Will You Stop - Mr October (CPR Productions)
Oct 7, 2012 - 4:59:16 PM
‘Sup, Lords of Pain? Mazza here bringing you the second installment of Will You Stop? as Prime Time and myself go on a yearlong mission to crown WWE’s top PPV performer from each calendar month. In case you missed the first edition (which you can check out >>>HERE<<<), we will basically be looking at who we think are the top five performers for the month throughout WWE PPV history. There is no formula for our choices but we will be looking at things like match quality, match importance, longevity and consistency. The only real rule is that a superstar needs to have five PPV matches during the month to qualify. Simple enough, right?
You’d think so, and yet... spoiler alert... we’ve not been able to agree on a top five in either column. Did we ever get to an answer on Orton or Cena for September, anyway? Regardless, perhaps we should get underway with this month's effort so people can see what I mean.
That is probably a good idea. To start things off today we have a battle between two buddies who we are struggling to split...
Unsurprisingly, I have put The Game forward as the fifth greatest performer in WWE October PPV history whereas Prime thinks that honour should go to the Heartbreak Kid.
Yeah, I think there’s a pretty simple way to sum up the divide between us on these two. It really comes down to quantity vs. quality - or, to put it more accurately, the ratio of bad matches to good. HHH is one of the people to routinely have big matches in the month, and he even pulled triple duty (Triple duty by Triple H, novel that) on one show, but the one thing you’ve really got to consider is how many crap matches there are for each of his good ones. If you look at his track record, the first match with Fatu is completely forgettable. The first Austin match is a directionless affair between two heels, the second is with a borderline cripple who desperately needed surgery, and is a clusterfuck that demonstrates many of the worst things about the Attitude era. It’s not until he wrestles Benoit that he gets his first good match under his belt, and that kind of ratio doesn’t really change after that; he’s always working 2-3 matches before he gets another good one.
I’d make the case for Shawn, because even though he’s worked a fraction of the matches that Hunter has, there are far fewer duds. I’d say that he has as many decent matches, too. He kicks things off with the inaugural Hell in a Cell match, still critically acclaimed as the best match of its type by many fans. Then you’ve got his ladder match with Y2J years later. I think those two probably beat out Hunter’s CV on their own, to be honest, and when you add the fact that Michaels was also present in some of Hunter’s better matches in the last few years (the Legacy match, for example), I think it’s not too tough a decision.
The original HiaC and the ladder match with Jericho without a doubt top everything on Hunter’s CV for the month but I would argue against Trips having too many duds on his list. It’s a fair point about his October debut against Fatu, but his all heel encounter with Austin from 1996 had enough in it to show exactly why both guys would soon be at the very top of the company. Their Anything Goes match 3 years later over the WWF title did have a lot of problems, but I think was easily passable when you consider just how messed up Austin was at that stage. From there everything was at least solid. Matches against Benoit, Shawn and Umaga all fall into that category, as do the back to back encounters with Jeff Hardy which really helped make Jeff a credible world title contender. In later years he has been involved in multiman action. A strong HiaC battle between DX and Priceless, a Team Raw vs Team Smackdown Bragging Rights match as well as teaming with CM Punk in defeat to The Miz and R-Truth last year. His best moment however came at No Mercy 2007, the night of Triple H’s triple duty that Prime mentioned earlier. Every so often WWE produce a PPV with swerves a plenty which just sticks out in your mind for a long time. This was definitely one of those shows with Hunter playing a starring role. With WWE Champion John Cena picking up an injury, the title was awarded to Randy Orton at the start of the show. Trips however was given a title shot and won the strap in the opener. The Game then had to defend the title in the previously planned match for the event against Umaga before it was announced that Orton would be using his rematch clause that night. The main event was a last man standing and easily the best of all the Orton vs Hunter encounters for my money which saw Randall win the title back again. For me, that night alone is enough to get Hunter some serious love.
