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Randy Savage and His Overlooked Greatest Matches

January 22, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Randy Savage will take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame the night before Wrestlemania 31. Although it’s hard to believe, there is a younger generation out there who may not be familiar with Savage’s work. WWE has produced 2 DVDs on the career of the Macho Man, and there is hours of content on the WWE network, but I want to take a look at some matches that often get over looked.

VS Jerry Lawler (Steel Cage match 12/12/1983)
During the early 80’s Savage’s father Angelo Poffo ran the ICW promotion and competed against the southern territories, more specifically the Memphis territory. When the promotion was in dire financial straits in , it was purchased Lawler and Jerry Jarrett of the CWA. Savage eventually showed up on Memphis TV, challenged Lawler, and thus his first major feud began. This match ended in a DQ, but was a brutal match from top to bottom. You get to see an early wild man Savage plant the seeds  of him becoming a superstar. A great match between 2 hall of famers. On a side note, Lawler’s career is vastly overlooked. Savage and Lawler would eventually rekindle their rivalry and face again in a cage when the WWF invaded the USWA in 1993.

Teaming with Lanny Poffo vs The Rock N Roll Express (6/25/84)
During the summer of 1984, Savage teamed with his brother Lanny is a series of brutal matches against the Express. This is yet another Savage match that ended in a DQ, but what was unique about this match was what happened after. Savage pile drove Ricky Morton onto the announce table. Many are on record saying that this was the first time a table was in such a matter in wrestling. The moment was so influential that Terry Funk would perform the same move years later to ignite his feud with Rick Flair.

Vs Bret Hart (Saturday Nights Main Event 11/28/1987)
This is the first time these two hall of famers ever faced each other. During this time, Hart was one half of the Hart Foundation tag team. Just from the historical standpoint of what these two have accomplished, it’s worth a look in it’s own right.

Entire Diamond Dallas Page feud in WCW
Randy Savage had only a few memorable moments in WCW, and out of those, his feud with Diamond Dallas Page stands out the most. The two face off at multiple WCW pay per views in 1997 including Spring Stampede, Halloween Havoc, and the Great American Bash. Any of these matches are well worth your time.

Vs Hulk Hogan (10/31/1985 WWF Title match)
Savage’s feuds with Hulk Hogan are well documented. However, this match was during Hogan’s first WWF title run before Hogan and Savage even teamed together. Though not the most exciting of matches, this is another match that plants the seeds of a feud that would begin years later.

Vs Genichiro Tenryu (4/13/1990)
During the early 90’s, the WWF would have superstars appear in New Japan wrestling for supershows at the Tokyo Dome or the Egg Dome. For those who are unaware, Tenryu is one of the all time Japanese wrestling greats. This is another match that while not exciting, but is interesting to see Randy Savage wrestle in front of a Japanese crowd.

Notable Mentions
I left off some of the obvious matches that many wrestling and savage fans are well aware of. If you are just digging into the career of Randy Savage, some of his classic matches include:

Wrestlemania V – vs Hulk Hogan
Wrestlemania VII – Retirement match vs the Ultimate Warrior
Wrestlemania VIII –WWF title match vs Ric Flair
The WCW World War 3 Battle Royal in 1995
Wrestlemania 3 vs Ricky the Dragon Steamboat

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE WrestleMania 32 Announcement and Press Conference

January 21, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It is official! WrestleMania 32 is coming to AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. The WWE made the official announcement on Tuesday with some heavy hitters in attendance to answer questions. Check out the video and the press conference below.

The WWE will need to lock up some heavy hitters for this one. The WWE will be looking to break its own attendance record for WrestleMania. I can tell you now that the current roster of talent aren’t bringing 90,000 people in the way it is presented today. There are a lot of rumors surrounding Stone Cold Steve Austin and a match on this show. We’ll have to wait and see.

Check out the breaking news announcement and the press conference featuring the legendary Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, John Cena, and more.

10 Things I Learned About Hulk Hogan on the Chris Jericho Podcast

January 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan has never sat down for a so-called shoot interview outside of a WWE production. Yet Chris Jericho pulled off the scoop and delivered the closest thing we will probably ever get with the biggest star in pro wrestling history.

It isn’t often that Hulk Hogan sits down for a no holds barred interview about his pro wrestling career. But when he does you know it’s going to be newsworthy. Hogan was a recent guest on a two-part Chris Jericho podcast, offering one of the most fascinating interviews he has ever done. Hogan opened up on his legendary pro wrestling career telling many stories, some you have heard and some you may not have, yet all were interesting.

Now the caveat with a Hogan interview is that he is often a whipping boy for giving worked answers. I tend to take a different opinion than some of those critics. I think that Hogan is giving what he thinks is the real answer. However, I think after 30 years of bumps that he makes honest mistakes with names and time periods and has probably worked himself so much over the years with these stories that he himself truly believes everything that he is saying.

I have read all of Hogan’s books and probably heard every interview he has ever done. Yet there were stories told on this podcast that I had never heard before. Granted after 42 years I may have heard or read these and simply forgotten them, but to me they were all new. I learned a lot about the career of Hulk Hogan and here are just ten takeaways from the podcast.

Hulk Hogan was worried about being double-crossed by Tatsumi Fujinami in Japan – Now Hogan has told this story before, but he elaborated a lot more on this interview. Hogan told Jericho that he had given notice to New Japan because they couldn’t work out a new deal with Vince McMahon Jr. Knowing that it was his last match with the company, Hogan said he feared that Fujinami would hook him and steal the WWF title. Hogan claims that he recruited Danny Hodge to be the referee and asked Hodge to watch his back. He also says he got a lot of respect from Andre the Giant from how he handled this.

Now many have claimed that this story is a completely untrue. I went back and looked at old Hogan results to see if there even was such a match and guess what, there was. Hogan wrestled Fujinami on June 11, 1985 as WWF champion. One resource actually does list Danny Hodge as the guest referee for this match. Unfortunately the match was on YouTube at one point but was pulled. I know many, including Dave Meltzer called this a fabrication but I am inclined to give Hulk a little bit of the benefit of the doubt here. I wasn’t a believer either until I went back and found that a) indeed this was one of his final matches before leaving NJPW indefinitely and b) a resource stating that Hodge was indeed the referee here.

Hulk Hogan wanted to turn heel in the WWF – Hulk told Jericho that he wanted to turn heel the next Monday on RAW after he lost the title to Ultimate Warrior in 1986.

Now this one I call shenanigans on. For starters, there was no Monday Night RAW in 1986. Two, the plans were in place for Hogan to wrestle another babyface vs. babyface match against Warrior at next year’s WrestleMania. I just don’t buy into this one at all.

Hulk Hogan had other reasons for not wanting to turn heel and join the n.W.o. – Hogan told Jericho that Eric Bischoff had to do a long sell job on him to turn heel and join the n.W.o. Hogan said the reason for this is that he had been wanting to do the Hollywood gimmick for a while and turn heel, but he wanted to be by himself and not with a group.

It isn’t news that Hogan had to be convinced to join the n.W.o. That is an old story. But the story has always been that Hulk didn’t want to turn heel and Bischoff had to convince him that the time was right. Nobody has ever reported that the reason he didn’t want to do the angle was because he wanted to do a solo heel run.

Diamond Dallas Page complained about Hulk Hogan grabbing the ropes on a Diamond Cutter – Hogan said that he wanted to do dastardly things as a heel and one of them was grab the ropes when DDP went for the Diamond Cutter. He said that DDP got so upset that he went to Bischoff and complained about the spot.

I can honestly say that I 100% believe that one.

Hulk Hogan wanted to drop the belt to Roddy Piper numerous times in 1984/5 but didn’t trust him – Hogan said that he wanted to drop the belt to Piper many times “like he did with Savage” but Piper worked himself into believing he was a real tough guy and wouldn’t do jobs. Hogan said that if Piper wasn’t going to do a job, he couldn’t trust that Piper would drop it back to him. He thinks that he and Piper would have made millions if they did several WWF title switches in the 80s and ribs Roddy about it almost every day over text.

All I can say is this. Piper was red hot and I believe like Hogan that a win over Hogan with Hogan going for revenge would have been absolutely huge. It is no secret that Piper wouldn’t put over Hogan so maybe he is right. That said, Hogan never dropped the WWF title to Randy Savage even once so saying that he dropped it to Randy several times was wrong.

Hulk Hogan fought Verne Gagne in the locker room – To me, his stories about Verne and working for him in the AWA were the most fascinating of the entire interview. For starters, he said that 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.

