Posted in: The Crow's Nest The Crow's Nest - 30 Day Challenge (Day 30 - Why You Like Wrestling)
Sep 30, 2012 - 3:51:00 AM
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…
Oh lord, what a question to end on. This could end up being the longest entry in this challenge so far.
Growing up, I was pretty much your typical kid. I liked hanging out with my friends, chasing down the ice cream truck with whatever allowance I had been given that week clutched in my hands, playing street hockey, etc. etc. I was pretty short growing up, and I was also pretty chubby, so while I always had a great group of friends around me, I often became the target for bullies. I tried to fight back, but more often than not I did not walk away the victor. I ended up always going either right home or right to a friend's house after school because I didn't want to spend too much time outside of a "safe zone".
In my earlier days, watching wrestling was a way to escape all of that. I got so invested in these larger than life characters battling it out for supremacy, just WISHING I could be as powerful and confident as they seemed to be. Watching these old (and newer) wrestling tapes that a friend of the family would give me were some of the best memories of my childhood. Even after I found out that what I was watching wasn't real, I was so hooked that it didn't even matter. So I guess you could call these "stories" my first reason for why I like wrestling. It was my escape when life just sucked and seemed too hard to face.
Even right to the end of elementary school, I was your typical short, chubby, kind of nerdy kid. I got good grades in school and played sports whenever I could, but that didn't seem to change much. Again, I always had my group of great friends, but I also had my share of experiences with bullies. There were some pretty dark days, a lot of them where I didn't feel like waking up for another morning, but there was always one constant that never failed to make me feel better: watching wrestling. It was always there for me, and even at its less-entertaining moments, I got to forget about my life for a few hours a week.
Then all of a sudden, the summer before high school, I hit a massive growth spurt. I grew in height to about where I'm at now, started hitting the gym, and got myself into shape. I found out my school had a wrestling team, and I signed up as soon as I could. Turns out I was somewhat of a natural as I began to win tournaments left and right. I never would have had the confidence to do that had it not been for watching wrestling as these idols of mine showed me that by working hard and having confidence, you could achieve your dreams. I did end up suffering a few different injuries, leading to some issues in my personal life, that all forced me to "retire" from wrestling, but those times were still some of the best of my life. Once again, professional wrestling was there for me, and it helped me through some very dark times.
Well that got entirely too emotional. Let's look at some other reasons shall we?
One of the main reasons I still watch wrestling is because of the rewarding feeling I get when I see one of my favourites achieve success. The best example I can give is the feeling I get watching where TNA is at right now. I've followed that company's growth from the beginning, through all the shit, to the position they're in now as a true wrestling alternative that people seem more willing to give a chance to. People are finally paying attention to TNA, and while they still have their share of haters, but compared to where they were even just a couple of years ago? It has been so rewarding for me to watch the growth of this company, and on some level it makes me feel justified in staying so loyal for so long.
I also still like wrestling because to me, there's no better form of scripted entertainment. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of TV shows I like, but nothing can compare to wrestling for me. Wrestling has so many characters and personalities to get invested in, and as they are so fond of saying, "there's no off-season in wrestling". EVERY WEEK there is HOURS of wrestling to watch. Some of it sucks, some of it doesn't, but there's always something there. Even if it sucks, it gets more emotion out of me than any other TV show I follow. It fosters such a sense of loyalty in me that it's on par with real sports, and if you know me, the fact that I would put ANYTHING on par with my beloved Chicago Blackhawks is really saying something. I have their logo tattooed on me for Christ's sake.
But I think what I like most about wrestling is how many friends I've made because of it. I've made friends at school just by wearing a wrestling-related shirt because it sparks up a conversation. I made friends when I briefly trained in a pro-wrestling ring (before the injuries racked up). And of course, I've made friends because of my time spent right here at LordsOfPain. This site has offered me the chance to share my thoughts and opinions with all of you, and regardless of whether the feedback is good or bad, the fact that people take the time to actually comment on my work means a lot to me. I've formed friendships with people where I actually talk to them about real life issues, not just wrestling. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll see what I mean. A lot of us joke around like old friends, despite the fact I've never actually met most of these people, and I've only "known" most of them for about a year. Wrestling helped me create friendships as a kid, and it continues to help me create friendships to this day.
All in all, I don't foresee the day where I'll stop liking wrestling. There may come a time when I'm not able to watch and follow it as religiously and loyally as I do now, but to ever renounce my status as a fan? Hell no. Wrestling has always been there for me, through good times and bad, and I will never abandon it because of that. I know this will sound cheesy, but I truthfully don't know if I would be the same person were it not for professional wrestling. It has had such an impact on my life. Trying to put into words why I like wrestling is very difficult. I love this industry for all that it is, all that it's not, and all that it has the potential to be. Thank you wrestling, for everything you've done for me.
