One of the best things ESPN ever did was give the green light to the 30 for 30 series. Many amazing stories that otherwise wouldn’t have been told on major television have made their way onto ESPN airwaves.
The most recent was pro wrestling-related. Ric Flair’s life story was the subject of 30 for 30’s “Nature Boy”. Ric’s life is quite the story, and seeing it on 30 for 30 makes one wonder what other wrestling stories would thrive on the show.
Obviously there are a billion. I tried to stay away from ones that have continually been told. Does the world really need another Montreal Screwjob documentary? ECW? Monday Night War? Come on now. World Class & the Von Erichs already got a 30 for 30 Short…it could have been a long piece too, but we’ve seen some good documentary work done on the promotion. I also limited myself to one death.
What if I told you these are my Top 5 Wrestling-Related ESPN 30 for 30 ideas?
5. The Samoans
The Anoa’i family history encompasses much of pro wrestling’s history over the last fifty years. The story of Afa & Sika becoming wrestlers after starting riots at the matches in San Francisco is a pretty great one. Add in everybody that came afterwards, including a Rock connection, and this feels like a perfect fit for ESPN.
4. Dr. D: The Forgotten Superstar
David Schultz was quite the character. Just when the WWF was hitting the mainstream & he stood to gain attention as one of the top heels, he had to go & hit John Stossel on 20/20. His wrestling career was pretty much over after that, but he’s become something of a cult favorite over recent years due to clips like this one:
He had a pretty interesting life after wrestling as well, as he became a bounty hunter. A dig into his story would be pretty interesting.
3. Sunny Days
It’s easy to forget now, but at one time you could have made the argument that Tammy Sytch was the biggest female star in WWF/WWE history. At a time where women were an afterthought in the business, she rose up from Smoky Mountain Wrestling to be the most downloaded celebrity on America Online. The rise & fall of Sunny is a compelling story that could thrive in the documentary format.
2. The Death of Bruiser Brody
You could do an entire 30 for 30 series on untimely wrestling deaths. Eddie Guerrero, Owen Hart, Chris Benoit, Brian Pillman and countless others would make for great documentary material. Brody is the one major star of the last forty years whose legacy hasn’t been wrapped under WWE’s umbrella. His story has been told, but not on a major level. His murderer is a free man, so the film maker could be able to get a word with him.
- United States vs. McMahon
The scandals that plagued the WWF in the early 1990s are largely forgotten today. Who remembers that Vince McMahon was on trial and on the verge of spending years in prison for illegal drug distribution? Steroids aren’t the hot-button topic they once were now that baseball has outlawed them & football sweeps them under the rug, but it’s still a story that deserves to be told, and needs to be told in order to get the full story of the biggest wrestling company in the world.
Steve Cook’s Top 5 Pro Wrestling Tournaments
Wrestling’s best tournaments?
The NCAA Tournament is in full swing, and Steve Cook is inspired to take a look back at wrestling’s tournaments!
Who doesn’t love a good tournament? This is the time of year where we all become obsessed with brackets. March Madness is in full bloom, and we’re all keeping track of who beat who and who’s playing next. We all know that pro wrestling lends itself well to a tournament format… Do I need to go any further? Probably not. Here are the Top 5 Pro Wrestling Tournaments of all time.
5. Ultraviolent Tournament of Death II
I know some people are not going to be happy with this pick. Thing is, I don’t feel a list of American wrestling tournaments would be complete without a selection from the deathmatch genre. It was the bread & butter for many indy companies back in the day, and I’m sure there’s still something of an audience for it now.
I’ll admit it. There was a period of time where I was into guys getting hit with light tubes & thrown into barbed wire and fun stuff like that. I’m over it now, so I can’t tell you if any of the tournaments over the past ten years have blown the stuff from the 2000s out of the water. What I can tell you is which deathmatch tournament was most memorable to me. The second TOD made “Sick” Nick Mondo a CZW legend. Dude got thrown off a building by Zandig! Mondo beat JC Bailey in a Light Tubes & Ladders match, Zandig in a 2 out of 3 fall Light Tube Log Cabins match, and Ian Rotten in a Barbed Wire ropes, 200 Light Tubes match.
Mondo became a star that night. Unfortunately it was his last night in the business, as injuries suffered during the evening made him think twice about the whole wrestling thing. Hey, at least give him credit for being smart enough to get out.
