Apologies to everybody for the late posting today. Apparently yesterday was one of those days that all technology decided to stop working for me, including my car (if you follow me on Twitter, you likely saw me complaining briefly about the cost, right before my phone went "lol nope, bedtime").
There's been so many great PPVs over the years that picking a favourite one seems to be an almost impossible task. Your personal favourite PPV isn't necessarily going to be the "best" PPV of all time, but for one reason or another has stuck in your mind as a special, memorable event. Maybe the matches were especially good that night, maybe there was a big storyline wrapping up, maybe your girlfriend was over that night and you can't actually remember the PPV but you know the night was good anyways. Whatever your reasons, this is such a personal question that the answers given by myself and all of you are likely going to span a huge selection of shows.
As down on the TNA product as I currently am, I still have to point out that they haven't always been bad. TNA has put on some great shows and PPVs in their time (mostly pre-Hogan and Bischoff) and one of them in particular stands out to me. There was great tag team wrestling, great technical wrestling and even a really solid Knockouts match (inside of a steel cage, no less). It's not my favourite PPV of all time, but it definitely deserves a mention here.
TNA Turning Point 2009 was a really solid show from top to bottom (aside from Lacey Von Erich being anywhere near a wrestling ring). Like any show it had its low points (see: Lacey Von Erich) but also had its share of memorable matches:
- Kurt Angle v. Desmond Wolfe
- Tara v. Awesome Kong
- The British Invasion v. The Motor City Machine Guns v. Beer Money (for the TNA Tag Team Championship)
- Amazing Red v. Homicide (for the TNA X-Division Championship)
- AJ Styles v. Daniels v. Samoa Joe (for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship)
The main event in particular is worth watching as even if you only have a passing knowledge of TNA history, you're likely aware of the matches that these 3 have had in the past. Almost 22 minutes long, but absolutely worth watching. I'll even make it easy for you and post the video here:
That show is memorable for both good and bad reasons, for me. Good because it was a really, really solid PPV, and bad because it stands as a constant reminder of what TNA was once capable of. Unless something huge changes soon, I don't think we'll be seeing many more TNA shows like this one. I'd love to be proven wrong though, so step your game up Dixie. Or hook me up with a job on Creative, either or.
My favourite PPV of all time is a WWE show from 2001. I was 12 at the time, and my wrestling fandom was still on a massive incline. The drama leading up to this event was huge, but the actual event itself was untouchable in terms of storyline ramifications. My favourite PPV of all time is none other than Survivor Series 2001.
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 importance of each of those 3 matches (and of course the main event) added such a sense of drama to the show that arguably hasn't been touched since. Each of these guys went out there and were 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.
Music Challenge Day 6: Song By Someone You'd Like to Marry
Well this is a weird one. This might sound cheesy, but I always imagined I'd marry because I loved somebody, not because they could sing/play music really well. Oh well, I've already made my pick anyways.
Not much of an explanation needed for this one. I'm a fan of her music (especially the fact that she writes it herself) including the cover of Dio's "Straight Through the Heart" that Halestorm did for the Dio tribute album. Also she's hot, so there's that. Sadly I've never seen the band perform live, but if they ever come anywhere close to my neck of the woods again, I'll be there.
There we have it, day 6 in the bag. Let me know what PPV and song you would have picked, and of course tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of my 30 Day Challenge.
Day 7: Favourite Entrance
This was probably one of the easiest challenge entries so far for me.
In wrestling, a wrestler's entrance is hugely important. While the theme song itself is a big part of it, the overall entrance is so much more. There's lighting and pyro to consider as well as the wrestler's movements and how they sell themselves on the way to the ring. An effective entrance has to create an atmosphere that helps the fans lose themselves in the moment and anticipate whatever is about to happen in the ring.
The entrance I've chosen as today's winner is one that I expect to see many other people pick as well. Whether or not you like this wrestler, you have to admit that his entrance is nothing short of epic. I am, of course, referring to the entrance of The Undertaker.