Well folks, this entry marks the end of my 30-Day Challenge. It's been a lot of fun doing it, and even more fun reading some of the responses I've gotten. Thank you to everyone who tuned in for each entry, and I hope you've enjoyed reading this 30-Day series as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I plan on taking a couple of days off from writing just to refresh, but I'll be back sooner than later. I have this spot on the Main Page, why not use it as much as I can?
So again, thank you to all you fine readers. I'll catch you all next time.
I basically already gave this entry away in a previous one, so it's going to be a pretty short one today. That old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" is the perfect way to describe my pick today, because no words I could put down on this page would accurately describe just how huge the moment captured in the picture was. Here we go.
Any of those three images could be my pick for today, as they all capture the same moment. Two great wrestlers holding both of WWE's top prizes, but more importantly it shows two best friends who came up in the business together, dealing with people saying "Oh you'll never win the big one, you're too small", both holding the top championships in the industry. At the same time. At Wrestlemania. That was such a big moment for any fan of either wrestler, and an especially big moment for anyone who had followed their careers up to that point in time.
It's sad that any time this moment (or either of these individuals) is brought up, someone inevitably brings up their unfortunate ends. It wasn't too long after these pictures were taken that both men were dead, everyone knows that. But in that moment, captured forever in these pictures, neither man had ever been happier to be a wrestler. YEARS of hard work and dedication had finally paid off. They had finally been able to shut up the haters and naysayers by capturing the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships, standing together in the middle of a Wrestlemania ring as the confetti fell around them. This moment to me represents everything that is good about this industry. No one thought that either of these men were going to make it to the big time, but they proved those people wrong. They weren't handed anything, so they TOOK what they deserved.
As sad as it is that both of these men are gone now, I will never forget the pure joy I felt when this moment happened. They may have never been my favourite wrestlers, though they were certainly close to the top, but something about how REAL this moment was got to me on an emotional level. I managed to forget for a second that wrestling is fake and just get caught up in the moment, feeling everything that was good and right about it. I hadn't felt like that since I was a kid and didn't yet know that wrestling wasn't real, and I haven't really felt like that since.
Tomorrow is the last day of this 30-Day Challenge. I'll be back tomorrow to post this final entry, so until then, yours truly has left the building.
Great rivalries can make such a big difference in the world of wrestling. Sometimes they deliver classic matches, sometimes it's about the promos or segments they deliver, and sometimes they change the face of the entire industry forever. Truly great rivalries can pass the test of time. These are the rivalries that people talk about for YEARS after they've ended. So what is my favourite rivalry of all time? Well I'll get to it, but let's take a look at some of the other ones I considered.
I've mentioned before how much the Bret Hart VS Owen Hart feud meant to me growing up, so naturally I considered it for this entry. Because these two were actually brothers, something about the feud just always felt more real. Owen did a great job of making it seem like he really hated his brother, and Bret did a great job of acting like it actually hurt his very soul. It was so simple, but also very effective. On top of that, their matches were top notch. This rivalry brought out a different side of both of these men, and again I credit that to their real-life relationship as brothers. It also meets my criteria of standing the test of time to some extent, as people still talk about it to this day. That being said, it obviously isn't Bret's MOST memorable feud, and as much as it means to me on a personal level, it isn't my favourite.
The Rock VS Stone Cold is another great feud that people are still talking about to this day. It provided us with so many great moments, both in terms of segments and matches, that it wouldn't surprise me if many of you picked it as your favourite of all time, but obviously since I'm listing it here instead of at the end, it isn't my favourite. They both went from being mid-card guys to two of the biggest superstars this industry has ever seen, and over the course of that transformation gave the fans some very memorable moments. The competitive nature of this feud is what really made it something special as both men knew their opponent was going to give it all they had every single time they appeared on screen, forcing both of them to always be on top of their game. But like I said about Bret Hart, this was not my favourite Stone Cold feud. This feud gave great matches, great moments, and a great amount of historical significance, but the historical significance of this NEXT feud is 100% undeniable.
That feud is, of course, Stone Cold VS Vince McMahon. When I think of historically significant feuds, this is one that always pops up near the top of my list. It turned Austin into the anti-hero that the fans could get behind because really, which one of us HASN'T at one point dreamed of beating the hell out of a boss? I know I have. Again, this was a feud that provided us with many great moments. Think back to the night when Austin delivered that first Stunner to Vinnie Mac. The crowd went INSANE and, as usual (at the time at least), both JR & Jerry Lawler did an amazing job of selling just how crazy the moment was. Or think about the time Austin dropped McMahon through an announce table during their match at St. Valentine's Day Massacre back in 1999. The simple fact that McMahon was willing to do that spot when he really didn't have to is a great example of just how much he was willing to do to make this feud one for the ages. He owned the company, he was making good money, and yet he was willing to go out there and risk his own body to make sure the feud succeeded. McMahon has never been one to shy away from getting in the ring, and I will always admire that about the man. He might not be the same calibre of in-ring opponent as The Rock was, but this feud worked wonders for both Stone Cold's career and the overall success of the WWF.
