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Chris Jericho Talks Dean Ambrose, WWE Run, and Vince McMahon

October 20, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Chris Jericho may gone from WWE rings but he has not left the WWE Universe. The former undisputed champion is making the media rounds promoting his new book and has some interesting thoughts on his feud with Bray Wyatt, Vince McMahon, and more.

Jericho was a recent guest on Turnbuckle Weekly with Chuck Carroll. He made a great appearance as usual in promotion of his new book “The Best In The World At What I Have No Idea”. Jericho was asked about his recent run in the WWE as well as past relationships with key WWE personnel and offered up some interesting insight as expected.

Jericho was asked about earning Vince McMahon’s respect and had this to say about the boss man.

“Once you gain that respect from Vince he expects it and wants that feedback. He’s surrounded by a lot of ‘yes men’ that don’t want to get into debates. When I’m questioning him, it’s never disrespectfully. I never say this is a stupid idea or you’re an idiot or a moron, because that’s not the way you get things done. I will say, “Vince, I think we can do this better” or “what is it you want from this, because I don’t understand it?” Or sometimes, it’s just blatantly “no, this is the way we’re doing it because I’m the boss and you’re not” and you have to accept that and respect that as well.

Things aren’t always rosy with the boss. Jericho and McMahon have been at odds several times over the course of his long WWE run.

Yes, there is a lot of confrontations with Vince, but that’s because there’s a mutual respect. And some of them get out of control,” he said. “It’s only because both of us respect each other, trust each other, and believe each other. It doesn’t mean I’m always going to like the things he does or the things he wants to do. And it doesn’t mean that he’s going to like the things that I do and the way that I act and react to things either.

Jericho appeared on my good buddy Brian Fritz’s Between the Ropes podcast recently as well. Jericho offered up some great analysis on his recent WWE run.

The Bray Wyatt cage match in Baltimore and then the Randy Orton – Night of Champions match in Nashville I thought were two…whatever a five star match is. Two really really really good matches that I would put on my list of all-time favorites. And that was good to know because as the years go by, I feel just as good as I ever did. When I go back I’m mentally prepared and I think I still work up to a level I set for myself. But when you go out there and actually do some of those things and actually get the feedback from the live audience that you know you can get and from the critics. The fact that my last match was the best match on the pay-per-view against Randy Orton, I take great pride in that. And if I never work again, I know I’ll always have that. It’s still cool to contribute at the highest level and the day — and Brian, I’m not exaggerating about this — the day I feel I can’t compete at the highest level I set for myself and can’t steal the show, I will not do it again. Throw it on the record, I’m the one guy who can say that. I’m sure Shawn Michaels could say that too. You will not see me in the ring again as a parody of myself or anything other than the absolute best and can go toe-to-toe with anybody else on the roster.

Finally, a veteran like Jericho knows good talent when he sees it. He told Brian about an up and coming WWE star that he thinks is the best bet to be WWE’s franchise player of the future.

I saw Dean when he first started and there was something different about him. He has that Jeff Hardy ‘X’ factor. There’s just something about him that you can’t push on somebody. You can teach them how to take a bump, give them a look, give them wins but certain guys have a certain something about them that you know is going to take them to the next level no matter what. Dean definitely has that and in my opinion – I’m not the god of everything but I have a pretty good track record of picking guys – I think he’s the closest that they have right now to being the next face of the WWE. I don’t think that’s as important now with the Network and less emphasis on pay-per-views and that sort of thing. But as far as a guy who can come in there as the top babyface, I think Dean’s your best best right now.
Don’t let Roman Reigns hear that.

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Is Randy Orton Becoming a Cancer for Vince McMahon’s WWE?

October 20, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Over the course of the last decade, Randy Orton has had his share of issues with the WWE and its management and its roster. To say he is a slight bit privileged would be an understatement. The 12-Time World Champion has had a hand in other formidable wrestlers rise (Mark Henry) to the top of the company food chain. He has also had a bug say in some wrestlers (Kofi Kingston) not achieving the success they deserve. Now with the need for more star talent and a bigger need for success, owner Vince McMahon is asking one of his key veterans – Orton – to step up and work more on SmackDown.

So far, according to reports, Orton is refusing the assignment.

It is being reported that SmackDown officials asked Randy Orton to work full time, but he refused. It seems that Randy Orton is unhappy with McMahon and his current role with the WWE. He is allegedly asking for more time off from the ring, while McMahon wants him to give more time.

One of the reasons for Orton’s unhappiness is most likely tied to the fact that instead of fighting a championship bout, he was forced to fight the loser of the Dean Ambrose versus John Cena match.

However, McMahon knows that Orton is currently one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling. He also knows that the WWE is not the brand that it used to be. Top athletes are not lining up at the pace they were a decade ago for a chance at WWE stardom. Perhaps the threat of serious injury is keeping people away?

I see Orton’s point, but I can see both sides of the fence. While McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H have had to deal with the loss of Daniel Bryan to injury, which put a huge sinkhole in the WWE World Title picture, then had to make new arrangements with a potential title feud between Brock Lesnar – who is a part-time champion right now – and Roman Reigns being put on hold because of Reigns being injured, this is an extremely difficult time for the company.

He is a 12-time world champion, holding the WWE Championship eight times and the World Heavyweight Championship four times, and was the final holder of the World Heavyweight Championship before it was unified with the WWE Championship to create the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Orton is a third-generation professional wrestler; his grandfather Bob Orton, Sr., his father “Cowboy” Bob Orton, and his uncle Barry Orton all competed in the professional wrestling business. Before being promoted to the main World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) roster, Orton trained in and wrestled for Mid-Missouri Wrestling Association-Southern Illinois Conference Wrestling for a month. He was then sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), where he held the OVW Hardcore Championship twice.

In the past, the WWE has had talent to step in and replace a spot in the lineup, but those days seem to be gone. There is plenty of talent in the mid-card division with Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Damien Sandow, Cesaro and Sheamus, it almost seems like the WWE needs to make that part of the company a priority.

The company has done right with making Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins the center of attention at the upcoming pay-per-view, “Hell-in-a-Cell.” Rollins appears to be the new “anti-hero” the fans love in the mold of Steve Austin and then in CM Punk. Rollins has all the makings of another “Edge-type” of superstar.

So while McMahon begs Orton to work, and Orton stews over being disrespected, the WWE is still in a situation where the fans are waiting for something big to finally happen.

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Best and Worst of WWE Survivor Series 1993

October 06, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

A friendly reminder: because the current product is so boring and terrible, I decided to use the wonderful WWE Network (cost unknown) to take a peek into history. I started back with the 1993 Royal Rumble, the first pay-per-view after Monday Night Raw began airing and decided I would keep going, picking up WCW’s pay-per-views right after Monday Nitro debuts. We’re to the fall/winter of 1993 and what used to be my favorite yearly event: Survivor Series.

Survivor Series 1993

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worst: Meet the Lugers

I get that they’re trying to make Luger a top face at this point, but having his family awkwardly smile and read cue cards is not gonna make that happen. It just comes off sounding like your standard Lex Luger promo.

