Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: Dropping The Ball

WARNING: The following contains spoilers of the TNA Genesis PPV. If you don’t want to be spoiled yet, you may want to skip.

I didn’t think this day would come, but here I am?writing a column about TNA. As of about six months ago, I haven’t seen a single episode of TNA in my life. I?ve watched a match here or there but in the pay per view days I just wasn’t willing to pay to watch wrestling like that. And when they finally moved to Spike, well, I still wasn’t really interested. Can’t even really explain why, but TNA just wasn’t of huge interest to me. Plus all my spare time to watch wrestling was already going towards WWE and ROH. But a few months back I got a way to see cheap pay per views, so with the big TNA shows out there to watch I decided to give Impact a shot on a fairly regular basis.

And to be honest, it was nothing that blew me away. Heck, the main reason I was watching most weeks was to see if Kevin Nash was going to be on since he?s been freaking entertaining as hell in his current X-division storyline run. But I still watched most of the time anyways and occasionally found some things to like along with some that drove me nuts. But for me it was still just a third federation to get into from time to time with some free wrestling to watch and I didn’t really care that much about what they did. Until I watched last night?s Genesis pay per view show.

Before I get into it, let?s rewind a couple months back on the road to Bound For Glory. This was hyped up as the biggest show in TNA history. Their Wrestlemania. And the one thing I love about Wrestlemania is huge storylines and big matches coming together on one huge card. So really, my expectations were rather high before this show. After the previous pay per view, the feuds seemed obvious but very nice as well. Christian turned heel on the legendary Sting, and a big match between those two would really do wonders for Christians credibility as a main event heel. And the NWA title seemed bound for a big match with the ever present champ Jeff Jarrett on a collision course with the unbeaten Samoa Joe. Having those two as your marquee matches was just beautiful I thought and really felt like a ?Wrestlemania? sort of show at last.

But something rather funny happened along the way. They didn’t happen! The title match, typically for ANY wrestling company going into their biggest show of the year, is reserved for a fresh fight that people are just dying to see. Instead we get a rematch of the previous main event. A rematch with the face not being on in the arena the entire month heading into the show. Oh, and a rematch being built with Samoa Joe carrying the title belt the whole time as he built towards he feud?.with nobody even close to the title picture. And Christian instead of that big feud to make him look like a top face gets a feud with Rhyno who?s about as midcard as there is. Wasn’t this the same problem Christian had in WWE? He was a fantastic heel stuck in mid card feuds all the time rather than the main event. He comes into TNA, gets the instant title push many felt was long overdue, and now just falls right back to where he was once again. I’m not even saying the Rhyno feud was a bad idea. With their history, it?s a solid feud that could help both guys. But for the supposed biggest show in company history, it just felt like a big letdown.

But enter one big variable later on that nobody could have foreseen: Kurt Angle in TNA. Easily the biggest name to ever enter the company. So, ok then. Things change a bit. Suddenly the card that really felt lacking for such a big show isn’t so bad since you?ve got name power to make it more interesting. People might tune in for Bound For Glory and then have enough interest to tune in to Genesis the next month now that Angle is on board. And now with that long, overdue rant on the Bound for Glory booking, let?s get to the real reason this column is here right now. The terrible Genesis booking!

TNA really did book themselves into a corner with the main event. Perhaps their best homegrown storyline ever has been the rise of Samoa Joe. Every sign points to him being the future of the company and potentially their first full out superstar should the company grow in popularity. And through all their problems and dumb decisions, to this point they had handled it fairly smartly the whole way along by building him up slowly and keeping the fans dying for more. But doing Angle/Joe in Angles first ever TNA feud, that?s just backing yourself into a corner. Who can lose this feud? Angle is the single biggest star ever in the company. No doubt. Joe is the future of the company on a historic streak. This could be a dream encounter and really should have been?but not the moment Angle arrives. However with his failing health perhaps in question, TNA may be in a situation of trying to get what the can out of him while he?s presently able to go. Which sucks, but it?s understandable why they feel the need to do it. So like it or not, it?s Angle/Joe as the Genesis main event. With the company booking itself into a corner here, they needed to handle this one smart. You?ve got your two best things going right here and you don’t want to ruin either of them.

But apparently nobody told them this.

In case you missed it, Joe tapped out clean to the ankle lock. I still don’t believe they did it. The historic streak is over, and now Joe is just another TNA guy basically. This streak has been built so well, it was one of the biggest instant rubs waiting to happen. With Joe looking like a main event talent, whoever was that first man to beat him clean instantly becomes a top guy too. Instead of using this wonderful situation they?ve build up, they gave that rub to Kurt Angle. The one and only guy on the roster that didn’t need it one bit. Everyone in TNA knows Kurt Angle and how great he is. Having him end this does nothing to make him seem stronger or give him more heat. For Angle it?s just a win, for Joe it?s one of the biggest losses of his career (and I don’t mean it?s going to kill the character, I just mean it?s one of the most memorable he’ll ever have. There?s only one time in a career a streak like that can end, and it just did last night). Now, I?ve already seen a couple (although rare) arguments in support of this decision so I’ll address what I?ve seen here just to show how stupid this was.

?But Angle can’t lose in his first PPV match! Plus if he does go heel with the indications post match may indicate, this gives him huge heat!?

You’re right, Angle can’t lose that first match. That?s why booking this match was backing into a huge corner in the first place. As for the going heel possibility, I’ll address that later on with a list of better ways this could have gone down.

?The streak had to end sometime. Better a guy like Angle than just anyone that doesn’t deserve it.?

Again, yes. The streak did have to end sometime. But like I said earlier, this was a massive rub waiting to happen. If done right, you can build up someone new to make an instant main eventer with this win Angle took. Then the heat of this winning streak Joe was on isn’t simply lost, it?s transferred on to someone new. Angle isn’t going to get more crowd heat and attention than he already has, that?s the beauty of hiring him. He already comes with it.

?You’re just a blind Joe fan and hating Angle is the thing to do!?

Actually I’ll let you in on a little secret. It?s quite the opposite. Anyone that has heard my thoughts on ROH knows I?ve disliked a lot of what Samoa Joe has done there. I don’t hate him and I do respect his talent, but I’m far from a Samoa Joe fanboy. As sad as I am for the way Angle is these days, I?ve always been a huge Angle fan and still am. So really, if I’m biased one way, I’m more of an Angle fan than a Joe fan.

?IT WAS AWESOME! TNA! TNA! TNA!?

Ok, that didn’t happen. Just made that one up.

So ok, if TNA dropped the ball so bad what should they have done Mr. Internet Writer? Well, I’d say anything else really. But here?s some ideas for starters, assuming Kurt Angle needed to win that match.

1. Here?s the easiest, some disqualification ending. Now, this is just the cheapest, most basic way to get away with it and set up for another match later on. But it works better that having Joe tap clean.

2. Pinfall. Yes, Joe loses clean and it still sucks bad. But really, it?s at least a SMALL step up from a clean tap out, which in my mind is the way that puts over your opponent more than any other way out there.

3. Non-clean pin or submission. Kinda like the DQ ending, but have Angle do something illegal to get the win. Again not great, not still an improvement.

4. Here?s the best one. If Joe is losing and losing clean, do the Austin/Hart ending. Do exactly what you did all match long, and have Joe eventually pass out from the pain. Angle looks like a beast, and so does Joe. He looks freaking fantastic still in the loss, and it doesn’t do near the damage that tapping out does. And hey, with this one if Angle is indeed turning heel, it makes that post match refusal to handshake even more effective I think.

See? It?s not that hard. I know they want to make Angle look huge, but they chose the wrong man to do that with. And while we’re talking about Genesis, they really dropped the ball on their other main event believe it or not! I’m not going into as much detail as the Joe/Angle problems, but the Sting/Abyss title change is just barely less stupid. Now, Sting wins the title at Bound For Glory in what is supposed to be a huge, huge moment for the company. And what do they do? Take the title away a month later?with a DQ finish. I’m not even going to get into how horrible DQ title changes are for ANY company, but Sting losing the title after just a month is just horrendous booking. To make it worse, Angle beat Abyss clean just a few days earlier before he wins the title. So in one night, Sting goes from the top man in the company to a man who?s now behind Abyss AND Kurt Angle on the ladder. Which brings up, you guessed it, another problem. While watching the show, I talked with my fellow Oratory writer Cash Melville about Abyss winning the title. And both of us seemed to agree the only thing it could really lead to is Angle now having a legit claim to the title and hot-shotting the belt from Abyss to Angle in the near future. And with Angle perhaps turning heel with his refusal to shake hands after the match, how does an Abyss/Angle feud work now? Or do they simply just ignore Angle?s win over Abyss now? Anyways, just more food for thought there.

As you can see by my long, jumbled ranting here, this whole situation sucks. And it?s especially frustrating considering TNA had all the potential to do so much better. People love to complain about WWE?s booking problems and I can see why they do most of the time. But TNA had the chance to be a good alternative to that, and they’re throwing it away. The way I see it, WWE is full of dull booking, TNA is full of stupid booking. Choosing between dull and stupid for your weekly wrestling programming isn’t a great choice to make.

Thanks for reading.

mikesawaryn@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: Stories from the Road, Part I

I think this is officially the longest written column in history. We started this thing in May 2005 when the trip was over, and we finished’today. And it?s ALL Cash?s fault! Nah, I’m kidding. We both got lazy on this. But the stories are still funny I say, so I think it?s something people might enjoy. As a quick background, we decided last year to go to an ROH double shot in Dayton and Chicago. I flew to New Orleans on a Thursday morning, and flew back to Edmonton on Sunday night. In between we drove to the Midwest?and back. Like the teaser said, it?s not too much wrestling related. And some of the inside jokes might be lost on people not in the Oratory forums. But it?s stories from the road going TO a couple wrestling shows, so enjoy!

Mike: Well, my journey got off to a rotten start. My flight from Edmonton to Houston (and then Houston to New Orleans) was at 6:50am, on a week I’m stuck on night shifts at work, scheduled 7pm-7am. Now, I could have called in sick for my Wednesday night shift and just slept for the trip, but I figured since I work 5 minutes from the airport I might as well just go in and avoid having to make up the time later. I woke up the day before the trip to head into work feeling a bit sick, like a flu was coming on. Just perfect, that?s what I really wanted on a massive road trip. But I loaded up on pills and made it through the shift until about 4:30. I headed to the airport nice and early, thinking there would be a lot to do. When I went to Mexico, I wasted a bunch of time in the arcade and the bookstore in the airport and figured I would do the same. Little did I know when you’re going to the U.S., you’re not allowed to mingle with the rest of the airport! They actually have the U.S. flights in a sealed area away from anything else with only a coffee shop to go to. And it didn’t open until just before my boarding time. Good times sitting there just listening to my ipod for a couple hours, let me tell you.

I finally got on the plane and boy did I sleep. The 4.5 hour flight felt like 10 minutes. I landed in Houston and tried taking out some American money at a bank machine. Damn thing tells me I have insufficient funds! What a load of crap. I figure the machine is broken so I just leave it until I get to New Orleans. I’ll get back to this money issue later. I get on my flight and I’m stuck sitting beside a huge dude. I mean big, like 500 lbs big. Nice guy though, he started talking to me and we got to sports. He noticed my Oilers hat and started talking hockey a bit. It was a short flight, but he made it fun. I finally got to New Orleans, one of the places I?ve always dreamed about visiting. And as soon as I leave the Arrivals area, there I see sitting on the floor, practicing Nashism, my fellow Asshole Cash

Cash: In an interesting turn of events, my start for the trip was off to a pretty horrible start too. I had a paper due that day for my 19th Century Gothic and Horror literature class about the novel Dracula and the poem The Vampyre by John Polidori? and it was due the day that I was supposed to leave to pick Mike up at the airport. Of course, as some people at the Oratory forums will remember, I had done a paper the quarter before and made a thread about the experience as I steadily went crazy. This paper was no exception. I waited until the last minute and tried to do it? but floundered. I finally finished the paper around 6:00 a.m. and proceeded to take a thirty minute nap before finishing up on my packing for the trip. I got on the road around 9:00 in the morning to go and pick up Mike and trekked the 336 miles to the New Orleans International Airport.

