h1

20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 9

January 15th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: May 3, 2000
Company: WCW
Show: Thunder
Rules: I… I don’t know
Stipulation: Winner gets a WCW Championship shot at the Great American Bash
Roster (43): Tank Abbott, Brian Adams, Asya, Mike Awesome, Buff Bagwell, Big T, Big Vito, Bam Bam Bigelow, Chris Candido, Cash, Brian Clarke, Disco Inferno, Shane Douglas, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Ric Flair, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Don Harris, Ron Harris, Bret “Hitman” Hart, Curt Hennig, Horace Hogan, Hulk Hogan, Jeff Jarrett, Johnny the Bull, Chris Kanyon, Billy Kidman, Konnan, Lash LeRoux, Lex Luger, Medusa, Ernest “the Cat” Miller, Mona, Hugh Morrus, Diamond Dallas Page, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Norman Smiley, Shawn Stasiak, Scott Steiner, Stevie Ray, Sting, Vampiro, Van Hammer and the Wall

During the two years before being bought off by Vince McMahon, WCW was a mess of comedic proportions. It was usually in one of two states. Either Vince Russo was the head writer and things were hilariously out of order, or he was thrown to the wayside and some other writer made the shows just as inept, only extremely boring. Usually, Russo gets the blame for most of the stuff that went on during this time, either because his garbage was more memorable or because it’s just an easier blanket statement.

Today’s battle royal entry comes from a magical time when WCW decided to have both Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo run the company together. On paper, the idea was that their good concepts would wash away any bad concepts. Buuuuuuut this is also when David Arquette is WCW Champion.

Also just want to take a second to thank Greg Merritt, who suggested I write about this match, which itself inspired me to do this daily series. He calls this battle “fascinating and terrible” and Great Zampano, he’s right!

The big storyline is that Bischoff and Russo have started a stable called the New Blood, made up of the younger wrestlers on the roster who are mad at the older, more popular wrestlers for holding them down. The older wrestlers, which include the likes of Hogan, Sting and DDP, are referred to as the Millionaire’s Club and in no way come off as devious, despite Russo’s supposed intentions to make this a “shades of gray” situation. In fact, his New Blood stable comes off as a big collection of whiners.

It also gave us the most cringe-inducing segment where Bischoff and Russo decided to reboot the title picture and that meant WCW Champion Sid had to give up the belt. Bischoff, making a sly reference to a real-life incident that only a very small fraction of viewers understood, taunted Sid by asking, “Did you forget your scissors?! …I said, did you forget your SCISSORS?!” The complete lack of reaction from the live crowd speaks volumes.

So anyway, this match. Near the end of an episode of Thunder, Bischoff and Russo are in the ring with a bunch of New Blood guys, most of them brandishing weapons. Bischoff calls out the Millionaire’s Club and invites them into some “guerrilla warfare”. I don’t know if that’s just a term here or if that’s what this match is supposed to be called. Either way, Flair accepts and brings some of his super-popular friends with him, demanding that they’ll have an over-the-top-rope battle royal and the last man standing gets a title shot at the Great American Bash. Bischoff accepts and points out that the men standing with him in the ring are the future of the business.

That might be the saddest part of this because that’s not true for a single guy in there. Guys like Ernest Miller, Buff Bagwell, the Wall and Shawn Stasiak fail to set the wrestling world on fire and the only guys involved who do all right are established wrestlers Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner. Yes, Steiner insisted upon being with the “young and hip” New Blood.

The challenge accepted, the Millionaire’s Club kind of jogs, then walks to the ring and we have 11-on-11, only the New Blood guys have weapons. Remember, these guys were supposed to be seen as being morally on the same level as the Millionaire’s Club.

In what seems like forever, there’s not a single elimination. Just dudes brawling. Then maybe five minutes in, some more guys run out. Konnan, Bam Bam Bigelow, the Harris Boys, etc. Commentary claims that they’re there to back up the New Blood. Then the Harlem Heat music plays and we get Stevie Ray, Cash and Big T, reminding me that there was an angle where Ahmed Johnson defeated Booker T for the right to have “T” in his name. Soon after, Tank Abbot comes out, being put over by the commentators as being a mercenary for the New Blood. It’s hard to really tell if these guys are supposed to be entrants in the match or not, but they succumb to the basic rules where being thrown out of the ring means leaving, so I’m going to say yes.

Finally, guys start getting eliminated and Millionaire’s Club members are able to get some weapons. It seems that everyone who comes out is on the New Blood’s side until Hacksaw Jim Duggan storms out with a 2×4 and lays waste to the ring until eliminating himself. Some of the WCW ladies come out and join the fray.

Then a limousine pulls up and someone with silver pants walks out. The camera refuses to pan up and we watch the man step to the arena in mystery. Who is this Pokemon?

