Wrestlemania’s 19 and 20

I was a little off my schedule the past week so I have just 2 Wrestlemania’s to discuss, 19 and 20. As always, there will be some spoilers.

Rarely is there a ‘bad’ Wrestlemania. There are some that were definitely less memorable than others, but usually the WWE puts everything they have into making it the best show of the year.

Wrestlemania 19 was a solid show, but despite the fact I have watched it more than once I never seem to remember the card much before I start watching the 19th installment of the longest running PPV. Overall, it is a good show, but the only match that really stands out in my memory is Stone Cold vs. The Rock. This was a top notch match where The Rock finally got a Wrestlemania victory after losing to Stone Cold in Wrestlemania main events the past two times they met. This was Stone Cold’s last Wrestlemania main event since his injuries forced him to retire from full time wrestling. It was a great way to go out and if you watch this match you can see that The Rock is truly appreciative of Austin doing the job for him and subtly thanks him after the final pinfall.

Another match of note is Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon in a street fight. Way better than it had any right to be and both men busted their asses to put on the best show possible. Several high spots, a lot of blood shed by both men, and classic Hogan moments make this an entertaining match with Hogan winning.

Chris Jericho going against Shawn Michaels was another major highlight. Seeing these two legendary and very athletically gifted performers going head to head was a match made in heaven. They have similar styles yet are very unique in their move sets. Both guys were clearly trying to be the match of the night and they did a great job doing so.

The final match of the night was Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesner. An incredible match that had a ton of buildup with a nice payoff of Lesnar winning the WWE title. With both men having legendary amateur wrestling careers seeing them go to head to head in the WWE was a dream match and it did not disappoint.

Wrestlemania 20 was an okay show. Not bad, but not great. The low light of the night was Goldberg’s final match in the WWE against Brock Lesnar. The fans in attendance had no interest in the match and both wrestlers did not gel at all. It was awkward and unfortunate for both men.

Highlights were Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (both all time great performers), the Cuiserweight Open for the WWE Cruiserweight Title (featuring Rey Misterio, Billy Kidman, Tajiri, and others), and the tag match between The Rock and Mick Foley vs. Ric Flair/Batista/Randy Orton in a 3 on 2 handicapped match.

Overall, a good show, but definitely flawed in the fact that there was just too much going on. At this time the WWE had an over abundance of talent and did not always seem to know what to do with them.

Still, this was a historic Wrestlemania being the 20th installment and still worth a few hours of your time.

10 more to go before this year’s Wrestlemania!

NWO

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The NWO was a phenomenon. The angle/wrestling stable started in 1996 when Scott Hall made a surprise appearance on WCW Monday Nitro. This was before the internet was a huge part of our everyday lives and most fans did not know that the artist formerly known as Razor Ramon had left the WWF and signed with WCW. Many fans, myself included, thought it was the long dreamt of cross promotion between WWF and WCW. World Championship Wrestling even played it that way. Scott Hall sold this ‘invasion’ angle very well and a couple of weeks later he was joined by the second ‘invader’ Kevin Nash, formerly known as Big Daddy Cool Diesel. Due to a lawsuit from the then WWF for false advertising, WCW made it clear both men were not a part of the rival wrestling organization and were working ‘independently’. Nash and Hall became known as The Outsiders and began dismantling the WCW roster. Even though the NWO was the key to launching the Monday Night Wars into the stratosphere and helping to make wrestling the biggest form of entertainment at the time, the cracks in the storyline could already be seen. Two men who made their careers in the WWF were beating the hell out of WCW staples which made the promotion look bad, but it did not seem like the higher ups in WCW realized this or perhaps did not care.

Overall, the angle was entertaining and got over with the fans big time. They started branding some of the PPV’s as NWO run and their t-shirts and other merchandise were big sellers. The NWO angle gave WCW the edge in the Monday Night Wars which they had for a little over a year and a half. Then things started getting convoluted. By late 1998 the NWO split into 2 rival factions (NWO and NWO Wolpac) with the majority of the WCW roster being allocated to either group. It seemed as though they forgot that the big draw was NWO trying to take over WCW, not actually succeeding and having approximately 30 members. The angle became too big for its britches and overwhelmed the creative team with all of the individual egos they had to appease. Slowly but surely the NWO fizzled out as did WCW as a whole. Without the NWO storyline it seemed as though WCW’s creative team had nothing left. In 2001 WCW went under and was sold to Vince McMahon and the WWF seceding the Monday Night War to the most well known wrestling promotion in the world.

In 2002 the WWF/E brought back the original three members of the NWO (Hall, Nash, and Hogan) mostly to show they were no match for the WWF/E roster. Besides Hogan having a very memorable match at WrestleMania that year against The Rock, the NWO was gone shortly after and despite a forgettable quasi-reunion in TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) in 2010 they became another memorable past wrestling angle.

The NWO storyline was initially highly entertaining and kept me interested, but over time it became very predictable which can, and will, doom any angle. If handled correctly, this group could have lasted a good 5 years, but instead lost its momentum in just 2-3. During all of this the WWF kept plugging away and introducing the world to now legends and household names like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Degeneration X, etc… Individuals and storylines that kept things fresh and interesting while WCW put all of it’s eggs in one basket called the NWO.

The New World Order was a great idea that was initially executed fairly well, but egos and weak creative teams could not maintain it.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1994 & 1995

Oh, WCW. You tried so hard during this time period, but with a handful of exceptions, you still were not at the WWF’s level. We are now at the point where Hulk Hogan left the WWF for WCW, but it initially did not work as well as Ted Turner thought it would. That will change in a few years, which I will get to in a couple of weeks, but at this date you could tell the crowd were not that excited to have Hogan in WCW. With that in mind, let’s quickly look at 1994:

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We start with Johnny B. Badd vs. The Honky Tonk Man for the Television Championship. Badd wins, but that is not what I remember the most. Johnny B. Badd was a stupid gimmick. Stupid, stupid, stupid. One of those gimmicks that makes me cringe if I am watching wrestling with a non fan. The thing that really surprised me was that he was an excellent worker. He was a fairly big guy who happened to be an excellent high flyer. A great athlete who got stuck in a ridiculous gimmick. When he went to the WWF as just plain Marc Mero it must have been somewhat of a relief for him to get away from this character.

Other matches of note:

– Dustin Rhodes vs. Arn Anderson which was an excellent match between two great workers with Rhodes getting a big win.

– Nasty Boys vs. Terry Funk and Bunkhouse Buck with the Nasty Boys getting the win in a short 8 minute match that still told a good story and was a lot of fun.

– The main event was Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair with the loser ‘retiring’. This match was a mixed bag. It took place in a steel cage which can provide a ton of excitement and with characters like Sensuous Sherri and Jimmy Hart outside of the ring getting involved from time to time and Mr. T as the referee/special enforcer there were some fun moments. The issue was Hogan who was clearly at a point in his career where people just did not care as much about him anymore, especially in WCW. Ric Flair was way over as always, even though he was clearly the heel in this match, and Ric really seemed to carry the match. Hogan won which was not unexpected, but you could clearly see the signs that he was not as ‘over’ in the WCW as he was during his long WWF run.

Now to Halloween Havoc 1995…oy…we will start with the good.

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Johnny B. Badd over Diamond Dallas Page – they put on a great match with a lot of good moments and DDP started showing that he was a future main event player.

Kurasawa vs. Road Warrior Hawk – very short match, but still fun with Kurasawa getting the dirty win with his feet on the ropes.

Now the bad…

Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant in a monster truck battle on the top of the arena – good grief…just stupid, stupid, stupid. Hogan won and afterwards ‘accidentally’ pushed The Giant off the top of the arena into the nearby river. Oy…

Main event was Hogan vs. The Giant again for the WCW World Title – “Surprisingly” The Giant showed up dry and unfazed. It was slow and plodding and ended with Jimmy Hart turning on Hogan. The “best” part though is when the Yeti arrived. Why he was referred to as The Yeti is beyond me since he was dressed as a mummy, but just the whole gimmick was stupid, stupid, stupid. Professional Wrestling has always had over-the-top characters, but this one was too ridiculous for even wrestling.

Next week I will discuss only the 1996 edition since this was actually a darn good PPV with some newer faces and the luchadores who started to have an impact in WCW.