But in my mind, there's only one rivalry I could choose as my favourite that would make sense. This rivalry provided not only great matches, but great moments, and is arguably the most historically significant rivalry in the history of professional wrestling, certainly for at least the modern era as we know it. This rivalry was as real as it gets, because the two parties involved wanted nothing more than to see their opponent taken out for good. This rivalry was not between two individuals. This rivalry was bigger than that. It was between two COMPANIES fighting for dominance in the industry we all love.
WWF VS WCW is my absolute favourite rivalry in the history of my time as a fan of this industry. It may seem like cheating, because every moment of every wrestler on either roster is included in this time frame, but think about it. Were it not for these two wrestling giants battling for supremacy, would we have seen the formation of the nWo, and with it the heel turn of Hulk Hogan? Would we have seen the "Attitude Era" begin and leave as big an impression as it did? Would we have seen McMahon and Austin feud like they did? Just think about the sheer number of historical moments we've witnessed because of the rivalry between these two companies, and try to think about what wrestling would be like today if they had never happened.
This rivalry changed the face of this industry forever. Because WCW was so aggressive in terms of competing directly with the WWF in terms of recruiting their top talents, they forced WWF to do the same. This competition fostered the need for truly great booking decisions and innovation as well as business moves. Both companies had to move towards a more "prime time" booking style by showcasing their top talents and best matches on a weekly basis, because they knew their opponent was doing whatever it took to put them out of business. It forced them both to create NEW stars, as well as showcase some legends to help make the viewers care about their product. WCW dominated the Monday Night Wars for a long time, giving us some extremely memorable moments, but obviously in the end McMahon and the WWF reigned supreme.
It's impossible to sum up the entirety of this rivalry in just a couple of short paragraphs, so I'll pretty much leave it at that. This rivalry is my favourite of all time because it truly did change the industry forever, and during that time gave us some of the most memorable moments in wrestling history. I really have no idea what the industry would be like today had this rivalry never occurred, but I know it would be significantly different, and while that can sometimes be a good thing, I don't think this would be one of those situations. This was so historically significant and important that I couldn't imagine picking any other feud.
So there you have it folks, some of my favourite wrestling rivalries of all time. What about you? What would you have picked here? As always, feel free to let me know. I'll be back tomorrow with the second last entry in this challenge, so until then, thanks for stopping by.
There's a lot of wrestlers I'd like to see more of on my TV screen, and lots of them for different reasons. There's always the easy picks of young up-and-comers that haven't even hit their prime yet, but I feel like that would be a waste of a pick. Sure it would be nice to see them achieve some kind of overnight success, but I would much rather see them get built up properly so they have some kind of staying power. We've seen too many times before what happens when someone gets pushed too hard too quickly, and it's a shame because it often ruins what could have been an amazing career.
I had to think long and hard about who I wanted to pick here, so let's quickly go through some of the names that didn't make the cut. You'll notice a common theme among them that was entirely unintentional and really doesn't matter in the end, it's just a funny coincidence.
Drew McIntyre is one guy I wanted to pick right off the bat, because it's really unfortunate how far he fell down the card. He debuted with such promise and was quickly pushed in a big way. Vince McMahon even came out on-screen to "personally endorse" McIntyre as "the future", which is about as big an on-screen endorsement as you can get. When the boss himself says you're the shit, that's a mighty big title to live up to. At first, it seemed like McIntyre was indeed destined for greatness. He dominated his matches and continued to receive preferential treatment from McMahon. But then, just as quickly as he had attained success, it was taken away and he was relegated to dark matches and appearances on Superstars. Recently he's been appearing on screen again as part of "The Encore", so it does appear that perhaps his fortunes may be changing. I think McIntyre is a natural talent that would have been closer to the main event now had he not been rushed there so quickly, but luckily he has time on his side. At only 27 years old and with no major injuries, McIntyre could still very easily become a big player in WWE. All he needs is an opportunity and some good booking, and I bet he'll hit it out of the park. He's got a good look, he's solid in the ring, and he's shown that he can connect with the fans. Because he's so young though, and as much as I'd like to see more of him NOW, he's not my final pick.
Magnus, much like McIntyre, is still very young (26) and injury free, so there's loads of time for him to realize his potential. I've said on many occasions before that I think Magnus is the future of TNA, and I still believe that to be true. For such a green wrestler he's already shown flashes of brilliance in the ring and the ability to cut promos, which is always helpful. He's already a 4-time Tag Team Champion (between Pro Wrestling NOAH, IWGP, and twice in TNA) and was the second man to win the Ring Ka King World Heavyweight Championship (defeating Matt Morgan). Recently he's actually been getting a good amount of time on TV, having done pretty well in the Bound For Glory Series and now being named a contender for the vacant Television Championship. Like I said earlier, there is still LOADS of time left for him to realize his potential. I'd love to see more of him, but TNA is doing the smart thing by building him up slowly but surely. Magnus will have his time, and it doesn't have to be now.
