A while back when Hustle had just started his 30 Day Challenge, we were talking about it on Twitter, more specifically we were discussing points we disagreed on as well as points I might not have thought to have made. Hustle said that I should take on the challenge once he had finished his run with it, and I replied that I didn't know if I could do it without missing a day. That was until I was formally challenged to try it out, and I couldn't help but to accept. I just wanted to get that out of the way before people started bombarding me with "YOU'RE COPYING HUSTLE!" messages. He challenged me to do it, I accepted. So get bent haters, I have his blessing. Anyways, on to the column…
AJ Styles' Pele Kick never fails to make me mark out. I don't know what it is about the move, but I absolutely love it. Even though it doesn't look like a particularly effective move to use in a fight since the opponent would have time to see what was coming, it looks absolutely brutal when it connects. Something about combining a moonsault with a kick to the head, and knowing that I could never pull off that move if I wanted to. He doesn't use it as often anymore, but I think that makes it even more awesome when he does decide to bust it out. (See the move here)
The Powerbomb has always been a favourite of mine, purely because of how brutal it looks when it's done properly. Back in the day, when you saw this move connect you knew the match was over. It's not used nearly as often anymore, and certainly rarely as a finisher, which is very unfortunate indeed. Even all the variations (crucifix, sit-out, spin-out, etc.) of the move look wicked. I really don't know why it's become such a rarity these days, because it really is one of the most effective looking finishers out there for a big guy. Even with the "smaller" roster WWE has nowadays, there are still plenty of guys capable of performing it properly and safely. I really wish it would be brought back. Not to an extreme level where EVERYONE is using it, but let one of the bigger guys on the roster use it as their finisher. Even if a couple of different guys use it, they can put their own variation on it (JBL "putting out a cigar", Undertaker slashing his throat, etc.) to make it their own. (See the move here)
The Moonsault, specifically when it's done by Kurt Angle, is easily one of my favourite aerial moves. Something about the way that the guy hitting it seems to slowly glide through the air before crashing down on his opponent just wows me every time. Maybe it's due to my inability to do a backflip, who knows. I mentioned that I particularly enjoy the move when Kurt Angle does it, and that's because I believe he does it better than just about anybody out there, and considering that aerial moves are rarely a part of his arsenal, I think that makes it all the more impressive. It's a combination of how high he jumps and how smooth he flips that make it truly great. As for the move in general, I just think it looks really cool. Again, not particularly useful in a REAL fight, but for professional wrestling purposes it's just fine. Honorable mention goes to Christopher Daniels for his B.M.E. (Best Moonsault Ever) variation where he hops up each rope individually before launching into the move. (See the move here)
JBL's Clothesline From Hell (also Ryback's lariat) is a very simple move in terms of execution, but he somehow made it look absolutely deadly. That likely has something to do with him being a massive human being, but also the way he would swing his arm back before hitting it just added that extra "oomph" to the impact. When Bradshaw hit that clothesline, it was game over. Same goes for Ryback hitting that lariat. That move looks like it's absolutely going to take somebody's head off. They took a move (the clothesline) that most guys use as a standard part of their arsenal, added a bit more force to it, and somehow made it look infinitely more deadly. (See the move here)
Honorable Mentions: The Liontamer, the Cross-Armbreaker, the 450 Splash, the Angle Slam, the DDT (and its variations), the Superkick
But my favourite wrestling move stands out above all of those ones I just listed. Like many of my other favourites, it's very simple, but also very effective. It can be hit in a split-second out of nowhere, and it's been duplicated and modified many times since it's innovation.
The move I'm choosing as my all-time favourite is none other than the Diamond Cutter, also known as the RKO, Ace Crusher, Bubba Cutter, Stunner, and many other variations.
The main reason I like this move is, as I mentioned above, that it can be hit at any point in a match out of nowhere, even as a counter to an aerial move.
It's so quick, but when it's done properly it looks like it could really knock an opponent out cold. It may look simple, but think about what actually happens to the guy on the receiving end of the move: their face gets driven forcefully into the mat. Simple, but effective, especially when it's hit on a guy coming off the top rope (as seen in that video above). It's also a move that most guys can hit convincingly regardless of their size, making it very versatile indeed.
It may not have the same brutal impact as a powerbomb, or the aerial beauty of a moonsault, but it destroys both of those moves in terms of how quickly it can be hit, and the amount of situations that it can be hit.
So for it's simplicity, effectiveness, and versatility, the Cutter (and its variations) is my favourite wrestling move of all time.
I am now officially done two thirds of this 30 Day Challenge. 10 more days to go until it's over. The next 10 entries are going to be a lot of fun, not that the past 20 haven't been, but the last few topics in this challenge are very interesting. You'll see what I mean over the next 10 days. But until tomorrow, Crow has left the building.
Jeff Hardy winning the BFG Series over Bully Ray both disappointed and angered me more than any recent event in wrestling has even come close to. That disappointment was made even worse when news came out that the main reason Hardy won was because his contract is expiring soon and TNA wants to keep him happy so he'll re-sign. Out of curiosity, does anyone here really think Hardy would have left TNA if he hadn't won? Would he really go back to WWE, or more importantly would he be welcome back in WWE? I really don't think there was any danger of him going anywhere. Bully Ray on the other hand was THIS close to leaving TNA after his contract expired, only to sign a 2-year deal at the last minute. If TNA is worried about keeping their top stars happy, why not start with your top heel that almost left just days before? Not only that, but TNA spent so much damn time building Bully to the point he's at now, to the point where the fans are ready to see him take the company's top prize, only to have him lose TWICE to a (storyline) injured Jeff Hardy. TWICE. Once at the PPV, and again on Impact that week. I can't help but be disappointed in TNA, because they really screwed up this time. I get that Jeff is a big star, but he didn't need that win, and I would argue that Bully did. Hardy could have been placed in the World Title picture at any point in time.
