Riot in the Streets: The WWE promo video to rule them all

Something WWE does better than all other professional sports (I said this in the Macho Man post, and I’ll say it again: On this MLBlog, pro wrestling is considered a professional sport — on par with the XFL and all those other, lesser ones) is promo/highlight videos. WWE fans complain about plenty (Vince McMahon is out of touch, LOLCenawins, the fact that Naked Mideon is no longer employed by the company), but when it comes to these prematch and recap videos, I think pretty much everyone agrees that they’re consistently great.

Here are three of the best:

Wrestlemania XVII: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. the Rock

“I need to beat you, Rock. I need it more than anything you could ever imagine.” — Austin

This Wrestlemania is considered by many to be the best, and the main event was Austin, the challenger, vs. the Rock, the champion. The two biggest stars of the Attitude Era main eventing Wrestlemania for the second time, and this one took place at the Astrodome, which is located in Austin’s home state of Texas.

When the two wrestled in the main event of Wrestlemania XV, Austin was the clear fan favorite going against bad-guy Rock, who was Vince McMahon’s “Corporate champion.” At XVII, Austin was still the top guy, but Rock was not far behind with his millions (AND MILLIONS) of fans.

The video sells the importance of the heavyweight title better than WWE probably has done since, and Austin’s desperation to reclaim it is clear by the line I’ve quoted above (he would *SPOILER* turn to the darkside and align himself with McMahon to win this match). The soundtrack for this video is the song “My Way” by Limp Bizkit. And while I know everyone — even the people who loved them back in the late 1990s/early 2000s — hates that band now, it was a most #hireable choice.

Money in the Bank 2011: CM Punk vs. John Cena

“Do I have everybody’s attention now?” — Punk

This is the PPV after Punk delivered his famous “Pipebomb promo” and went from being a star to a superstar.

Punk was the No. 1 contender, and his contract with WWE was (I’m pretty sure legit) coming to an end. He hadn’t signed a new deal yet, and guaranteed he would win the title — in his home state of Illinois, no less — and then leave the WWE with it.

Punk was angry about the fact that even though he believed he was “Best in the World” and should be face of the company, the WWE — run by Vince, his “idiotic daughter and his doofus son-in-law” (Stephanie McMahon and HHH) — wanted to keep him down so that Cena (Hustle, Loyalty, Respect) would continue being the top guy.

The video, which repeats the line quoted above several times, does a great job of showing how different the two wrestlers are and how outrageously self-righteous/entertaining Punk was at this point. Sadly, no Limp Bizkit this time, although Cena (from West Newbury, Mass.) finally snapping and punching Punk after Punk compares him to the Yankees will always crack me up.

Wrestlemania XXVI: Shawn Michaels vs. the Undertaker

“You willing to throw DX away?!” — HHH

At Wrestlemania XXV, the Undertaker and Michaels had one of the best, if not the best, Wrestlemania matches of all time. A year later, there was talk that they were going to have a rematch. At first, I didn’t think this was a good idea — How could they top the last one? But after seeing this video on an episode of Monday Night RAW, I was on board.

Michaels had challenged Undertaker to fight him again at Mania XXVI, but the Dead Man just kept going, “Nope.” So Michaels became obsessed to the point that he was attacking his friends, refs and screwing up in all his matches. This led to that HHH quote above, which does not best represent the feud but always kills me due to how sincere and sad HHH sounded, as if Michaels was letting down some noble institution and not a group most known for its catchphrase, “Suck it!”

Eventually, Michaels gets Undertaker angry enough that he grants the rematch — but only if Michaels puts his career on the line. The soundtrack for this video is “Running Up That Hill” by Placebo (a cover of a Kate Bush song) and it is a friggin’ perfect choice. The match itself — which I saw LIVE at my first Wrasslemania — was not as great as the first one, but still very good, and it features the legendary LEAPING TOMBSTONE.

Now, those are three of the best, but I’ve recently discovered one that possibly tops them all: The Best of 1985 highlight video, featuring the song “Riot In the Streets.”

Saturday Night’s Main Event used to air occasionally on NBC in the 1980s and early ’90s (they also brought it back a few times in the 2000s) when SNL was on break. The WWE Network added the entire SNME library over the summer, and since I’d only seen clips of the show before, it was a chance to see new matches/angles/interviews involving childhood favorites like Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper and the Macho Man. The episodes are quite ridiculous/entertaining, and one of the more ridiculous/entertaining things is the Best of 1985 video package (here’s the link to the episode on WWE Network — the clip starts around the 42-minute mark).