Once I made it to the airport and parked, I checked my watch? saw that Mike wouldn’t be in for around twenty or so more minutes? so I leaned up against a pillar to catch me a quick nap. The reality of the situation is that you can’t really take a nap when you’re right next to the place where all the people exit in an airport. You have the kids running to their grandparents, husbands and wives meeting back up after a business trip, and just general chaos. I got ten minutes of sleep or so and then Mike ambled through the gate. He was pretty easy to recognize as he is Canadian and thus looked funny and lost. After we met up, he mentioned something about needing to get money out of the a bank machine since the one in Houston didn’t work. Of course, being the nice guy I am, I laughed at him for his misfortune in Houston and then we found a machine. He tried to get money? and had no luck. His face pretty much went white and Mr. Cool Under Pressure started cussing like a sailor as I sat there and continued to chuckle at his misfortune.

Until I realized that if he didn’t have any money, we weren’t going to go anywhere since I couldn’t possibly pay for both of our ways. All the sudden, it wasn’t so funny anymore and had become rather serious. As he was on the phone trying to get in touch with his bank, I coolly hid my impending panic by reading a newspaper and commenting on the weather in Chicago and Dayton. Wait, why am I telling you this story? Mike is the one who actually had it happen to him!

Mike: Oh boy, the money story. What a crock. We sat there in the airport, and panic is almost setting in for me. What the hell do I do if I can’t take my money out? I tried calling the number on the back of my bankcard, but it?s all computerized. So I tried calling home, and no one is there. Heck, I tried calling a couple friends, just to try to get SOMEONE to look up the number for my bank in the phonebook. I decided to try to call the number again on the card, and in a fit of rage I just pushed all the buttons at once on my phone. Suddenly I hear ?We are now connecting you to a customer service agent.? Woohoo! I get through, explain what?s going on, and the guy told me my limit is set to $1000 withdrawals in Canadian dollars each day, but only $100 American. Yes, cue the exchange rate jokes. He changed it, we went back to the machine, and seeing that money come out was the happiest sight I?ve seen in ages!

We then got semi lost in the baggage claim area looking for the Continental section, but we finally found it. After my bag comes out almost last, we head upstairs and outside for my first taste of hot weather since I was in Mexico in March! In fact, in snowed just before I left home, and I’m coming outside to the southern heat. I was in heaven. We got to Cash?s car (which is a nice ride I must say) and off we were to the French Quarter so I can be a tourist! We parked, I changed out of my warm Canadian clothes into some shorts, and off we were to hit the city. I must say, Cash seemed to know his stuff and took me to a lot of great places around town. There was so much to see and do in New Orleans.

Cash: I’ll just outline what we did in New Orleans for you peeps, it?s more exciting to hear it from a person who hasn’t seen stuff before. The basic plan I made was to give Mike a crash course in New Orleans. Driving into the city, I pointed out the cemeteries, which are something that people always get a kick out of. During the day, we went down the artsy street (Royal Street) and, of course, Bourbon Street ? both of which are in the French quarter. It?s so different during the day, you need to see it at both times. The only thing I really obsessed about though was getting Mike to Mother?s Caf?. It?s basically a small place that is famous world-wide for it?s local food. I rank it as my second favorite place to eat in New Orleans (Antoine?s is my favorite, but it is around 75 bucks a head? that?s a million in Canadian money, and you know how hard it is to get their banks to give us money). We did the Mother?s thing and then moseyed on over to the quarter again, running by the Mississippi river front and just generally meandering around. You really need to do that in New Orleans. Don’t have a concrete agenda, just wander around. You’ll see something that is interesting, no matter where you go. Once it started to get to twilight, we rode the St. Charles streetcar, which is something I personally haven’t done for years. We went to the end of the line and then came all the way back to the quarter. Basically, this allowed us to see the Garden District (where the BIG houses are).

Basically, we just hit up all the famous places that I could think of and then wandered around some. We didn’t go to the Riverwalk, because frankly, even though Mike is pretty feminine, I don’t include shopping on my tours. Of course, New Orleans is primarily known for it?s night life, and fittingly, dusk fell on us while we were riding the streetcar back to the French Quarter. So, during the day, we saw big houses, the French Quarter, places we’d pop into during the night to get drinks at like Pat O?Brian?s and the hand grenade place. Mike got to see an interesting contrast to how people are down here in the South compared to up North while you’re riding on public transportation (we actually? like? talk to one another and visit instead of sit there and keep to ourselves). He?s the new guy though, so HE can tell you all about the night time festivities!

Mike: Yeah, New Orleans was pretty amazing. For those that haven’t been, check it out sometime! I was just thrilled walking around in shorts while back home the ground was still covered in snow and freaking cold. Everything there was just so interesting and different from what I’ve got here in Edmonton, from the city itself, the people, the food, everything! I’ll admit, I was quite surprised to have random people just start up a conversation on the street car with me. Anyways, there was just so much to see there, I wish I had more time to enjoy it all and soak it all in. As it was, I got into New Orleans around 1:30 and we had to leave around midnight or so. It was a fair amount of time, but not even close to really see all there is to do in the city.

Anyways, after seeing all the big sights in town, it was off to the one thing I was most excited about the whole trip: partying on Bourbon Street! We just cruised the street a little first and he showed me all the neat places along the way. It’s funny, the whole street seems to go in a pattern: bar, strip club, souvenier shop. Toss in an occasional restaurant and voodoo shop, lots of bright neon lights, and there’s Bourbon Street! Keep in mind, this was a random Thursday too, and the place was still busy with people partying. First stop was one of the many slush bars where we found a drink called a Triple Bypass. Being Teddy Hart fans, and Cash using the character in oWa, we just HAD to get that one. From there we walked in and out of a couple bars, and even saw some of Smackdown on TV. At one bar with a flaming water fountain (VERY cool by the way) Cash decided to call the Oratory’s own James IV. He talked to James while I grabbed a super cheap beer from a bar and chugged it down. I said my hellos and it was off to the Hand Grenade place for another drink. We took our hand grenades (it’s a wicked drink in case you’re thinking we’re carrying military weapons here) and made our way towards the riverside again. We sat around a while, talking about baseball, amusement parks, and just about anything else before heading back to party central.

By now I’ve got a nice buzz going, so it was time for Pat O’Brians and the world famous Hurricane! Freaking awesome drink, one of the best I’ve ever had. I hear Lauren C. doesn’t care much for them, so this is where I figured she must be crazy. By this time we’re both a little drunk, so after walking the streets some more, checking out some music stores for CDs, it was time for Cafe Du Monde and Beignets. Good GOD are those good. Again, for those unaware, it’s french doughnuts covered in powdered sugar. Sounds simple enough, but the taste is out of this world. We ate, sobered up, and a little after midnight it was time to hit the road to Dayton, Ohio!

Cash: As always, driving at midnight is a ton of fun. Yeah, it?s dark and stuff, but who really cares? It?s nice to get in the areas that aren’t very well lit and then see a city like Nashville in the distance lighting up the sky. Basically, that?s all we did was drive. It was a long ways to go from New Orleans to Dayton? 855 miles and a little bit to be exact. Think about it? you have a southern kid and a Canadian in a car for that long and they’re libel to come up with SOME sort of solution to the world?s problems, eh?

Wrong. We just talked sports and gossiped about all the people on the Oratory forums while raving about how awesome a city New Orleans is. Then we raved about how cool Nashville was at night and even entertained driving the strip until the two of us decided that we would probably wind up getting lost in Nashville and never make it to Dayton in time, just because we wanted to be able to bum around Dayton for awhile. Keep that in mind. Mike and I wanted to bum around Dayton, Ohio for awhile because there is stuff to do in Dayton. That will be important when Mike starts his next section about how exciting Dayton is.

Anyways, we were driving and finally decided to stop in a small town called Bonnyville in Kentucky. This place was off the beaten path and we just wanted to use the restrooms and grab some cold drinks and snacks. Never before have I been so wrong about a gas station being right off the interstate. We wound up going miles down a curvy road just to get to the place. So, we pull in and it?s this hole in the wall gas station. Being the southern gentleman that I am, I give Mike advice before we get out of the car:

?Don’t talk.?

Why? Because, as horrible as this sounds, when you’re in the foothills of Kentucky, in the middle of butt-fuck Egypt, you don’t need to be sounding like a Canadian tourist. Xenophobia is fun for children of all ages really. I’ll tell you my part of the story because it is pretty funny. Then I’ll turn it over to Mike so he can fill in the gaps for his end. I go back to the place, use the facilities and then hunt down some cold beverages. To my freaking AWESOME surprise, they have RC Cola? in a bottle. I repeat, RC Cola, in a bottle. So, I grabbed that, a moon pie, and some chips and walked up to the checkout. There were these old men sitting in the corner at a table and I’ll admit, I chuckled some because I was joking around with Mike earlier about how old men hang out in gas stations in the South. I go to buy my stuff and the woman at the counter talks to me, so I speak back and all that and the guys at the table ask me where I’m from because my accent sounded different. It took everything I could to stop from laughing at that too, but I said I was from south Louisiana and they just nodded at me and went back to what they were doing.

Then, I waited for my Canadian buddy to come to the front so I could watch the festivities.

Mike: Cash went to the bathroom first in that station, so I just quietly tried to be invisible outside the door waiting for him. A woman working there walks by and goes ?Are y?all waiting for the bathroom?? Taking in Cash?s advice, I just nodded quickly. She points me to the back room and tells me I can use the employee bathroom. I just quickly go back there and go inside?and it seems ?employee bathroom? meant ?somebody?s room?. Well, it was a typical size store bathroom, but with a shower and bathroom supplies, drugs and clothes ALL over the place (kinda looking like my bathroom at home). Anyways, I use it and grab a drink from the cooler and wait behind Cash to pay for stuff. I get my stuff rung in and the lady goes ?Hope y?all have a nice day?. Knowing I should say SOMETHING, I mutter ?Thank ya? in the WORST southern accent anyone has ever heard. We make it to the car and Cash is almost in tears laughing, while I’m becoming religious and thanking God I survived.

So we made it out of Bonnyville alive, and it?s back on the road. We pass a Six Flags later on in the morning, and I think we were both seriously debating skipping ROH to go there. We didn’t, and finally crossing into Ohio and Cincinnati. It was about 11:00am and we were finally getting close on the night that seemed like it would never end. And around noon, we pulled into Dayton’mission accomplished. With a good 7 hours to spare! Time to see what Dayton Ohio had to offer.

