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  1. Sting has a good case as a draw. Really good, given that he's been a main eventer for almost his entire career. In looking at the Gordy List for the first time in a while, I was surprised that Sting has good answers to a lot of the questions re: status/popularity. But in the other big factors (athleticism, match quality, historical significance, crossover appeal, innovation, influence, all of which I rate higher than main eventing), he's sorely lacking. You could argue that a twenty-five year career is the same thing as “longevity”, but he only had about 4-6 nonconsecutive years as a badass, with a ton of mediocrity before/during/after. So did Sgt. Slaughter. Sting was a bigger draw on a national/global level than Sarge, but in terms of talent, was he in any year of his career even a top 100 worker? At any given moment in his WCW run, there were at least 20 dudes in the company more talented than him. His best matches are with 1988 Ric Flair, 1992 Mick Foley, and 1992/1993 Vader, and of those only the Vader matches are truly great. Look at who he was up against in the US category alone. I'd pick JYD, Lesnar, Koloff, Murdoch, the R&Rs, and Slaughter before I picked Sting. There are people in the HOF who have a worse case than Sting. Ultimo Dragon, Jericho, Chono, Kensuke Sasaki. The guys who we always point to as flaws. They each got in for different reasons: Meltzer loves Jericho and thinks his '07-08 run to be brilliant, credits Ultimo for inventing things he didn't invent, deems Sasaki the last “epic” Japanese worker of the old guard, etc. None of them being in makes Sting's case any stronger. Meltzer has no such talking point for Sting. The talking point for Sting seems to be “Starrcade '97”. Was he was a great wrestler? Did he make an indispensible contribution? I'd say no. At times a great draw, with a lot of charisma. Currently having his biggest moment since '97. But he's just not a good enough worker.
  2. Segunda Caida has written a lot about the awesome WAR shows that Tenta was on, and while this doesn't seem to be online, it seems like the best match Tenta was in, if not his career performance:
  3. He's not even the guy who looks most like a wrestler among the dealership's salespeople. My money's on Tim "The Chisler" Thornton, especially if managed by the bizarrely coiffed "Leasing" Gary Lewis.
  4. “Let's open on Cena and Hunter cutting bad promos for twelve minutes.” Gold/Stardust have been quiet All-Stars this year. JBL praising Aja Kong and burying the mid-90s of the division was something. Ambrose kisses Bray. Wyatt cuts a weeping promo in the middle of the match where Bray confesses he's in love with Dean, or that they're at least BFFs who could have ruled the world. Hunter's streak of falling asleep during his own battle cry promos (and those of other people) continues. Calling opponents “bitches” (Reigns' promo) and that Nikki-AJ match: the Attitude era is back, nerds! Rollins has had the briefcase four months, but it feels like a year. Bold choice from Rowan to take a Bright Eyes instrumental as his music. Fitting that this show end with Hunter and Steph stumbling around and screaming. They pulled the ripcord to get themselves off TV.
  5. I wrote a TL;DR post about the booking, but who cares. There needs to be a five-year ban on heel GMs in wrestling. You can go segment-by-segment and find a hundred lame choices. But the roster is really good right now. In stupid, directionless midcard matches churned to fill TV time, there was a lot of quality wrestling on this show. Ziggler's loss was more smark trolling, but Harper as IC champ is great. Cesaro-Ryback never should have been booked, but was very solid and improved the longer they went. Slater-Rusev was a great squash. Sheamus-Show made zero sense, but was really good! Has Sheamus had a bad match since he returned at the Rumble? The Bellas was a senseless waste of time, but a brief senseless waste of time, in the tradition of Stephen Hawking's A Brief Senseless Waste of Time. Ditto Kidd-Rose. The eight-man tag was arbitrary, but in a bubble it was a ton of fun from nine talented dudes. Overrated Steph verbiage and HHH falling asleep during his own promo led to a fun go-home brawl. The scripted stuff is unwatchable - and worse than usual last night - but if you edited out the hour+ of bad promos and clipped it to the 50-60 minutes of action viewed on mute, you'd think RAW was the UWF Power Hour in '86. The current champions are Brock Lesnar, Luke Harper, Rusev, and Gold/Stardust. What does Jim Ross think of a company headlined by Dustin Rhodes and a bunch of hosses with amateur backgrounds?
  6. I believe it was that Lacey is a teacher in Beijing, or has some other job over there? Meltzer wrote that the 10,500 attendance makes it probably the biggest indie show outside of Japan in years. Busick and Thatcher working a crowd that big is amazing. I know that Dragon Gate's cracked 10,000 for at least one show. And to put "indie" in perspective: the biggest crowd in TNA history was just over 11,000 in the San Antonio Alamodome for Lockdown 2013. If tickets were really $30-200 apiece, it'll be interesting to see how much money they net from this tour. I have no idea what the expenses were (several flights to China notwithstanding), or how much of the gate the company takes home, but it seems like even if they got hosed it was still worth their while.
