Judy Bagwell On A Pole

Hey Scott, Colin from the Blog here. So I’m just sitting back and watching an old Nitro from 2000 (I know, I’m a glutton for punishment) and once again here comes Judy fuckin’ Bagwell on my television (or rather, computer) screen. What gives man? Was this all some big rib on Buff by Nash and the boys backstage? IIRC Buff was infamous for being a "momma’s boy" or whatever, and isn’t that why he was fired from the WWF in 2001 when the Invasion started, because he had his mother call him in sick or something along those lines? You were a stalwart of the IWC at the time so I figured you’d be the best person to ask about this one. It just seems like it was all a big rib on Buff. I wonder if he noticed.

Yeah, you’ve got it right.  The whole thing with Judy Bagwell was basically a huge rib on Buff (and one on the fans, really), and “his mama called in sick to WWE” really did happen as well.  That’s what WCW does to you, I guess.

WWE Vintage Collection–August 12 2011

  The SmarK Rant for WWE Vintage Collection – August 12 2011 When I subscribed to the Score to get Smackdown and RAW again, I didn’t even realize this show was included. Well you know I’m gonna be all over THIS. Hosted by Mean Gene. This week: Summer spectaculars! This would be stuff from Summerslam and Bash at the Beach, etc. Intercontinental title: Honky Tonk Man v. Brutus Beefcake This is from Philly in June of 1988, and I reviewed a Boston show from the same month on WWE 24/7 years back, so it’ll probably be the exact same match. Beefcake pounds away with elbows to start and the dreaded WINDMILL PUNCH OF DEATH, operating under the principle that winding up the punch gives it more force. Isaac Newton would love wrestling. Honky gets a cheapshot and chokes Brutus out on the ropes, but irony strikes as Brutus sends him into the turnbuckles 10 times and follows with an atomic drop. Honky bails for some advice from “Peggy Sue”, but gets beat up on the apron as a result. Honky’s bumping is so spectacular that it almost overcomes how shitty Brutus was at this point. Brutus pummels him in the corner, and that gets two. Honky tries a kneelift, but Brutus moves out of the way and Honky takes a nice flat back bump off that. I’m gonna say it: Honky was a really underrated worker. And I’m not just saying that because he cut a promo on my voice mail. He goes to a chinlock and we take a break. Back with Honky turning that into a full blown sleeper, but Brutus fights out and makes the comeback. High knee and he signals for the sleeper, but Honky is clearly still conscious and not at all stunned. That’s why he wasn’t IC title material. Honky bails to the apron and Beefcake stupidly pus the sleeper on him, but Honky uses BRASS KNUCKLES~! and knocks Beefcake out cold for the pin at 9:33. Brutus was like Lex Luger to Honky’s Ric Flair here. *** The Un-Americans (Lance Storm, Test and Christian) v. Booker T, Goldust & Undertaker. From RAW, August 19 2002. Booker gets a flapjack on Christian for two, and cleans house on the heels before getting caught in the corner. Test with the corner clothesline, but Booker catches him with an elbow to block a charge. Test comes back with a chinlock, but Booker fights out for the hot tag to Goldust. He sets up Christian for Shattered Dreams, but it’s BONZO GONZO and Test lays him out with the big boot. Undertaker and Test fight it out in the chaos, setting up Test getting squashed at Summerslam 2002, and Taker chokeslams Lance Storm for good measure. Christian gets two on Goldust, but Booker hits Storm with an axe kick. Goldust fights off the heels, but Christian hits him with the tag belt for the pin at 5:23. Not much of note here. ** US title,30 Minute Iron Man match: Rick Rude v. Dustin Rhodes From Beach Blast 93, during the really boring period for WCW where the US title was held up seemingly forever. There’s only 30 minutes left in this show, so this is JIP about 3 minutes in with Dustin getting a backdrop on Rude and tossing him into the corner. Dustin with a chinlock and some hip swivels (“Looks like a big fat Texas steer in heat” notes Jesse Ventura). He tries to swivel again, but Rude clotheslines him instead and goes up with a flying axehandle, then shows him the proper way to swivel. Rude starts working on the back and gets a bearhug (really? We’re only about 6 minutes into this thing!) but Rhodes elbows out of that. Rude goes to a camel clutch now,and we take a break. Back with Rude getting the Rude Awakening for the first fall at 6:37 aired. Rude quickly goes up with a flying clothesline for two. Rude keeps trying pins, and we’re suddenly at 15 minutes gone. The magic of editing, I guess. Rude goes to another chinlock, but Dustin fights out, only to run into Rude’s knee in the corner. Rude tries a piledriver, but Dustin reverses to the tombstone for two. Dustin does his patented bodypress whiff and lands on the floor, and we take another break. Back with Rhodes reversing a suplex attempt for two. Rude hammers him into the corner and lays some quality badmouth on him (was there any better smack-talker in the ring than Rude?) before dropping him with a kneelift. Rude, Jesse notes, always has time to pose. And we’re back to the chinlock as Tony is actually insightful and points out that he might be “putting it in the deep freeze” a bit early. Dustin fights back, but walks into a sleeper. Sweet Jiminy Christmas is this a boring match. And so we take another break. Back with 4 minutes left and Rude slugging away in the corner, but Dustin has had ENOUGH. He spits on Rude and fires back, but tumbles out of the ring, allowing Rude to blow a snot rocket on him. That’s the farmer’s handkerchief, according to Jesse. Back in, Dustin gets a fluke bulldog for the pin to even it up with 3 minutes left. Dustin presses things with an elbow off the top for two. Dustin with a piledriver for two. He slugs away on the mat and drops the elbow for two. None of these are particularly convincing near-falls. With time running out, he gets three clotheslines for two and follows with a sleeper, but Rude escapes with a jawbreaker and goes up. He’s too slow, and time expires at 30:00 (20:00 aired) with a draw and still no US champion. This was duller than dull and just didn’t work with only the 2 falls. Dustin was getting better as a worker at this point, but nowhere near what he’d be later. ** That was a very eclectic mix of stuff, and I kind of like that about it. I shall continue watching!

