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Five Reasons You Cannot Blame Kevin Nash for the WWE Collapse in 1995

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

I hope ESPN doesn’t sue me for this.

For those of you that remember, ESPN had a show called “The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame” in-which they’d look at an infamous moment in sports history and defend those who were blamed for it. They covered subjects from Bill Buckner to Steve Bartman or the BCS for not having a playoff. It was a great show that I wish was still on the air, because it’s sure as shit better than watching Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless “debating”. It was also hosted by the eternally awesome Brain Kenny, who once again is much, much better than Bayless or Smith.

In 1995, the WWE was beginning to hype a “New Generation” marketing campaign, a fresh start for the company. Vince McMahon had just finished a lengthy battle with the federal government and the stars of the Hulkamania days were gone. Vince was hoping that Kevin Nash, a 6’11 monster of a man to lead the company through what could be a potentially painful transition period. McMahon had already pushed Nash in a big way having him defeat Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden in eight seconds just days after Backlund won it. McMahon was hoping that Diesel demolishing Backlund with ease would set off fervor not seen since Hogan dropped the leg on The Iron Sheik in the same building.

The fervor never happened.

Before we start, I’m going to break down one of the biggest myths of Nash’s run and that is the concept that Nash was the lowest drawing champion of the modern era. Many cite the 3,039 average attendance number as the lowest but it was actually up from the previous number of 2,880 average attendance number. In-fact, the WWE still beat WCW that year in terms of attendance numbers as WCW’s average attendance number was 2,189. When it came to PPV buys, the company only dipped below 200k and this was with the start of the In Your House events (In Your House 4 and Survivor Series 1995) near the end of Diesel’s reign. WCW only managed to hit the 200k number twice (Superbrawl V and Uncensored 1995). In-fact, when the Monday Night War started, Diesel went 5-5-1 as champion. The company even made a $3,319,000 profit which was up from the four million dollar loss from 1994 and the company losing six million dollars in 1996. So yeah, take that.

Before we start, we’re going to look at two reasons that you can actually blame Nash, followed by the actual reasons why you can’t blame Kevin Nash for the WWE falling apart in 1995.

1. The Kliq: Undoubtedly the biggest factor against Nash, the Kliq ran wild in 1995. Nash was the top guy with the belt, Michaels was the apple of Vince’s eye; Ramon was in the upper mid card as a popular face, Kid had a secure spot as one of the better workers in the company, and Hunter had the protection of Nash and Michaels. The Kliq was able to maneuver Michaels being the number two face in the company, forcing Bret Hart and The Undertaker into mid-level feuds. Hart started out with Diesel and then slide down working feuds with Backlund(Ice cold after losing the belt), Lawler (Pretty good), Hakushi (Still good), Isaac Yankem (Not good) and finally an evil pirate who stole his coat. Hart is pretty much the MVP of the company in 1995, taking WrestleCrap and making it work somehow. Undertaker was stuck in an uninteresting feud with Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation and then had his face smashed in by Mabel and starting that feud. In an interesting note, both Hart and Taker had their own cliques, but more in a way of countering the rise of the Kliq. Hart ran with Owen, Davey Boy, Neidhart (When he was around, he left after the Rumble), Hakushi and Jeff Jarrett. Undertaker had his Bone Street Krew which consisted of himself, Yoko, Bearer, The Godwins, and most of the Million Dollar Corporation. The groups were willing to place nice with each other for the good of the company. The Kliq would infamously threaten to strike, refusing to leave their Indianapolis hotel room when the company was working a show in Columbus that night. The group more or less forced Vince’s hand going over the talent that they did or did not want to work with. Yes, they actually made Vince and Patterson fly from Columbus to Indianapolis. They hammered everything out over a meal at Chillis. I’m 100% serious folks. It would set forth for a showdown between the group and the roster that would accumulate with The Montreal Screwjob.

2. Nash, the worker: As a worker, Nash was not the greatest but he did work well with a certain type of worker. He worked well with smaller guys that could pinball around the ring and make Nash look very well. Nash had good bouts as champion against Michaels, Hart, and Jarrett, which doesn’t help as Vince is still pushing the monsters. The most notable example was the title defense against The British Bulldog at In Your House 4. Many people expected a decent bout, this was before Bulldog went through a knee injury and people were expecting Nash and Bulldog to throw each other around in a power vs power match. Instead, we got a rather boring match with Bulldog working the leg much to the crowd’s boredom. After a DQ finish, McMahon threw his headset down and verbally assaulted Diesel for putting on such a porous match, in-front of the live crowd. It was the beginning of the end for Diesel’s reign. I would recommend that you check out the Diesel/Bigelow match from the April 24th, 1995 Raw. It is one of the better examples of Diesel vs big guy matches that I can think of.

Now, onto the top five reasons as to why you can’t blame Kevin Nash for the fall of the WWE in 1995.

5. The Wrestling Depression

From about 1993-1996, the wrestling industry was at a low point coming off the Hulkamania Era. Vince was in the middle of a steroid controversy and dealing with a roster that had been purged because of it. WCW was still trying to find its footing and falling flat on its face from time to time. The steroid trial had done some major damage to pro wrestling, sponsors weren’t willing give their money to companies that endorsed putting chemicals into their body to make themselves look good. Parents didn’t want their kids watching after Hogan was exposed as a liar (True story) and profits from television/live events/PPV were down. You have to remember that the WWE went from having a toy deal with Hasbro to doing these awful BendEm figures that you couldn’t find at most stores. I got a good majority of mine at a dollar store. Wrestling when from being in to being out faster than you can say WHATTAMANUEVER. Even WCW felt the brunt of this after they signed up Hogan then Savage, but even those two didn’t move the needle as much as WCW hoped for.

4. The Booking Direction of the Company

In 1995, it was both companies trying to go back and use the tried and true formula of the Hulkamania days. Dominant face champion who happens to be big taking on all comers and usually winning, while WCW was beginning the Hogan vs Dungeon of Doom feud. The fans were sick of this and the only company that was trying to do something different was ECW. With both companies trying to push a formula that the fans didn’t want since they had seen it for such a long time. It wasn’t until the nWo angle that both companies realized that something new and different was needed. The WWE was trying to get over gimmicks of wrestling plumbers, race car drivers, mantaurs, workout enthusiasts, garbage men and supreme fighting machines. Yeah, those first few months of the Monday Night Wars were not the greatest time to watch wrestling on television. Watching Raw in this period consists of a good feature match followed by mostly unwatchable squash matches.

3. The Character Change

Nash had got over with the fans before he got the title by being a merciless ass kicker for most of 1994. He didn’t have much of a character; he was just a big guy who beat the crap out of you. So you’d think that they’d keep that part of the character when they gave him the belt. They didn’t, they sort took the edge of Diesel’s character, which was what got him over in the first place. In his Timeline interview, he brought up they had him put on a Santa hat and have him sing Christmas songs. They even sent him out to various events with the belt like The All Star game and had him pose for pictures with celebrities. You have the potential for a different type of face champion than what we’ve seen before. He’s not telling you to say your prayers, a psychedelic wildman cowboy or a nice Canadian; this is one big bad mudda fudda. I have serious concerns that when Roman Reigns get the belt, they’ll try and turn him into a Cena-lite. It didn’t work with Luger and Diesel by trying to turn them into Hogan and it won’t work with Reigns and Cena.

2. The Lack of Good Heel Opponents

A good babyface champion is only as good as his heel opponent and most of the heels they matched up against Diesel were not that good. Shawn Michaels was great, but the company made the rather weird decision to turn him face right after their first match. The problem is that the company lost out on potentially lucrative rematches on the house show circuit. The big WrestleMania rematch usually draws well for live events since you can it market it as “You saw them fight on PPV, now see them fight LIVE!” The match could also draw big numbers for the yearly visit overseas tour after WrestleMania. Instead, they got Diesel teaming with another face against Sid and another heel which doesn’t draw as well as Diesel vs Michaels II. You could have done a cage match gimmick to keep Sid out of interfering. After that, it was a steep downslide in-term of the quality of opponents. Jarrett played a good poor man’s version of Michaels (Their match on the 02/20 Raw is very good), Yoko could have been great but his weight gain made that a no go, Owen could only draw with Bret and Backlund was a bit of a styles clash. In-fact, Backlund was sliding down the similar path of other heel champions, doing jobs on the house show circuit. Waylon Mercy would have been an interesting feud, but Spivey was broken down by then. The less we say about the Mabel and that entire push, the better. Diesel might have been handed the worst deck of opponents in company history to work with. I always thought that Diesel as a monster heel champion with a good mouth piece would have worked, better opponents on the face side: Hart, Razor, Bulldog, Kid, eventual face Michaels and it all builds up to The Undertaker ascending from hell to end Diesel’s reign.

And the number one reason is….

1. Vince Kennedy McMahon

If you’ve noticed, the last three reasons could directly be attributed to the decisions of McMahon himself. So, he gets the number one spot for being the man behind these decisions. I also hold McMahon responsible since this is the year he decided to play it safe with the company. The free agent signings he did make were relatively inexpensive and while three of them (Goldust, Kane and Triple H) proved to be worthwhile; most of them were gone in a year or so. Think about it like this, Maxx Payne (Yes with two X’s) got signed over Mick Foley and was actually pushed for a bit. We’re still a year away from the signing class of 1996 (Foley, Austin, Rock) and WCW does the smart thing by raiding a good majority of the international talent that ECW started to book. He also played it safe by not doing something Nash’s run with the belt, either turning him heel midway through or possibly scrapping the run as a whole.

