Pulse Wrestling Answers #033

Doug Frye has something to add to the lamest finishing moves bit from #032

“Hey Iain,

I believe you forgot the worst finisher of all time: Sgt. Slaughter’s noogie grinder made Crush’s Coconut Crunch look absolutely credible.”

True, it looked rather lame. I’d imagine that if you went up to your grandmother and ground your knuckles into the side of her head that she would still get rather a lot of pain from the experience though. That would also raise the little matter of why you were hurting your grandmother. The best defence is to say that there were rumours of her being an un-American terrorist who was stealing oil to sell to Satan-worshipping Mexican black men who avoid paying tax and posted Harry Potter spoilers in the sky with jet fumes that racked up a carbon footprint so large that not even Gary could fill it. Pulse Wrestling Answers – giving you good reason to beat up elderly relatives since 2006. We would have been doing it sooner but we had to wait on enough evidence piling up.

Check out what happened when Sarge met Santino Marella’s parents:

I’d sell my grandmother’s soul if we could get a laugh track feature for this column.

Oh, and who does want some Harry Potter spoilers?

I nominate Dobby for Jazzy Jeff and Neville as Carlton.

Meanwhile, Homercutio attempts to explain the inexplicable and justify the STFU:

“Thanks for the feedback last week. I appreciate that you google obscure wrestling stuff I want to know about, just not enough to actually do myself. Anyway, in response to your lamest finishers:

“The STFU – okay, this one definitely leads the lameness league by virtue of us supposedly having to accept it as a serious submission hold capable of winning major title matches. If somebody would like to explain to me just how it is supposed to hurt at all, feel free.”

f*ck if I can be bothered to work out how it’s supposed to hurt, much less make more main eventers tap out than the Crossface, Ankle Lock, and Walls of Jericho combined, but I would love hear someone put it over on commentary by saying that if he applied the STF properly, he’d kill the guy; he’s just being a good guy by applying his merely painful, goofy looking version. It could be like the old Spider-Man comics, when Peter had to hold back and not smack Flash Thompson around, lest he squish his head. I bet JBL could make it sound half way convincing. I mean, this is a guy who puts Gregroy Helms over as a future main eventer.”

So the answer is, as ever, to just let JBL talk about it. That works for me. I mean, he could get on his soapbox and make outdated sports references about athletes from the ’50s and ’60s who put their grandmothers into the STF and it would clear the way for me to do it. There’s not a jury in the world who could argue against the logic of a white Republican male from Texas.

I’m still working my way through this chunky tome of old Spidey comics, which is proving far more capable of keeping my attention than this one was – probably on account of having nothing to do with the sodding Razorback. By the way, if you think it’s a little confusing trying to figure out wrestling title lineages you should take a gander at the various secondary and tertiary Spidey books that have come out. Marvel launched Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man in 1976, then renamed it as simply Spectacular Spider-Man in 1988, then added Spider-Man in 1991, then added Sensational Spider-Man in 1996, then cancelled both Sensational and Spectacular in 1998 and renamed Spider-Man as Peter Parker: Spider-Man, then cancelled that one in 2002, then brought back Spectacular Spider-Man in 2003, then added Marvel Knights Spider-Man in 2004, then replaced Spectacular with Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man in 2005, then renamed Marvel Knights as a new Sensational Spider-Man in 2006. And if you think I spend too much time thinking about this sort of thing, some bloke at university in Thailand wrote an actual paper about early Spidey comics. That might not be so bad until you consider that he was based in the Department of Computer Engineering and thus was clearly taking the piss. Geez, as long as you’re not marrying underage children they’ll let you get away with anything over there – even marrying underage children!

Here’s another overbearing article that takes comics way too seriously. This one tries to determine Spidey’s religious affiliation. No, really. Yes, I know. Yes, somebody out there took the time to sit down and methodically research, plan and compose a lengthy thesis – complete with scanned images of the source material – in order to find out the religious affiliation of a fictional character… one whose enduring popularity, core themes, super powers, supporting cast or central motivation has never had any substantial connections to any sort of religion. Well, except for Eddie Brock, but the Venom fanboys are a whole different kettle of fish. Rotten fish. After the kettle has boiled. And then someone uses the water to make you a cup of tea and you have to drink at least some of it to be polite. And there are still some bones in the concoction and one of them catches in your throat and you cough and the liquid splutters out of the cup and onto the sofa cushion and you shift over to try and conceal it with your legs but you know sooner or later you will have to get up and they will know it was you. So you force yourself to finish the drink to rack up some more kudos points. And you spend most of the following day sitting on the toilet. And Venom sucks. Raimi was right… almost.

