After yesterday's entry that was full of sad moments and talks of what makes me cry like a little girl, it's good to have today's entry being about things that are funny and that make me laugh.
A near endless string of moments could have been chosen here today, to be perfectly honest. In all of my years of watching the great sport known as pro wrestling, I have laughed many, many, many times. It doesn't take a lot to make me laugh, in fairness, but I'm talking about those moments that made me laugh until it hurt. The moments that made me laugh to the point that I had to keep watching them again and again, just so I could laugh again and again. Some of those moments, in no particular order..
- Big Bossman, driving the Bluesmobile for some reason, dragging Big Show's father's casket through a cemetery, with Big Show atop the casket
- Chris Jericho reading the list of his 1004 wrestling holds on Nitro
- The entire "We don't need no stinkin' badges!" segment involving Vince McMahon, Steve Austin and Kurt Angle
- The unscripted moment during one of the Rock-N-Sock Connection's promos where The Rock dropped his glasses and Mankind picked them up
- Santino trying to do Melina's ring entrance, only to hurt himself, leading to Beth Phoenix being concerned about her boyfriend ("Of all places, why there?")
- Santino, Vladimir Kozlov and Sheamus having a tea party
- Jerry Lawler's participation in the 1997 Royal Rumble (starting a sentence on commentary, getting in the ring, getting eliminated & finishing the sentence back on commentary)
- The Rock's "prayer" promo on Billy Gunn
- That random interview Lex Luger cut at some indy show where he couldn't even take his shirt off correctly
- Brian Pillman causing Bobby Heenan to drop an f-bomb on live television
- William Regal.. straight up gangsta trippin
- Steve Austin and Booker T fighting in the supermarket
- Vince McMahon "swimming" during the legendary Beer Truck segment with Steve Austin
- Booker T turning Shawn Michaels' entrance theme into "I'm just a Booker T.. BOOKER T.. I'm not yo sucka.. SUCKA..", and him laughing as he did it
- Scott Steiner doing a math equation during a promo in TNA
I could really turn this entire column into me just randomly listing funny moments, but there's one moment.. one singular, solitary moment.. that makes me lose my mind with laughter every single time I see it. To this point, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that I've seen this moment thousands of times, but as I said.. it makes me laugh every single time. There's even a YouTube video of the moment running on a 15-minute loop, and I've seen that dozens of times, from beginning to end. If someone made one of those crazy 10-hour YouTube videos of this moment on a loop, I can just about guarantee you I'd watch the entire thing at least once, clicking on it and letting it run in the background as I did whatever else I was doing that day.
If you follow me on Twitter, I kind of accidentally spoiled this entry by mentioning the moment the other day. I didn't say that it was going to be listed in this column, but I brought it up in a tweet after seeing what this entry's topic would be. For the rest of you, though, I'm referring to the epic promo from WCW where Booker T called Hulk Hogan a "nigga".
I'm laughing right now, as I type this, just from thinking about the promo. That promo let you know about Robert Booker Tio Huffman, the real person, and not about Booker T, the persona he portrayed in wrestling. Just that one word.. that one second.. let you know that this was a man from the mean streets. It let you know that this was a man who had used a particular word so often off-screen that he couldn't help but use it on-screen during an especially passionate promo.
Honestly, I laugh when Booker says "nigga", and that would be enough, but it's his reaction immediately after saying it that makes me laugh even harder. Within milliseconds of the word leaving his mouth, he puts his hands on his head as if to say "I can't believe I just said that", and he turns around towards Sister Sherri (who was managing Booker and his brother, Stevie "Lemme axe you dis, Tony" Ray, at the time), who cracks a smile and looks like she wants to try and calm him down (*wink, wink*). Gene Okerlund, interviewing Harlem Heat, doesn't skip a beat, and turns to interview Stevie Ray like nothing out of the ordinary just took place. Even if you tried a million times, you couldn't plan a more perfectly timed comedic moment than that. I don't care what anyone says about that.
A couple years ago, Booker did an interview where he mentioned that promo, and he said that he thought he would be blacklisted from the wrestling business because of that slip-up. Obviously, that didn't happen, as his Hall Of Fame-worthy career will attest to, but it is something interesting to think about. We might never have seen Booker's prime years.. none of the World Titles, no King Bookah, no work with Goldust, no "Thomas Jefferson, sucka" interaction with The Rock, nothing.. if someone in WCW management thought what he said was enough reason to release him.
Clearly, 1997 WCW wasn't on the same lines of atmosphere and politically fueled agenda as 2012 WWE is. Abraham Washington will gladly tell you that if you ask him, and even if you don't ask him, he'll tell you, anyway. Every hour. For the next several weeks, if not months. Maybe even years. Don't worry, though. Even if you aren't following him on Twitter, Daniel Pena or Marc Middleton will be sure to make a news post about EVERY SINGLE FUCKING THING HE SAYS ON TWITTER FOR THE REST OF ALL FUCKING ETERNITY AS IF IT WERE REAL FUCKING NEWS. *sigh*
Because I don't want to end today's entry on that note..
Fuck. Still funny.
The HiPE Playlist: "I'm On Fire" by Bruce Springsteen.. "Let's Groove" by Earth, Wind & Fire.. "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates.. "Out Of Touch" by Hall & Oates.. "It Would Take A Strong, Strong Man" by Rick Astley.. "Kyrie" by Mr Mister.. "Lean On Me" by Club Nouveau.. "Your Love" by The Outfield.. "Rock On" by Michael Damian.. "Sara" by Starship
2. Day 12
Day 12 - Favorite Pay-Per-View
I've already stated that my favorite event of all-time is Ring Of Honor's Supercard Of Honor 3, and not just because I was there in attendance (otherwise WrestleMania 24 would be my favorite pay-per-view of all time.. *spoiler* it isn't). Here's why..
- Roderick Strong VS Erick Stevens was one of the most brutal fights I've seen in wrestling (4 stars)
- The Briscoes VS Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black (4 stars)
- Kevin Steen & El Generico VS Shingo & BxB Hulk (4.25 stars)
- Nigel McGuinness VS Austin Aries (4 stars)
- CIMA, Dragon Kid & Ryo Saito VS Genki Horiguchi, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino is the most action-packed match I've ever seen (4.75 stars)
By the way.. those five matches I listed.. back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back to close out the show. There were only two other matches on the show (DVD version), and even they weren't bad, with Delirious VS Go Shiozaki (3 stars) being a nice way to kick things off, and Bushwhacker Luke, Dingo & Alex Payne VS Kenny King, Chasyn Rance & Sal Rinauro (2 stars) serving its purpose as a mix of young talent and the nostalgia act of Bushwhacker Luke that kept the crowd into things. That's quite the loaded card, with no bad matches and nothing to kill the crowd in any way.
Of course, that wasn't a pay-per-view, so it's ineligible for today's entry, and I wasted all that time typing things out.
Today's entry really can only come down to three shows. One from 1989, one from 2001 and one from 2011. First things first, I had to look at the event that happened most recently, so I went and watched Money In The Bank 2011 all over again. I'm not a big fan of calling something that just happened a year ago as my favorite anything of all-time, but MITB makes a very strong case for being my favorite pay-per-view. The crowd and the atmosphere is unmatched by just about any show in the history of wrestling, but it's not like there weren't good matches on the show to go along with the crowd..
