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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 18

January 24th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: January 14, 2008
Company: WWE
Show: Monday Night Raw
Rules: Elimination does not have to be over-the-top
Stipulation: None
Roster: Batista, the Great Khali, Hornswoggle, Kane, Mr. Kennedy, Mankind

I talked about how injuries have a tendency to change the course of wrestling history to a dramatic degree, but it isn’t just injuries. In late 2007, a list was released of wrestlers who had been using an online pharmacy for certain items that were against the wellness policy. All of these guys (except Randy Orton) were suspended for 30 to 60 days depending on previous suspension records.

At the time, WWE was in the midst of an exceptionally stupid and never-ending story where Vince McMahon found out that he had fathered an illegitimate child and said child was on the WWE roster. This was meant to set up an angle where Mr. Kennedy was going to be revealed as Vince Jr. and feud with his “brother-in-law” Triple H. That didn’t happen because not only was he on that pharmaceutical list, but he had just done a big interview talking up how competent the WWE’s wellness policy was. So on Raw, Kennedy tried to say that he was Vince’s kid, only to be shut down and suspended. They’d find out the real answer the week that followed.

Backed into a corner, they revealed Vince’s son to be Hornswoggle, the undercard comedy act leprechaun whose only crime so far was becoming the Cruiserweight Champion and destroying the last remnants of that division for the sake of comedy. I’ll say that I wasn’t too opposed to the idea. I suppose the possibility of Hornswoggle becoming a Mini-Me version of Vince and barking orders in the form of vocal nonsense could have worked in some kind of surreal way.

The main story they went with was that Vince was embarrassed by his tiny son and out of either spite or insane parenting wanted him tortured in the ring as “tough love”. This meant putting him in matches that Hornswoggle would somehow come out of unscathed, either due to luck, guile or the help of Finlay, who disagreed with Vince’s behavior. These matches led to one of the most annoying aspects about Hornswoggle’s character, being the weird double standards about him being a competitor that continues to this day. If he gets the best of someone, then good for him! Way to go! If he is in any way attacked, even if it means being shoved over, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler will act like they just watched a puppy get run over. How can they let this happen?! He’s just a defenseless child (who has a beard and is in his twenties). Of course, if Triple H murders him, that’s different. Haha, that Triple H! He sure taught Hornswoggle a lesson! That’s what you get for messing with DX!

With the Royal Rumble coming up, Vince decided to enter Hornswoggle into the big match. Backstage on Raw, he talked to his mute son and suggested a warm-up to get him ready. A “Mini Royal Rumble” that would feature a handful of guys scheduled for the PPV match. Hornswoggle went off to the ring, ready to prove himself.

Out comes Mr. Kennedy and… wait a minute. When Vince said it was a “Mini Royal Rumble”, he wasn’t kidding.

Yes, we’re about to get a Royal Rumble of vertically-challenged doppelgangers. Should I be offended? Maybe. Probably. Am I entertained? Probably. Definitely.

At the very least, it’s kind of a nice thing to do for Hornswoggle who himself is a trained wrestler who rarely gets the chance to wrestle guys his own size. The other guys are wrestlers who know what they’re getting into and they’re getting a payday for this, so it really isn’t the worst thing.

Mini Kennedy tries to do the intro bit where he announces himself from the middle of the ring, but the suspended microphone doesn’t reach that far down and he proceeds to jump up and down in a failed attempt to grab it. The bell rings and Kennedy gets a cheapshot in. They fight it out until Mini Mankind shows up.

He pulls out Mr. Socko and Hornswoggle saves himself by kicking Mini Mankind in his mini-er Mankind and throwing him through the ropes. Then Hornswoggle presses Kennedy over his head and throws him over the top.

Having cleared the ring, Hornswoggle awaits his next opponent, Mini Batista. Not only does Mini Batista perform the Batista entrance sequence…

…but his timing on the explosion is better than the actual Batista.

Mini Batista Spears Hornswoggle and shakes the ropes. He sets up the Batista Bomb, but Hornswoggle backdrops out of it. Soon after, Mini Kane enters. While he is the smallest man in the match, he certainly goes 100% into the gimmick by pulling off Kane’s uppercuts perfectly. Despite being the fresher one, he still fall prey to the Batista Bomb.

Hornswoggle again goes for a kick downstairs and flings Mini Batista out of there. Mini Kane starts to take him apart and does a jumping clothesline off the second rope. He goes for a chokeslam and we suddenly remember the size difference.

Hornswoggle hits the Celtic Cross and then slides Mini Kane out of the ring. I should note that probably the funniest part of this whole segment is how when Vince was suggesting it, he said that it would include Mr. Kennedy, Batista and maybe a mystery opponent. This is a subtle joke in how Kane has been the go-to mystery opponent for the past 15 years.