Let’s Talk Flashpoint

So we’re almost done the big event of this summer for DC, Flashpoint, and I had previously mentioned that the main series was kind of ludicrous, but awesome.  Well, we’re at issue 4 of 5 now, and it’s become less awesome and more glacially paced as I’m wondering how #5 is supposed to both wrap up the series and set up the New 52, considering NOTHING HAS HAPPENED in the past two issues.  The whole thing is looking kind of pointless right now, with some of the tie-ins being amazing (BATMAN!) and some being putrid (CANTERBURY CRICKET!  GREEN ARROW!) and most just being confusing as to why they exist.  Like really, I’m enjoying The Outsider well enough, but who is he supposed to be and why do we need a 3 issue series about him?  It feels like they’re gonna have to cram a lot into the last week of crossover stuff (like, we don’t even know what Zoom did to change the past yet), which just reinforces the whole “making it up as they go along” feel thus far.  It’s still a fun series, but it just feels like an Elseworlds story that’s getting way out of hand and ultimately doesn’t mean anything.  But definitely get Knight of Vengeance, it’s crazy good. 

Sting’s Legacy

Hey Scott, I’ve got a question about Sting. Sting has said multiple times that the reason he hasn’t signed with WWE is because he’s concerned about what the company would do to his legacy after seeing how they used the other WCW employees who jumped over.  And he feels like WWE would destroy the legacy and prestige.  A fair concern, the Invasion did destroy more than a couple careers. But I don’t buy it. If Sting is so concerned with his Legacy, why the hell is he working for TNA?  And beyond that, why the hell did he agree to a gimmick change that involves him impersonating Jim Carrey if he played the Joker.  It’s not as if he took the role seriously and is testing himself by taking a crappy gimmick and doing his best with it, since it’s pretty clear that he’s dicking around and putting in as much work as Ben Kingsley did in BloodRayne. So my question to you is this?  If Sting doesn’t care about his legacy (which I don’t think he does) why not sign with WWE?  Stubbornness?  Loyalty to Dixie?  Money?  Heat with Vince?  I just doesn’t make any sense.

Given how many chances he’s had to work with the WWE and how many times he’s turned them down, it would have to be stubbornness at this point.  Although I only saw the one episode of Impact featuring his Joker thing, so I can’t really comment on that too much.  I’ve always heard there was some issue with his born-again beliefs, but if Shawn could deal with it, you think Sting could as well. 

