Grab yourself a bag of Butterfinger BB’s, set your VCR to record TekWar and tune in to the latest Wrestling Time Machine Column, as we flip the switches and travel back to January of 1995!
Grab yourself a bag of Butterfinger BB’s, set your VCR to record TekWar and tune in to the latest Wrestling Time Machine Column, as we flip the switches and travel back to January of 1995!
Hello my precious professional wrestling pals, and welcome to another edition of Wrestling Time Machine! We’ve got the dates keyed in on our time circuits, the Flux Capacitor is a-roaring to go, all to take us to February of 1997*!
Known primarily for his webcomic HEAT: The Space Age of Pro Wrestling (fusing pro wrestling and science fiction), cartoonist Jeff Martin is combining together elements of pro wrestling with another genre in battle monsters. Wrestlemon (2017) parodies the popular Nintendo property of Pokémon (short for Pocket Monsters) while also parodying pro wrestling with allusions to lucha libre in its featured monsters and homages for the likes of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, John Cena, Demolition, Ultimate Warrior, and more. The plot revolves around rookie trainer Jacey and her Wrestlemon Technico (after the lucha libre term “tecnico” meaning technician and referring to a babyface or hero) as they begin their path toward competition in the world of Wrestlemon. In their way is Jacey’s rival Thad and his Wrestlemon Roodo (after the lucha libre term “rudo” meaning rough and referring to a heel or villain) as Thad struggles to escape the shadow of his legendary father and his Wrestlemon Flaireon. All paths lead to a Wrestlemon gym where Jacey and Thad must prove their worth as trainers and their Wrestlemon demonstrate the ability to overcome in such a highly competitive environment.
Hey Stranger Rangers, I told you I’d be back and here we are. As I said in my last post, ComicArtCommunity.com and I have parted ways and over my five year career with the site, a few of my 267 articles have stood out. Previously we covered the most popular articles on CAC where now we’ll examine my favorite. The criteria for my favorite articles largely encompass one prevalent component: hard work. While I tend to invest a lot of time and energy into many of the pieces I write, some I have really needed to pore over and research. As such, many of these projects I’ve needed to care a great deal about in order to bring to completion (as I assure you, not every article I begin crosses the finish line). Of course, some of the most popular articles were also my favorite (like “Destroy All Monsters! Tokusatsu in America”) but for the sake of this list, there will be no repeats. Without further ado, my favorite articles I’ve crafted for CAC.
Good day my Wrestling Time Travel Compatriots, it is I, your humble docent through this exhibit on the History of Professional Wrestling, and today we will be continuing our journey through January of 1997!
Hello fans!!! I’m your host, Bobby Fisher, and THIS is Wrestling…Time…Machine!!! This is your go-to guide through the low-definition war zone that is the Attitude Era of Professional Wrestling.
Hello fans! I’m your guide, Bobby Fisher and this…is…THE Wrestling Time Machine! So on today’s post, we’ll be talking about November of 1996. I AM going to try to be more active on our eponymous website. So…November of 1996 was an interesting time for both of the Big Two.
Just call me “Bobby Styles” and this…is…THE Wrestling Time Machine!
Allow me to preface by saying this is the first volume of my Wrestling Time Machine blog, something I talk at length about on our podcast that we do here. Today we’re going to be tackling ECW, what I would consider the first year. This first year starts with “The Franchise” Shane Douglas defeating 2 Cold Scorpio with a Pinfall decision, in the NWA World Title Tournament on August 27th 1994 and ends with a real BARN BURNER of a match in what was the final confrontation (in Extreme Championship Wrestling, anyways) between a young Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. The WWE Network is a smorgasbord of classic wrestling of all kinds, albeit missing some of wrestling’s essential main courses. The WWE Network, while it boasts “Every WWE/WCW Pay-Per-View”, The WWE Network misses out on just about most of the ECW Pay-Per-Views and Specials. This is unfortunate, because Pay-Per-Views provide of course a sense of closure for much of a given month’s events, and where even new stories can be born.