First we decided to find the building for the show, just so we’re not rushed later on. That took a good five minutes, it was easy. So we just went down the street, checked out a second hand music/movie store and got some Taco Bell. And it was time to check out what Dayton had to offer baby! So we drove around for a bit?and didn’t see anything. Drove through downtown?nothing. There were no malls. No cool looking stores. Not even a freaking Wal Mart to check out. THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO AT ALL IN THE ENTIRE FREAKING CITY. The most exciting thing we saw was a cool looking water fountain thingy. But that lasted about a minute and then it shut off. So after about half an hour of driving around, we just drove back to the arena. And sat there. Hell, the truck with the ring equipment wasn’t even around yet. Around 3:00, it was more boredom than we could bear. So we drove to the University campus in town, thinking we could maybe walk around and check things out. But no, we couldn’t find a parking spot for the life of us. So it was back to the arena?again. Only 3 more hours now till showtime! Yay! We took turns napping in the car, walking across the street to the hospital to change into clean clothes, and finally hanging around an antiques store nearby. And STILL time crawled by, it was not even 5:00 by now. We tried calling people we knew to get phone numbers of the others coming to the show, but no luck on that front either. We decided to go for a walk, and we saw a Cold Stone ice creamery! Horray, something good! So we start walking and just outside the store we hear a voice.

?Hey assholes!?

Now, keep in mind this was last year in the height of ?Assholes Inc? on the forums. So obviously we were excited! One of the crew was there! Both of us turn around with big smiles on our faces?and there?s some older black guy standing there. Now I’m thinking the only black guy we knew that was coming to either show this weekend was Airplane Radio. And I thought he was only coming to Chicago. And I didn’t think he was that old. Anyways, we both have confused looks on our faces by now, and the guy talks again.

?You assholes got any spare change??

Yeah, how about no when you ask like that. How freaking random is that though? It was bizarre. So we get our ice cream, and out of nowhere, a few blocks away from the car still?huge rain storm hits. We sprint back to the car for shelter, continuing to wait in this boring, horrific town of Dayton.

And then’the fake Adam Karabel arrived.

And you know what? That?s a great cliffhanger for part 2. I promise this won’t take a year and a half to do, I’m bugging Cash till this is done. So look for part 2 very soon, and in the meantime, hope you enjoyed this.

mikesawaryn@hotmail.com

cashmelville@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: ECW And One Night Stand

Well, I was debating doing a piece on the whole ECW thing overall, and I was debating on doing a One Night Stand preview. And honestly doing that much work isn’t my style, so I thought ?hey, just combine them into one column!? And I liked that idea, so here we are.

Before I get to the PPV matches, I just need to comment on the whole ?ECW vs. WWE? storyline happening. Personally, I LOVE what they?ve been doing and I?ve really bought into the storyline so far. Even though I know WWE owns everything and all these guys are WWE employees doing a storyline, it feels much bigger than that. I think they?ve done a great job of making it feel like a legit interpromotional feud.

And a big reason for that has been the promo work involved in this whole thing. Paul Heyman especially has been outstanding in hyping up the PPV event and the new brand itself. Mick Foley has done some very solid stuff as a heel to promote his part of the feud. And if anyone has missed it, make sure you go to wwe.com and watch the Big Show?s promo about why he switched brands. I can’t think of any better promo he?s had ever. In this day and age as an internet wrestling fan, it?s harder and harder to really get emotionally involved in a storyline. I think they?ve done a great job of hooking people into this one, whether you like the ECW comeback or not. Either way, it seems everyone is talking about it. And if WWE needs proof the new brand might work, look no further than me! Basically, I’m cheap when it comes to PPV?s. My friends here in Edmonton aren’t big on wrestling for the most part, and those that are aren’t too willing to spend much money to see it. So it?s been a while since I?ve ordered a PPV, even Wrestlemania I skipped out on this year. But I?ve decided there?s no way I’m missing One Night Stand this year. And the last PPV I actually ordered and paid money for? Last year?s One Night Stand. I know it?s still all WWE, but the ECW angle is something fresh.

The one thing I keep thinking of with all this unfolding is flashbacks to the Alliance Invasion angle, which is pretty much universally planned as a failure. Really, this whole ECW thing feels like how the Invasion SHOULD have been done. Having Heyman as the full leader of the group is so much better considering he actually did lead ECW in the first place, and it?s easier to believe he?s going against WWE than it was trying to pretend Shane and Stephanie were (not to mention Heyman promos are among the best in the business these days). A second bonus to this story is there is actually a new show starting up out of it. With WCW simply being fused into Raw and Smackdown, there really was no payoff to the war between companies. It was clear they were both becoming one anyways. With the threat of a WWE title becoming part of an ECW brand show, there?s instant interest built right into the PPV itself. And to top it all off, we even had the very cool WWE vs. ECW show to help everything out. Having the two different entranceways was very cool I thought and added a little extra to this whole story. Everything they are doing just seems to be clicking and it makes for some of the most entertaining TV in some time.

So how about One Night Stand? Let?s take a look at the matches on hand here. I don’t have some fancy rating system for a preview column like other writers do, I’ll just do a quick overview of what we have on hand.

Lawler vs. Tazz

Wow, if one match REALLY benefited from the Wednesday special, it was this one. The two going back and forth on the mic all night was damn entertaining, not to mention the fight they had that looked about as legit as you could get. These two have fought in the past with matches that weren’t overly memorable, but I’m a fan of the story in a match more than anything, and this has an awesome story. I can see this going either way, since both men are announcers and neither really needs a win here for the future or anything like that. However, with so much build being built to Tazz choking people out, I’m thinking he’ll pull it off with that. Tazz was my favorite coming out of the original ECW (even though I didn’t watch much back then) so I’d definitely be a fan of a win by him here.

Predicted Winner: Tazz

Dreamer and Funk vs. Foley and Edge

Well, I?ve got to say I?ve enjoyed Foley?s heel run so far. It?s hard to truly hate a man who?s been such a nice guy for so long, but he?s really done a good job of creating interest in this feud I think. It?s sad to see Funk being barely able to move down stairs in his ‘run ins? but the man can still bring it with excellent promos, and in a hardcore match like this I think he’ll look great as well. The co-holders story with the hardcore belt is somewhat interesting, and I?ve heard suggestions that maybe this could become the new ECW tag team titles. Could very well be a possibility, and it?s not a bad way to get some instant history in the division (even if the hardcore title history isn’t the greatest ever). Anyways, this could go either way, but as you’ll see with my predictions later on, I think ECW needs to win this title match.

Predicted Winner: Dreamer and Funk

Angle vs. Orton

Well, Orton is back from his suspension, and I’m hoping he actually smartens up his act. I think he?s a great heel to have on either show, so it?s good to have hum around. Obviously the biggest shocker of the new ECW was drafting Angle, which is an excellent way to bring big name recognition right off the bat. This one is a nice addition to the card with the two men having a back story. With Orton back in the fold he may win this one, but I think Angle is going be built up like a beast in ECW and he should take it.

Predicted Winner: Angle

Mahoney vs. Tanaka

I’ll be honest, I’m not too familiar with either guy. My knowledge of Tanaka is about all we saw in last years PPV, and I?ve seen maybe 5 Balls Mahoney matches in total. It?s a good ?classic? ECW match that?s bound to bring the hardcore stuff people want to see, and that?s about it. Not too much to say since there?s not much build to this one.

Predicted Winner: Tanaka

FBI vs. Tajiri/Super Crazy

This should be an awesome high flying match. If these guys are allowed to just ?go?, this should be a hell of an entertaining bout. It?s going to be great to see Tajiri again, but I think FBI will take it. Looking forward to this for sure though.

Predicted Winner: FBI

Sabu vs. Mysterio

Well, if the past couple shows are any indication, Sabu has not slowed down his suicidal style one bit lately. Again, I think both men will flat out kill themselves in this match (Sabu a little more) and really make a great showing. Only problem is I don’t see much of a chance of Sabu winning at all. The WWE title has been getting ALL the hype as being the future ECW title, and although they?ve mentioned the chance of this becoming the ECW title, it?s not going to happen. Despite that this should be a fun match to see.

Predicted Winner: Mysterio

RVD vs. Cena

Now this match alone sold me into getting the show. There?s two possibilities and both of them will provide with a hell of a memorable match. Either RVD wins the title in front of ECW fans (and perhaps re-names it the ECW title) or Cena retains in what is sure to be the most heat you’ll see a man get in modern wrestling. I almost fear for the mans safety in the arena if he does. It could go either way, and I’m excited for both possibilities. I’m personally hoping for a Cena win (if you want reason, the Oratory?s own Cash Melvile summed it up perfectly in his recent column) but I’m not fully against an RVD win either. And up until a few weeks ago, I fully expected RVD to win the belt. But now that they?ve mentioned the possibility of winning and changing it to the ECW title, I’m thinking that won’t happen. It just seems too obvious.

Predicted Winner: Cena

So there you have it, One Night Stand. This could be one of the most memorable PPV?s of the year if things work out like they should. Last year was going to be a hard show to top, but I think they?ve found a way to potentially do it. Hope you enjoyed reading this, and enjoy the show tomorrow.

mikesawaryn@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open Mike: The New Class Of Calgary May23

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: The New Class Of Calgary

With several of the recent class of Stampede wrestling talents moving on to bigger and better things, I figured it?s a good chance to give everyone a little introduction to some of those you might see in more prominent federations like ROH, TNA or even WWE. I’m not what you call an expert I guess, but I?ve seen these people in action well over a dozen times at various Stampede shows over the past 5 years or so, so I do have a bit of an idea what you can expect to see. A couple I’m sure most people have heard of at least by now, and maybe a couple you’ll read up on for the first time. Either way I hope this provides some useful information.

Harry Smith

Current Status: Haven’t seen many details, but rumor has had it (and he?s confirmed on his personal website) that he?s signed a deal with WWE.

If there was one man in Stampede in the past decade destined for something big, it?s Harry Smith. The son of The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith has every tool you’re looking for. Young, good size, great charisma, very talented in the ring, and the name power from his famous dad. When I first saw him, the only knock I could notice against this guy was his lack of muscle at the time, but he was only 19. Over the past few years, he?s gotten a lot bigger. He?s pretty much a splitting image of his late father, both in looks and talent. He?s got the classic Hart Dungeon style down and has put on some very solid matches against various opponents. Fun Fact: Harry Smith was in a match at a WWF house show at the age of ten. TEN. His partner was a 16 year old Teddy Hart.

Career Potential: Sky could be the limit for this kid. As I?ve said, he?s got the package any promoter is looking for. I can see him having a career much like his father?s, an upper mid card guy who can put on solid matches against a range of opponents. Maybe not the next superstar of the business, but could be a solid contributer to any main event scene.

Nattie Neidhart

Current Status: Like Harry Smith, also rumored to have signed with WWE.

If there was one person in the entire company I felt really bad for, it was Nattie. The daughter of Jim ?The Anvil? Neidhart was a girl in a guy?s federation. For the most part, her entire run in Stampede has been extremely short on female talent. She had a long, extended feud with Belle Lovitz, and the rest of the time was spend either feuding with someone brought in for a short time or even spending some time feuding with some of the smaller male members on the roster. A lot of her time was spent as a valet for some of the other Dungeon grads, and really it seemed a waste of someone as talented as she is. From the times I?ve seen her wrestle, she?s very solid in the ring and had some entertaining matches with some people who weren’t as good at all. Perhaps moving up to a place with a few more lady wrestlers will give her a chance to really show what she can do in the ring and grow even more as a wrestler.

Career Potential: If the current women?s division push continues in WWE, she could be a decent player in that. She?s not the typical ?WWE Diva? sort of woman, but with her family name and her talent, there could easily be a spot for her to do well there.

Teddy Hart

Current Status: Who the hell knows. I think he pretty much only works JAPW, but I?ve heard rumors about just about anything by this point.