Wrestling Press Plug

Hey Scott, I have a little blurb promoting our new issue of Wrestling Press magazine, would you mind posting it again? Thanks, and all the best, Greg —————————- Brock Lesnar on Vince McMahon and WWE
Brock Lesnar, the only man to ever hold championship gold in both WWE & the UFC, has been speaking to TWP Magazine about his time in WWE and how it helped him as a world class MMA fighter. Here are some highlights: On Vince McMahon and WWE: “These guys, they just don’t have another life. When they go home, they really can’t get out of tune with their on-stage persona. There’s really no time. I think the biggest thing is there’s really no downtime for the human body to recover, and more importantly, for their mind to recover where you’re constantly on the road, and in a program where you can’t get outside to take an outside look at what’s going on — guys resort to all kinds of extracurricular activities.” On what being with WWE has done for his career: ”I’m not stupid — without the WWE, the WWE made me a household name and increased my value tenfold before I even pursued the UFC. Could I be where I am today without the WWE? Probably not. Could I be drawing the same numbers that I’m drawing? Probably not. I brought a lot of fans over, a lot of crossover fans that I brought, just from the general public and WWE fans, I believe.” Other interviews featured in this free edition of The Wrestling Press include Al Snow as he talks about his job for Impact Wrestling. Also featured are articles on CM Punk and what’s next for him, we look at the Top 25 managers of all time, Is nostalgia for the past dooming wrestling’s future?, We look at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Impact Wrestling and a whole lot more. To read the full interview go to http://thewrestlingpress.com/?p=5282

The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN Classic

The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN Classic

Taped from somewhere in Minnesota, I think. The ring announce is Donna Gagne, so that’s what you’re getting into here.

Your hosts are Lee Marshall and Eric Bischoff

This looks to be early 1990, judging by the cast of characters.

DJ Peterson v. Jimmy Magnum

Peterson was a guy who had the look and a pretty good skillset, but ended up being yet another casualty after a motorcycle accident. At least it wasn’t drugs that killed him. DJ with a takedown and he works the leg with a grapevine, but Magnum makes the ropes. Magnum gets his sad jobber offense with a slam, but misses a ridiculous elbowdrop, and Peterson finishes with a sloppy flying clothesline and Scorpion deathlock at 2:53. Kind of funny hearing Marshall yell “Ring the bell, ring the bell!” while Peterson was using that particular hold.

Tommy Jammer v. Tom “Rocky” Stone

Jammer, as all the kids know, is the master of the abdominal stretch. Stone tries to attack him, but Jammer pulls him off the ropes and starts working on the leg. Jammer was a very green kid who looked like a bodybuilder and was supposed to be the teen heartthrob in the absence of, well, everyone else. Was there even anyone under 35 left in the promotion at this point? Jammer rams Stone into the turnbuckles a few times, and finishes with the ABDOMINAL STRETCH OF DEATH at 2:42. Jammer, and I shit you not, is sucking wind after this squash. He kicked around the indies for another couple of years and then thankfully retired.

Yukon John Nord v. The Annihilator

Nord is of course Nord the Barbarian in his pre-Berzerker days, and Annihilator looks like a very young Ahmed Johnson. It wouldn’t be him because he didn’t debut until about three years after this, but the resemblance is uncanny. Nord throws boots and Annihilator no-sells a lot of it, but misses a charge, and that allows Nord to finish with a flying legdrop at 2:17.

The Texas Hangmen v. Tony Leoni & The Cobra

The Hangmen are going by Killer and Psycho. The Hangmen double-team Leoni (who appears to be 80 years old) and hit a double bulldog, which gets two for Killer. The Cobra manages to get a tag and gets nowhere before Psycho hits him with a cheapshot and then comes in with a neckbreaker. DDT gets two. Psycho has an elbowpad, so I’m assuming that’s Mark Canterbury. Demolition Decapitation finishes at 3:22. They could not have been more obvious about ripping off Demolition unless they were managed by “Mr. Fugee” or something.

As a bonus, we take a look at the first meeting of Larry Zbyszko and Nikita Koloff, leading up to our main event tonight. I thought they would show clips, but no, they end up showing an entire 10 minute TV match between them. Larry hits Nikita with the belt to draw a DQ here.

Larry Zbyszko v. Nikita Koloff, 2/3 Falls

Sadly, this is non-title. Koloff pounds away in the corner and hiptosses Larry before tossing him out of the ring, and they brawl outside. Koloff runs him into the shower curtain that keeps fans from rushing into the ring, but Larry comes back and chokes him out with a TV cable. Back in, Larry with more of his patented choking and they slug it out. The announcers spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the referee, who is apparently a former football player. Note to idiot announcers: No one gives a shit about the referee. Koloff pounds away in the corner and gets two, then drops an elbow for two. Larry rolls him up with a handful of tights at 4:09 to win the first fall, however.