Hulk Hogan was booked to win the AWA title but it came with a price – Hogan was booked to wrestle Nick Bockwinkel in their legendary Super Sunday match. Hogan was sitting at a table when Verne casually said that he was getting the belt that night. Hogan said “Cool” but Verne told him that as AWA champion he’d get 50% of his Japan bookings. Hogan told him no. Verne was so irate that he had Bockwinkel shoot on him in the match. Hogan fought back and knocked Nick so silly that he forgot how to put on the sleeper hold at the end of the match.

It sounds fairly true because I remember the match and feud at the time and everything was set up for Hogan to win the title. Not only that, the match is widely available on YouTube. I went back and skimmed through the match and indeed Nick does have a hard time putting the sleeper hold on Hulk.

Hulk Hogan paid some heavy dues on his way to the top – Hogan tells the story we all know by now of Hiro Matsuda breaking his leg, but he elaborates. He said when his leg healed he came back for more training. Matsuda and others stretched Hogan for almost a year after that. Hogan finally was called to go to the shows and worked out with Eddie Graham. Graham taught Hogan how to actually work and it clicked that Hogan had been worked for almost a year by Matsuda and the other guys. Hogan said he started to cry when he realized this. Hogan said he’d also drive with the veterans would abuse his car and told stories about the Samoans trying to kick out his windows. He said he quit the business a few times before he finally got a call to go to New York.

Times were much different back then and I believe they had “fun” with Hogan in Florida. The story certainly humanizes the Hulkster and probably explains a lot of his paranoia over the years and insistence on creative control.

Hulk Hogan got major heat from Vince McMahon Sr. for showing up on his first night with a tie-dyed shirt – Hulk says that with his long hair and the shirt that all of the fans thought it was Superstar Graham returning to the territory. Hogan says the fans freaked out because they thought it was Superstar and Vince told him never to wear tie-dye again.

Hulk Hogan signed with Vince McMahon after he caught Greg and Verne meeting with Vince – Hulk told Jericho that he had gotten word that Vince McMahon Jr. wanted to talk to him. Hulk was surprised because Vince Sr. told Hulk he would never be allowed back in the company. Hulk sat on the message until he was in a booking meeting at Verne Gagne’s house with Verne, Greg, and Bockwinkel. He said that Verne and Greg suddenly said they were leaving and Hulk followed them to the airport. Hulk said when he got to the airport he snuck around and saw them meeting with Vince. After that Hulk got in touch with Vince, Vince flew out to Hogan’s house, and they made a deal.

I don’t know if I completely buy the story. Here is the thing. Hogan was a huge star in the AWA at the time. At his size I can’t imagine him being able to sneak around an airport in Minnesota to spy on the Gagnes. Someone would have recognized him and his cover would have been easily blown. Who knows?

BONUS: Kurt Angle worked stiff with Hulk Hogan during his 2002 WWE run – Hogan told Jericho that Kurt worked really tight with him and gave him a few shots during their matches. He said when he confronted Kurt on it in TNA he said that Kurt told him Vince McMahon told him to do it.

I certainly wouldn’t put it past Vince.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Randy Savage Going Into the WWE Hall of Fame

January 12, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Oh yeah! The Macho Man Randy Savage will finally get the honor he so rightfully has deserved from the WWE. According to several reports, Savage will be announced tonight as the first inductee to go into the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame.

TMZ.com and several other sources have reported on the news. The WWE Network is also promoting this, along with the fact that Savage will be inducted by Hulk Hogan. The induction by Hogan is interesting in that Hogan and Savage didn’t always see eye to eye and had several falling outs. However, according to Hogan the two mended fences shortly before Savage’s untimely death.

“Oooooh yeaaah … “Macho Man” Randy Savage is FINALLY going to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame … TMZ Sports has learned.”

Fans have been asking to see Savage in the Hall of Fame annually for about the last ten years. Savage is probably the last of the “blacklist” to get into the Hall of Fame. Bruno Sammartino was the first to unfreeze hell a couple of years ago. Last year it was the Ultimate Warrior who made peace with the WWE and now it appears that Savage will hop into those unfrozen waters. Unless I am missing someone I believe he remains the last of that list.

Savage’s name had been reportedly suggested to Vince McMahon for several years as a possible Hall of Fame inductee. Many former employees reported that Vince would sneer at the idea and it was well known that it was best to bring up Savage’s name. Whatever the origin of these feelings were, it was obvious that Vince still had them when Savage passed away as he received a nice but minor video tribute as compared to the Ultimate Warrior who had a lot of programming dedicated to him after he passed away.

The rift between Savage and Vince has turned into an urban legend. There is a rumor that Vince’s anger has something to do with an inappropriate incident between Savage and Stephanie McMahon. Nobody has confirmed that nor denied it. The WWE recently released a documentary on Savage and if it wasn’t true, that would have been the place to address it. It wasn’t addressed, although Dusty Rhodes did allude to it in the DVD.

Savage had his own personal issues with McMahon. It was documented in the documentary that Savage was irate at McMahon for the “Nacho Man” parody that the WWE produced when Savage left. Savage was irate at the balding jokes but even more upset about what he thought was a loose reference to Elizabeth leaving him for Hulk Hogan. After Triple H mocked Savage in a WWE magazine interview, Savage called him out on a website video. However, both sides cooled off as Savage appeared in the WWE All-Stars video game and promotional campaign on WWE television.

Lanny Poffo has said that Savage would never go into the Hall unless the whole Poffo family were inducted, similar to when the Von Erichs went in as a group. Lanny said the family would support Savage’s decision after he died, yet he has softened on it in recent months. He has said that the WWE could do whatever they want, but the Poffo family wouldn’t support it. Considering that Lanny and his mom appeared in the DVD, I would not be surprised to see them at the ceremony.

The big winners here are the fans who grew up with Savage or appreciated him years later through videos, YouTube, and now the WWE Network. There is no question that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. The only disappointment is that we can’t hear a classic speech from the icon when he finally takes his rightful spot.

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Paul Orndorff speaks on Hulk Hogan feud, Vader fight, & more

January 12, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Almost 30 years ago I was a boy screaming for Hulk Hogan to punch Paul Orndorff in the face at the Spectrum. Mr. Wonderful played me and 20,000 others like puppets. I just hoped the WWE Hall of Fame wrestler didn’t remember those death wishes when we sat down for an extended interview with Paul Orndorff.

One of the most memorable wrestling heels of the 80s was “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. Orndorff had the physique, the talking, and the in ring skills that allowed him to contribute great things to the 80s WWF wrestling boom. “Mr. Wonderful” was truly ahead of his time.

In watching back videos of Orndorff 29 years later, his greatness becomes immediately evident. Orndorff was such a great heel, that he could get 20,000 fans on their feet by simply taking off his ring robe. As a wrestler, his grasp over the crowd would continue and whether he was in there with Hulk Hogan or S.D. Jones, Orndorff turned his opponent into the biggest hero of the night.

After watching some recent videos that reminded me of how great Mr. Wonderful was, I reached out to interview Paul Orndorff in 2008. I called Paul and he was resistant about doing interviews. I went on to tell him about how great I thought he was from watching the DVDs and how much I admired him as a heel. After a moment of silence Paul Orndorff he said, “I agree with everything you just said. Let’s do it!”

Ironically what I expected to be a brief yet fun wrestling interview turned into an hour long in depth conversation or what some may call an extended Shoot Interview. The WrestleMania 1 alumni was just as brilliant on the phone as he was 26 years ago when I made my dad take me to the Spectrum and watch him go toe to toe with Hulk Hogan.

Eric Gargiulo: Paul, it is truly an honor to speak with you. As I have said to you over the phone, I really do feel that you were one of the greatest if not the greatest heel of all-time and it is an honor to be speaking with you.

Watch Paul Orndorff at his best by ordering the WWE Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80s DVD

Paul Orndorff: I loved that introduction. Everything you said. Eric, see you’re a man that knows, and there are people out there that know the truth. There is no doubt about it, I should have been the world heavyweight champion of the WWF and you are exactly right.

Eric: You really should have been. I have been watching a lot of old tapes recently and watching your matches from a different perspective, a mechanics perspective, and a psychology perspective, I really think you may be the greatest heel of all time.

Paul: Well I appreciate that and people don’t know the energy, the work, the blood, that I put into it. I wasn’t an entertainer. I tried to go out there and do it as real as it could possibly be done, better than it could be done by anybody else, none of the showboating, no golden robes, all this stuff when you walk out and whoo this and whoo that. I didn’t work that way. I was a street fighter, always had been when I was growing up, played high school football, junior high football, college football scholarship, drafted by the New Orleans Saints, I was the real deal. It just goes to prove to you people out there and a lot of you other guys out there, you young people that just because you are the best at something you don’t always get what you want. That was very frustrating to me, to work so hard, to be in the gym, to be you know, have it all. Looks, I didn’t have to dye my hair. I wasn’t bald headed, I wasn’t fat I mean I should have had it. Yet, you have people, these promoters that do the opposite because somebody stands up for what they think are right or wrong, and that’s where I stood at. I’m too serious I guess.