  7. That 5-on-5 is the first match that makes me really miss Bryan. He could have been the glue that makes it great. But not a bad set of teams, if a little heavy on lumbering heavyweights. Feels like Cesaro misspoke his way out of a main event. And, as always: fuck Kane.
  8. Does the 94/95 budget account for the Charles Austin payout? From Bill Apter's column in the Jan '96 PWI: "Remember Chuck Austin, the preliminary wrestler who sued the WWF after having his neck broken by Marty Jannetty's "Rocker Drop." He has agreed to settle out of court and will receive approximately $10-million. That is more than $15-million shy of what a jury had originally awarded him." So if he didn't get a dime from them until early '96, then no. The WWF lawyers (pre-McDevitt at that) tied the deal up in court for a couple years until Austin caved. Plus I would assume they paid him the money over several years rather than anything close to a lump sum. Even at 1M per year, they'd have been paying him almost $20,000 every week until 2006. In the original $27 million settlement that WWF appealed, Jannetty himself was required to pay $1.3 mil. But I don't know if he ended up having to pay anything, or if worked for peanuts for the rest of his WWF time, etc. When that original $27 mil ruling came down, Meltzer wrote about it as a deal that could severely hurt the company. Not "out of business" bad, but maybe "USWA Northeast" bad.
  9. So at what point in its history was WWE closest to going bankrupt and/or out of business? According to WWE itself, the worst years financially were 94/95 going into '96. 1994 - 1995 : $87,352,000 : -$4,431,000 1995 - 1996 : $85,815,000 : $3,319,000 1996 - 1997 : $81,863,000 : $6,505,000 They're at least kind of turning it around by the end of '96: the young guys are getting hot, they're trimming their budget, things are on the rise even if it took until Mike Tyson to start making big money. But at the end of '95, WWE had a terrible roster and perhaps the smallest they've ever had: 38 guys. If they'd closed then, you never would have had the Rock debut, no Austin 3:16, no Iron Man match, no Hall and Nash jumping as the Outsiders, no DX in '97, no Bret comeback from hiatus and heel turn, no partnership with ECW. If WWE can't hang on in '96, it isn't just “Does WCW screw up the Attitude Era?” - it's do any of the big WWE players of the era even have careers? Look at the two rosters at the end of '97: http://www.solie.org/wwf97.txt http://www.solie.org/wcw97.txt WWF is such a younger, smaller group at that time. WCW's roster is 50% bigger, much older, and top heavy with international stars and long established WWF guys. While Bischoff always brags about having a blank check from Turner, it seems unrealistic that he would have taken more than 20-25 guys from WWF. To do so he would have likely had to fire some of his least essential players (Jim Powers, Darsow, Bobby Blaze, etc.). The Rock either never becomes a movie star, or goes about it in a very different manner. Maybe just outright quits the business and pursues acting earlier, becoming the sidekick in Steven Seagal movies. Maybe Heyman takes him and he gets a Shane Douglas-type push off his mic skills. Had he even been signed by WCW in 96/97/98, he'd have been Buff Bagwell: young good looking guy who the old guard would've embarrassed with bad booking. I see Austin coming back to ECW before he'd go back to WCW, which would have been interesting. Ditto Lawler and Jim Ross. A rated R version of Austin as the ace of ECW going in '97 is strange to picture, but could have had real upside for Heyman's prospects in getting on TV. Austin wouldn't have been as big, but he'd have been something positive for whoever took him. If Hall and Nash are never "the Outsiders", but rather just some guys scooped up in a sea of scooped up guys, is there even an NWO? Or is it nearly as successful? Bischoff could have gotten the whole gimmick out of his system doing a variation on that New Japan vs. WCW Starrcade, using actual Japanese guys in his rip off of their angle. Assuming WWE goes out of business after Hall and Nash jump, then I'd say the whole Kliq goes to WCW and are well protected. HHH basically gets Scott Steiner's push. If WWE closed in early '96, I could even see a scenario in which Michaels is the third man in the NWO, leaving Hogan out to dry and looking old. It's impossible to say how Hogan's relationship to Bischoff would have changed had all of WWE's biggest stars been hired at once. Bischoff was always loyal to him, but it would have been such a different scenario that I could easily see Hogan becoming a Ric Flair situation in which the guys in power portray him as the old, delusional has-been who's mocked for being behind the times even though the crowd still loves him. Though as others have said here, Hogan was promised the moon and stars in his contracts, so if he still had his full creative control and all the idiocy that entailed, he may have found a way to bury anyone and everyone. Vince sits on the money he has and becomes an event promoter, doing concerts and PPV stuff. Ironically, one place he could have had the kind of pull he wanted would be as a figurehead of UFC during it's post-McCain lull. In '98 I could certainly see him attracted to a spectacle that was toning down its bloodsport and trying to go legit. Built around pro wres style guys like Abbott, Frye, Couture and the Shamrocks. You could even imagine Vince acquiring investors to help him purchase the company a year or two before Zuffa does, thereby fulfilling Shane's then-aspirations to buy and run the UFC.
