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.
Can you feel it? We’re just over a week away baby. Time to break out the big moments. If you’re joining us in progress, click here for moments #24-21, here for #20-17, here for #16-13 and here for #12-9.
#7: A Rattlesnake is Born
Wrestlemania 13 – Rosemont Horizon, Chicago, IL
March 23, 1991
The Match: Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The Moment: It’s not often that the loser of a match comes out looking stronger than the victor but that’s exactly what happened when Hart and Austin battled in a submission match at WM 13. The WWF pulled the old switcheroo by turning Hart heel and Austin babyface in one simple moment of defiance.
#6: The Boyhood Dream…
Wrestlemania XII – Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, CA
March 31, 1996
The Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret “The Hitman” Hart (c)
The Moment: Alright, now we are getting into the “arguably the greatest match in Wrestlemania history” territory. Exhibit A: Bret vs. Shawn. Ironman match. Some doubted whether they could hold the crowd’s attention for 60 minutes. Did they ever…and then some.
#5: Year of the Dragon
Wrestlemania III – Pontiac Silverdome, Detroit, MI
March 29, 1987
The Match: Intercontinental Championship: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage (c)
Forget Wrestlemania, many wrestling fans consider this I-C title match to be one of the greatest matches ever. While I will forever love this contest I don’t hold it in that high regard. The best parts, hands-down, were the near-falls. Back-and-forth they went and in the end, Steamboat, with the incomparable George “The Animal” Steele in his corner, would add another title to his impressive career resume.
Just over two weeks away from the big one. If you’re joining us in progress, click here for moments #24-21, here for #20-17 and here for #16-13.
#12: Honor Thy Wife
Wrestlemania VIII – Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, IN
April 5, 1992
The Match: Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs. Ric Flair (c)
The Moment: For months leading up to this match, Flair had teased Savage that his woman, the lovely Miss Elizabeth, had been “with him” before she was ever with the Macho Man. Flair’s constant threats of exposing nude photos of Elizabeth following their match drove Savage nuts. So when these two legends squared off in front of over 60,000 fans there was much more than a title at stake. In the end, Savage captured the WWE title and shut the Nature Boy up… for the moment. (I may be wrong but I believe this match also marked Shane O’Mac’s WWF television debut. Try and find him).
#11: The Mega Powers Explode
Wrestlemania V – Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, NJ
April 02, 1989
The Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage (c)
The Moment: I think I’ll let the Hulkster and the Madness set this one up:
Hogan gets the nod for the better promo and also wins the match. Reminding everyone to NEVER mess with the Red and Yellow. Brother.
#10: Hell Freezes Over
Wrestlemania X-7 – Astrodome, Houston, TX
April 1, 2001
The Match: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock (c)
The Moment: In the late 1990s, no WWF superstar was more popular than Stone Cold Steve Austin. Part of his popularity stemmed from the fact that he was never shy to tell, or show, his boss, the evil Mr. McMahon, how he truly felt about him. I mean, who wouldn’t want to flip off their boss? So when McMahon decided to interfere in the main event of Wrestlemania X-7 everyone was pretty sure as to whom he would be helping out. The Rock, right? Think again…
#9: Sibling Rivalry
Wrestlemania X – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
March 24, 1990
The Match: Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart
The Moment: Bret Hart actually wrestled twice at WM X (he defeated Yokozuna to capture the WWF title) but it’s his match against his late brother Owen that everyone will remember. The build to this epic encounter was unforgettable and by the time the reluctant brother, Bret, stepped into the ring with his jealous brother, Owen, no one knew what to expect. In the end, Owen came out on top but I can’t help but feel a little sad when I think back on this match that featured two men who had their careers cut way too short.
Let’s forget about everything that happened on the RAW following No Way Out up until last night, ok? None of it occurred, it was all just a dream.
Last night’s Mayweather-Show segment – while not as good as the one that started it all – got me excited all over again for Wrestlemania. By now you know the gist: They pulled the double-turn, they gave Show some backup, Mayweather “injured” his arm and Shane’O Mac fell (which has to be a work simply because Leonard Ellerbe was the man who pushed him. Sure, he could have eased up a bit I have no doubt that it was part of the plan).
Every single person – from the huge guy wearing a cut-off t-shirt in PBF’s posse to Trevor Murdoch – did a tremendous job except for maybe Floyd. Once again, his delivery seemed a little too scripted but, at this point, I’m expecting nothing less so it doesn’t bother me anymore.
On that note, today’s inaugural edition of Memories From The Park takes us back to June 2, 1976, when the former Cassius Clay got physical with Gorilla Monsoon in Philly. It’s certainly interesting to watch the similarities between the way this angle was planned compared to Show-Mayweather. To the footage we go…
#16: Chris Benoit Wins The Title
Wrestlemania XX – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
March 14, 2004
The Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit vs. HHH (c)
The Moment: For obvious reasons, I struggled a lot with this one. Given last summer’s murders, I wasn’t sure whether to celebrate Chris Benoit’s crowning achievement or not. In the end, I felt that we shouldn’t deny that this was a great ‘Mania moment. So, I kept it in.