4. 2008 Battle of Los Angeles
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla’s strength over the years has been staying in their lane. Sometimes people would like to see the company get bigger, but they’ve spent most of their existence working around other promotions’ rules. As long PWG they remained DVD-only, companies that had TV & PPV with not many other dates on the schedule were happy to let some of their guys get a payday out west.
Since 2005, PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles tournament has featured pretty much anybody that ever made any kind of name on the indy wrestling circuit. Winners include the likes of Kenny Omega, Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Ricochet, and Sami Zayn’s mentor El Generico (RIP). The best one I’ve seen, the 2008 edition was won by none other than Low Ki. It was when he wasn’t jobbing to anybody, so the result was kind of obvious.
It was still a fun show with a ridiculously stacked roster. Ki, Nigel McGuinness, Bryan Danielson & Chris Hero made up the final four. Danielson had matches with Hero, T.J. Perkins & Davey Richards. Hero also had a Necro Butcher Rules match with Necro Butcher. The finals featured Ki & Hero working with only one rope…and having a pretty darn good match.
3. 1993 King of the Ring
Every so often, fans clamor for the return of King of the Ring to WWE programming. It’s like they forget King Sheamus, King Barrett and the other weak noblemen to rule over WWE’s kingdom. The event definitely had its ups & downs, but it certainly got off to a good start in Dayton, Ohio.
Let’s be honest, any show in 1993 that had Bret Hart wrestling three times was bound to be a good one. He went through Razor Ramon in the first round in a solid starter. Mr. Perfect awaited in the semi-finals, and the two men had a classic match like they always had with each other. Then Bret took on Bam Bam Bigelow in the finals, and overcame the odds against a bigger man that had the semi-finals off thanks to a Lex Luger/Tatanka draw.
Bret’s goal on this evening was to prove that he was the best wrestler in the WWF, even if he had been taken out of the championship picture at the moment. He did just that, and put the KOTR tournament on the map in the process. Owen Hart following in Bret’s footsteps and winning the next year meant so much because people remembered that performance.
2. 1987 Crockett Cup
Going back to the days of Jim Crockett Sr., the Mid-Atlantic territory was always a tag team-heavy promotion. Fans in the Carolinas, Virginia & surrounding areas loved that style of wrestling. The tradition continued after Jim Sr’s death, and when it was decided that a major show was needed between Starrcade & the Great American Bash tour, the idea of the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament was hatched. The Crockett Cup featured most of the best tag teams in the world coming together for a twenty-four team tournament where the winners would split $1,000,000 & get a trophy.
Jim Crockett Promotions held three of these events from 1986-88. The first edition in the Superdome didn’t draw much of a house, but Baltimore came out in full support in 1987. A who’s who of tag teams from the Road Warriors to the Midnight Express & the Mulkeys were there, but at the end of the night it was the Super Powers, Dusty Rhodes & Nikita Koloff beating the Horsemen team of Tully Blanchard & Lex Luger to take the prize.
Even bigger than all that…Magnum T.A. made his first appearance in a wrestling arena since his car accident the previous year. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and not a doubt that his friends Dusty & Nikita would win the main event.
1. The Deadly Game
Survivor Series 1998 is one of those shows that people either really love or really hate. Workrate fans really hate it, as there wasn’t a classic match to be found on the card. Fans that are more into characters & story really love it. To me, this night was Vince Russo’s highpoint as a wrestling writer.
Stone Cold Steve Austin had lost the WWF Championship in September, getting pinned by both Kane & Undertaker. Austin refereed a match between Kane & Undertaker in October, where he knocked them both out & made the match a no-decision. Vince McMahon came up with the idea of a tournament after that, and his primary objective was to keep Austin from winning it. It became known as the Deadly Game…I’m still not sure why, but it gave us one of the best PPV theme songs of all time.
Mankind was thought to be Vince’s favorite, while The Rock was seen as the next worst option for Vince other than Stone Cold. After a night of seemingly never-ending twists & turns, including Austin getting screwed yet again by a McMahon (Shane this time), Rock & Mankind met in the finals. And wouldn’t you know it, a year after Survivor Series 1997, which Jim Ross kept dreading a reprise of all night with Mankind winning at the behest of Mr. McMahon, it turned out that Rock was the man locking in the Sharpshooter while Vince yelled to ring the damn bell.