- Smackdown Money In The Bank was a hard-hitting affair, made better by the fact that Daniel Bryan became a major player that night (3.75 stars)
- Raw Money In The Bank had a high bar to reach after the other MITB match, and although it didn't quite top the bar, it was a good match (3.25 stars)
- Randy Orton VS Christian was good, albeit short and featured a cheap finish, but was still worthwhile (3.25 stars)
- John Cena VS CM Punk was.. well.. John Cena VS CM Punk (5 stars)
I know some people don't like seeing the main event rated with a "perfect score", as there were some botched spots during the match, but in today's wrestling scene, it's just about impossible to top the match. The story that was told, both men working extra hard to handle their business in the ring, and, of course, that insanely rabid Chicago crowd.. I can never dock points, no matter how many times I watch it. It was a masterpiece.
However, the rest of the card saw some duds, and some matches that just didn't do anything for me, or for the Chicago fans. Brie Bella VS Kelly Kelly? I don't think I need to say anything more. Big Show VS Mark Henry was a perfectly fine "big man" match, but is more remembered for the post-match attack, with Henry "breaking Show's leg", than the match itself. To be honest, if the Divas Title match was removed from the card, and the five minutes they were given were added to Orton VS Christian, the overall show would be ten times better. As it is, though, Money In The Bank 2011 was a very good show, and will always get a recommendation from me, but I can't call it my favorite pay-per-view of all-time.
Moving back in reverse chronological order, I went to 2001, and I watched WrestleMania 17 (fuck that "X-7" nonsense) all over again. The Astrodome in Houston, Texas was "packed to the rafters" as the late, great Gorilla Monsoon would have said. There were nearly 70,000 people in the building for the show, but if you were watching at home, it literally looked like there were twice that many in attendance. Just a ridiculously large crowd. WrestleMania is, of course, WWE's biggest show of the year, and the company was in the middle of a masterful run at the time, where it seemed like they could do no wrong. You want good matches? Alright..
- Chris Jericho VS William Regal was short, and wasn't as good as it could have been, but was still entertaining (2.75 stars)
- Raven VS Big Show VS KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE was a much more entertaining and humorous Hardcore Match than it had any business being (2.5 stars)
- Test VS Eddie Guerrero was, arguably, the best normal singles match of Test's career (2.75 stars)
- Kurt Angle VS Chris Benoit, and I need say no more (4.25 stars)
- Shane McMahon VS Vince McMahon was as overbooked as you'd expect, but holy hell, was it entertaining from beginning to end (4 stars)
- The Dudley Boyz VS The Hardy Boyz VS Edge & Christian in TLC, and again, I need say no more (4.5 stars)
- The Undertaker VS Triple H is something WWE would now like you to forget ever happened, but it was a solid match (3 stars)
- The Rock VS Steve Austin has reached legendary status, and for good reason (5 stars)
I've always enjoyed the way Scott Keith (if you're a longtime member of the IWC, you know all about Scott Keith and his match reviews) described the Rock VS Austin match..
"..the match kicked 900 types of ass and still had a lineup around the corner of asses to be kicked at it's leisure."
Even if you've never heard of Scott Keith, that line might look familiar to you, because I've used a variation of it in a couple of my columns over the last four years. The match, and the show, as a whole, saw an electric crowd. Those Houston fans ate everything up that night. Even Chyna VS Ivory, which was nothing more than a three-minute squash victory for Chyna, where she returned from a "serious neck injury" to get revenge on Ivory, saw the crowd go ballistic for everything that was done. There were some "meh" matches on the show that got a boost from the crowd, who treated every match like it was something special, which is how a WrestleMania should be. It definitely ranked ahead of Money In The Bank 2011, so I had to keep it in the running for my favorite pay-per-view, but there was still one more show to watch before I could make my final decision.
The NWA's Great American Bash 1989 happened during my beginning stages of being a wrestling fan. I watched the show live, and while I certainly wasn't a "smark" at the time, I do remember being entertained by the show. I've seen it again on numerous occasions in the 23 years since then, so watching it again for this column wasn't a big deal to me. Of course, the show had some good matches..
- Sting VS The Great Muta is one of the most criminally brief matches of all-time, but was superb while it lasted (3.25 stars)
- Ricky Steamboat VS Lex Luger was better than everyone on the planet thought it would be, with Steamboat carrying Luger to his best match (3.75 stars)
- War Games pretty much speaks for itself, and was always an entertaining gimmick match, no matter who was involved in it (3.75 stars)
- Ric Flair VS Terry Funk wasn't as good as their "I Quit" Match as Clash Of The Champions, but it was a great bawl, including an epic extended brawl in the post-match involving Flair, Funk, Sting and Muta (4 stars)
On top of that, there was a historic debut on the show, as Scott Steiner made his first ever appearance, teaming up with his brother, Rick. That counts for something, too. However, there was one major flaw with the show, and is something that is really difficult to ignore if you're grading the event like this.. it took forever for the "good" to start taking place. There were some duds to kick the show off, and while that second half of the event was some top notch pro wrestling, I can't look past the slow start. Had it not been for that slow start, I think this event would still hold up to this day, 23 years later. Right now, though, if you're going to watch the show, be prepared to either sit through some junk to get things started, or to use copious amounts of "fast forward" until you get to the second half of the show. Sting VS Muta only lasted 8:40, while Steamboat VS Luger was only 10:26. Had both matches been given at least five extra minutes to work with, taking away from some of the earlier mess on the show, we could be viewing things differently right now.
After watching the three shows, and going over every little thing I saw, I think there's no denying the fact that WrestleMania 17 is my favorite pay-per-view of all-time. It had everything.. great technical classics, a high-flying hard-hitting spotfest, comedy, some nice nostalgia, a world-class main event, a heel turn that nobody in the world saw coming ("Stone Cold" Steve Austin joining forces with Vince McMahon), one of the better commentary tandems in recent wrestling history (Jim Ross and Paul Heyman) and a molten-hot crowd from start to finish. I will never get tired of watching the show, and I will never stop telling people to watch it when they ask me for my opinion on what they should go back and watch if they're new to the wrestling world.
The HiPE Playlist: "Sick & Tired" by Nappy Roots & Anthony Hamilton.. "Charlene" by Anthony Hamilton.. "Til I Collapse" by Eminem & Nate Dogg.. "3am" by Eminem.. "Insane In The Brain" by Cypress Hill.. "Lately" by Jodeci.. "Damn" by Youngbloodz & Lil Jon.. "Stomp" by Young Buck, The Game & Ludacris.. "Yo Side Of The Bed" by Trey Songz.. "Tap The Bottle" by Young Black Teenagers.. "We Blowin Up" by Quo.. "Hip Hop Ride" by Da Youngstas.. "Somethin 4 Da Honeyz" by Montell Jordan.. "Falling (Remix)" by Montell Jordan & Flesh-N-Bone.. "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" by Jay-Z
3. Day 13
Day 13 - Most Overrated Wrestler
When I first saw the topics for the 30 Day Challenge, even before I officially decided to take the challenge on, I looked at this particular day in my head, throwing choices around and having debates with myself.
Most. Overrated. Wrestler.
There is so much potential for controversy with a topic like this. Before any of that, though, I have to make it known that I'm going to go with names that are overrated in the eyes of wrestling fans, specifically the internet wrestling fans. I've seen some people do this topic by looking at who they think is overrated by WWE, TNA, etc, but then you fall into the trap of listing everyone that is getting any sort of a push, or into the trap of listing anyone "ahead" of your favorite people. So, again, I'm going to look at the people that are more overrated by the IWC, no matter where they are on a particular company's totem pole.
First, let's start with who I think is currently the most overrated wrestler. I went through a lot of names, with at least five or six of them being my pick until I found someone else to go with. Here are some of the names I didn't end up choosing..
