WWE Main Event 11/26/2017 Results

Quick results from WWE Main Event:

-Gran Metalik defeated Brian Kendrick

-A look back at the top matches from Survivor Series, as well as the surprise debuts of the NXT women on both Raw and Smackdown.

-Apollo Crews defeated Curt Hawkins

-More footage from Survivor Series and Roman Reigns defeating the Miz on Raw for the Intercontinental Title.

Thoughts On The Underwhelming Atrocity That Was Starrcade 2017

This past weekend, WWE ran a meaningless house show in a market that hasn’t been relevant in thirty years, and in an attempt to bolster tepid ticket sales in the onetime NWA stronghold of Greensboro, decided to try and lure nostalgic (and by this time, likely senile) wrestling fans of years gone by in by branding the show Starrcade. While it did lead to a boost in ticket sales, “Starrcade” (if we’ll insist on calling it that) reeked of a desperate attempt at a one-time pop in interest the likes of which haven’t been seen since Bill Goldberg’s title win over Hulk Hogan in 1998. Unfortunately, much like the Georgia Dome has, this idea imploded pretty quickly for a number of reasons.

For one, it wasn’t televised or even streamed on the WWE Network. We’re talking about a company that will run anything from Corey Graves talking about tattoos to wrestlers FUCKING DRIVING FROM TOWN TO TOWN (and they even manage to fit some wrestling in there as well), so the fact that this supposedly important event wasn’t even considered to be worth airing says a lot.

Also, how can you have a Starrcade without even a single NWA title being defended? And if you’re going to try and tell me the WWE United States Title is the same title Barry Windham held, then I’ll tell you Dale Gagne’s AWA was the real deal. I mean, with all the hype Billy Corgan has been putting behind Tim Storm, you’d think he could get the weekend off from his day job as a pastry chef to be here for this. Then again, maybe it was better that WWE didn’t put a geriatric in the ring, that hasn’t gone well for them in the past.

I appreciate the video packages looking back at the old stuff, but the glaring issue I had with it is that I’m pretty sure that when the NWA ran Greensboro back in the day, they didn’t even have electricity and indoor plumbing, much less a video screen. It made it difficult to suspend my disbelief.

Another dead giveaway that this was a WWE event and not a REAL Starrcade is the fact that it was entirely built around old guys who came in, hogged the spotlight, and held all the young up and comers down. Sure, Dolph Ziggler’s a great wrestler…until Arn Anderson comes for his ass! Dash Wilder was half of one of the greatest tag teams in NXT, but pales in the face of the might of “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes! We’ve got four teams fighting over the tag team title, but we know the REAL stars of the show are the Rock N Roll Express! Come on, is this supposed to be Starrcade, or Wrestlemania with all these nostalgia acts?

Well, the good news was that they at least turned down the lights during the matches, which covered for the fact that half the crowd left before the main event since they can’t drive in the dark anymore. They didn’t even do a Dusty Finish in the main event. Calling this trainwreck Starrcade would be like if WWE put Bart Gunn and Bob Holly together as a tag team and called them the Midnight Express: a blatant misdirection aimed at a segment of the fanbase who is probably just too old and confused to know any better (and probably weren’t that smart to begin with).

Is Wrestlemania Weekend Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Hey folks, before we get started, I’m pleased to announce that my books are now available on Kobo! All my bestsellers including 2001: The Year Professional Wrestling Died, The Mania Of Hulk Hogan: The Very Worst Of The Immortal One, and The Worst Of WCW: Volumes 1 & 2 are now available for purchase to read on your Kobo eReader! And it’s not just my wrestling titles: my line of Star Wars books that includes Darth Jar Jar (And Other Surprisingly Plausible Star Wars Theories) and the Unsolved Mysteries Of Star Wars series are also on Kobo now. You can access my entire Kobo catalog by clicking here.


And now that we’ve paid the bills, let’s get to this week’s newsletter, where I’ll share my thoughts on the monster marathon session that was…

To say that Wrestlemania weekend has become an annual, nonstop marathon of wrestling events revolving around the biggest show of the year would be an understatement. For over a decade, Wrestlemania has attracted a swarm of independent companies who want to grab a piece of the fanbase that travels into town from all over the world. Ring of Honor were the pioneers, but before you know it, EVOLVE, CZW, 5 Dollar Wrestling, Highspots, PWS, and even Kaiju Big Battel (if you don’t know what that is, don’t ask) were piggybacking off of Wrestlemania to draw some of their biggest crowds of the year.

Once the WWE Network launched three years ago, WWE began to eat up more of the pie they were cooking by taking their own weekend’s worth of festivities (which they themselves had been doing for years) and turning them into Network programming. WWE had already been airing a portion of the annual Hall of Fame ceremony on the US Network, but are now able to air the event in its entirety on the Network.

Before long, NXT was added to the mix by scheduling NXT Takeover events for the night before Wrestlemania. Along with the Summerslam weekend edition of Takeover, this has now become one of NXT’s two biggest shows of the year. Wrestlemania weekend Takeover events now feature the blowoffs to long-running feuds, and frequently the final NXT appearances of stars who are about to get called up to the main roster to shake things up in the weeks after Wrestlemania.

On top of all that, even Wrestlemania’s PRESHOW has now become almost an entire event in its own right. Instead of the traditional 30 to 60 minute talking head discussions, the Wrestlemania preshow has now morphed into a two hour event featuring not only the panel discussions, but important matches that didn’t make Wrestlemania itself. This year’s preshow included the Cruiserweight Title match between Neville and Austin Aries, the Intercontinental Title match between Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin, and the 4th Annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

Even with those three matches squeezed out to the preshow, Wrestlemania 33 itself was an over five hour long monster. It began with AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon at 7 PM Eastern, and didn’t conclude until the Undertaker left his hat, coat, and gloves in the ring before walking to the back at just shy of 12:15 AM. WWE wants to hoard as much of the paying fan’s attention as they can that weekend, and rightfully so: they’re the ones drawing everyone into town. But this year, they may have finally overstuffed the fans with just way too much content.

One of the complaints about the 2007-08 period of Ring of Honor was that the shows just ran too long. The action was great, and ROH shows were typically well-booked, but they were hitting so hard for so long that the fans were burnt out before the main event even got in the ring. This is a different time and a different company, but I have to be honest, I did so much coverage over Wrestlemania weekend that I was burnt out before Wrestlemania 33 proper even began.

I can’t recall if I mentioned this last week or not, but let me quickly recap how much coverage I did for PWInsider over Wrestlemania weekend. First, I spent four hours doing coverage of the Hall of Fame, which was essentially a recap of four straight hours of promos. Anyone who has ever done coverage of a wrestling show knows the promos are the most grueling part because, unlike miscellaneous armdrags and reversals, you have to capture every bit of what you’re watching.

Then on Saturday, I covered NXT Takeover: Orlando which, including the preshow, ran three hours. Sunday morning, I spent two hours doing an NXT Takeover postgame show that also included Hall of Fame talk. The Wrestlemania Kickoff Show began at 5 and ran until 7, then Wrestlemania ran from 7 until 12:15, and THEN I spent two hours doing the Wrestlemania postgame show. Even if you leave out the two hours I spent covering Impact on Thursday night, this added up to a whopping 18 hours of writing and talking about wrestling.

That’s a lot, but it wasn’t just because I was doing live coverage. I spoke to several people who said they got burnt out just WATCHING everything. Wrestlemania in particular went way, WAY too long at seven solid hours of WWE programming (if you include the Kickoff Show). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fault WWE in the slightest for wanting to give fans the most content they can, but this year’s festivities got more than a little ridiculous.

