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Opinion

The Underrated Files: Chris Kanyon

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Throughout the many years of professional wrestling history, it can be easy for fans to forget about Superstars of the past, especially if they were never a World Champion. It could be argued that there’s a vast amount of competitors that never got their “just due” or weren’t utilized to their full potential, whether it be issues backstage, not being used correctly or any other number of reasons. The advent of the WWE Network allows us to shine a light on some of the men and women that have been forgotten, reintroducing stars to a new audience that never got to see their talents. In this first installment of my “Underrated Files”, we do just that as we look back at one of my “under the radar” favorites, Chris Kanyon.

Real name Chris Klucsartis, many people believe that Kanyon got his start in World Championship Wrestling, however he began training in late 1991 after graduating from the University of Buffalo at the Lower East Side Wrestling Gym in Manhattan, debuting in April 1992 and even running into a future co-worker to form a tag team, Billy Kidman. In late 1994, Chris got his first taste of the “big time”, appearing as a jobber for the WWF in matches against the likes of Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Tatanka and Bob Holly. Another future co-worker named James Mitchell saw the potential inside of Kanyon’s 6-4, 242 pound frame, sending him for more training with WWE Hall Of Famers The Fabulous Moolah and Afa of The Wild Samoans.

The extra training paid off by 1995, debuting with WCW (as a jobber again), but continuing to work on his in-ring skills at the famed WCW Power Plant. He would be swiftly put into a tag team with Mark Starr known as Men At Work, a construction worker gimmick that often saw the team lose when Kanyon would pull out a tape measure to take some lengths in the ring at very inopportune times. It wasn’t a long-term solution, but it didn’t earn him a break and he would soon be replaced in the tandem by Mark Winner and taken off of television to be repackaged.

This is where the going really gets good, reappearing in 1997 as a new character under a mask that I found very interesting as a youth, Mortis, the latin word for “death”. Alongside the renamed James Mitchell, now going by James Vandenburg, Mortis was thrown right into a feud with another new WCW character that had been given a major push and lots of funding behind his gimmick, Glacier. Some would argue this was Kanyon’s best work and they may be right, but the constraints of the mask and having a mouthpiece at his side would limit him as we rarely, if ever heard Mortis speak. His feud with Glacier was primarily what the Mortis character was built around, but he always seemed to end up on the losing end of things until the debut of a familiar face with a new name, Wrath, who had previously been known as Adam Bomb in the WWF. Wrath & Mortis were a very formidable duo that had seemingly gotten a lot of investment into their storylines and gimmicks, donning what looked to be very pricey entrance gear and embracing a dark side.

Mortis didn’t see too much success, but it was during this time that he really caught my eye. Here’s a bold statement; Mortis was arguably one of the most innovative in-ring performers there has ever been. His offense included maneuvers that I had certainly never seen before and coupled with his unique look, I was in. His finishing move the Flatliner, a 2nd rope Samoan Drop was devastating, not to mention his other creations such as a Rocker Dropper (Famouser) off the 2nd rope, his torture rack into a neckbreaker called an Argentine neckbreaker and his mix of mixed martial arts like kicks, really made him stand-out to a young Eric Ames. Not to mention a sick looking superkick and arguably one of the best right hands in the business. Many of you may say, “Everyone throws a right hand”, but there’s something to be said about having a good one that comes across on television as very clean and impactful.

Things didn’t quite work out for Wrath and Mortis, the angle being dropped late in 1997 with no explanation ever being given. Mortis would do his best in storyline to remain relevant, begging Raven to join his Flock in 1998 to no avail. After being shunned, he would drop the Mortis gimmick altogether and return as Kanyon to feud with the aforementioned Raven, often appearing out of nowhere dressed as a fan, cameraman or even a vendor to attack The Flock’s fearless leader. This opened the door for us to see Kanyon’s personality and spawned his ever famous rhetorical question, “Who better than Kanyon?”. In addition to his microphone skills being revealed for the first time, he continued to create new maneuvers between the ropes such as the Scream Machine (electric chair face drop) and a new version of the Flatliner, a reverse STO, earning a nickname coined by Mike Tenay, “The Innovator Of Offense”.

