WWE look

We've all bitched about the staleness of WWE's set design and basic presentation at length, but I'm catching Lucha Underground for the first time and just HOW bored I am with WWE's look is thrown into sharper relief.

Let's say you, Scott Keith, are immediately put in charge of freshening up WWE's presentation. What do you do? Change the TitanTron? The hard camera location? The type of venue you book? The positions of the floor cameramen? The editing style? Varying the uniformity of crappy buttrock entrance musics? Assume nothing is off limits.

I would immediately lose all the LED boards around the Titantron and scale it back to 1997 levels, for one thing.  Less is more and it's hard to buy that someone would be distracted by entrance music when there's already 8 million distractions every second.  You can't change the hard camera because then how would guys in NXT know where to look when they're making the pin?  I would absolutely vary the size and scale of the arenas, but it's a tricky thing because USA would get pissed if WWE started running, say, Hammerstein to change things up.  Even though WWE doesn't really depend on the gate for the TV show to be profitable, the network doesn't want wacky stuff like that.  If I could, though, I would.  Run Hammerstein, run the Mall of America in tribute to Nitro, run on a beach in summer, you name it.  I'd also change the format of the shows in general, do like Russo and just blow up the script from time to time to see what happens.  That was one thing he had going on — he never felt beholden to formatting if it meant doing something exciting.  

A Look Back At: The 1995 PWI 500 Rankings

The fifth installment of looking back at the PWI 500 starting the beginning in 1991 continues with the 1995 edition. This year, the grading period was from August 1st, 1994 to August 1st, 1995.
To view the complete list of where the wrestlers were ranked click HERE.
Here are the notable rankings for the year 1995.  
Kevin Nash(1)
The Top Ten:
1.) Diesel
2.) Shawn Michaels
3.) Sting
4.) Bret Hart
5.) Sabu
6.) Hulk Hogan
7.) Big Van Vader
8.) Randy Savage
9.) Razor Ramon
10.) Mitsuharu Misawa
Early on in the grading period, Diesel was one-half of the WWF World Tag Team Champions with Shawn Michaels, who is ranked number two. Diesel would win the WWF World Championship in eight-seconds by pinning Bob Backlund on November 26th in Madison Square Garden. Diesel would continually defeat Backlund on the house shows. Diesel wrestled a near thirty minute classic with Bret Hart at the Royal Rumble that ended in a draw. Diesel successfully defended the championship against former friend Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XI in what was the lone bright spot on the show. Diesel’s reign continued with a feud against Psycho Sid that lasted most of the summer. Diesel pinned Psycho Sid at the July In Your House that was competed under a lumberjack stipulation. Diesel was a dominating champion for the grading period.
Michaels run started in 1995 when he won the 1995 Royal Rumble after being the first entrant in the match and last eliminated the second entrant, Davey Boy Smith. Michaels came up short in his WrestleMania title match against Diesel, but still stole the show despite the loss. Michaels would feud with Psycho Sid after Sid turned on him after Mania. Michaels would defeat Sid in a cage match at a June MSG house show. The end of the grading period saw Michaels win his third WWF Intercontinental Championship when he pinned Jeff Jarrett at In Your House #2.
Despite not being in the main event scene during the grading period, Sting was still ranked as the best WCW wrestler in the publication. Early in the grading period Sting focused on a feud with Avalanche and Big Bubba teaming Randy Savage often times. Struggled in a feud against Big Bubba losing at UnCensored but got a victory at Slamboree. At the Great American Bash, Sting won the WCW United States Championship when he defeated Meng in the finals of a tournament. Meng was an undefeated heel monster since debuting for WCW. Sting won a rematch against Meng at the Bash at the Beach pay per view in July. It was evident that Sting was playing the third tier baby face behind Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
The Hitman was the WWF World Champion at the start of the grading period and successfully defended the championship against Owen Hart at SummerSlam inside a steel cage. Bret would lose the belt to Bob Backlund at Survivor Series. Hart was unable to regain the championship at Royal Rumble. Bret continued his feud with Bob Backlund winning an I Quit match at WrestleMania XI. Hart was also able to end his long-running feud with Jerry Lawler at the King of the Ring when he won a Kiss My Foot match. Hart would win memorable matches against Hakushi throughout the spring, as well. Hitman remains in the top five after consecutive back to back number one rankings in 1993 and 1994.
Sabu getting into the top five is a huge accomplishment for ECW as the company was still a company based mainly out of Philadelphia but gaining traction. Early in the grading period, Sabu got big victories over 2 Cold Scorpio and Cactus Jack in the fall. He won the ECW Tag Team Championships with Taz by defeating Public Enemy in February ’95. Sabu would leave ECW and head to Japan where h ewon the IWGP junior heavyweight championship from Koji Kanemoto on May 3rd. Sabu was a battered man who often would wrestle despite broken bones and was loved by fans for doing so. He would soon return to ECW as it will be addressed in the next edition of the series.
Hulkamania slips a few spots but remains in the top ten of the PWI 500. Hogan started the grading period beating Ric Flair in a steel cage match to force Flair into retirement. Hogan won the main event at Starrcade against the Butcher, his former best friend. Hulk started a long feud with Vader in 1995 wrestling on pay per view many times. Hogan would win at Superbrawl by disqualification, defeated Ric Flair (who was still retired) despite wrestling Vader in a strap match at UnCensored. Hogan brought his friend Randy Savage into the feud to defeat Vader and Flair at Slamboree. Hogan ended his feud with Vader by winning a cage match at the July Bash at the Beach pay per view.
Vader was unsuccessful in his attempt to win the WCW World Championship from Hulk Hogan throughout 1995, but he never suffered a pin fall loss to the Hulkster. Vader ended 1994 by winning the WCW United States Championship from Jim Duggan at Starrcade, but vacated the belt to go after Hogan’s gold. After the failed attempts, Vader turned into a good guy by siding with Hogan against the Dungeon of Doom though Vader would leave WCW soon afterward and would never return to WCW.
Last year, the Macho Man was ranked number forty-four in the PWI 500. Savage returned to in-ring competition on a full-time basis and ranked up to the eighth spot. Randy teamed with Sting to win a feud against Big Bubba Rogers and Avalanche. Had a brief singles feud with Avalanche winning a match at Uncensored. Savage would go back to feuding against Ric Flair losing to Flair at Great American Bash but winning a rematch at Bash at the Beach in July with a lumberjack stipulation.
The Bad Guy regained the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Diesel at SummerSlam with Walter Payton in his corner. Ramon held the title until the Royal Rumble when he lost the belt to Jeff Jarrett. Ramon regained the belt briefly by winning the title at a house show, but lost it two days later back to Jarrett. Ramon was also a USWA heavyweight champion during the grading period for a brief time. Razor was likely a contender to win the 1995 King of the Ring but was out of the tournament due to injury.
Misawa is the first Japanese wrestler to reach the top ten in the PWI to this point. Misawa won the Triple Crown championship from Stan Hansen on May 26th. Was voted as the best scientific wrestler in Japan.
11.) Jeff Jarrett
12.) Owen Hart
17.) Eddy Guerrero
18.) Rey Mysterio Jr.
20.) Ric Flair
Double J kicked off the grading period pinning Mabel at SummerSlam and continued to be lost in the shuffle in the mid card until early 1995 when he won the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Razor Ramon. Jarrett and Ramon traded the belt in May with Jarrett coming out as the champion. Jarrett lost the championship to Michaels at In Your House #2 before departing from the WWF.
Owen nearly won the WWF World Championship at SummerSlam inside a steel cage but settled for costing Bret the championship at Survivor Series and helping Bob Backlund win the gold. Owen would team with Yokozuna at WrestleMania XI to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships from the Smoking Gunns.
Eddy Guerrero went from 141 all the way to the seventeen spot this year. Guerrero was really starting make a name for himself competing in NJPW and ECW. While wrestling in ECW, Eddy was having memorable clashes with Dean Malenko over the ECW Television Championship that many still regard as the best matches the company had ever put on.
Rey Mysterio Jr. also moves up the ranks as he won the Triple A light heavyweight championship from Juventud Guerrera during the grading period.
The Nature Boy was retired thanks to losing a cage match to Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc. His retirement lasted until May when he and Vader lost a tag match to Hogan and Savage. Flair did pick up a huge victory the following month by pinning Randy Savage while Randy’s father was at ringside. PWI was quoted as saying, “Career finally appears to be winding down.” That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
23.) Lex Luger
24.) Arn Anderson
26.) Tracy Smothers
28.) Shane Douglas
30.) Bam-Bam Bigelow
Luger was once seen as the likely WWF World Champion and second coming of Hulk Hogan, but failed to connect with fans and was thrown to the mid card ranks. Had an infamous feud with Tatanka that saw his former friend turn on him after a singles match at SummerSlam. The feud would continue on for many months with Luger winning a cage match prior to WrestleMania XI. Luger formed a tag team with Davey Boy Smith but failed to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships.
Despite losing a feud against Dustin Rhodes at the end of 1994, Anderson was able to win the WCW Television Championship from Johnny B. Badd in early 1995. Arn defeated Badd in a lumberjack match at the pre-show telecast prior to Superbrawl V. Anderson suffered a loss to Johnny at Uncensored in a boxer vs. wrestler match. Arn handed Alex Wright his first loss at Slamboree to retain the WCW Television Championship but would lose the belt the following month to The Renegade at the Great American Bash.
Smothers had a lengthy feud with Bryant Anderson which saw Smothers win numerous I Quit matches at the end of 1994. Formed a successful tag team with former rival the Dirty White Boy to win feuds against the Gangstas and the Headbangers.
“The Franchise” Shane Douglas threw down history when he won the NWA World Championship after winning a tournament on August 27th and renamed it the ECW World Championship. Douglas retained the title against the likes of the Tazmaniac, Ron Simmons and Mikey Whipwreck throughout the second half of 1994. Douglas would feud with Tully Blanchard during the first few months of 1995 retaining the championship. Douglas would lose the belt to the Sandman at the Hostile City Showdown on April 15th. Shane would leave ECW for the WWF, which wouldn’t end up as being a good career decision.
Bigelow had a memorable confrontation with Lawrence Taylor at the Royal Rumble, which would lead to a main event match at WrestleMania XI. Bigelow would lose and soon his heel stable members would turn on him. Bigelow became a good guy and aligned himself with Diesel to defeat Psycho Sid and Tatanka at the King of the Ring in June.
31.) Cactus Jack
32.) Yokozuna
34.) Sid Vicious
36.) Lord Steven Regal
43.) Steve Austin
Cactus Jack didn’t have a great start to the grading period when he lost to Kevin Sullivan at WCW Fall Brawl 1994 causing him to leave WCW forever. However, the change of scenery ended up being a blessing in disguise as Cactus headed to ECW. While in ECW, Cactus won the ECW World Tag Team Championships with Mikey Whipwreck which they held from August to November ’94. Cactus had a lengthy feud with the Sandman which would eventually be over the ECW World Championship. Early in the feud, Cactus would get many wins, but when Sandman became champion, Jack was unable to defeat him. Cactus pinned Terry Funk twice in April of ’95, as well.
Yokozuna’s stock in the WWF was quickly plummeting as his run as a main event player was coming to an end as 1994 came to a close. Yokozuna lost a casket match against the Undertaker at Survivor Series and wouldn’t be seen again until WrestleMania XI. At the event, Yokozuna was revealed as the surprise partner for Owen Hart and the duo won the WWF World Tag Team Championships from the Smoking Gunns. They would retain the titles over the likes of the Allied Powers, Savio Vega & Razor Ramon, and Men on a Mission. They were still the champions as of press time.
While on competing in WCW or the WWF at the start of the grading period, Sid was the USWA Heavyweight Champion which he won in July of 1994 and held until February of 1995 when he lost it to Jerry Lawler. After the loss, Sid would return to the WWF where he quickly turned on Shawn Michaels and unsuccessfully challenged for the WWF World Championship on two occasions on pay per view.
Regal lost the WCW Television Championship at Fall Brawl in September of ’94 and would continue a trend of losing singles matches against the likes of the Guardian Angel, Jim Duggan and Sting. By early 1995, Regal would form a tag team with Bobby Eaton known as the Blue Bloods. They got a decent push but failed to win the WCW World Tag Team Championships from the Nasty Boys at the Great American Bash.
Austin was once seen as a top rising star in WCW, but by the end of 1994 he was losing to Jim Duggan in under three minutes and was out of a job by the spring of 1995. I have no idea how Austin could have possibly been ranked so high considering he was also injured for many months.
48.) Hakushi
49.) Mabel
54.) Alex Wright
60.) The Sandman
62.) Dustin Rhodes
Hakushi’s run in the WWF started off very well as he had an undefeated streak for half the grading period with victories over the 1-2-3 Kid, Bob Holly, and enhancement talents. He would suffer his first loss to Bret Hart at the first In Your House in May. Hakushi would continually lose to the Hitman for the remaining three months of the grading period, though they were some of the best matches the WWF aired during the year.
With his partner Mo out due to injury, Mabel tried his hand at a singles push that saw him lose to Jeff Jarrett at SummerSlam. Mabel would trade wins with the likes of King Kong Bundy and IRS to close of 1994. 1995 saw an attitude change by Men on a Mission and Mabel was the unlikely winner of the King of the Ring meaning he would be the number one contender to the WWF World Championship. He defeated the Undertaker and Savio Vega on his way to winning the crown.
Das Wunderkind was another wrestler who had a lengthy undefeated streak as he spent several months in 1994 establishing himself over enhancement talents. Wright finished 1994 with an impressive victory over Jean Paul Levesque at Starrcade. Alex continued his success by winning feuds against Bobby Eaton and Paul Roma in early 1995. Wright suffered his first loss to Arn Anderson at WCW Slamboree in a WCW Television Championship match. Wright had a great match with Brian Pillman at the Great American Bash, which he won. During the grading period, Wright also worked a few matches with Ric Flair but was not successful in defeating the Nature Boy.
At the end of 1994, Sandman was on the losing end of a feud with Tommy Dreamer. As noted before, Sandman struggled in a feud with Cactus Jack that lasted over six months in 1995. Despite his struggles, Sandman was able to win the ECW World Championship from Shane Douglas in April. Sandman would successfully defend the championship against Cactus Jack in a barbed wire match over the summer.
‘The Natural” won his feud with Arn Anderson at the tail end of 1994 that included teaming with his father Dusty Rhodes and the Nasty Boys to win War Games in September. Dustin would lose a singles match against Vader in November before returning to his feud with the Stud Stable, mostly the Blacktop Bully. Dustin lost both matches he had on pay per view losing to the Blacktop Bully at Superbrawl V and in a King of the Road match at Uncensored. Following the latter pay per view, Dustin was fired for bleeding in the match. He’d go under an extreme makeover in the next installment of this series.
65.) Kama
76.) Bob Holly
79.) Jean Pierre Lafitte
82.) Big Bubba Rogers
84.) Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Previously known as Papa Shango, Kama made his debut in January 1995. His first six months saw Kama not lose on television and was involved in a lengthy feud with the Undertaker over the urn. Despite not losing on television, Kama would often lose to the Undertaker on the house show market.
Spark Plug was not getting much momentum at the end of 1994 as he was regularly losing to various mid card heels. However, Holly teamed with the 1-2-3 Kid to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships at the Royal Rumble. Their reign lasted all of twenty four hours when they lost the titles to the Smoking Gunns. In April, Holly won the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Jeff Jarrett, but the title was held up and Jarrett regained the belt. Holly pinned Chris Benoit in what was Benoit’s tryout match.
Previously known as Quebecer Pierre, Jean Pierre Lafitte made his debut as an evil pirate would get victories over the likes of Virgil, Duke Droese and Doink the Clown during the grading period. His only memorable feud was with Bret Hart due to stealing Hart’s ring jacket and his sunglasses, though no match between the two had happened as of press time.
He was known as the Guardian Angel who wasn’t quite able to get into the WCW World Championship scene. Angel ended up turning on Sting by the winter and would team with Avalanche in a feud against Sting and Randy Savage. Bubba found some success in his feud against Sting, winning a singles match at Uncensored, but wasn’t able to continue the momentum into anything that was noteworthy.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley made his debut in April and was primarily working with undercard wrestlers such as Doink and Bob Holly. Hunter hadn’t suffered a loss as of press time. He had worked as Jean Paul Levesque in WCW for a portion of the grading period, but wasn’t heavily push aside from a loss to Alex Wright at Starrcade.