  10. The show had some good matches/workers. They had Finlay being Finlay for a while. Matt Hardy and Mark Henry had a good feud. And Christian vs. Swagger 2/10/09 is so good that Phil in his review asked if it was the best match ever produced under the name ECW. Lashley beating Balls Mahoney and three other dudes is the kind of thing that Heyman would have done (and did do) in the mid-90s. I would guess it was his idea. He's always about the next big thing, always willing to beat "his" guys to build new stars. Rhino, Awesome, Credible... they beat everyone. He's gotten great mileage out of guys who were over the hill (the Funks, Bigelow, Dusty, Tommy Rich), but those were huge stars worth preserving.
  11. After hearing Batista's story about being fined $100,000 for bleeding, I'm guessing people aren't anxious to do it and ask for forgiveness later. I wonder if this isn't just Hunter saying to Batista, “Hey, tell people we fined you some large amount of money.” A la Watts fining people publicly and then privately bonusing them the money back. So much to like about that 10-man Survivor Series tag. Andre in his gray suit phase. Hogan leading a team of recently released criminals and former foes in Patera, Orndorff and Muraco. It all seems fueled largely on cocaine and 'roids, but everyone got huge reactions. It's as close as WWE ever got to doing a mid-80s New Japan 5-on-5 team elimination match and literally all ten guys are really good in it. Bam Bam is so fun to watch, as is seeing what One Man Gang, Orndorff, and Reed were doing in '87 just after UWF folded. Orndorff's a house on fire in this, as if trying to visibly outwork Hogan, and even Hogan takes up his game a few extra toots.
  12. You have to accept blind refs in wrestling. But to utilize one moments after Tupac's hologram hypnotizes Ambrose feels a bit limp, non?
  13. Could have had Dean beat Seth clean and do the exact same finish. Ambrose wins, lights go out as he's celebrating, Bray lays him out post-match. If Dean wins, you get three guys over: Seth retains his briefcase while moving on to a different feud, Bray's back on top having just laid out a fresh and newly minted rival, and Ambrose is fully established as a singles main eventer while still looking for revenge upon Wyatt. You don't get over by beating losers, and at show's end, all three guys looked like losers. I get that HHH seems to view Rollins as his successor and closest modern parallel, but this just felt like cosplaying some alternate universe in which Hunter beat Austin in the finals of the '96 King of the Ring, or a comparable pivotal moment where he thinks if only he'd kicked out of a Stunner he'd somehow have ended up getting Austin's push and success. To say nothing of that lights out "bah gawd that must be Kane!” style of bullshitting a cage match finish being over fifteen years old and incredibly stale. Or how lame it is for a ref to count a pin after a fucking ghost pops out of a lantern. Only saw the last match: mixed bag until the finish. Cool table dive, but Kane lumbering to the ring to do something dumb has become wrestling's weekly low point. There is no pro wrestler I dislike more than that dude. It isn't even his fault. Perfectly solid at midcard comedy, especially for a libertarian.
  14. Biggest surprise of the thread so far: Chris Masters is only 31. Younger than Barrett, Cesaro, Axel, Bryan, Sandow, Ziggler, Rowan, Swagger, Gabriel, Kofi, Harper, Ryback, Sheamus, Sin Cara, and Tyson. He's six years younger than Titus, who started training in FCW when he was 31. Last year would have been a time to bring him back, after he had that wild story of saving his mom from her burning home by tearing apart a tree and using it to smash windows. That's the kind of thing Hogan's made a GOAT career out of pretending to have done. It's been said that Cena and Orton are both fans of his (to the point that he was rehired in 2009 at Orton's recommendation), but I got the impression from the way he was used on TV that HHH and Vince actively disliked him given the way he was always ridiculed in promos, so maybe he broke even there. Pointing a gun at his own head while drunk and posting pics of it on Twitter probably wasn't a great career move either.
  15. I cannot believe that Alex Wright vs. Sabu is nearly twenty years old, and that I remembered that much of it in detail. First Sabu match I saw after reading about him in the Wrestling Chatterbox as a tiny, tiny Parties, too young to be reading a Makropoulos joint. I'm surprised at how bad Mongo was on color. I expected him to be goofy. I expected him to know nothing about wrestling. But I could not have expected him to go entire singles matches referring to the respective competitors as “This Guy” and “That Guy”. His enthusiasm makes his complete lack of preparation all the more remarkable. He's so amped that I can't call him the worst announcer ever, but he's one of the strangest, and unique in his childlike interpretation of language.
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