Two years ago, if you were familiar with indy wrestling in the US at all, you knew all about Teddy Hart. Nowadays he?s really faded more and more into obscurity as he doesn’t get many shots at glory anymore. If you’re new to the Teddy Hart story, let me sum it up: he?s insane. If you want proof, go hunt down some Teddy Hart shoot interviews. Pretty much any shoot will do the trick. It?s too bad too. This is a guy with a ton of talent, both as a high flyer and as a technical wrestler. But unfortunately, he just doesn’t seem right in the head. His attitude problems have slowed down or maybe even halted a very promising career. Still, when this guy goes in the ring, he can GO.

Career Potential: Again, who knows by this point. 5 years ago, he was right up there with Harry Smith. Now, he still has the potential to get to a place like WWE I suppose, but it seems more likely he’ll float around from federation to federation until he burns more bridges. Hopefully he eventually learns, the huge Teddy mark in me wants to see him on my TV.

TJ Wilson

Current Status: Still pretty committed to Stampede, but has made several trips to Japan and other indy feds.

If you’re into pure technical wrestling, Wilson is your man. He?s not as much a high flyer as some of the other young guys, but very technically sound. Only real fault he has is his size, or lack thereof (5?9, 195lbs). He?s been in some very good matches over the years though, and has been on several tours of Japan, hooking up with the likes of Jushin Lyger. From what I?ve heard, his tag team of the Stampede Bulldogs (with Harry Smith) have worked very well together overseas. But really, the problem is there?s nothing that stands out about him. Great technical wrestler, but nothing you haven’t seen before. Everything else is just sort of there. Give him another few inches and a few pounds, this kid could be something special. Pretty hard to do though.

Career Potential: With his size, I’d be very surprised to see him in a WWE or a TNA. But he?s good at what he does and could make a very good midcard technical guy for any indy company just about anywhere. He just doesn’t have anything really outstanding that makes him a can’t miss prospect.

Jack Evans

Current Status: Doing quite well in several indy feds, including ROH. Some rumblings from time to time about a possible WWE contract.

If you haven’t seen Jack Evans, go find yourself some. Honestly, I don’t know how this man can NOT entertain you. There?s lots out there. I think (hopefully I’m right) it was Justin T. who said Jack Evans does things other wrestlers can’t do. Not won’t, but can’t. And it?s very, very true. There?s not a man alive that can bend like Jack can, or fly like Jack can. If you like amazing flips and flying through the air, he can do it. If you like seeing a rubberman bend in half, he can do it. The downside with Jack is obviously the risks. He?s had some very scary moments already in his career and with the amazing moves he does, there’ll be more before he?s done. Hopefully nothing serious though. I will admit though, as time has gone on he?s gotten more and more smart with his work. A few years ago it was simply spot, spot, spot, spot, spot, end match. Now he?s worked a lot more psychology into his matches and taken less risks. Not less dangerous risks, just less in total. But yeah, go see this man by any means necessary. He’ll amaze you.

Career Potential: As long as he can stay healthy, he can become maybe the greatest high flyer of all time. But the risks will no doubt catch up at some point.

Apocalypse

Current Status: Still one of the mainstays and favorites in Stampede wrestling, also appearing more and more in ROH matches.

If there?s one guy pretty much universally loved by Stampede fans, it?s this guy. He was always the most complete and well rounded of the class of new Stampede wrestlers since I got into the fed. As a face or a heel, he?s always been great at getting crowds into his character and his matches, and is able to back it all up by being solid in the ring. But he?s probably about as limited as they come in terms of flexibility. I honestly try picturing him without the look and without the ?Apocalypse? character he?s played since day 1, and really I don’t know how good he could be. Like I said, very solid in the ring, but the character has really been the selling point so far in his career. Maybe if he got a chance outside of that to shine he could pull it off, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Career Potential: Sadly for a man as talented as he is, not very good. Just looking at him he has the look of the stereotypical indy wrestler. He can be a good worker for about any indy fed around and gather a following, but that?s probably the most we’ll see from him.

Well, there?s the best of the best Calgary has to offer over the past few years. Guys like Hart and Evans haven’t been around for some time, and some like Apocalypse are still around most shows. But with a storied history of the company and the Hart Dungeon, hopefully some people out there who have a chance to see some stuff from there guys will go ahead and check it out. I’ll leave you to judge them for yourselves, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. With some of these talents on the way out for good, who knows who will step up next? It will be fun to watch it all unfold over the next few years, and we can all hope the talent keeps flowing out of Calgary like it always has.

Thanks for reading!

mikesawaryn@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: Wrestlemania Then And Now: Part IV

Well, we’re here. The end. The finish line. Yes, it?s part 4 of 4 of the Wrestlemania: Then and Now series. It?s kind of sad having this end, it?s been a lot of fun re-watching all these shows. But, enough of the chat, let?s get to the next show!

Wrestlemania 2000

A very interesting Wrestlemania I think, from the perspective of how it was booked and from how it?s viewed by fans, as I’ll get to.

THEN: At the time I didn’t even notice there wasn’t a single traditional one on one match on the entire card. Well, cat fight was one on one I guess. But it?s not really a match. And it was pretty dumb. At the time though I actually loved this show and it really felt like a huge Wrestlemania. The only thing I didn’t like though was the main event. Not the match itself, it was pretty good. But the fact that it wasn’t Rock vs. HHH one on one. I thought that matchup would be the next Austin/Rock series potentially. Started off as a great IC feud, and evolve into a huge heavyweight belt feud. And even though we did get some Rock/Hunter matches in the main event scene around the time, I still think they could have offered so much more. Obviously Rock leaving for Hollywood didn’t help things though. Anyways, way off topic. Triangle ladder match was simply amazing, and I remember thinking that was probably the biggest spot fest we would ever see. Boy, did I end up being wrong on that one! Kurt Angle had really become an awesome heel by this time and was easily one of my favorites in the company by now. And the way he lost both belts without being pinned I thought was great, just gave him more ammo for the awesome character. But a very fun show I thought.

NOW: From what I?ve seen online, this is panned as one of the weaker Wrestlemanias. But looking at it now, from top to bottom I think the card was fairly strong. Plus it just shows how deep the roster was by this point with the fact that there was no one on one matches to be found, just way too many guys to get on the show. But the main event scene still bugs me, it was nice to see Foley wrestle in a main event, but I hated that it was so short after a retirement, and as Mick Foley and not as Cactus Jack or Mankind even. It just seemed like there was no way he was coming close to winning that match anyway. Other than that though, I still love the show. Not the best ever obviously, but not as weak as I think many people make it out to be.

Wrestlemana X-Seven

Here we go, the cream of the crop. Perhaps universally called the best Wrestlemania ever. Been looking forward to this one for damn sure.

THEN: This was all about two matches for me, the main event and the gimmick battle royal. Both of which were enormous markout moments for myself. As I said about Mania XV, Austin and Rock just seemed like the biggest main event of all main events, and honestly if the two of them stayed in the company full time in their primes (save Austin from his injury and keep Rock out of Hollywood) I could almost see them headlining every Wrestlemania every year. Although I guess I should have expected an Austin heel turn at some point, it still shocked the hell out of me. I didn’t see it live, but when I went to wwe.com that night and saw the image of McMahon and Austin shaking hands, man, I almost fell out of my chair. Literally. What an amazing twist to end the show and just jump star so much more. Gimmick battle royal was as much as I could hope for and more, especially seeing The Goon out there. He rules. And the last part I was just dying to see was how WCW would play a role in the show. I guess a part of me was hoping to see some sort of invasion start out on the show, and that was probably the only let down. Seeing a bunch of midcarders up in a box isn’t exactly super exciting.

NOW: Well, this show I still think is easily the best Wrestlemania ever. Although having this box set does have it?s disadvantages. Easily one of the best parts building to the main event was the ?My Way?video package, which it still has, just with generic music instead of Limp Bizkit. I mean, Bizkit has done exactly one worthwhile thing in their lives, and now it?s gone. This really disappointed me. But otherwise the whole show still holds up. Just top to bottom, what an amazing card. You get a wrestling classic with Angle/Benoit, a spotfest and a half with TLC II, an amazing brawl with HHH/Taker, and THEN one of the greatest matches in history with Austin/Rock. How anyone can say this isn’t the best Wrestlemania ever is beyond me.

Wrestlemania X8

Really, this one was a one match show for me. One of the most emotional matches there?s ever been too.

THEN: When I used to watch WCW, one thing I always insisted was having the nWo with WWE wrestlers and writers would be the greatest thing in the history of wrestling. Well, maybe not for some people, but for me it would be! And boy, was I wrong. Some things beyond Vince?s control and some due to injuries, and it just so happens the crowd for this show. Hogan being back in the WWE was just an amazing sight I thought, and Hogan/Rock was a brilliant matchup, even if I would have preferred Austin/Hogan. The match itself wasn’t great, but just the emotion and the crowd more than made up for it. Just such an awesome shift as they went from somewhat split to begin, to cheering every single eye gouge or anything else Hogan did, while booing the living heck out of Rocky. At the time the rest of the card seemed pretty good, and I was hoping Jericho main eventing Mania would put him on top of the card for the rest of his career.

NOW: Yeah, that Jericho thing didn’t really work out. It was kind of sad actually that before I watched this show it took me a bit of time to remember what the title match even was on this show. I remembered Hogan/Rock easily, but not much else. And really, other than that match, there?s not much else to write home about. Rewatching Hogan/Rock just really made me appreciate how good Rock was at adapting to turning into a heel for the match. Awesome stuff. Also, I did forget about Flair/Taker and how awesome the build for that match was. It just reminded me of how awesome heel Taker was at the time, and how much I miss having that around now. The rest though, nothing too good. And the sooner we forget about Edge and Booker T feuding over shampoo and Booker being dumb, the better I think.

Wrestlemania XIX

Probably the hardest to watch Wrestlemania in history, just from the fear of the main event and the possibility we could see a man crippled in the ring.

THEN: I’m pretty sure this was the first Wrestlemania I was fully involved with the internet wrestling crowd, and the talk of everyone was Kurt Angle and whether or not he should be wrestling at all. Although the big dream match at the time was Angle vs. Lesnar, I think everyone would have rather seen Kurt leave to heal like he needed to from his neck problems. But he didn’t, and instead we got a very interesting build to the match. The one thing I’ll always remember is the Smackdown swerve, where Angle vs. Lesnar was advertised only to have Eric Angle help screw Brock. One of the most ingenious things I?ve seen to fool everyone that was expecting Kurt to be taken off the show. The rest of this show was actually pretty strong I thought, but the watching the entire show just didn’t seem as fun as other times, as a lot of people were just waiting for the main event to be over with knowing Kurt made it thorough ok. It was weird, a rare time that a wrestling show became ‘real? in a sense.

NOW: Watching that main event as a wrestling match, it?s still a great match, but I really wish they had another chance to do it all over again with Angle healthy. It would have been much more fun to see live without nearly as much worry. And I don’t know what it is, but I really don’t like this Wrestlemania as much as I think I should. I mean, there?s some fantastic matches, with Austin vs. Rock one last time, Hogan vs. Vince, and Jericho vs. Michaels. But just for some reason, I don’t dig this show as much as I probably should all things considered. One thing I do with I could go back and watch is maybe the best couple months of wrestling building up to his, with heel Rock. Good God was he fantastic. The build for the Austin/Rock match itself wasn’t phenomenal, but really, it didn’t even need to be. Just those two names is big enough to make it worth seeing. But Rock?s stuff (especially with the Hurricane) is some of the best heel stuff ever done.

Wrestlemania XX

Maybe not the best Wrestlemania, but it?s certainly my personal favorite.