I’m sure everyone reading appreciates the play-by-play of the event, and I’ll give all the credit in the world to Trips for pulling triple duty. The thing is, I don’t see any of those matches on that night as being particularly good. The first two are incredibly forgettable for me, while if that last man standing match with Orton is the best of their encounters, I’m guessing you could probably package a DVD of their matches as a cure for insomnia. So while you’ve got to admire the workload he takes on, I don’t really find much to applaud about the matches themselves. I’d take that criticism into a number of the other matches you’ve mentioned, too. I’ll not take anything away from HHH or Austin’s efforts in the ‘96 encounter, but the fact remains it was a badly put together match. They really weren’t helped by the booking, but it is what it is, nothing more than a throwaway match between two people that the company didn’t really know what to do with... and they seemed to have little more idea of what to do amongst themselves, either. Moving on to their 1999 encounter - if we were just reviewing a PPV, I’d take your point about Austin’s condition - but we’re not just looking at a show on its own merits, we are looking for the very best that the month of October can offer us. It’s also worth thinking about Hunter’s own performance on that night - it wasn’t up to his usual standard, so we can’t just think about Austin’s neck as the cause for the problems in that one. As for some of the others you mention... the Umaga match is best forgotten in my opinion, and considering some of the matches he has had with Shawn the one from Taboo Tuesday was really disappointing. The one I will give you is the first Jeff Hardy match - I don’t normally like Jeff at all, but that was a match I enjoyed. I thought it was really well put together. But that’s still only a handful of matches out of about 15 attempts that I really think are worth revisiting.
I guess, then, there are two issues at play here. How good is Hunter’s CV overall is the first. The second is whether or not you would look for the overall contribution, or whether you’d look at people’s track record in a ‘pound-for-pound’ fashion. I think there is no doubt if you go for the former, Hunter gets in over Shawn. The latter, though, and it’s Michaels in a cakewalk.
How I see it is that whilst Shawn clearly takes the top two matches, I think Hunter gets in most of his before the three matches that they were both in. However, it is clear we can’t reach a common consensus here so maybe the readers can help us out. Just who is the better man in October PPVs, Shawn or Trips? Now onto number 4.
Win-Loss Record: 5-1
World Title Bouts: N/A
Main Events: N/A
Highlights: vs Triple H (No Mercy 2000)
w/ Kurt Angle vs Rey Mysterio/Edge (No Mercy 2002)
vs William Regal (No Mercy 2006)
The thing about Benoit’s track record is that, perhaps unsurprisingly, every match is at least decent. There are no stonewall duds. One or two are lower profile than the others and don’t really carry the full weight of some of the bigger affairs, but you are still hard pushed to name a bad one. The worst is probably a four way, but even in that type of match (famously done badly on a routine basis in the WWE) his sequences were still very solid. The Hunter match from 2000 is somewhat eerie today with all the Benoit/Stephanie interactions, knowing as we do the way Benoit’s life would end, but there is no denying it’s a strong match. His next, in 2002, was one of the best WWE tag matches of the last decade. He had a strong but unspectacular match with A-Train, and a similar tag match with La Resistance, before a very nice little match with Regal. None of these matches really scream main event - the fact that, at best, he’s got second main events really holds him back - but it’s very, very difficult to find a PPV appearance where Benoit put a foot wrong. October seems to be no exception.
We know before we start these there will be certain guys definitely in the running. Triple H and Undertaker will always be there because of the longevity. The likes of Cena and Orton due to lots of main events will be in the running. Then you get the guys that can steal the show with good wrestling no matter what crap is thrown at them. Benoit is that guy. He may not make the top five month in, month out, but his consistency is going to put him in the running. Whereas his October record doesn’t particularly stand out on paper, his performances are strong throughout. His match with William Regal from No Mercy 2006 is an IWC wet dream whereas his match from four years earlier where he and Kurt Angle defeated Edge and Rey Mysterio to become the first WWE Tag Team Champions was not only one of the best tag matches of the decade, but one of the best tag matches ever. However, the lack of high profile encounters does stop him from making it much higher.
I think a lot of aficionados of Southern wrestling may scoff at your love for that tag match, but there is no doubt that, so far as the WWE go, it is about as good as their tag division ever gets - particularly in an age where it has seemed to be something of an afterthought. Many people still say that is the last time they really had a division worth speaking of. Anyway, we were pretty much on agreement on Benoit, and we were also in agreement on another Canadian called Chris....