I think the weekend would have been a lot more palatable if the did something to break Wrestlemania up, and to that end I have an idea I’ve thrown out there before that I’ll mention again. Since WWE has so many titles now between all their different brands, and since “lesser” champions like the Intercontinental or tag champs have often been pushed off of Wrestlemania to give the “marquee” matches more time, how about pulling all the matches from the Kickoff Show entirely, and running a “Champions’ Showcase” type event at some other point during the weekend?

The Champions’ Showcase could feature defenses of the Intercontinental, United States, Raw and Smackdown Tag Team, Cruiserweight, and UK Titles, and then the Andre battle royal could be the main event. By creating an entire event specifically for the champions, you won’t make titles seem expendable by not having them defended on Wrestlemania. It’ll also negate the stigma of wrestlers seeming like they were “demoted” to the Kickoff Show. Make this and Takeover a Saturday double header, and give it about 3-4 hours between shows to give the fans a chance to catch their breath.

By doing this, you can have Wrestlemania JUST be about the four “major” title (World, Universal, Raw & Smackdown Women’s) defenses, and also the marquee matches like Roman Reigns vs Undertaker and Cena/Nikki vs Miz/Maryse. This way, you can keep the show down to a manageable length, everyone gets something important to do over Wrestlemania weekend, and nobody looks like they’re being buried. Plus, the fans are still awake when the main event of Wrestlemania is headed to the ring. Everybody wins.

Whether WWE goes that route or not, the bottom line is that Wrestlemania was a grueling marathon to try and get through, and they need to change it up in order to not turn fans off from wanting to watch the whole thing. And hey, the idea is to enjoy the show, not treat it like a chore, right?

Thank You Taker

Hey folks, welcome to this week’s edition of the STUpid Thoughts Newsletter! Sorry it’s a couple of days late, but after spending about a total of 22 hours between Thursday evening and the wee hours of Monday morning covering the events of Wrestlemania weekend, I needed a couple of days of recovery time. But we’re here, and we have a really big story coming out of Wrestlemania, so let’s dive right in and talk about the Undertaker’s retirement.

This past Sunday, Roman Reigns defeated the Undertaker in the main event of Wrestlemania 33, handing the Undertaker only his second ever Wrestlemania loss. After Roman left the ring, the Undertaker stood up, the lights went out, and he was dressed back in his full Undertaker garb when they came back up. The Undertaker proceeded to remove his gloves, coat, and hat, and leave them in a neat pile in the middle of the ring. The fans, realizing what they were watching, chanted “Thank you Taker” at him as he looked around to soak it all in one final time, then walked up the ramp and pumped his fist in the air as the lights went out once again to close the show.

The Undertaker’s retirement didn’t come as any big shock to anyone who had been following the business for the last few years. It’s no secret that he had accumulated a lot of injuries over the course of his career, limiting him to the point that he had been working part time since 2004, and for many of those years would only return for Wrestlemania. Especially over the last few years, the Undertaker was visibly diminished in terms of what he could physically do, and at the age of 52, most fans knew the end of his career was rapidly approaching.

Still, much like the passing of an elderly relative, the acceptance of that fact didn’t do much to cushion the shock and sense of loss when it finally happened. The importance that the Undertaker had to WWE over his 26 years with the company cannot be understated. Aside from the legendary Wrestlemania undefeated streak that itself lasted over 20 years, the Undertaker is a multi-time WWE Champion, multi-time Wrestlemania main eventer, Royal Rumble winner, and continuously worked for them as an active performer longer than any other wrestler in company history.

The Undertaker was also the most consistently popular, selling millions and millions of dollars of merchandise over the years. The Wrestlemania Streak alone became a draw that was seen by many as even more prestigious than the WWE Title. He continually reinvanted himself over the years, ensuring that the character never became predictable or stale. And most of all, he was a loyal soldier who recognized what WWE had provided him with, and physically pushed himself beyond boundaries most others wouldn’t, just to give back to the company that brought him his fame and fortune.

And this is just my own personal opinion, but at this point I don’t see how anyone could argue that the Undertaker hasn’t surpassed Andre the Giant as the greatest wrestling attraction of all time. Aside from the fact that the TV expansion, and especially the WWE Network, meant that more fans got to see Undertaker during his prime years, he also had far more longevity, and was able to continue performing at a high level until much later in his career.

Also unlike Andre, the Undertaker worked with nearly every single major star the business has had for the last 40 years: Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Steve Austin, the Rock, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, Vader, Yokozuna, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Owen Hart, Big Show, Eddy Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Diamond Dallas Page, Jake Roberts, Macho Man Randy Savage, the Ultimate Warrior, Kane, Edge, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, and on and on and on.

The idea of the Undertaker, as limited as his schedule has been in recent years, finally calling it quits is hard to wrap my mind around. Much like the recently-departed relative not being at the house anymore, it’s going to take some time to get used to the idea that there won’t be an Undertaker match at Wrestlemania ever again. I hate to keep using that analogy, but to many wrestling fans, it’s just as surreal for them to face the fact that, and as much as we wish otherwise, this character who has never not been a part of most wrestling fans’ lives is gone forever.

All that being said, the Undertaker has absolutely earned the peace and quiet of retirement. Whether he was just an annual wrestling attraction, a key part of the Attitude Era, or one of the only wrestlers worth watching during the mid-90s, the Undertaker has given at least as much, possibly more, than any other wrestler who ever worked for WWE. Thank you Taker, and enjoy your retirement: you’ve earned it.

2001: The Year Professional Wrestling Died

The Worst Of WCW Volume 1 - Where The Big Boys Play

When 2001 began, there were three national wrestling companies, a weekly Monday night ratings battle, and a huge, ravenous fanbase of diehard wrestling fans. By the time the year was over, there was just one national wrestling company, fan interest had waned significantly, and the ratings began a steady decline that continues to this day.

What happened? How could a business that had enjoyed unprecedented success as a pop culture phenomenon in the late 90s and early 2000s have fallen so far in the span of twelve months? How did WCW and ECW, once highly regarded pro wrestling empires, become punchlines on WWE documentaries? And how did WWE, the company that did everything right during the Monday Night Wars, wind up doing everything wrong the instant they were over?

2001: The Year Professional Wrestling Died looks at how the entire wrestling industry collapsed overnight. It chronicles the deaths of both WCW and ECW, the poorly-run InVasion angle that followed, the criminal misuse of WCW and ECW’s wrestlers and legacies, and the ways in which the fallout from this catastrophic time still affect WWE and the wrestling business today.
Available on:
Amazon
Nook

The Most Offensive Storylines In WWE History

The Worst Of WCW Volume 1 - Where The Big Boys Play


Available on Amazon!

WWE has always been willing to take risks and push the envelope to entertain its fans, and sometimes, things work out great and we end up with legendary superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, and Degeneration X. Other times, things don’t go so well and WWE comes away looking incompetent at best and downright tasteless at worst.

The Most Offensive Storylines In WWE History looks at the absolute worst of the worst, the storylines that not only misfired on all cylinders, but made us embarrassed to be wrestling fans. Relive breathtakingly terrible storylines, such as…

-The Big Boss Man reveals that the Big Show is a bastard, then steals his dead father’s casket
-Muhammad Hassan: All-American homegrown terrorist
-Vince McMahon vs God
-Dominick On A Pole
-Dawn Marie kills Torrie Wilson’s dad with her overactive sex drive
-Billy & Chuck: GLAAD’s (former) favorite tag team
-And much more!

The Most Offensive Storylines In WWE History is available on Amazon!

