A Numbers Game: The Most Successful Stable in Wrestling

Jamie Lithgow

It would be very easy and very unimaginative of me to just make a list of who I think the most successful stables in wrestling are; which is why I am not going to do that. Instead I have attempted to determine wrestling’s most successful stable, mathematically.

As a fan I can only calculate success through my eyes and success to a wrestling fan is not determined by how many Twitter followers one has or how much money one makes from merchandise sales. Success in wrestling, as far as fans are concerned, is the winning and retaining of championships. This rather simple notion will form the basis for my calculations.

The Equation

Firstly I have established the number of days that the members of the following stables held various championships for. Obviously if a wrestler’s title reign overlapped their membership of the group only their time as a member is counted. I have added these reigns together to give each stable their total title reigns.

I have counted the total members of each stable. Only wrestlers were counted. Valets, managers, bodyguards etc. have not been considered as they are non-competing members.

I have also established the lifespan of each stable, again in days. This is from the point that they were recognised as a group to the point they disbanded. A few of the stables disbanded only to reform at a later date and I have acknowledged these gaps. The lifespan of each stable is the number of days that they were an active group.

With the above information I can calculate the number of championships held per wrestler per day for each stable. However, because a stable is a team then the more people contributing to that team the stronger it is. For that reason I have established the number of wrestlers from each stable to win a championship. This number of title holders will multiply the figure for championships per wrestler per day to give a Stable Success Score. If that’s hard to follow then here is what I have just said as an equation –

Stable Success Score = (total title reigns/members/lifespan) x title holders

The Criteria
There have obviously been a lot of stables in the wide word of wrestling over the years so I shall need to narrow the field. Below is the criteria for making the list –
• Only stables from WWE or WCW/JCP have been considered. To find the most successful stables I have to concentrate on the most successful promotions with the most prestigious championships.
• Only stables that have counted a reigning world champion as a member have been considered.
• By stable I mean a group of three or more wrestlers. However, I have made an exception for the first incarnation of Degeneration-X, even though technically speaking it consisted of just two wrestlers with two bodyguards.

The Contenders
The Four Horsemen
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 15 2603 days 1380 days 2849 days 1 9
Everyone knows Ric Flair dominated the NWA World Title; however the other horsemen pulled their weight too. Arn Anderson managed to hold onto the Television Title for more than 700 days over three reigns. They were around for an awful long time after their peak though.
The nWo
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 31 1468 days 818 days 2077 days 4 15
Home to four separate WCW Champions! With that said it was also home to a lot of dead weight too. For the record I have not distinguished between Wolfpac and Hollywood factions because both groups were still technically part of the nWo, 4 Life brother!
The Corporation
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 12 165 days 86 days 277 days 1 4
The Rock clocked up three WWE Title reigns during his time on the Corporate Team. Ken Shamrock also helped out by becoming a double champion; he held the Intercontinental Title while also holding the Tag Titles with The Bossman.
The Corporate Ministry
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 11 89 days 36 days 105 days 1 4
Not only does The Corporation make the list but the group that it transformed into is also worthy due to The Undertakers brief run with the WWE title in ’99.
The Magnificent Seven
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 7 67 days 67 days 108 days 1 2
Formed in the dying days of WCW it’s no surprise that most people don’t remember this stable. Despite being far from memorable Scott Steiner did hold the WCW Title for the entire lifespan of the group.
Degeneration-X
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 5 824 days 293 days 1106 days 2 5
They held every championship possible with each member capturing at least two titles. Impressive stuff, although some of those title reigns were quite short. Note that I’ve not accounted for the 2006-2010 version of DX; they were a tag-team.
The Hart Foundation
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 5 224 days 98 days 493 days 1 3
Bret Hart held The WWE Title but the reason for these impressive stats is Owen Hart and The British Bulldog. They held the Intercontinental and European Championships respectively while at the same time also being the Tag-Team Champions. Note, the original Hart Foundation have not been accounted for as they were strictly a tag-team.
La Familia
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 5 238 days 134 days 253 days 1 4
With Edge’s World Heavyweight Championship reigns, Chavo Guerrero’s ECW Title reign and Hawkins and Ryder’s Tag-Team Title run La Familia have more to shout about than you might think.
The Cabinet
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 4 316 days 242 days 390 days 1 4
Like La Familia you probably hadn’t considered this lot either. JBL’s mammoth WWE Title reign, Orlando Jordan’s lengthy US Title run and The Bashams tag title win justifies their inclusion though.
The New Blood
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 34 91 days 70 days 323 days 2 13
A decent idea in theory, terrible in practice: That pretty much sums up this desperate attempt to save WCW in 2000. The stats for these guys are very impressive because this stable consisted of more than half the WCW roster and the booking was also very biased towards getting them over too.
The Millionaire’s Club
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 12 91 days 14 days 29 days 3 6
Enemies of The New Blood, this smaller faction consisted of WCW’s old guard. Their stats aren’t quite so impressive because, as you can see, The New Blood controlled most of the titles at this time.
The Heenan Family
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 19 2465 days 0 days 654 days 1 5
Some odd numbers here because The Heenan Family only just fulfil the criteria. Andre The Giant did win the WWE Title, however he sold it to Ted DiBiase immediately after the match. Technically this does leave Heenan’s men with a world champion within their ranks, albeit with a very short reign.
The Alliance
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 33 133 days 154 days 688 days 2 16
Were they a stable or were they a pseudo wrestling promotion? Their aims and purpose were the same as the nWo, so if I include one I have to include the other. Not only did they have an immense weight of numbers but they also had double the amount of titles to fight for.
The Dungeon of Doom
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 18 785 days 118 days 233 days 1 3
You wouldn’t normally associate success with The Dungeon of Doom but The Giant (aka The Big Show) did capture the WCW Title a couple of times to make them a contender.
Evolution
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 4 750 days 452 days 726 days 2 4
All four members are now multi time world champions, but how did they do at the time? Well, not too shabby. All members captured at least one championship and they controlled the World Heavyweight Championship for most of the time they existed, although 451 of the 452 days did belong to Triple H.
Legacy
 Members Lifespan World Title reigns Total Title reigns World Champions Title Holders 3 414 days 153 days 153 days 1 1
Not the best looking figures, but then again there was only three of them. From these stats you would think that Legacy was less a stable and more Randy Orton and his two lackeys, and you would be right.

