QOTD #42 – The End

Yesterday, I asked you about your favorite wrestler of all
time, to cap off my run of QOTD. We had some very passionate responses, as well
as some folks who just couldn’t make up their minds. Here’s what you said:

Night81: Abraham Lincoln. He freed the slaves.
My issue with Abe is that he wasn’t active long enough for
us to make a fair assessment. He was gone with a bang.
SodiePop: Gotta go with Bret myself, although Stone
Cold is a *very* close 2nd. Probably the most overall fun I had as a fan was
the Attitude era with guys like Austin, DX, The Rock, Mankind, etc, but when it
all boils down to the one guy I most associate with growing up with wrestling
and have the fondest memories of, it’s Bret.
The first live show I
ever went to featured Bret vs. Owen. I was a young mega-fan during his 1994 WWF
Championship reign. I started ordering PPVs as a kid during his main event run.
He participated in two of my favorite matches of all time (WM13 with Austin and
SS91 with Perfect). I’ve met him at a book signing and he was about as
personable and professional a guy could be. He was likely the hardest worker
the company ever had. All jokes aside (many of which are probably warranted),
he wrote my favorite book pertaining to pro wrestling, and I’ve read it about 3
or 4 times. He uses my favorite submission move ever… Yeah, Bret.
Peyton_Drinking: Bret Hart. reason number one is because
because my favorite wrestler had a bad weekend and then no longer existed. Bret
was just the man for a long time and you knew you would get effort to entertain
out of him every time he was in the ring. Also you have to be bad ass to wear
pink tights with a pink and black leather band leader jacket with tassels.
Johnny Polo: Bret The Hitman Hart. Total mark, had the
pink shades, cried when they lost to the Nasties at WM7, had him on my birthday
cake when I was 9, attended and enjoyed King of the Ring ’95, was an honorary
Canadian in 1997, lost ten bucks betting on him in the 1997 Survivor Series,
marked out like a 12-year-old when he returned in 2010, spent two hours
yesterday watching him do a 1992 Timeline shoot, would eagerly watch him do
two-hour shoots on any years from 1994-1999, agree that Hemlsley is a 4/10
I always had a soft spot for Bret. I admit I wasn’t fully on
with a lot of my Canadian brethren, largely because when he mailed it in, it
was unbearable. But that heel turn … man that heel turn. We have never seen
anything like it since. A regional heel was brilliant on paper, and better in
execution. I was 15 years old when Bret was screwed, and that severed my
relationship with the WWF for quite some time because I didn’t want to watch a
product who’d do that to anyone. I went to Mayhem 1999, and was thrilled to see
Bret finally get his moment in the sun once again, as they tried to erase the
stink from 2 years earlier (or, so they’d make us believe – of course Bret himself
wasn’t even in to it). As the years have passed, I’ve come to find myself
agreeing with the WWF’s decision to do what they did while dealing with an
unreasonable employee, but I’ve also come to appreciate everything Bret did
throughout his career a little more too.
Chris Hirsch: Tough question, but I think I would go with
Owen Hart. He was my favorite wrestler as a kid and was the total package in my
mind. Could bring it in the ring, entertaining on the mic and just fun to
watch.
Owen is one of those guys that I came to appreciate more
after he passed away. Prior to that, I always saw him as Bret’s “less talented”
younger brother (since, he was booked that way). Once you looked at the body of
his work, you can see all the little things he did. With years of being the
spoiled little snot of the Hart clan, he was able to take all the worst
qualities and amplify them on a big stage. And he was FUNNY. Damn funny. From
his ridiculous overselling of the Slammy awards, to his infamous backstage ribs,
Owen was a hell of a performer that left us far too soon.
Darren X: Hacksaw Butch Reed….without question. You
gotta remember: a) I’m black, b) I’m from the South, which pretty much was
Mid-South country, and c) I’m always going to be partial to the 80s….because
it was awesome. All my friends liked Junkyard Dog, but I always dug the heels.
Reed was the first black heel that I saw that could be this big badass
football-player type, instead of being made to look like a buffoon…which also
made his babyface run awesome. It doesnt hurt that he kinda reminded me of my
dad also, and he always threated to put soup bones on somebody’s head. I’m
referring to the Mid-South ass-kicking Butch Reed, not the ridiculous blond
haired Natural Butch Reed he became in the WWF. No crazy gimmicks, no bleach
blond hair or anything just I’m Hacksaw Butch Reed….I used to play
football…im big, im bad…and I’m tougher than you, and I’ll kick your ass.
