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Wrestling Time Machine: January of 1997

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!

 

This guy is just a temp.

Pictured: The Nerdfect Strangers Servers.

We start our tour through the beauteous halls of WCW. When we last left WCW, the Goliath and foundation of the NWO, Hollywood Hogan was felled by The Icon, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper at WCW Starrcade. The NWO wasn’t having any talk of defeat though. The following nights on WCW Monday Nitro any time Larry “I Make Terribly Sexist Comments” Zbyszko, Tony Schiavone and any other members of the WCW Announce team would try to talk about the humiliating defeat and show replay of the footage of the event, Bischoff and the NWO would

FAKE NEWS, BROTHER!

put a stop to it. The NWO did not have a great track record at Starrcade of 1996, and while Hogan’s defeat didn’t slow the group down, The Giant’s loss at the hands of Lex Luger, would see tension start to rise in the ranks of the legendary faction. The Giant, as we’ve covered previously, was the victor of WCW’s World War 3, and as a result of the victory was also guaranteed a shot at the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Hogan and the NWO hadn’t forgot, and as The Giant would attempt to stand his ground, the NWO would repeatedly attempt to beat The Giant down, to soften him up for his match with Hogan. The Giant would face Hogan at least once in an official match on WCW Monday Nitro, but the match was marred by the predictable interference of his NWO comrades. As a result of the no-contest, The WCW Executive Championship Committee would schedule a rematch for NWO Souled Out on January 25th of 1997. Sting would continue to haunt the rafters of WCW events, and would recruit a returning Randy “Macho Man” Savage into his ranks. Diamond Dallas Page would be again offered member ship in the NWO, only to again reject the offer.

Every time someone plays an acoustic guitar, Jeff Jarrett gets his wings

Meanwhile Chris Benoit of The Four Horsemen would continue to battle Jeff Jarrett, as Double J would try to self-promote himself into a position of membership with the Four Horsemen.

Hey Girl, WCW Monday Nitro & Chill?

One of the newer members of the NWO, Marcus Bagwell, or as he was now referring to himself “Buff” Bagwell, would stalk and antagonize his former partner Scotty Riggs, consistently -putting down Riggs’ physique, or lack-thereof. Eddie Guerrero would beat Diamond Dallas Page at Starrcade of 1996 to be announced as the Number 1 Contender for the vacant WCW United States Championship, which had previously been stolen by the NWO from “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair several months prior. The NWO would put the title up for grabs in a ladder match between Eddie Guerrero and 1-2-I mean…Syxx, at the premier NWO Pay-Per-View, Souled Out. Souled Out…uncomfortable to watch. The whole gimmick was this was a Pay-Per-View event where

Everybody Deserves Their Fifteen Minutes…

the New World Order was in charge, and as such, at a Pay-Per-View event, the only wrestlers to receive entrance music, were NWO members. Every member of the WCW aligned roster received a jobber entrance, complete with a disembodied voice calling them things like “Loser”. The low-light of the Pay-Per-View, was by far the crowning of the first “Miss NWO”.  The rules for the contest were simple, one simply had to be a local female resident with their own motorcycle. This led to some very shudder-

It’s…It’s good to be The King, I guess…

inducing moments including the girls offering up various services (read: vaguely defined sexual favors) in order to walk away with the illustrious title of Miss NWO, and as if this wasn’t cringe-worthy already, the winner not only walked away with a lovely sash, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers, but the winner, “Miss Becky” was also rewarded with a make out session from “The King” Eric Bischoff. Watching Eric Bischoff jamming his tongue down this poor woman’s throat, it makes your skin crawl in the worst way imaginable. We continue through Souled Out to the WCW Tag Team Championship match that would see The Outsiders “Steinerized” at the hands of Rick and Scott Steiner, winning the WCW Tag Team Championships after NWO Referee Nick Patrick would fall unconscious, leaving referee WCW Randy Anderson to sprint through the crowd, and make the count. The following night, Bischoff would force The Steiners to forfeit the WCW Tag Team Championship belts, stating the victory did not count, and he would fire WCW Randy Anderson, a recent Cancer survivor on screen at the beginning of the show for his actions. Moving on to the Main Event of Souled Out, as previously discussed, we’d see Hollywood Hogan battle The Giant to a second no-contest, though Hogan would not have long to celebrate his non-victory, as the following night on WCW Monday Nitro, the WCW Executive Committee would announce the new Number 1 Contender for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship…”Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

