Monday, January 28, 2013

Rumble Royally

By: William G. Muir
Last night was the most electrifying night of the year. The Rock (that would be Dewayne Johnson for the movie going public) stepped back into the squared circle. And while the millions, and I mean millions of The Rocks fans all across the world watched him take his boot, turn it side, shine that son of a bitch up and stick straight up CM Punks candy ass last night. Winning his first WWE Heavyweight Championship in ten years. This is The Rock's eighth reign as  the champ.
CM Punk and The Rock

I am talking about the main event of last nights WWE Pay-Per-View The Royal Rumble. And yes this article is going to be about professional wrestling. For those of you that do not know I am fan of pro wrestling. I have been so ever since I was a young child. To date I have thirty or so years of watching wrestling under my belt and I do not think there is going to be a time in my life that I don't watch the sport.
Yes I said sport, and despite what Vince McMahon would have you believe, or what the naysayers will tell you, professional wrestling is a sport. Before anyone pops up to say that pro wrestling is fake, just stop. I know that the outcome of the matches are decided before hand. So what, I just don't care. I go to movies, I watch TV and read books. All of which are scripted forms of entertainment. In each one of those the outcome is predetermined before I watch them. So why should I give them a pass and turn up my nose at wrestling.

I can already hear someone say that those forms of entertainment do not claim to be real. Oh really? Anybody remember that the Blair Witch Project was originally promoted as being a "true story." Or what about James Frey who's book A Million Little Pieces fooled Oprah Winfrey? The public knows that wrestling is scripted, the blows for the most part are pulled and not all the injuries are real. But there are parts about wrestling that are very much real. There is way to fake a fall form twenty-five feet in the air.


Professional wrestling was the first sport I ever followed on a consistent basis. Sure before I ever started to really watch wrestling my mother had signed me up for little league football (quit after first practice), little league soccer (quit before first game), little league baseball (only played one season) and little league basketball (I played off and on for years, even played my freshman year of high school). But wrestling was the first sport that ever caught my eye as a fan. 
Vince McMahon
Hulk Hogan
Like any boy of my age I was a Hulk Hogan fan. For those of my generation Hulk Hogan was our gateway into the sport of professional wrestling. In the 80's there was no wrestler bigger than Hulk Hogan and that was thanks to Vince McMahon. He saw the potential that lay within the Hulkster and exploited it for all that it was worth. Vince rolled the dice on Hulk Hogan many time over the years. Risking the financial collapse of his then small wrestling territory. If The War to Settle the Score or the first Wrestlemania had been disasters the then WWF would have been done for. But the power Hulkamania made both events a success.

This led the WWF growing far beyond it's Northeastern territory into the global corporation the WWE is today. 

To every young kid growing up in the 1980's Hulk Hogan was a real life superhero. Superman, Batman they were superheroes but they were from the comic strips. Hulk Hogan on the other hand was a real life person. Every Saturday morning we were glued to the television screens to see who he would be battling against this week. Was it the Brooklyn Brawler, Zeus, Earthquake, The Million Dollar Man, The Undertaker, The Macho Man or The Ultimate Warrior? These were the comic book feuds played out in real life. These were the epic struggles between good and evil. Quite simply it was everything you wanted and more.

My interest in pro wrestling did not end when the 80's or my childhood ended. In reality it was just getting started. And while the WWF/WWE was busy become the biggest wrestling company in the world, it wasn't the only game in town. Not in the 1990's anyways. Enter media mogul Ted Turner. Ted wanted to get into the wrestling business, so he bought himself Jim Crockett Promotions in 1988.

When Turner first bought WCW it featured an older more southern style of wrestling. The style was a much more technical style of wrestling, which focused on holds and throws. While the WWF was looking towards the future. Vince McMahon embraced the Rock-n-Roll/Hollywood culture. The WWF was flashier, more up beat with Vince signing the big names from every territory. Bringing in Rowdy Roddy Piper, Andre The Giant. Junkyard Dog, and The Iron Sheik.

It looked like WCW would always play second fiddle to the WWF in the wrestling hierarchy. But two big moves during the 90's would shoot WCW straight to the top leaving the WWF wondering what happen. The first was the government investigation into the WWF and steroid abuse. This led to older establishes stars like Hulk Hogan and the Macho man jumping ship to go work for WCW.

In the 90's both the WWF and WCW launch live Monday night wrestling programs. This led to the Monday Night Wars and what would be the ultimate driving force that led to WCW beating the WWF in the Monday ratings for 84 consecutive weeks. The formation of the New World Order and the unthinkable, Hulk Hogan turning his back on the fans and becoming a bad guy or a heel to use wrestling jargon.

In weeks leading up to WCW's 1996 Bash at Beach PPV, wrestlers Scott Hall and Kevin Nash (Razor Ramon and Diesel formerly of WWF) made their debut in WCW. The story line for these two character was that they were from the wrestling company up north (WWF) and that they coming to show everybody in the WCW how the big boys played. It was an invasion angle that was lifted from New Japan Wrestling.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall

Hall and Nash challenged the WCW to get it's three best wrestlers and meet them in the ring at the Bash at the Beach PPV. They would find themselves a third man. The match would be the main event of that years Bash at the Beach PPV.  

The Macho Man, Sting, Lex Luger
The match would start off as a two on three handicap match. WCW had chosen three of its biggest stars, The Macho Man, Sting and Lex Luger to face off against Hall, Nash and there mystery partner. As it happened the mystery partner was somewhere in the building but Hall and Nash said they were perfectly able to handle the three WCW wrestlers by themselves, and they were. Even though WCW started off with the numbers advantage things were eventually evened out when Lex Luger was knock unconscious and taken out of the ring to see the trainer. Shortly after that all four wrestlers would find themselves on their backs.

Out came Hulk Hogan in his traditional red and yellow ring gear. He hopped into the ring, tore off his t-shirt and then made wrestling history. He performed a leg drop on then long time friend the Macho Man. In one move Hulk Hogan had complete undermined everything he had stood for for over a decade. The man that told us all to follow the three demandments, the prayers, the training and the vitamins thumbed his nose at all of that. Gone was the superhero Hulkster, in his place we got the superego Hollywood Hogan. Our childhood days were gone.
Hollywood Hogan
But that's a story for another day. I will wrap this up here. My love for professional wrestling will have to carry on until another day.  

1 comment:

  1. Haha, I loved this. I grew up watching pro-wrestling too, and I must admit, I personally loved Steve Austin and Goldberg. Mmmm...yummy.