Though all is not lost, if Paul Heyman and the ECW Brass was good at anything, it was knowing that their target demographic may not always be in the market to pay to view, and so many episodes of ECW Hardcore TV were simply highlight episodes, devoted to the most recent Pay-Per-View, devoted to keeping fans not only enlightened of the match highlights, but also of any major story beats and new developments. By far the biggest omission that deserves mentioning is the lack of actually licensed music throughout the whole show. Now…I get it, WWE’s a big company, and ECW was known for using music without necessarily worrying about frivolous things like getting the rights from the artists, etc. You know, the little things, and so it came to pass that WWE is forced to use very generic tunes for the entrances of the ECW performers. Something is lost in the incredibly generic tunes, some of the attitude-the balls of ECW is muted, it feels almost too sanitized. Now granted, I don’t think we can necessarily fault the WWE for this, or even Heyman and whomsoever was in charge of designating entrance music. ECW was, for all intents and purposes, small show, a small organization. They barely (and often times didn’t even) made end’s meat, let alone had the extra cash to shell out for licensed music. This didn’t stop them from trying though…
Let’s get down to thumbtacks, though. The first year
of ECW is…pretty intense. The very first episode I mentioned at the top of the article also featured another pinnacle in ECW history, Tommy Dreamer being caned by The Sandman. This, along with Douglas’ epic speech about what ECW really is, how important new blood was to wrestling , this set the tone for the entire promotion. This wasn’t your father’s wrestling, and that’s what made it unique. ECW had a finger on the pulse of what wrestling could be, and what many fans at the time and even still to this day, think it should be. While ECW dabbled in extremely violent performances, that was simply the icing on the cake, the real substance of the promotion would be found in performers like Shane Douglas, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko-to name a few-who could put on spectacular matches without the need for barbed wire, or cattle brands. Tazz is another highlight in ECW’s fledgling year, and his first experience on commentary can be heard through the WWE Network’s archive, as he was a guest commentator with Joey Styles for a special match.
While ECW had
few veterans in the form of wrestlers like Terry Funk, the fuel that kept it’s engines running was the
influx of young talent given a stage to shine on that didn’t involve being a jobber to the stars, or relying on silly gimmicks. If I’ve learned anything though, it’s that ECW was no stranger to silly gimmicks. Just ask Surfer Ray Odyssey.
There are many other things to talk about when it comes to ECW’s fledgling first year. The brilliant promo work of Shane Douglas, and The Franchise’s one-sided feud with “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, the formation of The Triple Threat to serve as combating force against The Four Horsemen. The introduction of the mysterious, brooding Raven and his obsessive groupie goofball Stevie Richards. Towards the beginning of July 1995 we see the introduction of The Dudley Boys, and before too long, their ever-expanding family. For Big Daddy Dudley, THE THIRST was oh-so-real. I’d say one of the biggest highlights though, in watching ECW was the surprisingly decent promo work of The Public Enemy. For those not familiar, this Tag-Team consisting of “Flyboy” Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge were essentially WWE’s Cryme Tyme, before Cryme Tyme, and they saw much more success than the WWE duo. Though The Public Enemy had some great matches with The Pitbulls and a feud that could only be described as “Actual War crimes of the 1990s” with
The Gangstas, The Public Enemy would soon depart, like many others, for greener pastures in WCW. Sure, Billionaire Ted’s money may have seemed appetizing, but I would argue that The Public Enemy didn’t get a fair shake (again, like countless others) in WCW, at least on the company’s flagship program WCW Monday Nitro. Rocco and Johnny could deliver decent enough promos to carry a story, and yet, WCW’s Tag Team Division was very much an afterthought, even prior to the N.W.O.’s emergence.
By far, one thing that does bear mentioning when discussing ECW, is the strange weapons opponents sometimes used to inflict pain on one another, even during this first year. Often when reading about ECW, or even watching it, you’ll see the Hardcore standbys-chairs (wooden and steel!), tables, Singapore canes, trashcans, etc. but eagle-eyed viewers will see such strange weapon fodder as plastic dinosaurs and cheese graters.
