(By the way, the above photo of Kelly Kelly has nothing to do with any of these issues but she was Knox’s “girlfriend” for a while on ECW so I thought it would be a propos and more interesting than a photo of Mr. Ole Anderson Jr. What a weird pairing that was. Sort of like Lita with Essa Rios way back when.)
* Orton, Cena, Triple H & JBL for the WWE Title at Backlash. Which one doesn’t belong? Hmmm, I wonder. Why would they build JBL up the entire night, calling him “the longest reigning champ in Smackdown history,” and then make him look like a fool in the main event. Strange…
* Put the tag straps back on London & Kendrick. Of the four tag teams featured last night, they were the most impressive. Although I must say that Santino’s post-match celebration was quite funny.
* Ric Flair was involved in the best segment of the show…..and he wasn’t even at the show! Great job by WWE’s production team on that package.
* Here’s a tough one: What would you rather watch: a) paint dry b) the Chavo\Kane contract signing on ECW. C’mon guys do you really expect people to care about this nonsense?
* The Shawn Michaels\Batista “war of words” has been great thus far because it’s simple. HBK retired Batista’s mentor. Batista wants revenge. Slow build to a match on Pay-Per-View. TNA take notes…lots of notes.
* You would think they could get a better support structure for the obscenely expensive Jeritron 5000 HD? I fully expect that thing to drop one of these days…
* The main event was OK, but again, at the end three guys were standing while one was laying not looking too good. Hopefully JBL gets his heat back in a couple of weeks.
Fight Network Radio and Live Audio Wrestling producer, John Pollock, tackles a couple of heavy duty topics this week.
First off, he weighs in on another “is pro wrestling responsible for this death” story. The incident in question is the death of a two-year-old boy in East St. Louis, IL. It appears as though the boy’s brother was responsible for the killing after strangling his brother with a part of their curtain. Their mother claims that her son learned this maneuver while watching World Wrestling Entertainment programming.
Last week, I watched Ric Flair cry on my television screen for three straight days. He cried at the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony last Saturday night. He wept as Shawn Michaels uttered the now infamous line: “I’m sorry….I love you.” And he shed more tears during Monday Night RAW’s final segment – one of the greatest I have ever seen. In the aftermath of all this drama, I read a lot of articles and listened to various people talk about the dying days of Flair’s career. Many have mentioned that they cried with Naitch throughout those epic three days.
So, why can’t I stop wondering whether Ric Flair was really that special?
You see, most of my recent memories of Flair have come in the “post-kayfabe” era. Sadly, those times saw the Flair aura cheapened some horrendous WCW booking. While Flair was in a mental ward or reincarnating the Horsemen for the 12th time, the likes of Bret Hart, Steve Austin, The Rock, “Hollywood” Hogan and Bill Goldberg were at the center of the wrestling world.
However, if I think a little harder I can remember watching Saturday evening wrestling on TBS as a young child. It feels like just yesterday when I was admiring Ric Flair while he strutting down to the ring in his elaborate robes and that big gold belt around his waist. It would anger my father every time Flair would pull the ropes while torturing somebody in the figure-four leg lock or delivering a low blow behind the referee’s back. I started to look back on all the great emotional rollercoaster rides he led me through while sitting on my living room couch. Fast forward to the present and I can’t recall too many emotional present-day wrestling angles.
It was then that I was reminded of the beauty that is watching Ric Flair perform in front of a live audience.
While Bret Hart may have performed the moves better and Hulk Hogan attracted bigger crowds, no one could get you more emotionally involved in a wrestling match or angle like The Nature Boy. And, wouldn’t you know it, he was able to pull it off on his way out too.
It was on this day 39 years ago that the leader of the Storm Troopers was born. Here’s to you Lance!
I always enjoyed Lance’s work (partially because he hailed from Calgary…Alberta…Canada) and couldn’t help but feel a little sad for him when he retired from World Wrestling Entertainment without fully realizing his potential. Now don’t get me wrong, Storm had a tremendous career in ECW and WCW but his final run in WWE left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. Obviously that is more the creative team’s fault but, I dunno, some of the storylines they had him participate in (see: “boring” and erection storyline) were just downright bizarre. It’s almost like someone had it in for him. Hmmm.