VintageECW: Raven. He’s the one guy I wanted to be more
than any athlete or celebrity when I was a teenager. He got the girls, the
drugs, had the bloodiest matches and his gimmick was a combination of the best
parts of so many wrestlers.
Raven was the perfect storm of the grungy mid-90’s, that
started with Nirvana. The leather and denim, the surly sulking, but still
walking around with all the confidence in the world – all while snorting
mountains of cocaine. I certainly wouldn’t want my children looking to him as a
role model, but he was a hell of a lot of fun in his prime.
Matt Johnson: It was and still is totally Ric Flair for
me. I grew up in JCP country and got introduced to wrestling by my uncle who
was a firm heel supporter. I know it sounds cliche to say in the IWC but I was
the only kid in 2nd grade who was sporting a Horsemen t-shirt while all my
friends were rocking Lex Luger and Dusty Rhodes shirts. I just remember thinking
that Flair was sofa king cool. Here’s this dude who comes to the ring in a
goddamn helicopter sometimes and sometimes he has like 50 hot women line up on
the aisle for him and he’s got a badass robe and a giant belt. In addition to
all that, he would turn your kneecap into mashed potatoes and chop you into
oblivion.
Jobber123: I don’t understand how this question isn’t
“what’s your favorite version of this Ric Flair”. Mine is WWF flair
1.0 and that’s one of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make
The Fuj: “My God…thank you…thank you very
much…I’m almost embarrassed by the response, but when I see this, I know that
the twenty – five years that I’ve spent trying to make you happy every night of
your life was worth every damn minute of it. Now, somebody told me that the
Horsemen were having a party tonight in Greenville! Could that be true that the
most elite group that Eric Bischoff said was dead is alive and well? Bischoff,
this might be my only shot, and I gotta tell ya, I’m gonna make it my best. Is
this what you call a great moment in TV? It’s wrong, because this is REAL! This
is not bought and paid for! It’s a REAL – LIFE – SITUATION! Just like the night
in Columbia, South Carolina, when you looked at me – tears in my eyes – and
said ‘God, that’s good TV’ – it was real! Arn Anderson passed the torch – it
was real, dammit! You think Sting was crying in the dressing room like I was on
TV if it wasn’t real? This guy, my best friend, is one of the greatest
performers who ever lived, and YOU – you squashed him, in one night. Then you
get on the phone and tell me, ‘disband the Horsemen, they’re dead.’ Disband the
Horsemen, me. You know what, I looked at myself in the mirror the next day and
I saw a pathetic figure that gave up and quit! And for that, I owe you, the
wrestling fans, I owe these guys an apology. Because it won’t happen again!
[Bischoff is coming out.] Bischoff, whatever you think…no, you’re an overbearing
asshole! That’s right! You’re an obnoxious, you’re an obnoxious, overbearing
ass! Abuse of power! You! Abuse of power! Cut me off! Come on! It’s called
abuse of power! You suck! You, I hate your guts. I hate your guts. You are a liar,
you’re a cheat, you’re a scam, you are a no good son of a (mute). Fire me! I’m
already fired! Fire me! I’m already fired!”
White Thunder: Ric Flair (as a heel) – The greatest
wrestler of all time, the total package. He made everyone around him look like
a million dollars. Great look with the robes, suits, color combos, blond hair,
etc. Fantastic bumper, Flair was never afraid to make someone look good. Just
the best on the mic. Flair was able to have 4 star match into his 50’s in WWE.
The greatest of all time, period.
Ric Flair was the first wrestler who was able to make you
believe he was living a legitimate rock star life … because he was. This man
breathed the gimmick. His book only made me realize further just what kind of
energy went into being the Nature Boy. Drinking all night, sweating it out at
the gym in the morning, wrestling like a god for 45 minutes at night, and doing
it all again. It’s amazing he’s still alive in his mid-60’s! I didn’t get to
see him perform until much later in his career, but the man was still tearing
it up right through 1999, when he was 50 years old. His return on Nitro after
the 8 months of Bischoff torture was one of the most emotional things you’ll
ever see on TV, and should have led to one last mad run for Ric instead of the
self-parody he’s become over the last decade. I have a lot of love for Flair.
