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10 WCW Imports in WWE That Fizzled

November 26, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Sting’s debut at WWE Survivor Series has understandably created a ton of buzz. It’s the icon’s WWE debut after over 25 years of being a big name away from the Stamford giant. Once ‘the one that got away’, Sting’s save of Dolph Ziggler, and attack of Triple H, capped off one hell of a main event. It was the perfect introduction to the WWE world.

But what happens next? Numerous other WCW icons tripped up in WWE, either having a benign tenure or petering out after a promising start. WWE hasn’t always been kind to the Atlanta legends, and here are ten examples of something getting lost in translation.

10. Barry Windham (1989)

You could argue that Windham had everything a wrestler needed: the look of a taller Jax Teller, the subtle mean-streak a heel needs, the sympathetic eyes a babyface needs, and ability to wrestle lengthy, credible matches, whether they were scientific or a wild brawl. His sixty-minute battles with Ric Flair remain legendary. WWE scooped up Windham in June 1989, shortly after he departed NWA.

Windham’s four month tenure was mostly uneventful, save for the gain of a new nickname (“The Widowmaker”), and a collection of wins over preliminary bums. Windham would depart suddenly in the fall, and was replaced at the Survivor Series by a debuting Earthquake. Windham unfortunately had barely made a dent in 1989, the prime of his career, although good days back in WCW were ahead.

9. Dusty Rhodes (1989)

Rhodes was already 43 years old when the former Crockett-era main eventer and booker was brought into the WWE fold, after being fired shortly into Ted Turner’s ownership. The signing seemed to make sense for WWE; without booking power (read: the capacity to put himself over at the expense of others), Rhodes would play ball, and still probably make an impact with the young WWE crowd.

Truth is, Rhodes did remain a crowd favorite for Vince McMahon, but with a caveat: he entertained in polka dots (or in Dusty’s lisp, ‘doth’). While Rhodes could still engage crowds with his exuberance and cult-like connectability, in spite of increasing age and girth alike, “The Dream” was ‘humbled’ as some dot-wearing fool who never sniffed the main event before vanishing in early 1991.

8. Diamond Dallas Page (2001)

Page is more lauded today for his life-altering yoga program than he is for his remarkable wrestling career. That’s kind of a shame; Page whipped himself into shape as a world-class performer by 1997, already in his forties, through hard-work and meticulous pre-match planning. That was in WCW. In WWE, Page sadly stumbled out of the gate, thanks to a particularly stupid idea.

Despite being married to Kimberly Page, the former Nitro Girl with the taut figure and virtuous smile, Page entered WWE under the guise of a creepy stalker, filming Undertaker’s then-wife Sara in vulnerable moments. Though Page would explain after his reveal that he did so to rile up Undertaker, nobody bought DDP as some perverted voyeur. Undertaker basically mauled him into midcard oblivion.

7. Scott Steiner (2002)

Although the Steiner Brothers 1992-94 tenure with WWE limped to a finish, you can’t really argue with the content. Like Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard’s year with McMahon, the Steiners were used in a championship capacity, and were given plenty of time to stand out. Things went south, reportedly after the Steiners wanted to work in Japan and McMahon balked at sharing his stars.

By 2002, Scott Steiner had changed. The mullet was gone and impossible muscles were the calling card. With his misogynistic speeches, “The Big Bad Booty Daddy” oozed personality. Upon his 2002 return, the hype was immense, but the fuse was snuffed quick. A pair of disastrous matches with Triple H (notably at the 2003 Royal Rumble) exposed Steiner as easily winded and virtually broken down.

6. Lex Luger (1993)

Forgetting for a moment that Luger was brought in to compete in the WBF just five weeks after losing the WCW Title to Sting, we’ll say Luger’s real debut for McMahon was in 1993. Generally, Luger was only as big as the people he worked with, but an impressive physique and arrogant smirk made him a capable villain. Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect, and Randy Savage were to make natural foils.

Luger would limp through two gimmicks that were, decidedly, not “Total Package”-like. The first, “The Narcissist” was more based in mythology than up Luger’s Gold’s Gym-dwelling alley. With Hulk Hogan fading away, Luger was colored in with red, white, and blue as an All-American hero, a spectacular flop given Luger’s lack of conviction when preaching blue-collar American ideals.

5. Vader (1996)

A loss through Paul Orndorff’s right-cross was McMahon’s gain. After littering his roster with repackaged oldies and haven’t-beens in 1995, WWE needed someone with credibility they could shove up the card (especially since Luger had enough and departed in September). Vader’s WCW exodus led to McMahon signing the Rocky Mountain monster, and set to debut the angry beast at the Royal Rumble.

To McMahon’s credit, Vader’s persona wasn’t tinkered with; he was still the red-mask wearing bully that cut opponents like sugar cane with his unpulled punches. The problem was that Vader receded into the midcard after a lukewarm feud with champion Shawn Michaels and was rarely seen as a threat after that. By 1998, Vader was putting over a young Edge, Kane, and JBL before his exit.

4. Ric Flair (1991)

This one is sure to draw some negative words. Yes, Flair was made to be a big deal when he jumped with the WCW Title in the summer of 1991. Yes, Flair immediately feuded with icons like Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan. Yes, Flair won the 1992 Royal Rumble, the best match in the event’s annals, to become WWE Champion following an awe-inspiring, unparalleled one-hour performance.

After that? Flair didn’t feel like Flair. Sure, he tormented Randy Savage with promises to show lurid photos of Miss Elizabeth, but once he lost the belt, the magic was gone. Flair became ordinary, unbefitting of his grandeur. Slowly, Flair seemed like he was being phased out, his main event appearances diminishing. And he never did have that mega-showdown with Hogan on PPV.

3. The New World Order (2002)

WWE had parroted for several years the idea that wrestling had become a young man’s game, and those decrepit fools on the other channel aren’t worthy of your time. In hindsight, that’s laughable, given how many 40-50 year olds get main event paydays in WWE these days, but the youth movement was worth pushing. And push it they did until when one promotion remained, and free agents loomed.

With WWE’s ratings stagnating, McMahon brough back Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall to reform the nWo’s holy trinity. Once ground-breaking, all three were blown off by The Rock in 30 seconds at No Way Out. The cool factor was gone, and the threat of a hostile takeover was merely just three guys doing the same run-in that anybody else would do. This nWo died in five months.

2. Goldberg (2003)

Should have been a slam-dunk. Two hours after Eric Bischoff had a physically-distressed Steve Austin removed from the building, Goldberg arrived to fill in as the new hero. Right away, Goldberg speared The Rock, and a new battle of the icons was set for Backlash. Goldberg won, but not before taking part in an irksome backstage bit where Goldust had “The Man” wear his blonde wig.

There lies the problem with Goldberg, V2: he was humanized. The Goldberg in WCW kept his head down and his mouth shut before dispatching victims with cold-blooded brutality. People wanted *that* Goldberg, not a talkative gentleman who stays placid and gregarious until provoked. If WWE writers remade Friday the 13th, Jason Voorhees would be given 15 minute soliloquies. No one wants that.

1. The Invasion (2001)

More accurately, the Invasion flopped because of who was excluded, not so much the actual participants. When Shane McMahon bought WCW in the story, the battle lines were drawn between he and his father, the man who did as much to destroy WCW as WCW had done to itself. Fans conjured up dream matches in their heads, the ultimate in fantasy warfare closing in like a category five storm.

All of the names above that would have been reasonable entrants, sans DDP, were absent. No Hogan, no Hall, no Nash, no Goldberg, no Flair, no Steiner. Oh, and no Sting, of course. Booker T and midcarders such as Shane Helms, Lance Storm, and Chuck Palumbo provided no match for WWE while the big names sat home on big-money Time Warner deals. Among other reasons, the Invasion flopped hard.

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Happy 17th Anniversary WWE Montreal Screwjob

November 09, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seventeen years ago today history was made and an entire pro wrestling industry changed forever. Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart at WWE Survivor Series 1997 in the most controversial finish of our generation in what is now known as the Montreal Screwjob.

Some people thought that Vince McMahon and the WWE were finished after seeing the way Bret Hart was screwed live on pay per view. Yet ironically a finish as simple as a sharpshooter submission was the catalyst for arguably the biggest boom in WWE and pro wrestling history.

Screwjob finishes weren’t so rare in the early days of pro wrestling. Pro wrestling champions were often picked on their ability to shoot in the ring or handle themselves in these kinds of predicaments. It wasn’t out of character for a territory promoter to go rogue and have their local wrestler attempt to beat the champion and go against the script. What made this one so legendary were the people involved, the soap opera leading up to the match, and the fact that millions of people have been able to watch it.