The moral of the story is that the Comics Nexus will entertain and inform you about all comic book related matters without making you want to hurt the internet.

Also – something, something, wrestling, something, something, John Cena.

There, now we’re back on topic and ready to proceed.

WMLR1234, who was perhaps Christened by a senile android, has more on the Rock ‘n’ Juice non-connection:

“I dont think Rock n Juvi ever actually did come face to face on camera,but back during jericho’s undisputed reign or maybe just beforethat durin the invasion, i remember rocky said somethin to jericho along the lines of “I’ve been here winnin world titles since the days you were slummin in wcw losin matches to juventud guerrera!” funny, funny stuff. dont remember the actual circumstances, but he definitely threw his name out there n burned ’em pretty good.”

Yeah, I vaguely recall something like that. Guerrera has a rather inflated sense of self-worth to say the very least. The reason he started using ‘The Juice’ moniker and nicking so many of The Rock’s mannerisms and sayings was that he genuinely believed that he was as big in Mexico as The Rock was in the USA, which somehow meant he was allowed to copy him wholesale. It’s like me saying that just because some granny died in Wales that I can get away with putting mine in the Crossface. Or something. There was a brilliant backstage story about how Vince McMahon was talking to the locker room shortly after the Mexicools had debuted and he singled them out for showing such enthusiasm and eagerness in their work, holding it up as an example so that others would try to work harder in order to get more. He then said “Who knows, maybe one day I’ll make Juventud Guerrera the world champion”, which Juvi of course completely misread as Vince seeing him on the same level as the likes of Batista and Orton and all his old ego trips came upon him yet again. Oh, or the time when he suggested doing a mask vs mask feud between him and Mysterio, only for management to remind him that he didn’t wear a mask. Or when JBL called him a retard. Good times. Of course, the best thing about Juvi is still the picture of him and Cowboy Bob Orton travelling on the road together. WWE.com failing to turn that into a regular video feature is a bigger blown opportunity than the Invasion.

Juvi: The Juice is loose! Whooo!
Bob: Don’t pee in my car, son.
Juvi: Know you’re to shut your mouth and roll!
Bob: Eh?
Juvi: I am to layeth the smacketh downeth! Testify!
Bob: Testify? What, are you a Dudley now as well?
Juvi: It doesn’t matter if The Juice is a Dudley!!
Bob: You got that right…
Juvi: Can you smelalalala what pie The Juice is cooking?? Don’t jibber-jabberoni, fool! The Juice is going to take the people’s strudel and he’s gonna shine it up real nice and stick it straight into your candy ass!
Bob: Do you even know what that means?
Juvi: Bob, can we go to a bake sale?
Bob: Bake sale! Son, we’ve got a hunner-an-seventy miles ta go yet, we ain’t got time for bake sales!
Juvi: But Bob, I need to go to the bathroom!
Bob: You just went before we left!!
Juvi: I know, but the Juice is really getting loose now and Konnan says when you hold it in it makes you fart and if I fart the coke hidden up my ass is going to blow and if there was cake then it would soak it all up and hey check out that puppy – puppy? – I love pussy!! Pussy pie for the people!! Smelalalala!!
Bob: Are you high?
Bob: Son, if I give you back your action figures will you pipe down?
Juvi: Oooh, grace Unky Bob!
Bob: Alright, well, I think there’s a Rocky one in the glove compartment and maybe a Hogan or summat, so just–
Juvi: Bob?
Bob: Yeah?
Juvi: The Juice peed.
Bob: Aw, man…

The other sticking point from last time was trying to figure out which light-metal song sung loudly and in many notes by a hot chick was being ripped off for Christian Cage’s entrance music. Over to Ryan Ro for more:

“Yo Iain,

Going to destroy all my cred and assert, 100%, that Christian Cage’s
TNA theme is an instrumental knock-off of Evanesence whatever you
spell it “My Last Breath.” Hell, that’s the reason I got the album,
to have Christian’s theme music. lol

The Waterproof Blonde song doesn’t sound like it did for Christian in
the E. Probably a remix. I liked the intro to it. Man, Christian
always had music that fit him to a Tee. I miss the opera. “AT

Not to be outdone, kd002c4368, perhaps a relative of some barcode or other, makes a similar point… oh, wait, his name is actually Karl:

“I’m afraid i’m going to have to correct the correction…

Christian Cage’s music is a cover of “My Last Breath” by evanescence

“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJXmx6wiizQ” has one of the better
versions of it.

this is Karl, Over like rover!”