Until I saw this entrance live, I never appreciated just how epic it was. As soon as that gong hits and the lights go out, people go nuts. The slow march to the ring coupled with creepy lights and a well-placed bit of fog add to the very creepy atmosphere and no matter how many times I see it, it gets me excited.
The Undertaker's entire character is built around being big, scary and possibly supernatural, and his entrance perfectly portrays those characteristics. He's the monster in every horror movie that never seems to run at his victims but, more often than not, ends up killing them anyways. It's all built as an intimidation tactic, slowly stalking towards his opponent and letting their fear build up and throw them off their game, especially by the end when Undertaker does the whole rolling his eyes back thing. Any time I've seen that entrance live I get goosebumps.
Keep in mind that this pick is about more than just a theme song. While Undertaker's theme absolutely fits his entrance perfectly, that's not why I've picked his overall entrance today. There's been many wrestlers whose themes I've really liked but also thought they had garbage entrances. The Undertaker's entrance creates an atmosphere that every fan in attendance and watching at home can feel, and that is what's important when it comes to a wrestler's entrance.
No contest here, for me at least. Seeing Undertaker's entrance live is still one of my favourite wrestling memories (at least of shows I've seen live) and I don't see anybody topping that any time soon.
Music Challenge Day 7: A Song You Hate
If you like this song, please jump in front of a bus. This "song" and the term "selfie" in general make me fear for this generation of kids. That's about all I care to say about this filth.
Honorable mention goes to:
There we have it, day 7 in the bag. Let me know what entrance and song you would have picked, and of course tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of my 30 Day Challenge.
Day 8: Favourite Entrance Theme
I remember having a difficult time with this one last time as well. In yesterday's entry, I touched on the concept of how important it is for a wrestler's entrance to make an impact on the crowd. Yesterday's pick focused more on the overall atmosphere of the entrance, but today is all about one thing: the music. The most effective theme songs are those that, once they hit, the audience knows within a split second that something is about to go down. It has to be more than just a good song, it has to be able to elicit an immediate reaction, no matter what the scenario.
Triple H's theme does this quite well. As soon as that first guitar note hits, you know exactly who's about to hit the ring. That low, distorted note commands the attention of everybody in the arena. Plus, outside of thinking it's a perfect fit as an entrance theme, I dig the tune itself. It's Motorhead, how can it NOT be awesome. "Bow Down to the King" and "Line in the Sand" were also excellent themes, both also performed by Motorhead.
Last time, James Storm's theme song "Longnecks and Rednecks" was my pick for this entry. It's still an epic theme song, perfectly representing everything about what his character used to be (a fun-loving cowboy brawler) but it's sadly been replaced as part of TNA's attempt to turn Storm into a heel. I actually really enjoy his new theme as well, but it just doesn't have the same impact. Like the guitar opening in Triple H's theme, as soon as "SORRY! ABOUT YOUR DAMN LUCK!" hits the speakers, the fans go bananas and Storm hits the ring.
I also really enjoyed the theme song for Aces and Eights while they were around, though I still don't think it fit a heel super-group too well. Personally I would have gone with the song "Aces & Eights" by Uncle Kracker. Bit slower, bit creepier, and generally just a better fit for a heel group of bikers. Either way though, I really enjoyed the song TNA chose, though admittedly more so as an actual song than a well-fitting entrance theme.
But if you want to talk about instantly recognizable theme songs, there's no bigger entrance theme than Hulk Hogan's "Real American" theme. The lyrics are catchy and perfectly represent Hogan's all-American character (#NoJackSwagger) and he's been using this song for so long that it's almost as powerful by itself as the Hogan character. I would argue that this is possibly the best theme song of all time if I were basing it on some sort of rankable criteria. But since this entry is all about my personal taste, Hogan will have to remain as an "honourable mention" instead. (Maybe if he unblocked me on Twitter things would be different, just sayin')
My favourite theme is one that I've just recently decided on. It's not a new theme, but it's one that I sorely miss hearing and didn't quite realize just how much until it randomly came on my iTunes when I had turned on shuffle.
