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Top 25 Greatest Heel Turns in Pro Wrestling History

June 05, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seth Rollins’ betrayal of his Shield teammates in favor of Evolution has drawn both shocked reactions and lukewarm reception from viewers. While it’s too early to stamp Rollins’ turn as a success or a failure, here’s a look at some of the wrestling history he’s up against, the twenty-five best shifts to the dark side ever.

25. Shawn Michaels Superkicks Hulk Hogan (July 4, 2005)

Would’ve meant more if WWE had stuck to Michaels’ heel run, but Hogan’s alleged refusal to lay down (ironic if you’re Michaels) killed the impact. Independence Day Raw ends with Hogan and Michaels passively celebrating a win, and Michaels landing Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere.

24. Terry Taylor Gradually Betrays Chris Adams (May 1987)

With UWF’s excitable Jim Ross calling each turn of the key, Taylor was conveniently absent for Hot Stuff International’s assaults on Adams, culminating with Taylor subtly allowing Adams to be pinned in a Tag Team Title defense. In a later singles match, Taylor piledrove an injured Adams on the floor, solidifying the turn.

23. Scott Steiner Lays Out Brother Rick (February 22, 1998)

It seemed as though by 1998, everyone on the planet save for Steve Lombardi had joined the nWo. That the eventual “Big Poppa Pump” did so by mauling brother Rick during a Tag Team Title defense against The Outsiders is only diluted by the notion that everyone seemed to turn in this era.

22. Sgt. Slaughter Spits on America, Sides with Iraq (August 1990)

A rather silly grab at kick-starting jingoism and Hulkamania in one swipe, Slaughter (now departed from the dying AWA) returned to WWE as a Saddam Hussein-sympathizer in the midst of the Gulf conflict, as Iraq invaded Kuwait. Bad taste, but it drew its share of heat.

21. Triple H Joins the Corporation (March 28, 1999)

Chyna’s two turns in one night was dizzying enough against the backdrop of a time-period where somebody turned every week. Still, Triple H Pedigree’ing X-Pac at WrestleMania XV was the launching pad of Paul Levesque’s rise to the highest office in WWE, via a relentless main event push for the next decade.

20. Bret Hart Condemns America (March 24, 1997)

With crowds divided between heroic Hart and anti-hero Steve Austin, ‘The Hitman’ goes on a post-WrestleMania tirade against American values, and what he felt was a decline in decency and morals. Shortly thereafter, Hart assaulted rival Shawn Michaels, solidifying a heel turn in America, while remaining a hero around the world.

19. Chris Jericho Wounds Shawn Michaels’ Eye (June 9, 2008)

After pointing out Michaels’ bouts of unfair play, and insinuating that Michaels enjoyed retiring Ric Flair at WrestleMania, Jericho attacks his long-time rival on the set of The Highlight Reel, and sends him face-first into his Jeri-Tron 6000 set piece, igniting the last WWE feud to intentionally feature blood.

18. Ted Dibiase Chooses Skandor Akbar Over Jim Duggan (May 1983)

Although more of a face turn for Duggan than anything, Dibiase gets heel-turn credit for sinking lower than the rule-breaking Rat Pack. Akbar’s “Devastation Inc” was anti-American and inherently more nefarious than anything Duggan and Dibiase had done with Matt Borne, so when Dibiase accepted Akbar’s offer, it kicked off a heated feud between sell-out Dibiase and proud patriot Duggan, foreshadowing their WWE personas.

17. Stone Cold Sells His Soul (April 1, 2001)

Would’ve ranked higher had Austin’s 2001 not been so creatively bankrupt and ill-received (to be fair, a lot of that’s on Austin for still wrestling like an outlaw ass-kicker). But the story is memorable: Austin enlists sworn enemy Vince McMahon to help him beat The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania X7, a match that Austin claimed he ‘had to win’.

16. Paul Bearer Betrays The Undertaker (August 18, 1996)

For nearly six years, Undertaker did not exist without Paul Bearer. Not a manager who needed a stable, Bearer happily co-existed with Undertaker as a package deal. That’s why during Undertaker’s Boiler Room Brawl with Mankind at SummerSlam, Bearer’s sudden turn, punctuated with an urn to Taker’s skull, was so shocking.

15. The Horsemen Leave Sting for Dead (February 6, 1990)

Sting found himself part of a babyface version of The Horsemen with Ric Flair and The Andersons, set to combat Gary Hart’s J-Tex Corporation. Sting, naive as he always was, made the mistake of challenging Flair for a World Title match, and was promptly beaten by his so-called friends. Sting injured his knee that night attempting to get revenge, but would go over on Flair for the gold at that year’s Great American Bash.

14. The Authority Excommunicates Daniel Bryan (August 18, 2013)

After cleanly going over on John Cena to become WWE Champion at SummerSlam, Bryan was faced with an eager Randy Orton, who was set to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Then referee Triple H (a babyface at this point) Pedigreed Bryan, enabling Orton (also a babyface before these actions) to score the title. Thus, The Authority was born.

13. Owen Hart Kicks Bret’s Leg (Out of His Leg) (January 22, 1994)

Simmering since Survivor Series, Owen Hart stewed in brother Bret’s shadow, claiming to have been held back out of jealousy. Cooler heads seemed to prevail, and the brothers faced the Quebecers for the Tag Team Titles at the Royal Rumble. When the Harts lost by stoppage due to Bret’s injured knee, Owen engaged in the ultimate meltdown, concluding by kicking Bret’s bad knee and leaving in a huff.

12. Austin Idol Bloodies Jerry Lawler (January 4, 1987)

Moments before Lawler was set to challenge AWA Champion Nick Bockwinkel for the gold, friend Idol entered the ring and demanded that “The King” step aside. Lawler refused, and Idol busted him open. A week later, Idol and new friend Tommy Rich continued the onslaught, ending with Idol cradling Lawler’s head and passively bitch-slapping him. The payoff was a cage match in April 1987 where the loser got their head shaved, and a near-riot ensued.

11. The Rock and Shane McMahon Go Corporate (November 15, 1998)

Shane’s heel turn ranks as one of the most unexpected in the jaded internet era, as he refused to impartially count Steve Austin’s pin of Mankind in the World Title Tournament. Less than an hour later, Shane and father Vince screwed simpleton lackey Mankind in the finals in favor of their new corporate champion, The Rock.

10. Ric Flair Crosses Dusty Rhodes (September 29, 1985)

A different sort of ‘heel turn’, as Flair would hardly qualify as a babyface in this instance. As a tweener, NWA Champion Flair retained the gold over Nikita Koloff inside a cage, and Koloff’s comrades laid a beatdown afterward. Rhodes made the save on his enemy’s behalf as an act of conciliation. Rather than accept the gesture, Flair allowed Ole and Arn Anderson to jump Dusty, and the three broke his ankle inside the locked cage. If Flair’s allegiance was on the fence before the day, he ended it as the top heel once more.

9. Marty Jannetty Eats Glass (December 3, 1991)

Legendary for the unique moment of Shawn Michaels propelling Jannetty through the window of The Barber Shop, and Jannetty blading on what was generally family programming. Had Jannetty not been temporarily let go after a police altercation in early 1992, the planned blowoff at WrestleMania VIII could’ve been epic. Still, it set Michaels in motion to become one of wrestling’s greatest stars.

8. Vince McMahon Embraces the Hate (April 13, 1998)

Hard to pin down the exact moment Vince became classified as ‘heel’, but post-Montreal, McMahon started to dance around the fire with simple remarks toward Steve Austin, including his wish that Austin not become the WWE Champion. After a pair of run-ins with Austin post-WrestleMania, McMahon accepted Austin’s challenge for a match on the Raw that turned the ratings tide against WCW, and “Mr. McMahon” became one of wrestling’s greatest villains.

7. Larry Zbyszko Betrays Bruno Sammartino (January 22, 1980)

Sammartino was wrestling royalty in WWE, and protege Zbyszko couldn’t get out of his shadow. During an exhibition match between teacher and student, Sammartino gamely outwrestled his younger opponent, much to Zbyszko’s frustration. Once thrown to the floor, Zbyszko returned with a chair, and bashed it over Bruno’s head, leaving him laying in his own blood. In real life, Zbyszko had his life threatened by numerous fans in the Northeast, before paying off the feud with a cage match at Shea Stadium.

6. The Freebirds Annihilate Kerry Von Erich (December 25, 1982)

Michael Hayes was chosen to be guest enforcer for Ric Flair’s NWA World Title defense against Von Erich, held inside a steel cage in Dallas, TX; true Von Erich territory. Late in the match, Hayes laid out Flair for Von Erich’s benefit, but Kerry wouldn’t accept the cheap win. Von Erich went for the door, only for Hayes’ cohort Terry Gordy to slam the door on his head. Von Erich failed to win the gold, and the Freebirds-Von Erichs long rivalry was ignited.

5. Paul Orndorff Clotheslines Hulk Hogan (June 24, 1986)

Friends ever since Orndorff turned face in the spring of 1985, Hogan and Orndorff would team a number of times in rivalry with Roddy Piper, Bob Orton, and others. When Orndorff began to show signs of jealousy, and a missed phone call to Hulk made Orndorff look bad, the two put aside differences for a match with King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd. Post-match, Orndorff clotheslined Hogan, and then piledrove him, kicking off a mega-feud for the WWE Championship.

4. Terry Funk Murders Ric Flair (May 7, 1989)

Flair was just minutes removed from regaining the NWA Title, concluding his iconic trilogy with Ricky Steamboat, when Funk (serving as a ringside judge in the event of a draw) forcibly asked for a title shot. When Flair dismissed him, albeit with some regard, as not among the next batch of contenders, Funk’s ‘apology’ for the intrusion was to wallop Flair, and piledrive him through the judge’s table at ringside. The two would war through the remainder of 1989.

3. The Mega Powers Explode (February 3, 1989)

In one of the most extensively-subtle performances in wrestling history, Savage would show slight discomfort at Hogan’s kind treatment of Miss Elizabeth, no matter how innocent. Additonally, jealousy of Hogan’s popularity factored into Savage’s deteriorating mental state. Finally, during a match with the Twin Towers, Hogan tended to the injured valet, and Savage finally lost it, exploding with a hate-filled tirade at a stunned Hulk, before nailing him with the WWE belt in front of a pained Liz.

2. Andre the Giant Confronts Hulk Hogan (January 26, 1987)

Upset at playing second fiddle to a ceremony for Hogan’s three-year championship reign, Andre walks off, only to return weeks later on Piper’s Pit with Bobby Heenan as his new manager. Andre calmly told an astonished Hogan that he had only one thing to demand: a World Title match at WrestleMania III. Hogan tried to reason with Andre, who callously ripped Hogan’s shirt and crucifix jewel off in response. The result was one of the most historic and important wrestling matches in history.

1. Hulk Hogan is “The Third Man” (July 7, 1996)

This time, it’s Hogan doing the turning. After Scott Hall and Kevin Nash invaded WCW in the spring of 1996, they promised a hostile takeover, and the addition of a third man. At Bash at the Beach, during the anticipated main event where that man would be revealed, Lex Luger was injured, leaving Sting and Randy Savage alone with The Outsiders. Hulk Hogan appeared to make the save, only to leg drop Savage, and reveal his treachery. Hogan’s post-match speech, denouncing WCW and the fans that turned on him, while announcing the formation of the New World Order, is the greatest promo of his iconic career, and that’s saying something.

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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Hulkamania Goes Down South Part 3: Hulk Hogan and His Amazing Friends

June 05, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

When Hulk Hogan came to WCW in 1994, there were changes in the way the company was booked and produced. On the positive side, the production values went up greatly and almost put them on par with Vince McMahon. On the negative side, the company was slowly changing into what the fans had come to detest. The company still had a roster with some great talent and they were still putting on great matches on television and pay per view, but a lot of the talent that worked hard in the post-Flair walk out were being pushed down or phased out.

Steve Austin, said by many to be the next big star of the company was jobbed out to Jim Duggan and sent down the card. Mick Foley, feeling that he had no upward advancement in the company left for greener pastures. Dustin Rhodes, undoubtedly the MVP of the company in 1994 by having great matches and feuds, wasn’t rewarded with a main event push but rather a feud with Barry Darsow Gimmick #73. That is not a push by the way. You can’t say much about Steamboat/Rude/Windham retiring due to injuries, and Anderson was at-least protected because of association by Flair. Pillman, before hitting it big with the loose cannon gimmick, was in mid card purgatory with just an awful hair metal gimmick. Sting, as we all know was willing to step aside and let take center stage and probably the same thing with Savage for the good of the company.

Only Vader was left. Vader and Hogan had been set up when Vader won a title shot at Fall Brawl and both men were finally set to collide at SuperBrawl. You’d think and you’d think that with the company booking the monster to end all monster’s against the patron saint of red and yellow, that the build would be simple. Vader would leave Hogan laid out at some point with the powerbomb and repeated Vaderbombs. The match would be hyped as Hogan’s toughest and meanest challenger to date and Hulk would need all the power of the Hulkmaniacs to beat Vader. You know what; you know what happens so reroll the clip:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8q71z_hulk-no-sales-a-vaderbomb_fun

*Slowly crawls into the fetal position as this plays on loop for a day as our death match commentary overlord smiles.*

Here’s the thing, at this point Vader had been protected rather well. You didn’t necessarily win a match against Vader, you just happened to survive a match with Vader. The only guys that had ever had any consistent success against him were Sting, Ric Flair and Ron Simmons. Heck, even Cactus Jack only beat by count out and Vader retaliated by trying to murder him by POWERBOMBING HIM ON THE CONCRETE FLOOR. Most wrestlers would take losing a match by count-out in stride, but not Vader. VADER WILL END YOU; imagine if you beat him in checkers in something. YOU MIGHT CEAST TO EXIST AND THEN HE COMES AFTER YOUR LOVED ONES.

