Archive for December, 2013


The Wrestling Nerd Analysis Survey

December 8th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Recently, in a thread at Something Awful’s wrestling subforum, discussion led to a survey about how we each got into wrestling. Some started during the Attitude Era in the late 90’s. Some during the Hogan Era. Some during the early 2000’s, when things weren’t as good as they used to be. I think it’s a pretty good idea for a discussion and deserves better than being hidden in a massive forum thread that moves several pages a day. So while I’ll answer the questions myself, I suggest you guys answer it as well. Toss it in the comments or even reblog it if you have a blog to call home. Even if you stopped watching wrestling years ago, give it a shot.

The questions:

1. What is the first wrestling match you remember watching? What year did you watch it?

2. What is the first angle you remember? What year?

3. What match or angle first got you following wrestling closely? What year?

4. As a kid, who were your top three favorite wrestlers?

5. Who are your top three wrestlers today?

Here’s my take.

1. What is the first wrestling match you remember watching? What year did you watch it?

I have a vague memory of being there with my brothers to watch Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant on Saturday Night’s Main Event in early 1988. It might not have even been that night it aired, but the replay of the events on another show. The match itself was lead-up to Wrestlemania 4. Andre defeated Hogan for the WWF Championship thanks to a crooked referee and while the WWF brass let that stand, they put their foot down when Andre immediately sold the belt to Ted Dibiase. The championship was suddenly vacated with the champion to be recrowned in a one-night, 14-man tournament to take place at the following Wrestlemania.

The first match that I recall watching for reals was “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka vs. some jobber on WWF Challenge in early January, 1991. Challenge was on Sundays at noon for me, so I was already awake and active from having to deal with Sunday School. I channel-surfed into seeing Snuka walking to the ring to face a generic victim, who he proceeded to annihilate within three minutes, culminating in a Superfly Splash off the top. Some research led me to discover that the guy’s name was Spike Jones. I found the match online, which of course included commentator Bobby Heenan discussing how much he used to love his music, much to Gorilla Monsoon’s chagrin.

Monsoon also made a rather funny line in retrospect, where he said that Spike wasn’t likely the man’s real name, but it sounds a lot cooler than something like “Dwayne.” This would prove to be more true than Monsoon would ever realize.

I was a fan of Godzilla movies at that age and watching the match made me wonder why I wasn’t watching this stuff to begin with. It was choreographed, but at least everyone moved a lot better and I didn’t have to deal with hours of drama from non-fighting characters who I didn’t give a shit about. Shortly after that match, they hyped up the upcoming Royal Rumble with a look at all 30 wrestlers involved. I loved the outlandish and diverse designs and found myself immediately hooked in.

2. What is the first angle you remember? What year?

The first major angle I can recall is Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Rick “The Model” Martel in 1990 stretching into 1991. It started before I was watching, but they did a good job of showing the highlights. It all started when they were each guests on the interview segment hosted by Brother Love. Jake was talking about whatever with his massive python Damien around his shoulders. Martel, a smug narcissist constantly peddling his own brand of perfume called Arrogance, found himself disgusted by the snake. He kept trying to spray Damien with some Arrogance, which he always distributed with a big atomizer can. Eventually, Jake got in his face over it and Martel accidentally-on-purpose sprayed him right in the eye with the perfume. Medical personnel scrambled and Martel snuck off.

In a later installment, Jake and Martel were brought back. Jake was wearing sunglasses and carried a walking stick to show that he was blind. Martel proceeded to make fun of him and antagonize him even further. Soon, Jake got close enough to grab at him, but reached Brother Love instead. He dropped Brother Love with a DDT (it’s okay, he was a jerk anyway) and Jake’s sunglasses came off to reveal a gross-ass, milky eye. It was awesome.

The feud was stretched out over months because WWF had the patience to do that back then. Martel was constantly ducking Jake. It wasn’t even about having them see if Jake could beat Martel, but seeing if Jake was capable of getting his hands on Martel. They captained their own teams at Survivor Series, leading to Martel’s side getting the first clean sweep in that show’s history. Jake was the last member of his team and rather than go out fighting, he grabbed Damien and chased Martel to the back. Jake was legal and Martel wasn’t so Jake got counted out. They tangled again at the Royal Rumble, but Martel was there before and after Jake’s tenure in the ring.

Finally, Martel signed a contract to take on Jake at Wrestlemania. He didn’t realize the fine print until it was too late: it would be a Blindfold Match. The two men would be blindfolded, which added to the idea that the drama wasn’t about Jake winning, but Jake even getting to him in the first place. On an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event, Martel would get his own test version of the bout by doing a Blindfold Match against Koko B. Ware. Rather than humor it, Martel instead waited for Koko to put on the blindfold first before beating the everloving crap out of him and laughing it off. It was kind of sad to watch and made Martel that much more of a guy you wanted to see destroyed.

Their match at Wrestlemania 7 is one of the most hated matches in the show’s 3-decade history, but I’m willing to defend it up to a point. It certainly could have stood to lose about five minutes, but there were some definite fun spots and it was satisfying to see Jake finally drop Martel with the DDT, pin him and drape Damien over his body.