Eric: You bring up an excellent point because when I watch your matches they do look as if you are in a fight. I want to bring up something one of your peers, Tito Santana said about you in an interview. Tito thinks that the problem with Hulk Hogan was the first time around, he didn’t draw money like Bruno (Sammartino) and (Bob) Backlund did on the rematches. However, when Hogan was wrestling Paul Orndorff, you guys drew so much money. You were the best drawing opponent for Hogan because you were the only one that had the credibility where people realized and knew you could beat him. What are your thought on what Tito had to say?

Paul: Well, I’ve said this many, many times about Tito Santana. Probably the best matches that I have ever had with anybody were with Tito. Tito was an ex-Kansas City, drafted by the Chiefs, Tito had the same attitude that I had in the ring, same attitude. I felt the very same about him and those comments, Tito’s a school teacher now, he’s a coach, Tito’s very intelligent. Back then Tito had a smart head on him you know, Tito knew how to play the game and I just wish I could have played the game like Tito did, and also keep his honor, and Tito did that, and to his people.

Eric: I remember back at the time you were hot, Tito was hot, and as a fan I always wanted to see you guys feud for the Intercontinental title. As a fan I would watch your matches and you were constantly go, go, go, and I would watch Tito’s matches which were also go, go, go, and it was a match I always wanted to see.

Paul: Well you know I wish they had but they didn’t. We did wrestle against each other but I would have loved to have done that. I think that probably it would have taken away from everything else because I wrestled Tito in a couple of places and one of them was in California, L.A., and I’m telling you when I picked Tito up they were throwing oranges, they were throwing eggs, I had a guy when I had him in the piledriver, had him picked up for the piledriver, a guy jumped, literally jumped in the ring, went by security, and jumped on my back. If it hadn’t been for that guy Tito Santana would have been piledrove. The police came and it just happened to be a mess. When the guy came in the ring, just as he was there I gave him a really good kick right in the mouth, that kind of laid him out there and they got him out. Still, it interrupted our match and we really didn’t get to finish it. That was the God’s truth, what I just told you wasn’t no lie, it was true, that really did happen. We were made for each other, Hogan too. I had good matches with him (Hogan) and it is no reflection of his talent or anything, he was chosen, he was the chosen, and he did it. No disrespect to him he drew money, he drew a lot of money, he drew money with everybody, but I also think that there was a time where that if they had it done (him beating Hogan for the WWF title) and done it the right way, he would have been on a different level, even higher than he was. Maybe he would have drawn the second time around with other people, who knows? It would have been better for everybody, but yet they didn’t.

Eric: I don’t have the numbers in front of me but I have to guess that if you take into account inflation, on the grand scale you and Hogan both times around had to draw more money together than just about anybody?

Paul: I think so too and that’s because we did it everywhere we went. We didn’t just do it the first time, the second time, we drew consistently and our matches got better. Really I made Hogan (laughs), that simple, I made him and he knows it. But then again he made me too in a way. It was good for wrestling. It was a lot better for Vince McMahon and Hogan than it was for me financially. That’s life. I like to do these interviews like this, that way I can express the way that I feel, and my attitudes with some things, and people. To have somebody Eric as knowledgeable as you are because I don’t do this to everybody, I’ll be honest with you. Just to feel your talk, the way you said, and the way you approach, if you’re pulling the wool over my eyes you did a good job. I kind of believe in the way you talk, and what you said, and that’s why I honor you with doing this.

Eric: I have such a great respect for you that it is truly an honor to hear that. I have been saying these things about you on my radio show before you agreed to the interview.

Paul: You know I hear this from a lot of people, a lot of people even to this day and you know people say all these good things about certain things. People that are really knowledgeable, you can tell some of them and I agree with them. I’m not going to say something like, “I didn’t this” or “I didn’t that” but you know I feel the same way. I worked too hard. I worked so hard for it that it was unreal. I went overboard.

Eric: The thing I notice most about your matches is that the second you walk through the curtain, you were entertaining the audience. Just by the way you looked at the crowd, by the way you moved, by the timing of the way you moved, and you were so great at not only getting the audience to hat you, but to cheer your opponent like crazy no matter who he was. Whether you were wrestling Hogan or Salvatore Bellomo, the fans just wanted them to beat you, and beat you. My question is can you credit anyone for mentoring you along the way as to how be a great heel?

Paul: What I did was this. Physically, the physical and the attitude, the viciousness, the meanness, and all these things, I had. Nobody gave that to me, that’s just God’s gift to me. I played football the same way. If I could knock your head off, I did, I would, and I felt good about it to tell you the truth. That’s the way I was. I can’t help that, it was just the mentality that I had. But what I did was I picked a little from this guy, a little from that guy, I listened to Bob Orton, Sr., Bobby’s father. He told me, “What you do is you get everybody to watch you. You want the focus to be on you when you get in the ring. So whatever you do you want everybody to be watching you, not the other guy.” That’s what I did, so I would do things and I knew that nobody had that type of endurance to go out there and to do this and to do that without I mean, just aggression, aggression. All of the time, aggression, and things that just made people mad. It came natural, ask my wife. My God I could do anything to make her mad, or anybody else mad. Just a little of this, a little of that, the way you move your body, and the little things that would just make the average person or anybody mad. I was good at it, too good at it.

Eric: In today’s wrestling do you find that to be a lost art? I recently spoke with Sid Vicious and he was telling me that he got so much out of his career by just being able to stand there and look at a crowd. He thinks that the young guys today go out and do so much that the fans don’t even get a chance to absorb a second of it. What do you think of those sentiments from Sid?

Paul: He’s absolutely right. Listen, I don’t care what generation it is, this or that, you could take Red Skelton or some of these older comedians, and you watch the timing that they had, and what they said and everything, and today they could do the same thing. You don’t have to say a bunch of cuss words, you don’t have to say this or say that to get the attention of the people. What you do is that you learn what you do, learn the art of what you are doing, and the people will get with it. What’s happened is that the promoters have let this go on because it’s easier. It’s not so much their fault, but I challenge anybody to go out, grab a hold, and work it. But I mean to work it viciously. I’m a big fan, a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts. I love that stuff, watch some of that stuff. Listen, Vince better not worry about somebody else getting into wrestling. He’s got to about UFC, that’s who he needs to worry about because they are just packing them, and that’s all that they are talking about. Because of all these off of the ceilings that they are doing now, through ladders, it’s just too much. You’ve taken the response out of the people and they sit there and watch them do a bunch of a moves, a bunch of aerial stuff, acrobatic stuff and you are doing nothing to get them into the match, to make them mad, to do this or to do that. Something that really gets them into the match, you have taken them out of the match and the only thing that they applaud on is if someone does an unreal move, it’s crazy.

Eric: I have spoken a few times with Bruno Sammartino about the period in the mid-eighties when he came out of retirement. He has consistently said that you were the only wrestler that he enjoyed wrestling during that time period, and went out of his way to say good things about you. What are your thoughts and memories of wrestling Bruno?

Paul: I’ve got a lot of respect for Bruno from the first day that I met him. He’s a man that says what he feels. He doesn’t back up to any of these guys, promoters and whomever else and he says what he thinks. You know if it’s wrong he will say, “Let’s try this, try that,” and hey I’m all for him. The guy drew nothing but money. Bruno Sammartino man, he’s up there with the old boxers, the old legends. His name is synonymous with anybody in the wrestling world. Madison Square Garden you think of Bruno Sammartino and I was in awe when I worked with him. We worked several shows and I could not believe it. Pittsburgh, we sold the place out. The people almost rioted, I had to have one of the agents come to the ring and get me out of the ring. Yeah, because it was getting bad because I beat Bruno’s son up and he still had it! I had so much respect for him I went in there and had a good match with him, that’s what I wanted to do, and that was the way I operated. I wanted to have good matches with anybody unless they were jerk, and then I didn’t.

Eric: Did you get into any trouble when you would make references to Hogan’s lack of hair in interviews?

Paul: Get in trouble? Who am I going to get in trouble with? I said what I thought. Hey, was it the truth? Case closed.

Eric: You made the news following the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony when you refused to shake Hulk Hogan’s hand. Why didn’t you shake his hand?

Paul: I never cared for him, you know? I don’t hate him. There are very few people that I hate. The older you get, you let that go you know? I may not like certain people, and we are all that way, we’re all different. If we were all the same we would all be living in each others houses but we’re not. He took care of himself. He was a BS’er like the rest of them and I told it like it was. Look at nowadays these interviews. You’ve got script writers that tell these guys what to say. Nobody told me what to say, I could say whatever I wanted to say. I did say what I want and if they didn’t like it, I still said it. What are they going to do, fire me? (Laughs) Turner and them would have jumped on me so quick it’s ridiculous. I would have made more money too.