Worst: Stop screaming, Vince McMahon

My God, every opening is the same: WELCOME TO THIS PLACE IN THIS BUILDING FOR THIS EVENT EVENT NAMEEEEEEEE.

Vince McMahon feels like he has to scream everything over and over at the top of his lungs and it make me want to turn it off before anything else has happened. In concentrated doses, Vince yelling like a loud asshole is fine, but when he’s supposed to be your babyface commentator, maybe give it a rest.

Best: 1990s WWF epitomized in one team

The opening match is a Survivor Series, four-on-four match and the first four guys out of the locker room are Diesel, Atom Bomb, Irwin R. Scheister and Rick “the model” Martel. When you hear people complain that the 1990s were nothing but cartoonish gimmicks instead of real people, you need look no further than this team.

Don’t get me wrong, Diesel would become basically a normal person by the end of his run, but everyone else was a specific, loony character and couldn’t be themselves because back then, being yourself was stupid and boring, apparently.

Subliminal best for “Team Personal Problems” featuring Marty Jannetty, Scott Hall, 1-2-3 Kid and Macho Man Randy Savage. Somehow, Savage screwed up the least of those four and yet is the only one who is dead. Life is weird.

Worst: The Match

On paper, this is a fine match. There are quite a few decent performers in that group and they put on a decent match, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that there’s no gravity or importance to this. It’s just eight guys having a match and being happy they’re on the card.

I feel like, after having done a few of these through 1993, the general product of the WWF in 1993 was one of general apathy. There was little in the way of creative, the matches all felt the same regardless of the performers and there was no sense of concern or a desire to actually put on a product.

It should tell you something when the commentators spend the entire match cracking jokes (Heenan) or scolding the one making the jokes (McMahon). Even they know this is boring and terrible.

Best: The undisputed Intercontinental Championship

This is the beginning of what wound up being one of the best feuds of 1994. Michaels was briefly suspended for violating the new steroid policy and was stripped of the IC title (I believe the reason they gave is that he hadn’t defended the belt in a certain amount of days) and Razor Ramon won the vacated title. So Michaels re-appears on television and wears his own IC title belt, claiming he’d never really lost it.

Of course, this would go on to be a months-long feud, featuring the greatest ladder match ever at Wrestlemania X. More importantly than that, you can really see Shawn coming into his own as a heel. He’s smarmy, he’s arrogant and him saying that he’d bury his parents alive if they looked like Helen and Stu Hart killed me for some morbid reason.

Though, tonight, instead of beginning the feud with Razor formally, he’d have to fill in during the Bret Hart vs Jerry Lawler Survivor Series style match as Lawler was going through some things at that time. “Some things” being that he was indicted after being accused of raping and sodomizing a teenage girl, who did eventually admit it was a made-up story. So Shawn was thrown in randomly to just kind of be there while the Bret vs Owen feud got kicked off.

Worst: This is a celebrity?

The big guest of the night is none other than “Family Feud” host Ray Combs. That’s not a joke and I don’t have anything to really follow that up with. He stands around doing his Family Feud shtick, making terrible jokes and basically calling Shawn Michaels an asshole without really calling him an asshole.

This was during a time where the WWF had a huge hard-on for anyone who was on television, thinking that automatically made them a celebrity. As Michaels is on the outside doing his thing with the Hart family in the crowd, Combs annoying yells “Shawn! Shawn!” over and over for what feels like a thousand minutes. Naturally, the product would improve greatly when they focused more on making the in-ring product better and not making crappy game show hosts guest announcers.

Survivor Series 1993

Best: everything about this picture

Firstly, Keith Hart looks like a 1920s strongman here with his mustache and singlet. I feel like he should randomly bust out power squats and bring ridiculously-sized weights with him to the ring.

Secondly, that is either the nerdiest kid of the 1990s or Rick Moranis got way smaller. I’d like to believe it was the latter; a “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” accident that came to life.

Best: Finally, an entertaining match

As mentioned above, this was supposed to be the culmination of the Bret Hart/Jerry Lawler feud, but Michaels filled in for Lawler, leading his Knights (masked versions of Jeff Gaylord, Greg Valentine and Barry Horowitz) to the ring to have an infinitely better match than Lawler ever could.

The Harts dominate as there is literally only one marketable face on the other side and this match instead becomes a focal starting point for the Hart vs Hart feud. Bret has a knee injury and can’t tag out, which plays an important part later on. Owen is battling Michaels, who is the last one of his team remaining, when he runs into Bret who is standing on the ring apron. This leads to Owen getting distracted and Michaels pinning him. Michaels eventually bails on the match, resulting in a win for the Hart family. The tension, however, begins when Owen returns to the ring to yell at Bret, blaming him for the elimination.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Bret Hart was the best performer of his generation at making you sympathize with him. He took a beating like no other and sold injuries better than anyone ever could. You genuinely felt worried for him at the time because it seemed like his knee was legitimately injured and, on top of that, he has to deal with his little brother blaming him for everything.

Supplemental best for Helen Hart noticing the camera is on her and making the worst crying face of all-time.

Best: An announce team switch

It’s almost like they knew I hated the commentary with all my heart, so in the middle of the broadcast, they switch over to Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon so Vince and Heenan can do WWF radio. Oh, you’re going to switch from a mailing-it-in Bobby Heenan and screamy screamerson Vince McMahon to the greatest television announcer of all-time and the always wonderful Gorilla Monsoon? Well, I suppose if we have to.

Best: Smokey Mountain Wrestling

In the middle of the show, we get a little introduction to Jim Cornette’s wrestling promotion, Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Vince McMahon made a habit starting around here of partnering up with smaller companies in a cross-promotional effort, continuing the trend with the NWA in the mid-90s and ECW as the decade wore on.

A little disclaimer: I grew up a WWF kid. I was very barely aware of anything outside of the WWF, so I had not been exposed to the Rock n’ Roll Express until much later on in life. I know they were huge in the south and in the NWA scene, so this is going to be kind of a “duh” moment to anyone who grew up watching them.

Having said that, they are pretty goddamn awesome for this period of time. Like a heavier-set, uber-mulleted Rockers, they implemented fantastic tag team moves into their matches and that’s awesome because it’s pretty much the whole point of tag team wrestling. Not only that, but they and the Heavenly Bodies brought out stuff in this match that you really didn’t see in the WWF scene. It was refreshing, a break from all the formulaic matches that permeated WWF cards until this point.

Many kudos to Vince McMahon for having the foresight to bring something different and interesting (and most importantly, not his) into the mix when he probably didn’t have to.

Worst: And this follows it

We’re right back to the cartoonish, horribly boring WWF matches we all know and are marginally content with. Bam Bam Bigelow, the Headshrinkers and Bastion Booger vis Doink the Clown, Men on a Mission and the Bushwhackers in Doink makeup. Because one face version of Doink the Clown wasn’t bad enough, now we have several of them. Though I have to admit, it’s a bit jarring seeing Viscera back during his Mabel days only being happy, dancing around and wearing clown makeup.

This is the worst match on the card by a mile and a half, filled with rank wrestling and even ranker gimmicks. Bastion Booger was a thing that actually happened and you just know Vince loved the hell out of that. “Boogers, damnit! It’s hilarious!”