Hogan and Vader did collide at SuperBrawl and once again it was a match the fans wanted to see. It drew 13,390 fans to the Baltimore Arena, netting them a nice 165k at the gate and it got about 298,861 buys. There was a lot of hype for this match and there was a legitimate big fight atmosphere in the arena. It was one of the few times that keeping Buffer on payroll helped since it made the match feel more important.

The match itself is very good as Hogan had his working boots and of course it was a 50/50 split pretty much. It’s kind of funny; there is a rumor that Hogan made Vader sign a waiver stating that he couldn’t stiff him in the match and yet it looked like both guys beat the crap out of each other. Hulk always good chemistry with fat guy wrestlers (Boss Man, Gang, and Bundy) and it’s no different here. Vader kicks out of the Leg Drop of Doom at ONE, which was quite the holy crap moment. The finish might be a schmooze with Flair running in for a DQ but it made sense. They didn’t want to job Vader out right away and they didn’t want Hogan dropping the belt.

And it would be the last time that their matches would make sense.

Going into Uncensored, Vader and Flair were aligned in an effort to take down Hogan once and for all. Arn Anderson would later join the group, but that doesn’t matter at this moment. In order to counter this, Hogan talked up having the ultimate surprise for the two of them, and this was the company using the good old fashion bait and switch. Many people believed that it the man was going to be The Ultimate Warrior and the company kept talking about the word ultimate at all times. First, Hogan has his Amazing Friends (Sting and Savage) on his side, so he has them out numbered. The biggest threats to those two were The Avalanche and Big Bubba Rogers so it’s not like they’re facing top caliber opponents.

All Hogan would have to do would be to snap his fingers and BAM! Three on two advantage, if not there is always the human shield known as Evad Sullivan to take a drubbing from Vader. With all this stupidity they kept the build to Uncensored rather simple, Flair was pulling the strings of Vader and the company kept both men apart teasing brawls between the two on television. Then, the stupidity began. CUE THE STUPIDIDTY! Well first, Jimmy Hart got kidnapped on the Saturday night before the event to try and destroy Hulk’s confidence going into the match. Do I even have to point out that Hulk won four titles and numerous big matches without a manager? Ric Flair then dressed as a woman and beat up Randy Savage and I presume that he cried for about a good solid hour after being told to do that.

The big reveal of the ultimate surprise of ultimate destiny happened early in the show and it was THE RENEGADE. The Great Value version of The Ultimate Warrior with a knockoff theme that sounded just enough like Warrior’s theme but just a bit off to avoid a McMahon lawsuit. Jimmy Hart shows up, making that angle completely pointless. And that is just everything that happens in the first FEW MINUTES. Now I have to say that the strap match itself is a good bout, not on the level of Sting/Vader but still it’s a good watch. It seemed like we would get a semi-satisfying ending…until they turned the stupidity button up to eleven. Somehow, Flair gets latched onto Hogan, takes a beating and then loses the match to Hogan for Vader.

I swear they only booked this to humiliate Flair, Hogan takes a beating from Flair and Vader as Renegade saves the day with a chair and then THE MASKED MAN SHOWS UP. Yeah, this gimmick sucked in 1994, aging it a year isn’t going to help. We then saw a bound and gagged Arn Anderson (Similar to how I was forced to watch this) dressed as the masked man but who’s the actual masked man? Randy Savage as Flair takes another beating to end the show. It’s funny that the company promoted this show as being out of control and any chair shots were shown at a wide angle. Once again, show did good business for WCW. Also, Sting would get bumped out of the number three spot FOR THE FRIGGING RENEGADE. THE FRIGGING RENEGADE.

This would lead to Flair and Vader teaming to face Savage and Hogan at Slamboree and I’ll save you having to watch it: Flair jobs, the end. The only good to mildly great moments was Flair doing a Flair Flop and watching Angelo Poffo getting beat up. At-least we’d get a great Savage/Flair feud out of the angle. WCW then promoted their next brainfart, Bash at the Beach 1995. The selling point of the card was Hogan vs Vader in a steel cage, a match itself that could sell some tickets. You could do it at The United Center in Chicago and get a good gate….and it’s booked on a beach.

Why? Because WCW did a cross promotional episode of Baywatch and decided that instead of filming that matches in an arena THEY’D FILM IT A GODDAMN BEACH WITH NO GATE. Even better, those people were subjected to an undercard with three one star matches (Two in the negatives), a Renegade match (DUD), Sting not caring and Flair losing again. Hulk wins the cage match, Vader wanted to try a SSP and Beefcake bumps for Dennis Rodman who was booked for this card somehow.

Folk, if you think this part of 1995 was bad, get the hard liquor because we’re diving into THE DUNGEON OF DOOM. And yes, we’ll be talking about the angle that happened at Bash at The Beach. So yeah, this isn’t a four part series anymore.

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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Hulkamania Goes Down South Part Two

June 03, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The contract had been signed sealed and delivered and whether the hardcore WCW fans liked it, Hulkamania was in town. The biggest question was when WCW would pull the trigger on the big match: Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair. Would they push the match right away or slow burn it till the Grandaddy of them All?

Well, I have my own theory: Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair was going to headline Starrcade 1994, but an injury to Rick Rude derailed that from happening. Rude and Vader were scheduled to meet at Slamboree 1994 and I presume that Rude was going to win. WCW announces that they’re going to unify the belts over the companies next three pay per view offerings. Flair faces Vader at BATB, Sting faces Rude at Fall Brawl, we get the Clash XXVII main event and shenanigans but just on PPV. With the injury came the derailing of those plans and Hogan was set to make his big debut at Clash XXVII. The event took place in….Charleston, South Carolina, or Flair Country pretty much.

Huh, I can’t see how this possibly can’t go wrong.

You know how everybody talks about John Cena getting the whole “Kids and moms love him, everybody else hates him” reaction like they’ve never seen it before? Yeah, they’re wrong as Hogan’s first appearance drew absolute hatred from the older crowd. It didn’t help that Hogan had a presidential-level escort and that hearing Jimmy Hart as his cheerleader was about as pleasurable as pleasing yourself with a cheese grater. Hulk cut a promo to a mixed reaction from the fans, saved the day to a mixed reaction and cut a closing promo to a mixed reaction.

The match was made just a few weeks later with a rare Ted Turner television appearance to christen the match. If you wonder where Sting is in all this, well he wouldn’t even appear on the card, and he was pushed down to a match against Regal with no real build. Sting was injured when Sherri dressed like a man (This will happen a lot in the next few years BTW) and raked him in the eyes. This would be a continuing trend for the next few years for Sting, even being pushed aside for the BOOGIE MAN. Yes, you read that properly. While I can understand Hogan and even Savage, Sting would be moved aside at times for such luminaries as The Renegade, The Boogie Man, and yes….Evad Sullivan.

As we already know, the first Flair match drew the biggest buyrate for WCW with over 300,000 buys. As much as I can go on and on about Hogan, I must admit that he was motivated in the ring at this point in his career. The first Flair match was very good and probably the best Hogan bout since him against Warrior at WrestleMania VI. Of course, Hulk took the belt and the company did everything they could to make sure he didn’t get a bad reaction. The event took place in Orlando, Shaq was there, and they even dragged Mr. T out of obscurity for this match. Hulk for the most part seemed to be refreshed in the ring working in Japan mode for the most part.

The company had a vision for the most part of a three match series between the two: Bash at the Beach, Clash rematch and the finale at Halloween Havoc. According to Flair, he was scheduled to get his belt back at the Clash card and Bischoff disagrees with that, stating that it was in the plans. I kind of agree with Eric(CUE THE THROWING OF ROTTED PRODUCE), having Hulk drop the belt a few months after winning it, much less on television? If they wanted to get the belt back onto Flair, you could have done a tag at the Clash (Hulk and Sting against Flair and Anderson on loan from Parker) where Flair wins cheap, and then do the drop at Havoc. Then book the big career vs career cage match at Starrcade.

Instead, we got a half-hearted attempt to play off the Tanya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan controversy (Which had already come and gone) with a masked man hitting Hogan in the knee with a pipe. Most of the Clash was built around this including Hogan screaming and crying like a man just forced to watch No Holds Barred and Mr. Nanny back to back. Hulk miraculously made it to the arena and lost via count out in another good match between the two. The company would play up the mystery man angle, even having multiple mystery men show up at some points.

Anyway, to make sure there would be no shenanigans, the big career vs career match would take place in a cage and for some reason Mr. T was named the special ref. You’d think they’d bring in a tough guy from sports or take no nonsense type old school wrestler for the role, not Mr. Frigging T. For those of you wondering, Sting wasn’t even booked again and I guessed they wanted people to think he might be the masked man. Neat idea, actually, it wouldn’t have worked though as you could have booked Sting to skin Hogan with a flensing knife and the crowd would have popped. Also, Ric Flair refused to wrestle until he got a new contract and actually signed it that night, fearing a double cross. Despite Mr. T trying to get himself over, the match is still very good and Hulk won of course. The masked men came in and before we get to that, remember all that buzz on who it would be? I remember hearing names like Perfect and Warrior debuting to Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, Sting and hell even Randy Savage’s name popped up. We got….

Brother Bruti!

Cue a not as enthusiastic “Aw son of a bitch” from Jim Ross.

Yeah, then Sullivan and their new monster The Avalance came out and beat the snot out of Hogan. While Tenta is looked at as another Hulk’s buddies being brought in, I never had a problem with the company bringing in him. He might not have been the greatest worker, but he played the role of fat monster guy very well and could have good bouts with the right guys. It was the type of signing that WCW needed to sign, a solid and reliable veteran who isn’t going to cause and trouble and knows his role and plays it well. Tenta even said that he really didn’t want to go, but he was broke and wasn’t getting any work from Japan.

Hey, it was better than signing the damn Honky Tonk Man or Brutus frigging Beefcake. Sting saves the day and we get the birth of the Three Faces of Fear and the booking of quite possibly the worst Starrcade main event of all time: Hulk Hogan vs The Butcher. If you folks hear any rolling, that’s Jim Crockett Sr. rolling over in his grave. It should be noted that Sting finally got to rub shoulders with the Hulkster by headlining a Clash of the Champions against the Three Faces of Fear…teaming with Evad Sullivan. At least he got to team up with Hogan!

Good news was coming, as WCW lured Randy Savage away from the WWE. Once again, I have to praise WCW for handling the debut of Savage quite well. They built intrigue on whether Savage was a friend or foe of Hogan. They hyped Starrcade (Sting got to wrestle on this one) as Savage deciding if he was either going to shake Hulk’s hand or slap him. Starrcade came and well the fans didn’t exactly hate Hogan during the match, but they didn’t show much emotion either.

It didn’t help that the card was awful and in every way the opposite of WCW used to be. Hulk wins, FoF attacks and Savage saves the day. The only good things that came out of Starrcade 1994 were that the card bombed killing The Butcher push and it set up what should surely be an awesome Hogan/Vader feud. I can’t wait to see Vader leave Hogan laying doing the famous “Hogan squirm sell” after the powerbomb that has put down Sting, Foley, Simmons, and so many oth-

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8q71z_hulk-no-sales-a-vaderbomb_fun

SON OF A BI-*Feed cuts out*

Part Three: Hulk Hogan and His Amazing Friends.

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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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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Sting: From WCW Champion to Just Another Guy

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

17,500 fans

$543,000 at the gate

686,824 buys

Over 20 million dollars grossed from those buys alone

You have to realize that WCW never saw these types of numbers, even for the first major Hogan/Flair bout. WCW never had a PPV before that drew over 400,000 buys; the WWE had FIFTEEN PPV’s that grossed higher than 400,000 buys. The company never even had a gate that huge since the glory days of JCP, and the people came for one match and one match only.

Hulk Hogan vs Sting

If you were like me, and let’s face it you probably are like me (Just a bit more adjusted), then this was the match to see. I dare say this was the biggest match that either one of the big two had put on since Hogan/Warrior. Fans had waited one full year for Sting to finally get his hands on Hulk Hogan, and there would be no now to stop him. Sting would destroy Hogan in one glorious beat down for the world to see, and the head of the nWo would be severed. No, two heads would not appear, so don’t me any of this hail hydra bull. Sting would take the belt back for WCW, and all would be right with the world. Right? I mean, c’mon me and my brother were so hyped for this match that we didn’t even go on the internet looking for results the next day, since we had a copy of the event coming our way that afternoon. Don’t you remember flipping back to the last ten or so minutes or Nitro to see Sting just beat the absolute crap out of the nWo? Surely, surely the company would do the right thing and deliver Sting giving Hogan the worst pounding since the reviews for Santa with Muscles were published.

Well sort of.

Not at all

Crap in a hat

Yes, Sting wins in the end, but not before looking like a complete chump and only winning because Bret Hart complains and we get our first of 8,000 Montreal references in WCW. Instead of going with the time-old formula of face dominates, heel cheats and gets heat on the face, and the face makes his comeback and win it all, what we got was all Hogan beating on Sting. Hulk beats on Sting, drops the leg and Nick Patrick counts to three. The story is that it was supposed to be a fast-count playing into the whole “Nick Patrick being with the nWo” story. Hart was going to come out and deck Patrick, and the match was going to be restarted. Sting makes his big comeback, wins and the fans are sent home happy. Instead, we all know that Patrick counted normally and the story is that Hogan or even Bischoff called an audible without telling Sting. Sting doesn’t kick out since he’s expecting the fast count, making him look like a complete moron in the process.