Second fall and Koloff runs Larry into the corner and puts him down with a shoulderblock, but Larry takes him down in the corner and gets two. Finally, after 30 seconds with his feet on the ropes, the idiot ref notices that Larry is cheating and breaks it up. Oh lord. Larry with a backbreaker for two, and he goes to the chinlock. Vintage Larry Z! That goes on so long that I have a chance to go read the new Observer while I wait for Koloff to escape. It lasts more than a minute, no joke. Koloff escapes with a backslide for the second fall at 9:10, continuing the cheap finish motif for this match.

Third fall and now the announcers are discussing the career of Zbyszko’s “grandfather” Stanislaus. Did Larry even use that as part of his gimmick? Larry pounds away in the corner, but Koloff shoves him off and finishes with the Sickle at 10:48. A competent but really boring main event, as clearly neither guy gave a shit at this point. They’d both bail for WCW when the AWA folded later that year. **1/4

Yikes. This wasn’t even the kind of bad that was fun to mock. This was a company clearly circling the drain, using the World champion’s wife as the ring announcer.

Booking plans

A few historical questions  about Vince’s plans – 1- Did Vince have a back up plan for Montreal? What would have happened had Bret listened to Davey Boy (or whomever) and not allowed himself to be put in the sharpshooter – what was Vince’s plan B as to how to get the title off him? 2- Did Vince expect Montreal to make him a top heel in the company? What was he expecting fan reaction to be? 3- On an unrelated note, what was the long term plan for the Two Man Power Trip/Canadian Violence Connection feud in ’01 had HHH not torn his quad? And what was the plan for HHH’s role in the Invasion? 

1.  They would have done a DQ finish and Bret would have surrendered the title on RAW the next night.  However, the odds of that actually happening are astronomical, because Vince would have found some way to screw Bret out of the title, even if Bret hadn’t fallen for the Sharpshooter spot.  Pretty much any submission move done by Shawn or any pinning predicament could have led to a bell being rung. 2.  Vince was so desperate that I don’t think fan reaction was even on his radar at that point.  3.  I had the whole plan outlined for me by a WWE writer, but I don’t use the same e-mail account anymore because otherwise I’d just reprint it here.  Basically HHH was going to do a slow burn babyface turn and occupy the spot that ended up going to Kurt Angle.  But, and this is a big one, the thing you have to keep in mind as well is that originally the Invasion angle was supposed to lead to separate WCW and WWF touring brands, and HHH & Rock were going to headline the WCW brand while Austin & Undertaker were going to be the WWF headliners.  So at the time plans were made for HHH and Austin, long-term plans were drastically different from where things ended up.  So it wasn’t like HHH and Austin were going to be wrestling all the time, it was more like they split up the team and HHH leaves for WCW so they can do interpromotional matches down the line. 

Fakeness

 

Hey Scott,
Got two for you:
1. Regarding last night’s Raw: I enjoy reality-based wrestling as much as the next guy, but when are the writers and the wrestlers involved going to realize that when they refer to stuff like "work rate" and "heel persona" that they’re essentially acknowledging, within the context of the story, that wrestling is indeed fake and thus negating the whole purpose of Cena and Punk talking trash about who’s gonna win Sunday.  Why should we care?  Cena’s character "John Cena" just admitted it’s all contrived.
2. Strictly kayfabe, to what extent are wrestling fans supposed to believe heels are truly "bad" people?  Like, in 1990, were we to assume that Mr. Perfect goes home from his job and is probably a law-abiding citizen who is merely unpopular at work? What about Earthquake, who assaulted Hulk Hogan in the third degree and is technically a felon?  If Ravishing Rick Rude saw the Ultimate Warrior trapped in a burning car, would Rude call the fire department, let alone try to help him get out?
These are the questions that plague me at night.