This is exactly what I looked like during the entirety of this match:

Survivor Series 1993

It’s times like this that I really question the “genius” of Vince McMahon. Poor Bam Bam for having to lower himself to this crap.

Worst: This feels like a really half-assed main event

We come to the main event of the evening, a Survivor Series match featuring the All-Americans, Lex Luger, the Undertaker and the Steiner Brothers, facing off against the Foreign Fanatics of Yokozuna, Ludvig Borga (who is basically Team Iceland from the Mighty Ducks 2 as a wrestling villain), Crush and Quebecer Jacques.

First of all, supplementary best to a Johnny Polo appearance. As most of you know, Polo was played by the Scott Levy, better known as Raven. Johnny Polo was literally a guy walking around in polo gear, an obnoxious rich guy hanging out with the Quebecers for some reason or another.

Second of all, I love how the bad guys are bad because they’re all foreigners. Sure, some of them are arrogant, but basically their gimmicks are “not from here”, so they’re automatically bad guys because ‘MURICA, yeah! Also, Undertaker being on the All-American team even though his gimmick is a dead guy. Was he possibly an American Badass before he became a zombie?

The match itself was really, really average. Rick Steiner is eliminated when Borga fails to catch him coming off the top rope and instead just rolls him over to get the three. You can instantly see what the spot was supposed to be and instead of making it cool, they just kind of roll with it to get Rick out. It makes Steiner look awful and Vince spends ten minutes trying to insist Rick is hurt.

This match really only accomplished two worthwhile things: setting the stage for the Undertaker vs Yokozuna feud that would see Undertaker “die” and resurrected again at Summerslam 1994 and the continued push of Lex Luger as American hero. That’s about it. The rest of the match was just patiently waiting to get to the end so they could do what they needed to in order to advance the important plot points. You can see more of this tactic in today’s WWE, where they just tread water until they can get to the important bits. Great way to end a show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Stone Cold Steve Austin WWE RAW Moments

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

It was over a decade ago when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin‘s hell raising was a regular part of our Monday night pro wrestling culture. New reports indicate that the Texas Rattlesnake may be heading back to the WWE. What better time to celebrate his legacy on RAW and look back at the top Monday Night RAW moments of Stone Cold Steve Austin.

To sit here and recall all of the great WWE RAW moments and matches featuring Steve Austin would take forever. For me, there wasn’t a night where Steve Austin appeared on WWE RAW that wasn’t memorable. Rather than list them all, I want to take a look at just five of memorable WWE RAW moments from the Texas Rattlesnake. Crack a cold one and light one up, because Stone Cold is about to open a can of five memorable moments on you’re a$%.

Steve Austin stuns Vince McMahon in Madison Square Garden, 1997. This was the catalyst to the classic Austin-McMahon feud. Mr. McMahon had yet to arrive, as fans were still accustomed to watching the slicked back hairdo of interviewer Vince McMahon. However, Vince had lifted up his veil more than ever before and was readily acknowledging his role as the man who runs the WWE.

It was just a few months ago where Owen Hart dropped Steve Austin on his head and put him out of commission for months. Owen Hart was in the ring giving a speech, when an enraged Steve Austin hit the ring. Five NYPD officers tried to stop Stone Cold. Vince McMahon then stepped into the ring and played “compassionate McMahon” and explained to Steve that he was still injured and couldn’t compete. McMahon’s compassion was met with a Stone Cold Stunner. Austin was led away in handcuffs in a moment that is generally regarded as the most memorable moment in all of WWE RAW history.

Steve Austin says hello to Mike Tyson, 1998. This was voted on WWE.com as the fifth most memorable moment in all of WWE RAW history. It was a transitional time for the WWE. The Attitude Era was taking over and the company was finally starting to make strides against WCW. Some point to this angle as the single most important angle to the turnaround in the Monday Night Wars and the next several years of monster business.

Mike Tyson was brought to RAW and introduced as the enforcer for the upcoming WrestleMania XIV match between Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Tyson came to the ring with an entourage and was paid several accolades by Vince McMahon. Steve Austin then hit the ring to McMahon’s displeasure. Austin went off on a rant which ended with Austin looking Mike Tyson in the eyes and popping him the one-finger salute on both hands. Mike Tyson and Steve Austin shoved each other and all hell broke loose. McMahon yelled that Austin “ruined it”, and Steve Austin was on his way to becoming the biggest star in the pro wrestling business.

Brian Pillman pulls a gun on Steve Austin, 1996. Over a decade later and this is still one of the most talked about moments in WWE RAW history. While this controversial moment aired on RAW, it actually took place off-site. The scene of the crime was actually the home of Brian Pillman.

After shattering Brian Pillman’s ankle in the ring, Austin drove to Pillman’s house. Austin fought Pillman’s neighbors to make his way into the house. WWE RAW had a satellite feed into the house set up for a Pillman interview. Austin broke down the door and came face-to-face with a psychotic Brian Pillman in a chair. Pillman then pulled a gun, fired shots, and the screen went blank.

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The WWE tried to replicate the angle a few times, never successfully. Recently as last year, the WWE tried to reproduce a similar angle involving Triple H breaking into Randy Orton’s house. For some reason, none of the attempts at similar angles since have been anywhere close to as memorable as the original between the two Hollywood Blondes.

Steve Austin’s Beer Bash, 1999. This was listed as the second most memorable moment in all of WWE RAW history on WWE.com. This was during the day’s Vince McMahon’s “Corporation” where Vince and Shane McMahon were proud to have The Rock as the WWE champion. Vince was interviewing The Rock live in the ring on WWE RAW when a glass crashed and a huge Coors Light truck made its way to the ring. The driver of the truck was none other than “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

After weeks of being jerked around by Vince McMahon, Austin had enough. Austin drove into the arena, got on top of the truck, and cut a pre-WrestleMania XV promo on The Rock. Austin then offered to share a pre-match beer with The Rock that turned out to be a memorable beer bath. Austin sprayed The Rock and the McMahons with beer from the hose and tore the house down. Austin then capped it off with a traditional double one-finger salute to the Great One.

Steve Austin pulls a gun on Vince McMahon, 1998. This was a memorable Steve Austin moment that surprisingly didn’t make the WWE.com Top 15 Memorable RAW Moments. Steve Austin had recently been fired by Vince McMahon, and well…he wasn’t going quietly.

Austin stalked McMahon throughout the evening on WWE RAW. Austin finally called Vince in his office and told him that his “time was up.” As Vince McMahon (in a wheelchair) was getting into his limo little did he know that the Texas Rattlesnake was waiting for him in the back of the car. McMahon tried to roll away in his wheelchair to no avail. Austin then took McMahon hostage. The night culminated with Austin wheeling McMahon to the center of the ring. Austin brought a hysterically crying Vince McMahon to his knees, stood behind him, and pulled out a gun. Austin put the gun to Vince’s head, pulled the trigger, and a flag that read, “Bang 3:16″ popped out. McMahon was further humiliated by peeing in his pants as Austin pulled the trigger. Austin topped the night off with a Stunner and a great deal of revenge had on his former boss, Vince McMahon.