You Can’t See Them: People John Cena Shouldn’t Have Destroyed (But Did)

The Worst Of WCW Volume 1 - Where The Big Boys Play


Available on:
Amazon
Nook

A lot of things can be said about John Cena, but “he’s helped other people become stars by losing at times when it would really matter” is not one of them. To the detriment of nearly everyone else on that roster since he claimed his first WWE World Title in 2005, Cena has not only beaten one would-be superstar after another, but done so in such convincing fashion that he pretty much destroyed any credibility they had coming into the match. Even on the rare occasions he does lose, he will then win the next two or three rematches, often against his conqueror and a couple of cronies.

Almost nobody has come out of a feud with Cena looking better, or even as good, as they did going in. This book tells the stories of the ones that really hurt, the guys who really could have meant something if they hadn’t been fed to the wood chipper called John Cena. Over the course of these chapters, you’ll get to relive every minute of the decade of frustration we saw John Cena tear through everyone thrown in his path, and think about what might have been.

Hulk Hogan’s Legendary World Championship History

A few days ago, Hulk Hogan celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of his win over Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3, a match that marked the absolute high point of the 80s national expansion of the WWF. It also marked the high point of Hulk Hogan’s first World Title reign, a feat he has repeated many times since. While I won’t say that time flies since it really seems to drag when you spend years doing TNA Impact coverage and waiting for the guy to go away, it does sometimes tend to hit you like a brick when you realize it’s really been that long.

To mark this special occasion, I decided to look back at each of Hulk Hogan’s twelve World Title victories and talk about each one, discussing the circumstances of the title reign and any other fun trivia I decide is worth mentioning.

WWF World Title: Defeated the Iron Sheik on 1/23/1984 in New York City, NY

As I said earlier, this is the one that started it all, but it wasn’t a particularly remarkable match in and of itself. The match lasted all of five minutes, and the Sheik had only been champion for about a month to transition from Bob Backlund to Hogan. This became just another day at the office for the Sheik, while Hogan began a four year title reign, the third longest in WWF/WWE history, and led the company to heights no wrestling company has matched before or since. That said, despite all the crap I’ve given him over the last few years, this really was a magic moment and I defy anyone to watch it, see the crowd react, and not feel like it was something special.

WWF World Title: Defeated Macho Man Randy Savage on 4/2/1989 in Atlantic City, NJ

After having the title stolen from him by Andre the Giant and the Million Dollar Man, Hogan only had to wait a year before regaining the title at Wrestlemania 5 from his former best friend, Macho Man Randy Savage. You can look back at the history (or listen to Jesse Ventura’s commentary during the match) to see how Hogan undermined Savage from literally the moment he won the title at Wrestlemania 4, and spent the next year messing with his mind by driving a wedge between Savage and Elizabeth.

Hogan’s plan worked, because he pushed Savage to the point that he snapped and attacked Hogan, making himself the heel in the situation and absolving Hogan of all blame in the eyes of the fans. It was sneaky, but it worked because Hogan took Savage’s title and his woman, and left him a defeated shell of a man. This was but the first of many times he would do this to Savage over the course of the next decade, as he had seemingly made it his mission in life to leave Savage a ruined wreck of a man.

WWF World Title: Defeated Sgt Slaughter on 3/24/1991 in Los Angeles, CA

After the Ultimate Warrior defeated Hogan for the WWF Title at Wrestlemania 6, Hogan’s only 100% clean loss during his big 1983-1993 WWF run, Hogan spent most of the next year laying low and waiting for someone else to do what he couldn’t his dirty work beat Warrior for the title. Hogan couldn’t have had an easier cakewalk once that someone else finally showed up, because Sgt Slaughter of all people ended up taking the title from the Warrior, albeit after massive amounts of interference and use of foreign objects.

Slaughter had returned to the WWF about six months earlier as an Iraqi sympathizer who thought the United States had become soft, and had turned his back on his country while singing the praises of Saddam Hussein. The idea was to build to a big Wrestlemania 7 main event where Hogan would be the American superhero who vanquished the evil turncoat Slaughter, and the fans would be crawling over each other to get tickets to see it. The only problem was that the war this angle played off of was over almost before it began, and was no longer topical by the time Wrestlemania rolled around.

Well, there were actually other problems, such as Slaughter being the guy Hogan was facing. He wasn’t a scrub or anything, but he was never within driving distance of a World Title at any point in his career before this, and nobody thought he had a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Hogan. Ticket sales for Wrestlemania ended up being so bad they had to move it to a smaller building and claim security issues as the reason for the change. The Hogan win was anticlimactic at best, but that didn’t stop Hogan from beating up Slaughter and his cronies in various handicap and Boot Camp matches for the next six months while avoiding contenders who would actually have a shot at beating him. You know, like how he started teaming with the Ultimate Warrior instead of facing him again. However, as our next entry will show, he couldn’t hide out from credible contenders forever…

WWF World Title: Defeated the Undertaker on 12/4/1991 in San Antonio, TX

Only a year after his debut, the Undertaker defeated Hulk Hogan for the WWF Title at Survivor Series 1991. Even though Hogan had blown through many “indestructible monsters” in the past, the Undertaker was different. There was no way of knowing at the time what a huge star he would become over the next 20+ years, but you had this feeling like he wouldn’t just be another flavor of the month challenger, and that he might actually be too much for Hogan to handle.

It was an interesting time, because the fans who had grown up on Hogan were just then starting to drift away, and while we would see more concrete examples in the lead-up to Wrestlemania 8 (which I cover in the 1992 Series that I swear I’ll get back to soon), I remember that all my friends at school liked Undertaker better and were pulling for him to beat Hogan. He did end up winning after Ric Flair interfered, but you never really felt like Undertaker was in that much trouble before Flair got involved because the match was laid out very much like the Andre match at Wrestlemania III, where literally nothing Hogan did was putting a dent in him.

However, the Undertaker’s title reign only lasted a week, because WWF President Jack Tunney ordered an immediate rematch due to Flair’s interference. Hogan won the rematch…after knocking Paul Bearer out, pouring the ashes out of the urn, throwing them in the Undertaker’s eyes, and rolling him to get the win. Since both title changes were marred with illegal activity, Tunney stripped Hogan of the title almost immediately and put it on the line in the 1992 Royal Rumble. Hogan failed to win that, then had his Wrestlemania 8 title shot taken away from him so he could face Sid Justice instead, so he beat Justice by DQ and took a nearly year-long vacation. He came back just in time for Wrestlemania 9, where he would once again thrust hiself into the spotlight at everyone else’s expense.

WWF World Title: Defeated Yokozuna on 4/4/1993 in Las Vegas, NV

In another “this would only happen with Hogan” moment, Hulk walked out of Wrestlemania 9 as the WWF Champion even though he wasn’t even supposed to be wrestling for the title on the show. The advertised title match was Yokozuna challenging Bret “Hitman” Hart for the WWF Title, while Hogan would team with Brutus Beefcake to challenge Money, Inc for the WWF Tag Team Title. We should have known something was up when Hogan’s match was in the middle of the show and ended with him losing by DQ, but we all know about hindsight.

So Yokozuna ended up winning the title after Mr Fuji threw salt in Hart’s eyes, but Hogan, ever the opportunist, ran out and pretended to check up on Bret just enough to thrust himself back into the title picture. Fuji had heard Hogan issue a challenge to the winner of the title match earlier in the show, so he made the mistake of offering Hogan an impromptu title shot. Hogan magically forgot all about Bret, rushed into the ring, and won the title in seconds after Fuji, meaning to throw salt in Hogan’s eyes like he had done to Bret, missed and got Yokozuna instead. Hogan quickly laid Yokozuna out with a clothesline, hit the big leg, and won his fifth WWF Title.

