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The Undertaker Will Be At WWE WrestleMania 31

December 16, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Don’t count the dead man out of WrestleMania just yet. A new report indicates that the demise of the Undertaker may have been premature and the WWE Universe may be in line for another dose of darkness at WrestleMania 31.

I have to admit that I am not surprised. I never expected the Undertaker to miss the big event. While I can certainly understand the theories behind his retirement, I just always felt he had some gas left in the tank for a few more matches. A new report says that WWE officials feel the same way and they are moving forward with plans for the big man.

The excitement started last week when photos hit the Internet of WrestleMania 31 advertisements on a WWE tour bus. What struck all of us about those ads were that they featured the Undertaker and nobody else. These weren’t just generic Mania ads, these were specific to 31 which means that someone was told to use Taker to promote the event. At that point fans started to get excited about the Undertaker.

Dave Meltzer has the scoop in his latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. In his most recent report, Meltzer says that there are plans in place for the Undertaker to wrestle on the big California event. However, what may surprise you is what those plans actually are.

The booking plan right now is for Undertaker vs. Wyatt, not Sting or Lesnar, but that is dependent on Undertaker giving them the okay he can wrestle on the show, which he has not done as of yet. But even if he doesn’t wrestle, the idea right now is to use him in some form on the show, since he’s still under contract with a seven figure downside so they want to use him in some form to justify the contract.

The shocker here is that as of everyone on the roster, Bray Wyatt is the leading candidate to get the spot against Taker. I could have bought into this a few months ago but Wyatt has been rather cool since his feud with John Cena. I just don’t sense the momentum right now for such a match, especially after Wyatt fizzled coming off a big match on last year’s Mania card. That said I was surprised last year around this time when Wyatt vs. Cena was rumored for Mania 30 so anything is possible. Although at this time last year, our own Tom Clark wrote a very convincing blog as to why Wyatt vs. Undertaker was the way to go.

The choice is a simple one for me. Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker 2 is the money match. I wrote a blog less than a month after Mania declaring that a Lesnar vs. Taker Mania rematch could be the biggest WrestleMania match of this generation. I won’t go through it again but in summary you have a full year of Paul Heyman taunting the Undertaker with promos mocking last year’s defeat. Heyman has set this up since the day after Mania and I can’t think of a bigger rallying cry for fans this year than seeing Undertaker get his revenge and shut Heyman up after a year of taunting.

The angle writes itself. I hate fantasy booking blogs but I am going to do it anyway. The WWE has a few ways they can get to Mania with these two. The easy money would be for Taker to make a surprise appearance at the Rumble, win it, and then set up a career vs. championship match. In my opinion that is where the money is and I think it would be huge. Who goes over? I think Undertaker goes over. Now what do you do with Taker as champion? You could have him lose it on RAW either the next night or set up a match a couple of weeks later with Roman Reigns or Dean Ambrose. I hate the idea of turning one of them heel but I think you set the match up as face vs. face with Ambrose or Reigns turning heel and aligning with Heyman to win the title. I think a Heyman and Reigns heel championship combination coming off a win here is serious money. Heyman and Ambrose works too with Reigns set up as the conquering hero to take the title at say SummerSlam. You can go a couple of different ways with Lesnar if he is staying, but I don’t think he gets both the end of the streak and the end of the career.

Fans may be surprised to see Sting out of the running. I think at this point the WWE has committed Sting to a match with Triple H given the Survivor Series angle. I suppose Sting could somehow wind up in the match with Taker and wrestle Hunter at SummerSlam, but it really wouldn’t make much sense at this point. Unfortunately Sting has been boxed into an angle and the Undertaker match doesn’t seem logical.

Keep in mind that Meltzer also noted Taker may not wrestle so this all may be for nothing. Yet I don’t think you can blame anyone for getting excited. WrestleMania without the Undertaker just wouldn’t be the same and it looks like the lights will be out at the big show one more year and that is a very good thing.

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Pro Wrestling’s Five Most Memorable Events of 2014

December 10, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s hard to believe that another year has been and gone already. 2014 came and went in blur, bringing it with more than its fair share of memorable moments.

It was the year of the WWE Network and the year of Batista’s brief return. It was the year The Shield broke up and Bray Wyatt was, for what feels like a fleeting moment now, the coolest thing in pro wrestling.

Though as memorable as these stories were, they didn’t get us talking quite as much as these five memorable events from 2014.

5) The end of TNA?
With the announcement that Spike TV would not be renewing the company’s flagship show once their current deal ended, it seemed the writing was firmly on the wall for TNA, and there was a while back there when we were all drafting eulogies and contemplating the future of mainstays like Bobby Roode and James Storm.

Yes, it seemed that for a while, the predictions of pessimistic (you may say realistic) wrestling fans everywhere was about to come true: The end was nigh for Dixie Carter’s little wrestling company.

As we all know now, TNA lived to fight another day, but it was looking pretty close back there.

4) Daniel Bryan shines at Wrestlemania
Daniel Bryan’s rise from the doldrums of WWE to the headline act at Wrestlemania was big news this year. As fans, we gave ourselves a pat on the back for making our voices heard both online and at the arenas, demanding our man Bryan be given a starring role at the biggest show of the year.

Then, we gave WWE bigwigs a bigger pat on the back when, for once, they actually came through for us.

Though subsequent injuries meant this one finished on less than the perfect ending, for a while, this was the sure fire feel-good story of 2014.

3) Sting arrives in WWE
In this writer’s mind, you’d be perfectly justified switching this one with our number two entry, and to be honest, this one only misses out on the number two spot because, well, we all saw it coming.

Still, even if it wasn’t the most surprising event of the year, the sight of the WCW icon between the ropes of a WWE is one many long-term fans never actually thought we’d see.

Whether the Stinger’s run as a WWE performer turns out as well as we’re all hoping it does remains to be seen, though it’s fair to say him being there in the first place was by far one of the biggest things that happened in 2014.

2) 21-1
The silence said it all. There wasn’t a single person watching Wrestlemania 30 who really believed, in their heart of hearts, that Brock Lesnar would emerge victorious against The Undertaker.

Even this writer, who penned an article for another website outlining why Lesnar was the perfect choice to end The Streak- didn’t really believe he would.

Then it happened. The Dead Man went down. Brock made the cover. A three count later, and The Undertaker was 21-1 at Wrestlemania.

1) CM Punk quits
Though talk about most of the stories on this list eventually simmered, ready to be replaced by the next big shocking turn of events, the news of CM Punk walking out of the WWE never really went away.

Punk left after his appearance at the 2014 Royal Rumble, and we all spent pretty much the rest of that year talking about it. For some, it was ripping into Punk for ‘taking his ball and going home,’ for others, it was plotting his huge, apparently inevitable, return in any number of fantasy booking scenarios.

Either way, Punk remained hot news for months after his last appearance inside a wrestling ring.

The Straight Edge Superstar’s recent appearances on Colt Cabana’s podcasts have only fanned the flames of this one, making it by far the most memorable events of 2014.

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Vince McMahon and Steve Austin Talk CM Punk, Undertaker Streak, and More

December 02, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin got back together for a unique venture on the WWE Network. Austin interviewed McMahon on a live podcast and in classic fashion, combined for a fun and entertaining production.

Steve Austin has quickly made a reputation as one of the best celebrities gone podcaster. Austin was the first of several former colleagues to jump into the podcast fray and just like his days as a pro wrestler, continues to improve with every outing. Austin has interviewed many big names in pro wrestling but his biggest catch was Vince McMahon.

You knew it was going to happen. The Vince McMahon interview was a natural and Austin has said for months that Vince agreed to it. In typical Vince McMahon fashion, Vince took it up several notches by broadcasting the interview live on the WWE Network.

I’ll give Vince some credit. Sure he gave his corporate speak but he appeared to be as brutally honest as he thought he was. In other words, he believed everything he said. He also appeared to have a great time talking about his past and reflecting on old stories, which is a side of Vince you rarely see. Austin also did a great job of asking hard questions and never seemed intimidated by the situation. Austin asked Vince most of the questions we have been dying to ask and here are some of the highlights of the momentous event.

CM Punk just recently came out and blasted the WWE. Among other things, Punk said that the WWE sent him his termination papers on his wedding day. Vince blamed it on clerical and personally apologized to Punk. Vince said he’d love to have Punk back. Vince cited disagreements he has had with Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, and Ultimate Warrior and how they were able to work it out. He is confident that with the right communication he and Punk could work it out. Vince and Austin then discussed the time Austin walked out of the WWE. Vince said that Austin was a better communicator than Punk. Vince said he could use someone like a J.R. to bridge that gap.

Austin asked him why the streak ended at WrestleMania 30. Vince said that it was time. He said that there was nobody on the roster like Brock Lesnar who fit that spot. He said that the Undertaker loves giving back but it was his decision.

One of the more interesting conversations occurred right at the start of the podcast. Austin asked Vince about the current roster. Vince said that he feels nobody wants to take the brass ring. He said he can only do so much with the guys but they have to want it. He said that he feels nobody is as hungry on the roster today as they were in Austin’s era. He said that John Cena is the only one who had the drive to be the top guy. It was very interesting and strong criticism on the entire roster, sans John Cena.

Vince talked about the writers and the differences in writing today. Vince told Austin that times were different and they needed the large amount of writers. Vince reminisced about booking with Pat Patterson at the side of his pool. Vince told Austin that they can’t book like that anymore.

Austin asked Vince why Brock couldn’t be on television more. Vince had a great response when he said, “How many more guys can Brock Lesnar beat up?” Vince said that less is more with someone like Brock and that if he had him on television more, he wouldn’t be as special.

All in all it was a great interview and I’d highly recommend checking out the rest. One of the best discussions was Austin and Vince talking about why they worked together so well and the magic they had. They also talk about Austin walking out and what it was like to work with Austin from Vince’s standpoint. The interview went over an hour and moved real fast. Check it out on the WWE Network.

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Top 25 WWE Survivor Series Elimination Matches

November 19, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Survivor Series just ain’t what it used to be.