And that’s the bottom line, because the Camel Clutch Blog said so.


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Kurt Angle Talks New Deal, TNA, and Vince McMahon Conversation

October 01, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Kurt Angle is pro wrestling’s hottest free agent. The former WWE and TNA star is on the free market. Angle talked recently about his upcoming plans, talks with Vince McMahon, and more in an interesting interview.

The Olympic gold medalist hasn’t played his cards too close in that he has said on several occasions that he would like to close out his career in

the WWE. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be in the current plans as he remains unsigned. Yet according to Angle whether he signs or not, he has recently repaired a bridge with Vince McMahon.

“The only person that I really spoke my piece with, that I had a lot to do with in the past, and the problems I had and the way I left the company, I was able to speak my piece with Vince, and I’m happy with that. As long as Vince and I don’t have any issues, I’m okay with that. What I found out is that Triple H is pretty much running the show now. I didn’t know that, I really believed that Vince would always run the show until the day he died, but now they’re in a position as a publicly traded company where you’re not only answering to Vince and Triple H, you’re also answering to the shareholders.

So there’s a lot of decisions they have to make not just for themselves, but for the people that are invested in the company. So it’s a publicly traded company, and there’s people they have to answer to, but I know when I was there, Vince McMahon never had to answer to anyone. He made the final decision regardless, even when they started as a public company. Now things are a little tougher for them to make chancy decisions. The most important thing is that I got to speak to Vince, and speak my piece with him, and I’m happy with that.”

There is a part of me that has a bit of empathy for Kurt. Angle would obviously love to return to the WWE. As a fan I have no doubt in my mind that he can still bring a lot to the table. Yet his reputation and circumstances surrounding his last departure are such that Vince McMahon reportedly has major concerns about bringing Angle back. As a fan I’d love to see him but you certainly can’t blame Vince if he does pass.

Of course Angle isn’t the only free agent in wrestling. His former home TNA is shopping around Impact Wrestling. While there are reports that a deal is imminent, there are also reports that indicate TNA could be in big trouble if they can’t make a deal. Kurt was asked about this and who was communicating the situation to talent.

“Well at the TV’s we just did, Dixie Carter and ‘Big’ John Gaburick sat the talent down and eased their minds a little bit, because I think a lot of the talent were a little bit confused and nervous regarding what was going on. I had a private sit down with Dixie, she reassured me of what was going on, and what her plans were. It was a good meeting, it was a very positive meeting. She just knows that the next deal that they sign really has to help benefit TNA, in every regard.

When it comes down to it, it is about money, and it is also about how you can get promoted on that network. I won’t say that Spike did a bad job, but I will say that Spike could have done better. If it is going to be Spike, and I don’t know, because Dixie really wouldn’t say who it was, they’re going to have to do a better job. I know that that’s where TNA is right now. They’re in a period where they’re budgeting because they don’t have the money from the network to pay for the TV shows. I believe Panda Energy is funding the show right now, so yes, we’re going to have to do TV tapings in the same city 2 or 3 days at a time until we get to the point where we can go live again, and that will be when the TV deal is done.”

Finally, according to Kurt he has a deal. Angle told alternativenation.net that he has signed a deal and is very excited about his new contract. Unfortunately Angle wouldn’t reveal who the lucky suitor is.

“I went with the company that was going to really emphasize what I wanted, and that was a limited wrestling schedule. I would say no more than 40 dates a year, that’s what I wanted, that’s where I feel I am at in my career right now. That’s a lot of the reason, like I said, the company that I’m signing with is a company that really wanted to take care of me, both from a wrestling standpoint and a financial standpoint, and I’m very happy with it.”

Angle also reiterated that he won’t be doing anything until January. He said he won’t be cleared to wrestle until his knee is completely rehabilitated. That would seem to indicate a WWE deal is off of the table as he’d likely have to pass a physical to sign.

Check out the entire interview over at http://www.alternativenation.net/kurt-angle-interview/. It’s a great read.

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Hulk Hogan Talks WWE RAW Birthday Bash, Vince McMahon, and Roman Reigns

August 30, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan continues making the rounds to promote the WWE Network and WWE 2K15. A recent interview heard the Hulkster talk about his RAW birthday bash, Vince McMahon, and the next Hulk Hogan or John Cena.

Hogan, along with John Cena recently spoke to Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald. I wanted to focus more on Hogan’s comments as Cena didn’t really say anything ground breaking other than naming Sting, Hogan, and Steve Austin as dream opponents. Hogan on the other hand opened up a little bit more.

One of the most memorable RAW moments of the year just took place a couple of weeks ago. The Hulk Hogan Birthday Bash saw Hogan reunite with friends and enemies from different eras of his career. Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, the n.W.o., and others paid respect to the Hulkster. According to Hogan, things did not go as planned.

I got rattled when they played the package because I didn’t know what they were going to do,” Hogan said. “Vince [McMahon] likes to do the sneaky stuff without telling me. I was rattled when I saw the package and really fell apart reflecting on that time. Everybody from Flair to Piper to Orndorff was supposed to come out and say stuff. Nobody got to say anything. When Hall and Nash got to the ring WWE was saying no promos. No promos?

“I thought you had to have Hall’s ‘Hey Yo.’ Then there had to be the transition to sing the birthday song to lead to [Brock] Lesnar coming out. The whole thing wasn’t going down the way we thought it was, but we had some old pros in there to pull it off. It was very emotional.”

That’s interesting although I am not sure I believe it. According to Hulk, he and the boys called the spot with Hall’s survey and the transition into Brock’s appearance. Not sure I believe that one, although with old school guys it certainly is possible. Nonetheless, it all worked and it turned out to be one of the most memorable segments in ages.

What some fans don’t know is that after RAW went off of the air, Vince McMahon came to the ring to personally wish Hulk a happy birthday. Hulk and Vince’s turbulent relationship has been well documented over the years and according to Hulk, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

I didn’t expect that,” Hogan said. “Nobody told me that was going to happen. I thought Vince was for sure going to throw the cake at me, and I was going to dive into the cake, but he was cool. He gave me a big hug. It was just a great night. It really was.

That would have been something. Vince throwing a cake in Hogan’s face. Vince has been known to be quite a ribber so Hulk may have been right to have his guard up. I am sure after 30 years of doing business together, there is some genuine affection shared between the two.

Hogan also talked about the next big star. Many critics of WWE booking will cite an “unbreakable glass ceiling” and criticize the company for holding guys back. While there may be something to it, Hulk believes it is up to someone in the crew to step up and he thinks that the WWE may have found that guy.

I’m just praying for someone to reach out and grab that brass ring,” Hogan said. “That’s what Vince McMahon and Triple H are looking for. They want someone to step up. I would love to see the larger-than-life characters develop again like the old days. I don’t get to talk much to the guys. Cena is my man, but this Roman Reigns kid has really stepped up. There is potential in him. He has what it takes.