Here’s the thing, this idea should have never been pitched or even thought about, in-fact the person who came up with the idea should be hit with a whiffle ball bat about a hundred times. Sting beats Hogan with the Scorpion Deathlock in the middle of the ring, clean. No debauchery, no Bret Hart, no dusty finish, the way it should have been. Some people have suggested that it should a squash on the level of Hogan/Sheik, but I think that would be a bit much. Here is how it should have gone down:

-Sting comes out hot and starts beating on Hogan and you know the crowd is eating it up. He’s showing signs of the old Sting as the announcers talk about how it seems like the old Sting is coming back to life. He even does the old howl taunt, which you know would get a large response from the fans.

-Then, you pull that carpet from underneath those fans when Sting misses a big move. It could be a dive to the outside or Stinger Splash while Hogan is against the post or railing. Did Sting ever nail that move anyhow? Hulk goes into heel mode, using eye rakes and chokes to kill any comeback by Sting. It seems like Hogan has this one in the bag, and even the announcers seem down and out. Dusty is in the booth, let him talk about the tradition and the legacy that is on the line with this match. If Sting fails, who is left from WCW to face Hogan?

-Sting starts to rally, it’s not huge but he’s starting to find his way back into the fight. He knows what is on the line, his legacy and the legacy of WCW. Right when it seems like Sting is ready to comeback; Hogan cheats his way and cuts it off. A low blow here would be the right move.

-Hogan hits the big boot and leg drop of doom and goes for the cover. Is this it for Sting? Nope, Sting barely kicks out as Hogan is shocked. Hogan calls for the nWo to come out, but the ENTIRE WCW roster cuts off the nWo as they come out. Hogan slowly realizes that it is just Sting and Sting has risen from the leg drop. Hulk has that “Oh crap” look on his face and turns around to face Sting, and Sting does that crazy gorilla beat on his chest.

-One year of anger, frustration and hatred is let out by Sting in a few glorious minutes. Sting beats Hogan from pillar to post, hits the Stinger Splash in all four corners, Scorpion Deatdrop and Hogan taps to the Scorpion Deathlock. We get the big celebration we ended up seeing, the crowd goes nuts and WCW is pretty much set for the next few months. Sting takes on various members of the nWo, slowly but surely picking the group apart.

Now, we know this didn’t happen. Instead, we got a convoluted continuation in-which Sting vacated the title to only beat Hogan for the title at SuperBrawl. Sting faced Hall at Uncensored, another person (Savage) turned on him for the 863rd time, and Sting drops the belt a month later to Savage. In the end, Hulk gets the belt a night later and Sting becomes another star whose knees get cut off. Instead of people watching and staying on Nitro when Sting arrives like they did a year earlier, they change the channel to Raw. Starrcade should have been the launch of a new draw for the organization, but thanks to the machinations of creative control, it never happened. Hogan cut his promos about being the only thing you should care about and the champ is worthless (Also done during Goldberg’s run and when Flair had the belt).

I know many people contest the drawing ability of Sting, but having Sting steamroll Hogan and you have so many options for what you could book after Starrcade. You can start the slow implosion of the nWo, with Nash questioning the leadership abilities of Hogan. Sting going after what’s left of the nWo (Hall, Nash, Savage), and heck you can end the nWo storyline before staleness sets in. What’s left of the nWo dissolves into the mid-card and you have a pretty sellable tag match: Hogan and Savage against Hall and Nash. Sting can work with Flair/Hart/Luger/DDP/Giant and then do the drop to Hogan who then drops it Goldberg. Surely, and I mean surely Goldberg will be that big megastar that WCW wants by the end of 1998, he’ll lea-

I just saw the knee cutter prepping a machete labeled Goldberg.

That’s for another article.

In the end, WCW took a massive successful card and what should have come with a boatload of momentum and instead squandered it. What should have been establishment of a new draw and turned him just another face in the sea of a bloated roster. Instead of an organization doing what was best for business, they catered to the ego of one man. While the good times were rolling, we know the end of the story. Just figured that it was a story that needed some telling.

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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Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls Kindle Review

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

Before we start, I know that JJ Dillon’s autobiography has been out since 2005 and you’ve probably heard the reviews. Unfortunately, the cheapest copy I’ve found for the book is $29 on Amazon with new copies going as high as a hundred books. I scoured most used book stores for a copy, but I’ve never had any luck. This, along with Gary Hart’s book were the two books that I’ve badly wanted to read over the years but their lack of availability hindered that. Fun fact: The only used copy of Gary Hart’s book will cost you a cool $1,302. Luckily, Crowbar Press has released their entire catalog onto the Amazon Kindle program and having a Kindle myself, I finally had a chance to read it over the weekend.

I can say without a doubt that this is the best wrestling book I have read. That is no joke in my opinion considering I thought nobody could top Foley, Jericho, or Hart but Dillon managed to do it.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know about Dillon outside of the fact that he worked in Florida, Memphis, NWA/WCW with the Horsemen and in the office and finally for the WWE. I know he appeared a few times on WWE TV as an agent but I just thought that it was just some random guy. That’s the great thing about this book; I didn’t know how many different territories he worked for. I didn’t know he worked for Vince Sr. as a ref, Amarillo for the Funks, Houston, Georgia, The Maritimes, and Australia among other areas. There are so many great stories about workers like The Funks, Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, the clients he managed, Harley Race and almost every big name that was around in the territories.

Even though the meat of the story is Dillon’s run in the territories, I’d say the best part of the book is when he goes to work for Vince McMahon. You get a very clear picture of the type of guy McMahon is (Works 24/7, astute attention to detail) but Dillon talks about stuff you never hear about. Booking the arenas, coordinating travel for the talent, payoffs, merchandising and the best part is that it isn’t boring. You think this stuff could be boring, but the amount of detail he puts into the behind the scenes aspect keeps you interested. He also went over how the live events are set-up which interested me and how Vince is pretty much the great decider in the end, if something isn’t drawing well then Vince will kill it not matter what feud it is. You also get a scope of how different the company was booked back then, Dillon writes about how himself, Vince and Patterson would book everything at Vince’s house. It’s also interesting hearing about the company during the steroid saga and the fact that Jerry Jarrett was pretty much set-up to run the company if the worst happened. Vince even joked that he would have Dillon and Patterson over to help book the company from prison if the worst did happen. I’m not surprised actually. We learn about Dillon’s departure from the company and what caused it and just how messed up WCW was.

While I do love the Death of WCW book, Dillon gives an inside view of the slippery slope the company was on after 1998. Some stuff won’t surprise you (ATM Eric), but stuff like the company eating rental car fees is surprising and just how easy workers in the company got their way. Dillon was with the company from 1996 till the end of the company, so there is a lot to read. I didn’t even know that Jerry Jarrett was trying to buy the company before Vince bought it. This part and Dillon’s time as Vince’s right hand man are the must read aspects of the book. It’s also good to see that Dillon found life after wrestling as a correctional officer. In an era in-which we hear about guys struggling to make it and sometimes grim results, it’s good to know that Dillon has as-least found stability.

The most refreshing aspect is that Dillon doesn’t use the book to bear any major grudges. He does address what Mick Foley wrote about him in the first book in a diplomatic way giving his point of view on why they wouldn’t hire him. He addresses the situation with Dave Meltzer that I wrote about in my WrestleMania VII article regarding the Hogan/Slaughter angle. He doesn’t bury him or call either of them out; he just gives his side of the story. He even agreed that the angle itself was extremely tasteless, but there was really no changing Vince’s mind.

In the end, I cannot recommend Dillon’s book enough, I went in with high hopes and they were met. You don’t need a Kindle Fire to get a copy, any tablet or smart phone with access to kindle and you can get yourself of copy of the book.

“Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls”: From McMahon to McMahon

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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10 MORE Sting Matches WWE Fans Should Watch

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

A few days ago, our death match commentary overlord did an article talking about ten Sting matches you should watch. You’re not going to get any complaints from me because I pretty much agree with all of them. Luckily, Eric has allowed me to post ten more Sting matches you should check out. Some of these matches you may already know but I presume that some of the matches you’ve probably never seen before. So sit back, get some face paint on and revel at the fact that there’s no Hogan here to cut those knees off.

Sting and Ric Flair vs The Great Muta and Dick Slater: Clash of the Champions VIII 09.12.1989

First, this was supposed to Flair and Sting vs Funk and Muta, but Funk is injured, so we get the best Terry Funk impersonator of all time: Dick Slater. Even better, we get Jim Ross and Jim Cornette on commentary and Ross is great explaining the various types of mist. This match is just great, thanks to a hot South Carolina crowd. Slater plays Funk very well, Ric Flair makes a surprisingly good Ricky Morton to Sting’s Robert Gibson and vice versa. Muta busts out the yellow mist and most of all, Terry Funk attempts to murder Ric Flair. What’s also great is that the match sort of has a downer ending with the faces getting pounded. Flair is almost killed and Slater hits Sting in the leg with a branding iron much to JR’s disgust. What more could you want from a tag team match? Also, Clash VIII has two other great matches: Road Warriors against The Samoan Swat Team and Lex Luger against Tommy Rich. Watch this one and the whole card.

Now, Eric brought up three great contests Sting had with Cactus Jack, Vader, and Ric Flair. These next three matches are Sting against the same opponent, but these are matches that you may not have seen. Enjoy.

Sting vs Cactus Jack in a Submit or Surrender Match on WCW Power Hour: 11/23/1991

This is an interesting concept since you can either make your opponent say I Quit, submit or if he can’t respond to a ten count. So, it’s a hybrid I Quit/Submission/Last Man Standing match. This match actually made the Foley DVD and I’m glad it’s getting some recognition. Now, this may sound insane but I think this match up there with the Beach Blast match. It’s just an all-out war between the two guys and the finish is actually genius. Sting is draped over the second rope, Cactus goes to hit him with the chair but Sting moves and the chair bounces back and hits him in the face. Sting puts a knocked out Cactus in the Scorpion Deathlock and the ref calls the match. Great battle.

Sting vs Ric Flair on NWA Worldwide: 2/20/1988

Before their famous bout at the first Clash of the Champions, Sting and Ric Flair would open the February 20th edition of NWA Worldwide. This was probably Sting’s first big match since joining the NWA and much like the Clash match, it’s booked masterfully. Flair bumps around the ring like a pinball for Sting making him look like a million bucks and then Flair baits Sting into doing something stupid. Flair goes on the offensive as the once invisible Sting is being worn down by the veteran, and then Sting gets a second burst. The big difference is that since is a TV match and Dust has the book, we get two ref bumps and a non-finish. This went a long way towards establishing Sting as a legit star in the NWA. Ending is great with Sting holding Flair in the Scorpion for an extended period of time. The Clash may have Sting’s coming out party, but this match proved that he was ready for the Clash.

Sting vs Vader Title Change in London, England: 03/11/1993

The main reason I picked this over the White Castle of Fear, Fall Brawl 1994 Slamboree 1994, or the Bash match is that this is a match not many people may know about. Those matches are fantastic and thanks to the Network, you can watch them all the time. This one isn’t on the Network. It’s also a pretty rare match since it wasn’t filmed for television since Sting wins the belt. Sting would drop it in Dublin at the end of the tour, but what makes this match a match you should watch is the crowd. While Vader and Sting would work before decent sized crowds, this is a London card and the place is packed with 11,500 fans. The crowd is hot for everything in the match and all the kids are cheering their hearts out hoping to see their hero topple the monster. That is what makes this match so great, it’s the usual cat and mouse game between the two and the two of them hold the crowd in the palm of their hands. The two of them pretty much perfected their formula at this point, but it’s still a very good match between the two. The full match is on Youtube so you don’t have to sacrifice your first born to obtain a copy.

Sting vs The Giant at Slamboree 1996: 05/19/1996

Hey, another PPV that I got for a birthday gift! Even better, I got this and the criminally underrated Toy Story video game for the Sega Genesis. Sting was given a rather difficult task against the Giant, to carry him to a watchable or at least a good match. Heck, Flair wasn’t even able to accomplish that at this point. No offense to the big guy, but he was only a wrestler for about a year at this point, so Sting had the GIANT (Yes, that’s awful) task of carrying the Giant. Guess what? Sting managed to do it. Sting starts off by throwing everything he can at the big guy: Dropkicks, sleepers, clotheslines, cross bodies but he can’t even move the big guy. Heck, he even busts off the Enziguri and Giant reacts by kicking him half way across the ring. It’s similar to the Vader matches, every time Sting is on the verge of coming back,  Giant cuts him off. The Giant even busts off a dropkick. Great big man vs little guy match, probably the Giant’s best match in WCW.

Sting and Ricky Steamboat vs Ric Flair and Steve Austin on WCW Saturday Night: 07/30/1994

This took place a few weeks after Bash at the Beach 1994, and it’s one of the great fleeting moments of the WCW before Hogan arrived. All four men are at the top of their game, the crowd is super-hot and it also shows that there was still a glimmer of hope that Austin was on his way to the main event. Austin doesn’t feel like a mid-card guy in the match thrown in their since he’s in a rivalry with Steamboat, he’s booked like a top level guy. A great thirty minute tag match, the crowd is never bored and probably one of the better TV main events of 1994. Besides the ugly botch of Sting throwing Sherri to the outside, it is a much watch for WCW fans. Not much else to say on this one, a great southern style tag match.

