Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, Padraic Toolan, Brian Damage and Benjamin Trecroci
Growing up watching wrestling, we all had our favourites. The superstars, or teams, who would get us up off our seats when their intro music played. But today’s Sunday Sermon isn’t about them. Instead, it’s about those superstars who we didn’t value at the time but looking but, we really didn’t appreciate their work.
Craig: If I’m being honest, it is through watching my Raw Rewind 1994 that inspired this post and the short-lived re-emergence of one John ‘Earthquake’ Tenta.
A ferocious-looking big man who moved fairly well around the ring and cut a not-too-bad promo. But back when I grew up watching the WWF, his matches didn’t do much for me. Invariably they were squashes over jobbers or slightly longer, but no less dominant wins over superstars on their way out. I guess I missed his main event run.
But through these episodes of Raw and the recent Network addition of WWF Superstars from 1992, I’ve been able to enjoy a lot more of his work – either singles in 94 and tangling with Yokozuna or his tag team with Typhoon in 1992. A brute of a man with a pretty cool, albeit silly, finisher.
So, team, who are some of the wrestlers you maybe missed out on the first time around and why?
Jamie: I’ve found that, in general, time is quite generous to a lot of superstars from back in the day. I mean guys who had a sustained run of course. As a kid, I obviously loved the extroverted Macho Man and good guy Bret Hart, but as an adult viewing in hindsight, I’ve been able to truly appreciate how damn good they were. Even as a kid I knew that these guys were really good. I didn’t understand why, but I knew they were more than just a popular act. However, this topic is about the guys I did not rate when I was nipper.
Earthquake was also in my thinking. As a kid I just thought he was a fat guy and that was his gimmick. Turns out he was a hell of an athlete, especially when you watch him as part of the Natural Disasters. He was so much more agile than Typhoon. Another performer that springs to mind is The Mountie. I know, I just said that. As a kid, I didn’t think much of him, to be honest. I didn’t like him because WWE told me he was a baddie. However, as an adult, I am able to appreciate his stupid, campy, silly, villainous ways. His supercharged shockstick from circa 1992 was just ridiculous, and perfect for his character.
Padraic: I’ve gained a huge appreciation for Konnan, specifically his heel run in 1997-98 with the nWo. I don’t like him as a face; his ring style and psychology are tailor-made for a heel. Watching through those shows made me realize how much I hated him and it wasn’t because he sucked, it’s because he drew me in and got real heat from me even 20 years later. Truly a guy who knows how to get the reactions he wants.
Brian: I never really fully appreciated Ricky Steamboat in the WWF. Maybe it was because I was always a big fan of the heels like Honkytonk Man, Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage. Whatever the reason, his match with Savage at Wrestlemania III was great and yet I still didn’t fully appreciate what kind of worker he truly was. It wasn’t until he went to the NWA/WCW and feuded with Ric Flair for the world title, that I realized what a great mat tactician Steamboat was.
Jamie: Ricky Steamboat is most certainly one of those wrestlers that matures with age, by that I mean our age not his. Even when he was The Dragon gimmick circa 1991 my childhood self could not take to him. As an adult, however, I can see that this dude was having the best match on most shows he wrestled on. Skipping forward to the Attitude Era and I have to mention Scotty 2 Hotty, and to a lesser extent Rikishi. I liked Too Cool, I mean everyone did, but to my 15-year-old self, they were just the silly dancing guys and the Samoan dude in a thong. In hindsight, however, Scotty was the star of that trio, he was a fantastic wrestler. His singles match with Dean Malenko at Backlash 2000 will attest to that. I also consider Rikishi underrated as a wrestler too. Like Scotty, he was as over as anybody in 2000, but I overlooked his actual ability due the distraction of his gimmick. He was literally a big ass man pulling out awesome superkicks, yet instead, we popped for his wedgie!
Benjamin: Someone who I felt I didn’t fully appreciate was Rick Martel. When was the last time you read anything about Martel?
He was amazing as part of two tag teams in the late ’80s, First with Tom Zenk as part of the Can-Am Connection and then with the wildly popular Strike Force with Tito Santana. But I was a Tito guy.
Then, his heel persona as “The Model” was so perfect for him. Good-Looking guy with his French accent that helped bring out his personality for the first time. But Martel was someone I didn’t think at that time was a superstar, but he really was to make such a turn as a “bad guy” from the squeaky clean “good guy.”
Martel would later also retain the services of Slick as his manager during this run. But you hardly ever hear or see any highlights of Martel. Not exactly sure why. At some point, he should be in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Padraic: Martel was terrific and certainly under appreciated. The moment of his I most remember is when he was supposed to beat Booker T and Saturn to win the TV Title and SuperBrawl, but Martel tore his knee ligaments in the Booker T match and they worked out a finish on the fly. Total pro
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.