WWE Hall of Fame – long overdue entrants

So with the announcements thus far that the Four Horsemen, Edge, Mil Máscaras, Mike Tyson and Ron ‘Farooq’ Simmons are all to be inducted into the WWE hall of fame this year, I thought now would be a good time to look at some long overdue entrants.

Macho Man Randy Savage

A very obvious one I know but he was one of the most colourful men in the history of the WWE. Sadly any induction would now be a posthumous one but his contribution to the WWF in the mid 80s to the early 90s was fantastic. From his part in arguably the greatest Wrestlemania match in history against Ricky Steamboat at WM3 to winning the World Championship tournament the very next year to the feud with Hogan meant that he played a pivotal role in the early Wrestlemanias. His retirement match with the Ultimate Warrior was off the page at WM7 and it would have taken the stoniest of hearts not to have been happy to see him “re-united” with Miss Elizabeth after that one.

Relationships clearly soured between Vince and the Macho Man after he left but it’s time that this was put behind them and that the Macho Man is allowed his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame. The most obvious person to induct him would be Hulk Hogan.

Jake Roberts

Without doubt, Jake was one of the greatest men on a microphone in WWE history. The video below demonstrates just how incredible his promos were, especially in an era of promos consisting of rambling incoherent nonsense (The Ultimate Warrior), the urging of fans to take their vitamins (Hulk Hogan) and pledges to destroy their opposition (Just about everyone else).

Has long battled alcohol and, alleged, drug problems but has returned to the WWF screens fairly regularly from returning to the company in a full-time capacity in 96 to his appearance a number of appearances since and this could indicate he’s still on good terms with the company.

Sting

I was never that much of a WCW fan other than in the early nineties but whenever I’ve seen Sting I’ve usually been impressed. Perhaps the biggest Wrestling star, certainly in America, never to work for the WWE his role in the success of the WCW cannot be understated and he deserved enormous credit for keeping his character relevant by ditching the blonde surfer Sting in favour of the dark and brooding Brandon Lee-esque Sting in the late 90s. Almost annually linked with an appearance at Wrestlemania but has remained faithful to the organisations he was with, currently TNA. It would be great to see Sting join the WWF Hall of Fame and it would have to be a WCW ‘man’ that would have to induct him. Perhaps Flair or Dusty Rhodes.

Demolition

I’ve admitted it before and I’ll say it again, I am a huge Demolition fan. Without question these guys deserve to be amongst the other wrestling greats in the hall of fame. Despite having a relatively short career in the WWE before going their separate ways, few can forget their dominance in the tag team division. Initially seen as a cheap imitation of the legendary Road Warriors, they were loved by the fans when they became face yet didn’t lose any of the aggression that made them so good as heels. There is an argument that they were better workers than the Road Warriors, certainly less stiff, and at WM6 become only the second team in WWE history to become three time tag champions. It would be great to see Barry ‘Smash’ Darsow and Bill ‘Ax’ Eadie taking their rightful place in the Hall of Fame.

The British Bulldog & Owen Hart

Another two posthumous inductees, unfortunately, but both richly deserve a place in the Hall of Fame. First of all, the British Bulldog: Following Wrestling from the UK, I was always a fan of the Bulldog and was as excited as most that he was headlining Summerslam 92 when he beat Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. A powerhouse of a wrestler, he arguably worked best as one half of a tag team either with the Dynamite Kid in the British Bulldogs or with his brother-in-law the late Owen Hart.

Owen Hart: a great wrestler in his own right and who can forget the memorable feud with his brother Bret from 93 onwards that included a classic match at WM10 and a fantastic cage match at that year’s Summerslam. One of Owen’s greatest gimmicks was his overselling of winning Slammy Awards and he drew such heat from the fans for it. A tragedy that his life came to an end at such a young age, and even more of a tragedy the circumstances that caused his death but a great in-ring talent that deserves that recognition.

Vince McMahon

Incredible that the man that has done so much to change the face of the wrestling has yet to take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. I suspect his fear is that it would make him look self indulgent, far from it. He took the then WWWF and made it one of the biggest brands of the 80s, revolutionising sports entertainment in the process. The man whose instructions to the referee during the Montreal Screwjob resulted in the name of this blog without question deserves to join his father in the HoF. Who to induct him? Hulk Hogan?

Who have I missed?

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Bad event, good memories – part I

Craig Wilson

Premise is simple, an event you enjoy – for whatever reasons you want – but is either regarded by many as poor or upon reviewing the event you tend to agree.

Sticking with the Wrestlemania theme for this one so the first event I’ll talk about is Wrestlemania 6.