Well, here is that video for the song, set to the shiny visuals of Final Fantasy VII:

We have a weiner.

But far more entertaining than buxom wenches belting out as many different notes as possible…

El mundo…

El mundo…

El mundo…

El mundo es mio!

Oh, for the days of funky hats, overhead sunglasses and ten-second poses.

Anyway, let’s go do some of that Q&A thing this week…

First off, Dana Scully raises an interesting point:

“Scary thing… look at the champion roster in the WWE…

John Cena – probably the best wrestler of the champs
Gary – useless lump but BIG
John Morrison – good wrestler but doesn’t quite grasp how to put it all
together yet
Umaga – decent wrestler but fat and odd gimmick for a champ
MVP – great potential but, like Morrison, hasn’t put it all together yet
Cade/Murdoch – boring and FAT
Candice – great attitude but still patchy in the ring at best
Deuce/Domino – boring and CRAP
Hornswoggle – midget and CRAP

I think this may actually be the worst roster of champions across the board
we’ve *ever* had, even if you go back to when WWF, WCW and ECW were all
separate. The worst I can come up with from then would be on October 22nd

WWF Champ: Kevin Nash
IC Champ: Dean Douglas
Tag Champs: The Smokin’ Gunns
Women’s Champ: Bertha Faye
WCW Champ: Hulk Hogan
US Champ: Sting
TV Champ: DDP
Tag Champs: Harlem Heat
ECW Champ: The Sandman

The WCW undercard really saves that one…

I guess the money MUST be in the chase!”

I certainly can’t think of a time when there were a worse batch of champions around. Even in February 1997, when Sid held the WWF title and Rocky Maivia was the IC champ they still had the good luck to have Owen & Bulldog as the tag champs. Similarly, in April 2002, when Hogan got his token geriatric stint with the world belt and Billy & Chuck gayed-up the tag titles but good, the IC belt was held high by Eddie Guerrero. When WCW really made itself comfortable in the shitter and had their three main titles on David Arquette, Scott Steiner and the inexplicable team of Shane Douglas & Buff Bagwell in April 2000, plus Chris Candido and Terry Funk with the diddy belts, they were offset by a far better batch of champions in the WWF.

Still, despite having perhaps one of the worst spread of champions in memory, it would simply be a lie to say that the current WWE product is as offensive in its inanity as it was back in October 1995. Plus, Cena is undoubtedly a major draw in comparison to Nash – and even to the bland ’95 version of Hogan. Hell, so far this year he has had rather enjoyable encounters with Umaga, Michaels and Gary, helped either by the skill of his opponent or by some carefully constructed match scripting. Smackdown has, for the most part, been steadily enjoyable this year in spite of some bewildering setbacks. ECW is essentially little more than a modern spin on the European Title Division of old and so has little to prove other than just how apathetic bookers can get without dropping below the minimum ratings expected by throwaway wrestling shows. WWE has been making a tidy profit, has increased their average attendances at live events to their highest levels since the peak of Austin 3:16, does very good international business, has a sound business model for their video library and has managed to maintain their TV ratings. That could all change rather drastically depending on how negatively the fall-out from the Benoit murders affects them and how long it lasts for, yet that’s their only threat and the quality of their champions has pretty much bugger all effect on how successful the product is. Consider who the people most likely to take the titles next are… Orton seems set to adequately bore with the WWE title, despite having a terrible disciplinary record and little of note in his canon other than that Foley match… Batista is the only obvious candidate to prevent us from having a lengthy Gary reign and I’m not certain whether it would be an improvement or not… Punk, Burke or Cor Von would all fail to make ECW any more attractive than Morrison could… Umaga could either drop the IC belt to one of the potential main eventers lost in the upper card shuffle on Raw (Booker, ROLF, Lashley) or job it to one of the many midcard fixtures who have already held it (Jeff, Carlito, Regal) but it still wouldn’t be treated as anything more than an arbitrary prop… Matt Hardy could perhaps get his first singles title since 2003 by defeating Pelican, yet that would really just be trading like for like (though it would be the best switch of all the potential ones listed here)… Tag Titles The First could go to any given makeshift team or any particular permanent pairing of jobbers… Tag Titles The Second could do exactly the same… nobody bothers about the midgets… nobody pays attention to the women other than maybe when they’re in Playboy… All in all, it’s safe to say that the titles really have been rendered rather useless. It’s almost as though having 11 champions in one promotion is a few too many. I may have expressed such a sentiment once or twice in the past. Yet, if the titles are meaningless, how can there still be money in the chase? Perhaps the money is in nothing more than celebrity. No, I don’t mean Donald Trump – and certainly not Steve O. I mean in the celebrity of the main event wrestlers themselves. They successfully turned Batista into a star in 2004, bequeathing veritable DAVEness upon him, and he has been running on the fumes of that ever since, getting away with it because the fans can still sense his star power and sense that something worth a reaction may be about to unfold. The fans have an intangible sense of tradition and dedication to the WWE brand that acts as a base level beneath which the company shall dip only in exceptionally rare and stupid circumstances. Even when that might happen it is more likely to be a one-off than a prolonged ratings drought nowadays (see: December to Dismember). WWE succeeds in raising that level only when they have one or two marketable stars that the fans want to see either chasing the belt or holding the belt or defeating the big bad or battling against the odds or indeed any number of other things that, in fact, don’t have to involve a belt after all. For instance, as Triple H reportedly said at booking meetings recently, Cena does not need the belt to stay over. If he drops it to Orton next month then his merchandise sales are not going to plummet overnight, his heat is not going to instantly dwindle and his value to the company will not be eradicated without warning. The money for WWE nowadays is in both its own legacy and in any star power that it is capable of mustering.

