Jarry Park’s Top 24 Wrestlemania Moments

The Grand Daddy of ’em all is a little over four weeks away and in the spirit of it all we continue our countdown of the greatest moments in WM history.

___________________________________________________________


#20: Challenge Accepted
Wrestlemania IX
Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, NV
April 4, 1993

The Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna (c)

The Moment: Yokozuna defeats Bret Hart to capture the WWF title. Hogan comes out to help the injured Hart. Yokozuna challenges Hogan to an impromptu match. Pandemonium ensues.

____________________________________________________________


#19: Godzilla Makes His Debut
Wrestlemania XI
Civic Center, Hartford, CT
April 2, 1995

The Match: Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

The Moment: Many doubted Taylor could hold his own in a WWF match – let alone the main event of Wrestlemania. But LT shocked the world when he went toe-to-toe with the “Beast from the East” defeating him with a, you guessed it, NFL-style shoulder tackle.

____________________________________________________________

#18: Crash Test Dummy
Wrestlemania IX – Safeco Field, Seattle WA
March 30, 2003

The Match: Kurt Angle (c) vs. Brock Lesnar

The Moment: Brock Lesnar’s rookie year in WWE was unlike any other. He rose through the ranks faster than anyone in the business by becoming the youngest ever WWE Champion (Randy Orton has since broken that record). Considering his amazing amateur wrestling background it seemed inevitable that he would face the only Olympic Gold Medalist in WWE history, Kurt Angle. The match definitely lived up to the hype and with Angle on the ropes Lesnar decided to try a move usually reserved for men 100 pounds lighter than him. He probably should have kept things that way.

____________________________________________________________

#17: Proud To Be An American
Wrestlemania VII – LA Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA
March 24, 1991

The Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter (c)

The Moment: Vince McMahon, being the ultimate promoter that he is, chose to exploit the Gulf War by turning former American Hero, Sgt. Slaughter, into an Iraqi sympathizer. Obviously, the Hulkster would have none of this and, in the midst of the first war in Iraq, he and the Sarge engaged in a little squared circle warfare. Just like in the Persian Gulf War, the good guys came through in the clutch (or, well, I guess that depends on who you ask).

Josh Haynes Looks To Bring The Pain Tonight

The former UFC fighter talks about his IFL debut

Really loved this interview* particularly because Josh Haynes was very candid with his thoughts. Haynes makes his IFL debut tonight against Leopoldo Serao at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas (HDNet, 11 pm EST).

Haynes gained his initial fame on The Ultimate Fighter 3 when he made it to the finals against Michael Bisping. Unfortunately, though, he would end up losing the bout.

It’s been well-documented that his son has had to endure seven brain surgeries for a tumor he developed at a young age and that has very much endeared the 30-year-old figher in the eyes of MMA fans.

Some of the topics we discussed included:

* How he hooked up with the IFL

* Why he chose to make the switch from Team Quest to Xtreme Couture

* His thoughts on the Couture/UFC saga

* Why things soured between him and the UFC

* Why he has no interest in ever fighting for the UFC again

* His disappointment in what mixed martial artists earn for their fights

* The difference between fighting in a ring as opposed to a cage


Josh Haynes – 02/29/08

*The only part I didn’t love about this interview was that just moments before talking to Josh my audio recording system decided to crash on me. So, I was forced to record it using my computer microphone. That would explain the hollow and slightly distorted nature of my voice. Sorry about that. I promise the audio problems will be fixed soon!

A Great Day for MMA, UFC, And Don’t Forget About Elite XC

Quite the day for the sport of mixed martial arts.

First, we hear about Elite XC striking a multi-year deal with CBS to air events starting in April and then the UFC lands its first mainstream sponsor in Bud Light. So, who had the better day? Well, right now I would have to call it a draw.

Wait, what? A draw?

Yes, a draw.

I know what you’re thinking: How can landing a broadcast network TV deal be compared to just gaining one sponsor. Let me explain.

Sure, Pro Elite’s deal is beyond huge but until EXC proves that they can pull in a rating that broadcast networks expect (and there is a huge difference between what cable as opposed to broadcast networks expect) the jury is still out on the deal. WWE thought they could also be successful with Saturday Night’s Main Event in primetime on NBC and, well, we all know how that went.