Andy PG: Shawn Michaels. He was a guy who went
through the ranks, fought alongside Marty Jannetty in one of the best and most
innovative tag teams ever, took over in the singles scene (and yes, he had
backstage help, but he still was able to go at 90 mph in the ring), suffered an
injury that by all rights should’ve put him in a damn wheelchair, then returned
to be the old veteran who gets by on just not dying. Very few wrestlers can say
they’ve had two Hall of Fame careers. Plus, I respect his personal metanoia
from drug-fueled jerk to humble family man.
MikeyMike, Witness:
Shawn Michaels. I was especially drawn to
Shawn post comeback. He was still the best guy in the company despite breaking
his back and having a horrible drug problem. No matter who he was paired with,
you could expect a great match. That goes for his whole career. If it wasn’t
for HBK, I probably wouldn’t have given wrestling a second chance when I
started following wrestling again in 06-07. I can say with pride that I cried
when he lost his match to the Undertaker at WrestleMania 26. His match with
Undertaker at WrestleMania 25 is still, in my opinion, the greatest wrestling
match I’ve ever seen. I had a bunch of buddies over to watch at my College
house and served as the designated driver for the evening. Despite this, I
blacked out after that match. I remember having a smoke after the match and
don’t remember anything after that Mania until I drove my friends home to their
houses/dorms.
HartKiller_09: Shawn Michaels was always my favourite. Even
when I was a kid and he was a heel. He wore leather jackets and sunglasses, I
thought he was cool. I was even torn when Jannetty came back – on one hand,
Shawn’s my guy. On the other, I could see why Jannetty wasn’t happy over that
whole window incident. Royal Rumble 1995 was one of my high points as a fan
because I was a mark who was expecting King Kong Bundy to win because I’d
subconsciously picked up on big guys main eventing and guys like Shawn not, so
his win came out of nowhere for me.
I see Shawn Michaels as two very talented, but very
different people. The Shawn Michaels I knew at a younger age was pretty much
public enemy #1. This pansy-ass pretty boy was being groomed as the future of
the WWF? I wanted nothing to do that. As I entered the Internet age, and
learned how much of a prick he was backstage too, that only made me hate him
even more. Then he came back, and it took me years to realize that he had in
fact changed. Once I came around … I found Michaels to be one of my all-time
favorite guys. In fact, Shawn Michaels V2.0 is probably my favorite wrestler of
all time. His first run is now just that much more enjoyable because of who he
became. I remain convinced that DX 1997 would have HATED DX 2006, and done
everything in their power to embarrass those sad old men out of the company –
but I let it slide because Shawn was such an amazing performer when the bell
rang. And what a great way to go out; few performers have that 5 star match and
walk away for good. I genuinely believe we’ve seen the last of Shawn Michaels,
and good for him for doing it on his terms.
AverageJoeEveryman:
Foley is my pick. Remember watching him
back to his early WCW days and through Herb Abrams UWF (which I enjoyed
thoroughly) and then back through WCW. I didnt get ECW around here but when
Mankind appeared in the vignettes after WM12 I was like, holy shit thats Cactus
Jack. His promos and ability to work his style with anybody made me a huge fan.
After Foley it is probably HBK, Vader, and Savage in that order.
John Corrigan: Mick Foley…I’ll listen to his promos and
watch his matches more than anybody else. And it helps meeting him a few times
and him being just as great as you’d like your hero to be.
Daniel Swinney: Foley. Could work a good-to-great match with
nearly anyone, cut absolutely my favorite promos of anyone, was the best ever
in the commissioner role, and I think at least through his initial retirement
he had one of the deepest on-screen characters in history. And above all else,
he was FUN in a way that didn’t sacrifice the intensity or emotion of what he
was doing.
