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Was Roddy Piper Screwed Over By Steve Austin?

July 18, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

In this day and age, having a podcast is a beautiful thing. You can pretty much say what you want to say, without having to worry about watching your language or going over the allotted time you are given. It’s free reign to express what you really want.

It seemed like it would be a perfect avenue for entertainers such as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

I won’t hide the fact that I’m a huge mark for Piper. When I became a wrestling fan in the mid-1980’s, Roddy Piper was the man I cheered. Even though he was a villain, I enjoyed and appreciated his comedic talents and the non-stop entertainment value he brought to the table. Whether it be he smashing the coconut over the head over Jimmy Snuka’s head, or him cutting the Haiti Kid’s hair, I pretty much enjoyed all of his segments.

Roddy was my guy.

Fast forward to 2015. I’m still a fan of Piper, and when he comes out and does a “Piper’s Pit” segment on WWE RAW, I will stop what I am doing and watch it. Piper’s ability to tell a story to the crowd and explain the emotions of his interviewee and what they are going through is a lost art that is rarely seen on television anymore.

Piper, along with Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Jim Ross and Chris Jericho have segued into the world of podcast radio. When I first heard that Piper was going to be doing a podcast, I was very excited. After all, who wouldn’t want to listen to all the crazy stories and funny locker room tales that Piper and his guests would talk about?

I was wrong.

To say that I have been disappointed would be an understatement. Roddy is great on television, but it doesn’t translate well to radio. Piper likes to repeat himself a lot, using what we say in the radio business as a “crutch”, as he constantly uses the phrase “Sweet Baby Jesus”. It was cool the first time I heard it, but it gets annoying as time goes by. Plus, Piper rambles for what seems like forever. He loses his train of thought way too often, and it makes for confusing and unlistenable radio.

All of this came to a head this week after Piper was removed as a host on Podcast One. Apparently, he had former “Mad TV” host Will Sasso on, and controversy ensued after Sasso started imitating fellow pro wrestler and Podcast One host “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Austin heard the podcast, didn’t like what Sasso was doing, and complained to his bosses about the episode.

As a result, Piper was wished well in his future endeavors as host of his podcast.

Austin released a statement on his podcast a few days after.

“To Roddy, you’re one of the all-time greats in the professional wrestling business. I cheered for you as a babyface, I booed for you as a heel and respected everything that you did. Your Hall of Fame career speaks for what it is. To that, no hard feelings. I don’t want to back and forth on this, it’s a closed book. That’s my side of the story, I will not respond to anything else. What I’ve spoken is the bottom line, and what I’ve spoken is the truth. I had nothing to do with Roddy Piper leaving Podcast One. End of story”.

Many fans have voiced their opinions on both sides, mostly siding with Piper. However, I don’t think Austin got Piper fired. What I believe happened was Austin went to his boss, wasn’t comfortable with what was being aired during the Piper-Sasso broadcast, and complained. It happens in every form of business.

At first, I didn’t understand the details of the situation. But I realized one complaint isn’t going to get Roddy Piper fired. This was probably stewing for a while, with multiple instances where his bosses at Podcast One weren’t satisfied with his performance.

It pains me to say this stuff, because I grew up a huge Roddy Piper fan. I still think he has value in small doses doing “Piper’s Pit” on WWE RAW. He was great on “Legend’s House”. If you haven’t seen it, check it out on WWE Network. Throughout the season, both he and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan become buddies, and Duggan hilariously becomes obsessed with hanging out with Piper (in a bro-mance type of way). Piper can still deliver the goods from time to time.

However, in my opinion, Piper got himself fired.

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Happy Anniversary Austin 3:16 WWE1996 King of the Ring

June 23, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

19 years ago on June 23, 1996 Steve Austin was able to capitalize on a unique opportunity and delivered a catchphrase that turned the pro wrestling business around. Happy 17th anniversary WWE King of the Ring 96 and Austin 3:16.

It is hard to imagine how different the pro wrestling business would have been if not for Austin’s performance at the 1996 King of the Ring. Austin was already breaking out but on that night he went from star to a superstar on the cusp of a phenomenon. It is even crazier to think about that if not for WCW signing away Hall and Nash, Austin 3:16 may have never even happened.

The original plans for the 1996 King of the Ring were booked for Hunter Hearst Helmsley to win the tournament. Triple H was booked to be in Austin’s spot, beating Marc Mero and Jake Roberts en route to a big push. Instead, Hunter was pinned in the opening round on television by Jake the Snake. This was of course all a result of Hunter’s participation in the “Kliq Curtain Call” at M.S.G. If you take a step back and look at the big picture, if WCW never signed Hall and Nash you’d have no curtain call at M.S.G, Hunter would have went over in the tournament, and who knows what kind of shake Austin would have had dealing with the politics of the Kliq. Amazing that what looked like such a brilliant move from WCW would later blow up in their faces when the door opened for Austin, he broke out, and the WWE turned business around and skyrocketed past WCW.

Austin was getting hot coming into the King of the Ring. He started developing the Stone Cold persona and he immediately stood out on the WWE television shows. Quite frankly I think it was Live Wire that really gave him the extra time needed and the platform to get the gimmick over. On Live Wire he would have more time to cut promos and just be “Stone Cold” than he would on a RAW or Superstars broadcast.

Going into the tournament it was tough to pick who would get the win. Most assumed it would be HHH because the newsletters had reported that he was in for a monster push. This certainly wasn’t set up to be Austin’s night. As a matter of a fact if you look back on Google you’ll see that the poster was all about The Ultimate Warrior and his match with Jerry Lawler. The tournament wasn’t even the focus of the promotion. Additionally feuds with Shawn Michaels-British Bulldog and Mankind-Undertaker got most of the attention on television going in.

Austin had a fantastic match with Marc Mero in the semifinals on pay per view. It is funny because Mero has gotten a horrible reputation due to insults from Mick Foley and Triple H in books and interviews but in retrospect he was a heck of a hand back then. Austin and Mero went close to twenty-minutes. Austin won with a bloody lip after hitting the Stunner on Mero in a competitive match.

Austin won much easier in the finals against Jake Roberts. Roberts had his ribs taped up after Vader attacked him after their semifinal. Austin dominated the match and worked the ribs before hitting the Stunner for the win and the King of the Ring in under five minutes. The match itself was probably one of the more uneventful in-ring K.O.R. finals but the same cannot be said for the post match promo, arguably the greatest and most influential in pro wrestling history.

The first thing I want to be done is to get that piece of crap out of my ring. Don’t just get him out of the ring, get him out of the WWF because I’ve proved, son, without a shadow of a doubt, you ain’t got what it takes anymore. You sit there and you thump your bible and you say your prayers and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16 … Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass. All he’s gotta do is go buy him a cheap bottle of Thunderbird and try to dig back some of that courage he had in his prime. As the King of the Ring, I’m serving notice to every one of the WWF superstars. I don’t give a damn what they are, they’re all on the list, and that’s Stone Cold’s list, and I’m fixing to start running through all of them. As far as this championship match is considered, son, I don’t give a damn if it’s Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michaels; Steve Austin’s time has come, and when I get the shot you’re looking at the next WWF Champion. And that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so.

It wasn’t long after that when you started seeing more fans cheer for Austin, wear Austin 3:16 t-shirts, and of course bring plenty of signs to the shows. Don’t be surprised if you see a fan today wearing that same shirt. The promo was the catalyst for a phenomenon that saw the entire business change and one man morph into the biggest draw in pro wrestling history. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Happy 19th anniversary Austin 3:16 and thank you Eric Bischoff for signing away Hall and Nash to make it all happen!

Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Bottom Line on the Most Popular Superstar of All Time

WWE The Paul Heyman Story

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Steve Austin Is NOT Wrestling Brock Lesnar At WWE WrestleMania 32

June 16, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The annual Stone Cold Steve Austin WWE WrestleMania roller coaster hit a high peak last week when Austin and Paul Heymen teased an Austin vs. Brock Lesnar match at Mania. The excitement soon turned to disappointment when news broke that the match is not happening nor is Austin lacing up the boots in Dallas.

Steve Austin broke our hearts when he followed up on this and told fans that the match is dead and he and Heyman were just having a little bit of fun.

We started talking that Monday night, and then about the last five, six minutes, whatever it was, Paul E (Heyman, who is known by guys from the 80s and 90s as Paul E due to his original managing name of Paul E. Dangerously) kinda flipped the script,” said Austin, on the podcast. “And he wanted to ask a few questions. I didn’t know what Paul E was going to ask. And he talked about Brock Lesnar and WrestleMania 32 in Dallas.

And of course, I bit, hook, line and sinker, Stone Cold mode. (I) started cutting a half ass promo. (I) wasn’t trying to, and ended up talking about me whipping Brock’s ass, because as Stone Cold Steve Austin, that’s the only way I can see that match going down.

But here’s the thing. What I did was kinda raised the hopes of people or halfway kinds half-assed booked myself into a match, which was not my intention. So at WrestleMania 32, I don’t believe you are going to be seeing Brock Lesnar and Stone Cold Steve Austin in the same ring.

So it wasn’t my intention to book the territory, or to spin a match, or to sell a match. So I just wanted to make that clear to everybody.

And I tell you what, my people that have followed my career from day one, or from whatever and follow to this day have been so good to me, and have been to hell and back with me. So I wasn’t trying to spin anything up, don’t want to sell a match, not trying to book a match. So Brock Lesnar will continue down the road he’s going down. I’m going to continue going down the road I’m going on, which is doing podcasting, hosting the Broken Skull Challenge, (and) I got some other things that are coming up that I can’t talk about right now that are really exciting for me. And I’ll be able to announce those in the future. They’re coming right up.

Dave Meltzer, who knows both Heyman and Austin well, elaborated on this story in the most recent issue of the Wrestling Observer newsletter.

There is a lot to this story but it’s also complicated. Lesnar and Austin have for some time talked about doing a match together. Both Lesnar and Paul Heyman have always believed it would be the biggest possible match they could do. Austin was perceived more of an ass kicker and did more serious promos than Dwayne Johnson, which was their other ultimate big match choice. With Austin, both sides would do promos like it was a fight, while with Johnson, there would have to be an entertainment edge to it because that’s the direction Johnson would go. But the real difference is that Johnson has come back several times, while Austin has not wrestled since 2003, so his coming back would be the biggest match possible. Also, while Lesnar vs. Johnson has been teased several times on the board to happen once, and talked about seriously after that point a second time, they have wrestled in the past. Lesnar vs. Austin has never happened, and the reason it didn’t when booked once could easily be played into storyline.

Meltzer also reported that Vince McMahon was not happy that Heyman and Austin were teasing a match that wasn’t planned.

Essentially the reasons the match is not happening are between Austin and Vince McMahon and I can only speculate about them. McMahon was not happy with the close of the podcast because Austin vs. Lesnar was not in the WrestleMania plans.

Meltzer says the match isn’t happening. Taking Meltzer’s personal relationships with Heyman and Austin into account, I am inclined to give Meltzer the benefit of any doubt here. Meltzer speculated on several reasons why the match isn’t happening, most notably that Austin may not be able to pass a physical and the injury risks involved.

As I said several weeks ago, it is time to put an end to the hopes and dreams of Steve Austin wrestling ever again. I say this as a huge Austin fan and someone that would love to see him back. There have been plenty of opportunities for Austin to come back for a big match and the idea that he’d wait until he was 51 to do it never added up to me.

It still remains a mystery to me why Austin and Heyman would work an angle that had no plans of turning into a match. Was it fair to the millions of fans that got excited on Tuesday morning at the hopes of seeing their hero in the ring one more time? Probably not, but it was sure fun while it lasted.

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

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Will Steve Austin Face Brock Lesnar at WWE Wrestlemania 32?

June 10, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

In 2015, with so many new stars dominating the scene of professional wrestling, there’s one guy that we sometimes forget about that changed the landscape of the business.

That guy is Steve Austin.

In my opinion, Austin left the business at the right time. He didn’t stick around too long like most guys where his skills might diminish, and be a true embarrassment. He left when he was still in his prime and to this day, still looks like he could go in the ring.

Maybe it’s just the bald head? I think not.

Austin had some fans thinking about one more run when on Monday he did a WWE Network sit down interview with Paul Heyman. During the video podcast, Heyman had one question for Austin.

“What would you think about getting in the ring with Brock Lesnar?” Heyman asked.

“I’d have to think about it,” Austin remarked.

This is not the first time an Austin return has piqued the interest of not just the WWE Universe, but all wrestling fans. For years, there had been talk of a Hulk Hogan-Austin match at Wrestlemania, but those plans never came to fruition.

Getting in the ring with Brock Lesnar makes more sense. A match with Hogan most certainly would be disappointing, due to Hulk’s injuries and inability to move around the ring like he used to. Lesnar is absolutely fantastic right now. Fans want to see him each time he gets in that ring, and is as good as anybody in this business right now.

Not speaking as a journalist but as a wrestling fan, I would definitely love to see this happen. Even though I have WWE Network, and have the advantage of getting Wrestlemania at a discounted price, I would pay $50-60 to see Wrestlemania 32, especially if Austin squares off against Lesnar.

But something in my mind tells me it’s not going to happen.

For one thing, I think Austin has moved on from wrestling. I think he enjoys doing his podcast, his shows on CMT and doing the occasional movie, but I also think if Austin was going to get in the ring, he would have already done it. He had many chances to take on CM Punk, but that never happened either.

Another question remains, “Is Austin healthy enough for one last run in WWE?” No one knows that for certain except for Austin, his wife, doctor and maybe Vince McMahon. Austin certainly looks great for his age, and doesn’t look weathered like other veterans do that hold on too long. But the neck injury he suffered against Owen Hart in 1997, and other health issues are major questions.

It does seem like the perfect scenario. Wrestlemania 32 is being held in Austin’s home state of Texas, at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. You know the event is going to draw a huge crowd, but just think if Austin’s involved. They might put over 100,000 people in that stadium.

Also, if Austin faces Lesnar on the world’s biggest stage, another question comes to mind.

Who goes over?

The easy solution would be for Austin to beat Lesnar and have the crowd go home happy. But if Austin were to do the honors for Brock, it might cement Lesnar as one of pro wrestling’s true greats.

If Austin came back for a feud with Brock, how would he be able to get his persona over in the PG era? Certainly, he cannot cuss, and do the profanity he did during the Attitude Era. He would have to be way clever, and kind of have to re-invent himself in some way.

Austin still trains and works out every day. Ring rust is one thing he would have to work on. But I guess if Ricky Steamboat can come back after 15 years away, and look good in matches against Chris Jericho, Austin can do the same.

The WWE is probably hoping every day that Austin can come back around ‘Mania and do this. With Daniel Bryan out of commission, John Cena settling into his role as a U.S. Champion, and guys like Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns learning how to become those main event type of talents, WWE needs a big money match like this.

I’m sure by next year, there will be a couple of big feuds already established for this big show, but an Austin-Lesnar match is what’s going to get casual fans to buy this pay per view. If they marketed it right, and kept it going for a few months leading up to Wrestlemania, it could be one of the biggest ‘Manias ever.

Would you pay to see an Austin-Lesnar match at Wrestlemania? Do you think “Stone Cold” Steve Austin still has some fire left?

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

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Stone Cold Steve Austin Talks WWE Heat, WrestleMania, and More

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

Stone Cold Steve Austin is a fairly modest guy and is never one to toot his own horn. Yet Austin has made one thing perfectly clear in recent years, he was the biggest draw in WWE history and he doesn’t care if your name is Hogan or Rock, he wants his respect.

