Quite the odd entry topic today, but that's what the challenge has given me, so son of a bitch, that's what I'm going to be covering today. I'm a man of the people.
There are so many duos up for nomination here. Even before "bromance" was an actual term that existed, used by douchebags the world over, wrestlers were friends on-screen. I had a bit of a debate with myself on whether or not I should play it serious for this one. For example, if I chose, say, Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmasta Sexay, it wouldn't exactly be "playing it serious", but if I chose, say, Road Warrior Hawk and Road Warrior Animal, it would be much more serious. I could have really gone in the opposite direction and said Billy and Chuck, but I didn't want to write an entire entry about them, so I avoided that route. In the end, I just decided to go with my favorite, period, regardless of how "serious" it was.
I'm going to go with a more current "bromance". Well, "current" as in "they didn't get famous in the 1980s", but only one of these two is still wrestling, while the other retired not too long ago. We've seen these two team together. We've seen them feud with each other. We've seen them be funny. We've seen them in some very emotional times. We've seen their journey, from being real-life friends, growing up together and sharing the dream to become pro wrestlers, to both eventually reaching the top of the business as World Champions. We've even seen then portray brothers for several years, until they were suddenly billed as being best friends, with no mention of the sibling billing again.
As you probably should have been able to figure out by the clues I gave, I'm going with Edge & Christian here. This choice might come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, though, because I haven't always had positive things to say about Edge. Well, more of that had to do with the way he was booked, and not about the man himself.. even his biggest fans would have to admit he was booked to be a "transitional champion", and that his WWE/World Title reigns weren't all that lengthy. He had four WWE Title reigns, lasing a total of 139 days (average of 34.75 days per reign). He had seven World Title reigns, lasting a total of 409 days (average of 58.43 days per reign). That's 11 total reigns, lasting 548 days, for a final average of 49.82 days per reign. That's not very good at all. However, not only is that getting ahead of my next column, which should be posted later today (my pace is unlike anything LoP has ever seen before), but it also has nothing to do with this column.
It really didn't matter what was going on.. when Edge and Christian were together, I was going to be entertained. Whether it was their time in The Brood with Gangrel, or their tag team days that reeked of awesomeness, or their rises through the ranks as solo workers.. there was always entertainment involved. You could always tell that they were having the times of their lives doing what they did. That's always obvious when you have wrestlers that grew up as fans of the business. That's always obvious when you have wrestlers that grew up together. When you combine the two, the chemistry is real, and you can feel it, even watching at home.
One of my favorite moments involving the two was something relatively small, but it just really sticks out in my mind, because the real emotion transcended anything else. It was when Christian defeated Alberto Del Rrrrrio to win his first World Title at Extreme Rules 2011, with Edge there at ringside. The most memorable part, to me, is when the camera cut to Edge before Christian had even reached the top of the ladder to win the match. The look on Edge's face had such a mixture of happiness, relief and satisfaction. At that particular moment, frozen in time, he wasn't Edge, watching Christian win the World Title. He was Adam Copeland, watching his best friend, Jason Reso, achieve a dream that he had been fighting over two decades for. To flip that around, you could see much of the same emotion from Christian when he inducted Edge into the WWE Hall Of Fame. During the induction speech, you could almost see, hear and feel it change from Christian inducting Edge to Jason inducting Adam. They had come so far, from boyhood dreams to reaching the very pinnacle of the sport they loved for so long, and I'm sure we're going to see more of the same when we get to see Adam induct Jason into the WWE Hall Of Fame at some point down the road, probably within the next five years or so.
Five-second poses for the benefit of those with flash photography. Kazoos. Mini-excursions to TNA. Live sex shows. Bloodbaths. Tag Team Champions. Midcard Champions. World Champions. Heel. Face. Tweener. Through it all, both together and on their own, Edge and Christian have continued to entertain wrestling fans across the world for the last 14 years, which is an incredible run, and I have to give them all the credit in the world for taking the ball and running with it for so long.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen.. Edge and Christian rule! *plays Edge's theme song on a kazoo*
The HiPE Playlist: "Back The Fuck Up" by Slaughterhouse.. "Weight Scale" by Slaughterhouse.. "On The House" by Slaughterhouse.. "Sucka MCs" by Slaughterhouse & Freeway.. "All On Me" by Slaughterhouse.. "See Dead People" by Slaughterhouse.. "Juggernauts" by Slaughterhouse.. "Coming Home" by Slaughterhouse.. "Gone" by Slaughterhouse & K-Young.. "Truth or Truth, Part 1" by Slaughterhouse
2. Day 22
Day 22 - Favorite Era In Wrestling
I can imagine that just about everyone would immediately jump up and say the Attitude Era gets the nod here. Whether you grew up during the era, or have gone back and watched it in the years since, it gets a lot of hype (not to be confused with HIPE, of course) and publicity for everything that went on during those years.
I grew up during the Attitude Era. I was just reaching high school when all of that began, so I was in the prime target demographic that the WWF was trying to reach with The Rock's rhymes about poontang pie, Degeneration X's sophomoric humor, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's foul language and one-fingered salutes, and supporting roles by the likes of Val Venis, Goldust and The Godfather. I'll be the first to admit that I absolutely loved those years when I was growing up. I had a blast tuning in to Raw (and Nitro, if I'm being honest) every single Monday night. I loved the characters. I loved the storylines. I loved the non-stop action. I loved the scantily clad women everywhere. They were fun times, without question.