Take a look at the other end of the spectrum. TNA has all of its belts, plus one of someone else’s, which in turn really belongs to somebody else altogether, on two very good wrestlers – soon to be one of them, apparently. Is that any better or worse than spreading umpteen titles around umpteen variously inadequate wrestlers? Trick question. It is worse, but only because the value of the TNA brand is non-existant, so bar the most dedicated gives a shit about the champions or the titles, and they have no real star power that could help to improve their situation. Hence the overall worth of the product has barely changed from when the titles were on Christian, Joe and AMW back in February 2006.

Hmm, ranty.

A video celebrating the eternal combination of ‘sexy’ and ‘Gillian Anderson’…

Mike Long reminds me that it has been almost 24 hours since I watched Clerks 2:

“Hey burnside, thought I’d toss out an opinion question
that makes fun of people in wrestling because in the
words of Randal Graves, “There’s nothing more
exhilirating than pointing out the shortcomings of
others” I’ve read many IWC columns where the writer
will constantly criticize bad wrestling, and
ecspecially bad promos. What do you think were some of
the funniest promos that were not intended to be
funny? I mean so pathetic, corny, badly delivered and
my favorite word, fruity sounding promos that make you
laugh the way watching a movie like “Batman & Robin”
would make you laugh. I have my own little list and
two are from who else?
1. John Cena- about 4-5 weeks into his run, talking
about Test. “He should be going around saying ‘Please
fix my teeth’Cena still sucks but geez was he terrible
2. Cena- before the show in G.R. I was at turned him
into what he is today, he turned heel a few weeks
before with, “Billy Kidman better get used to losing”
3. Mania X-7. Show was near perfect except for- “My
favorite band Limp Bizkit” You really could not have
found a nerdier kid on earth for that contest. Anytime
my brother & I hear something stupid or dorky sounding
we say its “almost as bad as Limp Bizkit kid”
I know its long but hey thats how you suffer through
terrible promos like these. long and hard.

There’s a great bad one from Ken Patera on Youtube that isn’t available for embedding but can be seen here. When your interviewer starts no-selling you during your promo, you know you’re in trouble. Matt Hardy’s feeble efforts upon his return to WWE in the summer of 2005 did him no favours at all. The bookers already had the ol’ favourite criticism “he’s okay but he can’t talk” on standby, they were already more than likely to bury him in order to send a message to the rest of the locker-room about whinging on the internet, there was no need to make it easier for them to criticise by speaking like a constipated farmer with a splinter in his tongue. Having failed to hit the ground running he was immediately running on the fumes of the audience’s permanent Hardy sympathies rather than being backed by anybody in management who could have had a change of heart about him. I also vaguely remember one in WCW in 1996 when The Giant got upset about Flair throwing a cup of coffee in his face that was rather cringeworthy… “the steaming hot coffee has made my blood boil” indeed.

Of course, the hands-down winner has to belong to WOYAH. At WrestleMania VI he reached new heights/lows by rambling on about how he and Hogan were the only two gods left and they were going to fight for the right to rule creation or, uh, something along those lines. It required tremendous skill/stupidity to cut an even less coherent promo than the one Hogan had just done, where he started prattling on about how he had to martyr WOYAH in order to secure him passage into the Hulk-approved afterlife or, uh, something along those lines, yet he managed it with aplomb. I couldn’t find a video clip of it unfortunately but here’s a transcript… humourous voices must be provided by readers themselves…

“Do YOU, Hoak Hogan, want your ideas, your beliefs, to live forever?”

Hoakamania? Right, then. Off to a good start, I see.

“FOR HOAK HOGAN – in this normal world, PHYSICALLY! NONE OF US can live forever.”

Only WOYAH can sound so proud to have discovered facts that the rest of the world already knows. I hear that when he found out about how people couldn’t fly he bought a church in order to spread the word. The scary thing is that I might not be joking.

“But the place that you have taken the Hoakamaniacs – the ideas and the beliefs that you have given them -can live through me, Hoak Hogan… THAT IS WHY I BREATHE!”

He breathes to sell yellow foam fingers and red bandanas? Perhaps a career at WWE Shopzone is not entirely out of the question.

“That is why the warriors have come! Hoak Hogan, there are ones that question WHERE YOU ARE TAKING THEM!”

The people invited to secret advance screenings of Suburban Commando, for one. But don’t worry – WOYAH is coming to do a script rewrite! Needs more destrucity!

“Do you no longer want to walk? OR STEP! Into that darkness… Hoak Hogan, the darkness I speak of is nothing to fear. It is about beliefs… of accepting any and all challenges at the cost of losing EVERYTHING, Hoak Hogan! YOU HAVE LIVED HOAK HOGAN FOR THE LAST FIVE WRESTLEMANIAS for this one belief. Now Hoak Hogan, I COME TO TAKE WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN further than you ever could!”

I could be wrong but I believe this could be construed as a “shoot, brah”. Bring forth the jobbing device!

“I came Hoak Hogan not to destroy the Hoakamaniacs and Hoakamania. I come Hoak Hogan to bring the warriors and Hoakamaniacs together as one.”

Yellow foam fingers and red bandanas and elaborate face paint and tassels!! Best. Stripper. Ever.

“As we Hoak Hogan accept ALL THE CHALLENGES! With all the strengths of the WOYAHs and the Hoakamaniacs together, Hoak Hogan, the colors of the Hoakamaniacs ARE COMING THROUGH THE PORES OF MY SKIN!”

Saying things without thinking about them first or genuinely hallucinating? Who can tell!

“And Hoak Hogan, when we meet Hoak Hogan, I WILL LOOK AT YOU!”

Pat Patterson had him well trained on the importance of sight in wrestling matches.

“And you will realize then that I have come to DO NO ONE NO HARM!”

Argh! Double negativity = excessive destrucity!

“But only Hoak Hogan to take what we both believe in, to places it SHALL NEVER HAVE BEEEEENNN!”

World Title matches against Rick Rude?

Additionally, on the Limp Bizkit front, there are fewer things that make the WWE seem embarassing than at WrestleMania XIX when the ring announcer introduced them as “the WWE’s favourite band in the entire world”. Then again, there were a lot of people who for some reason felt that way about them. Whether or not we’ll ever have an explanation for them having sold 50 million records is beyond me. Skrulls. Must have been the Skrulls.

Christian Cage with his own version of that WOYAH promo…

JS C enjoys joshi. Good for him.

“Dear Iain,

I’ve recently been on a joshi kick and was wondering about its time during the ’90’s, specifically its crossover attempts with WCW as I am an Akira Hokuto fan.

I wanted to ask: what was the whole deal with the women’s division’s booking? We all know that Madusa left WWF/E and threw their Ladies Title in the trash. Yet when she came back to WCW, you’d think they’d make her the champion via logic of acquisition. I do understand the whole “the money is in the chase” booking of Madusa losing to Akira Hokuto but what were the circumstances behind that “retirement” stipulation to their GAB match which of course Madusa lost (giving Mean Gene an oppotunity to be a total prick to her post-match). I’m thinking that it was WCW and their “Heels are Cool” booking overtaking logic once more but I was wondering about the whole situation since the division was discontinued after that match. During the retirement match, Lee Marshal (whom they always seemed to bring in for the women’s matches in the Tenay role) mentioned that Madusa was pursuing a boxing career that could have distract her from the match. No idea about that one contributing to the booking.

Also, what happened to the belt? I read that Hokuto just simply went back to Japan. Did they let her keep it?

That took a long time to ask but thanks for doing the pulse answers!”

You’re welcome.

The WCW Women’s Championship was first awarded at Starrcade ’96, when Akira Hokuto defeated Madusa in a tournament final. 4 people cared. They fought one another on and off for a few months until Madusa lost a ‘career vs title’ match to Hokuto at the Great American Bash ’97. In an amusing touch, Mean Gene tried to interview Madusa and rubbed it in that her career was over, so the crowd started a “leave her alone” chant. After that night Hokuto never wrestled in WCW again and the title was dropped without word. Madusa returned to WCW in 1999 as part of Randy Savage’s entourage, later competing in things like Evening Gown Matches and Bikini Contests that were all the North American audience really knew how to react to when it came to females in wrestling. Actually, to be more accurate, its all that they get a chance to react to. When talented female wrestlers do get an opportunity to show what they can do then they tend to draw the crowd into the match just as much as any vaguely competent midcard acts can – Survivor Series ’95, for example. The thing is that people like Vince McMahon have no inclination to waste their time booking these women so that they get to have carefully constructed feuds or a regular opportunity to mix it up in the ring, for all the same reasons that males in the midcard are prevented from getting the chance to really cut loose. Additionally, they know that if they just hire a bunch of stereotypically ‘hot’ women, send them out there in as little clothing as possible, have them roll around with one another and maybe do a naked spread or two then they can get a reaction from the crowd without having to think at all. And they really don’t like thinking.

The really bizarre thing was that they saw fit to expand a division that meant nothing by adding a WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Title in 1997. The tournament had all of 4 women in it. The final took place in a dark match. The title was never again mentioned by WCW but passed hands to three different members of the GAEA promotion in Japan. That was an all-women league that ran from 1995 to 2005 and for some reason had struck a deal with WCW in the mid ’90s to do some cross-promotion. It didn’t lead to anything more substantial than when AAA had their brief spell working with the WWF in 1997. I’m guessing that Eric Bischoff figured he had done rather well in getting a bunch of cruiserweights into the company to wow the fans and that he could do the same thing with women. Such thinking is commonplace in wrestling every so often. Hell, there were rumours in 1998 that Vince McMahon was thinking about bringing Madusa back in along with some Japanese women to try and kick-start their women’s division. Instead he just had Sable get nekkid. Of course, the only real reason behind Bischoff bringing Madusa in was that she held a WWF title at the time. Once she had dumped that one on live TV she had nothing else of note to offer. When she had her brief retirement it was in order to take a break from the wrestling scene and pursue her other interests, such as kick boxing. She then got married in 1998, to football player Ken Blackman. That was the same year Hokuto gave birth to her first son, while in 2002 she did retire for good… so far. I’d imagine that she could have very easily kept the WCW Women’s Title belt if she wanted to.

The conclusion to Madusa/Hokuto at Bash ’97… including Mr Okerlund…

Striker loves high spots:

“I’ve been watching the Ladder Match DVD and I thought of a few questions… great DVD set too, pick it up if you haven’t already.
-Okay, so we all know about the World Wildlife Fund’s lawsuit against the WWE, and now WWE has to edit out all WWF logos from their past releases, blah blah. Why is the classic WWF logo from the 80s-early 90s still allowed? It hasn’t been blurred on anything I’ve seen.
-What really was the first true ladder match? Jake Roberts vs. JYD on there dates back pretty far so I’d be inclined to say that… but you’re the answer man.
-First WWF ladder match (according to the DVD) was Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels for the IC title sometime in 1992. It was a good little match, and it got me thinking: when did these two actually start being hostile to one another? It’s so weird watching that match and thinking about what happened 5 years later.”

Yup, I’ve got the Ladder Match set at home. I was most looking forward to seeing Benoit/Jericho from the Rumble ’01, a favourite that I hadn’t seen in years, and TLC III. The anticipation has rather dwindled now, for obvious reasons. Still, it’s been good to see some of the other matches again. It’s not something that I can sit down and watch through in a few sittings though. The matches just blend into one after a while.

Anyway, the first known ladder match is generally agreed to have been between Dan Kroffat and Tor Kamata in Stampede Wrestling in 1972, with Kroffat taking credit for having invented the stipulation too. The Roberts/JYD match happened there in the same year so perhaps the Stampede video library acquired by WWE just didn’t contain any footage of the Kroffat/Kamata encounter, or perhaps they just wanted a match with more name value to include. Curiously, they seem to have largely left the gimmick in limbo for a good decade or so until Bret Hart and Bad News Allen mixed it up in one in 1983. Soon afterwards, Bret found himself in the WWF and told Vince all about this charming l’il match that involved slow climbing and fast tumbling, which led to the match with Shawn Michaels at a house show in July 1992. Nearly two whole years later, Vince was at long last convinced that they could run one on a televised show and so we got Michaels/Razor at WrestleMania X. The rest, as they say, is history.

Hostilities between Bret and Shawn only really started to become apparent two or three years after that ladder match took place, when the two main factions in the locker room were the Harts and the Clique. Bret had been established as the top dog, yet for various reasons the Clique were continually put into a position where they could try and take that spot. The Michaels/Hall rivalry rather overshadowed the Bret/Owen feud in 1994. By the end of that year Vince had decided everybody ought to love Diesel, which ended Bret’s second title run and locked him out of the WrestleMania XI main event as Nash/Michaels was booked instead. Throughout 1995 the Clique grew ever more influential, ironically in part because of the spectacle of the ladder match gimmick that Bret had helped bring into the company. As a whole they could certainly offer more than Bret’s supporting cast could, while their styles were more in keeping with the ‘new’ generation the company wanted to establish, so everything began to be geared towards Michaels’ first title win. By the time that went down, with a petulant Michaels telling Bret to “get the f*ck out of the ring” at the end of WrestleMania XII, Bret was very much the odd man out. It didn’t help that Michaels had become so arrogant that not even The Model Rick Martel could have stood the smell. For Stu Hart’s son, such unprofessional behaviour as the Clique breaking kayfabe in Madison Square Garden was not to be rewarded by sustained main event pushes. For a brash younger talent experiencing undeniable success for the first time in his career, the stick in the mud should be left down in the ground and not on top. When Bret returned from his sabbatical in late 1996 he had a shiny new contract, the value of which can only be described as ‘stonking’. Such a development did not sit well with Michaels, who was self-destructing faster than ever with ‘chemical supplements’ by this point, so by 1997 the shit really hit the fan. It had been building steadily for some time yet soon boiled over into the on-screen product too. Michaels dropped the world title rather than lose it to Bret at WrestleMania XIII. When they were eventually booked to face one another again, at King of the Ring ’97, Michaels chose to make some thinly-veiled comments about Bret’s supposed affair with Tammy Sytch. That triggered a genuine fight between them backstage, so the match was scrapped. Michaels tried to get a release to go to WCW and join Hall, Nash and Waltman again but Vince refused to let him go. However, by this point it was certain that he would have to make a choice between the two of them and… well, you may have heard how he decided already. Regardless of how you think Vince went about effecting that decision, it was the right one. DX simply had far more to offer the WWF than the Hart Foundation did. Similarly, Bret Hart had far more to offer WCW than Shawn Michaels did. The sad part was that it took them until 1999 to figure out what that could be and by then it was far too late to matter.

For the definitive account of the Montreal Screwjob (thus far), click here.

As for the logos, well, when the WWF and the Pandas reached this agreement in 1994 the WWF was allowed to continue with the standard block logo they had been using. However, they were not allowed to change it. The ‘scratch’ logo turned up in 1998, which coincided with an increased tendency to simply use the term ‘WWF’ instead of ‘World Wrestling Federation’ in merchandise and international ventures – again a violation of their agreement. When the shit hit the fan and the WWF was forced to become WWE instead, they were able to continue using the scratch logo for WWE but the scratch logo for the WWF had to be retconned out of existence – hence all the blurring. The old block logo, however, was still perfectly legal. It’s all a bit silly but then that’s copyright law for you.

Typing ‘killing grandmothers’ into Youtube brings this up first… weird…

And finally, Frank from Texas has a sentence:

“My question is where in the world is Eric S?”

Somewhere in the United States of America. Chicago, possibly, though I haven’t really been paying attention. Here’s a statement from Mr Szulczewski himself – “I’m not dead, if that’s what you’re hoping. I’m currently working two full-time jobs, which doesn’t leave me time to do much other than work and sleep. I’m contributing to the site as best I can right now, usually in Machine Gun Funk with book and CD reviews. As for when I’ll start regularly contributing again, probably around the beginning of
September or so, depending on various and sundry. Hell, I don’t even have time to do this, so I’ll just throw the column back to Iain…”

And for Eric’s Machine Gun Funk reviews, click here.