- Davey Richards, although I did want to rant about him again, hoping he gets choked out at his next Jiu-Jitsu training session and doesn't wake up
- Samoa Joe, who I'm guilty of overrating from time-to-time myself
- Dolph Ziggler, who is a better seller than an overall wrestler, but that doesn't take anything away from his wrestling ability
- Antonio Cesaro, who continues to have zero reaction from live crowds, but his fans still complain that he isn't pushed more
- CM Punk, who seems to have a little botch or a slip-up in almost all of his matches, and he also continues to use the worst top-rope elbow drop of all-time
I could have gone on and on. Some of you are probably upset already. The nerve I have to besmirch the good name of some of these "IWC darlings", right? Well, to clarify.. saying someone is "overrated" isn't saying they suck. It does in some cases, sure, but if you're a nine, and you're rated a ten, you're still overrated, even though nine is a great number. Ziggler, for example, is one of my favorite wrestlers at the moment. I've been a huge supporter of his for a couple years now, but that didn't stop me from seeing that the type of praise he gets, and how that overrates him. Cesaro is someone else I've been a huge fan of for a while now, but I'm not blind, and I'm not deaf, either. As much as I want him to succeed and get a big push, I know that his crowd reactions don't warrant that right now. He's getting pushed, anyway, so we'll see how it goes, but it could lead to a major backfire, with fans becoming tired of him quicker.
In the end, when all was said and done, I had to go with someone who I've been pretty vocal against over the last year or so. Someone who has appeared to have potential, only to regress in the ring, only to make another push for himself with his potential, only to regress in the ring again, and so on. Right now, I don't think there is a more overrated wrestler in the business than The Miz, and you can't tell me otherwise.
He has a great background story for wrestling. It's well-documented that he has been a lifelong fan of the business, and he went from cutting "promos" during his time on MTV's The Real World to actually becoming a WWE Superstar, complete with winning the WWE Title and winning in the main event of WrestleMania. That's a story that, even though it has been told on countless occasions, will make for a good tell on a future Miz DVD documentary, as they can go more into detail on it. That's fine and dandy. However, as I've said ad nauseam, he still doesn't seem to get that he isn't cutting pretend "promos" on MTV anymore. He doesn't seem to understand that he is a pro wrestler, and not just someone pretending to be one. His facial expressions, at best, are comical when he's trying to be serious, and at worst, they're fucking ridiculous and destroy any credibility that he wants to have. I'm not taking a grown man seriously when their two biggest facial expressions are "duck face" and "underbite". When you throw in an effeminate walk and overall set of mannerisms, you don't exactly get the most "legit" wrestler on the planet. He could overcome all of that if it appeared as though he was always trying to improve in the ring, but that's not how it looks. He will have lengthy stretches of time where he wrestles like a rookie all over again. It will start out of nowhere, and then it will finish out of nowhere. His fans are always demanding that he be pushed back into the main event scene, but I don't even think he's worthy of being involved in a midcard title scene right now. People like him are a liability in wrestling. Until he stops acting like a 10-year-old cutting "promos" into his bathroom mirror using a toothbrush as a microphone, and until he finds a way to avoid those in-ring funks that he gets into far too often, he should get zero part of the main event scene again. That's just the way I see it.
If we're going to talk about the most overrated wrestler of all-time, I think one name jumps out to me. It isn't a name that is going to jump out at most people, and I understand why, but I'm going to be controversial once again. My problems with this person have been documented in my columns before, so it isn't anything brand new. He's one of the best overall in-ring performers that the business has ever seen, and I will never take that away from him, but he played the exact same role for 35 years. Literally.. the exact same role for 35 years. Nothing ever changed with this guy, no matter what territory he wrestled in, no matter what national promotion he went to, no matter who he was feuding with.. nothing.
If you haven't already figured it out, my choice for the most overrated wrestler of all-time is none other than Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat.
As I said, he's one of the best in-ring performers any of us have ever seen, able to seamlessly blend a high-flying style with a more mat-based style. He was always fun to watch, but in my opinion, he can never be ranked in the absolute highest of tiers in the history of pro wrestling because he never wrestled as a heel. There was no diversity. While I understand that he's a much better wrestler than John Cena could ever be, look at Cena for an example of things. People complain that Cena has played the exact same character for years now, and it bores them. I can understand why, but imagine if Cena had that character when he debuted in 2002. Now imagine we never got to see the "Thuganomics" version of Cena's character. Now imagine it's 2012, and he still hadn't had any changes in his character. Now imagine it's 2022, and he still hadn't had any changes in his character. You're starting to see what has happened during Steamboat's career. We never got to see him change at all. He played the same "white bread babyface" character for his entire career. No runs as an edgy heel. No runs as a cocky, arrogant "I'm better than you" heel. If you ask me, Steamboat's feud with Ric Flair could have been the perfect opportunity for a heel turn that would have been money. Steamboat did everything he could to please the fans and to make them happy, and he was feuding with the dastardly Flair.. the "Dirtiest Player In The Game", as the nickname will tell you.. but there were still fans cheering for Flair. This was back before the days when it was the "in" thing to cheer for heels, mind you. Had they just decided to make Steamboat lose it and decide to stop caring about the fans, that could have changed the course of his career. He would have been rejuvenated in 1989, and perhaps he wouldn't have left the NWA after a contract dispute. We literally could have gotten another year out of the Steamboat VS Flair feud, this time with Steamboat as the heel and Flair as the face. Maybe he could have been spared the disappointing and embarrassing run as "The Dragon" in 1991 WWF. Could've, would've, should've and all that jazz, I guess. It's interesting to think about, at least.
The HiPE Playlist: "(sic)" by Slipknot.. "Wait And Bleed" by Slipknot.. "Spit It Out" by Slipknot.. "Left Behind" by Slipknot.. "Duality" by Slipknot.. "Before I Forget" by Slipknot.. "Sulfur" by Slipknot.. "Psychosocial" by Slipknot.. "All Hope Is Gone" by Slipknot.. "Til We Die" by Slipknot
4. Day 14
Day 14 - Most Underrated Wrestler
Instead of discussing who I think has been overrated the most through the years, it's time to look at people who I don't feel get anywhere near enough credit for what they do inside of a wrestling ring. Mentioning someone here today doesn't necessarily mean that I'm a huge fan of that person's work, or that I think they're wizards by any stretch of the imagination. It just means that, at one point or another, I feel they have been unfairly criticized for their work. Maybe they're a six, when they've been viewed as a three. We'll see.
Let's kick things off with the current names. Right off the bat, I know people are expecting me to name John Cena as my choice. Well, he is underrated, and will probably remain underrated until the day he turns heel, when the assholes will come out in droves, claiming that they've always liked Cena's work from the beginning. While he's still underrated, more and more people begin to come around to his skills with each passing year, and with each passing match he participates in that gets praise across the world. The "he got carried" card can only go so far. If this were 2006-2009, I don't think there would even be a debate, and Cena would be my choice as the most underrated wrestler in the business, but here in the second half of 2012, I think there are enough people that can see him for what he is.. arguably the best "big time" performer in the business, able to step his game up in the biggest of situations.. so I'm not going to pick him here.
Another name I was thinking about going with was Magnus. During his days with British Invasion, he was always the most overshadowed member of the group, even as the leader. Douglas Williams was always looked at as the veteran that was known all across the world for being one of the top pure mat technicians in wrestling. Rob Terry, for as baby shit green as he was, was immediately looked at for that fact. He was so bad that he stood out to anyone watching. That caused Magnus to blend into the background. Back then, he probably would have been a very strong choice for this entry, but after he surprised TNA fans with his work teaming with Samoa Joe, and then becoming a popular dark horse pick to perform well in the Bound For Glory Series, I couldn't really call him the most underrated anymore.
