Posts Tagged ‘Shane McMahon’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Authority Figures

December 2, 2017

WILPW

One way or another, all of us have a boss at some point in our life. We get up, we go to work and we do our job under their watchful eye. It is their job to troubleshoot problems, write the checks, and make sure we are doing our job right. Usually we only really have the hands-on approach from the big bosses when everything has gone to hell or there is a staff meeting of some sort. Even people whose first job was starting their own business has had to face authority somewhere in their life. Whether it is your parents, teachers, police, or judges, somebody laid down the law and made sure you knew that you just cannot do whatever you want. Whether the authority figure is evil or good, they help move the plot along and give characters a larger world to react to.

The Corporation/The Authority – World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment

Sorry WWE-haters but I could not get through this post without mentioning these two (technically one) groups. The Corporation was established during the Attitude Era when Vince McMahon, announcer, became Vince McMahon, the evil boss who screwed Brett Hart. As the owner of the company, Vince and his family could stack the deck in their favor. They blatantly screwed superstars who did not fall in line and handpicked loyal superstars to support by bending or even re-writing the rules. They feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Union, Degeneration X and many more. Often, instead of defeating some of their enemies, they just bought them and brought them into the fold. Vince fully embodied the overbearing, completely unfair boss while his kids portrayed the entitled rich kids that everybody hates.

In sort of a revival, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H dusted off the faction and re-dubbed it The Authority, further driving home that they were in charge. Wielding absolute power, they did everything in their power to bring those who opposed them under their heel. At times they feuded with CM Punk, John Cena, The Shield, Dolph Ziggler, and many more. Playing off their real-life positions in the hierarchy of the company, they blurred reality by becoming the focus of the fans’ hate. Their storyline was long and encompassed the whole family and the only way to fight back was to break the rules or find some way to make the rules work in the rebels’ favor.

Dario Cueto – Lucha Underground

Dario Cueto is a different animal entirely and “animal” might be an appropriate word. He showed up at AAA’s Triplemania and offered a briefcase of money to anybody who wanted to come compete for it. He seemed like any other shady promoter. No corporate backing, no board of directors. Cueto is the ultimate authority in his temple which seems to be a front for both a criminal organization and some sort of supernatural entity. The point is, whatever Cueto says goes and there is absolutely no wiggle room for anybody who opposes him. However, faces/tecnicos have been able to exploit his love of violence to get their way but Cueto seeks to screw them at every opportunity. He is heavily in support of anybody he can hold under his thumb, often pushing his own contract players over all challengers. There was a time when I thought that Cueto might actually be The Devil and I still am not completely convinced I am wrong. The El Rey Network made the interesting decision to grab an actor who was completely uninvolved in pro-wrestling and make him one of the faces of their organization. He is not an ex-promoter, a family member of the owner, or an ex-performer. They literally cast his part as if he was in a movie and it really paid off. While both methods of introducing a character like this can work, this proved that getting the best pure actor can pay huge dividends.

Jim Cornette – Ring of Honor

If you are trying to elevate your independent, you can do a lot worse than hiring Jim Cornette to be your onscreen authority figure. He has a distinctive voice and a high charisma partially due to the southern charm he exudes. He also has a big loud mouth and I am sure even he would agree with me on that point. In the real world, Cornette may be sometimes ridiculously out of touch with the product. He still has a great mind for the business and, if I had a wrestling company, I would want him on hand to lend at least some of his wisdom. In front of the camera, he was exactly the shot in the arm that Ring of Honor needed as they got their deal with Sinclair Broadcasting. Cornette was there to shout down the bullies and protect the babyfaces in a direct contrast with who he was as a manager. What really makes me think back with fondness on Corny’s time as the boss on Ring of Honor TV is his feud with Kevin Steen (who is now Kevin Owens). In real life, Cornette hates Kevin Steen and Kevin seems to hate him right back. That real-life hate really translated on screen and was eventually the catalyst for one of my favorite ROH storylines that I have seen (The SCUM storyline). Cornette was the babyface on screen but was kind of the bad guy backstage but it all worked out in the end.

William Regal – NXT

Regal is the on-air commissioner of NXT. On paper, NXT is the latest developmental territory but it has become so much more. It is a place where new blood mixes with seasoned professionals and stars are given freedom to create fun new characters. Because of all this new energy, I feel like they have always liked to infuse at least a touch of the old school to add to its mythology. The trainers down there are older independent, WWE, and WCW performers. Adding Regal was a no-brainer. The NXT can be a wild and lawless place sometimes. In kayfabe, Regal has a long history with the company since events in WCW and WWE are both canon. He has an air of gravitas as the old hand at the wheel, with the experience to talk to the stars of today. In addition, Regal was almost always a heel and was a well-known rule-breaker who was also legitimately tough. It makes sense to have a reformed bad guy as the boss in your organization. He sees everything and knows a lot of the ways heels will try to wiggle out of a fair fight. He really portrays seemingly genuine amusement when he is able to put one over a weaselly heel. He is also great at displaying shadowy, righteous anger when things get out of hand and he has to put his foot down. He is the old sheriff who used to be a bank robber, proud of his wicked past but determined to hold the line.

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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.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: How Are They Not Dead?