My other big problem with McMahon is that he let the power slide from himself to the Kliq. While Vince was willing to let certain talents have influence and power, this had never happened before. I can’t blame the group either, they knew that Vince couldn’t fire them or do anything like that, so take advantage of the old man when you can. Vince McMahon had been burned, he thought that Hulk and Savage were down for as draws and now they were helping to turn the tide in Atlanta. Vince needed to keep the Kliq around and did anything to appease them. The big problem would be it would implode on him once Nash and Hall left and Michaels was left to fend for himself.

I also believe that McMahon did not favor’s for himself when it came to the start of the Monday Night War. He was still taping Raw in smaller arenas while still taping in Superstars in large arenas and the production was rather bare bones. When Nitro premieres, you’re watching a product that emanating from large arenas with high level production values, a fancy set, new graphics and cards with main event caliber matches. Raw had been fresh and cutting edge for the first year or so, and then Nitro shows up and makes it look like something that was being taped from a television station in the south. That might be a little embellishment on my hands but Nitro looked sleek and modern. It was everything that Raw wasn’t and I know they were tightening the belt, but it was Bischoff doing what Vince had done to the regional guys. Show the fans a sleek product with all their favorites (Hogan, Savage) and take those territories fans away.

And it worked.

You may agree or let’s be honest a lot of you will disagree with me, but for Nash to get most, if not all the blame isn’t fair. Yes, he didn’t help himself with the Kliq or the fact that he could only work with one type of guy, but I honestly don’t believe that anybody could draw well in this time period. The wrestling industry was in the middle of the Hulkamania Hangover and wouldn’t get out of it until Hulk dropped the leg a year later.

I’m Robert Goeman playing Brian Kenny but I’m actually Robert Goeman, have a good night.

Up next: The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame Garguilo for Hiring Robert Goeman.

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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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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The 25 Greatest Moments From WWE Saturday Night’s Main Event History – The Classic Years

July 07, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

With WWE adding Saturday Night’s Main Event to its Network archives this week, fans of that age are no doubt thrilled. I speak for myself as well when I think of the joys as a kid of staying up late on the weekends to catch headline wrestlers in marquee matches on free television.

Sure, Monday Night Raw’s diluted the allure of that by running through matches with name wrestlers week after week until there’s nothing special about anyone, but things were different in 1980s. The weekends were filled with jobber matches, while the top guys were held apart from each other. Pay-per-view encounters were one thing, but the five or six times you got Saturday Night’s Main Event, you were provided with 90 minutes of must-see television, with Vince McMahon’s carnie drawl, Jesse Ventura’s cartoonish gravitas, Mean Gene’s hype-filled inquisitions, and the best of the 1980s WWE roster playing it all out.

Paring down a list to just 25 awesome moments excises much of the good-natured, smile-lame bits, like the 1985 Halloween party, 1990’s Oktoberfest episode, and McMahon and Ventura riding horseback. It also excluded my favorite bit of silliness that was Mr. Fuji singing a country song to prove that he was more of a redneck than Dick Slater. Really, you have to see it.

Listed below are 25 of the moments that made the show the spectacle that is still fondly remembered today, and provides a bit of an itinerary for the younger fans to see what’s worth scoping out from the bountiful archive.

NOTE 1: This list does not include anything from The Main Event, the five Friday night specials that aired between 1988 and 1991. Otherwise, “twin referees” and Savage walloping Hogan would clog the top of the list (in a good way). This is all Saturday, all the time.

NOTE 2: By ‘classic years’, that means only the SNMEs from 1985-92. Nothing from the forgettable 2006-08  run makes it – not that anything outside of Mickie “Single White Female” James betraying Trish Stratus merits consideration.

NOTE 3: I’ve chosen to list the airdates of each show, rather than the day they were taped. Since there’s OCD-historian types out there reading this (my favorite demographic), and those folks may ask why I chose airdates, it’s strictly for the magic of the Saturday connotation. For the rest of you with little time to worry about this sort of silly thing, please disregard.

25. DEATH OF THE SUPER NINJA (November 26, 1988)

Rip Oliver looked like your typical 1980s territory heel: bleach-blonde hair, non-ironic beard, and sleepy eyes that complimented a slop-eating grin. In many ways, Oliver looked like fellow Portland fixture Matt Borne, and appearance wasn’t all they had in common. Turns out, both men’s most famous runs in WWE came as mysteriously cloaked villains.

While Borne gained notoriety as the heinous Doink the Clown, Oliver’s stake was a one-night run as The Super Ninja, a masked fiend imported by Mr Fuji to try and thwart The Ultimate Warrior, and win the Intercontinental Championship. Like most generic masked baddies of the time, Ninja was dispatched in about two minutes, quick work for a rampaging Warrior.

24. THE MOVIE COMES TO LIFE (July 29, 1989)

In the Oscar-winning masterpiece that is No Holds Barred, Hulk Hogan (er, “Rip”) finally fights the menacing Zeus after “The Human Wrecking Machine” nearly kills Hogan’s brother, played by Jacob from LOST. Sadly, Jacob wasn’t imported into the WWE-world storyline along with Zeus, but another actor of similar renown would fill his shoes: Brutus Beefcake.

During a forgotten classic of a match between “The Barber” and Randy Savage, Sensational Sherri fetched Zeus on The Macho Man’s behalf, and Zeus helped Savage beat down Beefcake. Naturally, Hogan made the save, most notably whacking Zeus with a chair, only for the eventual Dark Knight actor to no-sell it. Hogan selling bug-eyed fear is always a hoot.

23. SNAKE HANDLED (May 2, 1987)

WrestleMania III remains memorable, largely for four reasons: Hogan vs. Andre, Savage vs. Steamboat, the crowd, and Piper’s farewell before leaving for Hollywood. The Honky Tonk Man and Jake Roberts had a decent match a ways down the card, which was amazing, given that it had to follow the Savage-Steamboat all-timer. Honky won, but the feud didn’t end there.

Roberts was squaring off with Kamala, who had Mr. Fuji and the masked Kim Chee (Kamala’s “handler”) in his corner. Late in the abbreviated bout, Kim Chee struck “The Snake” behind the referee’s back, and enabled Kamala to win with his patented splash. Kim Chee revealed himself to be Honky in disguise right after, but the feud fizzled, due to a Roberts injury.

22. SID WALKS OUT (February 8, 1992)

WWE’s sound-doctoring of 1992 Royal Rumble footage has always been laughable, even when I was 8 years old. The crowd clearly cheered when Sid Justice dumped an unsuspecting Hulk Hogan, although WWE added heat-machine effects (and re-did Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan’s commentary to call Sid a cheater, for some reason) to repaint history.

Hogan and Justice were slated to face The Undertaker and new champion Ric Flair on the first FOX edition of SNME, and it resulted in a decent formula match, with Hogan being imperiled instead of his partner. There’d be no heroic comeback, as Justice walked out on an ailing Hogan, and threatened to strike an injured Brutus Beefcake, which Heenan delighted in.

21. ANDRE’S LAST GOOD MATCH (November 25, 1989)

Through rose-colored lens, the Hulk-Andre WrestleMania III epic comes closer and closer to a five star rating with each passing year. His matches since don’t get the same consideration, as an aging, creaking Andre the Giant was sad to watch, with all due respect. It’s rare to find a truly enjoyable match in his WWE homestretch, with this bout as the rare exception.

Andre clashed with Heenan Family nemesis Ultimate Warrior for the Intercontinental gold, and what ensued was a shockingly quick-paced eight minute match, ending with a DQ win for the Warrior. Warrior’s 2014 DVD collection includes this match, and hindsight has been much kinder to not just Warrior’s workrate in general, but especially this gem among the dust.

20. FIRST STRIKE (March 14, 1987)

The road to WrestleMania III was paved by the lure of Hulk/Andre, and this Saturday edition was recorded from Detroit five weeks before the PPV (airing just two weeks before the big money showdown). To sweeten the pot, Hogan and Andre were entered in a 20 man battle royal, all but guaranteeing that the icons would lock horns before the championship bout.

Earlier in the battle, Andre bloodied “Leaping” Lanny Poffo to the point where the eventual Genius was gurney’d out of ringside. After Hogan eliminated turncoat Paul Orndorff, Andre landed his mammoth headbutt on the champion, and astonished fearful children nationwide by easily dumping their hero over the top rope. A simple twist to fuel the big match.

19. MACHO MAN AND THE HITMAN GUT IT OUT (November 28, 1987)

Bret Hart was merely a tag team wrestler, and Honky Tonk Man-flunkie, when “The Hitman” was programmed against the penthouse-level Macho Man Randy Savage. The two were given an impressive duration of time for 1987 (12 minutes) to work a story centered on Hart attacking Macho’s leg. This would be Hart’s biggest litmus test in WWE to that point.

The match was tremendously executed, but with a caveat: both men were injured during the bout. Hart cracked his heel on a bump to the outside, and in return (though obviously not intentionally), Hart slammed Savage’s bare foot/ankle into the ringpost as the story called for, and badly hurt Savage as well. Both consummate pros carried on to a great showing.

18. HARDCORE HARLEY (March 12, 1988)

Perhaps it’s a bit inappropriate to list an eventual career-ending injury among great moments, but the spectacle deserves mention. Harley Race’s status of one of the toughest individuals in wrestling history often goes unquestioned, and is playfully referenced, often to Chuck Norris and Bill Brasky levels. Race proved said toughness against Hulk Hogan.

