Jerry Lawler: The Best AND Worst Ever
Let’s face it, everyone’s got an opinion of Jerry Lawler. For the most part, I think he’s a revered legend in the WWE realm, at least in average fan’s eyes. However–and I’m going to try to avoid sounding snarky here, although it may be an impossible feat–the average fan doesn’t have a clue.
Now I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with cheering for the goodies and booing the baddies, but the average fan doesn’t recognize crap when they see it. Perhaps I’m jealous. The average fan doesn’t care about faces doing villainous things, and they don’t care about chain wrestling. They don’t care about John Cena main eventing at the ‘expense’ of CM Punk (that’s debatable and another argument entirely) because they are stuck in a rut and LOVE John Cena.
The average fan hates Michael Cole ONLY when he’s ‘beeing a heel,’ loves Jerry Lawler, loves Jim Ross, hates Johnny Ace, and loves Triple H unconditionally. I don’t consider myself better than these people and in many ways I envy them. I envy them for enjoying wrestling through pure eyes just like I did 15 years ago. I cheered for the good guys and booed the bad guys. There comes a time where you may learn more and begin to respect the people you grew up hating. This time came for me, but will it come for everyone? Maybe, maybe not. If it does, that’s fine. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. But I do think that if you feel passionate about a topic you should learn and respect its history. And by history, I don’t mean whatever retrospective WWE DVD release came out that month. I mean tape/DVD trading, a staple of wrestling fandom for decades. If not that, there’s YouTube. There’s no excuse, with everything so accessible. Perhaps because everything is TOO accessible, the joy of getting that rare show in your hands is completely nonexistent.
Back on topic. Jerry Lawler as a performer and character is one of the most polarized examples in wrestling for me. I find myself dreading hearing his voice or mention, but put him in the ring and I’ve never been happier. Here’s why. Read more
Flashback: WWE No Mercy 2005 featuring Eddie Guerrero’s final PPV appearance
Thinking of killing some time while waiting for some video editing work to finish processing, I popped in a random WWE DVD. I can’t recall having seen this one before as I wasn’t following wrestling from 2003-2005 and just hadn’t gotten around to watching the actual DVD, even years later.
A very eery intro to an Eddie Guerrero-headlined event
The show starts off with a now-chilling introduction video package featuring two feuds: Eddie Guerrero vs Batista & Undertaker vs Randy Orton. Eddie Guerrero. Now, before I get into this, let me say that the one 2005 pay-per-view I have watched (other thanWrestleMania 21 & Royal Rumble 2005, of course) was ECW One Night Stand 2005. I always thought that Eddie Guerrero had a bit of a ‘vacant’ look about him, like he wasn’t himself and never would be again. Hindsight’s 20/20, and perhaps it was just the character he was trying to play. A few months later, though, this same look was present in this video package that turned out to serve as hype for what would be his final pay-per-view match. Coincidentally, this event was on Eddie Guerrero’s birthday.
In this video, a promo was referenced where Eddie Guerrero talked about his addictions and problems, which was probably as off-putting then as the Kevin Nash/Scott Hall match at Halloween Havoc was in 1998. Now, it’s even more uncomfortable to see. Shortly after this, the hype for the Undertaker/Randy Orton angle begins. Their match for this event was a casket match. Now WWE had no idea they’d be losing an active member of their roster within less than a month, and even if they did, I can’t say I’d expect them to not still hold a casket match. Afterall, they held THREE in 2008, less than a year after the Benoit Family died.
Anywho… Wrestling. Where was I? Read more
A look back at Halloween Havoc 1998
It’s Halloween, woop-dee-doo. I don’t usually buy into holiday nonsense, but a post over at Feminine Smark inspired me. I didn’t realize it until now, but Halloween Havoc 1998 showcased a few of my absolute FAVORITE wrestling moments as a kid. Sting vs Bret Hart was a dream match for me (Sharpshooter vs Scorpion Deathlock?!) and the thought of it still gives me wrestling-mark-goosebumps. I recall Diamond Dallas Page vs Bill Goldberg being a huge deal as well. Face vs face, the people’s champ vs the unbeaten Goldberg. Diamond Dallas Page was the type to never quit or give up at any cost, and Goldberg was an unstoppable force. This match pretty much sold itself.
As if these two marquee match-ups didn’t sell the event on their own, we also had “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan versus old rival The Ultimate Warrior. This match has since become a punchline and it’s the first thing people think of when Halloween Havoc 1998 is mentioned, sadly. This is what they built the event around. It’s on the cover of the VHS and was trusted to sell copies.
This completely overlooks the real reason to have ordered Halloween Havoc 1998 or buy it on VHS: Bret Hart vs Sting and Diamond Dallas Page vs Goldberg. I didn’t even realize they were on the same event, either! It’s hard to say who is to blame for that but it’s not really necessary to blame anyone. With Ultimate Warrior vs Hulk Hogan, it was an attempt to cash in on something well-known, even if many years had passed. We all know Bischoff is known to do that from time to time. It’s hard to blame him for trying, and I don’t think it would be treated with such disregard had the flash-paper incident not happened. It was all a questionable storyline at best but I’m sure plenty of people bought the pay-per-view to see Warrior in action. I for one have never been a fan of Ultimate Warrior, and probably never will be. However, as much as I’d like to pin this train wreck on him, I just can’t. But it’s important to remember that hindsight is 20/20.
