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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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Let’s Talk About the UnderFaker

August 25, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

My dad, God rest his soul had five favorite wrestlers: Roddy Piper, Mick Foley, The Road Warriors and The Undertaker. He liked Piper because he hated Hogan and said whatever on his mind (My dad: original SMARK), Foley because he was one crazy tough SOB, The Road Warriors because of his Chicago roots (I know they were from Minnesota and he knew but still) and The Undertaker because it reminded him of Michael Myers when he sat up, plus it was a badass gimmick.

He used to scare the shit out of me whenever he did it to me whenever I was distracted, so PARENTING! I remember before the 1996 King of the Ring actually getting the chance to meet The Undertaker at Seven Mile Fair (Visualize a giant-ass rummage sale) and I think my dad was looking forward to it more than anybody else. Fun fact, it was supposed to be Warrior doing the signing but he flaked out at the last moment, so The Undertaker stepped up at the last minute. There were two things I remembered about that day; one The Undertaker looked weird out of character. Two, The Undertaker made my dad look small. My dad was about 6’5 and weighed about 300 pounds and Taker just dwarfed him. I actually didn’t get his autograph or anything like that because the line was super long, but there was just an aura about the guy.

Well, that’s about the LAST good thing we’re talking about in this article, because we’re talking about The UnderFaker angle!

This article has some relevance, continuing my theme of celebrating anniversaries: Hulkamania, WrestleMania, Hogan going to WCW and now this.

Heading into 1994, The Undertaker wasn’t in the best shape physically. His back was hurting and not from carrying Giant Gonzales but the man was in real pain. Taker had taken to wearing a back brace to ease the pain, but it was heading to a point in-which he needed time off. It should be noted that he was in such pain that it would require him to take extensive time off. In his Timeline 1994 interview (Which I highly recommend), Sean Waltman implied that Taker was in such bad shape that by today’s standards, nobody would be allowed to work in that type of condition. Now, this is a man whom a year later would duct tape a flak jacket to his chest because he broke his ribs for a good period of time and came back a month later from having his face destroyed by Mabel. So the company needed a way to take The Undertaker off television and it had to be done in a way that didn’t make him look weak.

They had to kill him.

At the 1994 Royal Rumble, the Undertaker and Yokozuna feud was set to be blown off in a casket match. While it might seem lame, they built it up quite well by selling that Yokozuna was afraid of caskets. Taker had the match won, but then the following people ran in: Crush, Tenryu, Kabuki, The Headshrinkers, Diesel, Adam Bomb, Jeff Jarrett, and Bam Bam Bigelow. They all beat the crap out of The Undertaker, opened up the urn, and locked him in the casket. Think about it like this, they never did this for Hogan; they never booked half the heels on the roster to attack him in a match so that he could be kept strong. As they rolled him to the back, green smoke billowed out and The Undertaker cut a promo from in the casket saying that he bill reborn before exploding and rising up to the heavens. Today, it looks completely stupid but young Robert it’s a holy crap this is awesome moment. Fun fact: Marty Jannetty played The Undertaker. There is a joke about Jannetty being the Jannetty of the two Undertakers’, but I’m above that.

So, you’d think that they’d have a kick-ass angle planned for his return. Maybe have reports on WWE TV that Kabuki and Tenryu were attacked by a man in black in Japan. Then have random stories about the men behind the attack being attacked by the same mysterious man in black throughout the months that follow. Then on a Raw with just a few men left (Jarrett, a Heashrinker, Bigelow), they gather in the ring and talk about how they’re not afraid of The Undertaker and that is when the lights go out. The lights come back, and WHAM! The Undertaker is standing in the ring. Taker wipes out the first two leaving him and Bigelow and you got yourself a SummerSlam match. Taker beats Bigelow, setting up the inevitable grudge match between Taker and Yoko.

*Drops microphone.*

*Microphone gets intercepted by Vince McMahon.*

Vince: WE CAN’T HAVE THAT DAMMIT.