The story was that Hogan was beyond irate after the screwjob that cost him the WWE Title, and engaged in a frenzied brawl with Race. As the battle wore on, Hogan lay prone on a table, and Race leapt at him, but the Hulkster moved, and “The King” took the bump with his abdomen, sustaining a severe hernia. Still, Race finished the match, with none the wiser.

17. HOBBLED HOT ROD (October 4, 1986)

By 1986, Rowdy Roddy Piper had shed his image as the most reviled bad guy of WWE’s mainstream rise, and was now a revered icon, about on the level of old rival Hogan. Even with the change of alignment, it was still a weird image to see Piper make the save for Hogan, when The Hulkster was being assaulted by Paul Orndorff and “Adorable” Adrian Adonis.

Adonis was Piper’s new target, following an assault by Adonis, Cowboy Bob Orton, and Don Muraco on the set of Adonis’ “Flower Shop” talk segment, and Piper sustained a leg injury. Despite being hobbled with the injury, a now-galvanized Piper was made to not only save Hogan, but also defeat Iron Sheik in under a minute the same night, all on just one good leg.

16. NINE WILD MINUTES (March 11, 1989)

Talk about a match made in heaven. Take The Rockers, wrestling’s most spectacular aerial combo of the day, and pit them with Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, the epitome of brawn, science, and ring psychology in one nifty package. Tell them to pack their best material in about nine minutes of time, and watch as they blow everyone away.

It’s possibly the greatest match from a star-rating standpoint in the show’s history, with false-finishes, relentless action, and the expected creativity (a pinfall reversal sequence that would become standard in eras future). The bout ended with a double count-out, and the feud wouldn’t be blown off until November when the Busters left, but this was its pinnacle.

15. MURDEROUS ANDRE (January 2, 1988)

When booking someone to be a giant, it’s imperative to make him look as infallible as possible. Building to the Hogan-Andre rematch on The Main Event, Andre stood ringside for fellow Bobby Heenan-heavy King Kong Bundy in a match with the champ. Hogan won with the ‘Atomic Leg’ after sustaining two Avalanches, a mere prelude to the real fun.

With “Real American” blaring, Andre stormed the ring and began assaulting Hogan, applying his vicious chokehold. The British Bulldogs, Strike Force, Jake Roberts, and Junkyard Dog attempted to rescue Hogan, all unable to free Hulk. Jim Duggan struck Andre with a 2X4, allowing the faces to pull Hogan to safety, but it made Andre look like a true killer.

14. THE DRAGON LIVES (January 3, 1987)

The fuse of the Randy Savage-Ricky Steamboat Intercontinental Title feud was lit when Savage wounded Steamboat’s larynx, via usage of the metal guardrail, as well as the ring bell. Steamboat was put out of commission, and the caustic Savage whooped it up that he’d apparently ended the career of the biggest threat to his title. Or so he thought!

During a title defense against George “The Animal” Steele, Savage was as astonished as anyone when Steamboat made an unannounced appearance, making clear his intent to exact revenge. Steamboat also prevented Savage from injuring Steele with the bell, and the confrontation set the stage for WWE’s match of the decade at WrestleMania III.

13. BEGINNING OF A SHORT-LIVED FRIENDSHIP (May 11, 1985)

And you thought Kane and The Undertaker had a complex relationship. Take away the ghoulish and macabre elements of their on-again/off-again bond, and it’s fairly similar to Hulk Hogan’s connection to “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff in the 1980s. After Orndorff was blamed for losing the WrestleMania main event, Hogan reached out sympathetically.

On SNME’s maiden episode, Hogan retained the WWE Championship by DQ over Bob Orton when Roddy Piper interfered. Mr. T tried for the save, but the heels beat him down as well. That left Orndorff to hit the ring, clearing it of his former friends. The sight of “Mr. Wonderful” posing with Hogan and Mr. T remains an unusual image thirty years later.

12. ACCIDENTAL CLOTHESLINE (January 27, 1990)

Days after Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, the company’s singles champions, had a time-stopping confrontation in the Royal Rumble match, the two were teamed against Mr. Perfect and The Genius. Hogan scored the pin on Genius, and that seemed to be that, but the post-match activity would set the stage for what was termed “The Ultimate Challenge”.

While the good guys celebrated before their fans, Perfect and Genius attacked them. Hogan went down, but Warrior went on a rampage, clotheslining everyone in sight, including Hogan by accident as Hulk stood back up. The miscue led to a confrontation between heroes 1A and 1B, with WrestleMania VI in Toronto tabbed as the site of their winner-take-all match.

11. REIGN-BUSTERS (July 29, 1989)

On the NBC version of the show, spanning 34 episodes, this was the only title change. Demolition had reigned as World Tag Team Champions for nearly 16 months, a record that remains unsurpassed. Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, the Brain Busters, were granted a shot in a two-out-of-three falls match, after a DQ win on the May 27 edition of the show.

The Demos won the first fall after Ax pinned Anderson, but they were then disqualified in the second fall for excessive double teaming (the DQ ruling didn’t nullify the title change). With fellow Heenan Family charge Andre the Giant now looming at ringside, the Busters took the third fall after Blanchard struck Smash with a chair thrown in by the Giant.

10. SAVAGE LETS HOGAN TWIST (January 7, 1989)

As the Hogan/Savage “WrestleMania Rewind” episode on WWE Network demonstrates, Savage’s subtle facial tics and manic gestures on the road to turning on Hogan were a thing of beauty. All of the hints of paranoid reaction were there, and a viewer could sense that the WWE Champion didn’t really like Hogan, or his proximity to the lovely Miss Elizabeth.

Hogan was wrestling Akeem with Elizabeth ringside, when Big Bossman intervened after a ref bump, and the Twin Towers pummeled Hulk. Mean Gene Okerlund implored Savage to save his friend, but an oddly-calm Savage insisted Hulk would be alright. When Bossman grabbed Liz, only then did Savage spring into action, saving her, and not so much The Hulkster.

9. WHO HIT FIRST? (January 3, 1987)

Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff finally settled their acrimony inside the Blue Bar Cage, with the WWE Championship contested. Standard for WWE fare, the winner would be the one who escaped the structure, as opposed to pinfall or submission. While the NWA-nostalgiaphiles would call this the sissy way of winning, here it produced a pretty creative moment.

Hogan began an ascent early in the match, but a refreshed Orndorff took to climbing the other side of the cage. It turned into a foot-race, with both men jumping off the cage wall simultaneously. One official declared Hogan the winner, while the other claimed Orndorff was the new champion. The match restarted and, yeah, Hogan ended up retaining.

8. THE ULTIMATE DUO (November 2, 1985)

One month earlier, Andre the Giant teamed with the incomprehensibly-fascinating Tony Atlas in a DQ victory over King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd. The massive duo double-teamed Andre after the bell, prompting Hulk Hogan to make the save. Teddy Long wasn’t there to institute a tag team match, but the dots connected themselves, and a match was made.

Hogan and Andre are arguably (nearly inarguably) the most imposing tag team in wrestling history, and it was a treat to see two stars of their magnitude take on Bundy and Studd in a Halloween-themed edition of SNME. The match ended in another disqualification via double-teaming, but Hogan and Andre would clear the ring in standard babyface fashion.

7. THE HARDCORE TITLE IS BORN (November 25, 1989)

Hulk Hogan was in the midst of an oddly-entertaining title defense against perma-midcarder The Genius. The bout consisted of Hogan mock-prancing around the ring in a manner that would draw angry diatribes from those clean-conscience souls at Gawker today. While it seemed that another Hogan victory was in order, a swerve finish came to pass.

Mr. Perfect struck Hogan with the championship belt outside the ring, and the Genius would win via countout. Perfect then absconded with the title and was filmed destroying the center plate with a hammer, his message to Hogan to give him a shot, or else. That fractured strap would be taped together, and fashioned as the Hardcore Championship in 1998.

6. HBK GETS THE GOLD (November 14, 1992)

SNME only ran on the FOX Network twice, but it featured one very significant title change. Mirroring the push of Bret Hart as a tag wrestler-turned-singles stud, Shawn Michaels took to his preening pretty boy role with ease, fusing much of heel-Ric Flair into his own unmatched athletic style. It was Michaels’ destiny to be pushed up the card, and it wouldn’t take long.

Already slated to wrestle Hart for the WWE Title at Survivor Series, Michaels was booked against soon-to-be-axed Intercontinental Champion Davey Boy Smith. The angle was that Michaels spent the match working on the British Bulldog’s back, and got him to strike an exposed turnbuckle. Michaels countered a superplex into a crossbody to get the title.

5. DRAGON FEELS THE BITE (May 3, 1986)

The injury angle that Ricky Steamboat worked with Randy Savage wasn’t even the most devastating-looking incident involving “The Dragon” in 1986. Jake “The Snake” Roberts jumped Steamboat before their scheduled bout on the show’s near-anniversary edition, and doled out one of the more devastating blows yet seen on WWE television.

Roberts jumped Steamboat at ringside, and proceeded to plant him with a DDT onto the bare concrete floor, which purportedly cracked the skull of the Dragon legitimately. Either way, Steamboat was definitely dead weight when Roberts threw his limp carcass into the ring, and allowed a freed Damian to writhe all over him, while Bonnie Steamboat watched in horror.