Hogan was back on his throne, but he had done quite a bit of damage the way things had played out. Bret had worked his ass off to build credibility as a World Champion, and was rewarded by being completely brushed out of the title picture as the focus now turned to a rematch between Hogan (who refused to work with Bret) and Yokozuna. As for Yokozuna, he was undefeated before Hogan squashed him and turned him into this year’s King Kong Bundy. The fans, who had already begun to revolt on Hogan before he left in 1992, were livid over how he had stepped over Bret and Yokozuna to get his spot back, and were ready for Hogan to go away forever and let the guys who had been carrying the company while he was gone get their shot.

They ended up getting their wish much sooner than even they probably expected, because Hogan and the WWF parted ways again within months, and this time he wouldn’t be back to steal anyone’s thunder. Hogan still refused to drop the title to Bret on his way out, and only agreed to put Yokozuna over if they did a ridiculous finish where some bogus photographer (who was never identified) jumped on the ring apron and shot a fireball in Hogan’s eyes to setting Yoko up to put Hogan away with his own legdrop. Ironically, in much the same way as the Iron Sheik had set Hogan up to be the babyface flagbearer for the company nearly 10 years earlier, Hogan had now set Yokozuna up to become the firs true dominant heel champion in the history of the company.

* * *

Hogan didn’t appear on TV for the WWF again for nearly a full decade, but he made the most of that time by jumping to WCW and making history there as well by winning the WCW World Title on several occasions. We’ll pick up at the beginning of his WCW years in Part 2, but thanks for reading and please send all your feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com!

In honor of the thirtieth anniversary of Hulk Hogan’s first WWF Title win in 1984, let’s continue our look back at each of Hulk Hogan’s subsequent World Title wins throughout the years. In Part 1 (which you can find by clicking on the Columns section in the sidebar if you’re an Elite), we left off after Hulk’s fifth and final title reign in the WWF before he left in 1993. Let’s pick up in 1994 as he brought the virtues of Hulkamania to WCW.

WCW World Title: Defeated Ric Flair on 7/17/1994 in Orlando, FL

After taking a year off to film the TV series Thunder In Paradise, Hogan made the move to enemy territory as he signed a contract with WCW. His first match in saw him defeat Ric Flair, WCW’s top star for over a decade, in a match that barely exceeded description as a squash. The message was clear: Eric Bischoff was willing to throw away WCW’s entire legacy and all of its top stars (many of whom would go to work for the WWF and would become instrumental in eventually destroying WCW altogether) in favor of Hogan and his flunkies like Brutus Beefcake, the Nasty Boys, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and the Honky Tonk Man, and Hogan’s win over Flair at Bash At The Beach 1994 was ground zero for those changes.

Hogan treated Flair like a jobber for a few months, retired him, and told WCW management to bring him out of retirement so he could beat him again. Hogan’s push at this time was beyond insane, much worse than anything anyone could accuse John Cena of today, to the point that WCW faked a ticker tape parade for the ceremony where he signed his WCW contract and had “police escorts” to arenas he made appearances at. To add insult to injury, the main event of Starrcade 1994 saw Hogan defend the WCW World Title against his best friend Beefcake, who leapfrogged over everyone else in WCW despite being badly out of shape and greatly diminished from the wrestler he was before the accident. Meanwhile, the guy who made Starrcade, Ric Flair, got to watch from home.

After over a year of this crap, Hogan finally had the title pried out of his hands after losing to the Giant by DQ, only to learn later that his manager Jimmy Hart (who turned on him to go with Giant) had written into the contract that the title could change hands on a DQ in that match. Hogan was then upstaged when poor Randy Savage won the title in World War III, threw a fit and proceeded to undermine him even worse than he did the first time around. He didn’t end up taking the title from Savage (not this time, anyway), but Hogan did everything he could to make Savage look like his second banana and an unworthy champion, when Hogan didn’t even have the decency to lose the title by taking a pinfall.

WCW World Title: Defeated The Giant on 8/10/1996 in Sturgis, SD

Hogan had turned heel and formed the NWO with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash at Bash At The Beach 1996, and pretty much everyone knew he was getting the title back once he got Giant in the ring again a month later at Hog Wild. This PPV was held at a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, and was basically created because Eric Bischoff likes motorcycles and wanted to look like a big shot to guys he could never hope to be as cool or tough as. The WCW fans threw garbage in the ring as Hogan spraypainted the NWO letters onto the title belt, where they would remain for the next year. Oh yeah, and his first major title defense was against Randy Savage, who he squashed and sent into seclusion for months before bringing him back as his sidekick in the NWO.

WCW World Title: Defeated Lex Luger on 8/9/1997 in Sturgis, SD

While the long build to his eventual showdown with Sting was going on, Hulk Hogan spent much of 1997 battling Lex Luger, who racked up one win after another over Hogan in non-title matches. Eventually, JJ Dillon decided that 672 wins over the World Champion qualifies someone for a shot at the World Title, and Luger beat Hogan for the title on Nitro…less than a week before a previously scheduled title match between the two at Road Wild 1997. I’m sure you know what happens next: Hogan pulls out every dirty trick in the book to beat Luger and regain the title after only a few days, cutting Luger’s legs out from under him, and spraypaints the NWO logo back onto the belt. Hogan went on to battle Sting at Starrcade while Luger took a pinfall loss to Buff Bagwell.

WCW World Title: Defeated Macho Man Randy Savage on 4/20/1998 in Colorado Springs, CO

The Hogan-Sting confrontation that we waited over a year for turned into a huge mess when it finally came around, and after months of dumb finishes that destroyed any interest anyone had in the feud, Sting came away looking like the least impressive hero in history even though he wound up with the title. He only ended up being champion for about two months before dropping it to the Macho Man, who got to keep it for a whole day before losing it to his old pal Hulk Hogan. They were doing a storyline where there was dissension within the NWO, and Hogan not wanting anyone in the group but himself to hold the title was a key driving factor in the eventual split of the group into two feuding factions. This match was full of interference like every WCW main event in those days, and Hogan got the win thanks to help from his new buddy Bret Hart, who himself got to come in and be Hogan’s new sidekick even though he was the hottest thing in wrestling coming off the Montreal Screwjob only a few months earlier.

WCW World Title: Defeated Kevin Nash on 1/4/1999 in Atlanta, GA

The infamous Fingerpoke of Doom Incident! Just to recap what got us here: Hogan had lost the title to Bill Goldberg back in July of 1998, and Goldberg continued to remain undefeated until Kevin Nash beat him at Starrcade to win the title, with help from Disco Inferno, Bam Bam Bigelow, and a taser-wielding Scott Hall. Goldberg was supposed to get a rematch on Nitro, but Elizabeth had him arrested on bogus stalking charges,so since Hogan (who had “retired” to run for President…yes, that was really the angle) just happened to be backstage, Nash (who he was still supposedly enemies with after the NWO split happened) challenged Hogan to face him instead. The bell rings, Hogan pokes Nash in the chest with his finger, and covers him to regain the title and officially reunite the NWO. This title change is one of the most frequently cited incidents that contributed to the death of WCW, along with Tony Schiavone’s comment earlier in the evening revealing that the taped Raw on the other channel would feature Mick Foley beating the Rock for the WWF Title. Hundreds of thousands of fans flipped channels immediately, and unfortunately, they missed out on this wonderfully crafted NWO angle.

I’m sure you’re dying for more, but fear not! The conclusion to this series will be up for your reading pleasure tomorrow morning. Until then, please send all feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com.