Instead we got the start of the fake Undertaker angle, or UnderFaker. After WrestleMania, vignettes started to appear on WWE television about random people spotting the Undertaker out in public, which is quite funny now considering how Mark Calaway’s obsession with keeping in character for the last decade. Ted DiBiase shows up on television claiming that he has found The Undertaker and the he is now in control of The Undertaker, despite Bearer’s claims that it wasn’t true. In-fact, Bearer had been searching for the spirit of The Undertaker all this time, but he had failed to find it. Well, he should have looked at the WrestleMania Fan Fest since The Undertaker was signing autographs that day. This was a great continuity nod since DiBiase had brought Taker into the company, so credit to whoever decided to go with DiBiase in this role. The Underfaker made his debut and promptly fooled nobody.

For one, “The Undertaker” was about four inches shorter, and had less mass than the real Undertaker. While Taker was never a big guy, he was built rather well for his size rather than the new Undertaker who looked a bit light for his size. I do have to give Brian Lee credit; he studied the original Taker well and had most of the mannerisms and movements down well. It’s similar to how John Reynolds wore metallic rigging under his pants to play Torgo in Manos: The Hands of Fate, putting effort in for a crap venture. It should be noted that this was the start of a year-long feud between The Undertaker and The Million Dollar Corporation. I’m all for long-term feuds but man this was only bad but it was boring with some classic stinker matches. Taker vs Faker, IRS, Tatanka, Bundy, and Kama (At least their IYH dark match, the casket match isn’t so bad). It should be noted that we never got a major Undertaker vs Bigelow match or feud despite that being the best option.

A problem arose when Domino’s Pizza, which was sponsoring Summerslam leaked the Undertaker’s return against the not Undertaker by sending flyers for Summerslam advertising the Taker vs Taker match. Before it was announced I should add. They also brought in Leslie Nielsen as Frank Drebin to find the Undertaker and while people have hated these bits, they’re not totally awful. The first few are classic Drebin with wordplay, but they went downhill when they did them at Summerslam. According to Jim Ross, Nielsen had fun and wasn’t like most celebrities who treat a wrestling appearance akin to a prostate exam conducted by Freddy Krueger.

After all that, we were finally to the big Summerslam match and since this was Taker’s big return he went on last. Bret Hart, mighty pissed at that notion decide to go over the allotted time for his cage match with Owen, cutting the allotted time for the main event. Bless his soul for that one, since the match isn’t super awful (It is bad) but it’s a weird watch. The crowd is hot for Taker when he returns, but they’re dead anytime Faker is on offense. The response for Taker on offense starts off hot, but dies down and I think the fans just wanted it to end. “Alright, we got the Sweetness appearance, the awesome cage match, Taker is back, now can we please get the hell out of here?” In the end, Taker wins and this angle is never talked about again.

Until I talked about it, today.

Sorry bringing up traumatic memories.

Not really.

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The Undertaker Ice Bucket Challenge Video

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

I never in a million years thought I’d see this one coming. The Undertaker has reappeared after going A.W.O.L. since having his streak broken by Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. The Undertaker has resurfaced as part of the ice bucket challenge with a mysterious video that you would expect from the dead man.

The Undertaker is arguably the most protective of his character in the pro wrestling business. Rarely do you see this man out of character. While he is out of character here, he still keeps it mysterious. The lights are kept dim but you could hear what I would guess is his little girl’s voice in the background having a great time with her daddy and the challenge. Check it out for yourself!

As far as an actual update or status on the Dead Man that is unknown at this time. The rumor immediately after WrestleMania was that Taker would indeed retire and not lace up the boots again. However, there have been rumblings lately that he may possibly be up for one more match. Sting has certainly been pushing for that match. Any chance Sting gets a chance he drops the fact that he’d love to wrestle Undertaker at WrestleMania.

I still think the money is in a Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker rematch. I have not heard a peep about it but I think after a year of Heyman and Lesnar mocking the victory, revenge for Taker would be a huge money match. There are all kinds of scenarios you can book to accomplish this. I do think that should be the last match with a stipulation made that if Taker loses he retires. The Sting match is nice but the money is on Taker-Brock 2 in my opinion.

