Posts Tagged ‘WILPW’

What I Love About Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 7

May 4, 2019

27 – Favorite NXT Match


Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream
TakeOver: WarGames 2017

This was at a time when both Aleister Black and Velveteen Dream were new to the NXT scene and therefore were relatively unknown by the WWE Universe. In a short time, Aleister Black had earned a reputation as a brutal striker. With his Black Mass kick, he instantly obliterated his opponent and made them “fade to black”. He was clearly on the warpath toward the NXT Heavyweight Title and it was only a matter of time before he got his opportunity. At the same time, Velveteen Dream was extremely new and people did not quite know what to think of him. He was doing anything and everything to get a rise out of the crowd by being flamboyant and an instigator. He decided to confront Black to make a name for himself but Black’s indifference drove him insane until he was basically stalking Aleister Black. When their big match happened, it was less about winning for Dream but he just wanted acknowledgment from Aleister Black. He wanted acknowledgment from the NXT audience as well. Aleister just wanted to shut this man up and get him out of his face. The two went back and forth and Dream shocked the world by going toe to toe with a dominant performer. Finally, Black knocked out Dream and finished him off but before he left, he leaned down and spoke Dream’s name into a microphone. He gave the devil his due and so it ended up being a victory for both of them.


Matt Riddle vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black vs. Ricochet
NXT Television – March 20, 2019

With a week left to go until Wrestlemania weekend, the show opened with the bad news that Tomasso Ciampa was going in for neck surgery and his spot in the big TakeOver match was now open. That was the bad news. To make up for the sudden stop in a storyline years in the making, they decided to give the gift of a match for the honor of being in the main event. Getting to see all five of these guys in one episode was definitely special but having all of them in the same match was great. Their good conditioning made it so that all of them could keep going without as much of the usual rest periods during that match type. Riddle had not really gotten much of a chance to show his stuff and shined as an absolute beast. Dream got to mess with three of his past opponents and one future one. Aleister Black and Ricochet got their television farewell match as singles stars. Adam Cole got to show why he should be feared as a tough competitor and a fantastic opportunist. This was a great showcase for some great talent and made Cole a credible threat for his match with Gargano.

28 – Favorite NXT Takeover

TakeOver: New York (2019)

Proof that each TakeOver event is better than the last. While we were cheated out of the conclusion of the epic rivalry between Jonny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, there was still plenty more to love here. It started with an awesome tag match between the team of Aleister Black and Ricochet and the War Raiders. This was Ricochet and Aleister’s big sendoff as they would be off to the main roster the next night. Often when two giants face off against two smaller guys, the smaller guys get crushed. However, it was cool to see a highly competitive match between four potential hall of famers. Again, we got a similar story between Walter and Pete Dunne for the UK Championship. Walter is like a Terminator robot but Pete Dunne is a sadistic torturer and it went back and forth. Shayna Bayzler showed while she is still the champ by beating three women at once but Belair, Shirai, and Sane all got time to shine. Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole was a roller coaster that could have gone either way and made me happy. Velvet Dream vs. Matt Riddle stole the show as a great bout between two different personalities and two very different fighting styles. Riddle’s technical mastery and rage strength was no match for the sheer force of Dream’s will and resilience. Every match had me on the edge of my seat.


TakeOver: Toronto (2016)

First, we got Tye Dillinger during my favorite part of his career so far against Bobby Roode and both also got great entrances. This really felt like “The Great Entrances Takeover”. The Authors of Pain faced off against TM-61. It was a classic battle of two never say die high fliers throwing themselves at the big brutes to try and win but falling short. It was a shame that this was kind of the beginning of the end of TM-61 as a team. Mickie James made her return to the WWE after being a champ in TNA to face off against the undefeated Asuka. Asuka was a whirling buzzsaw of death but Mickey still gave the Empress of Tomorrow her first bit of trouble in a while. Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura was a brutal affair with Joe basically being Godzilla and Nakamura attempting to still win the day. Finally, DIY vs. The Revival stole the show. This was back when Gargano and Ciampa were on the same page and they truly had all of the heart in the world. At the same time, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder of The Revival were built to be a tag team together. On top of that, this was a tag match with three falls which saw both teams try to steal each other’s best moves and gut it out for the win.

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Musical Gimmicks

April 15, 2019

WILPW

Obviously, music has been tied to professional wrestling for a long time. It started in the 1950s but really hit its stride in the seventies and eighties with the marriage of rock and wrestling. This basically amounted to music playing as performers entered the ring and when they won a match. Also, music was obviously used in promos and advertisements. Later, I heard stories about music videos that were produced for Smoky Mountain Wrestling to introduce new members of the roster. Music is a powerful force that can provide a lot of information through tone and lyrics in a short amount of time and minimal effort. Also, a performer’s entrance music fires the crowd up and lets them know who is showing up so they can cheer or boo appropriately. However, what I want to talk about today are professional wrestlers who are actually musical.

Though, I actually want to start with those gimmicks that were music adjacent but actually rarely showed much musical skill. As usual on these overviews, I will probably expose some gaps in my knowledge but enjoy the ride and educate me in the comments if you must. First in this group is the Honky Tonk Man. Honky was a master at making people hate him but he was also a guitar-wielding, Elvis-inspired performer. He hit more people with his guitar more than he ever played it. Speaking of hitting people with a guitar, there was also Jeff Jarrett. He was supposed to be a country music musician who wanted to use pro-wrestling as a platform to become a star as improbable as that sounds. He never sang a word and he broke hundreds of guitars throughout his career. Funny enough, his entrance song was sung by another wrestler Jesse James but the WWF never went anywhere with that. I also think of people like Jillian Hall who did a tone-deaf pop singer gimmick, squealing into a microphone to the delight of nobody.