Then, I started to get older, and my enjoyment shifted more from characters and crazy antics to the actual in-ring work. That's the exact reason why I grew out of my love for the Attitude Era. When you go back and look at that time, the in-ring action was seriously lacking. Writers were so busy with giving us as many storylines as they could every week that there wasn't much time for the actual wrestling. There were times when you could watch an episode of Raw and see five, six, seven, eight-plus matches on a show, but none of them went over five minutes, including the main event. Everything was just so fast-paced, and that caused the action to dip. I could still go back and watch DVD sets about that time, but I'd only watch for the documentary portions, and not the included matches, except one or two rare occasions. That goes for just about all wrestling from that time, not just the WWF's product. I loved watching late-night episodes of ECW at the time, back when it aired here on ESPN2 at some ungodly time like 1am on a Saturday or something. ECW was unlike anything I had ever seen at the time, and it stood out so much, but now, like the Attitude Era, I can't really sit and watch it anymore. It doesn't hold up. It doesn't stand the test of time.
My favorite "era" isn't even really an era at all. It isn't even just one, because I'm going with a tie between two choices. Two different time frames. Two different companies. The first choice I'm going with is NWA/WCW from 1989 to 1991, and the second choice is WWF from 2000 to 2002.
I've made no secret about just how much I loved 1989 as a year for wrestling. The NWA was on fire with an all-time classic trilogy between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat, but the likes of Terry Funk, Sting and The Great Muta were also running wild at the time. The WWF, on the other hand, started the year off by having Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage split up as a team and begin feuding with each other, and I've already mentioned how much I loved that storyline. That's just the main event scenes, ladies and gentlemen. That's not even counting the midcards and the tag scenes, but it's enough to be memorable. NWA/WCW would continue on with the success of Flair and Sting, but also with the Dangerous Alliance starting up, as well as some nice tag team action, as the Steiners burst onto the scene during that time. Yes, early-90s WCW saw some.. questionable.. wrestlers and ideas (Chamber Of Horrors, anyone?), but even with that said, you could watch any pay-per-view or Clash Of The Champions event from 1990 or 1991 and still see a lot of solid in-ring action, especially on the undercard, which would carry the entire show time and time again.
The WWF product from 2000 to 2002.. man.. just stacked. Out of the Attitude Era, there were still a lot of the key players from that time, as Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and The Undertaker were still atop the company, but new names like Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho were also finding their way to the top of the proverbial totem pole, while the tag team division was absolutely on fire because of the Dudley Boyz, the Hardy Boys, and Edge & Christian. The main event scene was off-the-charts loaded, to the point that every single pay-per-view at the time could have realistically had a double, triple or even quadruple main event. The tag division, as I mentioned, was electric, as the world wanted to see more tables, ladders and chairs (oh, my). The midcard scene was growing on a near monthly basis, as we got to see the likes of Eddie Guerrero, William Regal, Lance Storm, Dean Malenko and so on ply their craft. Big Show and KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE were younger, quicker, and more athletic. Even the women's scene was as popular as it will probably ever be in mainstream wrestling, with Chyna, Trish Stratus and Lita getting crowd pops that put many of the male roster members' pops to shame. From top to bottom, the WWF really could do no wrong at the time, and it was amazing to sit back and watch, as a wrestling fan that was phasing from the Attitude Era to, as I said, enjoying more of the actual wrestling aspect of the business.
NWA/WCW from 1989 to 1991 was what really got my love for wrestling kick started, as I was starting to get a bit older and could actually understand more of what was going on. WWF from 2000 to 2002 was what helped to redefine my love for wrestling, and actually helped to mold the fan that I am to this very day. I couldn't pick or choose between the two, so I just had to go with the tie. I will forever love and cherish both "eras", and will continue to go back and watch matches and promos from those years at random times when I get bored of the current product.
The HiPE Playlist: "Our House" by Slaughterhouse, Eminem & Skylar Grey.. "Coffin" by Slaughterhouse & Busta Rhymes.. "Hammer Dance" by Slaughterhouse.. "My Life" by Slaughterhouse & Cee-Lo Green.. "Flip A Bird" by Slaughterhouse.. "Rescue Me" by Slaughterhouse & Skylar Grey.. "Goodbye" by Slaughterhouse.. "Park It Sideways" by Slaughterhouse.. "Our Way" by Slaughterhouse.. "Place To Be" by Slaughterhouse & B.o.B.
3. Day 23
Day 23 - Most Improved Wrestler
This is one of those topics that would probably see a large number of people nominated, depending on the criteria of the person making the picks. Personally, I'm not just looking at in-ring ability for this entry. Yes, it's important if I feel you have improved your in-ring ability from previous months/years, but there's more to it than just that. Have your mic skills improved? Has your placement in whatever company you're wrestling for improved? For example, if Wrestler A only appears on Superstars every week, but has gotten a lot better in the ring, how much does it truly matter if they're still on Superstars? There's no upwards movement there. However, if Wrestler A was on Superstars for a while, improved, and is now wrestling on Raw and/or Smackdown regularly, that means people have taken notice, both within the company and in the fan base.
I'm looking at people that are improving in every way. I want them to be better in every aspect when you compare them today VS what they were doing a few months ago. I looked at a few names, but in the end, they didn't make the final cut, for one reason or another..