In the meantime the best we are going to get is a dimly lit Undertaker pouring ice on his head. I’ll take it!

CCB Extra – Hot Topics: Stephanie McMahon, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Lana, and More

July 25, 2014 By: Category: Podcast, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Freelance writer and published author Chris Illuminati and the CCB’s own Eric Gargiulo talk about all of the latest pro wrestling news and hot WWE rumors. This giant one-hour plus podcast also touches on a lot of old school wrestling with plenty of talk about the wrestling Eric and Chris grew up watching in the 1980s. The list of news and rumors covered in this podcast are…

  • WWE Battleground results and reaction
  • WWE RAW and the big angle featuring Stephanie McMahon getting arrested
  • The controversy surrounding Lana and Rusev’s promo at Battleground
  • Sting in the WWE, will he wrestle, and against who?
  • The future of Brock Lesnar
  • The booking of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H
  • Paul Heyman’s promo on RAW
  • Where is Vince McMahon?
  • John Cena’s longevity as a babyface
  • Rumors regarding possible legal action the WWE may take against CM Punk
  • And much, much more.

This podcast topped out at around 67-minutes. Check back soon for more podcasts from Chris and Eric!

Check it out and let us know if you want to hear more podcasts like this one in the future. Subscribe the CCB Extra podcast on iTunes at – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/camel-clutch-blog/id787421073?mt=2

Chris Illuminati is a published author and freelance writer and can be followed on Twitter @ChrisIlluminati.

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Sting Talks Undertaker and More WWE Dream Matches

July 17, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Sting has finally landed in the WWE. The big question fans keep asking is whether Sting will wrestle The Undertaker. Streak broken or not, Sting is still interested and wants the dream match on the grandest stage in the business.

Sting debuted Monday night on RAW in a video promoting WWE 2K15. While a video game is nice, what the fans really want to see is Sting in a WWE ring. Better yet, they want to see him one on one with the dead man. Will it happen? If it’s up to Sting it will.

“I’ve made it clear I’d love to have one last hurrah, one last big match hopefully. And of course I’ve been outspoken about Undertaker being the opponent,” he told the UK Mirror when asked about one more match.

“I know what happened at WrestleMania where Brock Lesnar broke his streak. I think, or at least I’m hoping, that Taker’s still going to come back and that he’s not done. If he’s not done, and he would consider doing it, I’d love to work with him one time.

“I’d love to wrestle him one time before I call it quits.”

“Undertaker maintains a status in wrestling and the WWE that is second to none. He’s a phenomenon,” Sting adds, before answering unequivocally as to where he might like his dream match to take place: “How about San Francisco, 2015, in April?”

What is interesting is that even after numerous reports indicating that the Undertaker was likely done after WrestleMania 30, fans are still being teased with this dream match. If the match is a dead issue you’d think that someone would tell Sting and he’d leave it alone. Maybe this is the WWE’s way of hoping that Sting can entice the Undertaker? I have always said that while the match is a fun idea, I don’t think at their advanced ages that it would come close to living up the hype.

Sting was asked about other options or possible dream match scenarios in the WWE. Sting isn’t hedging all of his bets on the Undertaker, although that would be his choice.

“It’s a no brainer that the Sting-Taker match will be a popular option – that’s one way the fans can make that match happen.

“I always wanted to work with the likes of The Rock, John Cena and Randy Orton so I can’t imagine wrestling fans won’t want to do the same thing.”

When rumors of Sting to WWE started popping up earlier in the year I blogged about the possibility of a Sting vs. Rock or John Cena match at Mania. I think the Rock makes a lot of sense. Sting is a lot less physical than Brock Lesnar and both guys could get by on nostalgia. I also think that Sting may be the one name that could interest the Rock into coming back.

Whether Sting wrestles or not it is fun to think about the possibilities. Undertaker or not, chances are pretty good we’ll see Sting in the WWE and I can’t think of a more fitting way to wrap up his successful pro wrestling career.