Perhaps not surprisingly, my favourite theme song is Kurt Angle's. Like the other great theme songs out there, this one is instantly recognizable. It's been what, 8 years since we've heard this song on WWE TV? I'm willing to bet that if it hit the speakers this Friday on Smackdown, the crowd would go nuts. Sure, it could be out of nostalgia for a guy they haven't seen in a while, but that initial impact of "HOLY SHIT HE'S ACTUALLY HERE!" is all about the opening seconds of the theme song, especially if WWE manages to keep it an actual secret and not spoil it with a "will he actually show up?" series of vignettes.
One of the things I like most about the theme song though is that it works regardless of whether or not he's playing a heel or a face.It's generic, but not in a boring, "this song could work for any wrestler" kind of way. More so in a "it doesn't matter what he's doing, this song WORKS" kind of way. It's an epic song for an epic wrestler, plain and simple.
Music Challenge Day 8: A Song You Sang the Wrong Lyrics to For Ages
Some of the misheard lyrics in this song included:
"I'm blue and I repeat I'm a guy"
"I'm blue, if I was green I would die."
"I'm blue, apple pee apple pie."
Yup, I was an intelligent child back in 1999. I don't often mishear lyrics anymore, but for some reason this song has stuck in my head. Perhaps my own stupidity has forever scarred my brain. Either that or this is cruel revenge for ever having enjoyed Eiffel 65.
There we have it, day 8 in the bag. Let me know what entrance theme and song you would have picked, and of course tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of my 30 Day Challenge.
Day 9: Favourite Stable/Faction
I've said on many occasions before how much I like tag team wrestling, so it shouldn't be a shock to anybody that I'm also a fan of factions. It's one of those elements of professional wrestling that, when done properly, can add a HUGE amount of entertainment value to the overall product. There have been plenty of groups over the years, many of them carbon copies of their predecessors, and there have been many successes and failures in that time. Sometimes it's a group of bigger name wrestlers that dominate the entire company, sometimes it's a group of young guys just trying to get over, and sometimes it's a mix of the two. No matter the case, it can be an absolutely phenomenal addition to the show, but again it has to be done properly.
The Main Event Mafia was a group of TNA veteran wrestlers that banded together to teach the younger guys in the company what real superstars were supposed to look like. Originally comprised of Sting, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, Booker T, and Kurt Angle, the sheer amount of experience in that group was incredible. As the name would suggest, they conducted business like a mafia group. They dressed in suits, they had a very distinct leader (Angle), and if anybody got in their way they crushed them. It's unfortunate that the storyline fizzled out towards the end because it was great at first and could have gone on much longer had the plug not been pulled. Joining forces with World Elite was a mistake as it just made things too confusing with that many people being involved at once. They were good, but not my favourite.
The Four Horsemen are more often than not involved in any discussion regarding great wrestling stables, and for good reason. When a group is loaded with that much talent, it's pretty unlikely to be a bad thing. Unfortunately the group's best runs were before my time (in some cases before I was born), so most of what I've seen of the group has been through old wrestling tapes. I didn't get to live through that time when they were at their best, and because of that they didn't have the effect on me that they may have had on older fans. As good as they were, that simple issue of time keeps them from being my favourite group of all time.
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 "cluster****" 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 cluster**** 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.
My pick for my favourite group is likely to cause some strange looks and pretentious guffaws, though I'm sure some of you will agree with me as well. 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 the ORIGINALEvolution.
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.
Music Challenge Day 9: A Song by Your Favourite Band/Artist
I've always struggled to answer the question "who's your favourite band?" simply because, as I've mentioned in previous entries, I listen to pretty much every type of music. My taste in music depends on the day and what kind of mood I'm in, so really my "favourite" band could switch from a day-to-day basis. But for the sake of this challenge, I'll try to narrow it down to just one.
I lied, I'm going to have to narrow it down to 2. One of them is a single band, the other is an artist that's been in a few different projects over the years.
