Welcome, everyone, to the first-ever edition of Gojira’s Stomping Ground. I am your lovable host, Mike Gojira, and with this being my first official column on Pulse Wrestling I feel it’s necessary to introduce myself (or reintroduce as the case may be).
My first foray into writing a wrestling column occurred in 1998 on a burgeoning website that I won’t mention here since there’d be no sense for you to check it out when I want your eyes to remain fixed on Pulse. Suffice to say, it was a one-off and I wasn’t a fan of how it turned out. I reserved my wrestling thoughts for e-mails with friends and long chats while watching the Monday Night Wars with other fans.
That is, until Glazer offered me a chance to start anew. For that I am eternally grateful.
Enough about my backstory; perhaps my past should remain shrouded in mystery for the foreseeable future. I’m not going to talk down to anyone here; that’s not my style. Like any old fan, I want to share my thoughts with you guys and gals and see what responses I get. I am a man of conversation, after all, so healthy debates are sure to keep this column going for a long time.
For my first official column, I wanted to give you guys an opportunity to participate. We are all marks at heart, despite our general disdain for that term as it brings to mind the idea that we are fools to be taken in by the WWE Machine. As much as we sigh at stupid storylines like the Hornswoggle McMahon debacle or the Al Wilson diarrhea we were forced to endure, there are general moments where we go back to our childhood wrestling days and cheer or boo legitimately when something happens that tugs at our heartstrings. What follows are my Top Ten Genuine Mark-Out Moments and I would love to hear your favorite moments in the comments below.
Mike Gojira’s Top Ten Mark-Out Moments
10. The Drama Surrounding the Main Event of Wrestlemania 13
Back in early 1997, as I recall, Shawn Michaels “lost his smile.” As a result, the title was up for grabs between Sycho Sid and Bret Hart, a match which Sid won. To add to the tension, Stone Cold Steve Austin had won the Royal Rumble through dubious means (he had actually been eliminated but the refs didn’t see it) and the Undertaker was consistently screwed out of his own title opportunity. Keep in mind that Taker had not been WWE Champion since he took the belt from Hogan and was at the top of his game as the dawn of the Attitude Era arrived. Sid was set to face the Undertaker at Wrestlemania and Austin was continuing his rivalry with Bret Hart. Obviously, both men wanted a shot at the gold and did everything they could to secure victory for their hated rivals. It was surreal that Austin would aid Bret and Taker would assist Sid, but this was a time when the belt actually meant something. In the end, Sycho Sid was victorious and the Undertaker went on to win his second WWE Championship at Wrestlemania, while Austin went on to have an amazing “I Quit” match with Hart which arguably made Austin’s career.
9. Chris Jericho Wins the WWE Championship on Raw, Then Triple H Steals It Back
Back when EVERYONE hated Triple H for his alleged power plays, nothing infuriated me more than to see his giant schnozz as WWE Champion. Chris Jericho was the plucky underdog at this point so it was a real pleasure to watch him open Raw on April 17, 2000, getting Triple H to agree to a title match right then and there. Akin to famous moments in television history, I remember exactly where I was when Jericho won the match thanks to referee Earl Hebner’s fast count: my friend’s basement, where we jumped for joy the moment Y2J was awarded the belt. But, in typical Triple H fashion, the belt was relinquished to the Game after he threatened Hebner and the match was stricken from the record that same night.
8. Chris Jericho Arrives in WWE
By now you must realize that I am a huge Chris Jericho mark, and back when the Internet was still in its infancy I marked hard for him. His mic skills are among the best in the business (which is why CM Punk appeals to me) and he can put on technical classics to make anyone look competent in the ring. It should come as no surprise that I marked the F out for Y2J when he debuted on Raw in the summer of 1999, cutting a promo on (of all people) The Rock.
7. Hulk Hogan vs The Rock: Wrestlemania X8
Time to break up the Chris Irvine monotony with a match that no one expected to truly deliver in the ring. Hogan was back in the WWE, this time as Hollywood Hogan with the broken down remnants of the nWo. He and The Great One were set to go one-on-one…and the crowd ate it up even before the first punch was thrown. The look the two superstars gave each other as they surveyed the dueling chants of the audience gave me goosebumps. It was an eerie calm before the storm, and although the match was not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, it delivered on an emotional level that few matches can compare to (any retirement involving HBK not withstanding). Hell, it turned Hogan face and gave him another run with the WWE Championship!
6. Chris Jericho Wins the Championship Scramble
Yup, another Y2J reference. He’s got one more on this list, so sit tight. During Unforgiven 2008, while feuding with Shawn Michaels in what I would argue represented Jericho’s career renaissance, Y2J entered the Championship Scramble as a replacement for then-champ CM Punk, who was removed from the match by Legacy. (Speaking of which, why didn’t Punk ever get his rematch, and why was the belt taken from him in this manner anyway?) This was the first time Jericho won the World Heavyweight Championship, but more importantly it was his first world title since he had become the first Undisputed Champion years earlier. Again, huge mark-out moment for me.
5. Chris Benoit Wins the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XX
For many, this is an uncomfortable situation to discuss. My heart was torn in two when it was revealed that Benoit had murdered his wife, child, and himself in the course of one day. I was a huge Benoit fan, so it was difficult to come to terms with what went down. As much of a monster and pariah his name has come to symbolize, Benoit the wrestler was a great mat tactician and his crowning achievement was winning the big one at Wrestlemania, followed by a legitimate heart-felt moment in the ring with an equally ecstatic Eddie Guerrero.
4. Undertaker vs Mankind: The Infamous Hell in a Cell
Yeah, THAT match. Talking about it has been done to death, and while the match itself wasn’t anything to write home about, it was what went down BEFORE the match even began that made everyone go “Holy shit! Did you see that?!” The iconic image of Foley going off the top of the cell through the announce table is an image I’ll never get out of my head. Oh, and Foley going THROUGH the cage ceiling. AND the shot of him smiling with his tooth lodged in his nose.
3. Eddie Guerrero Goes All The Way at No Way Out
The year was 2004. One month before Wrestlemania, Eddie Guerrero was set to face the unstoppable monster known as Brock Lesnar. Honestly, I was ready to write Eddie off as a guy who would always come just shy of becoming WWE Champion, but I had a small hope that the WWE would pull the trigger. Thanks to Goldberg and a Frog Splash, Eddie’s dream came true and it seemed like his demons were truly behind him. Unfortunately they managed to catch up to him more than a year later, but at the time it was a shocking moment that seemed to be too good to be true.
2. Chris Jericho: Undisputed WWE Champion
The Invasion had ended. But what to do about the two World Championships that survived? A tournament was held in December of 2001 at Vengeance to determine the first-ever Undisputed Champion. The Rock currently held the WCW Championship; Stone Cold was carrying the WWE Championship. Amidst all of this was a man by the name of Chris Jericho, a man who despite his charisma and ability seemed destined for the upper midcard. Imagine my surprise when he beat both Rock AND Austin in the same night to become the Undisputed WWE Champion! To say that I was shocked would be an understatement, as I never in my wildest dreams believed that Creative would pull the trigger on this one. Of course, his title reign would be short-lived and uninteresting thanks to my “favorite” Triple H. After this less-than-stellar feud (which saw Jericho buried by Triple H) the Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah would be summarily shunted back down the card.
1. The Dream Match: Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XXV
Before you start to argue that WM XXVI was a better match, let me give you some back-story. My best friend is a huge mark for HBK and I was always a mega fan of the Deadman. I was always upset that Michaels constantly one-upped Taker in their 1997-1998 feud because my friend would never let me live it down. When it was announced that Taker would face HBK at Mania, I was beaming because I knew that Taker’s streak would never end, but the possibility was still there and that made it all the more intriguing. However, what made this truly special was that myself, my best friend, and another great pal of mine made the trip to Texas to watch Mania LIVE IN PERSON. It was an amazing atmosphere and just being a part of that moment made it that much more special. All of these reasons together helped propel this match to the top of my all-time favorites list, and nothing will ever make me mark-out harder than that.
So those are my Top Ten Mark-Out Moments. I’m sure I’ll get plenty of remarks such as the following gems:
“You have a man crush on Taker and Y2J.”
“Where are your WCW/ECW/ROH/TNA moments?”
“Such and such match sucked.”
To that I say: I welcome such comments. I am open to any criticism of any kind, and I would actually like to see your favorite Mark-Out Moments from years past. I’ll post as many as I can in my next column, which runs every Friday. Big shout out to Pulse Glazer and Matthew Michaels for setting me up with my column. Now go read some of the other greats on this site, like Andrew Wheeler, Chris Biscuitti, Steven Gepp, and a cast of thousands. Once I get the hang of this writing format, I’ll post real links to their stuff.
Until next time, so long and thanks for all the fish.
Tags: Bret Hart, Brock Lesnar, cm punk, Eddie Guerrero, Hell in a Cell, Hulk Hogan, jericho, Mick Foley, No Way Out, nWo, PPV, shawn michaels, sid, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, triple h, undertaker, unforgiven, World Heavyweight Championship, wrestlemania, WWE, WWE Monday Night Raw