The Results
 Stable Stable Success Score The Alliance The New Blood Degeneration-X The Hart Foundation The Cabinet Evolution La Familia nWo The 4 Horsemen The Corporation The Magnificent 7 The Corporate Ministry The Millionaire’s Club Legacy The Heenan Family The Dungeon of Doom 2.5081 1.3571 1.3422 1.3205 1.2342 0.9680 0.8504 0.6846 0.6567 0.5596 0.4606 0.4290 0.1593 0.1232 0.0698 0.0495

Rather predictably The Alliance has walked away with the title of Most Successful Stable in Wrestling with almost twice the score of the second placed New Blood. However, it is worth noting that The Alliance did have both WWE and WCW titles to fight for. So with twice the titles to fight for it wouldn’t be too unjustified to halve their score; but even then they would still rank a very impressive fourth. The New Blood should also have an asterisk next to their name because the direction that WCW was trying to take at the time skewed the booking firmly in their favour. Plus, more than 50% of the active roster were members. That takes us down to third place and the highest ranked “normal” stable; Degeneration-X. Quite a surprising result as most people would associate DX with success at the merchandise stand rather than winning championships. Down at the bottom of the table there are no surprises but I think The Cabinet are worth a mention for outranking Evolution, The Four Horsemen and The nWo.

Conclusion
So WWE’s efforts to re-launch a miserable version of WCW in 2001 may not have resulted in a second McMahon run wrestling promotion, but, technically speaking, it did yield the most successful stable in wrestling. However, this being wrestling I wouldn’t call this a clean win for The Alliance. In my opinion DX were robbed of a victory by two stables operating under favourable circumstances.

Please note that I’m not claiming this to be perfect, calculating this type of thing is an impossible task. This is just my attempt at ranking these stables using tangible data. Hopefully there are no errors, although finding an end date for many of these groups has been guess work due to them slowly disbanding rather than having a defined end. I do have to admit to not distinguishing between championships. Firstly I wanted to only use tangible data and not assign the various championships a fictitious score. Secondly, all bar the WWE Title have fluctuated in prestige making any fictitious score redundant. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this article and I encourage you to have a bash if you can think of another method.

Is WWE Entering a New ‘Era’?

Jamie Lithgow

Having digested the latest offerings from WWE in the form of TLC and the following Raw and Smackdown my mood and feelings towards WWE’s output has lifted dramatically. For the first time in a long time I am interested in multiple feuds, angles and wrestlers, and not just CM Punk. However, there has been a fair bit of change in the last couple of months so maybe once things settle down I’ll lose interest again? Or, is WWE leaving the PG era behind and moving on to a new era?

Like him or not Ryback is turning into a genuine player in WWE. Lessons have been learned from The Nexus with The Shield being booked as the perfect destructive force. Dolph Ziggler is finally stepping out of the shadows and into the spot light. Somehow CM Punk has gotten even better. The tag team division is the healthiest it has been in years. Big E. Langston has come straight from NXT to get in John Cena’s face. Further down the card Antonio Cesaro is slowly making more of an impact, Brad Maddox looks like an interesting character, The Miz and Alberto Del Rio have quietly turned face and 3MB are doing pretty well for a low card act. There’s no denying that WWE is actively mixing things up and it is a massive breath of fresh air.