WCW World Title: Defeated Macho Man Randy Savage on 7/12/1999 in Jacksonville, FL

This was yet the third time Hogan beat Savage for a World Title, the second time he ended one of Savage’s reigns after only a day, and for all intents and purposes was Savage’s retirement match. Savage had won the title from Kevin Nash in a tag match the night before (don’t ask), and of course Hogan came sauntering along to challenge him the very next day. Hogan won, of course, and in doing se he finally achieved his decade-long quest to drive Savage from the business forever (unless you count the TNA stuff, which most don’t).

Hogan’s time around the WCW World Title from here on out gets really depressing to talk about because it devauled the title so much, but here goes. He held onto the title for two months before being defeated again by Sting, who this time turned heel and used a baseball bat to beat the newly-resurgent red and yellow Hulkster. They were supposed to do a rematch the next month at Halloween Havoc, but Hulk came out in street clothes, laid down, and let Sting pin him.

Hogan disappeared for months before returning in 2000 to feud with Jeff Jarrett, who by then was the WCW World Champion. He was supposed to face Jarrett at Bash At The Beach 2000, but once again we were denied the advertised title match because Jarrett now came out and laid down so Hogan could pin him. Hogan was handed the belt and cut some promo about how this is what’s wrong with the company, and then Vince Russo came out later in the night and did the worked shoot promo where he revoked Hogan’s World Title win and set up the real title match later in the evening where Booker T beat Jarrett to become the real new WCW World Champion.

Hogan was not happy about this and eventually sued the company, and BATB2000 turned out to be Hogan’s final appearance with the company. WCW went out of business less than a year later and, with no other truly viable options, Hogan decided the time was right to finally go home.

WWF World Title: Defeated Triple H on 4/21/2002 in Kansas City, MO

Hulk Hogan returned to the WWF in early 2002, reforming the NWO with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and setting up a huge Wrestlemania match against the Rock. After years of being despised by the majority of wrestling fans for his conduct in WCW, Hogan was overwhelmingly favored over Rock by the fans at Wrestlemania, so much so that he was turned babyface and returned to the red and yellow (again) almost immediately. The WWF quickly decided to capitalize on the fan support and had him beat Triple H to win the WWF Title on PPV the month after Wrestlemania 18.

This was kind of a big deal since Triple H had himself just returned to the ring after nearly a year on the shelf with a torn quad. It just showed how over Hogan was when he returned, and though he would go back to his known Hogan tricks eventually, he recognized coming in that the WWF was the only game left in town and was far more willing to do business than he had been in the past. He had already lost to Rock at Wrestlemania, and he only held the title for a month before losing it to the Undertaker, over a decade after the last time they met, ending what remains Hogan’s last ever World Title reign.

Though the build to the title win was more interesting than the reign itself, it is notable for one very important reason: Hulk Hogan became the first WWE Champion when the company changed its name following the World Wildlife Fund lawsuit.

Hogan was never in line for another title shot again, but was still heavily featured in the WWF for years to come, first by doing clean losses to both Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar over the summer of 2002, then coming back in early 2003 to put Rock over a second time and face Vince McMahon, whom he gave a lot of offense to in their streetfight match at Wrestlemania 19. However, Hogan was still Hogan and, after big timing Shawn Michaels at Summerslam 2005 and going over Randy Orton the following year, he left WWE again for another seven and a half years before returning last month as part of the WWE Network launch.

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And there, in a nutshell, is Hulk Hogan’s World Title resume. It’s really staggering to write a feature like this where you can look back at all of Hogan’s reigns and see how much damage he really did to others while hogging the top spots in both WWF/WWE and WCW. At least now you folks who harp on Cena always squashing the entire roster by himself can look at this and realize how much worse it could be if he was actively pushing for it instead of just doing what he’s told.

Who Was The Greatest Intercontinental Champion Of The 90s?

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I decided to slightly modify an idea I’ve used in the past where, instead of doing one monster tournament to determine the greatest Intercontinental Champion in WWF/WWE history (a question I don’t know that I’m equipped to even answer since I never saw Ken Patera or Pedro Morales in their heyday, and not many people who won it after 1998 really mattered much), I’d single out the decade I think was the golden age of the title, the 90s. Over the next few days, I’ll match up everyone who held the title during that decade and gradually whittle them down until we get to the guy I think was the greatest Intercontinental Champion of the 90s.

Before we start, and for those who haven’t seen me do these in the past, this isn’t fantasy booking. This is me matching up pairs of former champions and then deciding, based on criteria including length/number of title reigns, quality of competition, money drawn (if applicable), and any other intangibles I feel are pertinent, who did the better job of being Intercontinental Champion. You’ll see what I mean as we progress, but let’s not waste any time in kicking off the opening round. We don’t have an even 32 people for this one, so four guys get byes and we have 12 first round matches.

Texas Tornado vs Road Dogg

The Road Dogg was a huge player in the WWF during the Attitude Era, but mainly as one half of the New Age Outlaws. While he did have some singles success, his IC Title run, which lasted all of a month or so, was about the high end of it. Kerry Von Erich, on the other hand, more or less started his WWF run by winning the Intercontinental Title from Mr Perfect at Summerslam 90. Perfect had only suffered a handful of losses even though he had been in the company for over two years by that time, and though the Tornado didn’t really set the world on fire as the champion and then lost it back to Perfect only a few months later, just beating Perfect made a huge impact. Kerry probably won’t go far in this tournament, but he had a much bigger impact with his reign than Road Dogg did, so he advances.

Owen Hart vs The Godfather

Godfather was a very entertaining character (and one he rode into his current career outside of wrestling), but who even remembers that he was the Intercontinental Champion? He only held the title for a month, and the most notable thing about it was that he was supposed to lose it to Owen the night he died. Owen wasn’t an all-time great IC Champion either, but he has the distinction of pinning the Rock clean to win his first IC Title, more or less putting an end to the wretched Rocky Maivia persona. Owen goes over, but again, probably not going to go far.

Ken Shamrock vs Chyna

Again, two late 90s guys who weren’t exactly memorable champions, but Shamrock did win a one night tournament over some pretty tough competition to win the title, successfully defended it against some good challengers, and even added the tag title to his collection while still the IC Champion. Chyna got crammed down our throats, won the title in a Good Housekeeping Match, then did an angle where she shared the IC Title with Chris Jericho. Shamrock advances.

Chris Jericho vs Steve Austin

This is exactly the kind of match that illustrates why this isn’t your typical tournament. In any normal fantasy booking scenario, Austin would probably go over Jericho, but in this case, Jericho easily wins. Austin did win the IC Title twice, and because he broke his neck winning it the first time, he had to give it up before even defending it. Then he won it back, defended it once against the Rock, and gave it up again because he didn’t think it was a good enough title for him. Jericho has won the title more than anyone in WWF/WWE history (though most came after the 2000 cutoff), and has had some absolute classic matches with people like Chris Benoit, William Regal, and others with the title on the line. Jericho advances, and Austin goes down in the first round.

Marty Jannetty vs Razor Ramon

Razor was one of the few guys who made the IC Title “theirs” for a prolonged period during the 90s, basically owning it from 1993 through early 1995. He won it four times, a record that stood for years, and defended it against Shawn Michaels in the famous, defining ladder match at Wrestlemania X. I was losing my mind over how happy I was when Jannetty beat Michaels for the title on Raw, but he only held it for three weeks before losing it back to Shawn and heading back to jobberville. Razor advances.

Edge vs Diesel

Diesel was an imposing figure as the Intercontinental Champion, and challenged Bret Hart for the title while the IC Champion at a time you didn’t often see that. Edge would go on to be a great Intercontinental Champion after 2000, but he only held the title for one day during the 90s. It sucks for Edge that the 2000 cutoff came into play, because Diesel was the greater champion during the 90s and will move on.