After another break in late 1998, Kanyon returned and joined forces with Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow to form The Triad, a trio of Superstars from the New Jersey area. WCW’s business was starting to trend downward by this time in 1999, something the company would vehemently attempt to turn around, but it was too far gone. Kanyon continued to impress and became one of the more hated Superstars in the company, finally earning some success with reigns as a WCW Tag Team Champion. Unfortunately, the sinking ship of World Championship Wrestling couldn’t seem to stop the momentum the WWF had, leading to the company’s sale to their competition in 2001. Among the contracts purchased by Vince McMahon was that of Chris Kanyon. He would play a big role in the WWF’s “WCW Invasion” angle, but like many stars from WCW, he was made to look like a fool against McMahon’s talent.

There’s not much good that came from his WWF days, although he did get some key spots and matches alongside Diamond Dallas Page against Kane and The Undertaker, even the WCW United States Championship and dubbing himself “The Alliance MVP”. Injuries would plague Kanyon over the next two years, ultimately leading to his release from the renamed WWE in 2004 after a really lackluster run, to no fault of his own. Chris would retire from the business at the young age of 34, however it didn’t last long as he came back to compete for other promotions such as Total Nonstop Action and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla before formally retiring in the spring of 2007.

While on the independent scene, Kanyon revealed publicly that he was a homosexual and even tried to use it as part of storylines, claiming the WWE fired him for being openly gay. This was of course untrue and he would later reveal that it was simply a publicity stunt. Unfortunately, this very underrated Superstar and wrestling innovator had struggled with bi-polar disorder his entire life, many of the people who surrounded him never having any clue. On April 2nd 2010, Chris’ brother Ken found him inside his apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, New York, Kanyon’s lifeless body laid-out next to a bottle of antidepressants.

Although he cut his own life short at the age of 40, there’s no denying that he left an impact, at least on this fan anyways. During those days, I was in love with the video game ‘WCW/NWO Revenge’ for the Nintendo 64, usually playing as Kanyon for his great move-set. Kanyon was always underused in my opinion, there was a time in WCW where he was arguably the most hated heel in the company because he could really cut a promo, which always left me torn because his offensive creations were something to behold. I’d encourage anybody to check out some of his work on the WWE Network, search for Kanyon or Mortis. You will probably see some moves that look familiar now, but nobody pulled them off with the same crispness. A true innovator, you may walk away asking yourself his famed catchphrase, “Who better than Kanyon?”.


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Opinion

King: Top 5 Championship Matches in WWE Royal Rumble History

Chris King looks at the best championship matches that have taken place at a WWE Royal Rumble event!

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2020 WWE Royal Rumble

Chris King looks at the best championship matches that have taken place at a WWE Royal Rumble event!

I have gone back in time to reflect over Royal Rumble’s over the last decade. From 2012 to 2022 the WWE Universe bared witness to some amazing matches including AJ Styles defending his WWE Championship against Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn, The Rock defeating CM Punk and ending his historic championship reign, and even the ‘Beast Incarnate’ Brock Lesnar successfully defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena & Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins in a classic triple-threat match.

Here are the top five championship matches at the Royal Rumble over the last decade.

Honorable mentions:

  • Brock Lesnar VS. Finn Balor (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2019
  • Brock Lesnar VS. Kane VS. Braun Strowman (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2017
  • Randy Orton VS. John Cena WWE World Heavyweight Championship (Royal Rumble 2014)
  • Daniel Bryan VS. AJ Styles (WWE Championship): Royal Rumble 2019

Top 5 Royal Rumble Championship Matches 

5. Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2017

In August of 2016, the WWE Universe was shocked when Triple H turned on his former protege Seth Rollins and essentially handed the Universal Championship to Kevin Owens in a crazy fatal-four-way match. Over the next few months, Owens and Chris Jericho would become best friends and true enemies of Rollins and former Shield-mate Roman Reigns. After Reigns was screwed out of the title at Roadblock they would deliver a Shield bomb through the announce table to Owens.