Ahmed Johnson, We Comin’ For You

We now adjourn to the WWE Exhibit for January of 1997. While the NWO was running wild in WCW, the WWF was gearing up for one of it’s signature events, The Royal Rumble. The WWF would be dealing with it’s own faction that would run roughshod over the roster, The Nation of Domination. Farooq would continue his battle against Ahmed Johnson, as The Undertaker would battle Crush (the guy who looks like an extra from a Korn music video in the above picture), while also dealing with Paul Bearer’s newest client intended to bury “The Deadman”, Vader. Vader would continuously attempt to interfere in The Undertaker’s matches leading to a bout between the two at the aforementioned Royal Rumble. Though Vader would come out on top in their match at the Royal Rumble, Vader and Undertaker would be two of the final four competitors in the actual Royal Rumble match, which would be important for how the Royal Rumble match ended. Shawn Michaels

Bret Hart has no time for this nonsense.

would hold on to the WWF Championship, despite the mind games that Sycho Sid would play, which would include attacking Jose Lothario’s son. Though Bret Hart would face his own mental and physical obstacles from the escalating presence of the predator, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The main event of the inaugural WWF

More Like Ethanol.

Pay-Per-View of 1997 would end with Bret Hart eliminating A Diesel, while Austin who had previously eliminated (though not seen by the officials) would sneak back into the ring, eliminating The Undertaker, Vader and then would eliminate Hart as well, to be crowned the winner of the 1997 Royal Rumble. This would force Gorilla Monsoon’s giant hands to schedule a Fatal Four Way at the following In Your House for February of 1997, that would have Austin put up his Number 1 Contender spot, against the other three final competitors of the Royal Rumble. The following night from the Royal Rumble would kickoff the heated rancor between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon. As we mentioned in the last column, Jerry “The King” Lawler would insert himself into the mid-card

Beats being a “My Stepmother Is An Alien” Enthusiast

feud between Hunter Hearst Helmsley, “The Wild Man” Marc Mero and Goldust. Goldust and the future Triple H, would butt heads at The Royal Rumble in a match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, and this would see Hunter debut his new bodyguard, and “Blues Brothers” Enthusiast, Mr. Hughes. Entering the WWF Tag Team Championship exhibit of January of 1997, we would see The British Bulldog and Owen Hart would continue to be victorious against challengers and ECW call ups, Doug Furnas and Philip LaFon.

“You’re not my real dad!”

Finding ourselves finished with the WCW and WWF exhibits, we journey now downstairs to the hardcore hallowed halls of the Extreme Championship Wrestling wing of the museum, just adjacent of the Nerdfect Strangers gift shop to your left. Raven as the two-time reigning ECW Champion would continue to defend his title against the aggressive war waged by The Sandman. The Sandman for his troubles would find unlikely allies in The Blue World Order, as “Big” Stevie Cool would finally come to be fed up with the abusive attitude of his friend and mentor, Raven. It would remain to be seen  if the BWO’s intentions on behalf of The Sandman were in fact genuine, or the cruel and complicated machinations of Raven in his quest to keep control over the ECW Championship. “The Franchise” Shane Douglas would meanwhile announce the reformation of not only a dominant force in the land of Extreme, but also the foundation for the Douglas

“Hey kid, you want to see a dead body?”

