PREFACE: This article was inspired by a long, lucid dream.
The kind that (seemingly) plays out all night & even if you wake, when you eventually fall back to your slumber, it picks right back up where it left off. For better & worse, most of my dreams are like this.
I’m a writer of internet articles.
I had a screenplay optioned this year & have a book of short stories coming out next year. In my dream, those facts – coupled with the few wrestling personalities I know in real life – led to 3 interviews, with the possibility of writing for WWE.
The 1st interview was with Vince McMahon himself at what my brain assumed was his office in a huge building in Connecticut. It was notable for Vince only asking me personal questions from behind his expansive desk & a short trivia, wrestling-related questionnaire which pointed out my lack of knowledge of wrestling pre-1940, but apparently warranted a second interview with Triple H.
(Editor’s Disclaimer: Every quote in this article is fabricated and this is a satirical article…as if you didn’t already guess.)
Triple H was friendly & dressed in a suit two-times too large for him (aren’t dreams great?). Instead of asking about my personal life, he asked me 3 questions which are not part of the 50 Truths.
Question 1: If it were solely your decision, what direction would you take the Divas?
Answer 1: I’d get rid of the division for now & make them all refs, commentators or valets/managers…whatever suits their talents best. (Though some of them are the drizzling shits to watch no matter what they’re doing & need to go back to train more.)
Then when Awesome Kong came back, I’d hold a tournament a la Wrestlemania 4 to determine a new Women’s Champion.
Kong would lose due to cheating & that would set up great trash-talking interviews, squashes & feuds for other female wrestlers in their way, a mixed male/female match at a PPV, followed by their rematch at the next Wrestlemania.
Stephanie took notes; Mr. Hunter said nothing until…
Question 2: What’s missing in wrestling today?
Answer 2: Lots, but it’s always that way.
I’d put more Japanese wrestlers with gimmicks on television if I was running things. Their (typically) drastically-different style makes them a realistic threat to any wrestler, if done right.
NOTE: I am woefully-deficient in my knowledge of Japanese wrestlers (beyond The Great Muta, the Tiger Masks & Hiro Matsuda) & have no idea why that was my answer.
Stephanie took more notes & Hunter was silent until…
Question 3: What’s the most important dynamic between wrestlers & management?
Answer 3: Diplomacy. It should be respect but there are too many differing personalities & histories for that & there’s no long-term gain in faked respect. Being diplomatic and allowing both sides to express their opinions gets shit done.
More note-taking, then Triple H rose from his seat, shook my mind, thanked me for coming in & told me they would be in touch.
In the dream, the 7 days it took them to get back to me flew by in one.
When I entered the building this time, I was directed to a ring that had been set-up. It appeared as though we were at a house show because there were about 6,000 seats in the rafters.
Lined up in rows were hundreds of black folding chairs, all facing the ring.
Suddenly, Vince’s voice boomed over the speaker system & he instructed me to get into the ring & take the microphone that was there in hand. I obliged.
Slowly, hundreds of wrestlers, past & present (but all living, to my knowledge) walked down the entrance & sat in the chairs one by one. Many people I did not recognize also sat in the chairs & I assumed they were executives, crew & miscellaneous talent.
When everyone was seated, Vince instantly spoke again, as though he were watching on closed-circuit backstage & just having fun with me. In the dream, I felt more comfortable than I know how to relate, standing in the ring by myself, staring out at so many legends.
“I’m going to give you the name of a sports-entertainer or someone in the business & you’re going to tell me what you think of them in as few sentences as possible, to the best of your ability. Do you understand?” Vince asked.
“Yes,” I responded.
“Good,” he answered.
When I woke, I scribbled down as many of the names & my answers as I could recall. When I reviewed the list, I was startled to see that I agreed with everything my Dream Self had stated.
If you’re an objective fan and/or true wrestling historian, I think you’ll agree with what you’re about to read; but you’re probably not, because the internet is mostly full of people shouting their un-researched, CAPS-FILLED opinions. (Actually, there are several Truths I think you’ll agree with & many you won’t, like most articles online.)
Whatever your opinion, please share it in the comments section (for Eric, not me. I don’t care about your opinions).
Back to the Dream…
The wrestlers stared at me silently. Vince spoke again with his 1st question & my Truths began:
“Who is the greatest wrestling promoter who ever lived?”
TRUTH 1: Vince McMahon Jr.
“Who is the 2nd greatest wrestling promoter who ever lived?”
TRUTH 2: Vince McMahon Sr. because even back in the territory-days, everybody wanted to wrestle at MSG. You hadn’t made it, until you’d wrestled “up North”.
Also, because I want this job. (Muffled laughter from many of the boys until Vince told them to “Quiet down.”)
“Who’s the 3rd?”
TRUTH 3: Everybody else. Debating the shiniest penny between them doesn’t matter.
“Jimmy Snuka,” Vince said, easing me into things, I felt, with an easy question.
TRUTH 4: Inspirational, as history has shown. Did his book say if he killed his ex-girlfriend back in the day? (The audience murmured.)
“Bret Hart?” Vince pressed.
TRUTH 5: No one loves Bret more than Bret. But in the ring, he’s the best technical wrestler to lace up a pair of boots. Lou Thesz & Karl Gotch are only important to historians. If you want to know how to apply wrestling holds & build & tell a story, no one’s better.
“Shawn Michaels?” Vince pressed further.
TRUTH 6: The best, consistent, in-ring “performer” I’ve ever seen. Charismatic, athletic & flamboyant. Everything a champion should be.
“Who was better, Bret or Shawn?” Vince pressed harder. (Several wrestlers whose gazes had wandered turned back to me immediately.)