I kept coming back to one name for the most underrated wrestler in the current wrestling scene. Part of the reason this person is so underrated is because of his age (he turned 45 earlier this year). Part of the reason this is so underrated is because of his size (he's seven feet tall and weighs in at over 320 pounds). He's been around forever, and he's had multiple characters that he's played, but when the dust settles, and people look back at the history of the wrestling business, KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE will go down as one of the best big-man wrestlers to ever live. Yes, he's received that praise from numerous people through the years, but we're talking about right now.. August 14th, 2012.. where he's merely viewed as "old", "slow", and someone that should get as far away from the business as possible. Alright, he's definitely getting up there in years, and while he remains an agile big man, he has lost a step or two since his prime, but he remains one of the best big man workers in wrestling today, although I guess that says more about the rest of them than it says about him. When you look at the rest of his "class", there's The Undertaker and there's Big Show. Taker, of course, continues to work that "one match a year" pace because his body can't take the punishment that even a semi-regular schedule would bring. Big Show.. well, I think I've said my piece about his place in wrestling today. KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE continues to work a regular schedule, even at 45, and still finds himself relevant, even in a WWE scene that is leaning towards smaller and/or younger wrestlers to help carry the company. Do I think he'll ever be WWE/World Champion again? No, I think those days are behind him, but from now until the day he retires, he has earned the role in the company where he can be placed in a feud with anyone on the roster and be viewed as a tremendous obstacle that will be difficult to overcome. I think too many people just focus on the fact that he's been around for so long, and they're in such a rush to get him out the door that they forget what he's still capable of doing. Compared to the aforementioned Big Show and Undertaker, or to The Great Khali, KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE is basically Evan Bourne and Sin Cara rolled into one when it comes to speed, agility and athleticism these days, and he has much more presence and connection with live crowds than, say, Matt Morgan, Brodus Clay, Mark Henry, Mason Ryan, Ezekiel Jackson, Ryback, Tensai, Abyss, Hernandez, Robbie T, and other big man workers in today's scene.
If you're looking at the most underrated wrestler of all-time, a good place to start would be 90% of the members of the Four Horsemen through the years that aren't named Ric Flair. Sure, they get their fair share of credit, but they were always overshadowed by Flair and what he was doing, but even then, guys like Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Barry Windham have gained their own respect from wrestling fans through the years, so I couldn't quite include them here.
If you want to go even broader, you could nominate the entire Cruiserweight division in WCW, from the beginning, when it was known as the Light Heavyweight division with "Flyin" Brian Pillman and Jushin "Thunder" Liger leading the way, until the end, when the Jung Dragons and Three Count were having random Ladder Matches against each other for no real reason. The workhorses of the company were always in the division, but they rarely ever got the credit they deserved for the work they put in. For years, the nWo and people like Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, etc got all the publicity in WCW, but everyone knew it was the smaller guys that were the stars of the show. That last part is why I can't go with these guys here. WCW severely underrated the Cruiserweights, but everyone else gave them all the credit in the world, especially the bigger names in the division like Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Juventud Guerrera and so on.
A very strong candidate, and someone who made my final three for this before being "eliminated", is Magnum TA. The man was forced into retirement after a car accident in 1986, so I've had to go back and watch his work in the years since, instead of watching it as it happened, but it isn't an exaggeration at all to say that Magnum was well on his way to becoming the NWA's version of Hulk Hogan. He was turning into a huge face star for the company, and had everything ahead of him. NWA World Title reigns were in his future. Major money feuds with Ric Flair, The Great Muta, Ricky Steamboat, Sting and anyone else that the company had in the late-80s were ahead of him. He was only 27 when he had the accident, which destroyed two of his vertebrae. He was partially paralyzed for several months, but his career was cut short before he ever reached his prime. He had only been with the NWA for two years, but they were eventful years. As I said, he was over with crowds. He was so over that Nikita Koloff, who until that point was a hated heel feuding with Magnum, became one of the top faces in the business just for being involved in a storyline where Koloff stated that he came to respect him during the feud and wanted to fight for Magnum since Magnum couldn't do it himself. That led to the infamous article of Wrestling '87 magazine (one of the kayfabe-heavy mags that dominated the scene back then) with the picture of Nikita with "I cry for Magnum TA" next to it. That was huge back in the days of kayfabe, before the internet and "dirt sheets", when everything was "real". I think Magnum is underrated, but more because he wrestled before most of you were watching wrestling (and before a whole lot of you were even born). He wasn't necessarily underrated because of skills or anything like that. Everyone knew he was going to be the next major star in the business if he didn't get injured.
In the end, though, I went with someone who is technically still around, but is rarely used in a wrestling role anymore. He makes the very rare appearance on WWE television, but has mostly been involved with FCW and NXT in recent months. When you look at what he brings to the table.. perhaps the greatest technical wrestler of all-time, some of the best comedic timing that wrestling has ever seen, fantastic facial expressions covering just about any emotion you can think of (that's the type of thing that really can't be taught too well), and has a legit tough guy side to him.. it just blows my mind that William Regal has never been WCW or WWE (or World) Champion in his career. Don't get me wrong.. he's been very successful. Four Television Title reigns in WCW. Four World Tag Team Title reigns in WWE, as well as four European Title reigns, two Intercontinental Title reigns, three Hardcore Title reigns and a King Of The Ring crown. That's a Hall Of Fame career, but through it all, he's never even come close to being given a chance to become the guy, and that's a crying shame. Admittedly, Regal himself derailed his momentum in 2008, getting suspended for his second Wellness Policy Violation a month or so after winning King Of The Ring, but man, this guy has it all, and could still go out there today, at the age of 44 and outwork pretty much anyone while getting a strong crowd reaction, as a face or as a heel. You know, I still wouldn't complain one bit if Regal were given even a brief push to the main event these days. He has connections, both direct and indirect, to names atop the WWE scene right now. He helped to train both CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, and there's always the tried and true method of tying him in with Sheamus because of their roots in the United Kingdom (I know, I know.. Ireland, Northern Ireland, etc.. but if you think that would stop WWE from doing it, you're kidding yourself). It can still happen. There's still time.
The HiPE Playlist: The entire instrumental version of Dr Dre's "2001" album
5. Day 15
Day 15 - Favorite Promo
If you've been a reader of mine for a while, you should already know the answer to this entry, as I've mentioned it on multiple occasions as my favorite promo of all-time. On top of that, it's the example I use when I say that the person cutting the promo is the greatest "talker" that wrestling has ever seen.
Just to get it right out of the way, my favorite promo remains, to this day, Cactus Jack's "Cane Dewey" promo in ECW. To be honest, nothing even comes close to matching it. There have been some very good promos that I've been lucky enough to see and hear. Some were fueled by hatred and rage. Some were nothing but comedic moments. They just aren't going to top this promo from 1995, at a time when Mick Foley was simply a crazy cult favorite known as Cactus Jack. This was before Mankind became a household name in the wrestling business. This was before Dude Love was known by anyone other than Foley and the friends that were in person when he infamously jumped from the roof of a New York house when he was growing up. Just Cactus Jack.. a midcarder in WCW who was becoming famous in the early days of the IWC and with tape traders for his work in Japan, where he participated in some of the most violent "death matches" in the history of the business.