I don’t know if Hogan really believes that or he is trying to help out the company, either way it is quite an endorsement. It’s funny because a lot of the legends will criticize the talent for not stepping up, yet the flip side of that is that this is a different business today and it isn’t as easy as they think to step up. Steve Austin says this regularly on his podcast.

Check out the entire interview at http://www.miamiherald.com/.

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The WWE Needs A Television Timeout…NOW!

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

There are times when the writer must step over a line and write as a fan, not some worried about crossing lines between journalist and a once-in-a- while raving lunatic in the stands. This happens to be one of those times. Please indulge me a bit as I must speak about the ongoing, committed cycle the WWE is running around – trying to please its fans without getting anywhere. I think that happens to be the definition of idiocy, but I would not want to accuse Vince McMahon and his cronies of such a title. What I would like, however, is to point out the obvious – the WWE and maybe professional wrestling in general needs a television timeout.

While it may seem a bit off kilter, and I may seem off my rocker (it’s 1:30 in the morning and no, I have not been drinking), but this might make sense if we looked at the significance of the possibility of time off air to recharge batteries, find the fight creative fit and allow the owner of the WWE to catch his breath a bit – he is 69 years old after all and for the past 30-something years he has run his company at lightning speed. A breather might be just what he needs.

Looking at the current state of the WWE, here is what you have.

  • A champion in Brock Lesnar who appears to be the immovable object, about to destroy John Cena again in the middle of the ring.
  • Roman Reigns apparently still waiting to become WWE champion, all the while he faces every WWE opponent there is and is left to compete in 6-man tag matches to take up time and give other solid performers face time.
  • A tag team division that could be very good, but needs one or two more teams to complete its importance to the company and television.
  • Two Divas angles that right now, are better than anything on the screen not named Reigns or Dean Ambrose. How it got to the point where the Bellas and Paige and AJ Lee are main event caliber is lost on me, but it is.
  • Two mid-level titles that are not going anywhere. Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus have main event talent, but cannot get a sniff of the world title picture.
  • And finally no consistency in planning, match prep or coming up with new ideas. Relying on the old cronies to perform is great, but it is also getting old.

OK, thank you for that rant and the chance to speak my deteriorating mind. There are some things that need to be released. That was one of them.

Getting back to what I was discussing, the WWE is weeding out talent from the main event, which is a good thing, however it also eliminates the idea that the small guy (Daniel Bryan and others) can win a big-man’s title. This falls back to McMahon’s principle of the early 1980s where the big, muscle-bound face or heel must win the title and prove dominance. Basically that “Size” equals “Money”. And we all know Shawn Michaels and Daniel Bryan killed that concept. So with that in mind – here is what I propose…

  • A one month moratorium of television. Improve the brand. Drop hints through the WWE Network. Make people miss the product that is shoved down their throats three nights a week.
  • Take away all titles. Have tournaments to crown champions.
  • Make Reigns the winner of the WWE World Title and create new feuds for him. This is the same thing McMahon did when he brought Hulk Hogan in.
  • Have clear cut faces and heels. Continue to create a huge mid card of cruiserweights because their talent sells at the gate.
  • Make the Intercontinental Champion the No. contender for the World Title. Make the United States Title the championship it used to be.
  • Bring back the Hardcore Title and the World Television Title. Both must be defended each week on Raw and SmackDown.
  • And most of all, take the WWE Title away from John Cena and Brock Lesnar.

[ad 1[I know it sounds like a lot, but it makes more sense than you think. Vince McMahon bought the company from his father with the intention of making billions of dollars with entertainment. Right now, this is not entertaining. Jess McMahon must be flipping in his grave. The company wants to create the past so bad, well here is the chance. Follow these steps, being back some of the reality of the 1980s and you could have a really solid product.

But for now, all you have is gush and misery. And with those two items, you really have nothing.

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10 Of The Most Corny WWE Angles

August 27, 2014 By: Category: lists, slider, WWE | Pro Wrestling

I will be the first to admit that there have been many times I have been embarrassed to be a WWE fan. Here is a look back at ten angles that were so corny, I hoped nobody walked in the room as they played out on WWE television.

We all understand that the WWE is entertainment but there are times where they go so far off of the radar, you have to wonder who exactly they are trying to entertain. To be fair, we don’t see goofy angles like these much today. Yet back in the 80s and 90s, they began creeping up fairly often. In Vince McMahon’s efforts to think outside of the box, he wound up miles away from his intended targets. Here are ten angles that while fun to discuss now, weren’t so fun to watch as they played out.

Papa Shango puts a curse on the Ultimate Warrior - This was the angle that inspired the list. I remember watching this as a teenager thinking I needed to find a new hobby. As a matter of a fact you can look back at the WWE in 1992 and notice a steady decline in business. Now I don’t think that this angle was the catalyst, but I think it represents the shift in product and fan reaction by fans like me who were turned off. If you don’t remember the angle, Shango was a voodoo practitioner. His gimmick was to cast voodoo spells on his opponents but the spell he cast on Warrior went to new levels. Warrior began vomiting and inexplicably bleeding from the “curse”. Thank goodness WCW was offering one of its best eras of in-ring product at the time as an alternative!

The SummerSlam 1988 Finish - Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were red hot babyfaces in 1988 and put together what would become known as the Mega Powers tag team. The team went into SummerSlam against the odds battling the tag team of Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase along with Virgil and Bobby Heenan, and heel referee Jesse “the Body” Ventura. The Mega Powers needed a weapon and for weeks leading up to the match they bragged about a secret weapon. The weapon turned out to be…Miss Elizabeth tearing off her skirt and revealing your basic bathing suit bottom, covered up by a ruffled top. Even a horny teenage boy like me found this a big letdown. Hogan and Savage made teased that Liz would be stripping down to a “itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polk-a-dot bikini” which was hardly the case. Andre and his team were so “distracted” by this that it led to Hogan and Savage beating them. Now the idea that Andre and the “world’s richest man” would be distracted by a woman barely showing a rudimentary bathing suit was beyond ridiculous. Sure this wasn’t as corny as most of the others but it still sticks in my crawl for some reason!

Vince McMahon Dies - This one is legendary on so many levels, and not all for good reason. Vince was down on his luck after losing ECW and was rewarded with Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night. The Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night episode of RAW ended with Vince getting into a limousine that blew up. What really blew up was the angle. The day after RAW the WWE stock price dropped with people really believing that Vince died. Quite frankly you shouldn’t be allowed to buy stocks if you believed that. The next RAW was scheduled to be a tribute show to Vince, “tastefully” reminiscent of real tribute shows. Earlier that day news broke of the Chris Benoit murder/suicide and RAW turned into a real tribute show, abruptly dropping the entire, ridiculous storyline.

Mr. McMahon vs. God - Let’s stay with Vince for a second. For a guy that is regarded as a genius, he has sure been booked in some stupid angles. There aren’t many other moments that made me want to turn off RAW more than Vince cutting promos on God. As part of his feud with Shawn Michaels, Vince mocked HBK’s religious convictions and even booked a match with him and God as his tag team partner. Throughout the feud Vince made outlandish remarks against religion, likely angering many parents who no longer allowed their kids to watch RAW.I was thoroughly convinced that Vince lost his mind during this angle and he may very well have.

