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Lenny Lane: The Forgotten Cruiserweight Champion

Often times when people think about the WCW/WWE Cruiserweight Championship wrestlers such as Rey Mysterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Billy Kidman, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko Juventud Guerrera and Chavo Guerrero Jr. are likely to come to mind. Rightfully so as those guys continually put on incredible matches in the mid to late 1990s for World Championship Wrestling. The WCW Cruiserweight Championship became a championship match that fans were almost guaranteed a fantastic match.

Eventually, the repetitive championship switches started to annoy fans. How many times could we deal with seeing Rey Mysterio Jr. beating Juventud or Psychosis to win the championship before it was no longer interesting? WCW took notice and in the summer of 1999 they made a controversial decision.


By the summer of 1999, Rey Mysterio Jr. was once again the WCW Cruiserweight Champion and wasn’t regularly defending the title due to a feud with the West Texas Rednecks.

During the same period, WCW had debuted two new characters named Lenny and Lodi. A little backstory would be helpful, I’d imagine. Lodi had gotten some fame thanks to his run with Raven and the Flock but hardly ever won any matches. He was essentially the manager for Lenny, who was positioned as the star of the group.

Lenny Lane had been with the company since 1995 and for the first few years he mainly competed on WCW Saturday Night and WCW Worldwide where he was mostly used as enhancement talent. While Lane would win a few matches here and there, he wasn’t given a lot of momentum. However, many WCW fans saw him as a future star for the company.

There were moments where he shined but it wasn’t followed up on. For instance, in 1998 Chris Jericho used Lenny Lane as his lackey to help retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, but Lane wouldn’t be used in a prominent role afterward.

With no sense of direction and creative not looking to provide anything for Lenny, he formed a team with Lodi known as the West Hollywood Blondes. Apparently, the tag team was inspired by the Saturday Night Live cartoon The Ambiguously Gay Duo. As you might have guessed, their characters were that of two homosexuals, but WCW played it off as if they were “brothers.”

Anyway, the gimmick started to get traction as they often had backstage segments of giving each other a massage or the humorous segment of talking in a closet. Considering the time period, these two were becoming an entertaining heel duo that fans would often chant “faggot” at. Yes, it was insensitive, but at a time when WCW wasn’t providing much of anything, the controversial angle was at least interesting.

The act got so over with fans that on the August 19th edition of Thunder Lenny won his first and only championship by pinning WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. It was a shocking win and an even more shocking booking decision. It’s exactly what WCW needed to do.

Following the win, Lenny would work with Juventud, Kidman, and a young Evan Karagias. His only pay per view defense was against Kaz Hayashi, who was probably the least likely contender for the belt at the time, but more accurately the only cruiserweight that would be fine with losing to Lenny, I’d imagine. That match took place at WCW Fall Brawl 1999.

So, with a champion that fans loved to boo and was getting crowd reactions that wrestlers would only hope to receive, WCW ended the gimmick and awarded the championship to Psychosis in October. When I say awarded, I mean they literally gave him the title after claiming that Lenny had lost the belt at a house show when they had not actually happened.

The main issue that the company faces was the complaint from the GLADD organization claiming that the company was endorsing people to think it is acceptable to beat up homosexuals. I understand that professional wrestling fans aren’t the brightest, but come on. With that logic, literally everyone would be going out and slamming each other just because they can. But, it was GLADD’s responsibility I guess to make a scene about it.

That was another difference between the WWF and WCW. The WWF would stand by their controversial content that fans enjoyed while WCW would fold quickly.

Personally, the duo was really enjoyable and talented. They found a gimmick that worked for them and they were heavily featured on television. WCW just didn’t stand by their own product and a long lasting act was cut way too short.

What are your memories of Lenny Lane? Do you remember this gimmick and what was your opinion of it?

For more reviews and columns, head over to WRESTLING RECAPS.

Thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. The Amazing GamecockMarch 3, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    Aww, Lenny Lane. I remember Lodi more.

    Lodi still performs at shows with the gimmick, albeit without the gay aspect.

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  2. One of my favorite gimmicks of all time, the West Hollywood Blondes! Lenny wasn't all that talented in the ring but him and Lodi were awesome together and standards and practices had to ruin it. I know a lot of revisionist history has been used on this gimmick by smarks in 2015 but for its time it was enjoyable, fun and entertaining.

    I love Lenny Lane.

