QOTD #14: Independence Day Traditions

Happy Independence Day to my neighbors to the South! I hope
your day is filled with happiness, BBQ, and fireworks.
Today’s Question:
What’s your favorite July 4th
I’m sure we’ll get lots of discussion on this, and if you
want to join right in then scroll to the end of this column, or hit “comments”
to get started. Otherwise, stick around for yesterday’s talking points.

I light of this past year’s Bootista movement, I asked you
about the most disappointing “big return”. Lots of replies to this one, let’s
get down to it.
Chris Hirsch: Not so much a wrestler’s comeback, as a
group’s comeback. I had long wanted DX with Shawn and Triple H to reform and
was real excited when they started teasing it at WM 22. Then they came back as
a group and were awful.
There were a lot of subsequent votes for this one, and I
absolutely agree. DX was built on rebellious youth that had no respect for
authority, for veterans, for anyone. The original DX would have absolutely *hated*
2006 DX, and dealt with them by taking a big steamy dump in their luggage. The “oral
office” sketch was edgy as hell. Saying “cock” 800 times a night was not.
Vince Jordan: Barry Windham was my overall favorite
wrestler in 1993-1994 as the LoneWolf. I was very excited when he came back in
1996 as “The Stalker”. Extremely disappointing.
Don’t worry 1996 Vince, he’s still got the New Blackjacks
and the West Texas Rednecks in himself, lots of time to keep letting you down.
Bruce Chung: nWo. I was hoping for a magical run of a few
months. They started okay, but something was missing. Not just their age, but I
guess when they came back, we knew what could happen and what could not. We
know the limits of what it have been. It wasn’t going to be this unscripted
chaos from 1996 and 1997, but it still felt like “just another angle”
instead of something special.
Yes, yes, a million times yes. I was so excited to get the
original crew into the WWE, and I remember taping (in SP!) every single episode
of RAW and Smackdown thinking I was sitting on an eventual nostalgic goldmine.
The booking was embarrassing. Scott Hall as the recovering alcoholic being
paired in countless skits with beer and then getting fired for falling off the
wagon. Kevin Nash as the lumbering big man who injures himself every time he
wrestles. Hulk Hogan went on a strong 6 month run, but that’s all it was – 6 months!
The nWo wound up going out with a whimper with Shawn Michaels begging Triple H
to join the group on pay-per-view, after kicking out luminaries Booker T and
Goldust. Just no.
Kyle Fitta: I thought Brock Lesnar’s comeback was
disappointing up until his match with CM Punk. I mean, his match with Cena was
great and whatnot, but him not winning was a mistake. Then his feud with HHH
sucked. It long overstayed its welcome. Plus, they had three matches: one was
bad and two were average. Lesnar won two of them, but he looked really weak in
spite of winning the cage match. I just thought Lesnar, who was at one point
white-hot, had little-to-zero credibility coming out of that feud.
I’m an unapologetic Brock lover living in denial and I
refuse to accept any of this.
David: Jbl on commentary. Thought it would be a
breath of fresh air and now he is no better than cole/lawler
Absolutely, I can’t stand him laughing at the juvenile PG
rated nonsense with the other two clowns. There is absolutely no room for an
actual personality on the table. I’d love to see them try out Kevin Nash. If
there’s anyone who won’t be afraid to play by his own rules, it’s Big Kev.
Extant1979: Hulk Hogan’s 1993 comeback tour. I was still
a young mark at the time and, of course, a Hulkamaniac. But then he comes back,
wins the WWF Title, and does nothing but team with Brutus Beefcake for two
months until he loses the title and disappears from the WWF for 9 years. I was
less of a Hulkamaniac after that.
In his defense, the original guy who played Hulk Hogan had
died, and the 1993 return was Kerry Von Erich.
James: Chris Jericho’s 2007 return was heading down
this path until the heel turn. But before the HBK angle he was right back to
hanging around aimlessly on the fringe main event scene. Immediately having him
face Randy Orton for the title was a big mistake, because we all knew there was
no way he would win on the first try. And instead of rectifying it by extending
the feud with Randy trying to duck Chris at every turn…they put him against
JBL? Hell, even the Michaels storyline started with him being randomly tossed
into the HBK/Batista match at Backlash as the special referee because they had
absolutely nothing to do with him.
I was more than jazzed to see Chris return, and talked
endlessly with a good friend of mine about how fresh the main event scene would
be from the minute the first SAVE_US.222 promo ran. And then he gave that first
geeky promo … and I knew it was over. I was completely deflated – this was not
the man who once accused Lenny Lane of stealing his Loverboy tapes (in an
effort to ward of accusations he was in cahoots with Lenny). This was a
different wiener of a babyface that I wanted no part of. In fact, I still want
no part of babyface Chris Jericho in any capacity.