Eric: Why do you think people aren’t tuning in to watch pro wrestling today like they did in your era in the WWF?

Paul: Talent! No Talent! Vince McMahon has no competition. Listen, competition is good. Whenever you have no competition, you can throw whatever at the people and if you don’t like it, so what? I’ve been telling people this and they have been telling me how bad the matches are and that they don’t even watch wrestling anymore. When you see a lot of people out there, supposedly a lot of people, they cut the arenas back to about ¼ of what they normally are, and you only see what they show you, and the tickets are free. We never gave away tickets! Good gracious. So, he’s got the people out there and no competition. I wish that Fox, Murdoch would get out there and start wrestling. Because if he did, with the older talent and the people out there that know about wrestling, they know how to get it back are out there. I don’t mean in the sense that they would have to wrestle but they know how to put on a wrestling show and to get the right people and it’s going to continue to be this way until these guys learn the art of the trade, and learn how to work these people. Hey, I could still go out there and make these people mad at me. It doesn’t make a difference if they know it’s phony or this or that, it’s how believable you make it look.

Eric Gargiulo: What have you been up to since WCW was sold?

Paul Orndorff: I have been loving on my grandbabies. I’ve been changing these poopie diapers. Listen, I have children, I have grandbabies, I’ve got great grandchildren I’m a great granddad now, I’m loving it. I love being at home, but I’m bored in a sense too. I’ve gotten hurt, all of these injuries are coming back, all in all thank God I’m okay and my family is doing great. I’m doing great.

Eric: I interviewed Bill Watts a few years ago and he said a lot of great things about you. He told a great story about you and Ted Dibiase worried about being booked to wrestle for one-hour. What do you remember about that night?

Paul: Oh yeah, Jackson, Mississippi, I’ll never forget it. Bill, I like Bill Watts. A lot of people didn’t like Bill Watts, a lot of people didn’t like Ole Anderson, but I liked them. They told it like it was. They treated you like you were an athlete and I liked them. I had words with both of them. No big deal, but at least they let me say what I thought and they didn’t fire me because of it, or didn’t knock me down, mess with my pay, or this or that, he (Bill Watts) didn’t do that. Bill, he put me and Dibiase together and we were two guys that just wanted to go at it man. I mean, it was me and it was him and we went at it for an hour straight. I’ll tell you what, with the amount of time that I had, the experience I had, because Ted was ahead of me. We didn’t think that we could do it and I’ll be darned if we didn’t do it, we did do it. Here again, I worked with Harley Race many times and he would go an hour. I went an hour and fifteen minutes with Harley. Just that experience to work with somebody like Harley, the experience he had, the knowledge he had, and then when you had to go out like me and Ted, you had two young bulls that went out and did it. That was how you learned, and I learned that, and I remembered that, and I remembered this and that, about that match. We just tore it up, we tore it up man, one of the best matches that I ever had. Thanks to Bill Watts. I love Bill Watts, he gave me such confidence, he let me grow, Ernie Ladd was there as his booker, first angle that I ever had was with Ernie Ladd. Ernie has passed away now and I really had a lot of respect for Ernie Ladd, I really did. That’s how you learn, I wasn’t different from anybody else, I just worked harder.

Eric: You were in the main-event of the very first WrestleMania. How surprised are you that WrestleMania has turned into the Super Bowl of professional wrestling?

Paul: Well you know Bill Watts had that same vision when he ran the Super Dome, and I was in the main-event of two of those and worked with Bruiser Brody and I can’t think of the other go. That’s got to mean something when you are in the first WrestleMania, out of all of the people there that they could have picked. I was one of them, and that’s who they wanted in it. Then well I don’t need to get into this thing you know, the belt. The belt, you know I should have had that belt. There’s no doubt about it.

Eric: I don’t think there is any doubt that there was a lot of money left on the table with you not getting a run with the WWF title.

Paul: Right, right. Exactly.

Eric: One thing you did that I want to ask you about is using your robe as part of your wrestling psychology. The way you slowly took the robe off, the way your opponents would grab the robe and put it on for heat, the way you touched the robe, it was just such a great tool and you were masterful with it.

Paul: Well yeah you’re right, I was a master. That’s because I watched everybody else and I wanted to be different. I wanted to be different in the ring, what I’ve done, what I said, and how I went about doing my job, and that’s it. If you did it the old, conventional way, I can tell you that I wasn’t going to, because I didn’t want to be like everybody else. I didn’t want to be like Gorgeous George. I wanted to be like him a little bit, but I didn’t want to be him the whole way because everybody had robes, and everybody had done this, and everybody had done that, you can’t help it if you weren’t born yet, but I did mine different because I had the whole deal. I had the body, I had the interview, I had the looks, I had it all, there was no where that I was weak, nowhere. That’s what made promoters mad because they couldn’t control me.

Eric: I heard a story that the WWF booked you in Japan for awhile when they first signed you. Is that true?

Paul: Well I was sent over there with them for about seven, eight months. At that time I was with Turner, Georgia Championship Wrestling. At this time this big feud was getting ready to happen with Vince taking over the world. The Grahams, Watts, all these places all over, all these, everywhere. The territories were having meetings, and this, and that, wanting to know what they were going to do, and they were pushing some of us to signing contracts. With Georgia, they wanted me to sign a contract but no guaranteed money or nothing, just to sign a contract. I went, “No! I aint signing no contract,” and then I get this call from Vince McMahon Senior, and we talked. I like gambles, I like to do something that’s different, the idea of Vince’s son taking over and having all of the big shows, all this and the visions they had, and to be a part of it. If it worked it’d be great, if it didn’t, hey listen, they’re going to hire you regardless if you are good. Of course I might have been blackballed, I don’t know but I know this. I would have still had a job up there in New York since Vince had such a strong hold up there and there was nobody going to take that territory away, he was just too strong politically and everything else. I thought it was a win, win but it was a gamble me leaving the South, but I did. And he said “I’ll send you over to Japan until we start up.” In an agreement he guaranteed me that I’d make more money than I had ever made, he guaranteed it, and I did it. That’s what happened, he kept his word.

Eric: Why do you think you weren’t given such a big push when you went to WCW in 1990?

Paul: Well I had gotten hurt you have to remember that I had gotten hurt. I still had to work, I still worked. I worked in the office, I did both, after getting hurt the way I was hurt it took a lot out of me. I never was the same after that to be honest. I don’t hold that against them or anything at all, although I could have been in a better position, I could have been, and I should have been. That’s okay, it’s no big deal, I have no qualms over it.

Eric:
How did you get hurt?

Paul: It was one specific match, it was in Canada. I got kicked under the chin, out of a stupid mistake on somebody else’s part. I don’t know if it was out of stupidity or what, but it was really a stupid mistake that this person made.

Eric: What do you remember the fight you had with Vader in WCW?

Paul: The last thing I remember is that I was kicking him in the face with my flip-flops on and it hurt.

Eric: Is it true that Meng/Haku had to pull you off?

Paul: Yep. Well they had a lot of people there. It was one of those unfortunate things that happened. The only thing that I am thankful for is that if my body wasn’t hurt and I didn’t have all of that nerve damage on my right, God knows I might be in jail for killing him. I am not taking anything from anybody.

Eric: Paul, it seems like we just started this interview a minute ago. What a fast hour?

Paul: Well, we need to do it again Eric. Thank you, if it hadn’t been for the people I wouldn’t have been anything. I truly mean that. That’s why I worked so hard in the ring, so they got their money’s worth.

Listen to the entire Paul Orndorff on http://prowrestlingradio.com

Note: This article was originally published in 2010. It has been re-published with minor edits.

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Top 10 WWE Greatest Feuds In History

January 07, 2015 By: Category: lists, Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

There is nothing more memorable in professional wrestling than a great rivalry. The WWE has produced some of the all-time best over the last several decades and I thought it would be fun to look back and countdown the ten best WWE feuds of all-time.

Wrestling fans will probably go through their lives watching a lot of wrestling. Yet it will be the memorable angle and great feud that resonates with them for generations. Those dramatic moments and intense matches will live on and be passed down through legend to future generations. Over the course of my lifetime, the WWE has produced some of the all-time best.

Keep in mind that I am not ranking this as a greatest feuds blog, I am specifically looking at feuds that happened within a WWE ring. While I grew up with classic feuds from territories all over the United States, only those within the WWE were readily available to be reviewed for this blog. Fortunately you can catch most of these great matches and/or moments on the Network or YouTube so even if you weren’t watching them live, you can still appreciate the chaos.