A RUDE-O if you will.

empire, The Triple Threat. The second incarnation of this faction would see Bodydonna Skip Chris Candido and “Prime Time” Brian Lee officially change their Facebook Relationship Status with Shane Douglas from “It’s Complicated” to “In A Relationship”. The Triple Threat would continue to feud with the likes of Tommy Dreamer and The Pitbulls until, Tommy Dreamer would bring in his mentor, and evil hillbilly wizard master of the mountains, Terry Funk. Funk would battle Lee in a brutal match, that Brian Lee would win, but ultimately it was Funk who came out on top, brutalizing Lee after the victory, after Lee had the audacity to insult Funk’s father. While “The Triple Threat” would battle against Dreamer, and Funk, a new challenger to the dominance of their empire would arise. This new challenger was a mysterious masked man who had a peculiar and honed interest in the valet of the faction, Francine. The ECW Tag Team Championships changed hands, returning to The Gangstas, as they would win their battle against The Eliminators. Tazz and Sabu would continue their feud as the speculation about the potential injury that Tazz had suffered at the hands of Sabu’s new tag team partner and student, Rob Van Dam. Tazz would confront Joey Styles over the speculative reporting and allegations, confirming that yes, he had suffered a legitimate shoulder injury at the hands of Van Dam in one of their many bouts. Tazz downplays the injury in it’s confirmation, and continues to bark his challenge at Sabu.

And there you have it, patrons! We’ve concluded our tour through January of 1997. What will happen as we move forward through 1997? Who would come up on top of the Monday Night Wars? Find out, and join us next time for the adventures of The Wrestling Time Machine!!!

 

Wrestling Time Machine: December of 1996

Hello fans!!! I’m your host, Bobby Styles, 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.

You could PROBABLY trust a guy who used to sell meat from a truck in Minneapolis…

Let us begin by walking down memory lane to the WCW side of town. The WCW roster was gradually having it’s ranks depleted as superstar after superstar jumped “ship” to The New World Order. Superstars like Marcus “Now a Male Escort” Bagwell, Michael Wallstreet, Scott Norton and Big Bubba Rogers would all flock to the lucrative NWO contracts that the newly crowned head of NWO Talent Requisition, Eric Bischoff would offer. Bubba Rogers would be held accountable by his former Dungeon of Doom teammates however, and would be scheduled to face Konnan the night after Starrcade on WCW Monday Nitro in a Strap Match, but his place would be taken by fellow NWO Member, Michael Wallstreet. The match would feature a finish that was identical to the finish used in the Caribbean Strap Match between the WWF’s Then-“Ringmaster” Steve Austin and Savio Vega from In Your House 8: Beware of Dog, from May of 1996. Questions would continue to mount over the loyalties of Sting. Glacier would also return to WCW television, undefeated and with a victory over Disco Inferno. The Glacier gimmick had real potential to be on a higher level, but the wrestler portraying Glacier…there was just something “off” about it. If a move like his “Cryonic Kick” had been sold as a truly devastating move, and not just a lackluster superkick, Glacier could have been remembered as one of the WCW greats, but instead will go down as one of the hundreds of missed opportunities in WCW. The matches were a little slower paced, perhaps due to the Martial Arts nature of the character, but his offense seemed to lack impact, although that may have been partially on the fault of his opponents and their ability to sell various maneuvers. “The Man of 1,000 Holds” Dean Malenko would be toyed with by Sonny Onoo and his client, Ultimo Dragon, and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named continued to send home movies to “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan.

Always a bridesmaid, and never a bride, isn’t that right, Jeff?