But no, I am here to talk about those with actual skill. The first that I want to talk about is John Cena. Those who only know him as a meme or as a Hollywood personality might not know his past in the early 2000s. Back then, he changed from being a fairly normal guy into a white rapper gimmick. I am sure there are many who would be surprised to know that he was a very competent rapper. It started with him recording his entrance theme “Basic Thuganomics” and doing 8 Mile-esque rap battles on Smackdown. He was dubbed the Doctor of Thuganomics and then he recorded his album which included a lot of great tracks including the aforementioned “Word Life” and “Bad, Bad Man”. His rap career started to fade away as his gimmick evolved but he did record his now iconic theme song of “My Time is Now” which a lot of people might recognize from the popular John Cena meme. Every so often, he breaks out the rap and stretches those muscles. Just recently at Wrestlemania 35, he got back in his Doctor of Thuganomics gear and laid a rap down on Elias.

Who is Elias? Well, he is what happens if you take Jeff Jarrett’s gimmick and you actually give it to a talented musician. Elias started down in NXT as The Drifter Elias Samson. He was a drifting musician who played the guitar down to the ring and was booed for slowing down the action for an impromptu concert. Eventually, the songs he sang did their best to insult the crowd. He eventually moved up to the Raw roster where he continued to “drift” around, playing his guitar. Eventually, he proved himself to be a really talented pro-wrestler and a very talented musician. He sang a lot of impromptu songs to insult the audience and his opponents. Like Cena, he actually released an album Walk With Elias (which he claims is what WWE stands for). He continues to impress with his music but lately every time he tries to play he gets interrupted. He is getting more chances to show off his in-ring skill which is great.

Probably the most successful is Chris Jericho. He earned a reputation as an artist in the squared circle. He has constantly reinvented himself over and over to change with the times. However, all during his career, he was always a huge fan of heavy metal. He idolized all of the greats but his dream of professional wrestling came first. However, in a weird real-life twist on the Jeff Jarrett gimmick, his fame from being a WWE superstar started to get him attention from a lot of his idols in professional music. He started to make friends with a lot of these guys and they saw that he was as passionate about music as he was about pro-wrestling. He was not just some wannabe singer who might assemble a band as a vanity project. He wanted to be an actual heavy metal singer. He was able to put together a band named Fozzy which is still touring today. They have put out numerous albums and they play huge concerts and festivals all of the time. Now, he has been able to extend his pro-wrestling career by balancing it with his music career which will probably allow him to do both for as long as he wants.

There are plenty of people who sang their own entrance themes. Shawn Michaels re-recorded his theme song (“Sexy Boy”) with his vocals. R Truth raps his way down to the ring live, showing without a doubt that he has some skills. There was famously the West Texas Rednecks (a group in WCW) who sang a song called “Rap is Crap” which actually charted and was played on the radio. Tyler Breeze recorded a theme song which is an ode to his gimmick as a supermodel and an actual banging electronica song. Meanwhile, Mickie James has recorded two Country albums and is working on a third which is why she has been away from the ring for a while. I am sure this list will continue to expand as the years go by and the stars of pro-wrestling get better at diversifying their talents. We already have plenty of pro-wrestlers in Hollywood, why not some who get a Grammy eventually?

(Written on 4/10/19)

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 7

March 30, 2019

20 – Favorite Current NXT Wrestler


Johnny Gargano

Gargano first appeared on WWE programming as part of the awesome Cruiser Weight Classic tournament. The tournament was a showcase for a lot of former indy darlings to show their stuff to a wider audience. Gargano failed to win the tournament but he formed a tag team with Tommaso Ciampa called DIY. He quickly established himself as the ultimate underdog. He also earned the nickname that crowds still chant at him: Johnny Wrestling. He embodies pro-wrestling, a scrappy fighter who could never quit because it is just not who he is. When he and Tommaso had their falling out, it turned into a bloody war that took both performers to another level. Gargano eventually took on a dark streak, a quirk in his personality which allowed the character to become more versatile. “Never say die” was merged with “Win at all cost” and Johnny Wrestling finally became Johnny Champion. He is one of the most well-rounded wrestlers on the roster. He can counter just about any move, he can fly high, he can twist his opponents into pretzels, he strikes like a man possessed, and he is incredibly charismatic. He is currently on the verge of possibly being brought up to the main roster but I hope he stays down in NXT. His feud with Ciampa was put on hold for at least a year due to Ciampa’s neck injury and I am excited to see where they go next. Also, I want to see what he gets up to next. Coming up, he is going to have a hell of a match with Adam Cole during Wrestlemania weekend and then the sky is the limit.


Velveteen Dream

The man who would become Velveteen Dream started his career in Maryland Championship Wrestling (local to me) and showed a lot of talent and promise. When he was first introduced to the WWE Universe, he went by his given name of Patrick Clark. He disappeared for a while and then reappeared on NXT television as the Velveteen Dream. I was immediately skeptical. He has a strange gimmick that was hard to grab onto immediately. At first, I thought it was just a Prince ripoff (one of his signature moves is called “The Purple Rainmaker”) but it is so much more than that. He uses the eccentricity of Prince as a jumping off point and then he adds in elements of Deion Sanders, The Rock, Ric Flair, and his own brand of meta-storytelling that blends into an interesting and entertaining character. He continues to captivate me and he just seems to get better and better as his career continues. The more outlandish Dream gets, the more entertaining he gets. I cannot wait to see what he does next because he will make sure that nobody ever forgets him.