4. BUNDY MAKES HIS MARK (March 1, 1986)

King Kong Bundy dispatched of lower-level opponent Steve Gatorwolf (nice name, though) in under one minute, and then declared that he wanted Hogan’s championship. Immediately after the squash, Hogan defended the title against Don Muraco, managed by Bobby Heenan instead of a purportedly-ill Mr. Fuji. Heenan, of course, was primarily Bundy’s manager.

Heenan caused the disqualification, and then Bundy ran in, unleashing an assault on Hogan that consisted of three Avalanches, and two splashes on the prone champion. To build the lure of WrestleMania II, Hogan sold injured ribs as a result of the incident, and for the first time in his two-plus year World Title reign, it seemed as though Hulk was vulnerable.

3. HEEL VS. HEEL (November 29, 1986)

Macho Man Randy Savage was the company’s most interesting villain, and his Intercontinental Title reign reflected his higher card status. Jake “The Snake” Roberts just concluded a violent feud with Ricky Steamboat, and established himself among a swelling WWE pack. The two were pitted against each other for the title, with a surprising result.

Vince McMahon declared that fans would probably cheer the flamboyant Savage over the icy Roberts, but he and Jesse Ventura expressed surprise as the Los Angeles crowd cheered loudly for Jake. The two worked to out-heel and out-cheat one another before this slice of something different ended in a double-DQ, and a face turn for Roberts was drawing close.

2. HULKA-PLEX (May 27, 1989)

And they say Hogan didn’t bump. While your favorite springboardin’, rope-clearing daredevils put it all on the line with without any regard, there’s Hogan mechanically running through his safe moveset, while making the big bucks. Not such a bad thing, is it? In fact, when Hogan *did* take a risk, I’d argue it meant that much more. Like this particular cage match stunt.

Hogan was defending his regained WWE Championship against the Big Bossman within that Blue Bar Cage, and it seemed the hefty prison guard was safely on his way to escaping. Hulk climbed the cage, dragged Bossman to the apex and then (off the top rope, not the cage itself) superplexed Bossman back into the ring in a visual that’s still impressive today.

1. THE MANIA MEETS THE MADNESS (October 3, 1987)

Macho Man Randy Savage was centimeters away from regaining his Intercontinental Title from the Honky Tonk Man when the Hart Foundaton broke up the pin for the DQ. Afterward, the trio engaged a beatdown of Savage, but Miss Elizabeth intervened as Honky went for a crowning guitar shot. Honky then threw her down, drawing shocked gasps from everyone.

Elizabeth fled to the back as Honky landed the six-stringed smash, but wrestling’s first lady returned with a somewhat perplexed Hulk Hogan. Hogan saw the three-on-one, and then hit the ring, helping clear Jimmy Hart’s clients from the fray. Savage was reluctant to express gratitude, but finally did to Hulk, kicking off the Mega Powers with the famous handshake.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Top 10 WWE Saturday Night’s Main Event Matches

July 07, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Saturday Night’s Main Event is expected to land on the WWE Network today. With 36 shows and over 3000 minutes of matches where do you even start? You would start with the ten best SNME matches as determined by a blogger who has seen them all!

I loved Saturday Night’s Main Event. It brought not only the expected feuds but even a few dream matches to free television for wrestling fans. The matches were always fast paced as the WWE generally would try to squeeze 4-5 in an hour which made for some excellent matches. The WWE Network is getting them all today so I thought it would be a great time to dig deep into the archives and create a must-see list for first-time viewers.

WWE championship: Hulk Hogan vs. Terry Funk (SNME #4) – This match rarely gets the love it so rightly deserves. Terry Funk was on his game here and believe it or not he and Hogan had tremendous chemistry. In another shocker it is Vince McMahon’s commentary that really puts this one over as he is disgusted with Funk. Funk chokes Hogan at one point with his wrist tape (something I am surprised more heels don’t do) and Vince loses it. As usual with a Terry Funk match you may find yourself laughing at some points at his shtick. I liked this one a lot and while not as technically sound as others on this list, it is hard to find a match as entertaining as Hogan and Funk.

Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase (SNME #15) – Bret was starting to break out here as he was on the upswing while DiBiase was on his way down. DiBiase is now managed by Sensational Sherri. These two had tremendous chemistry here and it was obvious immediately that they enjoyed working with each other. This was a real solid match, psychologically as sound as you will find for the time period. Roddy Piper gets into the mix as Bret’s advocate and the match winds up going to a double-count out with everyone fighting on the floor.

WWE Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation vs. The British Bulldogs – 2/3 Falls (SNME #11) – I remember watching these matches at the time as a kid convinced they were real. These two teams fought so hard and stiff that even after 20/20 I was still questioning whether it was dare I say fake or not. These two teams are the epitome of this as you had four guys that brought their own styles to the WWE as opposed to today where you have guys adjusting to the style of the WWE. Jesse predicts a classic and he is right. The Rock and Roll Express vs. Midnight Express is generally regarded as the greatest tag team series of the 1980s but I’d put this match right up there with them. The Bulldogs take this one in two straight falls to win the WWE tag team titles. I’d highly recommend checking this match out as one of the first SNME bouts on the WWE Network.

WWE championship: Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff Steel Cage Match (SNME #9) – You will see why this is regarded as one of the best steel cage matches in WWE history. It may not be as brutal as some of the classics from the 70s and early 80s, but it is a lot of fun. Both guys work hard throughout the match to reach the floor only for both to touch the ground at the same time. Hogan wins the match after a restart. The crowd ate this one up from start to finish. There is a reason these two sold out arenas around North America and you’ll see exactly why in this match.

WWE IC Championship: Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts (SNME #8) – What a fantastic match! This was probably my favorite all-time SNME match. I will tell you what. The more I watch these matches the more I am reminded about how awesome Savage was in his prime. He was truly a pioneer. This was a unique match as both guys were technically heels at the time yet Jake was slowly turning. Vince even remarks how the fans are behind Jake towards the end of the match. What I really liked about this is that Jake wrestled like a heel even though he was clearly positioned as the babyface. This match took place well before their famous feud several years later. The match had the sound psychology here as you would expect. Savage was great here as the heel champion coming close to getting pinned on several occasions. Jake goes for the DDT constantly only to have Savage weasel out of it. Both guys are disqualified as you’d expect in a match with two heels. If you want to see an old-school match telling a great story then go out of your way to watch this one on the Network.

The Brain Busters vs. The Rockers – 2/3 Falls (SNME #24) – It’s a shame that these two teams didn’t wrestle more because this rivalry had the potential to be one of the best ever between tag teams. The Brain Busters and Bobby Heenan have a heated talk before the match, teasing dissection. Vince and Jesse tease that the Busters seem out of sync. Jannetty scores the first pin on Tully with a sunset flip over the top rope only after a few minutes of action. Heenan yells at the Busters after they lose the fall. He pushes Tully and is then backed out of the ring by the Busters. The Rockers take advantage of this and go quickly into the second fall. Heenan walks out on the Busters. The Brain Busters take the second fall with a real weak finish as Arn clotheslines Michaels across the top rope for the pin. The third fall is the best of the three as the action really picks up. Jannetty blocks a piledriver attempt by Anderson and Michaels hits the flying bodypress off of the top rope for the pin. This was great but I think the drama with Heenan and the Busters actually hurt this one as it took the emphasis away from the action.

WWE championship: Hulk Hogan vs. Big Boss Man Steel Cage Match (SNME #21) – This was an interesting match as it was the end of the feud and more or less a promotion for Hogan’s movie. Nonetheless it is a great match as Bossman and Hogan really gelled in the ring during this time. The match is contested In an unbelievable moment Hogan catches Bossman after he has climbed over the top and is a few feet from the floor, pulls him back up and suplexes him off of the top of the cage! Hogan winds up ramming Bossman into the cage three times and dropping a leg for the pin in a fun cage match from SNME.

WWE IC Championship: Mr. Perfect vs. Tito Santana (SNME #27) – Many regard this match as the greatest match in Saturday Night’s Main Event history. I don’t know if I’d go that far but it is certainly top 10, maybe even top 5. I have always regarded Santana as one of the most underrated workers of the 80s/early 90s. Put Tito in there with another workhorse like Mr. Perfect and you have magic. These two extract the best from one another, starting out at an incredibly fast pace. At what point McMahon notes that this match can’t keep up for much longer in regards to the pace. Hennig slows it down after a few minutes. The crowd goes crazy for Tito’s comebacks which really add to the intensity. Hennig is his usual bump machine throughout the match. Bobby Heenan’s facial reactions are also priceless. Hennig wins surprisingly with a clean cradle in a thriller.

Randy Savage vs. Bret Hart (SNME #13) – I would dare say that this was probably Bret Hart’s first major singles match on WWE television. This match lived up to all expectations. The pace was solid, much faster than most WWE matches at the time. One odd spot in the match saw Bret get a 2-count on a piledriver, odd since the piledriver was an established finisher at the time. Savage was extremely generous here as the ascending star as he gave Bret about 50/50. Savage was an animal taking bumps all over the place including a backdrop to the floor. The only thing preventing this match from going down as an all-time classic was the short time they were given. Savage catches him out of nowhere with a small package for the win and the crowd goes ballistic. Ten more minutes and this match had potential to be a classic.

The Brain Busters vs. The Rockers (SNME #20) – Believe it or not this one is actually better than their two out of three falls match. The action starts off red hot in this match. It’s more like a Texas Tornado match early on. The match finally turns in the Buster’s favor after Heenan pulls down the top rope and Michaels hits the floor. The match breaks down outside of the ring and ends in a double-count out. This one is a little slower than the two out of three falls match which actually turned out to be a positive for these four.