Sting vs Barry Windham for the United States Champion at Clash of the Champions III: 09/07/1988

I will always call Barry Windham the forgotten best wrestler of all time. For about the last half of the eighties, Windham tore the house down with some of the best of them including a memorable series of bouts with Flair. Needless to say, the wear and tear that came in those few years reduced Windham to a shell of his former self in the mid 90’s. So we have this period of time and Windham would wind up tangling with Sting here. Sting and Windham mess really well in this match as the commentators sell it as the young lion Sting against the veteran Windham. Both men would have a rather good match in 1993 and I do wish we had seen Sting defend the belt against Windham after he won it from Flair. You get a pretty good match between the both men, hot crowd and the highly underrated Ross/Caudle commentary team. What more could you ask for?

Sting, Brian Pillman, and The Steiner Brothers vs Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Sid and Larry Zbyszko in a WarGames match at WrestleWar 1991: 02/24/1991

WarGames ’91 is the WWF Superstars to WarGames ’92 WWF WrestleFest and that’s not a bad thing. Most people remember WarGames 1992 as the violent and brutal epic, the pinnacle of the WarGames match. WarGames 91 is a very good match, heck a great match in its own right. It just happened the next WarGames match was fantastic. This match is still a great dramatic affair with an injured Pillman defying wisdom and entering number one to face Windham. It’s a great bloody battle with a super-hot crowd eating it all up. Even the botched powerbomb by Sid gets a pass from me since it just added to the brutality. Plus it made Sid look like a complete monster for powerbombing an already knocked out Pillman. This could have been the start of a feud between the two, but Turner had to get all he could out of Gigante’s Hawks contract. Still, I know there isn’t much Sting talk but its WarGames people.

Sting vs Diamond Dallas Page for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on WCW Nitro: 04/26/1999

I’ll be the first to admit that there aren’t many great Sting matches in the late nineties and I can understand that seeing the company you helped to build is being slowly destroyed is a slight bummer. We’re going to ignore that the belt changed hands at the end of the night and that Nitro somehow lost by three points. Page plays a great phallic heel here and I remember reading about how awesome this match (Death of WCW book) was and I finally saw it when the first Nitro DVD came out. It does live up to the hype, the crowd is hot and both men are motivated. The finish is rather genius, Sting blocking the Diamond Cutter by using the ropes and hitting the Deathdrop to get the pinfall. I’d also recommend the champion vs champion match that both men had the previous year. Both guys have a surprisingly good amount of chemistry here and it works.

Sting, Dustin Rhodes and Brian Pillman vs Rick Rude, Steve Austin, and Paul Orndorff in a Thundercage Match at Superbrawl IV: 02/20/94

We close with an underrated gem of a steel cage match that featured one of WCW’s great rivalries (Sting/Rude), a solid rivalry (Rhodes/Orndorff), and what should have been a great rivalry (Pillman/Austin). It is handicapped by the lack of blood for a match featuring some big rivalries, but they work around it and they have a good match. The crowd is hot and the finish is rather creative. Sting throwing Pillman onto Austin to get the victory for their team and the crowd pops for it. The post-match is great too, Rude slamming the door on Stings face and hitting the Rude Awaking on the floor. The post-match would set the stage for Spring Stampede and the match would end up being Rude’s last match.

Recommended watching:

-Sting, Lex Luger and Barry Windham vs The Four Horsemen (The Main Event: 04/03/1988)

-Sting and Lex Luger vs The Midnight Express/Sting and Luger vs Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard (Crockett Cup 88) (General note: The Sting and Luger vs Express was cut out of the commercial release)

-The Sting/Vader series outside of the ones talked about in these articles

– Sting and Ricky Steamboat vs Rick Rude and Steve Austin (Clash of the Champions XVIII: 01/21/1992)

-Sting and Ric Flair vs Vader and Rick Rude (Clash of the Champions XXVI: 01/27/1994)

– Sting vs Steve Austin (WCW Saturday Night: 01/08/1994)

Well, I hope this list has been pretty informative overall. It was a nice break from dealing with the doom and gloom that came from Friday’s stock debacle and writing an article about it at midnight. While many can debate the drawing ability of Sting, very few can doubt that that he has a library of darn good matches. 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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10 Sting Matches WWE Fans Need To Watch

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

Sting is now a member of the WWE roster and is expected to debut in 2014. Thanks to the WWE Network, new fans can get introduced to Sting through the entire WCW PPV library. Here are ten matches you should immediately watch to understand how this man became an icon among WCW fans.

Sting is coming to WWE television and for a lot of fans in the Universe, he is a stranger with a legacy. For fans that may be a little older, Sting is just one of the stars of TNA Wrestling. Yet for the fans that watched Sting for over 20 years in WCW, he is an icon of their youth. It is time you become familiar with this icon if you aren’t already.

For the purposes of this list I kept all of my choices to matches currently available on the WWE Network so it is not necessarily a definitive list of his greatest WCW matches. There are some great WCW matches of Sting’s that aren’t on the Network like his match with DDP on Nitro and his match in Tokyo teaming with Great Muta to take on the Steiner brothers. Otherwise every single one of these matches are available on the Network. If you haven’t seen them go watch them now because the Stinger is coming!

Sting vs. Ric Flair Clash of the Champions I - The granddaddy of them all when it comes to Sting matches. This match put Sting on the map although it was not his first televised match with Flair (they wrestled once on World Wide although the show cut off during the match). Sting was elevated to the big time as he took the Nature Boy to the limit for 45 minutes. Watching this match back today is fascinating as it is apparent quickly that Flair is carrying this bad boy completely. Regardless, it was a great match and deserves a top spot on the list.

Sting and Luger vs. Steiners Super Brawl 91 - This was a Dream Match at the time as it was rare to see two babyface teams at this level face off against each other in WCW or the WWE. The match started out as you would expect a match to start out between friends. Eventually friendships were put aside for the WCW tag team titles and the match turned into a non-stop back and forth tag match that went past expectations. Both teams had the crowd in the palms of their hands. The only criticism of the match is that it was too short.

Sting vs. Ric Flair Clash of the Champions XXVII - This was probably their best match in WCW yet it is often disregarded in favor of the Bash 1990 match.This was a great one and much better than their Bash 1990 match which I originally had in this spot. I’d say the crowd here really separated the matches as the crowd was super hot for this one. This match was pretty action-packed from start to finish with all kinds of cool spots including Sting taking out Sherri Martel with a dive to the floor after Flair pushed her into the way. Flair winds up pulling off the upset as he rolls up Sting while Sting checks on Sherri and unifies the championships.

Sting vs. Vader King of Cable Finals Starrcade 92 - Words can’t describe how great this match was. The Vader vs. Sting feud to me is one of the most underrated feuds in wrestling history. Every single one of their matches were great but this one stands out to me. The psychology here was tremendous with Vader being a complete monster with Sting’s giving it right back to him. This match had it all from strong style wrestling, brawling, and just high-intense action. The only criticism is the finish which seemed kind of weak considering all of the punishment absorbed throughout the match.

Sting vs. Mick Foley Falls Count Anywhere on the Gulf Coast Beach Blast 92 - Foley wrote in his book that Sting told him that this was his favorite match. I can understand why. This match was awesome the second it started with Foley meeting Sting on the ramp and brawling with Sting. These guys probably utilized the concept of Falls Count Anywhere better than anyone ever has. The many pinfall attempts on the floor were a unique twist. Sting won the match with a clothesline off the top rope onto Foley who was on the ramp. Great finish, great match, great crowd heat, and a great call by good old J.R. (not so much the Body). In hindsight it is amazing how little respect these guys got as this WCW title match was booked early in the show and the poster featured Steamboat and Rude. I am sure it had to be some kind of a motivator.

Sting & Flair vs. Terry Funk and Muta Thunderdome Cage Match Halloween Havoc 1989 - This was an odd match. Inside the ring the match was fantastic. The match had everything from great brawling to intense wrestling to dramatic psychology. Unfortunately it was scarred with a terrible gimmick in that the only way the match could end was with either Gary Hart or Ole Anderson throwing in the towel. Other than the ridiculous stipulation, this was a really exciting match. You almost get the sense that Ric Flair was having a lot of fun when you watch it back today on the Network.

Sting, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff (Sting’s Squadron) vs. Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Eaton & Steve Austin (Dangerous Alliance) War Games Match, Wrestle War 1992 - This match is probably one of the most underrated matches in War Games history. Some have even dubbed it the best War Games ever. This match told a great story from beginning to end which is tough in a War Games match. It had all of the crazy action you’d expect except the match continued to build and held together like a snug puzzle. Arn Anderson’s head winds up between the two rings at one point (a spot he borrowed from Barry Windham). Dustin Rhodes is a bloody mess and a steel hook from the top was used in the finish. Sting finishes off Beautiful Bobby with an arm bar to win the match and end the chaos in a classic.

Sting vs. Great Muta Great American Bash 1989 - This is one of my favorite WCW matches of all-time from my favorite WCW pay-per-view of all-time. This match has a faster pace than your typical WCW matches at the time. Beyond that, these two had chemistry that just clicked inside of the ring. Muta was built up brilliantly up to this point and the fans ate the match up live (I should know, I was there.) The double ring from the War Games was also used which made the match more fun.

Sting vs. William Regal Great American Bash 96 - An odd match on paper turned out to be one of the best matches in Sting’s career. If styles make great matches this one should have been terrible. Instead both men adapted to each other’s styles and produced a clinic which at times was very stiff. Sting’s critics will say Sting couldn’t “wrestle”. I challenge them to watch this match and back up that argument. Regal dominated the match, stretching Sting during most of the bout. Regal even nails an underhook suplex off of the top rope. Sting eventually mounted a comeback and won with the Scorpion Deathlock. This was much different than anything on the list and that’s a compliment.

Sting vs. Rick Rude Clash of the Champions XVII - This was a real fun match in a series that I never thought lived up to the billing. This match was certainly the highlight of the feud. The deal here saw Sting get injured earlier in the night from Lex Luger, teasing that he wouldn’t be back to wrestle Rick Rude. He did return and had a heck of a match with Rude. Rude worked on Sting’s injured leg for most of the match. The crowd absolutely ate up the drama of the injured Sting returning to wrestle the match. Unfortunately bravery was not enough to combat Paul Heyman’s interference. I should also point out how fantastic Jim Ross was here on the call. He took this match up a few levels simply due to his excitement during commentary. Do yourself a favor and check out Heyman and Rude’s post-match interview, it’s fantastic as well.

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The Robert Zone: WCW Ready to Rumble Review

April 28, 2014 By: Category: Entertainment, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Robert Zone: Ready to Rumble

I’m not doing it Gargiulo, I’m not. You already subjected me to No Holds Barred, you cannot and will not subject me to Ready to Rumble. I don’t care what you do, I will not watch Ready to Rumble. You can send John Zandig after me and tell him I ran over his car or that I took his company. You did? Oh crap, review of Ready to Rumble it is then! What Eric doesn’t know is that I’m playing the videogame from 1999, so HA! Before we start, I have a guest at the door, so excuse me.

JEEEEEEEZZZZZUSSSSSSSS! YOU’RE GONNA DIE GOEMAN, I GUARANTEE IT!

Alright, Ready to Rumble it is.

Damn you Garguilo, is Joan Severance in it?

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: Nope.

Oh shut up, ghost of Dean Ambrose. Deep breaths, deep breaths, you can do this Robert. You watched the entire Black Scorpion angle and only suffered minimal brain damage. Alright, let’s meet our main characters: Gordie played by David Arquette and Sean played by Scott “Not James” Caan (Do not make that joke Ghost of Dean Ambrose). Gordie is an idiot man child, so it’s basically in Arquette’s range, so it’s not much of a stretch. Can’t believe he landed Courtney Cox. Sean is more or less the straight man to Gordie’s idiot man child character. It should be noted that the opening credits are rather well done; a mixture of older wrestling pictures current ones, so that’s one of the few positives of this movie. They live in Lusk, Wyoming which I didn’t think actually existed but actually did. My apologies to the good people of Lusk, Wyoming and the other fifteen cities I managed to offend by believing it didn’t exist. They worship Jimmy King (Oliver Platt), who is apparently undefeated and holding the longest winning streak in wrestling history. At that moment, Andre the Giant is prepping to return to the living and beat King dead.

In this movie, there are two groups: The heroes who believe wrestling is real and everybody else who wonders why these two weren’t drowned at some point. The latter group more or less calls them idiots and breaks the earth-shattering news that wrestling isn’t real. We get our first wrestling sequence with our well-written idiot man child and a convenience store clerk who calls kids retards. HOLY SH#T’S IT BONESAW AND HE’S READY TO KILL GORDIE.

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: That’s Randy Savage you idiot.

I can just presume that the slurpee drinks are laced with a form of LSD as Nitro Girls and Jimmy King shows up and the bald guy and Savage do the job to Gordie and King. Savage is just happy that he didn’t have to take the pin and that he didn’t job to Hogan the next night. We get our first poop related gag of the night as Gordie gets a free slurpee refill by sticking his finger up his butt and dear god this is awful already. We then meet Gordie’s dad, a creepy cop who hates wrestling and grabbing the nuts of young man. Are we sure this isn’t Feinstein? HIYO!

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: That was cheap and awful, why do I haunt you again?

Our heroes clean port potties for a living, continuing the great stereotype of wrestling fans being complete losers. More sh#t jokes, just great and a wrestling sequence in which Caan actually looks like a competent worker. They’re hyped for the big DDP/King bout on Nitro, continuing the trend of WCW giving away PPV matches for ratings. More unfunny gags including a pervy grandma, Gordie’s cop family and we’re finally at Nitro! This Nitro is highly unrealistic because the show actually looks well-booked and most of all, the building is sold out. They complain about their seats, even though the higher you’re seated the more action you see and a thoughtful conversation about having one testicle. Nitro girls! With our lead Nitro girl, Sasha played Rose McGowan, who I remembered for being hot and having one leg in that one movie. Still no Joan Severance though.