A prominent uneasiness would build among the members of The Four Horsemen, as Benoit and Woman would continue to be conveniently absent when needed, as newcomer and confusing-bridal-lingerie enthusiast Jeff Jarrett would try to wedge his way into the team. This would culminate in a victory over Benoit at Starrcade, but ultimately Jarrett was still denied a place in The Four Horsemen the following night on WCW Monday Nitro. Starrcade 1996 would feature a host of good matches, the most surprising of which was the crowning of the first WCW Women’s Champion in Akira Hokuto in a match against Madusa. This was supposed to be the culmination of a tournament to decide the new champion,

Pictured: Me trying to remember ANYONE in WCW mentioning the WCW Women’s Championship Tournament PRIOR to Starrcade 1996.

although from November through December, I can count on one hand the number of matches that took place in said tournament on the promotion’s flagship show, and I can count on zero fingers the number of times this tournament was mentioned.

Though the WCW Women’s Championship wasn’t given the time of day on WCW Monday Nitro, one tournament was, a tournament to decide the vacated WCW United States Championship, seeing Eddie Guerrero crowned as the new champion. December would also see Lex Luger continue to feud with The Giant, and

There’s a 100% Chance that this is WCW Referee Nick Patrick. There’s a 100% Chance that this handsome bastard is wearing a NWO T-Shirt under that referee shirt of his.

at Starrcade 1996, the match-up between the two would finally cement the question as to where referee Nick Patrick had sided. Now do you remember the last column I wrote, wherein I discussed The Giant’s win at WCW World War 3? Well, this was all supposedly done to build tension between The Giant and Hollywood Hogan. The Giant had only been a member of The NWO since the end of August of 1996, and the NWO had only existed as a group one month prior. While sure, The Giant had joined the group, and the group had proved to be a force to be reckoned with in WCW, The Giant and Hollywood Hogan had few to no interactions between them to build any sense of a bond beyond “We’re in the same group, together, brother!”. By the end of Starrcade 1996, Hogan and the group would shoulder the responsibility of dropping the ball on The Giant, the following night on Nitro would see The Giant turn on his NWO compatriots and Hollywood Hogan would order a gang-style beat-down of the big man, all this lacked any feeling of impact, or drama, due to there being little to no bond between these on-again, off-again rivals. Speaking of Hollywood Hogan, Hogan would go on to face

Guilty on ALL counts.

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper in a singles match at Starrcade 1996, in a non-title match-up. This was a strange thing, why? Because Starrcade was the culmination of the WCW calendar year, much in the same way that WrestleMania is for the WWE, so for one company that’s trying to dominate and wipe out the then-WWF, why would they on their biggest show of shows feature a Main Event Match, between their top titleholder and a challenger, a match that was a decade or so in the making…and not have the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on the line? This likely had to do with Hogan’s patented Kung-Fu Grip on creative control. Starrcade, when compared to WrestleMania is a no-contest. WCW simply wasn’t willing to put the money into the same level of extravagance and pageantry that the WWF was willing to, and if as a company, you’re not going to spend that money into giving the event a larger-than-life feel through props, entrances, performances by musicians, etc., then the edge you need to give your event has to be spent in the level of writing and booking, and with Hogan (and others) granted creative control, that simply wasn’t going to happen.

FOLEY. Foley IS Good.

Executioner. Executioner is BAD.

So when we last left The WWF, at the end of November 1996, The Undertaker was battling the various monsters that Paul Bearer was digging up, some good, and some bad.  This would see The Undertaker battle the artist formerly known as Terry Gordy, in what would be billed as an “Armageddon Rules” match. This was essentially just a No-Disqualification Match. This was one of those times where The WWF was trying to keep up with the Hardcore movement that was swelling in the wrestling fandom, while still maintaining an aspect of larger-than-life pageantry. While Undertaker and Gordy would battle all over and even outside the arena, and if anyone could hang with Undertaker in a match, it would be the former “Bam Bam”, but overall the match felt lackluster. Mankind at least had some sort of troubling past, but The Executioner lacked any sort of plot-important reason to battle The Deadman beyond being just not that into Golf for something to do during the weekends. While Mankind and Bearer could cut interesting promos on their own, what made this battle so bland was the lack of exposition and motivation from Terry Gordy.  The Executioner simply had no build. He appeared, was soundly beaten, and disappeared just as quickly with all the excitement and mystery of a hack magician failing to perform at a nine year old’s birthday party. He was just brought in because Paul Bearer knew a lot of mountainous  men who were just bad at being Halloween enthusiasts.