I suppose I’ll close out this first edition of The Wrestling Time Machine by giving just some final thoughts on the first year of ECW…ECW was a welcome alternative to the then-WWF, and WCW, both promotions which suffered from their own problems. The WWF was struggling to push and build younger talent into main event stars, while still relying on hackneyed cartoon gimmicks based on garbagemen, french pirates and Portuguese Man-o-Wars, while WCW was ramping up it’s cartoon gimmicks to eleven with the Dungeon of Doom all whilst relying on older stars in Hulk Hogan, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. ECW focused on just being unique, and what made wrestling good. Stories didn’t need to be larger than life, and opponents that could go out and wrestle with the skilled technician of a brain surgeon didn’t necessarily need to have a built-in story for the match beyond, “These two guys are fighting”. ECW wasn’t afraid of it’s fans, and didn’t push matches, agendas, or stories it knew the fans didn’t want, something any person in the creative field should take away as an important lesson.
Well let’s see here open Wrestling Sites see if there is anything to report………
Adam Rose? Don’t be a lemon, be employed! Oh wow Sandow! Well at least Cody is still he-THE HELL!? Whatcha doin’ wit your life WWE!? Yes, it seems like it’s that time of the year where the talent feels lost in the shuffle of the organization, or simply put you’re not on tv therefore you’re gone. Getting rid of talent doesn’t mean you won’t see them again, what with other Wrestling programs out there, I’m sure they’re bound to show up somewhere or just take time off refresh and return like nothing happened. What else, we just came off an Extreme Rules PPV, which is weird but common for just three weeks between not popular PPVs. That being said, that Fatal Four Way AMAZING!! The main event, good grief! Is there any match that AJ Styles can’t make look good? I mean wow, just wow, this guy is still amazing! Also we got the RETURN OF SETH FREAKING ROLLINS!! Yes, the heel we all love is back and what’s sad is he’ll have to kick a puppy or perhaps dump his father manager to get real heat on him this time, because the crowds just hate Roman. Still, even after putting on a show in two matches with AJ Styles, the crowd just doesn’t like him as champ. Again you know my stance on him-he needs to turn heel or just speak softly and not surfer….So yeah the PPV was fine, the Raw the next day, well it had me scratching my head and saying what!?
So Raw gave us all wrestling fans a star to shine for the next PPV Money in the bank simply by putting in our internet darlings Zayn, Caesaro, Owens, Ambrose and Jericho, which for him coming off of a lost to Ambrose in the first ever Asylum Match which was on for far too long during the PPV, but with two spots remaining, who’s it going to be?…..Also Girly Flair rid herself of Old Man Flair which is aboot time, but also gave her a ton of heat, like a TON. That crowd straight up hated her for yelling at that old man. We also saw the return of the Social Outcast, 3 Man Band baaabay!!! I keed, I keed. Enzo came back with Big Cass and continued their feud with those Damn Dudleys!!!
THIS JUST CAME IN TO THE NEWS ROOM! So starting July 11th on Raw they’re having a WWE draft!! The WWE is also moving Smackdown to Tuesday live!! So two different shows with two different stories? Well, I wonder if they’ll bring back the old Eagle belt? Or the Attitude title? What’s this mean for the current roster? In a way it could be good, it could give a chance for men and women that aren’t in current story lines to shine a little more on a different show. Will they split up the PPVs? Please for the love of GAWD! No, please no! Bragging Rights PPV…OK! This is just my thoughts on it, really I was just about done with this blog, so let’s hope with this change it’ll spotlight wrestlers or NXT talent getting the call up!
Speaking of NXT, Takeover is coming up and I can’t WAIT!!! Joe VS Balor in a steel cage!!! And Aries VS Nakamura!!! Take all of my money, NOW!!!! PLEASE I BEG YOU!!!! Also I hope we see Bobby Rooooooode come to NXT. Well this one is a short one, and I feel that unless something big happens before Money In the Bank, I know Cena is returning this coming Monday, so let’s see what storyline he ends up with…please just let him feud with Rusev, don’t put him in the MITB ladder match!! But it’ll happen unless AJ Styles comes out with The Club…that he said he didn’t need, goes full heel and attacks Cena. Yes, PLEASE!!!! Later down the road Cena can take the title from Hulk Roman brother!! I mean Uce? Uso? How do you spell that?