In honour of the esteemed Prozac Polack, I shall now counter one of his pet peeves and explain how the February PPV could prove important for WWE. The first step involves killing New Year’s Revolution, which is indeed superfluous. Rumour has it that WWE wants to lower itself to a maximum of 14 PPVs next year, so this one should be the first to go. Start as you mean to go on, an’ a’ tha’. Trying to squeeze money out of the fanbase right after they’ve had the expense of the holiday season, right before entering the busiest spell of the year for business and in the same sodding month as the incomparably appealing Royal Rumble is just madness. It would make far more sense to simply try and conjure up a big match for Raw to kick off the year, like the Cena/Federline bout from January ’07. So, we have our ‘big’ Raw and then build into the Rumble as per usual. Whoever wins the Rumble is of course the de facto #1 contender and can choose what title they would like to fight for at WrestleMania. However, they have a limited time frame of two or three weeks in which to make up their minds – on penalty of losing their claim. Basically, they have to let everyone know in enough time for No Way Out to get sorted. This is because whatever title they’re not fighting for still has to determine a #1 contender and shall do so with the use of the Elimination Chamber. It’s a simple yet effective selling point that has proven capable of carrying PPVs in the past, ECW notwithstanding (and that was for a myriad of other reasons), and could quite easily turn the Road to WrestleMania from a two-stop to a three-act structure.

Imagine if they had gone that way this year. The Undertaker wins the Rumble so Cena starts popping up on Smackdown to try and get one over on him just in case, which Batista thinks is terribly amusing until Taker reveals he wants the World Heavyweight Title. All their friction starts building like it did, yet Taker’s also a bit miffed at Cena. Ever the sneaky bugger, Teddy Long forces Taker and Batista to team up at No Way Out so we can find out how what they really think of one another. Their opponents would be Cena and none other than Bobby Lashley, for the simple reason of Teddy wanting to get some big names together for the fans. It would also allow for some easy overlap of Cena and Vince/Trump, which they’d no doubt appreciate. So, that’s the major tag team match that they attempted to pass off as the main event this year. On top of that, however, would be an Elimination Chamber to determine the #1 contender for the WWE Championship. Given who was around on Raw at the time, the participants would probably be Michaels, Edge, Orton, Umaga, Gary and, ooh, let’s say Jeff Hardy. The match would go a little something like this…

Gary is the last one out and nobody has been eliminated yet. He kills (n. literally) everybody with his marvellous moveset and eliminates Jeff. Right about then, Kane shows up and somehow makes his way into the Chamber, perhaps by simply hiding under the ring. They could even lump in the impressive visual of him setting off his pyro, with the twist of it going off in each of the four cells rather than just off the ringposts. Anyway, he and Gary have a humungous brawl to set up their Mania match. It heads to the back and so Gary is for all intents and purposes eliminated, yet now has a viable reason to challenge Cena later on and still looks like a major threat. That leaves us with Michaels going up against three heels. They all gang up on him to start with, yet Umaga gets into the swing of things a little too much and so Edge and Orton have to turn on him and eliminate him. The dissent between Edge and Orton flares up again too, perhaps after Edge tried to spear Umaga to get the pin only for Orton to run in and cut him off with an RKO, a.k.a. Fumbling Headlock Special. Whilst they bicker, Michaels sneaks up behind and eliminates Orton with a roll-up. Edge watches and does nothing to help. We’re left with Michaels/Edge, who recently had a big Street Fight on Raw, so they go for more of the same for another 10 minutes or so before Michaels eventually gets the win. If that’s not a more effective way of setting up Cena/Michaels, Batista/Undertaker, Kane/Gary and the Edge/Orton dynamic than what they attempted, not to mention a better way of getting people to part with their money, then… well, then that would simply be untrue, because it is a more effective way of doing it.

You’ll note that I am completely ignoring the European Championship Wrestling title. Yes.

It has been suggested in some quarters that this is what DC comics look like now… this is why reading Marvel comics is a good idea…

Right, then. This week’s column has been written in numerous fits and bursts as I’m staying at a friend’s house this weekend and typically manically in five-minute spells in between movie sessions, drinking sessions and sleeping sessions. Next weekend, I’m not just in a different country but in a different time zone, terrorising the Canuckleheads of Toronto, so don’t expect any column then. The week after, however, more questions shall be needed. Send some in or I’ll start killing grannies.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a busy schedule planned. It involves eating sushi and watching yellow people and big robots on the cinema screen.

In the meantime, feel free to read some, none or all of the following…

It’s another over-thought comic book column! Yay!

At the moment we’re down to #82 in our Top 100 feature. Suppose I should really get a move on with my seventy-something write-up, then.

Phil Clark looks at the perception of Japanese wrestling in the USA. Face it, nobody’s ever going to understand a culture that appreciates Scott Norton.

The Wrestling Blog has an entire second wave of Rock N Wrestling ready and raring to go. May I also add Eugene as Robbie Williams?

Scott Keith reviews old stuff!


And finally, Kyle David Paul reminds us all of Billy & Chuck and the gayness that could have been.


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