Now with that out of the way, let's look at some disappointing WWE moments. The lucky part about this entry is that I'm not forced to name the MOST disappointing moment I've seen, so I have a bit more freedom to work with.
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at Wrestlemania 20 is one of the most disappointing moments I've experienced as a wrestling fan. It had all the potential in the world to be a great moment, with two of the biggest stars in wrestling facing off against each other, but that obviously did not pan out. What we got was a sub-par match (and even that might be generous) full of stalling and the fans simply not giving a fuck. Everyone knew that both of these men were leaving the company after Wrestlemania, but rather than give the fans one last great memory to remember them by, they chose to phone it in. Even with the involvement of Steve Austin as the special referee didn't change anything, and that's never good. I can remember screaming at my TV for them to do SOMETHING. The biggest pop that match got was after it ended and both men received a Stunner, but even that wasn't anything remarkable. For two guys that were treated like royalty in the industry, you'd think they could have gone out with a bit more class than they did. Instead we are left with a memory that sours the "legacy" of both wrestlers, and a moment that a lot of us will likely never forget or forgive.
William Regal's brush with the main event will always be a very disappointing moment for me, but the disappointment is more directed at him personally than it is towards WWE. When Regal won the "King of the Ring" tournament, which pushed him to the World Title picture, I was absolutely ecstatic. Finally, I thought, one of the most talented veterans in the company is going to get what he deserves. And he did get what he deserved, only it came in the form of a 60 day suspension for violating the Wellness Policy. Regal has never really recovered from that moment. Sure, he's had good matches and some decent booking, but he has not come close to another real World Title shot since, and I don't think he ever will again. WWE had finally decided to give Regal the chance to run with the ball, and he fumbled at the WORST possible moment. I get that people screw up, so it's not like I'm all of a sudden not a Regal fan anymore, but it was just very disappointing to see the man screw up his one shot for a World Championship run.
The retirement of the Cruiserweight Championship has always bothered me. Not so much that it was retired, that part I can deal with, but it's HOW it was retired that is disappointing. There were so many great cruiserweights that held that belt, and yet its send-off was despicable. Not only did Hornswoggle become the final champion, he was stripped of said belt because he's a midget and was Vince McMahon's son, which led Vickie Guerrero (the GM at the time) to believe his well-being may be in jeopardy, leading her to strip him of the title. I get that they needed a storyline reason to retire the belt, but is that really the best they could come up with? They couldn't have just had that battle royal (where Hornswoggle won the belt) be for the honour of becoming the final Cruiserweight champion, and maybe have someone who deserved it win? Apparently that's too much to ask for. The Cruiserweight title may not have nearly the prestige of some other WWE titles, but any belt that was held by the likes of Brian Pillman, Eddie Guerrero or Dean Malenko deserves better than that. WWE should have given it a proper sendoff, not take it away with some cheap storyline excuse.
The "official" pick I'm going with here happened not too long ago. The storyline leading up to this moment (or rather, series of moments) was one of those rare occasions where every wrestling fan was tuning in to watch. When this set of moments was set into action, everybody was absolutely chomping at the bit to find out what was going to happen next. A lot of good fantasy scenarios were being floated around, but when it finally came time for WWE to deliver some epic pay-off, we got more lazy booking.
My pick is John Cena being forced to join Nexus, only to do nothing exciting with it.
I'll say this right off the bat, I was not among those who truthfully thought Cena would end up turning heel during this feud. I would have liked to see it happen, but I also understand why it never was going to. I also actually enjoyed Cena being Nexus' reluctant slave for a while. The only gripe I had at this point was that Cena wasn't wearing a Nexus shirt, which would have really sold the angle. I was okay with this booking, right up until he was booked as the special referee in the WWE Championship match between Wade Barrett and Randy Orton, with the added stipulation that Cena would either be fired or relieved of his duties to Nexus, depending on whether Barrett won or lost.
At this point in time, Barrett was well on his way to becoming a top heel. He was getting great heat every time he came on screen, especially while he was making Cena his bitch. When this title match was announced, most everyone figured that Barrett would win and Cena would move on. I actually figured Orton would retain and Cena would be "fired" for a while, or at least forced to rejoin Nexus. Orton did end up retaining, and Cena was "fired", but that's where the bullshit starts.
Instead of staying away from RAW for a bit, Cena showed right back up and started screwing with Nexus. After making each of them HIS bitch, he turned his sights on Barrett and proceeded to destroy him (and each member of Nexus) at the TLC PPV, destroying Barrett's momentum in the progress.
I'll concede that Barrett wasn't yet ready for a run with the WWE Championship. He was still far too new and unproven to deserve it, and it could have been disastrous. We've seen before what happens when WWE rushes someone to the title too quickly, and with a guy like Barrett that's sure to be a superstar down the line, you don't want that happening. Just look what happened to guys like Jack Swagger or (for a time) Randy Orton.
What disappointed me about this whole situation was that the build-up was great, but the pay-off was horrendous. There were so many opportunities during Cena's run with Nexus to do something entertaining, but all we got was a bunch of sad Cena promos, and the inevitable return of "Super Cena" at the end of it all. Would it have hurt to keep him away for a month or so, only to return to fight Barrett one-on-one? Throw on a stipulation of "Cena wins he gets a contract, Cena loses he leaves forever" and that, while having an obvious outcome, would have at least avoided him squashing a bunch of wrestlers. It started off with promise, but it ultimately failed to deliver. Cena may be the top guy in WWE, but that's no excuse to go with lazy booking and have him destroy months of GOOD booking.
