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?

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

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

WWE Network is great. Do I know how to make it better? YES! YES! YES!

The first couple of days for the WWE Network didn’t go so well:

However, outside of a few hiccups (the never ending Tyler Breeze loop during NXT ArRIVAL), it’s worked without any major issues since then, and has replaced Netflix and Amazon (outside of Justified and,  recently, Veronica Mars) as my go-to source of televised entertainment.

The main appeal of the WWE Network for me was the chance, for $9.99 a month*, to watch the Naked Mideon vs. William Regal match from No Mercy 2000 whenever I wanted on ANY DEVICE. Also, all the classic WWE/WCW/ECW PPVs. And not having to spend $45 a month to watch live PPVs (aka, I would not be watching Extreme Rules in May if I didn’t have WWE Network).

One program I didn’t know about until getting the Network was Legends of Wrestling, which is a series of roundtables that were filmed in the mid-to-late 2000s. Hosted by (well, he attempts to keep things under control) Mene Gene, the episodes feature former wrestlers discussing a variety of topics (factions, Wrestlemania, greatest rivalries, etc.), and they are generally great, the highlights being Ric Flair’s legit hatred of the nWo during the factions episode, and DDP going out of his way to defend both David Arquette and Karl Malone multiple times during the episode on celebrities. Do not mock Malone unless you want a diamond cutter.

Other original programming includes a Countdown show (Jake the Snake’s DDT was wayyy too low on the top finishers episode), a Wrestlemania Rewind show (a recent episode features “the thrilling Undisputed Championship match against Y2J Chris Jericho” from Wrestlemania 18 … #fireable) and a very entertaining documentary about Daniel Bryan following his wins at Wrestlemania XXX.

Now, while there’s plenty of great stuff on the Network, here are a few things that could improve it:

1) For some reason — or I’m not noticing the feature because I’m a dope — you can sort WCW and ECW PPVs by year on PS3, but not WWE PPVs (you can sort WWE PPVs by year on other devices). Now, I could certainly do a google search and find out the order of PPVs by year within minutes, but … LAZY. Also, a resume play feature. PPVs are long, WWE Network!

2) Adding a “random” button. There are so many PPVs that, unless I’m looking for a specific show, I don’t even know where to begin (except maybe AT THE BEGINNING), especially on the WCW stuff. If I start trying to look around myself, I inevitably end up watching Wrestlemania 8 again. This is not a bad thing, but it is preventing me from adding to my wrestling knowledge.

3) Remove how the match ends from the search function. One of the fun things about WWE Network is the chance to see matches I haven’t seen before. One of the fun things about seeing matches I’ve never seen before is finding out how they end. WWE Network search engine = DESTROYER OF FUN:

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4) Letting users create/share playlists. I’ve seen people write about this elsewhere, and it’s a great idea. If someone wanted to put together a list of greatest high-flying matches or greatest Hollywood Hogan matches, then post them for other people to watch, that’d be great. The person putting together a list of greatest Hollywood Hogan matches would have an insanely low standard for what constitutes a great match, but he/she should at least have the option.

5) Add a titantron/music video channel. Please let me watch the Real American video or listen to The Brood’s theme song whenever I get the urge (always) in higher quality than YouTube.

Gotta be Fair to Flair

Brian Cougar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*with 6-month commitment

 

WWE Network is great. Do I know how to make it better? YES! YES! YES!