If you were born in the late 1970′s or early 1980′s, the WWF seemed to sync itself perfectly with the discernments of a person your age. Through the mid 1990′s, the WWF was still a light-hearted, inoffensive product whose brand of half-baked silliness was safe for familial consumption.
By the end of 1997, however, when the people in the aforementioned age demographic became teenagers and young adults, their newer, more carnal sensibilities were treated to a WWF quite unrecognizable from its former image.
Gone were the days of rope-muscled heroes, vowing to slay giants and right wrongs, while encouraging the kids at home to eat right and stay in school.
In their place, there was a bald Texan with a foul mouth, and an even fouler outlook on the world around him. Stone Cold Steve Austin was now the WWF’s biggest star, brandishing a pair of middle fingers that he looked to unleash upon any bystander who wanted to question his morals or manhood. Austin raised mayhem of all sorts, driving his pick-up truck into the arena, attacking authority figures, cursing in every other sentence, and downing beers in the middle of the ring to celebrate his batch of Hell raised.
On the other side of the coin, the WWF presented D-Generation X. Shawn Michaels, as WWF Champion, had finally pushed the envelope of overt sexual aggression to its brink, pointing to his crotch with battle cries of “SUCK IT!” He, Triple H, and Chyna routinely gave migraines to Standards and Practices with phallic references, partial nudity, and sexual innuendo.
Throw in Sable’s barely-covered, oversized breast implants, Kane digging up the caskets of his parents, and The Rock finding his voice with his own entendres, and you have the foundation of a new era in professional wrestling.
The Attitude Era.
With the Attitude Era blossoming into a formidable howitzer to be used against WCW in the “Monday Night Wars”, it made sense to have Austin, the icon of the juncture, win the 1998 Royal Rumble by ousting WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock, whose 51 minute jaunt in the Rumble match assured his bright future.
Austin would be matched up with WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, whose controversial title victory over Bret Hart at the 1997 Survivor Series, the “Montreal Incident”, helped spark the company’s anti-hero taction.
In an attempt to force the long-gone media to pull a U-turn and amble back to the WWF circus, McMahon brought in heavyweight boxer, and ex-convict, Mike Tyson to serve as guest enforcer for the World Title bout. The media bit the bait, and news outlets were flocking to get out word of Tyson’s involvement. With WrestleMania XIV taking place just nine months after Tyson bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear, Tyson’s name commanded front page attention.
However, there was little story to the Austin-Michaels match. After his questionable knee injury one year before, Michaels worsened lingering back injuries at the 1998 Royal Rumble in a casket match against The Undertaker by landing on the crease of the coffin lid with his sciatic region. Michaels would collapse in his home in February 1998 and would miss that month’s PPV.
To keep interest strong for the match with Michaels partially incapacitated, the WWF had Tyson turn heel and join DX to stack the odds against Stone Cold. If that wasn’t enough, Vince McMahon, still a babyface but leaning over the disposition line, shadowing on heel, publicaly declared that having Austin as champion would be a “nightmare”, and that he was basically rooting against Stone Cold at WrestleMania.
Elsewhere on the card, The Undertaker would finally face Kane after nearly six months of buildup. Kane had attacked Undertaker in his debut at Badd Blood in October 1997, and “The Dead Man” had refused to fight his flesh and blood. After the two formed a brief allegiance in January, Kane turned on Undertaker again to cost him his WWF Title shot, stuffed him into a casket, and set it ablaze.
Undertaker would return weeks later to avenge the wrongdoing, finally accepting a one on one match with his disturbed, masked brother.
Much of the midcard was filled out with building blocks of the WWF’s army in their war with WCW. Future World Champions The Rock, Triple H, and Cactus Jack were all in title matches. Rock would defend his Intercontinental Championship against a personal nuisance of several months, Ken Shamrock. Shamrock had made Rock submit to the ankle lock in several tag team matches, and was primed to finally take the title.
Triple H would represent DX by defending his European Title against Owen Hart, who had hounded the group since his brother Bret’s fateful WWF exit. Meanwhile, Cactus and Terry “Chainsaw Charlie” Funk would go for the WWF Tag Team Championships against the New Age Outlaws in a dumpster match.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler provided the call from ringside. Chris Warren and the DX Band performed a punky version of “America the Beautiful” before the event to a mixed reception. Controversial celebrities Pete Rose and Gennifer Flowers added to the show’s moderately degenerative atmosphere.
THE RESULTS LOD 2000 won a fifteen team battle royal last eliminating the New Midnight Express in 8:19
(In other words, this was a way to get everybody on the show. This is like Money in the Bank without high spots, creativity, fun, and Shelton Benjamin. Sunny looked hot, though)
WWF Lightheavyweight: Taka Michinoku def. Aguila in 5:57
(Some fun spots in there, but predictably short. What Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero were doing in this time frame was completely blowing this away. Still, it was enjoyable)
WWF European: Triple H def. Owen Hart in 11:29
(Much like Hart vs. Austin from the previous year, this led to a double turn, not on story, but on fan sentiment. Owen would become a bitter heel, and HHH a crotch grabbing hero. Yep, it’s 1998. Good match in any case)
Marc Mero/Sable def. Goldust/Luna Vachon in 9:11
(Probably the best mixed tag match in WrestleMania history. Sable looked like a total star, as Luna sold for her like crazy, and the fans ate it up with a spoon, begging for more)
WWF Intercontinental: The Rock def. Ken Shamrock by disqualification in 4:49
(Short match, non-sensical reverse decision (Shamrock won initially), and not a lot of action otherwise. At least we got the awesome visual of Rock holding the belt up in victory while laying on the gurney)
WWF World Tag Team/Dumpster Match: Cactus Jack/Chainsaw Charlie def. The New Age Outlaws in 10:01 to win the titles
(Good hardcore match without the blood, unless you count Terry Funk‘s hip grating and Billy Gunn’s nosebleed. Sadly, the victory would be short lived, as Cactus and Funk used the “wrong dumpster” to win. Hey, rules are rules)
The Undertaker def. Kane in 16:58
(That’s seven. Decent big man match, albeit slow, and lacking the epic feel that the feud was crying out for. Kane, at least, looked like a monster in defeat, needing three Tombstones to finally succumb. This was also begin a three year WrestleMania tradition of Pete Rose getting mauled by Kane, as Rose mocked the Boston Red Sox before the match)
WWF World Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Shawn Michaels in 20:02 to win the title
(And thus Austin was off and running as the face of the movement. Excellent match, especially considering how messed up Shawn’s back was. How Michaels got through the latter half of the match is anyone’s guess, as his eyes were watering and bugging out like he was walking on shards. In his last match for four and a half years, Michaels still managed to steal the show)
ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
What Woodstock was to the peace and free love movement in America, WrestleMania XIV was to the Attitude Era in wrestling. Very rarely does one show sum up a wrestling promotion from top to bottom, sufficing a dictionary picture to match this definition.
With WCW spinning its wheels with a stale main event scene, lackluster main events with Hollywood Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage, and Roddy Piper, un-pushed younger stars, and a mass of indefinable mid-carders, the WWF was putting on a more polished product.
When you get past the first two matches of the night, with neither being terrible but inconsequential, you’re left with six matches with easy-to-follow stories attached, and well-defined characters.
Austin standing tall at the end of the night was merely icing, although inevitable. Unless there was a swerve in the works, there was no way that Austin’s money-shoveling shtick wasn’t going to be pushed to the forefront of Vince McMahon’s show. Having Mike Tyson make the final count and raise Austin’s hand, and then to have Tyson cold-cock Michaels with a right jab ended one era, and began a new one.
And speaking of McMahon, the stakes get higher as the puppet master soon joins the show.
From The Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale NY, Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, IL, and The Sports Arena in Los Angeles, CA
April 7, 1986
The laughter of one year prior had largely subsided. Those who felt Vince McMahon had zero chance of succeeding with a closed-circuit venture called WrestleMania were no longer guffawing at the prospect of his failure, and the silence was filled with McMahon’s chuckles instead. The event was an overwhelming success that opened channels that allowed McMahon and the WWF to swim into the mainstream, and gain a new audience.
Success is a funny thing, because it can lead to two diametrically opposed reactions. One can either rest on their laurels, comfortable with the knowledge that reaching the mountain’s peak is enough to satisfy a man’s adventurous side for the rest of his days. On the other hand, a man can be dissatisfied with success, and begin looking for another mountain to climb.
After wetting his feet in the pay per view market with Wrestling Classic the previous November, McMahon decided that WrestleMania’s next incarnation would have to, as he’d done with the first WrestleMania, do the unthinkable.
With the knowledge that he had wrestling’s biggest stars under his thumb (Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and Rowdy Roddy Piper among others), McMahon split the promotion into three groups and put them in three different time zones, in three different arenas, with four matches in each, for wrestling’s first true “triple-cast”.
Nothing like it had ever been attempted in professional wrestling. After all, a pay per view emanating from three locations across America (Long Island, Chicago, and Los Angeles) sounded like a dream best described to a shrink. McMahon and company forged ahead, however. And so, on the only Monday WrestleMania that has ever taken place, twelve matches were scheduled over the course of a frenetically paced evening. Four titles would be decided, and celebrities galore would be on hand as well.
For the event to work, there would have to be a balance between the cities. Therefore, it was in McMahon’s best interest to come up with as even of a divide as possible.
For the New York WrestleMania 2 portion, McMahon was banking on Rowdy Roddy Piper and his big mouth to fill the Nassau Coliseum. His opponent would be a nemesis from one year prior, television and movie actor Mr. T. To stir the pot a few times more, the match would take place not with wrestling, but with boxing. Piper and Mr. T, for their parts, were filmed in heavy training for the bout. Each man would be flanked with luminaries from the boxing world: T was trained by famed heavyweight boxer “Smokin’” Joe Frazier, and Piper was given hall of fame boxing trainer Lou Duva.
Also on the New York card, “Macho Man” Randy Savage would defend the Intercontinental Title that he’d won two months prior against George “The Animal” Steele, who seemed more interested in Savage’s squeeze, the lovely Miss Elizabeth, than being champion.
In Chicago, McMahon booked a match that was as timely as it was intriguing. Two months removed from the Chicago Bears shuffling and crushing their way to winning Super Bowl XX, a battle royal was put together featuring two Bears (rookie defensive standout William “Refrigerator” Perry and offensive lineman Jimbo Covert) as well as other well-known players of the day (Harvey Martin, Bill Fralic, et al), and also featuring many famed wrestlers, including The Hart Foundation, Bruno Sammartino, the Iron Sheik, Big John Studd and, of course, wrestling’s battle royal king, Andre the Giant.
If that sea of oversized humanity wasn’t enough, Chicago would also be treated to the World Tag Team Titles being decided, as the Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake) would defend against The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid), who were seconded by the eclectic duo of Captain Lou Albano and heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne.
Out to Los Angeles, where the final third of the show would take place. Hulk Hogan’s name hasn’t come up yet, so it’s a safe bet that The Hulkster would be headlining this portion of the night. Hogan was paired up with monstrous Atlantic City villain King Kong Bundy, with the WWF Championship on the line. The stage was set several weeks prior, when Bundy injured Hogan’s ribs on Saturday Night’s Main Event with a serious of splashes. For the first time since becoming champion, Hogan had never looked so mortal.
Adding to these curiosities were the additional celebrities selected to be on hand. For one thing, every commentary team featured a female star to accompany the well known WWF male announcers. In New York, Vince McMahon worked alongside actress Susan St. James (wife of McMahon collaborator/NBC executive Dick Ebersol). Over in Chicago, Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund worked with actress Cathy Lee Crosby. And perhaps the most unusual trio of voices belonged to the team in the City of Angels, as Jesse Ventura was tasked with carrying not only Lord Alfred Hayes, but also the “Mistress of the Night”, Elvira.
With three arenas, three cities, twelve matches, four championships to be decided, a boxing match, a battle royal, and a horde of celebrities, would the WWF thrive yet again?
THE RESULTS LONG ISLAND PORTION
-Paul Orndorff went to a double count out with Don Muraco in 4:10
(One of the most bizarre matches in WrestleMania history: too short, bad ending, verbal promos inserted over the commentary, and Orndorff slanting his eyes to mock Mr. Fuji, Muraco’s manager. Let’s just move on)
-WWF Intercontinental: Macho Man Randy Savage def. George Steele in 5:10
(Have you ever seen a good George Steele match in your life? Jeez, even Savage couldn’t work a miracle here)
-Jake Roberts def. George Wells in 3:15
(Decent match, tempered only by Wells spitting up phlegm afterward, courtesy of Jake’s python choking him. Don’t watch this while eating oatmeal)
-Boxing Match: Mr. T def. Rowdy Roddy Piper by disqualification in round four (13:14 total)
(Fun while it lasted. Piper was the greatest heel of all time until Vince McMahon took his title in the late nineties. Wasn’t a great match or anything, but it’s worth a look just for laughs)
WWF Women’s: Fabulous Moolah def. Velvet McIntyre in 1:25
(For this, WWF let Wendi Richter get screwed and walk out. I shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but Moolah might be the fakest “legend” in wrestling history)
Flag Match: Corporal Kirchner def. Nikolai Volkoff in 2:05
(I wonder if Vince regrets this outcome, knowing that Kirchner was going to wipe the locker room floor with him not long after)
Andre the Giant won a twenty man battle royal, last eliminating Bret Hart, in 9:13
(Refrigerator Perry wrestling, Bruno and Sheik going at it, Russ Francis wrestling in a wifebeater, Dan Spivey looking like a creepy Hogan clone, Jim Neidhart eliminating himself….this match had it all!)
WWF World Tag Team: The British Bulldogs def. The Dream Team in 13:03 to win the belts
(Outstanding match, which is to be expected from Dynamite, Smith, and Valentine, but even Beefcake brought the goods. Surprised nobody’s used that hammerlock throw that he did since)
LOS ANGELES PORTION Ricky Steamboat def. Hercules in 7:27
(Give Steamboat seven minutes, and he’ll give you seven minutes that don’t suck)
Adorable Adrian Adonis def. Uncle Elmer in 3:01
(Give Uncle Elmer three minutes, and he’ll take ten years off your life)
The Funk Brothers def. Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog in 11:42
(An underrated WrestleMania classic; a wonderful mix of chaotic brawling and good tag team wrestling. Plus, there’s a table spot in the match, and it’s 1986. Check it out)
WWF World Heavyweight/Steel Cage Match: Hulk Hogan def. King Kong Bundy in 10:15
(Satisfying main event: Bundy bled, the cage exit spots were dramatic, and Bobby Heenan got beat up. Plus, Rick Schroeder was there for some reason)
ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
Either by technical complexities or for aesthetic reasons, we’ve yet to have an event since that took place from even two separate locations (save for the final Nitro simulcast in 2001). While it was an interesting experiment to attempt the wrestling equivalent of a New Year’s eve special that gradually goes westward, it’s probably not something to try again, especially in this day and age.
Looking past that issue, over 40,000 combined fans attended the event, and, while the buyrate numbers don’t appear to be available for this event, the fact that WrestleMania III took place a year later should mean that the numbers were good enough, right?
WrestleMania II is not often regarded as a great show, by any means. But, then again, we do judge the event on modern standards. No, there was no true show-stealing ****1/2 classic, nor was there meant to be. Instead, the event did what it was supposed to do: showcase the larger than life stars on a big stage, highlighting the biggest feuds of the day, and settling a number of scores. The Rock n Wrestling machine kept rolling well after this show ended, so one could say that WrestleMania II was successful.
You only get one chance to make a first impression the first time you step into a WWE ring. Here are ten instances where WWE superstars immediately made an impact the first time they saw competition in a WWE ring.
What was difficult about writing this article is that there really haven’t been many memorable WWE debuts inside of the ring. Sure you have your moments like Chris Jericho interrupting The Rock but can you tell me about his first WWE match? Rarely for a number of reasons do these matches alone make a star overnight, yet on several occasions that is exactly what they did.
Keep in mind this list strictly looks at television matches on the main roster. I know there are some guys on here that fought in FCW, fought on house shows, or even NXT, but I am talking about the big show. A PPV, RAW, SmackDown, or a major television show is what I looked at. Let me know if I missed anyone and enjoy a look back at the most memorable in-ring debuts in WWE history.
The Undertaker - The mystery surrounding The Undertaker’s debut only helped hype up the first appeance from the Dead Man. The Undertaker debuted at Survivor Series 1990 as part of Ted DiBiase’s team to battle Dusty Rhodes’ Dream Team. The Undertaker eliminated team captain Dusty Rhodes but would later be counted out when he went to defend Brother Love. Win or lose the point was made, The Undertaker was a force to be wreckoned with.
Kane - Like The Undertaker, his brother made a destructive debut inside of the ring at the Suvrivor Series 1997. After attacking numerous wrestlers on television over the course of several weeks, Kane made his in-ring debut against Mankind. Kane’s debut is often lost when looking back on this show in favor of the Montreal Screwjob. The entire match is bathed in red light which can be a bit obnoxious at times (you thought watching Sin Cara was rough). Kane handed Mankind a real beatdown and immediately put the rest of the WWE roster on notice. The big, red machine was the real deal!
Brock Lesnar - Most remember Brock’s debut as the night he tossed Spike Dudley around like a rag doll on RAW. That was his WWE debut but I am here to rave about his in-ring WWE debut. Lesnar wrestled Jeff Hardy at Backlash 2002 in his official first WWE match. How do you get this guy over as a killing machine? By having him score a knockout victory in his first WWE match against an established superstar. That is exactly what Lesnar did to end a dominating performance against the future WWE world champion.
The Shield - The catalyst for this blog was watching The Shield tear the house down at WWE TLC 2012. The Shield made their television debut winning a thrilling TLC match against Team Hell No and Ryback. There aren’t many WWE wrestlers to debut and make the impact off the bat that The Shield did at the December PPV. There was no denying that these three guys were money players and would be an important part of the WWE moving into 2013. They not only lived up to the hype but they exceeded it.
Nexus - This one is a bit of a stretch because all of these men were technically in the WWE competing on NXT, yet they had never appeared on RAW. What made this debut so great even though they lost is that the WWE had built their first match up for months. Most people think that Nexus debuted on SummerSlam but they actually wrestled a 7-on-7 match on RAW against Team RAW. The invaders went 7-for-7 scoring a clean sweep on the WWE crew. Unfortunately it went downhill from there but as far as debuts go inside of the ring, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Tazz - The portly TNA color commentator was at one time one of the meanest, nastiest, suplex machines. Tazz was a “surprise” mystery opponent for Kurt Angle at the Royal Rumble, Tazz made his debut in his home city of New York City which brought the crowd to its feet. Tazz defeated Angle ending a long winning streak and immediately solidifying himself as a player in the WWE. As far as first matches go, you can’t ask for much more than this.
The Rock - Rocky Maivia made his in-ring debut at the 1996 Survivor Series in Madison Square Garden. The Rock was a mystery man for a team consisting of The Stalker, Marc Mero, and Jake Roberts. Maivia was the sole survivor for his team defeating Crush and Goldust to win the match. It should also be noted how great Sunny was on commentary as she put over The Rock as something special. In a bit of irony, unlike the rest of these debuts the fans actually wound up resenting The Rock for his quick success.
Santino Marella - Actually you can, you can ask for a championship. How about winning a championship? Even the Texas Tornado had to wait a few weeks to get his title shot, but not Santino. Vince McMahon picked Santino out of the audience to challenge the monster Umaga for the WWE intercontinental title in Milan, Italy. Thanks to interference from Bobby Lashley (and McMahon which backfired), Santino pulled off what is known as the “Milan Miracle” and pinned the Samoan to become an unlikely champion.
Terry Funk - At the time of Funk’s WWF debut I thought, “poor Mel Phillips.” Today knowing what I know now, I wish Funk stuck his branding iron far up Phillips’ you know what. This is one of the most memorable WWF angles and debuts from my childhood. Ring attendant Phillips put on Funk’s cowboy hat and Funk went ballistic. Funk brutalized Phillips before disposing of Aldo Marino, instantly making himself arguably the most feared heel in the WWF. Since these antics were a part of Funk’s first match, they made the list.
John Cena - June 27, 2002 is a day that changed the WWE forever. A young, scrappy John Cena answered Kurt Angle’s Hometown Hero challenge in West Newbury, MA. When asked what separated Cena from his fellow WWE peers he answered, “Ruthless Aggression.” Cena lost the match but made an immediate impression by countering the Angle Slam and the Angle Lock. Cena’s debut goes to show you that a WWE superstar can still lose his debut match yet get over in a big way.
Labor Day is a day where America gives tribute to the hardest working people in our country. So today I honor the working class of pro wrestling, the top blue collar wrestlers. While some wrestlers prefer the glitz, the glamor, and the celebrity, here are several pro wrestlers that would rather wear a flannel and a beer in exchange for a martini and a ring robe.
Most pro wrestlers embrace the show of sparkling robes, hot women, and a flashy lifestyle in and out of the ring. Yet some of the most popular wrestlers are ones who have embraced the working man. Wrestlers who prefer to punch and kick their way to the top rather than dazzle with drop kicks and high flying moves. So in honor of Labor Day I take my hat off to these tough, blue collar wrestlers.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Is there any other pro wrestler in the last two decades that represents blue collar more than Steve Austin? The epitome of the conflict between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon was the fact that Vince wanted Steve to corporate, where all Steve wanted to do was drink beer and raise hell. Austin spoke for most of blue collar America when he punched his boss in the face and popped him the finger. Steve Austin is just as blue collar outside of the ring even with his millions of dollars. You won’t be reading about Austin spending the summer at Malibu, but you may hear of his many hunting trips. Steve Austin is truly the biggest blue collar wrestling superstar of all time.
Dusty Rhodes - If Steve Austin was the blue collar wrestling champion of the last generation, Dusty Rhodes was the blue collar wrestling champion of the previous generation. The “son of a plumber,” Dusty Rhodes played to the blue collar/working class more so than almost any other pro wrestler. Dusty would often compare his struggles against the NWA world champion to the struggles of middle America. Dusty was more comfortable in a bunkhouse match wearing jeans and cowboy boots than trunks and elbow pads. Yes Dusty had his glamorous robes, but he never forgot his working roots.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan - Old Hacksaw may not have the respect today by wrestling fans after being portrayed as a goof in both the WWE and WCW, but that wasn’t the Hacksaw Jim Duggan that I grew up watching. Hacksaw never wore a wrestling robe and unlike most wrestlers in the WWF or the 1980s, Duggan wrestled in a plain pair of boots and trunks. Duggan like most tough blue collar workers never backed down from a challenge whether it was Andre the Giants, the Russians in Mid-South, One Man Gang, or “Macho King” Randy Savage. Duggan always wore his American colors proud and often waived a big American flag as he came to the ring. Duggan was sandwiched in between Dusty’s heyday and a bit before Austin, but never forgot where he came from. For those that remember him in his prime, Hacksaw Duggan was truly a blue collar wrestler.
Mick Foley - I can’t recall many former wrestling world champions that defended their titles in ripped flannels, t-shirts, and sweat pants. Mick Foley rose to fame in the late 1990s due to his identifying with the working man. Mick carried a barbed wire bat or a steel chair and fought his heart out in famous battles against The Rock and the Undertaker. Foley was the working man’s wrestler and even to this day continues to parade around in flannels and sweat pants in the ring.
“Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant - Like Steve Austin, Jimmy Valiant went through several different phases in his career. He was a more glamorous blonde during his run in the WWWF. Yet years later he morphed into a blue collar biker, which is more his true persona outside of the ring. While he never was overly patriotic there was something about his battles against the foreign assassins hired by Paul Jones, Jimmy Hart, and Gary Hart that had him fighting for the red, white, and blue. Often forgotten, yet one of a kind, Jimmy Valiant is truly a blue collar wrestling champion.
Tommy Dreamer - With a last name like Dreamer, he had to work extra hard to be embraced by the working class, and he did. If ECW was the blue collar wrestling promotion of our time, is there anyone else in ECW that epitomized working class, blue collar than Tommy Dreamer? I don’t think so. Dreamer entered ECW with shiny suspenders, but later traded them in for a trademark t-shirt and plain black karate pants. Dreamer arguably fought harder in the fan’s eyes than anyone else in ECW. Fans cried when Dreamer won the ECW world title because they could relate to being the guy that worked hard every time he clocked in and finally got the promotion (or title in this case) that he deserved. Yes, Tommy did have the hot girl with Beulah, but Jimmy Valiant had Big Mama and I’m not holding that against him. Still wrestling in t-shirts and black baggy pants, Tommy Dreamer will always be known as one of the toughest blue collar wrestlers of all time.
Terry Funk - Terry Funk isn’t a guy you normally think of right away when you think working class/blue collar wrestler. But once you look at the criteria of a blue collar wrestler, Terry Funk becomes an obvious choice. He wasn’t the son of a plumber, but he was a rancher at heart. Funk never wore the glitzy tights and preferred to go plain trunks, plain knee pads, and plain boots. All Terry Funk did was work hard and there wasn’t a doubt from any wrestling fan that has been blessed to watch the Funker live that he wasn’t working his tail off. What is more blue collar than pouring a can of oil all over yourself to make a point about Dusty Rhodes? Chainsaw Charlie anyone? He is more working class, than blue collar but there was something about Terry Funk through five decades that has touched the hearts of blue collar wrestling fans around the world.
Coming with a top 10 WWE Monday Night RAW matches list sounds easy, but not when you are working off of 1000 episodes. That is when I realized 10 wasn’t going to do it, so in celebration of the 1000th episode I look back at the 50 best WWE matches to take place on RAW!
This was a real fun list to make and the suspects here are pretty obvious names. But it is one guy who came up over and over again that dominates this list and that is Shawn Michaels. While I didn’t intend for this to be a top Shawn Michaels matches list, it may appear to be that way. It isn’t his fault he is so damned good is it?
However, Shawn isn’t the only WWE superstar to make magic on Monday Night RAW. A who’s who list of great WWE stars of the last few generations from Kurt Angle to Steve Austin to Edge to The Rock to Bret Hart to Ric Flair to Hulk Hogan to The Undertaker to Chris Jericho and more had some of the best matches of the last 20 years on Monday night.
Keep in mind that these are not ranked in the order of importance. Ranking 50 matches 1-50 is a tough task and one that this writer just didn’t have the energy or time to commit in doing so. If you read the matches you can probably get an idea of what my top five or ten are, and more specifically my favorite one or two. This list was a lot of fun to compile so if you want to add to it or point out anything I may have missed, please leave a comment after reading the post. It really was impossible to rank these in order as it really comes down to personal tastes, so with that said here are the top 50 matches in RAW history in this blogger’s opinion.
Ric Flair vs. Curt Hennig (1/25/93) - This was the Loser Leaves Town match in the Manhattan Center held right before Flair went back to WCW. A fantastic match that saw Mr. Perfect top his former tag team partner.
Mick Foley vs. Terry Funk (05/04/98) - An often forgotten battle of hardcore legends that once took place on WWE RAW which wasn’t their greatest match, but a match certainly of top 30 recognition. Even better, Stone Cold Steve Austin is on commentary for this one.
Shawn Michaels vs. Edge in a Street Fight (02/28/2005) - I loved this match and it amazes me as to how often it is forgotten. This match had it all from excitement to drama to brawling to a fun finish.
Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle in a Steel Cage Match (06/11/01) - These guy never had a bad match but this one was exceptional. The moonsault off the top from Kurt is still one of the most memorable moments on RAW over ten years later.
DX & The Radicalz vs. The Rock, Cactus Jack, Too Cool & Rikishi (2/7/00) - This may be my favorite match in RAW history. This match just had something which even today, I cannot put my finger on. Oh yeah, psychology!
Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho vs. Triple H and Austin (05/21/01) - This match is most remembered as the night Triple H tore his quad and kept going, but most forget about what a great match this was before that happened.
The Rock vs. Mankind (01/041999) - Some will say this match is what turned around the Monday Night Wars. Eric Bischoff was kind (and dumb) enough to tell the WCW Nitro audience that this pre-taped match would end with a new WWE champion. The match was great and a lot of WCW fans saw a match they probably would have missed thanks to Tony.
Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena (04/23/07) - Some will say that this was Cena’s best match, although I disagree. This was a rematch of their WrestleMania 23 headliner which was actually much better than their WrestleMania match. This match told a great story and had a great finish that simmered for over twenty-minutes. This one was ranked number one when WWE.com did a list last year of greatest RAW matches.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam in a Ladder Match (05/27/02) - This match was a classic! These two guys just went all out in one of the craziest ladder matches on RAW. Like several matches on this list, the match is often forgotten when people talk about great RAW matches in history.
John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio (07/25/11) - To me, this was Cena’s greatest match on RAW and it was all due to Rey. For whatever reason, these guys just had amazing chemistry, and built a heck of a match on free television. I don’t think it is coincidence that Cena hasn’t gotten that match with anyone else.
Bret Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid (07/11/94) - Going back I think this was one of the most exciting RAW matches in history. These two told a great story and had fans believing at one point that the Kid could actually beat the Hitman as a huge underdog. This was as sound of a technical match as you’re going to see on RAW. I was glad to see this match put on DVD in recent years and acknowledged for its greatness.
Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair (05/13/2002) - Hogan and Flair wrestled a lot over the last two decades, but for whatever reason I think this was one of their best matches. Maybe I am a bit partial because of the era I grew up watching wrestling but I absolutely loved this match.
Triple H vs. Chris Jericho (04/17/2000) - This is one of the most memorable matches in RAW history and I do say matches because there were two. This is the famous match in which Jericho won the WWE title early in the show only to have the decision reversed. Both matches were fantastic and the excitement of the crowd made this not only a great match, but one of the most memorable moments in RAW history.
Triple H vs. Taka Michinoku (04/10/2000) - This was a fantastic underdog match that saw Hunter really give fans the idea that Taka could beat The Game. This match was fun, dramatic, had a great storyline, and is still one of my favorites over ten years later.
Steve Austin and The Undertaker vs. Mankind and Kane in a Hell in a Cell match (06/15/98) – This was one of the most exciting matches on RAW during the Attitude Era. The match was held right before King of the Ring to build up the two main-events. The big moment of this action-packed match came when Austin climbed the cage and attacked Kane on top which saw the crowd just got absolutely nuts. Jim Ross in particular is fantastic with the call here.
Triple H vs. Cactus Jack in a Falls Count Anywhere, No DQ Match (09/22/97) - This match had a fun storyline to it which resulted in the return of Cactus Jack. These guys brawled everywhere and it was about as extreme as it got during the Attitude Era and the fans loved it. I hate to go all Michael Cole here but it was truly vintage Cactus Jack in this match.
Razor Ramon vs. 1-2-3 Kid in a $10,000 Match (06/21/93) - Was the match exceptional? Maybe not, but it certainly goes down as one of the most memorable in RAW history. I could see this one not breaking into the top ten, but it is a match that certainly belongs in the top 30.
Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith (05/26/97) - Austin and Michaels wrestled as hostile partners here against the Hart Foundation. This was a real fun match which blended Austin’s brawling, Michaels high-flying, and the technical wrestling of the tag team champions into a masterpiece.
John Cena and Shawn Michaels vs. Batista and The Undertaker (03/26/2007) - This rare gem came to Madison Square Garden a week before WrestleMania and the rabid New York fans were ready. The match is noteworthy for the rare interaction between Cena (who the fans hated) and The Undertaker.This match had a real fast pace, a ton of intensity, and a fantastic atmosphere thanks to the New York crowd.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Bret Hart (aired 07/26/93) - This was a rare “big-time” main-event to air on RAW during the time period. The match headlined the 100th RAW episode.
Taka Michinoku vs. The Great Sasuke (07/07/97) - This was hardly their best match, yet for RAW it was awesome. These two Michinoku Pro rivals were rematched coming off the Candian Stampede show. If you like high-flying, action-packed matches, you’ll love this one.
Jerry Lawler vs. The Miz in a TLC Match (11/29/10) - I never would have expected The Miz to make a list of great anything but this match was really special. The Philadelphia crowd was 100% behind Lawler which made the atmosphere here one of the best in RAW history.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton (11/28/11) - Some have said that this is the best Randy Orton match of his career. I don’t know if I’d go that far, although It is hard to argue that statement after watching this match.
Dolph Ziggler vs. CM Punk (11/21/11) - Talk about two guys who have great chemistry? This was Punk’s first match off his title win at Survivor Series and it was fantastic.
Ric Flair vs. Edge in a TLC match (01/16/06) - Ric Flair is a crazy s.o.b.! You can never go wrong with Ric Flair challenging the world champion in his home town. Flair’s family is at ringside and Edge has crazy heat as the new heel world champion beating down Flair in his home town. It doesn’t get much better than a bloody Ric Flair putting Lita in a figure-our leg lock.
Edge vs. Jeff Hardy (08/21/06) - This is one of the most underrated matches in RAW history. Jeff made his return on RAW that night, confronting Edge earlier in the show. The Coach made the match and the fans just ate it up!
Steve Austin vs. The Big Show with Mankind as the special guest referee (1999) - The Rock is on commentary here and the match features one of Show’s first matches after signing with the WWE which made this something of a “Dream Match”. Vince McMahon sat ringside, Steve Austin is on fire, and the fans were electric in this pre-WrestleMania grudge match. The match also features a great post-match brawl with Austin and Rock.
The Rock vs. The Hurricane (03/10/03) - The Rock was at his best during this time period as Hollywood Rock. Rock and Hurricane had a confrontation backstage and the match was made. The match is tremendous and one of the most exciting in RAW history as the underdog Shane Helms comes within inches of pulling off the biggest upset in RAW history.
Hulk Hogan and The Rock vs. N.W.O. (03/18/02) - This was a 2-3 match featuring arguably the most legendary tag team to ever partner up on Monday Night RAW. The match came on a hot night as part of the Draft Lottery special.
Shawn Michaels vs. 1-2-3 Kid (03/04/96) - Talk about two guys that went out there and tore the house down. This is a fantastic match which features a ton of action and all of the high-spots you’d expect from these two. I was pleasantly surprised to see it acknowledged years later on one of Michaels’ DVDs.
Chris Jericho and Christian vs. Shawn Michaels and Jeff Hardy in a No DQ Match (02/17/03) - Talk about a real fun match that fell through the cracks over the last few years. This match is every bit as good as you’d think it would be and then some.
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin in a Street Fight (04/21/97) - Any time you get Austin and Bret in the ring you are going to have a fun match. This was a really exciting match that came the night after Revenge of the Taker. Austin winds up injuring Bret’s knee here in an exciting but relatively short match considering who was involved.
Marty Jannetty vs. Shawn Michaels (05/17/93) - This was the 1993 Match of the Year and with good reason. This was a fantastic match that was probably a few years ahead of its time.
Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart (12/29/97) - Owen Hart is back and seeking revenge for his brother Bret following the Survivor Series Montreal Screwjob. Owen shows a more aggressive side here in a real hot back and forth match.
Bret Hart vs. Psycho Sid in a Steel Cage Match (03/17/97) - I have always felt that this was the true beginning of the Attitude Era. The match is just a lot of fun with Steve Austin constantly interfering in Bret’s behalf with the idea being that Austin wants Bret to remain champion for their match at WrestleMania 13. The aftermath is just as exciting as the match with a real heated moment between Bret and Vince McMahon which sees the Hitman snap.
Trish Stratus vs. Lita (12/06/04) - Trish wears a face mask here after Lita broke her nose. This was a RAW main event which sounds unheard of in 2012 but the fans were really into Lita vs. Trish. This was just a great match with a lot of big moves including a super-plex off of the top rope.
Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (11/25/96 - This was the usual great Bret vs. Owen match. Bret returned to RAW after a long hiatus here and didn’t miss a thing against his “evil” baby brother.
Triple H vs. William Regal in a First Blood Match (08/02/04) - Like several matches on the list, this is an often forgotten classic. Triple H bloodied Regal to a pulp in this tremendous battle. This was done during the Eugene-Hunter feud and was in my opinion the best Regal match ever in the WWE.
Edge vs. Matt Hardy in a Loser Leaves Raw “MITB” Ladder Match (10/03/05) - How can you go wrong when you have a Hardy and Edge in a Ladder Match (or any match for that matter)? You can’t and these guys delivered the finale to one of the most intense feuds of the fall of 2005 live on RAW.
Ric Flair vs. Triple H (5/19/03) - How can you go wrong with Ric Flair challenging for the world championship in Greenville? You can’t and maybe that is why Hunter picked him as his opponent. It certainly wasn’t Flair’s greatest match but the crowd, the time period, and the intensity between Flair and Hunter put this one on the list.
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels in an Iron Man Match (10/03/25) - Surprisingly this one is also easily forgotten when people recollect great RAW matches of the last 1000 episodes. This was a part of the Homecoming show and saw two of arguably the greatest wrestlers at that time go at it non-stop for 30-minutes in an absolute classic.
Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin (5/2/05) - This was part of the Gold Rush tournament and surprised a lot of people with how great of a match it turned out to be. Of course the memorable moment here is Michaels catching Benjamin off of the ropes with Sweet Chin Music for the finish.
Owen Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith (03/03/97) - The finals for the European championship saw partners and friends clash for the first time on RAW. This was about as technical a match as you’ll ever see on RAW and an absolute masterpiece.
Chris Benoit vs. Triple H Iron Man Match (07/26/04) - Iron Man matches on RAW are rare, but one-hour Iron Man matches on WWE television are even harder to come by. This was one of the few to ever make Monday night (I can’t think of any others) and it really showcased the great psychology Hunter and Benoit had in the ring together.
Rob Van Dam vs. Edge vs. John Cena (07/03/2006) - The bad news is that RVD just got busted and had to drop the WWE championship. The great news is that WWE fans got a match for free that they normally would have had to pay to see on pay per view. Even better news was that the match was tremendous!
The Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy in a Ladder Match (06/01/2002) - This should really be called the Jim Ross call because as great as this match was, it was Jim Ross’ commentary and his cheer leading for Jeff that landed this one in the top 30. Can an announcer make a difference? Listen to this match and I dare you to tell me he or she can’t. It also didn’t hurt that Hardy had the match in his home town.
Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, and Lita (Team Extreme) vs. Stephanie McMahon, (The Two Man Power Trip) Triple H, and Steve Austin (09/04/01) – Hunter and Austin did a tremendous job of elevating the Hardy brothers and making people believe that they could actually hang with the big boys. I know that there was a lot of criticism over the finish of Steph pinning Lita, but the actual match was a lot of fun to watch.
Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (12/29/2003) - Hunter and Michaels had arguably the best series of matches in the business during this time period and the WWE capitalized on it by closing out 2003 with arguably their best. This match was just a fantastic back and forth match that was very reminiscent of the old Steamboat-Flair matches (by design as they even copied the headlock spot) and is still remembered almost ten years later as one of the best.
Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit (02/16/04) - Here is another (see a pattern) forgotten RAW classic. This match came during a time in which Evolution was feuding with Benoit. This was as good as a match as you’d expect from these two in 2004 and then some. This one had a lot of near falls and really got hot towards the final minutes of this 21-minute bout.
Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin (January 18, 2001) - There was a huge buildup for this match with Austin getting a rematch at the WWE championship. Austin was the heel here against America’s hero and a very popular Angle at the time. This was an intense back and forth match marred by a real disappointing finish (probably why most people forget about this one).
Hello there loyal readers. Welcome back for Part III of my stroll down memory lane going back to the magical year of 1989 for WCW. Are you still with me? If you are, then thank you for coming along for the ride. If you are just joining us, be sure to also check out Part I and Part II. Remember, as a wise man once said, “If you don’t know where you came from then you can’t know where you’re going”.
Actually I just made that up, but it sounded pretty deep didn’t it? To conclude my three part recap I will look back at the last third of the year. As Ric Flair and Terry Funk take their feud to new extremes an unexpected ally enters the picture and WCW looks to close out the year with a bang. The year of 1989 was the best wrestling year ever.
Even though late summer was giving way to fall, WCW was still red hot. In the aftermath of The Great American Bash, two new factions were formed. The first was Gary Hart’s J-Tex Corporation, which was comprised of Terry Funk, Dick Slater, The Great Muta, The Dragonmaster, and Buzz Sawyer. The other group was the most unlikely paring of Ric Flair and Sting.
Despite having an epic feud the previous year, Flair and Sting joined forces out of sheer necessity to combat the J-Tex onslaught. September’s Clash of the Champions would bring the two teams together officially for the first time. Sting and Flair would get the win after Muta was disqualified for using the Asian mist on Sting. After the match, Terry Funk ran in and tried to kill Flair. I mean LITERALLY kill him. Funk took a plastic bag and put it over Flairs head and tried to suffocate him. This was Terry Funk at his craziest, and his best.
Due to the numerous run-ins from the J-Tex Corporation, the next match in the rivalry would be a Thunderdome match at Halloween Havoc. This was basically a cage match with a twist, the top of the cage was electrified to prevent anyone from entering or leaving (little know fact, the decorations on top of the cage actually caught fire before the match started and had to be extinguished). The match pitted Flair and Sting against Funk and Muta. But the largest ovation by far was for the special referee, Bruno Sammartino. I was lucky enough to have attended Halloween Havoc in person and two memories have always remained with me.
The first was the way the Dynamic Dudes were booed out of the building. The Dudes were WCW’s attempt at being cool and hip, and they failed miserably. The fans saw right through their act and hated them with a passion. The other memory was the debut of Doom. This was the super secret tag team that was created by Woman, RIP, to destroy the Steiner Brothers. I’ll never forget the reaction of two guys sitting next to me and my buddy. When Doom came out, one looked at the other and said right away, “What the @#$%, that’s just Ron Simmons and Butch Reed in masks.” Oops, should I have put a spoiler alert out before I typed that?
For the past four months Flair and Funk had beaten and tortured each other, but the two saved their best performance for their last. At the November Clash of the Champions, Flair and Funk engaged in one of the most entertaining matches of the year, their legendary “I Quit” match. For nearly 20 minutes Flair went back to all his old tactics, and was cheered throughout. This was Terry Funk at his crazy Texas madman peak, there just was no quit in the man.
When Funk was finally forced to submit to the pain of the Figure Four Leglock, his screams of anguish seemed so genuine and real that you thought that just maybe Flair was actually going to break his leg. And once again, as with the trilogy of matches with Ricky Steamboat, Flair earned another 5 stars from Wrestling Observer Newsletter publisher Dave Meltzer. Think about that for a moment, four 5 star matches in the same year. There were only eight 5 star matches awarded in the entire history of WCW and Flair had half of them in a 12 month span. Ric Flair, you are “The Man”.
As December rolled around, WCW decided to shake thing up with its biggest pay-per-view of the year Starrcade ’89. Instead of the usual array of matches there would be a tournament to crown an Iron Man and Iron Team winner, a showcase to determine the best singles and tag team wrestlers. The singles wrestlers were Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Sting, and the Great Muta. The tag teams were the Road Warriors, the Steiners, Doom, and the Wild Samoans. The Samoans were a replacement team for the Skyscrapers because Sid Vicious was injured. Incidentally, Sid would be replaced by a young wrestler by the name of ”Mean” Mark Callous.