21 – Favorite Current NXT Female Wrestler


Bianca Belair

I was skeptical of Bianca at first, thinking she was just loud and her personality was a little grating at first. However, she really grew on me. I first spotted her in the first Mae Young Classic tournament. She was brash and I thought there was not much more to her than the gimmick of using her ponytail to whip opponents. The first thing I noticed once she actually started appearing on NXT television was that she was immensely strong for somebody who was not very tall. When she turned babyface, her brashness was not as annoying but it was endearing. It was kind of like The Rock’s first heel turn. All it took was a change of alignment and the proper opponents for me to start to get into her. She is a homegrown talent for WWE and they obviously see a lot in her as they keep pushing her to the forefront. She labeled herself “The EST of NXT” (meaning that she is the fastEST, strongEST, and greatEST). For a long time she was undefeated but thankfully, they ended that streak because those streaks just get boring after a while. Now that it is only her mindset that is “Un-De-Fea-Ted” she has become a much more interesting character. Her recent turn to the dark side, stemming from frustration and ambition, has been interesting to watch and I cannot wait until she gets to beat the holy hell out of somebody again.


Kairi Sane

Kairi was the winner of the first Mae Young Classic, beating out actual MMA fighter and friend of Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler. She was trained in Japan as part of a company that specialized in joshi puroresu style which landed her in a dominant trio where she learned her current style. What drew me to Kairi at first was her enthusiasm for pro-wrestling and her character. She came on the scene with a pirate gimmick which she leaned into so hard that it was impossible for me not to get into it. To this day she continues to bring a ship’s wheel or a spyglass to the ring. It just looks like she is having fun playing pirate and that fun is contagious. However, when the bell rings, playtime is over and she is just as hard-hitting as any other performer. As a high-flyer, it feels like she has a higher vertical leap than most. She puts everything into every movement and every mannerism. Now she has been joined by her old teammate Io Shirai and the two have formed the Sky Pirates, a new version of their old team. She and Io are just so cute and I get a lot of joy out of watching cute people kicking the crap out of their opponents.

23 – Favorite Current NXT Tag Team


Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan

Oney Lorcan was one of those guys who looked fairly nondescript and he did not seem to have a lot of personality. Over time, he was used as a guy who had a reputation of being super tough and they often put him against somebody debuting to showcase the newcomer’s toughness. It felt like Oney was never going to go beyond a cult following, slowly building that reputation as a hard worker and a tough guy. However, he then got into a feud with British wrestler Danny Burch. Danny Burch was like the English equivalent of Oney, two tough guys straight out of a Guy Ritchie movie. After fighting, the two seemed to form a genuine appreciation of each other and then a real friendship. Playing off Oney’s name, they started saluting the crowd as number one and number two. They also started to dress like they were palette swaps in a video game with one wearing red trunks and the other wearing blue trunks. For two guys primarily known as being tough, they can really move and are able to accomplish some great technical feats as well. They are able to get the crowd fired up without getting much time on the microphone which is a heck of a feat in today’s WWE.


Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven)

Back in the day, Trent Seven actually trained Tyler Bate during a pro-wrestling resurgence in England. Bate and Seven joined up with Pete Dunne to form a stable known as British Strong Style. The trio created a hybrid style between Japanese Strong Style and traditional British wrestling. While Dunne is a more vicious wrestler, Seven and Bate have been able to create their own separate but similar style. I really like a good tag team that can kick butt but also entertains at the same time. Bate especially excels at physical comedy but both of them are always ready to crack a joke either on the microphone or by playing pranks in the ring. They are called Moustache Mountain because both of them sport curled English mustaches. However, their other nickname is “Big Strong Boys” which is what crowds like to chant. Both names go with their playfulness and willingness to play to the crowd. The two of them are currently competing in both NXT and NXT UK as they have great crossover appeal.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 6

March 11, 2019

WILPW

17 – Favorite Debut/Return


Chris Jericho

One of the craziest debuts in the history of the WWE and it is unlikely that it will ever be topped. It was 1999 and everywhere you looked, you could see a clock counting down to the year 2000. Many believed that we were under the threat of a Y2K bug in electronics and there was an anticipation in the air about what was going to happen. One man happened to look at one of those clocks as he was getting ready to debut in the then WWF. He proposed that they start a countdown clock for months before his debut. They would occasionally cut to it during broadcasts with everyone wondering what it was. The time left on the clock did not line up with New Year’s Eve. On an episode of Raw, the Rock hit the ring and he was talking to the fans when all of a sudden the clock showed up again and it hit zero right in the middle of a Rock promo. The lights went out, fireworks went off, and then Chris Jericho appeared to the sounds of rock music. The crowd went ballistic as some were fans of his zany antics in World Championship Wrestling, some knew him from Extreme Championship Wrestling, and some were just caught up in the moment. Right away he traded words with the Rock and his career was off to a new start. It turned out to be a bumpy start but he eventually became even more of a legend from his runs in the WWE.


Paige

I had just started watching NXT when Paige first showed up. It was a dark time for women’s wrestling on Monday Night Raw. The place was rife with “Divas” who were better at posing than talking or wrestling. Paige dubbed herself the Anti-Diva, a wrestler who had a pale goth appearance and tons of actual athletic talent. She had just recently won the NXT Women’s Championship when she had a surprise debut on Monday Night Raw and she beat champion AJ Lee in what had to be the best women’s match on Monday Night Raw in a long time. Her star burned bright but unfortunately, she did not last as long as other performers and she is now retired by injury. She will definitely always be fondly remembered.

18 – Favorite Commentator


Mauro Ranallo

I was not so sure about Mauro Ranallo when he first showed up as an announcer. He was a commentator for other sports first and sometimes that just does not work out. Professional wrestling is a unique beast and sometimes the skills do not translate from actual sports. Mauro’s references sounded a little forced at first. He makes a lot of geeky references and a lot of references to other sports. I usually get the geeky references but I do not always get the sports references. However, he eventually won me over. His enthusiasm is impossible to ignore and it has obviously caught on with the WWE Universe. Part of what really got me on Team Ranallo was his admission that he is bipolar and his advocacy for mental health initiatives. He moved from the main roster back to NXT and he became part of the fabric of the place. Fans chant his now famous “Mamma Mia!” catchphrase when amazing things happen during matches. His enthusiasm helps build rivalries and sells the story. Villains become more villainous, heroes become more valiant, and every move pops just a little bit more as he adds his two cents in. I know that he still has other gigs and that his mental health is important to him but I hope that he finds a healthy balance so he can stick with the WWE family for a good long while.