So there we have it folks, day 19 is in the bag. Tomorrow's entry will be up at the usual time, so until then, thanks for stopping by.
Chris Benoit & Woman…I won't say much here, because it still seems as though any mention of Benoit causes pointless arguments, but because he was always one of my favourite guys I feel he was worth including here. Another on-screen relationship that didn't last long, but was entertaining while it lasted. Obviously their real life endings are a very sad happening, but that doesn't take away from the entertainment they once offered on-screen.
Santino & Beth Phoenix were always an interesting coupling because of how different they were. Rather than Beth being the eye-candy for her man, she "wore the pants" in that relationship. It was probably not a relationship that anyone would have thought to put together, but it was one of those situations where it was so crazy it worked. They were so different, yet it worked. Again though, it was a fairly short-lived relationship. This lack of staying power keeps it from being at the top of my list.
Like yesterday, this list could go on for ages. There have been so many on-screen relationships over the years, and that list above doesn't even scratch the surface. They don't seem to be used as often (or rather as effectively) anymore, which is really unfortunate. Vickie Guerrero managed to pull it off for a while with Edge and Dolph Ziggler, and to some extent it worked, but aside from some over exaggerated make-out sessions I think she served as more of a manager than a romantic interest. So who made the cut as my favourite on-screen couple? This was actually a simple pick for me.
The couple I chose for this entry were an amazing on-screen pairing and drew incredible heat, and I credit that with one simple thing: it was all built around a real life situation. In a perfect example about how the revelation of real-life drama improving a wrestling storyline, these two had a real-life affair, and that was turned into an angle involving the actual guy that the woman had cheated on in real life.
Of course, I am referring to the Rated-R duo, Edge & Lita.
The real life drama surrounding this coupling was easily what made it as great as it was. Despite the fact that Matt Hardy was never a top guy, the second it became public knowledge that Lita had cheated on him, the fans rallied behind him and heavily against her. Seemingly overnight, she turned into the most hated woman in that entire company. Edge, who was already a bad guy at the time, was sky-rocketed to main event heel status and quickly became a must-see part of any show he was on.
While other on-screen relationships have benefited both members, I would argue that this was one of the most mutually beneficial relationships in wrestling history. Edge, like I said above, became a top heel in the top wrestling company in the world. Lita went from being a fairly boring Diva that could do a few "extreme" moves in the ring to the most hated female in the company. They both did what every wrestler strives (and doesn't always succeed) to do, and that is to gain a REAL emotional reaction from the crowd. People legitimately wanted to see both of them get their asses kicked. A lot of people can relate to having an unfaithful partner, and if not we've at least all been "trained" to believe it's wrong, and that naturally translates into real heat from the fans.
Even after they moved past the Matt Hardy part of their relationship, Edge and Lita continued to make the fans hate them more and more each week. Because they were in a real relationship, there was no need to force chemistry between them. On top of that, it looked like they were legitimately having fun getting the crowd to boo them. Sure, reports at the time said that Lita wasn't entirely comfortable with her newly-found status as a mega bitch, but as time went on it became pretty clear that she grew to accept the role.
And of course there was the "live sex celebration" where things got… revealing.
Without this pairing, I don't think Lita would have stayed with the company as long as she did. I'm sure Edge still would have become a big star, there's no denying that, but I absolutely believe that he wouldn't have had the same success as a mega heel. Screwing over his supposed best friend, both on-screen and in real life, forced the fans to absolutely despise him, and that makes all the difference in the world. They weren't classy, they weren't honourable, but they were damn effective.
So there we have it folks, day 18 is in the bag. Tomorrow's entry will be up at the usual time, so until then, thanks for stopping by.
The nWo is another group that is also usually brought up in any conversation about influential stables. The group, by the end of it all, is also synonymous with the term "clusterfuck" due to the sheer number of people that were involved with the group at any one time. The version of the group that I would consider putting on this list is the original: Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan. When Hogan shocked the wrestling world by turning heel, that immediately added an insane amount of drama to the entire storyline. Adding that to the "invasion" of WCW by Nash and Hall, this group was destined to make an impact, and they did just that. They were edgy, they were cool, and they had a t-shirt that people still wear to this day. Even when they came back to the WWF as part of McMahon's scheme to "poison" the company, they proved that they still had it. It obviously wasn't the same impact that they had had previously in WCW, mostly because they weren't really doing anything NEW this time around, but it still gave enough entertainment value to be worth noting. Unfortunately it didn't last long and the group soon vanished for good. What keeps this group from being my favourite is that clusterfuck thing I mentioned earlier. As good as the original incarnation was, it just got way too confusing and ridiculous by the end of things.
In another more modern pick, the original Nexus group is a great example of how a bunch of relative nobodies can band together and do something impactful. That one single moment when they invaded RAW and wreaked havoc on the entire set left everyone in absolute awe and created that ever important cliffhanger ending, making sure that EVERYONE would tune into the show the following week to see what the hell was going on. As things went on, each of the superstars was quickly elevated to a higher position on the card (though most of them have now gone back to the bottom) and people wanted to see them get beat. For a group of nobodies that came from a show that few people watched, they did damn well for themselves. Unfortunately their momentum fizzled out by the end of the storyline and people ended up wanting to see the group disband, but for a brief period in time they showed the WWE Universe just how effective a group of rookies can be.