THEN: First Wrestlemania I went to see live since Wrestlemania IX. It was all about Chris Benoit too. And I’ll tell you, watching this show in a movie theatre here in Edmonton was just an amazing experience. One thing that I didn’t like about the show was both tag titles just thrown into matches with every tag team possible, and the stupidly short cruiserweight open match. Although Ultimo Dragon falling’twice?was quite funny (sadly not on the DVD though.) Otherwise, what a show. The Trish turn caught me totally off guard, and I loved it. The return of Taker was just such a huge event that people were dying to see for a long long time, and even though I missed the heel Taker stuff, seeing the old Deadman act was a big moment. Although the ring gear was pretty lame as it just turned out to be the same old Taker with a new hat, it was still a huge moment nonetheless. And Brock/Goldberg? Unforgettable. I mean at almost any other time, this would be a dream match of huge proportions. But with both guys leaving the company and the crowd verbally shitting all over Brock, it was a brutal match but the crowd made it extremely entertaining. Watching Austin was a lot of fun too, he just looked like he was dying to get out of that, maybe even laughing inside a bit since he was the only guy in there the crowd wasn’t all over.

But the capper for this show was the main event obviously, and Chris Benoit finally winning the big championship. Although him being introduced from Atlanta left everyone in the theatre saying ?what the fuck?? by the end it was an amazing celebration. I spent most the show kind of laughing at the people yelling stuff at the screen like anyone could hear it, but when HHH was in the crossface I was on my feet screaming for him to tap along with everyone else. The end scene of Benoit and Eddy hugging and crying had me in tears of joy, and it reminded me of exactly why I’m a wrestling fan in the first place.

NOW: Doesn’t matter how many times I watch that end of the show, it still brings tears to my eyes. Especially now with Eddy being gone, but even before it?s impossible not to watch that and not get emotional. There?s been a couple times I?ve been kind of mad at something or hating wrestling temporarily, but I just watch that and a feel good moment like that just shows everything that is good with the business. I still love this show more than the rest personally, but the undercard wasn’t overly strong. It was a show that basically built everything up to Benoit winning, but I’ll never complain about that ever.

Well, there we have it. Four parts all down, 20 Wrestlemania?s watched. It?s been a fun time re-watching all this and see the WWF/WWE evolve over the years. So many great moments and matches, so many ups and downs. I hope everyone has had fun reading this, and I appreciate the emails and such I?ve been getting from these. Anyways, I think the best way to end this is maybe rank the 21 Wrestlemanias from bottom to top. These are my personal rankings for the best shows after watching them all over the past couple months.

21. Wrestlemania XI

20. Wrestlemania IX

19. Wrestlemania XIII

18. Wrestlemania 2

17. Wrestlemania XII

16. Wrestlemania VII

15. Wrestlemania

14. Wrestlemania VIII

13. Wrestlemania IV

12. Wrestlemania 2000

11. Wrestlemania X

10. Wrestlemania X8

9. Wrestlemania VI

8. Wrestlemania XV

7. Wrestlemania V

6. Wrestlemania XIV

5. Wrestlemania III

4. Wrestlemania XIX

3. Wrestlemania 21

2. Wrestlemania XX

1. Wrestlemania X-Seven

Well, there she is, all done at last. Hope you enjoyed the series. mikesawaryn@hotmail.com for any feedback or questions!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: Wrestlemania Then and Now: Part III

Well, after a bit of a delay, here?s part 3 of this 4 part series. I actually watched this set of Wrestlemania disks a long time ago, but just been super busy and no writing chances the past few weeks. But here I am now, so let?s get down to business!

Wrestlemania XI

Now we’re right smack dab in the middle of my anti-wrestling phase. Well, not anti-wrestling I guess, but I didn’t care much about it. But the hype for the main event of this Wrestlemania had me excited, so I did watch it on video.

THEN: One thing I miss was the star power of Wrestlemania in the past. This Mania was kind of lacking in terms of wrestling stars, but Hollywood stars? Damn, they were everywhere. I thought it was cool back then and I still do now. One thing I do remember is being bored as heck watching a lot of this. I?ve always loved the British Bulldog and Owen Hart, but I hated their tag teams with Lex Luger and Yokozuna respectively. A lot of the first team had to do with me not liking Luger, and the second was more for it seeming like such a random team. And like I said, the rest of the matches were pretty meh to me, but I did enjoy the main event. I remember wondering how L.T. could possibly hang in there with a guy like Bam Bam, but the match was very well done I thought.

NOW: Ok, I was still as bored as heck watching a lot of this. Honestly I can usually name most the matches on a Wrestlemania card before watching it, but this one I could name the main event and that was about it. Heck, I didn’t even know who was in the title match beforehand. One thing I do like a lot more is the Owen/Yoko team (especially with Cornette in the corner) but basically this whole card left me nothing I really wanted to see again at all. The main event still stands up to the test of time though, I think Taylor did extremely well in there and it made for one heck of a fun match with a very cool back-story. Overall though, I think this is maybe my least favorite Wrestlemania so far in the series.

Wrestlemania XII

Oh yes, no we’re talking. Michaels vs. Hart in an ironman match? Yes please.

THEN: Again, still not totally back into wrestling at this point, but watching Wrestlemania was such a tradition I just had to keep it going. I do remember being really pumped up for the Ultimate Warrior return at the time. And you know how well that ended up turning out! I remember still laughing that Roddy Piper continued to have matches so many years after his ‘last? match at Wrestlemania III (I still do chuckle from time to time too.) And again, I didn’t care much about the undercard, but I was all about the main event. I thought the whole no falls after regulation thing was a very cool way to end this big feud, and even though Bret lost, I thought it was such a fun match.

NOW: I really don’t remember the Ford Bronco segments, but looking back now that was pretty hilarious. And it?s extremely hard to believe how badly Hunter was squashed in this one. Can you imagine someone jumping RIGHT up after the Pedigree? Just a very good example of how good booking can overcome just about anything that happens in the past if you want. HBK/Hart is still an excellent match I think, although I have a couple other Ironman matches I think I like a bit more. I think Bret was screwed out of the title though! Which is a good lead in to?

Wrestlemania XIII

Just weeks after this, I was hooked back into wrestling for good. So of course I went back to watch this one!

THEN: I actually liked the Undertaker/Sid main event. I thought Sid was a great character, and Taker was right around his prime at this point. I also really dug the streetfight between Ahmed/L.O.D. and The Nation (fun fact from the Road Warriors DVD: Ahmed Johnson stole those L.O.D. shoulder pads after this show!) The Nation was a team I hated, but for all the right reasons. I thought they were an amazingly good heel group at the time and I really wanted to see them get an ass kicking. But the one thing everyone remembers from this show is obviously the Austin/Hart match. What a fantastic way to double turn both men, but I admit, I was still cheering Hart and booing Austin as a fan.

NOW: Another fun fact: According to John C. when I first told him I bought this set, Maivia vs. Sultan is the only match in Wrestlemania history. Anyways, yet another dull Mania to watch these days, with the exception of Hart/Austin of course. And looking back now, I don’t remember the whole Bret being screwed story going in, but how weird is it to see now? No wonder some people might have thought the screwjob was a work for a while. Not much else to say about this show really. What a bad stretch of Wrestlemanias.

Wrestlemania XIV

Ah yes, first Mania after my dad got an illegal PPV descrambler. Despite Bret being gone, I was in love with WWF at the time.

THEN: Easily the Wrestlemania I?ve seen the most. One of the few I still have on tape. LOD 2000 was?interesting. I loved seeing them back, and I loved seeing them with Sunny, but the new uniforms were pretty ugly. I also thought Owen was criminally underused as a face, I thought he could be one of the biggest faces in the company if they wanted after Bret left. The promo he had on his return was just awesome and the crowd ate it up. But I guess the feud to put HHH over was pretty good anyways. I was in LOVE with The Rock back then, and I hated Ken Shamrock. Don’t know what it was, I just found him very unlikable. The Outlaws/Foley/Funk feud was just outstanding I thought too, I wasn’t into Foley and Funk as much as now, but the Outlaws were (and maybe still are) my personal favorite tag team ever. Undertaker/Kane feud was just built outstanding too, and the match was very interesting as well. But the main event: outstanding. The pop for Austin coming out was enormous. Too bad it was Michael?s last match for several years, I would have loved to see what he could have done after this show with the roster as hot as it was.

NOW: What a difference a year makes. We go from several shows with boring undercards and maybe one good match to this beauty. Lots of very good storylines going in and whether or not the matches were outstanding, the entertainment value was there for this show. And watching it year by year like this, it?s a pretty big overhaul in the stars of the show. We suddenly have a much longer show and we see a lot of the bigger stars of the past few years really starting to find their spots with the company. Honestly, not much has changed in my opinion over the years of this show. I thought it was very good all around and still do today.

Wrestlemania XV

Now we’re full out into the Attitude era, and this card is stacked from top to bottom.

THEN: Someone started a thread on this in the Oratory forums recently, wondering why Road Dogg had the IC belt and Billy Gunn had the Hardcore belt, when just a short while before they were reversed. Personally I thought it made no sense as the two guys seemed better suited for the other divisions. The Brawl for All was easily the dumbest thing I?ve ever seen on TV, and I was happy going in knowing this was the last time we would ever see it. And what a waste too, doing all that just to have the winner squashed by Butterbean. I really loved the X-Pac vs. Shane feud, and I couldn’t believe HHH turned to the corporation right after Chyna re-united with DX. I really hated it, I was such a DX fan, I guess I never wanted it to end. I did love having the Big Boss Man back, but I thought this whole Undertaker mess was pretty stupid, especially the hanging afterwards. But the main event’damn. I was so pumped up for it. Austin and Rock were just such natural enemies, and this was such a fun encounter, with Austin finally getting the belt back. Really fun show.

NOW: You know, seeing Vince these days is nothing like he was back then. He was just PURE evil on this show! His line ?and I’ll be the guest referee!? was such a great evil genius voice. Now he?s more an asshole owner, back then he was an evil genius. I love it. The video package going into the Bossman/Taker HIAC match is pretty funny since Bossman isn’t even shown in it. It?s a Taker/Vince feud, just without Vince fighting in it. You know, if you don’t show a guy in a video package heading into a match, it might not be a good idea to have that guy in a Hell In A Cell match. Just a thought. But otherwise, this was a very fun show again, another one I loved a ton. But less Nicole Bass please. Good lord I forgot how awful that thing is.

Well, a bit shorter than the first couple parts, but with some boring Wrestlemanias, I didn’t have much to say I guess. Plus with these ones being so close to now, not much is really going to change opinion wise. But, hope you all enjoyed it again, and expect part 4 pretty soon!

Questions? Feedback? I’m at mikesawaryn@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: Wrestlemania Then And Now: Part II

Well, time for part 2 of a 4 part review of the Wrestlemania DVDs. Today I’ll be going through Wrestlemania?s VI-X. Same format as before, I?ve watched the DVDs over the past couple weeks and I’ll simply compare my thoughts when I first watched it to what I think now. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip through memory lane!

Wrestlemania VI

Easily one of my favorite Manias as a kid, in terms of wrestling. Anyone who grew up watching in the 80?s had to be excited for the Warrior/Hogan clash.