1.  This is the phenomenon I have previously discussed about Vince Russo, which I have dubbed Everything You Are Watching Is Fake, But What You Are Watching Right Now Is Real.  To me it’s a really strange way to sell a PPV, especially when a supposed title v. title unification match would be the more straight-forward storyline.  We internet folk might make for great trending patterns on Twitter (is there a #fivemovesofdoom one, I wonder…) but it’s not a great way to try to grow your audience.  We’re already the audience, you don’t need to convince us.  2.  Well, clearly Mr. Perfect was just an overachiever, not an actual bad person.  But I think in the bigger sense, it falls under suspension of disbelief and the unwritten rule that what happens in the ring stays in the ring.  Of course, once Russo came along and people started having brawls outside the arena for the Hardcore title, that kind of went out of the window.  I think it all goes under the umbrella of the Wolf and Sheepdog cartoons – yeah, Earthquake tries to murder Jake Roberts’ snake when he’s on the clock, but then he goes home and watches TV just like anyone else. 

Classics No More

Hey Keith I feel like I just emailed you a few months ago about WWEClassics.com changing. The new online service is WWEGreatestMatches.com. The name sucks but the premise is solid. They have (in their opinion which I agree 88% on the top 100 matches), full episodes, monthly videos and original content. The thing that bums me is that they are now selling episodes of Raw from 1993 for $1.99. Should I be mad or is this more of a standard premise among along services. I’m very mixed on this. I think the old WWEClassics.com offered too much and maybe I was spoiled (god forbid WWE gave fans somethign worth their money). What do you think? Do you blame WWE for trying to make additional revenue?

It’s one of those weird “addition by subtraction” type of marketing deals, I guess, where the actual pricing structure that was in place before stays, but now you don’t get the individual episodes included for your yearly subscription fee.  Since I never used the service for the individual matches, this would hold no appeal to me.  Really, they’re just biding their time until they can launch their WWE Network anyway, so it appears they no serious interest in making full use of their library any time soon.  Such is life.

Greatest Reign Ever?

Hi Scott, Let me start with the usual and say I’m a long time reader, first time emailer, so many thanks for the entertaining rants and reviews down the years. I was thinking about this the other day and thought your take would be interesting and all those on the blog might enjoy discussing who actually had the greatest single title reign in wrestling history? By this I mean a recognised World Heavyweight title reign anywhere in the world rated in terms of money made, future influence, match quality, storytelling, character development and other tangibles. But it must be a single title reign, so for example, while Austin’s run with the WWF Championship in 1998 was brilliant, it was split between two reigns so can’t count collectively but each of the two reigns could be considered on their own merits. Now apologies if I seem ignorant but my wrestling knowledge is really North American and late 80’s onwards, so if it was just about money made I’m sure Hogan’s 84-88 reign is the one, and I’m sure in terms of match quality, Ric Flair probably had a crazy good reign in the 80’s and finally in terms of drama and storytelling, Savage’s year with the title Wrestlemania IV to V is up there. But if you take everything into account, who had the greatest single title reign? I’ve been going back and forth between Savage’s Wrestlemania to Wrestlemania reign and Austin’s run from Wrestlemania 17 to Unforgiven 2001. Keep up the good work!

Yeah, the conversation pretty much begins and ends with Bruno Sammartino.  Eight years as WWF champion from 1963-71, and he pretty much invented the power wrestler template from which everyone else followed.  Drew money hand over fist as well.  Came back in the 70s and got another three years as champion just because Vince Sr. needed another couple of million dollars in his vault to dive into like Uncle Scrooge.  Runner-up:  Hulk Hogan’s first reign.  If you’re expanding to other, non-World titles, then I’d also nominate Honky Tonk Man. 

G+ Plug

Hi +Scott Keith you very kindly plugged my website when I first started, but there’s so many reviews on there now including all of the Harry Potter films, which frankly I feel I deserve a medal for sitting through. Any chance of one more cheap plug for old times sake, and I promise I won’t ask again. 🙂
http://www.thatfilmguy.co.uk/harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-part-2

Well I can’t say no to a cheap plug. 

Good Times, We Got ‘Em

Hey Scott,Johnathan1988 from the boards
I keep reading about different "boom" periods in WWE, or times when business was bad, but different sources seem to give different information on which time-frames WWE was successful in (ratings, buyrates, attendance), and which periods things weren’t so good in. Seeing as I didn’t really take notice of such things until my conversion to smarkdom in 2001, I write you asking to clear it up.