The Katie Vick storyline - Hey, remember the time you saw a C.O.O. have sex with a corpse on RAW? I bet you have never seen that written about a C.O.O. before. Well way back when, Triple H in an effort to upset Kane decided to break into a funeral home, open up a casket, and simulate necrophilia. The WWE has never lived this down and nor should they.

The Dawn Marie-Torrie Wilson-Al Wilson Soap Opera - I am sure there is a good explanation for this because the WWE had some damned talented writers on SmackDown during this time, yet I never liked it. For a guy like me watching this in his late 20s, I wound up turning the channel all too often. The whole idea of Dawn seducing both sounds fun on paper but it was some of the worst acting you will ever see on WWE TV. Al of course dies after having too much sex with Torrie, a fate I am sure many A-Rod haters are hoping to repeat itself. I kid…I kid.

Bret Hart –Vince McMahon Car Accident - How do you take a blockbuster angle over ten years in the making and based on realism and turn it into just another wrestling angle? Let Vince and his crack writing team get their hands on it. The match stunk yet the buildup for this should have been the greatest since the WCW invasion. Instead the angle was mucked up when a car ran over Bret Hart and “injured” him leading into WrestleMania 26. The only accident here was letting the creative team get their hands on this angle. I don’t know if it is as corny as any of the others but as a fan watching it home, I was disgusted and less interested in the match immediately thereafter.

JBL owning Shawn Michaels/The Authority owning the Big Show - Both of these storylines were beyond stupid and since they were essentially the same, I lumped them both together. The idea that two guys like Shawn Michaels and the Big Show, still employed, wrestling in main-events for decades lost all of their money only to become “slaves” to wealthy owners was both insulting and incredibly corny. Not for one second did anyone buy any of this and the idea that this company not only did it once but repeated the angle just shows you how uncreative their creative team can be sometimes.

The Lita Miscarriage - Words can’t even describe how tasteless and corny this angle was. I am really surprised that nobody brought this up during Linda’s political campaigns, than again her opponents had plenty of ammunition. Lita was allegedly pregnant through an implied sexual assault by Kane. Family fun! Snitsky attacked Lita and it was implied by the announcers that he had caused a miscarriage. Snitsky even mocked the act by kicking a baby into the crowd. As disgusting as this was, it was very unbelievable. I felt like I was wasting my time when I watched it. Someone on that writing team has some bad karma coming their way.

Al Snow and Pepper - How quickly we forget the time that Al was fed his pet dog Pepper by the Big Bossman. Pepper was a Chihuahua that took the place of head at some point and became something of a mascot for Al Snow. That mean Big Bossman wound up kidnapping old Peps and allegedly cooked him up and served him on a nice dinner plate to an unbeknownst Al Snow. The fun didn’t end there. The angle led to what is probably the worst Hell in a Cell match in history, a Kennel from Hell match. It’s amazing how fondly we remember the Attitude Era today and how quickly we forget all of the duds like this and others on this list.

The Birth of the Hand - How about the time those two crazy kids Mark Henry and Mae Young fell in love? We could end the summary right here with corny but it gets better. It was implied that Mark knocked Mae up and the two were expecting. WWE cameras were allowed in the hospital room when the big event took place and what came out was…a hand. I am sure there was some kind of subliminal message here but the only thing I could think of was that the WWE was giving us all the middle finger to anyone gullible enough to believe that Mae was actually going to give birth.

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WWE Says No To Kurt Angle

August 26, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Kurt Angle’s dreams of returning to the WWE as a conquering hero will have to wait. A recent report indicates that while Angle would like to finish his career in the WWE, Vince McMahon and Triple H are taking a pass.

Mark Madden reports and Dave Meltzer confirms in the newest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the WWE are not interested in re-signing Angle. According to Meltzer, Angle was not only told no once but was told no twice by the two head honchos. Angle was reportedly blown off by Triple H and went over his head to the Chairman of the Board.

Angle then called Vince McMahon, but McMahon, playing good cop/bad cop, said that HHH makes the talent decisions. Madden reported that HHH wasn’t happy that Angle tried to go over his head. Angle pushed the idea of returning on a schedule similar to what Michaels worked his last several years, where he’d come in for specific shows and work very limited house show dates. Angle, 45 had told Madden that he felt he could do at most eight dates per month.

According to Meltzer, Vince does not want to “have an Olympic hero die on the WWE’s watch.” This relates to Angle’s battles over the years with substance issues. If you recall, it was Angle’s substance issues which led to his release from the WWE which landed him in TNA Wrestling. Recent negative stories about Angle on a plane (which I think may be a bit unfair) didn’t help his cause.

Angle’s contract with TNA expires next month. Angle told Jim Ross on J.R.’s podcast that he does have an offer on the table from TNA. Whether the offer is still good or not is another story. TNA has had a turbulent month in regards to the future of Impact. As of now they have no deal past 2014 for Impact. A recent report indicates that while they do have an offer, it is far less than they have received from Spike. If that is the case, could they even afford Angle at that point?

The other wild card here is Jeff Jarrett. Double J has been making rumblings about his Global Force Wrestling for months. Many speculate that Angle would make the perfect flagship star of the company with his contract coming due. Meltzer points out that Angle trying to get back to the WWE isn’t a good sign for the future of GFW as if there was a future he would probably just sit tight.

It’s easy for me to say because I am not running a company that is beholden to share holders but I think that Vince and Trips are making a big mistake. I think Angle has a lot to bring to the table and they could really use a veteran like him in the ring. Angle has been the only bright spot for me in watching TNA as the guy continues to be one of the most entertaining stars in the business in and out of the ring.

I think there would be some great opportunities for Angle in the ring. Matches against Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesnar, and even John Cena make bringing him back a slam dunk for me. Steve Austin recently discussed on Dave Meltzer’s podcast the lack of veteran wrestlers in the WWE and Angle could fill that void, even if it was just for a couple of years.

At the end of the day it’s hard to feel sorry for Angle. He had more chances in TNA than he ever would have had in the WWE. Quite frankly the pressures of the WWE may not even be healthy for him as he battles those demons. Unfortunately we all lose out on this one.

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Happy Belated Birthday, Mr. McMahon

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

When you think of professional wrestler, who is the first person that comes to mind? You may think about Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan, maybe take a swing at Lou Thesz or even Buddy Rogers. But if Vince McMahon’s name is not within the first five mentioned, then you really know nothing about the business or are at best a casual fan. In looking at the history of this business, this once believed to be sport and how for 30 years (since he brought Hulk Hogan into the World Wrestling Federation) McMahon has been synonymous with the changes in the business that have made him he most influential person in sports entertainment. And on his 69th birthday yesterday, McMahon was still doing it and doing it well.

McMahon’s success in the ring are just as important to the history of the business and the company. McMahon played an in-ring character known by the ring name Mr. McMahon (which is said to be retired), based on his real life persona. He is a two-time world champion, having won the WWF Championship in 1999 and ECW World Championship in 2007. He was also the winner of the 1999 Royal Rumble. It is one of the few times where the success of a promotion (other than maybe AWA owner and champion Vern Gage) was as much based on the owner and promoter’s success in the ring.