THEN: I remember being excited knowing that Wrestlemania was in the Skydome. If it would just come to Edmonton now, I’d be perfectly happy! Anyways, I do remember The Model vs. Koko B. Ware being one of the first matches as a kid I totally cheered for the heel and not the face. It?s not so much as I liked the Model, it?s just I could never get into Koko at all. I thought he was pretty boring. Well, I’ll admit, him dressing up as the Blue Blazer was one of the best things ever. Also, I remember being confused as hell with the whole Piper/Bad News Brown thing. In case you didn’t see it, Piper came into the match with black body paint on half his body. At the time I really didn’t understand it one bit and basically thought Piper looked like an idiot. I never got into Dusty Rhodes either back then and had no idea why there was a fat guy in polka dots dancing and stuff in a wrestling ring. Of course I had no exposure to NWA or anything else at the time, so that didn’t help obviously. Roberts and DiBiase was a match I loved just because Roberts was a favorite of mine and I hated DiBiase so much (as a heel he was just SO damn good). And Hogan/Warrior was my favorite match ever at this point in time. I remember going in thinking neither man could possibly lose, being shocked as hell that Warrior won, but shocked in a really happy way.

NOW: Yeah, I still cheered for The Model over Koko. That didn’t change at all over the years. Now that I know a bit of the backstory to Piper/Bad News, it?s not that confusing anymore, it?s just really awkward to watch. Both men are two of my favorites, but seeing Piper in a pretty racist getup with a racial backstory is just not that fun to see really. Now that I?ve seen lots of Rhodes in recent years, I really feel bad for him in this WWF run, much like seeing Harley Race basically being treated like nothing and given a silly gimmick. Only it?s worse in this case, Rhodes was pretty much a joke here. Rockers/Orient Express was a match I might have overlooked as a kid, but I loved watching it this time around. Really a strong little match there. Also, looking back now I totally forgot Greg Valentine in ?Rhythm and Blues? ever happening. Maybe it?s not a bad thing though, I thought he was a pretty good mid card guy and this was pretty silly to have him in. Although, looking back now and seeing DDP driving them to the ring was a short little markout moment for me. One thing I noticed in the Rude/Snuka match is Superfly looked REALLY roided up here. Kind of sad to say, but he had some veins popping out and looked very strange in this match. As for Hogan/Warrior? I still love this match. Neither man is obviously great in the ring (and their WCW match was horrid) but this match was much better than it had any right to be. They were outstanding in this one, and everything just clicked. Too bad Warrior turned out to be one of the biggest idiots in history, but at the time the passing of the torch was very special.

Wrestlemania VII

For some reason, and I don’t even know why for sure, I wanted to see this Wrestlemania SO bad. I didn’t get to see it live, but I remember riding my bike to the video store every few days to see if it was in to be rented yet. Maybe it was just hoping it would be as good as Wrestlemania VI, but looking back now this was kind of a silly Wrestlemania to be so pumped up about.

THEN: I loved the Texas Tornado as a kid, and always wondered why he kind of disappeared after a while. This is one of the matches I remember most from him, probably since I was so pumped up about this show in the first place. I was also really a huge Bulldog fan by this time and loved seeing him against the Warlord. I hated the Nasty Boys and I was so mad they beat the Hart Foundation for the belts. The build to the Roberts/Martel blindfold match was out-freaking-standing I think, and the match was really interesting I thought. I never thought Jake could ever use since he was so used to being blind by this point. Warrior/Savage was HUGE back then and I don’t think anyone could help but get emotional over the Savage/Elizabeth reunion. I loved the match at the time too. I remember thinking Regis interviewing Tenryu and Kitao was pretty funny at the time, even if it is kind of stupid and offensive now thinking that all Japanese wrestlers know are words like ?Toyota?. Legion of Doom was just a huge favorite of mine by this time and I loved seeing their little squash match on the show. Virgil?s breakup from DiBiase was such a feel good story I remember being totally behind him . Funny story too, The Mountie was widely censored here in Canada at the time. It was feared that people here would start being scared of real Mounties and he didn’t portray them in a positive light (no shit, he was a heel!). Anyways, all his matches were usually censored out here, so I never really got to see him much at all. Hogan/Slaughter was probably the match that made me want to see this show so bad, as I thought the Slaughter heel turn was one of the more interesting things done at the time. Match wasn’t that memorable, but hey, Hogan got the big win for the USA, right?

NOW: Kind of sad looking back at Kerry Von Erich now, knowing the history behind the family. He was pretty damn good when he was on though. Bulldog/Warlord I still think was a really good ?power vs. power? match, even if Warlord sucks for the most part. I still can’t really get into the Nasty Boys to this day. Even when Knobbs was in WCW I just couldn’t stand him. Just one of those teams I can’t seem to like no matter what. Blindfold match was slow and maybe a little long, but for a blindfold match it was still really entertaining. And after seeing Cena in a match doing the same things Roberts did back here, it was kind of neat to see. Savage/Warrior is still a great match in terms of emotion, but looking back now it?s tough to see Warrior come back from finishing moves the way he did. 5 elbow drops and he kicks out? Ugh. The L.O.D. squash was maybe even more fun this time around knowing how badly Power and Glory sucked. And Hogan/Slaughter wasn’t great, but it was a feud based on emotion over the war and such. I feel bad for all the threats and danger for Slaughter through the feud, but I still think it was an entertaining story with a feel good ending for the country. Kind of corny now, but at the time it worked.

Wrestlemania VIII

This is around the time I started losing some interest in WWF for a few years, but I still somewhat followed it from a distance. Rather than rush to rent it or anything like that though, it would be more a case of rent it and watch if I’m really bored sometime.

THEN: The build to Piper/Hart was something I did remember, and I was really excited for this match. I loved the whole Piper hesitating to use the bell spot, I remember watching and hoping he wouldn’t actually do it. As I said before, I didn’t get anything other than WWF so I really didn’t appreciate Ric Flair at ALL back then. In fact, I really hated him for quite a while. I didn’t understand how this guy that looks like an old man could come in and be the champion. Money Inc. I hated too, mainly from a being a great heel standpoint once again. DiBiase was great as I?ve said a million times, and Rotundo as IRS was just phenomenal as well. I really hated the ending to Hogan/Sid too, but I was hoping the rumors of it being Hogan?s last match were false. Really strange Wrestlemania that was easily my least favorite at the time.

NOW: Piper/Hart stands the test of time, it was still really good I think. Makes up for the strange Piper/Brows stuff from before. Seeing the first glimpses of HBK was really cool too. One thing I do enjoy watching it now is being able to really appreciate Savage/Flair now, especially since I love both guys a ton now. And now the strangeness of the Hogan/Sid ending makes sense knowing what happened. I was wondering why Sid kicked out so strong from the legdrop since it?s like never happened before. And now it?s really kind of funny to watch Hogan?s reaction knowing that Sid wasn’t supposed to kick out. And I read a couple places that the match was supposed to end with a Papa Shango run in, but it was all messed up because he came down late. Well, if that?s the case, Shango was REALLY late as he finally came to the ring like a minute or two after the fall. Really strange ending. Weird Wrestlemania as well, it was super short with barely any matches at all on the card. Probably the weakest so far out of all of them, despite a couple good matches in Piper/Hart and Flair/Savage.

Wrestlemania IX

I know this one is usually panned as maybe the worst Wrestlemania in history (toss up between this and a couple others) but personally it?s my most memorable. Not because it was good (it did suck for the most part) but because I went with my dad and a younger brother to a bar in a small town outside Edmonton to watch live. They allowed kids in to watch wrestling shows with their parents, and for me it was just a special family memory.

THEN: I loved the Steiner Brothers, and their match against the Headshrinkers was the first I ever saw. Heel Doink the Clown is one of the best gimmicks I can remember. I loved him back then and I thought then (and still do) that he was horribly underused and turned into a lame face way too fast. I didn’t know the full story behind the Mega Maniacs and Money Inc, but I was so pumped up for that match. I did notice that Hogan looked different for this show (besides the face injury) and I noticed it the first while in WCW as well. Giant Gonzalez and Undertaker was a match I actually liked, it made Taker actually look like an unstoppable zombie, coming back from a chloroform attack and all. But even then I would be stupid to not think Gonzales had the single worst wrestling outfit of all time. As for the main event, I remember marking the hell out when Hogan won. It was just so cool that a Hart/Yokozuna main event ended up with a Hogan title reign. I thought it was one of the coolest endings to a show I?ve ever seen.

NOW: Damn, I thought the last Mania was short, this one was crazy! Didn’t seem like a Wrestlemania at all looking at the short match listing now. Anyways, knowing the condition of Scott Steiner now and knowing Rikishi was a headshrinker, it?s kind of funny enjoying a Rikishi/Scott Steiner match so much. But hey, they ruled back then. Looking back now, I’m pretty sure this was around the steroid problem times, so Hogan looking a bit different was probably due to coming off the drugs. I don’t know for a fact, but that?s the best educated guess I can make. And Taker Gonzales, well, at least now I can look at it at the brutal match it was. Not Taker?s fault though, he was damn good back then. Still, that being said, the size of Gonzales is still pretty impressive I think. And the main event is kind of strange to watch now. I do love surprises and all, but to have a bait and switch like this to end Wrestlemania just isn’t a great idea I think. And I know a lot happened because of Hogan politics at the time, but still, a guy barely able to wrestle that night due to an injury shouldn’t win the title like that obviously. Made Bret look pretty weak looking back now, which I’ll obviously never be a fan of. But oh well, I liked it at the time so it did it?s job I guess.

Wrestlemania X

Despite how much fun I had watching the last show as a kid, I didn’t watch this one as I was pretty much in my non-wrestling phase growing up. Over the years I caught the must see matches on the show, but this is my first time watching this one beginning to end. I did watch the occasional show every few months back around this time though, so I did kind of know what was going on so I’ll go off that.

THEN: Some things will never change, and me drooling over a Bret vs. Owen match is one of them. It?s the one match I really did have to see from the show for sure. I remember my dad thought Alundra Blaze was pretty cute, so I cheered for her when I did see her. And Men on a Mission, well, I loved them. I?ve always been a big tag team mark, and as bad as they might have been wrestling wise, I loved them as a team back then. I thought Luger was a great heel as ?The Narcissist?, and I didn’t really dig his big American face run. Seemed way too much like a Hogan rip off (which it turns out, he was supposed to be the next Hogan so it made sense I suppose). The ladder match was a really cool idea I thought, and seeing highlights I always thought there?s no way they could possibly fake or fix a ladder match. Way too real not to get hurt. And I was, of course, ecstatic to hear Bret won the title back again. Sweet revenge for the year before.

NOW: Looking back, the whole booking for the 2 title matches and Bret/Owen was GENIUS. Especially having Owen win, something that nobody could have possibly seen coming I think. And after the main event, having Owen come out to stare Bret down? Perfect. What an ending to a show, and it made perfect sense. Ladder match was outstanding as just about everyone knows by now, and most the rest of the show was pretty strong as well. The one funny thing was a big ?argument? with the heel team for a big 10 man tag match. They were arguing over who should be the team captain, so after showing that Vince just says ?well, it looks like that match won’t take place, they can’t decide on a captain!?. I researched and found that they were running short on time so they just scrapped the match, but what a horrible way to write it off the show. At least just say someone couldn’t make it or something, but that excuse was pretty lame I thought. Otherwise, this show was just strong all the way around, and for me I’d pick this as the best Wrestlemania?..so far of course!

Well, there?s part 2. I’ll be watching the next shows whenever I got some free time the next couple weeks, so check back for part 3 very soon. Until then, thanks for stopping by.

Always feel free to leave feedback or ask questions.

mikesawaryn@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: Wrestlemaina Then and Now Part I

A few weeks ago I won a fairly good chunk of change on a lottery ticket, so what did I do with it? Well, the old me would have fun out and bought a bunch of junk, wasting it all in a week or so. But, the new mature me paid off a few bills, saved some for Christmas, and then had a couple hundred bucks left over. So I figured I should buy something for myself that I normally wouldn’t, being the cheap bastard I usually am.