Renee Young

She started as a backstage interviewer and stuck with the company long enough for them to really realize her potential. She filled in at the commentator table a few times and it was clear that she was more than ready for the big time. When she finally got her chance, she had been known to fans of the WWE for years. I had been hoping for a female commentator for a long while. First, because they kept bringing back the same tired male commentators who were only getting worse (Lawler, JBL, Booker T). Second, they were finally pushing women in professional wrestling and it only made sense for a female to lend her voice to this new movement. Third, if women were going to be given a more equal spot on the card, they should get a more equal spot at the commentator table as well. Renee is outspoken and knowledgeable about pro-wrestling and adds a badly needed different perspective on the product. I am glad to have the fresh blood behind the table.

19 – Favorite Underrated Wrestler


Cesaro

I first became aware of Cesaro when he was known by his real name of Claudio Castagnoli in Ring of Honor. He was part of the Kings of Wrestling with Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno) and Sara Del Ray. All three of them now work for the WWE which was a brilliant decision. Pound for pound, Cesaro just might be the strongest guy on the roster. He can accomplish amazing feats of lifting and athletics with seemingly no effort. When he needs to, he can be a high-flyer, a brawler, and a technician. He has been a part of a lot of amazing moments in NXT and WWE history. Yet, he has never really gotten the fair shake that has always been due to him. He should have gotten a major title match a long time ago. When I watch him, I see a workhorse who always does what is demanded of him. He has proved himself in feuds with Sheamus and Sami Zayn. He has done well in tag teams with Jack Swagger, Tyson Kidd, and Sheamus. He has suffered from weak feuds that were not his fault. I really believe that he could be a great heavyweight champion if given the chance. Right now he is doing great in his tag team with Sheamus but I feel like his singles career is now a fading memory. He just needs one good feud to ignite the run of a lifetime.


The IIconics

Like most people, I first became aware of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce when they first showed up on NXT. They appeared as The Iconic Duo which was immediately interesting. There had been female groups before but there had always been a clear pecking order and most of the teams eventually fell apart. Billie and Peyton are true friends and each other’s biggest cheerleaders. They work together to gain opportunities for whichever of them has the best chance at the moment. They are actually real life friends who went to high school together in Australia and it shows. They have so much chemistry together and they seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s performances. They are really funny and a lot of the time they come off like a sketch comedy team instead of wrestlers sometimes. However, when they get in the ring they can definitely get the job done either together or separately. There is plenty of time for one or both of them to get a run with a women’s championship but I feel like soon they might get a good feud for the women’s tag titles. I really hope that people see their shine through all of the chaos and give them a real shot.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 5

February 18, 2019

WILPW

14 – Favorite Promo


Cactus Jack is Going Away for a While – Mick Foley

Mick Foley will always be one of my favorites. He has proven himself to be a very thoughtful and intellectual performer, one of the best thinkers in the business. His autobiographies show a wealth of knowledge and an aptitude for ring psychology. In 1998, Foley was in the midst of The Three Faces of Foley. He was cycling between three personas Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack. He had just had a run as Cactus Jack, battling for, winning, and losing the tag titles with Terry Funk. This promo was about how he felt betrayed by the fans. Cactus Jack was Foley’s most resilient persona, capable of taking the most physical abuse. However, the point of the promo was that the fans had turned their back on Cactus by ignoring the effort he and Funk had put in, in favor of flashier stars like Steve Austin and Degeneration X. It was part of Foley’s turn toward darkness and his eventual alliance with Vince McMahon. Foley delivered his promos with the gravitas he had learned from studying greats like Jake the Snake, Robert Fuller, and so many others. Foley had a natural ability to embody the character he was playing, practically believing that it was real. This is the style of acting taught at the college I went to, first popularized by Sanford Meisner. “To live truthfully under given imaginary circumstances.” The promo was delivered with appropriate gravitas and mentioned a lot of the roster which opened up a lot of possibilities going forward. It also blurred that line between reality and fantasy as Mick dropped a lot of his real life once again into one of his promos. It was sad and furious at the same time and it showed that the character meant business while others were just playing around. It hit hard and told a great story.


No More Divas – AJ Lee

Recently, Women’s wrestling in the WWE has been getting better and better thanks to an influx of new talent and a general change in philosophy. Stars like Moolah and other women put the brakes on talent in the division in exchange for flash and comedy. That was carried into the 2000s where the women’s division became the “Diva” division, further shifting away from athleticism and skill. Meanwhile, in Japan and in the independents, women were wrestling the same style as the guys and people loved it. Something had to be done. AJ Lee was a breath of fresh air. She had grown up as a huge fan of the business and she knew in her heart that she could do everything the guys did. When she finally got her chance, she was not that great but she worked at it and she got better and better until she was awesome. While others were fine with stagnation and mediocrity, AJ called for equality. The current WWE women’s division is called the “Women’s Revolution” then this promo was the equivalent of the Boston Massacre. This was the first event on the main roster that made people sit up and realize that they deserved better. It made people realize that women’s division matches did not have to be bathroom breaks where plastic little princesses pulled each other’s hair and slapped each other’s faces. The reaction to this promo would eventually be a call to arms for the NXT superstars who would revitalize the division and raise the bar.