Hornswoggle awaits his final opponent and Great Khali’s music begins playing. Unfortunately for the leprechaun, it isn’t Mini Khali. It’s the actual Khali. He steps into the ring, ready to crush the little guy, but then Finlay appears with his shillelagh and goes to town on the giant. Like I said a couple days ago, Finlay beating the shit out of Khali with his shillelagh is a wonderful thing to watch. It’s like watching a lumberjack going to town on a tree with an axe before, during and after it falls. Khali ends up rolling out of the ring to evade the punishment, meaning that Hornswoggle wins the match. Also, Finlay gets a piece of Ranjin Singh, but lets him off easy with a simple clothesline.

The angle came to a head prior to Wrestlemania, where JBL helped Vince beat Hornswoggle to the point of hospitalization while Finlay was handcuffed and could only watch. JBL revealed to Vince that Hornswoggle was never his son after all, but was Finlay’s. JBL ended up going over Finlay at Wrestlemania in a Bellfast Brawl and Hornswoggle proceeded to star in some terrible, terrible storylines in the years that followed.

Way to go, Kennedy.

Tomorrow we return to the past to build for the future.

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The Undertaker Comic Part 2: Brothers (and Sister) of Destruction

November 9th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Last time, I discussed the first few issues of Chaos Comics’ Undertaker, as well as the specials that came from it. The Undertaker, Paul Bearer and a newly-created character the Embalmer each hold a Book of the Dead and are going to war over who can get all three Books and become the ruler of Stygian, Hell’s prison. Meanwhile, Kane is sneaking around, watching the Undertaker and Mankind is able to see that some of the wrestlers in the WWF are really demons in disguise.

Just for shits and giggles, for those of you reading who don’t follow wrestling or haven’t followed it for long, here’s a list of some of the Undertaker’s silliest storylines:

- Fought a nearly 8-foot-tall dude who wore a muscle suit with fur covering the shoulders and crotch. Their “epic” battle at Wrestlemania 9 ended with this big dude, Giant Gonzales, chloroforming the Undertaker. This got Undertaker a win via disqualification and they always have to sidestep this fact when they go over how the Undertaker is undefeated at Wrestlemania and show a highlight reel.

- A match was set for Survivor Series of Lex Luger and his patriotic American guys vs. Yokozuna and his evil foreigners. Due to a last-minute injury, they needed someone to step into Luger’s team. This spot was filled by the Undertaker, who proceeded to do a lengthy promo that compared his gimmick to what America is all about. He ended it by growling, “Let freedom RIIIIIIIING…” and opened up his jacket to reveal a 1776 American flag stitched on the inside. Lex Luger saw this and got way too pumped about it.

- Undertaker had a match against Yokozuna where you won by stuffing your opponent into a casket. Just about every bad guy in the WWF came out to help Yokozuna by ganging up on the Undertaker and shoving him in the casket. As the casket is wheeled away, the big screen above the entrance shows a camera inside the casket, where the Undertaker promises he will return. Then he (or Marty Janetty in an Undertaker costume) flies off into the heavens on strings.

- The Undertaker delivered a Dominos pizza to Leslie Neilson as part of the lead up for the Undertaker to fight his evil doppelganger.

- The Undertaker had a rematch against Yokozuna, this time with Chuck Norris there to make sure nobody interfered this time.

I can go on with this for days. To be fair, I do really love the Undertaker and he has had his share of kickass moments. Like that time Paul Bearer did an interview from the safety of his own home and Undertaker burst in, yelling, “Did you think I forgot where you live?!” and pummeled the everloving hell out of him. Then it cut to the arena’s locker room, many miles away as Kane went into a hysteric crying rampage and Mankind had to try and calm him down. That was neat.

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The Undertaker Comic Part 1: No-Selling in Ink Form

October 31st, 2009 Posted by Gavok

The history of the WWF/WWE can more or less be broken up into eras. There’s the Golden Age, followed by the Hogan Era, followed by the New Generation, followed by the Attitude Era, followed by the Crossover Era, followed by the Cena Era. At least, that’s how I see it. The Attitude Era is easily the most successful era, regarded for bringing wrestling into the media forefront. Chronologically, it begins with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s rise as a top face and ends with Wrestlemania 17, where Austin turns on the fans shortly after the company had freshly bought their competition, WCW.

Professional wrestling was at its apex during this era, mostly due to WWF and WCW trying to outdo each other. It seems silly now, but the idea of a WWF comic was pretty natural back then. In 1999, Chaos Comics got the rights to the property and let loose with a handful of comics. Mankind, The Rock and Chyna each got their own one-shot, while Steve Austin got a four-issue miniseries. I’ll save those for a later day.

Today I’m going to discuss The Undertaker’s comic. Unlike the others, he got a full-blown series out of the deal. It lasted 10 issues, plus specials. On one hand, it makes sense. Undertaker was always one of the most unrealistic and open-ended characters in the WWF. On the other hand, during the release of this series, Undertaker was the top heel of the company. We’re basically meant to root for the WWF’s top villain.

I’ll get into a who’s who for those uninitiated with wrestling in a bit, but first I’ll go over the Undertaker Halloween Special. While it did come out towards the end of the series, it doesn’t exactly fit in with anything and makes as a good introduction to the four wrestling-based characters.

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