I've been a huge fan of Nirvana for as long as I can remember. The idea that a simple 3-piece band playing fairly basic music could become the voice of a movement was pretty impressive to me and still is today. Nirvana would definitely rank at the top of my list of bands I wish I could see live but will never get the chance to.
My second pick, as I mentioned above, is just one man who's had his hands in a few different musical projects over the years. If I had to pick a single favourite male vocalist (taking the band out of the equation) I would not hesitate to pick this singer.
I love the original version of this song, but the acoustic version almost fits it better. Chris Cornell is easily my favourite vocalist, whether it's his solo work or his work with Soundgarden, Audioslave or Temple of the Dog. Back when I was younger and dumber, clinging to dreams of being a rock star, I modelled my vocal style after Cornell's, determined to create a unique sound for myself. But now I guess I'll have to be content with singing along in the car.
There we have it, day 9 in the bag. Let me know what faction and song you would have picked, and of course tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of my 30 Day Challenge.
Day 10: Favourite On-Screen Couple
On-screen couples, like stables or tag teams, can be an absolutely phenomenal tool to boost a wrestler's popularity (or notoriety) if done properly. Over the years we've seen more than a few "romantic" pairings in wrestling, some good and some bad, and they've been used for a couple of different purposes. Sometimes both are wrestlers, sometimes the woman is in more of a manager or valet role. The point either way is that, when done properly, pairing two wrestling personalities together in an on-screen romance can be of great entertainment value.
Billy & Chuck were a very…unorthodox couple in terms of what we normally see, but during the short time they were together they did their job well and entertained me. The unfortunate part about this coupling is that, like always seems to be the case with a "different" booking decision in WWE, they went straight for the stereotypical portrayal of homosexuals. Of course it was eventually revealed that their "relationship" was just a publicity stunt that went too far, but it's still too bad that they couldn't portray a gay wrestler in a more positive light. Or, and this is going to sound extreme, have a gay wrestler who's entire character doesn't revolve around his sexuality? Crazy, right? That being said, their antics were fun to watch, and it was a nice change from the usual relationships used in wrestling products.
Randy Savage & Miss Elizabeth are, understandably, considered one of the all-time greatest couples on-screen. Because of their real life relationship, there was no awkward forced moments to manufacture chemistry, and better yet it was simple in terms of how it was booked. She was there to look good and support her man, nothing else. That old saying "behind every great man is a great woman" absolutely describes this pairing. Savage was a crazy looking maniac that happened to be successful, but I'm sure a lot of that has to do with Elizabeth standing by his side. Sadly I didn't get to see this magic pairing until years later, due to the majority of it taking place before I was born, so what I've experienced from them has been through old wrestling tapes. Obviously I can recognize how great they were, but because of that pesky issue of time they didn't have that major impact on me as a fan.
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.
And of course there's WWE's resident power couple, Triple H & Stephanie McMahon. It's pretty hard to deny that these two have given us their fair share of entertaining moments, especially now that Trips has embraced more of a character role than an active wrestling one. The egotistical boss character works well for both of these two since it's based on real life, or at least the part about them having some authority in the company.
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. 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.
Music Challenge Day 10: A Band You Wish Was Still Together
In the interest of fairness, I'm going to "disqualify" any bands where a member's death is the reason for the band breaking up. Yes, I would absolutely 100% LOVE to see bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pantera still together, but until we perfect raising the dead, those scenarios are impossible.
This was a tricky one, because there's loads of bands that have broken up in my lifetime that I'd like to see back together. Some are still together but with a new member (usually a new singer), some had members go to prison (what's up Tim Lambesis?) and others, like my pick for today, simply broke up because they stopped getting along.
Thankfully I got to see these guys live a few times before they broke up, so at least there's that. Apparently the breakup was "not amicable", so I doubt we'll be seeing a reunion any time soon.
Honorable mention has to go to another Canadian band here. I had a lot of fun rocking out to their one album (not including their EP, which was pretty rough). I don't know how well known they are outside of Canada, but if you're into this sort of music I recommend giving their album a listen.