15 – Favorite Feud/Rivalry


Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart

A lot of WWE fans of my generation fall into one of two camps: Bret Hart fans and Shawn Michaels fans. I was part of the latter group as I liked the younger, flashier star who was small like I was and he was funny too. When Stone Cold Steve Austin came onto the scene, everybody sat up and took notice. He was a cold-blooded sociopath who spoke his mind and stood up to everybody and anything in his way. He was billed as a good guy but he was plowing through people I had no passion for. At the same time, Bret was whining about being screwed by Austin at the 1997 Royal Rumble. Austin had been eliminated from the match but the referees had not seen it so Austin took advantage and won the match. Bret had a point, he had been screwed but instead of doing something about it, he just whined and threatened to walk out. This eventually set up the perfect feud between the two. On one side was Stone Cold Steve Austin who was a sociopath but he was proactive and always did exactly what he promised. He was vicious but America was ready to get behind that aggression. On the other side was Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who was good but had failed to back up his boasting for too long at the time. He was finally ready to actually do something about his complaints and vent his frustration in a big Wrestlemania match against Austin. The two were set for a submission match which was Bret’s specialty but Austin had that never-say-die spirit. In the end, Austin did not give up and passed out from pain and blood loss, allowing for Bret Hart to become a villain and Austin to become a hero of the people.


Becky vs. Charlotte

As I mentioned above, the women’s division has been great lately, delivering more good content than bad. As I type this, Becky Lynch has become one of the hottest and brightest stars in the WWE. She has even eclipsed many in the men’s division which has led to her labeling herself “The Man”. Leading up to Summerslam 2018, she had decided that enough was enough. She was through being nice and letting people pass her by. She had been the first Smackdown Women’s champion and she vowed to win it back by any means necessary. This led to a confrontation with her former best friend Charlotte Flair. Charlotte is a second generation pro-wrestler and therefore is wrestling royalty. She had previously lorded this over the division, letting her success and fame darken her soul as she held onto her belt. She seemingly left that all behind and turned over a new leaf but everybody knew that it was still inside of her. Becky had enough of the facade and obliterated her so-called best friend, choosing the championship over friendship. Becky stood victorious, finally beating her friend and earning her place in the sun. Then Becky was briefly injured, putting her career on hold for a little bit. In the meantime, Ronda Rousey had a match with Charlotte and finally beat the facade away, revealing the old Charlotte once again. Now, Becky and Charlotte are set to face each other once again, both of them have embraced their dark side in order to be at the top of their game. The crowd is behind Becky but Charlotte has a great big match record. It will be really fun to see what happens next.

16 – Favorite Manager


Paul Heyman

Paul Heyman has been in the professional wrestling bit for a long time. He first snuck into the nightclub business in New York City, becoming a publicity photographer. He then got into the wrestling business by once again leveraging his photography skills. But more than that, he always had the gift of gab. He has apparently always had great skill in running his mouth both inside and outside of the business. In World Championship Wrestling he turned himself into an obnoxious “Hollywood agent”-type manager who formed The Dangerous Alliance. He then helped created Extreme Championship Wrestling and became basically a cult leader of this underground company, a sort of CBGB for pro-wrestling. In these latter days, he has often acted as a mouthpiece or stand-in for his clients in the WWE. Instead of calling himself a “manager” he calls himself an “advocate”. He finds loopholes and argues for clients like CM Punk, Cesaro, The Shield, and Brock Lesnar. He gives spellbinding promos which are especially good to have when other people in a feud are not as good at talking. Brock Lesnar has especially benefitted as he has never been the greatest on the microphone. Also, Heyman has some of the best skills at getting fans to want to punch his face while still cheering his appearances.


Vickie Guerrero

Vickie was the wife of Eddie Guerrero, a guy that delighted fans for decades. When Eddie died at a fairly young age, Vickie showed up once again on television and she gained a bit of a following. It is a testament to her skills as an actress that she was able to get fans to hate her. If somebody had told me that fans would boo the widow of one of professional wrestling’s greatest, I would have questioned it. She made herself into a vain and shrill character who basically did everything wrong. She threw tantrums, she ogled younger men, she interrupted everyone’s good time, she disrespected the legacy of her own husband and cheated liberally. When the spotlight was not on her, she used sheer personality to put it back on her. The only mistake they made with her was that they had good guys start bullying her based on her appearance instead of her personality but there was a lot of that going on during that time period. Even today, fans recognize her catchphrase of “Excuse Me!” and it still puts a shiver in my spine. I am so glad that she could help to carry on the Guerrero legacy.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 5

December 1, 2018

14 – Favorite Promo


Cactus Jack is Going Away for a While – Mick Foley

Mick Foley will always be one of my favorites. He has proven himself to be a very thoughtful and intellectual performer, one of the best thinkers in the business. His autobiographies show a wealth of knowledge and an aptitude for ring psychology. In 1998, Foley was in the midst of The Three Faces of Foley. He was cycling between three personas Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack. He had just had a run as Cactus Jack, battling for, winning, and losing the tag titles with Terry Funk. This promo was about how he felt betrayed by the fans. Cactus Jack was Foley’s most resilient persona, capable of taking the most physical abuse. However, the point of the promo was that the fans had turned their back on Cactus by ignoring the effort he and Funk had put in, in favor of flashier stars like Steve Austin and Degeneration X. It was part of Foley’s turn toward darkness and his eventual alliance with Vince McMahon. Foley delivered his promos with the gravitas he had learned from studying greats like Jake the Snake, Robert Fuller, and so many others. Foley had a natural ability to embody the character he was playing, practically believing that it was real. This is the style of acting taught at the college I went to, first popularized by Sanford Meisner. “To live truthfully under given imaginary circumstances.” The promo was delivered with appropriate gravitas and mentioned a lot of the roster which opened up a lot of possibilities going forward. It also blurred that line between reality and fantasy as Mick dropped a lot of his real life once again into one of his promos. It was sad and furious at the same time and it showed that the character meant business while others were just playing around. It hit hard and told a great story.