87.) Psicosis
92.) Meng
100.) Brian Lee
101.) Unabomb
113.) Jim Duggan
A breakout year for Psicosis as he won the Mexican welterweight championship from El Hijo del Santo. The victory is seen as the moment that made Psicosis a superstar in Mexico.
Meng hadn’t made his in-ring debut until March of 1995 where he defeated Jim Duggan at Uncensored. Meng received a good push and made it to the finals of the WCW United States Championship tournament, which he lost to Sting at the Great American Bash and a rematch at Bash at the Beach. The brief run showed that Meng still had something to offer in the ring after leaving the WWF a few years prior.
Lee lost the tag titles with Chris Candido to the Rock N’ Roll Express just a few days into the grading period. Lee played the fake Undertaker role at SummerSlam, where he lost to the real Undertaker but returned to SMW. After being fired by Tammy Fytch, Lee would feud with Chris Candido and they would trade victories although there was not a conclusive end to their issues.
Unabomb teamed with Al Snow to win the SMW Tag Team Championships from the Rock N’ Roll Express in April of 1995. They’d hold the belts until July when they lost the titles to Tracy Smothers and Dirty White Boy. Would debut in the WWF by the summer as Dr. Isaac Yankeem to help Jerry Lawler in his feud with Bret Hart.
Hacksaw didn’t waste any time in winning a championship in WCW when he pinned Steve Austin at Fall Brawl to win the WCW United States Championship. Duggan remained champion until he was destroyed by Big Van Vader at Starrcade. Duggan feuded with the Stud Stable mainly Bunkhouse Buck and Meng. Lost to Kamala at the Bash at the Beach pay per view in July.
114.) Raven
120.) La Parka
122.) Crash the Terminator
126.) New Jack
237.) Kevin Sullivan
Raven made his debut in January and targeted Tommy Dreamer as his first rival. Throughout the eight months of the grading period, Raven dominated his feud with Dreamer, though Dreamer did get a pin fall victory over Raven on April 14th, which is seemingly forgotten about. Along with Stevie Richards, won the ECW World Tag Team Championships on June 30th by defeating the Public Enemy.
Parka was previously a heel but was turned into a baby face during his feud with Jerry Estrada, whom he lost the Mexican lightweight championship to.
Crash the Terminator was the PCW Heavyweight Champion and was feuding with Johnny Gunn. Apparently, Crash had a WWF tryout but did not sign with them.
New Jack first arrived in Smoky Mountain Wrestling where he and Mustafa made Jim Cornette and the Rock N’ Roll Express lives a living nightmare. By the fall of ’94, the Gangstas were the SMW Tag Team Champions. He was champion for about two months before losing them back to the Express in December. By the summer of ’95 Jack made his debut in ECW and was involved in a violent feud with Public Enemy.
Sullivan’s main focus was to eliminate Hulk Hogan but failed to do so throughout the year. Kevin was successful in defeating his brother Dave Sullivan in one of the least interesting feuds that WCW had to offer. Sullivan became the leader of the Dungeon of Doom, the infamous group that had many people from Hogan’s past to eliminate him from wrestling forever.
245.) The Renegade
295.) Moadib
306.) Luna Vachon
423.) The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior ripoff, the Renegade, made his debut in March of 1995 aligning himself with Hogan and Savage. Won the WCW Television Championship at the Great American Bash by defeating Arn Anderson in June and was still champion as of press time. Successfully defended the championship against Paul Orndorff at Bash at the Beach in July.
Moadib, who would be better known as Ahmed Johnson by the end of 1995, was making a name for himself in the Texas independents as a rule breaker.
Luna Vachon was busy working in ECW mainly teaming with Tommy Dreamer to take on male tag teams and was doing pretty well in defending herself in the land of Extreme.
Apparently, the real Ultimate Warrior only had one match as he returned to in-ring action to defeat rival the Honkytonk Man.
What are your thoughts on the PWI 500 for 1995? Would you have ranked anyone higher or lower?

Leave your thoughts below!

For more wrestling reviews and columns, head over to WRESTLING RECAPS.

Thanks for reading.

A Look Back At: The 1990 PWI Awards

Recently, I started to take a look back at the Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500 magazine series that started in 1991. That seems to have gotten some traction as a popular idea. Thus, I decided to take a look back at the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Year-End Awards that the magazine issues out each year.
The Year-End Awards date back to 1972. I’m not going to start at the very beginning. Instead, since the PWI 500 was introduced in 1991, I’ll stay with that theme of the 1990s and begin the series in 1990. I may go back at do the late 80s, but for now I’ll start with 1990.
Lets take a look back at the PWI Awards and see how the fans voted for various awards.
1990 Rookie of the Year, Steve Austin.

1990 Rookie of the Year, Steve Austin.
1990 Rookie Of The Year: Steve Austin (15,296)
1st Runner-Up: El Gigante (13,382)
2nd Runner-Up: Brad Anderson (5,926)
3rd Runner-Up: Chris Chavis (2,168)
Austin wins the award though El Gigante was a lot closer than I was expecting to see, vote wise. Steve hadn’t been introduced to WCW in his first year. He had a brutal feud with his trainer and mentor, Chris Adams in Texas that saw ex-wives get involved. Of the four guys listed, Austin is by far the best in-ring worker of the group. Can’t go wrong with the choice of Austin winning the award.
According to the magazine, Brad Anderson was “well on his way to becoming a member of the Four Horsemen.” Their logic was that he is the son of Gene Anderson. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’ve never heard of Brad Anderson. So, it’s safe to say he didn’t achieve that goal. Chris Chavis would be better known as Tatanka in a couple of years for the WWF.
Nikolai Volkoff embraced the USA and fans got behind him.

Nikolai Volkoff embraced the USA and fans got behind him.
1990 Inspirational Wrestler Of The Year: Sting (22,947)
1st Runner-Up: Hulk Hogan (15,294)
2nd Runner-Up: Jerry Lawler (7,239)
3rd Runner-Up: Nikolai Volkoff (4,714)
It was the largest margin of victory for all of the awards with Sting winning by almost 7,700 votes. Back in February of ’90, Sting suffered a devastating knee injury that some thought could cost him his career. Less than six months later, Sting returned to action and won the NWA World Championship from rival Ric Flair at the Great American Bash in July. For such a quick recovery from a serious injury, no wonder fans voted him into the number one spot.
Hogan got a decent showing after recovering from an attack by Earthquake in the spring of ’90 only to return at SummerSlam and win the match by count-out. Hogan would regularly win matches against Quake on the house show market to inspire kids all around the country. Lawler had embraced a baby face persona imploring people to not do drugs and booze. Volkoff embraced the USA and apparently fans got behind him a little bit.
Paul Roma enjoyed the glory of being the Most Improved Wrestler of 1990.

