With only about two months left until the big debuts of Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff, and Ville Leino, Sabres news has been ridiculously slow. Until Mark-Andy signs and a few chumps are dumped to the AHL, there isn't a whole lot going on....unless you count the Bills, but who cares about those guys, right?
I kid. But this post is about neither the Bills or the Sabres. For today, I head back to write about professional wrestling and what I feel is one of the most important parts of the genre....the debut. You see, I grew up watching wrestling in the late 80's and then watched it's reinvention in the late 90's. During this time, with the battle of WWF vs. WCW vs ECW raging, you consistently saw wrestlers jumping back and forth, without warning to the separate federations. Yes, I know it is all scripted, but when you could watch the flagship shows each week (RAW, Nitro) and never know who was going to show up next, it added a sense of excitement and surprise that has been lacking for the past 10 years. The first time a wrestler would appear with their new federation could sometimes make or break their career. If you don't believe me, watch the video below:
Between myself and an esteemed panel of about 12 other gentleman that included The Yachtsman, Apologist, Joe from Buffalo Wins, past guest contributor NateDogg (not the guy from Ep 13 of the CrapTastiCast), and one of the biggest wrestling fans I know, stevewxfan (check out his cool weather blog here), I was able to construct what I believe is a solid list. Joe was even gracious enough to include some great commentary on his top picks.
Below are picks 10 through 6. It was getting pretty long, so check back on Monday for selections 5 through 1. If you hate wrestling, so be it, but I had an effin spectacular time working on this so shut your hole and go back to capgeek. Too much?
Joe's take: About a year after WCW was purchased by WWE, Vince McMahon did the unthinkable, he gave Eric Bishcoff (Formerly in charge of WCW) a job! No one, and I mean, no one saw this coming! Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon hated each other. It would be like Ted Nolan giving John Muckler a job. For almost a decade, the two of them exchanged insults, wrestlers and tons of cash to knock the other guy out. Vince won out. However, it the summer of 2002, WWE was growing stale and they needed to shake things up. So, Vince decided to bring Bischoff in to run Monday Night raw as the GM (Kayfabe). Easy E surprised everyone, including people in the locker room, when they had no idea Vince would hire his long-time nemesis. I remember when he came out, there was no tease or build up, Vince just announced that Eric was the man in charge of Raw. Never would have saw that coming four years earlier. I just remember that they hugged afterwords. Yup, Nolan and Muckler hugging, I tell you!
I decided to go with the team of Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Chris Benoit. The story behind this debut was that all four of their contracts were expiring with WCW at the same exact time, and they supposedly made a pact to either stay or leave together. When WCW low-balled them on new contracts, they called Vince McMahon and jumped ship. This all happened in a matter of a couple days and it was huge in the wrestling world. All four men were career WCW guys who had never stepped foot in a WWF ring. On top of that, all four men were considered some of the best technical wrestlers in the business. DX were the bad guys at the time, so why not bring in these four to counter them? It was perfect timing. The WWF placed them in the front row like they just happened to be attending the show without contracts, giving that whole CM Punk type of "wait, is this for real or not?" feeling. As soon as they jumped the barrier, the crowd went nuts, and thus the Radicalz were born.
The two really cool aspects of his debut were the fact that he appeared just five days after signing a new contract, totally surprising viewers that the monster had come to WWF, and also the fact that he climbs out THROUGH THE RING and then tosses Austin THROUGH THE CAGE. High school senior me thought that was pretty cool. Then again I also liked Limp Bizkit and DMX. Don't judge me.
Joe's Take: When WWE bought out WCW, it not only was the end of WCW and the Monday Night wars, but also the end of the height of the 90's wrestling boom. They always say, competition brings out the best in people and without WCW, I think the WWE got complacent. However, if there was one thing we got out of WCW going down in flames, was how Hulk Hogan came back to the WWE. No one ever would have thought he'd come back to Vince McMahon's company. I mean, he left him for greener pastures and was obsessed with putting the WWE out of business. This was like Lou Saban or Bill Polian coming back to work for Ralph Wilson. Anyways, his return was incredible, as Hogan went back to his roots of being a good guy. If you ever want to watch a cool wrestling youtube video, check out Rock vs Hogan Wrestlemania 18. The fans in Toronto went ape shit for Hogan! The problem was, they weren't suppose to do that! Hogan was the bad guy and Rock was the face. The best part about the match was when Hogan "Hulked up" (It's when Hogan looks to be out of gas, but miraculously, he gets his second wind and does the finger point). That was the first time Hogan did that since 1995. Epic stuff.
Note from the Scizz: The video embedded below is the entire match from Wrestlemania 18. One thing that Joe didn't mention was how well the Rock completely changes his attitude from good guy to bad guy as soon as he can tell the crowd wants Hogan to win. Classic stuff. Skip to the 13:25 min. mark to see the crowd really turn on The Rock, and then the 17 min. mark to see the finish and Hogan help out the Rock once the NWO attacks.
Skip back on over on Monday morning for Part two. Cheers.