb into the barrier from Balor to Rollins. Should have known they’d do that, but it never crossed my mind. Brilliant.
  • Decent amount of overlap in the offense of this match and the one prior–in hindsight, they may have wanted to put GUNTHER/McIntyre on before Rousey/Baszler.
  • Fans boo’d the crap out of Damian Priest when he came down–but popped like hell for Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley.
  • I really enjoyed the story told with the Judgment Day. When Priest called for the briefcase to be used, it would have worked. When Balor called for it, it wasn’t going to work, and Damian Priest knew it. But he let Finn Balor sink himself anyway. That will definitely play again later when they fully implode.

Winner AND STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Freakin’ Rollins (pinfall, Stomp on the Money In The Bank Briefcase)

WAY ABOVE The Line Of DeMarco-cation.

WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka (c) Bianca Belair

  • Very odd having Asuka enter second.
  • Charlotte Flair with the ode to Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 35 (IYKYK)
  • Did I miss the C4 ad read? I saw that Bianca Belair entered with some, which made me thing THAT was why she came in last, and now the C4 branding is around the ring, but no real mention? Or did I miss it? Was it only for Peacock Premium subscribers?
  • Very choppy match so far–and Charlotte has to basically stop the match to have Jessika Carr fix her outfit, leaving Belair and Asuka in the corner waiting until Asuka realized what was happening and tried to cover. The Double Natural Selection that followed was quite clunky.
  • Bianca nowhere near Charlotte Flair when the moonsault hit–is Bianca really that good? I seem to ask myself this during every big time Bianca match, dating back to WrestleMania 37 when I felt like Sasha Banks had to carry her.
  • I find myself wanting to fast forward to the finish, here. I’m not, but I kinda want to.
  • ANOTHER REF NAMED! Thank you, Michael Cole.
  • If IYO SKY cashes in here (which is easy to expect), I really hope it’s not right after Charlotte wins, getting her to #15. Granted, she could cash in DURING the match and make it a 4-way. But of everyone, I think Charlotte needs to eat the pin tonight.
  • We have now had medical personnel tending to one of the participants in the middle of each women’s match tonight–first Shayna Baszler, now Bianca Belair. Seems like a misstep on someone’s part.
  • Bianca with the heroic comeback, and a beautiful 450 Splash on Charlotte during the Figure Eight.
  • Charlotte gets misted but Bianca gets the pin???
  • Makes sense if we do the cash in here. as Bianca is hurt.

Winner, AND NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Bianca Belair (pinfall, small package)

  • Aaaaaaaand here comes IYO SKY.
  • I love Corey Graves telling Bianca to get the hell out of dodge.
  • IYO and Bayley take out everyone, and she is indeed cashing in.
  • Over The Moonsault, new champion, and the crowd goes nuts. Women’s Money In The Bank briefcase is still undefeated.
  • Nice World Of Stardom reference by Michael Cole, too.

Winner, AND NEW WWE Women’s Champion: IYO SKY (CMITB cash-in, pinfall, Over The Moonsault)

AT The Line Of DeMarco-cation.

There were some rough spots, but the cash in saved it for me.

Undisputed WWE Universal Championship Match: Jey Uso vs. Roman Reigns (c) with Paul Heyman