- Damien Sandow, who went from boring and unwatchable in FCW to being one of the better treats on WWE television every week
- Darren Young, who went from being nothing more than "Black Cena" to having to carry a tag team on his back
- Heath Slater, who went from being nothing to being nothing that sold a lot better and could make people laugh at his misfortunes
- Mark Henry, who finally figured out how to wrestle like a 400-pound monster after 16 years of trying
- Sin Cara, who botches less than he used to
- Layla, who returned from her knee injury looking like a completely different wrestler.. for a while
- Christopher Daniels, who went from talented worker to talented worker that entertained people
I think Sandow would be a stronger contender for this if he actually wrestled more, and 85% of his WWE appearances aren't just minute-long squash matches, refusals to wrestle, and segments. Young has a chance to be a stronger contender if he gets to cut promos, or talk more in backstage segments, which could be a possibility now that Abraham Washington is no longer his manager. Slater is in a "wait and see" stage, because he's pretty much back to where he was again before he started entertaining people with the "getting destroyed by random returning legends" gimmick. Henry would have been a shoo-in had this taken place months ago, but now, with his career in doubt after his most recent injury, I couldn't go with him here. Sin Cara still isn't in a position to cut any sort of promo, so his improvement has been purely one-dimensional. Layla, as I mentioned above, looked like a different wrestler for a while, but now, seems to be regressing quickly, as if she's either still injured or has re-injured herself. Daniels has always had that sense of humor, but just hasn't always had the gimmick that allowed him to show it off, so, technically, he hasn't done much improving.
In the end, I had to go with someone that I've already written about a lot in the last couple of months. While I do apologize for that, I don't at the same time, because I keep getting reasons to write about this person, and it isn't my fault that multiple topics in this 30-Day Challenge call for this person to be mentioned. I'm going to go ahead and say Jessicka Havok is the most improved wrestler out there right now.
Of course, that isn't to say she went from awful to great. I'm just looking at it from my own criteria. If you're talking about someone that has improved their standing, she's right at the top of the list, as she has become one of the most talked-about names on the indy wrestling scene, male or female, over the last few months. She is the top champion of one of the biggest women's wrestling promotions on the planet (WSU), after a steady rise from the bottom to the top of the promotion. She is branching out, appearing for more promotions on a regular basis, placing her on even more iPPVs and getting more eyeballs to see her and her matches. She seems to get more confident with every promo I see her cut, even if it isn't a real promo and is just a hype (again, not to be confused with HIPE) video posted on YouTube or something. She even seems to be getting more and more confident in the ring, taking more control and really coming into her own as the dangerous "psycho" heel.
She's going to make quite the name for herself, but this takes me back to my original column about her, and how she isn't going to play the politics game or the catty bullshit that usually comes along with pro wrestling on the mainstream level. She's also incredibly proud of what she does, and wants it to be taken seriously, which isn't exactly something WWE (and TNA, to a lesser extent) is known for doing with their women. Normally, when someone makes a name for themselves on the indy scene, the discussion about how WWE or TNA should sign them begins, but it's slightly different in this situation. She can make as big a name for herself as she wants, but if she's set on helping to raise the bar for where she currently is, and if she sticks to her guns about not wanting to be seen as a joke, then people can discuss her moving to WWE or TNA all they want, but it won't happen. I like that, though. I respect the hell out of someone that takes that much pride in what they do for a living, and isn't always out to just try and make as much money as possible. I wish all wrestlers, mainstream or independent, had those same values.
If I were putting a wrestling promotion (or even just a wrestling show) together, Jessicka Havok is one of the first people I'd come to about participating. With her skills, and with her passion for the business, that's precisely the type of person I'd want in the locker room, and I think she'd be a valuable asset to help people pay attention to the promotion/show. Speaking of me running my own wrestling promotion/show, I might have some more information on that at some point in the next few months, and I'd like you, my wonderful readers, to be a part of it. That's all I'll say for the time being, because there are still a bunch of things that I need to get squared away before the ball can really start moving.
One thing, quickly, before I get out of here.. look back at the list of names I mentioned earlier. Don't be surprised if there's a Darren Young bandwagon building within the IWC over the next few months. I'm not saying he'll be viewed as Mitsuharu Misawa, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Kenta Kobashi and Dean Malenko all rolled into one, but I am saying that he's starting to put the pieces into the puzzle, and things seem to be coming together for him. I would like to see him get more of a chance to shine, either as a singles worker or with a tag team partner that he wouldn't have to completely carry, but for the time being, he continues to rise, so watch out for him.
The HiPE Playlist: "Every Little Thing I Do" by Soul For Real.. "Anytime" by Brian McKnight.. "If You've Ever Been In Love" by Intrigue.. "Baby I'm Yours" by Shai.. "Finding My Way Back" by Jaheim.. "I Need Love" by Lloyd & The Dream.. "Please Don't Go" by Tank.. "Never Felt This Way" by Brian McKnight.. "Ordinary People" by John Legend.. "Here I Stand" by Usher
4. Day 24
Day 24 - Most Shocking Moment
Like in a previous entry, I'm going to automatically disqualify anything to do with death. Yes, we almost expect wrestlers to die early, which is a terribly sad thing to have to say, but it was still shocking to find out that the likes of Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit died when they did. Everything else, though, is fair game.
As always, let's look at some moments that almost made the cut, but just missed out..