Paul Roma enjoyed the glory of being the Most Improved Wrestler of 1990.
1990 Most Improved Wrestler Of The Year: Paul Roma (11,127)
1st Runner-Up: Doom (10,596)
2nd Runner-Up: Tugboat (8,285)
3rd Runner-Up: Cactus Jack (5,927)
Not quite sure how Roma had improved in-ring wise, but nonetheless he won the award. He was achieving some success with Hercules with the team of Power and Glory while becoming a rule breaker. Roma was the more impressive competitor in his tag team, so that might have helped him win he award. Plus, he does have a badass elbow drop from the top rope.
They got rid of their manager Woman, lost their masks and won NWA World Tag Team Championships with Teddy Long, but Doom couldn’t get the award. Ron Simmons and Butch Reed aren’t going to impressive people with their wrestling, but their powerhouse style meshed well with a team like the Steiner Brothers to put on some enjoyable matches throughout the year.
Tugboat probably shouldn’t even be ranked in this category. Cactus Jack might have not gotten a better showing because he is more of a stuntman than an actual wrestler. Plus, he mainly wrestled in the USWA and hadn’t gotten much of a national exposure to showcase his style.
Bobby Heenan nearly won the award for the second year in a row.

Bobby Heenan nearly won the award for the second year in a row.
1990 Manager Of The Year: Teddy Long (12,927)
1st Runner-Up: Bobby Heenan (11,927)
2nd Runner-Up: Ole Anderson (10,146)
3rd Runner-Up: Jim Cornette (8,293)
After three months of managing the tag team Doom, Long was able to lead them to the NWA World Tag Team Championships. The quick turnaround can be attributed to Long and his managerial ways. Heenan had an impressive year leading his Heenan Family stable to the tag team and Intercontinental championships, but just wasn’t enough to overcome Long’s quick rise in the NWA.
Fans enjoyed the Flair vs. Luger feud in 1990.

Fans enjoyed the Flair vs. Luger feud in 1990.
1990 Feud Of The Year: Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger (14,912)
1st Runner-Up: Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake (13,420)
2nd Runner-Up: Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude (12,565)
3rd Runner-Up: Chris Adams vs. Steve Austin (8,222)
The once hated heel surprised many fans when he saved former rival Sting from a Four Horsemen attack. Lex Luger stepped up as one of the most popular wrestlers in the NWA and chased after the NWA World Championship held by Ric Flair. Throughout the first half of the year, Luger had numerous shots at the gold but came up short against the Nature Boy each time. Despite coming up short, the matches didn’t fail to have plenty of action and emotion from the crowd as many people wanted to see Luger breakthrough and become the top guy. That would happen in later years, just not at the expense of Ric Flair.
The top feud for the WWF in 1990 came in second place. Earthquake became the most hated man in the WWF when he took out Hulk Hogan and they met at SummerSlam. Hogan and Quake had a good match at the event, which ended in a count-out win for Hogan, and they would continue the feud by having stretcher matches throughout the end of the year.
Warrior vs. Rude in ’89 was a highly talked about feud as they wrestled at Mania and SummerSlam. However, their feud in 1990 was rushed and had lost a lot of interest amongst a lot of fans. I’ve noticed a real lack of direction from viewing shows during the timeframe, so a second runner-up spot is rather surprising to see. I would have thought maybe the Flair/Sting feud would have been higher.
USWA hottest feud got a respectable showing with over 8,000 votes. Austin really came into his own and it was clear that he was going to be a star. Ex-wives and a blood feud made for one hell of a year between a once mentor and protege relationship.
Hulkamania continued to run wild in the 90s.

Hulkamania continued to run wild in the 90s.
1990 Most Popular Wrestler Of The Year: Hulk Hogan (18,825)
1st Runner-Up: Sting (15,172)
2nd Runner-Up: Ultimate Warrior (14,928)
3rd Runner-Up: Lex Luger (11,726)
Despite losing the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania VI, Hulk Hogan remained the most popular wrestler amongst readers of PWI. Perhaps his hiatus in the spring and early summer helped due to the attack by Earthquake. His reign as the most popular wouldn’t last forever, though.
Sting and Warrior were neck and neck for the second spot. Is this indicative of Warrior failing as WWF World Champion? Sting never gave up and fans likely took that into consideration. Had Luger managed to defeat Flair for the NWA World Championship, he may have overcame Warrior as the third most popular wrestler.
Rick Rude manages to get underneath people's skin.

Rick Rude manages to get underneath people’s skin.
1990 Most Hated Wrestler Of The Year: Earthquake (15,275)
1st Runner-Up: Ric Flair (13,582)
2nd Runner-Up: Rick Rude (11,935)
3rd Runner-Up: Eddie Gilbert (8,867)
When you takeout Hulkamania you can assure the fans will not come anywhere close to cheering for you. Quake quickly became the most hated villain in the WWF and that translated into the awards. Kind of surprising how short of a run he had as a top singles heel wrestler, honestly.
Flair and Rude are here for obvious reasons. Flair being the leader of the Horsemen and taking out guys like Sting and Lex Luger throughout the year. Rude always calls fans overweight and hogs, to go along with terrorizing heroes in the WWF. Plus, he insulted the Big Bossman’s mother! You just don’t do that, Ravishing One!
Just to give you an idea of what Eddie Gilbert is all about. He depended on chains and brass knuckles to knock out opponents. Oh, and the may have spit fire into Jeff Jarrett’s face to win the Southern Championship. But wait, there is more. Eddie got in his car and ran over Jerry Lawler because he is one evil bastard. Had any of that happened on a national stage, Eddie would have been by far the most hated man in wrestling.
WrestleMania VI. The match of the year.

WrestleMania VI. The match of the year.
1990 Match Of The Year: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior (24,180)
1st Runner-Up: Sting vs. Ric Flair (18,236)
2nd Runner-Up: Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake (9,234)
3rd Runner-Up: Royal Rumble (6,288)
Not at all surprised that the two larger than life characters in wrestling history squaring off at the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania, got the match of the year award. The atmosphere at the Sky Dome is unforgettable and the action will live in many people’s memories for a lifetime. That’s what the match of the year should accomplish.
Sting/Flair was memorable in its own right with Sting overcoming a major knee injury and defeating Ric Flair for the NWA World Championship in a passing of the torch moment. Sixteen minutes of great wrestling with an outcome that people wanted to see. Can’t go wrong with that, folks.
Kind of surprising that the Royal Rumble match was voted for the match of the year. Perhaps that has to be because it is a popular concept of a match for the time? Based off of pure wrestling entertainment, I would have thought maybe the tag match between the Nasty Boys and the Steiner Brothers would have gotten some more love from the fans.
Tag Team of the Year.

Tag Team of the Year.
1990 Tag Team Of The Year: Steiner Brothers (18,377)
1st Runner-Up: Demolition (15,271)
2nd Runner-Up: Doom (11,384)
3rd Runner-up: The Legion Of Doom (10,868)
This seemed like an easy choice as the Steiner Brothers had been on a role in recent years as a tag team electrifying crowds wherever they wrestled. By April, Demolition regained the WWF World Tag Team Championships. In August, they lost the Hart Foundation and quickly became a shell of their former selves when the Legion of Doom came to the company. It’s one of the quickest falls from grace I’ve ever watch happen on television.
Doom should get credited for a good showing in the awards as they had only a few months in 1990 where they weren’t getting destroyed by the Steiner Brothers. Ron Simmons and Butch Reed meshed well as a unit and don’t seem to get a lot of credit for their rise in the tag ranks during the time.
From suffering a knee injury to winning the heavyweight title, Sting is the Wrestle of the Year!

From suffering a knee injury to winning the heavyweight title, Sting is the Wrestler of the Year!
1990 Wrestler Of The Year: Sting (19,481)
1st Runner-Up: Ultimate Warrior (18,176)
2nd Runner-Up: Hulk Hogan (12,003)
3rd Runner-Up: Lex Luger (8,284)
A busted knee in February to winning the NWA World Championship in July. Sting winning the wrestler of the year shows fans giving credit where credit is due. Sting had become of the most entertaining wrestlers in the country and defeated the face of the NWA to become the new top guy for the company. A well deserved award for the Stinger.
Warrior became a double champion at WrestleMania VI by beating Hulk Hogan to win the WWF World Championship to go along with the Intercontinental Championship. Warrior vacated that the Intercontinental Championship, but successfully defended the WWF World Championship against top heels in the WWF including a steel cage match against Rick Rude at SummerSlam.
Despite not being champion for most of the year, fans may have voted for Hogan due to his comeback from the Earthquake attack and numerous victories over Quake on the house show market.
Luger may have had a breakout year by holding the NWA United States Championship for most of the year and several hard fought battles with Ric Flair throughout 1990. He is a distance second from Sting in the NWA in terms of popularity and that’s made evident by his over 11,000 vote difference.
Would you agree with how the PWI readers voted for the awards in 1990? Who would you have voted for during this time?
Leave your thoughts below!
For more wrestling columns and reviews, head over to WRESTLING RECAPS
Thanks for reading.

A Look Back At: The 1993 PWI 500 Rankings

1993 marked the third installment of the PWI 500. The previous two years saw Hulk Hogan and Sting win the number one spot respectively. Hogan being a star from the 80s and Sting being a rising star for WCW since the late 80s. 1993 would see a new face of the WWF rise up the ranks to take the number one spot.
The grading period appeared to be from August 1st, 1992 to July 31st, 1993.
To view the complete list of where wrestlers landed, check that out HERE.
To go back and read the previous two installments of the series, just follow the links below! 
Now, here are the notable rankings for the year 1993.
Hitman claims the number one spot!