Until this week Raw and Smackdown have been incredibly stale for months. While on PPV the performers have been delivering the goods, but the writers and bookers have not. This week that all changed. At TLC the right people won the right matches, and importantly they did it the right way. Rhodes Scholars scored a clean win, Dolph Ziggler won in the main event and The Shield went over big time in the six man TLC match. This all looks so encouraging. Has Vince McMahon been visited by the ghost of Wrestlemania future and been told that next year’s super show will absolutely suck unless he changes his ways?!

I really hope WWE keep this up, not only was TLC a cracker but the Slammy Awards Raw was the best episode in ages. For the first time since they moved from two hours to three WWE managed to fill all the gaps in the show. Granted I still fast forwarded past the Divas and Brodus Clay but I used my Sky+ less than usual this week.

As well as filling all (or most) of the space that a three hour show presents there just felt like there was bit more life to Raw, and I have to credit the performers. The way CM Punk and Paul Heyman conduct themselves is fantastic to watch, it’s like they are sending themselves up. We are always told that the best wrestling personas are usually exaggerated versions of the real person, something quite clearly on display with these two. Dolph Ziggler has been granted another opportunity, and as always he is throwing himself into it. The Shield are so impressive I can’t say enough good things about them. When these guys come out they are so pumped up I get an adrenaline rush just watching them. Roman Reigns in particular is an absolute animal. The Miz has a new lease of life as a babyface while Del Rio looked really intense when he attacked 3MB at TLC. It’s been a quiet face turn but for the first time I’m interested to see ADR in action. Speaking of 3MB they look like they are having a great time whenever I see them, and that is the point I am trying to make.

When I watched Raw this week I saw a group of people performing for the fans and enjoying themselves, and that is what WWE has been missing of late. Too often it has felt like the wrestlers have been going through the motions in their matches and in their promos. For too long we have been watching wrestlers trying to act, this week I saw a group of wrestlers trying to entertain. For me that was the key to the Attitude Era, not the bad language, blood and sexual references. When I think back to that era I think of how fun it was to watch and how fun it must have been to perform. That is what WWE should strive to do, make it more fun for the wrestlers and naturally it will become more fun for us to watch. Cut these guys a bit of slack, let them explore their personas a bit more and have fun out there. For example, a lot of fans don’t really care for Brodus Clay because they don’t believe he is actually enjoying himself. He may smile and act happy but you can see in his eyes that he isn’t enjoying himself. However, in a world where good guys get heat in every other city, career babyface Kofi Kingston gets the right the reaction every single night, why? Because it is clear for all too see that he loves his job and enjoys wrestling for the fans, thus we enjoy watching him.

As encouraged as I have been from this past week time will only tell if WWE has turned a corner. This is WWE after all; maybe it was a one-off? Maybe everyone was just happy because it was the last shows before the holidays? Maybe Raw came across well just because The Slammy’s broke it up a bit? Maybe this is a yet another false dawn and Ziggler will be back in the mid card by March? Maybe The Shield are just being built up so Super Cena can knock them down? And maybe CM Punk‘s history making title run will be brought to an end by a movie star? And everyone said David Arquette winning the WCW title was ridiculous…

Matches from History: TLC Special

James Giles

As documented on this blog, WWE staged its third TLC PPV this Sunday, and a largely satisfying show it was. Thanks to its staging every year, and frequent varieties of Ladder match booked over the last decade, TLC probably has an element of ‘seen it all before’ for the current audience. But back in 2000, TLC was a revolution; the first, contested by the Dudleys, the Hardys and Edge & Christian, took high-risk manoeuvres and maximum impact high-spots to their logical extreme, and subsequent battles made admirable/insane attempts to match it. The original remains the most imaginative, action-packed and dramatic though, and the perfect chemistry between those three teams is an unquestionable high-light of the Attitude Era. Amazingly TLC was the pinnacle of a whole series of innovations by the duos, which came to define the modern era of Tag Team wrestling.

The dawn of this new era was at No Mercy 1999, in the final of the Terri Invitational Tournament, in which Tag Teams were fighting for the ‘managerial skills’ of Terri Runnels. Although this aspect would prove largely irrelevant over time, in-ring the bout between Edge & Christian and the Hardy Boys, WWE’s first ever Tag Team Ladder match, had a significant impact. In a particularly unmemorable year for wrestling action, the athletic and high-risk moves performed by both teams got them over hugely and their popularity soared. Their spectacular display also seemed to motivate the rest of the locker room, and arguably kick-started greater focus back on ring performance leading into 2000, one of WWE’s best years from an in-ring standpoint.