I start with Hogan beating the Sheik for the belt. WWE was clearly on fire then, highlighted with Hulkamania and Hogan’s huge WM3 win over Andre. Does the fire start to die down a little in 88 and 89, or is it going just as strong up until WM VI in toronto?
Obviously things get cooler from here, but the mid 90s provide a constant source of argument between Bret and Shawn fans. Was Bret’s 94 run doing any good numbers? Was Shawn’s 96 title reign the closest WWE has come to going out of business? And where does Diesel in 95 fit in?
The Attitude Era was the next big boom, but my question is if Austin’s year long-absence (and thus the Rock taking over the top spot) made a difference in the numbers in 2000 compared to 99?
Finally, I heard an interview with Cena where he calls 02-06 "a down time" for ther business. So when does it start picking up again? Wrestlemania 23?
I know this is a convoluted question, but I figured you were a good authority to somewhat set the record straight.

OK, I’m game. 80s:  84-88 was huge, with Hogan-Orndorff in particular making money hand over fist every night for close to a year until they finally managed to burn people out on it.  It was INSANE the kind of houses they were doing after that piledriver.  Savage did really strong business on top as champion, leading to the all-time buyrate champion for a long time at Wrestlemania V.  Business starting dropping rapidly at that point, leading to Warrior’s horrible run on top (fault and causes are another argument, point being, business went south).  You can safely call 89-92ish a pretty big down cycle. The early 90s were a really weird period, and I’m going to play it safe and say it’s hard to categorize who would have done what with the title on top.  Diesel was unquestionably death for business, however, and I don’t think anyone seriously debates that.  As a personal anecdote, Diesel’s reign as champion saw them drop from running the hockey arena in Edmonton to the much, much smaller adjacent building, something that would have been unthinkable to me a few years prior.  Sid on top in 96 was a similar situation.  Bret always drew big numbers as champion internationally, so you pretty much had to keep him on top during that period when they were expanding like that.  Overall, 93-97 was a huge transitional period for the business in general, with Vince shifting his focus from promoting house shows on TV to promoting PPV on TV and finally just promoting TV for the sake of it.  2000 was the most profitable year for the WWF in their history, including today, so Rock must have been doing something right.   Really, by that time Austin wasn’t needed as a draw and HHH and Rock could carry things just fine on their own.  Austin’s peak years, 98-2000, were SOOOOOOO huge that he could have retired and still been comfortably rich for the rest of his life just based on them.  2000 was pretty much the peak of the entire business as far as WWF goes. As for the last one, business picked up specifically with the Batista-HHH main event at Wrestlemania 21.  That’s the show that turned WM from just the biggest PPV of the year into an event in itself.  It’s also the last time they really pulled the trigger and made 2 legitimate new stars (Cena and Batista), both in the same night!  However, outside of WM, PPV has been trending steadily downwards for a long time now, so we’ve been a down cycle for many years. 

Memorable Eras

Hey Scott. Your recent post regarding the "Best Final Matches" of certain wrestlers got me thinking about the various epochs of professional wrestling in North America. But a comment in said thread really got the creative juices going.

Every major period in pro wrestling seems to have a clear beginning, a decisive point where the beginning of the end is seen, and a symbolic ending to it. In the NWA (or WCW), for instance, Ric Flair’s run as the true face of the promotion began at Starrcade ’83 when he toppled Harley Race for his second world title, and ended with the unceremonious firing by Jim Herd in the summer of 1991. I looked a bit deeper, though, and would be so bold as to say that while Herd’s firing of Flair was the symbolic end to his reign as the top dog in WCW (since he was never the same force in the promotion again), you could see the beginning of the end as early as 1990, when the new generation (represented by Sting) finally overcame him in 1990. Sure, he would win the title back in 1991, but it was really the beginning of the end for Flair’s reign as the undisputed King of the NWA.
In the WWF, you can see something similar to Hulk Hogan, who actually had not one, but three "definitive" endings to his first WWF run. With a universally agreed-upon starting point set in 1984 with his title victory over the Iron Sheik, you could run it out to WrestleMania VI, where he lost the title to the Ultimate Warrior and "passed the torch" in much the same way Flair had to Sting (since both Warrior and Sting ended up as disappointing champions their first time out). You could make a case for WrestleMania VIII, which was really the culmination of nine years on the road with the WWF as its top attraction. And you can certainly look at 1993’s King of the Ring, where Yokozuna crushed him and led to his turfing from the promotion. But looking closer, you could almost see the beginning of the end at the Main Event in 1988, with his title loss to Andre. It was the first time Hogan had been beaten. The superhero had been felled, even if it came as treachery. After that, Hogan’s stature was lessened a bit, because you had the Macho Man operating at the same level in the fan’s eyes for a time, and then you had the Warrior rise up not long after. Like Flair, Hogan would have success after the beginning of the end. But it was really an iconic moment that really foreshadowed the changing times.
As I looked back, I could count a number of these areas where you had clear starting points and symbolic endings, like Steve Austin’s start at King of the Ring 1996, his symbolic end at WrestleMania XIX, and the beginning of the end with his awkward heel turn at WrestleMania X-Seven. Or you could even use Bret Hart, whose Intercontinental Championship victory at Summerslam 1991 launched his solo career for good, the WrestleMania 13 double-turn the beginning of his downfall, and Montreal representing the symbolic end. Who else has such identifiable periods in their career that you can recall?