But this is a day for celebration, so in honor of Lance’s birthday I thought I would share a pretty spectacular video which stars the birthday boy as well as Chris Jericho. It’s a “Thrillseekers” music video and while I am not sure of the exact date when this ran on Smokey Mountain Wrestling I am guessing it was around fifteen years ago. Jericho even talks about it in his book. Needless to say, I would much rather remember Storm in this light.
Another week, another pissed off John Pollock. And, once again, he has every right to be.
Much like most 18-to 34-year-old males (including myself), John wasn’t home to catch the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night. He relied on his trusty PVR to tape the show but, just like I did, he missed out on the telecast due to the UNC-Louisville NCAA tournament game running a little long. That coupled with The Score’s (the network that televises all WWE programming in Canada) head-scratching decision to air a repeat episode of Smackdown following the game AND THEN the HOF Ceremony made for a lot of angry Canadian wrestling fans come Sunday morning. Once again, I was reminded why I love American cable that much more than Canadian (I am currently in Montreal so I couldn’t watch it on the USA Network).
Anyhow, take a listen as John recounts his pain-staking attempt to watch quality wrestling programming.
If you plan to watch one wrestling event this year this should probably be it. The Super Bowl of wrestling, the grand daddy of ’em all…blah blah blah. By now you’ve heard it all.
I usually don’t do this kind of thing when it comes to wrestling (or any other sport for that matter) but I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts as to how I would book ‘Mania. Most of the matches appear to be up for grabs so this could be fun.
* Battle Royal for a shot at the ECW title: I really like this idea. It actually sort of kind of makes the ECW title mean something especially since the winner will face Guerrero later in the show. My mind says Kane but my heart says Cody Rhodes and since I am in charge I am going with the son of a plumber’s son. I have no interest in seeing Kane vs. Chavo but I could get into Cody vs. Chavo. A nice little segment should air prior to the match detailing Dusty’s son rise to prominence and then it should culminate in a victory later in the evening. Again, the title doesn’t mean jack but this could go a long way into restoring whatever credibility it ever had.
* Bunnymania Lumberjack match: Ashley & Maria vs. Beth Phoenix & Melina: We’re accustomed to seeing the current Playboy cover girl winning but Beth Phoenix is such a strong heel and champion that I would give her team the nod. Plus, since Ashley appears to be in the doghouse that might work against Maria. I am still not quite sure what Snoop Dogg will be doing in this match but I doubt he will play a large role in the outcome.
* Belfast Brawl: JBL vs. Finlay: Is it just me or does this match feel like it should be on Smackdown? Nevertheless, it will probably be a fairly entertaining brawl highlighted by a Hornswoggle return leading to a Finlay win. You know, sort of like the movie “In the name of the father.”
* Umaga vs. Batista: I love how this match is being built as Raw vs. Smackdown yet the “brand extension” has been completely ignored over the last month or so. Batista is the bigger star so he should win cleanly although I would book Umaga to win in an upset raising his profile a little more.
* Money in the bank ladder match: Mr. Kennedy vs. Chris Jericho vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito vs. MVP vs. CM Punk vs. John Morrison: Jeff Hardy’s suspension has made this bout a whole lot more interesting. I am loving MVP right now and he deserves a chance to play with the big boys.
* Ric Flair vs. HBK: I know Flair was just inducted into the Hall of Fame and I know that it’s fairly common knowledge that he is on his way but wouldn’t it be something if he won tonight? I would extend the program one more month, give Backlash the rub and have him lose then. That would be a much more memorable Wrestlemania moment than the predictable loss tonight.
* WWE Championship: John Cena vs. HHH vs. Randy Orton: We all know who’s winning so no point in even dreaming (HHH to the uninformed).
* World Heavyweight Title: Edge vs. Undertaker: So many possibilities with this one. The right thing to do, without a doubt, is Edge retains the belt. ‘Taker’s days are numbered and a loss tonight won’t tarnish his legacy at all. Edge is not quite at the Austin, Rock, Cena level but holding the distinction of being the only man to defeat the Dead man at WM would certainly elevate him. Go Edge!
* Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Big Show: I just can’t see Mayweather agreeing to lose a wrestling match since he loves to boast that he is undefeated. It’s still unclear whether or not PBF will be sticking around post-Mania but I am going to guess this is it for him. If so, old wrestling logic says Show should win. Thinking of an outcome for this match gives me a headache as I really have no clue what will happen. So, here’s hoping Floyd Mayweather Sr. appears, makes up with his estranged son only to turn on him leading to a Show victory. One can dream right?