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Shawn Michaels Reveals Timing Behind Decision To End Undertaker’s Streak

May 07, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The biggest story of the year thus far remains the end of The Undertaker’s WWE WrestleMania streak. Jim Ross and Shawn Michaels are the latest to offer up their insight, with HBK unraveling a big piece of the booking mystery.

Michaels is probably only second to Mick Foley in arguably being Undertaker’s greatest rival in his WWE career. Michaels knows him well inside and outside of the ring. Michaels solved a big piece of the puzzle on Jim Ross’ latest podcast when he revealed exactly when the decision was made to end the streak.

You know as well as I do that one person and one person alone makes that call. As much as everyone wants to think other people have some say so in that, they don’t. I was stunned like a lot of people. I was there when it all happened. I know what happened. I make the calls around here in my house. That’s the way things go. I’m sure in Vince’s mind, he’s got a reason. That’s just a decision that’s made. One person makes it. And everyone has to abide by it. The reasons for that, I don’t know. I don’t know, you don’t know. I’m sure he does. Like Mark said a number of times, ‘I’ve got the worst record with that man’.

That paints a whole new picture on the match. Maybe the biggest question coming out of the match was exactly when the decision was made to end the streak. Dave Meltzer revealed many details coming out of the match but he never reported exactly when the decision was made. Meltzer has remarked that ending the streak was not the original plan going in, something that HBK now confirms.

Michaels’ timeline brings into the question of the final RAW before WrestleMania. Meltzer reported that up until that RAW, Vince had a strict edict that Undertaker was not to be touched by Brock Lesnar in angles building the match. Brock certainly touched the Dead Man on that final RAW so it was always my hunch that the decision to end the streak actually came on that night.

Looking back on it and accounting for this new information, I would not be surprised if Vince booked the angle on RAW to get an idea of how Undertaker could handle the physicality of Lesnar. Maybe Vince wanted to see how Undertaker looked after some action? Many remarked about how much older Undertaker looked when he returned on RAW to kick off the angle. Maybe Vince felt the same way and started to rethink the booking at that point, not necessarily making the official call until the event.

I am still not entirely convinced that we have seen the last of Undertaker. I wrote a blog last week pondering the idea of a Taker vs. Lesnar rematch. Most fans thought I was crazy but I still think that if Taker could go, that is the match to book. Otherwise I am not sure why you’d want Undertaker wrestling at Mania. Of course this is all contingent on his health which will likely be the determining factor in the equation.

Listen to the entire podcast, which is fantastic right here.

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The Undertaker’s WWE Career: Good Guy?

April 30, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Undertaker’s championship reign ended up being a short one, he only defended it against Davey Boy Smith on a tour of Ontario, beating him both times. After that, Undertaker dropped the belt back to Hogan at the WWE’s PPV special/disaster This Tuesday in Texas, albeit in a controversial finish. Time to shill: the This Tuesday in Texas experiment will be a part of a very special episode of the Robert Zone, you and your family will not want to miss this one.

The Undertaker would enter the 1992 Royal Rumble in an attempt to regain his title, but would fail. In the interim, The Undertaker would continue teaming with Jake Roberts in their various attempts to ruin the life of Randy Savage. Savage would face Robert on Saturday Night’s Main Event (Now on FOX) in what would be the big blow-off to their feud. Savage would vanquish Roberts, but Roberts was going to get the last laugh. As Savage and Liz headed to the back, the snake was lurking with a chair in hand, waiting for the two of them to get backstage.

The great thing about this segment is McMahon panicking as they were heading to the back, demanding that somebody get some help since it was happening “off-air”. Even Heenan was acting concerned as Roberts proclaimed that he didn’t care if Liz or Randy came through first. There is just a great, frantic amount of concern and considering how the WWE was pushing the envelope at the time, you didn’t know what was going to happen. Liz came through first; Jake reared back and was ready to swing until…somebody stopped him. Was it Hogan? Or could it be The Ultimate Warrior returning to seek revenge on the Snake for making him enter a room of fake snakes? Nope, a gray glove reached back and pulled the chair back as The Undertaker prevented the attack.

Certain wrestlers and their alignment on the roster just make sense.