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: More testicles than you have.

We then meet our booker, Titus Sinclair played by Joe Pantoliano who hates Jimmy King and has a sinister plan in place! He also dresses with a cowboy hat and western jacket, looking like a complete tool. DDP has his backup which consists of SID, Juventud, Van Hammer, Prince Iaukea and Bam Bam Bigelow, and King has his court which-is Saturn, Konnan, and Henning, so basically the line-up you’d see on a Thunder. Missing from this movie just for insight and probably wanted to shy away from being associated with this dreck: Hogan, Flair, Nash, Hall, Hart, Benoit, Eddie and Steiner. Sinclair gets cryptic with Jimmy King as the match begins as we actually see the two calling spots out for basic moves and then we get the moment. Sinclair, who teleported to the crowd gives Page the call to shoot on King. Page starts to potato the crap out of King and King potatoes Page back. Slingshot to the outside through a table (Remember when Maeda shot on Chosu and did the same thing) and a run-in by DDP’s goons. The King’s Men run in and…..SWERVE! It’s a beatdown and King takes a four-post massacre and we have a new champion as Sinclair claims he has gotten rid of Jimmy King and tells King that he is done for good. What do ya give this match Ghost of Dean Ambrose?

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: Two stars at best.

Eh, I thought it was one at best.

More poop gags as I’ve slowly realized that there was a rewrite of this script by Vince Russo. This movie was probably a light-hearted comedy with some heart before Russo arrived and took a literal sh*t on the script. Poop gags, swerves, blending of what’s real and face and jokes that only 13 year olds would like. I’m sure at some point Russo wanted King to be escorted by a midget. He also arrived on the set to his Iron Man knockoff theme playing with a baseball bat and demanding rewrites. Back to reality, our heroes go on a quest to find King, hitching a ride with some nuns and my pen next to me looks sharp enough to stab myself in the eyes. They encounter a hacker who’s playing a crappy Jimmy King arcade game. We then get a humping joke with action figures and Sean singing Britney Spears; and please kill me Ghost of Dean Ambrose.

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: Not before I get revenge on the asteroid that killed me, and I’m taking the pen away.

We meet King’s wife who’s a white trash redneck with crabs and an idiot child. King is pretty much revealed to be a scumbag delinquent idiot who has no talent with illegitimate children, living in a mobile home. And he’s in drag, because drag queens= funny in Russo’s eyes. King is pretty much a giant inside joke about the personal life of Jerry Lawler, hell I’m not surprised that King doesn’t hit on a 13 year-old girl at some point. King is revealed to be a horrible person, as our idiots try to get him to believe in himself. King finally believes in himself as he agrees to join up with them to get revenge on Sinclair, starting at the Monday Nitro at Madison Squa- err New York Arena in a port potties. Sinclair insults King and the fans some more and King returns and beats up the two of them with a toilet seat. We’re not even an hour in and please end my suffering.

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: I took a saw blade to the head, sissy.

A fake one, you a#s. King beats up Page and Sinclair challenges King to meet Page in the steel cage for the belt and one million dollars. King’s career is on the line and are we sure King/Sinclair/Page aren’t working these idiots? Party scene, Gordie and Sasha flirt as we get drunk Mean Gene, wrestlers with terrible fashion sense, and a set-up to another sh@t joke! To get King in shape, they enlist Sal Bandini, an old-time shooter played….MARTIN LANDAU? What world are we living in when an Academy Award winng actor is in this movie? Fun fact, John Goodman was originally going to be in this, but Landau actually puts effort in. We are blessed with another Arquette scene in a HILARIOUS eating and sex scene with Sasha, because why the hell not and where’s my pen? The group tries to recruit Goldberg, and yes I know that John Cena was in this scene as an extra. Goldberg is a no go; Sid and Saturn break in and beat up Bandini and no I’m not making a scissors joke. Sasha is revealed to be working for Titus and holy sh%t this is something out of No Holds Barred. They dump Sasha, Bandini gives him a rousing speech as they go home to train king. King visits his redneck family, gets kicked in the junk which is a running joke in the movie. They make it home, Gordie gets taken home by his dad who wants him to have a career and King recruits his posse. Two idiots and a hot chick, which makes the Four Horsemen, look like the Dungeon of Doom.

We’re off to the big match, which means that this movie is almost over! Sinclair has a secret meeting with Sting, who looks as enthusiastic as he did when they explained his post Starrcade 1997 booking. Sinclair wants Sting to prevent King and threatens to kill Sting if he messes up. Shades of Russo, where’s Tank Abbott with the knife? Sean is dressed like the Kool Aid man and Sinclair bills it as One Man Suicide and it’s inside of the Cage of Death.

YOUTH GONE WILD

END THIS MOVIE FAST, I HEAR ZANDIG COMING AND HE HAS HAIR. WE’RE SCREWED.

In reality, it’s the Triple Decker Cage/Triple Dome of Terror/Tower/Doomsday Cage. Michael Buffer collects his paycheck and away we go. The cage is kind of cool since there is no door and that you lock up a panel of the cage. Of all the sh#t for TNA to steal, you take the awesome ramp but do nothing. Yet, no Triple Decker Cage? For shame, Dixie. We actually get the first chuckle of the night with “A diamond upside down is a pussy” bit and it only took us 90 minutes for a good joke! Juventud and some fat guy in a mask come in from underneath the ring. Sid/Bigelow/Hammer/Saturn break into the cage and Saturn takes a Ziggler-like bump for a ladder shot, so that’s a positive. The fat guy is revealed to be his son (SHOCKER!) and a beatdown ensues. Are we sure this isn’t a giant work? Goldberg leads a group to save the day: Himself (Awesome), Booker T (Pretty good pick), Kidman (Unorthodox, but I like it)….and Disco Inferno? BWAAWAHA.

Yeah, Russo must have re-written this.

Faces can’t break into the cage despite having Goldberg on their side and Gordie makes a surprise appearance, breaking into the cage via motorcycle. Yes, he’s dressed as a state trooper, Buddy Lee Parker be proud. I’m a Mountie guy, by the guy. Gordie’s dad does an about face seeing his kid tackle a fat kid. Sasha gets a ladder to the face because she’s a female in wrestling that happens to be evil. The fight does to the second cage and Page hangs Jimmy, but we’re getting to the last cage. King gets tossed off the cage, but STING REFUSES TO FOLLOW THE SCRIPT and knocks Page off the cage. Here comes the part we’ve been waiting for: Sting punching Gordie as the eight people who subjected themselves to this movie cheer wildly. Both men make their way back to the cage, low blows ensue, and King bodyslams Page through the cage. King wins the belt, sadly doesn’t fall through the cage, Sinclair gets hit in the fact and presumably eaten by cannibalistic wrestling fans, Goldberg offers to be King’s partner and King chooses the idiot boy instead. Sting is in the background wondering if it’s too late to call Vince about coming to work for him. Back him in Lusk, Goldberg violently assaults the convenience store clerk, and Martin Landau shows up to crush my soul some more.

It’s over, it’s finally over. What’d you think Ghost of Dean Ambrose?

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: Where’s that asteroid that killed me? I want it to come back and kill anybody involved and the ghost version of me.

Sound’s great. WCW actually thought this movie would turn things around when they agreed to do it in the summer of 1999. That’s right, it wasn’t some new angle, a new star or pushing a guy like Goldberg, it was a movie. Luckily, nothing else came of this as the movie flopped financially and critically and was quickly forgotten right?

Oh…and David Arquette won the WCW Championship. Yeah, the company was pretty much toast and the outrage was fun in 2000, but nothing was bringing WCW back. It was more indicative of the mentally that WCW had, cut the knees of anybody who could draw outside of Bisch’s boys (Bret, Flair, Goldberg, Sting, hell even DDP) and then hope that a movie would fix it. The Nitro after the title win saw WCW got blown out by almost a full five points thanks an universally awful show with a Tank Abott/David Arquette title defense and Hulk Hogan vs Mike Awesome main event. Raw had a very fun Rock vs Shane McMahon cage match as their main event. One of the many nails in the coffin of WCW.

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 WrestleMania X8 – Even The Rock Booed The Rock

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

-So this was a bit like the end of an era for years truly. I was graduating high school in just three months, making this the first WWE WrestleMania of my adult life. The last time WrestleMania resided in Toronto, I was in kindergarten. Now, I was a high school senior, and the big event’s back at the Skydome in Toronto, Ontario, this time on March 17, 2002. Weird how things end up in life.

-Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, whose knees are still worn out from the groveling he had to do to reclaim his old job. The event looks like a hybrid of WrestleManias VI and X7, which is my way of saying it’s like X7, but with a darker lighting scheme. The atmosphere’s nice, I’ll give em that.

-The story is that WWE, at the end of the Attitude era, bottomed out with a botched WCW Invasion angle, and is now relying on a new crazy scheme: bringing back the New World Order. This is annoying to 18 year old Justin, because he doesn’t really want to live in the past, and it’s annoying to 26 year old Justin, because every time he types ‘NWO‘ in Microsoft Word, it changes it to ‘now’, and I usually forget to change it back. It’s annoying because there’s nothing ‘now’ about the New World Order.

-Here to sing “Oh Cana—“, er, nevermind, here’s Saliva to sing “Superstar”. Well, I do enjoy me some Saliva, and this was their “free” era. That’s when a band’s first one or two albums phenomenally rock your world, and then they “branch out” and listen to the corporate agents, who streamline their sound to try and make it more mainstream. Blood Stained Love Story says hi. Song goes on a bit long, but I do enjoy Josey Scott yelling “GET YOUR ASS UP OVER YOUR SHOULDERS!”. If I could contort my body like that, I’d be more popular at parties for sure.

-Nice opening video with the main event guys talking about what WrestleMania means to them. Scott Hall has comments too.

-The show kicks off, much like last year, with the Intercontinental Title match with, much like last year, William Regal defending against, much like last year, a long haired IWC idol who is apparently never pushed enough. In this case, it’s Rob Van Dam.

-Funny moment, as Regal goes for his now-trademark brass knux from the onset, and RVD kicks them out of his hand. They flew pretty far, and I wonder how long we as fans would have talked about the “fan getting hit with flying knux” story on the net had it happened.

-I remember bracing myself for the swerve in this match, since I was HYOOOOGE RVD mark and wanted so badly to see him win the IC Title, to become a “legit” contender. Now they just put the IC Title on whoever Vince has a crush on this week and the whole thing is moot. Here, Drew, looks good on ya!

-Just tremendous see-saw stuff, albeit rushed. That’s carny for “we only have, like, seven minutes, so let’s get about 40 moves in and hope that it looks good”. Don’t worry guys, it does.

-RVD tries for the catch-the-foot-throw-a-roundhouse spot, but Regal hits a SICKENING half nelson suplex that spikes RVD on his head, and Van Dam rolls to the floor awkwardly. I think we all thought RVD was dead here. That’s because we all forgot that RVD was a combination of Gumby and Drugs Delaney. He’ll be fine, just roll the man a little something something.

-Regal tries to finish with a second pair of knux, but RVD lands a roundhouse, and then lands the Five Star for his first IC Title. Hope you liked this match, because you won’t see the IC belt defended until WM25. You also won’t be seeing Regal on this tour until….well, ever. Man hasn’t had a Mania match since. What’s up with that? Seriously, great match to kick things off, though.

-Christian mocks DDP’s grin. Hey Christian, if you really wanna hit him low, you should point out how you learned to read thirty years before he did.

-After bashing Toronto to ensure that he doesn’t get cheered, Christian arrives to face Diamond Dallas Page for the WWE European Championship. The gimmicks in play here include Christian portraying a compulsive whiner prone to tantrums, and Page was a smiling motivational speaker whose smile scared children. So if you were a fan of Celebrity Deathmatch, imagine Kanye West taking on an anti-matter Matt Foley.

-Wow, JR plays the “DDP was at WrestleMania VI in this building as a limo driver” card. So when Edge watched Rhythm and Blues come out to sing, I’m sure he thought “One day, my kayfabe brother is going to fight that chauffer while I tangle with a man who sounds like Tone Loc with dreadlocks over a bottle of shampoo! Gonna be SWEET!”

-The whole point of the match is that it’s a six minute backdrop to provide Christian a chance to have a tantrum and thus validate his character. I dunno, that’s more of a Backlash-No Mercy concept, I think. I like my WrestleManias to have a little more substance. It was hard to take Christian seriously at this point anyway, since he resembled a male version of Shannon Moore.

-Christian nearly has a meltdown of Ozzie Guillen proportions after Page kicks out of the falling reverse DDT. He stops himself, but can’t stop himself from eating the Diamond Cutter for the pinfall loss. Christian finally does spaz when Page points out that he lost in front of 68,000 fans, and JR screams for someone to get Christian a diaper. No problem, unless Hulk’s being stingy with his.

-The Rock is backstage, and he abuses Jonathan Coachman into saying his prayers. Isn’t it funny how Coach is universally reviled by the majority of marks and smarks alike, yet he and Rocky among the select few on this show (excepting Trish Stratus as well) that can leave wrestling and never have to look back? Coachman’s with ESPN and likely earning in the six figures to tell us why Danica Patrick and Lebron James will always be important, and we should be proud of The Coach. He made it. So many others haven’t.