The issues between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were legendary in and out of the ring at the time. I worked for ECW as a ring announcer at the time and it was pretty common to hear some of the boys who had worked for the WWE (or WWF) talk about Bret vs. Shawn and choose sides. More often than not it was Bret Hart who had the support of his fellow wrestling brothers and sisters. Yet nobody had any idea that the biggest villain in this entire mess was the puppet master himself.

Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels have both talked about their issues publicly for years. The best perspective came in 2011 when both sat down together for a WWE Home Video to talk about what had happened, what led up to it, and why it happened. Both more or less agreed that while the original intent of planting the rumors of outside of the ring heat was to stir up an angle for a WrestleMania rematch, it was their own inability to separate fact from fiction that let this one spiral out of control.

The documentary Wrestling with Shadows gave fans an incredible perspective from Bret Hart’s side after the Survivor Series. The documentary chronicled the weeks leading up to Survivor Series 1997 and the fallout after the match. In a nutshell the documentary portrayed Bret as conflicted over signing a multi-million dollar deal with WCW and the tensions he had with Vince McMahon leading up to his big match.

Of course Shawn and Bret have since written books going into great detail about the legendary night but it was Dave Meltzer in a series of Wrestling Observer newsletters that gave more detail than anyone into the background leading up to Survivor Series. What happened more or less was Vince McMahon making the ultimate pro wrestling promoter mistake by allowing his world champion to sign a contract with a rival promotion while at the same time giving his world champion creative control of how he was booked. It was arguably the biggest mistake in Vince’s tenure as WWF promoter.

Business was not good for the WWE that year and Vince had to make a decision. Vince had given Bret a 20-year contract a year earlier that would roll into Bret working behind the scenes after he retired with the WWE. Vince wanted out of the deal and allowed Bret as champion to see if he could still get a deal with WCW (Bret negotiated with both in 1996 and chose the WWE over the WCW deal). The landscape was different, WCW revenue was up, and Bret landed a deal that Vince couldn’t match. Bret gave notice and this is where everything fell apart.

Vince wanted Bret to drop the title to Shawn at Survivor Series 1997. Bret used his creative control and refused. Bret has since said that the only reason he said “no” was because Shawn told him that he wouldn’t put him over. Bret offered several alternatives including dropping the title to Ken Shamrock in the United States. Vince insisted on Shawn which Bret refused. Bret also was stern on not dropping the title in Canada. The resolution was that everyone agreed on a DQ finish in Montreal and that Bret would relinquish the WWE title to Vince McMahon on RAW the next day, which included Bret giving some kind of a shoot interview on RAW explaining his heel actions and praising Vince.

Vince was still on the fence, influenced most notably by the night Alundra Blaze showed up on WCW Nitro and dropped the WWE women’s title in a trash can. Eric Bischoff has said numerous times that he would never had done that with Bret, specifically citing legal issues between WWE and WCW. Bret has also said numerous times that he never would have allowed it. Yet it was a phone conversation between Vince, Shawn, and Triple H that changed Vince’s mind on the DQ finish. Triple H has taken credit in as being the one to speak up and protest the idea of Bret leaving as WWE champion. The plan was apparently put in place to set Bret up in a Sharpshooter, ring the bell, and change the championship on Vince’s terms. This is how Meltzer described the planned finish in the November 17, 1997 edition of the Wrestling Observer.

As they were putting their spots together, Patterson came in. He had a suggestion for a high spot in the match as a false finish. There would be a referee bump. Michaels would put Hart in his own sharpshooter. Hart would reverse the hold. Hebner would still be down at this point and not see Michaels tap out. Hart would release the hold to revive Hebner. Michaels would hit him when he turned around with the sweet chin music. A second ref, Mike Ciota, would haul ass to the ring and begin the count. A few paces behind, Owen Hart and Smith, and possibly Neidhart as well, would run down to the ring. Ciota would count 1-2, and whomever got to the ring first, likely Owen, would drag Ciota out of the ring. While they think they’ve saved the day on the pin on Bret, suddenly Hebner would recover, 1-2, and Bret would kick out. That would set the pace for about five more minutes of near falls before it would end up in a disqualification ending. Before the show started, both Vader, with his Japanese experience, and Smith, told Hart to watch himself. He was warned not to lay down and not to allow himself to be put in a compromising position. He was told to kick out at one, not two, and not to allow himself into any submission holds. Hart recognized the possibility of the situation, but his thoughts regarding a double-cross were more along with lines of always protecting himself in case Michaels tried to hit him with a sucker punch when he left himself open. The idea that being put in a submission or one of the near falls while working spots would be dangerous for him would be something to worry about normally, but he put it out of his mind because he had Hebner in the ring as the referee.

We all know what happened from there. The November 9 match was fascinating to watch as the problems between Bret and Shawn outside of the ring were legendary. Would Bret hit Shawn? How would they work together? Surprisingly to some, they worked together like pros. It was more of a brawl early on than a match but it worked. The memorable finish came when Bret climbed to the top rope to come down on Shawn, but Michaels pulled Earl Hebner in the way who took Bret’s double sledge. Michaels looked at McMahon who was at ringside and put Bret in the sharpshooter as planned. In the famous final seconds Mike Ciota ran in as Hebner was down, Hebner got up, Shawn locked in the hold, gave Bret his leg for the reverse, and Hebner quickly looked at the timekeeper and screamed “ring the bell!” Vince elbowed the timekeeper and screamed “ring the f***king bell!” The bell rang and it was all over.

The aftermath is as legendary as the sharpshooter itself. Bret spit directly at Vince McMahon in the face. Bret then went on the warpath and destroyed WWE monitors. Bret finger painted “WCW” in the air to all four corners of the ring. In the dressing room he confronted Michaels who pleaded ignorance, obviously lying to his face. According to several reports it was The Undertaker who demanded that Vince McMahon that he needed to apologize to Bret. Now in the Wrestling with Shadows Vince is shown entering Bret’s dressing room but the cameras were not allowed in. This is reportedly where Bret told Vince to leave or he was going to punch him, in addition to calling him a liar. Reportedly Bret finished getting dressed and a scuffle broke out which saw Bret drop Vince with a punch to the jaw. Shane McMahon reportedly jumped on Bret’s back at which point Davey Boy Smith pulled Shane off and hyperextended his knee in the process. Bret reportedly asked Vince if he was going to screw him on money at which point Vince said no. The documentary cameras then caught Vince groggily walking out of the dressing room.

Now there have been skeptics in the business that have for years doubted that this was indeed a screwjob at all. I have talked to at least a handful of wrestlers that have sworn the whole thing was a big work between everyone. The only piece of evidence that always had me doubting the validity of all of this was the punch. The documentary cameras caught everything but the punch, which to me is the most pivotal moment in the story. I always doubted whether this punch really took place because if it didn’t, this whole thing was a sham. Fifteen years later these guys have all done a great job of convincing me that this was all real but I have always been skeptical of why everything was on tape but the punch.

To show my ignorance at the time, I presumed that Vince McMahon was done at this point. “Who could ever trust that guy again?” I remember having a telephone conversation with Chris Jericho a few days after the incident. Jericho was on the verge of becoming a free agent in a little over a year. I asked that same question to Chris who explained to me that it would become irrelevant when it comes to guys negotiating deals. Now this was at a time where it was rumored that Chris already had some kind of working deal in place with the WWE down the line. Coming from a guy who was a close friend of the Hart family really opened up my eyes at the big picture.

The fallout from this was ironically great for everyone involved. The WWE didn’t run away from this story, they embraced it. The story became the catalyst for the Vince McMahon heel character which some would say was the greatest drawing heel in pro wrestling history. That heel character became the villain in the biggest feud in WWE history between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon. The story turned business around and would eventually put WCW out of business and launch the Attitude Era into full motion.

Bret wound up going to WCW and earning millions of dollars over the next couple of years. Bret also participated in a spinoff angle at Starrcade 1997 involving Hulk Hogan and Sting. Bret’s career in WCW was never what it was in the WWE but at his age, but it was the money that was the biggest coup. Unfortunately Bret suffered several tragedies outside of the ring which have been thoroughly documented. I always thought that Bret would return to the WWE when his WCW deal was up, wrestle Shawn Michaels, and draw the biggest WrestleMania buyrate in history. It was never to be.

Shawn Michaels had a great career and was never impacted at all by that infamous night. In fact, Shawn returned to the ring after a lengthy layoff and became one of the most popular WWE stars during his final run. New fans had no idea about the Montreal Screwjob or seemed to care about the villainous act Shawn Michaels portrayed in 1997. Even brief references to that night weren’t enough to damage the enormous fan support Shawn gained over the years.