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Hulkamania Goes Down South Part 1

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

This is the start of a four part series chronicling Hulk Hogan’s first two years in WCW.

This year we’ve celebrated the birth of Hulkamania and the event that was built on the shoulders of Hulkamania. Now, we look back at the moment that shifted the wrestling industry and the way the big two signed talent. We look back when WCW shocked the wrestling industry and landed the biggest fish of them all: Hulk Hogan

In 1993, after disputes with Vince McMahon over the direction of his character and booking, Hulk Hogan would leave the WWE. Hogan had been the face of the organization since 1984, the headlining act for eight of the nine WrestleMania events. Hulk was a headliner of countless PPV’s and the man the WWE PR golden boy that the company sent everywhere. Need somebody for Regis and Kathy to promote the Survivor Series? Send Hulk.  When the average person heard and still hears the words WWE, their minds would probably show them one image, Hulk Hogan. So, for Hogan to no longer be associated with the WWE that was something that people couldn’t believe.

One person, who couldn’t believe it, was Eric Bischoff. Bischoff an ambitious television announcer had secured the position of Executive Producer for WCW in 1993. Depending on who you talk to, Bischoff is either a genius or a one hit wonder. He famously pounded Vince McMahon against the ropes for two years and could never put him away. When Vince started to pound back, Bischoff could put never McMahon against the ropes and pound on him again. What’s my opinion of Bischoff? While he famously went from the top man in wrestling to a cautionary tale, he did do some good in my mind. While many criticize him taping blocks of television at a theme park and at Centre Stage/CNN Center, I can counter that WCW’s live event attendance including television tapings were never WCW’s strong suit. He did famously let go of Austin, Foley and many of the players that helped to build WCW but he also recruited some of the best talent from the US and overseas. For every good move that Bischoff made, there will always be a “Yeah, but” counter from the other side. He did beat Vince in the ratings war, but WCW’s pay per view business was never that great is an example.

WCW rarely made a signing this large, sure the company had acquired big names every now and then but it was nobody on Hogan’s level. Plus, none of the big names still had the star power and exposure that Hulk had, even with being gone from wrestling for a year. Rude had been out of the spotlight for almost a year, working the occasional independent along with touring Japan. Steamboat had been through a demeaning run as a literal dragon, Sid disappeared for softball after WrestleMania VIII and Davey Boy Smith was never a huge star. Before you guys point out Flair, he was pretty much the exception to the rule.

Bischoff had a new vision of WCW that of which didn’t gel with many of the folks whom took a previous shot at running the company. While the Bill Watts and Dusty Rhodes saw WCW as southern style wrestling driven with blood and guts, Bischoff saw WCW as a WWE-style company, WWE South you could call it. Bischoff knew that he needed the man who helped to build the WWE and went about doing so. There was a certain convenience of having Flair as head booker whom Hogan got along with from their WWE days. Bischoff threw in everything he could to get Hogan signed: A cut of pay-per-view revenue (Anywhere between 600k to 1.5 million a year), a nice cushy schedule and most of all control over his entire character.

Wooing Hogan would be difficult however as Hogan had some reservations about coming to WCW. I can understand why if I was in his shoes, the company had never proven itself to have stable management and it had yet to turn a profit since being bought by Turner. If Hulk does sign and his run is a disaster, he could lose his bargaining chip with Vince for a possible return when his deal was up.

Ah, Vince.

While Vince and Hogan’s relationship had been strained, this is a big and I mean big MIGHT, but there might have been a possible chance for Hogan and Vince to reconcile. Once the steroid heat died down, I could have seen Hulk and Vince having a secret meeting at a hotel and patch things up. They keep Hogan’s return on the down-low until the fall, where Hogan fills in for Bret at MSG after Survivor Series 1994. Hulk drops the leg on Backlund and the company preps the new big monster for Hulk to slay at WrestleMania, maybe a KOTR rematch with Yokozuna. What happens to Bret? Most of all, would Savage stay around?

In reality, Hulk could have stayed retired probably since he was still working the big dates for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Also, Thunder in Paradise probably didn’t cost a lot to produce so it could find life on syndication. There was also Hollywood (Don’t laugh) and cameos playing off his image in comedies.

Oh well, we’d never know as Hogan would come to a deal with WCW in the spring and WCW played it off rather well. Hulk’s first major appearance came in an on-set interview with Mean Gene in-which Hogan played coy about returning to wrestling. Heenan then barged in and demanded that Hogan give him an update on his status, citing a PWI cover that had Hogan and Flair meeting:

http://www.pwi-online.com/covers/FullSize/1994/94-04.gif

Hogan would sign with contract on live television at Disney-MGM Studios, with a ticket-tape parade and all. Mean Gene would sum it up: Get ready for the ride of your life. Truer words were never spoken.

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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Will Vince McMahon’s Bleeding Stop to Save the WWE?

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

Bill Goldberg appears to be eyeing a WWE comeback. Daniel Bryan – the WWE champion is injured, which puts the title reign in doubt. John Cena is falling back to the mid card and is not a true championship contender anymore. But most of all, Vince McMahon is bleeding money.

This is not a joke and certainly not some form of Karma, however there is some concern about the wrestling and sports entertainment mogul losing over $700 million dollars in a time frame that is slightly longer than one of his wrestling feuds.

Should the wrestling populous be worried that the once iron-covered owner of wrestling’s giant promotion is bleeding green, not red?

In a story on yahoo.com, it was reported that the WWE’s shares had ascended in the early months of 2014, gaining 89 percent in value. That helped McMahon amass a fortune on paper of $1.6 billion in mid-March. But a variety of negative factors chopped away at that valuation. WWE’s new online streaming network has picked up only an estimated 700,000 subscribers, and WWE conceded that it could lose as much as $52 million this year. That announcement cost McMahon another $325 million in March.

While McMahon has pockets deeper than most businessmen in the world, losing that kind of cash is still huge and detrimental for the man, his ego, his family, the WWE and the business in general. With a less than enthusiastic pay-per-view on the horizon on Sunday (Payback), what happens if McMahon’s losses reach $100 million?

One of the key downward forces was the announcement of a new TV deal between the WWE and NBCUniversal. Analysts estimated the $150 million deal was a 50 percent increase from the previous agreement, but had expected the deal to be double or even triple the prior one. The announcement of that agreement forced WWE’s share price from a high of about $20 to the $11 range, where it remains to this day.
The story of McMahon’s rise in the business is the stuff of lore and personal success.

Throughout the 1970s, McMahon became the prominent force in his father’s company, and over the next decade, Vince assisted his father in tripling TV syndication. He pushed for the renaming of the company to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The young McMahon was also behind the Muhammad Ali versus Antonio Inoki match of 1976. In 1979, Vince purchased the Cape Cod Coliseum, where he promoted hockey games and concerts in addition to pro wrestling, as he began to prove that he was capable of running the WWF after his father’s retirement.

By 1980, McMahon had become chairman of the company, and Titan Sports was incorporated; in 1982, a 37-year old McMahon led Titan’s acquisition of the Capitol Wrestling Co. from his ailing father (who died in May 1984), as he and his wife Linda took control of the World Wrestling Federation.

With the company in limbo like it has never been before, it can only be inferred there will be more loses.

Bryan is on the mend. CM Punk is MIA. The Undertaker is not a viable everyday competitor. Brock Lesnar is lurking somewhere – but not on television and the idea of Kurt Angle coming back to the company is not one McMahon wants to examine. Since the end of the “Attitude Era,” wrestling has not been the popular reality program it once was. This can be attributed to cross branding, lack of competition and the retirement of good talent (Shawn Michael, Edge) and the continual use of veterans on a part-time basis (The Rock, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Lesnar). Everything had a price.

Whether McMahon can stop the bleeding is not known. It cannot happen with just one band aid. And while money still drips out of McMahon’s wallet, it will a decent period of time before the hemorrhage will stop. The question is can McMahon make it stop and can he reinvent himself as the billionaire without a fear in the world?

The summer months look like their will be hotter than wrestling match in an arena near you.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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Vince McMahon Should Rethink A Kurt Angle WWE Return

May 23, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

For a man who lost over $300 million and is reeling a bit, the last thing Vince McMahon needs to do is shut the door completely on the idea of a return by Kurt Angle to the WWE.

Triple H, Kevin Nash, Chris Jericho, Batista and Goldust have all made a return to the ring in the last two years, with the idea that bringing back veterans to the company will promote the company more and bring back the fans to the arenas and improve pay-per-view buys.

So far, those attempts and rehashing the past have only left the company looking a bit foolish and unsure of itself. McMahon, as reported in What Culture, has stated he is not totally open to the idea of the 1996 Olympian returning to the company that made home an even bigger household name.

Angle has spent his entire wrestling career in the WWE or as a prominent fixture in TNA Wrestling. Angle is currently on the TNA roster but is out of action because of injury. It is not known if he can return to action before his contract with the Tennessee-based company runs out. There has been speculation that Angle could re-sign with his current outfit, or take a run at the WWE before he retires from the business.

The latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter casts doubt over Kurt Angle’s potential for a WWE return this Autumn. Angle’s TNA contract is expiring but Vince McMahon isn’t too keen on the idea of bringing him in.

