Welcome to Raw is Cru Jones Society! We are very excited this week as we pay a tribute to something that was a big part of our lives, professional wrestling. It could even be said pro wrestling is responsible for CJS as Dagger and Hart first became friends over our love of sports entertainment. So we have a week of great articles dedicated to this form of entertainment, including a guest column from Food, Sex, or Cars? winner Chaddymac. Be sure to look for that one on Wednesday.
We start this week by getting a feel of your wrestling love, and to do that we asked you the question: Who was your favorite wrestler? We assumed that at some point in your life you watched some wrestling and had a guy you rooted for above all else. And you proved us right by sending in some great responses. As is the custom we’ll jerk the curtain and then your responses will follow.
Dagger: Narrowing this down to one wrestler, one tag team, or even a handful of wrestlers would be difficult for me, if not impossible. When I was 4 years old, my dad taped WrestleMania 2 off of Showtime (god knows why it was showing on there in 1986) and encouraged me to watch it with him. I’m pretty sure he regretted doing that every day since considering what a ridiculous fan I became.
I loved pro wrestling from that point forward watching Hulk Hogan beat up King Kong Bundy in the steel cage, escape and win. On that same card was Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat who took down the giant Hercules Hernandez with a flying bodypress off the top rope. Steamboat was my first favorite wrestler, but since I covered him fairly thoroughly, let’s discuss someone else.
The 1980s were the last vestiges of the old wrestling territory system where no one promoter could dominate the national scene. With cable television still in its infancy, no one had yet harnessed its potential until Vince McMahon purchased the WWWF (yes, 3 Ws at the time) from his father and had his sights set on taking over the entire world by taking his product national. What’s the point here?
Denver was an old AWA territory which also covered Chicago where my dad watched wrestling when he grew up. Their show on ESPN (think about that one for a minute) ran at the same time as the WWF’s “All-American Wrestling” on USA. My dad watched AWA, I watched WWF, with one exception. Whenever The Rockers came on AWA, I’d stop whatever I was watching on “All-American Wrestling” and join my dad for a little AWA action.
The Rockers were the best, man. Sure, they were undersized, but they used to bounce around the ring with acrobatic moves like freaking pinballs. They had awesome double-team maneuvers, were two handsome guys, and WWF announcer Gorilla Monsoon dubbed them “tag team specialists.” A couple of years later as McMahon poached all the talent of his rival promoters, The Rockers made their way to the WWF where they proceeded to rumble with awesome teams like The Hart Foundation, The Brainbusters, and Demolition. Watching them mix it up with the best was always exciting and even though they often lost, their matches were always relentlessly entertaining, and their spirit never broken.
In late 1991, dissension brewed among The Rockers, and as Hart will detail for you later this week, they broke up in the most violent way possible. It was a mixed bag of emotion for me as the angle that led up to the break up kicked ass, but resulted in my favorite team being no more. It was tough to take because The Rockers were without a doubt my favorite team of all-time. One last example to illustrate this:
My favorite uncle was Uncle Frank. He had two belly buttons and used to charge the neighborhood kids a quarter to look at it. Anyway, we used to wrestle and I’d ask who he was. He’d respond with some weirdo made up name like Frankstein McGillicuddy or something weird like that. He’d ask me who I was, and without fail I’d say: “Shawn Michaels” (one half of The Rockers). I never said Hulk Hogan. I never said Andre the Giant. I never said Junkyard Dog. I could have been anyone I wanted, and I chose a tag team wrestler from the #3 promotion in the country. That tells you about all you need to know, doesn’t it?
Hart: If there is one think the WWE knows it’s marketing, and never was that more apparent than with Hulk Hogan. And being young and wanting to be cool I was into Hogan, but he was not my favorite. I also liked the bright colors and wildness of the Ultimate Warrior. Then there are the more modern guys. Looking at my photo boards and seeing a picture of me in my Y2J shirt standing with Chris Jericho it would be easy to say he was my favorite, which he was during my second wave of viewing.