Well the Ref is calling this one a DQ….until next time, This is Mike E Dangerously saying, “Back To You Gorilla!”
So long time no words eh? Ahhh you smell that? It’s the smell of some really good and some really meh? Wrestling in the past three weeks leading up to the PPV Tomorrow Night Payback which I shall be updating this if any big changes were to uprise….in a demon like way…..
So let’s start by saying holy crap is it awesome to see AJ Styles in a WWE program let alone for the title we know he isn’t going to win and if he does it’ll be all due to the form of the Balor Club….yeah now if you do your internet search you’ll see that New Japan has the Bullet Club with ummm…a few guys from the WWE now I know on last Monday’s Raw Cole was spouting that the two new friends of AJ; Anderson and Gallows were a part of group in New Japan but before that on Smackdown they said the name Bullet Club so more than likely some lawyer called another Law Guy who called Harvey Birdman and now we just have to rely on whatever name *THEY* (meaning creative) gives them….so yes regardless of that whole mess, I see Roman and his mumbling about being guys that are good nor bad persona getting the win… I feel that him winning though will turn him heel…which is what’s best for him.
I mean look at Cena, yeah he’s been a super face for all these years but he will never turn heel…why? The dying kids. Those make-a-wish kids have his ever loving healing factor heart because if you didn’t get the memo-Cena is returning in May. So yeah Roman is like the Surfer Cena he’s all chill and cool cares for his Bros, the Usos which makes me worried for them being with Roman that the fans might turn on them, but regardless they had an impressive match on Monday versus Anderson and Gallows. I think they can come out of the funk if they get the boos.
Another Match I’m looking forward to is Owens Vs Zayn. I’ve seen it a dozen times on ROH, but this is where it’s bigger. I wish they would of made it a stipulation match or at least a Last Man Standing match, just something to get that Chicago town to not utter he who shall not be named….CM Punk….yes the wrestler who was amazing in ECW then just kinda went flat with his ego and personality and left the company-well he’s still their hometown boy and if the fans are bored, then one moron will likely start the chant of his name and other morons will join in….which if you want my advice, no crowd in the history of crowds will ever compare to the old ECW crowds!!! Ahhh the memories…. Which you can watch on the network for just…$9.99…So yes what else happened in these past few weeks???
Samoa Joe is THE NEW NXT CHAMPION!!!…..Let that breath….sounds good right? Then to top that, Eric Young is now on NXT!!? Which is cool and kinda sad, I mean I was hoping for Austin Aries VS Joe but I’ll settle to let Joe destroy Eric then move on to Aries….What else is the WWE doing, you ask? Why they’re doing this behind closed doors tournament for a new lightweight/international feathered King crown champion??? That will be on the network soon or during the summer….I just hope it spotlights Indy guys and gets eyes on them. Let’s also take a moment and pay respects to Chyna who passed a week ago. She was a pioneer, who’s backstage personal life conflicted with her in ring career we will never know the truth as to why she left. We can guess, but boy did she leave an impact when it came to women in the ring first Intercontinental Champion as a woman, and also the first woman to ever enter the Royal Rumble. Here’s to you, The Ninth Wonder of The World. You will be missed.
On a lighter note let’s get some predictions going before the PPV……
Kick Off Show
Kalisto VS Ryback
The Winner: Ryback
Ceasaro VS The Miz
The Winner: The Miz
Baron Corbin VS Dolph Ziggler
Big Cass And Enzo Amore VS The VaudeVillains
Winner: VaudVillains due to a Dudley Boyz Interference.
Charlotte VS Natalya
Kevin Owens VS Sami Zayn
Winner:I’m taking Sami Zayn here and hoping it’ll lead to a longer fued
Chris Jericho VS Dean Ambrose
Winner: Ambrose. C’mon, you can’t let one of top faces lose twice can ya?
Then The whole Vinny Mac telling us who’s in or out…YAWN!!…..
Heavyweight Title Match
AJ Styles VS Roman Reigns
Winner: Roman unless the Balor Club forms and helps AJ win…….
Boy, was I off but only by 3 so yeah I can’t wait to extreme rules….where once again Hulk Roman will win once again….sigh….I hate to say it….when’s Cena coming back? Well the ref is given me to the count of ten until next time…Back To You Gorilla!