- Vince McMahon purchasing WCW and appearing on Nitro
- Brock Lesnar's Shooting Star Press at WrestleMania 19
- John Cena's surprise return at the 2008 Royal Rumble
- The Undertaker throwing Mankind from the roof of Hell In A Cell, and later, through the roof
- The Nexus making their debut
- Bobby Heenan bringing the WCW Title out on WWF television, announcing that Ric Flair might be on his way to the WWF
- The beginning of the nWo, from Scott Hall's arrival on Nitro to Hulk Hogan turning heel at Bash At The Beach
- Montreal Screwjob
- Rick Rude appearing on Raw & Nitro on the same night, thanks to contracts running out and shows airing on tape delay
- The Kat bares all on live pay-per-view
All of those moments were very shocking in their own right, and the list went on and on. I think I came up with a good 30 some-odd moments originally before being able to narrow it down a bit. I was thinking of doing the entire column on The Kat showing her bare breasts on pay-per-view, but the teenage Hustle would have made himself known again, and I would've been too distracted, probably ending the column 100 words in so that I could go and.. think.. about.. life. In the end, though, I went with a moment that was both shocking and one of the best "fuck you" revenge moments in the history of the wrestling business.
Vince McMahon hugging Eric Bischoff live on television, after Bischoff was brought out to be the new Raw General Manager, has to be my choice here.
It's a moment that nobody saw coming. After the Monday Night War, with Bischoff playing dirty pool on a regular basis in an attempt to win the war and to run the WWF out of business, nobody expected to see McMahon want to be in the same room with the guy for anything short of beating him within an inch of his life. It's probably why nobody was expecting Bischoff to be named as the new Raw GM in 2002. We knew that Vince was going to announce the new GM, but when he mentioned Bischoff's name, jaws all around the world dropped in unison. Personally, I could not believe that Bischoff was standing there, and then, to make things even more shocking, both men hugged. Vince McMahon. Eric Bischoff. Hugging. On commentary, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler sold the shock well, with Lawler mentioning how he sat next to McMahon on commentary every Monday night during the Monday Night War and how he could see it on Vince's face that he wanted to kill Bischoff. If you've seen any interviews with various wrestlers since then, they would have all said the same thing.. just how stunned they were to see Bischoff backstage at Raw that night, and how uneasy everyone was. Nobody could know how things were going to work out. Maybe Vince was trying to kill Bischoff, and he just needed him in the vicinity to do it.
The Bischoff Experiment worked out better than most people thought it would, to be perfectly honest. I think he was one of the better General Managers that the company has ever had, which says equal parts about him and about the other GMs. It just went well, lasting over three years before Bischoff was "fired" on television, in an event that had to give an insane level of joy and satisfaction to Vince, who got to throw Bischoff into the back of a garbage truck. Let's be real, though.. it didn't matter if his run as Raw GM was all-time good or all-time bad. The fact that he was even there, to begin with, is what will always stand out. Shocking moment, indeed.
The HiPE Playlist: "Brain Stew" by Green Day.. "Longview" by Green Day.. "Welcome To Paradise" by Green Day.. "Pulling Teeth" by Green Day.. "Basket Case" by Green Day.. "When I Come Around" by Green Day.. "Nice Guys Finish Last" by Green Day.. "Hitchin A Ride" by Green Day.. "Redundant" by Green Day.. "Minority" by Green Day
5. Day 25
Day 25 - Favorite Commentator/Announcer
I'm sure there will be others involved if some of you put this entry together, but for me, it only came down to three people..
- Gordon Solie
- Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
- Jim Ross
No real surprises there.
At first, I thought about going with a three-way tie and just giving all of them the nod officially, but I didn't want to go with that because I've already had ties during this challenge, so I had to begin the process of narrowing three down to one.
Gordon Solie is, perhaps, the most technically sound and vocally captivating announcer the wrestling business has ever seen, and I don't think there's really any arguing that. His biggest negative was that he never quite the most emotional announcer ever. If you listened to his commentary, he sounded the same when a face won a match as he did when a heel won a match. If someone turned face, he sounded the same as if someone turned heel. At the time, nobody really viewed it as a problem. It was only in later years, when wrestling announcers became more over-the-top and emotional, that people could go back and look at Solie's work in a slightly different light. Like I said, he's technically sound and could always paint a vivid picture in your mind with his words, but I have definitely grown to enjoy more enthusiasm with my wrestling commentary. As much as it pained me, I had to eliminate Solie from contention here.
I've declared my love for Bobby Heenan's work on several times through the years. The business has never seen anyone with his gift of comedic timing. I've been listening to this guy's commentary for 25 years, both live and in "retro" mode, but it never fails to make me laugh when he delivers his one-liners and has his back-and-forth banter with people like Gorilla Monsoon. Something else that sets him apart on this list is the fact that he's a color commentator, while Solie and Ross are play-by-play guys. That means he doesn't get anywhere near enough time to talk as they do. I can't punish him for that, of course, since that isn't his doing, but the more I thought about it, the more I couldn't give him the nod here. I just couldn't.
The reason I couldn't is because of how much Jim Ross has meant to me and my wrestling fandom through the years. There are hundreds.. maybe even thousands.. of moments in time that were elevated because of JR's commentary. Below average moments made into average moments. Average moments made into above average moments. Above average moments made into great moments. Great moments made into legendary moments. Just think about it, ladies and gentlemen. Think about the matches that you've watched with Jim Ross on commentary. Think of his calls. The enthusiasm. The energy. For example..