Hitman claims the number one spot!
The Top Ten:
1.) Bret Hart
2.) Big Van Vader
3.) Shawn Michaels
4.) Sting
5.) Yokozuna
6.) Ric Flair
7.) Lex Luger
8.) Rick Rude
9.) Curt Hennig
10.) Scott Steiner
Sure, he lost the WWF Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam, but Bret Hart wasted very little time recapturing gold around his waist. Bret achieved the highest goal in the WWF by winning the WWF World Championship from Ric Flair on October 12th, 1992. Bret would successfully defend the belt against Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series, Razor Ramon at Royal Rumble 1993, and Bam-Bam Bigelow on the house shows until dropping the belt to the rookie monster Yokozuna in April ’93 at WrestleMania IX. Despite the loss, Hart would finish the grading period strong by winning the first ever televised King of the Ring tournament. By the end of the period, he was involved in a feud with Jerry Lawler.
Vader lost the WCW World Championship to Ron Simmons on August 2nd, a day into the grading period. He would regain the strap on December 30th and would hang onto the belt for the entire grading period, aside from a six day run that Sting had with the belt. Vader had a memorable feud with Cactus Jack in April where he took out the daredevil on WCW Saturday Night. He also introduced the moonsault to American television by performing the move at Beach Blast, where he and Sid Vicious lost to Sting and Davey Boy Smith.
In the fall of 1992, Michaels claimed his first singles championship by defeating the British Bulldog on a Saturday Night’s Main Event. Michaels lost to Bret at Survivor Series, but entered 1993 on a strong note by defeating former friend Marty Jannetty at the Royal Rumble. Michaels had some issues with Tatanka as he lost several matches against the undefeated superstar. However, Michaels retained the title at WrestleMania IX when Michaels was counted out. Michaels kept a strong hold on the WWF Intercontinental Championship until the May 19th edition of RAW where he loss to Marty Jannetty, who made a surprise return. Michaels regained the belt at a house show in Albany and defeated Jannetty on the 7/19 RAW.
Aside from a six day run, Sting didn’t taste any WCW World Championship gold. For the most part, Sting was saddled with mid card feuds and teaming with Davey Boy Smith. Sting had a infamous feud with Jake Roberts that ended in a Coal Miners glove match at Halloween Havoc, which Sting won. Sting came up short in one of the best strap matches against Vader at Superbrawl III. Despite the losses to Vader, Sting did beat Vader to win the King of the Cable tournament at Starrcade ’92. With the lack of big time wins, Sting may have been ranked a little high.
A top five debut for a new wrestler is not a bad way to make a splash in the PWI 500. That’s exactly what Yokozuna managed to do. He debuted for the WWF by the fall of 1992 and made claim that 1993 would be his year when he won the Royal Rumble in January, and followed that up by winning the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania IX. Thirty-seconds after the win, he lost the belt to Hulk Hogan, but thankfully would regain the title at King of the Ring in June. Yokozuna was a fighting champion, as well. He constantly defended against the likes of Jim Duggan and Bret Hart. He also had a solid match with Crush on the 7/12 RAW. A week prior to that match, Yokozuna had found his new challenger in Lex Luger when Luger was able to slam the champion on the USS Intrepid on July 4th.
The grading period was an interesting one for Ric Flair. In the summer of 1992, Flair was the top heel for the WWF and would win the WWF World Championship for a second time on September 1st by beating long time rival, Randy Savage. He’d lose the belt just over a month later to Bret Hart. By the end of 1992, Flair and lost his best friend, Mr. Perfect, due to Perfect teaming with Randy Savage to beat Flair and Razor Ramon at Survivor Series. On the January 25th edition of RAW, Flair lost a memorable Loser Leaves WWF match to Mr. Perfect. Flair quickly returned to WCW, but wouldn’t wrestle for several months. He would return to the ring teaming with Arn Anderson to go for the WCW World Tag Team Championships, held by the Hollywood Blonds. Although they didn’t walk away with the gold, Flair would regain championship gold when he defeated Barry Windham at Beach Blast on July 18th to close out the grading period.
The new American hero, Lex Luger.

The new American hero, Lex Luger.
Luger didn’t make his debut for the WWF until January ’93 as he was part of the failed WBF promotion that was the creation of Vince McMahon. Lex would feud with Mr. Perfect and was victorious at WrestleMania IX. Also seemingly forgotten about, Luger attacked Bret Hart at the WrestleMania IX press conference and wrestled the former champion several times on house shows. At the time, Luger was a narcissist and used a metal plate in his forearm to get victorious. He was a favorite to win the King of the Ring, but came up short when he and Tatanka wrestled to a draw. Out of nowhere, Lex Luger turned baby face and became a pro America character when he slammed Yokozuna on the USS Intrepid on July 4th. Luger kept an undefeated streak going until April 8th, where Mr. Perfect was able to get a pin fall over Lex by lifting his shoulder up on a back suplex attempt. With that match only airing in France, Luger still maintained an undefeated streak on American television.
Rick Rude continued to dominate the WCW United States Championship title picture having retained the championship against all opponents since winning the belt in November of ’91. By the summer of 1992, Rude was involved in a heated feud with Nikita Koloff. Rude managed to successfully defended the championship against Koloff which sometimes happened inside a steel cage. Also, Rude reached the finals of the NWA World Championship tournament but came up short against Kensuke Sasaki. Rude was stripped of the championship following an injury. While out with injury, Dustin Rhodes won the championship in a tournament and they would meet at Beach Blast in July but ended in a draw despite the match being a thirty minute Ironman match. At the end of the grading period, Rude was not champion and issues with Rhodes were not resolved. Considering he was out of action from December to early spring, a top ten ranking of Rude is quite high.
Curt Hennig, or better known as Mr. Perfect, made his return to the ring when he aligned himself with Randy Savage to take on Razor Ramon and former friend Ric Flair. Perfect got the biggest win of his career when he pinned Ric Flair on the 1/25 RAW to force Flair out of the company. Perfect would lose to Lex Luger at WrestleMania IX and followed up with a loss to Bret Hart in the King of the Ring tournament. Seemed like there was more negatives than there were positives for Mr. Perfect.
At the end of 1992, Scott Steiner won the WCW Television Championship from Ricky Steamboat. However, he and brother Rick Steiner left the company by December and thus was stripped of it. Scott jumped the WWF and dominated the tag division leading up to a series of matches with the WWF World Tag Team Champions Money Inc. They won the titles on June 14th and June 19th after having dropped the belts back to Money Inc. on June 16th. They would hold the titles for the remainder of the grading period.
The only issues I have with the top ten are towards the end, really. As much of a fan I am of Rude, he missed a good portion of the grading period and Perfect didn’t really have a top ten performance for the grading period. I do think Bret was the right choice of the number one spot, though had Vader not lost the belt to Simmons during the grading period, he would have easily taken number one for the year.
'Lone Wolf" Barry Windham nearly makes the top 10.

‘Lone Wolf” Barry Windham nearly makes the top 10.
#11: Barry Windham
#13: Marty Jannetty
#15: Davey Boy Smith
#23: Steve Austin
#25: Sid Vicious
For the early months of the grading period, Windham was feuding with lower mid card guys like the Barbarian and Dick Slater. He was the NWA/WCW World Tag Team Champions with friend Dustin Rhodes when they pinned the former champions Steve Williams and Terry Gordy on the 10/3 edition of Saturday Night. They held the belts for just over a month when they lost the belts to Shane Douglas and Ricky Steamboat due to Dustin Rhodes not wanting to pin Ricky after an accidental low blow. That would lead to heel turn for Windham and the change of attitude saw Windham win the NWA World Championship from the Great Muta at Superbrawl in February. He fought off challenges from Arn Anderson at Slamboree, Too Cold Scorpio at Clash of the Champions in June before dropping the belt to Ric Flair at Beach Blast in July. For a short period of time in ’93, Windham had become a very good heel and his turnaround from the early stages of grading period is impressive.
Jannetty hadn’t been seen on WWF television for quite sometime when he returned by the end of ’92. He failed at capturing the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Shawn Michaels at the Rumble and was gone again until May when he surprised Michaels and won the gold. That lasted a few weeks before dropping it back to Michaels and not doing much of note afterward. Sure, he and Michaels regularly had good matches on the house show market, but that is far from having a top 15 spot in the ranking of 500. (yes, it’s kayfabe, I get it. But, come on!)
In four short months, Davey Boy Smith went from winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Bret Hart in front of a sellout crowd in Wembley Stadium to being out of a job by the end of the year. He loss to belt to Shawn Michaels in November and appeared for WCW a short time into 1993. Smith quickly challenged Big Van Vader for the WCW World Championship. His first chance at the gold was at Slamboree and he won, but by disqualification. Along with Sting, he would beat Sid and Vader at Beach Blast to end the grading period for Smith. The main event push was the biggest of Smith’s career and he handled it pretty well.
Austin maintained a strong handle on the WCW Television Championship until September 2nd when he lost it to Ricky Steamboat. After the loss, Austin was lost in the shuffle until he formed a tag team with Brian Pillman known as the Hollywood Blonds. They team quickly rose up the ranks and won the WCW World Tag Team Championships from Steamboat and Douglas on March 27th edition of Worldwide. He and Pillman retained the titles inside a steel cage at Slamboree against the duo. Their biggest match would be at the June Clash of the Champions when they came up short against Flair and Anderson, but didn’t lose the belts in a best two out of three falls match. To end the grading period, Austin remained tag team champs after beating Anderson and Roma at Beach Blast.
From August to April, Sid had not competed in any mainstream wrestling promotions. He returned to WCW at Slamboree associating himself with Col. Robert Parker and defeated Van Hammer at the event. He would team with Vader and Rick Rude to win a six man tag match at the June Clash of the Champions before losing a tag match with Vader as his partner against Davey Boy and Sting. For a guy who wrestled only three months worth of worthwhile matches, the ranking is ridiculous.
The evil clown, Doink with a strong showing.

The evil clown, Doink with a strong showing.
#26: Doink
#28: Randy Savage
#33: Bam-Bam Bigelow
#34: The Kid
#35: Crush
One of the more creative characters to ever exist in the WWF made its debut at number twenty-six. Doink began appearing in various WWF crowds by the end of 1992. He would pull pranks on various superstars and ended up feuding with Crush, whom he defeated at WrestleMania IX. Aside from that victory, Doink had some entertaining matches with Jannetty and Savage on RAW during the summer. At the end of the grading period, he hadn’t been involved in a significant feud.
Last year, Savage was ranked number two and now falls twenty-six spots. Despite opening the grading period as the WWF World Champion and then nearly winning the Rumble, Savage couldn’t break into the top twenty-five. After the new year, Savage wrestled on a limited basis but often times appeared on house shows. Macho Man was being phased out of the New Generation era.
Bigelow made his return to the WWF by the end of 1992. He would win his first pay per view match against the Big Bossman at the Royal Rumble. Bigelow continued to defeat anyone in his way until the King of the Ring where he lost to Bret Hart in the finals of the tournament. At the end of the grading period he was feuding with Tatanka.
Probably one of the more inspirational stories of the year centered around a skinny rookie who was eventually known simply was, The 1-2-3 Kid. After several weeks of losing to various WWF superstars, the Kid picked up the shocking upset over Razor Ramon on the 5/17 RAW. Kid continued to wrestle Ramon that often ended in disqualifications. In years previous, he was known as the Lighting Kid.
Over the summer, Crush feuded with Repo Man, his former partner from Demolition and won the feud convincingly. After a victory at SummerSlam over Repo Man, it was rumored that Crush could have been the guy to lead the New Generation instead of Bret Hart. That, of course, didn’t happen. Instead, Crush had a feud with Doink, which he lost, and unsuccessfully challenged for the WWF Intercontinental Championship at the King of the Ring. At the end of the grading period, Crush had been taken out of action by Yokozuna.
Simmons as the WCW World Champion.

Simmons as the WCW World Champion.
#32: Ron Simmons
#37: Owen Hart
#38: Paul Orndorff
#40: Brian Lee
#46: The Undertaker
Despite having been WCW World Champion from August to December of 1992, Simmons doesn’t get into the top 25. During Ron’s reign, he retained over the likes of Cactus Jack and the Barbarian, which may be a reason for the low ranking. Simmons didn’t do much during the 1993 portion of the grading period as he was unable to defeat Paul Orndorff for the WCW Television Championship at Beach Blast in July.
Owen didn’t accomplish anything of note in the WWF during the time period, but did win the USWA Heavyweight Championship from Papa Shango but would soon lose it to Jerry Lawler. His rise would be a year away.
‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff started the grading period competing in Smoky Mountain Wrestling where he feuded with the likes of Ron Garvin and Tim Horner. By early ’93, Orndorff was in WCW feuding with Cactus Jack and lost a falls count anywhere match at Superbrawl III. He pinned Erik Watts in the finals to crown a new WCW Television Champion on March 27th. Orndorff was able to keep the championship for the remainder of the grading period. He successfully defended the title against Ron Simmons winning the bout by disqualification.
‘Primetime” Brian Lee started the grading period losing the SMW Heavyweight Championship to rival Dirty White Boy on August 8th, 1992. The end of ’92 saw Lee feud with The Master (aka Kevin Sullivan) which ended up being a lengthy blood feud. After over five months of feuding, Lee won the feud with Kevin Sullivan and his followers. On the May 1st television show, Lee won the SMW TV Championship from Bobby Eaton. Lee would end up turning heel by aligning himself with Tammy Fytch to win the SMW Heavyweight Championship on July 17th from Tracy Smothers to end the grading period.
Undertaker didn’t have a memorable grading period. Sure, he won his feud with Kamala by winning matches at SummerSlam and Survivor Series, but afterward Taker would feud with Giant Gonzalez, with the two meeting at WrestleMania IX. Aside from that, Taker had a less than stellar year on television and that reflects his low ranking this year.
2 Cold Scorpio!

