Subscribe

Hulk Hogan Gives Advice To Aspiring WWE Superstars

June 25, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There probably isn’t many better WWE stars to give advice to aspiring pro wrestlers than arguably the most famous star of all-time. Hulk Hogan is one of the most successful wrestlers ever so when the Hulkster is offering free advice, you listen.

Hulk Hogan is currently a judge on the WWE Tough Enough show. Why he is not a host is a question I am still trying to figure out. Whether you like Hulk or not you cannot argue with his success. He is arguably the most recognizable pro wrestler in all of wrestling history. Hogan is doing some media to promote Tough Enough and stopped by BizJournals.com for a conversation which turned more into a coaching session for aspiring WWE superstars.

Hogan was asked about the biggest challenge he ever faced and what he learned from it.

Making the transition from actually wrestling to trying to figure out how to generate revenue without physically getting in the ring. I had to figure out how to use my brand and exploit the 35 years of goodwill with the world and turn that into a money making machine. Once you wrestle main events for 30 years and all of a sudden it’s taken away from you because physically you can’t do it, reality sets in and you have to figure out how to reinvent yourself. I made that transition out of survival. I went through a crazy divorce, I had a huge $60 million civil suite from an accident and my body shut down on me for two years — I had nine back surgeries. I had to figure out how to take the brand, make it work and do stuff I wasn’t used to doing such as open other businesses and other ventures.

You can criticize Hogan for a lot of things but one thing you have to give him credit for is making himself relevant after his in-ring career was over. Hogan has appeared on numerous television shows including his own and remains well-known to casual wrestling fans. How big of an accomplishment is that? Other than the Rock I can’t think of anyone else who has done it better.

Hulk was asked about advice he could share for those looking to get into the wrestling industry.

Don’t even think about it unless it’s your passion — it has to be in your blood and you’re totally obsessed with it and that’s all you think about. It had to be a bigger priority for you than your job or even your family. You have to put wrestling first just to make it. It is such a hard job, so if you’re married or you have children or you have bunch of baggage, you need to rethink it because it’s really tough. If you don’t have those desires, don’t even think about it.

Finally Hulk was asked about the worst piece of advice he has ever gotten.

The advice I got was in the 1970s when wrestling was very barbaric. The worst advice I got then was “real wrestlers don’t wear kneepads.” After about two years of wrestling in Japan, my knees were blown out.

That is pretty interesting and I absolutely believe that was the advice he received back in the 1970s. Even going back to the late 1990s, I remember hearing wrestlers criticize Stone Cold Steve Austin for wearing knee braces. I couldn’t even imagine wrestling for as long as Hulk did without knee pads on.

Check out the entire interview here for more advice from Hulk as well as WWE Diva Paige.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

WWE: Judging Hulk Hogan by Modern Standards

June 17, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan: the man, the myth … the … well, myth is a good place to stop. Hogan in many ways is the gatekeeper to the modern era of professional wrestling. (Ric Flair is the other one, but let me focus on one overhyped legend at a time).

With the age of Hogan, we saw professional wrestling move away from the arenas and move away from a regular, live, serialized entertainment form and into a ‘national’, TV and PPV based monstrosity that warped the entertainment value, completely removed professional wrestling from a sports based product, and began the path of overly scripted performances (in-ring and promos).

Despite all the accolades and assumptions, it doesn’t take much analysis to put together the reasons for the scripting. Hogan was a weak imitation of his predecessor at the head of the WWE/WWF/WWWF promotion, and he couldn’t attract regular fans to the “clubs” on a monthly basis.

While the booking in the early-to-mid 1980’s was similar, familiar to long term fans, there was a vast and jarring difference between the expectations of what happened in the ring, how the matches were built, how the emotions were tugged at, and how engaged fans were with the concept of professional wrestling.

The last reflections of “programming” existed in the Hogan era: opponent comes in; establishes himself as a monster, as talented, as a threat; usually several matches occur on PPV, TV, big events; reasons exist as to why those matches continue; eventually the Champion overcomes the opponent; opponent disappears, moves down the card or gets repackaged.

That’s a formula that worked for several decades.

That’s a formula that’s been ignored for the past several, and much to blame for diminishing returns (fans, attendance, profits).

That’s a formula that any company that wants to be successful (*cough* ROH *cough*) should emulate.

But the modern era is straight out of the hyperbole of Hulk Hogan.

Larger than life characters, never mind the believability. Third person promos full of bombast, replete with ego, readily hammered out by keyboards but seldom spoken from the heart. Sure, there’s a guy like Hogan or a guy like The Rock or some several other examples of talent that can project themselves through other people’s words, but those guys are few and far in between.

Guys before the modern era were able to project themselves because they were themselves first and foremost.

What’s completely mind-blowing is that professional wrestling is the purest form of “Role-playing” known to man, and yet in an era where Role Playing Games are more socially acceptable and more known by modern man, professional wrestling promoters/companies and talents are vastly less understanding of the concept than ever.

What’s worse is that the concept of professional wrestling as a pseudo-sports construct is even less understood, and it was bad enough about 20 years ago from my own experience. Not to get into names or companies, but I was in the tidal wave of Collectible Card Games and also a emerging ‘insider’ in the professional wrestling world. No one in the gaming world understood professional wrestling, and a major company attempted to connect to WCW’s mainstream popularity.

The problem was, that the gaming mind never grasped that professional wrestling is, at its core, a fight. a battle where two opponents try to beat each other (with violence, wrestling skill or acrobatics of a sort) and win by pinfall, submission or other rules. CCG’s were all about counting to 10 or 20, and so wrestling was addressed the same way.

I was dumbfounded at the time that the concept of exhaustion, being beaten, being unable to continue were alien concepts, that fak that preten that talent performing their talents in portraying a professional wrestling match (whew) should be well aware of variations of storytelling in the ring and present a compelling match in many ways.

I am dumbfounded now that virtually every promotion known to man (save CHIKARA and AAW and to some degree the Gabe Sapolsky run promotions) haven’t a clue about the various dimensions of storytelling that can and should be involved with this quaint, violence portrayal called professional wrestling.

Sure, I digress.

But Hogan?

Hogan began this disconnect, because when he started there was a guy who was wowing the crowd and making professional wrestling believable and no true fan questioned the concept.

By the end of the Hogan dominance, that certain promoter was chasing every nickel and dime and laying bare the concepts of kayfabe for tax benefits.

All the while the experts and the journalists pretended along that professional wrestling was finally out of the smoke-filled rooms and faked along with the notion that Hogan was a great professional wrestler and that things were never better.

All the while Hogan’s public speaking and words and denials — while the culture of the locker room was seen by those with common sense to be troublesome—helped pave the way for realities of the 1990’s to become what they became.

What professional wrestling became, in the ring, after the Hogan era is a peculiarity.

These days the hardcores whine about John Cena’s five move repertoire. But setting aside the early 1990’s match against Muta, Hogan had little interest in doing much in the ring except for punch and kick and an assorted clothesline (which the Japanese called an Ax Bomber, to give him some uniqueness).

But bumps? Hogan? Is that a joke I’ve shared with a friend or a joke on those who claim Hogan’s greatness?

The most interesting question is this: How would Hogan fare in 2015, the era cemented by his influence on the industry (but also heavily influenced by his biggest rival to greatness and influence on the industry: Ric Flair.)

To whom can we compare the master of the “Leg drop of DOOM”?

To the aforementioned John Cena? Sure. There’s the look, the limited moves and the babyface-despite-a-smugness-about-him attitude. Then again, there’s no jingoism, no hulking presence, no surfer-dude mentality, no larger-than-lies life charisma. But Cena doesn’t benefit from the fading remembrances of booking that benefitted Hogan: no turnstyle of heels (just repeated matchups with Orton), no babyface-in-danger angles, no hint of having to draw the same core audience to the same arena for years in a row.

Hogan couldn’t do that, and it’s doubtful that Cena could, but the days of booking Madison Square Garden every 3 or 4 weeks is long forgotten.

How about Roman Reigns?

Can we all imagine the fanboys complaining that Hogan can’t do a 20 minute match, shows nothing in the ring, can’t bump and hurt people? Well, Hogan never really had that reputation.

The concept of timing a match from the entrance to the post-match nonsense began with Hogan (based on a few private conversations), but we get less entrance music, less patience with crowd cheerleading and almost no expectation of sticking around the ring beyond normal expectations.

Uhm, I really didn’t mean it that way.

Yet Roman Reigns is a much purer athlete than Hogan, a much better student of the game and a guy with potential beyond his mishandling.

Hogan was made by his timing and his handling and being a watered-down version of a really great Champion (who had to come back to boost the attendance in all the clubs that went downhill, when Hogan couldn’t maintain attendance in the same place three times in a row, let alone years).

Hogan took it to another level due to his … look and natural charisma, and got every opportunity after others failed. (I recall the obvious potential shift to Duggan (before that unfortunate pull-over), to Savage (who was definitely in the Ric Flair mode of wrestling) and that strange interlude to Bret Hart, whom Hogan would never put over).

But Hogan’s in-ring performances make Roman Reigns look like Joe Stetcher, Joe Scarpello Samoa Joe. His promos these days would be outlandish, and his ability to make professional wrestling appear real (considering the weak in-ring and the outlandishness) is best reflected in the loss of average attendance in all arenas across the country, overall since 1980.

I mean, c’mon, the 1980’s were the cartoon era, and who was the ringleader?

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

10 Real Backstage Fights Between Pro Wrestlers (Part 3)

June 09, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Backstage wrestling fights blogs are the most popular blog series in the history of this website. Thanks to shoot interviews, newsletters, books, and podcasts there are a plethora more that haven’t been covered by the CCB, 10 of which I’ll cover today.

It is always fascinating to hear about fights between pro wrestlers outside the ring. Those fights have created legends over the years, crowning some as the toughest to ever lace up a pair of boots. Lucky shot, dirty tricks, or sheer skill have created some of the greatest tales outside of the ring in pro wrestling history.

Here is a look back today at 10 brand-new backstage fights between pro wrestlers that haven’t made the previous two lists. Many are told in the words of the wrestlers who were there fighting or observing. Enjoy!

Kamala vs. Andre the Giant – Kamala has told this story in several interviews lately. Kamala and the Giant had a big rivalry in the early 80s which started with them matching up in territories and ended in the WWE. They made a lot of money together and while that is generally something wrestlers bonded over, Andre was not a fan of Kamala. Andre was in a bad mood and in their first match used a derogatory racist remark towards Kamala. You can probably guess what it was. Kamala was not happy about it and let the Giant know about it.