-Mike E Dangerously
So The Mania after Raw is like Christmas/Krampus morning…you’re all pumped for new stories and maybe a debut here and there its WWE’S big dry erase board for stories all stories lead up to Mania and start fresh on the Raw after now let’s see what was Christmas and what was just Krampus…..
You might of stopped just now and said out loud or in your head…. Didn’t this guy assuming he’s a guy just get done doing a review well I felt I robbed you of an actual review of Raw and Mania yes I was a little Harsh on the PPV….because NXT was such a good PPV even though I didn’t really go into detail much about that either so…let’s begin….again….Then…. Now…..Forever?
So let’s start with NXT Takeover everyone of them is great because they’re stretched out throughout so we become these junkies wanting more really good wrestling….sure its on the network every Wednesday for an hour so that leads you with a always awesome tag match and one womans match then a main event thats either a hit or a miss depending on who it is really…..I mean that program is on point Hunter knows what the fans want….does he get it? Yes because he listens….so that’s why last year twice the women stole the show…hence why for me the women stole the show at Mania in the Triple threat they work so well together….So On this NXT PPV they had another Woman’s title match……well three titles were on the line that night but for me it was The King Of Strong Style that stole the show that’s right folks Shinsuke Nakamura debut on NXT and it was amazing especially if it was NXT flag bearer Sami Zayn’s last match in NXT what a way to go I’ve watched that match several times since Friday because it was amazing….. The Tag Team Titles were on the line as well the Tag Team Division is strong in NXT because it was Dusty Rhodes baby so they continued strong with Tag Teams with different styles and it has paid off big time so much that the fans love the teams and actually cheer for them. So that title match kicked off the show which got the fans pumped because the hot team right now is American Alpha picture a WAAAY better version of Team Angle winning the titles and actually showing emotions while holding the title its that investment that makes me like the brand even more. Now the Woman’s title Bayley had lightning in a bottle when she fought Sasha last year and you’re not gonna gel with certain styles did I see her walking out still champ? No! I knew it was gonna be Asuka walking out with the strap I just hope it brings out a different style in Bayley or perhaps we’ll get another Asuka vs Emma which was amazing at NXT Takeover London which no one seems to talk about so here’s hoping it leads to another Rematch down the road. The other matched had the Debut of Austin Aries another Indy darling who I expected big things soon from him and we also had an rare sighting of Bobby Rooooooode sighting as well as another AWESOME NJPW Star Kota Ibushi!!! I know right!? If you don’t know then get to know this dude is just as AWESOME as Shinsuke Nakamura!!! In fact go look up some NJPW you wanna talk about great wrestling…..Lucha Underground wishes they were New Japan instead of this weird mix of Lucha,Ring Of Honor, ECW that it is….anyway where was I!? Oh yes the NXT PPV it ended with Finn Vs Samoa Joe for the NXT Title… Where we seen a little color right out the gate which is fine and all if its an accident but on purpose in a TV PG crowd/audience at home its a big no-no so that made them do a few referee stoppage which made the crowd go nuts but didn’t stop the match really Joe kept up and Finn did his part in the end Finn end up with the win which means we’ll either get a Joe vs Finn three or maybe Finn vs Shinsuke Nakamura!!! TAKE ALL OF MY MONEY NOW!!!.
Now on to Wrestlemania it was a decent show just if you watched it from the Mnt.Kickstartnodywantstodrink!!-pre-show it made for a six hour PPV which wouldn’t of been bad had it not been for the end result. Yes Roman beat Triple H for the belt….which didn’t really have that big of an impact we all knew the outcome so by the time the match started we were crossing our arms with our noses up at it. For sure we waited for some swerve but sadly we got a new champ who if he just had someone speak for me and just destroy in the ring I would have been OK with this title win but this win I’m like….Meh…especially after the divas match where they went in as divas but came out as women which dawned a new title no more ugly butterfly belt. This match for me stole the show hands down it brought a HUGE spotlight on women’s wrestling which I hope down the road can main event or co-main event down the road at Mania you change the title change EVERYTHING!!
