Welcome to the SATURDAY edition of the Phat Daily Column. We are in a rare situation, where I'm having 2 columns for this weekend and probably this weekend only. Since my Birthday is tomorrow and that the History of Mr. Tito was well received for last year's Birthday column, I figured I'd do something like that this year, giving you my own personal reflections on my time as a wrestling fan. There's 2 columns this week since tomorrow is the day for my Backlash predictions.
You guys should be proud that I was able to quickly view the Scorpion King and have the review of it up before Friday Night. Now that's quick timing. It looks as though the WWF will likely lose Rocky to a major movie career. He'll go beyond Hulk Hogan, in that he left the WWF in his prime and actually has a successful movie in his career. I hope he does well.
Thinking the other day, the WWF might as well call Flair's show the RAW Wrestling Federation or RWF and call Vince McMahon's show the Smackdown Wrestling Federation or SWF. Why not? Smackdown and RAW are familiar names to everyone who watches the WWF? WWFE just seems too lame to me, as 3 letters for a wrestling federation is ideal.
On to the PDC.
Its Main Event was Ric Flair vs. Sting. Now, I saw Flair wrestle a little bit before this match, and only briefly watched Sting. Together, I was amazed at the 45 minute draw and was instantly hooked. Then, my favorite wrestler Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat joined WCW/NWA, and I was probably more into that federation than the WWF that year (1989), and the WWF had the major feud of Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan. Steamboat vs. Flair produced some of the most amazing technical wrestling matches ever witnessed.
Speaking of matches, here are my top 5 favorite matches of all time. This is NOT a best of, but my personal favorites:
-Top 10 FAVORITE MATCHES-
10. Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania 6
9. Triple H vs. Steve Austin, 2 out of 3 Falls (No Way Out 2001)
8. Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven at Wrestlepalooza 97 (I Quit match)
7. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart from Wrestlemania 10
6. Hardys vs. Edge/Christian in TIT Final (ladder match)
5. Sting, Luger, Macho Man vs. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and eventually, Hulk Hogan
4. Sting vs. Ric Flair, Clash of the Champions 1
3. Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart, Wrestlemania 13
2. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker, Hell in the Cell
1. Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair from 1989 Clash of the Champions (2 out of 3 falls)
Again, those are FAVORITES. Despite a low period in the WWF, two great matches were produced in 1997. HBK and Undertaker in the first ever Hell in the Cell was fantastic! The double switch between Steve Austin and Bret Hart was just fantastic, and easily a great business decision during the time. Bret Hart was the man for putting over his brother at WM 10 in a fantastic opener. I like the Tag Team ladder match better than Shawn vs. Razor. Triple H's best match was at No Way Out 2001, where he fought Austin to a brutal match. I love the nostalgia of the Bash at the Beach 1996 main event, where Hulk Hogan turned heel. My jaw just dropped.
Speaking of surprise moments, here are, in my opinion, the most shocking moments in wrestling history!
-MOST SHOCKING MOMENTS in Wrestling-
5. Triple H's heel turn at Wrestlemania 15
4. Ricky Steamboat joins WCW, 1989, and goes after Flair
3. Lex Luger debuts on Nitro, in what helped put WCW's foot in the door against the WWF
2. Bret Hart/Vince McMahon from Survivor Series 1997
1. Hogan turning heel, joining the NWO in 1996
Just to name a few... Although many dislike it, I loved the heel turn by Triple H at Wrestlemania 15. Good writing surrounding that one. Steamboat's WCW debut was great, as Eddie Gilbert promised Ric Flair and Barry Windham they'd be sorry for messing with him. Luger's surprise debut on Nitro came at a shock to everyone, since he was just doing some WWF shows before it occurred. A great boost for Nitro to fuel the Monday Night Wars. The Bret Hart screwjob opened my eyes about the tough business of pro wrestling, and I was amazed at the rippling effect that the incident actually had. And again, Hogan's NWO turn was the biggest shocker of all time.
But you know what one thing I really love to see in pro wrestling? Tag Team Wrestling. With the current push of Chuck and Billy and the dwindling of the other teams, Dudleys, Hardys, Edge/Christian, and the APA, it appears to be a lost art. This is NOT a knock at Billy Gunn or Chuck Palumbo, but one towards the WWF for not having anything decent to challenge the champions. Maven and Al Snow? Puh-leeze. So what are some of my favorite tag teams, you ask?
-FAVORITE TAG TEAMS OF ALL TIME-
5. British Bulldogs
4. Hard Foundation
3. Legion of Doom/Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal)
2. The Eliminators (Perry Saturn and John Kronus
1. Midnight Express (Sweet Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton)
I have a lot of honorable mentions, such as the Fantastics, Demolition, and Owen and Davey Boy Smith. I wasn't too much of a fan of Harlem Heat, but I've always cheered on Booker T as a wrestler. Speaking of Booker T, how about my favorite singles wrestlers? Ouch, that's a tough question, given that I have many current favorites and past favorites.