Bret Hart eventually returned to the WWE as a performer in 2010. Bret returned earlier to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame but it was a one-night appearance. Bret signed on to return at the start of a TNA-WWE Monday Night War which lasted only a matter of weeks. Bret made peace with Shawn on his first night back but would eventually wrestle Vince McMahon at WrestleMania. For a number of reasons, the match never lived up to the hype. A goofy car accident angle leading up to the match certainly didn’t help. Bret wrestled a few more matches and actually won the U.S. title. Bret continues to pop up from time to time and is in the process of working with the WWE on launching a new DVD.

Who was right and who was wrong? It is really tough to say. For me, I always thought that Vince McMahon as the promoter had the right to do what he thought he needed to do for business. His biggest mistake was allowing a guy with creative control to win his WWE title and freely negotiate as champion. Many have come out and criticized Bret Hart as taking his role as a pro wrestling champion too seriously, citing that wrestling is a work anyway. I have always felt that Bret bordered on just being overall obnoxious about this over the years and failed to take responsibility for his part in it. Bret’s father was a promoter and should have understood more than anyone that Vince had the right to do what he felt he needed to do with his championship. At the same time he was savvy enough to negotiate creative control so it was in his right to exercise it.

Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, everyone came away as winners after the Survivor Series. At the end of the day pro wrestling is a business and if the idea of business is to make the most money, than everyone involved capitalized on the controversy. Many have tried to script finishes to play off of the Survivor Series but the authenticity of that infamous night in Montreal is virtually impossible to duplicate which is why that we probably won’t see a finish as legendary as this in our lifetime.

Happy 17th anniversary Montreal Screwjob. You changed the business forever!

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Relaunching WCW: A Radical Way to Regain Southern Wrestling Fans

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

In the 1980’s and 90’s the WWF and WCW were not just two separate companies, they were two separate cultures. Comparing the in ring work of the WWF and WCW during the last great wrestling boom reveals a distinct difference in wrestling philosophy. The WWF has been for the past few decades a perfect example of the “sports entertainment” model of professional wrestling.

Matches are meant to convey a sense of grandeur and theatrics. Much of the current WWE fan base grew up watching only “sports entertainment” style matches. It is important that we do not forget that there was at one time another style of professional wrestling that enjoyed widespread popularity in America. What I am speaking of is the gritty Southern style wrestling that WCW once offered. Southern wrestling thrived by offering a much more organic and realistic approach to in ring competition. Southern wrestling is as distinct a style as Japanese wrestling or Lucha Libre, and it attracts a specific type of fan that more often than not has little interest in the sports entertainment style.

Many wrestling historians believe that the death of WCW led to an exodus of Southern wrestling fans from the sport altogether. These Southern fans were alienated by the product offered by the McMahons, and with no national alternative available the Southern wrestling fan simply quit following wrestling altogether. Evidence of this can be seen in the current lack of wrestling viewership as compared to the 80’s and 90’s. Wrestling is simply not as popular as it once was, and it is my belief that the reason for this is the death of Southern wrestling. There is an entire segment of the wrestling fan population that simply will not settle for anything but the Southern style. If the WWE wants to bring those fans back into the fold then they are going to have to create a business strategy that allows for both sports entertainment and Southern style creative platforms.

THE WCW BRAND

WWE has the capability to revitalize the current wrestling environment and surpass the viewership levels of the 80’s and 90’s, but it will require a radical new business model and massive change within the company. The WCW brand is synonymous with Southern wrestling and the popularity of the former #1 wrestling promotion in the world remains strong. All you have to do is look at the popularity of current crop of WCW dvds to see that there is a demand for the type of wrestling offered by the defunct promotion.

WWE has the power to attract the Southern wrestling fan once again. It is time to relaunch the WCW brand as an alternative to Monday Night RAW. A revitalized WCW could allow the WWE to expand their talent pool and offer a wider variety of in ring styles. RAW will remain the sports entertainment powerhouse that it has always been, and the new WCW will offer the Southern style wrestling that is so greatly missed by millions of fans. The WCW brand is money on the table for the WWE, they just have to make sure that past feelings about the brand do not get in the way of a successful relaunch.

HOW TO RELAUNCH WCW

A successful WCW relaunch must begin with a slimming down of current WWE programming. Friday Night Smackdown has become a shell of its former self and serves only as supplemental programming to RAW. For WCW to be rebuilt, Smackdown must be eliminated. In place of Smackdown the WWE should create a new programming platform for WCW. The death of Smackdown and the rebirth of WCW could be an amazing creative opportunity in terms of storylines and press campaigns. Such a drastic change in WWE programming would surely create a media storm that would instantly pique the interest of even the most jaded wrestling fan.

The establishment of the new WCW would have to be followed by a hardline brand split. WCW and RAW wrestlers should only appear on one another’s show on rare occasions. This will create a competitive environment wherein talent on each show will work to outdo each other. By creating their own competition, the WWE can expand their audience and motivate their talent without having to worry about losing money.

Of course for WCW to be a competitive brand it must offer in ring competition that differentiates itself from what is presented on RAW each week. It is not enough to just have exclusive performers, WCW must recapture the essence of Southern wrestling and attract the long lost Southern wrestling fan. Southern wrestling is still a popular style on the American independent scene. The talent required for a WCW relaunch is available, but the WWE cannot rely on their same standards of talent development if the new WCW is to succeed. The WWE must create an independent developmental and creative team to oversee the growth of the new WCW. If this independent team is not formed, the new WCW could fall victim to the same pitfalls that destroyed the relaunched ECW. The new WCW cannot be a different shade of sports entertainment, it has to be Southern wrestling to the core and it has to offer a truly alternative approach to both storylines and in ring work.

Imagine the possibilities of a relaunched WCW. The failings of the infamous Invasion angle could finally be corrected and the WWE could ignite the spark that sends us into the next boom period in professional wrestling. There is really nothing to lose and a whole lot of money to gain. Hopefully the WWE can see the true value of the WCW brand and give the fans a wider variety of programming that appeals to every segment of the wrestling fan population.

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A History of Havoc: A Look Back at WCW Halloween Havoc Part 1

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

Yes, I am writing something other than Nitro reviews! Of course, it’s in my comfort zone (WCW) and we’re talking about my favorite series of Pay-Per-Views of all time: Halloween Havoc. Without a doubt, some of my fondest memories came from watching the Halloween Havoc events, even if I could only see a scrambled version of Halloween Havoc 1992. The first video I ever rented from Blockbuster was Halloween Havoc 1990, heck the first wrestling article I ever wrote was about Halloween Havoc. Over the next month or so, I’ll cover every event from 1989 to 2000. I’ll be covering three events at the time, this week it is 1989-1991.

Halloween Havoc 1989

I had Halloween Havoc 1989 on tape with SummerSlam 1989 (Helluva combo) and what I believe was a Spanish version of BeetleJuice. The big feud going into this card was The J-Tex Corporation which was comprised of Gary Hart, Terry Funk, The Great Muta and Dick Slater as back-up Terry Funk against Sting and Ric Flair. Many people talk up the NWA in 1989 as the best thing to hit wrestling and I actually have to agree, the roster is loaded, they used licensed music, the TV is great and man those PPV’s are great. Sting and Muta put on some great matches, but Ric Flair against Terry Funk was a feud that was built on two men trying to kill each other. Funk piledrove Flair on a table, Flair beat the snot out of him at Bash ’89 and then TERRY FUNK TRIED TO MURDER RIC FLAIR.

Funk tried to suffocate Flair with a plastic bag at the September Clash of the Champions and Slater took a branding iron to the knee of Sting. Something had to be done, so Flair called in Ole Anderson to back him up to counter Gary Hart. A match was also announced, The Thunderdome cage match. The rules were that the only way to win would be if a designated terminator (Hart for J-Tex, Ole for Sting/Flair) would throw the towel in. No rules, no pins could end it and the goddamn cage would be electrified on top. Also, Bruno Sammartino was made special guest referee, starting a trend of WCW bringing Bruno in whenever they held a card in Philadelphia.

The other big feud was The Skyscrapers vs The Road Warriors and the feud was simple. The Skyscrapers were tall monsters that killed everything in their path and naturally the only team that had a hope in hell of taking them out was The Road Warriors. This was an interesting concept since the Road Warriors rarely went up against monster tag teams (Rare exception being The Powers of Pain), so people actually thought that these guys might take out The Road Warriors. Heck, it wasn’t even billed as a normal tag match; this was a Tag Team Challenge. The other big match was the upstart Brian Pillman going against Lex Luger for the US Title and Doom with Woman against The Steiner Brothers.