I wouldn’t be surprised if NBC or FOX will now wait to see what kind of rating EXC generates before agreeing to televise UFC events. This is the litmus test. If, for whatever reason, enough people don’t watch these shows it will be very hard for Dana White to ever land that television deal he has been working to secure.

So, why is it a draw? I am calling it such because both moves strongly impact each other. If EXC pulls in great ratings, FOX or NBC will surely go after the UFC. Conversely, the fact that a major sponsor has attached itself to the UFC comes at a great time for the Elite XC because they are now looking for someone to sponsor their CBS events. Bud Light has announced that it is now longer a risk to sponsor MMA. Other than a network paying them to air their shows this is the most important obstacle they have overcome (and it’s still unclear whether Elite XC is paying CBS or vice versa).

The UFC just secured a major sponsor; one that is also associated with the NFL and the NBA. This gives them credibility in the advertising world and will no doubt open the eyes of all major corporations (and networks). It’s a move that will provide instant dividends while a lot needs to happen before this CBS deal is deemed a true financial success.

Now, don’t get me wrong, congratulations are in order for everyone affiliated with Pro Elite Inc. They will go down in history as the first MMA promotion to ever land a broadcast network deal. A year ago, EXC had just aired its first ever event and now they are the trail blazers – not the more established UFC.

I guess this means we’ll finally get an answer to the question that has been debated for the last year or so: Which three letters are most popular? MMA or UFC.

One thing’s for sure, it certainly isn’t EXC because a quick look at the articles written about the deal all have headlines that mention MMA and not EXC. Proof: Variety, Associated Press and Multichannel News all have something to the effect of: “CBS to air MMA” not “Elite XC.”

Furthermore, fiveouncesofpain.com just put up a clip from today’s episode of ESPN’s Around The Horn discussing the historic deal and, yet again, Elite XC wasn’t mentioned. Not even once. A small victory was won when J.A. Adande uttered the words “Kimbo Slice” but that was right before the break under the show’s theme song. One must pay close enough attention to notice it.

It would be silly for me to think that Elite XC is a household name so I understand why it isn’t being mentioned as much as expected but neither is MMA. I would have expected something to the effect of “CBS has agreed to air Elite XC, a new mixed martial arts league, starting in April.”

Meanwhile, mainstream articles covering Bud Light and UFC’s new partnership clearly mention the Las Vegas-based promotion in their headlines. Proof: Sports Illustrated, Multichannel News and The Canadian Press.

I’m not trying to rain on Elite XC’s parade. I think they have grown exponentially since their first show in February ’07 and continue to produce great cards and even better fights. But if anyone thinks this is a victory in itself they are sorely mistaken. There is still a ton of work to be done. Just ask the XFL.

Ryan Schultz Is Set To Prove All The Doubters Wrong…Again

The IFL’s new Lightweight champ previews his first title defense

If you ask me (and I know you didn’t but whatev), no one has more to prove at the IFL’s season opener than Ryan Schultz. The promotion’s first-ever Lightweight champion is coming off a shocking victory over arguably their most popular star in Chris Horodecki. Given the fact that he was such a late replacement, most, if not all, MMA enthusiasts weren’t expecting Schultz to hand Horodecki his very first loss but he did and tomorrow night “The Lion” heads to the ring as the hunted when he puts his belt on the line against John Gunderson.

I spoke to Schultz about the upcoming fight and some other topics, such as:

* Has his life changed since defeating Horodecki?

* Why was he so confident going into that bout?

* Does he expect a rematch against Horodecki fairly soon?

* Does he deserve the right to main event tomorrow’s card?

* His mindset going into the bout as the champion as opposed to a huge underdog

* Has he received enough respect from the MMA community since becoming champion?


Ryan Schultz – 02/28/08

Mid-Afternoon Muesli: Book Pavlik vs. Trinidad NOW!

***UPDATE: Looks like I need to update my top 5 MMA draws. Couture and Liddell can draw their 500,000+ buys but Kimbo, man, he draws CBS.

I would like to take this moment to retract any and all negative comments I have made over the last few weeks with regards to a potential Kelly Pavlik vs. Felix Trinidad bout. As you may recall, when I first heard the rumor that this fight was being discussed I became deeply depressed. I thought it would be a step back for Pavlik and would ultimately prove nothing.