It’s introduced by these two maniacs:

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And while the video itself is just random clips from the past year, “Riot in the Streets” sounds like it was written by someone who listened to the Rocky IV soundtrack on repeat until it drove them insane. Lyrics below:

They do all their talking with a gun

They’ll shoot them as fast as they come

Well a million new voices will be found

Their heads are held up high, the braver ones

There’s more than a wall that must come down

Before their flag is raised again!

 

Someday, the regime will end

The wheels turn, and we must defend

 

Chorus:

Cause there’s a riot in the streets

Hiding in the dark

Waiting for the light of day

When they call out their warning

We can hear what they say

Cause there’s a riot in the streets

There’s a riot in the streets

 

We’ve seen frontiers vanish overnight

Some have come down without a fight

But absolute power will soon be gone

We have the strength to carry on!

 

One of the challenges of democracy

How will we be seen by history?

(Chorus)

The video is followed by a “Peace Match” between Nikolai Volkoff, who sings the national anthem of the Soviet Union after entering the ring, and Corporal Kirchner, a former army paratrooper. Volkoff wins. USSR! USSR!

Cause there’s a riot in the streets.

** UPDATE **

Commenter mentioned that “Riot in the Streets” might have replaced the original song, and he/she is CORRECT. The original airing features Billy Ocean’s “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” which fits the video much better, especially the goofy/light-hearted parts. I still consider the “Riot in the Streets” version to be superior, mostly because I wrote this whole friggin’ post about it.

Brian Cougar

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Riot in the Streets: The WWE promo video to rule them all

Revisiting SmackDown back when it was the Rock’s show, SmackDown

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After finishing work Wednesday night, I found @poolhalljames watching the live stream of WWE Network, which was playing a classic SmackDown from April 27, 2000 (direct link to the episode here).

First off, I want to point out I’m a huge fan of what WWE has going on right now. Daniel Bryan, the Shield, Paige, the Wyatts, Cesaro (and Paul “MY CLIENT BROCK LESNAR ENDED THE STREAK” Heyman), Evolution (IS A MYSTERY). Hell, even John Cena on occasion … this is probably the most entertaining group of stars WWE has had in quite a while (despite the absence of CM Punk).

However, while of course my viewing experience was heightened by nostalgia, it was fun having a couple of post-work beers and watching this 2000 episode for several reasons

1. The roster: The Rock, Austin, HHH, the McMahons, Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Chyna, Christian, Lita, Trish Stratus, the Hardy Boyz … plus even lesser players like Hardcore Holly, Crash Holly, Tazz, Val Venis, Test and Albert, Dean Malenko, Saturn, Too Cool … there was plenty of memorable talent on the show. Adding Test and Albert to that list was a stretch, I know.

2. The episode-long storyline of “Is Austin here?”: This week’s RAW had some entertaining stuff: the opening segment with Bray Wyatt/Cena/a bunch of creepy children, Magneto making an appearance, Bad News Barrett advancing in the Intercontinental Title tournament. However, basically all those segments were their own, individual thing … segments didn’t build on previous segments, for the most part. This SmackDown, on the other hand, has a major theme for the entire episode: Is Stone Cold here? And, if he is, when will he show up/what will he do?

The Rock “guaran-damn-tees” that Austin is at the show, and for the rest of the episode, they cut to clips of the McMahons/HHH becoming more and more paranoid. This includes HHH getting “3:16” sent to him on his pager (!); Shane McMahon attacking a cardboard cutout of Austin; Shane/HHH finding a can of beer, following a trail of beer cans hoping to find Austin, opening door of a closet to find no Austin but about 100 empty beer cans (swig of 100 beers for the working man!).

3. The Rock’s $5,000 shirt: I realize Rock wore out his welcome for many during his return from Wrestlemania 27-29, but 2000 Rock was and is amazing.

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4. Vince McMahon: “Austin doesn’t have the temerity, in other words, Austin doesn’t have the GRAPEFRUITS to show up tonight!” Also, his face in the photo at the top of the post.

5. Non self-aware crowd: BACK IN MY DAY a hot crowd booed and cheered loudly, it chanted vulgarities. What it didn’t do was start chanting random wrestlers’ names to amuse itself the second it got bored, or chant “This is awesome!” for every slightly above-average match.

6. Midcard feuds: HHH makes a big deal during his promo with the Rock about Road Dogg having a match later in the show with Christian. Crash Holly, shown earlier in the episode to be depressed about losing the Hardcore Title, eventually sneaks in to regain the Hardcore Title during the match between Jeff & Matt Hardy later in the show. They show a non-PG promo video of Stratus playing mind games with Buh Buh Ray Dudley, he comes out during a match and tries to put her through a table (again, non-PG era), she successfully escapes by “mesmerizing him” with a smooch on the head.