Now On to Raw….The Night After Mania crowd in lack of a better word are show stealers, They Let Shane’O-Mac run Raw for the night which totally made no sense being the night before he almost died trying to be Taker for CONTROL OF RAW!! So sorry Shane ya fell that 20 feet off the cell…wanna control Raw….for a night? So the writers knew going into this Raw the crowd was gonna be rowdy so they wrote a going away present for them because after every Wrestlemania the Raw after is full of Out Of Towner fans or in some cases Out Of Country. They gave the crowd what they wanted even booing Roman which he embraced it but at the same time it fell kinda flat…you knew the crowd he wasn’t in the main event so why even have him on TV?! So that being said The Raw After Mania which lets shorten that call it R.A.M. So It brings many debuts from NXT this year we got Apollo Crews which came as a shock but like Kevin Owens he also was called up early so this R.A.M was basically NXT lite with Crews debuting early against a former NXT alumni Tyler Breeze then We got another tag team to Watch Enizo and Big Cass who look to be going into a fued with The Dudley Boys which should be good if they gel well. This Raw was missing a certain Ambrose feel but I do believe he was killed by Brock the night before so taking off Raw was fine but he was on Smackdown this week soooooo no rest for the almost killed I guess who might fued with Jericho. The women had their night as well with the coronation of the new Women’s Title poor Charlotte was trying to be serious but the crowd who likes to sabotage the show wasn’t having it so it went from kayfabe to Hell real quick but now we might see a Fatal Four War with Becky,Sasha,Charlotte and Nattie so that should be good if they’re keeping Bayley in NXT for now. The weird thing of the night was the tag team title match New Day retain but The Wyatt Family attacked The League Of Nations….face turn? Or are they a weird Heel/face Austinish Group? They’re not NWO cool but….they’ve got my attention any time I see that prego lady light flash before their music so maybe this is a good thing. The main gave us EVERYTHING! from our Indy Favorites to Cesaro coming back yes folks the Swiss Superman came back let’s hope his mother isn’t named Martha….but this was for the number one contender for the title great match which ended with AJ Styles with the Win which didn’t end with a weird Champ comes in raises title guy stares at title then fade to black no that happened on Smackdown where Roman just repeated back everything AJ said now I’m not saying both are good at the mic but good god HELP HIM!!! Maybe their Mothers are named Martha?…Well the Ref just gave me the 10 count and I’m out…so Back To You Gorilla!
Announced in just the last few weeks, the WWE Network will be hosting the Global Cruiserweight Series, a tournament of wrestlers at or below 205 lbs. beginning July 13th. Featuring 32 entrants from around the world, the event will span ten weeks. Obviously, the combined WWE and NXT roster lacks the pool necessary to fill all 32 slots which means the GCS will be groundbreaking in bringing in freelance, independent performers for a tournament (reminiscent of the Super J Cup and Best of the Super Juniors). WWE will likely supply about fifteen entries, namely Stardust, Kalisto, Neville, Xavier Woods, Tyler Breeze, Austin Aries, Manny Andrade, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Chad Gable, Enzo Amore, Rich Swann, Christopher Girard, and Johnny Gargano. Thus, the company will require nearly twenty outside wrestlers to fill tourney blocks. There are, of course, limitations. It’s unlikely WWE will be able to secure talent from companies like NJPW, TNA, ROH, and CMLL which are arguably its biggest pro wrestling competitors (albeit distant competitors). However, promotions like Evolve and Chikara could likely supply performers and there may even be a chance of bringing in AAA (who supplies much of Lucha Underground’s roster) as the Mexican promotion is in documented financial problems of late (though, LU agreements might cause issues for making this happen as LU reportedly met with WWE previously to seemingly toxic results). Should AAA (the third biggest wrestling promotion on the planet) become a viable option, this could mean the addition of the likes of Rey Mysterio Jr, Fénix, Pentagón Jr, Drago, El Hijo del Fantasma (King Cuerno on LU), Aero Star, Jack Evans, and Angélico. Lets then take a look at what wrestlers could likely emerge in the GCS.