2 Cold Scorpio!
#49: 2 Cold Scorpio
#61: Tatanka
#67: Tim Horner
#84: Erik Watts
#87: Razor Ramon
Scorpio made his debut in WCW on November 18th at Clash of the Champions to help Ron Simmons defeat the trio of Tony Atlas, Cactus Jack and the Barbarian. Scorpio earned a huge win over Steve Austin on the 1/3/1993 house show. Scorpio won a great match against Chris Benoit at Superbrawl III. A month later, Scorpio would team with Marcus Alexander Bagwell on a regular basis. Scorpio would have a memorable match against NWA World Champion Barry Windham at the June Clash of the Champions, but came up short in winning the title. Scorpio had a bright future it seemed in WCW.
Tatanka maintained his undefeated streak throughout the grading period as he mainly had matches with Rick Martel, who has never been able to defeat the Native American. Tatanka nearly won the WWF Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania IX. Not many memorable moments for Tatanka despite a lengthy undefeated streak.
Horner head a feud with SMW Heavyweight Champion Dirty White Boy throughout the fall and winter of ’92, but wasn’t able to take the championship. Horner won the SMW TV Championship from the Nightstalker on the March 6th television program. He held the belt for three weeks before losing it to Bobby Eaton. One of the better in-ring workers for SMW.
The 1992 PWI Rookie of the Year, Erik Watts, had an eventful year. Far from being the best worker in the company, Watts accomplished quite a bit. He had a feud with Arn Anderson that saw the two brawl at a gas station. After the feud, they became partners but had limited success. Watts reached the finals of the WCW Television Championship tournament, losing to Paul Orndorff. A victim of nepotism due his father Bill Watts being the booker for WCW.
Razor Ramon made an impact quickly upon his arrival in the WWF. He cost Randy Savage the WWF World Championship in September of ’92 and won several house show matches against the Macho Man. Had a competitive match with Bret Hart at the Rumble, but came up short in his first championship match. Won his WrestleMania debut against Bob Backlund. Might have dropped in the rankings due to the loss to the 1-2-3 Kid on the May 17th episode of RAW. By the end of the grading period had become a fan favorite thanks to being disrespected by Money Inc.
The original gangsta, New Jack.

The original gangsta, New Jack.
#108: Paul Roma
#112: Van Hammer
#166: Virgil
#198: New Jack
#222: Dirty White Boy
A year prior, Paul Roma was believed to have been retired from pro wrestling. Roma didn’t return to action until June of ’93. He was a member of the Four Horsemen and nearly won the WCW World Tag Team Championships from the Hollywood Blonds at Beach Blast. Needless to say, Roma being a Horsemen was a shock to diehards.
Seemed like wrestling publications thought of Van Hammer has being a title contender, but that never quite happened. His most notable accomplishment was losing to Sid Vicious in thirty-five seconds at Slamboree. Would be gone from WCW for several years.
At this point, Virgil was literally a jobber and was still ranked pretty decently.
New Jack makes his debut in the PWI 500. While not providing much in the ring, Jack teamed with the Homeboy to win the USWA Tag Team Championships for a short period of time.
This one is rather surprising to me. Dirty White Boy won the SMW Heavyweight Championship on 8/8/1992, right at the start of the grading period. He was able to hold onto the belt until April 2nd of 1993 when he lost it to Tracy Smothers. For the time, that’s a pretty impressive title reign, and yet he is so far down the rankings.
The Garbage Man.

The Garbage Man.
#290: Mabel
#298: Billy Gunn
#301: John Hawk
#384: Disco Inferno
#483: Miss Texas
#500: Garbage Man
Mabel and Billy Gunn made their debuts in the PWI 500. Neither man accomplished much as they teamed with Mo and Bart Gunn in the WWF. I don’t believe either team lost a match during the timeframe of the grading period.
John Hawk, or better known as Bradshaw, also made his debut in the PWI 500. He was a Global Tag Team Champion with Bobby Duncum Jr. Hadn’t achieved any mainstream success, though.
At this point, Disco Inferno was claiming to be the king of inter gender matches in the USWA. That was proven to be incorrect as he often lost to Miss Texas (Jacqueline). Speaking of Miss Texas, she was the first woman to ever be ranked in the PWI 500 at #483.
The Garbage Man would be later known as Duke Droese. Pro Wrestling Illustrated would brag about his rise for the next couple of years.
Gone From The 500:
Skinner, Sgt. Slaughter, Kerry Von Erich and the Ultimate Warrior all were out of the rankings this year. Von Erich had committed suicide on February 18th, 1993.
Would you have ranked anyone differently? Were there any surprises? Leave your thoughts below!
For more columns and reviews, head over to WRESTLING RECAPS
Thanks for reading.

A Look Back At: The 1992 PWI 500 Rankings

Last week, I took a look at the first ever Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500 ranking list. The journey of revisiting that history continues here as I look at the 1992 installment of the list. I should note that I’m considering the January to December timeframe in the first installment. I looked up the apparent timeframe that is from August of the previous year to July 31st of the actual year. That being said, I’ll try to maintain my opinions strictly by that timeframe. It seemed as if the 1991 version was covering most of the year, anyway.
For a complete list of the PWI 500 check it out HERE

That being said, here we go. The notable names from the 1992 PWI 500 with the grading period of August 1st 1991 to July 31st 1992. 
Stinger reaches #1!

Stinger reaches #1!
The Top Ten:
1.) Sting
2.) Randy Savage
3.) Ric Flair
4.) Rick Rude
5.) Bret Hart
6.) Ricky Steamboat
7.) Jerry Lawler
8.) Scott Steiner
9.) Ultimate Warrior
10.) Steve Austin
At first I wasn’t so convinced that Sting was the number one guy during the timeframe, but you’ve got to remember that Savage was “retired” from mid March until late 1991. Sure, Savage had a strong comeback winning a feud with Jake Roberts and the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania VIII, but Sting held his own feuding with Rick Rude for most of the period and winning the WCW World Championship at Superbrawl in February ’92. I could see the Nature Boy having a better claim for the number one spot than Savage. 
Flair left WCW in the summer of ’91, but upon his debut with the WWF he feuded with Roddy Piper and had huge matches with Hulk Hogan on the house show market. Also, Flair just so happened to have won perhaps the greatest Royal Rumble ever and as a result became the WWF World Champion. Flair had a rather strong presence during the evaluation period. 
Rude seems a bit high on the list as he didn’t enter WCW until October but didn’t waste time winning gold as he won the WCW United States Championship in November. He also was successful in a feud with Ricky Steamboat winning a high profile match at Superbrawl. He was the leader of the Dangerous Alliance that lost War Games at Wrestle War. 
Bret Hart starts to get recognized as an elite wrestler with two WWF Intercontinental Championship wins. He first won it at SummerSlam against Mr. Perfect and after losing it to the Mountie at a house show in January ’92, regained it from family friend Roddy Piper at WrestleMania VIII in perhaps Piper’s last truly great match. Hart was also involved in a house show feud with Shawn Michaels at the time. 
After an underwhelming run in the WWF, Ricky Steamboat returned to top ten level wrestling winning the WCW World Tag Team Championships with Dustin Rhodes in November and defeating WCW United States Champion Rick Rude in a non-title thirty minute Ironman match at Beach Blast in June. Also, Steamboat was arguably still at the top of his game in the ring. 
Jerry Lawler continued to dominate the USWA along with partner Jeff Jarrett. Scott Steiner comes in at number eight after regaining the WCW World Tag Team Championships on May 3rd defeating the Dangerous Alliance after a long chase. They soon lost the belts to Steve Williams and Terry Gordy on July 5th to end the evaluation period on a sour note. 
Kind of confusing that the Ultimate Warrior came in at number nine considering he returned to action at WrestleMania VIII and was only feuding with a midcard talent in Papa Shango. Doesn’t seem worthy of a top ten wrestler let a lot top 50, honestly. 
Lastly, Steve Austin makes a splash in the top ten as a member of the Dangerous Alliance. Austin had been dominating the upper mid card scene as he continually held the WCW Television Championship during the grading period. 
A change of attitude did good things for Michaels.

A change of attitude did good things for Michaels.
12.) Hulk Hogan
15.) Big Van Vader
16.) Shawn Michaels
20.) Ron Simmons
21.) The Undertaker 
Hogan falls out of the top ten due to lack of competing. He lost and regained the belt in late 1991 against the Undertaker, lost the Royal Rumble, and defeated Sid Justice by disqualification at WrestleMania VIII in his last match for nearly a year. 
Vader’s ranking may seem a little high, but remember he stayed strong in Japan and upon his return to WCW in July he defeated Sting to win the WCW World Championship. Vader is a strong force in the PWI 500 for at least a couple more years. 
After a shocking betrayal of his longtime friend, Shawn Michaels rose to number sixteen. He won his first ever Mania match against Tito Santana and continually challenged for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, though he would lose to Bret Hart each time. 
During the evaluation, Simmons unsuccessfully challenged Lex Luger for the WCW World Championship at Halloween Havoc. Proceeded to be a mid card contender feuding with Cactus Jack for several months and winning the feud. At the time of the release, it was evident that Simmons was going to become a main event player for WCW. 
Taker held the WWF World Championship for a short period in 1991 as a heel. By February, he turned into a good dead man and pinned Jake Roberts at WrestleMania by kicking out of the DDT. Didn’t feud with top talent afterward as he was involved with the Berzerker afterward.
Ted DiBiase with IRS and Jimmy Hart.

Ted DiBiase with IRS and Jimmy Hart.
22.) Ted DiBiase
23.) Big Bossman
26.) Jeff Jarrett
29.) Cactus Jack
36.) Dustin Rhodes 
At the tail end of 1991, DiBiase was the WWF Million $ Dollar Champion, which would soon be forgotten about. Entering 1992, DiBiase became a tag team wrestler and won the WWF World Tag Team Championships in February with IRS by beating the Legion of Doom. Successfully retained the titles by count-out against the Natural Disasters at Mania. Lost the belts in July to the Natural Disasters. Adapted well to his new role. 
In early 1991, Bossman looked to be primed for a WWF Intercontinental Championship run but the push faded away and for the most part Bossman was lost in the shuffle. Was on the winning side of a eight man tag at Mania, but was soon beaten down by former inmate Nailz. His ranking is rather high considering he didn’t achieve much during the time. 
Much like Lawler, Jarrett was busy winning a feud against the Moondogs. Cactus Jack had a breakout time period having a classic brawl with WCW World Champion Sting at Beach Blast 1992, despite coming out on the losing end. May have been the moment fans took Jack seriously as a contender. 
Nearly a one hundred spot jump for Dustin Rhodes, who won the WCW World Tag Team Championships with Steamboat. Rhodes is clearly at the top of the heap for WCW and the following year is when he really breaks out. Underrated in the ring even in 1992. 
Brian Christopher knew how to win gold.