After a slightly rocky start when they initially jumped from ECW, the Dudley Boys grabbed the audience attention majorly when their subsequent rivalry with the Hardys led to another gimmick match innovation: the Tag Team Table match. As heel, the Dudleys riled up the fans by putting various faces, especially women, through tables. Seeking to gain some revenge, the Hardys agreed to match at Royal Rumble 2000 where the winners would be the first to put both opposition members through tables. Jeff and Matt came out on top when Jeff originated a spot that would regularly recur, always increasingly dangerous: the Swanton Bomb off something high. During the next few months, E&C would resume feuding with the Hardys and the Dudley would win the Tag Team Championships; the three teams then had their first epic clash at Wrestlemania 2000 in the progenitor to TLC, the Triangle Ladder match. Impressively stealing the show, the sheer ingenuity behind the moves and the incredible risks they took cemented them as WWE’s top three duos.

Edge & Christian took the win and their first Tag Team Championship; soon undergoing a massive personality transplant, they became conceited, egotistical heels and 100% more entertaining for it. Indeed, their skits with Kurt Angle and Commissioner Foley were comedy gold and remain hilarious today. They also developed a team manoeuvre called the con-chair-to, a simultaneous double chair-shot to both sides of an opponents head. With the Dudleys frequent use of tables, and the Hardys association with ladders, all three teams now had their own weapon of choice.

Tables, and Ladders, and Chairs…oh my!

During the summer of 2000 WWE was absolutely on fire, and virtually every single wrestler and personality was super-over. Every storyline and feud seemed to have real purpose, and almost every element of the product clicked with fans. To capitalise on their chemistry and finely honed team skills, on-screen Commissioner Mick Foley devised a bout that was to settle things with gimmick that would compliment them all: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. The goal would be the same as Ladder match, with the first to gain the belts hung above the ring becoming champs, but Tables and Chairs would be placed at ringside with the use of them actively encouraged.

Taking place at Summerslam 2000, TLC was a breathtaking display of stunts and bumps, held together by smooth transitions and the storied rivalry, which the live crowd was fervent for. Once again the trio of tandems were the high-light of the card, and E&C again came out as champions. To write a run-down of the moves wouldn’t really do them justice, so just watch it here:

TLC II at Wrestlemania X-Seven was a damned impressive attempt to re-capture the magic, and whilst some bumps were even more incredible, the actual feud had lost some steam by then and the emotional reaction wasn’t as strong. TLC III, which was booked without build up on Smackdown in May 2001 and competed between four teams instead of three, was the last to feature these three teams; exciting as it was, this was down to Jericho & Benoit’s brief super-over face run, and Dudleys/Hardys/E&C were just background dressing. With these duos now all split and gone solo (to varying degrees of success), the TLC remained a dormant gimmick for about four years between 2002 and 2006, and was eventually revived for use mostly in singles championship bouts. WWE has recently experiment with it in Triple Threat and Fatal Four Way formats, sensibly expanding its uses and presentation. Now with its own PPV dedicated to the format, this seems to be the best way forward for TLC; the magic created by the Dudleys, Hardys and E&C was unique to that wonderful period in wrestling and is unlikely to be recaptured by any teams in the current era.

WWF at the Boston Gardens June 22 1985

Craig Wilson

A 15,100 sell-out crowd witnessed this event, a show that boasted a strong card featuring the Boston debuts of Lanny Poffo, The Missing Link and Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage as well as the tag champions Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff in action as well IC champion Greg Valentine in action and Hogan locking horns with Big John Studd.

WWF at the Boston Gardens June 22 1985

Your hosts Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund

Championship’s roll call: WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan… Intercontinental Champion: Greg ‘the Hammer’ Valentine… Tag Team Champions: The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff

Match 1: Steve Lombardi v Wildman Jack Armstrong: Of course, Lombardi is better known as The Brooklyn Brawler whilst Armstrong is so poorly known that he’s announced as “Wildman Jack Savage” by the ring announcer. Nothing much really to this seven minute affair. Big “boring” chant throughout before Lombardi picks up the win with a Boston crab after a backbreaker.

Match 2: George ‘The Animal’ Steele v Moondog Spot: I don’t anticipate a very technical match here… As one half of the Moondogs, Spot is a onetime former WWF Champion and would wrestle until 2003 when he died as a result of a heart attack in the ring. While the in-ring work leaves a lot to be desired, the crowd are super into Steele, who picks up the win after hitting Spot in the throat with a foreign object. Steele celebrates by eating a number of turnbuckle pads.

Interview segment is up next with Okerlund catching up with the number one free agent in wrestling, Randy Savage who is in action next against SD Jones.

Match 3: SD Jones v Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage: Crowd firmly behind Jones in this one as Monsoon and Okerlund inform us that various WWF managers were in attendance tonight to have a look at Savage. By no means a classic but some historical significance with this being Savage’s Boston debut with the WWF. Savage wins after Jones hits turnbuckle post shoulder first before Savage slams him and hits the top rope elbow drop for the three count.