Noticing the common element in my picks yet?
William Regal has long been one of my favourite wrestlers, and I've said before how bitter I still am about him losing out on his opportunity at true greatness in WWE when he got himself suspended for a Wellness Policy violation. Regal is great on the mic and in the ring, but something has always kept him from winning the big one. Even now, at 44 years old, he still has what it takes to be one of the best. It's unfortunate that it will likely never happen now, and if he ever does return to regular competition he'll be relegated to unimportant matches on shows that few people actually watch. I love that WWE is moving in a more youthful direction in terms of who they give World Championships to, but I would absolutely love to see him win one, if only for a short reign, as a kind of "thank you" for everything he's done in his career. Seeing Regal become the first WWE Champion to hail from England would be amazing, and it really would be the crowning jewel on an already awesome career. I want to see this happen.
So who could be my final pick? Who do I really want to see more of? Like the other three names I've listed, this guy is also from Europe. Like the other three names I've listed, this last one is also a phenomenal in-ring competitor. He's competed in a number of promotions all over the world, winning multiple championships in each of them.
My final pick, and the wrestler I want to see more of, is none other than TNA's Doug Williams.
Like Regal, Williams is getting up there in age at 40 years old, but he is still more than capable of delivering great matches against a variety of opponents. Also like Regal, he's won loads of championships in his career, but he's never won "the big one". Sure he's won "world championships" in other promotions, but never in one of the big companies. He's had solid success in TNA, being a part of a tag team with Magnus known as The British Invasion and a 2-time X-Division Champion, but never a real run with the main event.
As of now, Williams has taken a trainer role with TNA's developmental facility in Ohio Valley Wrestling, so that does at least give me hope that some of TNA's next crop of wrestlers will have had the very valuable opportunity to work with him, but I still selfishly think that's not enough. I'm not saying Williams should be a 10-time World Champion or anything, but one good run with TNA's top prize would be nice.
Like WWE though, I love that TNA has been moving in a different direction in terms of who they push to the top prize (aside from Jeff Hardy's current re-push of course), so I've come to terms with the fact that I will likely never see Douglas Williams with a World Heavyweight Championship belt around his waist. That's just fine. But he is still one of the best in-ring workers that TNA has, and as valuable as he is as a trainer, he could be even more valuable working with the wrestlers on the main roster. Even if he was just glorified enhancement talent, he could work wonders there. TNA is loaded with potential right now (especially Magnus, as I mentioned earlier) and having them work with such a great talent as Douglas Williams would be invaluable. Hell, even if he just came back for a long feud with Magnus, that would be great. The point is, I want to see more of him on my screen.
It was really close between Williams and Regal over who I was going to pick here, but it really came down to one thing: Regal's suspension. Regal had his chance and he blew it. I'm under no false illusions that Regal would have somehow become a staple in WWE's main event had he not been suspended, but I'm sure he would have at least remained a regular on-screen guy after his main event run ended. He's a great wrestler to use as enhancement talent, because EVERYONE looks better in the ring when they face off against him. But because he got himself suspended, he wrote his own tragic ending. Not that I'm upset about him being in the announce booth, because he's great in that role. My point is that when it came so close between the two names, I had to go with the guy that has never been given the real chance on top. Williams has so much more to offer before he retires, and I would love for TNA to bring him back to regular TV, if only for a little while.
Three. Days. Left. That's all. But as for today's topic, who would you folks like to see more of? Maybe a veteran like Regal that hasn't gotten the recognition he deserves? Or a younger guy like Drew McIntyre that once had such promise, but fell from his top push into something worse than mid card hell? Let me know who YOU would like to see more of. I'll be back again tomorrow, so until then, I am outta here.
Talk about a question with infinite possibilities, jeeze. We're talking about picking any great combination of wrestlers from throughout HISTORY and putting them in a fantasy match against each other. Do I go with a singles match? A tag match? Some kind of specialty match? On top of that, everyone is going to have their own idea of what constitutes a "dream match". It's going to be impossible to please everybody with this pick, that's for sure.
I'm going to go with two different picks here. One will be limited to wrestlers who are still actively wrestling, the other will be open to any wrestler from history.
My first match is going to involve four names, all competing in a four-way match. I'm not usually a fan of these kinds of matches, but as we've seen in the past they can actually be great. TNA has delivered multiple classic triple threat matches before, as has WWE, so with the right names involved this four-way could end up the same way. Each of the men I would put in this match have had great careers of their own, and continue to do so today.