-In an odd choice for a match, Maven (of Tough Enough fame) defends the WWE Hardcore Title against Goldust. In essence, Goldust pummels Maven with weapons that have been spray painted gold (trash can, shovel, etc) until Spike Dudley runs in and steals the pin to become champion. Then Crash Holly gives chase, then Maven, then Goldust, yada yada yada.

-To waste some more time, here’s Drowning Pool to perform “Tear Away”, while, as Lillian says they “tell the story of tonight’s main event”. Like the guys who sang “Bodies” could give a damn that Chris Jericho’s limo hit a dog. For those who believe that WWE only began to insult the crowd’s intelligence recently, boy have I got news for you.

-Backstage, the Hardcore shenanigans continue, which sees Al Snow drive a go-cart into a stack of boxes that were there for some reason, and The Hurricane fly in on a rope and thrust kick Spike to win the title. Then Hurricane runs off. Because he hears sirens.

-Next we have Kurt Angle vs. Kane, which is a feud I barely remember. Angle does, however, insult the fans for the Canadian pairs skating team controversy. Angle can take any sign of the times and just roll with it for the easy cheap heat. Here’s the question: given how divided America was during the Vietnam War, if Angle had wrestled in the sixties, which side do you think he would have been more likely to antagonize? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

-Angle attacks with the ring bell! I can see Angle playing Savage, but Kane as Steamboat? A little odd, to say the least. Unless Kane was a “fire breathing dragon”.

-For a monster, Kane’s sure giving Angle a ton of offense. See, I like these matches, because the dark-side loving marks who cheer for Kane will appreciate Angle as a gut-stomping villain who can take the fight to anyone, and the smarks who revere Angle can appreciate Kane for keeping up in a good match with such a talented pro. Everyone wins.

-It’s a shame that Kane’s been reduced to being nothing more than a chubby trial horse for the kiddies on Smackdown to work their craft on. He’s keeping pace with Angle, with a minimum of hoss silliness.

-Kane tries for a chokeslam, but Angle fidgets with Kane’s mask to throw him off his game. So when Jericho did it to Rey, he’d gotten the idea from Angle. Thieves….are….HYP-o-crites…..

-After Kane kicks out of the Angle Slam, Angle tries the Ankle Lock about 400 times to no avail. Jeez, get a clue, Kurt, he’s not up for tapping tonight. Angle ultimately counters a chokeslam into an awkward cradle and pulls the ropes for a poor excuse for a pinning combo, yet he gets the win off of it. Really good match and one of Kane’s best ever, but the ending did no favors. Fun while it lasted, though.

-Instead of trying to leave the building with the Hardcore Title, Hurricane tries to hide amongst the Godfather’s ho’s. You can LEAVE, Gregory, it’s not like Bill Watts is running the show!

-Highlight package for the Undertaker vs. Ric Flair street fight, with two noticeable occurrences: one is La Resistance’s theme playing for part of the video, and the other is a fan that Ric Flair accidentally assaulted played by…..Paul London! That’s not realistic at all. He wouldn’t have been allowed into the building with after a proper cavity search.

-Flair, who has a knack for storytelling, immediately attempts to pound Taker into oblivion for attacking his son, his friend Arn Anderson, and for making him hit Paul London. London was trained by Shawn Michaels, and lord knows Flair would NEVER do anything to upset Shawn.

-It doesn’t last long, as Taker seats Flair at ringside and unleashes a nasty gusher from Ric’s forehead, just pounding the cut until it looks like Flair’s going to be emptied at any moment. Nobody can empty Flair quicker than the Internal Revenue Service, but Taker’s a close second.

-Taker punching. Taker punching. Taker punching.

-After a seesaw slugfest, Flair manages to retrieve a lead pipe from Undertaker’s motorcycle (yes, he was still a biker at this point), and bashes the Dead Man to bust him open. Well, it’s a minor wound, but Lawler still believes that Taker’s papercut is a worse gash than Ric Flair’s forehead, which looks suspiciously like a bowl of tomato soup. Lawler also believes that he could attract the same women he gets now without millions in the bank, so let’s not go and shatter his delusions.

-Ross on Lawler’s prior assessment: “Are you drunk?”. I hope he is. Gives Jake Roberts someone to play cards with.

-Arn Anderson slides in to hit Undertaker with a Spinebuster, which I marked like a mofo for, but it can’t keep Taker down. Because Undertaker is not Firebreaker Chip.

-After Taker disposes of Arn, he takes on a figure four from Flair, but he goozles his way free. Flair won’t take the Last Ride, so Taker’s all “screw it” and lands the Tombstone for the win. A damn good match that’s lost amongst the Rock/Hogan hoopla, and I loved the intensity throughout.

-Afterward, Taker raises ten fingers, one by one, on the apron to mark his milestone. Has anyone else even WON ten matches at WrestleMania, let alone in a row? I think Shawn’s won maybe 6 or 7. Good stuff.

-Booker T cuts a promo to prove his stupidity. I always liked that in WWE that we’ve never been allowed to have a black character that’s displayed a ton of intelligence and intuition, outside of maybe Faarooq in the NOD days. And yet, Vince is there to paste the Martin Luther King montage on Raw every January. Perplexing.

-Edge realizes his dream of wrestling in Skydome at a WrestleMania! YAY EDGE!

-Said dream entails of: a disinterested crowd, Edge nearly breaking his neck on a top rope hurrachanrana, a badly blown Spinarooni attempt, and a win over Booker T in a match that was contested over a bottle of shampoo. But he’ll always have a the dream.

-Here’s an idea: why not have Booker feud with Page over who brought the WCW Invasion down, then do a six man tag: Edge and the Hardyz vs. Christian and the Dudleyz, TLC for the European (if Christian has it) and Tag Team Titles? You can stick Billy and Chuck and the APA on the pre-show or something. Flows better, doesn’t it? I think so.

-Meanwhile, Mighty Molly bashes The Hurricane with a frying pan to become Hardcore Champion. What a team: devoted missionary and violent drunk. It’s like the plot of Hancock, except….somehow better?

-And now for an interesting one: Stone Cold Steve Austin takes on Scott Hall of the New World Order. Austin was none too happy about being shunted down the card to feud with a chronic drunk (oh, the irony), and actually walked out the following day, not returning for a couple weeks.

-Brutal slugfest to begin things, and Kevin Nash earns his money for the year by removing the turnbuckle pad. That was very risky of him to do, since that’s his GOOD triceps that he used.

-Austin is bumped to the outside, and has to bear the brunt of a Nash onslaught. Hit his leg, Steve, that tends to work.

-Back inside, Austin hits Hall with a spinebuster, Then he follows up with a Stunner, but Nash pulls the ref out and clobbers him. Outsiders double team and Hall gets a chair, but Austin manages to Stun both men by himself. Way to keep those nWo t-shirt sales strong, guys.

-Another ref comes in and Nash drops an elbow on him. What’s up with Nash….and doing moves and stuff? Crazy.

-Nash is lulled from ringside by the promise of free Revlon, so Austin finishes Hall off with two Stunners for the win. This did nothing for Hall, who has to be a ruthless invader, and nothing for Austin, who was proving to no longer be the main event star. Decent match, but came at a heavy price.

-This leads to the fatal fourway for the WWE World Tag Team Titles, as Billy & Chuck (pre-Rico) defend the gold against the APA, Dudley Boyz, and Hardy Boyz. As a bonus, Saliva plays the Dudz new music live, and Josey Scott gets to grind with Stacy Keibler. Lucky punk.

-Just your standard multiple team fare, without the fun of broken tables and JR freaking out. In fact, APA eats an early elimination after a 3D. Remember when Bradshaw was just midcard fodder? Shhh, no one’s supposed to know that.

-Jeff Hardy was looking AWFUL here. Imagine if Sheamus was a fifteen year old raver, and you get Jeff in 2002. Even JR has to note how sickly pale he looks. Maybe he’s a Make-a-Wish kid, because he just got to slap Stacy’s butt as she tried distracting him with a wedgie, following up by kissing her. Well, that was MY wish too.

-After D-Von crashes through a table at ringside, Bubba Ray falls victim to the Hardyz finish. The crowd’s scared that Billy & Chuck may survive with the belts. Who says Canada’s not judgmental?

-Sure enough, a Fame-Asser/belt shot combo is enough to keep Jeff down for Billy & Chuck to retain. Bland match, and the crowd wasn’t into it, other than rooting against the champs. Let’s just move on.

-So backstage, Hulk Hogan calls off the Outsiders in regards to his match, and Christian nails Molly with a door to win the Hardcore Title. Just getting these out of the way, because I’m giddy about what’s next.

-And here it is: the match that changed everything.

-WWE’s pro-youth stance was shattered on this night. All of the pandering that Vince McMahon has done from 2002 onward in regards to nostalgia acts and milking out-of-date gimmicks for all they’re worth can be traced back to this match. Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock, in a match between a 48 year old has been who had been absent from WWE for nearly nine years, and a 29 year old man who was becoming world famous, and was a great ambassador for the industry.

-So Toronto booed the kid and cheered the old guy. But hey, didn’t we all?

-JR has the balls to call this a “mixed reaction”. JR also called the Grenada conflict “evenly matched”.

-Hogan shoves Rock down a couple of times and poses, and the crowd reaction is INSANE. My brother and I joined in as Hogan went all eighties-y on us and we marked out like we were kids. And I was 18, thus having no excuse.

-Rock comes back and takes Hogan down, and the crowd boos. No wonder Vince Carter quit on this city.

-AXE BOMBER!!!! He beat Stan Hansen with it! But Rock’s no Stan Hansen. Like Rock would ever drop a midcard title to Lex Luger.

-Hogan’s doing the most elementary of moves (abdominal stretch, backrakes, 10 punches in the corner, forehead bite) and the fans are losing their mind. I think if 70,000 fans cheered Miss Jackie vs. Trish Stratus, I could get into that, too. Not that this match here sucks or anything.

-Rock chops away, and then cups his hand to his ear to mock Hulk. Fans boo lustily. I’m enjoying myself far too much.

-Hogan chokes the #1 babyface in the world with his wristtape, and the fans begin chanting his name. Not Rock’s name, but Hulk’s name. Do you think this annoyed Rock any, or do you think he was busy trying to remember his lines for the Rundown?

-The fight spills to the floor and Hogan clears off one of the tables, but it doesn’t get used. Rock tries to use a chair, but has it taken away. I nominate this for “best alleged hardcore match in wrestling history”, next to any Steve Blackman Hardcore Title defense.

-Ref bump, and Rock takes Hogan down with a spinebuster and sharpshooter. Hogan taps, which doesn’t count. You may be noticing a trend in this era.

-HULK BOTTOM! IT GETS 2! And it’s Yappapi strap time, as both men exchange shots with the weapon. Rock gets the upper hand and hits Rock Bottom….BUT HULK KICKS OUT! HE’S HULKING UP! THIS PLACE IS INSANE! 3 PUNCHES! BIG BOOT! LEGDROP! BUT ROCK KICKS OUT! PANDEMONIUM!

-Hogan misses a second leg drop, and then Rock lands two Rock Bottoms and a People’s Elbow to win one HELL of a fun match. Afterward, Hulk shakes Rock’s hand, and the Outsiders attack Hulk for being a turncoat. After Rock and Hulk run them off, Rock has Hogan pose for the fans like old times, andwhat a moment that it was. The two men walk off together, with Hogan endorsing Rock as the modern day star. I can’t speak enough about how great this was, and I still got giddy eight years later watching it. If you haven’t seen it, do it.

-What do you mean the show’s not over?

-Crowd for X8: 68,237. Thank you, Howard Finkel (#18!)

-Now for the Women’s title match, which is just dead in the water. Jazz defends the gold against Trish Stratus and Lita. The only thing that’s notable in the early going is that Trish has a maple leaf on the back of her tights. Alright, I’m kinda interested now.

-Crowd is dead, except when Lita wrenches her knee in the turnbuckle. If they were banking on hometown girl Trish to keep the fans alive till the main event, well Jasper, they thought wrong.

-Trish goes off the apron and Jazz spikes Lita with the Jazz Stinger for the win. No offense to any of these three women, since I have no issue with any of them but…..NEXT.

-Christian tries to make his escape with the Hardcore Title, but is pinned by Maven outside, who then absconds with Christian’s ride to the hotel. Well, that was just utterly pointless, wasn’t it?

-And now, the death march commences.

-Chris Jericho defends the Undisputed Championship against Triple H. The storyline here was…..Triple H won the Royal Rumble and uhh….Chris Jericho was champion so uhh…..they have a match. Oh, and Hunter was divorcing Stephanie, and they fought for custody of the dog. So Stephanie sided with Jericho and Jericho’s limo accidentally backed over the dog. Jericho, the most important champion at the time, was also walking the dog because Stephanie told him to.

-I’m going to need a moment to re-cope with the reality of that statement.

-Drowning Pool is here to play their rendition of “The Game”. Dear Drowning Pool, you’re not Lemmy. Sincerely, everyone with taste. Dave Williams, the singer of Drowning Pool, died months later of heart failure on the band’s tour bus. Hey Marc Mero, there’s somebody you forgot to put on your “wrestling deaths” list. It’s ok, you can have this one for free.

-Oh, right, the other story is that HHH is still hurting from his prior quadriceps injury, and Jericho’s looking to exploit that. Wow, look, the first part of the main event that HASN’T annoyed me. The crowd is too dead to be annoyed. Hogan wore em out. Maybe TNA should just move to Toronto?

-Hunter slams Jericho from the top rope to ringside. Well, alright, that was cool.