Then, I read that Pavlik-Taylor II only generated 225,000 pay-per-view buys and, instantly, I saw the light. If Felix Trinidad can get 500,000 people to pay 50 bucks to watch him lose to Roy Jones Jr. I bet he can at least get 350-400,000 to purchase a Pavlik-Trinidad tilt. Maybe even more. It’s sad to say but Pavlik needs the rub. At this point, he won’t get it from anyone but Trinidad.

Furthermore, I can’t help but wonder if Kimbo Slice had anything to do with that low buy rate? Now, I know the Pavlik fight was on pay-per-view and Kimbo’s fight wasn’t but I also know a ton of casual fight fans who chose to watch Slice-Abbott over what was sure to be a great rematch between Pavlik-Taylor.

When The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale‘s pulled in a great rating on Spike on the same night as Mayweather-Hatton (1.8 household; 2.8 in the Male 18-34 demo) it proved that there isn’t a huge crossover between MMA and boxing fans anymore (or ever was). However, this particular case may prove to be a little different because Slice is more popular to the general Joe Sports Fan than Pavlik and Taylor combined. Sad, I know, but true. However, Pavlik is way too good to have only 225,000 buys attached to his first title defense.

Bob Arum must learn from the Kimbo Phenomenon and if he wants to expose Pavlik to the world he needs to match him up against a personality and icon like Tito Trinidad. Fans buy fights to see fighters they love or hate get it on. For the most part, they prefer flash over substance. That’s why the UFC did whatever it had to do to sign Lesnar and are passing on the likes of Matt Lindland. That’s why UFC 81 will highly surpass UFC 82 in PPV buys. It’s also why Kelly Pavlik should fight Felix Trinidad as soon as he can.

The Park Previews UFC 82 With Sam Caplan

Sam Caplan breaks down UFC 82’s biggest storylines

There’s another loaded weekend of combat sports on the horizon so we’re going to get a head start and hit you with a preview of the big one first: The 82nd Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view.

I’ve been looking forward to this card since the Dan Henderson vs. Anderson Silva main event was announced back in October. Of course by now you know the story: Title vs. Title. Pride vs. UFC. Middleweight unification. It’s all so very exciting.

Since I have a feeling that Silva-Hendo might be one of the best main events of ’08, I called upon one of the best MMA writers around – Sam Caplan of CBSSports.com, ProElite.com and Fiveouncesofpain.com – to preview the card.

The main topics discussed included:

* Comparing the buzz leading up to this event as opposed to UFC 68 (the last card held in Columbus, OH)

* Do Pride titles even mean anything anymore?

* What does Dan Henderson need to do to derail the Spider?

* Is Cheick Kongo a legitimate Heavyweight contender?

* Evaluating Heath Herring’s UFC career

* What’s at stake for Jon Fitch and how dangerous is Chris Wilson?

* What does the future hold for Andrei Arlovski, Diego Sanchez and Josh Koscheck?

Sam’s appearances at The Park are always tremendous and some of my favorites. This one was no different.


Sam Caplan – 02/27/08

Mid-Afternoon Muesli: Money, DH Smith, Kofi…

* Not a bad episode of Monday Night Raw but certainly not a great one. I was disappointed we didn’t get an appearance from Mayweather or Big Show but at least we got that Press Conference video package which was effective.

* The one interesting thing I saw from the PC was that Mayweather was dressed in a full NY Yankees outfit. Are they turning him heel? I mean, why else would he be wearing a Yankees hat and jacket in Los Angeles. Hmmm…

* Speaking of Mayweather: 20 million?!?! Wow, good for him and Leonard Ellerbe. Think about it: When all is said and done, this whole deal will cost him 5 or 6 Monday nights and one Sunday night of work (not to mention the behind-the-scenes shoots but still). That has to be the easiest money he has ever made.

* It has come a week late but the mainstream media has finally picked up on the Mayweather storyline. No doubt the press conference helped because a quick Google News search shows A LOT more articles than just 24 hours ago.

* The whole Finlay-JBL-Hornswoggle storyline has gotten to be a little too TNA for me. All this illegitimate son talk really bores me.

* Who would have ever thought DH Smith would become such a jobber? I’ve got a couple of issues with the way his career has been handled but none bigger than that horrible name he’s been saddled with. Every time I hear it I can’t help but think of a certain book store.

* HBK better be turning on Flair at some point in the next few weeks because I can’t deal with all this lovey-dovey stuff.