“Vince McMahon made the call that no matter what, there was not going to be an Olympic gold medalist dying on WWE’s watch,” the report states about the last time Angle’s contract came up. Vince McMahon simply doesn’t want to take any risks on a man whose health is considered a liability.

While reports of Angle being on death watch before he left WWE in 2006 may have been exaggerated, he was certainly someone who Vince McMahon was worried about, even before the Chris Benoit tragedy exacerbated those concerns of wrestler wellbeing. Angle’s body has only became more worn since that period and he is currently on the shelf with a major knee injury.

Add to the fact that former owner of TNA, Jeff Jarrett is promoting his new promotion and may be interested in bringing in Angle to boost marketing makes the contract status of Angle more than a little interesting.

During Angle’s time in the WWE, he was a six-time world champion (four-time WWF/E Champion, World Heavyweight Champion and WCW Champion), he also held the United States Championship, Intercontinental Championship, European Championship, Hardcore Championship and WWE Tag Team Championship once each. In addition, he was the winner of the King of the Ring tournament in 2000, the tenth Triple Crown Champion, and the fifth Grand Slam Champion.

He is considered one of the most gifted athletes and gifted athletes in the history of the sport. Angle had no prior experience in the business before joining the WWE.

After leaving WWE, Angle joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where he became a five-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, a two-time TNA World Tag Team Champion and a one-time TNA X Division Champion, the second Triple Crown winner in TNA history and the only one to hold all the required titles at once. As part of TNA, Angle has also made appearances for New Japan Pro Wrestling as well as Inoki Genome Federation, where he held their version of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Angle and Jarrett feuded on screen in TNA as part of a storyline involving Karen Jarrett, Jeff’s current wife who was married to Angle before the two divorced.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. Vince McMahon – Wrestling’s Greatest Feuds

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

The number one way to make money in pro wrestling is with a great feud. Nothing draws bigger at the box office than an exciting rivalry pitting good vs. evil. Some rivalries are based on hatred, some are based on championships, and some are based on nothing more than a motivation to be the best. Today I spotlight one of professional wrestling’s greatest feuds.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon

It is funny because most of the feuds I have highlighted in this series over the last five years have come from my childhood. I am that annoying older wrestling fans who will tell you, “They don’t make them like they did in my day.” Yet I could agree that the most exciting feud I ever watched as a wrestling fan came long past my childhood. That feud was Stone Cold vs. McMahon.

Sometimes you look back at pro wrestling history and you see a trend with some of the biggest money drawing rivalries in wrestling. As great as they were, they were unplanned, generally an audible, and a situation where a negative was turned into a positive. I think that sums up the planning of Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon.

This was never a feud that was planned. This was a feud that fell into place due to a number of different circumstances in the WWE. Business was starting to pick up when everything came to a halt at the end of the summer of 1996. Steve Austin was starting to pick up steam when he became sidelined with a career threatening injury at SummerSlam 1997. An injury suffered at the hands of Owen Hart stopped Austin’s momentum right in its tracks. Steve Austin’s career was in serious jeopardy.

Vince McMahon was not having a whole lot of luck either. Vince found himself in one of the strangest situations where his world champion had signed with the competition, while holding the belt. Not only that, but everyone seemed to know about it. WCW was crushing the WWE and Vince seemed to be a few steps behind a new era of Attitude in the pro wrestling business. The stress that Vince McMahon must have been under at this time had to have been enormous.

The first seed was planted when McMahon stripped Austin and Dude Love of their tag team titles and Austin threatened McMahon. The seed was watered on September 22, 1997. RAW was live from Madison Square Garden for one of the biggest RAW shows of the year. Austin, still not cleared to wrestle, attacked Owen Hart, violating a restraining order. Vince tried to talk some sense into Austin and was rewarded with a Stone Cold Stunner. The crowd went insane and you could start to smell a money feud in the air.

McMahon turned the Bret Hart/Survivor Series 1997 fiasco into a positive and slowly began to morph into the heel maniacal CEO we would eventually see. We saw glimpses of it when McMahon yelled at Austin for ruining Mike Tyson’s appearance on RAW. Once Austin won the WWE championship from Shawn Michaels, Mr. McMahon was unleashed! It became Vince’s personal crusade to either turn Austin corporate or take the title away from him.

What proceeded was one of the most exciting years in WWE history. Every week McMahon would try and outwit Austin only to get outplayed by the Texas Rattlesnake. The chemistry between these two is unrivaled. They could turn even the silliest situations into some of the most entertaining moments in WWE history, such as Austin attacking Vince in the hospital.

The storyline was so simple in retrospect that you almost wonder why nobody did this sooner. Austin was the blue collar man who stood up against his rich boss and didn’t give a damn about the ramifications. What fan couldn’t relate to that? I remember going to house shows during that time and Austin was like a rock star coming out. Fans whether smart to the business or not didn’t like Vince. He was the perfect foil in this story. It was magic!

The key to this entire feud is that it took almost a full year before Austin would get his shot at McMahon in the ring (sans a match on RAW that saw Dude Love jump Austin). It is funny that in today’s environment Vince rarely lets anything simmer, yet his biggest money feud didn’t even see a match for almost a year. It’s a different time and there is more television to fill but there is certainly something to this formula that is lost in today’s WWE booking.

The Royal Rumble 1999 remains one of my favorite Rumbles ever simply due to the interaction of McMahon vs. Austin. The vignettes with Vince and Shane leading up to the match were priceless. Austin and Vince starting 1 & 2 was brilliant. The entire match was pure intensity as somehow or another you knew Austin was going to get screwed, yet he got the better of Vince for most of the night. The open with Austin stomping a mud hole in Vince was just tremendous.

But it was the steel cage match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre that is the gem of the feud. This is a match you should fire up and watch immediately on the WWE Network. How would McMahon survive against Austin in a cage? The match was a one-sided affair but it was one of the most fun matches you’ll ever see on the network. Austin got screwed again by the debuting Big Show but the match certainly paid off in excitement after such a long wait.

The feud would play out for many years in many different forms but it was this period between the fall of 1997 and 1999 that was what I’d call the golden period of the feud. This feud singlehandedly turned the entire WWE business around and only a couple of years later Vince would wind up buying the same company that tried to put him out of business. No matter what WCW tried, there was just no way to compete with Austin vs. McMahon.

Even today I really enjoy seeing Austin and Vince interact on television. They haven’t done it in a while but there is always this fun tension between them whenever they are a few feet apart. It is a feud that defined an era and maybe had more impact on the pro wrestling industry than any rivalry in the history of the business. The feud sustained for several years including helping draw one of the biggest events in WWE history in WrestleMania 23.

Again it is interesting when you look back at the events that led up to this feud and quickly realize that Vince and Austin wound up stepping into something historic by accident. In the end they both needed each other. As fast as the Austin train was moving, he needed a dance partner. The unlikeliest dance partner wound up being the guy signing his pay checks. Austin would have been big, but would he have become arguably the second biggest star in pro wrestling history?

Without this feud there may not even be a WWE today. Would Vince have been able to compete against WCW and the n.W.o. angle? Would the company even be in business today? Take a look at the roster at the time and while the supporting cast was great, nobody was going to light the world on fire like Austin did with McMahon. I think it is fair to say that this feud saved the company.

And for that reason alone, Austin vs. McMahon is not only one of the greatest feuds in pro wrestling history, it may be the greatest.

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The WWE Stock Debacle

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

So…let’s talk about what happened on Friday in the best way that a guy with barely any knowledge of the stock market can do.

The WWE’s much hyped announcement of a television deal with NBCUniversal fails to impress the market. While the WWE did receive a nice $160 million for US television rights, the deal doesn’t look so well considering the last deal was for $95 million (Adjusted for inactive programming) for US television rights. This does sound great until you realize that those numbers pale in comparison to some of numbers that sports leagues are getting. Major League Soccer’s new television deal went from netting them $27.9 million dollars per year to $90 million dollars a year. Last year, NASCAR landed a 10 year deal with NBC and Fox that netted them $8.2 billion dollar deal (Going from $560 million a year to $820 million). Many in the company believe that the WWE was going to get a large NASCAR like deal. Not exactly a billion dollar deal but still somewhere in the high hundred millions, but that obviously did not happen.

Along with the less than stellar Network numbers (670,000 subscribers) which caused a stock tumble (Twenty percent), things were not looking good. According to Forbes the company needs about 1.3-1.5 million subscribers to justify breaking away from PPV. The network still has to launch overseas, so they may be able to hit that number in the end. The biggest problem is that the WWE is going to take a big hit this year, with an OIBDA loss of $35-$45 million and a net loss of anywhere from $45-$25 million.

Today, all this resulted in the WWE’s stock plunging a resound 43.45 percent down to $11.27, down from $19.96 the previous day. At one point, the WWE’s stock was up to $31 so this is a massive purge for the company. You know that scene in Cabin in the Woods, the Purge scene specifically? I’m just going to presume that it was something similar to this. We all know that Eric Garguilo, our deathmatch commentary overlord is a holder of WWE stock and I actually considered investing at one point. This is what happens when you put Kane in a main event people.

The biggest news was the fact that Vince McMahon himself, the company’s biggest shareholder lost $357 million today, a third of his fortune. The biggest problem in all of this was Vince and others talking up how he was expecting to double the previous numbers; Vince even referenced a NASCAR like deal for the company. So, one could presume that the company knew that NASCAR money was a no go but they didn’t do anything to calm any expectations of a super deal. It should be noted that the company has set up a conference call for 11:00 AM to try and sort out the current mess they’re in.