Perhaps you feel differently, but I feel that the best promos in wrestling are often rooted in some sort of real emotion. I don't mean that it has to be a 100% uncut and unfiltered shoot promo. There just has to be some sort of real emotion pushing out the words in a "fake" world. For example, CM Punk's original "pipe bomb" promo. It was a successful promo because a lot of it was how he really felt. It wasn't a shoot, because he obviously had permission to go out there and do what he did, but he wasn't given a list of things to mention, either. He went out in front of the world, and he spoke from the heart. Everything he said resonated with people that were listening, and things went from there. The "Cane Dewey" promo, much like most of the promos Mick Foley cut throughout his career.. much like all of the promos in ECW at the time.. was based on real, raw emotion.
When Cactus discusses the anger and the pain he felt upon seeing the "Cane Dewey" sign in the crowd, he meant it. Dewey, for those unaware, is Dewey Foley, Mick's son who, at the time, was only three years old. Any man who considers himself a real father would be enraged at someone who even jokingly made mention of physically harming their child, especially when it comes out of nowhere, and the other person is the one who brought the child up. Foley used some of that anger and it helped to deliver the promo. From the start, you can tell that it's going to be something special, as you can almost feel the emotion. From there, he goes on to have even more of a shoot-feel, as he discusses the financial situation he placed his family in after going from a higher-paying contract with WCW, complete with insurance, to the lower-paying contract in ECW, and having to explain to his son about why the family moved from Georgia to New York. He closes the promo off by moving towards his "anti-ECW" mode (one of several promos he would cut in that style during his time with the company), talking to Tommy Dreamer about how Dreamer does everything in the world to gain the admiration and acceptance of a fan base that wouldn't piss on him if he were on fire.
The entire promo lasted less than seven minutes, but they might have been the seven most important minutes of his career. Yes, even more important than what got him his three WWF Title reigns, his eight WWF Tag Team Title reigns, his work in Japan, his fall from (and through) the roof of Hell In A Cell, and on and on. They were the seven minutes that put him on more of a national map. People began to buzz even more about his character and his promos, and he was signed to a WWF deal not too long thereafter, where, of course, the rest of his career pretty much speaks for itself.
If I were to do an honorable mention list, some of the promos I'd go with are..
- Dusty Rhodes' "Hard Times" promo from the NWA
- The birth of "Austin 3:16"
- "Jumpin" Jeff Farmer discussing Motley Cruz
- "Steiner Math"
- The Rock discussing his opponents in the six-man Hell In A Cell
- Degeneration X mocking the Nation Of Domination
- Ric Flair reforming the Four Horsemen and going ballistic on Eric Bischoff
- Paul Heyman's worked shoot at ECW One Night Stand 2005
- Steve Austin and The Rock sing karaoke together
- Chris Jericho's "I am not a joke" promo that he cut against The Rock
The list really could go on and on, but those are just some of the first that came to my mind. Like I said, though, none of them can even come close to touching the "Cane Dewey" promo, and it's going to take a near-miracle for a promo to reach that level again, if you ask me.
The HiPE Playlist: No songs today. I was actually listening to most of the promos I mentioned in this entry.
6. Day 16
Day 16 - First Wrestling Memory
As you can tell by the topic of today's entry, this is something that I have already discussed during this 30 Day Challenge. Because I don't want to repeat the same things I mentioned before.. a Ric Flair promo is what got me into wrestling, yadda yadda ya.. I'm going to call a bit of an audible. I'm going to stick with the general theme of a first wrestling memory, and I'm going to discuss the very first big wrestling event I ever watched. Not a show like All-American Wrestling, etc. A major show.
It's simple for me. The first big event I can vividly remember watching is WrestleMania 4. I have been told I watched the Survivor Series the year before, but I don't remember more than a little bit of that show. WrestleMania 4, on the other hand, is a show that I can remember from top to bottom. I remember being excited going into the show, because there was a tournament to crown a brand new WWF Champion. Still being young to the sport, I wasn't exactly accustomed to seeing titles change hands on a regular basis. In fact, the more that I think about it, the more I think that WrestleMania 4 was probably going to be my very first opportunity to witness a World Title change hands (technically).
As a young Hulkamaniac, I'm not ashamed to admit that I was rooting for Hulk Hogan to win the tournament and regain the WWF Title. He had a match with Andre The Giant, of all people, but I was confident that Hulk would come out victorious.
I wasn't wrong, but I wasn't right, either.
Hogan and Andre fought to a double disqualification, opening the door wide open for a new champion. People like "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, One Man Gang, Don Muraco and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine were still in the tournament, and none of them had won the WWF Title before.
Savage was definitely the crowd favorite at that point. I was a fan of Savage, but I wasn't a huge fan. I liked him enough to have picked up some of his catchphrases at that point in my life. I would walk around the house, responding to random questions from my grandparents with "Oooh Yeah", or I'd tell random people to "Dig it!" for no real reason, not quite sure what it meant. With Hogan out of the running, though, I had to latch on and root for someone. I did enjoy Ted DiBiase's character (which makes sense, as a Ric Flair fan, I suppose), and had begun something of an obsession with DiBiase's laugh that continues on to this day, but Savage.. he was just so wild and so different. He was unlike anyone in wrestling. If you were watching at the time, you couldn't help but gravitate towards him and everything he did.
When Savage defeated Butch Reed, Hogan was still in the tournament, so I didn't pay much attention to it. By the time Savage had his second match of the night, against Valentine, Hogan was already done, and I was fully backing Macho. After beating Valentine, and then beating One Man Gang, Savage found himself in the finals of the tournament, against.. Ted DiBiase. I couldn't have been any more drawn in, and the electric atmosphere of the crowd only helped things out. Looking back on it, I'm amazed that the crowd in Atlantic City was as excited as they were, considering the fact that Savage VS DiBiase was the 16th match of the night. Even with the fourth hour that WrestleMania has these days, you just can't picture a card with 16 matches on it. That's insanity.
Of course, Savage won the match, winning the first of his two WWF Titles (to go with four WCW Title reigns in his later years), and that moment helped to kick start one of the better storylines in WWF history, with Hogan and Savage becoming a tag team, but with Savage getting more and more jealous at how close Hogan was getting with Miss Elizabeth, leading to Savage defending the WWF Title against Hogan at WrestleMania 5, but that's a different story altogether.
Here we are, 24 years after WrestleMania 4 took place, and I can still remember sitting on my friend's couch, watching the WWF Title tournament unfold before me. It was the event that took my fandom of Randy Savage to a new level. It was the night that began one of my all-time favorite storylines. Just a fantastic night all-around, even without any five-star matches to watch. It started quite the streak that continues to this day, with me seeing every pay-per-view the company has ever put out, including going back and watching the ones before WrestleMania 4 that I missed out on. I'm a wrestling nerd. That's just how I roll.
I'm running out of time, though, so I apologize for the short entry today. I'll make it up to you all with other columns. Do not fret, my pets.
The HiPE Playlist: "Shout Out To The Real" by Ace Hood, Meek Mill & Plies.. "Bitches & Bottles (Let's Get It Started)" by T.I., Lil Wayne & Future.. "I Wish You Would" by Kanye West & Rick Ross.. "They Ready" by Kendrick Lamar, J Cole & Big K.R.I.T. .. "Hip Hop" by Nas, Scarface & DJ Premier.. "I Did It For My Dawgz" by Rick Ross, Jadakiss, Meek Mill & French Montana.. "I Don't See Em" by Ace Hood, 2 Chainz & Birdman.. "No Lie" by 2 Chainz & Drake.. "Crack" by 2 Chainz.. "Riot" by 2 Chainz
7. Day 17
Day 17 - Favorite Group
Right off the bat, I had to look at the Four Horsemen. Once again, Ric Flair is the reason I became a fan of wrestling to begin with, and I've already mentioned how much I loved watching Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. However, when I looked at the title of this entry, favorite group version isn't what I saw. As much as I liked that version of the Horsemen, and various members here and there in other versions of the group, there were some major stinkers. Paul Roma comes to mind. Steve "Mongo" McMichael, as well. Lex Luger, too. Even Sid Vicious, who I've always been a huge fan of, just didn't fit with the group at all. If you're looking for the best version of the Horsemen, look no further than who was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame this year. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Barry Windham, with JJ Dillon as their manager. Now that was a group.