“Andre wasn’t the friendly guy that he appeared to be. He was real temperamental and had a nasty attitude. When I first started working with him, he called me a (derogatory) name in the ring and I beat him up. After that, I never had another problem with him. A lot of (top guys had problems with Andre too). He would just go out and mop the floor with people. He treated (wrestlers) nasty, and the fans too. Andre would do it just about every night. Guys would watch through the curtain to see what he was going to do.”

Kamala expanded on it when he was interviewed by Steve Austin a few months ago. Kamala told Austin that he and Andre were fine after that and that it was Andre who was responsible for bringing him to the WWE.

Kevin Nash vs. Roddy Piper – This dandy happened back in WCW and recently reared its way back into the news when Piper and Nash argued the winner over Twitter. One thing that has remained consistent in the story is that Piper and Nash were not cooperating with each other in a tag team match in WCW. Piper and Ric Flair went to their dressing room upset after the match. Nash barged in the dressing room and from this point, the story is different whether you hear it from Piper or Nash. So let’s hear it from Sean Waltman instead. Waltman witnessed the whole thing and tweeted about it a few months ago on Twitter.

“On the life of my children Roddy is bold face lying & I hate to say that,because I love Roddy. you [Nash] kicked the door in and everyone s–t. Flair was more concerned about it not having to do with him.

“the Bodyguad tried to get between you. You said something to him and he stepped aside. Then you proceeded to open hand slap Roddy, because he was out of place and went into business for himself, causing you to re injure your knee. I remember one second you were in the locker room pissed. V-sit Wrestling Inc-The next sec me causing you to re injure your knee in all that cluster F–k. I’ll give him credit for a nice leg sweep that came up a it short. He called you a liar over your description of the incident. No one wanted a piece.

“way to back up your wing man Naitch;) there were only 3 of us. We were outnumbered if you count the bodyguard. I just heard the podcast and it was an out and out lie. Can’t believe from Roddy. Hopefully it’s a memory issue and not pride. I know Kev’s hot still, but let it go Big D. He knows what happened and that’s the real of it.

“…And Kev let that go yrs ago. Brought Roddy and his son to our tour of Aruba. We had a great time. Whatever need Roddy has to perpetuate his image as one though SOB is not going to be tarnished by that incident. Your still Rough Roddy.”

Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart – How is it that this dandy never made the previous lists? Well most of us know the story, yet some new fans may not have. This story goes back to 1997 and the night of the Montreal Screw Job. Vince McMahon just ordered a quick submission on Bret, swerving him on the finish. Bret lost the title to Shawn Michaels and he wasn’t happy about it. Here is how it went down according to the Hit Man.

“Somewhere in that conversation, Bret said, ‘If you’re still here after I get dressed, I’m going to punch you out.’”

“It was the most beautiful uppercut punch you could ever imagine,” said Hart. “I actually thought it would miss and go right up the side of his head, but I popped him right up like a cork was under his jaw and lifted him right off the hand. I broke my right hand just beneath the knuckle, and knocked Vince out cold.”

He recently said it was his proudest moment…“When I stood up for myself in Montreal, and knocked out Vince McMahon for cheating me in that match. I think it’s still defines me as a wrestler, and as an artist, and a talent, and somebody that was betrayed. I’ve always been really proud of how I reacted, and how I carried myself that day. And in the end, I think I proved I was right.”

Yoshi Tatsu vs. Sheamus – For some reason Sheamus has a reputation in the WWE for being a tough guy. I say for some reason because every story I have ever heard about Sheamus ends with Sheamus being knocked out. One of those stories involved Sheamus and a young Yoshi Tatsu Tatsu and Sheamus were both on their way to the main roster. According to a story told last year by former WCW star Konnan, it was all over money.

“Konnan then was asked about Sheamus’ fight with Yoshi Tatsu before they made it to the main roster, and the Cuban wrestler said Sheamus had asked him to borrow some money. Konnan said Tatsu kept asking him for the money back repeatedly, and kept getting an excuse. He didn’t know if they were roommates or if Tatsu showed up at his door, but Konnan said he “slapped the s–t out of him” after approaching him one last time. The co-host confirmed after hearing the story from Tatsu backstage, he ended up getting his money back.”

Evan Bourne also confirmed that Tatsu KO’d Sheamus in his shoot interview – “I guess everyone heard the story about how Sheamus got dropped by Yoshi Tatsu so I think that sort of makes him soft. I will say Sheamus is also tough. He literally broke his hand in a match ramming me into a pole and didn’t even miss a beat. He’s one of the toughest guys. Maybe he’s got a soft chin, I don’t know what happened.”

Bill Dundee vs. Randy Savage – Once upon a time pro wrestling was real, well to the Poffo family it was. Angelo Poffo’s outlaw ICW was involved in a very heated promotional war down south with Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett. The wrestlers between both promotions despised each other, especially Randy Savage who hated everyone involved with Lawler’s group. So when Savage’s legendary temper met Bill Dundee’s street smarts in a parking lot it was no surprise that things got very ugly in one of the wildest pro wrestler fighting stories you’ll ever hear. Dave Meltzer recapped the story in his Savage tribute in the Wrestling Observer.

“(Bill) Dundee (Bill Crookshanks), was Jarrett’s long-time No. 2 babyface behind Lawler. Savage was routinely making fun of him on television because he was about 5-foot-4 and would grandstand challenge him and make fun of the Jarrett guys for failing to show up with so much money at stake. It was the same gimmick Savage did in his 50s with Hogan. At one point, there was a confrontation, and Savage went after Dundee. Dundee ran back to his car and pulled out a gun. Savage then wrestled the gun away from Dundee and pistol-whipped him, breaking his jaw and putting him out of action. When Dundee finally returned, he did an interview and sort of acknowledged the rumors of what happened, just saying there was a story going around about him getting in a fight and breaking his jaw, but what really happened was he was thrown off a horse and broke his jaw.”
Check out Bill Dundee’s classic interview right here on YouTube.com. – http://youtu.be/8a21Lm3u0DQ

Bruiser Brody vs. Jose Gonzalez – Unfortunately this is the most tragic of all outside of the ring backstage pro wrestling fights. A legend, a father, and a husband lost his life in a fight that lives in infamy. The infamous Brody Murder remains a tale with little details and plenty of alleged cover-ups. Much has been written about the incident by reporters and former wrestlers. I have probably heard a dozen conspiracy theories and different stories from first and second-hand accounts. The basic gist of it is that Brody went into a shower to talk to Gonzalez and left with stabbed wounds that resulted in his fatality.

Dutch Mantell known today as Zeb Coulter in the WWE was in the locker room on the night of the murder. Mantell wrote a lengthy column about it a few years ago. Here is his take.

“Bayamon Stadium is a baseball stadium so I arose from my chair and headed through a tunnel to get to the field. It’s only about 100 feet through the tunnel, and I stood, watching the crowd file in for no more than than three minutes, and I had not been gone from the dressing room longer than 5 or 6 minutes, at the most. But when I returned, my eyes met horror. The whole dressing room was chaotic. The first person I saw was Chris Youngblood. I asked him what had happened. He was almost hysterical as he said, “Jose stabbed Brody.” I still did not know what he meant but as I looked deeper in the room, I saw Brody lying prone on the floor with several guys surrounding him. I thought that some guy named Jose had rushed into the room and attacked Brody. Everybody in PR is named Jose so I looked at Chris again and he said, “Invader, Invader stabbed Brody.” It was bedlam in the dressing room. Now, everything started to move in slow motion. I remember walking over to where Brody was laying and just staring in disbelief. A doctor is always present in San Juan and he was crying. Brody was conscious and as I looked closer, I could see a stab wound about an inch long and deep with air bubbles escaping from it. Much later, the doctor told me that meant that the blade had pierced the lung. Brody was telling promoter Carlos Colon to take care of his family. I didn’t see a lot of blood but, again, later I learned that he was hemorrhaging internally. I believe that Bruiser knew he was going to die. “This can’t be happening” I thought to myself. This can’t be real. But real it was. I am not a very religious person but I eased over in a corner out of everyones way and prayed for Bruiser. I then found myself looking through a plexiglass door which led into the shower. The door was kind of translucent plexiglass that distorted images somewhat, but I saw the Invader and Victor Jovica screaming at each other in the shower room. Noise was everywhere and I couldn’t make out what they were saying but even if I could’ve heard them, they were speaking in Spanish, (which they often do). But I could see that a struggle was in process.

Invader and Jovica were shoving each other. It seemed as though Invader was attempting to leave and Jovica was trying to stop him. Brody was still on the floor. The doctor was working furiously to do what he could to help him. A call went out for an ambulance. It seemed like an eternity before aid arrived. And they didn’t even get the call through official channels. Victor Quinones called a local radio station and told them to broadcast that an ambulance was needed immediately at the stadium. A paramedic crew was eating at a nearby McDonald’s and heard the request on the radio. Brody, by the time paramedics had arrived, had lain there for over 25 minutes. Atlas was in a state of shock as were the rest of us. While the paramedics were preparing Bruiser to take him to the emergency room, I witnessed Invader leave the shower, walk around the feet of Brody, grab his car keys and leave. Finally, after what had seemed like an eternity, Brody was loaded onto a gurney to be taken out. Brody, by this time, had been down at least 40 minutes. The paramedics couldn’t lift him. I saw Tony Atlas, almost by himself, carry Brody up four or five steps and transport him to the ambulance. Tony went with Brody to the hospital. At this point, nobody knew what to say or even what had happened. But I knew enough to stand back and observe the situation. Puerto Ricans basically didn’t like the American boys coming down there and taking their money that they felt was rightfully theirs. And since I was in the dark as to what happened, I was watching to see what would happen next.

Chris Youngblood told me that Invader had approached Brody and requested that he accompany him to the shower to talk business. He said that Invader’s hand was covered with a towel. Then he said he heard screaming and a commotion inside the shower and then seeing Brody stumble through the door holding his chest. Brody went down; he didn’t collapse but went down under his own control. That was just before I got back into the room.” –

Tony Atlas went to the hospital with Brody and had this to say in an interview – “Can you imagine? A guy gets stabbed and everyone’s putting on their wrestling boots. The wrestlers are like separate businesses. One is McDonald’s. One’s Burger King. They all sell hamburgers, but they’re more concerned about their business and once you’re gone, you’re gone. I’ve only had three wrestlers to call me since my contract ended with WWE. Of all the wrestlers I talked to and helped, only three called. That was Teddy Long, Mark Henry, and a guy from the office by the name of Howard Finkel. The only three guys to call since I left. The rest never called to see how I was doing. Nothing. It was like I was never there.”

