April 3, 2009
Something Old, Something New
Greetings grapple fans!
Well, it’s almost here. Just under 2 to go!
Months that is – to my wedding obviously! And, yes, days too – to WrestleMania 25.
It may seem slightly odd, but I’m not going to focus on WM at all for this column. I want to look at things from a wedding point of view – not in a Randy/Liz, Test/Steph or even Harvey Wippleman/Bertha Faye type of wedding – but taking something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and looking at the WWE past and present.
I want to look at some guys that in their own way helped shape the WWF/E back around the attitude era and at some guys from FCW that I think might be the future someday. (Writer’s note – I wanted to do this by interviewing some of the ex-WWE guys, but it didn’t materialise – c’est la vie!)
Scotty 2 Hotty
Now, you may think that it’s a bit of a daft place to start! Well fear not lucky readers, just wait ‘til you read down a little further!
Scotty wrestled on and off for the WWF for a few years until signing on the dotted line full time in 1997. He meandered here and there until, as luck would have it, management teamed him up with Brian ‘don’t call me Lawler’ Christopher, eventually becoming collectively known as Too Cool.
Besides a stupid notion of marrying them at an In Your House event in Memphis (Jerry ‘don’t admit he’s my son or people will realise my true age’ Lawler soon vetoed that) they got over. And over some more. And by the time they teamed with Rikishi the threesome had HUGE support. Don’t believe me? Check the tapes. They were OVER.
But the silliest thing of the lot was that Scotty’s finishing move was over too – that being, the worm! It was something to behold seeing the SmackDown audience join in with ‘W….O…R….M huh, huh, huh (ah, the good old days!) Scotty helped, at least for a while, smaller, more charismatic performers get over in the (even then) land of the giants.
Too Cool (and I always preferred Scotty of the two) were entertaining, were very much over and more to the point could go in the ring. They weren’t all flash with nothing to back it up (hi Sid! Though I mean it in the nicest way, honest!) They could, and did, have good matches with a variety of opponents. Things hit the skids once Christopher was released in 2001.
Scotty beat the odds in numerous ways (including injury and cancer) but more so proved that if your good enough, you’re big enough (even for Vince. Well, usually!)
Perhaps a more obvious choice. Val Venis burst onto our screens (if that’s the right phrase to use) in 1998. Val Venis was a (supposed) porn star (hence the rhyming slang name) and in any other time would have been a heel – but this was the attitude era, and within a short period of time he was a fully fledged face.
He was like a Rick Rude for the late 90’s, although nowhere near the all rounder of Rude. He was brash, arrogant and over bearing but for the next few years he was incredibly popular. He had several memorable feuds (most notably with Dustin Runnels over the affections of Terri) and held several titles (tag team, European and Intercontinental).
Over the years he turned heel a few times, but each turn only diluted his subsequent face turn. He was released fro his contract in early 2009, which on the one hand was a surprise but not on the other.
He was VASTLY underrated in the ring, and had been a company man through and through for a number of years. But these releases happen to the best of them – and also to Manu.
Val should rightly be lauded for his contributions in the last 10 years and, for many people of my generation, he is one of the abiding memories of Raw in the attitude era.
Now, this is a VERY random choice. Blackman arrived in late 1997 and really only lasted 5 years before injury forced him out of the WWE.
If the first two wrestlers on this list were all about personality, then Blackman was their polar opposite. His gimmick was that of a martial artist, but one who never really spoke. He did turn heel, apparently, although it was difficult to tell, as the yell was his only real facial expression.
He was in a few rag bag tag teams over the course of his time in WWF/E, several of which poked fun at his non-personality (his ‘Head Cheese’ team with Al Snow, anyone?) but he could go in the ring. He never did win a tag title, but did win the hardcore title several times.
Those of you who always assumed I’d lost my mind may now be right, but hear me out. Blackman (along with Ken Shamrock) brought a different dimension to the Federation (and Ken had a head start due to his UFC stuff) – they introduced martial arts type moves to the WWE. Well, assuming we ignore Yoshi Kwan, obviously.
He may have been the antithesis of the attitude era, but he played, for me, the perfect foil to all the over the top characters that were around at the time.
(This is more based on gut feeling and what I’ve read, as I can’t get to see any of their shows in the UK yet.)
There are a few guys in FCW that I could see fitting into the WWE right now (some already are and some are about to) but I want to mention a few that I think could be the future, and see what you all think.
Troy Jackman, Tonga and Kaval – now, I know it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to choose the artist formerly known and Low Ki, but I never said this would be three unknowns! For various reasons, I think they have ‘it’ and can see them being money players in the next few years (if not before) – and I didn’t even consider DH Smith or Eric Escobar as it wont be a month or two until their both called up, in my opinion.
Honourable mentions should go to Wes Brisco and, for the sake of patriotism, Sheamus O’Shaunessy. I first saw SOS on an Irish Whip Wrestling a few years ago and he, along with Drew Galloway/McIntyre (also in FCW) and a French wrestler whose name escapes me, stood out above the rest. As did Pac - and if the WWE actually still cared about Cruiserweights he would have been there long ago.
Now let me see: something old (Scotty, Val & Blackman) and something new (Jackman et al). All I need is something borrowed, as the something blue is also covered by Val Venis (I thank you!)
This was never intended to be an in depth retrospective of careers or give glowing reasons for my WWE future choices but just, as always, to stimulate debate. If you have any comments, feedback or other guys/girls that you think deserve a special mention, then drop me a line – firstname.lastname@example.org – and I’ll let you know what I think.
And on that note, I’ll go.
Oh, something borrowed? Probably the idea for this column, but any similarity to any persons/columns either living or dead is purely coincidental.