Win-Loss Record: 6-2
World Title Bouts: 3
Main Events: 2
Highlights: vs The Rock (No Mercy 2001)
vs Shelton Benjamin (Taboo Tuesday 2004)
vs Shawn Michaels in a ladder match (No Mercy 2008)
Well I hope that Kevin Nash isn’t reading this month. Chris Jericho follows up his second place last month with third place for October. Like last month, his record reads like a very nice mixture of different card positions with Jericho getting the job done each time. Like DX, he has the big multiman Bragging Rights clusterfuck on his CV as he captained Team Smackdown to victory in 2009. His other tag team encounters see a rather entertaining battle between JeriShow and Batisterio from a couple of weeks earlier as well as a victory against Booker T and Goldust when teaming with Christian in 2002. His seemingly obligatory match with X-Pac is on there, as is a very strong Intercontinental Championship match with Shelton Benjamin from the first Taboo Tuesday. Up top he has a decent effort against Batista in 2008 for the World Heavyweight Championship and a strong victory over The Rock to win the WCW title during the InVasion angle. Of course, top of the list is his ladder match victory over Shawn Michaels from their epic 2008 feud but there is a very strong supporting cast of bouts to go with it.
It’s almost a repeat performance for Jericho, as Maz rightly points out. I think the ladder match may be a step up from the unsanctioned match earlier in the year, and they really do a great job of having quite an understated match. The bout with Rocky from 2001 also really stands out, but again, it’s just another great example of how to impress wherever you are on the card, whoever you are working with. There’s not a single match I’d describe as really poor in his list here, and a couple are definitely hidden gems. The one with Shelton might have been the match of the night and, considering how badly the first show was panned, probably went a long way towards them deciding to repeat the Taboo Tuesday format.
I think you could be right. For something decided on the fly they did a great job and it gave the concept an “anything can happen” vibe which was unfortunately not seen again in the Taboo Tuesday/Cyber Sunday series. Coming in ahead of the Canadian Chris’ is another of the “Vanilla Midget” Brigade and somewhat of a shock...
Win-Loss Record: 5-6-1
World Title Bouts: 1
Main Events: N/A
Highlights: w/ Edge vs Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle (No Mercy 2002)
vs Tajiri (No Mercy 2003)
w/ Batista vs JeriShow (Hell in a Cell 2009)
I'll be honest, Rey Mysterio was not a name that I expected to be listing a lot when I signed up for this. I’ve never really been his biggest fan - not in the WWE, anyway. Having said that, when we both looked over his matches and for the sake of this series, I had to come to the conclusion that while he’d been terribly booked a lot of the time, the in-ring work was often far better than solid. I think we both quickly agreed that he was not only going to make it in here, but he was going to be a lock for one of the higher positions, right?
For sure. In fact I was strongly considering him for the number one spot at one stage. The first thing that sticks out is how many matches he has had. Twelve is an impressive final figure for a guy that always seems to be a 619 away from injury. Of course, quantity alone doesn’t get you on this list, as a certain Mr Jacobs is likely to find out over the next few months. What Rey has on his CV is a list of really good showings against a whole range of different styles. Like Prime, I am a long way from being Rey’s biggest fan but I have grown a healthy respect for his ability to put on a good match with most guys in recent years. It all started for Mysterio with that match to crown inaugural WWE tag team champions in 2002 and from there it’s just been a list of cruiserweights, brawlers, monsters, tag and multiman encounters, most of which were great to watch.
One thing Rey always seems to have had is, knowing his own size and attributes, a knowledge of how to put a match together so that it will make some kind of sense. Often, that is in the face of booking from the company that does the exact opposite, making the feat all the more impressive. One thing that jumped out at me is that none of these matches were less than entertaining. Another is that in some of the bouts with more than two people involved, it didn’t seem to matter what other illustrious names were in there, Rey stood out - and not just for flashy moves. He was involved in most of the best sequences in that epic tag match, for example, and the same is true of the JeriShow affair. Then you look at the way he’s gotten decent to strong matches off every type of wrestler in this month, from fellow cruiserweights in Tajiri and Chavo to big hosses like Kane and JBL, and you’ve got to say that were there not such an obvious contender for the number one spot this month, he’d have had a really good shot at it.