In no particular order here is the breakdown of what are in my opinion, the 10 greatest feuds in WWE history.

Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon - Let’s start with an easy one. Austin vs. McMahon is arguably the greatest feud in WWE history. If the criteria for this list was simply revenue, Austin vs. McMahon would probably top the list. Unfortunately the WWE has gone to the well so many times in recent years with heel authority figures that I don’t think we will ever see anything like this again. The timing was just right in 1997 with Vince coming off of the Montreal Screw Job, competition from WCW, the popularity of the n.W.o. bringing pro wrestling back into the mainstream, and the emergence of this biggest anti-authority hero you will ever see in a wrestling ring.

Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper - Next to Austin vs. McMahon I may call this the greatest feud in WWE history. It was certainly the biggest of my lifetime as a fan up until Austin vs. McMahon. The legacy of this feud cannot be understated. These two guys were pivotal in taking pro wrestling and breaking it out into the mainstream in 1984 and 1985. Sure Hogan was a great babyface but there was no other villain in the company that could transcend popular culture like Piper. The timing was absolutely perfect for these two to take the country by storm and they did. The same can’t be said for their rivalry years later in WCW and again in the WWE unfortunately.

Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbysko - This one was a bit ahead of my time but the legend of this rivalry has sustained several generations of pro wrestling fans. I can’t begin to explain why this one became so much bigger than others for Bruno because Bruno had plenty of allies turn on him throughout his WWE career. Yet for whatever reason, Zbysko’s defiance hit home with the fans. Zbysko breaking the chair over Bruno’s head has become iconic in its own right. The heat for their matches was ridiculous and while Hogan may take credit for it in his book, it was this match that drew a monster house to Shea Stadium in an era before pay-per-view.

CM Punk vs. John Cena - It’s funny because the best angle this feud had is arguably the least memorable, which was the night Punk got up from the commentary booth and turned on Cena. Their 2011 summer series remains the biggest feud/angle of modern day era of WWE. Punk’s pipe-bomb promo was believable and fans ate up the idea of Punk leaving the WWE as world champion. Their Money in the Bank match was rated five stars by Dave Meltzer which is incredibly high praise. Whether it has the sustainability of the others on this list remains to be seen, but on this date it was one of the all-time best.

Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage - The WrestleMania V rivalry remains an iconic feud from the 1980s era of pro wrestling. Fans today still talk about the great match and classic angle which saw Savage turn on Hogan on prime time television. The year-long build is patience that could pay off today if the WWE had a different mindset as opposed to the hot-shot angle and match. Hogan gets a lot of criticism for his work rate but all you need to do is check out their WrestleMania V match and others in the 80s to see Hogan and Savage for that matter at his best.

Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels - This is a feud that probably doesn’t get as much due as it should. The angles and series of matches throughout this lengthy rivalry remain some of the best from the last decade of WWE wrestling. Their Ladder Match in particular still sticks out as an all-time favorite. Between Jericho punching Michaels’ wife and almost blinding the Heartbreak Kid you won’t find many better heels in the last decade than Jericho was during this historic period.

Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart - Austin vs. Hart remains one of the greatest rivalries which produced arguably the greatest WrestleMania match in history (my favorite anyway). What made this one so good? I think it goes back to the Survivor Series 1996 hype and Austin telling the world that no matter what happens in New York City, the feud will never end…and it didn’t. The feud was intense, believable, dramatic, and the two just had such great chemistry that it wouldn’t have worked with anyone else. Both guys had chips on their shoulders with Bret obsessing over Shawn Michaels and Austin obsessed with proving WCW wrong after he was released. The hunger and desire out of both guys is evident in everything they did which is why it was all so great.

The Rock vs. Steve Austin - How can you go wrong with three WrestleMania main-events? While you would riot today if you saw Randy Orton vs. John Cena three times at Mania, every match was bigger and better. The timing and worlds aligned for these two to make beautiful wrestling music together. Unfortunately I don’t think this one paid off nearly as much as it should have with Austin leaving after their final match at WrestleMania 19 and never following through on his revenge. Yet there are plenty of great angles leading up to 15 and 17 readily accessible on the Network that will make you a believer if you have any doubts about how fun and memorable this feud was in its heyday.

Mankind vs. The Undertaker - One of quite possibly the most underrated feuds in WWE history would be The Undertaker vs. Mankind. Sure, this one will always be remembered for Hell in a Cell but there was so much more. For over two years these two guys waged one of the most brutal and bloody wars ever seen in a WWE ring. Mankind debuted and immediately jumped into a feud with Taker. Mankind wasted no time targeting the Dead Man as he picked a fight with Taker on his first night in the company. The next two years saw dozens of vignettes and matches showcasing the brutality of this deadly rivalry. Pick any match on the Network between these two and I can guarantee you that it will be just as exciting now as it was almost 20 years ago.

Triple H vs. Batista - It still amazes me that someone who was involved in a legendary rivalry like Batista was crapped on by the new generation of fans so badly when he returned last year. I think the WWE could have helped him out quite a bit if they went back and showed old footage of his rivalry with Hunter. What made this so good is that it had been brewing for months. Batista would shoot these subtle looks at Hunter for months prior to their match that let the fans know that it was coming. This allowed the rivalry to simmer for months before it finally boiled over into one of the greatest segments in RAW history (right up there with their contract signing). Batista won three straight matches and yet the fans couldn’t get enough of this rivalry. Again, this is another case in patience paying off at the box office for the WWE.

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Hulk Hogan Wants Another WWE Title Run

December 29, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan may have had numerous back surgeries and in his early sixties but that doesn’t mean he Is finished wrestling. The pro wrestling legend has big aspirations including another run with the WWE strap.

The Hulkster is training hard for a comeback and while you may have thought this comeback would be one and done, Hogan has other plans. Hogan recently told the Sioux City Journal that not only is he looking to lace up the boots again, he wants another run with the title.

“A final match? “It could happen,” Hogan says proudly. “Vince (McMahon, the WWE founder) said, ‘Never say never.’ And that’s what I want – one last match, one last run, one last title win, one last title retirement.”

Hogan is gearing up for WrestleMania 31. He says he is training hard and if you look at some recent video of Hogan compared to Hogan a few months ago, he has definitely slimmed down. Hogan is hoping for a big match in San Jose and is working hard towards that goal.

“I weigh 295. I’m in really good shape and I’m training like I’m going to get in the ring. I’m like a convict given a life sentence.”

Let’s take a step back a second and look at the idea of another Hogan title reign. I don’t think it is a terrible idea. When I say idea I am talking about a one night only win, maybe even a five minute win ended by a MITB cash-in. If Hogan can go one more time in the ring I think it would be a great story and I think it would get a ton of media. I am not saying I want to see Hogan wrestle for months with the title. I think one win and done is not such a bad idea.

Hogan has his critics and I understand that. But if you look at it objectively, he is the biggest pro wrestling star that ever lived. He is more recognizable than anyone other than maybe The Rock and that isn’t for Rock’s wrestling. Hogan helped build the WWE and if Vince was convinced that Hogan truly was done in the ring with a title win I think he should consider it.

Of course there is the question as to whether he can do it. Hogan talked about the number of surgeries he had in the interview and let’s just say it isn’t pretty. I am not sure how anyone at 61 comes back from any if not all of these.

“I crashed and burned,” he says. “I had two knee replacements, two hip replacements and nine back surgeries. I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Hogan credits his recent popularity to social media. According to Hogan, he has had a resurgence thanks to nostalgia through social media.

“Thanks to social media, I’m hotter than I was in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” he says. “When I go through airports now, young kids – 4 and 5 years old – will come up to me and say, ‘You’re my favorite wrestler’ and I don’t even wrestle anymore. But they see (the matches) on the Internet and they know what I can do.

Could Hogan really get in the ring, produce a decent match, and win the title? I am not so sure but it is certainly a fun story to follow as we enter 2015.

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The 25 Lamest WWE PPV Endings Ever

December 23, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It didn’t take long for Dean Ambrose’s exploding-television mishap (Magnavox Overdrive?) to become subject of ridicule. The fact that Ambrose is winless in all pay-per-view bouts post-Shield split (that’s since June 2) only makes an incendiary monitor more the source of caustic feeling.

The ending of a WWE pay-per-view is generally the lasting impression left on viewers. There may have been some enjoyably crisp match in the undercard (certainly the Dolph Ziggler/Luke Harper ladder match from TLC fits this profile), which may have to yield in the face of a thudding finish. Ambrose being defeated by technology, an incident more likely to do in Cosmo Kramer or Kenny McCormack than wily-whackjob Ambrose, is such a thud.

Over the years, harebrained ideas have punctuated these events, earning their rightful place in negative lore. Your mileage may vary, and with all matters wrestling among distinct fan tastes it will, but I’ve concocted a list of what I feel are the 25 most absurd final acts in WWE pay-per-view history.

CAVEAT 1: this list doesn’t necessary include instances where ‘the wrong guy went over’. That’s certainly subjective. You’re better off writing, “25 times I think Triple H and John Cena should have put someone over.” Now THAT’S a subjective list. But there are a few examples littered in here.

CAVEAT 2: Montreal is disqualified. No incident that turns Vince McMahon into the grandest of villains for Steve Austin to combat with weekly, spurring wrestling’s vaunted Attitude Era into the highest of gears, can count as lame. Unfair to Bret Hart? You can pick a side. Lame? Hardly.

CAVEAT 3: Chances are, you’re going to see something on this list that you personally enjoyed. That’s what friendly debate is for. I once inducted WrestleMania XXVII into WrestleCrap and I still get raked over the coals from time to time for it. Once again, this is all subjective. Just play along, if you would.

CAVEAT 4: For those who DO take offense to anything written, keep in mind it’s almost always written with a playful grin than with a scowl. So many of these moments provided unintentional bits of comedy, how *can* you hate them? Wrestling is fun, even when it’s garbage. Sometimes it takes years to see the humor in these happenings, and other times it’s instant. But hey, it’s why we still watch.

And now, here go the list.

25. THE WHAT GENERATION? (King of the Ring, June 19, 1994)

In 1994, WWE earnestly promoted its hard-hitting, fast-paced “New Generation”, with prime talents like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels leading the way. To contradict this fresh sentiment, the King of the Ring closed with Jerry Lawler wrestling Rowdy Roddy Piper, both men well into their forties. While both men have forged storied legacies, this match is best left out.

Piper fought the insipid Lawler for the right to donate his ‘winning money’ to a Toronto children’s hospital, and Lawler was set on stopping him, like something out of a Marx Brothers movie. The match felt just as aged, and the slow finish didn’t help: Piper hitting a slow-motion back suplex with an awkward bridge that Lawler somehow could not escape.

24. A GRADUAL BURIAL (Rock Bottom, December 13, 1998)

Stone Cold Steve Austin could do no wrong in 1998. It goes without saying that bits like whacking Vince McMahon with a bedpan, or humoring McMahon’s attempt at making him over in corporate stylings, could have bombed with a performer of lesser personality. Austin’s cool factor buoyed many moments, even ones that were just beyond his control.

Closing out 1998, Austin would defeat the increasingly-Satantic Undertaker in a Buried Alive match. While Undertaker lay prone in the grave, Austin instructed a backhoe operator to pile on the dirt. After fidgeting with the controls, to noticeable crowd groans, the driver managed to dump the soil on after what felt like an agonizing hour, with a possibly comatose ‘Taker.

23. MONTREAL: THE SEARCH FOR MORE MONEY (Breaking Point, September 13, 2009)

While Montreal, polarizing as the moment remains, was undeniably the source of great growth for a blissfully-seedy WWE, attempts to rip it off have been lacking. Survivor Series 1998 gets points only for the Rock-Mankind double-turn. Other occurrences of ‘ringing the f–king bell’ since only make the home viewer want to smash their monitors, a la Bret Hart.

At WWE’s lone Breaking Point event, highlighting submission matches, World Champion CM Punk defeated Undertaker in a criminally short match when that bell f–king rang as ‘Taker was in the process of countering the Anaconda Vice. The sort-of explanation: a galvanized Teddy Long orchestrated the screwjob to impress Vince McMahon. Well, it WAS in Montreal….

22. PAY IT OFF ANOTHER TIME (Unforgiven, September 22, 2002)

One major change from the Attitude Era’s closing was, to a degree, serious slowing down of storylines. The good: an exciting story has time to breathe and build (see: Jericho vs. Michaels, 2008). The bad: you’re liable to get a screwy finish on pay-per-view, with the rematch coming the following month. At $45-55 a pop, this can be very irksome to tight-budget viewers.

A fresh-faced Brock Lesnar had just become WWE Champion, and warred with Undertaker in a decent brawl that ended after 20 minutes with a double-DQ that was simply rare in post-Attitude, re-education-filled 2002. The Los Angeles fans blew a gasket in response, and rightly so. The Hell in a Cell rematch a month later is legendary, though the road there had this pothole.

21. TV TAPING (Extreme Rules, April 25, 2010)

There’s two ideas that clash like oil and water: the concept of violent wrestling, and the Bugs Bunny-like comic mischief of John Cena. Hey, Hulk Hogan did plenty of goofy stuff in his matches (many of his Saturday Night’s Main Event moments are beautiful in their intricate silliness), and Cena certainly runs to that well in order to ‘create smiles’, per company mantra.

Cena and Batista put together a pretty good Last Man Standing match for the WWE Championship, and Cena did emerge as ‘last man standing’. That’s because Cena duct-taped Batista’s ankles around the ringpost, taking just long enough for the 300-pound Batista to look foolish in his inability to kick his muscular legs free. Admittedly, that stuff is potent.

20. THE RIGHT/WRONG MAN (In Your House: Triple Header, September 24, 1995)

Bait and switch, thy name is Titan. Immediately following SummerSlam 1995, WWE went into hype overdrive for the third In Your House, booking a true rarity: a match in which the World, Intercontinental, and Tag Team Titles would be on the line. Diesel and Shawn Michaels would defend their respective belts against tag champs Owen Hart and Yokozuna.

Hart would end up making the PPV late following the birth of his daughter Athena, but that only triggered an obvious escape clause. Davey Boy Smith, freshly-turned heel on Diesel, substituted for his brother-in-law. Late in the bout, Owen ran in from out of nowhere, and was immediately powerbombed and pinned by Diesel. The title change was nullified the following morning.

19. WWE LOSES CONTROL (Cyber Sunday, November 5, 2006)

Any sort of celebrity endorsement of WWE is gratefully accepted like a sandwich by a beggar. There is literally almost no D-or-E-lister that WWE won’t latch onto for a quick sniff. These days, middle-of-the-road TV stars are the preferred wagons to hitch to, though WWE has a history of scraping Hollywood’s barrel base for some sort of bad-boy connection. Enter Kevin Federline.

Remember Britney Spears’ ex-husband? At this time, ‘K-Fed’ released a unanimously-panned rap album, Playing With Fire, and WWE’s Attitude-lite product was attempting to make him their new Mike Tyson. Federline cost John Cena the World Heavyweight Title in a triple threat match via distraction, beat him on Raw two months later, and then vanished forever.

18. GASSED CHAMBER (SummerSlam, August 24, 2003)

The case against Triple H from diehard wrestling fans can be extensive, but give the man credit: his pedigree, pun intended, of great matches is a lengthy one, and he’s capable of delivering a believable main event. This wasn’t always the case; in 2003, as World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H reached a career nadir with Raw in a slump, and he quite literally couldn’t carry things.

By SummerSlam, Triple H was badly out of shape, thanks to a serious thigh/groin injury that kept him from working out to his overzealous liking. This meant in SummerSlam’s Elimination Chamber title defense, Helmsley (in garish bicycle shorts) watched Goldberg pulverize everyone before pinning “The Man” with a solitary sledgehammer blow, doing two minutes of work.

17. PULLING THE STRINGS (King of the Ring, June 27, 1999)

One of the en vogue story tropes of the Attitude Era was the “WHODUNNIT” mystery. Who ran down Austin in the parking lot? Who hit Kevin Nash with the Hummer truck? Who is the Higher Power? After Vince McMahon was hastily revealed as that last shrouded figure, the mysteries lost their luster considerably. At least the Higher Power, though, had a payoff.

Steve Austin battled Vince and son Shane for total control of WWE at King of the Ring in a ladder match, with the ownership certificates suspended in a briefcase above the ring. Austin had the match won, and made his climb, when the briefcase was suddenly jerked out of Austin’s reach. The McMahons won full power, and the assailant was never, ever revealed.

16. THIS IS A RECORDING (Over the Limit, May 22, 2011)

John Cena doesn’t quit. Period. Wisenheimer fans will note that Kurt Angle and the redacted Chris Benoit have made Cena tap (for $9.99, you can watch Angle do it at No Mercy 2003), but those are bits of buried history in the primary narrative. Cena, unless he turns heel, is never submitting. Otherwise, those hand-towels he displays are worthless. Well, even more so.

After tormenting WWE Champion Cena in an I Quit match, The Miz managed to draw a submission with a chair-shot beating. The referee then deciphered that it was a recording of Cena previously saying the words in a promo, via Alex Riley’s cell phone lying near Cena’s head. Cena came to life, chased Miz up the rampway, and made him submit seconds later.