December of 1996 would see tensions continue to rise on the front line of the World Wrestling Federations tag team division, with Bret and Bart Gunn coming to blows. Over the past several months, The Gunns had gone from WWF Tag Team Championships working with

WHAT IN TARNATION?!

the managerial services of Sunny to having no gold and no girl. The tension would boil over in the match between the two (Kayfabe) brothers, as Bart would nearly paralyze Billy. This would all be occurring while Owen Hart & The British Bulldog would continue their reigns as WWF Tag Team Championships against new challengers such as call-ups from ECW, Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon, who while these new challengers were technically proficient, were lacking in the charisma department. A good way to have booked this feud, would have been with Hart and The Bulldog taking Clarence Mason up on his managerial services, and having former manager Jim Cornette bring in Furnas and LaFon for revenge against his former clients for spurning him.

Spoiler Alert: Marty Janetty DOES NOT.

The World Wrestling Federation’s mid-card would heat up as well, with the young blue-blood from Connecticut, Hunter Hearst Helmsley would continue to barely hang onto the WWF Intercontinental Championship facing challenges from “Wild Man” Marc Mero  and Goldust would return to attempt to capture Hunter’s title, attacking both the former Terra Ryzing, and the former Johnny B. Badd. This would feature a strange low point for the then-WWF, as Jerry “The King” Lawler would bring himself to ask Goldust if was queer on the December 18th, 1996 edition of WWF Monday Night Raw. This would prove to be indicative of an issue that the WWE still has difficulty tackling today, how to creatively broach subjects like sexuality, or even race with a modicum of sensitivity that doesn’t reduce those issues to cheap shock value, laughs, etc.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin had just barely fallen short in trying to beat Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and Sycho Sid had emerged as a victorious challenger, conquering “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. The fate of the Hart Family would be in jeopardy as Bret Hart would be named the new Number 1 Contender for Sid’s WWF Championship. Austin would continue to stalk Hart, with various levels of interference and seemingly lack of any form of communication between Bret, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog. Bret had his hands full trying to contend against Sid, the various hurdles in the forms of repeated aggression presented by Austin, and the uneasy pressure growing between “The Hitman” and “The Heartbreak Kid”. That pressure would continue to grow as Michaels would arguably and inadvertently cost Bret Hart his chance at the WWF Championship against Sycho Sid at WWF In Your House 12: It’s Time.

Kloudi With a Chance of Meatballs

“Did somebody say Holiday Hell?”

Last, we bring ourselves to Extreme Championship Wrestling. During December of 1996, ECW would see the return of a now Sunny-less Chris Candido. Candido would turn on his former friend, and a star rising through the ranks Louie Spicolli, aligning himself with “Prime Time” Brian Lee and more importantly “The Franchise” Shane Douglas. Douglas would continue to make more enemies than friends on the ECW roster. The vortex of Douglas’ feud with The Pitbulls, specifically Pitbull #2, would suck in the longtime enemy of Brian Lee, Tommy Dreamer Beulah McGillicutty. Douglas and Dreamer would collide in a spectacular encounter at Holiday Hell 1996 in a Mixed Tag Team Match involving their respective beaus. This match would go on to solidify that the women of Extreme Championship Wrestling

This is actually the LEAST scary part of all this that was featured on ECW TV.