Match 4: Swede Hansen v Adrian Adonis: Both men are former tag team champions – Hanson, with Rip Hawk, in various territories while Adonis held WWF titles with Jesse Ventura and Dick Murdoch. This was just before Adonis adopted the ‘Adorable’ moniker and bleached his hair. Hansen is in control early doors as he overpowers his younger opponent.

Adonis makes his comeback with a boot to Hansen’s nether region. With a combined weight of 600, this was never going to be anything other than a slow paced, but hard hitting, encounter and the brawl takes them to the outside where Hansen hits a couple of chair shots. Adonis takes a turnbuckle bump that’d make Ric Flair proud but Hansen misses a big splash and Adonis takes the win with an elbow drop off the top rope at the six and a half minute mark.

Match 5: The Missing Link (w/ Bobby ‘the Brain’ Heenan) v Tony Garea: The late Dewey ‘Missing Link’ Robertson only had a very short run with the WWF during the 1980s and is perhaps best remembered from his stints with the WCCW while Garea is a five time WWF tag team champion – including stints with Rick Martel (2) and Larry Zybszko. The Missing Link’s gimmick, for those unaware of him, is similar to George ‘the Animal’ Steele and Kamala. Basically a crazy out of control wild man. The Missing Link starts the match by attacking furniture at ringside including the ring steps – an act that bursts him open. Despite Garea getting in some offence, this is basically a squash and The Missing Link gets the win with a splash off the second rope.

Match 6: WWF Intercontinental Champion Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart) v The Junkyard Dog: As was the norm at the time, the crowd were hugely behind the JYD. Always quit liked Valentine. A slow and methodical wrestler, for sure, but also entertaining enough and his match with Ronnie Garvin at the Royal Rumble 1990 is a harder hitting match than most were used to in the WWF in 1990.

As was standard, we saw Valentine doing the Flair flop after he and JYD trade a series of hard hitting blows before a double clothesline drops both superstars. A reversal of Valentines figure four sends Jimmy Hart, who had been on the ring apron, to the ground before JYD gets a near fall with a small package. We are treated to a series of JYD headbutts but Hart distracts the challenger and holds down his legs as Valentine gets the pin, or at least thinks he does, before the referee disallows the count and counts Valentine out.

Match 7: Barry O v ‘Leaping’ Lanny Poffo: Poffo is Randy Savage’s brother and wrestled briefly for the WWF before turning to management as The Genius. Poffo gets announced as “Lenny” Poffo. Not that announcer’s finest day at the office. Barry O is of course Barry Orton, ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton’s brother and the uncle of current WWE superstar Randy Orton. Perhaps best remembered as the man, during the WWF sex scandal of the early 90s, as the man that claimed both Terry Garvin and Pat Patterson molested him.

This show appears to be the evening of Boston debuts as Lanny Poffo is also making his debut in this match. This is perhaps the best match on the card so far with two quite contrasting styles: Poffo’s amateur background versus the brawling style of Barry O. I’m sure Poffo and his brother would have had a series of great great matches. Anyway, Poffo wins this one with a “leaping backflip” or a moonsault to you and I at the 12 minute mark.

Match 8: WWF Tag Team Champions The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff v The U.S. Express (Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo): The champions won the straps from their opponents on this show at Wrestlemania I in what was one of the shocks of the night. Rotundo later gained fame as I.R.S in the early 90s whilst unfortunately the best of Windham’s in-ring action took place in the NWA despite several runs with the WWF. Of course, these guys came to the ring to Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” and were eventually meant to get “Real American” before it was passed to Hogan.

This is a classic 80s match. Anti-American heels against all-American good guys with the crowd firmly behind the faces and this feud would resurface again on Retro Raw in 2008. This was a great back and forth match featuring the heels being in control over Windham before a hot tag to Rotunda and it took Volkoff reversing Rotundo’s small package on the Sheik for the victory. The crowd were at their hottest during this one, firmly behind the challengers but to no avail.

Match 9: Judy Martin v Desiree Peterson: These two had feuded forquite a while, initially in the tag team division where Desiree Peterson was a former co-holder of the women’s tag titles with Velvet McIntyre before The Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai and Judy Martin). Peterson pinned Martin at around nine minutes with a crossbody, moments after Martin had thrown her opponent onto the lap of Gorilla Monsoon at ringside, who then placed Peterson back inside the ring.

Match 10: WWF Champion Hulk Hogan v Big John Studd (w/Bobby ‘the Brain’ Heenan): Hogan hit the ring to ‘Eye of the tiger’ to a great pop. Weird seeing him in blue trunks and blue boots though.

Hogan bleeds a lot after Studd opens the wound on his head. This is a pretty standard Hogan match, nothing you won’t have seen before and we get typical heel esque behaviour too – a chair shot on the outside.

Studd, whose white tights are blood soaked, regains advantage with a clothesline and gets a couple of two counts before he slaps on a bearhug. The fight again goes to the outside where Hogan slams Big John Studd on the concrete floor and wins by countout.