Fourteen year old me couldn’t have enjoyed the show more, even if Rock was my third choice behind Austin & Mankind. Yeah, this time period was tough for me as far as favorite wrestlers feuding went.
New Japan Cup Fallout : Will It Really Be Okada’s Revenge at G1 Supercard ?
The New Japan Cup has come to an end, with Kazuchika Okada winning the tournament. Will Okada prevail and cut the Switchblade’s new era short ?
The New Japan Cup has now come to an end, with Kazuchika Okada winning the tournament for the second time in his career. The Rainmaker will look to get his revenge over Jay White in MSG, which is exactly the subject of today’s article. Will Okada prevail and cut the Switchblade’s new era short ? Let’s dive into the matter at hand !
If there is one thing I learned watching New Japan Pro Wrestling, it is to NEVER neglect any possibility. Such a statement has never felt more true since Jay White came back to New Japan at Power Struggle in 2017. Since then, White has kept being the ultimate trump card. First by defeating Kenny Omega for the IWGP US Heavyweight championship. Then, he defeated both Okada and Tanahashi in the G1 Climax, took over Bullet Club, and went on to repeat his G1 upsets over Okada and Tanahashi, at Wrestle Kingdom and New Beginning, claiming the IWGP Heavyweight championship from Tanahashi in Osaka.
What New Japan called the “Switchblade shock” in reference to Okada’s “Rainmaker shock” from 2012 is now real, and with Okada marching to MSG with the purpose of finally vanquishing his nemesis, I have to wonder if Okada will actually do it, because if there is one thing I am actually sure of, it is that the outcome of the match between the Rainmaker and the Switchblade is as uncertain as it could be. Sounds paradoxical ? I will explain.
Here’s the thing. While the possibility of the rest of this year gravitating around Okada and White fighting over the Heavyweight championship is not something to rule out, I find it hard to imagine that other people will not be involved. I can think of Tetsuya Naito or Kota Ibushi, depending on the result of their soon to come IWGP Intercontinental championship match. I believe this match will help shape up the new direction following the Okada vs White encounter. I have already touched on Kota Ibushi in a previous article, explaining why I could see him take the Intercontinental championship away from Naito, so let’s follow that logic. This would leave the leader of L.I.J empty handed in every sense of the term…or does it ? While Naito won’t be able to reach his goal of becoming a dual champion, it is doubtful that he will stop looking to take back the Heavyweight championship, the first chance he gets.
This is actually important to consider in the eventual result of Okada vs White and especially what will happen going forward. Naito being the biggest star in New Japan to not hold a championship while haven’t taking part in any Heavyweight championship matches since Wrestle Kingdom 12, and with Dominion slowly coming up, we have to think of who would challenge for the Heavyweight championship in Osaka-Jo Hall this year.
With that in mind, we are left with two options. Assuming whoever leaves MSG as Heavyweight champion keeps the title until Dominion, which seems likely, will New Japan add another chapter to one of the most storied rivalries of the last decade, or will we see the continuation of New Japan’s new era in a more explicit way, with a never seen before IWGP Heavyweight championship to main event the second biggest New Japan show of the year ? Of course, this is only based off assumptions. Who knows, depending on the circumstances of this upcoming Okada vs White III, we could be up for a fourth encounter even sooner than expected.
To cap off with this opinion piece, let’s actually give an answer to the initial question. I do not believe G1 Supercard will be marked by the Rainmaker’s revenge over the Switchblade. Let me ask you one question : Do you fully expect Jay White to lose the Heavyweight championship without any defenses, considering the faith New Japan seems to have in him ?
You guessed my stance, I think that feels unlikely. Not impossible, remember what I said about never putting any possibility aside, but unlikely. We could even witness a surprise in Madison Square Garden, but it won’t be Jay White retaining the championship, if that does happen.
Let me add that, as a nod to another previous article concerning Bullet Club dominating G1 Supercard, the best way to dominate the event, in terms of results and talk created afterwards, would probably be include Jay White winning. After all, White would be 3-0 against Okada, which says something considering how highly regarded of a wrestler the Rainmaker is.
This is how I now conclude this article. What did you think of the New Japan Cup ? What are your thoughts going forward ? Do you breathe with the Switchblade or will Okada make it rain all over Madison Square Garden ?
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