Hulk Hogan vs. Verne Gagne – The Hulkster told this one during an interview with Chris Jericho. Verne started making Hogan t-shirts but wouldn’t cut Hogan in on the money. They had words and Verne said he wanted to see what they taught him down in Florida and Hogan said, “Enough to kick your ass.” Verne charged him and Hogan grabbed him in a front face lock “Belzer-style”. Verne left the room and said it wasn’t over and Greg started to take his stuff off like he was going to fight him but David Schultz backed Hulk up.

I have no reason not to believe this one. Everything I have heard about Verne is that he was pretty crazy and always challenging guys to fights.

Scott Hall vs. Marty Jannetty –
I had never heard of this one until Hall told it directly to me during a shoot interview. I interviewed Hall for a shoot interview back in 2007 and Hall told me about a fight he got into with Marty when both worked the Kansas City territory early in their careers. Jannetty gave his version of the story in a later interview.

“At the time, Hall was teaming with Danny Spivey. Marty said that he would party hard with Shawn Michaels and DJ Peterson at the time. He also adds that some of his checks would be negative as a result of having to pay for hotel damages. One night, he rented a room with DJ and they brought in a lot of girls. The next day at the show, he was extremely hungover on the table in dressing room, which he points out was not uncommon for him. All of a sudden, he was on the ground and heard screaming and Hall was acting crazy before leaving. Marty ended up with a split lip because Hall punched him repeatedly while he was sleeping. Marty said he then took a pipe and went looking for Scott. Geigel and Bulldog Brown grabbed him and held back before taking him to the hospital. Next night in St. Louis, he sees Hall who asked if he wanted to go another round. Hall put arm around Marty and said he got worked over by DJ, as he signed in the hotel under Scotts name and got discount on the room because he was a wrestler and DJ was not well known, but someone told him that it was Marty who signed in under Scott’s name and destroyed room on purpose in an attempt to get him fired. Marty then asked who told him that and he said it was Bulldog Brown. Marty then said that he was kicking and slamming doors looking for Brown. Harley saw him and pulled him aside and asked him what was wrong. He told him the story and Harley said that he would take care of this but he never did. Marty said that he got along okay with Hall after that but the beating he took was hard to forget.”

Shane Hurricane Helms vs. Buff Bagwell – Hurricane Helms vs. Buff Bagwell – This story has become infamous over the years as have most Buff Bagwell stories. This dandy went down shortly after the WWE purchased WCW. Both were training in the developmental territory during the transition period. Buff still believed he was the stuff, and Helms had enough. Here is Buff’s version of the story.

“That day there, we were at the training school and just hanging out and everyone was getting along and I knew they were making me go to school to test me. “Oh let’s put Buff Bagwell at school”. Ok, that makes sense so automatically I said “Oh boy, here we go. They’re going to test me”. So I said, that’s cool and I went to school. I was the first one in the ring, first one with my boots on, hey let’s go, let’s go, you know. Well, one day Shane got hurt, his back was hurting him and the guys were being guys and everybody was kind of jabbing each other and of course it got heated like guys do and a little scuffle took place and he had a water bottle under his shirt and I didn’t know it. So, he kept running his mouth and I just give a little slap right across the face and I said “you’ve got something to say now?”. He said “No, I ain’t got nothing to say”. I said “then keep your mouth shut”. Well, I turned my back on him and when I did, he had a shirt on over the ice pack and the ice pack was a water a bottle that was frozen ice. So, when I turned my back he just reached under his shirt and grabbed the ice bottle and Boom right in the back of the head.”

And here is what really happened according to Helms…“I’m not sure why after 4 years that the Balding, Bloated, Buff Bagwell keeps telling that ridiculous lie about what happened in the little skirmish that we had. Maybe it’s his “demons” talking up again. Ain’t it funny how when people become total losers it’s always because of some “demons?” LOL Either way it comes off to me like a desperate attempt for attention. Maybe ole Judy ain’t patting him on the back as much anymore, whatever. I just want my friends and fans to know, although most already do, that his version of the story is very jaded much like his opinion of himself. There’s a reason he’s unemployed. Must suck not to have any coat tails to ride on anymore!”

Road Warrior Hawk vs. Eddie Guerrero -Both men have sadly passed, yet Eddie wrote about the details of this fight in his autobiography. Eddie said the fight went down in Japan and it ended with Hawk getting the better of him in a bar fight. Here is the excerpt from his book, Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story.

“I didn’t care who Hawk was – I was drunk and I was looking for a fight. I started in on Hawk and he flat out told me to stand down. “Get the f*ck away from me,” he said, “or I’ll do something about it.”

He gave me a chance to walk away, but I was stupid. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a pu**y, so I pushed himn.

But Hawk was a man of his word. When I turned away from him, he did exactaly what he said he’d do- he did something it. Boom! Right in the back of the head. He knocked me on my ass, then he hit me a few times for good measure.

Hawk was a big man, so a few shows from him knocked me out cold. Brad Armstrong got me in a cab and had the driver take me back to the hotel. I remember waking up and thinking, I f*cked up.”

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Hulk Hogan Gunning For WWE WrestleMania 32 Match

May 04, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WrestleMania 32 is just under a year away and WWE legend Hulk Hogan is already campaigning for a match. Hulk is ready to lace up the boots for one more Mania match and according to him, he has the support of the CEO.

Hulk Hogan has been petitioning for another WrestleMania match ever since he returned to the company last year. Hogan worked hard to rehabilitate his back and pass physicals but in the end he was left off of the 31 card. That isn’t stopping Hogan. Hogan is working even harder to get back in the ring and told reporters at a recent press conference that he is down for whatever opportunities await him in Dallas Texas.

”Next year, WrestleMania is going to be where the Dallas Cowboys play at the AT&T stadium and next year they’re going to try to break my indoor attendance record. So, I stopped Vince McMahon in the hallway and said, ‘Let me tell you something brother, there’s no way you’re running WrestleMania next year without Hulk Hogan on the card. Whether it’s for my last hurrah and it’s my retirement match, whether it’s for my next run or whether it’s to just beat whoever’s got the WWE title and become the champion again. If you guys are in that stadium next year, I’m going to be there.’ And Vince McMahon shook my hand and said, ‘I look forward to it.’ ”

There are a few takeaways from this. First and foremost, you can never believe everything you hear from Hogan. Hogan is his best promoter and he’ll tell you just about anything to make some news. That said, if Hogan does have the support of Vince McMahon, there is a pretty good chance he’ll be back in the ring. Now do I think he is challenging for the WWE title? No, but there are plenty of other things he can do on the card to fill a spot and achieve his goal.

Why would Vince McMahon allow Hogan to get back into the ring? Well, he has a very large stadium to fill. UFC president Dana White has made it clear that Ronda Rousey will not be on the card. That could certainly change but she is nothing that the WWE can count on today. One idea that could resonate with casual fans is to bring Hogan back with a similar storyline that Ric Flair had when he retired at WrestleMania 24. Now I couldn’t imagine Hogan wrestling as many matches as Flair did, but the same idea could work here. I think the idea of a Hulk Hogan Retirement Match on Mania could be big business if presented correctly.

Hogan’s physical limitations are always the big question mark. Hogan claims that his back is in better shape than it has been in years and he has been working hard to get in ring shape. I don’t recall seeing any public medical records to verify Hogan’s claims, however Hogan has looked much better walking around on WWE television than he ever did in TNA. His improvements are obvious, even to doubters, but walking and wrestling are two different things. Hulk will need to pass a physical before he steps through the ropes and that may be his biggest obstacle.

Looking ahead to 2015 if you put a Hogan retirement story on a card with Sting vs. Undertaker, a Rock match, Brock Lesnar, and another special attraction you could have something really special for Mania. Ronda Rousey would be the icing on the cake. I could certainly see why Vince would be intrigued and for one more night, I can’t imagine anyone having a big problem with it.

WWE: It’s good to be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Top 50 Moments of the WWE Attitude Era

April 14, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s still unclear what Monday’s addition of Attitude Era content to WWE Network exactly entails. Hopefully, it’s enough to satiate the subscribers that have been holding their breath for 1997 episodes of Nitro for close to a year. The uploading schedule has the regularity of asthma attacks, and it seems once the Network is on a kick (ECW week! 16 months of Nitro! A new classic Raw every Wednesday!), the idea is quickly left in a roadside ditch in favor of some other hastily-concocted idea.

Whatever Attitude programming makes its way to the Network on Monday, I thought it’d be nice to put the actual era in perspective and sift through the top moments with the benefit of hindsight. I do enjoy my listmaking; you may have noticed.

In picking the 50 most memorable moments of wrestling’s most unpredictable and fun era ever, I adhered to a few guidelines.

1. The time frame for the Attitude Era isn’t exactly etched in stone, so I went with the timeline used on WWE2K13 for their Attitude Era mode: the moment Shawn Michaels hit Undertaker with a steel chair at SummerSlam 1997 through Steve Austin and Vince McMahon’s handshake at WrestleMania X7. Some say the era didn’t begin until Austin beat Michaels for the title; others will say it was when Austin broke into Brian Pillman’s house in 1996. Mileage varies; I think my choice of dates is fairly acceptable.

2. Wrestler deaths (Pillman, Owen) and serious injuries (Droz) are omitted completely. Each entry on the list plays into the realm of fiction to some degree, and it’s not fair to say that one man’s death was more memorable than another, even if Owen’s was the public relations nightmare from hell, based on the circumstances. The Attitude Era had its share of dark moments from the bowels (perhaps literally) of creation, and this list only honors those birthed by the writer’s pen.

Off we go.

50. Michaels Smashes Undertaker with a Steel Chair (August 3, 1997)

Hey, we were just talking about this, weren’t we? Michaels shed his put-on company charm for good with the errant strike, weaving the overwhelming dislike against him with the ‘blame’ he received for the incident. Cutesy, praise-singing Michaels of 1996 had to go away, and as far as catalysts go, this was perfect.