Without a doubt. It’s Rey’s understanding of how to work a match that makes him much more valuable in an age where the roster contains less and less superstars who seem to get it. That kind of reliability is vital for the WWE and it is one of the reasons I don’t want him retiring any time soon. I would however rather see him lose a few more matches. Interesting that before Eddie’s death, he lost his four October matches whereas after his buddy’s passing he has lost just two in eight, with one a tag match and the other a fatal fourway.
If you were inclined to look for patterns in something like that, you’d also notice that he went on a five match unbeaten streak, and it’s only in more recent years that he started to lose again. I agree, though, that Mysterio could be one of those wrestlers, not unlike John Cena, whose popularity suffers greatly from the superman booking. Still, there’s one guy whose been given that booking for most of his stay with the company, and it’s rarely done him any harm. It’ll probably come as little surprise, I’m sure, to find out who we’ve opted for as Mr. October...
Win-Loss Record: 5-10-1
World Title Bouts: 9
Main Events: 5
Highlights: vs Mankind in a Buried Alive match (In Your House: Buried Alive)
vs Shawn Michaels in Hell in a Cell (Badd Blood: In Your House)
vs Brock Lesnar in Hell in a Cell (No Mercy 2002)
Before we did the grunt work for this column, both Prime and myself thought it would be The Deadman’s buy a landslide. The fact is that a lot of his later performances were quite hit and miss but the fact is that Taker has had a good portion of the WWE’s biggest October moments. In fact he has an extraordinary amount of gimmick matches in the month. Buried Alive, Biker Chain, Last Ride, Casket and Last Man Standings are all on the agenda in addition to four trips into Hell in a Cell.
And to be honest, the gimmick match could have eventually led to his undoing, because they aren’t always the greatest successes. However, when you actually look at how often ‘Taker has been asked to lead the line in the month, how often he’s been put into the high profile match, I can’t help but wonder if he’d still have ended up coming out on top if each one of these matches were utterly dreadful. He’d have still had to have been a contender, I feel. Luckily we don’t have to make that decision, because plenty of these matches are not bad or better. Buried Alive didn’t really live up to his match with Foley from King of the Ring ‘96, but he more than made up for it with the Cell match a year later - the match that, I’m sure, paved the way for his having a number of later encounters with Shawn Michaels, despite being the guy who happened to be in the ring with Shawn when he suffered what was thought to be, at the time, a career ending injury. The following year, the match with Kane is really all about Austin, and doesn’t add much to his CV at all (other than, maybe, with Austin at his hottest, the fact that he was in close proximity) and it isn’t until the Lesnar matches in 2002 and 2003 that things really pick up again. At that point, ‘Taker was very much the older head leading Smackdown, and given the task of getting the youngster as over as possible in the cell. The Biker chain match isn’t a classic, but might still qualify as one of the better examples of the ‘... on a pole’ match, and he’s had decent outings with people his size, and those much smaller. He doesn’t have the blemish free CV that some of the others in this countdown have, but that was always going to be impossible when you’ve got this amount of high-profile matches. What he has got, and I think it’s enough to get him to the top, is a CV that includes some great matches, some that are better than you would perhaps expect them to be, and the fact that beyond a shadow of a doubt, he has been the man to have led the company in this month more than anybody else. They’ve always called him a locker-room leader, and whether it was jobbing for Shawn Michaels in ‘97 or for Brock Lesnar in 2002, he really seemed to embody that in the month of October.
That is for sure. There is definitely no WrestleMania streak here. In fact he has won just five of his sixteen October matches. He really put some weight behind JBL’s WWE title run and Kane’s WHC run a couple of years back. He wasn’t afraid to drop down the card a bit and Randy Orton and Ken Kennedy both got huge wins against The Deadman when trying to break into that main event scene. As Prime said however, putting Shawn over in the first cell match and helping send Lesnar on his way to megastardom five years later are probably his greatest hours. The original is still one of the best cell matches yet with the Brock one being one of the most underrated.
Ultimately, I think it is that unselfish streak combined with his undeniable starpower that have made him such a valuable attribute for the company, and such a standard bearer, particularly at this time of the year. Let’s be honest here - October isn’t the most glamorous month on the WWE calendar. When we were doing the research it became clear that while there were a lot of OK matches, there was a real scarcity of great ones, and despite a number of people being eligible you could really eliminate a lot of them fairly quickly. This isn’t like Wrestlemania time, or the Rumble - this is a time of the year when, often, the best stuff is either just starting or has just finished. Throughout his best years, the one man to whom the company turned repeatedly to provide a bit of glamour and a bit of superstar power (while their other stars were often coasting and waiting for the premier slots) is - and I hope you’ll agree, rightly - our choice for WWE’s Mr. October.
