Tag Archives: Wrestling Time Machine

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.