Those would actually be the major ones I could think of as well.  I think it’s much more notable that someone like the Rock didn’t have a “beginning of the end” phase.  It was all rising action, and then one day he went to Hollywood and never looked back.  Ditto for someone like Brock Lesnar, who was on top of the business for his entire career.  You could probably make a case for Goldberg having an era, who debuted strong, and then saw the beginning of the end with the stupid car punching injury, and finally the heel turn that killed him off for good. 

Not As Much Money In The Bank As Previously Thought

As per last night’s Observer radio show, initial numbers for Money In The Bank are coming in, and it looks like about 135,000 domestic buys.  Predictions based on the show’s response had originally put it at 150,000 or more, which would have been phenomenal.  This doesn’t cover international buys and numbers will probably change a lot when the finals come in next quarter, but as it stands it’s a bit of a boost over 2010’s show, but not a game-changing performance or anything.  It’s basically a B-show that did better than it would have.   Hopefully this won’t mean Punk will immediately lose his version of the title and then job to Fake Sin Cara every night, but given the impatience WWE has displayed with the angle thus far, you never know.  Really, what it goes to show is that PPV is a dying market for WWE and there’s very little that’s going to boost it again short of Rock and Steve Austin returning fulltime. 

Bret v. Shawn

Hi Scott, hope you are well. Here is the complete DVD listing for the WWE’s Wrestling’s Greatest Rivalries, Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart DVD…

Disc 1
San Antonio vs. Calgary
The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation
Heartbreak Kid vs.The Hit Man
Intercontinental Champion vs. WWE Champion
Showstopper vs. Excellence of Execution
Progressive vs. Traditional
Fantasy vs. Reality
Respect vs. Trust
Redemption vs. Reconciliation
Hope vs. Peace
Disc 2
The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation
Madison Square Garden – 25th November, 1989
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Wrestling Challenge – 10th February, 1990
The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation
Tokyo Dome – 30th March, 1991
Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Portland, Oregon– 21st July, 1992
Intercontinental Championship Match
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Syracuse, New York– 29th April, 1992
WWE Championship Match
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Survivor Series – 25th November, 1992
Steel Cage Match
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Utica, New York – 1st December, 1993
Disc 3
Iron Man Match for the WWE Championship
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
WrestleMania 12 – 31st March, 1996
WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Bret Hart’s Induction
Chicago, Illinois – 1st April, 2006
Bret Hart Returns to Raw
Raw – 4th January, 2010
WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Shawn Michaels’ Induction
Atlanta, Georgia – 2nd April, 2011
Blu-ray Exclusive Moments
Vince McMahon Interviews Shawn Michaels & Bret Hart
Raw – 3rd February, 1997
Bret Hart Promo In Ring
Raw – 12th May, 1997
Hart Foundation Promo In Ring
Raw – 19th May, 1997
WWE Championship Match
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Survivor Series – 9th November , 1997
Blu-ray Exclusive Special Features
The First WWE Ladder Match
SummerSlam 1992
Winning the WWE Championship for the First Time
Bret’s WCW Regrets
Cameras Rolling Between Takes

Credit: Pwinsider.com Thoughts?

They devote an entire DVD to Bret v. Shawn and DON’T EVEN PUT THE MONTREAL MATCH ON THERE?  Otherwise, that’s a whole lot of Bret v. Shawn.  After viewing that DVD, you could safely say you’ve seen all of them you’ll ever need.