I am a big, big Mick Foley fan. So much so, that even
through his run in TNA, I believed deep down inside that he was still
physically capable of having a 5-star performance if the right situation
presented itself. Of course, that turned out to be false; but Mick was one of
those guys that I could always count on to give everything he had. He was
calculated. He was smart. He knew how to emotionally invest you in everything
he was doing. He was a great commissioner, because he was literally that – a fun
loving guy responsible for booking the shows. He never made himself the show,
and he never turned heel. His match with Randy Orton was one of my five
favorite matches (and possibly my favorite depending on the day you ask me),
and capped off one of the best un-retirement angles I’ve ever seen. All that,
and he seems like a genuinely all around great guy.
Garth Holmberg, C.C.:
Hulk Hogan. Pure mark answer. Why? I was
a grown man marking the fuck out at WrestleMania X-8 when he hulked up on the
Rock and had the entire stadium completely bonkers. I was always a Hulkamaniac
as a kid, but during the Monday Night Wars, I was all in for WWF and hated
Hogan’s n.w.o. character. Mania X-8 went from being a 2 hour snorefest to
hosting one of the greatest matches in Mania history (for enjoyment, not work
quality).
Hogan is one of the most polarizing characters of the
Internet era. Poor wrestler. Great character. Selfish politician. Amazing
performer. I never “got” Hulk Hogan, and as a result things like Bash at the Beach
2000 were moments I thoroughly enjoyed as a late teenager. I was happy to see
the nWo reunion in the WWE, but expected the absolute worst from the useless
Hogan. Then came the magic. I was totally taken aback by the crowd response,
and it’s very unlikely we’ll ever see an old return ever embraced like that
again. All the old spots suddenly had me on the edge of my seat, and wondering
if this was going to lead to a Rock heel turn and have HIM side with the nWo
instead? Then it was all downhill from there, and other than the fact he tapped
out to Kurt Angle, I didn’t have much use for Hulk Hogan again. Just not my cup
of tea.
redstorm11: Jeff Hardy. First WWF match I ever saw was
the 99 No Mercy ladder match. As an 11 year old who loved jumping off high
things I was instantly hooked and Jeff was that reason. Followed him ever since
no matter where he’s at.
Full disclosure; I have some unexplained blind hatred of
Jeff Hardy. There really is no rhyme or reason to it, but when he used to come
out in his mesh shirts and covered in glow in the dark body paint, I was hoping
the set would fall over on him. Never understood the cult following, and I
never saw him as a great performer. Though, I’m also not an idiot – and his
World Title run in 2009 was obviously the best thing to do for business, since
nobody has moved more merchandise than this guy in recent years, or has a
larger following of women and children.
LeeleePhoenix: Kurt Angle 1999-2001. Extremely entertaining
heel character that really fit into what I enjoy. Rapidly improving worker
rising through the ranks. Very handsome young man. He had it all. And then he
went bald and ugly and crazy and I feel depressed every time I see him for a
decade now because he’s probably going to die in a horrible fashion. But,
that’s wrestling.
Kurt Angle was the first performer I really embraced as “my
guy”. Those first two years were magic. From coming in believing that
pro-wrestling was the same thing as amateur, and playing the deluded egomaniac
was a great start, and I was all-in. I found his bizarre feud with Steve
Blackman entertaining, and I yelled so loud I woke my parents up when he beat
Chris Jericho for the IC title just months into his career (back when things
like this WEREN’T commonplace!). I was devastated when he dropped both of his
titles, but when he finally moved into that Triple H feud I knew big things
were coming. Then, of course, the booking fart to end all booking farts
happened, but Kurt still got his World Title anyway. And he just kept getting
better at a scary rate – to the point that by the summer of 2001, just 18
months into his career, he was far and away the best worker the company had
under contract since Shawn Michaels. He was everything you’d ever want in a
pro-wrestler. His struggles over the last 8 years have been the ugly underbelly
to professional wrestling we try not to pay attention to, and it’s a damn shame
he wasn’t able to control his demons because he was well on his way to being
one of the greatest of all time. Hell, he probably is anyway.
Piperfan01: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. A lot of
personal reasons actually, I was an abused kid, and as a result of that abuse,
I was a very quiet kid. Piper was the attitude I wished I could project. He was
cool, cocky, and full of piss and vinegar. He talked loudly and then backed it
up when he wanted to. Don’t get me wrong I was a Hulkamaniac, and a huge fan of
the Junkyard Dog, but Roddy will always be number one because he was who I
wished I was at that age, I kinda lived vicariously through him and his
character got me through a lot of stuff.