15. HELP ME, OBI-WYATT (Hell in a Cell, October 26, 2014)

If the feud between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins has not truly ended, then this entry wouldn’t be so bad. As it stands, it’s a detour for WWE’s best feud of 2014 (assuming it picks up in 2015 sometime). That doesn’t extinguish the randomness of the moment, as well as the all-too excessive nature of what took place. It did take away from an enjoyable brawl.

As Ambrose and Rollins concluded their violent-minus-blood Hell in a Cell bout, Ambrose was about to win when *gasp* the lights went out. Some sort of plain-spoken Middle-Eastern chant was played on loop for what felt like hours. Then a hologram of Bray Wyatt appeared over a smoking lantern in the ring. Wyatt appeared, randomly attacked Ambrose, and Rollins won.

14. SOME PARTING GIFT, BROTHER (WrestleMania VIII, April 5, 1992)

WWE began something of a free-fall in 1992, in regards to a major roster purge. By year’s end, The Ultimate Warrior, Davey Boy Smith, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts, Legion of Doom, and Sid Justice would all leave the company. Hulk Hogan, the biggest star WWE had known by a country mile, was finishing after WrestleMania VIII, a fact that the company vaguely hyped as true.

Hogan headlined against Sid in what was a pretty bland match, building to the Hogan Formula Finish. That’s when Sid kicked out of the legdrop in a shocker, purportedly because an interfering Papa Shango was late. The fact that WrestleMania ended with a disqualification was a considerable letdown, even with Ultimate Warrior making the save in a startling return.

13. OH, THAT’S WHY THEY…. (Royal Rumble, January 29, 2006)

In the 1990s, the company experimented three straight years with putting the World Title match on after the Rumble match. WWE soon figured out that nothing could follow the one-hour tradition, and by 1999, they reverted back to closing the event with the signature gauntlet. An exception has been made twice since: 2013, so Rock could close, and this mind-boggler.

In 2006, the 30-man classic went on fourth out of six matches. Kurt Angle and an ice-cold Mark Henry went on last for the World Title in a plodding affair, headshaking until Angle’s victory celebration. Undertaker arrived on a chariot and caused the ring to collapse as a means of challenging Angle. Boy, good thing WWE changed the match order before that supernatural act.

12. DEAL WITH IT (Royal Rumble, January 26, 2014)

A rare entry on this list that exclusively criticizes the choice of winner than an actual convoluted finish. You won’t need much reminding: Daniel Bryan was by the time the most popular wrestler in the industry, shaking off pointless refuge in the Wyatt Family by destroying the trio in a memorable conclusion to Raw, with the thunderous crowd “YESes” shaking the venue.

Two weeks later, WWE excluded Bryan from the Royal Rumble match, having him put Bray Wyatt over cleanly to start the show. As the crowd gradually grew more sour, an unwelcome Batista ended up winning the Rumble match. When Rey Mysterio entered at No. 30, the realization of Bryan’s absence drew the sort of caustic rage that every heel dreams of.

11. STEP ASIDE, JABRONIES (WrestleMania XXVII, April 3, 2011)

When The Rock made an unexpected return on the February 14 Raw, shockwaves coursed. It’d been seven years since “The Great One” made any sort of meaningful appearance in an actual WWE arena. The Attitude cornerstone would take on the dreaded ‘guest host’ role at WrestleMania, though his diatribes against John Cena were positively right out of 1999.

Problem: Cena wasn’t facing Rock. Instead, Cena was challenging WWE Champion The Miz, with whom he had as unspectacular a main event as you could have on the biggest stage. Miz wound up retaining after Rock cost Cena the match. Then Miz would ‘know his role’ by getting Rock Bottom’d in the aftermath, leaving Rock, a non-wrestler, as the only man standing tall.

10. GREAT MAIN EVENT? NO CHANCE (Royal Rumble, January 24, 1999)

As the previous entry suggests, a bad main event is made much worse with a ridiculous ending. A bad match that lasts one hour and has an equally insulting finish? Much worse, as you’d probably guess. When a bad Royal Rumble came down to the first two entrants, a barely-active Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, jaded fans half-heartedly expected a swerve, which they got.

After Austin beat McMahon half to death, with a World Title match hanging in the balance, he didn’t eliminate the boss, choosing to inflict more damage. This brought The Rock out to distract Austin, giving carte blanche to years of distraction finishes. A suddenly stupid Austin fell under Rock’s spell and tangled with him, allowing the cadaver of Vince to dump Stone Cold.

9. SPONSORED BY JIMMY-JOBS (Extreme Rules, April 29, 2012)

Brock Lesnar’s return following a bountiful UFC run created plenty of excitement. His post-WrestleMania arrival, in which he F5’ed John Cena, nearly blew the roof off of the arena. The vignettes hyping their match four weeks later at Extreme Rules were a paradox of simple, and outside-the-box. Lesnar was now a crossover star, the magnitude of which WWE covets.

So then after bloodying Cena with stiff blows, and nearly breaking the man’s arm with a kimura lock, Lesnar would lose the high-profile bout cleanly. Making matters more confusing was a post-match Cena promo, in which he claimed he may be going away for a while to rest. Not only did Cena not go anywhere, but it undermined the marquee return of beastly megastar.

8. CRANE POSITION (Survivor Series, November 19, 2000)

When topping a heinous act with a measure of revenge, never underestimate WWE’s ability to veer too far into the realm of the absurd. One year earlier at Survivor Series, Steve Austin would be struck by a car in a plot masterminded by Triple H (with Rikishi as the driver). Austin and HHH would war one year later. In Attitude Era WWE, they knew they had to top a speedy rundown.

The match spilled all over the arena, and into the parking lot. Austin fought off the interfering Radicalz, while an ill-tempered Triple H started up a nearby car. As he started it up, Austin appeared inside a crane, lifted the car a few stories off the ground, and let it drop with Helmsley inside. Instead of being, well, dead, Helmsley reappeared not long after with nary a scratch on his body.

7. PLOD DEVICE (No Way Out, February 20, 2005)

One of the common elements on the list: the sudden stupidity of babyfaces. For many of these ideas to ‘work’, the purported hero has to lose 50 IQ points at the worst possible time. Take the barbed wire steel cage match for the WWE Title between JBL and Big Show. On many occasions, Show has played the ogre-like fool, but none moreso than the ending of this No Way Out.

The bloody affair saw Show chokeslam JBL off the top rope, through the actual canvas. Instead of dragging JBL out of the pit and pinning him (Nick Patrick was officiating in the ring), Show slowly kicked open the locked door, walked 1.3 MPH out of the opening, and slowly walked down the steps. Surprise: JBL won when he crawled into the pit, and out from under the ring.

6. TV IS BAD FOR YOU (TLC, December 14, 2014)

I feel fairly confident with the high placement of this entry. Factoring in that Dean Ambrose hasn’t won a pay-per-view bout since June 1, in spite of the favorable reception he receives for his masterful selling, mannerisms, and presentation, WWE has yet to really throw him a bone in his singles run. The ending of TLC has become a new running gag, rightfully so.

Branching off the “sudden stupidity” theory from the previous entry, Ambrose had Bray Wyatt beaten following a car-crash of a TLC match. That wasn’t enough, so Ambrose brings in a plugged-in monitor from under the ring, admires himself in it, and tries to nail Wyatt, only for the plugs to explode and blind him. Say it with me now: Sister Abigail for the pin.

5. SHOW STOPPER (Battleground, October 6, 2013)

Battleground wound up earning the honor of Worst WWE PPV of 2013 across most outlets, and it’s easy to see why. Other than the Rhodes Brothers taking on the Shield, everything else ranged from dull to downright bad. The PPV was the third paying installment of the Daniel Bryan/Randy Orton/Abeyance World Title angle, so at least there’d be a payoff, right?

After 20 minutes of wrestling, Bryan had Orton enveloped in the Yes Lock, only for Big Show to jog down, pull the ref, and lay out Bryan with the WMD, at the behest of Brad Maddox. Show pulled a second referee after a change of heart and then KO’ed Orton, who he was supposed to be helping. Sixty of your dollars later, and the belt remained vacant until the next PPV.

4. EARLIER SHOW STOPPER (Over the Limit, May 20, 2012)

This one features all of the elements of a bad finish: hacky comedy, a plot hole, a bad match, and a worse ending. John Laurinaitis was forced into action against John Cena, with his job on the line. Anyone who interfered would be fired. There’d be no disqualifications otherwise, allowing Cena to drag the former Johnny Ace through some ha-ha-larious predicaments.