We’re 72 hours away ladies and gents. The Grand Daddy of ’em all under the (cloudy?) Florida sun. Can’t wait. Sure, we’ve all had some issues with the buildup but there’s still nothing like Wrestlemania. Today we finish off our countdown of the top 24 ‘Mania moments. If you’re joining us in progress, click here for moments #24-21, here for #20-17, here for #16-13, here for #12-9 and here for #8-5.
I fully expect many people to disagree with these selections and welcome all arguments. Here we go…
#4: Icon vs. Icon
Wrestlemania X8 – Skydome, Toronto, ON
March 17, 2002
The Match: “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock
The Moment: This match, and WM X8 for that matter, have a place near-and-dear to my heart because it was the only Wrestlemania I have ever attended. I have been to the World Cup of Hockey and Soccer, the Stanley Cup Finals, the NBA Finals and the NCAA Tournament and I have never heard a crowd as loud as when the Hulkster and the Brahma Bull stepped into the squared circle to face off for the first time.
#3: The Heartbreak Kid meets Kid Dynamite
Wrestlemania XIV – FleetCenter, Boston, MA
March 29, 1998
The Match: WWF Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels (c)
The Moment: Remember when Mike Tyson first appeared on WWE Raw in January 1998 in the midst of the whole Stone Cold vs. Mr. McMahon saga. How amazing was that? The baddest man on the planet going up against the toughest S.O.B in the WWF. Predictably, Kid Dynamite joined forces with Austin’s opponent at WM XIV, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, only to turn on “his friend” on the grandest stage of ‘em all. Gotta love Jim Ross’ call at the end of this one – somewhere Howard Cosell must have been smiling.
Wrestlemania – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
March 31, 1985
The Match: “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff & “Rowdy” Roddy Piper w/ Cowboy Bob Orton vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T w/ “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka
The Moment: The match that started it all. Not only was this the inaugural Wrestlemania Main Event featuring the likes of Hogan, Piper, Snuka and Mr. T but check out this impressive list of celebrity representatives at ringside:
Guest Ring Announcer: Billy Martin
Guest Time Keeper: Liberace
Guest Official: Muhammad Ali
Add the Rockettes and Cyndi Lauper (who appeared earlier in the night) and there will never, ever, be another Wrestlemania I.
#1: The Irresistible Force meets The Immovable Object
Wrestlemania III – Pontiac Silverdome, Detroit, MI
March 29, 1987
The Match: WWF Championship: Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan (c)
The Moment: A battle which featured two of the biggest legends ever in front of, at the time, the largest audience in North American wrestling history. WWE returned to Detroit last year at the new-and-improved version of the Silverdome, Ford Field, dreaming of another moment quite like this one. Obviously, that didn’t happen and it probably will never happen. The slam heard ’round the world – it doesn’t get much better than that.
We all heard the news that Vince McMahon purchased WCW one fateful Friday in March of 2001 but it was on this date seven years ago that it was all set it stone. The final episode of WCW Nitro aired on TNT and when the telecast opened with Mr. McMahon announcing that he “held the fate of WCW in his hands” the wrestling world officially turned upside down.
March 26, 2001 will probably go down as the most memorable night in wrestling history if only because it was (and probably will ever be) the only time two shows were simulcast on two different networks. Of course, we all remember Shane McMahon announcing he was taking over WCdubya at the end of Nitro and while it all sounded like a great idea at first, sadly, things didn’t really materialize as hoped.
It was a strange night in Panama City in which some wrestlers knew this would be their last moment in the sun while others would move on to bigger and better. And, wouldn’t you know it, Ric Flair delivered a most memorable promo before what was thought to be his final match ever. Of course, we’re now four days away from his latest retirement match and the Nature Boy is still chugging along.
Want to hear a fired up John Pollock? Just ask him about Ric Flair’s retirement.
You can’t really blame The Prodigy since it’s safe to say that regardless of whether Flair and HBK tear down the Citrus Bowl this Sunday this angle has been a major disappointment for all residents of Flair Country. That is considering this will in fact be Flair’s final match. I am actually surprised as to how many people believe this will be it for The Nature Boy. I fully expect to see Flair back in some ring within 12-14 months but I guess that is a different story for a different day.
If you’ve been out of the loop and didn’t even know that Flair was on the verge of retirement I will let John explain why what could have been one of the most memorable storylines in WWF/E history turned out to be, well, simply ordinary.