49. Austin Throws the Intercontinental Title into a River (December 9, 1997)

And you thought the belt was disrespected today. Austin lost the belt via voluntary forfeit to The Rock, then beat him up anyway, absconded with the title, and chucked the strap into a freezing New Hampshire stream out of spite.

48. Double People’s Elbow (September 27, 1998)

The Rock had just freshly turned face, and was pitted with fellow fan favorites Ken Shamrock and Mankind in a blue-barred cage match in Hamilton, ON. The Canadian crowd solidified Rock as a true superstar when he ripped off both elbow pads, dropped his signature elbow in duplicate, and receiving his biggest cheer to date in doing so.

47. Halftime Heat (January 31, 1999)

A novel concept to be sure, Rock defended the WWF Title against Mankind in an empty arena match, and it aired at halftime of John Elway’s final game. The camera angles showing the finish were hokey, but Mankind winning trumps sitting through Gloria Estefan’s warbling.

46. Linda’s Off Her Meds (April 1, 2001)

Since Vince demanded a divorce in December, Linda McMahon fell into a near-vegetative state (which wasn’t an acting stretch), and Vince, via power-of-attorney, kept her doped up while he cavorted with Trish Stratus. At WrestleMania X7, Linda emerged from a now put-on comatose state and kicked Vince in the balls to a massive cheer.

45. Austin Gets Run Down (November 14, 1999)

It was the beginning of an intriguing whodunnit. Austin chases Triple H through a Detroit parking lot at Survivor Series and gets run over by an unknown assailant. Austin was written out for almost ten months (he needed spinal surgery), and speculation ran rampant as to the driver.

44. Triple H Revealed as Mastermind of Austin’s Accident (November 6, 2000)

The initial payoff of the rundown was Rikishi, who ‘dih dit for da Rock’, and that seemed less than satisfactory. A month after the reveal, Triple H struck Austin after a tag team match on Raw, and worked in tandem with Rikishi to bust Austin up. The payoff for the rewrite was Austin dropping Triple H out of a crane at Survivor Series. Ahh, simpler times.

43. Triple H vs. T-800 Model 101 (November 9, 1999)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, pre-Gubernatorial run, appeared on Smackdown to promote the insipid End of Days movie, and ended up waylaying Triple H at the commentary desk. This was pretty well-received from the optimistic Attitude-era fanbase, and it beats the hell out of the “Rise of the Torn Quadriceps” entrance at WrestleMania 31.

42. Nuclear in Dallas (February 7, 2000)

Triple H, X-Pac, and The Radicals took on The Rock, Mick Foley, Too Cool, and Rikishi in an excellent ten man tag with one of the wildest, hottest crowds you’ll ever hear. The heels won, but Kane made the big save afterward with a returning Paul Bearer, spurring an even louder crowd response. Rivals a post-WrestleMania Raw crowd in volume.

41. Ventura Has the Power (August 22, 1999)

After leaving WWF acrimoniously nine years earlier, now-Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura officiated the main event at SummerSlam in Minneapolis, and even graced Raw with some commentary 13 days prior. Ventura even got to beat up Shane McMahon on a lark.

40. Finally, Austin vs. McMahon, with a Debut (February 14, 1999)

McMahon took a spill off the side of a steel cage at the hands of Austin, and Stone Cold spent an extended time-frame busting him up to the crowd’s delight. That’s when Big Show made his debut, billowing through the canvas, and assaulted Austin before inadvertently giving him the win by throwing him into the cage. The structure came apart, allowing escape.

39. Big Red Machine vs. Big Red Monster (March 29, 1998)

Nobody realized at the time that a running gag was being born. Pete Rose appeared at WrestleMania XIV to insult the then-suffering Boston fans, prompting Kane to dismantle Rose upon arrival. This tradition continued for several ‘Manias following.

38. Love Her or Leave Her (August 22, 1999)

The storyline was Shakespeare with the aggro-rock twist; Shane McMahon forbade his sister Stephanie from dating blue-collar Test. To settle the issue, Shane and Test competed in a startling show-stealer at SummerSlam with Test winning, but not before Shane busted out his first ever Leap of Faith elbow through the Spanish announce table.

37. Garden Street Fight (January 23, 2000)

Cactus Jack reared his ugly head into WWF Champion Triple H’s life, and the two warred in a street fight for the title at the Royal Rumble. A barbed-wire 2X4 found employment for the first time in WWF history, and Helmsley bled more than he ever had before. Cactus taking a Pedigree face-first onto a pile of thumbtacks cinches the match’s place in insanity’s lore.

36. The Highway to Hell (August 30, 1998)

The Crash-TV elements of the era killed off slow-burns and meaningful build in a lot of instances. However, the three-month story of miscommunication and alpha-male posturing between Austin and Undertaker en route to their SummerSlam title bout, complete with AC/DC’s iconic tune in music video form, was a well-rounded, well-received saga.

35. Birmingham: The Original Montreal (September 20, 1997)

Bret Hart wasn’t the only non-American beaten for gold in their own country by Shawn Michaels in dubious fashion. Michaels won the European Title from Davey Boy Smith in England at the ‘One Night Only’ PPV, while Michaels heeled it up to the hilt. The controversial match was witnessed by Smith’s dying sister Tracy, seated ringside with Diana Hart-Smith.

34. DX Invasion (April 27, 1998)

Not the end-all/be-all moment that WWE likes to claim, a fatigue-clad D-Generation X drove an Army Jeep to the Norfolk Scope, where WCW was running Monday Nitro, and the group was filmed interviewing fans with comped tickets, and demanding the release of ‘hostages’ Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Not that WCW needed help in looking uncool.

33. Triple H’s Most Important Turn (March 28, 1999)

Other than Austin regaining the WWF Title, this was the most important part of an awful WrestleMania. Triple H Pedigreed X-Pac in his European title bout with Shane McMahon, going corporate in the process. From this turn spawned wrestling’s most unkillable character.

32. Rikishi Goes Superfly (July 23, 2000)

It surely hurt Don Muraco enough getting pancaked by Jimmy Snuka’s steel cage leap in 1983, but imagine poor Val Venis’ plight. Venis was absolutely squashed by Rikishi, all 400 pounds with an anchoring ass, horrifically recreating the plummet at Fully Loaded 2000

31. “I Need to Beat You” (March 22, 2001)

The build to Austin and Rock’s WrestleMania X7 title match was enhanced in video form with Limp Bizkit’s melancholy “My Way” as the soundtrack. Giving the face-vs-face clash that extra push was Austin’s statement during a sitdown interview with Jim Ross, telling Rock he needed to beat him, with chilling matter-of-factness. Nobody had a clue what lay ahead.

30. This is Your Life, Rock (September 27, 1999)

The 8.4 Nielsen rating, still a Raw record, warrants the inclusion on this list, even if the segment doesn’t exactly hold up comedically. So Mankind hosts a dorky love-in for Rock, complete with cameos from Rock’s past. Highlight is Rock’s high coach pricelessly entering to Lex Luger’s “I’ll Be Your Hero” 1993 hype theme, before getting dressed down.

29. Austin Evens the Odds (April 30, 2000)

You’ll never believe this, but the Corporation stacked the odds against a babyface challenger. The Rock was down and out against Triple H after tons of interference, when Stone Cold hit the ring with a chair, putting down the champ, along with Vince, Shane, Patterson, and Brisco. The crowd response to the signature glass-shatter is some electric energy.

28. Judgment Day is Now (May 21, 2000)

For 58 minutes, Rock and Triple H executed one of the most well-thought out and dramatic Iron Man matches in wrestling history. With the score tied, The Undertaker made his grand return, reverting to real-life motorcycle man roots, assaulting Triple H in the waning seconds to give Helmsley the gold on a fall-ending DQ. Cheap ending aside, everything else ruled.

27. Ladder to Success (August 30, 1998)

While the previous two entries occurred at the culmination of Rock and Triple H’s success, one match revealed their respective potential: a ladder match for the Intercontinental Title at SummerSlam. It was each man’s greatest match to date, and the MSG faithful approved of their valiant effort. There was little doubt in each of their bright futures.

26. Austin’s Four Weeks of Destruction (September 28-October 19, 1998)

Lumping four moments of Stone Cold-brand mayhem in one entry: the Zamboni ride to the ring, rectally assaulting Vince with an enema, filling Vince’s Corvette with wet cement, and finally holding him hostage with a flag-loaded prop gun after Austin had been fired. All silly and over-the-top, yes, but it’s hard to remember Austin without these incidents.

25. The Year of Angle (October 22, 2000)

Exuberant Angle was really the first star since The Rock to begin essentially as a WWF pet project and blossom into a no-doubt-about-it main event superstar. In less than one year, Angle was made European and Intercontinental Champions, as well as King of the Ring, before going over on Rock to become WWF Champion at No Mercy. It’s true.

24. Vegas Wedding (November 29, 1999)

Test and Stephanie McMahon were in the midst of what seemed like a touching wedding ceremony, when Triple H appeared, producing footage of himself marrying a drugged, unconscious Stephanie at a drive-thru chapel in Vegas that weekend. Stephanie was proven to be in on the ruse at Armageddon, but the Raw payoff made for good shock TV.

23. Bang Bang! (September 22, 1997)

A nice little surprise for the ‘home crowd’ at the Garden. Triple H thinks he’s getting Dude Love in a falls count anywhere match, but is instead treated to a video of Dude Love and Mankind both passing on the bout. In comes Cactus Jack, his WWF ‘debut’, to accept, and Foley lives out his dream of shining brutally in his favorite arena.

22. Double Screwjob (November 15, 1998)

The Survivor Series ‘Deadly Game’ tournament for the WWF Championship played out with a pair of well-booked swerves. In one, Shane McMahon, estranged from his father, screwed over Austin in a semi-final match with Mankind. Mankind was then screwed over, via Sharpshooter, to The Rock, who captured his first World Title as a corporate centerpiece.

21. Chair After Chair (January 24, 1999)

The I Quit Match at the 1999 Royal Rumble became infamous, thanks in large part due to Barry Blaustein’s “Beyond the Mat” documentary. The Rock pelted a handcuffed Mankind with an endless barrage of unprotected chair shots while Colette Foley and children Dewey and Noelle, both extremely young, cried in horror from the crowd.