CM Punk VS Daniel Bryan VS AJ Styles VS Austin Aries would be an absolutely phenomenal match. Styles was involved in those classic TNA triple threats I mentioned earlier (against Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe) and considering the quality of names in THIS match, I don't see how the quality could be anything less than amazing. Each of these names has, at one point or another, held their company's World Championship, and even now each of them are still in the main event more often than not. Punk and Aries are still World Champions, and Bryan and Styles are each among the most popular superstars in their company.
I considered adding some kind of stipulation to this match, but I realized that it didn't need it. I have no doubt in my mind that this match would deliver in a big way just being a four-way contest. I also considered making it a WWE vs. TNA tag team match, and while that would certainly add an aspect of drama to the situation, the same drama could be achieved here. If you want some kind of cheesy prize for the winner, have the winner be able to claim a title shot for any championship in their company. The winner of the match would still be able to claim bragging rights over the other company, but they would have even more motivation to win the match themselves. With all the talent that would be in the ring at the same time, this match would have all the makings of a classic. Multi-man matches have delivered in a big way before, and this wouldn't be any different.
My second pick is a little bit trickier. It came down to two matches, both of which I think would have the potential to be instant classics, but for different reasons. So before I name my final pick (which admittedly does involve two guys who are still active wrestlers, one more so than the other) let's take a look at the one that didn't make the cut.
Sting VS The Undertaker is a match that people have been talking about wanting to see for years now, and I've certainly been one of the people wanting to see it. Though for the purposes of this fantasy scenario, I would have liked to see it while both men were still in their respective primes. Taker has slowed down over the years, and while he can still bust out a Wrestlemania classic, there's no denying that, while still impressive, he's just not the same anymore. Same goes for Sting. He can still bust out a great match now, in 2012, but the Sting from 10 years ago was even better. Both guys have a "darker" gimmick, both men are legends in this industry, and both men have delivered multiple classics over the years. Sting is still the biggest name to have never signed with WWE, but with his career winding down the possibility of a run with them is more likely than ever. WWE would love to capitalize on having Sting while they could, and you KNOW that DVD set would be a great seller, so this match actually still has the potential to happen. It may not be between the best versions of each wrestler, but for the name value ALONE this match could be a classic. Just think about it.
But my actual second pick is one that, like I said earlier, is between two guys who are still actively wrestling. One of them is my favourite of all time, the other is my current favourite. If you can remember back to Day 3 of this series, you'll know exactly who I'm talking about here. Ladies and gentlemen, my second dream match is Kurt Angle VS Daniel Bryan.
Angle has a bit of a size advantage in terms of muscle mass and strength, there's no denying that, but Bryan is no slouch. Both of them are great technical wrestlers, but a big aspect of this match would be the physicality itself. Bryan wrestles a stiffer style, which would force Angle to get a bit more violent than he usually does, but because both of them are so technically sound, that added violence wouldn't take away from the match quality. On the contrary actually, I believe it would add to the overall quality.
I went over a lot of different dream matches involving more veteran legends of this industry, but I kept coming back to this one. I don't even have to pick a version of Angle from previous years, because he's still on top of his game. He's older, but he's in the best shape he's been in in years (current leg injury not withstanding). Angle is one of the best wrestlers of all time, and I believe Bryan is one of the best CURRENT wrestlers on the scene, so I have no doubt that if they met in a match it would be an absolute classic. Give them half an hour to work with, watch them deliver magic.
So there we have it, another entry in the bag. As always I'll be back tomorrow with the next one, so until then, yours truly is out of here.
This is one challenge that isn't really all that challenging at all. It came down to two names, and they actually worked together as an announce team for a period of time. Of course only one of them can be my true favourite of all time, but again that was a very easy decision for me to make.
The first announcer I chose wasn't in his position for very long, but not surprisingly he was an absolutely fantastic colour commentator. I consider him to be one of the best talkers in the business, due mostly to his obvious passion and knowledge of the wrestling industry.
Paul Heyman is, of course, the man I am referring to. When Heyman joined WWE to replace the recently departed Jerry Lawler, I was stoked. I knew his work from ECW, so I knew he would be a great fit to sit beside Jim Ross. When he created the ECW stable to join forces with Shane McMahon's WCW faction to form "The Alliance", I wasn't immediately sure what this would mean for him as an announcer. Would he give up the role to become a manager? Would he take on some other kind of authority role? Obviously neither of those things happened, and Heyman stayed in the booth (aside from the couple of weeks where he was replaced by Michael Cole) to continue making magic happen.
Heyman managed to seamlessly pull off not only his duties as a colour commentator, but also his duties as a member of "The Alliance". Not only could he sell the absolute shit out of anything that Alliance members did, but he mastered the art of putting over their opponents while at the same time remaining a heel. Very few people can pull that off effectively, so for an announcer it's very important they know what they're doing because of the number of people who are listening to them. But perhaps most importantly of all, Heyman was the perfect guy to sit beside Jim Ross for that whole Alliance storyline. There was a very clear heel/face divide between the two, allowing them to play off of each other extremely well, but both of them were great at their jobs.