From there, I started thinking about the nWo. There is absolutely no denying what they did for the wrestling business. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash showing up in WCW created such a buzz with fans of both WCW and the WWF, but, of course, it was Hulk Hogan's heel turn that took things 20 levels higher. From there, the nWo was on fire. They were clearly the heels, but damn if they weren't getting some of the strongest face pops in wrestling, week in and week out. They started adding new guys to the group, and part of the fun of tuning in to Nitro every week was to see who would either make their debut/return to the company and join the nWo, or to see who would "defect" from WCW and join the nWo. They kept adding people to their roster. Then, they kept adding people. Then, they added more people. Then, even more people were added. At one point, if my math serves me correctly, there were 11 people on the WCW "roster", while the nWo had 836 people, but I could be off by one or two there. They added so many people to the group that it just wasn't fun anymore. They were adding jobbers and people that weren't even on television all that much. The group got so watered down that people stopped caring. Even though people stopped caring, WCW wanted to keep trying to make them care. That's why we got "nWo 2000" in.. conveniently enough.. 2000. That only lasted a couple months, but just when you thought you had seen the last of the group.. Vince McMahon brought the nWo back in 2002, as the original three members returned to the WWF. Of course, that didn't last long, as the WWF fans turned Hulk Hogan face again. That's the end, right? Well, not if you believe Kevin Nash, who continues to hint that the nWo will be brought back again very soon. All of that watering down, though, from the original game-changing group made me have to disqualify them from consideration here. I couldn't go with them, not when the likes of Vincent, Horace Hogan and Brian Adams were running a version of the group for a while.
Looking at other groups, there were some that came close to making the cut (The Fabulous Freebirds, Degeneration X, The Age Of The Fall, The Brood, The Hart Foundation, The Radicalz, etc, just to name a few), but in the end, I decided to go with another "swerve" and name a group that nobody saw coming. Not that this particular group wasn't fun to watch, but more because they weren't on top of the business, nor did they particularly change the game in any way. They were just a group of solid workers, always capable of putting on entertaining matches, and their "mouthpiece" was someone that could always get your attention whenever he had something to say, whether you liked him or not.
The group I have decided to go with here is WCW's Dangerous Alliance.
I had to specify and point out WCW's version, because there have been others. The original version was in AWA in the late-80s, with the WCW version happening in the early-90s, but we also got multiple versions of it in ECW. I have to go with the WCW version, based on the collection of talent alone..
- Paul E. Dangerously (better known as Paul Heyman)
- "Ravishing" Rick Rude
- "Stunning" Steve Austin (when he had hair, and before he was "Stone Cold")
- "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson
- "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton
- "The Living Legend" Larry Zbyszko
I guess you could also count Michael "P.S." Hayes as a member, since he managed Eaton and Anderson at the time, but I went with the main group. That's a great collection of workers right there, with Rude, Austin, Arn, Eaton and Zbyszko all having legit claims as some of the most underrated workers of all-time. Yes, I said Austin, who was the biggest name in wrestling at the biggest time in the sport's history. However, if you look at his work when he was "Stunning" Steve, it looks very different than his work as "Stone Cold" Steve. He used the brawling style a whole lot more during his WWF days, while being much more well-rounded during his WCW days. Don't get me wrong, though.. the brawling style worked for him, and he had a long list of fantastic matches with the WWF. I'm just saying that people only see him in a certain light if they never got to see his WCW work, and that's why he can actually be viewed as being underrated.
Off-topic, but still on-topic.. I'm thinking about WCW's WrestleWar 1992, with Rude, Austin, Anderson, Eaton and Zbyszko competing in War Games against Sting, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff. The level of talent in that one match is so off the charts it's ridiculous. If you haven't seen the match, I highly recommend that you go out of your way to find it and check it out. For one, it's War Games, and those matches were always fun. This one was especially good, though. If you care about the star ratings of "professionals", Dave Meltzer gave the match five stars. It was the last WCW match that he gave that rating to. If you care about my star ratings, I'd probably give it either 4.25 stars or 4.5 stars, and maybe 4.75 stars if I'm feeling incredibly generous. Either way, it's definitely worth watching, as I said.
The group only lasted about 13 months, and disbanded after Heyman left the company due to a contract dispute, but that was a great run from a group. You'd be hard pressed to find a bad match they participated in during those 13 months. If WCW management knew what the hell they were doing at the time, both Rude and Austin could have been turned into huge stars, in my opinion. Rude came close in WCW, I suppose. He was the United States Champion during his time with the group (Austin had two reigns as the Television Champion during the time, while Anderson & Eaton won the Tag Team Titles), and would later be pushed to the main event as the International World Champion (don't ask), but that was after the Dangerous Alliance had folded, and even then, people didn't look at the title as a real World Title, and were waiting for Ric Flair to return to WCW and have everything squared away. Austin, as the famous story goes, was fired from WCW over the phone because Eric Bischoff didn't see Austin as being "marketable", and he never went above midcard status while with the company. Steve Austin.. not "marketable".. is there any wonder people don't take Bischoff's opinion on anything seriously?
The HiPE Playlist: "Please Don't Go" by Mike Posner.. "Bow Chicka Wow Wow" by Mike Posner.. "Cooler Than Me" by Mike Posner.. "Mirror's Edge" by Mike Posner, Bun B, GLC & XV.. "Losing My Mind" by Mike Posner.. "Rolling In The Deep" by Mike Posner.. "Smoke & Drive" by Mike Posner, Big Sean, Donnis & Jackie Chain.. "Still Not Over You" by Mike Posner & Eric Holljes.. "Room 925" by Mike Posner & Cyhi Da Prynce.. "Wonderwall" by Mike Posner & Big K.R.I.T.
8. Day 18
Day 18 - Favorite On-Screen Couple
This is an easy one, in my opinion.
There have been some memorable on-screen couples in the history of wrestling, and I've been a big fan of a lot of them for one reason or another..
- Edge & Lita
- Jimmy Jacobs & Lacey
- Vince McMahon & Linda McMahon
- Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
- Diamond Dallas Page & Kimberly
- Jamie Noble (,Boy) & Nidia
- Santino & Beth Phoenix
- Chris Benoit & Woman (no snide remarks, please)
- Chris Candido & Tammy Sytch
- Eddie Gilbert & Missy Hyatt
So many entertaining couples, but nobody has been able to, and nobody ever will, match "Macho Man" Randy Savage & Miss Elizabeth. It just isn't going to happen.
A couple both on-screen and off-screen, Macho and Elizabeth were on top of the game because of how real their relationship came across. You could see it in Elizabeth's eyes that she was head over heels in love with Macho, and there was even a twinkle in Randy's eye when Elizabeth was around. They weren't putting on a show for the cameras or pretending to be anything that they weren't.