The Mountie vs Ahmed Johnson

Okay, neither of these guys were all timers, but Ahmed had a much more dominant win and title run, and the Mountie’s two day reign became a punchline for years to come. Mountie’s out, and Ahmed moves on.

Dean Douglas vs Mr Perfect

Not even close, Perfect held it twice and was the first guy in the 90s to establish it as the “worker’s” title, while Douglas had it handed to him before losing it ten minutes later to Razor Ramon. It’s one of Shane’s favorite things to whine about from his WWF stay, but we’re done with him and Perfect moves on.

Val Venis vs Shawn Michaels

Again, not even close. Val was a great worker, but he held the title for like three weeks, lost it, and turned into a censor a couple of months later. Shawn made himself with the way he carried the Intercontinental Title, using it as his platform to drag killer matches out of every stiff they threw him in there with. Guys like Tatanka and Crush never had matches as good as when they challenged Shawn, he was involved in the shocking title loss (and MOTYC) to Marty Jannetty, won it back, did two ladder matches for the title (though only one as champion), and made it his personal mission to upstage the WWF Champion on every single show. No contest here, Shawn advances and will probably keep advancing.

Jeff Jarrett vs Marc Mero

Marc Mero was the Intercontinental Champion for like a month before losing it to Triple H, while Jarrett held it a bunch of times without really making much of an impact. Jarrett gets the nod on sheer volume of title reigns alone.

Ultimate Warrior vs Goldust

Goldust was a very memorable character early on, and the controversial ways in which his character behaved while feuding with Razor Ramon definitely got him attention. He did have some good matches as champion, including the Hollywood Backlot Brawl with Roddy Piper, but the Warrior ended the Honky Tonk Man’s record-setting IC Title reign in under a minute, traded it back and forth with Rick Rude in two very good matches, started squashing Andre the Giant at house shows every night in title defenses, then defeated Hulk Hogan in the main event of Wrestlemania VI to become the first man to ever win the WWF Title while already holding the IC Title. That’s a pretty radical list of accomplishments, and it’s going to be hard for anyone in this tournament to top it. Warrior advances.

Bret Hart vs Roddy Piper

The Intercontinental Title was the one and only title Piper ever held in the WWF at that point, but it was only done as a thank you from the WWF before he left, and also to set Piper up to put Bret Hart over at Wrestlemania 8. This, by the way, is the first pairing in the tournament to actually feature two guys who were involved in a real life title change. Bret behaved as IC Champion the same way he did as the WWF Champion: he defended it against anyone and everyone the WWF threw in there with him, and he had great matches with everyone from the British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels, and Mr Perfect to the Barbarian and Haku. Bret moves on to the next round.

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That leaves the British Bulldog, Triple H, the Rock, and D-Lo Brown as the four men getting byes to the second round. We’ll pick this up then, but for now, thanks for reading and please send all your feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com!

Okay, we’re back with the second round of our pseudo-tournament to determine the greatest Intercontinental Champion of the 90s! This isn’t fantasy booking where I decide who I want to put over as the better wrestler, because the men who had stronger runs as champion, long reigns, multiple title reigns, classic matches, or even major historical moments during their reign are the ones who move ahead. We have 16 men left after yesterday’s opening round, so let’s keep it going!

Owen Hart vs British Bulldog

Owen and the Bulldog obviously have a long history together: Bulldog married Owen’s sister, they were longtime tag team partners and the WWF Tag Team Champions together, Bulldog beat Owen to become the first European Champion, they were the cornermen when Bob Backlund beat Bret Hart for the WWF Title in the I Quit match, and they were both in the revived Hart Foundation. They were also both pretty forgettable Intercontinental Champions, neither had any major title defenses to speak of, and the only reason Bulldog gets the nod and will advance is because he won the IC Title by beating Bret in the main event of Summerslam 92, in Wembley Stadium, in front of 80,000 or so of his fellow Brits.

Razor Ramon vs Triple H

Triple H is a god among men in WWE these days, but as the Intercontinental Champion, he was famous for three things: losing it to Rocky Maivia in what became Rock’sfirst title win, regaining it from Rock a year and a half later in a ladder match, then vacating it almost immediately due to a knee injury. I’ve already established Razor’s cred in his first round match, and Triple H doesn’t have enough IC Title history to match it.

Ken Shamrock vs The Rock

I gotta go with Rock here, he’s another guy who used the IC Title to establish himself when he re-debuted as a member of the Nation of Domination. Shamrock was okay, but he never really defended the IC Title, and before he even won it, he actually failed multiple times to defeat Rock to win it. Rock did more with it, and it was his springboard to the stardom he eventually attained, so he moves forward.

Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! WHY DID THIS MATCH HAVE TO BE HERE????? Okay, I have to think about this, so I’m going to do the rest of the matches and come back to this at the end.

Texas Tornado vs Jeff Jarrett

Tornado got a big win right as he entered the WWF by beating Mr Perfect for it, but Jarrett held the title more times than Kerry, and held it longer. Jarrett squeaks by since he wasn’t the strongest champion of all time, but he does move on.

D-Lo Brown vs Ultimate Warrior

I already said yesterday that the Warrior had a more dominant run as the Intercontinental Champion than just about anybody, and D-Lo held it once, for a month, and more or less as a joke to add it to his European Title and make him the “Eurocontinental” Champion. No joke here: Warrior advances.

Diesel vs Ahmed Johnson

Talk about the battle of the behemoths! Neither of these guys exemplify a “typical” Intercontinental Champion of the 90s, but they both did well enough to make it here, and Diesel will be the one of them continuing on to the next round. Ahmed was imposing, but he gave the title up after only a couple of months due to the first of what would turn out to be many injuries that hampered his WWF career, while Diesel had a pretty solid run and a memorable title loss to Razor Ramon at Summerslam 94, so Diesel will move on.

Mr Perfect vs Chris Jericho

They were both great champions, but Perfect is going to get the nod here for two reasons. First, half of Jericho’s IC Championship history comes after the 2000 cutoff. Secondly, Jericho never really made it “his” title quite the way Perfect did, to the point where it looked like the king had fallen when Bret Hart finally beat him at Summerslam 91. Tough break for Jericho, but he’s out and Mr Perfect gets to move on.

Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels (Take 2)

Okay, I put it on the side, took a walk and thought about it, and here’s what I came up with: their reigns as Intercontinental Champion were nearly identical. They both used it to transition from tag team specialists into eventual World Title candidates, they both made a habit out of outworking whoever the WWF Champion was at the time, their matches were of equal quality, their opponents were of roughly equal quality, and they spent about the same amount of time as champion. So, I had to fall back on the “when all else fails” tiebreaker: who was better for business?

To answer that question, I decided to use each man’s greatest match as champion to break the tie by seeing which meant more in the big picture. Shawn’s greatest match as Intercontinental Champion was the ladder match with Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania X, it became the ladder match by which all others would be judged, and grew to legendary proportions even if, strictly speaking, he had other matches that were better from a technical standpoint.

As legendary as the ladder match became, I’m going to end up giving the nod here to Bret since his best match as Intercontinental Champion (and the one Bret himself considers the best in his career) was the match where he lost the title to the British Bulldog in Wembley Stadium. It was one of only two times I can recall where an Intercontinental Title match main evented a PPV, and not only did it main event, it main evented a PPV in front of 80,000 people at WEMBLEY STADIUM, years before WWE started selling out stadiums for Wrestlemania. It was better than the ladder match (in my opinion), and it showed what an awesome worker Bret was because Davey Boy blew up about two minutes in, and Bret spent most of the rest of the match wrestling himself.