So, how is the card you may ask? Well, it may not be on the same level as The 1989 Great American Bash, but it’s still a damn good card. The main event is great with plenty of drama and they worked around the normal tag rules and delivered a great match. The Thunderdome is the drunken and beautiful love child of Hell in a Cell and the blue-bar cage and the opening to War Pigs playing is just an awesome moment. That guitar riff with drums and the siren blaring as the cage slowly lowers as we see the cage for the first is amazing. Road Warriors against Skyscrapers is pretty ugly but it tells a good story in that this is the first time that any time has dominated The Road Warriors. The crowd is hot and the stare down between the two teams is great. Pillman vs Luger is great, another great Luger PPV match and the six man tag between The Midnight Express/Steve Williams vs. The Samoans is a really good match that sneaks up on you.

Halloween Havoc 1990

While this edition didn’t have a blood-feud headlining, it did have an intriguing match headlining. WCW was in a bind, they couldn’t go with a Sting/Flair rematch, so they went with Sid vs Sting. This presented a problem; Sid was over because of his squash matches but was rather limited in the ring and Sting’s reign wasn’t going so well. Going into one of the bigger pay-per-views, you’d think the company would put all their might behind turning the reign around. They tried, and they promptly fell on their face. They introduced The Black Scorpion, a potentially interesting character that was quickly ruined by Ole Anderson who would later blame Dusty Rhodes. Would the distraction of The Black Scorpion lead to a new champion or would we see something really really stupid happening?

Besides that, there wasn’t a big number two feud going into the show, it was comprised of good feuds but nothing really stood out.  The company was trying to push Flair down the card, so he was stuck in a feud teaming with Arn against Doom. Stan Hansen and Lex Luger were feuding, but The Steiner Brothers against The Nasty Boys had some hype. I have to give WCW credit; they used a house show at the UIC Pavilion to hype the card by having contract signings for the big matches as a way to hype the card. The Nasty Boys put a beating on the Steiners to build up their match, the Sting and Sid signing went smoothly, but Sid hit Sting with an absolutely awful piledriver on a chair after the Sting/Scorpion match.

So, how is the card? Well, you do have some pretty bad matches (Par for the course for WCW PPVs in this period), but damn this card has great matches. If you’re a tag team wrestling fan, this card is for you since this card has three great tag matches. The Midnight Express against Ricky Morton and Tommy Rich is a great opener, Doom against Flair and Anderson is good despite the crappy finish and The Steiner Brothers against Nasty Boys is an all-out classic is you love watching The Steiners killing fat guys with suplexes.

Lex Luger against Stan Hansen is another good Luger PPV match and I realize that I’m of the few guys in the Luger was a good worker boat. As for the main event, well it wasn’t a great sign that the crowd was an even 50/50 and Sting wasn’t up for carrying Sid to a good match. The finish, despite its stupidity was at-least creative and it seemed like something the Horsemen would hatch up to get the belt off Sting. It still wasn’t a good sign that the crowd popped when Sid “won”. If they wanted a heel that could get heat on Sting, I would have went with Windham in this spot and Sid at a Clash card. Still, give this one a watch on the Network.

Halloween Havoc 1991

WCW Pay per Views in 1991 started off rather well with SuperBrawl and Wrestle War, but went on a nosedive after the Great American Bash. Halloween Havoc keeps the trend going as the company stumbles and falls badly.

The Chamber of Horrors….I have no words for how badly WCW messed this match up. First, it could have been much worse as the heel team was Oz, Barry Windham, One Man Gang and The Diamond Studd. Luckily, Gang quit, Windham turned face and they benched Oz. They added Cactus Jack, Abdullah The Butcher, and Vader to face Sting, The Steiners and El Gigante. What slays me is that the concept of the match is just so bad. You have the ThunderCage (Renamed after WB’s lawyers got lawsuit-y), a whole bunch of weapons and workers that could thrive in this type of match. So, how do you win the match? You put a member of the opposing team in the Chair of Torture, and yes it’s as stupid as it sounds. The chair is encased in a cage that is lowered into the middle of the ring, cutting off any action that could take place in the ring. Add in the ref with a goofy ass helmet camera, stupid weapons, ghoul medics and you have yourself a Gooker Award winner. How about this for the Chamber of Horrors: You have handcuffs around ringside (shackles to go with the Halloween theme) and the first team to successfully cuff the opposing team to the cage wins. It’s not much, but it’s better a lame electric chair gimmick. Yet, you should watch it for one reason.

Cactus frigging Jack.

Jack takes an absolute beating in the match and while everybody is lifelessly brawling, Cactus takes numerous weapons shot to the face, the Steinerizer, Steiner DDT, bleeds, gets thrown to outside and hits the cage face-first and it smart enough to fix the lever when it falls to the on position. Just an awful, awful match, but Mick Foley really tries to make it watchable. Besides that, the card is pretty bad with the exception of three other matches. Bobby Eaton and Terry Taylor deliver a solid match, Dustin Rhodes has a great match with Steve Austin and you can see that Rhodes was busting his behind to get out of the “Dusty’s Son” stigma. The main event between Luger and Ron Simmons is once again a good Luger match, who solidified himself as the Halloween Havoc MVP for the first three years.

The best part about Halloween Havoc 1991 is the debut of Rick Rude. Besides a killer promo from Dangerously and Rude, it sets the stage for The Dangerous Alliance. It also set the stage for the greatness that is WCW 1992. Until Bill Watts forces WCW by gunpoint into a time machine and turns it into 1977 Mid-South.

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WCW Monday Nitro Episode Four Review: MENG

September 19, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Live From Florence, South Carolina

Editor’s note: Since this Nitro involves MENG, I am out of possible death by MENG, required to capitalize MENG every time I type his name.

It should be noted that Vader was finally taken out of the intro and replaced by Lex Luger. Bischoff, Heenan and Mongo start us off. Mongo has that stupid dog with him and I’ve basically ignored Mongo on commentary. I’ve came to the conclusion that I’ll have to deal with him for at-least a year and it’s not worth pointing out his idiocy. They try to get over the gag that his dog urinated on Bobby’s shoe. We get a recap of the Savage/Luger confrontation as it’s time for disco!

Alex Wright vs Disco Inferno

I know that Inferno gets crapped on for some of his creative ideas in WCW (Alien invasion, invisible man, wrestling architect) but the gimmick is in so bad its good territory. The theme is catchy and obnoxious in the same way that Orndorff’s theme was and he gets decent heat. I’m still on the Alex Wright bandwagon, if he had brought in around the time of WCW seriously building a mid-card; I think he’d be remembered better. His areal moves are very crisp and look great, but man that Wunderkid and the dancing just killed him. The announcers are talking up everything else going on and Wright wins via backslide. Kind of weird to hype Disco’s Nitro debut to only have him lose in a few minutes. This was a filler match, used more to talk about the Hogan/Giant situation.

We get a Hogan promo and he’s wearing a comically oversized neck brace as he talks up his injury. Hogan begins to call him Giant a “stinky nasty Giant” and the first of many times that he would call him throughout this feud. Hulk makes the challenge for the Sumo Monster Truck Match, which would go down in infamy as a giant waste of money. Hogan manages to get in the super tasteless line about hoe Giant will be slammed and laid to rest next to his father.

Alright, I want to get something off my chest.

Now, we’re taking a break from the Nitro to review to talk about Andresploitation. I know many people consider the exploitation of Eddie Guerrero and Paul Bearer’s death as top-line exploitation; the Andresplotation is the worst in my mind, next to all the crap Fritz Von Erich pulled. One, Andre the Giant never worked for Ted Turner’s WCW and his only appearance was in 1992 for the twentieth Clash of the Champions, which coincided with the twentieth anniversary of pro wrestling on TBS. That’s it, and most of all the worst aspect is that this was Hogan-endorsed. Hogan wielded a ton of creative power and no doubt this was given the Hogan seal of approval. Andre made Hogan’s first reign with the belt and I dare say that WrestleMania III is the defining match of Hogan’s career. The stare down between those two at the Silverdome with the flash bulbs going off is still one of the great WrestleMania moments. Luckily the company put the kibosh on this after Andre’s family came out against the angle publically. The one thing I don’t get is that the company didn’t need to use Andre at all, all the company needed to do was have Sullivan talk up how he found this monster in the jungle. There, Andre free and goes along with the Dungeon recruiting monsters.

Randy Savage wants us to snap into some mechanically separated beef as Mean Gene is in the ring with Savage. We get a recap of the awesome confrontation the previous week and Luger makes his way to the ring. Luger cuts another solid promo bringing up that he earned the respect of Hogan and Sting through their battles but he doesn’t respect Savage. Luger challenges Savage to a match next week and first puts his title shot on the line, but retracts and puts his career on the line instead. Savage accepts and WCW is putting another big PPV match on free TV next week. While this came back to bite the company in the rear a few years later, this set Nitro apart from Raw. Vince realized that and began to slowly put bigger matches on free television, but not at the pace was at.