Elizabeth played her role to absolute perfection, all without having to do much of anything. She wasn't cutting promos for Randy. She wasn't interfering in his matches. She wasn't wrestling in mixed tag after mixed tag. All she did was accompany her man to the ring, or stand by his side during his promos, and look beautiful. That's all she needed to do, and it's like she gave him super powers. Time and time again, she would get into harm's way, only causing him to hit overdrive and free her from the clutches of whomever he happened to be feuding with at the time. When he was down, some kind words of encouragement or a rub on the back would be all he'd need to make the comeback and get the victory.
My favorite thing about watching them when I was growing up was just how different they were. Hell, that's still my favorite thing about them now. Elizabeth was the yang to Savage's yin, basically. He was the tightly wound spaz, while she was the calming, elegant soul. He was loud and colorful, while she was quiet and subdued. He was the bushy-bearded maniac, while she was the old-school beauty with the movie star good looks. Despite all of their differences, they always worked well together. As corny as it is, their relationship taught me a very valuable lesson about love at a young age.. love is blind, and that two people who may not appear to have a lot in common on the surface can be very happy together.
They were a part of some of my all-time favorite moments in wrestling. I've already stated just how much I loved the entire storyline with Savage and Hulk Hogan becoming the MegaPowers, only to split because Savage was jealous over how close Hogan was getting to Elizabeth. Another one of my favorite moments is after Savage's match with The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 7, where Savage lost and had to "retire". Savage's manager at the time, "Queen" Sherri Martel, turned on him and was putting the boots to a fallen Macho Man, when Elizabeth ran out of the crowd, disposed of Sherri and tearfully reunited with Savage, who had turned on her almost two years prior to that. That, of course, led to my favorite marriage proposal in wrestling history.. 'Lizabit-uh, wheel you marry ME?.. oooh yeah. I also enjoyed her being a part of the great feud that Savage had with Ric Flair leading up to WrestleMania 8, with Flair claiming to have dated Elizabeth before she ever met Savage. The photos he showed turned out to be fakes, and the story was a lie, but it was still entertaining television for a young me. I even enjoyed their brief stint together in WCW, although a lot of the magic was gone by then, as they had divorced a few years earlier, and were just wrestler and valet at that point. It was a nice bit of nostalgia, though.
It has always been unfortunate that their love story didn't last. It's even more unfortunate that neither Elizabeth nor Randy are alive today, both taken too soon. I would love to see them go into the WWE Hall Of Fame together one day, but as we know, there is something (most people already do speculate on what that something is) that is preventing Vince McMahon from allowing Savage into the Hall Of Fame, and at this point, it doesn't look like it will ever happen. One can certainly hope, though.
Do the right thing, Vince.
The HiPE Playlist: "18 & Life" by Skid Row.. "I Remember You" by Skid Row.. "Kyrie" by Mr Mister.. "Dr Feelgood" by Motley Crue.. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard.. "Heaven" by Warrant.. "Sweet Child O Mine" by Guns N Roses.. "Paradise City" by Guns N Roses.. "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" by Great White.. "High Enough" by Damn Yankees
9. Day 19
Day 19 - A WWE Moment That Disappointed You
Man, talk about a seemingly bottomless pool to choose from, and that's just in the last few years alone.
A lot of disappointment with WWE. With WCW, it was usually more frustration or a stroke brought on by the sheer, unadulterated stupidity that the company would put forth. TNA, for the most part, is the same as WCW.. you just sit there and shake your head at some of the decisions they make. WWE just disappoints me, more often than not. There they are, as the top wrestling promotion on the planet, with all of the funding and the talent needed to be much larger than they are, but they often find ways to stunt their own growth with some weird decisions all across the board.
If I had to go with one single moment that has disappointed me, though, I'll skip past booking decisions that I didn't agree with, and I'll go right to a match that had all the potential in the world to be something epic, but multiple things converged to turn the entire thing into a gigantic mess on the grandest stage in all of wrestling. I'm going to go with Goldberg VS Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 20 as my choice here.
In one corner, you had Goldberg.. WCW's unstoppable force, famous for destroying any and everyone that got in his way. 6'4" tall. 285 pounds. "Real" sports background.
In the other corner, you had Brock Lesnar.. WWE's unstoppable force, famous for destroying any and everyone that got in his way. 6'3" tall. 270-280 pounds. "Real" sports background.
Putting those two in the ring together at WrestleMania 20, in Madison Square Garden of all arenas, had all the makings of something special. No, it wasn't going to be a technical masterpiece, but it would be incredibly entertaining to see those two behemoths battle each other for supremacy.
Then came word that Goldberg was leaving WWE, and WrestleMania 20 would be his final match with the company.
Then came word that Brock was leaving WWE, and WrestleMania 20 would be his final match with the company.
That changed everything, and you could tell immediately that the notoriously smarky fans in MSG had decided not to care about these two that they felt were turning their backs on the wrestling business. Making things even worse was the fact that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, one of the most beloved wrestlers of all-time, was the Special Guest Referee for the match. As soon as Brock came out for the match, it looked like he had half the arena flipping him the bird, and Goldberg received much of the same. It was another time when the "Goldberg" chants were clearly piped in, because they were loud and clear during his entrance, but looking at the crowd, you couldn't see anyone chanting it.
Before the two could even begin the match, loud "You sold out" chants broke out, and it seemed to get into the heads of both men, because they stalled..
..and stalled some more. Next, the crowd busted out the "Na-na-na, hey-hey-hey, goodbye" chant. Again, this was before so much as a punch was even thrown in the match. Not even a collar & elbow tie-up. Nothing.
As they were about to finally lock up, an "Austin" chant broke out, bringing a smirk to Austin's face. Then we got even more stalling. I must point out that the match was nearly three minutes old at this point, and we still hadn't seen so much as a slap yet.
We finally got the collar & elbow tie-up, and it led to several seconds of them trying to push either back while tied up. Folks, they stayed tied up for 40 fucking seconds, without doing much of anything. Think about that now. We went three minutes with literally no action taking place, and then we got a collar & elbow tie-up for nearly a minute after that.
Then we got 35 more seconds of them standing there doing nothing, before.. another collar & elbow tie-up. This one lasted 30 seconds, with both men again trying to jockey for position, with nothing else happening. Once they broke the tie-up, the crowd began booing them.
Then more stalling.
Then a "this match sucks" chant.
Then.. another collar & elbow tie-up, which actually turned into a headlock, a shot to the ropes, and.. a collision in the center of the ring, which led to more stalling. More boos from the crowd. This is at WRESTLEMANIA, ladies and gentlemen. Not some random event. Not a house show. WrestleMania. The biggest event in all of wrestling.
A double knockdown on a collision led to.. more standing and stalling. I'm getting pissed off just reliving this and typing it. Words can't express how upset I was watching this live. I'm getting so upset that I'm giving up on doing "live commentary" on the match.
The rest of the match saw more action, thankfully, but the crowd didn't get any happier. When they found something to be upset about, they booed or they delivered a negative chant. Otherwise, they were deathly silent. This was one of the biggest dream matches that pro wrestling could give us at the time, and the crowd just didn't care. There was even a point when the crowd opposite the hard-camera spotted someone that looked like Hulk Hogan and all turned away from the match before chanting "Hogan, Hogan, Hogan". They were, as the saying goes, giving zero fucks, and the men wrestling in the ring made them feel like they were still giving too much. The crowd didn't really get into anything until after the match, when Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner on both men.
What could have been an all-time classic spectacle turned into an all-time clusterfuck. The crowd didn't care. Brock didn't care. Goldberg didn't care. Austin didn't even seem to care. Toss that all into a blender, and what you have is my choice as a major disappointment in WWE history.