Well, the mess has gotten messier, and the biggest heel in company history has now arrived on the scene.

Wrestling Inc. reported today that Lemelson Capital, a private investment management firm has bought a major stake of shares in the company. The group first received notice in the wrestling world when they declared the value of the WWE’s stock was actually between eight to eleven dollars. This of course was at the point when WWE stock was higher than it has been in a long while. The company cited the numbers that I cited from Forbes and has also decreed that the company misled people in the hype for the network, and that drastic changes are needed based off the current financial losses among other aspects cited by the group. What are those changes you may ask?

Well…they want the company to sell or the replacement of executive management. Which would mean that the group is pretty much calling for the head (and grapefruits) of Vince McMahon. Now, before you laugh at the thought of this, the group made a rather cunning move waiting for the stock to bottom out. Vince owns 87 percent of the shares so while I highly doubt any type of hostile takeover are in the plans.

Monday will be an interesting day for the WWE, maybe the stock stabilizes and we all have a good laugh over this. Heck, it gave me a reason to write something like this up.  Maybe the company announces that it’s going back to a private company, but this is a rather muddled situation that may involve possibly having to put the company up for sale. We really don’t know, but I presume many people in the industry are going to be watching the webcast and calling in. This could be the start of the darkest timeline for all we know.

So I pretty much did a substandard Chris Harrington impersonation (Follow him at @mookieghana) on short notice. See you next time.

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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WWE No Holds Barred: The Match, The Movie, And The Debacle!

April 24, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

“Why have a Merry Christmas, WHEN YOU CAN HAVE A NO HOLDS BARRED CHRISTMAS?!”- Vince McMahon after snorting two bricks of cocaine.

Am I really talking about No Holds Barred of all things for the Robert Zone? Seriously? Does Gargiulo have some dirty pictures of me and a prostitute that looks vaguely familiar to Stephanie McMahon? *Talks to guy off-screen* He does? Well, shit. Alright, No Holds Barred might be absolutely awful and should only be enjoyed under the influence of uncontrolled substances but the film has some benefits. First, Kurt Fuller chews every piece of scenery he can as Brell, the evil RIVAL channel owner. Seriously, the character is essentially a stand-in for Ted Turner and since I presume that Will Forte wasn’t acting in 1989, he’s perfect. Bruce Dern who would be my pick for an evil Ted Turner type after seeing Diggstown, but that would be a no-go for him since he wouldn’t touch this film with a ten foot pole.

Seriously, I know that people think he’s supposed to be a shoe-in for Vince, but Brell is Billionaire Ted. He’s crazy evil and wants to see REAL WRESTLING with blood and shit compared to those humble people at that other TV channel. The channel head probably has nice kids named Shane and Steph and nice wife by the name of Linda. Seriously, Ready to Rumble making Jimmy King a straight-up inside joke about Jerry Lawler’s personal life is more subtle than Brell. Now you why Vince famously rewrote the entire scrip with Hogan in a hotel room and by god, I would kill to be a fly in that room. The amount of drugs, alcohol and steroids ingested could probably kill six members of 83 Raiders. So, what else is good about No Holds Barred? Joan Severance! That was one sexy woman, my readers and she still looks good for her age. Seriously, hot damn it’s one of the very few redeeming factors in this movie whenever Fuller isn’t chewing shit up. My crush on her would peak when I would inadvertently stumble onto her Playboy spread in 1990 in my grandpa’s collection. Boy that sounded just awful typing that out. We didn’t have Google back in 199 frigging 5 so give me some damn credit. That’s about it besides Stan Hansen showing for about five minutes and being all crazy and rednecky. It’s funny; I had No Holds Barred on a tape with the 1989 Great American Bash with none other than Heavy Metal bringing up the rear. BEST VHS TAPE EVER…if you’re twelve years old discovering animated nudity for the first time. Overall, the film was critical miss barely made enough to be deemed a success and you’d presume that Vince would want to sweep it under the rug.

Then Vince had an idea. It may not be up there with “Mabel: Main Eventer” or even “Kane: Necrophilia Enthusiast” but it was up there in the valley of stupid ideas. Vince would decide to merge reality with the big screen and Zeus would actually come to the WWE to challenge Hulk Hogan. Now you see, Vince needed a hook for his upcoming Summerslam card. The first card made a nice amount of money, but coming off of a rather successful WrestleMania, it could be viewed as a disappointment. In any ordinary case, it would have been Hogan vs. Savage probably in a cage or some type of other gimmick match. Now, if Savage brought Zeus in as muscle to back him up and Hulk beat him up after the match, it would be looked at as not much of anything. Instead, Vince came up with the idea that Zeus would actually wrestle. And do you know what happened?

The fans bought it. Summerslam 1989 drew 20,000 fans to the Meadowlands with a $350,000 gate and 566,591 buys on PPV. Hogan and Beefcake vs Savage and Zeus ended up being a decent watch thanks to Savage and Hogan carrying a good majority of the match. They kept Zeus limited to what he did in the ring so he wasn’t exposed. Hulk slammed Zeus, won the match, assaulted Sherri like any good 80’s good guy, everybody got a good laugh and all was right with the world!

Until Vince got greedy…well more so than usual. Zeus was to not only come back, but Vince was hatching up a new vision: No Holds Barred….FOR REAL! That’s right; we would see Hogan against Zeus and what better of a place than WrestleMania? It was one of the many ideas, but you know just read my article on WrestleMania matches that never happened. Savage would be placed in a feud with Jim Duggan over who is an actually a king and Ted DiBiase was slotted in to the feud. DiBiase had been in a weird spot; aimlessly feuding with most of the mid card guys while the company was waiting for Jake Roberts to clear some legal issues. DiBiase would bring Zeus in as an insurance policy for an upcoming bout with Hogan setting the stage for the Survivor Series. It would be DiBiase, The Powers of Pain and Zeus against the Hulkamaniacs or as I call it: THE GODDAMN SUPERTEAM. Hogan, Jake Roberts and Demolition and that would seriously be my award for most bad-ass Survivor Series team ever. Once again, people lined up for Hogan vs Zeus round two. It drew a nice 426,417 buys, 15,294 Chicagoans came to the Rosemont Horizon who paid $239,917.

Now around this time, Vince realized that the film was going to be a bust or not the super hit he was expecting. In fact, Vince only got a paltry $2.5 million for the video rights and while it did make sixteen million on an eight million dollar budget, it wasn’t a mega hit at all. Vince had a new idea….that would pretty much piss off everybody in the PPV industry in the process. A PPV special that would take place during the Christmas break for all the kiddies: For $11.95 fans could get to see the movie and a special live (Taped actually) rematch from Summerslam 1989…INSIDE OF A CAGE. Oh boy, were the PPV companies pissed. Fans would get the movie plus twenty minutes of build-up, then a steel cage match that you could later get on tape three months later at Blockbuster for $5.99.

Now you have to remember that PPV was still rather fragile in this time period and PPV companies were already pissed about NWA and WWE trying to sabotage each-other previously. For McMahon to even try and air another PPV (What would be third PPV in a row), it was considered oversaturation and that was with the Turner/McMahon war already going. You don’t think that Vince trying to get the Illinois State Athletic Commission to call of SuperClash III since Kerry Von Erich only had one ankle was an act of concern about Kerry? It was because Superclash III was going to be on PPV and could hinder profits for his upcoming Rumble event. Since PPV was still looked at like a special item and rather pricy, most people would only buy one PPV every few months.

Viewers Choice (inDemand now) and Request TV were willing to carry the PPV but they wouldn’t carry the Rumble. Vince would embellish it by claiming that they were considering not carrying WrestleMania either. In-fact, Vince would dedicate the last few moments of the special towards the possibly of the Rumble not being carried and had Hogan cut a promo on those evil PPV carriers. The reality was that Vince got a teeny bit big for his britches and wanted a bigger cut of the sales. McMahon even had Jesse Ventura go on television and cut a promo declaring that he fought for this country and to him it was un-American that fans wouldn’t get the PPV. Yep.

In the end, the WWE and Viewers Choice would come to a deal about a week before the Rumble. It was a deal that would run through 1996 and Vinny Mac would learn when to back down in a fight. Yet, there was another problem during this whole period; nobody was really being built up to face Hogan in this period. You have to remember that the Warrior match wasn’t set in stone for a good while, so Hogan needed an opponent going into WrestleMania. Hulk didn’t want to work with Rude because Rude worked a bit stiff, Earthquake wasn’t ready, Andre was being phased out, Boss Man was being prepped for a face turn, and Perfect was getting there but wasn’t ready. Savage was getting killed off in all of this so you really couldn’t continue the feud. DiBiase who needed some serious rebuilding had also been knocked off and was going to be jobbing to Jake going into Mania was a no-go. Barry Windham was being built up as a threat to Hogan, but the issues with his dad and brother killed that off. Perfect would be picked to be the guy to go against Hogan. In the end, all of these problems would eventually hinder the hand-picked successor to Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior. You know, just read that article too.

In the end, one little PPV special would result in an ugly stand-off between McMahon and PPV companies, and the complete screwing up of the world title scene.

At least we got Kurt Fuller’s overacting.

And Joan Severance.

Can’t forget about that last one.

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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Zach Gowen Talks About Adversity, Vince McMahon, & Inspiring Others

April 21, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Chances are, if you wrestled your final WWE match at the tender age of twenty, you’d mope about it bitterly for years following.

Not if you’re Zach Gowen.