Eddie Gilbert: Pre-Heyman ECW Innovator
I’d been planning for the longest time to give ECW a shot. I missed it the first time around, for many reasons. For one, I was a WCW fan and was glued to the TV thanks to a lot of their storylines. Feel free to laugh; looking back, some of those storylines weren’t so great. I understand why I liked them. I liked WCW, but that didn’t mean I was anti-ECW. I just didn’t see a need to seek out ‘more,’ because I was content with what I was seeing. Another reason was that I didn’t like the extreme realism presented in some matches. I was never a fan of hardcore wrestling.
Years have passed, and I have become the modern equivalent of a tape-trader. After getting ahold of the entire run of ECW’s Hardcore TV, I decided to give it a go. If you’re thinking of giving ECW a try, be on the lookout for more posts like this one. Or, if you’re a longtime fan, feel free to comment as I go through the years.
1993: ”Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert
What may strike first-time viewers as odd is the realization that Paul Heyman was not present in ECW for most of 1993. In fact, ECW was lead by a completely different loud-mouthed heel: Eddie Gilbert.
Billed as being from ‘Every Girl’s Dream’ or ‘Every Woman’s Fantasy,’ Eddie Gilbert’s arrogant persona perfectly wove itself into the fabric of Eastern Championship Wrestling. Before the barbed wire and flaming tables, ECW was a family-friendly indy promotion. This wasn’t an overnight change, but it was a gradual progression as directions started to change. In early 1993, Eddie Gilbert served as one of the top heels in the company as well as the booker.
On the first episode of Hardcore TV, Gilbert is immediately thrust into a storyline with Terry Funk. Terry Funk and Eddie Gilbert would face off in the main event of Summer Sizzler, a supercard held at the ECW Arena on June 19, 1993. At first glance, viewers might write Eddie Gilbert off as ‘Jerry Lawler Lite,’ and Eddie Gilbert would probably take that as a compliment, being that Jerry Lawler was his idol. Eddie Gilbert’s pro-wrestling resume had included Mid-South, CWA, and Jim Crockett Promotions, and he learned how to be an old-school heel from the best in the business.
As great as Terry Funk is or was, the real star throughout this entire angle was Eddie Gilbert. Gilbert had a persona that had viewers shaking their heads in annoyance yet still wanting to see more. Coming out to Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” Eddie Gilbert was victorious versus Terry Funk in their Summer Sizzler “Texas Chain Massacre” match. This match was your standard strap match, but the strap was a chain, instead. Critics may have been annoyed that Gilbert won the high-profile match that he himself booked, but what was great about it was that Terry Funk was booked very strongly, and Eddie Gilbert still won by underhanded tactics, like a true heel should, while keeping the babyface strong.
After this, Eddie Gilbert (along with manager Paul Heyman) would film skits in public places in Philadelphia, with Gilbert flaunting his newly-crowned title of “King of Philadelphia.” This to me was the highlight of 1993, and I noticed a change when Eddie Gilbert left. Apparently there was a falling out between Gilbert and ECW owner Todd Gordon, and Paul Heyman took over as booker in September. Paul Heyman was very rusty, at first, and it took him a while to find his rhythm, so to speak.
Eddie Gilbert would go on to work for Smoky Mountain Wrestling for the remaining months of his career, which would be cut short due to a heart attack. Eddie Gilbert died on February 18, 1995, in Puerto Rico; he was 33.
More to come in Volume 2. Click “continue reading” for some classic Eddie Gilbert clips, and be sure to check out this DVD of Eddie Gilbert’s ECW moments. Read more
Randy Savage, WWE’s PG Wrestling, and the Attitude Era
WWE: Attitude Era
I’ve been trying to hype this site little by little, by taking part in discussions in the comment fields of the posts on popular WWE Facebook pages. It hasn’t been too successful, and I think I may have lost some intelligence as a result. A lot of WWE fans seem to be hell-bent on reliving the so-called glory days of the ‘attitude era,’ a term used to describe the view years of trash-TV many of us grew up on in the late 90s to early 00s. Of course you’ve got the ones who claim to be ‘old school’ fans, but consider D-Generation X to be ‘old school wrestling.’ I’d hardly like to even call Randy Savage old school, and his time was about 7-8 years prior.
Back to “The Attitude Era.” You know, the same era that brought the McMahons $50 million they blew on their failed attempt at a spot in the US Senate. The same era that made them even more than that $50 million, and made them enough money to even be able to be prosperous after failing to get an alternative football league off the ground past a single season. The same era that the McMahons seem to be ashamed of being associated with; an era that bridged the gap between WWF, the pro-wrestling company and WWE the multimedia juggernaut, specializing in ‘sports entertainment.’