First, it was Thanksgiving night. Then it was Thanksgiving eve. Then it moved indiscriminately to just any old Sunday in November. When it started, it was all about the elimination matches. Now it’s about the typically-rushed storylines that are often back-burnered in favor of whatever Cena or Orton are doing, with maybe an elimination match or two shoehorned in there somewhere.

Well, forget about senile Vince McMahon and lack-of-fun Kevin Dunn for a minute. Let’s journey back to when the event MEANT SOMETHING, and let’s share some fond memories of some of the greatest elimination matches that have ever taken place at the Thanksgiving night/eve/located in proximity to the holiday tradition!

After all, it sure beats “John Cena and The Rock vs. what’re-their-names.”

Enjoy!

25. The Holly Cousins and Too Cool def. Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz (11/14/99, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Hardcore Holly
Gotta admit; that face team would be pretty cool in any era, despite the real life problems of the brothers Hardy. For what it is, it’s a fast paced match between WWE’s “X Division” of 1999; a match in which the second oldest person (Crash) was only 28 years old. When does that EVER happen? Edge being the first one gone was a surprise, as was the heels going over. Then again, since Edge and company were made men after their spectacular ladder match the previous month, why not give some rub to the then-relevant “Big Shot”? Christian’s near-comeback from a three-on-one was fun to watch.

24. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe & Lioness Asuka def. Alundra Blayze, Sakie Hasegawa, Kyoko Inoue & Chapparita Asari (11/19/95, Landover, MD)
Survivor: Kong
This was probably the first time since 1988 that WWE had more than three women involved in the same match, and boy, what a comeback for women’s wrestling. Of course, the entire division was scrapped a month later, when Blayze rechristened herself as Madusa and threw the WWE Women’s Title in the trash on WCW Nitro. Alas. The match was a ten minute infomercial for Aja Kong to show how scary-dominant she could be, dropping her fellow Joshi performers on their heads and necks before waylaying Blayze with a spinning back fist to become the sole survivor. Now we get Kelly Kelly rubbing her bony ass in Natalya’s face. Alas.

23. Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, John Cena, Bradshaw, and Hardcore Holly def. Brock Lesnar, Big Show, A-Train, Matt Morgan, and Nathan Jones (11/16/03, Dallas, TX)
Survivors: Benoit, Cena
Lesnar built a team of brawny monsters to take on GM Paul Heyman’s “most wanted” list. It was notable because, unlike today with Cena and Randy Orton, the two men getting the biggest rub (Angle and Lesnar) were eliminated before the finish, thus making whoever survived look pretty damn special. Indeed, the soon-to-be-megapushed Benoit and the being-molded Cena upended Big Show in the end, after Benoit had made Lesnar tap out. Of course, this is essentially the match that kicked off Cena’s interminable face run, so maybe some of you will want to curse this outing.

22. Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, and The Hardy Boyz def. Edge, Randy Orton, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, and Mike Knox (11/26/06, Philadelphia, PA)
Survivors: the entire team
One sided as it was, this match provided some decent crowd-pleasing action, as well as a number of comedy spots. Mike Knox being eliminated by Shawn Michaels in under a minute, and then Shawn asking his team, “Who was he?” is never not funny. “I think he’s on ECW.” “Oh, so we’re doing GOOD then?” Too hilarious. Also of note was Punk outpopping the entire team during the pre-match DX intro, despite having only been in WWE for three months. It’s stuff like that that drives Vince McMahon even more insane.

21. Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and Hunico def. Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara, and Mason Ryan (11/20/11, New York, NY)
Survivors: Barrett, Rhodes
It was a pretty good way of putting over Intercontinental Champion Rhodes and soon-to-be pushed heel Barrett (before his arm injury in February). Orton dispatched a drained Ziggler early before Barrett’s team rattled off 4 straight eliminations, leaving Orton alone against 4 men. Swagger went quietly, then Hunico was RKOed out before the Viper was outsmarted, losing to Barrett’s Wasteland.

20. The Miz, Sheamus, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre def. John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Shelton Benjamin, and Finlay (11/22/09, Washington, DC)
Survivors: Miz, Sheamus, McIntyre
Other than McIntyre’s push stalling in 2010, that heel side is like “Team Groom for Greatness”, as the other four men would all go on to hold a World Title. Whereas the face team features three men no longer in WWE, one suspended for ingesting synthetic ganja, and a captain who is a kitty-whipped laughingstock. Regardless, the match was a tremendous showcase of midcarders soon-to-be big deals, which gives Survivor Series (as well as the Royal Rumble) its ochre of flavor. The highlights were McIntyre nearly breaking Bourne in half at the neck with his Future Shock DDT, and Sheamus definitively crushing Finlay in the “Battle of the Brogue.”

19. Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas, and Phil Lafon (Team Canada) def. Vader, Steve Blackman, Marc Mero, and Goldust (Team USA) (11/9/97, Montreal, PQ)
Survivor: Smith
Team Canada, it should be noted, featured only one actual Canadian in Lafon. On the night where Bret Hart would be excommunicated from WWE canon, it seemed appropriate that a hastily-assembled team of America haters would be on display. The match was merely a backdrop to begin a feud with Vader and the increasingly-erratic Goldust, who walked out without ever tagging in, but the match was an exciting wrestling exhibition when Vader, Mero, Smith, Furnas and Lafon were involved. Having a pro-Canuck team in an enthusiastic Canadian setting provided a hot crowd as well, even if the match was overshadowed at night’s end by…..well, you know.

18. Ted Dibiase, Rhythm & Blues, and a Mystery Partner (The Million Dollar Team) def. Dusty Rhodes, Koko B Ware, and The Hart Foundation (The Dream Team) (11/22/90, Hartford, CT)
Survivor: Dibiase
Assuming that Honky and Neidhart are future Hall of Famers, as well as the mystery partner, you have eight Hall of Famers in one match. Impressive, no? Anyway, you probably know by now that said mystery partner is The Undertaker, making his WWE debut in grand fashion by obliterating Ware and Rhodes before taking a countout loss to save his mystique. Hart lost his brother Dean the day before to kidney failure, and Roddy Piper (on commentary) declared “The Hitman” had dedicated the match to him. Foreshadowing his eventual singles push, Hart came back from three on one to tussle with Dibiase at the end, losing when the Million Dollar Man rolled through his cross body.

17. Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, Ricky Steamboat, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan def. Honky Tonk Man, Ron Bass, Harley Race, Hercules, and Danny Davis (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Savage, Roberts, Steamboat
The first Survivor Series match ever had one of the more intriguing stories ever seen at the event. Honky, Intercontinental Champion for six months running and an unlikely champion at that, was versed by five challengers, all of whom capable of beating him for the gold, if not for Honky’s perpetual luck and knack for cheating. Honky’s teammates weren’t able to go the distance, as Honky found himself stuck with the three men he had feuded with through 1987, and they all still held a grudge. After trying his best to hang with Savage and his cohorts, Honky took a walk for the countout loss. By the way, wouldn’t YOU have loved to see Savage and Steamboat as a semi-regular team? Me too.

16. Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Koko B Ware, Hercules, and Hillbilly Jim def. Big Bossman, Akeem, Ted Dibiase, Haku, and The Red Rooster (11/24/88, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Savage, Hogan
Koko and Rooster main evented a WWE PPV not called “Royal Rumble” or “Irony-Mania”. The Towers were positioned as holdover threats to Savage and Hogan before the “Mega Powers Exploding” months later. Hogan being handcuffed late in the match while Savage had to try and fend off Bossman and Akeem provided some tension to a well-worked, albeit predictable, affair. The sad part was Dibiase, the hottest heel when the year started, reduced to working a nothing angle with former “slave” Hercules, and then floating around with nothing to do for months until he was handed the Jake Roberts feud. Other than such quibbles, it was a fine main event to the Series’ second incarnation.

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15. The Ultimate Warrior, Jim Neidhart, and The Rockers (The Ultimate Warriors) def. Andre the Giant, Haku, Arn Anderson, and Bobby Heenan (The Heenan Family) (11/23/89, Chicago, IL)
Survivor: Warrior
I love when you look back at old matches like this and realize that WWE and Vince McMahon were giving experimental runs to those deemed to have “future prospects.” This particular match was the closer for the 1989 Survivor Series, and Warrior was given a chance to shine as the final act, foreshadowing his World Title run the following year. In addition, Shawn Michaels lasted quite a while in the match for a 24-year-old tag team wrestler, getting to pin Haku before succumbing to Anderson’s spinebuster. Surely with Marty Jannetty eliminated, the match became something of a singles audition for the future Heartbreak Kid. For those wondering why Heenan was in the match, check Tully Blanchard’s drug test results for an explanation.

14. Kofi Kingston, Christian, Mark Henry, MVP, and R-Truth def. Randy Orton, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, and William Regal (11/22/09, Washington, DC)
Survivor: Kingston
Quite the anachronism in 2011, Orton pinned Henry within the first minute, Orton and Punk worked in tandem, eventual main eventer R-Truth bit the dust early, and Orton Punk were both reviled villains to Christian’s virtuous good guy routine. But rather than expose the fallacies of WWE’s breakneck booking change, let’s look at the upside: Kingston was made with this one, withstanding seven minutes of Punk and Orton breaking him down, to score what should have been a career-boosting victory. Instead, he blew the finish weeks later in a triple threat involving Orton, and Orton had an on-camera freakout that got Kofi punished, but not Randino. Weird.

13. Razor Ramon, 123 Kid, Davey Boy Smith, and The Headshrinkers (The Bad Guys) def. Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jeff Jarrett (The Teamsters) (11/23/94, San Antonio, TX)
Survivor: Ramon
You can be made in a loss, and Diesel was a made man after this performance. After lots of early action in which everyone but Michaels got involved, Diesel said “enough of this” and went on a rampage. Fatu bit the dust with a Jackknife, followed by Kid, then Sionne, and then the Bulldog took a count out loss. With Razor remaining, against 5 on 1 odds, a loss seemed inevitable when Michaels FINALLY tagged in and accidentally superkicked Diesel. In a silly finish, all five heels were counted out when Diesel angrily stalked Michaels. Razor became the only sole survivor in history to never eliminate anyone and, three days later, Diesel beat Bob Backlund to become WWE Champion.

12. Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, Rick Rude, One Man Gang, and Butch Reed def. Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, and Ken Patera (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivor: Andre
Sorry, Jim Crockett Promotions. When cable providers had to choose between airing Starrcade ’87 and the inaugural Survivor Series, with the lure of Hulk and Andre in the main event, facing off eight months after WrestleMania III, WWE won out in spades. After the sides whittled down to a three on two, Hogan and Andre finally locked horns, but the Hulkster was counted out after Bundy and Gang kept him from re-entering the ring. Bigelow managed to eliminate Bundy and Gang and would have defied the odds Cena-style but, well, it was Andre. The Frenchman flattened Bammer for the final fall, giving himself a just cause to petition a rematch against Hogan for the WWE title. And that’s a fascinating story in itself.

11. Doug Furnas, Phil Lafon, and The Godwinns def. Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and The New Rockers (11/17/96, New York, NY)
Survivors: Furnas, Lafon
After a cup of coffee in ECW in the fall of 1996, Furnas and Lafon debuted in the opening match of Survivor Series 1996, and what a debut it was. Once Marty Jannetty busted his ankle prior to being eliminated, and then both Godwinns went, WWE was in store for action that they’d never seen before. Leif Cassidy (known better as Al Snow) took a header with modified reverse superplex from Lafon, and the well-traveled veterans were made to hold off Hart and Smith, then WWE Tag Team Champions. Bulldog was cradled for elimination, and Furnas planted Owen with an absolutely vicious release German suplex to give Furnas and Lafon the win with a crazy standing ovation from the Garden crowd.

10. The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Big Show vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Shane McMahon (11/19/01, Greensboro, NC)
Survivor: Rock
It was an abrupt end to what should have been a money-maker for WWE. The WCW/ECW Invasion had sputtered to a poorly-booked finish, but at least we got a great finale out of it. With the future of the company at stake, and the losing side being forced to disband for good, drama built over the forty-five minute coda. Once down to just Rock and Austin, after Jericho attempted to selfishly maim his own partner, the two icons of the Attitude era put on a dramatic finish, ending with Angle proving to be a mole, as he clocked Austin with a title belt. One Rock Bottom later, and the Alliance was dead, leaving Stephanie to scream like a banshee in tears backstage.

9. The Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, and The Young Stallions def. Demolition, The Brainbusters, Los Conquistadors, The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, and The Bolsheviks (11/24/88, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Powers of Pain
When was the last time WWE had ten teams, REAL teams, under lock and key like this? This would be the second time a match with ten teams would take place (I do believe this spoils a later entry), and it was full of great action and well-told stories. The climax was an inexplicable story turn in which Mr. Fuji intentionally caused Demolition, the World Tag Team Champions, mind you, to be counted out, just so he could manage the Powers of Pain for some reason. In other fascinating notes, the Conquistadors, perennial jobbers, lasted over forty minutes, and the Rougeaus were eliminated early due to a very tense real-life feud with Dynamite Kid.

8. Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven def. Triple H, Batista, Edge, and Gene Snitsky (11/14/04, Cleveland, OH)
Survivor: Orton
Kicking off one of the greatest five-month story arcs ever seen in WWE history (I’m serious), Orton led his team to victory in a match where the winning side got to run Raw for one month while Eric Bischoff took a long vacation. In the end, it would lead to Batista realizing he could beat Triple H and thus slowly turned on him before brutalizing him for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 21. Sadly, though, this match didn’t make Orton the top babyface star that Vince McMahon was hoping for, but lord knows they’d try again year after year. Highlight of the match is Maven busting Snitsky open with a stiff right hand, and Gene getting his revenge with a chair shot that just about killed the Shop-At-Home star.

7. Ric Flair, Ted Dibiase, The Warlord, and The Mountie def. Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Virgil (11/27/91, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Flair
What a great beginning, what a lousy finish. Talk about your impressive lists of talent for one match, with the exception of Warlord, who at least provided a musclehead to throw people around and create “ooooh” moments with. Even Virgil in 1991 had hit a nice stride. Smith and Warlord are both eliminated after a Flair cheapshot causes Bulldog to go, and then Hart duplicates the act on Warlord, allowing Piper to pin the big man. The match then ends in a bizarre multi-man count out, with Flair being the only man to beat the count back inside, thus cheaply becoming the sole survivor. It was a shame, because the match was turning into something AWESOME, aided by a white-hot crowd. What a pity.

6. The Shield and The Real Americans def. Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, and The Usos (11/24/13, Boston, MA)
Survivor: Roman Reigns

Easily the best elimination match in nearly a decade, WWE gave a Booking 101 demonstration on how to portray a wrestler as a killer. After Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and Jack Swagger bit the dust, Reigns went ballistic, thinning the field of Rhodes and Jimmy Uso. Seth Rollins bounced Jey Uso out before getting downed by Rey. Down two-on-one, an undaunted Reigns plowed through Goldust and Mysterio in a 30-second span to stand tall. The action along the way was the fast-paced fare you’d expect, given the entrants, but letting one man, one not named Cena or Orton, obliterate so many opponents gave hope that Reigns would become a power player.

5. Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Pritchard, and 123 Kid (The Bodydonnas) def. Marty Jannetty, Barry Horowitz, Hakushi, and Bob Holly (The Underdogs) (11/19/95, Landover, MD)
Survivor: Kid
Imagine in 2011 if they put the likes of Daniel Bryan and other barely-seen, improperly-used talents in one twenty minute match and told them “go nuts.” In this opening match to the 1995 show, fast-paced athletes like Hakushi, Jannetty, and Kid wowed the crowd in spectacular fashion with action that Vince McMahon wasn’t exactly used to putting on. Let’s just say Vince bellowed “WHATAMANEUVER” a lot. After Jannetty finished Skip off with a top rope powerbomb (unheard of in WWE at the time), Kid used help from new stablemate Psycho Sid to finish Jannetty, continuing his remolding into one of Ted Dibiase’s corporate players.

4. Batista, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley, and JBL (Team Smackdown) def. Shawn Michaels, Kane, Big Show, Carlito, and Chris Masters (Team Raw) (11/27/05, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Orton
The in-ring action for this one was superb, as you had wrestlers who didn’t even LIKE each other railing off creative double teams for the greater good of brand supremacy (you know, when the brand extension WASN’T a bastardized concept meant to make people care about a draft from year to year….). But as fun and different as the in-ring action was, the action at the commentary desks was even better, as Michael Cole and Tazz sniped with Joey Styles (remember him?), Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman for the entire match in between calling moves. For once, it seemed like Vince McMahon stepped away from the headset and just let their barbs come naturally, and it was FUN. In the end, Michaels took out Mysterio and JBL, but the RKO got him moments later. Then The Undertaker returned. Great stuff.

3. Razor Ramon, Macho Man Randy Savage, Marty Jannetty, and 123 Kid def. IRS, Diesel, Rick Martel, and Adam Bomb (11/24/93, Boston, MA)
Survivors: Jannetty, Kid
A major substitution took place before the card, as Savage was called in to pinch hit for Mr. Perfect, who either bowed out due to recurring back problems or alcoholic issues, depending on which source you believe. Regardless, the action was raucous for the first fifteen to twenty minutes, with Diesel, Savage, IRS, and Razor, the four bigger players involved, being eliminated. Once down to the monstrous Bomb and wily Martel against two smaller competitors, it seemed that Kid and Jannetty had little chance. This was especially true after Bomb gave Kid a sickening slam on the concrete after a plancha gone bad. However, after a half hour of action, Kid and Jannetty ended the contest with matching sunset flips on both men to become unlikely survivors.

2. Strike Force, Young Stallions, Killer Bees, British Bulldogs, and the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers def. Hart Foundation, Demolition, The Islanders, The New Dream Team, and The Bolsheviks (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Stallions, Bees
The original twenty-man elimination contest features WWE talents at their most innovative. In a match with Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Tito Santana, and others, this should not be a surprise. Hard to say what was better: Haku nearly decapitating Dynamite with the savate kick, or Paul Roma saving Jim Powers with a top rope sunset flip on Valentine to eliminate him. This match has literally everything: crisp finishing sequences, top-notch wrestling, good swerves (Strike Force, the champs, were eliminated not fifteen minutes into the forty minute match), and a nice underdog finish, as Jim Brunzell pinned Bret Hart, allowing the Bees and Stallions to outsmart the brawnier Islanders en route to victory. If you love tag team wrestling, hunt down a copy of this event, because this match will be your Graceland.

1. Chris Jericho, Christian, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, and Scott Steiner (Team Bischoff) def. Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and The Dudley Boyz (Team Austin) (11/16/03, Dallas, TX)
Survivor: Orton
If Austin’s team were to be victorious, he, as co-GM of Raw, would be allowed to use martial law to keep order on the show (i.e. beat people up). However, if Bischoff’s team won, Austin was out as co-GM. The match began innocuously enough, with Henry, Booker, Steiner, and RVD going, and then Michaels hit a gusher outside the ring, with blood spilling everywhere. Seriously, it looked like he was going to die any second. Jericho and Christian finished off the future Team 3D, and Austin’s hopes were now pinned on a crimson-soaked zombie. Oh, the drama! A fluke Sweet Chin Music took Christian out, and a cradled reversal of the Walls doomed Jericho. Michaels heroically hung in there against a fresh Orton, and the ref was soon knocked out. Austin and Bischoff interjected themselves, and Austin chased Bischoff to the entrance set and thrashed him good, but Batista then jumped the rail, pancaked Michaels with the Batista Bomb, and the ref came around to count Orton’s pinfall, leaving a stunned Austin in the aisleway. Had Austin been gone for more than four months after this, and not returned as the “Sheriff”, it’d have meant a lot more. Instead, it was just a great match, one in which the drama and story meant more than any chain-wrestling sequence could ever mean.

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Top 20 WWE Greatest Survivor Series Teams Ever

November 13, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

After a quarter century-plus of WWE Survivor Series matches, wherein teams of 4, 5, or even 10, try to outdo one another in the name of survival bragging rights, certain teams have stood out above the fray as being the most powerful and memorable. Here’s 20 of the all-time greats, with no real criteria in place, except the gut feeling of “how awesome were they?”

