Friday, August 19, 2005

SPINEROONI! -or- You, Too, Can Contribute To Popular Culture

(This entry concerns professional wrestling, but even if you don't like wrestling it is still an interesting bit of history. This was previously published at, which is overseen by the always gracious Christopher Robin Zimmerman. Go there. Read of armbars and armdrags. Enjoy.)

On various WWE (and, before that, WWF and WCW) telecasts, you may have heard an announcer use the term "Spinerooni" during a match involving Booker T. This would be in reference to Booker's breakdance-off-the-mat move following his axe kick to the back of an opponent's head.

I'm here to tell you that MY WIFE coined that term.

I hear you saying, "Oh, come now, Jim." Either that or, "Who gives a damn, Jim?" Either way, I'm going to relate the story, so you may as well feign interest.

A few of you may have read my wrestling-related stuff before. I did a weekly wrestling review called "Jim's Nitro Notes", which appeared on Joe Collins' website during 1997 & 1998. If you have been following wrestling for a few years, you might have guessed from the title that I did the WCW MONDAY NITRO review. I got a fair amount of traffic. As I recall, I was peaking at about 900 hits a week when I folded my part of the column, due to an increasing "real-life" workload.

(It says something about my psyche that I put "real-life" in quotation marks. However, I digress...)

Anyway, here's the chronology of "Spinerooni". Those of you with aspirations toward making a similar contribution to mass-appeal culture should start taking notes.

I began "Jim's Nitro Notes" in November of 1997. It was your standard snicker-and-sneer at the faces (good guys) and cheer the heels (bad guys) sarcastic review of TV wrestling. One of the literary devices I used as a regular feature was to quote MY WIFE (always mentioned in capital letters, giving the **ahem** appearance of my being whipped...)

Understand that MY WIFE was not what you would call a big-time wrestling fan. If she had her way, we would have spent every Monday watching "Everybody Loves Raymond". However, I started writing my column and she understood that I needed the TV for that purpose. She would watch "Raymond" in the bedroom, on our non-cable TV, and leave me to make notes on wrestling. This did not stop her from coming into the living room every so often and making incisive remarks concerning the ridiculous spectacle I was watching, and I would, more often than not, incorporate these remarks into my report since they were usually right-on-target.

One night in February of 1998, on one of her trips through the living room, she decided it would be cute to do her own play-by-play of a match involving Booker T. Since, in the words of the late, great Gorilla Monsoon, she didn't know a wristlock from a wristwatch, it was pretty damned funny. When Booker did his breakdance thing, she said, "And there's the spinerooni move!" Knowing genius when it walks up and kicks me in the face, I quoted her in my match recap.

When I showed her that column, she remarked how cool it would be to actually name a wrestling move - to have a term that she coined become the actual announcer-used name for a move. So, I mentioned this desire of hers in my next column, plotting a scenario wherein many internet wrestling writers would use the term as often as possible, until it filtered through to one of the announcers, who might use it to impress the "smarts", as we wrestling fans who understood the business were sometimes called.

Some of the other writers DID start picking up on it. Dean Rasmussen (long may his tribe increase!) was the first to use it in his own column. Zach Arnold, Joe Collins, CRZ, Mike Handy, and others used it a few times. Foremost, along with Dean, was Chris Hyatte. One of his lines is my (and MY WIFE's) favorite. He said: "Spinerooni - it's not just a word; it's a state of mind!"

Well, no announcer picked up on it right away. However, I got a swell surprise on April 7th of 1998. The recapper on WCW's official website used the term! The following is a word-for word quote of the historic moment:

"After suffering numerous Disco [another wrestler - Jim] clotheslines and punches, Booker T struck back with his trademark Spinneroony recovery (helicopter spin off the mat into a spinwheel kick)."

Aside from the fact that it was not spelled as I and others had given it in our columns, this was quite the rush. As a matter of fact, it was downright scary. I hadn't really, in my heart of hearts, thought that there was a real chance that it would be picked up by a WCW announcer, but there it was in cold print on their own website, so now anything was possible.

To make this incredibly long story somewhat shorter, my column finished on May 18th of '98, as my voice-over and production work became too heavy (Thank God!) to allow me to continue putting time and effort into a wrestling review. Some of the guys gave Spinerooni another mention or two, after my demise, but it pretty much died out by the end of that year.

Now, imagine my surprise when, one Monday night, I'm sitting back watching a Booker T match and, completely out of the blue, WCW announcer Mark Madden yells out "Spinerooni! Spinerooni!" (and his partner, Tony Schiavone, says, "Yes, the... uh... spinerooni...") I tell you, son, I almost dropped dead on my couch, I was so shocked.

Fortunately, I was taping that segment of the show, so I was able to replay it (many times) for MY WIFE, who was even more pleased about it than I was.

I sent a big thank-you to Mark Madden, for giving us the rush. Likewise, I sent some notes to the folks who helped (Hyatte, Rasmussen, Collins) and missed a few folks whose addresses I no longer could find. To everybody who helped at some point, a big wet thank you kiss from me and MY WIFE.

It still remains a mystery to us how Madden came to use it, so long after the time we thought it was dead and buried. However, it was probably even more of a thrill because of the time lapse.

As an aside, in case anyone is wondering about legalities, I stated many times in my column that we weren't interested in royalties. We figured that if there were any legal questions, it probably wouldn't ever be used. However, I did say that if WCW ever made a Spinerooni t-shirt, MY WIFE and I wouldn't be averse to a few bucks being thrown our way out of the goodness of WCW's heart...

So, that's how MY WIFE and I came to contribute to popular culture. Now *you* should pick out a wrestler's most illogical (yet still popular-as-all-hell) trademark move (that doesn't yet have a name) and do as we did. Who knows what heights you might reach? Spinerooni!

(2005 Addendum: Later on, the WWE started using the term in advertising. This was in concert with Con-Agra, the makers of Chef-Boy-R-Dee products. At that point, MY WIFE and I felt that it was being used for more than we had originally granted as free-use within my columns. We did some copyright backtracking, had a lawyer draw up a cease-and-desist, and sent it to WWE and Con-Agra. They did, insofar as the commercials were concerned. We were subsequently offered $500 by WWE as an honorarium for our writing in connection with the term.)


Anonymous said...

I think your blog is one of the best I've ever read. I look forward to seeing what new items you've added each day.

Anonymous said...

so the ball i hit the other day was called a bombaronie

Suldog said...

Thank you, thank you. I think you're both trying to say the same thing, and I appreciate it.