Brian Christopher knew how to win gold.
44.) Owen Hart
47.) Brian Christopher
53.) Razor Ramon
55.) Repo Man
69.) Papa Shango 
Obviously Owen Hart is a top wrestler but he was only teaming with Koko B. Ware at the time and they hadn’t done anything of note to warrant a top 50 spot for Owen.
Last year, Brian Christopher was ranked at 409 and jumped all the way up to number forty-seven. A change of attitude may have helped as he won many titles in the southern area but did so cheating. Was considered to be a top prospect out of the South. 
If the grading timeframe is correct, it’s amazing that Razor Ramon was even ranked. As the Diamond Studd he had a less than memorable run with WCW and while he was with the WWF, his character hadn’t even made it to television until August. 
The former Demolition Smash went the route of a comedic character with the Repo Man. Repo didn’t have any major wins but had a brief feud with the British Bulldog on television. I’ll let you guess who won that one.
The voodoo master Papa Shango debuts at number sixty-nine. Due in large part to the exposure of his feud with the Ultimate Warrior. Shango never won a match against the Warrior but faired okay against other mid card talents. 
Brian Lee pinning rival DWB.

Brian Lee pinning rival DWB.
76.) Crush
77.) Marcus Alexander Bagwell
79.) Sabu
93.) Tatanka
96.) Brian Lee 
Crush hadn’t made a splash on television yet, but his newfound singles push as a baby face was going well on the house show market. Probably should have been ranked where Repo Man was. 
The rookie Marcus Alexander Bagwell breaks into the top 100. Bagwell didn’t have much of a direction but was being touted as a promising star for WCW and typically held his own against top heels but would come out on the losing end most times. 
The lunatic Sabu goes from 389 last year to number 79 in one of the biggest jumps of the year. Most notably won the FMW Tag Team Championships with Hulk Hogan’s nephew, Horace Boulder. 
Tatanka made his WWF debut in late 1991 and remained undefeated throughout the grading period and only gets ranked at 93. I can see a few people he should have been ranked above but I’ll just be repeating myself. 
Brian Lee is the top baby face for Smoky Mountain Wrestling and was their first Heavyweight Champion beating Paul Orndorff in the finals in May. Continued to be considered a future star in the business. 
Van Hammer

Van Hammer
108.) Paul Orndorff
204.) Van Hammer
256.) The Sandman
395.) Tommy Dreamer
422.) Chris Candido 
Orndorff hadn’t been seen on a national level in years, but was quite successful in Smoky Mountain Wrestling as one of the top heels in the company. He proved that he had plenty still to offer to the wrestling world. 
Hammer made his debut for WCW in 1991 and was involved in a feud with Cactus Jack which saw Hammer win a few battles. According to PWI, he was seen a future World Champion. Van Hammer, of all people. 
He hadn’t developed the cigarette smoking, beer drinking gimmick yet but Sandman was still a force on the Philadelphia independent scene during the time. Along with Tommy Dreamer who relied heavily on a sleeper hold to win his matches, apparently. Keep your eyes on Chris Candido as well as he continued to tour the globe and gain experience. 
Farewell To The 500:
Sid Justice
Lex Luger
Paul Roma
If the grading timeframe is right, and I’m guessing in large part to what the PWI writers commented on, then Justice and Luger should be at least on the list. 
Justice had wrestled from late 1991 to April 1992 for the WWF, which saw him main event Mania and almost win the Rumble. 
Luger won the WCW World Championship in July and held it until February 1992 when he lost to Sting. He’d be out of wrestling for a year. 
Zeus went back to acting. Paul Roma was in semiretirement. 
There is the notable names for the 1992 PWI 500. Would you have ranked anyone differently? Leave your thoughts below!

For more wrestling reviews and columns, head over to WRESTLING RECAPS

Thanks for reading.

A Look Back At: The 1991 PWI 500 Rankings

For the past twenty-five years Pro Wrestling Illustrated has accepted the challenge of ranking 500 of the best wrestlers during each of those years. Sometimes there have been questionable rankings and times when they actually forgot to include wrestlers.
I’ve decided to take a look at each publication of the PWI 500 and see the interesting listing, dispute their rankings and show the progression of wrestlers through the years.
I’m not going to list all 500 guys, but instead point out interesting rankings and see the progression or decline throughout the years. For a full listing of 1991 PWI 500, click HERE.
The issue started in 1991 and has been a staple for the publication ever since. Lets take a look at the top 10 for 1991. 
Hulkamania running wild on the PWI 500!

Hulkamania running wild on the PWI 500!
1.) Hulk Hogan
2.) Lex Luger
3.) Ric Flair
4.) Randy Savage
5.) Sting
6.) Scott Steiner
7.) Ricky Steamboat
8.) Steve Williams
9.) Arn Anderson
10.) Rick Steiner
It’s quite clear as to why Hogan was number one. He had a big year by winning the Rumble, beating Slaughter at Mania VII and was able to successfully end his feud with Earthquake. Also, we can’t forget that he had numerous matches with Ric Flair at the tail end of the year. Sure, he lost the WWF World Championship at This Tuesday in Texas but a week later regained it by defeating the Undertaker at Survivor Series. Oh, by the way, they forgot to include the Undertaker and Terry Gordy. Yeah, that’s a head scratcher, I know. Anyway, Hogan at number one is perfectly fine. He had a strong year in comparison to the remaining top ten.
Luger is a close second, but a victim of Flair leaving WCW in the summer. Had Luger won the WCW World Championship at Great American Bash in June over Flair instead of Barry Windham, I think Luger gets over the hump and takes number one. Luger was a double champion holding the WCW United States and WCW World Championships after the win at the Bash. Luger continued his reign as champion leading into 1992 successfully defending against Ron Simmons at Halloween Havoc.
Flair didn’t seem to have an overly huge year. Sure, he was champion and never lost the WCW World Champion, but something just seems to be missing. He didn’t get traction going in the WWF until ’92, but I suppose their not being many top stars made it an easy pick for Flair to be in the top 5.
Not sure why or how Randy Savage was ranked number four as he was “retired” following his loss to the Ultimate Warrior at Mania VII. He wouldn’t return to action until the fall. Seems a bit high and that’s coming from a Macho Man fanatic.
Interestingly enough, Rick Steiner is ranked lower than his brother Scott Steiner despite Rick getting several WCW World Championship matches against Lex Luger, of course he was unsuccessful in those attempts. Scott was unsuccessful going after the WCW Television Championship that was held by Steve Austin. The most memorable moment for the Steiner Brothers was their classic match at Superbrawl against Lex Luger and Sting, which they won.
It’s shocking that Ricky Steamboat was in the top ten of the list. He was in the WWF for most of 1991 and literally had matches with the Barbarian and other mid card talents. Being ranked at number seven seems extremely high considering the other talent listed, which we will get to. Steamboat returned to WCW in November and won the WCW World Tag Team Championships with Dustin Rhodes, but it’s no way plausible to have the Dragon this high, at least not in 1991.
Moving out of the top 10…
Would you trust Jake Roberts?

Would you trust Jake Roberts?
11.) Ultimate Warrior
21.) Bret Hart
23.) Jake Roberts
28.) Jeff Jarrett
29.) Ron Simmons
Despite leaving the WWF in August, Warrior still had a big year. Sure, he lost the WWF World Championship to Sgt. Slaughter at the Rumble, but he beat Randy Savage at Mania, was successful in a feud against the Undertaker and teamed with Hogan to victory at SummerSlam. That seems more top ten worthy than Steamboat.
The rise of Bret Hart started in 1991 and gets a top 25 ranking. A fine place for the tag team wrestler who got his biggest victory against Mr. Perfect at SummerSlam 1991 to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. 1991 was a very strong year for the Hitman. He might have been a top 15 ranked wrestler.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts started off getting quite a bit of sympathy when he was nearly blinded for life by Rick Martel and beat Martel at Mania VII in a blindfold match. By the summer, Roberts was the most hated man ruining the Savage/Elizabeth wedding at SummerSlam and embarked in a truly personal and awesome feud with Savage to close out 1991. That period could be Jake’s best work.
Jeff Jarrett had a busy year in USWA where he won the USWA Heavyweight Championship four times and the USWA Tag Team Championships four times. Sure, his father Jerry Jarrett ran the company, but regardless Jeff had a stellar year full with success.
In the beginning of 1991 Simmons was the WCW World Tag Team Champions with Butch Reed, but they lost the belts in February and Simmons won a cage match against Reed at Superbrawl in May. Simmons continued to rise up the card and got a WCW World Championship match at Halloween Havoc against Lex Luger but came up short in a best two out of three falls match. Bigger things are ahead for Simmons.
The top guy for the GWF, the Patriot.

The top guy for the GWF, the Patriot.
31.) Steve Austin
33.) Big Van Vader
37.) Shawn Michaels
55.) The Patriot
58.) Bam-Bam Bigelow
Austin didn’t waste anytime upon his arrival in WCW to capture gold when he beat Bobby Eaton for the WCW Television Championship on June 3rd. He’d hold the belt for nearly a year. He also joined the top heel faction in WCW known as the Dangerous Alliance. Austin was a huge part of WCW from the get go.
Vader found success in 1991 overseas as he wasn’t used all that much in WCW. He was the CWA Heavyweight Champion for more than half of 1991 before losing the strap to Rambo. At the end of the year he would win the CWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship but was forced to give up the championship upon signing a full-time contract with WCW and a contract with NJPW.
One half of the Rockers, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty should be close in the rankings but shockingly Jannetty was ranked at #57. By the end of 1991, the Rockers would be split up as Michaels literally tossed Jannetty through a plate glass window.
The Patriot was a breakout star for the promotion GWF, or the Global Wrestling Federation. Upon his arrival, the fan favorite won the GWF Television Championship on June 29th and within two months won the GWF Heavyweight Championship in August. Patriot would hold the Heavyweight Championship for the remainder of the year.
Bigelow had a successful 1991 working mainly in Japan and teaming with Vader, though the team wouldn’t win any gold until the following year.
The Diamond Stud. Does he look familiar?

The Diamond Stud. Does he look familiar?
76.) Diamond Stud
79.) Roddy Piper
107.) Chris Benoit
131.) Dustin Rhodes
171.) Shane Douglas
Kind of surprising that Stud would be ranked so high considering he lost quite a bit of steam when he lost to guys like Ron Simmons, Tom Zenk and was on the losing side of the Chambers of Horrors match at Halloween Havoc. Probably didn’t help that Rick Rude joined the company and had almost the same exact gimmick as Stud. A bigger year is in store for Stud in 1992 with a chance of scenery.
One of the biggest stars in the WWF had a busy 1991, but that wouldn’t be reflected by his ranking. He spent some of the year hurt due to his hip but helped Virgil in his feud with Ted DiBiase. More importantly, Piper was involved in a heated feud with Ric Flair upon his debut in the WWF that would continue on and off for the next seven years.
The young crippler Chris Benoit was under the radar to the mainstream fans as he was tearing it up overseas having classic matches with Jushin Liger in Japan. It would be a few years before Benoit made a splash in the States.
Dustin Rhodes had a great 1991 as he didn’t lose a match on pay per view or at a Clash of the Champions. Fought Steve Austin to a draw at Havoc for the WCW Television Championship but managed to win gold in November with Ricky Steamboat when they defeated the WCW World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko. Dustin is one of the few guys who have a successful career and put on good matches like his father, Dusty.
Shane Douglas seemingly got his ranking based on what he had done previously to 1991. For the most part, the most impressive thing Douglas did was last nearly 27 minutes in the Royal Rumble.
Tazmaniac would go through a makeover over the years.