I could keep going for ages, but what would be the fun in that? There have been so many stables/groups over the years that if I were to give a blurb on each one of them, this column would end up being far too long. Don't worry, I didn't forget about such groups as The Hart Foundation, Degeneration X, The Brood, The Dudleys, etc., I just didn't have the time or space to talk about each of them. All of those groups were great in their own ways.
My pick for my favourite group is likely to cause some strange looks and pretentious guffaws, but the amount of shits that I give is very minimal. This group may not have been as edgy, humorous, or innovative as the groups I listed above, but the way it had been constructed was perfect. It represented the past, present, and future of professional wrestling, and in the process gave us two of the biggest superstars of the modern era of wrestling. They also had a kick-ass theme song.
Of course, I am referring to Evolution.
Straight off the bat, I loved the concept of the group. It wasn't particularly innovative, but I really liked the idea. You had Triple H, one of the top superstars at the time; Ric Flair, who really needs no introduction being one of the all-time greats; and Batista and Randy Orton, both of whom were already on the path to superstardom, but still needed that one final rub to get them to the next level.
In the beginning, they were booked amazingly well as an unstoppable group. They worked as a team, ensuring victory more often than not, and at one point held every possible championship that they could. Being in the group gave Triple H easy heat, it kept Ric Flair relevant, and as things went on we got to watch the improvements of both Batista and Orton. This group accomplished everything that a good stable should as it made every member look good, even though the focus was clearly on their leader.
Back to the point of developing new stars however, the group successfully made World Champions out of both Randy Orton and Batista. Granted Orton's first run was a flop, but I don't think that was entirely a bad thing. At the time people thought he was ready, but this reign proved that there was still a lot of work to be done. By separating from the group, Orton was able to step out on his own and begin his own road to success.
The same goes for Batista. When he won the Royal Rumble and went on to challenge Triple H for the title (which he subsequently won), Batista officially stepped out on his own. Unlike Orton however, he didn't fail in his singles pursuits. Batista went on to have a very successful career, and I credit his involvement with Evolution with a large portion of that.
The group didn't last long, but it made an impact for me very quickly. Even at the time, before I knew what would happen with Orton and Batista in the future, I knew the group was something special. Will they ever have the nostalgia factor that groups like the Horsemen and D-X do now? Who knows. What I can't deny is just how successful they were in the short time they were around. They produced two top superstars, kept an old man relevant and active, and allowed a major superstar the opportunity to prove that he could mentor up-and-coming talent to a point where they can main event shows without his help.
And again, having a kick-ass theme song didn't hurt. I spent far too much time looking for a good copy of that song before it was officially released on CD.
So there you have it folks. What are your favourite wrestling groups? There's been more than a few of them over the years, so I'm sure there's going to be some great variety here.
But that's it for me tonight, see you all again tomorrow.
Alright I lied, this one wasn't nearly as difficult as I first thought it would be. Admittedly I did end up going with a different promo than I originally thought I was going to which was a bit of a shock, but I'm 100% okay with my pick. But first, as has become customary in these entries, a brief listing of the other promos I had considered.
Muhammed Hassan responding to the racist New York Post article has always stuck out in my mind as one of my favourite promos. To recap, the article was written by Don Caplan under the headline "Terrorist Wrestles After Bombing" as a response to a segment on the previous Smackdown where a group of masked men with clubs and piano wire attacked Undertaker before carrying Daivari out of the ring above their heads, a segment that aired only hours after the London bombings. Hassan points out that Caplan had no way of knowing if he, Daivari, or the gang were "terrorists", and goes on to berate him for taking away his right as an American to work in the profession that he chooses (because UPN wanted Hassan kept off TV, forcing WWE to air this segment on their website as an exclusive) and continues to say how disgusted he is that every time something goes wrong in America, be it a plane crash or a bombing, it gets blamed on the Arabs. Hassan, who is actually part Arab in real life, let loose in this promo and I'm sure that while some of it was an act, a good portion of it was real frustration and anger over the state of things in America. I'm still pissed at how the media vilified the WWE over this situation, not only costing a man his job, but robbing the fans of one of the best heels they'd seen in years. I've abandoned the thought that he'll ever return to WWE unfortunately, but this promo serves as a pretty good memory of what could have been. (Promo can be found here.)
Paul Heyman's promos at both 2005 & 2006 "One Night Stand" events are both incredible examples of just how good Paul Heyman is on the mic. The 2005 promo was great because of just how raw it was. It wasn't as put together as Heyman's promos normally were, but there was no doubt in ANYONE'S mind that night that he was speaking from the heart, never more so than when he directly addressed the WWE superstars on the balcony above. Telling JBL that the only reason he was WWE Champion for a year was because "Triple H didn't want to work Tuesdays" was simple, but to any "smart" fan listening, it was a pretty big bomb to drop. (Promo can be found here.)
I do however think his 2006 One Night Stand promo was better than the first though. It was a lot smoother, but arguably even more dripping with real and raw emotion. WWE had just announced the return of a weekly ECW show a couple of weeks before this PPV, so it naturally made sense for Heyman to kick off this broadcast. The simple pride in Heyman's voice that something he created was still beloved by fans that many years later made this promo great. One line in particular sums it up nicely, "I will be the Messiah of the new breed unleashed, the rabbi of the revolution, the swinging schlong of the extreme. This is better than Monday Night RAW, this is better than Friday Night Smackdown. WELCOME TO THE REBIRTH OF E…C…W!" (Promo can be found here.)