OOOH YEAH! Savage helps clear the ring of some of the New Blood guys and tries to eliminate himself by jumping out, but Shane Douglas screws that up for him and Savage has to leave the ring between the ropes. Soon after, Bret Hart comes out and SHOCKS THE WORLD by hitting Hogan with a chair and leaving. Note, this is one of Bret’s final appearances.

DDP eliminates himself and Jarrett, which is just as well since they’re in a #1 contender’s match despite both being #1 contenders for the upcoming Sunday’s PPV already. We’re left with Kidman vs. Hogan and Flair vs. Douglas, which happen to be two of the upcoming Slamboree matches. Hogan is eliminated by going under the top rope and it seems that they’ve already changed the rules to reflect that. That puts it into question how Flair is still in the match, considering he spent a few minutes outside the ring earlier beating on Douglas with a bat.

The final two are Flair and Douglas and Flair wraps him up in the Figure Four. Russo runs in with bat in hand and accidentally hits Douglas instead.

Let me just repeat that for you.

Flair has Douglas in the Figure Four. Russo comes in and somehow accidentally hits the wrong guy.

Flair eliminates Douglas and wins his title shot. Or does he? I checked Wikipedia and Flair spent Great American Bash fighting his son while Nash got the title shot.

It’s not over. Hogan prepares a suplex spot on the outside, but Bischoff hits him in the knee and Hogan falls through a table. Savage ignores this for a minute so he can celebrate with Flair in the ring. Elsewhere, DDP and Jarrett climb a scaffold for no reason, punching each other all the way.

Savage finally chases off Kidman and Bischoff, then helps up Hogan. Savage’s very last WCW appearance is the Mega Powers buddying up.

In a final bout of incompetence, DDP does a huge bump off the scaffold, but it’s not shown. They’re so focused on Hogan/Savage that we just get a shot of DDP laying in some debris and a final shot of Jarrett celebrating on top the ramp.

Holy shit.

I’m going to do another WCW battle royal from 2000 tomorrow, but I’m going to leave with a couple quotes from this very match.

Tony Schiavone: “This has been nuts. It’s been absolutely nuts. Everything logical you can think about WCW over the past year thrown out the window.”
Mike Tenay: “Logic? Word doesn’t even exist in World Championship Wrestling!”

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

Wrestling History (From My Recollection): Part 1

May 12th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

I talk about wrestling a lot. I’d like to think that in my 20+ years of following it, I know at least a thing or two. I’ve said it a million times before, but to reiterate, it really is the most intriguing and fascinating business. Maybe that’s why I shrugged off the whole Before Watchmen/Alan Moore controversy going on in the comic world because honestly, that’s nothing compared to the petty and deplorable stuff I’ve seen in the wrestling business and I’m too jaded to care. It has its ups and it has its downs, but ultimately, the history of it all tends to be more entertaining and worth paying attention to than the scripted stories they’re portraying. After all, it’s a business run by power-hungry egomaniacs who act like man-children with many of them either delusional or on drugs.

Just because I thought it would be fun to write about, I thought I would go through the basic history of wrestling in the United States. Something to educate the outsiders looking in, the new viewers who are curious, the people who’ve skipped around, those who stopped watching years ago or the longtime fans who wouldn’t mind sitting back and enjoying a refresher. I want to make this accessible, so I’m going to stray from most insider terms. Since it’ll annoy me, there are some exclusions, so let me get these out of the way:

Face: good guy
Heel: bad guy
Turn: go from good to bad or vice versa
Push: promote and move up the card
Bury: drop down the card or make someone look foolish
Booker: writer

I should reiterate that this is my take on everything. I’m sure it isn’t accurate, but I figure it’s close enough. Again, I only intend to cover the US stuff, since I don’t know the slightest about Mexico, Canada, Japan or Europe.

Professional wrestling started up in the late 19th century, usually in the form of a carnival sideshow. At first, it was a legitimate fight, usually between the wrestler and anyone who thought they could take him, but over time, the brains behind the operations realized that if the challenger was in on it, they could make more money with less risk. The popularity spread across the decades enough that federations were built up, each with their own championship and everything. The territory days made it pretty easy for a wrestler to keep himself fresh, as once things got sour, they were able to simply move on to the next territory and start anew. For instance, a wrestler could gain a reputation as an unbeatable monster villain, eventually make a couple other wrestlers look better by beating him. Eventually, he’ll lose his fictional luster and is no longer considered much of a threat, but then he can travel elsewhere and be seen as an unbeatable monster again, starting the cycle over.

The first wrestler to truly catch the public’s eye was Gorgeous George, a heel who decided to add an excessive amount of flair to his pretty boy character to the point that the fans were in a frenzy whenever he showed up. He was rude, vain, pampered and insulting and the fans paid hand over fist for the possibility of seeing someone shut him up. With the advent of television, he became a media superstar and would be credited for inspiring Muhammad Ali’s charismatic personality.