During the late 1980s, McMahon shaped the WWF into a unique sports entertainment brand that reached out to family audiences while attracting fans who had never before paid attention to pro wrestling. By directing his storylines towards highly publicized Super Cards, McMahon initiated a brand-new revenue stream by promoting these events live on PPV television, a concept that would completely revolutionize event programming for all sports while catapulting the WWF into a multi-million dollar empire. In 1987, McMahon reportedly drew 93,173 fans to the Pontiac Silverdome (which was called the “biggest crowd in Sports entertainment history”) for WrestleMania III, which featured the main event of Hulk Hogan versus André the Giant.

After several years struggling behind Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW), McMahon cemented the WWF as the preeminent wrestling promotion in the late 1990s, when he initiated a new brand strategy that would eventually return the WWF to prominence. Sensing a public shift towards a more hardened and cynical fan base, McMahon redirected storylines towards a more adult-oriented model.

The concept became known as “WWF Attitude”, and McMahon commenced the new era when he manipulated the WWF Championship away from Bret Hart at Survivor Series in what is now known as the “Montreal Screw Job.” McMahon, who for years had downplayed his ownership of the company and was mostly known as an announcer, became involved in WWF storylines as the evil Mr. McMahon, who began a legendary feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, who challenged the boss’s authority. As a result, the WWF suddenly found itself back in the midst of national pop-culture, drawing millions of viewers for its weekly Monday Night Raw broadcasts, which ranked among the highest-rated shows on cable television.

It is because of McMahon we all either like or hate the way professional wrestling is run. With his purchase of WCW, McMahon essentially monopolized the industry, and in effect, saturated the system – sinking smaller promotions like TNA and ROH. McMahon has also been slow to develop younger talent and have stunted the growth of the likes of Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Damien Sandow and Wade Barrett. He still runs the puppet strings backstage while allowing his daughter Stephanie McMahon and son-in-law Triple H to work the day to day operation of on screen drama. It does not get any better or any worse than that.

McMahon is still the standard by which every person in the business compared to and until there is someone who can succeed in his success, he will be gold standard, which is something he expects to be until he walks away from his lofty perch in Stamford.

Happy Birthday, Vince McMahon.

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Can Vince McMahon Save TNA and the WWE Together?

August 01, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Vince McMahon did what was best and worst for business when he bought World Championship Wrestling in an effort to control the industry. And by doing that, the wrestling, sports entertainment and business tycoon has given the fans some of the best and worst matches in the history of the industry. With no true competition in sight, McMahon is the major reason the WWE is in the financial and entertainment state it faces as of this moment – with no real sense of getting out of its own way.

Could a chance at a fresh start with new competition be the way to better financial and fan base prosperity? Could buying TNA Impact Wrestling bridge that “silent” gap and give fans another shot at diversity with new matches and storylines?

In May of 2001, when World Wrestling Entertainment bought the sinking ship down in Atlanta, where it was bleeding money and losing talent. Back then, it was thought to be a major coup for the WWE, as a brand and with marketing as well as forming a monopoly on the business.

“This acquisition is the perfect creative and business catalyst for our company,” said Linda McMahon, Chief Executive Officer of WWE Entertainment on WWE.com.

“This is a dream combination for fans of sports entertainment. The incendiary mix of WWE and WCW personalities potentially creates intriguing storylines that will attract a larger fan base to the benefit of our advertisers and business partners, and propel sports entertainment to new heights.”
“The acquisition of the WCW brand is a strategic move for us,” said Stuart Snyder, President and Chief Operating Officer for WWE Entertainment.

“We are assuming a brand with global distribution and recognition. We are adding thousands of hours to our tape library that can be repurposed for home videos, television, Internet streaming, and broadband applications. The WCW opens new opportunities for growth in our Pay-Per-View, live events, and consumer products divisions, as well as the opportunity to develop new television programming using new stars. We also will create additional advertising and sponsorship opportunities. In short, it is a perfect fit.”

When it was announced that Spike TV had cancelled the contract with the Tennessee-based promotion, was thought to be the end of the small niche-wrestling outfit started by Jeff Jarrett years ago. And out of the blue, it came to me that this might be the same situation as the one with WCW – but even better, where McMahon could not only help the fledgling operation, and help himself in the process.

Yes, history can repeat itself, and this time in a good way.

TNA has a deal with Spike TV that runs through October.But after the contract expires, who knows what will happen. According to the story on inquisitor.com, “If TNA is not picked up, it will struggle to survive. What the company makes on television alone helps them stay afloat. While Panda Energy helps pay many of the expenses for TNA, they cannot sustain a roster without a Spike deal.”

As someone in favor of a “potential” move by WWE, which has not been rumored or talked about, it would mean a homecoming for Kurt Angle and Gail Kim and the Dudleys and a potential swoon for Austin Aries, Bobby Roode and Eric Young. It could create new storylines, new rivalries and inject some life into the business and rake in money.

It could also lend some credence to the idea that “Wrestling Matters,” a brand that TNA has used in the past as a marketing tool to show wrestling for what it was before the McMahon days and how we as youngsters remembered it from before.

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10 Hulk Hogan Alternatives To Be WWF Champion In 1984

July 29, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

I am not a big fan of “what ifs” but a recent podcast discussion got me thinking. What would have happened in 1984 if Hulk Hogan wasn’t available to the WWF? Who could Vince McMahon Jr. pick to beat the Iron Sheik and lead his quest to take over the world of pro wrestling?

A recent podcast at drew my attention to this topic. The guys had a fascinating discussion about the best choice to become WWWF champion in 1978 if Bob Backlund wasn’t available? The podcast immediately prompted me to think about the same question but in regards to a Hogan-alternative. Thus it didn’t take long to stop the podcast and start typing this blog.

So here is the scenario. Hulk Hogan is unavailable to Vince McMahon for whatever reason. Whether he is injured or preferred to stay in the AWA and work his New Japan gig, he isn’t coming. Vince has a grand plan which is to kill the territories and take the WWF out of the northeast and spread his product all over the United States. Bob Backlund’s time is up, the Iron Sheik has been picked as a transitional champion, now what does Vince do?

I looked back at the era and quite frankly it was very difficult to find more than a handful of guys that could have even came close to filling Hogan’s shoes. That said let me be clear. I don’t think any of these guys would have had the impact on the business that Hogan had. Like him or not he was truly one of a kind and irreplaceable. So what I had to do was look at the next best alternative and who was available.

This list is certainly open for argument. It’s completely subjective to my opinion and I’d love to hear from you in the comments area if you feel different or agree with the choices. So let’s slip into Vinnie Mac’s shoes, evaluate the lay of the land, and take a look at his ten best options to captain the WWF ship.

Dusty Rhodes - In Dusty’s autobiography he claims that Vince McMahon Sr. asked him to be his top guy during national expansion. Nobody will ever be able to confirm that so take it what it is worth, especially since Vince Sr. wound up selling to his son anyway. Yet even with that questionable story I don’t have a doubt in my mind that Dusty would have been the best alternative if Hogan wasn’t available.