-Hunter and Jericho take turns working each other’s legs, which is not really the way to go if you’re trying to resuscitate the crowd. Stephanie screeching isn’t really helping matters either.

-Jericho saves Stephanie after Hunter brought her in the ring. What he wouldn’t have gave to break character for just one second. Disappointment as a champion, eh? Poor Jericho.

-Jericho and Hunter try and re-enact the Walls of Jericho on the table spot that helped injure Hunter in the first place, but Hunter ends up going through a table instead. Well, at least the psychology is sound.

-Jericho ultimately locks in the Walls inside the ring, but Hunter avoids passing out. Triple H is a better man than us all.

-After Hunter DDT’s Jericho onto a chair, Stephanie interjects herself one time too many, and Hunter makes her eat a Pedigree in the middle of the ring. Crowd kinda cheers that one. For someone who had needed comeuppance for a long time, they can’t go crazy for that? Man, Hulk must be like roofies or something.

-Jericho tries his own Pedigree, but Hunter sends him to the buckles. Jericho’s rebound dive falls onto a kick, and Hunter spikes him with the Pedigree to win the Undisputed title. Technically, the match was pretty good, but the lack of emotion from the fans, and Hunter’s slow pace selling the injury made this hard to want to invest into. If the rumors about Jericho being buried by the office over his title reign are true, then he probably wishes he didn’t put in the effort. Not that it seemed worth it anyway. Weird end to a generally weird show.

-CYNIC SAYS: Well, forget about topping last year’s effort right off the bat. I wouldn’t say anything on this show was terrible, so let’s look for some middle ground here. Rock-Hogan is a must-see, and Taker-Flair, Angle-Kane, RVD-Regal, and Jericho-HHH I’d rank as good. Everything else is going to go based on your personal tastes. For me, too many short matches featuring good competitors.

So it’s not a bad show, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it was fun in a lot of parts. Sort of like an All-Star game that doesn’t quite live up to the hype: it doesn’t suck, but it was fun to see all the stars.

So let’s go with that.

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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WrestleMania X8: A Portrait in Wrestling History

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

WRESTLEMANIA X8
From The SkyDome in Toronto, ON
March 17, 2002

BACKGROUND
One year after rolling the dice on a Stone Cold Steve Austin heel turn, the WWF found themselves in a rather unusual position. It had been a few years since the promotion needed to make any desperate moves or decisions, the last one being to put on a raunchier product. From there, it was smooth sailing for Vince McMahon and company, as there was no force that could trip up the surging juggernaut.

Wrestling’s popularity started to wane after WCW’s dissolution, as part of the fun for a number of fans was watching the entities compete for viewers. Interest picked up at the start of WCW‘s Invasion (spiking when ECW got involved, and The Rock returned from filming The Scorpion King), but the majority of fans were let down by the complete mismanagement of what could have been wrestling’s biggest moneymaker.

After WCW’s final ashes were shoveled away, ratings still remained an issue. Monday Night Raw dipped below 4.0 on October 22, 2001, the night after a PPV. It was the first time Raw had submerged below that level in several years.

Honestly, there was little for the WWF to worry about. Fans seemed to be burnt out on wrestling, as America can tend to get when one trend fades and a new one captures their minds, but that didn’t mean it would stay that way forever. A hot angle, a new talent, anything could jump start wrestling with volts of electricity into the business’ chest.

McMahon, however, seemed impatient. Austin was turned back face, doing increasingly silly things like fighting in churches and supermarkets to try and rekindle his bad ass image. It wasn’t working.

In a desperate move, Vince McMahon went out in January 2002 and rehired three men, one of them would change the course of WWF forever.

THE EVENT
In January 2002, after Ric Flair (now part owner of the WWF after buying Shane and Stephanie McMahon’s stock in a consortium) had thoroughly embarrassed Vince McMahon, the WWF Chairman suffered what appeared to be a psychotic breakdown. The result of his newfound disillusionment was a belief that the WWF had “terminal cancer”, and he was going to put it out of its misery before Flair or anyone else could.

To do that, he brought in the original three members of the New World Order: Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hollywood Hulk Hogan.

Hulk Hogan found himself face to face with The Rock one night after No Way Out, and Rock laid down a challenge for WrestleMania X8 to determine the greatest wrestler of all time. Hogan, returning to the WWF after nine years away, accepted. Moments later, after Rock laid out Hogan with a Rock Bottom, Hall and Nash jumped the “People’s Champion”, and the nWo took turns beating him down.

After Rock was stretchered out, he was placed into an ambulance, which was then t-boned by Hogan, driving the front end of a tractor trailer.

The New World Order also turned their attention to the WWF’s other hero, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin took Scott Hall hostage on one episode of Raw, resulting in Hall’s humiliation at the hands of a frontline soldier that wasn’t going to back down from a siege. Hall responded by breaking a cinder block on Austin’s leg shortly thereafter.

With Rock vs. Hogan and Hall vs. Austin signed for WrestleMania, it seemed that the New World Order was overshadowing the World Title picture.

Chris Jericho would be that champion, having unified the WWF and World Heavyweight Championships at Vengeance in December, beating Rock and Austin in concurrent matches. However, despite the win, it seemed that Jericho had trouble gaining steam as champion. Other than a great match with Rock at the 2002 Royal Rumble, Jericho was often undercut as champion. He had barely beaten Rikishi and Maven (the winner of WWF’s Tough Enough) in title matches on Raw, and Jericho had only gotten 10% of the offense in a narrow win over Austin at No Way Out.

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Facing Jericho on the grandest stage was Triple H, who had returned in January eight months after a brutal quadriceps tear. Two weeks after returning, “The Game” won the 2002 Royal Rumble, last ousting Kurt Angle, and the comeback run was on.

During this time, Hunter and Stephanie McMahon had a marital falling out, including a marriage renewal gone awry days before No Way Out. Stephanie aligned with Jericho, a long time enemy, in order to stick it to her soon to be ex-husband. Jericho, sadly, was reduced to sycophantic duties, including walking the couple’s bulldog, Lucy. Jericho’s limo accidentally backed over the dog, adding an unusual layer of vengeance to an already bizarre feud.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (who returned to the WWF in November) would call the action from ringside. Instead of a national anthem, Saliva opened the show with the song “Superstar”, while later playing the Dudley Boyz to the ring with their new song “Turn the Tables”. Drowning Pool performed “Tear Away”, as well as a newer rendition of Triple H’s song “The Game” for when he made his main event entrance.

THE RESULTS
WWF Intercontinental: Rob Van Dam def. William Regal in 6:19 to win the title
(Exciting and creative opener, though scary for a moment when Regal dropped Van Dam on his head with a half nelson suplex. Match was a bit more dramatic than Regal’s opener from a year earlier)

WWF European: Diamond Dallas Page def. Christian in 6:08
(The storyline of this match was that Christian was now prone to temper tantrums, complete with theatrics, when things didn’t go his way. Yeah, that’s way better than his “Captain Charisma” spiel)

WWF Hardcore: Maven went to a no contest with Goldust in 3:15
(Spike Dudley ran in and stole the pin. This would lead to Crash Holly, The Hurricane, Godfather, Al Snow, Mighty Molly, and Christian involving themselves in the 24/7 chase, with Maven yet regaining. Yay)

Kurt Angle def. Kane in 10:45
(An underrated match in WrestleMania annals, Angle and Kane worked a smart match based around Angle trying to get a submission. The crappy pinfall ending needs to be seen, however)

Editor’s Note: Reportedly Sting vs. Kurt Angle was the original plan here.

Street Fight: The Undertaker def. Ric Flair in 18:47
(Another underrated match. Flair and Taker bled buckets, Arn Anderson ran in to give Taker the spinebuster, and Taker gave Flair an old school Tombstone to win. Oh, and that’s then)

Edge def. Booker T in 6:32
(I think we can all agree that this was Edge’s worst WrestleMania match ever. It’s probably Booker’s also, until 22. You know why? THEY’RE FIGHTING OVER SHAMPOO!)

Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Scott Hall in 9:51
(Austin had no interest in trying here. Hall was dogging it less than he was, and that says something. Austin walked out for the first of two times in 2002 after this match)

WWF World Tag Team: Billy & Chuck def. The Dudley Boyz, The Hardy Boyz, and the APA in 13:50
(It bears noting that neither Dudley Boy or Jeff Hardy have ever won at WrestleMania. That said, this match sucked, except for Stacy Keibler’s self-induced wedgie. Mmmm)

The Rock def. Hollywood Hogan in 16:23
(A truly unforgettable match, and no fan who witnessed it will ever forget it. The Toronto fans turned on Rock, hailing Hogan as a prodigal hero. Hogan ran through his classic Hulkamania offense, and damn near blew the roof off the arena when he “Hulked Up” late in the match. After Rock won, Hall and Nash turned on Hogan, Rock saved, and the two posed together to deafening cheers. Unreal)

WWF Women’s: Jazz def. Lita and Trish Stratus in 6:16
(Talk about dead in the water. This match didn’t stand a chance after Hogan and Rock, which should have been the main event. At least Trish looked good in her white shorts with the red Maple Leaf)

WWF Undisputed World Championship: Triple H def. Chris Jericho in 18:41
(Speaking of dead, Jericho knew going into the match (having seen Hogan/Rock) that there was no way the fans were going to buy into his main event. The largely dead crowd barely reacted when Triple H won with the Pedigree. It was a good match, but just badly positioned)

ITS PLACE IN HISTORY

WrestleMania X8 will always be remembered for that Hogan vs. Rock classic. It’s a good thing to look back on with fondness and a twinkle in your eye, as fans of all ages were reduced to their pre-pubescent selves watching it. Wrestling became real again for over twenty minutes.

However, this is where the problem lies.

Hogan’s nostalgia act popped the crowd for weeks afterward, but the luster wore off when people realized that Hogan wasn’t Rock or anyone else in terms of being relevant, fresh, hip, or able to work the faster-paced modern WWF style.

But McMahon didn’t care.

By summer, Shawn Michaels was lured out of retirement, although he proved to still be an excellent performer. Over the next several years, WWF (soon to be WWE) juxtaposed nostalgia acts who were guaranteed to pop the audience with time-tested routines, with newcomers fresh from the development territories with no personalities, that had no chance of getting over.

It became a self-defeating system, one that WWE relied on as a lazy fail-safe. As long as Hulk Hogan, and others, kept coming back for a payday in exchange for a time-warp moment, the desire to build new stars took a backseat.

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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WWE Flashback: WrestleMania X8 – Downtown With Darsie

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

Sunday, March 17th, 2002 – SkyDome – Toronto, Canada – The last WrestleMania under the “World Wrestling Federation” banner and the second WrestleMania to head outside of the United States! At this Mania card, we see Chris Jericho defending his Undisputed WWF Championship against the returning Triple H, as well as Icon versus Icon when the Rock does battle with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, and the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair faces the Dead Man, the Undertaker!

The show opened with Saliva doing one of this year’s theme songs, “Superstar.” I miss the WWE going away from bringing in live bands performing a song or two at WrestleMania. I know it’s frustrating for me trying to pay attention to the music video for it and the camera men go back and forth on showing the band with the titan tron and panning the fans.

But besides my short rant, I do feel like “Superstar” by Saliva does fit perfectly for WrestleMania, any WrestleMania for that fact.

After Saliva got done, they showed a video package hearing from guys like Undertaker, Ric Flair, Triple H, and Chris Jericho talking about what WrestleMania means to them.

Jim Ross welcomes us to WrestleMania X8! Thanks JR! Jerry “the King” Lawler joins JR at the English announcer’s booth! The greatest tag team at the annoucer’s table!

WWF Intercontinental Championship match: Rob Van Dam versus William Regal (champ)

Within a couple of minutes, Regal put a pair of brass knuckles on his hand and RVD kicked them off of his hand.

RVD missed with a 5 Star Frog Splash and Regal hit the running knee and only got a near fall.

Out of the three PPV matches that Regal has had so far in 2002, this is his best. Nothing against Edge, but Regal’s wrestling style fits a lot better with RVD. It could also be the WrestleMania feel in the crowd, but I believe Regal hits better wrestling RVD.

At the end, RVD hit the 5 Star and became the Intercontinental Champion for the first time on his WrestleMania debut!

Superstar of the match: William Regal, for putting over RVD.

Lilian interviews Christian about his match against DDP for the WWF European Championship. Christian turned on DDP because he didn’t need him after getting back on his winning way. He also said that he became a better man when he left this town (Toronto) and moved down to Florida.

WWF European Championship match: Christian versus Diamond Dallas Page (champ)

Christian is hailing from Tampa, Florida, just to get more heat from the crowd.

Another thing I just realized, just like RVD, this is DDP’s first WrestleMania where he’s having his first wrestling match. His first Mania was at Mania 6 where he drove Rhythm and Blues (Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine) in a pink Cadillac.

DDP almost countered the Imprettier with the Diamond Cutter, but Christian countered that. So, yes, a double counter.

Shortly after, DDP hit his Diamond Cutter, and retaining his European title, and making his debut at Mania a success. He grabbed a mic and said that it wasn’t a bad thing that he won, that it was a good thing!

Superstar of the match: DDP’s smile, because it’s a good thing! And thinking of it, DDP made Christian feel the BANG!

The Coach interviewed the Rock, saying that tonight’s the biggest night in his career and his biggest match of his career. The Rock stopped the Coach, and you could hear faint “Hogan” chants. The Rock asked the Coach if he took his vitamins, if he said his prayers, and teased him up and down for taking his vitamins but getting too busy for saying his prayers! Rock asked the Hulkster what he’s gonna do when the Rock runs wild on him.