The ladder match was good and certainly historic, but I don’t think it measured up to Bret vs Davey at Wembley, and since the match was key to drawing that crowd at Wembley (as opposed to the ladder match being promoted underneath the two WWF Title matches at Wrestlemania X), I have to go with Bret here. He advances and, tragically, Shawn Michaels goes out in the second round.

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Well, I did NOT expect to have that match in the second round (and was truthfully hoping to avoid it altogether), but there’s our first major shocker of the tournament. I’m back tomorrow with the quarterfinals, but until then, thanks for reading and send your feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com!

Welcome back to Day 3 of the pseudo-tournament to determine the greatest Intercontinental Champion of the 90s! We had a pretty big shocker yesterday when Shawn Michaels went out in the second round, but eight men remain as we move on to the quarterfinals!

Just a quick refresher on the rules: this isn’t fantasy booking, it’s a different kind of tournament where I compare the two men matched up and determine, based on criteria including who was better for business, had better matches, quality of opposition, drew more money if applicable, and other intangibles, who did a better job of carrying the Intercontinental Title. All the crummy, two week champions from the late 90s have already bitten the dust, so let’s get on and kick off the quarterfinals!

Razor Ramon vs Diesel

Another pairing of men who were involved in not one, but two real life title changes in 1994. Diesel was a tough customer and was on a real roll in 1994, riding the momentum of his Royal Rumble performance to his win over Razor for the Intercontinental Title. He would go on to win the tag title as well and then close the year by beating Bob Backlund in eight seconds for the WWF Title, but he spent more of his time as Intercontinental Champion pursuing other titles than defending the one he had. Razor had a stronger track record of defending the IC Title, including the ladder match and his series with Diesel, and he also held the record for most IC Title reigns for a number of years, so he advances and Diesel goes home.

Ultimate Warrior vs Bret Hart

Geez,what luck for Bret, huh? I don’t think there’s any question that Bret was a far superior worker and had better matches, but Warrior was also squashing Andre and slamming him like it was nothing. Yes, it was about all Andre could manage at that point in his career, but you also just never saw ANYONE, even Hogan, manhandle him that way, especially not the secondary champion. Both men main evented PPVs as Intercontinental Champion, with Warrior winning the WWF Title in his, though Bret’s drew a bigger crowd by about 20,000 people. Warrior beat a weak champion to win his first IC Title, but Bret lost his first IC Title to a weak champion, so which is worse?

As much as I can’t believe I’m about to write this, Warrior will advance here because, with all the other factors being roughly equal as I pointed out above, Warrior was made out to be a bigger deal as Intercontinental Champion than Bret was. Warrior was obviously being gromoed for the WWF Title very early on and was getting pushed hard, while Bret was just meant to do what IC Champions do, and only got his WWF Title on a whim when nobody else was available. Brert’s matches were good and he did headline Wembley, but Warrior main evented Wrestlemania as IC Champion, which is bigger in my opinion, had some excellent matches with Rick Rude, and yes, beat Andre, which nobody Bret beat as IC Champion was even close to. Against everything my insides is screaming at me right now, Bret is out and Warrior is in the semifinals.

Jeff Jarrett vs Mr Perfect

I like Jeff Jarrett and thought he worked hard as the Intercontinental Champion, but he just never had that streak of awesomeness that Perfect had when he was the Intercontinental Champion. Perfect’s title defense always seemed more important, and while Jarrett was always portrayed as lucky to be champion and requiring luck or outside interference to get by, Perfect came off like somebody who could hang with whoever he was in the ring with. Jarrett got this far by getting lucky draws, but his luck runs out here and Perfect moves on to the semifinals.

The Rock vs British Bulldog

This isn’t even close, because even though the Bulldog won his Intercontinental Title in one of the greatest matches of the 90s, he only held it for a month and a half and then left the company after rarely even defending the title. Rock held the Intercontinental Title for probably about a total of a year between his two reigns, had great matches with everyone from Ken Shamrock to Ahmed Johnson to Faarooq to Owen Hart and even Steve Austin while champion, and even though he wasn’t main eventing (yet), he was getting over enough that you could make the case that he could draw on his own even on a show without the WWF Champion. He obviously went on to bigger and better things, but Rock’s time as Intercontinental Champion was always underrated, and he deserves to advance to the semifinals, which he does here.

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We’re down to the final four: Razor Ramon, Mr Perfect, the Rock, and (*shudder*) the Ultimate Warrior. We’ll wrap this up tomorrow with the semifinals and finals of the tournament, but for now, thanks for reading and send all your feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com!

After three arduous, and in some cases astonishing, days of matches between former champions, we’re down to the semifinals and finals of my pseudo-tournament to crown the greatest Intercontinantel Champion of the 90s! This isn’t fantasy booking, it’s a series of head-to-head comparisons where I judge two former champions based on length/number of reigns, quality of competition, money drawn as champion (if applicable), and other intangibles to determine who performed the job of Intercontinental Champion the best.

We’re down to the final four, so let’s not waste any time, we’re on to the semifinals!

Mr Perfect vs Razor Ramon

Perfect and Razor are pretty even in terms of the usual deciding points. They spent about the same amount of time as champion, both did the job of IC Champion and had good matches at the IC Title level without ever seriously being treated like future World Title contenders, and neither was ever really put in a position to draw as champion. Both were good, solid champions who made it “their” title for a couple of years, and put over the new guy when they finally gave it up for good.

However, I’m going to go with Razor here, for a couple of reasons. The first is quality of competition, as Razor’s higher end opponents were people like Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Goldust, and IRS, and I think that group is a higher collective caliber than Perfect’s top challengers like the Big Boss Man, the British Bulldog, Kerry von Erich, and Bret Hart. Also, as great a worker as Perfect was, his only “classic” match as champion that people really remembered was the title loss to Bret. Razor’s ladder match with Shawn hit legendary status, and though both were good matches (and happened in the same arena), I gotta give the nod to the ladder match and Razor Ramon, who moves on to the finals.

Ultimate Warrior vs The Rock

Another pretty even matchup, as both men used the Intercontinental Title to springboard to the World Title and Wrestlemania main events, neither were good workers (or at least Rock wasn’t until after his IC Title days), but both had personalities and in-ring styles that drew people in without needing to be able to outwork the world. Both men were facing and defeating World Title caliber opponents, and both were definitely draws (or could be them if needed) during their IC Title reigns.

However, as insane as this sounds, I have to give the nod to the Warrior AGAIN. For as good as Rock was, Warrior’s competition (Andre, Rude, Dino Bravo) was slightly higher caliber than Rock’s (Triple H, Mick Foley, Ken Shamrock), and again Warrior main evented Wrestlemania as the IC Champion. That alone has been the key to Warrior getting this far, and it gets him into the finals as Rock falls by the wayside.

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Before we get into the finals, I think this is a good time to reflect on how these comparisons have shaken out and what it says about the Intercontinental Title, even in its glory days. Even though it’s regarded as the worker’s title, all the workers went out early and were beaten out by people with the all-time great matches and main events in huge buildings for major PPVs. The fact that the guys in the big time matches also had a much higher ratio of going on to World Title success than the workers really drives home the point that, as good of workers as they may be, that’s not usually enough to get you to that top level in and of itself.

Now, you could make the point that, by virtue of being the secondary champion, these guys aren’t always put in a position to draw on their own, but you’ll notice that the guys the WWF saw something in did get the big matches while Intercontinental Champion. Bret defended the title in the main event in Wembley, Warrior main evented Wrestlemania VI, Shawn and Razor blew everything else at Wrestlemania X away, Rock never main evented as IC Champion, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that nothing was going to hold him back once he got his big shot.