In line with the previous two picks, Joey Styles "shooting" on RAW before "quitting" is one of the finest worked shoots I can remember seeing. Styles said that it all started when he got bumped from Wrestlemania because he "didn't sound like Jim Ross", despite WWE firing JR in the first place. I can't even properly recap everything he said in this shoot, because it wouldn't do it justice. I really don't know how much of this is worked and how much of it is real rage, because Styles says a lot of pretty scathing anti-WWE stuff, including how he was told multiple times he wasn't allow to say "professional wrestling" or "wrestler", and how he was told to deliberately ignore moves being done in the ring in favour of "telling stories". Obviously he was told to go out and just talk, because his mic was never cut off, but damn. I highly suggest you watch this clip, you won't be sorry. (Promo can be found here.)
Oh look, another Paul Heyman sighting. Paul Heyman's "shoot" on Vince McMahon the week before Survivor Series 2001 was something incredible to listen to, especially at the time when I was a young wrestling fan and had yet to really discover the IWC. I had no concept of what a "worked shoot" was, so as far as I knew at the time, this was as real as pro wrestling got. Heyman tears McMahon apart in this promo, and Vinnie takes it like a champ, targeting everything from his children to his ability to lead a wrestling company to guys like Pat Patterson refusing to do anything but kiss McMahon's ass backstage. I know parts of this promo were worked, considering it served to hype up the upcoming Survivor Series' main event, but I'm just as sure that much of this promo was real rage. Like I said for he Styles promo, I can't properly summarize everything Heyman said here. Partly because the segment is over 10 minutes long, but mostly because it wouldn't do it justice. Just watch the segment and you'll see. I give mad props to McMahon for standing there with a straight face as Heyman just unleashes on him, right up until Taz gets in the ring to shut him up. (Promo can be found here.)
Finally, there's the infamous promo known colloquially as the "Cane Dewey" promo by Mick Foley. I can't say anything about this promo that wasn't said better by Hustle in his column, so I won't say much here at all. If you want to talk about promos dripping with raw and real emotion, this one sets the bar pretty damn high. Foley, like any father, was absolutely enraged that someone would even JOKE about harming his then 3 year old son, and he was allowed to air those frustrations on TV. This promo made people really start to notice Foley on a different level than before, and to this day it is still used as a comparison by which all "real" promos are judged. (Promo can be found here.)
So with that fine list of promos being "eliminated", what else is left? What promo has been chosen by yours truly as his favourite?
My pick is, like the other ones I named, a shoot. A REAL shoot. This superstar was handed a microphone and told to say whatever he wanted about whoever he wanted. He had just been fired from a fairly lucrative deal with one company, and was hired by a little promotion known as ECW to do some in-ring interviews while he healed up. Paul Heyman handed this man a microphone and told him to shoot, and shoot he did.
Steve Austin's shoot promo in ECW is, without a doubt, my favourite promo. It's real, it's raw, and it's great. Austin was, understandably, pissed about the fact that he was fired from WCW over the phone by Eric Bischoff while he was off with an injury, and even more pissed that he let WCW shit on him for so long while he became complacent, taking it all because at least the money was good.
"They say you are what you eat. In WCW, they didn't feed me nothin' but garbage, so I let myself become garbage. I became complacent with everything they said, as long as 'Big Ted' kept sending in the cheques. Maybe I wasn't happy with what was going on, but I became complacent."
Austin even shoots on ECW, calling it "nothing but violent crap", and says that he is there to wrestle because it's what he does better than anybody in the world. This is the REAL birth of "Stone Cold", and all it took was some shady dealings from Eric Bischoff to unleash upon the world one of the best superstars to ever live.
"There's no Hogans here, there's no Flairs here, there's not a Dusty Rhodes, and there damn sure isn't an Eric Bischoff here. There's no one that can hold back Steve Austin now. "Stunning"? Tossed it out the window, never was meant to be. ECW's gonna find out first hand what Steve Austin can do, and I'm gonna show everybody here exactly what a true superstar is supposed to do. What a true superstar is supposed to be. Because no one here can hold me back… I'm gonna be the superstar that I always knew I could be, because there's no one in ECW that can stop me."
The best thing about this promo is that everyone can relate to it. Everyone has had a job where they feel like they've been shit on and passed over for someone inferior, so the rage that Austin is expressing here is understandable. Maybe we haven't all been fired over the phone, but that's besides the point. Austin is always brought up in conversations about the best talkers of all time, but I feel as though many of the people who say that don't give credit where credit is due. Austin was always good, but I think this promo is what made him great. It gave him the edge he needed to bring himself to the next level as the now famous beer-drinking SOB we all know and love. If for nothing else, Paul Heyman should forever be credited with giving us this classic moment, because without him it might not have been possible.
I can already hear some of you typing furiously that I left out a promo you feel deserved to be on the list, but as always I welcome you to tell me your thoughts and opinions. I know I've missed some greats, but the ones I listed above are the ones that stuck out the most for me.
Day 15 is now in the bag, meaning that I am now officially at the half-way point of this 30-Day Challenge. This entry was a lot of fun to do as I got to relive some great moments (thanks to YouTube), and even though making this pick was easier for me than the last few have been, it was still fun to consider all of the other promos and watch their clips. So until next time folks, thanks for stopping by.
Bobby Roode has to be a consideration for this topic. Even after his meteoric rise to the top of TNA, people still doubt him. In what felt like an overnight happening, Bobby Roode went from being a very popular face tag team wrestler to the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and one of the best heels in the company. He stepped up his game in the ring, he effectively changed up his look with something as simple as a haircut, and his promos became better than they had ever been before. I'm willing to admit that he might not be able to cut it as a top name in WWE, but I do think he could still be in the main event. Since his elevation to TNA's main event, he's done nothing but improve. He may not have the belt anymore, but the heel reaction he got upon his return when he screwed James Storm out of his match at No Surrender was incredible, especially when you take into consideration how long he'd been away.