I wish we had a guy like Heyman in the announce booth today, because the one thing we're missing is an announcer with some edge. Lawler is basically a caricature of his former self, and Michael Cole just isn't effective enough. At first Cole looked to be the answer to that problem, but he ended up taking it too far and people stopped being into it. That's not to say he's awful or anything, because he is actually an alright announcer, but he's no Paul Heyman. Luckily we have Heyman as an on-screen personality again, so at least we get to see some of him. I'd like to see him back in the booth again, but I don't think that's a very realistic wish at this point in time.
I already gave my second pick away earlier in the column, so I won't bother with some vague introduction. Jim Ross is my favourite announcer of all time.
There have been a lot of factors that made me into the devoted wrestling fan I am today, but one of the major ones has got to be JR's announcing. He could make even the most mundane seeming moment seem like it was the most epic thing to ever happen in wrestling. Just like Heyman, Ross' greatest strengths were his passion and knowledge of the product. You could tell that his emotion was REAL, and he always seemed to know exactly what he was talking about. Unlike a lot of other announcers (I'm looking at you Michael Cole) JR's reactions never really seemed forced, always genuine.
I'll concede to the point that some of his recent work hasn't exactly been his best, but there's a reason his name always comes up when a big match is happening. Now that he's semi-retired from the announce booth, any time he gets back in that seat is really a special occasion. He even manages to make Cole look more comfortable and competent, which is good for everybody. I'm okay with him only appearing sparingly nowadays, because like I said it does make those occasions seem more special. Bring him in to call some of the big matches, bring him in if one of the regular guys is out sick, but I think his days as a weekly commentator are over. The announce team needs to be freshened up a bit, and reverting back to older combos won't be the answer at that point. That being said, JR would be a great mentor for any newer commentator.
It's going to take a lot for any announcer to become my new favourite, and I don't see it happening any time soon. Certainly not with the announcers we have in the booths right now.
So there we have it, another entry in the bag. As always I'll be back tomorrow with the next one, so until then, The Crow has left the building.
Once again I find myself with a very tricky challenge indeed. There have been so many shocking moments in the history of wrestling, and that scope is made even wider by the fact that everyone has their own idea of what they consider "shocking" to mean. I went through quite a few different moments in my head (and on YouTube) before I managed to narrow it down to a more manageable amount. But even with all that time and effort, I still couldn't pick just one. Because of that, I'm going to go with two different picks here. One more recent, one from a little while ago.
Right off the bat, I just want to say that I'm sure no matter what picks I reveal, some of you are going to be disappointed. Like I said, there have been so many shocking moments in the history of this industry that it really is impossible to pick just one. That is precisely why I've gone with two choices, a modern one and a slightly older one, to cover at least one more base. So I apologize if the moment you wanted to see isn't listed here, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the feedback.
Anyways, back to business.
My first pick, the more modern of the two, is shocking on a couple of different levels. Of course it was shocking because no one expected to see it happen. It was one of those very rare moments that wasn't spoiled by an internet report before it happened, which made it all the more intense to watch. It was also shocking because in today's PG-era WWE, most people seem to be so jaded about the company and don't believe they are capable of great booking anymore.
I am of course referring to the debut of The Nexus. In the middle of a John Cena vs. CM Punk match, we saw Wade Barrett appear on the stage. The announcers acknowledged his presence, and did a great job of legitimately acting surprised and confused. As Wade made his way to the stage, the camera started cutting to shots of other Nexus members in the crowd, making their way to the ringside area. As soon as the chaos began and these thugs started wreaking havoc on the RAW set, Cole sold the absolute hell out of the situation. He legitimately sounded speechless, right up until he got handed his own beatdown.
I can remember exactly how I felt when that moment happened. I was among those that had become jaded and cynical with WWE, but this moment showed me that they still had what it took to truly shock their fans. They managed to take a group of nobodies from a show that very few people watched (NXT) and turn them into a group of despicable villains. By having that moment end the show (not that there would have really been any other way to do it) they made sure that anyone who watched or heard about the event would tune in the next week to see what was up. Those are the moments that need to happen more often. Obviously not always as extreme as this example, more so that cliffhanger ending.
My second pick is easily more shocking than that first example, but for very different reasons. Eric Bischoff being hired by WWE and hugging Vince McMahon on-air has got to be one of the most, if not THE most, shocking moment I can remember seeing. Here's two guys who have been fighting for wrestling dominance for multiple years, stealing talent from each other and doing whatever they could to put the other guy out of business. When RAW was still on a tape delay, Bischoff went so far as to read the show's results live on Nitro. I don't think anybody thought they would see the day that McMahon and Bischoff would be working together, let alone HUGGING on live TV.