3. What match or angle first got you following wrestling closely? What year?

That would be the Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho King” Randy Savage, also in 1991. When I started watching, Warrior was in the last month of his 9 month long WWF Championship reign. Years later I’d discover that it was a business failure and later after that, I’d realize that he was basically set up to fail. Warrior beat Hogan for the title at Wrestlemania 6 and they immediately said that there would be no rematch. That meant Warrior had to deal with the top heels of the time and there were a couple to play around with. Earthquake was a big deal and even made his debut months earlier by crushing Warrior. Randy Savage was a big main eventer and Warrior vs. Savage sounded like a fresh match. It didn’t hurt that the guys genuinely liked each other in real life and wanted to make each other look good.

Instead, Warrior fell to the waysides, allowing Hogan to take the spotlight despite not being the champ. Hogan got to be the one to fight Earthquake during all this time and Warrior was given feuds with guys like Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude. Guys who nobody could buy as being on his level, especially since he’s destroyed them already. Warrior even spent a while in a feud alongside Legion of Doom against the three members of Demolition. That’s not the worst idea for a feud until you remember that he’s the champion and has no reason to be there as long as he holds the belt.

And what of Savage? WWF decided to finally get around to this feud in a way that didn’t make much sense to me. WWF was finally building up some new contenders with the returning Sgt. Slaughter (now an Iraqi sympathizer) and the newcomer the Undertaker. Warrior was slated to defend against Slaughter at the 1991 Royal Rumble and earlier in the show, Savage’s manager Queen Sherri asked him via seduction whether Savage could get a title shot down the line. Seduction or not, that should be a no-brainer. By the very definition of his name, Ultimate Warrior should be a fighting champion who takes all comers. Despite the many problems with John Cena’s character, he’s at least a guy who will never back down from a challenge.

So of course Warrior screams, “NNnnnnNNnnNnNNNOOoOOOOOOooOoooooOOOOOO!!” in her face. This caused Savage to come out during Warrior’s match with Slaughter and break a scepter over Warrior’s skull. Warrior got pinned and had a reason to want a match with Savage. Savage, coincidentally, no-showed the Royal Rumble match itself because there was a berserk dude with facepaint trying to outright murder him.

Their match at Wrestlemania 7 was a Career-Ending Match and the lead-up was nothing but insane promos by both men. The match itself is entirely worth watching as it’s easily one of Warrior’s top three bouts. Warrior won, Savage was fired, Sherri screamed abuse at him and then his old manager Elizabeth showed up to drive her off and reunite with her old love.

Savage was back as a wrestler eight months later.

4. As a kid, who were your top three favorite wrestlers?

#1 was probably “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. I loved the guy’s “take no shit” attitude both as a commentator and a wrestler. Dude wasn’t built like a house and didn’t do any crazy flips, but he just had this defiant, insane energy that made him so likeable. One of the moments that always sticks out is a tag match of him and Hogan against Ric Flair and Sid Justice. Piper’s in the ring with Justice and you wonder what he’s even supposed to do to a guy that big. When Justice is taken down, Piper proceeds to strangle him and then angrily bob his head up and down the mat while sort of dragging him around the ring.

Next would be Mr. Perfect. He was one of the first heels that I genuinely liked and it made it that much better when he went face at the end of 1992. Everything from his finisher to his gun-swatting to his ridiculous high-level confidence made him the coolest guy in wrestling. His own Career-Ending Match with Ric Flair in early 93 is one of the most exciting matches I’ve ever watched and had me standing the entire time. It’s a shame they didn’t do much with him other than feeding him to Lex Luger and Shawn Michaels afterwards.

Similarly, Earthquake was another heel wrestler I thought was cool and hoped he’d turn face. He wasn’t the tallest guy, but he was definitely my favorite big man wrestler as a kid. He’d always present himself as a tense, yet quiet monster that would flatten you if given the chance, yet his promos had him angrily yelling through a soft-spoken voice. Turning him into a tag team wrestler with Typhoon was a fun twist and I was pumped when they were building up to a huge feud against Yokozuna post-Wrestlemania 10. Then he simply vanished and snuck off to WCW.

5. Who are your top three wrestlers today?

Right now it would be Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and El Generico/Sami Zayn. Wrestlers moving from the indies to the WWE has become like translating a comic book into a movie. Changing stuff is going to happen, but sometimes they change so much you wonder why they even bothered. Let them be what made them so special. It’s refreshing when CM Punk got to play on stuff that made him popular in the indies on a bigger scale in WWE.

I’m hoping it works out in that sense for Sami Zayn. As El Generico, there was never a time when he was on screen that I wasn’t entertained. So far they’ve taken away his mask and have chided him for climbing onto the ropes to get cheers, but the guy has what it takes to become a popular name if given the chance.

So what are your thoughts?

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This Week in Panels: Week 219

December 1st, 2013 Posted by Gavok

To Infinity Gauntlet and Beyonder! It’s This Week in Panels! Strong week across the board and I’m helped with it by Space Jawa and Gaijin Dan. Unfortunately, while Sinister Carnage was really strong for the first four issues, the last issue is a big step down that only succeeds in bringing things back to the status quo. The worst part being how they made a big deal out of Cletus Kasady being brain dead because the symbiote is supposedly worse than him on its own… so they fix his brain at the end.

They never did explain how his legs came back.

But who cares about that? Infinity stuck the landing and I can’t wait for the next chapter in Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers epic. Hopefully we get more Maximus. Hickman’s writing the fuck out of that guy.

In other news, I wrote a review of Christmas Bounty starring WWE wrestler the Miz for Den of Geek US. It’s worse than you’d think!

All-Star Western #25
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Moritat

Aquaman #25
Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier

Batman ’66 #22
Jeff Parker and Ruben Procopio

Read the rest of this entry �

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