Austin recently did an extended interview with SI.com and while he talked about a variety of interesting topics, yet an anecdote he told about his surprise appearance at WrestleMania 30 is what is making news. While some may take it out of context, Austin related a story in which he claims he was swerved by the WWE and he wasn’t happy about it because to him, he is the biggest star in company history from a revenue standpoint.

Vince called and said, ‘Here’s the set-up,’” said Austin. “‘Hulk Hogan’s going to come out and he’ll cut a promo. All of a sudden, they’re going to hit The Rock’s music. He’ll go out and cut a promo. All of a sudden – crash – it’s Stone Cold’s music, and you’ll go out and cut a promo – then bam, we start WrestleMania XXX.’ That’s the way it was pitched to me.

Austin then tells the reporter that things changed on the day of the show.

The Rock and I were in the building the day before in the green room,” recalled Austin. “Dwayne and I were laughing and shaking hands and hugging, just shooting the breeze. I said to him, ‘What are we doing tomorrow?’ All The Rock knew, he told me, was that he was the last one out to the ring. I said, ‘They told you that you were going to be the last out? That’s real interesting, ‘cause they told me the same damn thing.’”

Austin finally saw the booking sheet but the sheet had no order and only listed Hogan, Austin, and Rock.

I’m thinking to myself, ‘This is bull—-,’” said Austin. “This is not what I was sold, this is not what I bought.

Hogan put wrestling on the map nationally in the 1980’s, and The Rock’s popularity places him in an elite group, but Austin is the lone man to lead the WWE back into prominence when McMahon’s product was clearly the no. 2 wrestling company in the world.

My run cannot be touched,” he said. “If you want to talk about longevity, you can speak the name Hogan. If you want to talk about white-hot, selling tickets, and taking the business to a height it’s never been – and, with a hell of a supporting cast, I might add – you’re talking about Stone Cold Steve Austin.

But I said, ‘I’m just going to let this thing slide. We’re here and there is no use in making a stink about it.’ The Rock is one of the biggest movie stars in the world. So give the guy his due. Nobody talked to me about it, but that’s how that went down.

Stone Cold Steve Austin’s relationship with the WWE and Vince McMahon is always a hot topic. That topic became hot again once WrestleMania 31 came and went without Austin and then Chris Jericho replaced Steve Austin’s as the WWE podcast of choice.

There was no creative for me at WrestleMania XXXI,” said Austin. “Now with WrestleMania XXXII coming up in Texas, I would be pretty damn sure I’m going to be there. It’s my home state and it just makes more sense.”

As much as I love the business and I love my fans, I don’t want to be at every WrestleMania. I was really happy to watch it in my house. I wanted to see Sting and Triple H wrestle, and I was excited for all my buddies in DX and the NWO, but I want the younger generation of wrestlers to experience it and have all the time dedicated to them. That’s the future. Some of the segments that weren’t wrestling went on too long. I love The Rock, but his segment was too long. That was time that could have been given to a talent to make or not make an impact. That’s their proving ground.

But what about the rumors? Is there heat between the CEO and his former rival?

Lately there’s been a lot of speculation regarding all this heat, bad blood, and animosity between myself and Vince,” he explained. “And it couldn’t be any further from the truth. I have an outstanding relationship with Vince and the WWE right now. There were a few trademark issues, but that was just a minor thing that got resolved in a very amicable conversation I had with their lawyers.”

So many things get said only because people want to throw the names ‘Steve Austin’ and ‘Vince McMahon’ out there so others will think it to be true. But I’m here to tell you, it’s not true. There are some great things coming up.”

It should be noted that since this interview that it was announced that Austin’s podcast will be returning to the WWE Network on June 1.

All in all the entire piece is an excellent read and I’d highly recommend heading over to SI.com and checking out the whole story.

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

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Top 30 Worst WWE Pay-Per-Views In History

May 06, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE PPVs are thirty years old this year. WrestleMania I was not the first (it aired on closed-circuit in theaters), rather Wrestling Classic was. In those thirty years, WWE has provided fans with countless moments from numerous historical events.

This list will not be celebrating those moments.

Instead, we’ll be looking back on the thirty worst WWE PPVs ever, as there have been plenty of barrel-scrapers. You can certainly think of a few off the top of your head; events that robbed you of $30, $40, upwards of $65-70. Or, perhaps, just events you wish you hadn’t illegally streamed in the interest of your own sanity, either or.

In the interest of some positivity, I will select a redeeming quality from each PPV, just to show that I’m not all about the negative. This could go a long way in reducing some potential, “But, but….” feedback.

Away we go.

30. THE WRESTLING CLASSIC (November 7, 1985 – Chicago, IL)

WHY IT SUCKED: More bad finishes than possibly any other show, including The Junkyard Dog counting his own pinfall, Davey Boy Smith losing via stoppage when he crotched the ropes, Terry Funk getting counted out after attempting to sucker Moondog Spot into just such a countout, among others. The Wrestling Classic was a tournament that crammed a number of colorful stars of that exciting era into one show, and put together a card that has aged as well as acid-washed jeans.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The Macho Man proved his early worth to the company by having two excellent tournament bouts with Ricky Steamboat and The Dynamite Kid, both sadly relegated to five minutes or less.

29. KING OF THE RING 2002 (June 23, 2002 – Columbus, OH)

WHY IT SUCKED: The final incarnation of King of the Ring as a standalone PPV went out with a whimper. The Undertaker/Triple H main event for the Undisputed Title ranks among the worst title bouts of the modern era, thanks to both men working through serious injuries. Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero had themselves a disappointing bout of near twenty-minute length, almost entirely heatless with the sudden absence of Steve Austin from the storyline. The bloom was off of Hulk Hogan’s nostalgia comeback, as he lost by submission to Kurt Angle in a virtual comedy match.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Aside from Brock Lesnar’s continued ascent via winning the crown, Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam put on an enjoyable semi-final match (which sadly led to an online Jericho tirade when some fans felt the match was lacking).

28. NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTION 2005 (January 9, 2005 – San Juan, PR)

WHY IT SUCKED: Muhammad Hassan and Jerry Lawler put on a hideous match, made duller without commentary (Jim Ross worked Lawler’s corner). Eugene and Lita suffered debilitating knee injuries in the first two matches, casting a pall on the event, and cutting Lita’s potentially-good title bout with Trish Stratus understandably short. Maven stalled for almost six minutes in his Intercontinental Title match with Shelton Benjamin, and was then immediately pinned, rendering the entire match pointless.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The Elimination Chamber match for the vacant World Heavyweight Title was excellent, helping make Batista into a bona fide star, and is possibly the greatest Chamber match of all time. Makes sense why the show was bad: every main eventer was in this match.

27. BATTLEGROUND 2014 (July 20, 2014 – Tampa, FL)

WHY IT SUCKED: A bait-and-switch was put into play, removing the highly anticipated Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins match from the show. Perhaps because of Ambrose’s jettisoning from the show, much of the card suffered from an annoyed vibe that resulted in a lack of heat, even for matches like Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt, and the Intercontinental Battle Royal. In the latter, Miz’s screwjob win was met with more apathy than fan anger. John Cena’s win in the closing fatal four way was as predictable as a sunrise. From the Network pre-show, Adam Rose vs. Fandango and Cameron vs. Naomi were each awful.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The opening PPV match pitting the Usos vs. Luke Harper/Erick Rowan, two out of three falls for the WWE Tag Team Titles, was a sleeper match of the year candidate, and qualifies as Harper’s breakout performance.

26. SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 (November 27, 1991 – Detroit, MI)

WHY IT SUCKED: Functioned primarily as a commercial for an unsuccessful attempt at running weekly PPVs, marking the first year Survivor Series ever felt secondary to anything. Great opening match pitting teams captained by Ric Flair and Roddy Piper was cut short when five wrestlers were disqualified. The following bout, with Jim Duggan’s team toppling Col. Mustafa’s team, was clumsy and butt-ugly. Despite hinting at a Randy Savage return to fill in for Sid Justice, his beef with Jake Roberts ended up being held off until the following week in a cruel tease.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The Undertaker’s WWF Title win over Hulk Hogan, in which fans were 60-40 in favor of Taker, truly marked a paradigm shift as the definitive end of eight years of Hulkamania. Whether you like Hogan or not, it’s a historical benchmark.

25. OVER THE LIMIT 2011 (May 22, 2011 – Seattle, WA)

WHY IT SUCKED: WWE Championship bout was SuperCena at its most convoluted, as the champion withstood a two-on-one beating from The Miz and Alex Riley and almost instantly made Miz tap after an STF following a match restart. That restart was borne of a crap finish, where Riley played a cell-phone recording of Cena ‘submitting’ to hoodwink the official (Rock/Mankind redux). Most of the remainder of the show was horrid, with CM Punk wasted in a plodding Tag Team title match, Brie Bella and Kelly Kelly stumbling around the Divas title match, and Sin Cara continuing his inauspicious debut by going over Chavo Guerrero in uninspiring fashion.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Randy Orton and Christian delivered another awesome World Heavyweight Title bout, with Christian playing the Flair or Steamboat to Orton’s Luger perhaps better than anyone else.

24. ROYAL RUMBLE 2015 (January 25, 2015 – Philadelphia, PA)

WHY IT SUCKED: Not even for undesired Roman Reigns winning the Rumble match itself, but for the uninspired booking of the actual match, with aging relics Big Show and Kane slowly wiping the floor with a number of younger favorites. Daniel Bryan’s early elimination opened the floodgates of relentless fan outrage. Most of the rest of the show boasted uninspired tag team matches, with The Ascension looking weak in victory over the New Age Outlaws, a DQ finish in a Tag Team title match, and the Bellas beating Natalya and Paige with a simple forearm smash.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The World Championship bout revealed Seth Rollins’ true main event value, and the match itself with Brock Lesnar and John Cena was chaotic and exciting, a potential match-of-the-year.

23. SURVIVOR SERIES 2013 (November 24, 2013 – Boston, MA)

WHY IT SUCKED: “Big Show was my childhood friend” storyline with Stephanie McMahon came to a merciful end, but not merciful enough without the heatless World Title match with Randy Orton that ended the night. The seven-on-seven Divas elimination match was full of the clunky wrestling you’d expect from some of the lower-tier entrants, essentially an amateur-hour commercial for Total Divas. Big E Langston’s Intercontinental title win over Curtis Axel was short and dull, as was Mark Henry’s pointless win over Ryback.

REDEEMING QUALITY: “Make Roman look strong” served its purpose in the opening PPV bout, in which Reigns made four eliminations in powerfully understated fashion, becoming sole survivor of a damn fine Survivor Series match.

22. SURVIVOR SERIES 2008 (November 23, 2008 – Boston, MA)

WHY IT SUCKED: Popular Jeff Hardy was removed from the WWE Championship triple threat for creative reasons, coming under the guise of an attack at the hotel, which was presented as semi-legitimate, and upset many fans. Triple H and Kozlov then plodded through maybe the most boring title match in recent memory before Edge ran in to replace Hardy, after three months away, and won the belt. The women’s elimination bout was accelerated sloppiness, while Undertaker’s casket match with Big Show was very underwhelming compared to their surprisingly good match at No Mercy one month earlier.

REDEEMING QUALITY: A pair of decent-enough traditional Survivor Series matches took place, so at least the fundamental portion of the show held up its end.

21. WRESTLEMANIA XI (April 2, 1995 – Hartford, CT)

WHY IT SUCKED: No matter how many celebrities were crammed into the event, the bloom was explicitly off of WrestleMania’s rose in this dark period. Bret Hart and Bob Backlund shambled through a boring submission match, under orders to use virtually nothing except submission holds. Undertaker and King Kong Bundy’s match was as dull as you’d expect, while The Allied Powers’ opening win over Eli and Jacob Blu hardly felt WrestleMania-worthy. Diesel’s comeback in the World Title bout was met with derision, a portrait of where the company was in 1995.

REDEEMING QUALITY: While Diesel’s match with Shawn Michaels was the expected quality showing, it was Lawrence Taylor’s fiery competence against Bam Bam Bigelow that really kept the show from plummeting to rock bottom.

20. ROYAL RUMBLE 1997 (January 19, 1997 – San Antonio, TX)

WHY IT SUCKED: The company’s drawing power in 1997 was made a tad clearer when Shawn Michaels received a World title shot in his hometown, and one-fifth of the Alamodome had to be papered. Michaels worked through the flu and regained the belt from Sycho Sid in a poor match by his standards. An attempt to co-opt lucha libre, as WCW had, pretty much died out here, after a plodding trios match where only Hector Garza looked star-caliber. The undercard saw three big feuds highlighted in underwhelming matches: Vader over Undertaker, Triple H over Goldust, and Ahmed Johnson over Faarooq by disqualification. All six men were in the Rumble match as well, so they were all likely pacing themselves.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Stone Cold Steve Austin’s rise to the top accelerated with a tainted Rumble victory, and the fans responded more than favorably to his honed anti-hero act.

19. SUMMERSLAM 2007 (August 26, 2007 – East Rutherford, NJ)

WHY IT SUCKED: There weren’t too many storylines headed into the show, and a pall still loomed from the dark cloud hovering over WWE following the Benoit murder/suicide (wellness suspensions would come en masse the following weekend). Batista and Great Khali had a spectacularly bad World title match that ended in a DQ, while a Divas battle royal completely lost a lukewarm crowd, especially after Mickie James was eliminated. CM Punk blew his third straight chance to become ECW Champion in defeat to a not-yet-over John Morrison. Triple H made his return after seven months away, beating King Booker in a short match, and getting a way-too-put-on standing ovation from Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

REDEEMING QUALITY: John Cena and Randy Orton had a decent enough WWE Championship match, even if the crowd was more apt to cheer for Orton or, well, anyone else.

18. UNFORGIVEN 2003 (September 21, 2003 – Hershey, PA)

WHY IT SUCKED: Early on in the split-brand era, Raw PPVs and storylines were shockingly dim, lacking the fun of the only-recently departed Attitude Era. Goldberg won the World title from Triple H in a match that lacked drama, or even quality action thanks to the champ having a bum leg. Shane McMahon was booked to almost dominate revamped-monster Kane in a last man standing match for the better part of 20 minutes before losing. Test won Scott Steiner’s services as some vague type of slave after a match only made interesting by Stacy Keibler standing around. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler actually had a match with Heat announcers Jonathan Coachman and Al Snow that was garbage.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Shawn Michaels did make Randy Orton look like the main eventer he would eventually become, and their match was certainly more than decent, if not great.

17. ROYAL RUMBLE 1996 (January 21, 1996 – Fresno, CA)

WHY IT SUCKED: When Bret Hart and The Undertaker are incapable of having a good match with each other, it’s probably been one of those nights. The fact that their show-ending World title match ended in a cheap DQ on interference from Diesel just tossed dung onto a mounting pile. Goldust and Razor Ramon’s Intercontinental title match was one of Goldust’s typical plodfests from the era. The Rumble match itself was loaded up with one-nighters such as Doug Gilbert, The Headhunters, Takao Omori, and aging Dory Funk Jr in order to aid the dwindling roster of the time, and it’s arguably the least interesting Rumble match ever. Kama (The Godfather) was the next-to-last man to be eliminated, and he went out on a pie-face.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Shawn Michaels looked good in winning the Rumble match, beginning his road to WrestleMania XII at a time in which he was clearly the right man for the spot, even if hindsight numbers don’t back him up.