Dusty already had national exposure as he traveled around the country headlining for every territory. Dusty had charisma right on par with Hogan and was a better promo. Dusty could have reached that blue collar/common man that Hogan couldn’t. Dusty could also work his behind off and would have given fans the same show Hogan did minus the flexing.

Could Dusty have sustained the run that Hogan did? I don’t know about that. Dusty’s act was wearing thin in WCW/JCP when he left. Dusty was booked just like Hogan and fans didn’t get tired of Hogan for several years. If you look at Dusty’s run in JCP/WCW I’d say right at about mid-1988 he started losing some of his appeal. That would have given Dusty a four-year run on top. It would have been tough to keep him going after that but I can’t think of anyone better than the Dream for this top job.

Kerry Von Erich - Now the chances of getting Kerry would have been slim to none since Fritz was still in business but you really never know. What if Vince cut Fritz in on a deal that Fritz couldn’t refuse? I have to think that Vince and Fritz could have come up with some common interests to make a deal. In 1984 I don’t know if there was a more marketable guy on top than Kerry. Take his personal issues out of the equation and I could argue that he may have had just as much if not more success on top than Hogan. He had a phenomenal look, he had youth going for him, he could certainly work on par with Hogan, he had some of the best charisma in the business, yet the only thing missing was his promos. I think he could have captured that teenage girl audience on a national level that even Hogan couldn’t do.

Now could Kerry have had a five-year run on top like Hogan did? He could have but I don’t know if he would have been able to sustain the popularity that Hogan had. The promos would have really hurt after a few years. It also has to be noted that his personal issues would have caught up with him and it wouldn’t have been pretty for Vince. I love the thought of Kerry as the Hogan-guy but there was a ton of risk to go with that potential reward.

Jimmy Snuka - Here is where we dip a bit from our 1-As. I don’t think Snuka would have had anywhere near the success of Dusty or Kerry. Snuka was unquestionably the most popular guy in the WWF before Hogan arrived. Fans were clamoring to see Snuka take a title, a title he was never able to win in the WWF. The biggest problem with Snuka was his outside of the ring issues, the same issues that precluded him from an intercontinental title run.
I think he would have been fine as an interim champion for a few months, but he would have had a really short shelf life. His act was pretty one-dimensional and I don’t know if he would have been able to mesh with the new talent coming in. I certainly couldn’t see him appealing to the Rock and Wrestling crowd that Dusty or Kerry could have. He could have been an emergency choice if Hogan no-showed but he wasn’t the answer.

Andre the Giant - Andre is an interesting name as he was even brought up in the podcast as a potential Backlund-alternative in 1978. I thought of Andre immediately as you’d have a guy that was truly the unbeatable champion on top. I think like Snuka, he would have been a great emergency choice but would have had a very short shelf-life in that spot.

There was a reason you didn’t see Andre in your town every month. He didn’t have that kind of appeal. He would have burnt out quickly coming back monthly and let’s be honest. His health was already deteriorating at this point. There is no chance he would have physically been able to endure a lengthy run at the top. The one intangible I do think Andre could have brought that the others could not is that the guy who beat Andre for the belt was going to be an instant legend. You can’t say that about anyone else here. Andre would have made a great champion to transition a new guy like Paul Orndorff or Randy Savage into a credible top star. Other than that and some great houses for the first few months I don’t see it working over the long haul.

Barry Windham - To me Barry Windham would have been a great investment. Barry wasn’t a guy that was going to fill that spot immediately like a Dusty, Kerry, or even Snuka. But, you could have brought Barry in, introduced him, given Sheik a few more months with the title, and had B.W. pull off a major upset on his way to the races.

By 1984 Barry was one of the best workers in the country. He was already on his way to the WWF in a few months. Barry had the size, look, skill, charisma, and could cut some great babyface promos at this stage in his career. I don’t know if he could have related to the Rock and Wrestling crowd like some others, but I think he would have been passable. Unfortunately Barry always seemed to have his personal issues which prevented him from ever getting “the run” anywhere. I can’t help but think he would have imploded here as well.

Sgt Slaughter - If you lived this era of wrestling like I did, you know that Slaughter gave Hogan a hell of a run for his money for that top babyface spot. Now keep in mind that Slaughter had not turned babyface yet at this point so nobody would have truly known his potential. Yet with the hindsight of history I think we can all agree he would have made a great alternative.

Think about it. Vince could have booked that same Sheik-Slaughter angle yet now the storyline would have the WWF world championship in the balance. The feud as hot as it was would have been even hotter. Slaughter was a great worker and there is no doubt he connected with fans. I do think his act would have been very short lived as WWF champion. I just don’t see Slaughter sustaining that same level of popularity for five years. Slaughter’s run while hot, was incredibly brief so we’ll never truly know. I do know that he never connected after he left the WWF the same way he did in the WWF. He would have been a fantastic choice but only for about a year.

Roddy Piper - Roddy Piper would have been the most intriguing choice on this list. Roddy was still new to the company and was immediately one of the hottest heels in the business. So for this to work he would have either had to go babyface sooner than he should have or beaten another transition guy (who beat Sheik, maybe Snuka or even Andre?). There are a lot of moving parts here but I think Roddy could have done some big things in that spot.

Roddy was a successful babyface in several territories throughout his career. There is no denying that his promos would have compensated any deficiencies in Piper’s game. Unlike most of these guys, I think Piper could have had just as long of a run as Hogan, not as successful, but successful nonetheless on top. Again, his promos would have made any championship match interesting. Unfortunately there are a lot of segments Piper would have had difficulties connecting with which would have capped his impact.

Paul Orndorff - Like Roddy, Orndorff was still new to the WWF at the time and was on his way to becoming a very hot heel. For this to work Orndorff would have had to turn babyface and while he got over tremendously as a face, this would have been a little too soon. I am also not so sure he would have clicked with the many segments of fans that some of the others on this list would have. Still, he had the body, the skills, the charisma, and the promo to give you a viable alternative to the Hulkster in the interim.

Tito Santana - Hear me out before you laugh. Tito was one of the best workers in the United States in 1984. He was arguably the best worker in the WWF at this time. I dare you to watch his matches with Don Muraco and Greg Valentine and come away thinking anything less. If you wanted a workhorse in that top spot, Tito would have been your guy.

The big question is whether Tito could have connected with a national audience comparable to Hogan’s level? I want to say no yet when I look back at the time period he was getting a ton of heat in the intercontinental title matches. I think he would have made a fine temporary fix to the situation but I just can’t see him sustaining that appeal past a year if that. According to Tito, he was up for a title run when Vince put the belt on Bret Hart for the first time so this isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

Bob Backlund - What about staying with Backlund? He stuck around for a little while and fans were already accustomed to seeing him in that spot. He was still drawing big crowds although he was certainly struggling in some cities. Staying with Backlund would have been an easy choice if Hogan didn’t show up on that January night in Garden but he wasn’t a Vince Jr. guy. He wouldn’t have been the guy to take the company national that Vince wanted on top. As a transition champion, he’d probably be your best choice. I wouldn’t count on him for anything more and this comes from one of the bigger Backlund fans you’ll find.

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