But when I really sit back and think about who I was excited to see week after week, or who I emulated when my cousin and I goofed around, there is really only one answer, The Legion of Doom.
Much like The Rockers mentioned above, L.O.D. was a tag team and they were purged from the AWA, though in that promotion they were known as the Road Warriors. I didn’t watch AWA so I had no idea what I was in store for. But as soon as I saw them enter with their faces painted, their mohawked hair, and most importantly their giant spiked covered shoulder pads, I was a fan. Also their name seemed awesome and so perfect, The Legion of Doom.
They were a force to be reckoned with too. A couple of big dudes. They looked intimidating and dominating, and combined with some yelling, seemed down right crazy. I always felt they were unstoppable. The matches that stick out most in my mind are the ones they had against Demolition, another tag team made up of big dudes who painted their faces. These matches always felt like epic battles and that is what I wanted from my wrestling.
But I think what I liked most about L.O.D. was the way my cousin and I would pretend to be them. My mom always had face paint around, I have no idea why, but it was perfect for us to recreate their war paint. My cousin was Animal and I was Hawk, we both liked Animal more, but he was older and always got to be him. Oh well, he had a more intricate paint job. So we would dawn these L.O.D. faces, do flexed muscle poses, and bound around on the beds. We were just missing the shoulder pads, but our parents wouldn’t let us do that, in retrospect, I’m happy about that. But it didn’t stop us from positioning ourselves on the corners of the bed and yelling, “What a RUSH!”
The tag team of Hart and Dagger idolized some tag teams when they were young. None of our readers felt the same way. They stuck to singles fighters, and that’s just fine.
Maristredfox: I’m sure I’m not the only one: My favorite wrestler of all time is the one and only Hulk Hogan. I was born in 1978, so I saw Hogan’s prime WWF years. He was exciting and charismatic, and I would go crazy when I heard “Real American.” As a special treat, my dad ordered SummerSlam ’88 for me and my sister and we got to see the Mega-Powers – Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage – take on the Mega-Bucks – Andre the Giant and The Million Dollar Man.
I lost interest with wrestling when the WWF began to fade in popularity, but I was brought back into it when Hollywood Hulk Hogan turned the wrestling world on its head by joining the nWo. Week after week on Nitro and Thunder, you never knew who the nWo would target next, either for a beatdown or as a new recruit. The “Monday Night Wars” were simply awesome for wrestling fans.
When Hogan returned to the now-WWE, it was a huge rush of nostalgia. The super-violent steel cage match with Vince. The huge ovation he got in Montreal. The title victory against HHH.
I just wish he had gone out on top with that last successful run instead of butting heads yet again with Vince, letting his personal life fall apart, and, now, appearing with TNA. To me, Hogan at TNA is like Derek Jeter retiring from the Yankees and making a comeback with the Newark Bears. Nevertheless, as bad-ass as Stone Cold was and as electrifying as The Rock was, no one will ever equal Hulk Hogan for excitement, drawing power and sheer popularity
Lady E: Ahh Pro Wrestling… This is what I watched when I was 8 and with my dad and sister. So my favorites are from the 80′s and what I think was wrestling’s prime. While you others may nerd it up about The Rock, I am picking my four favorites from the second wave of pro wrestlers. Here are my favorites and why I liked them and pro wrestling when I was 8.
Hulk Hogan: I know my husband hates the Hulk, but I always liked him. Hulk Hogan was big and tan and ripped his shirt off. I thought he was funny.
Andre The Giant: Dude was HUGE! I think I had Disney cartoon character eyes when I looked at him.
Macho Man: Randy Savage: HAHA! Those fluorescent colors?! That weird screaming man!? FUNNY!
Jake “The Snake” Roberts: I really don’t remember much about him, but i remember he always brought that boa into the ring with him. He was mean and scary and I hated when he would put the snake on his opponent when he won, so I liked it when he lost.