16. TABLES, LADDERS, CHAIRS, AND STAIRS 2014 (December 14, 2014 – Cleveland, OH)

WHY IT SUCKED: Coming just days after the universally-acclaimed NXT Takeover: R Evolution, it was reported that the WWE roster tasked itself with topping the developmental output. What ensued were uninspired gimmick matches, as Erick Rowan failed to entertain with a stack of ring steps, and Kane and Ryback swung chairs to less and less reaction. John Cena and Seth Rollins’ table match was marred with several overturned finishes. Dean Ambrose looked like the world’s biggest goof after blinding himself with an exploding television to end a lackluster evening. The roster hoped for Great American Bash ’89, and gave us ’91.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The opening match, Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper in a ladder match for the Intercontinental title, paid off a then-hot crowd with insanity and a well-told story.

15. GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2005 (July 24, 2005 – Buffalo, NY)

WHY IT SUCKED: After the 2004 Draft, Smackdown exponentially degenerated into its possibly-intended B-show designation, producing a handful of putrid events. For starters, Road Warrior Animal became a Tag Team Champion, invoking deceased partner Hawk in a storyline to sell DVDs. The Undertaker ‘killed off’ Muhammad Hassan, following an order from UPN to remove the character following a storyline that depicted a mock attempt at a terror-related beheading. That was worse, but not by much, than the beginning of the involvement of Rey Mysterio’s son Dominic in a story with Eddie Guerrero, which hampered the duo’s match. The Batista/JBL World title bout ended in a DQ, a hasty change as Hassan was supposed to beat Undertaker and advance to a SummerSlam title match, necessitating JBL’s win after a long, boring match.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Christian and Booker T had a fine, workmanlike match a ways down the card, unencumbered by the gas station fire that Smackdown had become.

14. WRESTLEMANIA XV (March 28, 1999 – Philadelphia, PA)

WHY IT SUCKED: The poor quality of the show was kinda overlooked at the time, since most fans were just satisfied that Steve Austin regained the title to close out the night, and scathing criticism of in-ring work was less so in the Attitude Era. Chyna turning heel twice in one night, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn swapping storylines (that involved belts) two weeks prior as to render their matches moot, and the pointless team of D-Lo Brown and Test going for the Tag Team Titles were all bad enough. Now add Big Bossman being hanged after a bad Hell in a Cell match, and Tori looking 400 types of awful against Sable, and it’s a crummy Mania for sure.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Steve Austin regains the WWF Championship in an overbooked, but still incredibly fun, match with The Rock. You could always count on these two.

13. BRAGGING RIGHTS 2010 (October 24, 2010 – Minneapolis, MN)

WHY IT SUCKED: If you expected John Cena to be emaciated at the hands of The Nexus upon his forced joining, think again. Not only did he and David Otunga needlessly win the Tag titles in an impromptu match over Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes, but he got Randy Orton DQed in the WWE Title match against challenger Wade Barrett. See, Cena would have lost his job if Barrett didn’t ‘win’, wink wink. Undertaker and Kane had themselves a horrid Buried Alive match that really showed each man’s age. Even the Bragging Rights elimination match itself went on for nearly a half hour, and was more uninteresting than anything, due to a lack of interest in the diluted ‘Raw vs. Smackdown’ narrative.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The champion-vs-champion bout between Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler goes a long way in explaining why fans clamored to see it at WrestleMania five years later. Sadly, this was the opener, and it was all downhill from here.

12. ARMAGEDDON 2003 (December 14, 2003 – Orlando, FL)

WHY IT SUCKED: A painfully-bad 2003 limped to the grave with this poor showing for the Raw brand, though December PPVs traditionally bite balls. The best match of the night may have been Chris Jericho and Christian wrestling two considerably-smaller performers in Trish Stratus and Lita. Molly Holly vs. Ivory was a bad match. Booker T vs. Mark Henry was a bad match. A Tag Team Turmoil seemed to drag on for eons. Triple H regained the World Heavyweight title in a three way over Kane and Goldberg that was twenty slow minutes long. Not the finest hour for a brand that needed a jump start.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The four Evolution members ended up with the World, Intercontinental, and Tag Team gold by night’s end, making the faction look utterly powerful and credible for probably the first time.

11. ROCK BOTTOM (December 13, 1998 – Vancouver, BC)

WHY IT SUCKED: See what I mean about December PPVs? A lousy Steve Austin/Undertaker ‘Buried Alive’ match was made worse with Michael Cole’s illogical commentary (not that it’s exclusive to this match). It was an evening of awful tag team matches, including Headbangers vs. The Human Oddities, an interminable battle between the New Age Outlaws and Ken Shamrock/Big Bossman, and a disappointing six-man pitting The Brood against The JOB Squad. Truly, this show felt like space occupied between Survivor Series and The Royal Rumble.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The Rock and Mankind delivered an enjoyable enough WWF Title match, but even that was marred by an agonizing Dusty Finish after it appeared Mankind had captured his first World title.

10. BATTLEGROUND 2013 (October 6, 2013 – Buffalo, NY)

WHY IT SUCKED: Fans were getting sick of the jerkaround centered on Daniel Bryan not being allowed to the hold WWE belt longer than a Ferris wheel ride. You can imagine they were they fuming when his match with Randy Orton for the vacant gold ended with no winner, thanks to Big Show wiping out both men. While the event is most remembered for the maddening end, there was a whole lotta bad elsewhere. CM Punk won a long, dull match over Ryback, while undercard title bouts pitting Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth (IC) and AJ Lee vs. Brie Bella (Divas) were slightly worse. What else can you say about a show where the Real Americans are saddled with Santino Marella and The Great Khali?

REDEEMING QUALITY: Goldust and Cody Rhodes’ win over Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins was precisely the kind of old-school storytelling that WWE seems to eschew more and more, and yet it’s all people want to remember from bad shows like this.

9. WRESTLEMANIA IX (April 4, 1993 – Las Vegas, NV)

WHY IT SUCKED: The consensus choice for the worst WrestleMania ever had that standing solidified by the BS ending where Hulk Hogan ‘helps’ a wounded Bret Hart, only to be challenged by new WWF Champion Yokozuna, and then cashes in his Money in the Bank Yappapi Strap to beat him in 20 seconds. Hart’s loss betrayed his standing as the flagbearer of a new class, but the problems didn’t end there. Undertaker couldn’t drag Giant Gonzalez out of the maligned ‘negative star’ range, while Hogan and Brutus Beefcake looked anachronistic against Money Inc in a disappointing Tag Team title bout. The only good thing about Doink vs. Crush was the delighfully silly ending with an impostor clown.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The Steiner Brothers win over The Headshrinkers featured some insane highspots for 1993, including Rick Steiner powerslamming Samu while sitting on Fatu’s shoulders. Best match of the show, which is like being valedictorian of summer school.

8. GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2004 (June 27, 2004 – Norfolk, VA)

WHY IT SUCKED: People who watched it couldn’t help make comparisons to WCW in its decay, given the event’s name. For crying out loud, The Undertaker killed Paul Bearer in a tomb of cement to end the show, moments after beating Tag Team champions The Dudley Boyz in a handicap match before a confused, silent crowd. The undercard fared possibly worse, giving us back to back sludge in Billy Gunn vs. Kenzo Suzuki, and Sable vs. Torrie Wilson. Mordecai vs. Bob Holly was a bit better, but didn’t belong on PPV. Ditto a directionless Charlie Haas vs. a lukewarm Luther Reigns. Smackdown by this time really felt bush league compared to the inspired greatness on Raw.

REDEEMING QUALITY: While some do count this as a negative, JBL winning the WWE Championship from Eddie Guerrero in a gruesome bullrope match was indeed a great showing.