20. Owen Hart’s Team (1996)
Members: Owen Hart, British Bulldog, The New Rockers
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivors: Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon)
Why They Were Great: For the most part, this was just a hastily thrown together team that had but one purpose: make Furnas and Lafon look like the world-beaters they could be.

But as far as “workrate” battles go, Hart, Bulldog, and Leif Cassidy (Marty Jannetty was gone early) made proficient tackling dummies for Furnas’ suplexes and Lafon’s strikes. Cassidy was floored by an insane inverted superplex from the Frenchman, and Furnas nearly decapitated Owen with a throwing German suplex, giving two new faces the best WWE debut you could ask for.

19. The Royals (1995)
Members: King Mabel, Jerry Lawler, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Isaac Yankem DDS
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivors: The Undertaker, Fatu, Savio Vega, Henry Godwinn)
Why They Were Great: Another “patsy” team whose only objective was to get killed by The Undertaker one by one until Mabel, who crushed The Dead Man’s eye socket weeks earlier, ran away in terror after becoming his team’s last hope.

What was most impressive of this team was its lasting power. In the Attitude Era, Helmsley and Yankem would be rechristened Triple H and Kane, and become among the era’s biggest stars. Lawler and Mabel (then Viscera) would stick around as well. Amazingly, all four men would be in WWE in 2008, the year of Big Vis’ final release. Perhaps no other team has had the longevity of the Royals.

18. Team Miz (2009)
Members: The Miz, Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger
Result: Won (Survivors: Miz, Sheamus, McIntyre)
Why They Were Great: I admit to being a fan of teams that feature a host of breakout stars before they broke out; the ‘before they were stars’ squads. Miz’s team was comprised of himself (then-United States Champion), and four men who, outside of some developmental false starts, had really all debuted in the past year.

Miz, Sheamus, Swagger, and Ziggler would all be World Champions within the next year and a half (Sheamus the following month), while McIntyre would go on to become Intercontinental Champion for over five months. The team they beat was, appropriately, built from stars that had seen good runs already (John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Finlay, Shelton Benjamin, and Evan Bourne), so “putting over” the new class made sense.

17. The Heenan Family (1989)
Members: Andre the Giant, Bobby Heenan, Haku, Arn Anderson
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: The Ultimate Warrior)
Why They Were Great: Perhaps no other team would be as deserving as the moniker of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Team in the World. There isn’t a single boring personality on display here; no wasted space.

If the four men were to collectively write a book about their life’s experiences, what would be the best section: Andre’s drinking stories and Hollywood run-ins, Arn’s days of partying with the Horsemen and other wild characters in Atlanta, Haku’s tales of maiming idiots who dare test his toughness, or Heenan’s take on the sport, laced with his one-of-a-kind spit-take-inducing humor?

16. Hardy Boyz/Dudley Boyz (2000)
Members: Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Jeff Hardy)
Why They Were Great: WWE had two undeniably-great tag team runs: the latter half of the 1980s, and the early 2000s. In the second example, the Hardyz and the Dudleyz represented two-thirds of the division’s most renowned pairings, thanks to their participation in several breakthrough ladder, table, and ladder/table/chair matches.

At this respective ‘peak’ of their tag team careers, the quartet faced off with the other representative of their pantheon, Edge and Christian, as well as Right to Censor members Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather. The current TNA World Champion found himself remaining with Christian and Goodfather, overcoming interference from Val Venis to eliminate the former pimp, and survived.

15. The Shield/Real Americans
Members: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Reigns)
Why They Were Great: Never before had one Survivor Series team been so rooted in the cyber-savvy indy scene, with Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling well-represented. The rec-center crowd could beam proudly, seeing Tyler Black, Jon Moxley, and Claudio Castagnoli plugged into classic WWE fare, while CM Punk and The American Dragon tagged elsewhere on the card. Makes Kevin Steen’s signing this year less surprising.
The match was more about putting over the killer edge of Reigns, and did a finer job of making the Shield’s muscle into a superhero as a heel than anything they’ve done since the group’s June 2014 split. Still, all three Shield members are treated like a big deal, all rightfully so, no matter how you feel about Reigns’ rocking chair-wooden dialogue. It’s essentially a dream team for the cool-heel lover.

14. Team Austin (2003)
Members: Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, The Dudley Boyz
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: Randy Orton)
Why They Were Great: Had this team existed in 1998, its cultural impact would have been even greater than it is here. Between Attitude pioneer Michaels, crowd-favorite Booker, and ECW cornerstones RVD and the Dudleyz, Stone Cold Steve Austin had five fine representatives for an elimination match with high stakes.

In what would end up being, in this author’s opinion, the greatest elimination match in Survivor Series history, Austin’s group waged war with a fivesome selected by Eric Bischoff. In the end, a hopelessly-bloody Michaels eliminated Christian and Chris Jericho, and then nearly ousted Orton before Batista (not in the match) illegally attacked him. Orton scored the pin, and Austin, as a result, was fired (albeit temporarily).

13. Team SmackDown (2005)
Members: Batista, Rey Mysterio, JBL, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Orton)
Why They Were Great: It was the only elimination match at the underrated 2005 event, but it was one of the most fun ones of its kind. Smackdown’s group faced a team of five representing Raw; one which had a little less star power (Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Kane….then Carlito and Chris Masters). The end result was a wildly fun match, where even the sniping commentary between the two tables helped steal the show.

As for SmackDown’s team, talk about some impressive star power. Raw had the disadvantage of some of its stars taking part in other matches (John Cena vs. Kurt Angle, Triple H vs. Ric Flair), so Smackdown had the quality advantage. Batista was World Champion at the time, JBL and Orton were part of the main event scene, and Mysterio, after Eddie Guerrero’s passing, was on the verge of being a main eventer himself.

12. The Radicalz (2000)
Members: Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn
Result: Won (Survivors: Benoit, Saturn)
Why They Were Great: The foursome represented one particularly rusty nail pounded into the coffin of WCW. Their collective release from the company 10 months earlier not only cost WCW its backbone of hard work and crisp wrestling, but added that backbone of hard work and crisp wrestling to WWE, fortifying perhaps their most impressive roster ever.

Although the fate of the group as a whole has changed the opinions of certain members (only Malenko has made it largely unscathed), in their collective prime, The Radicalz represented wrestling’s in-ring elite. WWE made them even better by shading them in with personality, whether it was Benoit as a ruthless competitor, Guerrero as a comical womanizer, or Malenko as a stoic ladies man. As for Saturn, well…what do you know about Moppy?

11. Team Piper (1991)
Members: Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Virgil
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: Ric Flair)
Why They Were Great: Admittedly, the quality of Survivor Series had dipped from previous years, as evidenced by a putrid contest between teams captained by Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Colonel Mustafa, as well as a drag-asstic four-team match notable only for planting the seed of Shawn Michaels’ heel turn. This match, however, saved the show, along with Undertaker’s first World Title win.

The team, Virgil included, largely represented WWE’s babyface upper midcard of the time period, as Bret was Intercontinental Champion, Bulldog was a capable competitor, Virgil had his best run, and Piper always had that star quality. Even their opponents were a damn fine team, making them entry 11b on this list: Ric Flair, Ted Dibiase, The Mountie, and The Warlord. Shame the match ended with a cheap disqualification.

10. The Teamsters (1994)
Members: Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, Jeff Jarrett
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: Razor Ramon)
Why They Were Great: Speaking of cheap endings, after Ramon’s four partners were eliminated by Diesel, “The Bad Guy” became the first wrestler to be his team’s sole survivor without eliminating a single opponent. That’s because a miscue between Michaels and Diesel led to all five villains being counted out in the most unique Survivor finish to date.

But what a roster The Teamsters boasted. Michaels and Diesel were then-Tag Team Champions, and just months away from co-headlining WrestleMania against each other. Owen was wrapping up a feud with brother Bret, and Jarrett was on his way to becoming Intercontinental Champion. One has to wonder where the “Teamsters” name came from. It wasn’t as if they were a union threatening to shirk their duties or anything.

9. The Alliance (2001)
Members: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Shane McMahon
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: The Rock)
Why They Were Great: Despite representing a storyline that would infuriate smarks and marks alike with its dullness and lack of drama, given its magnitude, the WCW/ECW hybrid group was reduced to basically Booker and Van Dam in starring roles, with the infusion of established WWE icons that “jumped ship”, thus killing the specialness of the invasion.

But still, on paper, The Alliance was very well represented. Austin was WWE Champion, Angle was his fiercest rival at the time (revealed to be a mole at the match’s conclusion), Booker and RVD saw significant time on Raw and Smackdown as the standouts of the 2001 acquisitions, and even Shane had credibility as a bump machine that freely got his ass whipped against the likes of Angle and Rock that year.

8. Team Powers of Pain (1988)
Members: Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation, Rockers, British Bulldogs, Young Stallions
Result: Won (Survivors: Powers of Pain)
Why They Were Great: Here’s a good argument for the proliferation of tag teams and a solid division: in 1988, there were ten tag teams that competed in this one match, and none of them had names like “(Blank) and (Blank)”. They were all legit duos, many of them over with the crowd, but most importantly, they ended up creating stars.

On this one team, you had Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and Davey Boy Smith, who would all help carry the company during its darkest times in the mid-90s. Out of these tandems came the stars of the future, and working tags only made them better rounded performers. Factor in Dynamite Kid and Marty Jannetty, and that’s some pretty impressive technicians on one team.

7. Edge and Christian/The Hardy Boyz (1999)
Members: Edge, Christian, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: Hardcore Holly)
Why They Were Great: As I said in the previous example, tag teams round out performers and create better wrestlers out of them. You’ll find no better example of this in the Attitude Era and beyond than the men who made the tag team ladder match famous. All four men would go on to hold some form of a World Title, or top brand title, in their careers.

Coming together out of respect, this foursome absolutely made themselves with both their daredevil antics, and their youthful vibrance. Edge and Christian would turn heel shortly thereafter, and complete their personas with their self-deluded “gnarly dude” act, while the Hardyz would ride their life-on-the-edge bend to equal stardom.