Tazmaniac would go through a makeover over the years.
246.) Virgil
250.) Dean Malenko
253.) Lightning Kid
267.) Tazmaniac
367.) OZ
For a guy who won at WrestleMania against his former employer Ted DiBiase by count-out and then won the WWF Million Dollar Championship at SummerSlam, a ranking of 246 seems a bit too low for Virgil. Sure, he isn’t a spectacular wrestler, but considering Shane Douglas lasted all of 27 minutes in the Rumble and then vanished and got a ranking of 171, Virgil is made out to look like an All-Star in comparison. I’m pretty sure that’s the last time I’d ever say that about Virgil.
Who would have ever thought that Dean Malenko would be ranked lower than Virgil. Malenko, much like Benoit, found great success in Japan and wouldn’t venture over to the States for a few more years.
The highly entertaining Lightning Kid had a strong second year of competing by winning the GWF Lightweight Championship on two occasions and having several memorable matches with Jerry Lynn throughout the year.
Tazmaniac held the IWCCW Lightweight Championship for six months in 1991 and was one of the most hated men in the Northeast area.
The one of many gimmicks for Kevin Nash, OZ came in at 367. OZ was successful for a period of time before losing to Ron Simmons at the Great American Bash. The character wouldn’t make it to 1992.
GI Bro when Booker brought the gimmick back for a moment in 2000.

GI Bro when Booker brought the gimmick back for a moment in 2000.
390.) GI Bro
392.) Jerry Lynn
403.) Chris Candido
409.) Brian Christopher
500.) Zeus
GI Bro would be better known as Booker T. In 1991 he worked for lesser known promotions but a short time into his career, he was beating veterans on a regular basis. It took him only eight weeks to make his television debut.
As noted before, Lynn was busy working in the GWF and putting on classic matches with the Lightning Kid. Lynn would win the GWF Lightweight Championship in December of 1991.
Candido had a good run with the USWA where he teamed with Eric Embry and faired well against veteran wrestlers. Another guy who would rise up the ranks throughout the years.
Brian Christopher was a top fan favorite for the USWA but would really breakout in 1992.
I’m not aware of what Zeus did wrestling wise in 1991, but it’s a notable name to be ranked as number 500.
Did you disagree with any of the rankings for the PWI 500 in 1991? Who would have been your number one? Where would you have ranked the Undertaker had he not been forgotten by the writers when this was published? Do you miss kayfabe magazines? 
Leave your thoughts below!

For more wrestling columns and reviews, head over to WRESTLING RECAPS

Thanks for reading.

2013 Look Back: The Raw of 6-17-2013

Yes this was the RAW the night after Payback, which was an excellent PPV by most accounts. The June PPV is often a good sign for how the rest of the promotion’s year is going to go. So if you add the PPV with the RAW the night after it looked like we were in for a hell of a second half of 2013.

Money in the Bank was a rousing success as was Summerslam but soon after the wheels sort of came off and we’re heading into 2014 with a lot of questions and silly rumors…(John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania?). Maybe things will get back on track.

So I wanted to look back at the 6-17-2013 RAW to see if it was as good as I remembered.

NIGHT RAW June 17, 2013

Live from Grand Rapids, Michigan

Hosted by Michael Cole, The King and JBL

** We open up the show with the new World Heavyweight Champion and freshly
turned heel Alberto Del Rio as he and Dolph Ziggler tried the double turn and
it didn’t totally go over like they hoped. However Ricardo Rodriguez’s smirk during Del
Rio’s overblown intro was terrific. Here’s the shame with Del Rio, he’s a damn good
talker, he’s a damn good heel but there is just a general disconnect with him
and the fans. Del Rio doesn’t understand why the fans are so angry with him
when Ziggler did the same thing to him the night after Wrestlemania and the
fans cheered. He’s got a point. Crowd tries feebly to get a “We Want Ziggler”
chant going but it’s not working. Del Rio calls Jack Swagger an ignorant pig
that disrespected the Mexican culture and the Mexican people but the fans, “in
support of him”, would chant U-S-A. He’s got another point. He says America is
all about pigs and cowards. Man how did this promo not get over more than it
did? Alberto is bringing the awesome! Del Rio goes on until “Cult of
Personality” cuts him off and CM Punk returns to RAW for the first time in two
months. Crowd totally eats it up, ignoring that he is with Paul Heyman. Punk
refreshes Alberto’s memory about their last encounter, Survivor Series 2011,
when he beat him for the WWE Championship and held the title for 434 days. Punk
has no problems with Del Rio though, other than Del Rio calling himself the
best. There’s only one ‘Best in the World’ and Punk is ready to fight for his
name. Heyman interrupts Punk and tries to negotiate a title shot but Punk kindly
tells him to STFU and “while this guy was stealing a title from Dolph Ziggler
last night I was stealing the show with Chris Jericho!” So after a little more
jocking, we bring Vickie and Brad out and we’ve got a match. It was about 12
minutes of promo but it was PRODUCTIVE and we got somewhere. If you’re gonna
take the time, make it count!

(Coming up: Vickie Guerrero has a BIG surprise for the McMahon-Helmsley regime
tonight; Daniel Bryan goes one-on-one with Randy Orton and up next it’s the
Barrett Barrage trying to regain the Intercontinental title from new champion
Curtis Axel!)

** We’re back and Punk officially tells Heyman that he’ll always be a Paul
Heyman guy but he doesn’t need him to help him win matches like Brock Lesnar or
Curtis Axel.

Intercontinental Title: Wade Barrett vs. Curtis Axel

Poor Barrett just gets the in-ring intro and…Vickie is out again and says this
match won’t happen because Barrett is going to face her big surprise instead
and out comes Christian.

Plain Ol’ Match: Wade Barrett vs. Christian

Is Christian still under contract? If so he’s a good candidate for a Royal
Rumble return. Barrett jumps on Captain Charisma but Christian recovers and
dumps him over the top rope. Christian climbs to the top and hits a massive
cross body to the floor. Back in the ring Barrett rallies and gets a near fall
on Christian. 90 seconds into the match and we have a chinlock. Really? Barrett
doesn’t hold it for long and Christian hits a dropkick from the middle rope and
a big clotheslines. Barrett misses a blind charge and Christian hits a tornado
DDT for another two count but Barrett stops the momentum with a gut kick.
Barrett misses another blind charge and Christian with an inverted hangman and
the killswitch ends this sucker. Basically a squash as Barrett got nothing but
transitional moves.

** More news as the WWE Universe will choose the stipulation for the
Bryan-Orton match. The choices are No DQ, No Count Out or 2 out of 3 falls.

** Wyatt Family promo. They aren’t here yet but they’re coming.

Handicap Match: The Rhodes Scholars vs. Sheamus

Speaking of candidates for Royal Rumble returns, Sheamus should be close to
ready. He will have to fight off both guys at once and accounts very well for
himself to start, hitting Sandow with a nasty forearm. However a disaster kick
changes the course and the scholars take control with a double suplex that gets
two. Sandow with a snapmare and Rhodes with a shining wizard that sets up the
ELBOW OF DISDAIN…all of that gets two. Cody adds a couple of slaps to the face
and I don’t think that’s a good idea. Sheamus dumps Cody and completely murders
Sandow one on one with the usual stuff. He goes back to Rhodes to hit his 10
forearm spot.  A powerslam dumps Sandow
as Cody tries to catch Sandow from the ropes but he lands in Sheamus’ arms and
feels white noise instead. Sheamus preps for the brogue kick but Sandow sneaks
in and rolls him up for three. Sheamus, being the sore loser he is, gives
Rhodes the brogue kick anyway.


** Rob Van Dam returns at Money in the Bank. He didn’t stay for very long.

** Brad and Vickie brag about their moves to HHH but he’s not impressed.
However he wants them to take control of The Shield. He doesn’t care how strong
they need to be in order to get the Shield under control, just get it done. HHH
also says that getting 3MB in the show tonight…brilliant…yep that HHH always
putting over the talent.

** Kane and Bryan are bickering about Bryan being the weak link. Both Bryan and
Kane lost last night and Kane believes that it’s a sign that Team Hell No
another shot. Bryan says the only team he can focus on right now is “Team DB”
and Kane retorts “that makes sense because you’re acting like a DB”. Ouch. Kane
wishes DB good luck and Bryan takes that as a sign that he still considers him
the weak link.

** Randy Orton says it’s because of Daniel Bryan that Team R-K-No lost to The
Shield at Payback and he’ll prove that Bryan is the weak link tonight.

No Disqualification: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan

Bryan goes after the arm and then to the leg with a couple of kicks and then a
Mexican surfboard, he works on the hamstrings some more and keeps kicking as
Orton clearly doesn’t have Chris Wiedman’s defensive skills. Orton comes back
with a couple of a stomps and a slingshot suplex. Lou Thesz press by Orton but
Bryan counters the ground and pound by grabbing the leg into a half crab. Orton
fights out but Bryan goes back to the legs kicks with the crowd starting to
feel him. Orton with the eye rake and he dumps Bryan to the floor. Orton hits a
big clothesline on the floor as some of the crowd starts to get behind him.
Back in the ring for a two count. Reverse chinlock time as the referee has to
tell Orton what comes next. Orton corners Bryan and pounds away, corner whip but
Bryan walks the ropes and hits a flying lariat. Corner dropkick from Bryan and
a second one with a head of steam gets two. Bryan sets too early off a whip but
he manages to dump Orton, however, Bryan misses the suicide dive as Orton sends
him into the barricade. Orton grabs a kendo stick and goes to work, first on
the back and then the front. Then he drives the point of the stick into Bryan’s
stomach. Back in the ring and we get a two count.

** Commercial Break

We’re back as Orton has Bryan posted. Headbutt by Orton and he’s goes for the
superplex but Bryan fights gallantly and a headbutt of his own knocks Orton off
the ropes. Bryan hits a top rope missile dropkick and both men are down. Bryan
back to his feet first and he goes to town with the kicks but misses the
roundhouse and Orton hits a wicked T-Bone suplex. Orton tries to set up the
elevated DDT but Bryan tries to counter into the No Lock, Orton fights out of
it and catapults Bryan over the top. Bryan tries to scale the ropes but Orton
casually kicks him in the mid section and Bryan goes to the floor. Ref brings
in the doctor to check on Bryan, doctor clears him so Orton suplexes Bryan on
the barricade. The referee and the doctor go back to Bryan and decide they have
seen enough. Crowd not happy with that decision.

(Orton def. Bryan, referee stoppage, ***1/2, heck of a match with both guys
showing a sample of the work they would do later in the year. Orton and Bryan
hug it out.)

** Looking back on how we got to tonight’s Main Event: CM Punk vs. Alberto Del

New Divas Champion A.J. Lee skips to the ring with Big E Langston. Rarely do
they give the women any in-ring interview time so this explains what the powers
that be thought of Lee. She says she’s the best Divas champion ever and any
bitch that disputes that can come down and take it up with her. And there’s
Stephanie McMahon…to no pop…Once they get in the ring I lose focus on what they
are talking about because Stephanie TOWERS over A.J., now she’s wearing
four-inch heels but still she’s easily close to a foot taller. Anyway they go
back and forth about feminism. A.J. suggest that instead of dating superstars
she should act like Stephanie and marry one. Ugh. Stephanie says that no one
does crazy like a McMahon. She ain’t lying. Anyway this really doesn’t go
anywhere as Kaitlyn jumps out and Stephanie gets pissed at her for
interrupting. Whatever. They could have done something a little bigger here
between A.J. and Stephanie but they bailed out. A.J. and Kaitlyn had a brawl
and Kaitlyn’s tit popped out. What happened to her anyway.

** Up next: Dean Ambrose defends the U.S. Title.

U.S. Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Kane

Kane takes the quick advantage with the power moves, misses a blind charge but
drops Ambrose with the big boot. Kane sets too early off an irish whip but
catches Ambrose with a power slam for two. Corner whip and Kane follows in with
clotheslines. Sidewalk side by Kane gets a two count. Kane up to the top and
hits the big clothesline and Roman Reigns jumps in for the quick DQ. Spear and
triple powerbomb follow.

** Mark Henry hugs it out with the Primetime Players. Apparently he’s got a big
announcement coming.

** The Shield is beaming as they walk backstage. Vickie is pissed but the
Shield don’t care and she’s about to deliver her punishment when Vince McMahon
enters the picture and says the Shield reminds him of him. Ruthless aggression.
He then tells Kane for worth it’s worth he’s never liked Kane anyhow.

** Another Wyatt Family promo. They’re still not here yet.

** Zeb Coulter introduces the newest member of “We The People”, Antonio Cesaro
and now we have a match.

William Regal vs. Antonio Cesaro

Cesaro with a take down and Regal with a kip up and a throw. Cesaro corners
Regal and pounds away. A European uppercut drops Regal and he adds a gut wrench
suplex but Regal bridges out of the kickoff. Cesaro with a double stomp to the
chest. Regal back with uppercuts of his own and drops Cesaro with a hard left.
Regal goes for the double underhook but Cesaro straight powers out of it and
drops Regal on his back. Cesaro gives Regal a swinging chinlock and the
neutralizer to finish things. Obviously this was just a squash for Cesaro as
these two can do much much better when given time.

** The Champ is Here and he’s coming up next!

** Rob Van Dam is still returning at Money in the Bank

John Cena
sprints to the ring fresh off of a 3 Stages of Hell title defense
over Ryback. He panders to the crowd a bit and points out a guy wearing a CM
Punk shirt that has started a “Cena sucks” chant. Cena says he had a terrible
2012 and he had to ask his fans to hang in there. But 2013 has proven to be his
time thus far and six months into 2013 he proudly says “The Champ is Here”. And
then Mark Henry walks out holding his wrestling boots in one hand and he leaves
them at the top of the stage which should have been a sign right there as
proper decorum says to leave them in the center of the circle (or ring,

Henry tells Cena to put his guard down and shakes his hand. Henry, fighting back
tears, plays to the crowd wonderfully and talks about when he first met Cena in
2002 and how he’s turned into the star he knew he could be. Henry, wearing a
Salmon suit says “if you forget me, you’ll at least remember this suit” and
then the crowd lovingly chants “sexual chocolate”. Henry says Cena is going at
a rate of where he’ll eventually be the greatest WWE champion of all time.
Henry talks about his accomplishments and says while he hasn’t been as
successful as Cena he’s done pretty well for himself. Seriously I didn’t see this
coming the first time? What drug was I on? Henry announces his retirement and
the crowd applauds as Cena gives Henry the belt to hold up. Henry, continuing
to sell with tears, talks about traveling the world and doing more than anyone
could have expected from a kid that grew up in Silsbee, Texas. He mentions his
family, wife and children by name and says he’s coming home! Cena raises his
hand and gets him a hug so Henry returns the favor and gives him the World’s
Strongest Slam! This was just AMAZING execution and the Monday Night Mic was going nuts
if I remember correctly. Henry tells Cena “that’s what he does”. This was
pretty much the end of awesome Mark Henry as now he’s back to being a babyface
that gets pinned way too easily.

** Main Event tonight: CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio

** A look back at Mark Henry punking out John Cena.

** Henry cuts a second promo and calls everyone who believed him a bunch of
puppets. The WWE is the only thing he hasn’t held and he’s challenging Cena for
it right now. The reason Henry has two boots is because he’s going to leave one
of them in his ass.

Chris Jericho vs. Heath Slater

Jericho and Slater do a headlock sequence and then Jericho lays in the chops
but Slater rallies with a leg lariat that gets two. Slater with a charge and he
eats boot. Two shoulderblocks from Jericho and he hits an axe from the top
rope. Running bulldog but McIntyre nails Jericho as he goes for the lionsault.
Slater gets two off the interference and body slams Jericho. Slater goes to the
middle rope but misses the knee. Another running bulldog and the lionsault hits
this time. Codebreaker finishes things. He beats up McIntyre and Mahal too.

** Matt Striker talks with Heyman and Curtis Axel backstage. Striker wants to
know about the dissension between Punk and Heyman but Heyman switches the
attention to Axel and says he was “bred to be better than perfect.”

Sin Cara vs. Curtis Axel

The Miz
joins the talking heads at ringside. They give Axel some weird glowing
light treatment, similar to what Kane got back in the day. Axel works on Sin
Cara but he rallies with a drop kick. Axel comes back  with a shoulder and a weird back suplex that
gets two. Axel tries to get Sin Cara in a powerslam but Sin Cara counters with
a reverse DDT. He hits a couple of high kicks and a somersault senton but Axel
lifts his knees. Axel with an implant DDT and the victory. Axel and The Miz
lock eyes but nothing comes of it.

** Next up is our Main Event

** Vince McMahon talks to Brad & Vickie about the Mark Henry situation and
they make the Henry-Cena match for Money at the Bank. He applauds them on a
great show. Stephanie comes in and talks about the show being out of control.
HHH walks in and screams at Vickie for not putting the Shield in their place. HHH
tells Vickie to listen to him. Vince tells her not to work about HHH and
understand he’s the boss. Stephanie suggests she not listen to either of them.

Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk

Punk jumps on Del Rio immediately and Del Rio bails out quickly. Back in the
ring and the same sequence is repeating as Del Rio takes a powder. This time
Punk follows him and roughs him up on the barricade. Back in the ring and Del
Rio gets the first shot. Big kick to the head gets two for Del Rio. Snap Suplex
by Del Rio gets another two. Punk rallies and hits knees in succession on Del
Rio in the corner until referee Charles Robinson pulls him off. Del Rio goes
after the arm but Punk fights back with forearms. Punk goes for the GTS but Del
Rio bails on him so Punk hits a suicide dive as Cole and JBL are starting to
get annoying with their bickering. Back in the ring and Del Rio goes back to
the arm and sends Punk to the floor.

** Commercial Break

We’re back and Punk escapes an arm crucifix with a throw but Del Rio catches Punk
on a charge with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Another nasty kick to the
head and a running knee gets a two count. Del Rio goes to the top but gets
caught with a shot to the gut. Spinning low kick and a leg lariat by Punk. High
knees by Punk, the roundhouse kick misses and Del Rio with an elevated
armbreaker. Del Rio  drapes Punk on the
ropes and gives him consecutive forearms to the kidneys and a backstabber for
two. Del Rio misses the superkick and Punk rolls him up for two, Del Rio hits
superkick on the second try and gets two. Del Rio looking for the cross arm
breaker but Punk counters with a high knee and the GTS that sends Del Rio to
the floor. Rodriguez helps Del Rio to his feet and they decide to take a walk
when Ziggler attacks both men from behind to…not much of a pop sadly.

(CM Punk def. Del Rio, countout, ***1/4, usual stuff from those two guys.)

And what is that music I hear….Brock Lesnar comes in with no fan fare and minimal crowd reaction probably because they were shocked. Lesnar circles the ring as
Punk looks on confusingly and asks for the mic. Brock thinks about his
statement and then decides to just give Punk the F5 because he doesn’t need to

The Bottom Line:
This card set up Money in the Bank and Summerslam perfectly,
which along with Payback, gave the WWE it’s best three-month span of the year.
The Mark Henry-Cena stuff was effective and even though the program lasted just
one month it ended with a solid blowoff match at Money in the Bank. Punk and Lesnar would have a classic at Summerslam and the early seeds of the future program with Orton and Bryan were being set up. Unfortunately they couldn’t keep up this momentum after Summerslam. 

The look of the shows

Why the hell do all the shows look the same? It used to be that Raw and Smackdown had their own individual sets and rope colors. Even the ppv's use those lame ass white ropes. Are blue, red and even black ropes not considered PG?
Well, NXT looks different, but that's kind of a special case.  By the way, Hulu didn't put the new episode up tonight, so I dunno what's going on with that.  Usually they're up at midnight EST on the dot.  
Anyway, I think the sameness of the shows is for budgetary reasons, in that they have to tape Superstars/Main Event/Smackdown/Saturday Morning Slam/Ring Ka King all in one go a lot of times, and it's easier to change the graphics on the big screen and use a generic set of ropes and ring aprons rather than having to swap out entire sets from show to show.  Plus it gives the entire lineup a unified feel, which I can understand from a business standpoint.  
Now, my own pet peeve is that they haven't actually changed the basic look of any of the shows in 10 years, outside of Smackdown getting rid of the big fist, but that's another issue entirely.

Wargames 97 warrants another look

Hello Me. Keith. 

I just watched the Wargames Set, start-to-finish, and I gotta say watching them in order like that, I really grew a new appreciation for Fall Brawl 97's Wargames of The Horsemen v.s. NWO.  93 was garbage, 94 did have some good Southern Brawling, 95 lets never talk about, 96 was a-ok, but re-watching it it certainly didn't have as much of a spark as you would think considering it was WCW's big stand against the NWO, although points for the beginning of the Sting booking.  And I watched it without thinking of whatever happened the days, weeks, months afterwards, I just really god damn enjoyed it for what it was.  I'd say atleast a **** affair.  Besides the lack of blood, Some key arguments:

1. Benoits total intensity and ass-kicking he gave to the "nWo B-Team" throughout
2. Many cage bumps and cage-spots that I am surprised didn't draw some blood
3. It felt like it went by QUICK
4. Proper booking as Mongo, Konnan & Bagwell didn't really slow the pace down, everyone who entered turned it back into a fresh brawl
5. The Heels using Heel tactics instead of the usual NWO "we are just cooler than them, they don't matter" personality
6. Horsemen's out-heeling them to pop the crowd and Benoits spit and "bite me" to the mic

And finally, I remember as a Kid i didn't seen the Henning turn coming, and was equally heartbroken.  But they pulled it off well, right up until he punched Mongo, and I would totally have backed it all except…who the fuck booked the remaining crap angles after that?  a fucking 5-year old knows you leave Flair off tv till Starrcade where he returns and beats the living shit out of Henning for turning not only on him, but The Horsemen.  So like I said, on its own, I really friggin dug Wargames 97, and I can't be the only one.  Thoughts?

Thank you and keep up the good work

I'm not sure why it wasn't included in the Wargames retrospective on WWE 24/7 (oh wait, actually now I know, never mind…) but I remember it being pretty OK with some bitterness on my part possibly weighting it down.  I'd be open to checking it out again, although the Hennig turn did not take me by surprise in the least.  It was the stupidest thing WCW could have done with the match so I knew that was exactly what they'd do and I was right.  I honestly don't recall it being a great match, though, and although it was a long time ago I haven't heard many people bitching about my rating of it so it must be reasonable.  Meltzer gave it something like **1/2 so I'm not the only one who wasn't blown away by it.  
But hey, as always, I'm never one to argue against someone enjoying a match I didn't.  

a look at the numbers….

> Scott,
> Everyone is upset with Rock/Cena, cause they're sick of Super-Cena and don't want to see him win again and it's never going to end…. but I was thinking about this:
> – During the first ten WrestleManias, the biggest stars were Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, with Hogan clearly the bigger star. But he was done after WrestleMania IX and Savage done after Mania X.
> – The next ten WrestleManias, the biggest stars were Steve Austin and The Rock with Austin clearly the bigger star, and Austin was done after IX and the  Rock done after WrestleMania XX.
> – So WrestleManias 21 – 28 have featured John Cena and Randy Orton as the biggest stars at the time (maybe HHH instead of Orton, but I don't think so), with Cena the bigger star of the two. If the pattern holds, then this will be the last time we see Cena at a WrestleMania, and Orton will be done next year.
> I mean, probably not, but it's kind of comforting though if you really hate Cena.
> – Joe