Looking at the WWE roster, one of the most underrated guys there has to be R-Truth. I think he's a guy that has been unfortunately saddled with a bad gimmick, and that makes it hard to look at him as anything other than a comedy act. As seen during his heel turn not too long ago, R-Truth is capable of stepping his game up to a whole different level, and during that time people were actually considering the fact that he might end up getting the WWE Championship. At the risk of sounding like a douchey hipster, I already knew that he was capable of it because of his time in TNA as K-Krush, and later as Ron "The Truth" Killings. During his run in TNA he not only became a 2-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, he also became the first African-American to be recognized as NWA World Heavyweight Champion (Bobo Brazil would have been the first, but that title change is NOT recognized by the NWA). If R-Truth hadn't gotten himself suspended during that successful run as a heel in WWE, I think he would have continued his rise to the top, likely ending with at least a short WWE Championship run. But now that he's back to the "Little Jimmy" shenanigans, people aren't giving him the credit he deserves.
Rob Terry. I'll give you all a moment to process that. Terry will never be confused with a technical wrestling master, but that's not what it's always about when it comes to assessing a wrestler's value. Rob Terry as an absolute beast of a human being, so it's easy to write him off as a meat-head that can't do anything in the ring. Yes, most of his moves are simple power moves, but what's the problem with that? He serves his role as a "big man" very well, and no matter who he is in the ring with he looks like a physical threat. On top of that, I really don't think he's as bad in the ring as some people seem to think he is. "The Freak" is capable of pulling off a good match whether it's against a big guy like Matt Morgan or a smaller guy like Homicide. Right now he's back in a bodyguard role, which he's no stranger to as he served in that role in FCW as a bodyguard for Nick Nemeth, better known now as Dolph Ziggler. Terry isn't an all-time great, but he serves his role well and I think he deserves credit for that much.
And of course, there's Heath Slater. Ever since his debut on the main roster post-NXT, I just couldn't take him seriously. I don't know if it was the goofy promos or just the way he looks, but something never clicked in me that said "hey, this is a guy worth watching". I'm still far from his biggest fan, but after seeing his work lately I have certainly started to change my tune a bit. Instead of seeing just another useless ginger (hi Crimson), I now see what value he does have. He's never going to be a World Champion, but I think he has what it takes to be a great addition to the mid-card. His promos, while annoying, get a reaction from the crowd because they want to see him get his ass kicked, and that's actually the thing he's best at: he can sell moves like a boss. I think his contributions to WWE are undervalued, thereby making him a very underrated talent on their roster.
But who do I think is the MOST underrated wrestler today? I'm actually going to cheat a bit and pick two names. One of them is older, one of them is newer, but I think they both deserve to be included.
Robbie E is a name I'm sure none of you expected me to list here, but I have no hesitation in including him. Robbie is unfortunately saddled with a pretty ridiculous gimmick (a very exaggerated Jersey Shore-esque personality) and I think that often takes away from people seeing what he brings to TNA. He's actually a solid wrestler, and despite his gimmick being so ridiculous, I do think he actually has a good amount of charisma and talking ability. He's been wrestling for almost 12 years now, debuting at the age of 17, and has actually made a few appearances in WWE during that time under the name Rob Eckos. Granted those were squash matches, but that's to be expected when you get brought in to work as a one-night enhancement talent. He's started to take a slightly more serious tone in TNA, and I think once the company pulls the trigger on him and gives him a real push, he'll have a nice career there.
My second pick is a guy that's still wrestling today, but he's been doing it quite a bit longer than my other pick. He's a guy that has a respectable number of World Championship runs under his belt, but still never really received the credit he deserved. Even now, at 45 years old, he is still capable of going out there and putting on the match of the night. He's still in great shape, he's good in the ring, he's good on the mic, and did I mention he started a company that is now the #2 wrestling organization in North America?
Obviously, my second pick is Jeff Jarrett, the founder of TNA. It hasn't been until recently that people have started giving him some credit for how good he is, but I still don't think it's enough. When he was unceremoniously fired on-air (for real) after McMahon purchased WCW, I think most people assumed they had seen the last of him. McMahon certainly seemed happy to be rid of him (and if the reports of the rocky relationship between the two are true, I can't say I fully blame him for that).
Just look at some of the comments on that video. "His world title reigns rank up there with David Arquette's", "mid-carder for life", "WCW has-been", etc. People write him off because of either silly gimmicks or his association with TNA, and both of those lines of reasoning are, quite frankly, bull shit. Jarrett isn't the best of all time, and I would certainly never claim otherwise, but he's a HELL of a lot better than people give him credit for. He can still bring it, and he does so every time he gets in the ring. Don't believe me? Look at ANY of his matches in TNA with Kurt Angle. Most of them were MotY quality, each of them certainly MotN quality. Jarrett deserves far more credit than he's worth, and it's certainly a nice start to see people recognizing that more these days.
You all know the drill by now. What are your thoughts on today's topic? Who do YOU think is the most underrated wrestler today or of all time? What do you think of MY picks? Let me know. Day 14 is now in the bag, and I'll be back tomorrow with Day 15. Until then however, thanks for stopping by.
The Miz is another guy who is overrated, but unlike my fellow columnist Hustle, I don't think he's the MOST overrated. He's shown glimpses of greatness in promos before, but in the ring? He may be above average, but he's not as good as some people give him credit for. He'll have an impressive career ahead of him, and I'm sure we'll see another World Title reign at some point, but I don't think he's all that.