Ricky Steamboat as a baby-face whom is thoroughly incapable of being a bad guy? Makes sense.

Roddy Piper as a crazed Scotsman heel who uses his mouth to antagonize enemies? Perfect

Dusty Rhodes as a blue collar, son of a plumber whose wined and dined with kings and queens, and slept in allies and dined on pork and beans? Better than perfect.

Yet, The Undertaker as a good guy? Alright, that could be considered to be a hard sell in 1992. Sure, most of the older audience found The Undertaker to be cool; the reaction of the average child was to void their bodily functions and go running for their parents.

Yet, Vince McMahon made the decision to make The Undertaker into a good guy in early 1992. People wondered why The Undertaker took the chair away from Roberts, and we would have a Funeral Parlor segment to find the answer. Roberts entered as Bearer went over the various diabolical deeds he committed upon Savage. Roberts demanded that The Undertaker would come out and face him to explain his actions and which side he was on. Taker obliged and gave his answer: Not yours.

This lead to an amazing beat down where Roberts trapped The Undertaker’s hand in a casket and gave Paul Bearer the DDT. The best part was Roberts relentlessly hitting The Undertaker with a chair and every time Jake thought he had The Undertaker down, he’d rise again. It made for a great visual; Roberts relentlessly attacking The Undertaker and backing away, to only have the casket dragging Undertaker pursue him. Jake’s cockiness turned to fright as Roberts kept hitting him, but The Undertaker just kept on stalking him, just dragging that casket. The segment ended up with Jake hightailing it to the back and The Undertaker just kept pursuing him. The crowd seemingly loved the segment too as they lost it every time The Undertaker would rise to stalk Jake.

Now, of course there were some reservations towards the face turn, how would they react when he wasn’t going against Jake Roberts. So, they’d have a heel like The Mountie come out before a televised match and cut a promo to get cheap heat. You know, making fun or the city or ripping the sports team if they were bad. Then, the bell would toll and the crowd would lose it when The Undertaker would come out to shut him up. It looked good for television, heel has a massive amount of heat and the crowd goes berserk when Paul Bearer leads The Undertaker out.

The Undertaker and Jake Roberts were set to collide at WrestleMania, and Jake Roberts would take the evilness up to 11 by claiming that cracking The Undertaker’s head open would be like clubbing a baby seal. Alright, I’m stating this now: 1991-1992 might by the original Attitude Era when I think about it: Warsploitation, snake attacks, animal abuse, weapon attacks, violence against women, violence against Vince McMahon, attempted murder, fireballs, chair shots, voodoo, and bodily function gags.

Jake cut another great but short promo narrating the beat down (On the DDT to Bearer: “Short ride, bad landing”) which might top his promo from WrestleMania VI. The Undertaker got a great response from the crowd. I know most people don’t like the match, but I think it’s a good game of cat and mouse. Jake throwing everything he has in the opening stanza and The Undertaker is just stalking him relentlessly. It’s pretty much a squash match, but there is one great moment. Jake hits the DDT, thinking he has put Taker down and BAM! The Undertaker sits up, and Roberts hits him the short-arm clothesline. Taker rises right back up, but walks right into the second DDT. Jake goes after Bearer, Taker rises and Tombstones him on the floor. Match over, and the snake isn’t seen again until 1996. The Undertaker experiment is working; the fans have embraced the former villain as a hero and who knows what’s next.

The Streak: 2-0

Up Next: Ugandan Giants, Vikings, and a Giant Opponent

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker at WWE WrestleMania 31 Would be Huge

April 30, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Something has occurred to me lately as I have been listening to Paul Heyman gloat daily on WWE television and social media about his client Brock Lesnar ending the streak. If Undertaker can work one more match, a rematch would be massive!

The WWE may have fallen into a situation better than anyone could have even imagined. The wrestling world was shocked and even angry when Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30. Most were upset about the streak ending, many angry about the man who ended it. But what if at the end of all this one of the biggest matches of this era comes out of this controversial decision?