were some of the toughest women on the face of the planet. While the N.W.O. was taking over WCW, ECW would come to know it’s own troublesome faction in the Blue World Order, as Raven’s lackeys-Nova, The Blue Meanie and Stevie Richards would come together after weeks of other parodies (including BlueDust) to pester the likes of Taz, Santa Clause and anyone else who found themselves in their path. The B.W.O. would not just parody the N.W.O.’s guerrilla gang tactics in trying to take over ECW television, but would go as far as to parody specific N.W.O. elements, such as the N.W.O. T-Shirt commercials. This would continue as Raven would to vie to regain the ECW Championship from his foe, The Sandman. Raven would capture the belt to secure his second reign as ECW Championship at Holiday Hell in a brutal and downright murder-rific Barbed Wire Rope Match. The bad blood between Sabu and Taz would continue to boil over as Taz would challenge Sabu to a match at ECW’s first Pay-Per-View Event of 1997. These two animals would stop at nothing, including self-destruction to stop one another once and for all. Taz’s path of rage would continue as he would again brutalize Sabu’s new partner, Rob Van Dam at Holiday Hell to close out 1996.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, the close of December 1996. In conclusion, December of 1996 was the culmination of several large feuds, and the evolution of several more. How will all this play out in January of 1997, find out on the next thrilling episode of The Wrestling Time Machine!!!

Wrestling Time Machine: November of 1996

We Don’t Need Roads Where We’re Going…

Hello fans! I’m your guide, Bobby Styles 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.

Over on the WWF side of things, we saw the continuation of the epic feud between The Undertaker and Mankind. Of course during this time Mankind had the “Power of the Urn”, Paul Bearer and began to team with the “Mysterious” Executioner. Of course The Executioner was less intimidating, and the gimmick reeked of people in the back fumbling through an old trunk of generic Halloween stuffs that when put together, was never ever going to be intimidating. While Mankind and Undertaker could pull off their various Dark/Monster gimmicks, poor Terry Gordy just looked as confused as the rest of us.

BE CONFUSED. VERY CONFUSED.

Terry Gordy looks like he’s about to make various “Boo” noises. The Executioner gimmick ultimately went nowhere in the WWF, and thank god it didn’t. In a world where The Undertaker feuds with someone dressed like 1950s Halloween Costume Catalog reject, a feud like this might have killed his momentum entirely.

All of this would reach a new fever pitch though at Survivor Series. Undertaker would make his historic “Batman” entrance.

NA-NA NA-NA NA-NA NA-NA…DEAD-MAN!!!

As he and Mankind would battle over the fate of Paul Bearer who would be featured dangling above the ring.

Featured: Shark Bait

Also during this time, we would see the evolution of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin into the unhinged, no-nonsense rattlesnake that he would become. Austin would precede to call out Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and would turn on his longtime friend, Brian Pillman. This in turn would set in motion a notable attribute of the “Stone Cold” character, that he was indeed a rattlesnake-willing to turn on anyone, friend or foe. What makes this interesting, is that Pillman and Austin were essentially portraying the same gimmicks. They were both unhinged, and a selling point for the audience became their vignettes, in which it was expected that both men would act unexpectedly. That both these men would curse up a shoot storm, and say things that other wrestlers wouldn’t, that their gimmicks blurred the lines between wrestling and reality. So it came to pass that these two insane locomotives would come to butt heads. Pillman especially had spent the last year cultivating this personality starting in WCW, through ECW and paying off in WWF. Pillman was also the first wrestler to sign a Guaranteed Contract with the WWF, an important change in the way Vince McMahon had previously approached business with his superstars.

Does this look like the face of someone who dials 911?

Of course while this, and the feud between “Wild Man” Marc Mero and Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the WWF Intercontinental Championship would stand out as highlights in the WWF landscape during the Fall season, there were still…dark spots.

The LESS said about these two, the BETTER.

The Upper Card of the WWF during this period would feature a feud between “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and “Sycho” Sid. It became clear with Sid’s return, that the reason he was put into the spot he was, is because the REAL Diesel was over in WCW “rasslin'” for the WCW Tag Team Championships with the REAL Razor Ramon. Still, while Sid’s push may have been the result of Kevin Nash’s departure, he and Michaels would still go on to have a great match at WWF Survivor Series 1996. While Nash and Sid’s styles could be argued to be similar, with both of these wrestlers being what’s commonly referred to as “Big Men”, Nash’s style was always a little slower and more deliberate than Sid’s.

