The match no one wanted: Is Shane/Undertaker the new Bret/Vince?

 

In 2010, Bret Hart returned to RAW for the first time since the infamous Montreal Screw Job in 1997. People were pumped. He called out his longtime nemesis, Shawn Michaels, and the two hugged, putting years of bitterness behind them. It was a nice moment, despite Hart’s decision to wear jean shorts.

Then Hart called out his other longtime nemesis, Vince McMahon. The two also appeared to reconcile, but McMahon ruined the feel-good story by kicking Hart in the balls, kick-starting (#fireable) a feud for a Wrestlemania match.

I and many others were happy to see Hart once again involved with WWE, but I and many others also had no interest in seeing him go one on one with McMahon inside the squared circle. Hart, one of the greatest in-ring wrestlers of all time, was limited physically as the result of a stroke he suffered years earlier. McMahon, one of the great wrestling characters of all time, was limited physically by being a man in his mid-60s.

The feud was weird: McMahon refused to accept Hart’s challenge, then Hart was hit by a car, then McMahon changed his mind since Hart had a broken leg as a result of the accident, then Hart revealed that he faked the car accident and actually didn’t break his leg after Vince signed the contract. Actually, what am I saying: that’s a perfectly acceptable pro wrestling feud. But the whole thing felt off.

The match itself was … not good. And I was in the building for it! My first Wrestlemania (I’ve since been to two others, no big deal). I expected it to go for about five minutes, with Hart quickly dispatching of McMahon with the sharpshooter. Instead, it went for like 15 minutes, with Hart’s extended, dysfunctional family first coming out as though they had aligned with McMahon, then immediately turning on him and siding with Bret. The entire family basically destroyed McMahon who — while not the most sympathetic character in the world — was still an old man being pummeled.

The highlight of the match was McMahon finding a crowbar and yet somehow becoming less powerful with it, flailing aimlessly. Eventually, after teasing it about six times, Hart finally put McMahon in the sharpshooter and won the match.

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The reason I bring this up, other than the fact that this MLBlog hasn’t been updated in months and I’m bored, is the current match that appears to be slotted for the main event of this year’s Wrestlemania: Shane McMahon vs. the Undertaker in Hell in a Cell.

A few weeks ago, Shane McMahon returned to RAW for the first time in years (he has been pursuing another career outside of the WWE) to confront his dad, Vince, and his sister, Stephanie. I wasn’t watching, but my brother @poolhalljames sent me a text that said “SHANE O MAC!!!” People, myself included, were pumped. Then he sent me another text that said “He’s fighting Undertaker at Mania.” People, myself included, were puzzled. It’s great that Shane is back with WWE, but why the hell has he returned to wrestle, of all people, the Undertaker?

Now, there are some legit reasons this match is happening. WWE’s roster at the moment is decimated by injuries, with John Cena, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan (who had to retire due to concussions), Sting and Seth Rollins, among others, sidelined. And they’re holding Wrestlemania 32 at Cowboys Stadium, which means they need plenty of star power to get 90,000-plus people in the building. Also, I guess Naked Mideon is busy, as I would’ve personally gone with him vs. the Undertaker over Shane.

But, so far, this feud, like the one between Hart/Vince, has felt off. The stipulation for the match is, if Shane wins, he gets control of RAW. Why would Undertaker, a guy who shows up about five times a year at this point, care who controls RAW? No idea.

It seems at first they wanted people to just accept that Vince is the boss, and Undertaker doesn’t particularly have any reason to not beat up Shane, so he was fine doing it. But that didn’t really track. They then had Shane call Undertaker a “bitch,” which — someone calling another person a bitch has certainly fueled plenty of fights in human history — but I’m not sure if that’s enough for the main event of the Showcase of the Immortals. Last night, Vince announced that if Undertaker loses, he will never wrestle at Wrestlemania again. I kind of feel like that one won’t stick.

And, in the most egregious part of this feud so far, Vince called Shane the Undertaker’s most formidable Wrestlemania opponent of all time.

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All that being said, the match could end up being amazing. Shane, despite being a not-overly-intimidating-looking 46-year-old, is a maniac; the Undertaker, despite now resembling Frasier, is a legend; and I, despite being a super smart person, am often wrong, as last year’s Wrestlemania proved.

But it definitely won’t be as good as Asuka/Bayley.

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Brian Cougar

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The match no one wanted: Is Shane/Undertaker the new Bret/Vince?

Forget Savage/Steamboat. Give me Naked Mideon vs. William Regal

My high school held a card party in the gym every year to raise money for the school. Since I was a wonderful student — or because I was forced to, I don’t remember … it was many beers ago — I helped out during my senior year. The event didn’t start until 8 at night, so there was about a 4-hour window between the end of classes and when the card party started. So, with all that time to kill, I had some options: Our lunch room had a ping pong table and a foosball table, so I could occupy my time playing those. There was a mall across the street, so I could hang out there. Or maybe, since it was Friday, I could get a head start on my weekend homework.

Instead, my good buddy Mike and I decided to host multiple screenings (on VHS!) of arguably the greatest match in pro wrestling history: Naked Mideon vs. William Regal for the European Title at No Mercy 2000.

Naked Mideon, for those of you who don’t know your history, was a character portrayed by Dennis Knight. When he first arrived in WWE, Knight was a part of the tag team the Godwinns, who were … pig farmers. Then, the team became Southern Justice, who were … redneck bodyguards. After that, Knight was kidnapped by and then joined the Ministry of Darkness (a group led by the Undertaker during his “Let’s crucify people!” phase), and he became Mideon. The best thing about Mideon was his theme music.

Finally, for reasons that I don’t remember ever being explained, Mideon started randomly showing up on RAW and Smackdown in nothing but a fanny pack: Naked Mideon had arrived.

Unlike Steve Austin’s switch from the Ringmaster to Stone Cold, Mideon becoming Naked Mideon did not lead to Knight becoming the biggest star in WWE history. However, probably (definitely) because we’re idiots, Mike and I were arguably (definitely) his biggest fans. If he would show up on RAW, one of us would either call the other’s house to make sure he was watching, or it would be the first thing we talked about the next day at school*. Eventually, Naked Mideon had a match. For a title. On a PPV people paid money to watch. Here are some blurry photos (courtesy of WWE Network) of the match highlights:

The tease (Mike, via text — “It’s the Steamboat/Savage of No Mercy.”)

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The high point (Jim Ross, on commentary — “Put the women and children to bed.”)

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The wide shot (J.R. — “Can we get a wide shot, maybe.” Mike — “Curse out J.R. for requesting a wide shot.”)

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The end (Mike — “It was the best match in its segmented amount of time.”)

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Not surprisingly, after we somehow got around a dozen people to attend the first screening of this match that afternoon, by the third screening (Mike — “Third screening? We had over 60!”), it was just Mike and I watching by ourselves. To quote Tex Slazenger, Knight’s post-Naked Mideon character, and the final one he portrayed before he was released by the WWE: “Don’t bother the crazy people.”

Brian Cougar

 

* We were the coolest kids in our high school

 

Forget Savage/Steamboat. Give me Naked Mideon vs. William Regal