WM6 was the second WWF video I got as a kid – the first was 1988 survivor series. At the time I was very young and the decision on what videos to buy was primarily due to the cover. The cover for this event featured the iconic poster of the Ultimate Warrior going head to head with the Hulkster in what was billed as the Ultimate Challenge. Check out the cheesy greatness of the intro video…

Anyway, I remember watching WM6 as a kid and thinking it was awesome. The event took place at the Sky Dome in Toronto, the first Wrestlemania to take place outside America, in front of a crowd of 67,678 fans. I was mesmerised by the huge attendance at the event and thought the matches were good. One of the stand-out features of events in that era was the high number of matches – this event featured 14 that were broadcast. I was a huge Demolition fan as a kid – was delighted, too, that they are in the WWE12 game – and buzzed that they won the tag titles from the Colossal Connection of Andre the Giant and Haku to become only the second team in WWE history to have three reigns as champions. The first team was the 70s combination of Mr. Fuji and Prof. Tanaka. Mr. Fuji will be better remembered by most as the manager of Yokozuna in the 90s but also managed Demolition until late 88.

As a wrestling fan it’s never cool to admit that you’re a fan of the Ultimate Warrior but I was watching this event when I was ten so that’s my excuse. As a small kid I was a huge Ultimate Warrior fan! The main event of that Wrestlemania was epic. The Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior locking horns with the World Champion the Immortal Hulk Hogan in an incredible good guy v good guy battle. Quite uncommon at the time to see a good guy v a good guy as it tended to always be about battles between good and evil. What a match it turned out to be which is even more surprising when you consider who was involved. Hulk Hogan is an icon of wrestling and played as much of a role as Vince McMahon in making the then WWF the success that it was. History hasn’t been kind to the Ultimate Warrior. ‘The self destruction of the Ultimate Warrior’ DVD turned into little more than a hatchet job after the Warrior’s refusal to take part. Also, it’s crazy to note that Jim Helwig changed his name to ‘The Warrior’ in the nineties. That’s right. The surname of his kids is ‘Warrior’. Anyway… I digress. The match was an epic power struggle between the man that had carried the WWF to that point and the man viewed by many as the person who would carry the WWF beyond the event. Despite the Warrior’s win it never turned out like that with poor buy rates eventually seeing the belt return to the Hulkster, although not for another year, when he defeated Sgt. Slaughter in the main event at the following year’s Wrestlemania.

I watched the event the other week and boy does it not live up to the memories of old. Yeah the tag title match was cool and the main event was very good so too was the bout pitting the Orient Express v The Rockers but there is some garbage on there as well. The Big Boss Man beating Akeem in about a minute and a half to end their feud: rubbish. A half blacked-up Roddy Piper going to a double count-out with Bad News Brown: crap ending – I hate double count-outs or double-DQs at Wrestlemania and Dusty Rhodes and Saphire having a mixed tag match with the Macho Man and Sherri: A waste of Savage’s talents. What a drop for Randy Savage. From match of the event at WM 3, winning the title at WM4 and being in the main event against Hogan at WM5 to this drivel. Still, things did pick up in the lead up to his “retirement” match against the Warrior at WM7 but still…

Quite possibly the very definition of a main event show as most watching this, even now, will only care about the main event. There is some decent stuff there, the matches I mentioned and Andre the Giant turning face but that’s buried right at the start. The commentary is great too from the legendary, and late, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse ‘the body’ Ventura. Still, I wouldn’t bother with the event. Maybe just watch the main event on youtube…

WWE in 2012

One to watch:

Dolph Ziggler

Without question my one to watch has to be Dolph Ziggler. As I mentioned in a previous post, he was my tip for the Royal Rumble and, despite not winning and hitting a bit of a poor spell in the weeks following the event, I really do think this could be his year. He’s certainly come on a long way since his time in the Spirit Squad…

Whilst she may be the most annoying thing on WWE TV, Vicky Guerrero has been a huge success in bringing heat towards her clients and Dolph Ziggler is no different. A very accomplished wrestler in his own right, despite his uncanny resemblance to Billy Gunn, his repertoire of moves is one of the best in the WWE at the moment and we’ve seen him get more mic time in the recent weeks.

I thought his feud with CM Punk had a lot in it and I wouldn’t be surprised if it resumed post Wrestlemania where I anticipate that Chris Jericho will put Punk over in their match. The bout between Punk and DZ at Royal Rumble was, in my opinion, the match of the evening despite the unnecessary part played by Laurinaitis as special ref/enforcer.