TRUTH 7: Bret was a better wrestler & Shawn was a better showman because flash beats substance (right or wrong) in the ring, 80% of the time. And in his later years, Shawn had the substance, too. Anyone who disagrees is lying to themselves, basing their judgment on the person & not the performer.
TRUTH 8: Talented, but lucky time-wise. In the late 80’s & 90’s (even in his prime) he’d have been a mid-carder. There was nothing exciting or relatable about him unless you were Italian.
NOTE: I’ve met Mr. Sammartino in real life. He’s the most-bitter millionaire you’ll ever come across. Only Sammartino is filled with more self-reverence than Bret Hart (whom I’ve also met; he was the polar-opposite of Bruno.)
TRUTH 9: Needs to retire before he’s forced to lose at Wrestlemania just because the buy-rates are down. (I saw a few heads in the audience nod.)
TRUTH 10: Lucky & smart, just not enough of both. (A few laughs that Vince let slide.)
TRUTH 11: Inconsequential. A footnote in wrestling history that you own in 5-10 years.
“The greatest manager in history?” (Several wrestlers leaned forward in their chairs.)
TRUTH 12: It’s a tie: Bobby Heenan & Jim Cornette. The Brain for his wit, mouth & ability to draw heat back when it wasn’t cheap. Cornette because of his knowledge, unparalleled passion & understanding of the business.
TRUTH 13: A true wrestler & fan, but blessed by time. For his size – if this was the mid-80’s – he’d be jobbing to Leapin’ Lanny Poffo.
“Randy Savage?” Vince asked nonchalantly. (Everyone stared through me.)
TRUTH 14: Knowing the history: No comment.
“I’d like a comment,” Vince answered, laughing.
TRUTH 14 (a): No words can really describe his sacrifice & contributions to the business. Un-equaled in so many ways & always will be. There will never be another Randy Savage, which is sad on so many levels but also strangely inspiring.
“Should he be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame?” Vince pondered, his words drifting off, almost as though it weren’t a question.
TRUTH 15: Yes, because the HOF is for peers & FANS. I’ve heard you say (and I believe) that you’ll do anything for the fans, so yes. On that note, so should The Ultimate Warrior & many others. Even if it’s in-absentia, you could put together a video package for their induction & have someone who wrestled them accept on their behalf. Who cares what they want, honestly. Their contributions are their own, honors bestowed are not.
“Superstar Billy Graham?”
TRUTH 16: Massively Influential. Bitter in excessive-proportion to what he earned but failed to keep. Has turned into a better person in his latter-years but will not hesitate to lie to make a buck…though lying in wrestling is a way of life, so I don’t blame him.
“Jesse Ventura?” Vince asked, uncomfortably.
TRUTH 17: Outspoken. Great color commentator. Marches to the beat of his own drum, which I admire. Had too many personal & professional interests to stay in wrestling. Missed.
“Are sports-entertainers paid well-enough?” He asked.
TRUTH 18: I assume their pay is based on an agreement they made or a contract they signed. If they’re unhappy, I’ve always heard that they’re usually free to leave. Though it sucks that there’s virtually no-place else to go.
“So there should still be territories?” Vince said.
TRUTH 19: No. They would have come to an end within a few years anyway, you just realized it first.
TRUTH 20: Too slow to change with the times, but incredibly important in the annals of wrestling history. If not for the talent in his promotion that you raided, the WWE wouldn’t have expanded so quickly. (This statement was met by several uncomfortable shifting of butts in chairs.)
“The biggest mistake a wrestling promotion has ever made?”
The avoidable death of WCW, but an honorable mention goes to the AWA not putting the strap on Hogan & leaving it there. That was the end for them.
TRUTH 22: A very nice man. A great heel. He should be teaching (if he’s not) & wrestlers should be watching his matches for a wide variety of reasons. (A few wrestlers whispered to each other in the crowd.)
“Hulk Hogan?” Vince asked.
TRUTH 23: The greatest draw who ever lived & the most-important wrestler in history. Anyone who thinks those claims go to Steve Austin or Ric Flair don’t know their history. Hogan brought wrestling to the masses (just like you designed). Without Hogan there WOULD have been Austin, but never on the level he was able to attain. Before Hogan, those levels DIDN’T EXIST.
Nowadays, people like to judge Hogan on his lack of in-ring ability (which was always the same), his backstage politicking (because apparently he’s the first guy to do that) & his personal life. None of that matters. What matters is putting an ass in a seat every 18 inches & Hogan did that in spades.
“The biggest misstep, missed opportunity or botched feud/angle?
TRUTH 24: The WCW Invasion Angle.
Honorable mentions also go to a 1980’s cross-promotion or Ric Flair being lured to the WWE for a feud back then with Hogan. They could have fought in teams, stables & singles matches for years. The 80’s would have eaten that up. The other honorable mention goes to The Big Show, who should have been promoted like Andre the Giant. (These opinions made several wrestlers form small huddles in their seats.)
“Who is the greatest wrestling commentator?” Vince asked abruptly, quieting the room.
TRUTH 25 (a): Jim Ross. (Lots of approvals from the crowd.) Honorable mentions go to Gordon Solie & you, Mr. McMahon. No one sells his own product better than you (I sucked up).
“Then why am I not Number 1?” He asked, seriously.
TRUTH 25 (b): Time constraints. You have other pressing matters & haven’t been on the air in their capacity, length-wise. (The room was quiet until Vince let out a hearty laugh.)
Look for Part 2 of the 50 Truths of Wrestling (You Don’t Want to Hear) next week.
Shane Jeffries is a writer, wrestling fan & 80’s Pop Culture Junkie.
You can email him at [email protected] to tell him how cool & right he is.
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