6. Team DX (2006)
Members: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, The Hardy Boyz
Result: Won (Entire Team Survived)
Why They Were Great: If I could have the collective sum of all five men’s merchandise sales throughout their five WWE careers, I’d never have to work again. Also, I could buy TNA and make Repo Man champion, just to amuse myself. Talk about your collection of diverse, while altogether similar talent that each won over scores of fans.

Even WWE must’ve known the lure of Punk and the Hardyz; usually Shawn and Hunter would’ve remained standing on their own against Edge and Randy Orton’s team. Yet there’s the Straight Edge Superstar and Cameron, NC’s most famous brothers, helping rid Gregory Helms and Johnny Nitro. Shawn Michaels’ elimination of Mike Knox ranks as the funniest moment in the history of the event.

5: The All-Americans (1993)
Members: Lex Luger, The Undertaker, Steiner Brothers
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Luger)
Why They Were Great: The team reads like the upper midcard of a WCW show in early 1990, but things changed with the former (and future) Turner talents under WWE’s banner. To battle a cliched team of evil foreigners (from horrid places like Japan, Canada, Finland, and Hawaii), Luger amassed a team of two collegiate athletes and a zombie mortician.

But jokes aside, given the limitations of WWE’s roster at the time, this was a pretty impressive team. Undertaker replaced Tatanka, who was injured by Yokozuna and Ludvig Borga, but it was done for the better, in my eyes. Luger/Taker/Steiners was kind of a poor man’s equivalent of Hogan/Andre/US Express 1985, but at least this team was aided by Taker’s super-sweet Colonies jacket. LET FREEDOM RING.

4. Team WWF (2001)
Members: The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, Big Show
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Rock)
Why They Were Great: It made sense for Vince McMahon to program the best possible group against The Alliance with the futures of both warring sides on the line. After all, when the opposing team featues Austin, Angle, Van Dam, and Booker for a killer blowoff, you need all the star power you can get as a counter punch.

On this team are five men who will all, most assuredly, be in WWE’s Hall of Fame, provided they don’t do anything irreversible to their loved ones. The match also had the benefit of furthering the budding rivalry between Rock and Jericho, which provided us with a number of awesome matches between two of the era’s most charismatic stars. The benefit of less Survivor matches is more star-studded teams.

3. The Hulkamaniacs (1989)
Members: Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts, Demolition
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Hogan)
Why They Were Great: For the most part, each team in 1989 had some weak links that would prevent them from making this list. Yeah, Roddy’s Rowdies had Piper and Jimmy Snuka, but the Bushwackers are grounds for disqualifcation. The 4X4’s boasted Jim Duggan and Bret Hart, but Ronnie Garvin and his upside-down toilet brush hairdo (credit: Bobby Heenan) were a dealbreaker.

Not the case with Hogan’s team. Jake Roberts was at his peak as a babyface, feuding with Ted Dibiase after the Million Dollar Man injured his neck. Demolition were the WWE Tag Team Champions on their last great run, and Hogan was the company’s lead dog. He would finish off Zeus here, and in a cage match shortly thereafter, before putting on one of his finest performances ever against the Ultimate Warrior months later.

2. Team Savage (1987)
Members: Macho Man Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Result: Won (Survivors: Savage, Steamboat, Roberts)
Why They Were Great: If WWE had a midcard this sustained and deep today, you’d hear far less complaints from know-it-all fans. Savage and Steamboat on the same team is always a win, but factor in Roberts, Beefcake, and Duggan in their physical primes (as well as arguable peak of fanhood), and you can understand the high ranking.

Amazingly, Savage would feud with each of his teammates in high-profile fashion at some point. His legendary issue with Steamboat is a given, but he also feuded with Roberts in 1991 in one of WWE’s raciest stories ever. Macho Man would also battle Duggan in 1989 over the “crown”, and Beefcake was was Hogan’s ally in the post-Mega Powers explosion.

1. The Warriors (1990)
Members: The Ultimate Warrior, Kerry Von Erich, Legion of Doom
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Warrior)
Why They Were Great: Here’s a case where the team name befit all of the members: Ultimate Warrior, Modern Day Warrior, and Road Warriors. Had Von Erich not been a worn-down shell of his once Greek God self, this team would have been flawless from head to toe. As it is, it’s still the greatest Survivor Series team of all time.

Just the combination of Warrior, at his peak as WWE Champion, and the LOD, the most popular tag team ever, is enough to warrant a top spot. Fans of all ages appreciated the three face-painted gladiators that ripped opponents to shreds with ease. Factor in Von Erich as Intercontinental Champion, and you get a team that has no lack of prestige.

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Top 10 WWE Hell In A Cell Matches

October 25, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Hell in a Cell match has become one of the most brutal matches in WWE history. Started in 1997, the HIAC match features blood, drama, action, and intensity. Today I celebrate this classic by looking back at the ten best in WWE history.

Like anything else, Hell in a Cell has had its ups and down. Fortunately for most WWE fans, there have been more ups than downs. The concept has been watered down a bit since over the years with the reduction of blood and excess matches. Lucky for us, there are plenty of classics that remind us why this one is just that good.

I always like to remind redears that like any top ten list it is all a matter of opinion. If you agree, disagree, or feel that I left one off the list, let me know and leave a comment. Until then, here are my top ten WWE Hell in a Cell matches in match history.

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker, Badd Blood 1997 - Some of you may argue between this and number two and I can certainly respect that. For me, this match was not only the greatest Hell in a Cell match ever, it is also one of my top ten favorite matches overall of all-time. This was Shawn Michaels at his best and in my opinion and arguably the best match from The Undertaker’s storied WWE career.

Mankind vs. The Undertaker, King of the Ring 1998 - It is hard to argue with this one not being at the top. I went back and forth several times. The drama in this match is second to none. However, I just felt that Michaels vs. Undertaker was a better match overall. Mick Foley set a dangerous standard here which has never been repeated. It was historic, physical, and a masterpiece in a lot of ways. I still liked Michaels vs. Undertaker slightly better when watching these two back, but I have no problem with anyone arguing this one number one.

Triple H vs. Batista, Vengeance 2005 - To me this is an often forgotten about classic. For as much criticism that Triple H and even Batista have gotten at times, this match really should silence any and all critics. I also remember the finish being a shocker at the time as nobody expected Hunter to lose all of those matches to Batista. This one even featured some cool weapons including a chain contraption. The match and storyline here behind the feud were some of the best of all-time.

Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels, Bad Blood 2004 - One recurring theme you’ll see in this blog is that you’ll see a lot of names more than once. Triple H and of course Shawn Michaels are repeat offenders and with good reason. The storyline of both being undefeated in HIAC matches also created great drama in this one. How good was this match? An epic 47 minute masterpiece is how good it was. You Tube has plenty of highlights but you really owe it to yourself to check out the full match if you get that opportunity. The chemistry between these two guys here was unreal.

Kurt Angle vs. Undertaker vs. Triple H vs. Steve Austin vs. The Rock vs. Rikishi, Armageddon 2000 - This match is probably better known for Rikishi’s bump than the actual match itself. However, in looking back at the videos this was one of the most fun HIAC matches. How can you go wrong having all six of these superstars in one Hell in a Cell match? The answer is simple, you can’t.

Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker (No Mercy 2002) - This is a really interesting match in that you have some fans that will argue that this was one of the best HIAC matches ever where you have a whole other set of fans that don’t even remember it. I am in the middle. I thought this one had a lot of fun spots, not what you’d expect from two big men. Lesnar retained in a match that was one of his best of his entire first WWE run.

Edge vs. The Undertaker, SummerSlam 2008 - Like several matches on this list, this one is another forgotten classic. Edge and The Undertaker I thought had one of the most underrated feuds a few years back. They had tremendous chemistry and SummerSlam 2008 may have been their finest moment. This match had it all including Edge’s specialty; tables, ladders, and chairs. Quite frankly this was one of the most thrilling Hell in a Cell matches of all.

The Undertaker vs. Triple H – WrestleMania 28 - Once again, Triple H pops up on the list. This one is still fresh in our minds and in terms of drama, it doesn’t get much better than this one. Shawn Michaels was the referee and while the match didn’t have your usual Hell in a Cell theatrics, it told a hell of a story. This one was bloody, brutal, and intense and arguably not only one of the best Hell in a Cell matches, but one of the best WrestleMania matches in Mania history.

Triple H vs. Mick Foley, No Way Out 2000 - This would have been higher up on the list if it served as the true retirement match for Mick Foley that it was promoted to be. The emotional sendoff at the end of the match could have gone down as one of the best ever if it stood. The bloody match had some thrilling moments battling at the top of the cage as well as a flaming barbed wire bat. They tried to replay Foley’s sick bump from King of the Ring but it wasn’t quite the same. Nonetheless it was certainly a great one and a match that belongs on any Hell in a Cell list.

The Undertaker and Steve Austin vs. Mankind and Kane, RAW Is War 1998 - 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.

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Best and Worst of WWE Royal Rumble 1994

October 10, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

After watching part one of the WWE Network’s “Monday Night War” series, I decided that I would take full advantage of the Network and go back to when it all started. With Raw beginning to air in January of 1993, I’d follow the WWF on pay-per-view going forward and pick up the WCW when Nitro starts in September of 1995.

Next up on the docket is one of the more talked about pay-per-view finishes of the 1990s: the 1994 Royal Rumble.

Worst: The intro music

A quick note about the intros from this time frame: they had some of the worst generic 1980s keyboard music of all time. Just totally nondescript and awful. It’s only fitting this is accompanied by Vince McMahon’s incoherent screaming.

Best: Ted DiBiase on commentary

Who would think that a coherent, well-spoken guy would be an improvement on commentary? I mean, I was fine with Vince just screaming at everything like it was either the most confusing or most exciting thing he’d ever seen in the world, weren’t you?

Seriously though, DiBiase was one of the top heels in the game for a reason. He plays the scumbag well, his motivations make sense (He’s rich and thinks he’s better than you) and he doesn’t sway from those motivations. Also, he’s seen pro wrestling before and doesn’t yell “MY GOD IT’S OVER 1, 2, 3 NO WAIT” all match like Vince does. Watch a goddamn match, Vince.