7. D-GENERATION X (December 7, 1997 – Springfield, MA)

WHY IT SUCKED: Four weeks after Montreal, and this time, the PPV buyers were the ones that got screwed. The Triple H-Sgt. Slaughter boot camp match moved molasses-slow, like a wade through waist-deep mud. Butterbean and Marc Mero engaged in a badly-worked boxing match. Undertaker vs. Jeff Jarrett was bad enough before Kane caused a DQ ending. The Legion of Doom continued their slide into the abyss in their Tag Team title match against a still-gelling New Age Outlaws. Goldust came out and read Green Eggs and Ham for whatever reason.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Steve Austin driving a truck to the ring and destroying the Nation of Domination en route to beating The Rock in a brief Intercontinental Title match is about the only thing worth remembering from this show.

6. ROYAL RUMBLE 1999 (January 24, 1999 – Anaheim, CA)

WHY IT SUCKED: The excesses of Russo’s booking drowned the Rumble match in a sea of convoluted muck. Most of the undercarders were sequestered to the first half of the match, creating an unrealistic imbalance. Vince McMahon wins after spending 90 percent of the match as an observer. Despite there being a $100,000 bounty on Steve Austin’s head, wrestlers only attack him in randomly-timed portions. If the Rumble match was a joke, at least it was a vigorously-paced one. Same can’t be said for Big Bossman vs. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn vs. Ken Shamrock, two rather lengthy matches in which the heels went over. Sable and Luna Vachon’s Women’s Title bout wasn’t going to stem the tide of a lackluster PPV.

REDEEMING QUALITY: This one is a lot more polarizing after the extent of concussions became better understood, but Rock and Mankind’s dramatic I Quit match for the WWF Championship remains a scintillating brawl, though much harder to watch today.

5. IN YOUR HOUSE IV: GREAT WHITE NORTH (October 22, 1995 – Winnipeg, MB)

WHY IT SUCKED: Story goes that Vince McMahon, at the event’s conclusion, slammed his headset down and barked “HORRIBLE!” He wasn’t wrong; the Diesel-Davey Boy Smith WWF Championship match was the cure for sleep disorders all of kinds. Perhaps more embarrassingly historic was Shawn Michaels forfeiting the Intercontinental belt to Dean Douglas, only for Douglas to get his jaw jacked (at some points, it looked literally) by Kliq-mate Razor Ramon in an awkward match. Yokozuna and Mabel trudged to a frustrating double countout that was probably for the best. Goldust’s debut, while unique, failed to electrify with his methodical style.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Not much of high value, the Tag Team title match with The Smoking Gunns and Razor/123 Kid was enjoyable, further sowing the seeds of Kid’s impending turn.

4. ARMAGEDDON 2004 (December 12, 2004 – Atlanta, GA)

WHY IT SUCKED: Great American Bash 2004 is hailed as the worst PPV of that year, but Armageddon was twice as bad; it’s just nobody buys PPVs around Christmas. Where to begin? The boxing match between Daniel Puder and The Miz? Kurt Angle beating up Santa Claus to try and get heel heat? Charlie Haas’ refereeing an alleged match between Jackie Gayda and Dawn Marie? Big Show squashing Angle, Luther Reigns, and Mark Jindrak in a handicap match? If it wasn’t bad, it was dull (Haas/Bob Holly vs. The Bashams, Spike Dudley vs. Funaki). Heidenreich causing a screwjob in a 26 minute four-way main event put a ragged bow on this one.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Rob Van Dam and Rey Mysterio took part in a really good formula Tag Team title bout with Rene Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki, a worthwhile opener.

3. KING OF THE RING 1999 (June 27, 1999 – Greensboro, NC)

WHY IT SUCKED: You would think that a time frame that produced a lot of break-neck excitement couldn’t provide such a tedious tournament, but here you go. Big Show and Kane’s first round match, with an endless, science-defying chokehold, was the absolute pits. Road Dogg and Chyna’s match was just as interminable. Ken Shamrock succumbed to his patented ‘internal injuries’, and by the time it was over, nobody was buying into X-Pac’s underdog story when he lost to ill-received king Billy Gunn. The tournament was bad enough, and a WWF Title match between Undertaker and The Rock failed to provide a positive spark otherwise. Just a dreadful show from top to bottom.

REDEEMING QUALITY: Although not a great match, Steve Austin’s handicap ladder match for ownership of the WWF against Vince and Shane McMahon did provide some expected entertaining moments.

2. DECEMBER TO DISMEMBER (December 3, 2006 – Augusta, GA)

WHY IT SUCKED: The real ECW died five years earlier, so this was more of a dumping of manure onto the grave. Bobby Lashley’s unheralded title win in the Elimination Chamber generated more annoyance from fans who preferred Rob Van Dam or CM Punk. Lots of downtime in the latter half of the match didn’t help either. Four of the six matches weren’t even announced ahead of time, and that was probably for the best, as none were any good. Among the worst were Kelly Kelly and Mike Knox’s clunker with Kevin Thorn and Ariel, as well as the FBI serving as chump fodder for Elijah Burke and Sylvester Terkay. The Georgia fans took the spiritual form of their Philly/New York counterparts and booed much of the event, especially when Tommy Dreamer lost suddenly to Daivari. The show barely went two hours and ten minutes.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The Hardy Boyz kicked things off with MNM in a tag team match that featured two heat segments and plenty of creative double-teaming. Its 23-minute length was absolutely needed.

1. KING OF THE RING 1995 (June 25, 1995 – Philadelphia, PA)

WHY IT SUCKED: Near rock-bottom for a failing WWF, the hostile Philly crowd gave Vince McMahon the business a full generation before Reigns won the Rumble. Mabel winning the tournament was bad enough, made worse with two awful matches on his part. Savio Vega worked four matches and gained little underdog sympathy from a frustrated crowd, who openly chanted “ECW!” during his final against Mabel. At an event with no title matches, a WWE first, DIesel and Bam Bam Bigelow won a droning main event against Sycho Sid and Tatanka. The only real heroes of the night, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, were stuck making Jerry Lawler kiss his foot and going to a draw with Kama, respectively. It’s the hallmark of badness, a self-parody that left even McMahon speechless at points.

REDEEMING QUALITY: The Roadie and Bob Holly’s first-round match was probably the best worked match of the evening, and even that had a messed up finish.

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

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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Top 10 Things: WWE King of the Ring PPV Matches

April 30, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Welcome one and all to a special edition of Enuffa.com’s Top Ten Things! Thanks to Eric and CamelClutchBlog.com for having me!

In light of the return of the WWE King of the Ring tournament this week (with little hype and even less fan enthusiasm) I thought I’d assemble my list of the ten greatest matches to take place at this once-historic PPV event.

The King of the Ring tournament was originally a special house show attraction held annually in New England, before the WWF decided to add it to the PPV schedule in 1993. At the time the WWF calendar only featured the Big Four PPV events, so creating a fifth was a pretty huge deal. The inaugural edition was built around making Bret Hart a top babyface again after WrestleMania IX hurt his stock somewhat. Bret carried the show, working three good-to-excellent matches and winning the tourney before Jerry Lawler abruptly attacked him during the coronation ceremony. It was an uneven show but featured some excellent work from “The Hitman.”

The KOTR PPV history contains quite a few highs and lows. The ’94 edition only had a few matches worth seeing while 1995’s had none. But the ’96, ’98 and 2001 PPVs were all varying degrees of excellent (2001 is one of my all-time favorite PPVs). King of the Ring would run a full decade before sagging buyrates prompted the company to discontinue the series and replace it with Bad Blood.

The tournament itself would return to free television in 2006, 2008, 2010, and of course this year, with generally very little impact on star-building. The ’06 winner Booker T made the most of the “King” gimmick, adopting an obviously phony English accent which was amusing for a while. William Regal’s tourney win in 2008 led to precisely nothing of value, while Sheamus’s victory in 2010 actually hurt his career for about eight months as he free-fell down the card. Hopefully 2015’s winner Wade Barrett will be able to transfer this into a meaningful, injury-free push.

Truth be told I do miss the KOTR PPV. The tournament itself was rarely presented well; if it was a one-night bracket most of the matches got shortchanged, and if only the semis and finals were included on the PPV the tourney felt less important. But several rising stars were able to use the tourney as a major stepping stone, and when the PPV was good it was great. If they were to bring it back now I’d suggest using the New Japan Cup tourney as a template. Announce that the winner of the tournament will get a PPV Title match of their choice, have the first two rounds on episodes of RAW and Smackdown the week before the PPV, and have the semis and finals on the PPV itself, with the finals ALWAYS being the main event. Then the King of the Ring would actually mean something again. Announcing the 2015 edition literally 24 hours ahead of time with zero buildup was just plain stupid.

But let’s go back and look at some of the in-ring classics to come out of this once-important event.

10. Undertaker vs. Mankind – KOTR ’96

This is the match that began one of the best feuds of the 90s. For years the Undertaker was the super-popular character babyface who generally only feuded with cartoonish heels in forgettable brawls. His shtick was mostly about his entrance, and few of his opponents were presented as much of a threat to the invincible Dead Man. But in 1996 Mick Foley appeared on WWF television as the deranged psychopath Mankind, and he instantly targeted Taker, rendering him unconscious with the fearsome Mandible Claw. Their first bout took place at the King of the Ring PPV, and was a chaotic brawl in which Mankind kept pace and proved himself Taker’s first true archnemesis. After an errant urn shot from Paul Bearer, Mankind scored the upset victory. These two would outdo themselves multiple times over the next two years, but this match still holds up as a great fight.

9. Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin – KOTR ’97

In June of 1997 my two favorite wrestlers were Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin. I was beyond thrilled when they became unlikely Tag Team Champions, and even more thrilled when it was announced they’d be wrestling each other at King of the Ring. This PPV was pretty weak, but the Austin-Michaels match was the one standout of the show, going to a 22-minute double DQ after too many ref bumps. The two anti-heroes expertly played into the “uneasy allies” story, and my favorite moment is their long walk back to the dressing room, each man keeping one suspicious eye on the other. While this was no five-star classic (and due to Shawn’s 1998 back injury they’d never have one), this was a very entertaining match that saved the 1997 PPV from being a total loss.

8. Steve Austin vs. Marc Mero – KOTR ’96

The 1996 KOTR tournament was of course the long-awaited arrival of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as a major force in the WWF. His “Austin 3:16″ promo stands as one of the greatest and most impactful in the history of the business, and is a major reminder of how much more effective non-scripted promos are in wrestling. Were Austin active today he would’ve been handed a poorly-scripted paragraph likely containing no useful catchphrases or spontenaiety. As for his in-ring performance that night, the highlight was this semi-final match against another potential rising star, Marc Mero. This was a superbly worked 17-minute athletic contest, with Mero bouncing around the ring like crazy while Austin played the stalwart bully. What this match is probably most remembered for however is Austin taking a kick to the mouth, splitting his lip wide open. Gushing blood, Austin was taken to the hospital to get stitched up before his appearance in the finals. It all added to the mystique of this tough-as-nails future megastar.

7. Bret Hart vs. Diesel – KOTR ’94

1994 was The Year of Bret Hart, his WWF Title win at WrestleMania X cementing him as the “Leader of the New Generation.” Waiting in the wings though was the guy Vince really wanted to push as the future of the company, Diesel. Kevin Nash was brought in the year before as Shawn Michaels’ heater/bodyguard, and after a shaky start was portrayed as an unstoppable brute who dismantled smaller opponents. After winning the I-C Title from Razor Ramon, Diesel next targeted Bret, resulting in this rare Champion vs. Champion match. As an in-ring performer Nash was still largely unproven, but as always Bret brought out the best in him, and the two combatants assembled the first of a splendid trilogy of matches that spanned 17 months. Bret spent most of this match wrestling from behind and after 23 minutes the returning Jim Neidhart ran interference for a disqualification. It was later revealed that Neidhart was actually working in tandem with Owen Hart to preserve Bret’s Title and allow Owen to challenge him. The ’94 PPV peaked early with this match going on 5th of 10. The rest of this show is mostly skippable.

6. Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho – KOTR ’01

The 2001 King of the Ring PPV was the denouement to an eighteen-month stretch where the WWF product was absolutely blazing on all cylinders. The influx of new and familiar faces joining the roster, coupled with a renewed focus on the in-ring product, made 2000 and the first half of 2001 just an amazing time to be a WWF fan. Chief among the debuting ring generals were Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho, who had recently formed an alliance to take down the heel WWF Champion Steve Austin. Each man had unsuccessfully challenged Austin on free TV with pretty amazing results, and now they’d be given one last Title shot simultaneously. The main event of the 2001 PPV was an epic Triple Threat, with Austin barely managing to survive the odds, stealing a win at the 28-minute mark. The match was unfortunately hurt by a rather anticlimactic ending, but it’s still a helluva 3-way.

5. Bret Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow – KOTR ’93

As I said earlier, the ’93 tourney was all about spotlighting Bret Hart. All three of his matches that night had some charm, but the semis and finals were the two standouts. After two grueling matches, Bret found himself against a well-rested Bam Bam Bigelow who received a bye in the semifinals. The match was a classic big man-little man war, with Bret’s grit and atheticism proving an equal match for Bigelow’s massive size advantage. After a false ending teasing a Bigelow win, the match was restarted and Bret got the duke with a victory roll. Bret considered Bam Bam the best superheavyweight he ever worked with, and thanks to this match it’s easy to see why.

4. Undertaker vs. Mankind (Hell in a Cell) – KOTR ’98

There’s not much more than can be said about this one. Simply the most infamous match of all time, aside from the Montreal Screwjob. Taker, and especially Mankind, wrote a new chapter in pro wrestling brutality. After two death-defying falls from the top of the Cell (one planned, one frighteningly accidental), Mick Foley delivered a superhuman effort in going another 12 or so minutes and completing the best match these two ever had together (Keep in mind also that Taker was working on a broken foot). Concussed and delirious, Foley famously approached Taker backstage when it was over and asked “Did I use thumbtacks?” to which Taker replied, “Look at your arm Mick.” It’s an uncomfortable match to view now, but at the time it probably exemplified the WWF Attitude more than any other single bout.

3. Shawn Michaels vs. British Bulldog – KOTR ’96

I love most of the work these two did together. The combination of Shawn’s agility vs. Davey Boy’s power produced numerous classics (one of which I saw at a house show in 1995 and it blew me away), but this was their finest hour together. Shawn was still a fairly new WWF Champion and Davey was only his second PPV challenger. Their first match at In Your House: Beware of Dog failed to live up to expectations, partly due to a power outage that blacked out over half the show and left the crowd lethargic. But Michaels and Smith got a chance to redeem themselves at King of the Ring, and they delivered big. Shawn supplied an almost balletic performance, showcasing innovative offense to keep the larger Bulldog off his feet, while Davey portrayed the well-rounded dominant heel to a tee. After 26 minutes Shawn retained in one of the best matches of 1996.

2. Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect – KOTR ’93

The other masterful Bret Hart match from the 1993 PPV (and a rematch of the celebrated SummerSlam ’91 bout), this semifinal between two consummate technicians stole the show and blew away every other match of ’93. Now a babyface, Mr. Perfect temporarily reverted to his morally ambiguous in-ring approach, playing the de facto heel to….well, perfection. For nearly 19 minutes these two traded holds both in and out of the ring (At one point Perfect knocked Bret from the apron onto a hard water cooler next to the security railing, in a spot that looked positively brutal by 1993 standards), until Bret reversed a small package into one of his own for the three-count. This is probably my favorite Mr. Perfect match, and definitely one of Bret’s finest as well.

1. Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon – KOTR ’01

Simply put, one of the wildest matches I’ve ever seen. At King of the Ring 2001, Olympic Wrestling Champion and Vince McMahon’s Son tore the roof off the Continental Airlines Arena in the most unexpectedly awesome, best garbage match in the history of the business. While the overarching storyline was the beginning of the most disappointing angle of all time, these two delivered an amazing, startlingly violent spectacle that on more than one occasion actually made me fear for Shane’s life. Angle dominated early with his wrestling acumen, but Shane’s fearless scrappiness kept him in the match. Then the action spilled out of the ring and into the entranceway, where Kurt Angle nearly murdered his boss’s kid. Angle attempted an overhead belly-to-belly suplex through the glass staging area, but there was a problem – the glass didn’t break. And Shane landed on his head. So Angle did it again, this time successfully, and with sickening results. They continued fighting behind the glass, where Angle attempted the same move and once again the glass didn’t cooperate. So Angle simply rammed Shane through headfirst, resulting in the striking image of a bloodied Shane exploding through an opaque plane of glass. And that wasn’t even the end! After 26 minutes Angle set a piece of plywood atop the turnbuckles and Olympic Slammed Shane to the mat for the three-count. Thus concluded the superlative King of the Ring PPV match the like of which should never again be attempted. This was the best match on the best KOTR PPV, and in my opinion the best match of 2001.

Well that’ll do it for this special CamelClutchBlog.com edition of Top Ten Things – you can find many more such lists, plus all kinds of other wrestling, movie, music, and comic book features over at Enuffa.com! Thanks for reading!

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

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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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

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Stone Cold Steve Austin Comments on WWE Rumors

April 08, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The absence of Stone Cold Steve Austin from WrestleMania 32 and the addition of the Chris Jericho podcast have fueled speculation of a rift between Austin and the WWE. Yet according to Austin, things are perfectly fine between he, Vinnie Mac, and the WWE.

The Austin-WWE heat stories have spiraled out of control over the last few weeks. A lot of these stories sound more like conspiracy theories than actual reports but they grew so loud that they caught the attention of the WWE Hall of Fame podcaster. Austin seized on this as an opportunity to talk about it on his most recent podcast which is exactly what he did.

One of the first things Austin addressed were rumors he no-showed WrestleMania. I had never even heard that but evidently these rumors got to Austin and put them quickly to rest.

“All kinds of things being said about myself and WWE over the fact that I no showed WrestleMania. Man, completely false. There’s no heat. One of the rumors was I was supposed to be on an airplane with Undertaker headed down there and there was a WWE employee waiting for me and when I didn’t get off the airplane everybody went into shock and anger. Not true.”

Next up were rumors of heat with WWE over Tough Enough. Austin will not be hosting the upcoming Tough Enough show. This resulted in rumors that WWE officials were upset with Austin over this. Austin again says not true.

“With regards to Tough Enough – everybody says ‘oh man, there’s heat with Steve and Vince, and Steve turned down the Tough Enough gig.’ No, that’s not true. I’ve been talking to WWE about doing Tough Enough for quite some time… It was supposed to be shot in February or March, right now we’re in April, so it didn’t happen in February or March. ”

Finally there were rumors and I did hear these that Vince McMahon was very upset with Austin over the Triple H podcast. The anger stems from Austin asking about Chyna going into the WWE Hall of Fame which resulted in a small firestorm for the WWE. The rumor was that Vince was so upset with Austin that he pulled his podcast spot and offered it to Chris Jericho.

“As for why he didn’t do the podcast and Jericho got the spot, he simply says that a “deal wasn’t made” but is still open to doing business with the WWE in the future and that the company will always be “in his blood”.
Austin elaborates a bit more.

“So, no matter what anybody says, there’s no animosity from any standpoint from WWE’s point of view — I’m guessing this — and from my standpoint. Again, I’m stating this plainly, clearly, and as efficiently as I can without going into too much more details which is between myself and Vince and WWE. Private matters. But for all of the public things I just talked about, those are the answers to the questions. No heat nowhere. It’s cool. Moving on.”

The only thing I am still unclear of is why Chris Jericho got that spot over Steve Austin. I’d imagine with all due respect to Jericho that Austin is a bigger draw on the network than Jericho. Plus, Austin has already had John Cena on his podcast and the interview went real well. Austin did take a shot at Cena during that interview and told him he should work tighter, yet otherwise it was a real fun interview.

Regardless, I think there is one thing that is abundantly clear. Steve Austin needs to be more involved with the WWE and its network. Unfortunately the company appears to be moving away from him and that is disappointing for everyone hoping to see a little more of Stone Cold on WWE programming in 2015.

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Time To Move On From Stone Cold Steve Austin

April 07, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It used to be The Rock, then it was Brock Lesnar, now social media and WWE fans and media are clamoring for the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin. With WrestleMania 32 in Texas Austin seems like a fit, yet the stone cold reality is that Austin is never coming back and it’s time to move on.

The Austin rumors tend to heat up in April following WrestleMania and the end of the summer. That is why it should be no surprise that there is plenty of buzz swirling around a Steve Austin return to the ring. The logical match would seem to be Austin vs. Brock Lesnar. Yet if we are using logic, the logical conclusion here is that Austin is retired for good and while we’d all love to see him bust out a can of whoop ass, it isn’t going to happen.

Austin has not has a pro wrestling match in a WWE ring in 12 years. Since that time Austin has established himself in the entertainment industry and appears to be enjoying life away from the squared circle. Austin has dabbled with the WWE many times since retirement, yet it has been several years since he appeared with any consistency on WWE programming. For whatever reason it has become abundantly clear that while Austin and the WWE are still on good terms, their relationship remains at a distance.

Their relationship, much like Vince McMahon’s relationships with his other biggest stars (Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and Bruno Sammartino) at times, has been somewhat fragile since Austin’s retirement. Austin recently returned WWE television with a pair of podcasts on the WWE Network. A recent report however indicates that Austin’s last podcast with Triple H opened up too many old wounds and Vinnie Mac is not happy with him. That would explain the sudden announcement of Chris Jericho’s podcast coming to the WWE Network.

But as we have also seen in the past, this relationship could be repaired in a second if Austin agreed to lace up the boots. Offers have been extended to Austin in recent years, including a proposed match with Triple H at WrestleMania 30. Austin however has remained consistent in his commitment to retirement. Austin has talked about the subject many times in interviews and his podcasts. He never says “never” and always says everything would have to be aligned for it to happen.

A recent idea proposed on Austin’s own podcast seemed to peak his interest. In a 2014 interview with Paul Heyman, the idea was broached about a Brock Lesnar vs. Steve Austin WrestleMania match. Heyman sold Austin on it like he was calling up Terry Funk for one “final” ECW appearance. Austin appeared intrigued and as someone listening to Heyman hype up the fantasy scenario, so was I. Yet here we sit several months later and the match seems no closer to happening today than it did before Heyman even brought it up.

It’s easy to criticize Austin, especially if you are a fan who wants to see him get back to work. Selfish yes, but damn is he missed! At the same time you have to sit back and admire Austin for remaining true to his convictions and moving further away from pro wrestling than anyone other than maybe Bruno has who drew at his level. Austin has said many times that he wouldn’t want to come back and stink up the joint. I have to think that Steve Austin knows his body better than we do and if he is turning down millions because he thinks he can’t go, maybe he is doing all of us a favor. Austin’s legacy is far more valuable to him than the blockbuster payoff he’d receive for one more match.

So while it is nice to dream, I think it is time to finally close this chapter, even if Austin won’t close the book completely. WWE television desperately needs some Stone Cold Steve Austin as do his fans. Unfortunately Austin is more interested in his legacy than he is with either of us and you have to respect him for that. Steve Austin isn’t coming back and that’s the bottom line even if he won’t say so.

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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