WWF Hardcore Championship match: Goldust versus Maven (champ)

Remember: this was still when the Hardcore title was under the 24/7 rule, so this might not be much of a review of a match.

Another odd fact: this is Maven’s first WrestleMania match. First three matches at Mania we see three men debuting at Mania.

There are two golden trash cans and a golden shovel that Goldust brought in to use against Maven. How golden does it mean to Goldust to win the Hardcore title.

After both men hit each other win a trash can lid, Spike Dudley ran out and pinned Maven and won the title!

Superstar of the match: Spike Dudley for being smart. Yup.

Drowning Pool preformed “Tearing Away” for the Undisputed WWF Championship match. Honestly, this drives me nuts on when they’re doing this music video and band performance. I feel like they should have done this for the main event. Granted Drowning Pool also preformed Triple H’s theme song, but it would be even more hardcore metal if they would have done two back-to-back songs right away at WrestleMania!

Crash Holly is beating on the new Hardcore Champion Spike Dudley in back and only got a two-count. Al Snow drove a golf cart and ran into some boxes. That would be fun to do. The Hurricane flew in and took out Spike and won the Hardcore title.

Kurt Angle versus Kane

Kurt grabbed a mic and said that if he would have won his gold medal like how Canada’s skaters won theirs, he’d want to show himself in the head. He didn’t have to whine to get his medal, he earned it.

Angle nailed Kane in the head with the ring bell before the bell rang. I guess it’s legal because the bell couldn’t have been rung before Kurt did that.

Angle hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex onto Kane. That was super impressive that Kurt hit that.

Kurt also hit three consecutive rolling German suplexes. It’s weird seeing someone do that to a man the size of Kane.

Kane nailed the Chokeslam onto Angle and would have got the three count if he didn’t pin Angle right by the ropes. Kurt grabbed the bottom rope.

Within a minute, Angle hit the Angle Slam and only got a two. Kurt got angry and slapped on the ankle lock.

Kane was on top rope about to hit Angle with a top rope suplex, Angle ran up and suplexed Kane from the top rope to the mat. Angle tried with another Angle Slam, Kane countered, Angle countered Kane, rolled him up, had his feet on the ropes, and won.

Superstar of the match: Kurt Angle for outsmarting the Big Red Machine.

The Hurricane was walking around backstage and found himself in the women’s locker room. It was the Godfather’s ladies room. He ran the Hurricane out. I guess the Ho’s don’t want the Eye of the Hurricane and the Godfather doesn’t want to get hardcore with the Hardcore title.

The Undertaker versus Ric Flair

The Undertaker had to attack Arn Anderson, Ric Flair’s best friend, and David Flair, one of Flair’s sons, just to get a match with Flair at WrestleMania X8! The song playing for the video package is Renee Dupree’s theme song when he came to the WWE! Due to Ric Flair being the “co-owner” of the WWF, and competing at Mania, he got is “rights” revoked and full power given to Mr. McMahon. Vince made Flair versus Undertaker a no disqualification match.

I really like this “version” of the Undertaker, the “Biker Taker,” because it’s a version of the Dead Man where we could relate to the most. I know most people like the vintage character of the Undertaker, and that’s fine, but me personally, I enjoyed the “Biker Taker” years of the Dead Man’s career.

The fight went all the way to JR and the King within the first 90 seconds of the match, with Flair mounting the Dead Man and punching his face with the “Nature Boy” fists.

Undertaker yelled out: “We’re going to school!” But wait a second, isn’t Flair known as the “Dirtiest Player in the Game”? Wouldn’t that implied he knows what to do to get a passing grade in school, by going behind the teacher’s back?

The Undertaker hit Flair with a top-rope suplex and could have got the victory but pulled Flair up at two, just to dish out more pain to the “co-owner” of the World Wrestling Federation.

The Dead Man tried to hit the Nature Boy with Old School, but Flair pulled him off of the top turnbuckle. There is another move where I find strange for the Undertaker hitting on Flair because of the name. Flair’s been in the business longer than the Undertaker and Taker’s hitting Flair with Old School?

Ric Flair took the lead pipe that was in the Undertaker’s bike (see my WWE No Way Out 2002 review) and nailed the Undertaker with it across the forehead on the outside of the ring.

Flair hit a low blow and slapped on the Figure Four Leg Lock onto the Undertaker. The Dead Man’s screaming in pain, and the King said that it’s strange to hear him yell in pain. The Undertaker got out my chocking Flair and hitting the chokeslam. Only a near fall and the Undertaker’s surprised that Flair isn’t done due to the pain.

Arn Anderson came in and hit the Undertaker with a spinebuster. Flair tried to cover him to get the victory, but only got a two count. The Undertaker found Double A and started to do a number on him. Undertaker slapped on the Dragon Sleeper and Flair grabbed a chair and started to do a number to his back. Taker countered with a boot to the face of Nature Boy.

The Undertaker tried to give Flair a Last Ride but Flair couldn’t help to get up all the way, so the Undertaker hit him with a Tombstone Piledriver to become 10-0 at WrestleMania! That spot wasn’t that bad, because they made it a smooth transition into the Tombstone.

Superstar of the match: Double A’s spinebuster!

Michael Cole interviewed Booker T and said that Edge was questioning Booker T’s intelligence. Booker T said he’s smart for wearing glasses. Booker said that Edge isn’t better than him or smarter than him. Booker said he’ll beat Edge.

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Booker T versus Edge

Booker’s a former five-time WCW champion and a ten time tag team champion. Edge, at this moment, doesn’t have those kinds of title wins under his belt.

Hey, look! Teddy Long’s the ref for this match! Go Smackdown!

Here is another person, Booker T making his debut at WrestleMania.

To be honest, I’m starting to feel like this match, so far at WrestleMania X8, might be the worst match of the card. As you can tell, there isn’t much in this match where I feel like there’s much to mention. It might be because this match is right after the awesome Ric Flair/Undertaker match, and giving it some thought, I think that might be the reason why.

Edge won with the DDT.

Superstar of the match: Teddy Long, because he’s done it all in the business.

The Hurricane is in the parking garage and the Coach tried to interview him. The Hurricane said he isn’t a perv, and Molly Holly used a skillet to knock out the Hurricane and became the new Hardcore champ! Go Mighty Molly!

Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Scott Hall

It all started the month before at No Way Out 2002 where the nWo cost Stone Cold Steve Austin the Undisputed WWF Championship against Chris Jericho. I remember the nWo trying to offer Steve Austin a 6-pack of beer but he throwing it over his shoulder saying he wasn’t thirsty. There was some great comedy there.

I’m happy that Tim White’s the ref in this match. Tim White’s one of my favorite referee’s during this period in the World Wrestling Federation.

Steve Austin started the match before Scott Hall was able to take off his nWo vest.

Kevin Nash took off the top turnbuckle pad from the outside and Hall countered Stone Cold with a Irish whip into the exposed buckle.

Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner on Hall and got the two then Kevin Nash pulled the ref out of the ring and took him out. After, Nash came in and took out Austin. Nash put Austin in a full nelson and Hall grabbed a chair. Austin hit Nash with a low blow and gave both Hall and Nash Stunners and this was the second time he should have got the victory. Nash took out the new ref (Jack Doan).

About five refs came out and ejected Nash from ringside.

Hall hit Austin with a Stunner and only got a two. Hall tried again but Austin pushed Hall into the exposed turnbuckle and hit him with two Stunners and picked up another victory at WrestleMania X8!

Superstar of the match: Tim White, with all the bumps he took in the match, he deserves it.

We see a video package of WWF Excess. The backstage interaction for the fans of the WWF who went to WrestleMania X8 is shown. If I ever go, I’d love to meet the Undertaker and Chris Jericho at one of those events. I’d love to get their autograph and get my picture taken with them. I’ve been vocal about being a huge Jericholic but I’m a huge Undertaker fan as well. I know with his character these days he won’t be at one of those events, which is super sad, but if I could, I’d love to shake his hand, get his autograph, and get my picture taken with him. He’s a true legend in the business.

Four Corners Elimination match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: Dudley Boys versus APA versus the Hardy Boys versus Billy and Chuck (champs)

The Dudleys had Saliva sing them down to the ring.

I always enjoyed Billy and Chuck’s theme song. I did because I feel like it was a spoof off of the boy bands that were huge around this time.

Right when JBL hit Billy with the Clothesline from Hell, the Dudleys hit him with the 3D and got eliminated. DAMN!

One thing I can’t figure out is why the Hardy Boys always take their shirts off and why the crowd cheers. Shouldn’t the men boo them because their girlfriends or wives or daughters are lusting over the Hardys? I know if I had any of them when the Hardys were huge, I would totally had them look the other way, or change the channel when the Hardys are on.

Bubba got eliminated when Matt hit him with the Twist of Fate and Jeff hit him with the Swanton Bomb. Poor Dudleys. Pack up your bags and head down to Orlando, you’ll find work there.

Billy grabbed one of the tag title belts and nailed Jeff and Chuck picked up the victory! YES!

Superstar of the match: Billy and Chuck’s theme song!

Scott Hall is venting to Kevin Nash, saying that Stone Cold got lucky. Nash said that the Rock won’t get lucky either. Hogan came up and said that he needs to do this by himself and needs to prove to himself that he’s the better man over the Rock.

Molly is trying to get out and got nailed by the top half of the door, and Christian pinned her and became the new Hardcore champion!

“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan versus the Rock

When the nWo theme started to play, the crowd went wild! The crowd went even louder when the Hulkster walked through the certain.

The match started with a tie-up and Hogan out-powered Rock and shoved him down and posed. The crowed popped even louder than when Hogan came out!

With the ref down, Rock slapped on the sharpshooter on Hogan and Hogan got to the ropes, but the Rock pulled him back to the middle of the ring, and then Hogan started to tap out. The Rock let go of the move to check the ref, and came back to Hogan and got low blowed and got nailed by the Rock Bottom and Hogan only got a two-count.

The Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Hogan and got a two-count, then the Hulkster Hulked Up. After a Big Boot and the Leg Drop, the Rock kicked out and Hogan doesn’t know what he needs to do to the Rock to defeat him. Hogan got another Big Boot but Rock moved to miss the Leg Drop and gave Hogan a Rock Bottom. The crowd boos. Suck it fans! Rock picks Hogan back up and hits him with another Rock Bottom. Nip up and the Rock connects with the People’s Elbow and the Rock wins it!

Superstar of the match: the fans!

After Hogan got up to his feet, he extended his hand and shook hands with the Rock.

Hall and Nash came out and attacked Hogan for losing to the Rock and not letting them come out to help Hogan against the Rock. The Rock came back and defended Hogan. Hogan and the Rock cleaned house against Hall and Nash.

The Rock stopped Hogan on leaving and asked him to pose for the crowd.

The Fink announces that they set a record of 68,237 people in the SkyDome! Wooo!

Women’s Championship match: Jazz (champ) versus Lita versus Trish Stratus

Probably the highlight of the match is how dead the crowd is compared to the match we seen before this wit Hogan/Rock. It seems like the crowd burnt themselves out with that match.

Jazz also hit the Fisherman Suplex on Lita off the second rope and got the victory and retained her title.

Superstar of the match: the bathroom, because this was a good bathroom break match.

Christian tried to leave the SkyDome but Maven school boyed him and became the Hardcore champion and took his cab! This is the second time Christian threw a temper tantrum.

Undisputed World Wrestling Federation Championship match: Triple H versus Chris Jericho (champ)

Drowning Pool preformed Triple H’s theme song from the WWF Forceable Entry album that came out not that long before Mania 2002. This is the second back-to-back Mania where Triple H had a band sing him out to the ring. The year before, WrestleMania X7, Motorhead brought out Triple H when he fought the Undertaker down in Houston.

Walking into WrestleMania X8 as the first Undisputed World Wrestling Federation Champion, for me this has to be one of Chris Jericho’s highlights in his wrestling career. Walking into a WrestleMania in Canada in the main event spot as World Champion must be huge.

We’re told that Triple H’s quad is being held by a wire. The announcers are trying to put an ounce of doubt in our mind that Triple H might not last the whole match, giving Jericho a heads in the match. If they wanted to give Jericho a strong push into WrestleMaina, they should have had him go clean over the Rock at the Rumble and Austin at No Way Out.

You know, I always wondered why they made Jericho carry around the WCW and WWF titles when he was the Undisputed Champion, especially when within two weeks of being champion, they made a new title for Triple H, not having him carry around both belts. I find that as a joke.

Jericho put Triple H up on the English Announcers table to slap on the Walls but Triple H got put, then Triple H tried to hit the Pedigree but Jericho backdropped the challenger through the Spanish Announcers table. Jericho put the Game back in the ring and hit the Lionsault and only got a two-count. That really blows.

Shortly thereafter, Triple H was turned to his belly and Jericho clamped on the Walls of Jericho! Earl Hebner checked Triple H’s arm and it only fell twice. Stupid Triple H. He got to the ropes and Hebner was forced to make Chris Jericho let go of the hold.

In the end, Triple H hit the pedigree and won the title. Yeah. JR put Triple H over. My emotions aren’t

Superstar of the match: Chris Jericho for his title reign coming to an end and having to put Triple H over after coming back from an injury.

This was a decent WrestleMania. The Taker/Flair, Hogan/Rock, and HHH/Jericho matches are matches that I would suggest if you never watched this Mania before. But if you have about four hours you’re wanting to waist, check out the whole WrestleMania X8 card. I thought the whole thing was pretty awesome for a WrestleMania, especially coming off of the year before WrestleMania.

WWE WrestleMania – The Complete Anthology 1985-2006

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