One of the most interesting things with October is that it had a lot more eligible superstars due to the fact that we have had double PPVs in the month quite a lot in recent years. As such narrowing the field down to five (well six) was particularly difficult this time around. I know Prime and myself both had guys in mind that didn’t quite make the cut.
Yeah. At one point, I thought Christian was a shoo-in for the top five, particularly with his nice match with Taka Michinoku in his WWF debut, but things seemed to fade after a while. The stuff with E&C, particularly Los Conquistadors, was generally entertaining but ultimately not really enough when you are considering things at this kind of level. I think the same thing really counted against his partner, too. Edge eventually caught Christian, not least because of his part in that tag match we’ve been waxing lyrical about all the way through this, but ultimately he couldn’t quite find enough to get one of the lower spots in here. One that I quite liked, but who didn’t really have enough, was Kurt Angle. I think he’s one of the more overrated wrestlers of the past decade - his selling, for one thing, is non-existent - but he has a number of enjoyable high profile matches, and I don’t think there is a bad one in this month's collection. All things told, I think one or two more at the same quality, and he’d have made my list. I think you’d two or three different names on the fringes when you were making your list though?
When discussing E&C you can’t discount the final of the Terri Invitational Tournament. It was the first in a line of matches that would go on to hurt the ladder match but it was still exciting at the time. Add the TIT to his matches with Triple H and I thought Jeff Hardy had a decent month as well. As for Kurt, I understand where Prime is coming from but I am a huge fan. Angle is going to be a major sticking point at some point during this series but I didn’t think this was his month. I will say with confidence however that he will feature before we are done. John Cena and Randy Orton were in my thoughts again. I loved their ironman match but the total of the rest unfortunately was not enough. John Morrison was also in my thoughts thanks to some very solid and flashy midcard outings however for me, the closest non-finisher was Dave Batista.
You might well have a point there. I don’t expect Big Dave to be in the running all that often, despite most of his career being very high profile, but this is one of his better months, and there were a few moments where I had him in the running. In particular, I can remember really liking the match with Eddie Guerrero, and being surprisingly impressed with the tag match against JeriShow. I’m guessing, though, that if you think him the best to miss out, then you must have been impressed with his CV more widely.
It’s the Punjabi Prison. It should have been the worst match ever but Dave made it passable and did some awesome Spidey shit. When motivated I think Batista is one of the better hosses WWE have produced. His stuff for this month isn’t all great but it is pretty solid. His one-on-ones with JBL, Taker and Jericho all fall into that category and I really liked his role in the four-way. It was the start of his (until now at least) final run with the company and probably the best run of his career. The interaction with Rey in that match shone way above the awkward World Heavyweight Championship feud between Taker and Punk.
I don’t really remember the Punjabi Prison match all that well, apart from the weird nature of a lot of the rules. Always thought of it as needlessly complicated, and certainly didn’t expect to see that match heralded in this series - but I guess that is why I’m here. Different opinions, and all that jazz. Speaking of which, next up is the month of November, and since the November PPV goes back to 1987, I reckon there will be plenty of arguments before we can sort that one out.
It’s going to be a big month for sure with the pre-95 crew coming into play as well as a few “two PPVs a month” years later on. That means there will be significantly more eligible superstars. On top of that you will have the whole Traditional Survivor Series vs One-on-Ones issue to juggle. So I fully expect to be having a few hissy fits with Prime over all that. I think it’s time to take this home now. We hope you have enjoyed our trip down memory lane to Octobers past. As always we would be extremely happy to hear your thoughts on the column. Have we overlooked somebody from a space in the top five? Should Taker’s stinkers have kept him away from top spot? Have we over-estimated Rey Rey’s talents? You can use the handy little comments boxes below, shoot us an email >>>here<<< or hit us up on Twitter @MazzaLOP and @LOPprimetime. We shall be back to crown Mr November at some point before Survivor Series. Until then... Peace!