With the territory system, many federations were able to coexist without too many problems and they even did business with each other regularly. Vince McMahon Sr., who ran the World Wide Wrestling Federation, would rent out his superstar Andre the Giant to other territories and bring them huge business. In the early 80′s, Vince Sr. sold the WWWF to his son Vincent Kennedy McMahon, a genius in his own right who has more issues than Time Magazine. Soon after Vince Sr.’s death, his son went against the big territorial truce and decided to dominate professional wrestling. While wrestling companies were shown on local TV, Vince made his renamed World Wrestling Federation national and overshadowed the rest of the market. He bought off the biggest names from different territories and stacked up the WWF to the point that it was like the Yankees.

The WWF’s poster boy was Hulk Hogan, an entertaining big man who became a breakout star after appearing in Rocky 3 as Thunderlips. McMahon started a partnership with the then-new cable channel MTV as a way to team up and play off each other in the name of promotion. The Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection was created, pushing both sides harder into the media limelight. McMahon incorporated as many celebrities as possible, leading to the first installment of his big event Wrestlemania. While the show is a bit rough to watch due to today’s standards, the main event, which featured Hogan teaming up with Mr. T, helped it do gangbusters.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

The Wrestlemania Countdown: Day One

March 17th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Over a year ago, I took my enjoyment of the WWE Royal Rumble match and turned it into a week-long list. Watching 20+ 1-hour matches wasn’t too hard and I think it came off pretty well. The one true way to follow it up would be to give the same business to all 25 Wrestlemanias, only as a twelve-day countdown. It’s a tall order.

For one, there are more Wrestlemanias than Royal Rumbles. Secondly, each show lasts somewhere between 3-4 hours, with Wrestlemania 20 lasting a full 5 hours. I had my work cut out for me, so I spent the last two months watching every show in random order. The last major problem is how do I rank it? With the Royal Rumbles, I was only ranking the Rumble matches themselves and that isn’t TOO hard. With all the Wrestlemanias, there are over 250 matches in total.

Some lists I’ve seen don’t so much rate the shows as wholes, but as a handful of moments. A couple good memories or a couple bad memories can paint a full picture in your head about how the show was, even though you’re missing out on all the other bells and whistles. So here’s how I decided to do this.

Each match gets rated 0-10, based on how much I liked it. It doesn’t have to be a great technical exhibition. I know a long while back, Dave Meltzer voted Hogan vs. Andre at Wrestlemania 3 as “negative four stars”, but I’m not Dave Meltzer. I rated it high because it’s an epic match that tells a good story. I’m not going to point out what number I rated each match (I don’t want that to be the focus), but I will tell you this: there’s only one Wrestlemania match I’ve considered SO BAD that I had to give it a zero. I’ll let you guess that one. It isn’t in today’s update.

Anyway, each match is rated 0-10. Every main event and top title match (WWF/WWE Title and World Heavyweight Title) are counted twice, since they have more emphasis on the show. The exception is the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels Iron Man Match, which I count as three matches. Then there’s “the atmosphere”, which counts as two matches. The atmosphere is the grab bag of miscellaneous stuff from the show that isn’t part of an actual match. Backstage segments, in-ring segments, intro videos, the arena’s setup, musical segments and so on. The bells and whistles of the show. When all that’s done, I average out the tally and give it a final score. Sounds fair, I think.

The two things I don’t take into consideration are the national anthem segments in the beginning – because it’s silly to have to compare them – and the dark matches/Free for All/Heat matches. Though I will hold it against the show if there’s a fairly high profile match during the pre-show that really should have been on the PPV.

Oh, and I’m going to toss in the YouTube videos of WWE Legends of Wrestlemania’s rivalry packages when we get to those specific matches. They rule too much not to.

Just about every Wrestlemania list I’ve seen considers Wrestlemania 9 the absolute worst Wrestlemania. Not me. Check it.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

Royal Rumble Week: Day 6

January 25th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Here’s a pointless little experiment. During the 2007 Rumble, they made a big deal about it being the most star-studded Rumble yet. That got me thinking about the different Rumble rosters and which one had the best pedigree to it. So I scoured each list and counted how many world champions it featured. I counted the top titles for WWF, WCW, both WWE titles, ECW, TNA and NWA.

88: 3
89: 6
90: 8
91: 6
92: 10
93: 7
94: 9
95: 4
96: 10
97: 10
98: 10
99: 9
00: 9
01: 12
02: 14
03: 17
04: 17
05: 13
06: 14
07: 17
08: 13

Hm. Well, I guess they were onto something after all. Speaking of that match…

7) Royal Rumble 2007

“Everyone back in the pile!”

“DEY TUK OUR JEORBS!”

“DE TUKRJRBS!!”

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon