Posts Tagged ‘January 4 1999’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 3

September 1, 2018

WILPW

9 – Favorite Entrance

It might be cheesy and it might sound a little like a cop out but I have to choose the entrance for “Dashing” Cody Rhodes from years ago. Until he was Dashing, Cody had not shown much of the spark he would show later (and currently). He was like a Create A Wrestler in one of WWE’s video games but everything set on “default”. As he evolved, he started to develop more character and sure the character has been done before and since. He was the arrogant pretty boy who went berzerk when somebody so much as brushed up against his face. It eventually led to one of his best gimmicks in the WWE. First, the song “Smoke and Mirrors” was about how he was the real deal and his opponents were nothing but an illusion. The song is catchy as heck but it also kind of annoyed me at the time because it was just infused with his as yet undeserved arrogance. However, the reason why this entrance leaped to mind as my favorite entrance is that it used the screens at the top of the ramp in ways that few other performers have been able to do. He pauses next to one of the lower panels and a mirror appears and his face is projected live to the crowd as he admires himself. The crowd hated him for it (but a lot of us secretly loved it). There have been so many opportunities to use those lower panels to greater effect but they constantly pass it up. I would love to have that explained to me.

Runner-up: It has to be The Undertaker. Granted, this is only probably the runner-up only because I have been exposed to him for so long and the edge has worn off a bit. However, when that gong hits and he walks out slow and methodical, I still get chills. His music has always been a perfect reflection of his character. He also consistently had the best special effects for his entrances because he is a legend. It is hard to pick just which entrance of his is my favorite. I have a special place in my heart for his entrance at the 1998 King of the Ring. (Which, I could not find on YouTube unfortunately but the one above is from the same time period.)

10 – Favorite Entrance Music

Again, as a matter of personal preference, I am going to pick probably an unpopular choice. I pick Dolph Ziggler’s “Here to Show the World” entrance music. I was recently watching a pay per view from eight years ago and Dolph had not settled on his current music. However, eventually, he picked the current song by Downstait (the same band that did the Miz’ theme). The music is so high energy and, whether he is a babyface or a heel, it always fits his particular brand of arrogance. I have been listening to it lately to fire myself up for the gym and tabletop sessions and I have absolutely fallen in love with the lyrics. “If you ever doubted me, you don’t have a clue.” “Go check the scores again, I come out a perfect 10” And then there is the messy breakdown two-thirds in. It may sound ridiculous but I never seem to get tired of this song. It does not hurt that I have often been on the Dolph Ziggler bandwagon as he is a great worker and a great character. Currently, the WWE is adding a record scratch sound to the beginning of it and each time I hear it I cannot decide if I love it or hate it but it definitely is getting a reaction from me.

Runner-up: I have to go with Shawn Michaels theme “Sexy Boy”. This was a song that at one point I listened to on loop but with headphones on. I did not want anybody at school or my family to know how much I liked a song called “Sexy Boy”. However, now that I have grown and evolved a bit, I will freely admit that I still love this song. While the lyrics are not all that clever, they tell the exact story that the Heartbreak Kid always wanted to tell since he first became a singles star. It was absolutely an excellent choice to have Shawn himself sing the song. It is definitely touched off by an awesome beat and dynamite cheesy guitar riffs (and screaming girl sounds). Unfortunately, it was things like these that drove the homophobic crowds of 1996 – 1998 crazy.

11 – Favorite Match of All Time

Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Booker T vs. Kane
Ellimination Chamber match at Survivor Series 2002.

I am a big fan of elimination-style matches mostly because it allows performers to get plenty of finishers in without ending the match right away. The tension of a match is seeing the drama and the damage unfold while waiting to see what the finish is going to be. In the Elimination Chamber match, there are five finishes so it’s a bit like Christmas for me. For those that do not know, the rules of the match are this: Two people start in the ring, surrounded by a metal cage. Built into that cage are four pods into which four other competitors go in. Periodically, those pods are opened and a new person enters the match. If somebody gets pinned or submits, they are eliminated from the match. This keeps going until there is only one person left. Anyway, this match blew my mind when it happened. The match just flows so well. The match has both Shawn Michaels and Triple H who had such great chemistry whether they were teaming up or fighting each other. Jericho always made anybody look good. Kane may have never been the greatest wrestler but he definitely always knew how to tell a story. This is probably my favorite Booker T match of all time. Finally, Rob Van Dam provides the crazy, extreme moments which are just great seasoning on an already great meal. There are so many false finishes and fun story elements that I was on the edge of my seat until the end.

Runner-up:

Mankind vs. the Rock
Raw – January 4, 1999

I have posted about this match before as it was filmed on my birthday the year before and it is a very famous match. As I have written about on multiple occasions, I am a big Mick Foley fan. At this point in his career, the character of Mankind had kind of morphed into a tough but lovable muppet. Meanwhile, the Rock was at the height of his powers as an arrogant but entertaining heel. The story of the match was that The Rock and the McMahon family had screwed Mankind out of winning his first heavyweight title. So Mankind forced The Rock into an impromptu title match in the main event of Monday Night Raw. The match was no technical masterpiece but it was definitely enjoyable to watch. First, the chemistry between Foley and The Rock was always hard to beat. Second, at ringside was D-Generation X 2.0 and The Corporation, two of the most fun factions of that time period. Also, there’s probably the biggest cheer that Steve Austin ever got in his career. It has a feel of something that should not have happened but it does and it felt so good.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: January 4 1999

June 25, 2016

WILPW

I want to talk about two events that are so important to me as part of the sports entertainment world. They have been talked about elsewhere but I wanted to put them on the record here because I am fascinated by them and one of them is burned into my memory forever. On January 4, 1999, the Monday Night Wars were going strong between the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. The WWF was now deep into the Attitude Era while WCW was in the middle of their New World Order Era. As I’ve stated before, I was a huge fan of the WWF and rarely watched WCW even if either was preempted. It was the days of brand loyalty before the existence of DVR or internet streaming. Still, I was kind of aware of what was going on over there.

The Attitude Era of the World Wrestling Federation was when I became a big fan of professional wrestling. I had been a fairly big fan during the mid-nineties but I mainly remember watching over at a friend’s house on Saturday mornings. When Raw premiered my interest heightened but I was still a bit young at age eleven to stay up and watch the show. When I got to middle school and high school, sports entertainment had become
extremely popular and fewer people sneered at it. It was during this period that I would stay up on Monday to make sure I watched Raw all the way through. It was worth it to be a little sleepier on Tuesday mornings in order to watch the twists and turns every Monday night.

Mick Foley had been one of my favorites since he popped up on my radar when he debuted on Raw. I heard about Mankind second hand but as I watched his career, I definitely got more and more interested. I was unaware of his earlier career but I knew how devoted he was when he was thrown twice off of the Hell in a Cell structure. Later that year, his character started to become more comedic and I loved him even more. Somehow it was easier to see the amount of thought he put into the character and I loved his feud with The Rock and the McMahons. In a lot of ways it complemented the story they were telling with Stone Cold and told it in a more humorous way.

Prior to the night in question, Mick Foley (as Mankind) had fought hard to face The Rock for the title and had knocked his opponent out. The title was not awarded to him because The Rock had never submitted and had simply passed out. On the January 4, Mankind used a real wrestling move to incapacitate Shane McMahon and ransomed the younger McMahon so that Vince would let Mankind have a rematch. They had their impromptu rematch and all Hell broke loose. While Rock and Mankind clashed in the ring, Degeneration X and The Corporation fought outside of it. The match was back and forth with The Rock doing everything in his power to keep his title belt and Foley refusing to give up. Finally, with an assist from Stone Cold, Mick Foley covered The Rock for the win. I had been laying on my belly as I watched by I jumped to my feet in quiet celebration since everybody else was asleep.

Meanwhile, things on WCW Nitro were busy failing completely as the company did its best impression of the RMS Titanic. I have since read about and watched some of the footage from this era so I am more aware of what was going on. The New World Order was initially a fresh idea but it had become diluted and WCW was having trouble getting anything to catch fire. Hogan, Nash and their cronies put out progressively worse main events and killed off any promising talent as fast as it could be generated. While the ship sank, the cruiserweight division were the musicians playing on the deck and kept their ratings from becoming a mass exodus. One of their remaining draws was Bill Goldberg who was a decent performer who the crowd loved because he looked unstoppable and had a huge win streak. Of course, WCW’s job near the end was to make chicken shit out of chicken salad.

Hulk Hogan had seen the writing on the wall which said “Fans Are Sick of You” and left active duty. Eventually, he went on live television and, with a straight face, announced that he was running for President of the United States. This was a much more laughable prospect than it is today but Hogan had to get his spotlight from somewhere. Meanwhile, Kevin Nash (formerly Diesel) held the heavyweight title and destroyed all challengers by hook or by crook. Enter Goldberg who showed up as a legitimate and believable threat to Nash’s title reign. The match was set for January 4 and I am sure that a buzz went through the WCW fandom that perhaps a new era was on its way.

On January 4, Goldberg made it to the arena but there was a problem. A ring valet by the name of Miss Elizabeth made an accusation against Goldberg. She said that Goldberg had made inappropriate advances toward her and Goldberg was arrested for “aggravated stalking”. Keep in mind that this was the nineties so having Goldberg get fake arrested by fake cops on a fake almost rape charge was not viewed as politically incorrect. It did not stop it from being a bad storyline even back then. So would Goldberg be able to beat the charges and make it back in time for his title match? Well, Elizabeth changed her story and then eventually admitted she made the whole thing up. Somehow, Goldberg still did not make it back to the arena in time. I mean, an establishing shot showed that the police station was across the street but whatever.

Hulk Hogan, who had come to Nitro to talk about his totally for serious campaign, came out to the ring and accused Nash of orchestrating the whole thing. Nash came out and refuted the claim with extreme indignance. Hogan pushed the issue and somehow Nash agreed to a match for the title to settle the issue and prove something or other. The match began and after a moment, Hogan poked Nash in the chest and Nash sold it like he had been shot with a cannon. Hogan pinned Nash easily and then the two of them got up and celebrated together revealing that they had pulled the wool over our eyes the whole time. Hogan was back and was once again king of the mountain, solving nothing from a business or creative standpoint.

These two events aired the same night and they are like night and day to me. Foley winning his first Heavyweight Championship was an award for his long service in the business and his loyalty to the WWF and the fans. It was an extremely positive moment and not only because a babyface won a championship. Hogan winning his umpteenth title belt was more of the same stuff we had seen before. It was a negative moment because fans had been cheated out of a good, bad or mediocre title match in favor for stupid shenanigans. For better or worse, both companies have the word “Wrestling” in their name and that should be the first order of business. I have not even mentioned that the Raw that night was pre-recorded and WCW announcer Tony Schiavone spoiled the Foley moment for WCW viewers. He sarcastically said that it “should put butts in seats” and it ended up causing a huge amount of viewers to switch over to Raw to watch Foley win.

Why is this night personal to me? Well, I mentioned that Monday Night Raw was pre-recorded. It actually took place on my birthday December 29th. The memory of a guy who would become my hero achieving his dream on my birthday is a strong and positive thing for me. Not only that but there were a lot of great performers attached to that moment who worked together to make everything work. It was chaotic, it was messy but it ended up beautiful. On the other side of things, WCW was taking shots at their former employee (Foley) while putting out some of the worst written and performed non-wrestling in the history of the business. The juxtaposition of the events has burned them both into my brain and yet it is the Finger Poke of Doom that has become industry shorthand. Hell, I am wearing a Finger Poke of Doom t-shirt right now. It just shows how interesting Pro-Wrestling is and why I love it.


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