We get Halloween Havoc and I’m just going to say it, the graphics they’re using are laughably bad. First, you have Hogan and Giant morphing from still pictures into their respective monster trucks, and then the background they use is a bunch of goofy looking ghosts. It’s laughably bad and not the way to sell a big grudge match that saw an attempted murder. That wouldn’t even scare the target audience of Scooby Doo, Bischoff.

Kurasawa w/Col. Rob Parker vs Sgt. Craig Pittman

Wasn’t Pittman a sadistic drill heel sergeant a few weeks ago? Kurasawa was getting a decent push as they had him break Hawk’s arm, but weirdly enough he wasn’t a part of the awesome NJPW/WCW feud. He was teaming with MENG before they paper mache dragon’s mask on his head and sent him to the Dungeon of Doom. This is an odd match, Pittman was an amateur wrestler and competed in MMA so they book this like a weird shoot style matches. Kurasawa kicks the crap out of Pittman’s leg and works the arm, but hits a nice look backdrop on the concrete floor. Pittman rallies back by throwing head-butts to the gut, but Kurasawa picks up the win with a German Suplex. Interestingly enough, WCW was thinking of booking a UFC-like PPV in October, with certain wrestlers competing in “legitimate fights.” I’m just going to presume that Hogan would win.

After that, Gene is in the ring with Pillman and Anderson and this is an AWESOME promo from top to bottom. Pillman looks revitalized since he’s being booked properly since the Blondes in 1993. Pillman compares Flair search for a partner to a bum pandering for change at Times Square. The best part of Pillman’s promo is talking about their right to bear arms, their right to assemble (Pillman puts up the four fingers) and their right to put people in the hospital. Arn gets the stick and brings up that the better man won and Flair should know that once you attack one of us, two of them jump on you. The best part is Anderson running down the attempts made to get Sting and Savage to team with him. Arn brings up Flair trying to put Sting out of wrestling in 1990, and Flair beating up Angelo Poffo. This is the segment you must watch from this episode of Nitro.

This weekend on WCW Saturday Night! The DEBUT of Dusty Rhodes as co-host (YES)! Sting vs Johnny B. Badd! American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males! Plus, the Taskmaster and The Giant will be there. 6:05 Eastern Time on TBS!

GET THIS ON THE NETWORK! EXCLAMATION POINT!

We get a recap of Sullivan attacking Savage and Sullivan wearing a lifeguard jacket over his Taskmaster garb is still good for a laugh.

Randy Savage vs Kevin Sullivan

Man, I have to give Sullivan credit for booking himself into this position. You go from working with Evad Sullivan to big matches against Savage and being a part of the top feud in the company. Savage gets some pyro and it’s funny that Alex Wright has more pyro than the number two face in the company. This is a disappointment in my opinion. Sullivan’s forte is brawling and Savage is a very good brawler, so you’re expecting a wild and crazy brawl. What you get is Sullivan beating up Savage for most of the match before Savage makes his comeback. The Zodia shows up and gets a beating from Savage before Savage is disqualified for throwing Pee Wee Anderson aside. Savage continues to beat on both men until The Giant comes out and hits an awesome chokeslam on Savage. The jobber brigade runs out and they get chokeslam’s for their trouble. Alex Wright gets a big pop when he runs out and tries to come off the top rope but Giant catches him and locks in a bearhug. Giant hits a spine buster as Luger comes out and stands over Savage. Giant grabs him, but Luger gets a few good blows in before eating a chokelsam too. Sullivan is pissed that The Giant attacked Luger.

The match sucked, but this made The Giant look like an absolute monster wiping out five guys with ease. Sure, two of them were jobbers but The Giant looked like a real threat to Hogan and the chokeslam is built up as one-hit kill. Now excuse me, I must weep into my pillow that we never saw Vader vs The Giant. I know it would have sucked, but the visual of the match would make up for it.

Lex Luger vs MENG

MENG comes running out after the Giant attack the match starts because the ref is afraid of MENG. If MENG runs out and tells you to start the match and you say no, what do you think MENG will do to you? We get the announcement of Hogan showing up next week and this match is actually booked rather well. MENG beats on Luger, who is clearly out of it so Luger’s comeback is only in short spurts that MENG cuts off with ease. MENG hits a brutal piledriver and even a gutwrench backbreaker, before Luger begins to make his comeback. MENG will have none of that crap and hits Luger with the Golden Spike to get the victory. Bischoff puts over how The Dungeon of Doom has taken out Luger, Savage and Hogan in a short period of time.

This is what WCW should have been doing with The Dungeon of Doom this entire time, putting them over as legitimate threats to Hogan and The Amazing Friends. Instead, they spent a good amount of time being punching bags with the exception of The Giant. Now, the Dungeon is seen as legitimate threats to end Hulkamania.

We get Bischoff hyping up next week: Savage vs Luger, Hogan, American Males vs The Nasty Boys, Dean Malenko and the show cuts off.

You should definitely watch the Pillman/Anderson promo, but most of it can be skipped. A filler episode before the big one next week, but it continues the Savage/Luger feud which has been surprisingly good. I didn’t remember this feud as a kid, but it’s one of the better feuds that WCW has booked this year.

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WCW Nitro Episode 2 Review: The War Begins

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

Editorial note: I realized upon further review Arn Anderson was not wearing a windbreaker in the first episode. We here at The Camel Clutch Blog apologize for the fashion error.

From the Knight Center in Miami, Florida

First off, I have to give props to WCW as the Nitro set is pretty cool for its time. Nice amount of pyro and lighting, really a step-up from what they had been presenting on Saturday Night. The all-metallic motif would set the standard for pro wrestling sets for years to come. Two interesting notes, the commentators desk isn’t set-up by the entrance like it will be until 1999 and the ringside skirt is actually see-through in certain areas with colored lights behind them. Neat.

Mongo starts off with a “Where’s the Beef” reference, which was relevant around the same time that that the Bears last won a championship. Seriously, how could a team with that defense, Walter Payton and somewhat healthy Jim McMahon not win another championship? Oh, that’s right the team was full of egos, McMahon was made of paper, Payton was on the downside, the 46 defense was killed by the spread offense, Ditka was an egotistical prick who lost his players. Read any one of Drew Magary’s “Why Your Team Sucks” pieces on the Bear and you’ll realize that I’m not the only one that feels this. Also, the 1992 Cowboys would stomp a mud hole in the 1985 Bears and walk it dry. I also love that an excuse by some of the players of their only loss was that the game was on a Monday Night and they would win if it was on a Sunday.

Rant over. We get a recap of the closing segment which is still a pretty good segment. We then get the big news that Vader has gone “AWOL” and he has not filed the proper documentation with WCW. I guess that getting pounded by Paul Orndorff isn’t the proper documentation. We start off with Sabu vs Alex Wright!

Sabu vs Alex Wright

You know, I’m a fan of Alex Wright. Sure, the gimmick of being a German dancing Wunderkid is bad but he was a good worker. The announcers put Sabu over hard in this match, bringing up connection to the original Sheik and his willingness to sacrifice his body to win the match. Mongo stumbles upon a formula, realizing that since he sucks at calling wrestling, he’ll just talk about football. I feel like Nitro would have been a lot better with Bischoff and Heenan calling the action, they weren’t the greatest announce team, but it would have been better than Mongo rambling on. Bischoff and Heenan are at-least trying to call the action while Mongo talks about whatever he wants. This is a short but decent match, it’s a showcase for Sabu but Wright gets his offense in. Sabu picks up the victory via Arabian Press (As Bischoff calls it). Sabu beats up on Wright, puts him through a table and Nick Patrick reverses his call, giving Wright the DQ.

For some reason, I want to see a Sabu/Savage match. Don’t ask why, but this is coming from the same guy that thinks Chikara should book New Jack on a consistent basis. I have a thing for train wrecks, not in the Cronenberg movie Crash way, just like watching a good train wreck.

Mean Gene is in the ring and calls down Slick Ric himself, The Nature Boy Ric Flair. This is a pivotal promo, one week away from the match with Anderson and we need a killer promo from Naitch. Talk about the history and we get that for a bit. He brings up how the Horsemen stood for a symbol of excellence and also talks about going out last night. After reading up Flair’s continuous money issues and substance problems, these parts of his promo’s really aren’t that fun anymore. Luger comes out and Flair puts over his measurements and how he predicts that Luger will beat Hogan tonight. Decent promo, more of a hype job for the main event but it’s smart to have a guy like Flair hyping the big main event.