Of course Survivor Series was historic for another reason…The debut of FLASH

Pictured: The WWE Definitely NOT being racist.

 

FUNK!!! Rocky Maivia!!! Yes, that’s right. Rocky Maivia would debut at the Survivor Series, and would wind up being the sole survivor in a 4-on-4 Elimination Tag Team Match featuring Marc Mero, Jake Roberts, and “The Stalker” Barry Windham on his own team, against a team composed of Jerry “The King” Lawler, Crush, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Goldust. All of this hard-hitting WWF action would be brought to you by Milton-Bradley’s Karate Fighters!

Copyright Infringement not included, some assembly required.

And Boy…Wasn’t he dreamy?

Meanwhile over on the WCW side of things, their organization was further plagued by the N.W.O. A bright spot of hope would shine down on the WCW kingdom, a new warrior would rise to challenge the tyrant king that was “Hollywood” Hogan. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper would debut for WCW at Halloween Havoc of 1996, challenging Hogan to a match at the upcoming Starrcade. The repeated standoffs between Hogan and Piper would include the privilege of viewing Roddy Piper’s music video, and would include some form of bizarre promotion for Hogan’s newest movie, “Santa With Muscles”.

SO. TELL YOUR FOLKS, “BUY ME BONESTORM OR GO TO HELL!!!”

The mid-card of WCW during this time would feature matches between Rey Mysterio Jr., and Dean Malenko, and another push for the bumbling mass of muscles that was Lex Luger.Somebody kept sticking a microphone in front of Lex Luger, and to be honest, “Mean” Gene Okerlund should have been charged with a war crime for doing so.

“I’m not sure what to do with my hands…”

Luger, with his size and his wrestling ability could have been a prototype Lesnar or even Goldberg. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t a resident of Suplex City, or that he wasn’t a striker, a brawler in the sense of either of these future stars, but Luger’s signature was The Torture Rack, and his various pushes with both companies revolved around Luger being able to accomplish stunning feats of physical strength. What Luger needed was a mouthpiece. He shouldn’t have been put into a position as a big-grin having face who played to the crowd, he should’ve had a mouthpiece like Jimmy Hart, managing him solely (none of the nonsensical Dungeon of Doom shtick, which should have ended the moment Hogan turned heel), directing him straight to the ring, and racking every unfortunate soul who got in his way. I wholeheartedly believe that had WCW and Luger gone in this direction, that Luger would have had a standout career, and WCW may have created a gap in the Monday Night Wars that would have been harder for the WWF to bridge.

Speaking of Luger, during November of 1996, he was given a great push on TV, and was the odds on favorite to win the 60 Man Battle Royal that was the Main Event for WCW World War 3, having come out on top of a feud with “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson. Luger has (more or less) turned Face at this point. The crowd is behind him. He becomes the last man. Eliminating Scott Hall, Syxx, and Kevin Nash… Only to be eliminated by The Giant.

Now. Why is this important? This was the bad habit that WCW couldn’t seem to break. Allowing Heels to go over time and time and time and time again. Stories are dependent on a sense of closure for the audience, on a sense of resolution and progression. If WCW was going to continue to bury every Face, then why should the crowd continue to watch? There’s no payoff for the Face in ANY encounter. Why should any fan in WCW’s audience be excited about anything, if their hopes and dreams are going to be halted? At a certain point, it starts to feel like they’re punishing their fans. Being a WCW fan was an exercise in sadism and futility.

Man. Modern Family sure took a weird turn…

Speaking of sadism, there was ECW. Through November of 1996 Raven and The Sandman would continue to feud not only over the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, but also over the fate of The Sandman’s son, Tyler.