Oh, and off-topic, before anyone starts asking me.. I need to watch SummerSlam again before I can really give some in-depth thoughts on the show, but right now, I'm giving the entire thing a C+ grade. It's not a good thing when the opening match is the best match of the night, but other than the WWE Title match, there really wasn't anything that was bad. Everything was kind of in the middle for me.
The HiPE Playlist: "Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo" by Bloodhound Gang.. "Ralph Wiggum" by Bloodhound Gang.. "Pennsylvania" by Bloodhound Gang.. "Mope" by Bloodhound Gang.. "The Ballad Of Chasey Lain" by Bloodhound Gang.. "A Lapdance Is So Much Better When The Stripper Is Crying" by Bloodhound Gang.. "Fire Water Burn" by Bloodhound Gang.. "Your Only Friends Are Make Believe" by Bloodhound Gang.. "She Ain't Got No Legs" by Bloodhound Gang.. "Yellow Fever" by Bloodhound Gang
10. Day 20
Day 20 - Favorite Wrestling Move
This was another easy choice for me. This move has been my favorite going all the way back to when I first began watching wrestling. It's a move that has numerous variations. It's a move that used to be one of the most devastating finishers in wrestling, but now, it's mainly used as a run-of-the-mill move in the middle of matches, which makes me sad to no end. Variations of the move have been made famous by the likes of..
- Sid Vicious
- Kevin Nash
- The Undertaker
- "Dr Death" Steve Williams
- Mitsuharu Misawa
- Mike Awesome
- Jushin "Thunder" Liger
- Brock Lesnar
My all-time favorite wrestling move is, indeed, the powerbomb. I enjoy all of the countless variants that I've seen through the years, but I have to give special credit to Sid Vicious. He was the first person I can recall seeing do a powerbomb, and he is the reason I became a fan of the move to begin with. On top of that, his version of the move has always been rather vicious looking (pun fully intended). Part of the reason had to do with how sloppy it looked, sure, but when he hit the move on someone, you knew it was lights out and that the match was over.
When it came to Vader, he almost always looked like he was trying to injure his opponents with the move. Then again, go back and watch Vader matches from any promotion.. everything he did in the ring looked like he was trying to injure someone. You'd think they pissed in his corn flakes that morning or something.
As I said, though, it makes me sad to know that a good powerbomb would end a match 99 out of 100 times. When you saw it, you knew it was a wrap. Now, it's nothing more than a transitional move most of the time, and a lot of the guys who do have a powerbomb as their finisher don't really get to use it because they're jobbers (Jack Swagger, etc). It makes me silently weep thug tears whenever I think about the days of Sid, Vader, Batista, etc all being over and done.
I'd like to see the powerbomb make its return to mainstream wrestling. There are plenty of big, powerful wrestlers in the business right now, and adding a nasty powerbomb as their finisher could be beneficial. If the likes of Brodus Clay, Ryback, Antonio Cesaro (almost anything would be better than his current finisher), etc started using the move, it would look incredible. Even Big Show, who has one of the most nonsensical finishers in the business (why not just go for the fucking knockout punch five seconds into a match instead of waiting 10-15 minutes to try it?) would have an incredible powerbomb with all of the size and strength advantages that he has.
I'm just saying, folks. I'm just saying.
Because I knew this would be a short entry, I wanted to make it up to you fine folks out there in ReaderLand, even though I have a Raw Running Diary coming up today, as well. People continue to ask me about my SummerSlam thoughts, so I'm including them here as a mini-column within a mini-column. It's columnception!
Antonio Cesaro is the new United States Champion: My only concern, as I've mentioned before, is that Cesaro continues to get a push even though his crowd reactions wouldn't indicate that he "deserves" one. For now, I'll enjoy the fact that the title is on someone the company actually looks intent to push, instead of being on someone the company wants to portray as a joke.
No more Sheamus VS ADR, for the love of Joe Pesci: WWE isn't doing anyone any favors by continuing to have Sheamus and Alberto Del Rrrrrio square off. The matches bore people to the brink of insanity, and aren't even enjoyed by major fans of the two most of the time. I hope and pray that, one day, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon or Triple H realize that ADR doesn't get main event-level crowd reactions, and therefore, should not be in the main event. Put him in the United States or Intercontinental Title scene, and let him earn his way back into the main event. As it is, it's completely asinine (asiten, asieleven..) that he continues to fight for World Titles.
Fuck you, Big Show: Actually, that should be "fuck you, WWE" for putting the WWE Title match together the way they did. I get that Show is much bigger than either CM Punk or John Cena. However, the match would have been better served if Punk and Cena teamed up to get Show out of the ring, then had a "one-on-one" match for a while. Every now and then, Show would come back and get the upper hand, but under no circumstances should Show be controlling a match for that long. All his offense does is suck the life out of an arena, and that's not something you want in a dark match, let alone a WWE Title match. Punk VS Cena is always an entertaining match to watch. When Show is thrown into the mix, it's like getting stabbed in an artery. You only have a few minutes before you bleed out and die.
Ass kicker? Eh, not so much: For what was supposedly the most personal match of Triple H's career, and a match that was all but promised to be a flat-out war (being given a No Disqualification, No Countout stipulation proved that), the Triple H VS Brock Lesnar match was pretty much just that.. a match. It was nothing like Lesnar VS Cena. It wasn't even like Triple H VS The Undertaker. That, right off the bat, was a tremendous disappointment, and damn near false advertisement. As a match, it was alright. Nothing offensive, but nothing that blew my mind, either. I was just expecting something with more brutality. All it did was make me give even more props to Cena for taking the beating he took at Extreme Rules. With the way Brock is being portrayed, you just can't put him in the ring with people are can't or aren't willing to take brutal beatings. Once again, Brock is neutered, and don't give me that shit about how he "broke Triple H's arm again", either.
If you're looking for star ratings..
Santino VS Cesaro: 1.25 stars
Jericho VS Ziggler: 3.25 stars
KAAAANNNNNEEEEE VS Bryan: 2.25 stars
Miz VS Mysterio: 2.25 stars
Sheamus VS ADR: 2.25 stars
Kofi & Truth VS PTP: 1.25 stars
Punk VS Cena VS Show: 1.75 stars
HHH VS Lesnar: 2.25 stars
Again, when the opening match of the pay-per-view is the best match of the night, there are some problems. The rest of the show.. man.. it was like watching a commercial-free episode of Raw. Half the matches were under ten minutes in length, while the World and WWE Title matches were just barely over ten minutes. For the sake of reference, the last time WWE had a 60-minute Iron Man Match (John Cena VS Randy Orton at Bragging Rights 2009), there were still three other matches on the card that went ten-plus minutes (I'm cheating a bit, as The Undertaker VS Rey Mysterio VS CM Punk VS Batista went 9:55). The longest match at SummerSlam? Triple H VS Brock Lesnar, at 18:45. We have episodes of Raw that feature as many matches that went ten-plus minutes as SummerSlam did. That can't happen in the future. At all. Especially if the company continues expecting people to pay for these things.
To those asking if it's worth checking out, I say that you shouldn't clear room on your schedule to watch it. If you have some free time, go ahead and download the show. If you're one of those anti-download people, buy the DVD when it comes out. No way would I recommend spending more than $15-$20 on the show.
The HiPE Playlist: "What I Got" by Sublime.. "Wrong Way" by Sublime.. "Same In The End" by Sublime.. "Santeria" by Sublime.. "Seed" by Sublime.. "Jailhouse" by Sublime.. "Pawn Shop" by Sublime.. "Burritos" by Sublime.. "Caress Me Down" by Sublime.. "Doin Time" by Sublime