Michael Wallstreet V.K. Wallstreet vs United States Champion Sting

Yes, they changed Michael Wallstreet’s name to V.K. Wallstreet as a potshot to Vince McMahon. For those of you born under a rock, Vince’s middle initial is K. Bischoff spoils the main event of Raw and Mongo buries the Raw name. They also make a reference to how Wallstreet is now playing with the big boys and I’ve noticed that Heenan hasn’t partaken in any of the potshots. There isn’t much to talk about here, Sting runs through Wallstreet with ease in under a few minutes via top-rope crossbody. I do find it weird that you would dedicate time on the first episode to Wallstreet, and then have Sting run through him with little opposition. Was it so that Bischoff and Mongo could take jabs at Raw and Vince for a few minutes?

This Saturday on WCW Saturday Night! Debut of Disco Inferno! Renegade vs Maxx Muscle! Big Bubba Rogers vs Evad Sullivan! Brian Pillman vs Alex Wright! Big Bubba goes from Nitro main eventer to working with a dyslexic guy with a bunny; Renegade vs Maxx Muscle could main event any middle school gymnasium. At least Pillman vs Wright sounds like a good match on paper.

Time for some Scott F’N Norton. This would be the point in the review that I’d put up a montage of Scott F’n Norton killing people in Japan.

Scott F’n Norton vs Randy Savage

Norton comes out and continues to spew trash talk at Mongo and it seems like they were trying to set-up Mongo/Norton. Man, they pushed Norton as an absolute beast during this match; he pretty much pounds Savage from pillar to post in the beginning as Bischoff talks about how Norton has crippled opponents in Japan. Norton busts out a brutal DDT when Savage has his legs on the third ropes, and that’s the best part of the match. All this hype and it sucks knowing that Norton floats around the mid-card from here until 1999 and this guy debuted in 1993 for cripes sakes. I know he had a successful run in Japan around this time, but man envision Vader and Norton tearing it up as a monster tag team. Mongo rambles on about football more as Savage begins to make his comeback. The finish is actually a good finish as The Dungeon runs out and of course Mongo has to Mongo it up. Mongo asks if Taskmaster, who was carrying some stick like object if he was going to turn somebody into a Popsicle. Alright back to the actual finish gets Norton on the ground after Shark falls on the legs of Norton, trapping him. Savage hits the big elbow for the victory. After the match, Norton argues with Shark.

Main event time!

For the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Hulk Hogan ©w/ Jimmy Hart vs Lex Luger

Weirdly enough, they go right to commercial when Luger comes out, and the crowd is into Hogan so it’s not like the typical Hogan reaction from this time. Hulk starts off with some ground work and actually suplexes Luger, but Luger pops up and no sells it. Luger suplexes Hogan and Hogan does the same thing. From here it isn’t much of a match, but both men have the crowd going doing a minimal amount of work. Luger actually turns the tide and gets Hogan in the Torture Rack as the crowd goes wild. Luger thinks Hulk has passed out and drops him in what amounts to the stupidest moment I’ve seen in wrestling history. Luger goes for the pin; Hulk does his Hulk Up routine and drops the leg. The Dungeon of Doom runs out and begins to attack Hogan as the ref calls the match. It wasn’t a great match, but they had the crowd going with what they did. In this match, Bischoff takes his most brutal of pot shots towards Diesel, talking about how he was only a mid-level talent in WCW. Man that must have been awkward if Nash brought that up in contract negotiations in 1996.

The Amazing Friends run in to save the day, clearing out the Dungeon and it should be noted that in two weeks of Dungeon beat downs, they Dungeon wasn’t even booked to be big threats. No segments of the Dungeon laying out Hogan or anybody in the group, making them look very weak. The only guy in The Dungeon that has beaten on Hogan in the build-up is The Giant and he isn’t even in the match! Hogan and Savage are wary of Luger, pointing out that the Dungeon didn’t touch Luger at all. Savage then accuses Jimmy Hart and Sting of being in cahoots with The Dungeon. Sting vouches for Luger and urges Hogan to add him to the team. Savage is opposed and Luger isn’t cool with the idea as Sting tells him that if he doesn’t, it will make Sting look like a fool. Nah, Sting would do that in a few weeks, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Luger accepts and Nitro is off the air as the War Games main event is set. Heenan sells that the team is due to fall apart because of the tension and accuses Sting of being up to something.

Since next week is the Fall Brawl post-show, only two matches are announced. Johnny B. Badd vs Paul Orndorff and either The American Males or The Nasty Boys vs The Blue Bloods.

Overall, this episode was alright, not as good as the premiere but I’d give it a watch for Savage/Norton and Sabu/Wright. The commentary is awful thanks to Mongo and the potshots at the WWE are really unbearable. The bad news is that for all the potshots that Bischoff took including spoiling the results resulted in a 2.5-2.4 victory for Raw.

#FireMongo

The guy just sucks and I seriously think he has some type of brain damage based off how he commentates. I know that with his job as a football player, he probably has it but this is the special brain damage. Just awful.

 

 

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Triple H tells the story of the real dawn of the WWE ‘Attitude Era’ on ‘Talk is Jericho’

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

The WWE Network has been reliving the Attitude Era of the federation for the last few weeks. While the Attitude Era might not be a favorite time among some fans, those years of curse words, “puppies” and almost Rated R programming are probably the most profitable for federation.

Triple H was a major force during the Attitude Era. As part of DX, Triple H led the assault on WCW which eventually led to WWE winning the ratings war. In the ring, Triple H’s feuds and matches against The Rock, Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin sold out arenas and headlined pay-per-views. For a long time, Triple H lived up to his nickname. He was, indeed, the Game.

Triple H’s role in the company has changed dramatically since the days of riding a tank to a WCW arena and telling fans to suck it. Now on the sidelines, but still in the story lines, Triple H is the Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative in the WWE. He’s responsible for the success of NXT and was instrumental in WWE’s global presence in the last few years.

On the day of Summerslam 2014, Triple H sat down for a rare interview with Chris Jericho on his Talk Is Jericho podcast. I’m calling this interview rare because this isn’t an interview with Triple H of The Authority or Triple H as a member of WWE management. This is a discussion with Paul Levesque and an exploration into his early days in the business, his true passion for the sport, and his love of the WWE.

In part one of the two part interview, Jericho asks Triple H about his early days in the WWE and how he became involved with The Clique.  Jericho addressed the widely held belief that The Clique ran the show in the days prior to the Attitude Era. Triple H came clean about the faction, and how they did have some pull, but that everyone in the WWE at the time had Vince’s ear because that’s just how Vince operates.

Triple H did share an interesting story about The Clique and the moment in an Indianapolis hotel room that he feels might be the real dawning of the Attitude Era.

“I was in the room, even though I was the new guy and not saying anything, but I was in the room the times they (the Clique) put Bam Bam Bigelow over. Personally, did they all get along, no. There was a moment in time, and everyone talks about this meeting that took place in Indianapolis, where Kevin and Scott were really upset about something. It was the creative direction of something. And Scott was ready to quit. But it was about blow up, and I don’t even remember what it was, but Vince clearly thought they had a point. To the point where he got Jerry Brisco and they flew out to Indianapolis. He said ‘you guy stay there, we’re going to fly out to Indianapolis, and we’re going to sit in a room and go through all this. I remember what them saying ‘clearly the company needs a change of direction, and I want opinions.’

So, I went to just say hello to Vince and Jerry and just leave. Even though we did have a relationship. We would talk after my matches. So those guys so up and I said hi to Vince and hello to Jerry and turned to leave and Vince goes ‘where you going?’ and I said ‘this isn’t my place to be here’ and he said ‘oh no, you’re in this now.’ So I sat down. And Vince takes a roster out and hands it to each of us and goes ‘if this was your team, you’re making a team, who would you want on your team?’ and ‘what do you think is wrong with the product. Not saying we’re going to do it. I just want your opinions.’”

That’s just one of those things I distinctly remember. I remember Bam Bam being very vocal against us, like, “those guys got to go” and I remember every single person in the room had Bam Bam on his roster. It was like all of us said ‘listen, whether we get along with him or not doesn’t matter, the guy can go, and he’s a top guy, and he should be on the team. It was all business. In my mind, to me, and I’m not saying we laid claim to any of it, but that’s the first spark of the Attitude Era. It was the first conversation where wrestling talking about reality. Like, why do we have Doink the Clown?”

Triple H goes on to discuss how everyone asked why they needed characters, and camp, and why guys couldn’t just be who they really are in the ring.