What made the segment even better than it already was had to be just how well JR and Lawler sold the shock. Even if they hadn't said a single word, the moment would have been shocking as hell, but they complemented the situation perfectly. What made it even more SHOCKING however was what Bischoff said during his promo. He said some pretty scathing things about McMahon and the WWE, and after watching it I'm shocked I didn't include it in my previous "Favorite Promos" entry. The WWE fans already disliked Bischoff, but in one night he managed to become absolutely hated. He managed to deliver us one hell of a run as the General Manager of RAW, right up until he was literally dumped out.
So there you have it, the two shocking moments I decided left the biggest impressions on me. I'm sure there's going to be some very differing opinions on this one, so feel free to shoot me a line and tell me what your choices would have been. I'll be back tomorrow night with the next entry, so until then, thanks for stopping by.
I'm starting this column much later than usual, and if you follow me on Twitter you'll see why. I've been distracted by the greatest thing to hit Twitter since ever. #AlcoholicPowerRangers. Join the movement.
Anyways, today's entry is an easy one for me, and it's also going to be a fairly short entry because of that. I have no doubt in my mind who I think the most improved wrestler is, both in terms of his actual wrestling ability and his spot on the card. This is a guy that 3 years ago, no one would have ever guessed he would achieve the kind of success he has now. He went from tag team royalty to main event heel and future World Champion.
Of course, Bully Ray is my pick.
Did any of us REALLY think we'd see the day that the man formerly known as Bubba Ray Dudley would ever be main eventing shows? Sure, he was a great tag team wrestler, but at the end of the day that's all we thought he would remain. Now? He's in the best shape of his career, he can actually wrestle a quality match without a partner, and his mic work is among the best in the industry.
Say what you will about TNA, but they knew how to make Bully Ray into a star. They hit a bit of a speed bump recently with their handling of the booking decisions for No Surrender, but I'm sure he'll bounce back. He is way too over for the fans to forget him so easily.
I really can't think of anyone on either the current WWE or TNA roster that has improved as quickly and as significantly as Bully Ray has. The man had already had a legendary career by the time he got to TNA, competing in some of the greatest tag team matches of the modern era, so most people assumed he was going there to finish off his career with Devon before retiring, maybe heading back to WWE for some kind of DVD deal. These suspicions seemed to be spot on when the two of them declared they were going to make a big announcement one week, but rather than a retirement we saw the splitting of Team 3D. Both men were embarking on singles careers.
I, like a lot of people, assumed that this split meant they would both end up competing in the mid-card for a while before either reuniting, heading back to WWE, or retiring for good. That was true for Devon, as it looks like he's no longer with the company, but Bully Ray took the opportunity to make himself better than ever before. He became the top heel in the company, and now people are shocked he hasn't already become the World Heavyweight Champion. I don't think anybody ever saw this coming.
So thank you TNA for giving us Calfzilla. You turned a great tag team wrestler into a main event talent. Now you just need to right the wrong you committed a couple weeks ago and all will be right with the world.
One more week. That's all that's left. I'll catch you all tomorrow.
Originally I was going to cheat a bit and name two different eras from two different companies, but after looking at what I had written it just didn't seem right. They weren't nearly equal in terms of ranking, though each were/are important moments in the history of their respective companies, but that just wasn't enough. So even though it's going to make today's column a bit shorter, I've decided to just name my one favourite era and leave it at that.
My pick naturally comes from the biggest wrestling company in the world, the WWE. It took place mostly during my development as a wrestling fan, back when I was much easier to impress. It was flashy, it was edgy, and it was something different. I don't doubt that it was directly responsible for making me into the rabid wrestling fan that I am today. It turned me from a young kid that enjoyed wrestling into a loyal fan that tuned in every single week to see what happened next.
The Attitude Era, particularly the last few years, is without a doubt my favourite era in wrestling.
It's easy to look back on the era now and say "well the matches were rarely as good as they are now" or "too much focus on segments and stories", but when I was growing up that is what entertained me. I had no interest in watching guys duel it out in 20+ minute epics. I had the attention span of a child (likely because I was a child) so seeing this edgy product filled with cursing and overt sexuality from the females on the roster was exactly what I needed to see to keep me coming back.
Now that's not to say that I didn't appreciate some of the finer things that were going on. Watching feuds like Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart and Stone Cold vs. Vince McMahon, I knew I was watching something special. Fast forward a few years to the later parts of the Attitude Era (post-2000) and things were still getting better. The roster was absolutely STACKED with talent. Each division had a big set of superstars, and yes that even includes the Women's division.
The main event in particular was an incredible sight to see during this time with names like Triple H, The Rock, Undertaker and Steve Austin at the top with guys like Angle, Benoit and Jericho rising through the ranks as well. Even the tag division was on fire with The Hardyz, The Dudley Boys, and Edge & Christian rocking the scene. During this time, I had begun to mature as a wrestling fan, and watching this era of wrestling evolve alongside me was absolutely incredible. The WWF still retained some of the edge that it had, but they simultaneously began to focus on more aspects of the product overall. So while I might prefer the modern era in terms of overall match quality, the Attitude Era will always be special to me because without it, I might not even still be watching wrestling today. That small feeling of rebellion I felt as a child, watching this edgy product that was probably too mature for a kid of my age, made all the difference in the world, and by the time things changed I was already hooked. I was a wrestling addict.