It’s nice for the wrestling purists to believe that the ability to chain wrestle for an hour is all that matters, but this really is an entertainment business above all else, and the results of this tournament, playing out according to the factors it’s basing the decisions on, really bears that out.

Speaking of the tournament, on to the finals!

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Razor Ramon vs UIltimate Warrior

Okay, everyone who thought this was going to be the final match, raise your hand! Yeah, didn’t think so. I really wish I had more to write here, but it’s pretty open and shut as, once again, I have to go with the Warrior. Razor had an impressive run with the title, but it was at a time when business was down across the board, and he never had a chance to main event anything of note. I’ve already gone down Warrior’s list of accomplishments when he was the Intercontinental Champion, and Razor just doesn’t come close to matching any of it. The one thing he could rely on in this situation is the ladder match, but as good as it was, Warrior topped it with the Hogan match at Wrestlemania VI. Honestly, Razor got lucky to get this far because better Intercontinental Champions went down before they had the chance to go head-to-head with him, and as unlikely as the winner turned out to be, the second place guy wasn’t any more of a foregone conclusion.

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I swear I didn’t plan this out this way, or come in with a secret plan to throw out some twist winner, and I really did expect Mr Perfect, Shawn Michaels, or maybe the Rock to win, but this isn’t about who the better worker is, it’s about who did a better job of being the Intercontinental Champion. As much as I would have preferred to have somebody else win this one, if I’m being completely honest and impartial, no Intercontinental Champion in the 90s was a bigger deal in terms of the big picture of business, marquee matches, and quality opponents than the Ultimate Warrior, who against all common sense, is determined by the criteria of this tournament to be the greatest Intercontinental Champion of the 90s.

What Makes A Title A World Title?

A lot of wrestling companies call their heavyweight title a World Title, and while some of those claims have merit, other times you see small, local independent companies claiming to have a World Title and you just wonder, “are they kidding me?”

I’ve always thought there ought to be some kind of criteria to determine what exactly makes a World Title, but in a worked business, no criteria are set in stone to determine whether a particular title should have World Title status.  That’s why it’s so hard to answer a question like, “How many times has Ric Flair been World Champion?”

To try and help define some criteria, I came up with the following questions to ask to determine whether a title really qualifies as a World Title.

Is the title actually defended worldwide?

Let’s start with the literal meaning of a World Title: is it defended all over the world or not?  The original NWA World Title, pre-WCW, fit the bill because it was literally designed to be defended all over the world in several different companies who all recognized that one man as all of their champion.

The NWA Title went everywhere, and did so on a fairly regular basis.  It changed hands several times in Japan, the Pacific, Canada, and even several unrecognized title swaps in the Caribbean.  If you’re talking about the most literal meaning of a World Title, that would be a good starting point.

Then again, other major companies have had a significantly narrower scope.  The AWA World Title changed hands in Japan, but for the most part was only defended in the Midwest and Central Canada, and spent most of its existence around the waist of the promoter.  It was the first major territory to break from the NWA and recognize its own World Title, but it didn’t have the geographic scope.

The WWF/WWE and WCW both toured overseas and their titles were defended there as often as they ran overseas tours, but you could be pretty well assured that there was almost no chance of a title change happening outside the United States.

ECW and ROH, the respective #3 US promotions of the 90s and 2000s, both had limited scope as well.  ECW ran shows around the country, but usually stuck to the Northeast, and Philadelphia and New York in particular.  Both huge markets, but still only two major markets.

ROH has expanded all over the country since Sinclair Broadcasting purchased the company, and the title HAS been defended internationally, but ROH still mainly sticks to the United States.

What kind of television exposure does the company have?

Another thing to consider about ECW and ROH compared to the WWF, WCW, and AWA is that they simply don’t have the same level of television exposure.  In today’s day and age, that TV exposure can mean far more than where the title’s being defended.

A title can be defended every night of the week in a different state or country, but if nobody knows it exists, it’s a definite hit to its value and credibility.  If TV exposure is what’s most important, then that would make the WWE Title the only real World Title today.

ECW was and ROH is on TV, but in both cases the distribution just wasn’t there to have the same kind of effect that a weekly show on USA, SpikeTV, ESPN, TBS, or TNT would have.  In ECW’s case, more of a buzz was created just on tape trading and word of mouth than people watching their TV show.

Who has held the title in question?

What about when you take the champion himself into consideration?  Who was holding the title?  How long was he champion?  Who was he defending the title against?

Samoa Joe was the ROH Champion for nearly two years and was the first to carry it overseas, and later would go on to win the TNA World Title as well.  Other former ROH Champions would go on to hold major gold elsewhere, including CM Punk becoming a multiple-time World Champion in WWE.

On the flip side, some big names have tried and failed to become the ROH World Champion.  AJ Styles, a multi-time former NWA/TNA World Champion, has had three shots at the ROH Title and lost them all.  Bryan Danielson in particular made defeating challengers from outside ROH his trademark, as throughout the course of his reign he went over Steve Corino (a former ECW & NWA World Champion), Chris Sabin (TNA), Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH), Chris Hero (CZW), AJ Styles (TNA), Lance Storm (a champion in ECW, WCW, and WWE), Sonjay Dutt (CZW/TNA), KENTA (NOAH) and Samoa Joe (ROH/TNA) before finally dropping the belt.

A case could also be made for the old USWA Title for the same reasons.  99.999999% of the time it was defended in Memphis and they didn’t have any national TV, so that exposure thing comes into play again, but it also spent most of that 99.999999% of the time around the waist of former AWA World Champion Jerry Lawler, and was originally created when Lawler unified the AWA and WCCW Titles.

The USWA Title has also been held by national names like Randy Savage, Owen Hart, Sid Vicious and Jeff Jarrett, and a lot of other major stars tried and failed to win it.  But because of the Memphis thing, it’s usually viewed as a regional title.

How long has the company been around?

What factor does longevity plays in a promotion’s claim to World Title status?  The UWF and ECW were both considered quality products in terms of great wrestling, solid storylines, and memorable moments, but neither were around anywhere near long enough to measure up to the history of WWE, WCW or the AWA.

World Class was also legendary for its success and overall influence on the business, but they only lasted a matter of years after leaving the NWA.  Many companies that claim World Titles last a decade on average, does that supersede their other qualities?

How often is the title defended?

One of the issues that detractors of Hulk Hogan pointed to was that Hogan often went months without defending the WCW World Title, and at times would not only not defend the title on PPVs, but wouldn’t even appear on them, and this was a blow to the value and credibility of the title.

The counter-argument you can make is that when Hogan did defend the title, it was against some of the biggest stars in the world: Randy Savage, Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, The Giant, and Kevin Nash all fell in defeat to Hogan.

Can there really be more than one World Champion in the world?

Then of course you can make the argument that with one world, there can only be one World Champion, but who would it be?  There would be constant comparisons between the WWF and WCW Champions in the 90s, and whether the ECW Champion should even be in the same conversation.

But what if one promotion has two World Titles?  WWE had separate champions for Raw and Smackdown, so which was the “real” champion?  What about when the NWA Title was being defended in WCW in the early 90s?  When Ric Flair was NWA Champion in 1993, was he really a World Champion, or was Vader the “real” champion?  Or since WCW was technically the member promotion of the NWA, would that have made Vader the “regional” champion and Flair the “real” World Champion?

As you can see, there are a lot of criteria that you can take into consideration, but at the end of the day, wrestling promoters probably prefer the ambiguity since it gives them more creative freedom to shape history retroactively as they see fit.

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