-FAVORITE WRESTLERS OF ALL TIME-
9. Kerry Von Erich
8. Steve Austin
7. Kurt Angle
6. Diamond Dallas Page
5. Chris Benoit
4. Booker T
3. Owen Hart
1. Ricky Steamboat
Now, my favorites change from time to time. I'll admit that I was a big Diesel and Razor fan back in the day. Then, I lost all respect for Kevin Nash when he laid down for Hogan in early 1999 for the World Title, and began to hate Hall for his out of control behavior and obvious drug problems. I actually liked the Warrior when I was younger, too, but that was then. Too bad Kerry Von Erich got into drugs... I remember marking out the day he joined the WWF, not knowing of any of the personal demons surrounding him. In fact, here are my Damn Shames of all time.
5. Any career ending injuries, such as Droz
4. WCW's fall from the top
3. Destruction of the Von Erich family
2. Destruction of the Hart Family
1. Any undeserving, non-drug related deaths of wrestlers, such as Owen Hart
That's a hard list to compile. I'd have to say that Owen's death hit me the hardest out of anything in terms of pro wrestling. Owen was a favorite of mine, especially since his heel turn on his brother Bret Hart. He was one of the more entertaining wrestlers around, and in my opinion, he was the best wrestler to never win the World Title. I'll admit that his death actually brought a tear to my eye, especially during RAW where they had the tribute to Owen at the beginning of the show. There's nothing more in pro wrestling that I'd want to change if I could change just one thing that occurred years ago.
During the mid 1990's, I'd say that I was leaning more towards being a hardcore WWF fan than WCW. When they started Nitro, especially after a HORRIBLE early 1995 that saw Hulk Hogan shoved down our throats, I laughed at the thought of Nitro coming on Monday Nights against RAW. Slowly, WCW gained my respect with their attempts to surprise everyone nightly, the NWO storyline, and the great Cruiserweight division. Despite WCW being strong in 1996 and 1997, I still watched the WWF religiously. Many have said that I lean more towards WCW. Well, I'd say it's more like leaning towards the underdog.
As corny as it was sometimes, I LIKED the Canada vs. US feud in the WWF during 1997. It reunited the Hart Foundation and the Hart family, as the group mainly consisted of Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Jim Neidhart (yes, they would later add Pillman...). Sure, the slurs against Americans were clearly not Bret's thing, but at least it made him a good heel to fend off some good opponents, including the rising Steve Austin and even the Patriot. I loved the Patriot from Global...
Hell, here's my special favorites list, meaning wrestlers I marked out for, but not for long...
5. The Patriot
4. La Parka
3. EVIL Doink the Clown
2. The Skyscrapers
1. Stevie Richards from ECW
Anyway, I kept watching the WWF, and I began growing tired of Hulk Hogan as World Champion in WCW. I HATED the Starrcade 1997 mess up on the Hogan vs. Sting, where Hogan's politics made Sting look horrible. How bad is it to do a clean finish?!? Especially given the fact that Sting was in the company for around 10 years at the time... Having Macho Man beat Sting, and then having Savage lose to Hogan the next night was a clear sign, to me, that the WWF was on its way up to the top. DX was a great stable, Austin was red hot, and the WWF was beginning to create new stars. All they needed was a big show to gain some momentum (Wrestlemania 14) and a hot feud afterward (Austin vs. McMahon). By the excitement of the RAW after Wrestlemania 14, I already knew that WCW was going to be in trouble.
Hey, I mentioned stables...
5. Team Canada in the WWF (1997)
4. The Corporation
3. Degeneration X
2. 4 Horsemen (late 1980's, especially)
1. New World Order
So in today's pro wrestling, what matters the most anymore? Storylines, of course, as compelling storylines with top stars helps to bring casual fans in. A good storyline is a true money maker, or something that can sell out shows or sell Pay Per Views. Best ever, you ask, in my opinion?
5. Raven vs. Sandman in ECW
4. Terry Funk vs. Ric Flair 1989, when Funk piledrove Flair on a table
3. Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage, jealousy over Miss Elizabeth (1998-1989)
2. Vince McMahon vs. Steve Austin
1. The NWO invades WCW 1996
A lot of the things mentioned above is what keeps me as a wrestling fan. Sure, times can get bad, such as seeing Stephanie on a weekly basis stink up television or WCW flush itself down the toilet. But as a wrestling fan, I've had fun. Probably acting as Mr. Tito forces me to analyze wrestling on a daily basis, thereby making me very picky on everything. Oh well, I have fun writing daily, and despite its low points, I enjoy watching wrestling.
AOL Instant Messenger: BookerTito - It's recommended that you send your questions or feedback as your first message so that it could be answered, instead of saying "hi", "hey", "what's up" or whatever else. Just get to the point, please, to make it easier since I get drilled with messages.
WRESTLEPALOOZA.com - Audio Show, Columns, News, and more!
KOLTERSHOCK!!! - A site that you shouldn't view with small children present!
X-Entertainment.com - One of the most entertaining pages on the net!
@I should be back on Sunday for a Backlash prediction/hype column, so until then, just chill! Thanks to anyone who has already sent me any birthday wishes.
Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.