8 days to go folks, crazy how time is flying by. Feels like just yesterday I was starting this challenge, now I'm almost done with it. Anyways I'll be back again tomorrow, catch you all then.
This goes beyond just two guys being thrown in a tag team. This is about REAL emotion. This is about even the most ignorant of fans being able to see that these guys truly love each other as brothers. At first, I thought this pick would be easy to make because I really don't think there have been many "epic" bromances over the years, but I quickly realized that made it even harder. The few picks I even considered for this entry are each deserving in their own way, so picking one favourite isn't easy.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels were an obvious one because of how long they've been working together, and more importantly how good most of that work has been. As goofy as their modern DX shtick is, it's very clear to anybody just how much respect there is between these two men. It's never been a secret how close these guys are behind the scenes, and when you've been through as much as they have together it's not hard to see why. When Shawn Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, I don't think anyone had a doubt who would be the guy to do the induction speech would be. The second Triple H starts speaking, you can hear him start to choke up as he starts to recount the history of their relationship. Even though a good portion of the speech is comedy-based, he actually has to stop at one moment and collect himself as he starts to cry. It goes beyond them just being friends, it shows that they truly were brothers.
Edge and Christian had a bromance that began as children. They grew up together in the small Canadian town of Orangeville, going through high school together, and they entered the wrestling industry together as a tag team. Both men made it to the WWE, and they continued to team together there. Whether it was when they delivered a 5-second post for those who had flash photography or sharing a look as Christian won his first major title in WWE, it was all too obvious that these guys were more than just a couple of guys who wrestled together. They were best friends, and they were brothers. The fact that they were more convincing as brothers than REAL brothers like Matt and Jeff Hardy is a real testament to just how close these guys are. Edge and Christian not only got to live their own individual dreams, they got to do it together as best friends. Like Shawn Michaels, I don't think there was any doubt as to who was going to be the one to induct Edge into the WWE Hall of Fame. Like Triple H, Christian is emotional the very second he starts to speak, especially when he starts talking about how Edge's mother raised him by herself and how all Edge wanted to do was to make enough money wrestling to take care of her. Edge had other tag team partners, but he only had one brother in this industry. Adam Copeland and Jason Reso were brothers first, and when they became Edge and Christian they got to share their dream of becoming superstars together, something that so few people get to do.
But my pick for favourite bromance is one that still makes me tear up when I think about some of the moments we got to witness on-screen. Both of these men are dead now, both from tragic circumstances, but there is one moment in particular that I will never forget for as long as I'm a fan of this industry.
Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero.
These men may not have been tag partners for as long as the other guys I listed above, but their relationship was just as real, if not more so. They worked together for years across multiple companies. Across multiple CONTINENTS even. Both men had to deal with the same kinds of criticisms over the years. "Sure they're good enough wrestlers, but they're too small to ever win the big one. That's never going to happen." Even though both of them were among the greatest in-ring workers in the industry, that didn't matter. Benoit had once held the WCW World Heavyweight Championship as the company made an attempt to keep him from jumping ship, but it just wasn't the same.
As members of The Radicalz, you might not have known to look at these two that they were such close friends. They worked well together sure, but their connection wasn't nearly as obvious as that of say Edge and Christian's. There was an unspoken respect that was obvious though, and that is huge.
I referred to a moment earlier, saying I would never forget it, and I'm sure you all know exactly what moment I'm talking about. Chris Benoit had made a good career for himself in WWE, and at Wrestlemania XX all of his hard work was finally rewarded with a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. When he made Triple H tap out, he started to cry immediately. You could tell by looking at him that this was truly the best moment of his career, that he knew the sacrifices he had made over the years had not been in vain. When he finally stood up to soak it all in, there was Eddie standing across the ring from him with the WWE Championship he had just won a month earlier, clapping for his best friend. Both men started to cry as they hugged in the middle of the ring. Both men had finally achieved their dreams, but more importantly they had achieved something that no one ever thought they would. Both men had won World Championships in the top wrestling company in the world, and they were holding them at the same time. That image of Benoit and Guerrero standing in the centre of the ring at Wrestlemania, both holding their belts, will forever stick in my memory.
That one single moment showed everybody that these guys were more than just friends. They didn't just kind of get along with each other, forced to be around one another because they were in the same company. This one moment was so powerful to me as a fan of this industry, and that is why this is my favourite bromance.
There you have it folks, Day 21 is in the bag, leaving only 9 days left in this 30 Day Challenge. I'll catch you all tomorrow with the next entry.