For a five-month frame in 2003, the pre-booze-age Gowen lived the dream of any fan, coming to the aid of Hulk Hogan, scoring pinfalls on The Big Show and Matt Hardy, and even had a pay-per-view battle against wrestling’s most powerful figure, Vince McMahon. That’s plenty to take in for someone barely out of grade school.

“I was overwhelmed; you would be too!” Gowen merrily recalls. “My reaction (to getting signed) was shock and amazement when they called me. I was a bag boy at a local grocery store when Johnny Ace called me. Becoming a WWE superstar wasn’t even a thought in my head.”

“The first day on the job, at a Smackdown taping, here I was having a conversation with Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Vince McMahon before the show. I loved wrestling Vince. It was so cool for me to see just how freakin’ dedicated and hard working this man is. He’s truly a pioneer and is up there in the same ranks as a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.”

For anyone to be in any position to rub shoulders on a national stage with such storied icons is unfathomable, triply so when you’ve got only one leg.

To know of Gowen is to know that, following a cancer diagnosis, his left leg was amputated at age eight. This made the pipe dream of finding success in any physical vocation, let alone touring as a professional wrestler, even more exceedingly daunting.

Yet to see Gowen perform, compensating for the missing limb as imaginatively as his mind and drive allow, is a thing of beauty. Running the ropes with a striding hop, and skipping up turnbuckles, represent two parts of a spectrum: artistic grace, and defiance toward hindrance. Now 31 years old, Gowen feels he’s perfected his act.

“The obstacles themselves have become almost obsolete. I was signed and put on the road after having less than 20 matches,” Gowen reveals. “It’s crazy to think about the idea of me being in WWE was a live experiment being played out on TV in front of millions on a weekly basis!”

“I didn’t know what I had, and the WWE didn’t fully comprehend how to get the most out of me, so there was a lot of throwing s–t against the wall to see if anything would stick. It bothers me a little bit that some fans think what they saw on TV is what my act is all about. That’s why it’s always a treat to wrestle at these independent shows for kids who have never seen me before, *and* for the fans who think they know all I’m capable of!”

Zach Gowen would last less than a year under WWE contract, but rather than chalk up the parting of ways as a failure, he instead looks at the positives of the reality check he received at a young age.

“I learned many lessons in the ring, but the biggest lessons learned were life lessons. Unfortunately for me, I had to learn most of these lessons by dealing with the repercussions of doing the exact opposite! Show up on time, how to conduct yourself as a professional, be kind to everyone, be helpful, etc. Wrestling has really laid the foundation for my life in a lot of ways.”

Post-WWE, Gowen lent his services to a number of high-profile organizations, including TNA, Ring of Honor, and even the Insane Clown Posse’s cult-status JCW promotion. Perhaps as he was destined to do, Gowen found his kindred spirit in Gregory Iron, a popular independent star most notable for overcoming his own affliction, cerebral palsy.

Together, Gowen and Iron perform as “The Handicapped Heroes”, serving to both inspire and dazzle onlookers across the globe. They even took on a manager, a young woman named Jill Dials, who’s confined to a wheelchair thanks to spina bifida.

“To have had, and to continue to have, the impact on the lives of fans with disabilities worldwide, Greg and Jill included, is absolutely astonishing and mind-blowing to me. I appreciate that more than ever now. I’m blessed.”

Gowen openly embraces this lot in life, to be seen not as a sideshow act, but as a real person making the most of life’s hand, showing others that anything can be achieved. By mining success and reward out of each day, each performance, and each appearance, it’s more than within reason that others can do the same, disabled or not.

“After disappearing from wrestling for a number of years, I came back stronger. I’m fully engaged and living life on my terms. I’m a father and a husband. I wrestle full time on the independent scene, speak full time to the youth of America, and just released the most in-depth piece on my life ever made: a documentary called “Finding Zach Gowen”.

The documentary timelines Gowen’s life and career, featuring testimonials from peers such as Truth Martini (Gowen’s trainer), Rhino, Jimmy Jacobs, former WWE official Jim Korderas, along with Gowen, his mother, and numerous others. Within, Gowen opens up about not just the obstacles of his cancer diagnosis and subsequent life adjustments, but also the drug use that plagued him in adulthood.

Gowen makes no excuses for his choices, and puts them on par with his childhood illness: just something else to defeat.

“I believe the sole purpose of my existence is to be of maximum service to God and to my fellow human travelers on this planet. One way I do that is by sharing my story through various platforms, in this case, professional wrestling.”

With many opportunities ahead of him, and many more souls to reach, Gowen would change seemingly nothing of his past. Incidentally, he’d change nothing of his present either.

“I have no goals in wrestling except to shine inspiration on whoever needs it when they see me in action. I would be an asshole if I asked for anything more, not only in wrestling, but in life. Wrestling has provided me a life beyond my wildest dreams and for that, I’m eternally grateful.”

(Mr. Gowen is available for speaking engagements through http://www.coolspeakers.net/, and accepts bookings through his website, www.zachgowen.com)

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Warrior: The Ultimate Legend Is A WWE Masterpiece

April 21, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE paid tribute to the Ultimate Warrior last week with a full week of specials on the WWE Network. Yet it was their documentary, Warrior: The Ultimate Legend that was truly nothing short of ultimate.

The WWE outdid themselves last week, producing arguably the best documentary in company history. The new documentary chronicling the Ultimate Warrior’s career paid an honest, fair, emotional, and classy tribute to the fallen WWE icon. Even more impressive is that the WWE put the production together in just a matter of days.

The documentary takes a lot of clips from the new Ultimate Collection DVD as well as clips from an unseen interview, blending them with candid footage of Warrior’s Hall of Fame, WrestleMania, RAW appearances and commentary from his wrestling peers. There are a few wrestling clips in there but it was the emotional tribute by his colleagues that captivated me from start to finish.

Sting is included quite a bit in the documentary. Sting was able to give some context into Warrior’s early days as the two broke into the business together. Sting also gave some insight into Warrior’s failed WCW run. One of the more revealing and honest thoughts from the video came when Sting admitted he was jealous when Warrior wrestled and beat Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI.

Vince McMahon is arguably the star of the documentary. Vince offers insight throughout the documentary about the ups and downs in his relationship with Warrior. From my standpoint he came across probably more honest than he has ever been in one of these documentaries. The one thing that was painfully clear was that Vince was hurting. I still don’t know why this one hit him so hard but it has really taken a toll on him. Vince says at one point, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone” in reference to Warrior. Quite frankly the man seemed heartbroken.

Warrior’s relationship with the McMahon family was chronicled extensively in the doc. Warrior talked about visiting the McMahons whenever he was in town and staying over at their house whether the family were home or not. He talked about his relationship with Shane McMahon as brotherly and even refers to Vince at one point like a dad. You can’t help but watch and think about the huge weight lifted off of Warrior’s shoulders when he finally buried the hatchet with the McMahons and made peace with the family.

Another relationship that was strained and repaired was Hulk Hogan. He and Hogan have had said some brutal things about each other in the press over the years. Warrior says the root of their heat is from a deposition that Hogan gave when Warrior sued the WWE over the Self-Destruction DVD. Warrior said that Hogan refused to admit to anything. A very cool clip is played of the actual deposition with Hogan in which Hogan calls Warrior a flash in the pan. Hogan gives his side of the story which is that he was ambushed when he came into the deposition by Warrior’s team and quickly chose his side which was the WWE. Triple H says that he told Hogan not to approach Warrior until after the Hall of Fame. The cameras catch Hogan and Warrior making amends at WrestleMania with Hogan telling him how sorry he is and how much he loves him. I know the Hogan cynics will never buy it but he seemed very sincere about it as far as I could tell.

The cameras followed Warrior throughout the Hall of Fame which was very cool. There is some great footage of him and Vince McMahon hanging out before the ceremony. Vince was beaming and looked like he was having such a great time with Warrior. It should be pointed out that when they were talking about his speech Vince told Warrior to say whatever he wants, even negative words in which Warrior responds saying that he wouldn’t do that and it will be all positive.

You can’t help but have your heart break for his family as you watch the documentary. The man is a proud family man and his daughters were real proud of him. Say what you will about Warrior and you know what, some of the criticism is fair, but no family deserves to lose their father this young. My heart goes out to those girls.

It was hard to ignore the health of Warrior during his WrestleMania weekend of appearances. Warrior looked noticeably more tired that weekend than he did when he was filmed at earlier times during the documentary. Warrior looked tired and almost short of breath at times when talking to Sgt. Slaughter and Vince McMahon. At times he walked and looked like he had just finished a 20-minute wrestling match. In comparison to other interview clips with Warrior that were taped months before the weekend, he did not look healthy. This brings me back to those theories many have of Warrior knowing that his time was up, quoting the interview from RAW and his speech. Nobody will ever truly know the answer to that but a keen eye reveals a lot about his well being the last few days of his life.

There is talk about the WWE working with the USA Network to air the documentary. The consensus is that the movie is so good, that it needs to be seen by more people outside of the WWE Network. I can’t agree more. The world needs to see these sides of the Warrior and the McMahon family and get the true story of this WWE Hall of Famer’s career. Hopefully a deal can be made and more people can see the doc.

I still scratch my head at the numerous tributes that the McMahon family are giving Warrior but one thing is clear coming out of this movie. Their intentions do appear to be sincere. Why Vince is so heartbroken over this is another question. The fact that we got this classic documentary out of this tribute makes it alright regardless of the intentions.

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