No More Divas – AJ Lee

Recently, Women’s wrestling in the WWE has been getting better and better thanks to an influx of new talent and a general change in philosophy. Stars like Moolah and other women put the brakes on talent in the division in exchange for flash and comedy. That was carried into the 2000s where the women’s division became the “Diva” division, further shifting away from athleticism and skill. Meanwhile, in Japan and in the independents, women were wrestling the same style as the guys and people loved it. Something had to be done. AJ Lee was a breath of fresh air. She had grown up as a huge fan of the business and she knew in her heart that she could do everything the guys did. When she finally got her chance, she was not that great but she worked at it and she got better and better until she was awesome. While others were fine with stagnation and mediocrity, AJ called for equality. The current WWE women’s division is called the “Women’s Revolution” then this promo was the equivalent of the Boston Massacre. This was the first event on the main roster that made people sit up and realize that they deserved better. It made people realize that women’s division matches did not have to be bathroom breaks where plastic little princesses pulled each other’s hair and slapped each other’s faces. The reaction to this promo would eventually be a call to arms for the NXT superstars who would revitalize the division and raise the bar.

15 – Favorite Feud/Rivalry


Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart

A lot of WWE fans of my generation fall into one of two camps: Bret Hart fans and Shawn Michaels fans. I was part of the latter group as I liked the younger, flashier star who was small like I was and he was funny too. When Stone Cold Steve Austin came onto the scene, everybody sat up and took notice. He was a cold-blooded sociopath who spoke his mind and stood up to everybody and anything in his way. He was billed as a good guy but he was plowing through people I had no passion for. At the same time, Bret was whining about being screwed by Austin at the 1997 Royal Rumble. Austin had been eliminated from the match but the referees had not seen it so Austin took advantage and won the match. Bret had a point, he had been screwed but instead of doing something about it, he just whined and threatened to walk out. This eventually set up the perfect feud between the two. On one side was Stone Cold Steve Austin who was a sociopath but he was proactive and always did exactly what he promised. He was vicious but America was ready to get behind that aggression. On the other side was Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who was good but had failed to back up his boasting for too long at the time. He was finally ready to actually do something about his complaints and vent his frustration in a big Wrestlemania match against Austin. The two were set for a submission match which was Bret’s specialty but Austin had that never-say-die spirit. In the end, Austin did not give up and passed out from pain and blood loss, allowing for Bret Hart to become a villain and Austin to become a hero of the people.


Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair

As I mentioned above, the women’s division has been great lately, delivering more good content than bad. As I type this, Becky Lynch has become one of the hottest and brightest stars in the WWE. She has even eclipsed many in the men’s division which has led to her labeling herself “The Man”. Leading up to Summerslam 2018, she had decided that enough was enough. She was through being nice and letting people pass her by. She had been the first Smackdown Women’s champion and she vowed to win it back by any means necessary. This led to a confrontation with her former best friend Charlotte Flair. Charlotte is a second generation pro-wrestler and therefore is wrestling royalty. She had previously lorded this over the division, letting her success and fame darken her soul as she held onto her belt. She seemingly left that all behind and turned over a new leaf but everybody knew that it was still inside of her. Becky had enough of the facade and obliterated her so-called best friend, choosing the championship over friendship. Becky stood victorious, finally beating her friend and earning her place in the sun. Then Becky was briefly injured, putting her career on hold for a little bit. In the meantime, Ronda Rousey had a match with Charlotte and finally beat the facade away, revealing the old Charlotte once again. Now, Becky and Charlotte are set to face each other once again.  Both of them have embraced their dark side in order to be at the top of their game. The crowd is behind Becky but Charlotte has a great big match record. It will be really fun to see what happens next.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 4

September 24, 2018

WILPW

12 – Favorite PPV or Event of All Time


Wrestlemania XXX

This pay per view happened as I was kind of getting back into WWE and pro-wrestling in general. I had watched the occasional Raw but I had never really bought any pay per views in the past. When I was little, I watched them at my friend’s house or I watched them on VHS later. This was the first pay per view after the dawn of the WWE Network The main centerpiece was the story that had drawn me back into the game. Daniel Bryan has always been one of my favorite performers. His in-ring skills are amazing and he has such heart and fire that it is difficult for anybody to deny him. And yet, WWE seemed to hold him down until the build-up of this pay per view where they could not hold him back anymore. In this event, he beat Triple H in a one on one bout that earned him a ticket to a triple threat for the heavyweight title against Batista and Randy Orton. Defying all odds, Bryan defeated everyone and I was buzzing about that story for months afterward. It also had a six-man tag featuring the Shield who turned face for the first time, allowing us to cheer them. The Undertaker’s legendary 21 – 0 Wrestlemania streak was finally broken by Brock Lesnar in a move that eventually helped both of their stories. Bray Wyatt and John Cena had a solid match with plenty of fun signature moments from both of them. Finally, AJ Lee won a Diva’s battle royal in what was probably the first death knell of the Diva’s division.


Survivor Series 2001

Alright hold on, this is a very underrated event in my opinion and it is my runner-up. This was the (merciful) end to the Invasion angle where the Alliance finally fell to the WWF. The pay per view settled or unified every title (except for the Hardcore title). While the story was kind of lame throughout the angle, I felt they were able to distill the best elements that were left to them in this pay per view. Also, it has some of the most solid actual wrestling of the era. The main match is Team WWF (Chris Jericho, Big Show, Kane, The Rock and The Undertaker) vs. The Alliance (Booker T, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Shane McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin). That match is chock full of great talent and they all worked so well with each other. Also, I love the drama of that match type. Two of the best tag teams in the game (The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz) had a great match in a steel cage. At the time, I thought that Trish Stratus was the pinnacle of women’s wrestling. Two old friends, Edge and Test, faced off. William Regal is so underrated and he had a great match against Tajiri. It was also past the criminally short matches of the Attitude era.