Gone are the days of ‘bra and panties matches’ and beer baths on weekly television broadcasts, and the fans are up in arms about it. I for one am glad.
Now, let me first tell you that I became a fan of professional wrestling in the late 90s. 1998, to be exact. I used to rush home from school every Tuesday to watch taped episodes of WCW Monday Nitro from the night before. Sometimes, I’d be lucky enough to watch it live, and one of my fondest memories to this day, still, is Bill Goldberg pinning Hulk Hogan for the world title, live on Nitro in Atlanta, Georgia. I followed WWF, too, but not as closely. A lot of the programming either bored me or was too off the wall for me to enjoy, and it didn’t have as much appeal as WCW. At least in my opinion at the time.
Slowly, that changed, however. All of my favorites began to ‘jump ship’ and show up on WWF’s programming. This was an exciting time, as a kid, because it truly felt like anything could happen. This was a time of disgruntled employees leaving to hopefully seek better opportunity in the rival promotion, but I didn’t realize that at the time. I loved WCW, but I loved following my favorites even more.
This being said, I’ll also say that I never got a pay-per-view. I can’t recall ever being amped up for a WWF event, but there were a few WCW shows I was really excited to see on VHS, thanks to a friend with a “hotbox.” I do recall seeing WrestleMania 2000 through that method, though, and it did feel like a big deal.
I think the reason WCW appealed to me more was that I liked WRESTLING. I knew from day one it was ‘fake,’ and I was OK with that. If anything, I liked it because I knew these guys could make it believable without really getting hurt–for the most part. I never liked the hardcore stuff, and I was more likely to cringe than cheer when I’d see a hard chairshot to the head. A part of me knew that that was more real than fake. People asked me why I liked ‘that fake stuff,’ and I’d always say, ‘well why would I want to see someone beat someone up for real? That would be pretty sick.’ Given the slang of today, I should point out that I didn’t mean ‘awesome’ when I said ‘sick.’
I followed WWF straight through its transition to WWE, because it was all that was left to watch after WCW closed. Eventually, I got bored. Life happened, high school happened, and I outgrew wrestling without realizing it. A few years later, I felt nostalgic and decided to get back into it. Two thousand bootleg DVDs later (I kid you not) I was a bigger fan than ever before, and a walking tome of wrestling knowledge of past and present.
My interest slowed down again, however, as the ‘PG’ era began. I initially thought that the problem was a lack of middle fingers and profanity, but it isn’t that simple. I recently watched WWE’s Randy Savage collection, and had an epiphany. Read more
NOTE: This article no longer has the video caps I originally took. Kindly use your imagination, and offer a friendly one-finger-salute to the people who hacked International Objects in October of 2011. You’re number one!
Live from Asheville, NC, World Championship wrestling brought us another edition of Monday Nitro. Hosted by the announce team of Tony Schiavone and Larry Zbysko, the night showcased some great undercard matches and ongoing development of the New World Order takeover after the fallout of War Games 1996.
The card opened with a classic lucha showdown between two familiar masked stars for the Cruiserweight Championship: Rey Mysterio Jr and Juventud Guerrera. In usual WCW fashion, Tony Schiavone spent most of the match talking about ‘more important things’ rather than the match at hand: Big Bubba and Glacier would be appearing later on. Rey Mysterio Jr wins the match and hangs onto the belt. Read more
I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting on the floor at the foot of my father’s bed on a Monday night in July. With no school in session, there was no reason I couldn’t stay up to watch WCW Monday Nitro rather than tape it and watch it the next day. Of course, my Dad didn’t have the same luxury of a summer vacation, so I had to try to contain my excitement as I watched then-undefeated United States Champion Bill Goldberg challenge the ‘immortal’ Hollywood Hulk Hogan in the Georgia Dome. That’s right, I even remember the arena. I also remember it being the peak of entertainment in my young-adult days. Never before (and I don’t think I was ever again) was I that engrossed and drawn into a TV show (perhaps my childhood favorite ‘Power Rangers’ would be the only exception) in my life.
Fast-forwarding over ten years later, a lot has changed. If you’ve been reading this blog, you might have gotten the impression that I am still a wrestling fan. That assumption is correct, but it’s not a statement that can be written without asterisks at hand. A lot has changed. The lines of real and scripted are no longer as blurred as they once were to me, and many names have come and gone since. Even that said company has gone; gone into the clutches of Vince McMahon. Wrestling has not been the same since World Championship Wrestling closed, because there is no competition for World Wrestling Entertainment, the ‘number one’ in the business.
That may change over time, as the ‘number two’ in the business, Total Non-stop Action Wrestling, has signed the most well-known and popular star in the history of professional wrestling: Hulk Hogan. Love him or hate him, everyone and their uncle knows the Hulkster. Not everyone knows TNA, however, and while one man can’t automatically make TNA a contender, it sure will help a lot. Read more