Overall: Pretty standard fare for a show of this kind. A few cool bits here and there –with various debuts, particularly that of Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage. The early encounters left a lot to be desired but the event picked up as it progressed and the crowd was hot for the tag team match and very angry with the finish of that but were able to go away happy with a victory for their hero – and in wrestling terms virtually everyone’s hero in the mid to late eighties – the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan.

TLC – What was hot and what was not

Craig Wilson

So the dust has settled on the WWE’s final pay per view of 2012 – TLC. And what an impressive card it was. Despite the WWE Champion CM Punk being on the sidelines following knee surgery, they coped well in his absence building on the very solid Survivor Series from last month with last night’s offering.

Let’s look at what was hot and what was not from TLC 2012.

HOT

Great opening bout, fast paced and with a sick bump from Sin Cara. Really big fan of Team Rhodes Scholars too so it is good to see them involved in the tag team title scene.

CM Punks ‘knees to faces’ Rock inspired t-shirt was very funny and a good cameo from the WWE Champion in general with a heel promo attacking the crowd and area.

Kofi v Wade: I said in the preview piece that I like both guys here so this was a match I was looking forward to. This was a pretty hard hitting as you would expect and a big win for Kofi. Barrett will go on to bigger and better things in 2013 but this win made Kofi look like a strong champion and did no damage whatsoever to Barrett.

Team Hell No & Ryback v The Shield was a classic battle. The way they all paired off was very pleasing – Ambrose v Ryback, Reigns v Kane and most welcome Rollins v Bryan. The Shield triple powerbomb really is a great spot. The crowd was so so hot for this one too.

Dolph Ziggler retaining the ‘money in the bank’ briefcase was vitally important for him and although it wasn’t a clean win – it took AJ turning on Cena – it would have been gutting had Cena triumphed in this one. Interesting to see how over Ziggler was – many of his t-shirts in the crowd whilst the win was greeted with many cheers.

In addition, another night where Ziggler fails to cash in the briefcase and I look forward to 2013 to see when he does take his title shot.

NOT

Antonio Cesaro v R-Truth: I’m sure some of the old guard in the back enjoy Cesaro’s rest holds but the crowd sure as hell didn’t. I don’t doubt his talent but the crowd have so little interest in him and that does not bode well at all for his long term future. His whole shtick just seems like something from a bygone era. Short term I don’t think a feud with R-Truth will really help his cause.

Albert Del Rio’s face turn: Not the turn itself but more the way it was executed. I found it strange to waste such a turn in order to set up a 6-man tag match featuring The Miz, ADR and, in the cool bit, The Brooklyn Brawler v 3MB. I hope that damp squib of a start doesn’t hamper his chances as a face.

While the commentary has, without question, picked up since JBL joined the team, they tended to focus on pointless stuff such as the Slammy’s rather than in-ring action, particularly during Kofi v Barrett.

Big Show v Sheamus: The chair match was the weakest of the 3 consecutive PPV matches between The Big Show and Sheamus. Also, a supersized steel chair. Really? “The Big Show chair”.

WWE TLC Predictions

Jamie Lithgow & Craig Wilson

Ahead of WWE TLC tonight, Jamie and Craig take a look at the card and make their match predictions.

Team Hell No & Ryback vs. The Shield (TLC Match)

Jamie: I’m quite looking forward to seeing The Shield make their in ring debut, especially the potential exchanges between Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins. I see this being a very strong match with a hot crowd given how popular the babyfaces are and how good The Shield have been to this point. Also, as I alluded to by mentioning Bryan and Rollins, there are some good workers in this match too. It may be a substitute for Punk vs. Ryback III but after events at Survivor Series this match is the logical progression for Ryback. He’s been beaten by Punk twice already and in all likelihood would have lost (or at least not won the title) a third time. No doubt Ryback would have lost his planned match to punk due to interference of some kind but that would not have protected him this time around. Given how Punk won the last two matches Ryback would just look stupid if he allowed himself to lose under similar circumstances for a third time. This is the logical match for Ryback because The Shield are the enemies staring him in the face, Punk has been looking passed him for weeks now. As for a winner, The Shield cannot lose, that would be a complete waste of a month’s TV, a good storyline and three very promising superstars to just job them out at the first opportunity. Equally Ryback can’t afford a loss because he’s lost his last two PPV matches. My hunch is that The Shield picks up the win, but Bryan or Kane do the job.

Winners – The Shield

Craig: This is a great main event and very impressive that the WWE have been able to resist having The Shield wrestle on television in order for them to make their in-ring debut on this PPV. This match should be a very good and, like Jamie, I expect some hot exchanges between Bryan and Rollins. I can see this one ending with Kane or Bryan taking the pin – just can’t see Ryback losing in this one. Can’t also see The Shield losing, that would be ridiculous.

