Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Wrestling Memories

It’s Wrestlemania Week, which is sort of like Superbowl Week in that the WWE is throwing itself a huge party to celebrate the 32nd edition of the grand-daddy of all Pay Per Views (though it wasn’t the first WWF PPV, that would  be THE WRESTLING CHALLENGE, available on the WWE Network for only $9.99 a month).

Today I’ll look back at my in-person memories, perhaps later in the week I’ll post about my love of the sports-entertainment genre and my favorite wrestlers, and then a post about this year’s big event and NXT show, which in my mind is going to outclass the main show.

As much as I love wrestling I’ve only ever been to three live events.  I’ve met more than my fair share of wrestlers though, the ones that I can remember are Ultimate Warrior, Rob Van Dam and Vampiro.  Warrior was pretty crazy at the SDCC the year his comic came out, and he really seemed like he was living his gimmick.

The three live events I saw in person were a “House Show” in the late 80’s, I won tickets off the radio and took my Grandfather, because he was the one who instilled my love of wrestling.

Here’s the card and results:
San Diego Sports Arena – September 16, 1989

  1. Boris Zhukov defeats Mark Young
  2. Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect - Draw 
  3. WWF Intercontinental Title Match - The Ultimate Warrior (c) defeats Andre The Giant
  4. WWF World Tag Team Title Match - Demolition (Ax & Smash) defeat The Brain Busters (c) (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) by DQ
  5. Dino Bravo defeats Jim Neidhardt
  6. Akeem defeats Hillbilly Jim
  7. Dusty Rhodes defeats The Big Boss Man

I still own the program complete with hand-written results.  Though I think it’s in my storage unit.

I also saw a RAW at Staples Center in 1999.  It was the one where Stephanie McMahon and Test (the late Andrew Martin) were supposed to get married.  Despite being memorable show, the in-ring product was kind of stale.

Here’s that card:
WWF Raw is WAR
Staples Center, Los Angeles CA 
November 29, 1999

  1. Big Boss Man & Viscera d. Kane & The Big Show (Viscera pinned Kane after interference by X-Pac)
  2. Edge pinned Matt Hardy both Christian and Jeff Hardy interfered                 
  3. Steve Blackman pinned The Godfather                                        
  4. Grandmaster Sexay & Scotty 2 Hotty pinned Crash Holly & Hardcore Holly (Brian Lawler pinned Crash Holly)
  5. Test pinned Triple H (Shane McMahon interfered)                    
  6. Kurt Angle pinned Val Venis (British Bulldog interfered)                                  
  7. Billy Gunn & Road Dogg & X-Pac Def. Mankind & The Rock + Mystery Partner (Kane) via DQ when Al Snow jumped in the ring to fight DX

There was a bachelorette party for Stephanie that ran through the show and had some of the non-ring performers doing what they do.  Mae Young and Moolah were there as comic relief.  It was pathetic. 

Finally I went to Wrestlemania 2000 at the Anaheim “Pond” or whatever they’re calling it now.  Despite the fact that there were zero regular singles matches (the only 1-1 was a ‘catfight’ between Terri Runnels and “The Kat” Stacy Carter referred by Val Venis), it was a great show, with two really memorable matches that hold up today.

Wrestlemania 2000
Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim
April 2, 2000

1. Big Boss Man & Bull Buchanan D. D-Lo Brown & The Godfather (with Ice-T) at 09:05.  Bossman pinned D-Lo.

2. 15 Minute Hardcore Title Battle Royale –Crash Holly (c), Hardcore Holly, Tazz, Viscera, Pete Gas, Rodney, Joey Abs, Hardcore Holly, TAKA Michinoku, Funaki, Mosh, Thrasher, Faarooq, Bradshaw.  Any pin counted as a title change, and I used to have a listing of all of them.  Fortunately the Internet comes in handy.

a.     Defending Champion Crash Holly pinned by Tazz :27
b.     Tazz pinned by Viscera at 1:01 (34 seconds)
c.      Viscera pinned by Funaki at 7:19 (6 minutes 18 seconds)
d.     Funaki pinned by Rodney at 8:10 (51 seconds)
e.     Rodney pinned by Joey Abs at 8:25 (15 seconds)
f.      Joey Abs pinned by Thrasher at 8:46 (21 seconds)
g.     Thrasher pinned by Pete Gas at 9:23 (37 seconds)
h.     Pete Gas pinned by Tazz at 10:21 (58 seconds)
i.       Tazz pinned by Crash Holly at 14:28 (3 minutes 7 seconds)
j.       Crash Holly pinned by Hardcore Holly at 14:59  (31 seconds) to become the final champion.
I do think 15 seconds is the record for shortest title reign in WWE history

3. Albert & Test (with Trish Stratus) Def. Al Snow & Steve Blackman (w/Chester McCheeserton) 07:05 Test pinned Blackman

4. Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WWF Tag Team Titles - Christian & Edge Def. Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy, Bubba Ray Dudley (C) & D-Von Dudley (C) 22:29        

5. "Catfight” - Terri Runnels (w/The Fabulous Moolah) Def. The Kat (w/Mae Young) 02:25   Referee: Val Venis

6. Inter-Gender 6 Person Tag - Chyna & Grandmaster Sexay & Scotty 2 Hotty Def. Dean Malenko & Eddie Guerrero & Perry Saturn 09:39 Chyna pinned Eddie Guerrer

7. Triple Threat Intercontinental Title Match - Chris Benoit Pinned Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle (C) 07:54

8. Triple Threat European Title Match – Chris Jericho Pinned Chris Benoit, Kurt Angel (C) 5:41

9. Kane & Rikishi (w/Paul Bearer) Def Road Dogg & X-Pac (w/Tori) 04:16  Kane pinned X-Pac. 

10. Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Title Triple H (C) (w/Stephanie McMahon) retained at 36:28 over Big Show (w/Shane McMahon), Mick Foley (w/Linda McMahon) and The Rock (w/Vince McMahon). 

a.     Rock Eliminated Big Show at 4:49,
b.     Triple H pinned Mick Foley (career ending) at 19:40
c.      Triple H pinned the Rock at 36:28 after Vince turns on The Rock.

The highlight of the show is obviously the triple threat Ladder Match for the tag titles, during which Jeff Hardy seriously injured himself after the highest swanton bomb ever performed.  I also really enjoyed the 2 falls Triple Threat Intercontinental/European title match where Kurt Angle came in with two belts and left with none, despite not getting pinned.

The main event was a huge let-down though.  All the smart money had The Rock coming out as Champion, but in a last second swerve, Mr. McMahon turned on the Rock and Triple H became the one and only Heel champion to walk out of Wrestlemania with his belt. 

Will history repeat itself and will Trips walk out of this year’s event with his title?  Doubtful.  Roman Reigns seems to have been hand-picked by the WWE brass, even though the fans are turning against him more and more each day.

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