I love reading stuff like this. Everyone has their
personality traits that draw them to certain characters more than others. There
are probably even people out there who like the Miz. (Of course, they’re all in
the WWE booking meetings, but still.) You don’t have to justify why you love Piper,
but I’m glad you shared regardless. Piper as a role model isn’t something I
could ever imagine – but in your shoes, it makes sense. One of the best mic
guys of all time, and he could rile you up just by casting a glare.
Michael Weyer: Ricky Steamboat. A brilliant worker, great
arm drags and leaps, a babyface his entire career and more importantly, one of
the absolute greatest sellers ever. When Steamboat took a hit, he made you feel it with staggering, blowing out
cheeks and such, sucked you in totally and you had to cheer him on. A true
professional with so many classic battles, I can never not be entertained by
him.
I never got to see the Ricky Steamboat era until long after
it was over, so I have no strong feelings on him one way or another. I will say
this though – his matches with Flair are some of the most intense battles I’ve
ever seen, and the man could simply work. He didn’t have a huge personality,
but he knew how to make what he did look as real as anyone who’s ever laced up
the boots.
jabroniville: “The Macho Man” Randy Savage- he
was easily my favourite when I was a kid, and it’s a great thing to look back
and realize that he was EVEN BETTER than I’d thought. One of the best
carry-artists of all time, and excelling at both promos and in-ring stuff on a
level nobody else could match.
I believed for the longest time that Macho was more likely
to snap and legit kill someone on air than anyone else on TV. From his frantic
pacing around all the time, to that insane gravely familiar voice, to the raw
intensity with which he dropped those elbows as his eyes looked about ready to
pop out of his head, Macho was a true character through and through. It’s a
shame he got stuck playing second banana to Hogan, because in any other era he
was the kind of guy people built companies around.
Crikey Mate Down
Under Aussie:
Punk. “The only
thing that’s real is me, and the fact that day in and day out, for almost six
years, I’ve proved to everybody in the world that I’m the best on this
microphone, in that ring, even at commentary! Nobody can touch me!” He is
the reason I got back into wrestling, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt as
defeated and empty as a fan when Rock took the title off him.
I’ve never hidden my man-love for CM Punk, as he’s pretty
much the only modern main eventer I have any use for (save Brock Lesnar who I
still harken back to the tail end of the Attitude era). There is nobody who is
better at everything he does than CM Punk. Hell, I’m convinced he could take
over the booker’s office tomorrow and put together a thoughtful, organized show
that made everyone a little better for being part of it. He has an ego that’s
raging out of control, but honestly, he’s earned it.
X-Man: Damn this is a hard one.. For me
“favorite wrestler” has shifted over the years. It all started with
Hogan, then Flair, Savage, Steamboat, Billy Jack Haynes, British Bulldogs, Road
Warriors, Jake The Snake, Ultimate Warrior, Bam Bam Bigelow, Jericho, Angle.
Benoit and Malenko… All of those guys were my favorites at one time or
another.. But my all-time favorite would have to be the Rock. He wasn’t the
best technical wrestler, but he had me glued to the TV set EVERY time he
appeared onscreen, especially during his promos.. and here I was a grown man,
knowing it was fake and still spending money to watch him perform. My level of
interest in the product left around the same time he did. Truly one of a kind.
I’m with you. I could probably name a dozen different
wrestlers from a dozen different time periods as my favorite. This is one of
those questions I simply have an impossible time answering – because it’s like
picking your favorite child. So many of my favorites were listed above. Like a
lot of people I was really attached to Chris Benoit for years, but after taking
nearly a year to accept that he did what he did, I haven’t been able to enjoy
him anymore.
Guys – thank you so much for making QOTD fun. I know there
was a stigma attached to this column, and I hope I was able to bring it back to
what it was meant to do … discussing wrestling every day. And even if I
sodomized its spirit (twice in one week!), I loved writing it. I wish I was
able to continue, but I simply cannot commit to a daily piece with the changes to
my personal life that are upcoming.
I’m going to stay on the blog, and write other pieces periodically
(sorry cultstatus), so I’ll see you around. I apologize for not finishing with a meltdown, I’m sure I cost a few people some bets. Have a great weekend, and thank you
again for your participation every single day.