There we have it, day 10 in the bag. Let me know what couple and song you would have picked, and of course tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of my 30 Day Challenge.
Day 11: Favourite Wrestling Move
Easy, easy, easy decision for me today. There's a lot of wrestling moves I really like, but none more so than the one I'll reveal at the end of this column. So as I have become accustomed to doing, I'll go through a few of the moves that didn't quite make the cut.
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. (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 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. 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, Twist of Fate and many other variations. Though some of those moves vary slightly in execution, they are all based on the same move.
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.
Music Challenge Day 11: A Song You're Embarrassed to Like
I don't think I can answer this question. Not because I'm afraid to admit to liking an embarrassing song, but simply because I'm not embarrassed about the music that I like. That's not meant to be a "haha I'm so much stronger mentally and more secure than all of you snivelling peons" type of statement, it's just the honest truth. I like some music that some of you would likely make fun of me for, but it really doesn't matter to me.
But, for the purposes of today's entry, I've narrowed it down to two songs that could probably be considered embarrassing. The most embarrassing part about them, personally at least, is that whenever I go to karaoke, I inevitably end up getting drunk and singing one of these songs.
Judge me if you want.
There we have it, day 11 in the bag. Let me know what move and song you would have picked, and of course tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of my 30 Day Challenge.
Day 12: Favourite "Gone but Not Forgotten" Wrestler
Like yesterday's entry, this is another easy one for me.
Sadly there's been more than a few wrestler deaths since I first became a fan. Though these occasions are always sad, I always find that they restore some of my lost faith in wrestling fans overall because, regardless of our differences of opinion, we usually come together (or tweet together, in most cases) to reminisce about that wrestler's life and share pleasant memories that we all have. Sure, there's the ever-present asshole that will make an inappropriate joke, but for the most part I've found that even the most stubborn of wrestling fans will put aside their venom for a while.
I've never been one to get too broken up over celebrity deaths, aside from the understandable sadness that someone I grew up as a fan of would no longer be around to entertain us. In some cases it will shake me up a bit if I was an especially big fan, but not to the extent that my whole life is thrown off track.
There's only one superstar that came to mind when I was preparing to write today's entry, and I'm sure many of you will have him as your pick as well. Like so many of us, this man had his demons. He wrestled with addiction and substance abuse, but like a true warrior he managed to admit his problems, better himself and get back on the right path. He got his family back and his career was being taken to heights that we as fans never thought possible. Reports came out after his death that he was in line for even bigger plans, and sadly we'll never get to know where his career would have gone next.
I'm referring, of course, to Eddie Guerrero.
More than any wrestler death I've experienced as a fan, Eddie's was definitely the toughest. From his hilarious, mischievous antics to his darker heel turn, Eddie was one of the few wrestlers that truly deserved the label of "great". I remember after hearing that he had been found dead that I refused to believe it was real. Part of me really wanted to believe that it was all part of some sick, twisted storyline and that any week now Eddie's music would hit and his lowrider would roll on stage.
Eddie really is one of the great "what ifs" in wrestling history. If he hadn't died, how many more title reigns might he have had? Would he still be actively wrestling now, in 2014? Who might he have feuded with? Who might have never been pushed up the card in his place? There's so much I'd have liked to have seen him accomplish, but sadly those events will all have to play out solely in my imagination.
I really don't even know what else I can say for this entry. So many of us were huge fans of Eddie's that every nice thing that can possibly be said about him has been said a million times before. Eddie is one of my all-time favourites and I feel lucky that, as a fan of the industry, I was fortunate enough to be able to watch his career grow, rising him right to the top.
Music Challenge Day 12: A Song That Has to Be Played LOUD
Another easy one.
This song, and pretty much any song by Pantera, just can't be played at low volume. It's basically blasphemy.
There we have it, day 12 in the bag. Let me know what wrestler and song you would have picked, and of course tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of my 30 Day Challenge.