What needs to happen this year:

1)    Tag team division needs boosted: It’s looking awful at the moment as has been demonstrated by the lack of TV time afforded to the division. The potential of a feud between the tag champs and the Usos is interesting as both tag teams are quite exciting but beyond that there isn’t much alternative. Some new tag teams need to be found/created and the WWE need to avoid the lure of throwing together two random performers with no chemistry as that won’t help at all. The last few weeks have seen R-Truth and Kofi Kingston teaming together and last night on Raw Swagger and Ziggler were thrown together too. Both sorta work but it’s a short term fix to a long term problem.

2)    Sign some more main eventers: An injury to Randy Orton and another main event would highlight how threadbare the roster is in terms of talent and expose the gulf between the main eventers and the mid-carders. It’s also very difficult to see where the next superstar to make the jump up is. We’ve seen the Miz and R-Truth involved in main events recently but neither are over enough with the crowd. Signing RVD perhaps or even a return for Brock Lesnar?

3)    Find a credible Diva: The divas division is woeful. As usual, the preference is for eye candy over wrestling talent and that not only leads to poor matches but also the occasional botch and injury. I’ve not really seen a terrible amount of Kharma but she’s always impressed and there was a very positive reaction to her appearance in this year’s rumble. If the divas division sees matches between Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Khamra and Tamina then I think that’ll improve the quality of the matches.

4)    Make the belts more prestigious: Sometimes you get the impression that the creative department pass around a title due to having no other storyline idea. The US belt is perhaps the best one. After spending so long trying to get over with the fans Zak Ryder eventually does then wins the US title. What happens next? He drops it quickly to Jack Swagger who then barely defends it – that’s another matter. Same with the Heavyweight Championship, Henry holds it for a good period and builds himself up as a monster then loses it to Big Show who loses it moments later to Daniel Bryan. Considering the history associated with that belt, it not only undermines the championship but also the man chosen to defend it.

CM Punk & Daniel Bryan

5)    Scrap a top belt: Yup, despite my previous post about making the championships more important, I am now urging the WWE to drop one of the top belts. It seems daft having a WWE champion and a heavyweight champion. Perhaps a series between Punk and Bryan with the winner unifying the championship? The notion of the two having a feud is certainly exciting and the matches between the two would be top class.

6) Promote PPVs better: How often recently have we gone into an event barely knowing what the card is. This has to change. I suspect the poor PPV buy rates will force the WWE to act on this one. It’s very difficult to get an audience to care about a match that’s just been thrust upon them with no build up. That’s what Raw and Smackdown is for, building up a feud.

The Road to Wrestlemania – ways to improve the card?

Admittedly am perhaps going in with expectations that are far too low and may end up being pleasantly surprised but, in my eyes, the pressure is on for the WWE to make the rest of the card a huge success.

In my previous post, I gave my thoughts and fears ahead of Wrestlemania but in this post I will give my suggestions to what may make the card better:

1) The WWE at the moment seem to be hinting strongly at a feud between John Laurinaitis and Teddy Long over who should be the GM of both Raw and Smackdown. THIS MUST DEFINITELY NOT BE A MATCH AT WRESTLEMANIA. Both characters frustrate me enough with the time given to their promo work, a match would be utterly brutal.

2) The tag team division in the WWE is as weak at the moment as I can remember. Evan Bourne’s drug related problems have stripped the WWE of one of its most exciting tag-teams – although Kofi Kingston’s promotion to the main event scene as at least seen him benefit from his former tag team partner’s suspension. Primo and Epico are the current champions and it would be good to see them defend their titles at Wrestlemania. The main challengers that I can see are the Uso’s and an encounter between the two would make for a high-flying and action packed match-up.

3) One of the main surprises of the Elimination Chamber PPV was the fact that Jack Swagger defended his U.S. Championship, albeit against Justin Gabriel. I must confess, I’m no’ fan of Swagger. I get the fact that his look will make him popular amongst the powers that be at the WWE but I find his ring work, and promo work, utterly boring. However, it’s a secondary title so deserves to be defended. It’s here, however, you see the lack of depth in talent at the WWE just now.

4) A women’s match? The women’s roster is incredibly weak as well with Beth Phoenix steam-rolling over everyone that stands in her way. The two most impressive members of the female roster are Natalya and Kharma and with one being buried with an awful flatulence angle and the other having not yet returned to full-time competition after giving birth then it’s unlikely it will be either of those in the opposition corner to the Divas champion come April 1st. One option is certainly throwing Tamina Snuka in there. The daughter of hall of famer Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka has come on leaps and bounds recently and her and Beth have begun a mini-feud of sorts recently so don’t be too surprised if this match features on the card.