Brad: I admit I’ve never had much interest in professional wrestling but if I had to pick a favorite wrestler, I’m definitely a Hulkamaniac. If only for the simple fact that Suburban Commando is one of the best movies ever! And then he fights Buster Poindexter in Mr. Nanny!
Hulk Hogan was popular, so it only seems fitting that several of our responses would have him picked as their favorite. But we have a couple more responses to vary the card up a little more.
Dzayson: I watched wrestling regularly for damn near twenty years of my life, so your question is perhaps more difficult for me than most. At first, I was prepared to give the generic answer of Hulk Hogan based on the fact that the question asks who was my favorite wrestler. And I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve been into any wrestler (or the sport itself) more than in 1987, when Hulkamania was at its absolute apex and Wrestlemania III set an indoor attendance record of over 93,000 fans that still stands to this day. But then I thought it over and remembered that Hulk owned the first five years of my wrestling infatuation, but took a nosedive after a face-painted, roid-ragin’, neon-clad maniac named Jim Hellwig (see also: WARRIOR, ULTIMATE) came onto the scene and did everything Hogan did, only bigger. This includes lousy workrate, formulaic finishes, a severely limited move set, and completely absurd promos. Warrior owned the next year or so, then I went through my Undertaker phase, but after that, a couple of undersized dudes (who actually went by regular names, no less) captivated me and held the reigns for the remainder of my nearly two decades of WWF/E habit. So I’m going to cheat a bit, but wrestling fans will probably forgive me, as these two will always be linked in the upper echelon of pro wrestling history.
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. For my money, the two best workers I’ve ever seen. And they had different styles, but they were both mesmerizing to watch in the ring. Shawn had better mic skills, but Bret was very underrated in this category. You Tube some of his heel promos from 1997 and you’ll see what I mean. Both had charisma out the ass, I think, because both were fantastically gifted but always had the odds (read: Vince’s big man boner) stacked against them for top-level success. And yet, they both reached the pinnacle of their industry multiple times. And it was hard not to feel great for them when they did.
(Cue Daniel Stern narration and “For What It’s Worth”)
I don’t watch wrestling anymore, save for dusting off the old VHS tapes for nostalgia. And yeah, from my current perspective, it’s a pretty stupid form of entertainment. But even as I watch the old shit as a jaded, pseudo-intellectual thirty year old, I can’t help but give props to the Hitman and HBK.
CassieB: I had a hard time answering this question, because I couldn’t get the delicious image of A.C. Slater in a singlet out of my head…but alas, I was able to come up with my answer. My favorite wrestler is none other than “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. He may not have been the trendiest or most popular figure in the WWF, but he was a patriot, often leading the crowd in a chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”. And his best trait wasn’t his skin tight blue spandex shorts, but rather his loud and passionate battle cry of “HOOOOOOO!” while swinging his weapon of choice (a 2×4) throughout the air.
Of all the wrestlers to ever it make big, we never expected “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan to be anybody’s favorite, let alone a girl’s. But leave it to CassieB to blindside us, like a 2×4 to the head, by choosing him. With that we put this Confession down for the three count.
With the championship belts held high in the air, we move on to a new quarterly feature we are doing here at CJS. We’ll be discussing movies we think are underrated, and to kick this off we want to hear from you. What movie do you think is underrated and why do you think it is? Did Daddy Day Care get a bad rap because it was geared towards kids? Or maybe you think Fired Up was fantastic but got overshadowed by some other cheerleading movie. Just tell us a movie you think deserves more praise than it got.
We want to know more about all our readers. So don’t hold back. If you haven’t confessed, or it’s been awhile, or even if you did it last week, we want to hear from you. Don’t be shy and send us your response, along with your posting name to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put them up next week.
Hart & Dagger
25 Jan 2010 CJS Staff