August 1, 2014

WILPW

So, I talk about sports entertainment to anybody who will listen to me all the time to the point where I worry I’m overselling the product to people who don’t care and annoying them.   I can literally work the history of sports entertainment into any conversation since its long history provides lots of characters, storylines and such to draw from.  It was partly the fear of negative social backlash that I started to put this in my blog.  The other half, of course, is that I love it so much.   It is a great excuse to comb through old footage on youtube or try to remember trivia from decades of history.

Recently I was assaulting my brother with one of my rambling diatribes about the WWE product.  I was probably outlining Daniel Bryan’s rise to power or the Shield’s break up or something.  He turned to me and asked something that I have heard now and then.  “Did you ever think about becoming a wrestler?”  My knee jerk reaction is that this sounds like “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” but then I realize my brother is serious.  I do enjoy the product so much that it is not such a logical leap for me to be in the business.  My simple answer?  “Are you kidding?  I don’t want to get hurt.”

You see, professional wrestling is a “fake” sport.  The results of each match are planned ahead of time and the matches are choreographed ahead of time, during the match or often a mixture of the two.  However, as most fans will tell you, the physical contact can be very real and anything but fake.  Sure, when a wrestler is body slammed they are protected by their opponent but at the same time they are being picked up and slammed on the mat.  Not only that but accidents happen and people get seriously injured.  It’s a high risk profession and people are often forced to retire from it early.

Then there’s the moments where the wrestlers and promoters decide that they are going to take that risk and turn it up to eleven.  This is done to sell tickets and stamp memories into the audiences brains that they will take away with them for a long time.  “Whoa, how could you miss that chair shot last night on the payperview?  You have to order the replay, dude.”  These moments can be scary within the storyline and also when you think of these people as performers.  That’s why I wanted to salute some of those moments that have us cringing and shaking our heads with wonder and respect.

(Warning: Some might find this episode particularly graphic)

The Undertaker Throws Mankind Off the Hell in a Cell Cage

This one is an obvious one for the list.  This is the moment that blew my teenage mind, a moment which led to a series of moments that made me drop my jaw to the floor.  There are several parts in this match where Mick Foley could easily have died.  The way he tells it, he was legitimately concussed during the match as he spent a large portion blacked out.  Not only that but the only way he could remember the events of the match was watching the tape earlier.  Some of this match is the performers taking calculated risks and some of it is purely accidental.  The only reasons that Mick Foley didn’t die are professionalism and a little luck.

Shane McMahon is Suplexed Through Plate Glass

I defy you to watch that footage and tell me that wrestling is “fake”.  That is not prop glass.  It takes more than one attempt to put Shane through that glass.  When his body hits the glass with a whump, it’s somehow more impressive and looks more painful.  Kurt Angle is a machine and an actual gold medal wrestler in the 1996 Olympics.  He transitioned from being an acclaimed and accomplished competitor to the world of sports entertainment.  He makes a name for himself again in the world of the WWF (WWE).  Then he’s told that not only is he going to have a match with his boss’ son but he is going to do this to him.  This match is completely insane, especially when you realize that Shane is way too rich to have to do this.  Shane McMahon’s brief wrestling career is full of moments like this.

Kevin Steen Package Hits El Generico with a Package Piledriver… with Ladders.

Wow.  Just wow.  That was my reaction when I first saw this.  This was pretty much my introduction to Ring of Honor while I tried to catch up on old iPPVs.  The storyline had built up a rivalry so heated that building an elaborate structure out of ladders did not seem too silly.  OK it was a little silly.  Still, the whole thing is worth the spot in the video above.  A normal piledriver is a move that requires a lot of trust between performers.  A package piledriver seemingly leaves the victim completely unable to protect themselves, requiring a greater level of trust.  Then you up the ante by doing the move about six feet in the air onto metal ladders and it’s just amazing.  The crowd chants what we’re all thinking.

Dean Ambrose Suplexes Seth Rollins Off of a Very Tall Ladder

This one is from this year and thanks to the WWE Network and GIFs, I was able to watch moments from this match more than once.  Both Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins seem to excel at taking large amounts of punishment.  They are two of the most entertaining performers in the business today and I hope they survive these sorts of matches without career-ending injuries.  This moment was so amazing that I had to show my brother.   I believe his response was “Whoa!”.  There is no way to fake the impact of this move.  You close your eyes, brace yourself and try to fall as flat on your back as possible.

Terry Funk vs. Cactus Jack – No Rope, Barbed Wire, Exploding Barbed Wire Boards, Exploding Ring Match

Yes, you read all of that correctly.  I took great care in typing it all out.  Not only was there barbed wire all around the ring but it was also attached to wooden boards that were rigged with C-4. Yes, the same C-4 you see in movies and Mythbusters.  The really dangerous explosive.  The concept was that if a performer is pushed onto one of the barbed wire boards, it explodes under them.  This caused severe burns for both Funk and Foley.  Yes, this is the same Foley who later got thrown off of a cage.  Besides being ripped to shreds by barbed wire and subjected to C-4 boards, the idea was for the ring itself to explode at the end of the match.  We never did get to see this happen as it fizzles.  Still, Mick Foley describes himself as smelling like burnt flesh for days after this match.


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