One of the best things about tapping into wrestling history is that there’s so much of it. For better or for worse, the legacy of today is shaped in the past; whether it be a long time ago or much more recent. Every day we’re finding and sharing new stories across our Facebook and Twitter account, so to keep fully up to date make sure you’re checking those out. But some stories require a little more, so each week we’re going to bring to you a few either important or our favourite moments in time and delve a little deeper.
February 2nd 2008 – Brock’s Unique UFC Debut
There are three categories – generations practically – of fan when it comes to watching Brock Lesnar. Those that saw him from his WWE debut onward, those that have seen him dominate in recent years and those that know him from blazing a trail within the UFC. Much like in wrestling, Brock astonished crowds with his speed for a man his size, dispelling some of the scepticism that surrounded him as being simply a “fake fighter” looking to come in and take a paycheck. Losing inside a minute and thirty seconds, it’s an absolute whirlwind of a performance. Lesnar runs over like a freight train and throws down a flurry of hard shots. It’s only the intelligence and ability of his opponent (Brock wasn’t exactly given an nobody in his debut match with the company) that saw through as Mir picked his spot to grab Lesnar’s leg and make him tap. After this one there were no doubts that The Next Big Thing had arrived in the MMA world and it would only be a matter of time and experience before he would rise to the top of it.
February 7th 2020 – A Series Of Unfortunate Events
Over the last few years the road to Wrestlemania has at the very least become a little less straightforward. It used to be am easy passage for the Royal Rumble winner to meet up with their desired champion and while you could see it coming there was a certain peace in knowing where all the dots were that would be connected along the way. Now the chaos that ensues as Vince and the WWE tries to sometimes hastily put all their plans together can potentially spin out of control. The Fiend isn’t the first character to be cut off and cast aside in favour of something else. It’s not even the first time this has happened to Bray Wyatt. There’s something to be said for proposed a Goldberg versus Roman Reigns title match at Wrestlemania when neither of those are the champion. Things get even more out of control when Covid hit and Reigns stepped aside. All in all, we wound up in a scenario whereby Bray Wyatt was the champion on Smackdown during the summer, we just had to go about tidying up all of this mess first.
February 5th 2008 – Lashley Leaves
Something something cliched about the journey being more important than the destination. Bobby Lashley hasn’t quite gotten to that arrival point yet but it feels much more inevitable than it did twelve years ago. The former ECW Champion was to be the next guy off the proverbial production line following in Batista’s footsteps. He had the look we all know Vince McMahon craves and his match against John Cena really did give a glimpse into the main event potential of Lashley after a few years of being a solid big guy Midcarder. After his release and the growing rise in popularity of MMA, it wasn’t a given that we’d end up where we are now. That can even be said of the time between him resigning with the WWE and now. The feud and “storyline” with Rusev that doesn’t bear thinking about might have sunk another run at the top but all you need is that right spark in the right moment and right now along with MVP and The Hurt Business he definitely has that. Provided he avoids the post Wrestlemania shakeup -whereby they love to dismantle teams for no particular reason – he has the tools and momentum to go far this year.
February 4th 2003 – Hollywood Rock Delivers An Oscar Worthy Performance
Comedy – like wrestling – is subjective. Who can possibly appeal to everyone? Similarly comedy itself in wrestling is incredibly hard to pull off. There are few who could bring everything together like The Rock. His brief heel run in 2003 as the phoney, arrogant movie star aka Hollywood Rock is arguably his very best work. Inserting himself briefly into Vince’s feud with Hulk Hogan was potentially nothing more than a throwaway. They would fight at No Way Out as Rock wanted a favour from Vince and this Wrestlemania rematch had some real potential in it. This pre taped promo goes above and beyond what your standard “man reacting to someone who isn’t there” and it’s all down to Rock’s performance. Playing off Hogan like a washed up actor (hey if the bandana fits) and not someone he needs to concern himself with. The whole promo is a must watch and a stark reminder of the heel/face dynamic. Whereas Rock would later play it dead serious as a face, here he has the freedom to call off-screen to an unseen woman cooking “tofu and pie”. It’s ridiculous but it works. Because The Rock.
February 6th 1990 – Sting Leaves The Horsemen The Hard Way
Oh Sting. Poor innocent Sting. His incredible trust in Ric Flair would become a running joke as The Nature Boy turned on him constantly but this was one of the earlier betrayals so we can slightly forgive him for that. That being said this is the Four Horsemen . They’re getting ready to tackle another incarnation of a Gary Hart’s heel stable that had caused the Horsemen to reform in 1989. Much to the amazement of the WCW audience, Sting joined the group after coming to Flair’s aid after being attacked by The Great Muta after a title defence against Terry Funk at the Great American Bash.
It isn’t even Flair that drives home the message or issues the threat either it’s Ole Anderson – and it is absolutely fantastic. There’s both a logic and a menace to Ole’s words that very few have the cadence or the credibility to deliver today.
“When you signed that match to meet Ric Flair for the world title on February 25th; you signed your own death warrant!” – Ole Anderson
This is why the Horsemen were – and remain – one of the greatest stables in wrestling history. The idea that you would even think about challenging Flair for the title was enough for them to put the boots into you. As Ole explains, there were opportunities prior where they could have beaten him and they’re giving him one final chance. An ultimatum; give up the title shot or else.
Sting being the blue chipper babyface we know he is has no intention of letting that kind of opportunity slip through his grasp. Flair at first even tries to “reason with him” which Ole completely disregards and sets the timeline for Sting to give up the title shot. The two hour ultimatum quickly becomes practically irrelevant as Flair takes matter into his own hands, literally. There is absolutely no pull in the slaps delivered across the face of Sting, who is now being held back by Ole and Arn Anderson. Ric goes from 0-100 in typical Flair style.
“I tried to tell you… I bought you the time… now smarten up!” – Ric Flair as he slaps Sting
In the end the Horsemen got their wish. Not in the way it had been planned though. Sting would return during the main event and try to exact some measure of revenge on Flair and ended up blowing out his knee. The aforementioned title match threw out all the previous booking plans with Luger subbing in and Flair refusing to drop the belt having promised The Stinger the big babyface win. While he was still on television this slowed down the momentum he had built and – along with some interesting booking choices in the near future – wasn’t quite the blowoff that this incredible segment helped build toward.