Battlebowl

Hey Scott,
Here’s one thing that I was wondering about the other day: when WCW
used to do the Battlebowl/Lethal Lottery shows, were any of the
pairings really random? It would seem like a promotion with as many
talented workers as WCW had at that time would be able to start out
with some sense of who they wanted in the battle royale at the end,
and trust the guys to call the matches in the ring. Of course, if it
sounds silly asking whether something on a pro wrestling show was a
work or not, it’s worth remembering that this was a promotion that let
Sting and Jake blow off their big feud with a COAL MINER’S GLOVE
match.
Thanks

The pairings were all selected by the bookers, totally un-randomly.  They didn’t trust the guys to do shit.  The non-gimmicked wheel was just WCW stupidity, not an intentional effort to do anything unpredictable. 

Cities

Back in the day when WCW and WWE (F) were both going strong, i always
wondered how the two companies decided where to book shows. I grew up
in Fresno and WWF always came at least once a year. WCW never made a
stop. WCW always played the Cow Palace in San Francisco, I cant recall
WWF doing that. Have any insight on this?

Yup.  Back when the major promotions gave a shit about the individual promoters, each city would have a guy who set up the actual promotion from a local level, and basically they were either exclusively WCW or WWF (in exchange for whatever financial incentives, I’m sure) and god help anyone else who tried to break into that market.  There’s some pretty famous stories about WWF coming into NWA markets and triggering a giant war of words and threats to the arenas and such, and it was deadly serious stuff at the time.  Now, with WWE being the only game in town, things work totally different, given that they’re the only ones who can afford to run the bigger arenas anyway.  But back then, the WWF would work a set circuit covering the Northeast and Northwest, whereas the NWA would hit their cities in the south, and the AWA would cover the North and Midwest.  Everyone pretty much stuck to the same script.

Let the Buyrate Beware

With the quarterly WWE earnings report came the buy totals for second quarter pay-per-views.  I think that everyone assumed that Capitol Punishment would be the dog-of-dogs, but in fact Over The Limit, headlined by a cage match with Cena, Miz, and Morrison, had only 140,000 buys (down from 197,000 in 2010), whereas the CP PPV with Cena vs R-Truth had 170,000 buys (compared to 143,000 last year, when the event was known as Fatal Four Way)  A 25% drop from the previous year was reversed into a 20% gain this year, and I don’t think that all of that can be attributed to abandoning the Fatal Four Way concept.
So it seems that the R-Truth experiment that pretty much everybody panned when his push started has been a success.  I don’t see them taking the focus off of Punk/Cena(/HHH) any time soon, but do you think the guy deserves to remain in the main event mix going forward?

Anyone new is always a good thing, but the whole “half-assed push for new guys” thing has become such a self-fulfilling prophecy that they had already undermined Truth’s push before they even got to the PPV.  Dave Meltzer talks about this at length in the new Observer, and the buys listed are worldwide.  Domestically both OTL and Punishment were unmitigated disasters, with Punishment in particular landing in fourth place overall on the biggest bomb scale.  It’s really international PPV buys that are keeping the concept alive at this point.  So hell yeah, put Truth or Morrison or Miz or whoever you want on top, it’s not like the numbers can get any worse.  Still no word on numbers for Money In The Bank yet, but Punk is not moving house show numbers at all, and we all know what ratings have been like, so those banking on him becoming the next Rock or Austin are in for a rude awakening.  House shows generally respond really quickly to a hot angle, and there’s nothing of the sort going on.  Here in Saskatoon, for instance, there’s a RAW show with Cena and Punk both advertised pretty heavily around town, and tickets aren’t moving at all. 

Best

A simple question for the Blog:
With all this "Best in the World" stuff going around for Punk…is he?
Surely he’s one of them, but in your opinion is he truly THE best in
the world right now? Bryan might be a better wrestler, but not a
better talker. Joe’s a great wrestler AND talker, but he’s lost his
fire & is being misused at the moment. So who is the best right now?

Chael Sonnen.  Best promo in UFC and he even managed to snowjob them into licensing him for another fight.  Vince would love the guy. Oh, you wanted a real answer…sorry.  I’d go with Davey Richards personally.  He’s probably too small to make it in WWE as is, but he’s got the elusive “it factor” that makes him look like a star, and the Edwards match was an easy ***** for me.  Unfortunately I think he’s risen to the level he’s realistically going to attain in the business, but stranger things have happened.  Like Bryan getting a job with WWE and a solid push.