Reigns and Owens would battle again at the Royal Rumble this time, Jericho would be locked inside of a shark cage to prevent interference. Both superstars delivered an impressive performance and threw out everything to defeat one another. Reigns was minutes away from winning the Universal Championship until Braun Strowman obliterated him, which allowed Owens the conniving champion to keep his title.

4. CM Punk vs. The Rock (WWE Championship): Royal Rumble 2013

The self-proclaimed ‘Best in the World’ CM Punk was on a complete tear going through the roster successfully holding the title for a historic 434 days. At Raw 1000, The Rock came back and challenged whoever was the champion at the time to a WWE Championship match at Royal Rumble. Later in the night, Punk would turn heel attacking ‘The People’s Champion’ and aligning himself with Paul Heyman shortly afterwards.

The Shield would work as mercenaries for Punk to retain his title since the 2012 Survivor Series where they debuted. Vince McMahon informed Punk that if The Shield got involved in the championship match he would be stripped of the title. After twenty minutes of back and forth action between champion and challenger, the lights went out and The Shield interfered yet again. McMahon came out to strip Punk of his championship but, The Rock had other plans and the match was restarted. The People’s Champion would deliver the People’s Elbow to end the historic reign of Punk.

3.  Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2022

‘The Head of the Table’ Roman Reigns had conquered all of his challengers on Friday Night SmackDown, so a handpicked wild card was chosen from Monday Night Raw to challenge for the Universal Championship. Enter Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins. The two former Shield-mates had faced each other in the past but, this time felt different. Reigns was the arrogant and cocky heel while Rollins portrayed more of a tweener character. Rollins mocked the champion’s historic title reign and infuriated Reigns the go-home episode of SmackDown.

The Universal Championship match was the first match to open the show to a white-hot crowd. Reigns made his long grand entrance waiting for his challenger until a familiar theme erupted throughout the WWE Universe. Rollins not only mocked The Shield’s old entrance through the crowd but, was also decked in full Shield attire which pissed off the champion.

I feel like it’s impossible for these two superstars to have a bad match. They have incredible chemistry whether as partners or rivals. Reigns locked in his challenger with the Guillotine Choke but Rollins made it to the ropes. The Tribal Chief was relentless and would not break the hold so Rollins won by disqualification.

2. AJ Styles vs. John Cena (WWE Championship): Royal Rumble 2017

Let me start of by saying this was a very difficult choice to make because I went back and forth on making this number one. ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles shocked the world in 2016 not only for turning heel on John Cena but, beating him at Money in the Bank via shenanigans and SummerSlam completely clean in the middle of the ring. Styles went on to have an incredible run as WWE Champion over on SmackDown Live.

Cena went off and did his own thing after a devastating loss to his rival but, came back returned in time to challenge for the title to not only become a sixteen-time champion but to tie the illustrious record held by Ric Flair. Both superstars used every maneuver in their arsenal to win the match, but it came down to the final sequence to understand where Cena’s passion lies. Mr. Never Give Up hit the Attitude Adjustment and deadlifted Styles to deliver another thunderous AA to become the sixteen-time WWE Champion. What a freaking match!

1. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena (WWE World Heavyweight Championship): Royal Rumble 2015

Even though the match before was tieing the legendary Ric Flair’s championship record, I still can say with full confidence that this triple threat match is one of the best matches in Royal Rumble history. Brock Lesnar had an impressive 2014 starting off with ending The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania, and then obliterating John Cena at SummerSlam to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

At Night of Champions Cena was minutes away from winning the title and defeating ‘The Beast Incarnate’ until the arrogant Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins caused a disqualification. Leading up to the Royal Rumble, Cena and Rollins would face off in a tables match at the TLC pay-per-view, while Lesnar vanished. A huge triple threat match was set for the 2015 Royal Rumble pitting all three superstars against each other. Rollins who was still holding the briefcase bragged about if he didn’t win the title with Plan A, he would just cash-in and become the champion with Plan B.

