tom smith | make green bay weird | oct. 2017
Green Bay, are you ready to walk with Elias Monday, October 23rd when WWE Raw returns to the Resch Center? I said, Green Bay, are you ready to walk with Elias? Green Bay, before you answer that question or finish reading this column, I'm going to have to ask you all to hold your applause for this article and put down your cell phones, unless you are using a cell phone to read this article. Now I know many of you are going, “Who in the name of Hank Williams is Elias?" Well, music lovers, it is imperative that you care about Elias because he could be our generation's greatest outlaw/singer/songwriter. Elias may be a guitar virtuoso but he's no slouch inside the squared circle either. Elias has made a lot of noise and music since being brought up to the main WWE roster on April 10th of this year, and by noise I mean his impact between the ropes. Though it's early in his career, I strongly suspect there are many championships down the long and winding road for Elias. Elias is also making a huge impact in the music industry. Nearly every Monday night on Raw Elias is afforded the opportunity to showcase a song he wrote that day. This song is usually written while Elias tours whatever fair city Raw is scheduled for that night. Elias soaks in the local flavor and ambiance and exquisitely channels it into a masterpiece that the locals always love. These songs usually then become regional hits on local radio, and regional hits are so fine, just ask the figgs.
The wrestling t-shirt you can buy for Elias is for his the “Walking with Elias World Tour." The graphic design of the front gives off the vibe of an '80s jersey you'd buy at the Brown Country Arena. The back of the jersey even has Green Bay listed for the upcoming Monday, October 23rd Raw date. I know this because I already am the proud owner of one. In fact, I'm so aboard the Elias bandwagon that I've sent word to the WWE that the Exclusive Company Green Bay would be tickled pink to have Elias do an in-store performance in the afternoon of October 23rd. No word yet from the WWE if this is going to happen, but they are intrigued by the offer. I also extended an interview request with Elias. The WWE was given my deadline for this article (and trust me, I am currently writing this many days past said deadline), so I am left to my own devices to determine the reason for no response. So, if I was going to go out on a limb, I would hypothesize that Elias is still too angry with Northeast Wisconsin for not being asked to headline the Mile of Music festival this year in Appleton and his image not appearing on all posters for the event. How can we rectify this major faux pas? I would think that if Elias and Cory Chisel had a guitar off in the middle of the ring on October 23rd it would do the trick. Since David Bowie is currently unavailable to judge said guitar off, I suggest Green Bay resident Jason Berken, who happens to guitar tech for Bob Dylan, as judge. This might make sense because someday in the future at a press conference I predict someone's going to yell at Bob Dylan, “Why don't you sound like Elias?" Fingers crossed the Exclusive Company gets to walk with Elias.
Another reason you should consider attending Raw on October 23rd is that word on the street is that it may be the Raw debut of the Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka. Asuka held the Women's NXT Championship for a record 523 days. If you want to see an example of TV done right, check out the episode of NXT when Asuka relinquished the title to NXT General Manager, William Regal. This was handled with much class and I must admit, I shed a tear myself as the entire NXT roster congratulated Asuka on her incredible title reign and said goodbye. This was very unusual, when someone from NXT is moved up to the main WWE roster, if they are a champion, they have always lost the belt. Asuka's brilliant reign as champion afforded her the luxury of riding off into the sunset without ever losing the title. This was an abnormality and we might never see something like this again. I can't wait to see Asuka tear through the main roster. I also want to congratulate the New Day for becoming tag team champions for the fourth time. Just want to point out to all you Demolition fans that the New Day not only have a longer title reign than Demolition, but also now have held the belts one more time than they did. I think you know what I'm getting at, the New Day should be considered the greatest WWE tag team of all time.