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  3. I really wanted them to turn them face. Promoters always go the cheap heat way with homosexual characters. I'd like to see them just try one time to have a babyface that's gay and doesn't wear dresses, run and hide or be a pervert. They kind of do with Darren Young, but they never mention he's gay.

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  4. Buffalo HopscotchMarch 3, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    Least they weren't as bad as the Rainbow Express.

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  5. Crikey Mate Down Under AussieMarch 3, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    Love this feature

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  6. IF wrestling survives the next twenty years, there'll be a trans wrestler for sure. And not as a gimmick either.

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  7. A gay wrestler who doesn't act in a stereotypically effeminate way would just be a wrestler. The real shift, for pro wrestling anyway, would be a heel whose gimmick is being a homophobe.

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  8. If you take away the gay stereotype then Lenny and Lodi cease to exist. That's the fun of the gimmick. A gay wrestler without those stereotypes could certainly happen today, no doubt, but not sure what kind of market there is for that. As you stated, look at Darren Young. He's gay and wicked boring.

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  9. Kinda like how Uncle Zeb was the first pro-American heel?

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  10. A male turned woman? Not sure how I feel about that. It'd be the same as when a man turned woman wants to compete in the LPGA, it's unfair and a complete disadvantage to born woman IMO. Not sure if that comes across as anti-trans but it's the way I feel.

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  11. It's wrestling. If he/she can work, who cares?

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  12. This is true -- very good point.

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  13. I guess what I'm saying is if the male turned female fought only male wrestlers I'd be fine with it on a believability level. Certainly not trying to discriminate against anyone if that's how my last comment was construed.

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  14. I get that. But think of it this way: in any real combat sport, the Big Show would never be allowed to fight Rey Mysterio.

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  15. Yeah that makes sense.

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  16. If women matches with Chyna weren't unfair...

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  17. One of my favorite gimmicks of 1999 and along with Norman Smiley, it was two new stars that WCW built then proceeded to do nothing with them because WCW.

    Plus with you saying that WWF would have stuck with the gimmick, the difference being that WCW probably didn't have a choice in the matter as they were owned by Turner.

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  18. Chyna was a biological woman as far as we know so I'm fine with her fighting women.

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  19. Jorge SteinbrennerMarch 3, 2015 at 10:22 AM

    The "male turned female" would be a female, though.

    I understand perfectly not trying to offend or discriminate with your statement, as this is still a conversation we're all learning to have, but I'd find it hard to do anything other than having someone identifying as female fight females without being offensive.

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  20. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Lenny dark match at a Des Moines RAW some years back

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  21. He still has my Loverboy tape.

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  22. Charismatic eNegro Jef VinsonMarch 3, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    Thank you for saying this. If they could bring back a Col. DeBeers type character who was homophobic it would be interesting.

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  23. So what do his signs say these days?

    "I'M WORKING FOR A SANDWICH"?

    "I HAVE $22 LEFT IN MY CHECKING ACCOUNT?"

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  24. Was that in WWE or TNA? I don't remember that at all if it was WWE.

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  25. Angle's heeling was never based on his pro-American-ness.

    He never challenged former babyfaces on the grounds they werent welcome in America.

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  26. Charismatic eNegro Jef VinsonMarch 3, 2015 at 11:27 AM

    Orlando Jordan was out and other than a few vignettes they never harped on the fact he was gay.

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  27. I mean like conservative American guy.

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  28. Yeah, I don't know... I know they would take a medicine that reduces testosterone but by how much? And are they still producing more naturally than a actual female? There's a lot of questions that need to be answered and it'll probably be a generation before we get answers.

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  29. The Amazing GamecockMarch 3, 2015 at 11:29 AM

    HA!

    Shit like "I Heart Lodi".

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  30. I loved the "A THOUSAND DOLLARS" bit with Lenny and Jericho. "Well I don't HAVE a thousand dollars!"

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  31. Exactly. Wrestlers are rarely defined by their sexuality, outside stuff like Rick Rude or Val Venis.


    Like, does anyone really think about which way Dean Ambrose swings? It's irrelevant.

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  32. This doesn't have nearly enough upvotes.

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  33. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogMarch 3, 2015 at 2:55 PM

    Why didn't WWF pick up either guy in 2001?

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  34. I think something along this would be the way to do it: make it one part of his on screen personality, but not the focus - or at least not regularly.


    that dude being huge would help as well (I'm thinking someone the size of Batista etc.).

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  35. btw I think Dean Ambrose would work great as a gay character.

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  36. CruelConnectionNumber2March 3, 2015 at 7:47 PM

    He was really bland and terrible.

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