It didn’t dawn on me right away but after listening to Heyman rant about the streak ending I started to wonder if this is exactly where they are going. I certainly could be reading too much into this but when is the last time anyone in the WWE sold a win or loss the way Heyman has? I can guarantee you that it hasn’t been in the last ten years.

There has been a lot written post-script on the idea of Lesnar ending the streak. Most reports indicate that Vince McMahon didn’t pull the trigger on that call until the RAW before Mania. So as much as I’d like to credit Vince for thinking big picture, I won’t kid myself into thinking this was part of the plan. Yet it is funny how some of the best angles just happen to fall into his lap. This is one of them.

The biggest question here is The Undertaker. Physically he is banged up according to most reports. His physical condition following the match with Lesnar has been well documented. Taker reportedly suffered a concussion during the match and wound up going to the hospital immediately after the bout. Vince wound up leaving Mania to go to the hospital with Taker.

You won’t find better drama than this in an angle!

Imagine the heat Taker would get if he were to reappear on RAW sometime next year to confront Paul Heyman? Imagine how excited the fans would be to see Taker get his revenge on Lesnar and Heyman and avenge his loss? Even better, imagine if fans knew that this could be The Undertaker’s last hurrah and the match included a stipulation like the Mania 26 match with Taker and Shawn Michaels in that if Taker loses, he retires. That my friends is a money match!

As for the match, they could keep it simple. They don’t need to do a long, methodical match like they did at 30. I say all you need to get from the Dead Man is 10 minutes. Give them 10 minutes of fast action, intensity, brawling, and drama and keep it as safe for Taker as possible. The match doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to be intense to make this workable.

This could all just be a case of fantasy booking on my end with no WWE plans at all on doing another match. But if they do, I think it could be one of the biggest matches in WWE history.

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The Undertaker’s WWE Career: The Funeral Parlor Attack, An Alliance & The Gravest Challenge

April 25, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

As I’ve talked about in previous articles, the main event scene in 1991 was pretty sparse with heels. We were still a few months away from Ric Flair’s blow-up with Jim Herd (Do not get me started on that), so the company needed to act fast. First, a heel turn by Jake Roberts was set in motion; a great thing since Roberts was hitting the ceiling on what he could do as a face.

After WrestleMania VII, The Undertaker would be placed in a feud with the number two face in the company, the Ultimate Warrior. The events were set in motion on a segment called The Funeral Parlor, Bearer’s talk show segment. Bearer called out any superstar on the roster to come on his show. The Ultimate Warrior accepted and came on the show and in that segment; the rocket ship was effectively placed on the ass of the Undertaker and the push began.

Warrior came on, as new commentator Randy Savage openly talked about his bitterness towards Warrior ending his career. Bearer showed off his new casket, a double-XL casket adorned with Warrior logos, made just for the Warrior. Warrior got physical with Bearer and the Undertaker came out of one of the caskets propped up. This always added intrigue to the segment would the Undertaker attack and which casket would he come out of? Taker would beat Warrior down as Savage openly cheered for what we were seeing. This was unique since Warrior rarely got his ass kicked this badly on television, and it got Taker over as a huge threat.

With Warrior down and out, Taker stuffed him into the custom casket, and you know what made this segment? Savage. Savage went from openly cheering for the Undertaker, calling for Undertaker to put him in the casket. After they placed Warrior in the casket and locked it up, Savage changed his tune and began rooting for the people to open it up. Savage pretty much did an about face during the whole segment and it added to the tension of them trying to break Warrior out. If you can get past the creepiness of watching it today, I recommend that you give it a watch. Great segment and McMahon/Piper/Savage played their roles perfectly.

Warrior and Undertaker would engage in a series of matches on the house show circuit, with the occasional body bag match being thrown in. The concept was simple; the winner would place the loser in a body bag. They had a big blow-off at MSG, Warrior won the match and there was a cool visual after the match. The Undertaker doing the Michael Myers sit-up in the body bag was frigging awesome. On television, Warrior had enlisted Jake Roberts to help him figure out the secret to the Undertaker’s darkness.

Yes, the segments were pure WrestleCrap with Warrior being buried alive, placed in a casket, and facing Jake’s snake in a room full of snakes. The last one was pretty laughable, but the payoff was worth it. Warrior gets bit, breaks through the door and crashes to the floor. Warrior’s hands grasped onto a black boot as a familiar theme began to play. The camera panned up to the Undertaker in what was a pants-crapping moment to me as a kid. Roberts uttered these immortal words to Warrior as he reached out to Jake:

“Yeah, reach out to a snake. Never trust a snake.”

With that, the alliance between The Undertaker and Jake Roberts was forged. Now, this should have led to a Jake Roberts/Ultimate Warrior feud, but as we all know that did not happen. Instead, Taker and Roberts would crash the Randy Savage/Elizabeth wedding reception in all its glorious cheesiness by hiding a snake in a gift. As a kid, I wondered why Hogan and Warrior weren’t there, and was reminded that Savage pissed those guys off for about two straight years. I did however go bonkers when I saw SID with a wooden chair run both guys off.

Then it happened.

I presume every wrestling fan has that moment when they go from being a casual watcher to being hooked. SID and Jake Roberts were set to lead Survivor Series teams and SID was going against El Diablo who had blonde hair, wore a mask and gi. Sid came out and if you don’t know by now, I’m a huge Sid mark. I’ll defend the big lug till the day I die for that matter. The match was set to begin when The Undertaker came out, Paul Bearer with him as always. Bearer had no urn, but a briefcase as he summoned El Diablo outside. Bearer gave him the briefcase as Undertaker began to take off his coat and hat.

HOLY SH%T, IT IS HAPPENING thought two year old me; I was going nuts at the thought of Sid against The Undertaker. Hell, my dad wanted to see this happen. The crowd was going nuts; I was losing it as everybody wanted to see this fight go down. It was like seeing Godzilla face Undead Zombie Godzilla as both men stared each-other down. Then, El Diablo came out and it was Jake Roberts all along under the mask. They beat the crap out of Sid and Jim Duggan of all people saved the day. This is another one of those great segments you should check out.

The alliance between both men would continue, but The Undertaker was suddenly announced as the new number one contender to face Hulk Hogan. Hulkamania had faced monsters, bitter friends, terrible actors, Iraqi sympathizers, but now he was facing death itself. It was an interesting twist since Hogan’s popularity was starting to wane, and they built it you didn’t know if Hulk was actually leaving with the belt. Everybody assumed that Hogan was on his way to face Flair at WrestleMania VIII. It was being marketed as The Gravest Challenge and of course we needed a Funeral Parlor segment.

This one would have the same set-up with the custom made casket and then Ric Flair showed up. I do believe this was the first major TV confrontation between the two, and Flair cut a great promo calling out Hogan, putting a twist on Hogan’s famous “Whatcha Gonna Do?” spiel. As Hogan responded, WHAM the Undertaker attacked him with the urn as him and Flair teamed up on Hogan. The best moment was Piper and Savage leaving the booth with chairs and them trying to hit Taker with the chairs. It was great television and added to the build-up as Hogan was cutting serious and tremendous promos in the build-up. It made you feel like Hulkamania was truly facing death itself.

As a kid, a two year old Hulkamaniac, I was pumped to see this match at my grandparents on Thanksgiving night. There was a certain atmosphere to the match that I just loved that makes me consistently re-watch the match. It’s not a classic, but the crowd was pumped and I think it was the first match that I disagreed with my dad about. He was adamant that The Undertaker was going to crush Hogan mostly just to mess with me.

I just loved Hogan doing his routine and Taker just staring him down throughout the whole thing. Then, just when I thought that Hogan was going to vanquish Undertaker, they pulled the rug right out from underneath me. Tombstone on the chair thanks to Flair and the crowd popped hard when it happened. Of course it wasn’t meant to be, but we got three pretty good promos, Piper cutting a crazy promo comparing the result to David Duke being president, a classic screaming Flair promo and a Taker promo to end the show. The image of Taker closing the casket and his theme playing scared the absolute hell out of me as kid.

As we all know, it wasn’t meant to last, but that’s for another article

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection DVD

WWE The Paul Heyman Story

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