Winners – The Shield

John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler (Ladder Match)

Jamie: Very excited about this match, and it’s not often I say that about a match involving Cena. However, at the same time I’m kind of dreading it too. I hope this is Ziggler’s big night where he grabs the imaginary brass ring and topples the mighty John Cena to reserve his spot in the main event picture for 2013. However, he’s facing John Cena. Time and time again this man has won matches when he should have been used to put someone else over. Also, Dolph’s Money in the Bank briefcase is up for grabs. If WWE had no intention of passing it on to Cena then they would have just booked a straight tables match, rather than a ladder match which requires a trophy to fight for. If this match goes on last then I fear for Ziggler because WWE hasn’t sent the fans home happy for a while. If the six man tag goes on last then at least Ryback can beat up The Shield after the decision to gloss over the result I am predicting, thus sending the fans home happy enough. Although, having said that, I bet Ziggler has more fans on the night than Cena. My fingers are crossed that this match is near the start of the card, in which case Ziggler should pick up the win. Ideally this match would be the main event and Ziggler would win, but like that would ever happen?! Oh, I’m also predicting that AJ will turn heel on Cena to help Ziggler win. We can’t have John Cena lose clean now can we?!

Winner – Dolph Ziggler

Craig: Now this is the match I’m probably most excited about on this card. I share Jamie’s concerns over where the match is placed on the card and I hope that Ziggler goes over here. Despite being my prediction for star of the year, he’s not really quite gotten things going. That said, this is an excellent chance for Ziggler to go over, and go over strong, putting him in a strong place for 2013. But when will he cash in the briefcase?

Winner – Ziggler (hopefully!)

World Heavyweight Champion Big Show vs. Sheamus (Chairs Match)

Jamie: I know that their matches have been well received but I still don’t care about the truly awful character that is Sheamus and the always uninteresting Big Show. Actually, that’s a little harsh on Show. I still think he has a role to play in WWE, just not at the top of the card. As for Sheamus, I just don’t like him. He’s not funny when he tries to be and his act seems too forced and fake to the point of embarrassment. As for the match, yet again I am predicting that Ziggler cashes in his briefcase on the winner. Who that winner will be is harder to predict, I really want it to be Sheamus though. That way Ziggler could knock off two of my least favourite wrestlers in one night!

Winner – Sheamus

Craig: If you’d said to me in the summer that Big Show and Sheamus would have a series of very strong PPV matches that in the first two occasions would arguable steal the show, then I’d have been very surprised but that’s exactly what they have done. I see Sheamus going over here in what is shaping up to be a very hard hitting match. I see Jamie’s predicting in the cashing of Ziggler’s briefcase post match but I don’t see that happening. Think Sheamus will end the night with the gold.

Winner – Sheamus

Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett

Jamie: It’s nice to see the title scene further down the card being shown a little bit of interest by the writers. I can see this feud continuing towards The Rumble so I think Kofi will retain, although I expect Barrett to look strong in order for the feud to continue.

Winner – Kofi Kingston

Craig: I’m a big fan of both of these guys and think there wildly contrasting styles will make for a very interesting encounter. I think Barrett has bigger and better things in the near future than a run with the Intercontinental title and I see Kofi winning this one. Like Jamie I think there’s a bit of gas left in the tank for this feud after tonight though and having something meaningful like that, bodes well for both guys going in to 2013.

Winner – Kofi

U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. R-Truth

Jamie: It is nice that something is being done with the US title; it’s just a shame that this is what WWE came up with. Cesaro is a great worker but his character is so boring and out dated, he’s really dull. He’s also facing R-Truth, whom fans have been unable to take seriously since he started talking to himself.

Winner – Antonio Cesaro

Craig: I feel sorry for Cesaro. As talented as he is the fans care not a jot about him, owing to his thoroughly boring character. It’s difficult to get in to this match and feud really owing to how the fans perhaps care even less for his R-Truth.

Winner – Cesaro.

Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara vs. Team Rhodes Scholars

Jamie: Two teams fighting for the chance to face Team Hell No for the titles, I like it. The simple fact that these guys are competing to even get a shot the titles (who are held by a team in the main event of the PPV) says that the Tag Titles are worth winning and that tag team wrestling is alive in WWE. I won’t say that it is alive and well, but the inclusion of this match promotes positive thoughts. I’m picking Mysterio and Sin Cara to win, purely because they need to get a higher up the card in order for their inevitable split to have any impact.

Winners – Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara

Craig: As someone that is a well documented fan of tag team wrestling, the fact that the number one contenders match is taking place on a PPV is great news. Both of these teams are good and add a lot to the tag team division which now looks more relevant than it has been in years. I do get Jamie’s point re the future split up of Rey and Cara, but I want to see Team Rhodes Scholars challenge for the tag titles.

Winners – Team Rhodes Scholars.