13 – Favorite Finisher


Yes! Lock (Daniel Bryan)

In the past, it felt like submission holds were often used to ratchet up the tension in a match instead of ending the match. With the rising popularity of MMA and the concept of ‘tapping out’, submissions became more of a thing. Nobody makes submissions as exciting as Daniel Bryan. The move has caused competitors of all sizes to submit and has won him the WWE Heavyweight title. It was previously called the LeBell Lock named after Gene LeBell and it is a legitimately painful submission. Eventually, it was renamed a couple of times to reflect the leader of Yes! movement. Bryan looks vicious while he has an opponent locked up and his transitions into are beautiful. It is much better than his previous submission Cattle Mutilation which was harder to get into. The best and most exciting finishers can be hit at any time, causing a surprise in the match that leads to a satisfying conclusion. On top of that, you get the imagery of the opponent in anguish as Bryan vigorously nods his head as if telling them to go ahead and tap.


Sweet Chin Music (Shawn Michaels)

My runner-up comes from back before a time when half of the WWE roster started to use a superkick as a signature move. Shawn Michaels had two variations of the move. The most famous is that Shawn would knock the opponent down and then he would stomp the mat as he ‘tuned up the band’ and, as his opponent got to their feet, he would kick them in the face. The other version was the ‘outta nowhere’ version where he would just kick his opponent in the face. The move worked whether Shawn was a face or a heel and it never failed to get me excited. As a heel, Shawn would use the move as a vicious knockout blow while his opponents were already defeated. As a face, it was a move that he would struggle to hit that would win the match at the last moment against a tougher opponent. The unpredictable nature of the move made it great for creating dramatic moments either on purpose or by mistake. One of the most notable uses is his famous “I Love You” moment with Ric Flair which made him look like an executioner.

Also, off the top of my head, I love the Helluva Kick, The Stomp, Kinshasa, The Rock Bottom, The Stone Cold Stunner, and Bed of Roses.

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: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 2

August 13, 2018

WILPW

5 – Favorite Current Tag Team

I would definitely have to go with The New Day who are currently 4-time tag team champions and the longest reigning tag team champions in WWE history (a record that had previously been held for 28 years). The team is made up of Kofi Kingston, Big E Langston, and Xavier Woods. The group is a great example of turning lemons into lemonade. The three of them were thrown together and as a new faction by the brass. Langston and Woods had come up from NXT and Kingston had been around for quite a while. When they were first put together, it looked like they were going to be a second coming of The Nation of Domination, a stand-in faction for The Nation of Islam (sort of). The idea seemed a little dated but thankfully they did not do that. Instead, they went with a sort of evangelical Christian vibe. Eventually, the three were able to interject their own ideas and they created a zany and nerdy fusion of outlandish ideas that has always been interesting. They started talking about unicorns, pushed the envelope of the PG era, dressed up like anime characters. The three of them are clearly really good friends with each other and they seem to really have a lot of fun doing what they do. They are also all three very talented wrestlers and the chemistry between them has only grown. Now the three of them are pursuing tag titles and potentially singles titles as well, but still together.

Runner-up: I also really like the Usos. Jimmy and Jey Uso are brothers who are the sons of Rikishi. They appeared on the scene and they were really good together but eventually, they got a little stale. More recently, they reinvented themselves and got way better on the mic and their in-ring style evolved too. I could listen to them cut promos with The New Day all day long.

6 – Favorite Tag Team from the Past

I would have to go with Edge and Christian who were a tag team a long time during the Attitude Era. Adam Copeland and Jason Reso were best friends growing up and they entered the business at about the same time up in Canada. When Copeland joined the WWE as Edge, he put in a good word for Reso and Reso earned his way into the company. When they were thrown together as a tag team, they were both thrilled. They started as The Brood, servants of a vampire named Gangrel. At the time, I loved the gimmick because I was a little bit goth myself back then. Eventually, they struck out on their own and that is when they really evolved. They worked hard at being the biggest jerks they knew how to be and they did it through comedy. They insulted the fans, they acted like cowards, they acted like they were God’s gift to the world, and they cheated to win every chance they could. Every match on television would be preceded by a “5-minute pose” so that the crowd could take pictures except that pose would usually insult the town they were in or their opponents. They were goofy assholes but they backed it up with skills in the ring. They were in some of the most memorable tag team matches in WWE history together.

Runner-up: This might be a surprise but I actually think of Miz and Morrison because of their incredible chemistry together. Miz and Morrison were two young guys put together in the WWE’s version of ECW and they were easily two of the brightest parts of it. Eventually, they moved to the main roster together. They had a brilliant comedy web show called The Dirt Sheet where they made up fake inside information, mocking other performers. In the ring, they pushed each other to higher heights and now both of them have been heavyweight champions.

 

7 – Favorite Current Faction

There are not a lot of official factions currently. I already talked about The New Day so I will talk about the main roster’s newest faction, Sanity. Eric Young has reinvented himself dozens of times in the business and has been a big name but all outside the WWE. So when he showed up in NXT, he went with a crazy cult leader. Sanity is a group of wild men (and one woman) who do not seem to care about wins or losses. They thrash their opponents and often draw disqualifications. Eventually, Young recruited Killian Dain from Ireland, Alexander Wolfe from Germany, and Nikki Cross from Scotland. It feels like it has been a while since there was a faction with both males and females and the female is not strictly arm candy. In fact, Cross is often tougher than the guys. The faction (minus Cross) is being allowed to get some traction on the main roster lately. Time will tell if they get treated right but they look dominant so far. I would love to see them tear things up like they did on NXT.

8 – Favorite Past Faction

I would go with D-Generation-X. When I was a kid, I was already a huge fan of Shawn Michaels so when he started his own faction with Triple H, Rick Rude, and Chyna, I was all in. I was just the right age to be amused by their sophomoric antics. When they added The New Age Outlaws and X-Pac, they had a little bit more talent to fill out their squad. The group constantly just seemed to have fun putting on skits and doing as many crazy things as they could. They were also really talented together in their various formations. They were always compelling and their history has been bound to the history of the WWF and the WWE. They will always be fondly remembered. Of course, the group eventually fell apart mostly because everybody hated X-Pac for real, not just as a heel. Before the group broke up they inducted Kane and I was very fond of the tag team of Kane and X-Pac at the time. Also, they were one of the first (if not the first) factions to have a woman who actually wrestled.