- There isn't a wrestling commentator in the history of the business that could have called The Undertaker VS Mankind in Hell In A Cell better. From the "GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! THEY'VE KILLED HIM!" after Mankind was sent flying from the roof to the highlight reel-worthy "GOD AS MY WITNESS, HE IS BROKEN IN HALF!" to the incredulous "He wants to go back up?!?" as Mankind began climbing the Cell again to the "WILL SOMEBODY STOP THE DAMN MATCH?!? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" after Mankind was sent through the roof of the Cell.. he was just perfect with the call that night. The next time you watch the match, watch it on mute and see how everything feels for you. See how much is missing, even though you can still see everything happen before you.
- Pretty much everything involving "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Austin was on top of the business during the Attitude Era, and was doing memorable things on a weekly basis, but it was JR's commentary that helped push all of it over the top. One of my favorite moments was during the WCW Invasion storyline, when Austin had turned heel but was needed by Team WWF, who was seriously outnumbered by the Alliance. Vince McMahon had tried to get the "old" Steve Austin back, but to no avail. One week, while Team WWF was getting beaten down in the ring, a black pick-up truck pulled up outside. Austin got out and began putting the hurt on Alliance members in the backstage area, but when he came out to the arena.. man.. electric. Watch the video, and pay attention to when the glass shatters to begin Austin's entrance music. The glass shattering, the crowd going nuts, Austin walking down the ramp and jaw-jacking, and Jim Ross going banana pudding over the entire thing.. I get goosebumps watching it to this day. Here's the video..
One thing you could always say about JR is that his emotion always seemed genuine. On the flip side of that, let's use Michael Cole as an example. WrestleMania 22.. Kurt Angle VS Randy Orton VS Rey Mysterio in a Triple Threat Match for the World Title. When Rey won the match, winning his first World Title in the process, Cole's "OH MY! MYSTERIO WINS THE TITLE!" sounds like one of the most forced, contrived things in wrestling history. Just listen to the way he puts the breaks in the sentence. It comes across as "OH MY! MYSTERIO! WINS! THE TITLE!". It sounds like someone has grabbed him by the shoulders and is violently shaking the shit out of him as he makes the call. He just can't sell the emotion of a moment like Jim Ross can.
I know that JR gets a lot of flack for some of his work in recent years, as he seems to make more mistakes involving the names of moves and things like that, but it's a sad statement that he's still the best announcer in wrestling to sell a big-time moment to those listening at home. I'd love it if WWE had JR call more matches these days, even if it's just the main event of every pay-per-view, to go along with the final episode of Raw before those pay-per-views, to make everything seem more important. There's a reason that we always see news reports about why so-and-so wrestler wants JR to call such-and-such match of theirs all the time.
It's going to be almost impossible for someone to knock JR from the top of my list here. If there's someone that will do it, that person either hasn't been born yet or hasn't gotten into the business that, that's for sure.
The HiPE Playlist: "Making Memories Of Us" by Keith Urban.. "What Hurts The Most" by Rascal Flatts.. "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum.. "Don't Take The Girl" by Tim McGraw.. "Just To See You Smile" by Tim McGraw.. "Carrying Your Love With Me" by George Strait.. "I Cross My Heart" by George Strait.. "Love Without End, Amen" by George Strait.. "Little Rock" by Collin Raye.. "Rope The Moon" by John Michael Montgomery
6. Day 26
Day 26 - Dream Match
Because the challenge didn't specify, I took it upon myself to split this up into two sections.. my Dream Match of those that are alive and currently involved in the wrestling business, and my Dream Match when I open the doors to those that are retired or deceased. Just seems like it would make sense that way. First up, the current wrestlers.
One of my biggest Dream Match options heading into 2012 was John Cena VS Daniel Bryan. I know they've faced each other before, back when Cena was brand new on the WWE scene and Bryan was still Bryan Danielson, but it just says Dream Match, not never before seen Dream Match. Well, we got to see them face each other recently, and it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if we saw them face off again before the year is over. The same goes for CM Punk VS Daniel Bryan, really. I wanted to see them square off as members of the WWE roster, and we've certainly seen them have some really good matches this year.
As far as WWE is concerned, there's only one real Dream Match I have left, but it comes with a major catch. The match is John Cena VS The Undertaker, but, of course, I only want to see it happen at WrestleMania. We've seen them in matches on several occasions in the past, but never on that particular stage. With Taker running out of time before he retires (he may already have retired, for all we know), the company is also running out of time to make it happen. It would be a huge lost opportunity if Taker retires before he can face Cena at WrestleMania.
With all of that, I had to branch out a bit. Once I threw TNA in the mix, my Dream Match became clear. In a move that may surprise some people, I'm actually going to go with a tag team match. It's a match that would be an absolute classic, based on the people participating in the match. I'm going to go with CM Punk & Daniel Bryan VS Austin Aries & Samoa Joe. If you really wanted to be froggy, you could turn it into a six-man tag, inserting John Cena to the WWE team and AJ Styles to the TNA team. Yeah, I said it.. a match involving some of the biggest "indy darlings" of all-time, as well as John Cena. If you still don't think Cena can perform his ass off in big-time matches, then I'm not going to keep waiting around for you while you continue hanging out in 2006.