We would also see “The Franchise” Shane Douglas continue to fend off the advances of Pitbull #2 for the ECW Television Championship. Douglas and Francine would stoop to new lows to defend the title. Also during this time while The Gangstas and The Eliminators were battling over possession of the ECW Tag Team Championships, a new team would arrive on the scene to challenge for ECW Tag Team supremacy, Rob Van Dam & Sabu.

“Mary Jane? Never heard of her.”

However, their path to the ECW Tag Team Championships would face one additional obstacle; the founder of Suplex City, and the Human Suplex Machine, Tazz. How would all this play out? Find out on the next exciting installment of The Wrestling Time Machine!

 

Wrestling Time Machine: ECW Flux Capacitor Volume 1

Just call me “Bobby Styles” and this…is…THE Wrestling Time Machine!

WWE has ALWAYS been PG.

This is NOT a wrestling smorgasbord.

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.

So litigious. Much metal.

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…

"Delightful fun for the whole family!"

“Delightful fun for the whole family and a treat for children of all ages!”

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.

TerrFunk

Pictured: A man who still hasn’t retired yet…Probably.

While ECW had
few veterans in the form of wrestlers like Terry Funk, the fuel that kept it’s engines running was the

*Generic Surfer Lingo*

Totally Gnarly.

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.

StevieRichards

Pictured: Someone hopped up on goofballs.

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

Where the old boys play...

“Welcome to the WARROOM, Boys!”

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.

CheeseCW

Just Say, ‘When’…

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.

Wrestling Wrap Up by Mike E. Dangerously

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!”

Wrestling Wrap Up by Mike E. Dangerously

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
Winner: Baron

Big Cass And Enzo Amore VS The VaudeVillains
Winner: VaudVillains due to a Dudley Boyz Interference.

Charlotte VS Natalya
Winner: Charlotte

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

Wrestling Wrap-Up by 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!

Top 10: Indie Cruiserweights for the GCS

Top 10: Indie Cruiserweights for the GCS by Jerry Whitworth

 

KalistoAnnounced 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.

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The Long Road: When a Roster Falls

When a Roster FallsThe Long Road: When a Roster Falls by Jerry Whitworth

 

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?

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Wrestling Streaming: The World in the Comfort of Your Home

WWE NetworkWrestling Streaming: The World in the Comfort of Your Home by Jerry Whitworth

 

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.

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Mirror, Mirror: What If WWE Didn’t Win?

WrestlingMirror, Mirror: What If WWE Didn’t Win? by Jerry Whitworth

 

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.

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Hello, Again

HakushiHello, Again by Jerry Whitworth

 

Considering the popularity of my introductory post to the Nerdfect Nation, I thought I’d speak on my history with pro wrestling considering it’s such a huge aspect of our content and coverage. I first came into contact with the WWF in its auxiliary ventures, receiving some of the LJN action figures as a youth (an eight-inch rubber Hulk Hogan and some of the thumb wrestlers), watching Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling on TV, playing WWF WrestleMania on the NES, and getting my face painted like the Ultimate Warrior because everyone else was doing it (I always wanted to get a Tonka Wrestling Buddy but they alluded me). The earliest aspect of an actual wrestling program I can recall is my dad leaving it on one night when he fell asleep and I saw Papa Shango put a voodoo curse on Mean Gene Okerlund in 1992 on Superstars which terrified me. I would, however, come back to the product later where I became a big fan of Hakushi (as I was seemingly born into an interest in Eastern martial arts thanks to my father) and where I was introduced to wrestlers like the “Portuguese Man O’ War” Aldo Montoya, 1-2-3 Kid, and Tatanka all of whom in which I also became a fan. A casual viewer at best, Hakushi seemed to appear less as my interest grew in the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. I officially wouldn’t became a fan of wrestling, however, until WrestleMania XII in 1996.

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