Runner-up: Pretty much any faction that CM Punk ever ran but namely the Straight Edge Society. CM Punk leveraged his real-life straight edge lifestyle to berate the fans and other wrestlers who drank or did drugs. He recruited two members to his society, Doc Gallows and Serena. The group ran roughshod over several other teams and did Punk’s dirty work allowing him to be smug and unbearable. It was great.

Why I Like Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Days Challenge Pt. 1

July 30, 2018

WILPW

 

1 – Favorite Current Wrestler

Overall, my favorite wrestler in the WWE right now is Seth Rollins. He continues to step it up every single time he is out there. He was great in the indies as Tyler Black but he has subsequently adapted his in-ring and promo style to the WWE style. Not only that but he is able to adapt to any opponent he gets thrown against. His recent iron man match against Dolph Ziggler (another great talent) was amazing to watch. His recent series against Finn Balor was just as entertaining. His moveset has evolved and expanded over time. His superplex into falcon arrow signature, in particular, is absolutely mind-blowing every time. I think that denying him the Curb Stomp finisher was actually a good thing as it allowed him to add several other finishers to his arsenal. I also don’t buy the “Seth Rollins is Dangerous” rumor that Brett Hart started a while ago. He is a good worker and, if anything, he needs to be a little kinder to his own body which I think he has recently done better at. His versatility as both face and heel makes me excited to see what becomes of him next.

Runner-up: The Miz who has some of the best promos in the company and he is consistently hilarious and great in the ring. He is probably one of the best homegrown WWE performers of all-time. I cannot wait to see him face Daniel Bryan again at last. Honestly, it was hard to choose between him and Seth.

 

2 – Favorite Current Female Wrestler

My favorite woman on the main roster right now is Asuka. I love the Japanese style when it comes to women’s wrestling especially since it has been cited by many great current female wrestlers as an early influence. The introduction of Asuka stepped up NXT and her main roster introduction was appropriately grand. She performs in the strong style and everything looks like it may have killed her opponent but reportedly it does not feel too bad at all. She comes off as a badass but I love everything about her aesthetic. She grins as she kicks her opponent’s ass and it was established early on that when she smiles she is to be feared. She is also notoriously hard to pin down. She wears a spooky mask to the ring but also wears bright colors and dances during her entrance. I love the contradictions. Her in-ring style is also both brutal and wild so she looks like a tornado going to town. She is just the right combination of striker, technician, and flier to have a good match with anybody. Some may criticize it, but I actually really like her broken English promos. The words come out more slowly which makes her sound more menacing and her words are more memorable. Afterall, nobody is ready for Asuka!

Runner-up: I absolutely love Bayley. She is a solid in-ring competitor who only gets better with time. More than that, she makes me smile. I cannot help but smile as she makes her entrance and gets excited about every little thing. Especially knowing that she is living her dream.

 

3 – Favorite Wrestler from the Past

When I was a kid, I would have said Shawn Michaels but now I will pick Mick Foley every time. I remember when my best friend excitedly told me about Mankind when he first appeared in the WWF. “There is this new dude named Mankind who is insane and he rips his own hair out and he can’t feel pain!” When I saw him for myself, I was definitely interested. He was different from a lot of the rest of the roster and, like the Undertaker, he had a psychological element as well. When the character of Mankind merged more with the real-life story of Mick, he added both reality and comedy to the formula. He resurrected both his original character Cactus Jack and also brought to life a version of his childhood character Dude Love. The Three Faces of Foley were an absolute joy to watch and just about every segment was improved by Foley’s presence. His promo abilities are legendary as he used a brilliant mind for ring psychology and great charisma to create some awesome moments. He also sacrificed his body in some of the most memorable moments in the WWF years. As his body started to break down, he started to use those promo skills in other ways. He became an on-screen authority figure where he shifted to a more comedic character and he was great at that too. To this day, when he visits I get a big smile on my face.

Runner-up: CM Punk will always hold a special place in my heart especially now that I understand more fully his departure and where he was back then and where he is now. He just had so much charisma and fire. I cannot decide whether I liked him better as a smirky heel or a die-hard, smirky babyface.

 

4 – Favorite Female Wrestler from the Past

I was a huge fan of AJ Lee. She was such a fast learner and she never bought into the “Diva” stuff around her. She evolved over time and was able to easily fit into whatever role she was given. I loved the work she did with Daniel Bryan, as their segments taught both of them how to do better promo and character work. Their breakup was the start of the start of her “unstable” gimmick where she slowly lost her mind over time. Eventually, she moved from being “just a valet” to getting to wrestle again on the main roster. She proved that she was willing to work hard to learn more moves and better in-ring psychology. She made her major wrestling re-debut when she started to trash Total Divas which I loved her for because I hate Total Divas. They could have played her as a cowardly heel but she backed up her words and repeatedly wrecked her opponents. When she developed the Black Widow submission finisher, she instantly cemented her spot as my favorite female character at the time. Her crazy gimmick (a reflection of her real-life bi-polar disorder) always kept me guessing as to where she was going next. She had a short career in the WWE but, in her own words, she accomplished all of her goals.

Runner-up: Kharma was an interesting character for the few months she was part of the WWE. She debuted at a time when I had been watching a lot of TNA Wrestling so I was familiar with the performer. She was the proto-Nia Jax but with a crazy gimmick similar to AJ Lee. She did not say much of anything but she laughed as she pancaked every woman on the roster. Best of all, she got to beat the crap out of the Bellas. I am loving seeing her on GLOW on Netflix now.


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