20. Star-Crossed Lovers (September 24, 2000)

One of the biggest draws for female fans in the year 2000 was the love triangle that played out between Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and a seemingly platonic Kurt Angle. The story ended hastily at Unforgiven with a Triple H win, but the layers of deceit and miscommunication (namely Triple H’s misgivings with Trish Stratus) were wholly new to WWF television.

19. DX Version 2.0 (March 30, 1998)

Shawn Michaels’ back injury led to Triple H stepping out of the shadow and commandeering the group following WrestleMania XIV. Joining Triple H and Chyna were X-Pac (returning that night following being let go by WCW, which was addressed by Sean Waltman in a vitriolic promo) and The New Age Outlaws, all in the span of one evening.

18. Four New Stars in One (October 17, 1999)

The Terri Invitational Tournament with a sack of money at stake was hardly relevant. Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz stole the night with a ladder match for the ages, elevating each other from midcard driftwood to crowd favorites through intricate stunts, and a violent disregard that didn’t require a gruesome blade job.

17. Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (April 2, 2000, August 27, 2000, April 1, 2001)

On the foundation of that No Mercy ladder match came three epic battles with the aforementioned teams, plus The Dudley Boyz, each upping the ante of showmanship and high-risk suspense. Edge and Christian won all three matches, but the teams would all ride the momentum of the matches to extensive success in their careers.

16. “By My Hand Only” (May 31, 1998)

If you have the Network, just watch Over the Edge 1998 from Vince’s backstage promo, through Pat Patterson’s hysterical ring intros, through the entire Steve Austin-Dude Love WWF Championship brawl, all the way to the satisfying finish. It is the greatest overbooked match in wrestling history, and you’re nuts if you don’t give it five stars.

15. Evacuees of a Falling Empire (January 31, 2000)

After Vince Russo’s WCW reassignment, many concerned parties in the midcard decided they wanted out if Kevin Sullivan got the book. Four of those individuals, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Perry Saturn, immediately jumped to WWF and became known as The Radicals. Benoit even handed back his newly won WCW Championship just to leave.

14. End of an Era (April 1, 2001)

Is there any better physical representation of Attitude’s disintegration than Steve Austin having Vince McMahon help him beat The Rock to become WWF Champion, and then shaking hands with him afterward? It was a helluva match to close WrestleMania X7, and the unthinkable alliance was as palpable a page-turner as any.

13. Heartbreaking Farewell (February 27, 2000)

Yes, Mick Foley’s wrestled matches since his loss to Triple H at No Way Out inside Hell in a Cell, but the moment itself was gutting for the many fans that willed him to the top of the wrestling world. In an era where title changes and alignment-turns were so frequent as to mean nothing, seeing Foley exit meant entirely everything.

12. A Hellish Debut (October 5, 1997)

Hell in a Cell lived up to its hype, with The Undertaker bloodying Shawn Michaels in an oddly cathartic fashion. The payoff to the two-month feud looked to be nigh when the lights suddenly dimmed. Kane had arrived, led by Paul Bearer, to avenge childhood scores with Undertaker. A Tombstone later, and Michaels went over in the epic melee.

11. Taking Over Thursdays (August 26, 1999)

Although the original Smackdown broadcast was a standalone pilot four months earlier, WWF was greenlighted a Thursday showcase to double the output of a red-hot product. WCW was was already in its tailspin, but Smackdown’s high profile on second-tier UPN led to the moving of the abysmal Thunder to Wednesday nights.

10. Raw is Jericho (August 9, 1999)

This entry is somewhat maligned for Jericho looking like a colossal dork by the end, thanks to his decision on how to sell Rock’s putdowns. However, the build with the countdown clock, and the anxious, exultant Chicago crowd, made the initial debut an unforgettable scene, with Jericho striking his now standard T-pose on the Raw is War stage.

9. Birth of a D-Generation (August 18, 1997)

It was wacky, mismatched partner night as The Undertaker and Mankind would be teaming up to battle Shawn Michaels and Triple H. The deal with the latter duo became a regular gig, with the Kliq buddies forming D-Generation X, the breath of fresh air needed to counter a stale, overcrowded nWo, and give WWF some necessary controversy in its programming.

8. Putting Butts in Seats (December 29, 1998)

Airing six days after the listed date, Mankind winning the WWF Championship from The Rock was an underdog triumph which any fan could, and did, relate to. Over on the other channel, Foley’s taped title win was mocked by Tony Schiavone (under duress), shortly before Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash’s infamous ‘fingerpoke’ swerve. Guess what fans liked better?

7. Austin Stuns McMahon (September 22, 1997)

Oh sure, Austin’s beaten up McMahon a million times, but there had to be a first time. McMahon tried to reason with an ornery Austin when Stone Cold was confronted by a group of arresting officers, but the stubborn Austin shook off the well-wishes and gave McMahon, still merely an announcer, a Stone Cold Stunner that would become the first of many.

6. Tyson-Austin, Tyson-Austin! (January 19, 1998)

An important keystone to WWF’s pulling past a near-idling WCW was mainstream acceptance. Getting Mike Tyson to play a part at WrestleMania XIV was a deft move. The masterstroke was instituting a confrontation between Tyson and Austin the night after the Royal Rumble. The spirited skirmish made headline news on ESPN and other major media outlets.

5. The Simulcast (March 26, 2001)

Three days earlier, it was announced that WWF was acquiring WCW for under three million dollars. The final episode of Nitro opened with a surreal image: Vince informing us that the fate of the company was now in his hands. That was before the real-life major story became cartoon-world storyline, as son Shane buys WCW from under his father’s nose.

4. “Will Somebody Stop the Damn Match?!” (June 28, 1998)

Words don’t accurately paint the picture of watching Mick Foley take two unexpected falls off of Hell in a Cell: one planned, the other a heart-stopping accident when the cage roof caved in. Mankind vs. Undertaker became one of those bouts where the loser was remembered much more, and it endures as the defining moment of a wrestler’s relentless spirit.

3. Austin Conquers the World (March 29, 1998)

It was as inevitable as the sunrise that Steve Austin would be WWF Champion at WrestleMania XIV, once the match with Shawn Michaels was set. Michaels’ gutsy performance on a ravaged back remains secondary to the rise of the Attitude Era’s biggest star, kicking off the Austin Era on the fast count of an excited Mike Tyson.

2. Montreal (November 9, 1997)

It’s been rehashed more times than anyone could count – it’s professional wrestling’s Kennedy Assassination. Bret Hart falls victim to Vince McMahon’s deception on the way out of WWF, and the aftermath, unseen by public eye, becomes just as much part of the fabled moment. Most important: it gave WWF the villain it so direly needed: Vince himself.

1. 4.6 to 4.3 (April 13, 1998)

For the first time in nearly two years, WWF Raw beat WCW Nitro in the ratings, surging ahead on Austin’s challenge to a bewildered McMahon for a title match that night. This was so unheard of in 1998, and slack-jawed fans almost refused to change the channel for fear of missing this unprecedented event. From it came the era’s most defining feud.

The Attitude Era: Volume 2 [Blu-ray]

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

WWE Hall Of Fame 2015 Ceremony Videos and Ring Presentation

March 29, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Hall of Fame 2015The 2015 WWE Hall of Fame will go down was one of the most emotional ceremonies in recent memory. Tributes to the late Randy Savage and Connor “The Crusher” left plenty of tears while Kevin Nash and Madusa provided the laughs and entertainment.

The entire ceremony was streamed live on the WWE Network. You really can’t beat the bargain of getting the entire ceremony and WrestleMania 31 for less than ten bucks. If you decided to pass on the Network, the WWE You Tube channel provided a compilation of speeches and moments including Vince McMahon presenting the class with their Hall of Fame rings.

The 2015 WWE Hall of Fame class….

  • Kevin Nash
  • “Macho Man” Randy Savage
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Rikishi
  • Tatsumi Fujinami
  • The Bushwhackers
  • Alundra Blayze
  • Larry Zbyszko
  • Connor “The Crusher” Michalek

Check out the playlist of videos below along with the entire ceremony on the WWE Network…for just $9.99. It’s a great way to kill four hours today as you count down to Mania!

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

31 WrestleMania Backstage Stories and Urban Legends

March 17, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Some of the best WrestleMania stories weren’t necessarily told inside of the ring. Disagreements, controversies, and changes in plans behind classic WWE matches were kept behind the scenes and kept in the locker room…until now.

31 years of WrestleMania events have produced plenty of headaches for Vince McMahon. It isn’t always easy trying to get WWE stars to do business and it’s even more difficult when you throw in the component of WrestleMania. How Vince McMahon still has a full head of hair is remarkable when you look back at the fires he had to put out.

I thought it would be fun to look back at the stories that never made it to the ring. I have heard plenty over the years through shoot interviews, books, podcasts, and locker room talk. In no particular order of importance here are 31 of what I found to be most the fascinating. Some of these are urban legend, some of these are alleged, most of these true and all are fascinating.

The Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather WrestleMania 24 – This classic has a few interesting backstage stories behind it. First and maybe the most interesting, the original match was booked to be a mixed tag team match. The original plans had Big Show and Floyd Mayweather penciled in as a team  to wrestle Rey Mysterio and Oscar De La Hoya. De La Hoya turned them down and the match was changed to Rey Mysterio and Floyd vs. Shane McMahon and either Big Show or MVP. Finally the match was changed again when Rey got hurt to the Show vs. Floyd singles match. One more interesting anecdote is that Mike Tyson was furious that Show lost, feeling  that a boxer should not have beaten a wrestler in a wrestling match.

Triple H vs. Sting WrestleMania 31 – The original plans for Triple H were for a WrestleMania rematch with Batista. Batista was supposed to leave in the summer and return for a big Mania program with Triple H. Batista wound up getting a part in an upcoming James Bond movie and pulled out of the match, thus setting up Sting for the spot.

Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan WrestleMania 30 – At one point the WWE had penciled in a match featuring Steve Austin vs. Triple H. The idea would be that Austin was representing Vince in a match to win control of the company. Austin wound up kiboshing the idea when he told the company he wasn’t interested in wrestling. Hunter was then scheduled to wrestle CM Punk while Bryan was penciled in to wrestle Sheamus. Punk walked and thus one of the greatest WrestleMania matches was booked.

Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice WrestleMania 8 – As most know this was originally booked to be Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair in the ultimate dream match. The match was even announced at a mock television press conference. Vince wound up changing his mind after the Hogan-Flair match did disappointing house show business.

Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin WrestleMania 14 – The WWE Network just did a whole documentary on this so the problems here aren’t exactly a secret. What some may not know is that The Undertaker reportedly had a conversation with Shawn in the locker room regarding rumors about Michaels not wanting to put Austin over. Taker reportedly taped up his fists and made it clear to Shawn that Michaels do what is best for business and put over Austin.

Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart WrestleMania 10 – Arguably the greatest opener in WrestleMania history never would have happened if Bret didn’t go to bat for Owen. The original plan was scripted to program Bret vs. Bruce Hart in the brother vs. brother series. Bret went to management and fought hard for Owen thus sacrificing one brother for another in the spot.

Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan WrestleMania 3 – There was a serious fear that Andre’s health would prevent him from doing the match. Andre’s health was deteriorating badly at the time and the WWE needed a backup plan. Paul Orndorff was plan B. This is why Orndorff turned on Hogan at the time. Orndorff wasn’t booked in anything on the card just in case he needed to be a last minute sub for the giant.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage WrestleMania 3 – I don’t know if this goes down as controversial but Steamboat once told me in an interview that Savage had the match scripted out move for move by the time they got to Pontiac. Steamboat said that Savage laid the match out over several pages which was something Steamboat was unfamiliar with as he preferred to call it in the ring.

Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper & Bob Orton WrestleMania 1 – There was fear that Mr. T would not show up for the match. He was getting cold feet before the match coming out of a confrontation he had with David Schultz at a Los Angeles house show. Piper claims to have cinched up a front facelock which almost passed T out. Piper also flat out refused to put T over. Most speculate Jimmy Snuka was not booked in a match just in case he needed to step into T’s spot if T didn’t show up.

Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart WrestleMania 13 – There are a couple of interesting stories behind this match. The first is that neither Austin nor Bret knew in advance it was going to be a submissions match. Austin said he was red hot when he heard the stipulation announced on television and was worried about having a great match. The other interesting tidbit is that the match was never supposed to happen. Bret was originally booked to wrestle Shawn Michaels in a WM XII rematch. Michaels of course lost his smile and went home thus making himself unavailable for the match. I think things worked out well for everyone in the end.

Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T WrestleMania 2 – Piper took off several weeks to go train with Lou Duva and get in condition for the boxing match. Mr. T obviously did not. Piper’s hands were taped in a fist underneath his gloves. Piper alleges that he was made to tape up his wrists because T didn’t trust him. This was a problem as Piper was supposed to grab the ropes as he went to the floor. Go back and watch the match and you’ll notice Piper awkwardly falling to the floor through the ropes and that was why. His fists were taped in a clench and thus he couldn’t grab the ropes.

The Rock vs. John Cena WrestleMania 29 – What many casual fans don’t know is that The Rock suffered a serious injury in the match. He tore one of his abdomen & adductor muscles off the bone in the middle of the match. Mick Foley remarked in an interview that this was one of the most painful injuries a wrestler could suffer.

Randy Orton vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio WrestleMania 22 – Randy Orton was originally booked to win this match and the WWE world heavyweight championship. He did not and that was because he was allegedly caught blatantly smoking a substance that was banned on the wellness policy backstage. He was suspended for unprofessional conduct right after the match.

Roddy Piper vs. Goldust WrestleMania 12 – This legendary match was never in the cards for WrestleMania 12. Goldust was feuding with Razor Ramon at the time. Godlie defeated Ramon for the intercontinental title at the Royal Rumble with the idea of putting a rematch on Mania. Razor wound up unavailable as he was suspended for a Wellness Policy violation before the show and thus the switch was made to Piper.

Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga WrestleMania 23 – The Battle of the Billionaires allegedly almost featured two different wrestlers than Umaga and Lashley. At one point the plan was to pit Booker T vs. Shawn Michaels in the match. Michaels would represent Trump and Booker would represent McMahon. I can only speculate that plans changed when Hunter got hurt and they needed HBK for the main-event against John Cena.

Triple H vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania 27 – This was never the plan going in which is why the storyline came out of nowhere. Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker was actually on the books for WM 27 when Brock was still in the UFC. Vince McMahon was confident Brock could get permission from the UFC to wrestle at Mania. The idea was to put the streak up against the UFC champion. Unfortunately not only did Brock lose his UFC title but UFC president Dana White made it clear that he had no intentions of letting his top draw lose a fake wrestling match at WrestleMania.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango WrestleMania 29 – Jericho came back at the Royal Rumble as a surprise in what was supposed to lead to a heel turn. The turn would transition him into a high profile match with Ryback at WrestleMania. Vince McMahon allegedly fell in love with the Fandango character and changed plans on Jericho. Jericho was very upset but wound up turning it into a positive and used it as motivation to try and get a great match with Fandango.

Triple H vs. Mick Foley vs. The Rock vs. The Big Show WrestleMania 2000 – Remember how odd it was to see Mick Foley come back for this match just a few months after announcing his retirement? Well that was because it wasn’t necessarily the plan. The original match had booked Chris Jericho in the spot. Vince and company got cold feet about putting Jericho in such a big spot at the time and wound up luring Foley out of retirement for the spot instead.

The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy WrestleMania 11 – The streak may have ended here if Vince McMahon had his way. Vince was very high on Bundy at the time and was hesitant on beating Bundy here. The original idea was for Bundy to win with interference. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and Undertaker won but the streak was reportedly in jeopardy here.

Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall/The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan WrestleMania 18 – The original plans here were to book Austin vs. Hogan in a battle of generation icons. Austin wasn’t interested and refused to do the match. Austin worried that the match wouldn’t be good due to Hogan slowing down in the ring. Austin was also concerned with who would do the job. The Rock stepped up and offered to work with Hogan, thus bumping Austin down the card to a forgettable match with Hall.

The Undertaker vs. The Big Show and A-Train WrestleMania 19 – This match changed plans several times thanks to Nathan Jones. Some on the WWE creative end were enamored with Jones’ size while others were scared to death of his inept abilities inside of the ring. The match was changed several times from Jones teaming to not teaming with Taker. Eventually Jones was held out but did make an appearance where he looked every bit as clumsy as some had feared.

Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle WrestleMania 19 – Both of these guys paid a heavy price for this WrestleMania classic. A botched shooting star press reportedly left Brock unconscious for a short portion of the match. But it was Angle who would suffer most as he wrestled with an injured neck throughout the match. Angle was in so much pain that he reportedly collapsed by the time he got to the locker room after the match.

Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena WrestleMania 23 – I remember at the time thinking how odd this match seemed. It didn’t appear to have that genuine organic build that most Mania championship main-events received during this period. That is probably because this wasn’t the original idea. The original idea here was reportedly a rematch between Triple H and John Cena. That was scrapped when Hunter tore his quad in January. It should also be pointed out that the plan the following year was to do the rematch but the company was worried about putting Cena in such a physical match coming off the torn pec so they went with a Triple Threat Match instead.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Triple H WrestleMania 24 – According to Hulk Hogan, he was scheduled to wrestle Cena that year at WrestleMania. Take it with a grain of salt because it is Hogan but he claims that he was negotiating a 25-year deal with the WWE that would have included this match. Hogan says that his back went out as he was negotiating and the match fell apart at that point. Hogan has used this story as part of a lawsuit against the surgeons who operated on his back.

Diesel vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania 12 – One urban legend behind this match claims that Nash was supposed to win the match when it was originally booked. The booking was changed of course when Nash told Vince that he was going to WCW. If Nash would have stayed there is a very good chance that the streak would have ended at WrestleMania 12.

Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase WrestleMania 4 – Savage defeated DiBiase in the tournament to win the WWE championship which also started one of the greatest builds in WWE history towards a Mania 5 headliner with Savage and Hogan. Was that always in the plans? According to Ted DiBiase it wasn’t. DiBiase claims that he was supposed to win the WM 4 tournament and the title. Savage was supposed to win the intercontinental belt months earlier but the Honkytonk Man refused to put Savage over. Savage wound up going over at 4 as a consolation prize of sorts with DiBiase getting the Million Dollar title to makeup for the change in plans. Ironically DiBiase was also promised the NWA world title at one point and got screwed as well.

Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter WrestleMania 7 – Hogan headlined a memorable WrestleMania match against Slaughter but that wasn’t in the original plans. The original plan was to give the Ultimate Warrior a full year with the WWE championship and rematch Hogan and Warrior at WM 7. Warrior unfortunately did not get over as Vince had expected as champion and called an audible somewhere along the way. This is why Slaughter’s win at the Royal Rumble seemed so sudden.

Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior WrestleMania 6 – I am not sure I buy this one but one urban legend says that this match was not in the original plans. The original booking would have had Hogan vs. Zeus in the Mania 6 headliner. Tiny Lister who played Zeus in No Holds Barred was the first to drop this bomb and has even given interviews telling reporters how much he was supposed to be paid for the match. Imagine how different wrestling history would have been if this plan came to fruition?

Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels WrestleMania 14 – According to one urban legend it would have been Bret Hart, not Shawn Michaels doing the favor for Steve Austin if Hart had stayed. The original plan would have had Austin not only getting his win back but getting the WWE championship in the process. In retrospect there is no doubt that things worked out for the better between Mike Tyson and the heel Vince McMahon character coming out of the Montreal Screwjob.

Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage WrestleMania 8 – There is one very important person that wasn’t a fan of this great match and that was Vince McMahon. Blading was not allowed at the time in the WWE and if you remember, Flair bled buckets in this match. Vince reportedly went ballistic on Flair for blading when the Nature Boy got back to the locker room. McMahon was so irate that he came very close to firing Flair on the spot.

Kurt Angle vs. Kane WrestleMania 18 – According to a former WWE writer this was not the original plan for Kurt Angle. The original plan was to book Sting vs. Kurt Angle for WM 18. Sting was negotiating with the WWE and a deal was so close that the writers were told to write him in to the show. Sting was booked to wrestle Kurt Angle who wound up wrestling Kane instead once negotiations fell apart between the Stinger and Vince McMahon. This story explains the quick setup for Angle vs. Kane going into Mania.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Victory in Defeat: 10 Wrestlers Who Won By Losing at WrestleMania

March 12, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

There’s nobility in victory through defeat. The fans don’t dismiss the loser of a wrestling match as merely the lesser man, but a new side of that wrestler is seen. Something about their performance, or the circumstance of the loss, captivates fans of all ages and walks, giving that wrestler the kind of cemented credibility that cannot erode.