Days before the match, a surly Laurinaitis had fired Big Show on Raw. After 15 minutes of Cena pounding Laurinaitis (he could have pinned him at any time), the VP tries to escape, only to conveniently run into a loitering Show. Show brings him back, and then KO’s Cena in a swerve. You know, after Laurinaitis nearly lost a bunch of times. Ace wins, and Show was rehired.

3. GET EM, HULK! (WrestleMania IX, April 4, 1993)

Anyone shedding tears over Hogan’s half-hearted farewell one year earlier will either be overjoyed at the end of WrestleMania IX, or be further appalled. As WWE’s roster shifted into promoting gifted workers with realistic bodies, Bret Hart became its flagbearer and World Champion. A match with portly Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX would put him over strongly.

Hart lost, somehow knocked unconscious by salt to the eyes. This brought out a suddenly-slimmer Hogan to protest this great injustice. Then Mr. Fuji stupidly challenged Hogan to a title match on the spot. Seconds later, Hogan beat Yokozuna to become champion, wiping The Hitman off the slate completely. Hogan then devalued the belt while touring New Japan.

2. STARS AND SWERVES FOREVER (SummerSlam, August 30, 1993)

After Hogan vanished following his title loss back to big Yoko, WWE did not reinsert Hart back into the picture. Instead, they stripped Lex Luger of his ho-hum Narcissist persona, costumed him in all colors Americana, effectively trying to make him the new Hogan. Luger slammed Yokozuna in a public challenge on the Fourth of July, and seemed poised to win the gold.

After Yokozuna’s spokesman Jim Cornette deemed this Lex’s *only* shot at Yokozuna, the two proceeded to actually have a good match. Luger would indeed win, but by countout. Using the steel plate in his forearm, Luger blasted Yoko and knocked him out cold, but through the ropes. Luger celebrated with other babyfaces while balloons and confetti fell, but without the title.

1. LEGACY CEMENTED (Great American Bash, June 27, 2004)

The Undertaker has had his share of unrealistic storylines, many unworthy of equaling the supernatural grace he so easily portrays. In 2004, Undertaker reassumed his ‘Dead Man’ image after a few years performing as an amped-up version of his real life grizzled biker self. With the return to the Dark Side came the package deal of far-fetched incidences as well.

At this event, Undertaker faced the Dudley Boyz in a handicap match with Paul Bearer (back on Taker’s side) sitting in a clear cubicle. If Taker didn’t lay down, Paul Heyman would authorize dumping wet cement on him. The goop built, but Taker won anyway. Then, for reasons unknown, Undertaker himself filled the cubicle, presumably killing Bearer. This wasn’t a heel turn, by the way.

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Ho Ho Hogan Appears On WWE RAW

December 23, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE is in full holiday mode and RAW was no exception on Monday night. WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan kicked off the festivities making a memorable Ho-Ho-Hogan appearance.

It was certainly corny but it was also a lot of fun. Hogan played the role of G.M. on Monday night and was in a giving mood. Hogan made matches and as you can see by this video he made a John Cena vs. Seth Rollins rematch which kicked off of the show.

Hogan wasn’t the only legend to appear on the holiday edition of RAW. Rowdy Roddy Piper also made an appearance and brought back Piper’s Pit. I loved Piper’s Pit as a kid but the Pits aren’t nearly what they used to be, but it was still nice to see two of the biggest icons of my childhood back on WWE television.

Hogan is itching to do more including wrestle. There are still plenty of rumors that a Hogan match is under consideration at WrestleMania. He would have to pass several physical tests in order to get clearance but if he gets clearance I say why not. The fans still love him and for one night only, I say you give the guy his swan song.

In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for Santa with Muscles.

Wrestling’s Greatest Feuds – Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff

December 22, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The number one way to make money in pro wrestling is with a great feud. Nothing draws bigger at the box office than a rivalry pitting good vs. evil. Today I spotlight one of professional wrestling’s greatest feuds.

Over 25 years later all you have to do is mention Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff to the fans that lived it and you will get smiles and memories. Paul Orndorff vs. Hogan even decades later remains one of the most memorable rivalries of arguably the biggest period in pro wrestling. That is why it will always go down as one of pro wrestling’s greatest feuds.

Most fans think of the Hogan vs. Orndorff series as the great 86-87 run. Yet there was a prelude to this great rivalry that actually traces back two years earlier. Paul Orndorff was red hot as a heel when Hogan returned to the WWF. Hogan immediately beat the Iron Sheik and Hulkamania was born. But as most wrestling fans know, every babyface needs a great heel. Orndorff was that heel and became Hogan’s first challenger in Madison Square Garden, the equivalent of headlining a pay per view.

The rivalry would peak at first WrestleMania as both men opposed each other in a tag team main-event. Yes the main storyline here was Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper, but I could argue that the event would not have been as successful with someone else. Orndorff was more than just a “partner” during the feud. He was tremendous in all of the promos leading up to the match. Orndorff took the fall in the match that led to a babyface turn and subsequent feud against Roddy Piper and Ace Orton.

Paul Orndorff was never able to breakthrough as a babyface the same he did as a heel. His natural cockiness and persona just didn’t play well as a hero. Plus, with Hulk Hogan at the top of the cards there was only so much room for Orndorff to grow as a babyface. Vince McMahon realized that and made the call turn Paul Orndorff and start one of the most successful feuds in pro wrestling history.

It all started with Adrian Adonis. Adonis began taunting Orndorff in his Flower Shop segments calling him “Hulk Junior.” For weeks Orndorff went from being Hogan’s tag team partner to a paranoid and at times jealous friend. The seed was planted and the angle kicked into a gear during a “televised phone call” between Orndorff and Hogan. Hogan was “too busy to come to the phone” which infuriated Orndorff. The two then agreed to team up against the Moondogs. Orndorff practically wrestled the match himself, refusing to tag in Hogan, thus sucking up most of the spotlight. The angle peaked the next week during a tag team match against the Bobby Heenan managed team of Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy.

What was most impressive here is that everyone saw this one coming yet it still made a major impact. During the match Hogan and Orndorff collided. Orndorff favored his eye and refused to help Hogan out during double teams. Orndorff finally rescued Hogan and cleared the ring. In one of the most memorable moments in pro wrestling, Orndorff raised Hogan’s and then clotheslined him. Orndorff proceeded to pick up Hogan and deliver his signature the move the piledriver. Hogan vs. Orndorff Version 2.0 was on!

In retrospect I think what made this angle so great was that it was the first time since returning to the WWF and beating the Iron Sheik that Hulk Hogan was laid out and vulnerable. Finally after running through the competition for two years, fans saw someone as a serious threat to Hogan. To add fuel to the fire, Orndorff aligned himself with Bobby Heenan. The Orndorff and Heenan duo cut some of the greatest promos in wrestling history during this run and became one of the most hated pairings in WWF history.

Hogan vs. Orndorff sold out almost everywhere. The two drew record houses. Orndorff and Hogan headlined the “Big Event” on April 28, 1986 in Toronto and drew over 60,000 fans on top. This wasn’t even a pay per view nor was it promoted on national television. Roddy Piper would also find himself back in this mix but on the other side. After a babyface turn, Piper and Hogan would team up against Orndorff and a variety of partners across the country. Unlike other feuds which had great angles and lousy matches, the two had magic and delivered some of the most exciting matches of the period.

The feud peaked on a Saturday Night’s Main Event NBC special in January 1987 (although taped in December 1986). Hogan vs. Orndorff headlined the show in one of the most controversial Steel Cage Matches in WWF or WWE history. Orndorff and Hogan exited the cage at the same time with referee Danny Davis declaring Orndorff the winner and referee Joey Marella declaring Hogan the winner. The exits were replayed with various angles with both men shown touching the floor at the same time. The match was restarted with Hogan winning and thus ending the feud.

Paul Orndorff would officially end his run as a babyface by firing Bobby Heenan on television. Once again Orndorff was never able to fully retain that same momentum as a babyface. Part of this is because Orndorff was severely injured in a match against Roddy Piper during the heel run and had to work a reduced schedule. Even casual fans at the time could see that Paul Orndorff was never the same in the ring in later years due to the injury. It was almost as if Paul Orndorff went from being one of the hottest stars in the pro wrestling business to just another face in the crowd overnight.

There are so many reasons that Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff goes down as one of the most memorable rivalries of the 80s. The obvious would be the money the feud drew. Another reason would be angle that kicked it off which while predictable, hit a home run. The chemistry between the two in the ring was undeniable. But I think most impressive of all is that the second version was better than the first. Many great feuds are often repeated in pro wrestling, yet rarely do they ever come close to the success of the first. Hogan vs. Orndorff was the exception to the rule which makes this one of wrestling’s greatest feuds.

Listen to my interview with Paul Orndorff on Pro Wrestling Radio

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