Despite — or possibly because of — RAW being three-friggin’-hours long now, it feels like far too often they’ll throw out some match that has zero storyline.  Sometimes, that’s fine — they are wrestlers, after all.  But it generally helps to have some kind of reason, big or small, for the conflict to be memorable.

7. Austin in a vehicle: While it was not as memorable as Austin on the zamboni or monster truck, Stone Cold finally arrives and uses a giant crane to drop a cinder block onto HHH’s bus, the DX Express. Paranoia justified. DTA.

The horrible part of watching this show: This was only back in 2000, and multiple wrestlers: Guerrero, Bossman, Test, Benoit and Crash Holly are dead. The Hardy Boyz, Chyna and Angle have all dealt with personal issues or major injuries in the years since this aired. The Attitude Era was enjoyable, but many paid a steep price as a result of providing that entertainment.

Brian Cougar

Aside

Swig of beer for the podcasting man: the wonderfully weird Stone Cold Steve Austin

Sunday on reddit.com/r/squaredcircle, someone posted this video of Stone Cold Steve Austin:

Back during the Attitude era, while I was of course a fan of his, Stone Cold was not MY GUY. As a slightly weird, overweight high school student, I very much related to Mick Foley and was a huge fan of him as a wrestler and was invested in his path to achieving his dream. When it came to Austin/Rock, I was on #teambringit. I got back into wrestling in the late 1990s because I read a newspaper article about all the old WWF wrestlers who were a part of WCW/nWo, but early heel Rock — I still remember seeing the People’s Elbow for the first time — was such a wonderfully obnoxious character that I quickly drifted back to being a much bigger fan of WWF.

Stone Cold, the beer swilling redneck who was in the early stages of his feud with his boss, Vince McMahon, wasn’t someone I related to at the time (although if I was the 30-year-old, employed dude I am now back then, that would’ve been a different story). It actually wasn’t until after he aligned with McMahon at Wrestlemania 17 and his subsequent transformation into a paranoid (and hilarious) whack job — I’ll forgive him for What? since it was great when he first started doing it — that I got fully on board with the Bionic Redneck.

And in the past few years, Austin has excelled somewhere outside the squared circle: the internet.

First, there’s his Twitter. And it is glorious:

And then it gets even better with his podcast, The Steve Austin Show

Now I only listen to like five podcasts, but until Tom Scharpling brings back the Best Show, Austin is the reigning champion of the podcasting world.

Not surprisingly, the man responsible for “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”, “And that’s the bottom line cause Stone Cold said so!” and “Gimme a hell yeah!” has a few catch phrases on his podcast:

“Swig of (beer/Red Bull/water) for the working man!”

“We’re making money up in this bitch!”

“They keep sending little gimmicks in the mail and they’re called bills.”

Austin has two different versions of the show: A PG one and an “Unleashed” one … “Unleashed” meaning he will use the word “mother [expletive]” within the first two minutes. Generally, of course, the guest/focus of the show has to do with wrestling, but he’s also interviewed David Lee Roth (the highlight being when the two of them just started cackling at one point), among other non-wrestling celebrities.

The great thing about Austin’s show is the fact that 1) he has improved a ton since the first couple of episodes and 2) since he’s one of the top 3 pro wrestlers of all time, other wrestlers show him a ton of respect and therefore seem open to discussing whatever the hell he wants to talk about. He’s had on legends (Ric Flair), underrated veterans (William Regal), current stars (Daniel Bryan), behind-the-scenes people (Jim Johnston, who composes most of the theme music), and has even had Q&A sessions with fans, respectfully referring to one as a “member of the Internet Wrestling Community” as though the person was some kind of ambassador and not just a jabroni calling from home.

Also, Austin is a weirdo. He’s got an ongoing feud with anyone who drives a Prius/anyone who throws a cigarette butt out of their car window/as my buddy James pointed out after this was originally posted, Trader Joe’s for their tiny parking lots, had all the fans calling in for the first Q&A session end their calls by cutting 15-second promos on McMahon for screwing up the Royal Rumble and reads his ad copy with a fantastic amount of intensity.

And, most of all, he still has a passion for pro wrestling. He doesn’t condescend or discuss wrestling in any kind of ironic manner, and you can tell how serious he is about the work involved when it comes to the athletic and entertainment aspects of the job. Also, at the end of a very enjoyable interview with John Cena, Austin made sure to call out Cena for how loose he applies the STF, which was, to use Austin’s term, audio whoop ass.

Swig of beer for the podcasting man.

Brian Cougar

Swig of beer for the podcasting man: the wonderfully weird Stone Cold Steve Austin