Off to Best Buy I went, and picked up the most expensive DVD box set I?ve ever invested in. The Wrestlemania Anthology set. I wanted this badly, but $200+ is not money I usually have lying around for wrestling merchandise. But for a guy who only has 2 Manias on DVD and 1 on tape, this was something I could certainly use for sure. Not to mention the box looks quite pretty, and I like it too. For DVD collectors such as me, this is a good investment I think.

At first I wanted to pull out Wrestlemania 17 and watch it again, but then I got to thinking how long it?s been since I?ve seen some of the older ones. So I popped in Wrestlemania I and decided to go from there. I?ve seen all of them in the past (except for one) so it was quite interesting to watch them as the obsessed wrestling fan I am today and see how differently I view things. And that?s where the idea for this column came in. Join me as I watch each and every Wrestlemania, start to finish and compare my thoughts back when I first saw it to what I think today!

Now obviously the older ones are a bit more of an extreme comparison that stuff like Wrestlemania 20, but it should still be interesting how differently I view things just a couple years later. I won’t bother doing 21 in this series since it was less than a year ago, and quite frankly my views don’t change that much in 9 months or so. And I’ll divide this series into 4 parts, each covering 5 Manias. So enough with the jibba jabba, let?s get to Wrestlemania!!

Wrestlemania- The Original!

You know, in all honesty I really don’t think I?ve actually seen this show before this viewing. I’m pretty sure this is the only one too. So this could be an interesting first viewing. Since it?s my first time ever watching this one, I’ll go through match by match.

First thing I notice with this though is the quality. Most of the old Wrestlemanias I rented on VHS and the quality was for the most part kind of crappy from the tapes being work out too. But this DVD quality stuff makes it look like it could have been filmed last week even. Really cool. To the matches:

Tito Santana vs. The Executioner

Was the Executioner someone big? The voice sounds strangely familiar, but I can’t place it, and I’m too lazy to research I guess. Anyways, decent opener, but I noticed the old school ring bell and the super loose old school WWF ring ropes. Almost looks like you could fall outside the ring running the ropes back then. I remember loving Tito as a kid, but now it?s just a meh sort of relationship.

SD Jones vs. King Kong Bundy

Wow, SD Jones!! Ok, I don’t know much about him. See, even back in the day a hoss had to squash some smaller guys. Some things always stay the same!

Matt Borne vs. Ricky Steamboat

Man I love Steamboat. Always have too, he was just such a good face. Nothing too special in this one.

David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake

I loved Beefcake as a kid, but I saw like 99.9% of him as ?The Barber?. Kind of interesting seeing him as a heel for one of the first times, and David obviously turned out to be nothing like his dad was. Kind of cool seeing Bruno before he was so anti-WWE.

Greg Valentine vs. JYD (IC Title)

Match showed one thing to me, just how the fans have really changed. Something like a DQ these days and people get pissed off, especially in a Wrestlemania title match. But back then, well, they went nuts for JYD winning even if it was just a DQ. Kind of interesting I thought.

Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff vs. Windham and Rotundo

I?ve gained a lot of love for Windham lately seeing some old NWA stuff, and seeing Rotundo in WWF before the IRS days was pretty neat. Honestly I think Volkoff was one of the first heels I liked as a kid too, I don’t even know why. I think I found his singing funny back then.

Studd/Andre Bodyslam Match

Basically all the Andre stuff I can remember was as a heel, so again this was pretty fresh and new to me. Good to see Heenan being the good old Weasel he always was though!

Womens Match

Pretty cool seeing a womens match way up on the card like this, but it was obviously all the publicity it got with Cyndi Lauper that helped out too. Decent match, kept short and nothing too special though.

Hogan and Mr. T vs. Piper and Orndorff

Well, talk about adding as many celebrities as possible to a match! But for an event like Wrestlemania trying to get off the ground, I can totally understand why. Really cool to see Cowboy Bob, who I didn’t know at all as a kid but I love now as Randy?s manager.

Overall:

Really lackluster as far as match quality goes and such, but really it?s the feeling of the event that makes this one special. Just knowing what it started and seeing it in MSG was a really cool thing. Oh, and Lord Alfred Hayes? I liked him growing up but good GOD was he awful here. Must have been just beginning, he was so obviously reading cards and messing up every time he did it too.

Wrestlemania 2

Ok, this was one of the first wrestling events I ever saw. I was like 5 when it happened, but I remember my dad renting this to watch himself and I watched it with him. And I rented it a few years later to watch again from the video store by my house.

THEN: I really didn’t remember much about the 3 arenas thing, I always fast forwarded through the talking stuff to get to the wrestling. I remember loving George The Animal as a kid (I always wanted a ?Mine? doll of my own) so his match against Savage is a classic for me. I thought the boxing match was pretty stupid (never a boxing fan as a kid I guess) and I remember always wondering why there were so many USA guys like Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sergeant Slaughter and now Corporal Kirschner in this one. I remember wanting one of the NFL guys to win the battle royal since my dad was a big football fan, mainly cheering for The Fridge. I always loved the British Bulldogs so their win was pretty damn sweet, and I had no idea who Terry and Hoss Funk were so I cheered for Tito and JYD of course. And the big blue steel cage, I really wondered if Hulk could do it with his injured back and stuff. But he pulled through like the hero he was and the show ended happily ever after.

NOW: Well, not quite as good as I remember it. It?s been a hell of a long time since I watched it as a kid, and I really didn’t miss out I guess. The commentary was AWFUL from the ladies they brought in at each city. I understand why, having the usual commentary team across the country and all, but they just weren’t good at all. I’d almost take Todd Grisham over them. Almost. I loved Jake Roberts growing up, but didn’t see much of his heel work, so I loved his little promo here. Man was he good back here. Boxing match is still kind of silly, as was Corporal Kirschner. Battle Royal was pretty fun as they usually are, but I really marked out seeing The Hart Foundation back in the blue and black tights. Now that?s old school! One thing that?s pretty noticeable is where they edit out the old music on the DVDs, and the first case I?ve noticed it is Uncle Elmer?s theme. I have no clue what it used to be, but having this new music really loud and clear makes it pretty obvious his old stuff was edited. I liked the idea of the back injury going into Hogan/Bundy, it was some good psychology going into a match that wasn’t going to be close to a classic obviously. But most of all I really miss the big blue cage. Honestly any time I thought of this Mania I thought of the big blue.

Wrestlemania III

Ok, this one I remember as clear as day back then. I rented it way more than any other old school Wrestlemania, and even now I still remember it as the best of the beginning shows.

THEN: I was always in awe of the ?93 000? people there for the show, and I remembered it as a show of some awesome matches and some matches of guys I didn’t know at all. So I usually fast forwarded through who I didn’t know. I remember wondering how King Kong Bundy could go from fighting Hulk Hogan one year to midgets the next year. And I remember thinking how sad it was that Roddy Piper was leaving when people were finally cheering for him, and I felt sorry for him for that. I remember liking ?Dangerous? Danny Davis mainly since I liked the Hart Foundation (yes, even back then) and he was just so good at looking like a wimp. Heck, even back then I knew Savage/Steamboat was a classic match, I must have watched it a dozen times. They were both just so quick in the ring. The build to Roberts/Honky was one of the first things I remember watching on TV with my dad too, so I liked this match. But as a kid maybe my favorite match ever was Hogan/Andre. When he bodyslammed Andre I was just in shock, and couldn’t believe it. Just an amazing moment in wrestling history.

NOW: Some things don’t change much I guess. Although I do know who Harley Race is now, and feel quite bad seeing him just be another gimmick in WWF knowing what he accomplished in his career. And Piper?s retirement match? HA! He was just on Smackdown like a month ago, almost 20 years later. I do still like Danny Davis, he was a good chicken shit ref heel. I did always cheer for the faces as a kid, but I never liked Koko B. Ware. Still don’t, other than the Blue Blazer thing. Savage/Steamboat is still a classic, so I must say I had pretty good taste as a kid! And hate on Hogan all you want, that moment with the slam on Andre is still just huge in wrestling history. Match was far from a ***** classic, but this one was all about the moment involved. Match might not be my favorite ever anymore, but the magnitude of Hogan slamming Andre is always going to be huge.

Wrestlemania IV

Ah yes, time for the big title tournament. I don’t remember this one as much as some of the others, but some matches still stick out.

THEN: Really, I think I fast forwarded through a lot of the matches since I didn’t care for the guys in them that match. Mainly Don Muraco. One of the guys I just didn’t care for a single bit growing up. But I did hate Ted DiBiase with a huge passion though. He was just so mean to everyone, and his laugh made he want to see him lose badly. I always wondered why he didn’t fight Hogan too, I thought Hogan would shut him up for good! One team I did love in this show was Strike Force. I didn’t know who Rick Martel was, but he was Canadian so that was good enough to cheer for him. And I liked Tito too. I loved seeing Savage win the belt, but overall I hated this Wrestlemania.

NOW: Ok, here?s one I?ve really changed my mind about a ton. I hated it back then, and I love it now. The whole idea behind the tournament was great I thought. Hogan was at a point he probably shouldn’t lose, so having the belt change not so cleanly then having the tournament was just an awesome idea. Seeing DiBiase and Duggan in a match is just a huge markout moment now that it wasn’t before, knowing the full history behind them now. The Hogan/Andre DQ was perfect to get them both out of the tourney, since realistically they should have been the final since they were both untouchable at the time. And I love DiBiase now a ton, he?s one of my all-time favorites. Too bad he never did get that title reign he deserved, but Savage did deserve it too.

Wrestlemania V

The Mega-Powers EXPLODE! Maybe the best built main event of Wrestlemania history.

THEN: I really loved Hercules making a face turn, and I didn’t even know why I liked him. He just looked tough I guess. One thing I never knew until I was much older was that Akeem was also the One Man Gang. Had no clue. I actually though Akeem was like albino or something, I did think he was black but had really really white skin. Ok, maybe I was a dumb kid. I’ll shut up about that now. One thing I’ll always remember about this show is Strike Force breaking up, I was so upset when it happened. One of the most shocking things I remember happening in wrestling back then. And I loathed Rick Martel for it too. But the main event, just wow, The story going into it was huge and had me pulling for Hulk to whole way. Savage needed to get beat and beat badly for being such an ass!

NOW: Ok, nothing more about Akeem, but seeing The Rockers now I could appreciate more than I did as a kid. I liked them as a kid, but now seeing them is a bigger deal. Blazer/Perfect was a lot of fun too, something I definitely overlooked since I didn’t care much about the Blazer when I first saw him. I am very sad to hear Demolition?s music gone though. Very very sad. They had one of the coolest themes ever, and now it?s replaced with generic rock music. I still do love the whole breakup of Strike Force story, but man, Martel oversold that forearm so much it was hilarious. Sold an accidental forearm like death for several minutes. And the Mega-Powers match was still great, and the build up is still perhaps my favorite build ever. What a story they told.

Ok, well that?s the first 5. I shall return with Wrestlemania?s 6-10 in the next couple weeks. It?s been a blast watching this old stuff, and I hope you had some fun reading along as I watch them again.

Email: mikesawaryn@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: Memories of Eddie

With today?s horribly saddening events, there?s bound to be a bunch of Eddie Guerrero columns pop up. There?s been a couple before me and I’m sure there will be more after me. But the point of this isn’t to be something original or thought provoking, it?s just something I want to do to give thanks to a man who has given me so much entertainment. It?s a chance for me to remember a man who was almost impossible to hate as a person, especially once you knew all he went through to get where he was to this day.