Worst: Tatanka

The first match of the night is Tatanka vs “The beast from the east” Bam Bam Bigelow with the always insane Luna Vachon accompanying him.

This wasn’t a bad match at all – it had a good pace and really played up the “Bam Bam is a huge dude” card – but I just don’t understand the push behind Tatanka at this point in time. He wasn’t anything that stood out: he wasn’t some freak physique, he wasn’t great in the ring and he didn’t cut an exceptional promo. He was a solid hand, sure, but they guy had a several-months-long unbeaten streak. Why? Why is this the guy you push when there are probably others that could get that push?

Best: Heel Owen Hart

This was one of my favorite storylines in the 1990s: Owen, the youngest of the Hart clan, feeling immense jealousy towards his older brother Bret, the WWF’s golden boy at the time. I know that everyone said Owen was the nicest guy you’ve ever met, but there had to be at least something behind his jealous rants. Those promos felt so real, like Owen had been dealing with this silently in real life for his entire life.

Naturally, they tease that the two had put their issues behind as they cut a happy promo (with Owen insisting he’ll lead the way and that Bret will latch onto his coattails) heading into their match with the Quebecers for the Tag Team Championships. A fantastic, months-long build getting ready to boil over.

Worst: Bret Hart on the mic

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say that Bret was the worst thing ever but it’s clear that his strong point wasn’t talking. He had a tendency to ramble a bit while trying to make his point (that you might be bigger/stronger/whatever, but he’s the best in the ring) and would routinely stumble over words. It felt painfully forced, but as a top star, he couldn’t just not talk.

A+ for effort, but he wouldn’t really be that great until he was playing the America-hating semi-heel with the Hart Foundation years later.

Johnny Polo

Best: Johnny Polo

Raven looks much cleaner here.

Best: The Hart Brothers vs The Quebecers

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Quebecers, but they do exactly as they’re supposed to in this match. They know they can match up with the technical skills of Bret nor the speed and athleticism of Owen, so they try to slow the match down and employ as many underhanded two-on-one tactics as they possibly could.

But really, the three things about this match I liked most came from the Hart corner. Bret sells a beating better than anyone ever has and really helps make the underhanded crap the Quebecers were doing look like a million bucks.

Secondly, you really get a sense of just how good Owen is in this match. He’s the perfect contrast to Bret’s technical, slower style: he’s flying around at a million miles per hour, hitting all sorts of high risk moves and generally lighting the place up. Almost like Daniel Bryan 10 years later.

The third and most important thing in this match is how the Quebecers unintentionally reignite the rivalry between Bret and Owen. At some point, Bret suffers a knee injury and the Quebecers spend the rest of the match working it over like a good heel team would. Eventually, the ref calls the match because Bret can’t finish (which has never happened, ever, but I’ll allow it for furthering the story). Owen, being the prideful and immature one, gets mad at Bret for not tagging out and attacks him.

This works because, though Owen handled it all wrong, you can feel for Owen. Bret should have tagged him in. Bret has been unintentionally keeping Owen in the background and costing them (and Owen) matches along the way. You can feel Owen’s rage and hurt as it comes bubbling to the surface, with him ranting about how selfish Bret is. It sets the stage for one of the most believable, interesting feuds in wrestling history.

Worst: Razor Ramon vs Irwin R. Scheister

Don’t get me wrong, I was and always have been a Razor Ramon fan, especially as he got into a groove both with his character and in the ring. But one thing I’ve noticed with him as I look back on these shows is that he was at his best when he was allowed to play the big man, letting smaller wrestlers (like Shawn Michaels, who he had some of his best matches with) bounce around and off of him while making his power moves look truly powerful.

Here, he’s battling IRS, a methodical (slow) wrestler who’s just competent enough to not be laughed at, but isn’t going to put on a clinic or wow the crowd. He can’t eat Razor’s offense, everything he does is slow but somehow doesn’t look terribly purposeful and this match just kind of plods along until they get to the finish.

Speaking of which, that was drawn out as unnecessarily as possible. Basically, with the ref down, Shawn Michaels comes out and whacks Razor with his fake IC title belt leading to IRS getting the pin. Earl Hebner comes out, explains to the ref what happened and Razor hits IRS with the Razor’s Edge to win. We couldn’t have had Razor just kick out and do this?

Paul Bearer

Best: Paul Bearer

It really can’t be understated just how important Bearer was to the career of the Undertaker. He was the mouth piece for a guy who wasn’t that great of a talker when he wasn’t talking about the bowels of hell or telling you that you’ll rest in peace.

Bearer managed to amplify Undertaker’s creepiness with his own in addition to doing his managerial duties like making his guy sound like the most dangerous man ever. Just LOOKING at Bearer, you really get an idea of just how creepy the guy who hangs out with him has to be.

Worst: The match that legitimately frightened me as a kid

The main singles event of the evening is The Undertaker vs Yokozuna in a casket match for the WWF Championship. For the uninitiated, a casket match is pretty basic: put your opponent in the casket and close the lid.

Quick tangent: Vince McMahon really is the drizzling shits on commentary. Before the match begins, he’s trying to sell up the fear on Yokozuna’s face. He asks if the fear will become a weapon for Yoko or whether it’ll turn the big man into a “600lb pile of jellyfish”. He means jelly and frankly, a 600lb pile of jellyfish would scare the shit out of me. I’ve never been stung by one but it looks painful. 600lbs of them stinging you? No, thanks. Vince just can’t articulate this because on commentary, he was every terrible thing we’ve ever hated about announcers.

The match itself is nothing to write home about: it’s your typical 1990s hoss-fest between two big guys. It’s a lot of punches and kicks, but the match itself isn’t the important part. No, it’s the end of the match that we’re supposed to focus on. As Undertaker closes in on the win, ready to put Yokozuna in the casket, he’s ambushed by literally every heel on the roster: Crush, Kabuki, Genichiro Tenryu, Bam Bam Bigelow, “Double J” Jeff Jarrett, Samu and Fatu, Diesel and Atom Bomb. He slowly fights them off one at a time, with the power of the urn on display, before being overwhelmed by the numbers. It’s just the biggest, most drawn out cluster of all-time until Yokozuna finally figures it out and takes the urn from Paul Bearer. He breaks it and green smoke billows out of the thing as Vince McMahon screams “IS THAT THE POWER OF THE UNDERTAKER?” They eventually succeed in getting him into the casket and even nail it shut.

That’s not the terrifying part. You see, I was eight years old when I saw this. So when the Undertaker is being wheeled up the aisle, only to have the lights go out and show the Undertaker “inside” the casket, it was scary. But when he ROSE UP FROM BEHIND THE VIDEO SCREEN AND ASCENDED TO THE RAFTERS, it terrified the hell out of me. Did the Undertaker die? Am I seeing this? I’m eight, why am I seeing this? Of course, the real story was that Taker had a back issue and needed time off, but eight-year-old me didn’t know this. Needless to say, I was very dumb at eight years old.

Worst: The most boring Rumble in years

First of all, totally sarcastic best to KWANG, who is Savio Vega in his normal Savio Vega gear plus a weird ass mask. If Kwang isn’t the ultimate “1990s WWF loved goofy characters” meme, I don’t know what is.

Diesel is the guy they are clearly building up in this match as he comes in and eliminates like six guys in a matter of five minutes, including Owen Hart and WWF legend Bob Backlund. He then mauls Billy Gun and Virgil to death, tossing them out to stand alone and wait for the next guy, which turns out to be the always-insane “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Still, Diesel gets his moment in the spotlight by tossing seven dudes before Savage cuts him off at the knees. Needless to say, it’s not terribly long before Diesel is one of the top guys in the company.

Other than that, this was a very boring Royal Rumble. There were rivalries, sure, but they weren’t really more than “these two guys kind of don’t like each other”. It was just a bunch of guys running out and waiting to be eliminated. The only part that really stood out was…

Worst: The ending

I would say “spoiler alerts ahead” here, but it’s a 20-year-old event so screw you. Lex Luger and Bret Hart, who hobbles out with his bum knee, are your final two. Instead of picking one guy and riding him to Wrestlemania, the WWF, clearly in need of a big-time face or two, decide to let both guys win and earn title shots at Wrestlemania X.

Worse than that, they drag out the ending as long as they possibly can. There’s a bunch of standing around and posturing, pointing and yelling before Howard Finkel announces the winner…three times. First it’s Bret, then it’s Luger, then it’s both. It’s like they realized the Rumble was going to suck before the show even started so they came up with a way to drag out the ending as long as possible. It didn’t really help.

This sets the stage for our next pay-per-view: Wrestlemania X. See you folks next time.

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A Brief History of Hell: The Evolution of WWE Hell in a Cell

October 02, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

October is here again, and with it comes the sixth installment of the WWE’s annual Hell in a Cell pay per view.

In a PG era where everything has been pretty much done to death already, the Hell in a Cell concept may not quite be the grand spectacle McMahon & Co. would have you believe. Sure, it’s something a little different than your standard marquee matchup, but we’ve all seen it before, and seen it without the kind of limitations necessitated by the company’s family-friendly product.

Though it wasn’t always that way. Yes folks, there was once a time when the words Hell in a Cell were synonymous with violence and bloodshed on altogether unprecedented scale.

Origins
As a concept, Hell in a Cell owes much to the imagination of booker, manager and overly-opinionated shoot interview regular, JIm Cornette. Devised by Cornette (then a member of the WWF’s creative team) as a modern hybrid of WCW’s famous War Games structure and the kind of steel cages once employed by the Memphis territory, the first Hell in a Cell match promised blood, brutality and carnage, yet delivered so much more.

Badd Blood – 1997
The Hell in a Cell match made its debut on October 5, 1997 at the Kiel Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The event? In Your House: Badd Blood. The competitors? None other than certified legends Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker.

HBK and The Phenom had been at war since that year’s Summerslam, when Michaels – as special guest referee – inadvertently cost ‘Taker the WWF Championship by drilling him with a steel chair intended for challenger Bret Hart.

Between that night and this, the two had squared off at September’s In Your House: Ground Zero event, in a match which ended in a no contest when both men decided to pummel the official. The only way to settle their differences, it seemed, was to get inside a demonic steel structure and beat the hell out of one another.