Day 13: Favourite and Least Favourite Championship Belts
In the world of professional wrestling, there is no more important prop than a championship belt. The champion might be the talent, but the belt is the symbol of what that champion is achieved. The belt says that the guy wearing it is better than his competition and that he or she has fought their way up the card to rule the division that the belt represents.
Because championship belts are so important, it makes sense that they should look the part. An ugly championship belt can make people care less about it, which in turn hurts the person holding it as they'll end up being viewed as less important as well. Just look at what happened to WWE's Diva division. The old Women's Championship was simple and elegant, and it looked like a belt worthy of being carried by top champions like Trish Stratus. When the new Divas Championship was introduced, it represented the exact opposite of its predecessor. Instead of being a serious looking championship belt, it looks like a toy that little girls would wear while playing dress-up and pretending to be princesses. It still represents the same thing as the old belt, the best female wrestler on the roster, but because it looks so goofy no one takes it seriously (that and the roster is pretty thin in terms of actual wrestling talent). You could put it around the waist of even Trish Stratus and it wouldn't matter.
I've seen many wrestling belts over the years I've been a fan. Everything from basic belts that indy promotions use to the ones that the biggest companies use. I've seen the evolution of old school championships into gaudy abominations with spinner plates. I've seen specialty belts designed for one specific wrestler to carry during their time as champion, and they've seen varying amounts of success. Some I've liked and some I've hated (more on that in a bit).
My current favourite belt blends equal amounts of old and new school design. At first glance it looks pretty basic: black leather strap, big gold centre piece with the name of the belt in silver and side plates to match. Truth be told it is really basic, but that is what I like about it the most. The simple and elegant design of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship makes it easy to look at and keeps it fitting for any champion that were to wear it. It keeps an air of seriousness and legitimacy without taking any of the focus away from the guy wearing it. You could put this belt on any legend and it wouldn't look out of place.
Even the previous design for this belt works. It was similar to the current one, though I believe the centre plate was a bit smaller. Neither of these belts are going to win a contest for creativity or originality, but sometimes less really is more. The TNA World Heavyweight Championship is a new school belt with an old school flavour, and that is why it is my current favourite belt out there.
My least favourite belt, though admittedly not a CURRENT belt, also comes from TNA. It was made for one specific champion and definitely wouldn't have made sense being held by anybody else. I have no problem with the man that held it, and in a way the belt kind of made sense for his weird character, but I could just never buy it as a legitimate World Championship.
Jeff Hardy's custom TNA World Heavyweight Championship has to be my least favourite championship belt. It just looks ridiculous, like a toy belt they would (and probably should) sell for children. I know Hardy's character is all about being "unique" and kind of out there, but I just couldn't get behind this belt.
Now that being said, I didn't mind the version with the black strap. The plates were a bit different and the look was, overall, a lot less weird. It was unique, that's for sure, but still looked more like a "normal" belt. This is the one that should have been debuted, not that purple monstrosity.
Music Challenge Day 13: A Song That You Air Guitar to Every Time You Hear It
Confession time: I air guitar a lot. More accurately, I "air play" just about every instrument out there, whether it's a guitar, drums, piano, saxophone etc., especially after a few drinks.
This song in particular is almost impossible for me to resist air guitaring to.
There we have it, day 13 in the bag. Let me know what belts and song you would have picked, and of course tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of my 30 Day Challenge.
Day 14: Favourite Promo
A very tricky entry indeed. The art of the promo is a difficult beast to master because so much of it simply can't be taught. Sometimes it's natural charisma, other times it's circumstance, and some others are real, coming purely from actual emotions and opinions.
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.)
My pick is 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.
Music Challenge Day 14: First Album You Ever Bought
Easy one here, at least. I still have the album kicking around too, though I'm not quite sure where. It was originally released in 1999, a couple months before my 10th birthday. I started doing extra chores around the house and saving every coin I came across so I could go buy the CD for myself. I could have waited for my birthday, but I was determined to get it by myself (I was a very stubborn child).
Enema of the State - Blink-182
There we have it, day 13 in the bag. Let me know what belts and song you would have picked, and of course tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of my 30 Day Challenge.