Top 25 Rivalries DVD
I usually pass on any WWE DVD that isn’t a documentary of a superstar, because they tend to be nothing but highlight reels. But this DVD could have had some potential, and reminds me of an idea I remember sharing years ago. I believe it was before the news of the Hitman vs Shawn Michaels release, but it might have been the news of that DVD that spurned my idea. I really wish WWE would recap more feuds, from start to finish. Some wouldn’t deserve an entire DVD, while I think 25 of them shoved into a 3-4 disc collection would be a waste, much like the “Greatest Superstars of the 80s/90s/2000s” collections.
Consider how WWE will undoubtedly include Hogan vs Andre in this collection. It would most likely get 30 minutes TOPS in this format. And I don’t want just a half hour recap of such a monumental angle. Hogan vs Andre is easily a 90 minute production. Start with recapping their partnership. There’s no need to show an entire tag match, but definitely give a fair display of the history these men had before 1987.
Then cut to the Piper’s Pit segments where Andre turned. I don’t want the quick 20 second edits we see on the Wrestlemania III DVD for the match build up. I want to see the segments in full. Then, include the Mania 3 match, maybe in highlights only since that match is probably on 84 different WWE DVDs already. But don’t stop there, continue into the summer of 1987, and give a generous replay of the Survivor Series match, the Royal Rumble 88 contract signing, and The Main Event title match where Andre won. Continue with the Wrestlemania IV match, and the appearances they made in the finals between Savage and DiBiase. Obviously, follow up with how this became the Mega Powers vs Mega Bucks, and end it with the SummerSlam match.
How are you going to give this immense angle justice in only 30 minutes? It would be a shame to rush this, and that’s keeping in mind that none of the matches Hogan or Andre were in against each other were more than 2 stars in quality.
Consider how they would treat something like Austin vs Rock. I don’t think they should pass up on covering the 1997 match at In Your House: Degeneration X. Then of course the match at Mania XV, then X-7, and of course XXIII. And those matches should not be cut or edited to highlights only, they were all quality matches. And if that’s all they cover, that’s ignoring their involvement at the 98 Rumble match, the match on Raw after Survivor Series of the same year, the match at Backlash 99, Survivor Series 2001 to finish the WCW/ECW Invasion, and then Rock’s “Get the F out” promo when WWF turned to WWE. Can you justify cutting enough of this to bring it to only 30 minutes?
So, in my opinion not every angle in the top 25 deserves more than half an hour, but for the ones that do, it’s a major disservice. And not every angle included would the 3 discs of HBK vs Hitman. There needs to be some balance. Obviously it won’t be found on this release.
That being said, I’d like to highlight some feuds I would enjoy being recapped in some fashion. I might make this a regular thing, when I think of other feuds I’d like to see on a DVD someday from WWE.
Undertaker vs Mankind
When the Undertaker retires, and goes into the WWE Hall of Fame, I really think he should ask Mick Foley to give the induction speech. Whether or not Mark Calloway realizes this, he owes Mick his career.
Now, I am not Undertaker’s biggest fan, and feel he’s damaged more potential stars in angles than HHH has. Perhaps more than any other wrestler ever. But there’s no denying his impact on the world of wrestling. And that impact wouldn’t be nearly as important or impressive if it wasn’t for Mrs. Foley’s baby boy.
Consider what Undertaker was doing in the WWF before being attacked by Mankind in the spring 1996. Was there ANYTHING that gave the impression that this near-7 foot tall giant could work a match worthy of headlining a PPV? Maybe a match here or there against someone like Bret Hart, but in general, the Undertaker was booked as merely an attraction. He was sentenced to working with guys who were also just attractions in gimmick bouts like the Casket matches, against the likes of Kamala, Giant Gonzalez, and Yokozuna. Oh, and himself. Yeah…
My theory is that Vince McMahon planned on continuing this trend with Mankind. I think it’s an easy assumption to make, that Vince would look at Mick and not see a future WWF Title holder, nor a 5 star quality wrestler. But, he did have a history that made him perfect to work with Undertaker in more attraction matches. So, Vince put it together, not expecting what he eventually got out of it.