The second part of the interview airs this Friday.
LINK — http://podcastone.com/Talk-Is-Jericho

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Hulk Hogan Talks NWO, Heel Turn, and Old Matches

August 29, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan was right in the middle of the Monday Night Wars sixteen years ago. The legend of those wars have resurfaced due to a new WWE Network series and Hogan offered a fascinating retrospective in a recent interview.

Hogan gave a recent interview to USA Today focusing on those infamous Monday Night Wars. Hogan arguably offered more introspective on the period in this interview than he has on the recent Monday Night War episodes, although to be fair he has been very good. Here are just some of the highlights..

Hogan was asked how he enjoyed his heel turn with the n.W.o. compared to being the top hero in the business at its peak in the 1980s.

I was kind of at the crossroads. Vince [McMahon] and I had parted ways a couple of years before, he had an opinion about Hulk Hogan and his longevity and I had a totally different opinion. I left to go to a TV show called Thunder in Paradise for a year or so, a year and a half. Then when Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair approached me about coming back to wrestling, I was ready. After the 14, 15, 16-hour days on the set of this action show I was producing with the Baywatch guys, I’d had enough. When I went back to work, everything clicked. It just worked. I started out with the red and yellow, beat Flair for the belt, and then we get to a point where things flattened off after a couple months. The decision to turn heel was, we were either going to crash and burn or this is totally going to reignite the wrestling business, and it did.

He seems very confident that his turn was going to have a major impact on the industry. Honestly, I never would have expected his turn to have that kind of impact when it happened. Hogan was somewhat of a fading character and I thought people were tired of him good or bad. I was wrong. He really did reignite the business. Although to be fair it wasn’t just him. He was the icing on the cake.

One very cool question I thought was raised when USA Today asked Hogan if he ever goes back on the WWE Network to watch his old matches. I have heard some of the most famous wrestlers in the world say they rarely watch their matches. Not Hogan.

“Oh my gosh, my wife Jennifer, she goes ‘you’re living in the past! you’re living in the past!’ I say ‘no I’m not, I’m just getting good ideas!’ Some of that stuff we did back in the day was brilliant, some of the storylines and the delivery and the cadence of the storylines, how they were built…. They’d create drama and excitement. I just learned so much from that old stuff we did. I kinda like to watch the Network and go back to my roots just to keep in check with myself.

I know he is going to get some criticism for that answer from the Hogan haters but I like it. There are fans that live and die with this stuff, Hogan’s especially, and it is nice to see that the wrestler him or herself cherish those memories just as much as their fans.

Hogan was asked whether he expected the legendary reaction he received when he turned at Bash at the Beach?

Yes, I knew it was going to be intense. When you tell people for 20 years that you love them, tell them to ‘train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins,’ believe in yourself and then all of a sudden you stab everybody in the back. I knew there was going to be a huge reaction.

Say what you want about Hogan but that reaction was one of the best you’ll ever see. It was completely organic and to see an entire arena so upset that they all started throwing garbage at Hogan and crew was quite a sight, For Hogan, Nash, and Hall it had to be a great feeling.

Finally Hogan was asked about the idea that the War would have put Vince McMahon and the WWE out of business.

I was praying to God that wouldn’t happen. I prayed to God that we would become the No. 1 wrestling show, and that WWE would thrive and stay the monster that they were. WCW might become a little bit [of a] bigger monster. I never wanted anybody to go away. I wanted two different companies so talent could have a choice where they could work and make big, big money.

Another interesting answer from the Hulkster. He is exactly right. The business is in a dangerous spot today without competition and you can see it every Monday night. Hogan made big money jumping from one to the other. It would have only benefitted him and everyone else if the business remained that way.

All in all it is a pretty interesting read. I’d recommend checking out the entire interview.

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Five Reasons You Cannot Blame Jim Herd for Firing Ric Flair

August 04, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I love Ric Flair.

I’m just making that clear.

The story of Ric Flair being fired by Jim Herd is a rather one-sided story; Herd is a doofus and fires the greatest wrestler of all time.

Except, was Herd really wrong?

That’s what I’m going to examine today, and why I honestly believe that Herd was actually in the right for firing Flair. We’ve only heard one side of the story, Flair’s as Herd has more or less left the wrestling business behind after being fired by WCW. Now, I wouldn’t want to be in Jim Herd’s spot after Turner buys the NWA, you’re taking over this new company and dealing with egos, an industry you know little about and you’re now dealing with suits who know little to nothing about wrestling. While Herd had his fair share of missteps (Low-balling Ricky Steamboat, most if not all creative decisions under Ole), I’ve honestly came to the conclusion that he wasn’t wrong. I’m not the only guy has that mindset; even Barry Windham has placed the blame on Flair and it was more over money than dropping the belt.

The one problem I’ve had with Flair in this whole situation with him jumping with the belt is when you his book, he brought up Vince’s offer to Harley Race to skip Starrcade and work for him with the NWA belt in tow. Flair talks up how it would have killed business for Crockett and the NWA as a whole. Race wasn’t based in the Carolina’s, he only came in and worked the group whenever he was champion. Race had a stake in his own territory and if he wished, he could have upper and left with the NWA title and sold his stake. Vince was offering him 250k and probably a large main event run against Hogan for coming in with the belt. While some might bring up that Flair was fired, Flair showing up in the WWE with the NWA belt helped to kill business for WCW for a good while. Race showing up with the belt would have done the same thing.

The story of Ric Flair being fired has been told numerous times, but today I hope to bring you a new perspective on the whole situation. Most of you will probably disagree with me and I might have Arn Anderson hunting me down, but hopefully I can give you a different take on the whole situation. We’re starting off with reason number five right off the bat, which takes place about three years earlier, which involved Herd actually siding with Flair.

5. Starrcade 1988

Starrcade 1988 was supposed to be the blow-off to the Luger/Flair feud and it was said that Luger was going to get the big victory over Flair here. The company even used the gimmick of Flair being DQ’ed would result in him losing the title belt. The rematches between the two did good business for the NWA based on the selling point of two gimmicks: No blood stoppage (Flair or Luger gusher every night) and this would be the ONLY rematch between the two and it was taking place in your hometown. Eventually, the company fell back into the old dusty finish with one ref (Teddy Long) getting knocked out, then Flair getting thrown over the top rope, new ref (Tommy Young) comes in and counts the three. Everybody expects a title change, the refs argue and the original ref overrules the new ref and fans get pissed. With the big rematch set, Luger was booked to get the win, but Flair refused and it set off another power struggle between him and booker Dusty Rhodes. The power struggle between Rhodes and Flair had permeated throughout most of 1987 and 1988 and was now at a tipping point with Turner owning the company. Rhodes then went to plan B: Rick Steiner. Depending on what story you believe, two scenarios could have played out. First, the Varsity Club was going to attack Luger on his way to the ring and Rick Steiner would take Luger’s place and beat Flair in just a few minutes. While this made the infamous urban legend list, Flair was scheduled to work with Steiner in the beginning of 1989. Steiner was pretty over as an underdog baby face and was jockeying for position with Luger as the number two face in the company. The other side of the Steiner scenario was that Dusty was putting Steiner in the ring to shoot on Flair and take the belt away from Flair. Steiner was the runner up in the 1983 Big Ten Championship, so Steiner had some legit wrestling skills. Flair went to Herd, and the whole situation was killed off and it was another nail in the coffin for Dusty.

So, we now have an established history of Flair refusing to job to Luger. That will be a common theme in this article. Three years later, the same four men would find themselves in the same situation and I believe that Herd saw this coming.

4. Flair’s Flirtation with Vince McMahon

On two separate occasions, Flair had opened up with communication with Vince McMahon about possibly joining the big circus in New York. In 1988, during the transition of ownership, Flair came extremely close to jumping ship. He was scheduled to debut at the company’s inaugural SummerSlam card on the Brother Love Show. It made sense, Love was a heat magnet and it was the perfect way to have Flair debut in the WWE’s biggest market. Flair cuts a promo running down Hogan and Savage, setting the stage for the inevitable big feuds down the line. Flair has claimed that he was going to beat Savage for the belt in his debut but I highly doubt the company would drop the Mega Bucks/Mega Powers angle and nobody wins the belt in their debut. Plus, no Liz in her underwear so screw that. Flair would later decide against jumping to the WWE out of loyalty for the Crockett family.

The second occasion took place the previous year when rumors of Flair being in Toronto for WrestleMania weekend and met with Vince about jumping ship again. Flair’s deal was up in May and wanted a two year extension which was denied (Remember that) and was making serious thoughts about joining the WWE. Flair and Herd had already begun their most infamous clash to that point which saw Flair lose his booker job. It seemed like this time Flair would actually sign as the company began prepping for him to drop it to Luger at an April 26th Meadowlands card in a cage match with Terry Funk as the ref. In-between that point, a deal was reached as the cage and Funk was scrapped and Luger won in a DQ finish.