Looking at the WWE’s roster right now is like that scene in Gone with the Wind (1939) with the train yard where hundreds of injured soldiers from the Battle of Atlanta are sprawled out on the ground. While certainly not that dramatic, the likes of John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Sting, Wade Barrett, and more are out with far reaching consequences in any of WWE’s long term narratives. Likely there is no time in WWE’s history where the company has experienced such loss coming at a time when WWE is in such dire straights (as TV ratings continue to fall, attendance for live events declines, and the WWE Network may still cost more to produce than what it earns back). There may even be a good chance some of the injuries could have arose over talent trying to help turn the company around or try to ascend in status within the WWE as company head Vince McMahon perceives the roster lacks ambition (or, a desire to grab the “brass ring”). However, this isn’t the first time WWE’s head was on the chopping block. In the late ’80s/early ’90s, the company saw a similar decline as rival WCW tried to take over the number one position in the industry with the so-called Monday Night Wars only to inspire and motivate WWE to improve and overcome. While certainly there were injuries (the company’s star “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had his neck broken taking him out of the game for three months near the height of his career and ultimately led to his early retirement), there’s been no where near the degree experienced today. Such begs the question, what’s changed?
In 2014, the wrestling world took a major step into the future. WWE, the world leader in professional wrestling entertainment with a library including the likes of WCW, ECW, AWA, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Stampede, and more founded the WWE Network. A streaming service for $9.99 a month that will gradually make its vast intellectually owned content available instantly anywhere in the world with an internet connection, the Network was a major undertaking that has placed a great financial burden on the company already undergoing tough times in recent years. Of course, this advent in technology has inspired other companies to follow suit although, interestingly enough, the company’s closest North American competitors have yet to get in line. TNA, formed to fill the vacuum left by the loss of WCW, tried to dip its toe into streaming in an arrangement with YouTube in 2013 with TNA Wrestling Plus for $4.99 a month only to be all but abandoned within two months. Today, TNA has started posting its earliest pay-per-view programs as the Asylum Years for free on YouTube Thursday nights (which started December of last year). It should be noted, WWE entered into a similar agreement to that between TNA and YouTube with the latter’s competitor Hulu Plus in 2012 which continues today despite the formation of the WWE Network (likely, some contractual obligation exists necessitating this duality though Hulu Plus does not air WWE events which are included as part of membership of the Network). As for the United States’ third largest promotion Ring of Honor, for some time they’ve offered their latest weekly television episode streaming for free online and made a portion of their library available on demand on their website for $7.99 a month. Although TNA and ROH at this point don’t seem to be trying to offer their own version of the WWE Network, independent US promotions have been more accepting of the transition.
About a week ago, I discussed in detail my history with pro wrestling. Therein, I spoke on 2001 being a terrible year for wrestling fans. AOL Time Warner had sold WCW to WWE as ECW, after losing its TV deal with TNN, would likewise sell out to WWE. What’s interesting about these events is that TV deals were at the root of both downfalls. For WCW, Eric Bischoff had secured funding to buy the company but wouldn’t sign the deal unless TNT and TBS agreed to continue airing Nitro and Thunder, respectively. Reportedly, that sticking point lead AOL Time Warner to sell WCW to WWE for a ridiculously low price (as several WCW personalities claimed they could have bought it themselves for the price sold). As for ECW, it was a company on the rise that was abandoned by TNN after airing the promotion for a year and that was troubled by its past use of adult content to find another network. Now, it’s important to note, neither WCW or ECW had bad ratings. At the height of Nitro, it was one of the highest rated shows on TV and even when it fell, it was still a huge draw for TNT. It just lost money because of poor management within the company (part of which stemmed from its parent company being unfamiliar with the industry it was invested into). All of these details considered, if some circumstances would have been amended, both companies could have easily survived and likely thrived. For example, if Bischoff won his battle to buy WCW, it either could have had the arrangement to remain on the AOL Time Warner channels or he could have moved to another station (like, perhaps, TNN which was looking to drop ECW when it saw how much wrestling could draw for the station). Also, what if ECW either remained on TNN or moved to another network (say, perhaps, MTV, which got into the wrestling game in 2001 with WWF Tough Enough and later Wrestling Society X). Lets take a look at what could have been.