Final thoughts…

Jamie: It doesn’t look too bad a show on paper, far better than Survivor Series looked at least. I would imagine the likes of CM Punk, The Miz and Randy Orton will make appearances and another match will get added making this a half decent looking PPV.

Craig: On paper a very strong outing here. I think Sheamus v Show will be very bloody and hard hitting, I have hopes that Ziggler will go over strong – which he really needs – and I’m really looking forward to seeing The Shield make their in-ring debut together at this PPV. Like Jamie I see another match being added somewhere along the line as well but so far, so good for me.

Sunday Sermon – Wrestlers in movies; best and worst

Craig Wilson, James Giles & Jamie Lithgow

With the festive season comes a bucket load of movies to watch. For this reason today we look at wrestler’s appearances on the silver screen, both good and bad. Please note that we are likely to ignore WWE Studios films, purely because they are rubbish and go straight to DVD. Even those that have received cinema releases don’t get much coverage in UK cinemas, thus we couldn’t care less about them!

Jamie: The reason I’ve sparked this topic is purely due to cult classic They Live. It came up in a conversation I had the other day with a non-wrestling fan friend of mine. It is that rare film starring a wrestler (Roddy Piper) that is actually pretty good and appreciated by people outside of wrestling circles. Piper is very watchable in the film as a reluctant yet charismatic protagonist.

James: Yeah, he is a bit OTT but it suits the film and the character well. Apparently John Carpenter (who directed) is a huge wrestling fan, so that explains the casting. In fact, I think I remember seeing a Wrestlemania where they showed him in the audience.

As far as who is the best wrestler actor, I think I’d have to say The Rock every time. Even in the terrible things he has been in, like Doom, he was still very watchable himself.

For the worst, then everything and anything Hulk Hogan has been in. Suburban Commando, Mr Nanny, the list is endlessly awful. His only half decent appearance is an in-character cameo in Gremlins II: The New Batch, and only because it fits the surreal tone of the movie well. The WCW produced Ready to Rumble is staggeringly bad too.

My two favourite movies starring wrestlers are actually both documentaries – Beyond The Mat and Wrestling With Shadows. Both are completely essential viewing for any wrestling fan as far as I am concerned.

Craig: I have to ‘fess up; I’m in the fortunate position of being able to say I’ve not really seen many wrestling films. Pretty much as a rule I avoid the ones that are produced by the WWE and I’ve not even seen Ready to Rumble or No Holds Barred.

In terms of some wrestling related things I’ve seen, I love the film The Wrestler which, although not a documentary or biopic, is clearly heavily based on tales from several wrestlers, particularly Jake Roberts in relation to Micky Rourke’s character, Robin Ramzinski’s, relationship with his estranged daughter.

In terms of top quality documentaries, it’s difficult to look beyond Wrestling with Shadows and Beyond the Mat. Two very different, but very important, documentaries that look at important parts of wrestling and the sport’s history.

Wait, I’ve seen Hulk Hogan films but I’ve clearly tried to forget them. I’ve seen both Suburban Commando and Mr Nanny but I’ve clearly tried to forget the experience huh.

Jamie: After Roddy Piper’s performance in They Live prompted this discussion my mind also drifted towards Hulk Hogan’s efforts, and as you have both said his movies have been terrible (Gremlins II aside). I will admit to having a nostalgia fuelled soft spot for his TV show; Thunder in Paradise though. It was like Baywatch meets Knight Rider, but a hundred times worse than either.

In terms of wrestlers in starring roles then obviously Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is the stand-out by some distance. I can’t say I’ve seen a great number of his films, and those I have seen haven’t been great, but they have been far above anything (possibly other than They Live) featuring any other wrestler. Like James said, The Rock is very watchable even in crap films. He’s a bit like a poor man’s Will Smith in that sense; he can almost make a poor film worth watching on his own. For example, I enjoyed Gridiron Gang purely because of The Great One.

I have to admit that I’m now struggling to think of wrestlers featuring in starring roles. I’m now leaning towards the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard, which featured many familiar faces including Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, The Great Khali and Goldberg. Rather sadly I quite enjoyed this film; Austin and Nash are half decent in their roles as prison guards. Speaking of Big Sexy we can’t discuss this topic without mentioning Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze. He plays the role of Super Shredder in the final sequence in what was one of my favourite childhood movies.

There are many cameos I could mention but as it is Christmas let’s keep it topical and give Big Show’s brief appearance in Jingle All The Way a mention. I’m not joking when I say that this is one of my favourite Christmas films, it’s one of my favourite Arnie films too. However, to round off I have to mention the most topical film for this discussion. That’s right, a wrestler in the starring role of a Christmas film! Goldberg starred as Santa Claus in the comedy/horror Santa’s Slay. He played Santa in a total nonsense of a film which has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek so is therefore a pretty fun watch. Honestly, this is a great film to watch with a few beers and your mates.