We now have evidence that Flair was willing to talk turkey with McMahon and even use it as a way to get a new deal.

3. The 1990 Spat

As we talked about in our previous reason, Flair and Herd had a blow-up after Sting blew his knee out in February. Herd wanted Flair to drop the belt to Luger at that February’s Wrestle War, but Flair refused, citing that he was waiting for Sting to return. Herd fired Flair as booked and what happened was six months of the company not really making any progression. While this may not be bad, it resulted in the company trying to keep the fans interested in Flair/Luger round three. The Wrestle War match had a pretty smart finish: Luger has Flair beat and the torture rack is locked in the middle of the ring, and the Horsemen attack Sting who was at ringside. Luger lets go and gets counted out trying to fight off the Horsemen. After that, the company made one last attempt to get Flair to drop the belt, in Chicago on March 22nd. The company flew Chris Cruise, Lance Russell, and Dennis Brent along with a production crew to film the title change. Bill Apter even made the flight to Chicago to witness the title change. It seemed like it was going to happen but Flair cited “ample notice” a clause in contract that he wasn’t given enough time to be notified of the change. I really don’t know what classifies as ample notice, but it seemed like something similar to a creative control clause, as in he wasn’t doing it at all. Eventually, Flair relented under one condition that he would get his immediate release. When that didn’t happen, we got Ole hitting Luger with Women’s high heel. It also seemed like they were eying the next night, a card in St. Louis as a potential title change. A production crew was on hand and so was George Napolitano, but once again it was the same finish in Chicago.

The company had to fill another PPV main event for their Capital Combat card with a steel cage main event between Flair and Luger. With Luger losing again being a death knell for his character and Flair standing firm on not jobbing, the company found themselves booked into a corner. The solution, the first ever DQ finish in a steel cage match. As much as people point to Robocop being the worst part of that show, the first and hopefully last DQ finish in a cage match was much worse.

The big problem I always had is that if you do the drop at WrestleWar, you can go two routes for Capital Combat. You can book the title change at Capital Combat and Flair can win via cheating, Sting comes out and you set the stage for the Bash. Or, the company could bust out a match that hadn’t been seen that year, and a sure money maker: WARGAMES. Luger/Steiners/Pillman with Sting in their corner vs The Horsemen with Ole in their corner could deliver a good gate and PPV buys. You get the big rematch at The Bash PPV; Flair cheats to win in the same way at Combat if you go that route, setting up the big Sting/Flair match at Starrcade with Sting taking the belt. Havoc is Sting’s first match back in the company, teaming with Luger against Flair and Anderson. Also, if you go with the route of Sting winning it all at Starrcade, no Black Scorpion angle in 1990. The big problem is that the fans wanted to see the payoff of Luger chasing Flair and didn’t get it….again. Luger would finally get a victory over Flair in 1990, only because Stan Hansen ran in and attacked him. Not even a clean victory.

2. The Windham Drop

Heading into the Bash, Flair and Herd would have their biggest fight. Flair was scheduled to drop the title to Luger, but I’m getting ahead of myself because that is reason number one for this article. After a familiar power play by Flair saw the company getting Flair to drop it to Barry Windham at the TV taping before the Bash, and Windham would make the drop to Luger. What happens next is pretty murky water to navigate, Flair claims that he was fired before the taping. Others claim that the taping started; Flair was nowhere to be found so Herd had enough and dropped the bomb. There’s another claim that Flair told somebody he wouldn’t show up and do the drop. According to Flair himself, he was refusing to make any drop to anybody but Sting again. According to Windham, he was next in line to get the belt after the Bash which means to me that Flair was planning on pulling something or Windham is just confused about what happened. Luger has pretty much said that he didn’t get involved with that type of stuff and didn’t hold any ill will towards anybody. Even if Flair didn’t have any objection to drop it to Windham, who knows if he doesn’t change his mind midway through the trip to the taping? Or just up and leave at the taping? Flair could have pulled a CM Punk and went home until his deal expired next year.

1. Flair’s Last Power Play and Refusal to put Luger Over

Legend vs Legacy

A Steel Cage Match

If Flair gets DQ’ed, he loses the belt

Luger’s last shot at the belt.

Luger has to win right?

Maybe, maybe not.

Well, Luger was supposed to win and the marketing of the match couldn’t be any more obvious. It would be the resolution to Luger chasing Flair for three years; he even chased Flair as a heel. They even booked the card at the same arena where Luger got his first shot at Ric Flair (Baltimore Arena), it felt like the time was right.

Until Flair pulled his last power play. Flair, feeling that by not having the belt he would be vulnerable to a group of people in-power that really didn’t like him: Ole, Herd and Dusty. So, Flair wanted another contract extension before the Bash and Herd offered him one that Flair didn’t like. Flair claims that it cut his salary to 350k, but I tend to think that he wouldn’t be making Sting money (750k) but definitely over 500k. So, he told them that he would use his ample notice clause and would not put Luger over unless he got an amount he liked. So, the company had spent all this time building up the Bash card as Luger finally getting the W and they come to the compromise of doing the Windham drop. After all that, would you be willing to have faith in a guy who just pulled that type of move to drop the belt at a TV taping? You think that Flair would get away with that type of move with McMahon? Vince would have done the same thing as Herd did; I don’t even think he would offer the TV taping drop as a fix. I think he would have fired Flair on the spot with little or no hesitation.

For those that remember my Hulkamania Goes Down South series (Specifically Part 2), Flair would pull a move similar to this when he returned to WCW in 1993. Flair refused to work the career vs career cage match against Hogan until he had a new contract, a contract that he signed that night and Bill Shaw actually hand delivered the contract from Atlanta for him. It worked, because it was Eric Bischoff and he knew that he couldn’t fire Flair before the big cage match.

Well, I laid it all on the table, my reasons for believing that Jim Herd wasn’t wrong for firing Ric Flair in 1991. I hope that I have presented some interesting evidence about the situation that you may have not seen. Flair fans, don’t kill me that bad. Anderson, don’t hit my with a tire iron, my face is my money maker.

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

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Sting Coming To WWE 2K15

July 15, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It only took 26 years but Sting is finally coming to the WWE…sort of. Rumors have been confirmed that Sting will play a big part in the marketing of the upcoming WWE 2K15 video game. Check out the first promo featuring the former WCW champion.

Sting to WWE2K15 is not necessarily a shocker but it is big news nonetheless. This will be the first time Sting will be featured in a WWE video game. Like the deal made with the Ultimate Warrior last year. This does not indicate that Sting has signed a deal with the WWE. This is simply a deal between Sting and the video game company, although most suspect that a deal with the WWE is imminent.

The WWE posted an official press release announcing the news which featured quotes from Sting. Here are some of the highlights.
One of the most popular and revered competitors in WCW history, Sting will be featured in “WWE 2K15″ through two unique playable characters: the mysterious, ghost-like persona with trademark black-and-white face paint who was the face of WCW during the “Monday Night War” era, as well as his earlier look, sporting bright colors and a blond, flattop hairstyle.

The only thing for sure about Sting is nothing’s for sure, except my debut in ‘WWE 2K15,’” said Sting. “I’m honored to have my legacy immortalized in a video game. It’s showtime!”

Making his WCW debut in 1991, Sting generated worldwide recognition for his unique presence and in-ring prowess. Across more than a decade, he amassed eight WCW championships and competed against many notable rivals, including “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, the New World Order (nWo), Vader, Rick Rude, The Four Horsemen and Ric Flair.

“We’re eager to introduce fans to Sting in a compelling new way, while debuting the next generation of gaming in the ‘WWE 2K’ franchise,” said Chris Snyder, Vice President of Marketing at 2K. “Pre-ordering ‘WWE 2K15′ is the ultimate way to embrace the history and individuality of Sting’s impressive career.”

I think one of the big questions coming out of this is the status of Bill Goldberg. There were multiple reports out that indicated Goldberg would be featured in WWE2K15, precluding a return to the ring at WrestleMania 30. I am not sure where this leaves Goldberg or if it changes anything.

Sting’s appearance in the game would indicate an emphasis on WCW in the upcoming game. Last year’s game focused on the nostalgia surrounding 30 years of WrestleMania. My hunch is that this next game will focus on WCW and could feature several former WCW stars in the game. In that case I’d imagine Goldberg could also play a big part in the game.

It’s funny how the WWE can get a game right 13 years later and yet failed to sign Sting in 2001 during the Invasion angle when it counted. Nonetheless he is coming and this may be your only chance to get your Sting vs. Undertaker WrestleMania match.

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