Dolph Ziggler is a guy that I have tried VERY hard to buy into, and to some extent I have, but once again we have a case of a talented guy being treated as though he's the second coming of Christ. No one can sell as well as he does, and his promos and in-ring skills are certainly good, but I don't know that he's as great as a lot of people want to believe he is. Some day he will be, but not just yet.
"The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero enjoyed a brief period as an IWC favourite, and at one point I did buy into his hype, but any talent he once had has passed in my eyes. I still see more than a few comments about how TNA NEEDS to push him because he's amazing, but I couldn't disagree more. His promos are boring, his in-ring skills are nothing special, and his character is one-dimensional. It was entertaining at first, but it just didn't have staying power.
Tensai may seem an odd name to include here given the scorn tossed his way by many of us in the IWC, but think back to when it was announced that he was returning to the WWE. Any article relating to Tensai was full of comments like "OMG HE WAS SO GOOD IN JAPAN HE'LL BE AMAZING HERE!" and I'm sure many of those commenters had never seen any of his work in Japan. I'll admit that I hadn't seen his Japan work either, but I also didn't buy into his hype. When Albert was in WWE the first time around, he was good at what he did, but no one was going to confuse him with a World Champion any time soon. It would be nice to see more of what he can do now, and granted he was saddled with a ridiculous gimmick upon his return, but as of yet I have not seen anything worthy of the praise heaped upon him before and at the beginning of his return.
So if none of those names are my pick for the most overrated wrestler, who is? Keep in mind this has nothing to do with me disliking any of these wrestlers (for the most part anyways). In the case of someone like Dolph Ziggler, I'm actually a big fan of his, I just don't think as much of him as some people do.
My pick for the CURRENT most overrated wrestler is, like Ziggler, a guy I'm actually a fan of. He's decent in the ring, has a solid amount of charisma, and when no one gave him a shot he went ahead and made himself relevant. Nobody helped him get to his current level of popularity, WWE management certainly wasn't giving him any kind of meaningful push, so I can't help but admire his tenacity and unwillingness to give up.
The major period of hype of Zack Ryder may have passed, but many of his most die-hard fans are some of the most obnoxious and annoying fans out there. They act as though it's some kind of heinous crime that he hasn't been pushed to the WWE main event, and anyone that believes anything other than that is just ignorant.
Again, I am actually a fan of Zack Ryder. He's an above average talent that will likely enjoy success in WWE's mid card, but I don't see him making it to the WWE main event for any kind of lengthy stay. He did very well for himself gaining popularity on his YouTube channel, and I'm sure if he ever decided to go to TNA he'd do very well for himself there as well, but it's time for his fans to realize that the hype is mostly just that: hype. Try as I might, I just can't see that WWE Championship around his waist, certainly not any time soon.
(Sorry SuperChrisss, I know you'll hate me for that one.
As difficult as it was for me to pick a current most overrated wrestler, my pick for all-time was actually quite simple for me. As much as I enjoy this wrestler's theme music, I've never been his biggest fan. I don't particularly DISLIKE him by any means, he's just never been my favourite. This is a guy that is credited with much of the success of the wrestling industry, and while I would never dream of taking that away from him, I don't think it necessarily had anything to do with him specifically as much as it did the writing and booking of a character.
This pick may shock and surprise some of you, but my pick for the wrestler I think is more overrated than any other is none other thanHulk Hogan.
A while back, Hogan was cutting a promo on Vince McMahon, and McMahon said that Hogan was starting to believe in his own bullshit, and that he could have had anybody play the role of "Hulk Hogan". Hogan replies by saying that McMahon gave the ball to many other wrestlers, and none of them took it and ran as far or as long as he did. That's true to some extent, but to think that he is the ONE guy out there that could have done that is a level of delusion I've never seen before. Just so you can see this promo I'm talking about, I'll post it below. And yes, in case you were wondering, this is indeed the infamous promo where the Hulkster accidentally calls himself gay and proceeds to mess up the rest of his promo.
That may have been a storyline, but to me it perfectly describes my feelings towards Hulk Hogan. McMahon could have taken any mildly talented 6'7 wrestler with a handful of charisma, saddled him with the "Hulk Hogan" gimmick, and I don't think things would have turned out any different.
Yes, he became a success in Japan before he came back to WWF in 1983, and again I am actually a fan of Hogan and admire greatly what he's accomplished, but once you cut through all that what is left? Hogan is a legend, I'll never claim anything different, but at the end of the day I still think that has more to do with good timing, writing, and booking than it does with what he brings to the table.
I'm already anticipating some angry responses to today's entry, but as always I fully welcome and encourage them. They amuse me.
I'm almost halfway through this 30 Day Challenge with only 17 days left. I've had a lot of fun with this so far, and I think things are only going to get more interesting. The upcoming challenges are going to be fun, and I look forward to writing them. Until then however, thanks for stopping by.
Then there's Wrestlemania X8. I'm still bitter about the fact that I didn't go to this show, since it was held in Toronto, but I couldn't talk my parents into letting me go. There were 11 matches on the card, but the sheer magnitude of one of them almost rendered every other match on the card insignificant. The Rock vs. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan was one of those matches that can only be described as a "dream match". Two of the biggest superstars of all time going head-to-head at the biggest show of the year. Pure epicness. I still have my issue of WWF magazine with Hogan and Rock on the cover, saved in a frame.
Sure there were some goofy moments, like Mighty Molly becoming the Hardcore Champion after blind-siding The Hurricane with a frying pan to the head, but the occasional comedic relief moment is always to be expected. Wrestlemania X8 was also the final Wrestlemania before the brand split, which is just kind of an interesting fact. I've watched this PPV so many times over the years that I could probably call the matches in my sleep, so that probably factors into why I like it so much, but as good as it is it still isn't my favourite of all time.