And oh, did they ever.

That first match was everything fans hoped it would be, and then some. The two WWF mainstays went at it in a wild, barbaric and bloody brawl that ended only when Kane made his debut in spectacular fashion and cost his brother the match.

The standard was set. ‘Taker and Michaels had not only given fans an insane match, they’d ultimately given Hell in a Cell a reputation as the match of choice for ending the most heated and violent of rivalries.

‘He’s broken in half!’
Such was the case when The Undertaker returned to the structure at the following year’s King of the Ring to do battle with long-time rival Mankind. If the Undertaker created the cell’s reputation as the WWF’s most brutal match with Shawn Michaels, he firmly cemented it in a now legendary stunt-fest with Foley.

Whilst this one may have lacked the drama and intensity of the aforementioned Badd Blood match, it more than made up for it with sheer spectacle and OMG-factor. In scenes that would be replayed for years, ‘Taker launched Mankind from the top of the cage through the announce table, then drove him through the roof to the canvas and generally left Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy in a physical wreck.

It’s fair to say that WWF fans had never seen anything like it before, and it seemed that nothing could tarnish Hell in a Cell’s status as the ultimate feud-ender.

Nothing that is, except the Big Boss Man.

The Boss Man Cometh
The Cell put in a few sporadic appearances throughout the remainder of 1998, mostly as the setting for Raw main events which all ended with the kind of chaotic non-finish so typical of the time. When it did make its pay per view return in 1999, the results were hardly spectacular.

First up, The Undertaker returned to the structure he’d made his home over the last two years to take on the Boss Man in a match which, whilst far from being completely terrible, was certainly a huge let down compared to previous ppv outings for both The Phenom and his steel playpen.

To make matters worse, Big Boss Man returned to the cell later that year in a match that is still regarded as one of history’s worst matches in both idea and execution.

Though not technically a straight Hell in the Cell encounter, the infamous Kennel from Hell match did at least feature the cell structure. Inside it, the Boss Man and Al Snow first had to escape from a traditional cage, then get out of the cell, all whilst avoiding the attack of supposedly rabid dogs. For their part, the dogs largely ignored the action and instead spent their time humping one another, peeing all over the place and defecating.

In the space of just one year, Hell in a Cell had gone from the showcase of the most violent and awesome matches to, well, literal crap.

Yet all was not lost.

Hunter and Taker make it their own
Over the next several years, Hell in a Cell began to reestablish itself as the place to settle scores in the most violent way possible, thanks in no small part to the two men who hold the most wins between the steel, Triple H and Cell veteran, The Undertaker.

Every one of the eleven Hell in a Cell matches that took places between 2000 and 2008 featured either Hunter or The Phenom squaring off against a slew of opponents ranging from Shawn Michaels to Brock Lesnar via Jericho, Batista, and even the McMahons. In some cases, such as the six man WWF Championship cell match at Armageddon 2000, the two superstars both shared the cage the same time.

Along the way, the two tenured WWE superstars created a number of awesome matches. For Triple H, there was his February 2000 brawl against Cactus Jack (the first cell match since the aforementioned Kennel from Hell), his Vengeance ‘05 war with Batista, and even his Bad Blood 2004 encounter with Shawn Michaels which, admittedly, is something of an acquired taste.

For The Undertaker, we had his brutal No Mercy 2002 clash with Lesnar, a good brawl with Orton in 2005, and an absolutely awesome outing with rival Edge at the 2008 Survivor Series.

So it made sense when the two headliners found themselves at loggerheads in the early part of this decade, they finally met inside the cell at Wrestlemania 28. With Shawn Michaels as the referee, Hunter/Taker Hell in a Cell remains possibly one of the best, certainly one of the most memorable, WWE matches of the last several years.

Although by this time of course, Hell in a Cell had found a new life of its own.

A pay per view attraction
By 2009, the WWE brain trust had decided that many of their second-tier pay per views (ie: anything outside of the traditional Big Four) needed to have a gimmick. That gave us short-lived concepts such as Bragging Rights, but it also gave us events which continue on to this day, such as the Extreme Rules pay per view and, of course, an event built around the idea of the top stars duking it out inside the cell.

With the gimmick’s reputation for brutality firmly restored, the first Hell in a Cell pay per view took place on October 4, 2009, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, and did its best to tarnish said reputation once again.

In the opening match, The Undertaker obliterated World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk in a very one-sided affair, all while mostly ignoring the cage structure. The night’s WWE Championship bout between Orton and Cena faired a little better, though the main event, pitting DX against Legacy members Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr. failed to live up to their Summerslam 2009 outing, and again could have been exactly the same match without the cell.

Over the following four years, October’s Hell in a Cell pay per view continued to churn out a mixed bag of matches ranging from the sorely lackluster to the sublimely enjoyable. 2010 may have given us an entertaining clash between WWE Champion Randy Orton and Irishman Seamus, but it also gave us an appalling effort from Undertaker and Kane.

2011 gave us a couple of strong outings in the form of Orton/Henry and a tripple-threat between Cena, Punk and Del Rio, though as with DX/Legacy from 2009, neither match really benefited from the Hell in a Cell gimmick.

2012 gave us a memorable encounter between Punk and erstwhile Next Big Thing, Ryback. The two returned to the cell the following year, this time with Paul Heyman ‘tagging’ with Ryback in a handicap match which, once again,had no need for the cell. Luckily, Orton and Daniel Bryan came to the rescue with a fairly inspired bout.

All of which means that when it comes to match quality at Hell in a Cell 2014, what we’ll get is anybody’s guess. A wild, chaotic brawl between Ambrose and Rollins to rival HHH/Cactus Jack perhaps? Or something one small step away from Kennel from Hell? If history is anything to go by, it may just be that we get a little of both.

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My WWE Mount Rushmore

September 10, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Before I get into the guys who are in my Mount Rushmore, I need to breakdown why certain legends are not represented.

I grew up watching WWE in the 1980’s, starting with WrestleMania 1. Somewhere during the greatest era in wrestling history, my priorities changed and I stopped watching. I had a vague idea of what was going on but I had zero emotion invested in the product. Thanks to the WWE Network, I know exactly what I missed. Without question, I recognize Shawn Michaels as the greatest performer in WWE history. Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock are biggest stars this company has ever seen. The Nature Boy Rick Flair is a 16-time champion and the only two-time WWE Hall of Famer. For pretty obvious reasons (not watching their careers play out live), these Hall of Famers do not have a place on my WWE Mount Rushmore.

Hulk Hogan

The first and most obvious member of my Mount Rushmore is the Immortal Hulk Hogan. As a kid growing up and watching wrestling in the 80’s, I looked up to Hogan. He was the face of the company and dominated the WWE Championship. Everything he did was geared towards kids and of course I loved it all.

I vividly remember watching King Kong Bundy hit avalanche after avalanche and splash after splash on Hogan during a Saturday Night Main Event. I truly believed he was seriously injured, if not dead. Then, like the God I believed he was, he came back and defended his WWE World Title against Bundy at WrestleMania 2.

His amazing comeback victory over Hercules after surviving the backbreaker rack, programs with Macho Man Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and of course Andre the Giant made him larger than life.

Even today when I hear “I Am A Real American”, the little kid inside of me still gets a little excited. Hulk Hogan will always have a special place in my heart.

CM Punk

Next on my list is CM Punk. This is the one that I know people will question the most. I’m fully aware that he’s not in the top four of greatest WWE superstars ever.

Here’s a cliff notes story that will explain this. At some point in 2010 I was flipping through the channel guide and saw that Monday Night RAW was on so I decided to stop and see what they were up to. A few minutes into the show, a small, soft guy with a bunch of tattoos came out and started talking. I was immediately sucked in. I can’t remember exactly what he was talking about but I was hooked. I had absolutely no idea who he was but I wanted more and had to see what he was all about. I credit CM Punk with singlehandedly bringing me back to wrestling. With as much as I have enjoyed my time watching wrestling again, I am extremely grateful that he was on TV that night.

When it comes to in-ring performers, his skills do the talking. And when it comes to talking, he’s the best I have ever heard. There have been so many promos where I couldn’t tell if he was being real or not. His famous “Pipe Bomb” on RAW will go down in history as one of the greatest promos of all time.

Punk always stayed true to himself and I love that about him. Outside of the persona, he’s one of the best in-ring workers I’ve ever seen. This applies to most people, but outside of Hogan, I haven’t seen anyone hold the WWE Championship longer than Punk. That was a truly historic streak. All of that combined, Punk will always be an all-time favorite of mine.

The Undertaker

Someone that should be on everyone’s Mount Rushmore is The Undertaker. I will never forget seeing him debut at Survivor Series in 1990. At that time, I had no idea what was going on and didn’t recall anything like him before. He is the true definition of one of a kind. 24 years later and we still haven’t seen anything like him. His size, athleticism, look and ability to always keep in character and never let that go, makes him one of the greatest of all time.

How he went 21 years undefeated at WrestleMania is simply amazing. Just the fact that he was able to perform at that many WrestleManias is an incredible feat.

In addition to all of that, there is no one in the history of wrestling that has a better entrance than The Undertaker. The moment the gong hits, I immediately get chills. No one in the history of the company can ever come close to topping what he does every time he comes to the ring.

Unfortunately, I was not able to see the bulk of his career but I was there for his debut and I will be there for his retirement and without question amazing Hall of Fame speech.

Brock Lesnar

Finally, the Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar rounds out my WWE Mount Rushmore. I did miss his meteoric rise into the WWE, but I am very much aware of what he did. Has anyone ever made such an impact on the WWE in that short amount of time? None that I can come up with.

Don’t forget, I’m a huge MMA fan and when I heard that Brock Lesnar was trying to become a fighter I thought it was a joke. I knew he was a stud collegiate wrestler, but there’s no way he was going to be a successful professional fighter. He ended up winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship. I know this is a wrestling thing but him kicking ass in the UFC makes him very special.

I don’t think there was anyone more excited than me for his return. When he showed up on RAW and hit John Cena with an F-5, I knew I was seeing something very special. I watched all his destruction in his first run online and I am very much enjoying his second run in the WWE.