I think this applies to quite a few
wrestlers who have had a fairly successful run in WWE and then later trying to
make a comeback in TNA. Mick Foley, Ric Flair, RVD, Kevin Nash and Booker T to
name a few. I will have to say the worst offenders for this in TNA has to be
Hogan and Bischoff making a comeback in having creative influence on a
wrestling promotion. TNA was starting to do pretty well, after surviving the
Main Event Mafia fiasco, and had started creating more intriguing storylines,
angles and feuds. But then Hogan and Bischoff came along and bulldozed through
all the good TNA had gained by going head to head with Raw which was a utterly
retarded move, and then inviting a bunch of Hogan cronies to appear on TV with
the worst offender being Bubba the Love Sponge. In fact the only good that came
out of it was Mick Foley ‘accidentally’ giving Bubba a black eye!
I thought the first show that ran head-to-head with the Bret
Hart episode of RAW was quite strong despite the frickin’ Nasty Boys and Val
Venis getting prominent air time, but it was all downhill from there. It was at
that point I knew once and for all there was nothing left in Hogan’s tank as a
performer, in or out of the ring. Sporadic WWE appearances are the best place
for him.
Lenny Vowels: As much as a fan as I am of the guy, I was
very much an anti-fan of Edge’s 2010 comeback post-Rumble. The mannerisms that
were trying to force the face turn, like getting the crowd to chant
“SPEAR!” were just awful. The Jericho feud seems like it should have
been more than enough of a catalyst, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Good
thing his late turn in the year vs. Kane and the Raw GM was a bit more organic.
I never saw the matches, I was too distracted by the Taliban
beard Edge was sporting.
BooBoo1782: Warrior ’96. Honestly, you can make a case
for any Warrior comeback – ’92, ’96 or ’98 – but ’96 sticks out for me. By ’98,
I was well aware of what Warrior was as a worker, and as awesome as that
initial promo was – “this dude must be your barber!” – I had no
illusions that Warrior was going to have a great match with anyone, much less
Hogan. You also got the one-night Blade Runners reunion, which was a cool nod
to smart fans, although Buffer said it was their first time teaming together
(because WCW). ’92 was a letdown for me because I was 10 and really dug the
“Ultimate Maniacs” concept, but in retrospect, you got the awesome
Summerslam ’92 match out of it. In ’96, I was just young enough to still be a
mark for the guy, but they delivered a parade of crap – Goldust feud, Lawler
feud – and then, just when they put him into a feud that had some legs – with
Shawn and Ahmed against Camp Cornette – he’s gone again (and before they had
shown his last TV match, so Gorilla had to record a suspension announcement to
be shoehorned in before his match with Owen on RAW).
The Goldust match might be the worst pay-per-view match the
company ever produced; and lord knows they’ve produced some stinkers. I watched
it back a few years ago because I needed to see if it was really as awful as I
remembered it … and it was worse.
fg76: Mr. America. The month before, I thought
Hogan would sit out until Wrestlemania 20. Maybe have a dream match with Austin
or Michaels and all of a sudden he’s back in a mask. Then Hogan gets all Hogan
and jobs to the Big Show and walks out of the company until the Hall of Fame in
2005. The angle went no where and then Hogan walked out, McMahon simply fires
him. Remember, Hogan could still work back then. Seeing him guest appear now is
sad because all he can do is cut promos.
This was disappointing because we never really got to see it
play out in full. Hogan as an overly patriotic goofball was a good role to keep
him in. The fans ate it up, and he was no threat to make a play for the title.
However, this only failed because Hulk Hogan didn’t buy in, there’s no one else
to blame.
Scott Steiner in 2002… Nobody knew he
was pretty much done as a worker at a main event level. Obviously HHH had a
hand in making him look bad but he just couldn’t go anymore.
We were less than two years removed from his strong run as
WCW champion, and despite rumors about his foot he looked as good as ever,
until he started wrestling. The fans were fully buying in to the new generation
of machine wrestling (with Angle and Benoit not only upstaging them at the 2003
Rumble, but even making an early 90’s Steiner look like Brian Knobbs). Steiner
had no shot amongst this particular generation of fans, and flamed out faster
LScisco: Bret Hart. Not sure what I was expecting but
it was definitely not what wwe put together. His WrestleMania match with Vince
was horrid.
Yeah I didn’t expect Bret to be able to go, but I didn’t
expect them to try and put together some sort of ridiculous gimmick of a match
either. The thing with the rest of the Hart family was ridiculous, and I really
could have done without any of it. A shame, his return should have been the
biggest deal in years.
Comdukakis: Ahmed Johnson in WCW as Big T and then a
fight over the rights to the letter T with Booker T I know this joke has been
made, but this was a Sesame Street angle, not a wrestling angle. And the guy
was in horrific shape. He was never a great wrestler (although he was a guilty
pleasure of mine) but he was god awful in WCW.
Ahmed was huge in the WWF, and if he’d stayed healthy I have
little doubt he was cruising straight for a World Title. Sadly, in WCW, the
only thing huge was his ridiculous gut. Have another slice, Ahmed.
Anyone saying Matt Hardy yet? Dude came
back with all the sympathy in the world, and then just blew it hard.
Edge sleeps with his girl in real life, gets the girl in the
fake world, Matt gets fired, Matt is brought back, Matt immediately loses to
Edge, but wins the “blowoff” after the peak of his heat had been destroyed …
Yeah I’m having a hard time figuring out why this missed.
Andrew Champagne:
Can’t believe nobody’s said this yet, but
Christian’s return to WWE in 2009 was ridiculously underwhelming. There was no
shock to it because Dixie Carter announced he hadn’t re-signed, they brought
him out on ECW, and Matt Striker (whose commentary I don’t hate NEARLY as much
as others on this board) totally blew it by just saying, “…it’s
Christian,” when he walked out. No enthusiasm, no shock, no nothing. Here
was a guy who was an upper mid-carder in the Attitude era, who could carry
really good matches (and still can when healthy), and who could have
potentially drawn some fan interest, and his return fell SUPER flat.
They were running an angle at that time where bad things
were happening to Jeff Hardy during his initial World Title run, and the
speculation was that Christian was behind it – which would have given us a
swanky Jeff Hardy/Christian feud, with the obvious tag-team implications behind
it too. Instead, they turn Matt Hardy for god knows what reason, and as usual,
he had zero chemistry with his brother in the ring as we had already discovered
the first time they tried this stunt 7 years earlier.
Curtis Williams: The Rock in 2011. I can’t even think of any
of the matches he had that I truly enjoyed from a wrestling standpoint. The
only reason the Mania 28 match is so fondly looked upon is because of the crowd
and the match at Survivor Series gets some love due to it being his first match
in 7 years. Other than that, everything else was bland crap. When CM Punk can’t
get a good match out of you….twice, you know it’s time to go away.
Rock wasn’t the same guy, but he’s still a major draw and
barely over 40, so don’t be surprised if he headlines another Mania before it’s
all said and done.
TraitorAlex: #1 worst return, Goldberg. Probably the one
guy everyone wanted to see. His early pops were simply massive. He finally gets
here and in a couple months Goldust puts a wig on him and he jobs to HHH in a
cage when HHH can barely walk. By the end of his run he’s beyond just another
guy, the fans want him out.
As it turns out Alex, this is also my answer. Some people
argued down the thread the Goldust wig was irrelevant; but there was a
symbolism there. There is absolutely no chance during the building period of
any organic WWE star (be it an Undertaker return, or Triple H prepping for a
big match) that they would dare do a goofy-ass segment like that. Then they
immediately change his trunks, change his music, tell him to stop using the
jackhammer, and try and have him wrestle longer competitive matches – the completely
OPPOSITE of what made Goldberg, Goldberg. Was he a one trick pony? Yes. And
THAT’S the guy the fans wanted. Just re-watch his match with Rodney Mack
(posted below) – this is what the fans wanted. Goldberg appears, breathes fire
and smoke, plows through a jobber, and moves on; all tightly knit into a 5 minute
At SummerSlam 2003, the fans were *ready* for the Goldberg
era as he plowed through the entire cage by himself, only to succumb to Cripple
H whose participation consists of a sledgehammer shot. It was disgusting. Then,
Triple H drops the belt at Unforgiven in a slow plodding match. Is it any
wonder Goldberg didn’t trust this company, or “buy-in” to how they’d handle his
character? They stuck it to him at every turn for pettiness, because he wasn’t
what they perceived to be a wrestler. Even friggin’ Rock did everything to kill
his heat at Backlash 2003, and he’s the one who wooed Bill to the company. Look,
it’s their company, they can do what they want, but it was a serious turn-off
to the WCW fans who saw Goldberg as the last of their legacy.
Have a great day, be safe tonight, and I’ll talk to you
again tomorrow.