My favourite PPV that I can remember satisfies each of the three criteria I named at the beginning of this column. Sure there have been shows with better quality matches, I would even argue that both of the shows I just named had better overall matches than this one, but aside from Rock/Hogan, neither of them can touch this show in terms of drama and storylines.
Survivor Series 2001 has always stuck out in my mind due to the massive storyline going on between WWF and The Alliance. This was the show that was going to end all of that with the main event, Team WWF (Rock, Jericho, Undertaker, Kane, Big Show) vs. Team Alliance (Stone Cold, RVD, Booker T, Kurt Angle, Shane McMahon) where the winning team would take control of the company and put the other one out of business. The whole Alliance storyline overall hadn't been the greatest, and a lot of potential was never realized, but this finale made up for all of that in my mind. There was so much drama going into this match, and so much continued drama during the match, that it was impossible not to get caught up in the moment. It was also one of my favourite Paul Heyman memories in his time as a commentator as he proved once again why he is one of the best with his speechless facial expression and later anguished cries at the realization that he just lost his job.
On top of all that, there were two title unification matches, unifying the WCW and WWF Tag Team Championships as well as the WCW United States and WWF Intercontinental Championships, with the winners of those matches being guaranteed a contract regardless of which team won in the main event. There was also a battle royal where the winner would receive the same deal, a guaranteed contract. The (kayfabe) importance of each of those 3 matches (and of course the main event) added such a sense of drama to the show that hasn't been touched since. Each of these guys went out there and were (again, kayfabe) fighting for their very careers.
I don't often see this PPV on people's list of all time favourites, and I can understand that given how many great PPVs there have been over the years, but this show is my personal choice for favourite. The matches were solid, the drama was unparalleled, and I can still remember being on the edge of my seat for most of the night.
Like yesterday's entry, I am especially looking forward to your opinions here. Like I said earlier, choosing a favourite PPV is a tricky task, and as sure as I am with my pick someone else could think I'm crazy for it. So what are some of your favourite PPVs of all time? Why did you choose them? Drop me a line. Once again I'll be back tomorrow with the next entry in this challenge, so until next time, thanks for stopping by.
Between yesterday's column about my rage towards TNA, yesterday's other column about the death of Eddie Guerrero, and the events surrounding Jerry Lawler's health tonight, it goes without saying that wrestling has bummed me out lately. Luckily today's challenge entry forced me to think about the more humorous moments I've seen in my time as a wrestling fan, so things are starting to look up for yours truly.
There have been WAY too many hilarious moments over the years I've watched professional wrestling. No matter what moment I end up choosing for this entry, even if I list off a bunch of them, I know for a fact that I'm going to miss something big and end up kicking myself for it later. I know the moment that I'm going to go with for my "official pick", but here's some of the other ones that stick out in my mind:
- Any of Scott Steiner's rambling promos from his time in TNA (particularly his attempt at doing math)
- So many more moments that I'm forgetting but this list is starting to get a bit long so I'll stop it now
I know some of you are going to be outraged that I left certain things off that list, and I'm sure when you tell me what those moments are I'll be disappointed in myself, but keep in mind that is just a very small list of funny moments. There's more that I remembered, there's countless ones I forgot, that list was just meant to give an idea of some of my other favourite comedic moments.
Now the last one on that list is funny to me for two reasons. Not only is it hilarious because it's an old white guy asking ANOTHER white guy what's "good in the hood" before calling him "his nigga", it's also hilarious because it is a direct shout-out to one of the more infamous interview gaffes in wrestling history.
If you really can't guess which moment I'm referring to, I will be very disappointed in you. Seriously. I don't know how much more obvious I could have made it without just straight up telling you.
The funniest moment I can remember from my time as a wrestling fan is, of course, when Booker T called Hulk Hogan a "nigga". It was hilarious enough hearing him drop that word on TV, but it's his reaction immediately afterwards that truly makes this segment comedy gold. Booker T got himself so riled up in that promo in his (successful) attempt at intensity that he got caught up in the moment and a bit of the real Booker Huffman emerged. This is a guy straight from the streets, and the way that the word came out so naturally, it was clear it was not the first time he had dropped that word in a bit of trash talking.
The second that word leaves Booker's mouth, you can just see this look of "oh shit, tell me I didn't just say that" appear on his face as he puts his hands on his head and turns away from the camera. When he turns back to the camera, he is very clearly holding in his laughter and embarrassment, and behind him Sherri is doing the same while trying to keep him calm.
Perhaps the best part of that segment is how Gene Okerlund just turns to Stevie Ray to continue the interview as if nothing just happened. Do you really think ANY of today's interviewers could manage that? Do you think Josh Matthews, Jeremy Borash, or Michael Cole could keep a straight face in that same situation? Hell no. They would crack under the pressure IMMEDIATELY. This segment is great not only for Booker T's unintentional comedic gaffe, but also because it shows just how good "Mean" Gene really was at his job.
I'm sure you've seen the clip of this moment a thousand times before, but I'm going to post it here for you anyways because I'm such a nice guy.
And with that, I'm out.
More than any of the other entries in this challenge, I want you guys to let me know the moments YOU think are the funniest. I know for a fact I'm forgetting a lot of funny moments, and I'm always up for a laugh. So leave me a comment here, shoot me a DM, mention me on Twitter, or shoot me an email, but if I've missed any funny moments that you think I should have mentioned, I want to know your thoughts. I'll be back again tomorrow with the next entry, so until then, thanks for stopping by.