Mark would go on to replace Sid again seven years later when The Undertaker would defeat Psycho Sid for the WWE title at WrestleMania 13. The story of the tag team tournament was one final hurrah in WCW for the Road Warriors as they barely edged the Steiners. By the summer, the Road Warriors would be off to the WWF to expose Demolition as the imposters they were and the Steiner Brothers would be well on their way to revolutionizing the tag team division with their arsenal of innovative moves.
Over on the singles side it all came down to the two new allies, Sting against Flair for the tournament title, and the Stinger finally getting the better of the Nature Boy. But there were storm clouds on the horizon. Due to the constant interference from the J-Tex Corporation (now Gary Hart International), Ric Flair would reform the Four Horsemen with Arn and Ole Anderson and Sting. But this incarnation of the Horsemen was to be short lived. Sting was awarded a title shot against Flair due to his win at Starrcade. When he refused to back down, the Horsemen kicked him out of the group and in the ensuing fight Sting wound up blowing out his knee. This led to Lex Luger turning face once again and challenging for the title. But I’m getting ahead of myself, all that happens in the ‘90s. And that is another story for another time.
There you have it, 1989 in WCW, the best year ever. Do you have any memories from ’89 that stand out? Do you feel another year was better than 1989? Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you.
Vince DeHoratus lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two kids. He has been a life long wrestling fan and he has passed that love onto his son. Though not quite yet “middle aged and crazy”, he is fast approaching it.
Hello there loyal readers. Welcome back for Part II of my stroll down memory lane going back to the magical year of 1989 for WCW. In Part I, I discussed the events of the first third of the year.
To recap, WCW was starting to feel its way as a national promotion and Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat were quite simply the best wrestlers on the planet and in the midst of possibly the greatest trilogy of matches the sport had ever seen. In this article I will take a look back at the summer months of that year, as Flair and Steamboat went to the well one more time and new challenges and challengers arose. So come with me as we journey back to WCW in 1989, the best wrestling year ever.
Due to the controversial ending of their match at the Clash of the Champions, WCW officials made one final match between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat for the WrestleWar ’89 pay-per-view in May. However this match had a special stipulation. In the event the match went to a 60 minute time limit draw, a panel of three judges would decide the winner.
Those judges were NWA legends Pat O’Connor, Lou Thesz, and Terry Funk. Flair and Steamboat’s previous two matches had each received 5 stars from Wrestling Observer Newsletter publisher Dave Meltzer so these two had a lot to live up to, and once again they did not disappoint. After going back and forth for over 30 minutes, Flair finally regained the title he had fought so hard for and was once again “the man”. And once again another 5 star rating was earned, a hat trick of excellence that may never be seen again.
But as memorable as the match was, it was the post match celebration that set the tone for the rest of the year. After the match, Flair acknowledged Steamboat’s efforts and shook his hand as a sign of respect. In that one moment, Slick Ric the “dirtiest player in the game” became a fan favorite. But what happened next completed his face turn. Terry Funk, one of the judges, congratulated Flair and then challenged him for the title.
When Flair refused, Funk became increasingly aggravated until he finally snapped and attacked Flair. He concluded the attack by delivering a pile driver through the judges table that would put Flair out of action for several weeks. In the days before TLC matches and ECW, to see someone of Flair’s stature viciously rammed through a table head first was quite shocking.
In June, the Clash of the Champions broadcast had exactly the right mix of title action while also setting the stage for the next pay-per-view. The big news was that the underhanded tactics used by the Varsity Club to keep the tag titles finally backfired on them as they were stripped of the belts. A tournament was held to crown new champions and at the Clash, the Freebirds won their first tag title by defeating the Midnight Express in the finals.
Also at the Clash, two brothers teamed together for one of the very first times. They would go on to be one of the most decorated tag teams in wrestling history, Rick Steiner…Scott Steiner…the Steiner Brothers (here’s to you Gary Michael Cappetta). The main event was Ricky Steamboat trying to avenge Ric Flair’s injury by taking on Terry Funk. Funk was mauling Steamboat after the match ended until Lex Luger ran Funk off, only to beat down Steamboat himself. In one moment Lex Luger had turned heel again and thrown away a years worth of good will from the fans, a move that would become all too familiar throughout his underachieving career.
July brought the annual summertime tradition, The Great American Bash. Flair was back from his injury and ready to take his revenge on Terry Funk, which he would. But the real story was the influx of new talent on the card, some for the better and some for the worse. WCW was trying to slowly break away from the good old boy southern rass’lin image of Jim Crockett Promotions. Ted Turner had his sights on the WWF and was looking to emulate to success that Vince McMahon was enjoying. This meant branching out and creating more colorful characters and tag teams. But this is often easier said than done.
Look at the Bash lineup from ’89 and it’s a who’s who of not ready for prime time players. The Skyscrapers were two giants that were unlike anything seen in the promotion before. One of the members, Sid Vicious, would go onto greater success down the road in the WWF as Psycho Sid. At the Bash, they defeated the Dynamic Dudes, who consisted of a pre-Franchise Shane Douglas and a nobody by the name of Johnny Ace. Or at least he was a nobody until he became Vice President of Talent Relations and the interim general manager of Raw, John Laurinaitis. But it wasn’t all bad news, the Steiner Brothers had their first taste of success here as well. And to think that Scott Steiner was still a decade away from completely losing his mind.
But two men faced off at the Bash for the first of what was sure to be many classics in the feud that would fuel the company for the ‘90s. One was a whirlwind of a performer from Japan. The other a physical specimen from Venice Beach, California. The Great Muta and Sting had all the moves and charisma to carry WCW into the future. Muta was my first exposure to the Japanese style of wrestling and he took my breath away. Almost 25 years later I can still watch a Great Muta match from this era and be amazed. But for all the promise he held, he would be out of WCW within a year and never reached the level of fame in America that he did in Japan. Sting, of course, would go on to be synonymous with WCW in the 1990’s. But that is another story for another time.
Look for Part III coming soon. As 1989 comes to a close, WCW looks to settle old grudges and align the stars that will carry the company in the new decade. But sometimes things don’t always work out as planned.
Vince DeHoratus lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two kids. He has been a life long wrestling fan and he has passed that love onto his son. Though not quite yet “middle aged and crazy”, he is fast approaching it.