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 23rd 2004 – The Monday Night War
Imagine if you will, a far off world where Tony Khan steps into the ring with HHH. While that may seem like the most ridiculous prospect ever – which we still can’t rule out because #wrestling – this encounter between the respective authority figures in WCW and the WWF/E was something that had been brewing for some time. Along with many of the remnants of the Invasion angle that was left on the table, Eric Bischoff had been goading Vince McMahon for years; so obviously this happens long after WCW has been kayfabe killed off. Echoing their inconceivable handshake from Bischoff’s debut, it’s Vince who would go for the cheap shot before a mercifully short “match” unfolds. In less than three minutes we get to see McMahon mc-manhandle (don’t @ me) Eric and a few energetic karate kicks which of course allows Vince to no sell and force a grown man to run away. Can you guess who booked this?
February 23rd 2010 – What Comes NXT
Wrestling is an industry founded on building for the future. In that sense the NXT that was isn’t that different to the NXT we have now. That’s probably the only thing they have in common. To take Bryan Danielson (as he was then) alone, who was arguably the best wrestler in the world outside of the WWE; placing him alongside The Miz was a rib on those who knew what he was capable of. Weeks of on screen humiliation followed. Thankfully it’s part of a redemption arc that the Fed had no idea they were building. To look beyond the future World Champion it’s still bizarre to look at a show that appeared to change the rules on a weekly basis (of which we’re not even sure they set up in the first place). Part reality show and part wrestling show, the very least we can say about the first season of NXT was that it kept the wheels turning. One of the great prospect angles also came out of it – but we’ll get to that another time…
February 25th 2008 – Rock You Like A Hurricane
Comedy is a hard thing to get right. Not just in wrestling, in any form of media. Go and check out our podcast to see just how difficult it can be. That’s not to say it can’t be done right. Again check out the podcast. Seriously though, when it comes to adding the charisma and making a segment that will last forever, The Rock is one of those guys who knows how to put everything together. Couple that with The Hurricane who was always over and an incredibly underrated comic persona (could anyone else have ever played this role?) and you get a segment for the ages. This mini feud between No Way Out & Wrestlemania is one of those rare instances whereby it wasn’t about five star matches or a blood feud to create memories and give a platform to a current superstar to increase his popularity, it can be done very simply in a few hilarious backstage interactions. Huge pop for The Rock looking upward when Hurricane “flew away” btw.
February 23rd 2002 – A New Era Of Wrestling
Regardless of what actually happened at the top of the business, the chasm that was left following the collapse of WCW changed so much underneath it as well. Jeff Jarrett and NWA:TNA filled that gap in a hypothetical sense but there was still a hunger for “something different”. Where once ECW found a cult following for being much more violent than the product we were used to on TV at the time, RoH forged a similar following among hardcore wrestling fans. Rather than using weapons to draw attention to the product however, it was wrestling. From the quality of matches to the freshness of those performing in them, coupled with the emergence of the #InternetWrestlingCommunity, the landscape of wrestling evolved one step further. Ring of Honor didn’t invent good wrestling and it’s prominence in that regard has gone down over the years (for a variety of reasons) but something began here that certainly echoes today.
February 27th 2000 – Changing The Game
Some feuds are inconsequential, simply there to pass the time from Point A to Point B. This skews heavily when it comes to the period between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. Not only does this particular conflict defy both of those, it’s actually a defining point in Triple H’s career. Timeline wise also we’re at a point where Hell In A Cell actually meant something too. After having seemingly been put down in their Royal Rumble bout, HHH was beginning to shed the potentially softer reputation he had earlier on in his career. It wasn’t so much that he couldn’t perform in these kinds of match, it was that we’d never seen it. What we now know as one of the most sadistic performers of his time came of age inside the cell that day.
While the match itself was one thing, tacked on to that (pun intended) was the sheer scale of the build up. Evoking the most sadistic of Mick Foley’s “identities” in Cactus Jack was a huge call back at time, almost as big of an addition as was the idea of putting his career on the line. Retirement angles in wrestling mean as much as they ever have but in going this far, Foley made HHH the man he was. Arguably no match has ever passed the torch more emphatically since – and that’s not a reference to the flaming barbed wire timber.