* Best news of the day? Kofi Kingston and Santino Marella in the same ring tonight! Someone’s been reading the Muesli.

* In case you missed it, there was a press conference in NYC today to officially announce the May 3rd battle between Oscar De La Hoya and Steve Forbes. The most interesting part of that bout? De La Hoya is being trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr. while Forbes will have Roger Mayweather in his corner. Brilliant. Someone needs to book Floyd Sr. vs. Roger with Jeff as special guest ref before it’s too late.

The Second Coming Of The Star Of David

A year later, Dmitriy Salita returns to the ring

Boy does time fly. The last time boxing fans saw Dmitriy Salita (27-0, 15 KO) compete in the ring was almost one full year ago. March 22, 2007, to be exact.

So, where has he been hiding? Well, we covered that drama when we chatted with him last month but now it’s time to focus on the present and, more specifically, his upcoming bout this Thursday against Jermaine White (16-3, 8 KO) at the Roseland Ballroom in New York.

Actually, Salita’s name has been all over the news lately. First came the split with DiBella Entertainment. Then came the release of a documentary on his life entitled “Orthodox Stance.” And finally, the big one, he was rumored to be one of the three opponents Oscar De La Hoya was considering to fight in his next bout. The winner of the DLH sweepstakes (the three candidates were Salita, Steve Forbes and Paulie Malignaggi) would surely enjoy the biggest pay day and exposure of his career. Needless to say, New York City was pulling for one of Brooklyn’s Finest.

Ultimately, Forbes’ name was called but, regardless, Salita was considered and that must be viewed as a step up for the 25-year-old Welterweight. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come for a fighter who has been anxious to fight better opponents.

First things first, though, polish off some of that ring rust this Thursday night.

I spoke to Salita about his return to the ring, a potential fight against De La Hoya and even his thoughts on Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s involvement at Wrestlemania 24.


Dmitriy Salita – 02/26/08

Pollock’s POV: When It Comes To TNA, Less Is More

Welcome to another new feature at Jarry Park. Every Monday, the producer of Live Audio Wrestling and Fight Network Radio, John Pollock, will stop by to deliver his weekly rant on the world of combat sports. It’s a little something we like to call “Pollock’s POV.”

This week, the Prodigy tackles the always head-scratching world of TNA wrestling. As Total Nonstop Action approaches its six year anniversary, the biggest question floating around the wrestling world is what needs to be done to take this promotion to the next level. Striking a deal with Spike TV? Perhaps. Moving to Thursday nights? Maybe. Two hours in prime time? Eh.

So, Pollock has devised a perfect plan that will surely help rise TNA to the top. I can’t think of one person who would not be in favor of this.

John, the floor is yours…


Pollock’s POV – 02/25/08

You can hear more from Pollock (who is not the man featured above – that would be TNA analyst Don West) weekdays at 3 p.m. ET on Fight Network Radio on Sirius channel 186 or via Hardcoresportsradio.com not to mention every Sunday evening at 11 p.m. ET on Live Audio Wrestling.

Rob Yundt Gets Second Chance To Make A First Impression

The Alaskan-born fighter reflects on his UFC debut

Imagine being an MMA fighter whose ultimate goal is to someday compete for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. You’ve compiled six straight victories in your career and things are starting to look good. You decide to try out for The Ultimate Fighter 7 show but only make it as an alternate. You stay in shape but begin to wonder when your time will come. Then you get a phone call…

Agent: “Hey, listen, you know how Alan Belcher was supposed to fight Ricardo Almeida at UFC 81 in a few days? Well, he has a bad case of bronchitis and had to pull out.”

You: Yeah…and?

Agent: Well, the UFC wants to know if YOU would be willing to replace him?

You: You mean fight on three days notice?

Agent: Yeah.

You: Give me five minutes to pack my bag and I’ll be ready.

While I can’t confirm the conversation between agent Ken Pavia and Rob Yundt went exactly like that I am pretty certain that’s a close enough reenactment of it. Of course, Yundt ended up losing to Almeida in 68 seconds via guillotine choke but, fortunately for him, he recently signed a four-fight contract with the promotion and will get a second chance to make that first impression.

I spoke to Yundt about his UFC debut, his amazing Petey Williams-esque slam during the bout, when he expects to fight next and much more. Take a listen.


Rob Yundt – 02/25/08