  • I am timing this from the second Jey Uso’s theme hits through the end.
  • Man, Mike Rome is on one, and I am not sure if that’s a good thing. He doesn’t sound as fantastic as he usually does.
  • 12:34 from Jey’s music hitting to the bell ringing.
  • Roman is so slow and methodical, I don’t know if he realized Jey was going to dive so soon. Jey connected with Roman’s back, but that could have been really really bad.
  • I know this is Tribal Combat, but given the use of stairs earlier tonight, we might as well consider the stairs legal.
  • You know it’s an important match when Roman Reigns hits The Drive By, as he did on Jey Uso.
  • Table, Kendo Stick, and more early.
  • Jey clotheslining Roman over the top rope (with the Kendo Stick) and hitting the dive makes me think Jey got slightly lost earlier when he did the dive to a kneeling Roman’s back.
  • That was a MASSIVE powerbomb onto the chairs!
  • 35 minutes in (remember, since the start of Jey’s entrance, so 23 minutes into the match) and this is definitely just a touch slow. The story is amazing, so that’s my only complaint so far.
  • I have to wonder if Roman knew he was bleeding when he hopped the barricade to go into the crowd.
  • Aaaaaaaaaaaand here’s Solo Sikoa. That should surprise no one. We gotta get the whole family involved, right? At least the whole Bloodline.
  • Solo declining to help Roman up might be starting Solo’s arc in the story, but it wasn’t apparent enough and commentary had to fill in the blanks.
  • 50:22 since Jey’s entrance is the point where Jimmy shows up (pulling Jey out of the ring).
  • Jimmy hits the Superkick and leaves.
  • Spear through the table that was set-up about a week ago and Roman Reigns pins Jey Uso at 52:09 (from th estart of Jey’s entrance).

Winner AND STILL Undisputed WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns (pinfall, spear through the table)

AT The Line Of DeMarco-cation.

“At” might surprise you, but this was WAY too slow. Bell-to-bell it was roughly 40 minutes, and that was about 10 minutes too long. But the story is worth it in the end.

WWE SummerSlam 2023

Total Matches: 8

  • ABOVE the Line of DeMarco-cation – 4 matches (3 WAY ABOVE)
  • AT the Line of DeMarco-cation – 3 matches
  • BELOW the Line of DeMarco-cation – 1 match

One “bad” match and seven “good ones, four of those I’d call “great.” Three of the great ones I labeled as “WAY ABOVE” the line, which easily makes up for one match that was lacking. Hell, when even the Battle Royal is good, you know you watched a damn good show.

Overall Rating for WWE SummerSlam 2023: 9/10

Let me know your thoughts! Drop a comment and tell me your ratings, and what you think of the Line Of DeMarco-cation.


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King’s WrestleMania Rewind: Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka from WrestleMania 34

Chris king is back with one of the most underrated matches in WrestleMania history–Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka!

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WWE WrestleMania 34 Charlotte Flair Asuka

Chris king is back with one of the most underrated matches in WrestleMania history–Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka!

We look back at Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka at WWE WrestleMania 34. ‘The Empress of Tomorrow’ put her unprecedented and historic undefeated streak of 914 days on the line against ‘The Queen’s’ SmackDown Women’s Championship.

For years, this was considered a dream match while Asuka dominated the roster in NXT, while Flair won numerous championships on the main roster on both Raw and SmackDown. The Empress made her long-awaited debut on the September 11th episode of Raw and began to tear through the competition.

Asuka outlasted all twenty-nine other women in the historic first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble match to challenge for the title of her choosing. At Fastlane, she made her choice.

The WWE Universe was so excited for this match myself included. Both superstars delivered a fantastic performance on the Grandest Stage of Them All executing counter after counter. Asuka showed off some nasty-looking kicks to her opponent, and Flair hit a thunderous Spanish Fly off the top rope. Flair was seconds away from defeat at the hands of The Empress but she locked in Figure Eight and Asuka was forced to tap out.

I can’t even begin to explain how shocked I was at this outcome, as nearly everyone expected The Empress to continue her undefeated streak and walk away with the women’s title. This controversial decision was the downfall of Asuka’s momentum. She would ultimately win the SmackDown Women’s Championship at the 2018 TLC pay-per-view in the triple-threat ladder match.

Fast forward to this year when Asuka has recently returned with her Japanese-inspired persona Kana. Kana is dangerous and ruthless and is heading into a championship with Bianca Belair at WrestleMania 39. The Empress has regained all her momentum and is highly favored to walk away with the Raw Women’s Championship. Let’s hope that Asuka and Belair can tear the house down and deliver an A+ grade match both women are fully capable of.


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