5) Money in the bank ladder match? A former staple of the Wrestlemania card, it did not feature last year but would give plenty of mid-card performers an airing at Wrestlemania as well as a chance to become a contender for one of the championships, maybe even that night. As it stands the likes of Christian, Mark Henry, Big Show, The Miz and R-Truth et all are all without opponents going into the event.

6) Any sort of a role for Dolph Ziggler.He was my tip initially for the Rumble – I thought he’d lose to CM Punk but win the Rumble and challenge Punk at Wrestlemania, alas not. One of the most accomplished performers in the WWE at the moment and certainly the most improved recently.

So come on WWE, make this a Wrestlemania to remember by adopting even just a couple of my suggestions.

The road to Wrestlemania – my thoughts with a month to go

Owing to the introductory post referencing the fact that the countdown is on to Wrestlemania it would seem that Wrestlemania is a logical topic for my first post.

Wrestlemania is without doubt, as the promo video used to say, the “granddaddy of them all”. The annual event, entering its 28th year, is the pinnacle of the Wrestling calendar. It is the Superbowl of Wrestling. Every year since 1984 it’s been the end point for some of the biggest feuds in wrestling history from Macho Man and Ricky Steamboat in the classic at Wrestlemania 3, the 60 minute Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 12 to the final part of the Stone Cold v the Rock trilogy at Wrestlemania 19.

It’s not only the matches that make the event as big as it is, it’s the heavy dose of celebrity appearances that help the event generate mainstream attention from Mr T, Liberace and Muhammed Ali’s involvement at the ever Wrestlemania to Motorhead and Kid Rock performing live to the crowds and that’s not including the various stars chosen to sing ‘America the beautiful’ that kicks-off the night.

While the history of Wrestlemania excites almost every Wrestling fan, I just can’t work myself up to be excited about this year’s event. As it stands there are only four matches advertised for the event as the WWE continues to fail to promote their events properly – part of the reason for the poor financial returns in the last quarter? – and of the matches that have been announced I only care about two of them: Sheamus v Daniel Bryan for the Heavyweight Championship and CM Punk v Chris Jericho for the WWE Championship. I can’t get myself excited at all about the Undertaker v HHH and John Cena v the Rock. I just can’t.

Like every kid of my generation that started watching the then WWF at the end of the 80’s/early 90’s the Undertaker was a great character and owing largely to his ability to keep the character reasonably fresh the Undertaker managed to continue to be relevant right through the mid-nineties, through the Attitude era until present day. However, his best days are long behind him now although his impressive 21-0 record at Wrestlemania is something that will never be bettered. Looking at his recent matches, though, and with the exception of his excellent match that retired Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 26, have been sub-par and I don’t see how another match v HHH will change things.

I’m even less excited by the prospect of Cena v the Rock. Both are superstars that have been pushed to the hilt and rammed down the throats of views – the Rock in the late 90s and Cena in recent years. I also think Wrestlemania is being misused if it’s giving the opportunity to the Rock to use the stage to promote his film and it’s taking away the chance from a performer on the card. I don’t for a moment doubt that Jericho v Punk will be a far superior match on the evening. A seamless link to my next point…

Without doubt, the match that excites me most is CM Punk taking on Jericho. This match has everything. In CM Punk we have quite possibly the most over face of the company and in Jericho a guy who is fantastic at drawing heat from the crowd. My fear, however, is that they won’t get much time. Maybe even as little as 15 minutes. My prediction? For CM Punk to go over. Am a huge CM Punk mark and although other internet commentators believe he’s better when he’s doing the chasing, I think he’s been a great champion with fantastic in-ring work and stellar work on the mic.

Once Sheamus destroyed Daniel Bryan after the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match, the stage was set for the Great White to lock horns with the World Heavyweight Champion at the grandest stage of them all and this is another match that excites me. I was equally surprised and pleased that Sheamus won the 2012 Royal Rumble at the end of January and I’m just as happy that he’s chosen to take on Daniel Bryan in a match I expect Sheamus to triumph in.

Every year I go into Wrestlemania hoping that it’ll be as great as some from history – such as WM10 and WM14 but this year I’m going in with even lower expectations that normal. They have a few weeks of TV time to turn things around and start announcing some matches for the event. After the recent financial results, the pressure is on for the creative department in Stamford, Connecticut.

An introduction

Hello all,

Welcome to my Wrestling blog. Long term Wrestling fan and former blogger only now getting round to combining the two.

Will try and keep this as up-to-date as possible with my thoughts on pay-per-views, TV, DVDs and games etc.

With just over a month to go until Wrestlemania XXVIII, 35 days in fact, now seems as good a time as any to start this.

Enjoy!