Mankind brought the best out of the Undertaker. 1996 is easily the first year Undertaker was looked at as a true worker. I still fondly remember the amazing sequence during their first match at King of the Ring 96 when Undertaker went completely nuts with a flurry of punches to Foley’s head in the corner. The crowd ate it up, because it was a side of the Undertaker we had never seen before. And it didn’t stop there. Vince tried to keep the gimmicks going, inventing the Boiler Room and Buried Alive matches to keep the feud going. Goldust was involved as well to shake things up, but the heart of the rivalry was that Mankind was the first opponent to really show weakness in the Undertaker. There was some great sports entertainment, and even better in ring action - Survivor Series 96 is a great event, with lots of help from the first Undertaker pinfall victory over Mankind on PPV. It bled into 1997 and involved other opponents that Undertaker took on, like the Executioner and Vader.
After In Your House: Revenge of the Taker, it looks like they had done the most they could with heel Mankind, and turned him face soon after. And it looked like these 2 would not cross paths again. Little did we know that their most memorable match had yet to take place.
When they were looking for a match to fill the card at King of the Ring 98, it felt like Vince was beating a dead horse with another chapter of Mankind vs Undertaker. No, they had never had a Hell in a Cell match, but it really felt like there was nothing else they could do. Mankind had the early advantage over Undertaker, but eventually the Deadman came back and won at IYH: Buried Alive, Survivor Series, and IYH: Return of the Taker. But they went for the Cell. And do I really need to recap that match?
This angle was huge for both men, and helped shape their futures in WWE. There’s no doubt Foley is heading into the Hall of Fame thanks to working with the Deadman, and proving to Mr. McMahon that both of these men are more than just a circus attraction. These guys could wrestle, and with other wrestlers. They might have been legends in a way before this feud, but this angle changed their legacy in many ways.
And to cover that in only 30 minutes wouldn’t be justice. This is worth a DVD on its own, and I’d buy it. It might be worth more after Undertaker retires, and can do interviews out of character again, but it’s still untapped material that could make lots of money if WWE set it up well. I am sure this will end up being in a future Undertaker DVD release, and only get 15 minutes of the entire collection. But there’s so much here that is worth re-watching.
Bret Hart vs Jerry Lawler
A different type of rivalry altogether.
Bret Hart is a legend today, but in 1992 when he won the WWF Title, he was a really nothing but a solid, yet bland, straight forward wrestler. He didn’t have any truly heated rivalries, and felt like a very different leader of the company after Hulk Hogan was head of the class for almost a decade. While Bret never became the bringer of emotional storylines we expect from guys like Cena, Hogan, and Shawn Michaels, he had never really been forced to face anyone during his singles career that pushed his buttons.
Then WWF brought in AWA legend Jerry Lawler. Used mostly as a color commentator when Bobby Heenan left the company, Lawler didn’t really get much heat at first. Then, he cemented his true villainous character under the Titan Towers umbrella, and attacked the Hitman as the true King of the WWF.
I will not pretend that every level of this feud was gold. In fact, most of it was putrid, with mostly forgettable matches. But it did so much for both men in terms of establishing their characters for the next few years. Hitman was a hero like he never was before. Consider that he didn’t really have a non-title feud with ANYONE before this point (even in tag action, it seemed to always revolve around the Tag Titles). This was the first time he was able to reach into his pink and black bag of tricks to one-up the cheap heel Lawler. And for the King, he did everything possible get booed out of every building he ever entered. And he had the added tool of working the broadcast booth to further his hatred for the Hitman. One of my favorite Lawler commentary moments was at Wrestlemania X when provided color for the Bret vs Owen match. His defense of Owen, all while dumping on everything Bret related, it made for a great aspect. Unlike listening to the Body or Heenan, Lawler’s taunting of the guys in the ring had some sort of in ring basis. And it lasted for years, as King continued to haunt the Hitman into 1995, and involving all sorts of henchmen, like Isaac Yankem, Hakushi, and Doink the Clown.
This is one of those cases where I don’t believe the angle deserves more than 15-30 minutes. I also don’t feel it’s worthy of beign included n the top 25. So why do I mention it? Because if this angle doesn’t deserve a top 25 spot but still could fit the time frame expected, then anything above this that does qualify for being on this DVD will be truly truncated.