The old adage of people dying in threes has always fascinated me, especially when the three individuals are giants in fields that I'm passionate about. Last week I was hit with a doozy. I walked into work Friday to hear that musician Grant Hart, formerly of Husker Du, had died of cancer. This was like a shot to the face by Ronnie Garvin. My mood instantly turned to a color of grey, candy apple grey. Grant Hart, first through Husker Du, has been a big part of my musical life since high school. Husker Du were part of the big three from Minneapolis, the other two being Soul Asylum and the Replacements, which is also the order or how those bands rank for me, personally. Husker Du, of those three bands, was the band that never did wrong; they never made any career decision that flawed any aspect of their history. Achieving this status with me was of course aided by Husker Du breaking up in December of 1987. The Husker Du and Die Kreuzen show at the Riverside Ballroom that month was the second-to-last Husker Du show ever. That show was co-sponsored by WGBW and I worked for the promoter, the late Tony Selig of Stardate Productions. I knew Tony a number of years before I realized he was related to Milwaukee Brewers owner and former MLB commissioner, Bud Selig. I was in charge of getting Husker Du their deli tray. Bob Mould was not happy that I got cheese slices that had slices of meat on them. Husker Du were great that night, which was the only time I ever saw them. Grant continued to make great music after he left Husker Du. I kinda wonder if Grant and Karl Mueller and Bob Stinson are jamming together right now.
That Friday at work was not content with just Grant Hart dying, because late that afternoon the news broke that actor Harry Dean Stanton passed away. I first saw Harry in “Escape From New York," my favorite John Carpenter movie. Then at a midnight showing of “Repo Man" at the Bay Theatre I was blown away, not only by the movie, but by Harry's acting, which stole the show. The next movie I saw him in was “Wild At Heart," my favorite David Lynch movie. In this movie I started to realize the depth of his acting ability and it cemented him as one of my eternal favorites. These three movies just scratch the surface of a career that few could touch.
So Saturday I had off from anyone dying and Sunday was going well until the Rev. Norb sent word to me that Bobby “The Brain" Heenan, the greatest wrestling manager of all time, went to the great steel cage in the sky. Space constraints will not allow me to properly communicate to you how much this heel manager, with the quickest and most cutting wit ever, never ceased to entertain me. Heenan's voice still echoes in my mind of him bragging that he had the “real world's champion" coming to the WWE. This, of course was when Ric Flair debuted in the WWE. The Brain was also a brilliant television commentator and the most underrated talk show host of all time. All you ham n' eggers out there who think Chevy Chase, Magic Johnson or Jay Leno are the best hosts of all time, do yourself a favor and watch the Bobby Heenan Show.
So are you ready for me to stop writing about muscle bound professional wrestlers? Ok so how about I write about a muscle bound heavy metal musician in a band named Thor? Yes, that same Thor who formed in the early '70s in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is still rocking today. Yes, that same Thor who I played on WGBW on my radio show Metal in the Midday in the mid '80s. Yes, that same Thor who will be making their first appearance in Green Bay ever on Saturday, October 21 at Phat Headz with A Sound of Thunder and Attalla. Tickets available at The Exclusive Co. in GB and Rock N' Roll Land.
“Beyond The Pain Barrier"
Timebomb Rating: 11 Hammers out of 13 Hammers
This brand new Thor album will transport you back to the '80s before metal was mutated by hard-core punk rock. Metal with an urgent sense of grandeur, with more guitar solos than you can shake a hammer at. Nothing at all on this album suggests that Green Bay will be not in Metal Valhalla when Thor conquers Phat Headz. Death to False Metal.
Live Long and Let the Blood Run Red.
Since 1984, when he first began selling records at Galaxy of Sound inside the Port Plaza Mall, Tom Smith has been part of the Green Bay music scene. Promoting his first show in 1986 and hitting his stride with the Concert Café (1995-2001), Smith continues to promote shows in Green Bay. He first honed his journalistic chops while serving as a student DJ at WGBW, interviewing such icons as Motörhead and the Ramones. Today you can find him championing live music and managing The Exclusive Company in Green Bay.