Just focusing on the tag match, though.. having Punk, Bryan, Aries and Joe in a match together would be fantastic. Right off the bat, there wouldn't be any sort of problem with in-ring chemistry. We all know that much. Right now, though, the match would be even better, if you ask me. Punk is the WWE Champion, Bryan is always getting pushed to the main event, Aries is the TNA Champion and Joe is in the middle of his best push in years. All four men would be highly motivated, and with the "brand loyalty" aspect, that only ups the stakes even more. I realize opinions are just that.. opinions.. but if you don't think Punk & Bryan VS Aries & Joe would be a good match, then you're wrong. Flat out. I'm sorry to say it, but it's true.
If we're talking about an all-time Dream Match, involving those that are retired or deceased, I think I'm going to go with someone that was also involved in my first Dream Match here. My pick here is Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat (1989) VS "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson (2005). One of my original choices was Ric Flair VS Bryan Danielson, just because it would be a bigger "draw", but as far as match quality is concerned, I think Steamboat and Danielson match up better and would be more entertaining together. If you were to put 1989 Steamboat and 2005 Danielson in a ring together, you'd get a four-star match every single time, even if both men are struggling with the flu and are going through injuries to different parts of their bodies. If they're both healthy, then that four-star rating goes up.. and up.. and up. Both men, with their technical ability, high-flying skills and quickness, would blend really well against each other. It would also provide Steamboat to have a unique opportunity to be bigger and stronger than his opponent. At a billed height of 5'10" and 230 pounds, he's usually smaller than his opponents, but with Danielson being billed at 5'10" and 190 pounds at the time, Steamboat would get the advantage in that aspect. That's a big thing to me. If you've noticed in previous columns, I've mentioned it on several occasions, when wrestlers on the smaller side would face someone even smaller like Rey Mysterio or Evan Bourne. It would add a different layer to the match, with Steamboat getting to use power that he wouldn't normally get to use. You mean to tell me I could watch 1989 Ricky Steamboat wrestle and see him do different things that I wouldn't get to normally see him do? Sign me up, and put me down for two.
I'm already excited at the thought of these matches. Looks like I know what I'll be downloading when WWE '13 comes out. I need to make these matches happen, some how some way.
The HiPE Playlist: "High Five" by Rittz.. "Nowhere To Run" by Rittz.. "Fulla Shit" by Rittz, Big K.R.I.T. & Yelawolf.. "Sleep At Night" by Rittz & Yelawolf.. "White Jesus" by Rittz.. "Crazy" by Rittz.. "Box Chevy, Part 3" by Yelawolf & Rittz.. "Growin Up In The Gutter" by Yelawolf & Rittz.. "Bloody Murdah" by Rittz & Tech N9ne.. "Billion Bucks" by Jarren Benton & Rittz
7. Day 27
Day 27 - A Wrestler You Want To See More Of
Can I just go with Jessicka Havok here? I'd like to see more of her. Giggity.
Alright, just to be fair, I'll go with someone else for this entry. I was originally going to go with Drew McIntyre, but I realized something. While I'm a fan of the guy and his in-ring work, the biggest part of me wanting to see more of him is his entrance music. If I never saw Drew on television again, but got to hear "Broken Dreams" on WWE programming on even a semi-regular basis, I wouldn't complain at all. Sorry, Drew, but it's the truth.
I had to go with someone that is much older than Drew Mac. He's a full 17 years older, as a matter of fact. He's someone that hasn't been a regular in-ring performer in a couple years. Even with all of that seemingly working against him, he remains one of the best technical wrestlers on the planet today. I really don't need to get too much into this, because I've already mentioned this man during the 30 Day Challenge, naming him as my choice for the most underrated wrestler of all-time.
In case you have a short-term memory, I'm referring to William Regal.
It absolutely pains me that Regal has never really had the chance to shine during his time with WWE. As I mentioned the last time, I know that he derailed some of his own momentum by violating the Wellness Policy for the second time a month after winning King Of The Ring, but it can be argued that nobody on the WWE roster brings a skill set to the table like Regal does. He has been blessed with natural, God-given abilities that not a lot of other people seem to be able to master, like his facial expressions and how he can get arenas full of people to react to him without even having to say a word, whether he's a face or a heel. If you add in his promo skills and his technical ability, he has everything needed to be a top-level name in the wrestling business, even at this advanced age.
It's not like it would be especially difficult to get him some of that precious spotlight again. Regal had a hand in training CM Punk, and if Punk is going to continue along this road of being something of a tweener, or even a full-fledged heel, it wouldn't take the greatest booker that ever lived to put Regal on television, coming up to Punk in a backstage segment on Raw or something. Regal could tell Punk that he's changed, and that he isn't the same man that he was when he was being trained and when he was cutting his teeth on the indy scene. Punk, on his whole "respect" trip, would then get upset at Regal for barging into his locker room and trying to get his face on television again. Regal could talk about how he used to beat respect into Punk while he trained him. Punk challenges Regal to do it again, and we have ourselves a one-on-one match for that show's main event (or the next week's main event if you want to build up to it a little bit more). Give them 15-20 minutes to work with, and let them deliver an old-school wrestling classic that we, as fans in 2012, just don't get to see very often anymore. Punk, of course, would get the win, but it would be another chance to let the WWE Universe see what Regal could do. Based on the crowd reaction and maybe even the rating, the company could decide if they want to have Regal wrestle again after that. Based on Regal's tweets, he would certainly like to have another run of some sort, but that's obviously not in his hands. I think the one match with Punk would be enough to warrant and justify another regular stretch of matches for Regal. Because some of you will wonder, I'm not talking about making him a main eventer. I'm not talking about giving him a midcard title, or even a shot at tag titles. Just a stretch where Regal can wrestle on Raw for a couple months, and maybe even make a pay-per-view appearance or two.. maybe a lengthy stay in the Royal Rumble or something.. before he can officially retire.
I'm not out of line in asking for any of that, am I?
The HiPE Playlist: "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans & 112.. "Nobody" by Keith Sweat & Athena Cage.. "Barely Breathing" by Duncan Sheik.. "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" by Az Yet.. "Return Of The Mack" by Mark Morrison.. "I Belong To You" by Rome.. "All For You" by Sister Hazel.. "Cupid" by 112.. "Up Jumps Da Boogie" by Timbaland, Magoo, Missy Elliott & Aaliyah.. "Butta Love" by Next
8. Day 28
Day 28 - Favorite Rivalry
Before I even begin, I know a lot of you are wondering what happened to my Raw Running Diary. Well, Raw literally put me to sleep last night, and I certainly didn't want to sit through it again for a column. I don't think I want to keep doing Running Diaries for Raw, because the shows are an absolute chore to sit through. Three hours just doesn't make any sense. I'll just let Al Laiman handle the Raw "review" columns. He and I were writing similar things, anyway, and since he could get his posted earlier than I could, the "gig" is his now. If and when WWE gets their act together, and Raw becomes worth watching on a regular basis, and not just once every few months, I'll think about bringing the RRD back. We'll see. Anyway, let's get on with today's entry..
I could have gone in a few different directions for this one, really. I have rivalries that I love because of the matches they delivered. I have rivalries that I love because of the moments they delivered. I have rivalries that I love because of their historical importance.
For example, if I wanted to go for something that delivered classic matches, Ric Flair VS Ricky Steamboat is certainly a great option, as well as Rey Mysterio VS Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit VS Kurt Angle, or Hardyz VS Dudleyz VS Edge & Christian. Great moments would probably give the nod to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin VS Vince McMahon. Historical importance would definitely end up being WWF VS WCW. I went back-and-forth on all of those rivalries, as well as other choices, but in the end, I went with a rivalry that delivered some really good matches, including one of my favorite matches of all-time, but the rivalry also delivered numerous electric moments, and when all is said and done, it will be viewed for its historical importance, as two of the greatest names in the history of the business went from up-and-coming midcarders to main eventing WrestleMania, all while feuding with each other. Holy shit, that was a long sentence.
My favorite rivalry is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin VS The Rock, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that it isn't even close. As I mentioned, it's a rivalry that gave wrestling fans everything they could possibly ask for. Some fans just want to watch entertaining matches, while other fans are more about those moments.. the promos and segments.. that tell a story. Austin VS Rock gave you both, and as I mentioned, there's plenty of historical importance in those two going from midcarders, feuding over the Intercontinental Title, to becoming, arguably, the two biggest names in the history of the business (as far as money is concerned), main eventing three WrestleManias against each other (keep in mind that WWE considers WrestleMania to have anywhere from two to four "main events" a year, no matter what match goes on last), which is unprecedented.
I've gone on record, multiple times, praising their match at WrestleMania 17. The match was great, the crowd and the atmosphere were insane, and it gave us a heel turn for Austin that led to some of the funniest moments in wrestling history. However, their matches at WrestleMania 15 and WrestleMania 19 were very fun, as well, with WM19 delivering a very emotional ending, as both men thought they would be competing in their final match that night, and Rock breaking character to talk to Austin in the middle of the ring, as tears began to well up in his eyes. It wasn't just WrestleMania, though. Those two were able to work magic whenever they faced each other, even in matches where it wasn't one-on-one. You could always count on Rock bringing the best out of Austin, and vice versa, and that's why they loved facing each other. It was that motivation, knowing that their opponent was going to come out with guns a blazing, so to speak, so they had to do the same, or they'd risk looking foolish.
You want moments? Alright..
- The Rock Concert in Sacramento, on the "go home" Raw before WrestleMania 19
- Singing together on Raw, with hits from Boston and Kenny Rogers being covered, until they did a duet for Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville"
- Austin tossing Rock's Intercontinental Title off a bridge in New Hampshire
- Rock sending Austin off a bridge in Detroit, Rock holding a funeral for Austin, which Austin crashed & ran Rock's car over with a monster truck
- Two words: Beer Bash
The list really goes on and on. For my money, no other rivalry in the history of wrestling delivered as much entertainment.. as much drama.. as much fun.. as much laughter.. as much enjoyment.. as many memories.. as Steve Austin VS The Rock delivered. Those two names will be forever linked, no matter what happens in the future of the business. No matter what highs are reached. No matter what lows are reached. When you think about rivalries in wrestling, Austin VS Rock is sure to be one of the first to come to your mind, and for good reason.
The HiPE Playlist: "Shorty" by The Product G&B.. "Maria Maria" by Santana & The Product G&B.. "Whatever" by Ideal.. "Get It On Tonite" by Montell Jordan.. "Incomplete" by Sisqo.. "No More" by Ruff Endz.. "Let's Get Married" by Jagged Edge.. "Let's Get Married (Remix)" by Jagged Edge & Rev Run.. "24/7" by Kevon Edmonds.. "Where I Wanna Be" by Donell Jones
9. Day 29
Day 29 - Favorite Wrestling Related Image
It isn't going to be much of an entry today. Just some brief words on a picture or two, but that's alright, because I have another column coming soon after this is posted, and that one will be longer than a week's worth of challenge entries all by itself. Let's get on with this..
Those two pictures pretty much say it all. Two pictures, seven-and-a-half years apart, but both showcasing the absolute pinnacle in IWC joy and happiness.
Nobody thought that Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero would stand atop WWE as the company's top two champions.. not when Vince McMahon was obsessed with wrestlers that were larger and stronger.. but it happened.
Nobody thought that CM Punk and Daniel Bryan would stand atop WWE as the company's top two champions.. not when Vince McMahon is obsessed with wrestlers that are larger-than-life and are more marketable as money makers.. but it happened.
There are some great parallels between the two situations. Benoit and Guerrero were great friends for years, coming up in the business together, before they ever made it to the "big time", and they heard that they were "too small" and "too boring" all along the way. Punk and Bryan were great friends for years, coming up in the business together, before they ever made it to the "big time", and they heard that they were "too small" and "too boring" all along the way. If you want an odd coincidence, Guerrero and Punk were both born in October, while Benoit and Bryan were both born in May.
When I look at both pictures, I'm very proud to be a wrestling fan, and a fan of all four wrestlers, in particular.
Of course, whenever I post the picture of Benoit and Guerrero, or even mention the moment at WrestleMania 20, it's inevitable that someone will mention what eventually happened to both men. Yes, Eddie passed away a year-and-a-half after that, while Chris died a year-and-a-half after that, but I'm not about to discuss Punk and Bryan being dead in a year or two. Besides, that's where the stories differ tremendously, anyway. Eddie's death was heart failure that was accelerated by his years of drug use, and Benoit.. well.. we know what he dealt with during his life. Punk, of course, is notoriously Straight Edge, and Bryan doesn't drink, smoke or do drugs, either. You would have to assume that their bodies and minds are in better shape because of it.
As sad as it is to think about Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero no longer being with us, that can't take away from the happiness that I felt during the moment captured in the picture. Even though Daniel Bryan lost the World Title and has yet to win a title again, that can't take away from the happiness that I felt during the moment captured in the picture.
That's why those are my favorite wrestling related images.
The HiPE Playlist: Wasn't typing for long enough to listen to anything other than "Juggernauts" by Slaughterhouse
10. Day 30
Day 30 - Why You Like Wrestling
I'm a loyal person. If you're loyal to me, then I will remain loyal to you, through all of the ups and downs in life. That's how I am, that's how I've been, and that's probably how I will always be.
I grew up with my grandparents, and I spent a lot of time by myself. That isn't a negative statement about them at all. They spent a lot of time working their asses off so that they could make life as easy as possible for me, but I was home alone a lot, and I would spend my time watching wrestling, whether it was WWF Prime Time Wrestling, WWF Superstars, WWF All-American Wrestling, NWA Main Event, World Championship Wrestling, WCW Saturday Night, and on and on.
Wrestling was there for me.
As I got even older, and my life began to get a little rocky.. some bad decisions put me in a lot of legal trouble, relatives passing away, issues in school.. but there was always wrestling. Always. No matter what problems I was having in my life, I could forget about them for a while and get lost in the world of pro wrestling.
When even more time went by, and both of my grandparents had passed away, sending my life into a ridiculous spiral, including even more legal trouble, things were so hectic, but there was always one constant in my life.. pro wrestling. I would be going through a whole bunch of bullshit during the week, but when Monday night rolled around, I could put that bullshit on the back burner for two hours and focus on something that I have loved for nearly my entire life.
Nearly 27 years. That's how long I've been watching and loving wrestling. As I said, it has always been there for me, and I have rewarded that loyalty by remaining loyal to it. Wrestling hasn't been perfect in those almost 27 years. The sport has frustrated the hell out of me time and time again. I didn't agree with countless booking decisions. I wasn't a fan of people that were pushed to the top. Things like the Katie Vick storyline made me ashamed to be a wrestling fan. I stuck through it all. Every single week, I was there, to watch whatever wrestling was on television. With the growth of the internet, I have been able to watch wrestling that I wouldn't be able to see on television. Stuff from the indy scene. Stuff from other countries. Stuff from before I was a fan. Stuff from before I was even born. All of that has only solidified my love for wrestling.
I'm a fan of everything about wrestling, if we want to go into specifics. The athleticism. The over-the-top nature of a lot of the characters. The fact that these people can beat the hell out of each other and (usually) avoid going to jail. The sex appeal (for the women.. *cough*.. of course). The drama. When all of it comes together, it can often mesh well, perfectly blending into exactly what wrestling has been referred to as for years.. a male soap opera.
Thank you, wrestling. Thank you for helping to babysit me when I was a kid. Thank you for taking my mind off of things more times than you should have. Thank you for giving me people to look up to. Thank you for the years of entertainment. Thank you for giving me something to write about and dedicate endless hours to, allowing me to reach thousands of people, who click links because they want to read my thoughts and opinions. Thank you. For everything.
This concludes the 30 Day Challenge. I just wanted to push myself, and to give everyone something to read on a daily basis, and I was successful on both counts. The Challenge isn't going away, though. When the new month begins, fellow MP columnist The Crow will be putting something new out every day, so check his answers for these entries, starting on September 1st.
The HiPE Playlist: Nothing today, because football is back!