Just like his first run, he made an impact bigger than anything anyone can ever imagine. Despite losing a couple times, he was still so dominating in defeat. I will never forget the night that he defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania. I absolutely hated the idea that someone like Brock was the one to break the streak. But as time went on, it really grew on me and I fell in love with the idea. Then, as I predicted, he beats – no he destroys John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I never thought I would see a day that Super Cena would get dominated like that.

He hasn’t had a long career, but I can’t think of anyone who has made a bigger impact. With the combination of him and Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar is arguably one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the WWE and that’s why he’s made my WWE Mount Rushmore.

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Best and Worst of WWE Royal Rumble 1993

August 28, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

After watching part one of the WWE Network’s “Monday Night War” series, I decided that I would take full advantage of the Network and go back to when it all started. With Raw beginning to air in January of 1993, I’d follow the WWF on pay-per-view going forward and pick up the WCW when Nitro starts in September of 1995.

The first pay-per-view on the docket just happens to be one of the more exciting each year: the Royal Rumble.

Best: The Gorilla and The Brain

There may not have been a better commentary team in wrestling history. Gorilla played the straight man to Heenan’s sniveling, weasel character and he played it to perfection.

The back-and-froth between the two was fantastic, with Heenan making hilarious comment after hilarious comment and Gorilla not buying a damn second of it. This was back before we had clearly defined face and heel commentators and not just three idiots yelling at the top of their lungs about why what you’re watching is terrible.

Best: Pre-Poppa Pump Scott Steiner

Before he was the leader of the Freaks and breaking down statistical odds for his opponents (or calling them faaaaaaat asses), Scott Steiner was arguably the best wrestler on the planet in terms of pure in-ring ability. He could hoss the shit out of you and bust out a Frankensteiner in the next sequence. He could chain wrestle and then throw something crazy like the Steiner Screwdriver at you to end a match. Early ‘90s Scott Steiner really was a sight to behold.

Worst: The match itself

If there’s one thing I never got, it was the Beverly Brothers. Two moderately muscled guys with awful blonde mullets slowly doing their thing never really grasped me. They weren’t overtly bad; they were just kind of jerks standing in the way of our favorite tag teams.

Here, they have a traditional face/heel match: they isolate Scott Steiner and slowly work him over, Rick gets the hot tag and a short time later Scott hits the Frankensteiner for the win. Typical formulaic match. The Steiners get to do all their cool moves but the rest of it just feels like a slow match waiting for the signature moves to happen.

Best: Brain Scan

Because why wouldn’t you give Bobby Heenan his own play-by-play telecaster?

Best: The build-up for this feud

Remember when Marty Jannetty was a relevant character on WWF programming? Yeah, Marty probably doesn’t either. But the build-up for this feud was faaaaaaaantastic. We all know the story by now: the two were teammates as The Rockers, the WWF’s groundbreaking tag team that helped bring smaller guys who can bounce all over the ring to the forefront. Michaels turned on Jannetty in the iconic “Barber Shop” segment and the feud was set in motion. It’s capped off with a great video package, featuring shots like this:

Worst: That was disappointing

You would think a match between the former Rockers would be fantastic, but this one was slow and plodding from the start and never really seemed to pick up the pace. While there is some great early “Shawn Michaels oversells like a super goof” going on here, it never really lived up to the hype of it all.

Then there was the finish. It took forever to develop and Sherri just kind of stands around until it’s time to hit someone with her shoe. Naturally, she hits Jannetty and Michaels retains. We get five more minutes of Sherri screaming and Michaels/Jannetty fighting before we move on to the next segment. It really felt like a missed opportunity for these two to fly around for 15 minutes and steal the show.

Worst: Your typical early ‘90s WWF big man match

This should’ve been hoss-fest 1993. The Big Bossman was one of the WWF’s premier big men back in the day, capable of trucking his opponents but also putting on a decent match in the process. Bam Bam Bigelow was arguably one of the greatest big men of all-time. He could do a freakin’ moonsault, for Jebas’ sake. So why wasn’t this better?

Somehow, two of the best big men in the game combined to have a slow, plodding, sloppy match that didn’t look half as physical as it should have aside from a nasty backdrop by Bam Bam that sent the Bossman over the top, spinning faster than a 300-plus pound man should. You don’t need a lot of standing around and posturing followed by crappy looking rest holds when you have two guys who can just truck the shit out of each other for 10 minutes.

Worst: Bret Hart probably shouldn’t talk so much

Early in his singles career, Bret was regarded for his fantastic in-ring abilities and rightfully so. He could sell the hell out of a story in the ring like few others. But letting him talk was a whole other story. His promo regarding his match against Razor Ramon went something like this (only slightly paraphrasing):

“Well Mean Gene, ya see this isn’t your typical WWF title match. It’s personal. It’s blood. It’s family. It’s not like your normal match because it’s personal because Razor Ramon made it personal. This is personal, Gene. And tonight I’m gonna defend my WWF championship and I’m gonna defend my family because defend I will defend. DEFEND.”

That’s really not that far off of what it actually was. Maybe stick to excellently executing, eh Hitman?

Best: Bret Hart can tell a story
Supplementary worst: Razor’s selling

This match shows why Bret was given the title in 1992 (besides the fact that he was a small guy in a land of guys who were clearly on steroids): he was the best in the business at taking a convincing beating and garnering the crowd’s sympathy and support. Seriously, Razor, who was still pretty green in terms of ability at that point, looks like a seasoned vet methodically taking Bret apart with power move after power move and Bret selling it like he can hardly take it anymore.

When Bret gets his shots in, it’s the smartest possible move: he’s up against a much bigger guy and works on his knees when he gets a chance to get his offense in, softening up Razor for the Sharpshooter. Wrestling psychology 101. And he even throws in a suicide dive, making them cool long before the CM Punk’s and Daniel Bryan’s of the world started doing them in front of huge audiences. The finish was fantastic, with Bret going from a pinning combination to slapping on the Sharpshooter while on his back. Bret was in his own stratosphere technically back then.

The only thing I’ll worst in this match is Razor’s selling of Bret working over his knee. He winces and hobbles a little bit, but basically forgets he’s supposed to be selling when doing anything else and even uses his bad leg in his offense, kicking and deploying knees to the side of “the Hitman”. Either sell full out or don’t bother. Hopping around for a few seconds before using your leg like it was never even worked on defeats the purpose of selling. Maybe he should’ve asked Bret how to do that before this match started. He was selling Razor’s work on his ribs even as he’s executing moves 10 minutes into the match.

Worst: The Narcissist debuts

It’s not that I necessarily hate the gimmick – Tyler Breeze plays a wonderful narcissist – it’s that any time we’re subjected to Lex Luger, it’s not a good thing. He’s got the look promoters drool over, but after that it’s all downhill. He can barely cut coherent promos, stumbling over words like the Shockmaster stumbles through walls. He’s the stiffest sell in the business, screaming bloody murder with each blow.

Luger has value for a certain portion of the crowd and that’s fine, but not all of us are going to buy him as a legitimate top guy simply because he’s got a lot of muscles. Luger always felt like a bit of a wasted opportunity as a performer, someone who had one of the intangibles (physique) that everyone wanted, but couldn’t figure out the rest of what being a wrestler was about. Not to mention his finisher was a running forearm (I’m fairly certain there was a backstory about how he got into a motorcycle accident and had to have a steel plate put into his forearm).

Worst: The Rumble match
Supplementary best: The first two

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to start the Royal Rumble than with two former world champions who also happen to be masters in the ring. Flair was on his way out at this point (he would have a “loser leaves the WWF” match with Mr. Perfect the next night on RAW), having dropped the title to Hart in Saskatoon at a house show, but he was still “The Nature Boy” and one of the best in the game. Anything he did in the WWF felt like a big deal because of his reputation and the fact that he was still relatively new in town.

Meanwhile, Bob Backlund was making his return after a decade or so and still looked like Archie in wrestling tights. Backlund was criminally underrated throughout his entire career, including his early ‘90s run against WWF Champ Hart. He’s not quite insane and screaming at everyone at this point, but that doesn’t make him any less interesting.

Aside from that, the Rumble itself wasn’t great. There were a ton of tag team wrestlers and not a lot of star power and the match just kind of plods along for a while, waiting for the important pieces to show up and do what they’re supposed to. It also gets a gigantic worst, but you’ll see that later on.

Still, we get to see awesome names from the past like Max Moon, The Berzerker, Damien Demento, Koko B. Ware and the Repo Man. And…wait, is that Genichiro Tenryu? We get some of the more embarrassing types, but we get a Japanese legend and several past and future world champions in Backlund, Flair, Jerry Lawler, Undertaker and Randy Savage. It’s not the 1992 lineup, but we’ve certainly had worse rosters in the Rumble match.

Worst: This friggin’ guy

The only complaint I have about this match is not only that the Undertaker, still very fresh into his undead mortician gimmick, was eliminated so quickly but by the least intimidating wrestler in the history of the company: the Giant Gonzales.

For those of you who don’t remember, Gonzales was literally an 8’0” tall guy who wore this weird muscle suit with fur covering up specific parts of his faux-anatomy. He is like the Great Khali now only somehow worse. He had no offense, he couldn’t sell because god forbid if he ever hit the ground, he’d never get back up. He just walks around bulging his eyes out all crazy and acting like being tall is intimidating. Not only that, but this leads to several minutes of Damien Demento and I.R.S-based action and no one wants that.

Best: The Natural Disasters collide!

Okay, so maybe this wasn’t that big of a deal at all (seriously, the crowd paid it no mind) but it was cool and kind of hilarious to see two fat dues in spandex just run into each other a bunch of times because that’s all they really can do.

Not only that, but they couldn’t run into each other without it being sloppy. Glancing blows, punches that only kind of land and a general apathy for having to be out there when they could be chowing down somewhere make this all unintentionally hilarious and one of the least memorable partner feuds in the history of wrestling. Mercifully, it ended relatively quickly, with Typhoon getting himself off the mat far enough to kind of maybe hit his head on the post and flop out to the floor. The feud lasted only that night and was never mentioned again.

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