From the moment the bell rang, the action began between Cena and Lesnar. Rollins played the manipulative cocky heel picking his moments to strike. Rollins and Cena took out The Beast on the outside to make it one-on-one. Lesnar was stretchered out of the match but miraculously came back and displayed his freakish strength taking anyone who moved to Suplex City. Rollins hit the champion twice with his briefcase and set up for the Curb Stomp. Lesnar bounced up and delivered a thunderous F5 to retain in a fantastic match.

I love this match so much because it was the first time that I believed Lesnar can deliver a great match and good story when he wants to. We’ve experienced this in his matches against AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, and even Finn Balor. The Beast is a very smart performer and knows how to sell for his opponents to make them look like a megastar.

There you have it, those are my top five championship matches at Royal Rumble. Let me know what you think!


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Opinion

Greg DeMarco’s Top 5: WWE WrestleMania 39 Opponents For Roman Reigns Not Named The Rock

The Road to The Royal Rumble is here, which means we will soon have an opponent for The Tribal Chief! Greg DeMarco explores potential candidates…

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Roman Reigns Seth Rollins WWE WrestleMania 39

The Road to The Royal Rumble is here, which means we will soon have an opponent for The Tribal Chief! Greg DeMarco explores potential candidates…

Daddy’s back with something for you that is meant to be fun–and a distraction from the news surrounding Vince McMahon’s (likely terrible) return to WWE. Being a fan is meant to be fun, and one of the most fun things we get to do is look ahead to WrestleMania.

The main question, for this article at least, is who will be Roman Reigns’ opponent at The Granddaddy Of ‘Em All? Now everyone wants it to be The Rock, so we will explore the alternatives to that match.

In order to do that, I am making the following assumptions, even if some might not be true in the end:

  • Roman Reigns only wrestles one match, the final match on Night 2.
  • Roman Reigns is defending both the WWE and the Universal Championships in that match.
  • Roman Reigns–and this is just purely me–is not losing.

Honorable Mentions

I did have a few ideas who simply didn’t make the list. Check ’em out:

  • Drew McIntyre – Simply put: Why? Why would we put Drew McIntyre against Roman Reigns in a football stadium when we just saw him against Reigns in a football futbol stadium last fall?
  • Kevin Owens – Similarly, why would we do this right after we do it at the Royal Rumble?
  • Karrion Kross – Ok, now I’m just trolling you. He ain’t the guy, brother–not with this gimmick.
  • Ricochet – Personally, as an underdog babyface against Roman Reigns, I love Ricochet winning the Royal Rumble and challenging The Tribal Chief. But we have a better underdog on the list already.

With that all out of the way, it’s time to have some fun. I give you…

My Top 5 WWE WrestleMania 39 Opponents For Roman Reigns Not Named The Rock

5. Sami Zayn

The bloom is off the rose for Sami Zayn, at least in the eyes of The Tribal Chief. The eventual turn is one of the most telegraphed things in recent memory, and in this instance that is perfectly fine. Sami Zayn is insanely over, and him fighting the uphill battle with The Bloodline would get him Daniel-Bryan-Danielson-at-WrestleMania-30 levels of heat along the way.

People love Sami Zayn. His awkward charm and seemingly unlimited charisma won over the audience so well that his storyline with The Bloodline had to get extended multiple times over. However, it’s obviously coming to an end.

The obvious match is Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn against The Usos, but you could also slot Kevin against Solo Sikoa if Sami were to indeed get the nod.