#15: Family Feud
Wrestlemania X7 – Astrodome, Houston, TX
April 1, 2001
The Match: Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon
The Moment: The McMahons, the first family of wrestling, have had their share of infamous moments inside the ring but none more entertaining (or disturbing) than when Vince McMahon faced his only son, Shane, in a brutal match at WM X7. In the end, youth won out as Shane, who had just “purchased” WCW less than a week prior to their bout, reigned victorious over his old man with a devastating rendition of the Van Terminator.
#14: To the Employed Go the Spoils
Wrestlemania VII – LA Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA
March 24, 1991
The Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy “Macho King” Savage in a Retirement Match
The Moment: There’s really nothing like a good ol’ fashioned retirement match– especially on the grandest stage of ‘em all. What made this one so intriguing was the uncertainty of who would have to call it quits. Would it be the babyface Ultimate Warrior or the now-heel Randy “Macho King” Savage? (Obviously, this is wrestling so we all knew the loser would return in six months but nevertheless it was squared circle drama at its best).
#13: The Ultimate Challenge
Wrestlemania VI – Skydome, Toronto, ON
April 1, 1990
The Match: Ultimate Warrior (I-C Champion) vs. Hulk Hogan (WWE Champion)
The Moment: This was Pepsi vs, Coke, Nike vs. Reebok, Jordan vs. Bird all rolled in one. In the early 1990s you were either an Ultimate Warrior fan or a Hulk Hogan fan. You just couldn’t be both. More importantly, Vince McMahon felt that Hulkamania was on its last legs and it was time to crown a new champion. Thus, he pitted the Intercontinental Champion, Ultimate Warrior, against the WWF champ, Hulk Hogan, in one of the most anticipated matches in WWF/E history. In hindsight, it was kind of fitting that this match took place on April’s Fools Day because clearly the joke was on anyone who thought Warrior would be a bigger star than Hogan ever was.
You need to stop what your doing right now and check out the video below, courtesy of WWE.com. It’s mesmerizing.
The basic gist is it’s a clip of Floyd Mayweather showing us that he has a million dollars in his bedroom. All he is really doing is counting it but for some reason I have watched it three times in a row.
I still can’t figure out if this makes Floyd a heel or a face though. Should I hate the fact that he will make more in one night than I have made in the last three years (fine maybe four)? Or should I love him for not believing in the concept of banks?
Regardless, it’s still a highly entertaining two minutes and the only footage WWE has aired that has sort of resembled the brilliance that is HBO Sports’ 24/7.
#19: Godzilla Makes His Debut
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).
As some of you might know, I used to write on a more consistent basis for another great website entitled No Mas. Some guy from there always bangs on the Jarry Park headquarters’ door whenever a big boxing match is coming up.
Anyhow, last year around this time, I ran the “No Mas Top 23 Wrestlemania Moments.” Well, we’re now on the road to WM 24 so I thought I would update it and make it the “Jarry Park Top 24 Wrestlemania Moments.” Every week we’ll count down all the great memories leading up to the grandaddy of ’em all on 3/30. Feel free to throw in your two cents along the way. Today we look at #24 to #21:
#24: It’s Not A Toupee
Ford Field, Detroit, MI
April 1, 2007
The Match: Bobby Lashley (w/Donald Trump) vs. Umaga (w/Vince McMahon) in a hair vs. hair match
The Moment: I already mentioned that I didn’t love this angle but one can not deny the fact that it was solely responsible for WM 23 being the highest grossing live event in WWE history ($5.38 million). And, despite not being enthused by its build up, the sight of Donald Trump shaving Vince McMahon’s head will forever live as one of the most absurd moments in wrestling history.
#23: Bad News for the Hitman
Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, NJ
March 27, 1988
The Match: 20-man over-the-top rope battle royal
The Moment: This was the opening match of WM IV. The final two men left standing were a young Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Bad News Brown. Hart and Brown seemed to have agreed to share the win, that is until Brown double-crossed the Hitman and kicked him in the back of the head and over the ropes. Why the hell did Hart trust him? I mean, look at the guy. While not the greatest moment of Hart’s career it was on this night that he truly started his babyface turn.
#21: Gridiron vs. Squared Circle
Nassau Coliseum/Rosemont Horizon/The Sports Arena
April 2, 1986
The Match: WWF vs. NFL stars battle royal
The Moment: Vince McMahon pulled out all the stops to insure Wrestlemania would not be a one-trick-pony. Not only did he hold this event in three different arenas across the country he held the first-ever WWF vs. NFL battle royal. Check out some of the participants: Andre the Giant, Jimbo Covert (Chicago Bears), Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin (Dallas Cowboys), Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes (Pittsburgh Steelers), Big John Studd, B. Brian Blair, Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell, Bill Fralic (Atlanta Falcons), Bret “Hit Man” Hart, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Russ Francis (San Francisco 49ers), Bruno Sammartino and William “Refrigerator” Perry (Chicago Bears).
While the incomparable Andre “The Giant” was the last man standing, The Fridge was definitely the star of the match. His performance even got him elected to the WWE Hall of Fame last year.