Over three decades worth of WrestleMania have had many instances where the scripted loser has become a made man in one form or another. Above all else, the names below came out ultimate winners when all was said and done.

Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania V)

From the time a young Jim Hellwig bulldozed the treacherous Honky Tonk Man in under 30 seconds to win the Intercontinental Title, it seemed that WWE had a true star on their hands. The victory over Honky came after nobody, not even Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, or Brutus Beefcake, could wrest the gold from the Elvis impersonator for fifteen months, a record that holds today. Warrior being booked to forego caution, instead plowing through the bandy-armed Honky as though he were a tackling dummy in near-record time, played a big part in establishing him as a main-eventer waiting in the wings.

The only question regarding Warrior as a potential brand leader had to do with the shortness of his matches. Warrior’s act in 1988-89 was considered all pomp and skyrockets, with little substance should he end up exposed. The match with Rick Rude at the fifth WrestleMania went just under ten minutes, and is something of a forgotten classic, overshadowed by the Hogan/Savage main event. In that ten minute frame, Warrior sold for Rude, showing a humanity he would need to succeed in longer matches with deeper stories than “Grrr, clothesline, rowr, splash.”

Warrior lost the title, getting an out via Bobby Heenan’s interference, but the experiment was a success. Warrior proved he could hang in a match of respectable length; in fact, the two had a match that was seven minutes longer at SummerSlam (with Warrior regaining the belt), and the two bouts are comparable in quality. By the time Warrior won the “Ultimate Challenge” over Hogan the following year, he’d proven that with the right opponent, he could deliver dependably in the main event.

Macho King Randy Savage (WrestleMania VII)

Speaking of Warrior epics, while the win over Hogan is an indisputable all-timer, this bout, with both men’s careers on the line, rates a little closer to perfection. There are two reasons nobody ever complains about the ending, in which Warrior sent Savage into retirement with three standard shoulder tackles. Such a quizzical finish gets a free pass because 1) the match itself was an awesome overture of psychology and head games, and 2) the aftermath made you forget that you witnessed a near five-star classic. In the good way, that is.

It’s the closest wrestling’s come to mixing Shakespearean tragedy with fairy tale romance. Savage was two years removed from pushing away virtuous Miss Elizabeth for whorish harlequin Sensational Sherri, and with Macho’s career at stake, Elizabeth inconspicuously sat ringside by the aisleway to watch the proceedings. When Savage lost, she subtly sold heartbreak, as deep down, she still loved him in spite of his bombast and insecurity. When an irate Sherri, having lost her lone wrestling client, attacked a pained Savage, the usually low-key and pacifistic Elizabeth jumped the rail and sent Sherri careening to the floor with one empowered throw. Kind of like Marge Simpson aggressively steering Ruth Powers’ car away from the state police, complete with immediate resumption of their prior meekness.

Savage was initially bewildered by Elizabeth’s presence, but we all know how the fairy tale ends: the two embraced, and the crowd in Los Angeles wildly cheered, some actually wiping away tears. Savage meant to settle into retirement for real, but Warrior’s real-life firing that August led to Vince McMahon coaxing the Macho Man back. For a time, Savage was accompanied by Elizabeth, who he now treated chivalrously, instead of with his oblivious misogyny at one time. The face turn led to a few more good years of Savage magic, hailed as an honorable hero. Though cheered as a heel in the past by hipper-to-the-room fans, Savage’s restoration as babyface won over the entire audience.

Bret Hart (WrestleMania IX)

If you believe “The Hitman”, the day that McMahon decided to put the World Title on him in 1992, Vince told his star wrestler he intended to keep him champion for a year, though he noted that plans weren’t set in stone. Good thing for that last disclaimer; Hart’s reign ended a week shy of six months, losing to the massive Yokozuna, who’d debuted around the same time Hart’s long road to the top culminated. Yoko, of course, immediately dropped the belt to Hogan in a farce of an impromptu match, and Hulk disappeared for two months, taking time during a New Japan guest spot to call the WWE Championship a ‘toy’.

Putting the championship around Hogan’s waist was a desperate move by McMahon, one that didn’t pay off in the least. Hogan fled after a European tour that summer, barely moving ratings or drawing houses in his abbreviated return. McMahon attempted to have Lex Luger pick up Hogan’s fumbled ball, painting him in streaks of Americana, while Hart toiled in the upper midcard, putting out acclaimed feuds with Jerry Lawler and brother Owen.

Despite McMahon’s desire to have chiseled strongman Luger be his new lunchbox-and-poster hero, the fans wildly cheered the authentic Hart instead. Every McMahon vehicle after Hart’s loss at WrestleMania IX blew up in the boss’ face, with Hogan and Luger both underachieving. Truth be told, it was dark times for the company no matter what, and houses would stay diminished for more than a spell. Still, McMahon turned back to his Canadian workhorse by having him win the title back from Yoko at WrestleMania X. The reign would be Hart’s longest at eight months.

Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania X)

Two prior reigns as Intercontinental Champion already had the dynamic Michaels fast-tracked toward certain stardom. An ever-thinned roster, especially one jettisoning the weight of suspiciously-muscled wrestlers, made it easier for Michaels to ascend company ranks. The career ascension would take on something of an interpretive play in the first ever pay-per-view ladder match, with Michaels battling Razor Ramon for the IC strap (two straps, actually; Michaels wagered a bogus IC Title he carried around in dispute of Razor’s reign), where literally ascending steel was in the name of victory.

Blow by blow isn’t necessary here; it’s the greatest ladder match (without cumbersome frills like tables or chairs) in wrestling history, equaled only by their 1995 sequel, and Michaels’ war with Chris Jericho at No Mercy 2008 (a forgotten five-star epic). What should be emphasized is that this match was the match where Michaels indisputably arrived. The bumps he took off of Razor’s hellacious offense, and from his own daring attacks, are especially impressive when you remember the time-frame. Even today, despite what the ADD-spotfest crowd might mutter, Michaels’ performance here remains historically scintillating.

Shortly after WrestleMania, Michaels took a bit of a sabbatical, serving mostly as segment host (“Heartbreak Hotel”) and as second for Diesel. Much of 1994’s summer carried on with Michaels deactivated, which worked to his advantage. The dearth of true talents outside of Ramon, 123 Kid, and the Harts was a gaping hole that could swallow a continent. When Michaels, his ladder match performance still fresh in mind, took up a heavier schedule again, it coincided with a main event push that saw him win the 1995 Royal Rumble from the starting spot. Michaels received thunderous cheers along the way, despite being a heel, and out-popped mild hero Davey Boy Smith when Smith was first thought to have won. Fans know star quality when they see it.

Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania XIII)

If I were ranking the entries and not doing them chronologically, Austin would be number one for certain. In fact, I’d expand the list into a top twelve, and leave spots two and three blank, because that’s the disparity between Austin in this aftermath, and whatever the second most important example is. Not only did the spotlight over Austin shine astronomically brighter, but the fog separating WWE and a then-winning WCW dissipated. McMahon’s company now had the visibility and the momentum to chase Eric Bischoff’s decadent empire and seize the lead (which took another year, in fairness), with proud Austin standing defiantly on the warship’s bow.

In one sense, Austin’s submission match with Bret Hart had potential for disaster – either man losing by definitive submission could be damaging. Hart says he suggested the now-famous ending, inspired by Jack Nicholson’s struggle to pick up a therapy sink and hurl it through an asylum window in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The premise would be the same: Austin would be faced with insurmountable odds in trying to break Hart’s air-tight Sharpshooter, all the while gushing blood like a busted faucet. Austin, per the story, nearly muscled Hart off, but virtually passed out after the mighty push, with Hart quickly resetting the hold.

When special referee Ken Shamrock stopped the match, Hart finished off his bubbling heel turn by attacking the unconscious Austin, and backing off of a fired-up Shamrock when the two were toe to toe. Austin, for his part, cemented one of the greatest face turns ever by, ironically, attacking referee Mike Chioda for trying to help him. The Chicago crowd chanted Austin’s name as he hobbled on a bad leg, skull drenched in blood, up the aisleway. McMahon’s solemn, awed narration, testifying to Austin’s pride and grit, was the icing on the cake, and Austin was soon on his way to becoming the Attitude Era’s unblinking avatar.

Kurt Angle (WrestleMania 2000)

Caveat: this one’s quite the underwhelming entry after Austin’s foray into greatness. In fact, this entry is all too subtle, literally the tenth entry I came up with for the list. Still, it’s a notable way of booking a relatively new character, one with enough faith behind him to hold two championship belts simultaneously. Angle was Intercontinental and European (or simply, Eurocontinental) Champion headed into WrestleMania 2000, where he would defend both belts against Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho.

The trick to this match was that it was actually two matches: one fall for the IC gold, and one for the European belt immediately after. Such complexities were the bane of the card, a head-scratching misfire during one of WWE’s most scorching periods. The booking here, however, was certainly clever: Angle lost both belts without actually losing: Benoit landed a diving headbutt on Jericho to capture the Intercontinental title, while Jericho pinned Benoit with a Lionsault to win the European title. Angle pitched a disgusted fit afterward, emphasizing how the stipulation came to bite him.

In reality, bigger things were ahead for Angle. Throughout 2000, his already surprising mic skills would improve even more, exponentially improving with his wrestling acumen, a world-class hybrid of WWE main event style and and his unique blend of uber-grappling. By year’s end, Angle was reigning King of the Ring, as well as WWE World Champion, going over on The Rock at No Mercy. While losing either of the falls wouldn’t have killed Angle off, giving him frequent outs such as this, in blend with his standout character and his top-notch wrestling talent, made his run to the top believable, and more than acceptable.

The Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz (WrestleMania 2000/X7)

From the time Matt and Jeff Hardy concluded their No Mercy 1999 ladder match with Edge and Christian, nobody cared that the Hardyz won both the managerial services of Terri Runnels, and a bank robbers’ sack of cash. What mattered is that four new stars had arrived with literal crashes and bangs, previously existing in a one-dimensional midcard void. A 1999 that lacked truly great matches from a crash-TV preoccupied WWE suddenly had its match of the year. The Hardyz’ table match with Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley at the 2000 Royal Rumble continued this resurgence of tag team excitement within a burgeoning undercard.

All three teams would meet at consecutive WrestleManias, not to mention the 2000 SummerSlam, in three matches of a kind: a ‘Triple Ladder’ match, followed by the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match (which the ‘Mania 2000 contest is incorrectly labeled, not that it matters much). Edge and Christian would win all three matches, capturing the Tag Team Titles in both WrestleMania encounters. The win and the gold didn’t do much to elevate them above the other two duos, however.

All six men became synonymous with the wild stuntshows, a hallmark of early-2000s WWE, long before the match types became watered down and overdone. All six men could stake their careers to these matches, with four of them (Edge, Christian, Jeff, and Bubba) winning WWE, World Heavyweight, or TNA Championships eventually. All but Edge wound up in TNA down the road, and those five were given some form of rock star treatment by the inferior brand. Perhaps in no other case can you say a gimmick match made midcard wrestlers as virtually indispensable as these ladder matches did, no matter who won and lost.

Hollywood Hogan (WrestleMania X8)

When it was announced that the New World Order would be invading WWE in 2002, reaction was somewhat split. Some fans were eager to see if WWE could capture the magic of the nWo’s 1996 attempted coup d’etat of WCW, while the cynics pointed to the failed WCW Invasion, as well as the ages of the nWo trio, as reasons for their dismay. The WWE locker room wasn’t thrilled, given the trouble the group had caused politically in WCW. The younger, fresher, hipper WWE didn’t need the same old geezers they’d once thwarted, and had since surpassed. But McMahon felt WWE needed a shot in the arm, and injected the ‘poison’.

In early 2002, WWE was still focused on the present, and not the past as is the case today. That changed when the Chicago crowd at the February 18 Raw expressed reverence for the iconic Hogan, just before The Rock challenged him i a battle of the generations at WrestleMania. The Toronto crowd trumped anything Chicago or any other crowd could done, treating Hogan as if he were a conquering hero returning from nine years in some unknown war zone halfway across the globe. Rock became de facto heel that night, even conceding his poise to sell horror and fear at Hogan’s Hulk-Up routine late in the match, and 68,000 fans turned back the clock to 1987.

The implications of that night, you could argue, have hurt WWE creatively. The reaction Hogan received gave WWE carte blanche to reach into the past and push some part-timer on name, as opposed to a modern star on current merit, a trick that would become more common as time shunted forward. Hogan would become WWE Champion a month after the match, striking while the iron was hot, and boosted Raw and Smackdown with a bit of good-natured nostalgia. The run was short-lived, but it did make for another positive: the “Hulk Still Rules” DVD released that August, kicking off a run of WWE filling video releases with loads of rare matches and moments among the special features, a product line that still thrives today.

Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXIII)

Speaking of good-natured nostalgia, that brings us to Michaels, who made his big comeback just months following Hogan in 2002. Including his WrestleMania 23 match, a tense bloodbath with WWE Champion John Cena, on this list may seem funny to some, given that Michaels’ wrestling ability and big-match deliverance was never in question during the previous five years. If you listed the top five WWE matches of each year from 2003 to 2006, chances are that Michaels is in at least two or three of them, if not more. The 2002-07 stretch for Michaels was an interesting one, which saw him shift once and for all into a certified legend, cemented by this match.

It’s somewhat hard to believe in hindsight, but Michaels was hastily booed in two straight WrestleManias as a face: the triple threat at XX (New York pulled with all its might for Benoit) and against Angle at XXI, for reasons not entirely clear. Both were hard-stamped five-star classics, so it’s not as though Michaels had lost his fastball in the least. Yet it feels like there was a disconnect between Michaels and the audience, despite his body of work. Even in feuds with Chris Jericho and Edge during the stretch, there were instances where the crowd sided with the villains. That’s not to mention Michaels’ appearances in Montreal, in which he was most assuredly booed.

He needed Cena to ‘turn him face’ in a sense. Promising for weeks to double-cross Cena at just the right time (everyone forgets the two were Raw’s Tag Team Champions for some reason), Michaels kept teasing a superkick to the delight of the first wave of fans that had tired of Cena’s act. Michaels pulled the trigger six days before WrestleMania, and then carried Cena to what was the best match of the champ’s career for all of three weeks (Michaels and Cena topped it with a wrestling classic in London), most notable for a piledriver on the ring-steps that gorily split the back of Cena’s head open. Michaels lost via submission, but I would go so far as to say this as the feud where Michaels’ icon status became indelible.

Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania XXVIII)
The list ends with this resounding thud. It’s also a disturbing indicator, as with the exception of my iffy Michaels entry from 2007, there hasn’t really been a WrestleMania match in years that has captured the hearts of fans to the extent in which the loser gained as much nobility, if not more, than the winner. Comparing 2012 Daniel Bryan to 1997 Steve Austin is fair when you wanna talk popularity (it’s at least arguable, since neither had reached their zenith), but comparing the way in which each went down at WrestleMania is no comparison whatsoever.

Eighteen seconds, you know the story. Sheamus runs out and Brogue Kicks a posturing Bryan, fresh off of kissing then-flame AJ Lee, and pins him to win the World Heavyweight Title in the opening match. The fans reacted with confusion and incredulity, and McMahon may have been surprised that Sheamus wasn’t made into the big babyface star he was hoping. If the plan was to make Bryan look stupid and have fans give up on him (hey, it worked against Zack Ryder), it backfired in the worst of ways against the company.

Resolve for Bryan became stronger, even as creative called for Bryan to scream “NO!” at the fans who chanted his infectious “YES!” his way. For the next two years, the groundswell only continued, Bryan lionized by the fans to a begrudging acknowledgement from the office. The 2014 Royal Rumble was the tipping point for fans who demanded Bryan get a push in proportion to their outpouring of support, and they would get their wish at WrestleMania XXX. As for Sheamus, the Irishman is living proof of what happens when McMahon and the modern mode of creative puts all of their resources behind you: you get watered down and hackneyed faster than an eighteen-second atrocity.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Lessons To Be Learned From WWE WrestleMania 1

March 05, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It has been almost 30 years since we packed arenas around the country to watch Hulk Hogan and Mr. T battle Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff in the inaugural WrestleMania, breaking the record for the most watched closed circuit event in the U.S. at the time.

It is amazing to think that this event is over 30 years old. I feel like it was yesterday that I watched a slow build for the main-event from Roddy Piper and Captain Lou Albano making accusations against Cyndi Lauper, to Lauper and Wendi Richter’s “Moolah’s Going Down” promos, to Piper and Orndorff cracking an egg over a toilet seat on a WrestleMania poster. We practically had a full year of promotion before history was made in New York City.

The formula was brilliant, yet not original. McMahon took a page out of Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett’s playbook and snagged one of the biggest celebrities in the world. The way this played out is incredibly ironic since Vince’s father passed on a similar angle only a few years prior. Before Andy Kaufman stepped into the Mid South Coliseum, he approached Vince McMahon Sr. about doing an angle. Vince Sr. rejected the idea yet for all I know the whole scenario planted a seed in Vince Jr. Keep in mind Vince Sr. also fired Piper and Hogan at separate times, banning Hogan for life only two years earlier.

The master plan played out beautifully. Vince Jr. took over for his father and slowly and deliberately transitioned the WWWF to the WWF. Roddy Piper was signed and his masterful promos were exploited immediately. Hulk Hogan was signed and immediately given the world title and a list of new and old challengers. The entire transition took about two years to get to WrestleMania.

It is impossible to look back at Mania 1 and not compare it to today’s pro wrestling. While Vince still plans out Mania far in advance, the road map looks much different today. Think about this for a second. How big would Hogan and Piper have been if they both lost matches on the way to Mania? Would Piper have still been red hot as a heel if he was losing matches on television during the months leading up to Mania? Would Hogan have been as popular if he were reading scripted promos, losing matches, and showing vulnerabilities leading up to Mania? Would Mania have drawn if Piper or Hogan lost clean at the War to Settle the Score? How about building up a show with matches we have already seen before, some dozens of times? I think we all know the answers.

The irony here is that you would expect a genius like Vince McMahon to evolve over time. Instead if you look back over the last 32 years, Vince has actually regressed as a promoter. Ironic as it sounds, Vince was more edgy and innovative in 1985 than he is in 2015. I can’t think of many or any other CEOs or organizations run considerably better 31 years ago that are thriving today.

The WrestleMania event has become a much bigger extravaganza. The marketing has far surpassed the efforts of the company in 1985. The revenue generated from the event has greatly increased, yet inflation has played a big part in that. The shows from top to bottom are better or worse depending upon your tastes. It is all subjective. Take a look back at the card from March 31, 1985 and I will easily admit that the cards have gotten much stronger since then. Could you imagine WrestleMania headlined in 2015 by a tag team match?

Yet no matter how much money is spent on marketing and how much more time on television the WWE has to promote WrestleMania, the excitement was far bigger in 1985. I can remember watching the 11 PM news and seeing a report about WrestleMania. Heck, that was the only way a kid like me found out what happened in 1985. While the WWE does get coverage in many mediums today for WrestleMania, I don’t recall seeing many evening news reports on the event.

I think we can all agree that there are still lessons that can be learned from WrestleMania 1. Some of these lessons are lessons on failing and some are lessons on how to successfully promote your biggest event of the year. Most of those positive lessons have been ignored or blown off by an ignorant owner who thinks they are archaic. Yet I wonder how much different things would be if that same owner’s house and fortune were all at stake as they were on March 31, 1985. I bet things would be much different and for the better at that.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Hulk Hogan Appreciation Night Ceremony At Madison Square Garden – Video

February 28, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE and Madison Square Garden paid tribute on Friday night to the legendary Hulk Hogan. Kevin Nash, Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Jimmy Hart, and Triple H rolled out the red carpet for Hulk and while WWE cameras were not in attendance, plenty of smartphones were.

Thanks to all of the great fans who attended the big event on Friday night, there are plenty of videos floating around YouTube of the ceremony. The ceremony is awesome and the only disappointment in the video is that it didn’t capture what was reported to be a fantastic video tribute of Hogan that played during the ceremony.

It amazes me that the WWE didn’t capture any of this footage for the WWE Network. One of the ideas I proposed a year ago was the Network showing WWE house shows. I think in this case the WWE missed a golden opportunity to either simulcast the event or air it post-produced later on the Network. I think original, special content like that would really help in marketing the network.

Regardless, check out the entire ceremony here below. It’s long overdue and a real classy tribute to a man that sold out many Garden shows in his prime.