Notes of Randomness
WWE Title Picture
Having the Rock vs Cena II, with Punk losing at the Rumble is indeed frustrating to many fans, but no one has hit the nail on the head yet. I think the issue is that while the Road to WrestleMania is now predictable, it's more that we also know what will happen after Mania. Not the exact details, but after Mania, Rock will be gone, and Punk will be back in the fold. And THAT's the rough part. He was not only in the mix of the WWE Title picture, but on top for over a year. Now? Pushed aside for the next 2 months, and then will be back into the thick of things. And why? A short term gain without (it seems) long term thought. Yes, there’s a rematch at the Chamber, but let’s face facts: unless the Mania WWE title match becomes a triple threat, we all know how this is going to go.
Rock vs Cena II
Anyone bitching about Rock winning the WWE title due to being part time is reaching and off-base. That's no more an issue than having Punk as WWE Champion and not main eventing. They will still sell shows and tickets by name power, and not the championship.
People bitching about the predictability of Rock vs Cena have a point of wanting something new, but that is impossible to do at all times. This match might not be my personal choice, but I'm sure if we were as "educated" as most of us currently are back in 1987, we wouldn't have been thrilled about the Hogan vs Andre rematches for the same reason. Or Rock vs Austin in 1997-2003. Or any other big rematches. They happen from time to time, and more often than not, they do good business, and help move the company forward. And let's face it: it was bound to happen. I wish it wasn't so soon (yes a year later is soon for a guy who's only around once in a while) but when Rock pinned John Cena last year, no one reading this should have been stupid enough to think "welp, that's it!"
Honestly, it comes down to them booking Mania with short term thinking, and we happen not to be the target audience for this storyline/angle. At least not yet. A heel turn for someone, or some change in the obvious plans would be nice. The match won't suck (I'm a die-hard Punk fan, but Cena had the better match with Rock) and even if it does, it's only 40 minutes on a 4 hour card. Mania will still have something for me (and you).
Yes, I'm looking for the silver lining. No, I'm not happy, and to my wrestling friends in real life, I'm telling them I don't want to talk about it because I'm quite bummed. It's not kayfabe, but rather my excitement for the next 2 months has been reduced DRASTICALLY. I won't quit watching, because there's still a lot of great stuff. But the main event on Raw until Mania seems to be a whole lot less exciting than I had anticipated. What's odd is I don't hate Rock or Cena. Nor do I hate Rock winning the WWE title, or ending Punk's reign of 434 days. Nor do I hate Cena winning the Rumble.
But the combination of it all is very unsatisfying.
It looks like they are going the sympathetic route and turning him face soon enough. And seeing him in the ring with Brodus Clay made me hope for a tag team between the 2. Here’s hoping.
Of all the NXT guys to bring up as a young upstart, they go with Bo? He won’t last. As has been mentioned several times, he’s receiving a very tired push that has never worked as far as I can remember. Maven, Barry Horowitz, blabeblahdablee..etc.
The problem won’t be Bo. I’m not a fan, but he’s honestly no worse than most NXT talent. The problem will be the follow through. Yes, crowds will get behind him for now, but eventually WWE will pull the plug too early. They could have done a lot more with Maven or Barry as well, but they gave up on using them in a beneficial manner. I can’t say whether it was right or wrong, because they needed to put their attention elsewhere. Is Bo Dallas worth pushing to the moon over someone like Barrett? I don’t fucking think so. Sure, there’s a way to make both look good, but in the end, we know WWE will put more time and effort into the Barrage, and rightfully so. Basically, my point is that even with a few fluke wins over Barrett, he’s not going to come out of this angle with the credibility of someone like Zack Ryder even. If it’s to establish him enough to be a worthy tag team partner for someone, then it’s still a wasted opportunity, because this could have started out that way, with random WWE guy calling up NXT guy to be his tag partner, and the NXT guy improves and impresses.
So why have Bo take on Barrett? Not sure. I sure as hell don’t want Bo being the Intercontinental Champion. WWE deserves a lot of credit for re-establishing the white strap over the last calendar year. Having Bo fluke win it off Wade would be a true shame, as the writing is on the wall that it would be for naught.
And on that note, peace out.
Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.