4. Bron Breakker

You probably think I’m crazy, and I totally get it. Bron Breakker comes from NXT and goes right to the WrestleMania main event?

If you want to create a new star in Bron Breakker, this is how you do it. (At least, it’s one way you can do it.) Look at Roman Reigns himself–part of the story of his WrestleMania 31 challenge of Brock Lesnar was that he was growing into the role. JBL told the story on commentary, and the match was all about Roman ascending to the level of Brock.

Of course it was all the perfect set-up for Seth Rollins to give us the greatest Money In The Bank cash-in in WWE history, but in the process Roman proved that he belongs.

So make this year’s Royal Rumble the ultimate opportunity–the most shocking winner since Rey Mysterio, the NXT Champion Bron Breakker.

3. Seth (Freakin’) Rollins

Seth Rollins seems to be in a never ending program with Austin Theory, and it’s time to move on. Seth is an automatic main eventer in WWE at this point. He’s a made man, probably the next biggest star (on the men’s side) in WWE after Roman Reigns.

And he also has a very specific distinction that no one else has: a singles victory over Roman Reigns since he made his huge return in 2020. Yes, it was by disqualification, but he has proven his abilities to get inside the head of the Tribal Chief.

And Seth Rollins is going to have a match at WrestleMania, and 50,000+ in Sofi Stadium are going to be singing his song. Might as well be in the match that closes WrestleMania Night 2.

2. Sheamus

This is purely a match on my playlist–but this is MY list. And to me, Sheamus makes perfect sense.

In fact, I thought the feud between The Bloodline and The Brawling Brutes would lead to Sheamus challenging Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. And had Sami Zayn’s involvement in The Bloodline not taken off the way it did, we still may have.

Sheamus is more popular now than ever, and at 44 years of age he is doing some of his best work. Sheamus winning his second Royal Rumble and challenging Roman Reigns would be the Lifetime Achievement Award he deserves.

But it’s more than that! The match? It would deliver in a big way. History? There’s plenty between Sheamus and Roman, going back to when Sheamus cashed in Money In The Bank on Reigns, and when Reigns eventually beat The Celtic Warrior to win one of his world championships. The fans? They would be solidly behind Sheamus, and would go nuts for every near fall. Don’t sleep on Sheamus as your WrestleMania 39 main event opponent for Roman Reigns.

1. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Full credit for this idea belongs to PC Tunney and Dave Ungar, as shared in the Chairshot Radio Twitter DM thread. And it’s steal-worthy indeed.

Three major legendary names are rumored for WrestleMania 39: The Rock, John Cena, and Steve Austin. All three make sense for a multitude of reasons. But The Rock will be launching a football league (which might be a reason to do this–the publicity), and is still in insane demand in Hollywood. Cena seems to be free at the present time, and we’ve seen the videos of Austin working out.

Remember, I am assuming Roman Reigns is going to win. If that’s the case, then this WrestleMania is but another moment in Reigns’ legacy. Why not add Steve Austin to his list of victories?

It would sell. ✅
The fans would buy it. ✅
Austin proved he can go. ✅

This type of match is what WrestleMania is all about. If it’s not The Rock, it should be “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

And there you have it, my list of–

Wait a minute Greg, what about Cody Rhodes?!?!

Man, I thought I could slip this one past the goalie!

Cody Rhodes is a great question. But you have to look at my assumptions above. I am assuming Roman only wrestles one match, defends both championships, and–most importantly–doesn’t lose. Given those assumptions, you want Cody Rhodes as far away from this match as possible.

If we do split the titles, then Cody needs to be the guy to walk away with the WWE Championship. He does that either over Seth Rollins, or in a triple threat on Night 1 against Reigns and Rollins–but Rollins still eats the fall.

But under my conditions, losing at WrestleMania doesn’t do anything for Cody.


What do you think? Let me know on social media!

Hit me up:

Until next time, remember: enjoying wrestling is a choice…make the right choice!


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