Honestly, this whole day just feels like a bad dream you’re just dying to roll over and wake up from, pushing it to the back of your mind forever. I woke up to see a one of my MSN Messenger contacts have ?RIP Eddie? in his name, but I really didn’t think anything of it at first. I did think of Eddie Guerrero when I saw the name, but Eddie couldn’t be dead. A few minutes later I made my way to the Oratory Forums and saw an Eddie appreciation thread from the index page, and my heart just skipped a beat. I prayed for a bizarre coincidence as I went into the WWE folder, but there it was. The words that made my jaw dropped. ?Eddie Guerrero Passed Away?. It?s 9 hours later now and I can still read it, but it just won’t compute. We’re sadly fans of a business that loses too many people too early, but the only time I?ve been hit like this is hearing of Owen Hart. Eddy was one of my all time favorites to watch, and I can’t believe I won’t see him again.

My first memories of WCW involve Eddie Guerrero. I remember starting to watch WCW in mid 1997, and Eddie quickly became one of my favorite guys to hate. I loved his style in the ring and he always entertained me, but he was SO good at being that cocky bad guy that I always wanted to see him lose. His stuff with Chavo was outstanding, and Chavo shaving his own head in a hair vs. hair match is one of the funniest non-Jericho things I remember when I think of WCW. He was one of the guys that really got me hooked into wrestling that year when I was just starting to re-discover the world that is professional wrestling.

When the whole Radicalz angle came about in the then WWF, it was one of the hugest markout moments of my life seeing Saturn, Malenko, Benoit and Eddy all sitting ringside at a WWF show. They were 4 of my favorites in WCW, and here they were with my favorite company. The thing I feared is perhaps Eddy would get lost in the shuffle. Looking back I don’t even know why I thought this. He was outstanding in the ring and could play such great characters. Maybe it?s because I?ve only seen him as the cocky heel in WCW and I figured that?s all he could ever really play. I felt the other 3 were maybe a bit bigger stars and would catch on a bit more with the WWF crowd. I?ve never been so happy to be proven wrong, as Eddie became arguably the biggest star out of any of the four.

Unfortunately, between his personal demons and untimely injuries, his first WWF run didn’t get up to the levels of excellence it could have been, and he ended up leaving the company to get his personal life in order. Once he finally got himself clean (and for good it seemed) we did get a little something extra along his path back, and that is help put Ring Of Honor on the map. I was just getting into the Oratory and the whole online wrestling community in general when ROH started up, and I really started paying attention when I saw they were bringing Eddie Guerrero in for a couple shows. Being unfamiliar with the promotion and indy wrestling in general at the time, I thought of them as just another small company until I saw one of my favorite wrestlers show up there. I started following ROH when he showed up there and to this day I haven’t stopped.

His return to the WWE brought on moment after moment of great wrestling and entertaining segments. From his outstanding heel promo against The Rock on Raw, to the hilarious vignettes with Chavo as Los Guerreros helped build the new Smackdown tag division, he was great at whatever character he played whether it be heel or face, comedic or serious. He was a huge part of what made Smackdown the superior show after the brand extension, putting on excellent matches every week and at every PPV. But for Eddie, the best was yet to come.

Heading into No Way Out last year, all signs pointed to Eddie finally winning the ultimate prize, the WWE Championship. The signs of an Eddie/Angle match were set, as well as Brock and Goldberg. All signs were pointing to Brock dropping the belt to Eddie, but I still couldn’t believe it. Mainly because it seemed too good to be true. I basically felt the same about Benoit winning at Wrestlemania a month later, it was a dream, but in wrestling dreams don’t seem to come true too often. But seeing Eddie finally win was just such an emotional moment, not for seeing Eddie the character win the belt, but knowing just how far Eddie the human being had come in his life. From down and out with personal demons to on top of the wrestling world.

As I said before, Eddie was great at whatever character his storyline called for him to play, at his latest heel run was perfect proof of that. Here?s a guy I?ve loved for years and years, and he was so good at playing the evil heel that even I wanted to see him get what he deserved. His series of matches and prolonged feud with Rey Mysterio was maybe overdone to some people, but I ate up every second of it, mainly from Eddie?s outstanding acting. And as I?ve said in my Smackdown reviews, the Eddie/Batista storyline is one of my favorite storylines in quite a long time. The two of them played off each other extremely well and it led to some of the more entertaining segments seen this year. The ?odd couple? duo had me guessing where it was going to lead to right from the beginning/ I was worried that Batista?s injury would cut this story short from what it could have been, but today?s events far overshadow that injury or any sort of storyline.

I had the pleasure of seeing Eddie live twice. The first was Smackdown in 2001, I believe his last show before he was fired. It was the famous Benoit/Austin show from Edmonton and Eddie was in a six man tag with the Hardy Boyz against X-Factor if I’m not mistaken. Nothing too memorable, but it was a cool moment for me to finally see him live. I also saw him at a Smackdown house show last September in a triple threat with Kurt Angle and JBL. Very entertaining match as Eddie and Kurt did a ton of comedic spots and really sent the fans home happy. I went to the last Smackdown taping before this year?s draft lottery and the only thing I thought after the show was how disappointed that Eddie wasn’t on the card. Looking back today, I wish even more I got to see him one more time.

But overall when I think of Eddie Guerrero, I’ll always remember him being in my favorite moment ever as a wrestling fan at Wrestlemania XX. Seeing Chris Benoit win the title was just an incredible moment, only outdone by seeing two best friends embrace in the middle of the ring, a belt on each of their shoulders. I remember standing at a movie theatre here in Edmonton, tears in my eyes as Benoit and Guerrero celebrated, crying themselves the whole time. And even when I watch that again on DVD, I still feel the same tears fill my eyes, knowing why it?s so great to be a wrestling fan. But now, I know for a fact I’ll cry again next time I see that part, but it’ll be tears of joys mixed with tears of sadness, knowing one of the greats has left us way too soon. If I had to list my favorite wrestlers of all time, there?s no doubt in my mind Eddie is one of my top 5. And over the next few days, I’ll remember the fun times. The times he made me laugh, the matches he made me admire, and the characters that made me smile. Maybe I’ll watch the end of Wrestlemania XX tonight, maybe I won’t be able to for a couple days. But when I do, I’ll know that Eddie might be gone, but he’ll never be forgotten. Eddie, thank you for all you?ve given us fans. Our prayers are with your family on this day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Open Mike: Scooter

This may not be a wrestling book per say, but it?s a book I’m sure will get some attention from wrestling fans with Mick Foley as the author, so I thought I’d give my thoughts on the book for those wondering whether or not to check it out. Enjoy.

Anyone who has read either of Mick Foley?s autobiographies knows the man is a heck of a talented writer. He?s got an uncanny ability to connect with the readers and tell a heck of an entertaining story. While I haven’t checked out his children?s books yet (if I had kids I would have bought them in a second though) I did read Tietam Brown and enjoyed it a lot as well. So when I heard he was doing another novel, I couldn’t help but to be excited to see what else he has in store. And I couldn’t help but be even more excited when I found out this novel would have a lot to do with one of my favorite sports, baseball.

Scooter is laid out in a pretty original fashion. Rather than the regular one chapter after another, it?s placed into sections separated by year. As with Tietam Brown, the book is written in a first person perspective from the viewpoint of the title character, Scooter Reilly, who gets the first name from the nickname of former ball player Phil Rizzuto. The layout of the book is very interesting since it?s told from Scooter?s point of view. With each section advancing the life of Scooter several years, they are written with very different viewpoints. As Scooter grows up we see him becoming smarter and seeing the world around him much more clearly with passing age. There?s a lot of stuff early on in the story that doesn’t seem to make much sense, but as you read on you begin to learn things as the main character does. Pretty much characteristic Mick Foley style writing; he?s always been excellent at bringing someone right into the story. Also, there are a couple small cameos that some attentive Foley fans will notice and enjoy that others wouldn’t give a second thought to seeing. We see a chapter involving Jim McGonigle, Mick Foley?s high school wrestling coach (who he mentioned in a segment on Raw years back when he had Shane McMahon locked in a submission hold).McGonigle appears as himself, a high school wrestling coach in the book. Also, we see a special cameo from old Tietam Brown Sr. himself in a situation that the readers of Foley?s first novel won’t find shocking at all (I’m not going to spoil it for you though!)

Scooter?s family starts off appearing to be just a classic, loving family near the beginning of the book, but as the story evolves we see the dysfunctional traits of each member start shining through. Each of them has their flaws that combined together adds to the main conflicts affecting our main character, again tying in to the interesting viewpoint this book was written from. Besides seeing a child grow up as the story progresses, the reader also bears witness to the evolution of living in the Bronx in New York City over the time period. The book is set from the very late 60?s through the 70?s in a very rough time for the area. The Reilly family lives in the area and sees it change from a relatively friendly neighborhood to a drug dealing gang haven. And of course I mentioned baseball being an important part in the book. We see life through the eyes of a baseball-obsessed family, and see the evolution of the game as well. It?s something very interesting to read for sport fans as it?s a good look at the viewpoint of Yankee fans living in the Bronx at the time. The whole baseball theme seems to be a backdrop to the story, but it goes on Foley does an interesting job in tying life lessons and problems to the game itself. It?s something I could appreciate as a former athlete myself and again, Foley sets this book apart from being just an average novel. Throughout the story we see several main issues come up for Scooter that you naturally assume to be resolved by the end. We see Scooter deal with issues in love, overcoming diversity, trying to find his true calling in life, and escaping the problems in his family?s past that still follows them. You find yourself really hooked in, trying to guess how Scooter is going to get everything sorted out and get everything right in the end. Things start looking up?and the story comes to a sudden end. A lot of the ending leaves you with more questions than answers, and unless a sequel ever comes out to this book, it?s a rather frustrating way to put down this book.

Overall Thoughts

This book is rather had to rate, it really depends on how you look at it. If I look at it simply as a book and pretend it?s written by some ?Joe Author? my thoughts are going to be a bit different than if I look at it as a Mick Foley book. Not just from a Foley fanboy sort of perspective, but also with those ?inside? jokes I mentioned that add a little extra to the story. When I look back at the story that was told, it?s a pretty decent story, but not an amazingly great one. It?s the kind of book I’m glad I read and I had a good time reading but I’m really in no rush to read it again or tell everyone I know that they’re missing out on an awesome book if they don’t read it. I felt the same way when I finished Tietam Brown as well. Good book, but the ending (although pretty original) I didn’t dig just because I’m the kind of guy who loves seeing the end of a book wrapping everything up nice and neat. The ending here leaves a lot of things wide open for imagination. I do like authors being original and such, but it?s more a personal preference than anything that I like to see the whole story with a really finalized ending. Again, it has the same style ending as Tietam Brown as it leaves the reader almost hoping for a sequel, but there really doesn’t look like there?s enough story left to make a full book (not to mention, I believe I heard there?s no plans for sequels anyway.)

I suppose if I were to give this book a grade, I’ll grade it as a novel (which it should be looked at, obviously) and not a Mick Foley book. On a star rating scale up to *****, I’ll give it **3/4. If you’re a baseball fan or a Foley fan I say it?s a great book that you’ll love to read, but if you’re just looking for a regular novel to get into, well I still say you should read it, but it?s not a ‘must hurry up and read? kind of thing. But I recommend checking it out whoever you are, it?s a neat story with a little something for everyone in it.

I apologize for my lack of writing since I won the OWS, but it?s been a busy time personally for me, not to mention I was a little drained for ideas after the contest. But rest assured there?s some columns on the way very soon, so keep an eye out for that. Until then?

Mike Sawaryn

mikesawaryn@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *