Posted
Comments None

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking which match I’m going to talk about. Let’s be honest, when those two names get brought up, you’re talking about one of two matches, although they had many memorable meetings in the ring, it was two particular events that stuck in our minds as a collective fanbase. One, was the most controversial moment that wrestling had ever seen, a moment we will probably never see again in our lifetimes. The other? One of the greatest matches the industry had ever seen and my personal favorite match that solidified my status as a wrestling fan.

A little background for me. I had joined the world in watching Wrestling when it was reaching it’s highest peaks. Shawn Michaels was plagued with injury and was coming to what could have been the last day of his career and Bret was over on a show I didn’t even watch. Even after he had gone I had constantly heard about how Shawn was the best wrestler the company had ever seen, but the problem was they never really showed you that and as for Bret? The only words that ever came out of the company’s mouth about Bret at that time was “Montreal Screwjob”.

Needless to say the company didn’t really peak my interest about either of these men at the time. Thank god for VHS tapes is all I can say…I’m a huge history buff and if I’m interested in anything I want to know the history of it. I turned to VHS tapes because it was the only way I could watch the things that had happened before I had gotten into wrestling and even before I was born. One of the tapes I came across was Wrestlemania Twelve. Now I knew Wrestlemania was a big thing for the WWE, I didn’t know much about that particular one, it was just a case of…let’s see what this one has got on it. That was the magical thing about those tapes, if you didn’t know…you were taking a gamble. Sometimes you got gold, sometimes you didn’t. When I picked up the Wrestlemania Twelve tape? I got gold.

The Build Up


This match had a simple but extremely effective build up, calling it basic seems to be an insult because of how well it worked and had these two not faced off before or had a history together, it may not have panned out the way it did, but this was Shawn and Bret…while their relationship hadn’t become what it would go on to be, there were mumblings in the air, whispers that what was going on between these two guys was real and after this match, the whispers would only continue.

Shawn and Bret was a special match, unlike storylines and feuds today that try and cater to the fans on a weekly basis, this was booked smartly. Sadly today fans are spoiled and if we don’t get what we want, we like to complain about it. Back then there was still a belief that what we were watching was real, sure the notion of the show being pre-determined was one people knew about, even those that were smart o on the inside were willing to throw away their disbelief if the product captured them enough and Shawn and Bret were two stars that made people believe what was going on in the ring because they were just so genuine together.

While they hadn’t faced off against each other on a regular basis up until this point, Shawn and Bret had faced off against each other in the past and the story in the ring was always the same, both guys wanted to show they were the best at what they did in that ring and would go toe to toe with each other in order to do it. Every outing these two had in the past was always a special occasion because you didn’t really know the next time they would fight and you also knew, even with them fighting before, you’d see something you hadn’t seen before.

The two had been on their own paths for a while leading up to this point, Bret was the champion going in to the event and his year, really it was a journey of him becoming the face of the company at that time. It’s well documented that while Bret wasn’t the greatest on the microphone, his skill in the ring and his honesty is what made him a hero, something he took great pride in, that was what the year had been for Bret in my eyes, solidifying himself as the hero…and Shawn’s path was…less than stellar to say the least. He had a bad year both in and out of the ring. While his performance was consistent in the ring, it was his personal demons that would come to haunt Shawn, the year before it seemed Shawn would have big things in store for him, he had won the Royal Rumble and was going to Wrestlemania to face Diesel, his bodyguard who had betrayed him. Shawn would lose the match and what followed was a string of bad luck for Shawn some of it by design, some of it circumstantial, he had been attacked outside a club in Syracuse, had to forfeit the Intercontinental title and due to injuries was written off of TV after receiving a scripted injury from a match against Owen Hart. Along with that and multiple lost opportunities to gain the title it looked like Shawn would never achieve his boyhood dream and then for the second year in a row, Shawn would win the Royal Rumble meaning he and Bret would face each other. After regaining some of his lost honor and a Wrestlemania main event on the way, the matchup that always gave us something new in Shawn Vs. Bret didn’t disappoint as it was announced the match would be an Iron Man match, although Iron Man matches had happened at house shows and other non televised events in the past, the mainstream audience had never seen or likely heard of this…this would be the first time a match of this caliber would be seen by a large audience.

A brief input on this match stipulation…it’s special, that’s the best way to put it and it’s special for good reason. For those that don’t know, an Iron Man match is a match with a time limit, usually sixty minutes and the wrestler with the most pinfalls in that amount of time is the winner. It’s a long endeavor for any athlete to participate in and takes the right combination of wrestlers to pull off. Not everybody can go an hour in the ring and do it well and the match itself has all sorts of special connotations to it that in my mind no other match really brings to the table. The very idea of it can’t help but create images of an all out war going on in the wrestling ring, non stop for sixty minutes…just two men battling it out for what must feel like an eternity in order to get their hands on the greatest prize. That’s what makes the build up great for me, it’s just a natural story with a match built up around it. Shawn has wanted that title since day one and has fought tooth and nail to get it, after a string of bad luck, he regains his honor at the rumble and is determined that this Wrestlemania, things go his way. Meanwhile Bret’s the fighting champion, he’s the hero, the best there is, was or ever will be and he’s going to do anything he can to prove that and keep the title while doing it. There’s no bad blood here, there’s no personal attacks that would come down the line as their relationship soured…this is a story about one thing and that’s the belt. Perfect story telling.

The Preparation

Bret and Shawn’s relationship at this time was generally just excitement, while tensions may have been in the air, they were most likely out of a competitive nature, things didn’t become volatile just quite yet although word is the locker room and some of the fan base was starting to believe in things that weren’t quite there yet. The story is that the two would sit down whenever they could to talk about the match and planned out move for move exactly what they were going to do for what they were calling “The Marathon”.

Both men are immensely proud of how the match was put together and how it turned out and the story that amazes me of just how well these two put things together, according to Bret there’s a point in the match where he would have to climb up to the second rope and look at the clock and if the two men had timed things right, there should be five minutes left in the match. Bret climbs to the second rope, looks at the clock and the clock strikes down to exactly four minutes and fifty nine seconds. Timed perfectly from beginning to end without a single botch or mistake according to both men and both were praised immensely by people in the business. Similar to that of Savage Vs. Steamboat, many would claim it to be the “Greatest Match of All Time.” Again, not my job to agree or disagree with that.

One final part of preparation these two had, which helped plant the seeds into the minds of the fans and even the guys backstage that what was going on here was real. After the war these two went through, Shawn is celebrating with the title, he says something to the referee along the lines of “Tell him to get the hell out of my ring” or something to that effect. The two don’t shake hands and Bret leaves the ring abruptly. Now obviously with these two getting on good terms again, maybe the story changed for good PR, maybe facts become mixed but as far as I can tell, the whole aftermath was planned to further the story. Bret at the time was planning to take a break from wrestling and wanted to keep his options open for when he came back, hence the aftermath of the match, where the battle may have been over but the war certainly wasn’t. This little post match frustration showcased by both men was so believable that according to Bret, Owen had called him up telling him that everybody in the back thought he and Shawn hated each other. Bret’s response? “Good, let them think that! We want them to think that!”

The Match

Holy hell this match, I cannot get enough of this match guys. This is the kind of match where I’ve seen it so many times, I wonder and I worry and I have to ask myself every time I see it “Will I get sick of it?” Will I get sick of the iconic Shawn Michael’s entrance? Will I get bored at any point during those sixty minutes? Will i sigh from boredom when the match goes into overtime? The answer is always the same. No I won’t and no I can’t. It’s just so perfect as a match, even if you don’t know the story, you don’t need to. This is one of those matches that tells the story through the action going on in the ring, every move, every reversal, every tiny detail just has me on the edge of the seat from the entrances to the final bell. It’s an hour of pure athletic, competitive wrestling and it’s brilliant from start to finish.

It was the first of it’s kind and you can tell these two were going to the races with what they were given, they could have had a back and forth match, have a down to the last minute finish and still do the aftermath that they did and call it a successful day and a great match. What makes that match though, what makes it stand out and what makes it set the bar in my eyes is the fact that they wanted it to go into overtime. They wanted to go that extra mile and they wanted to make this match even more than what we were expecting it to be. It’s an hour of wrestling guys, that’s a long time, people could have lost their patience, people could have given up on the match halfway through…especially seeing as it’s an hour without a single pin. Not one, nobody gets pinned until the match goes into overtime. That’s a big risk to take even for these two and the match they put on made sure you didn’t get bored, it just has this aura surrounding it that I can’t explain, even to this day…it’s just the kind of match where I find myself sitting in absolute silence, watching in anticipation for the next move, waiting to see the next direction the match would go in. As a young boy who had never really seen anything like this when I first saw it…it just hypnotized me. Before I saw the match I was curious, an interested party when it came to wrestling. This was THE match…I can’t explain it, every fan has a moment or a match where they say “That was what did it for me.” I could have been one of the many numbers of people that was part of the fad, part of the whole “wrestling is cool” craze that happened during the Attitude Era. Come 2000? I could have given up, I could have let it fall out of my life because as interested and intrigued as I was during those years. As many cool moments as there were, there wasn’t a moment that made me a fan…there were moments and matches that made me want to watch the next week but when those people went away was I going to keep watching? I honestly don’t know, because I was far too curious about the past…and it was this match where I just knew, I’d be watching this for the rest of my life…regardless what path this crazy world went down…this match made me a fan and you can’t replace that. You can’t take that away…it’s the football game that made you stick with the NFL even through all the madness that goes on there, even with all the bad games you may have to sit through in order to come across a gem. It’s the movie that makes you want to sit down in the theater again and again, regardless how bad the movies you see may become. It’s the feeling you can’t explain and it’s a reason you can’t put words to. This match, I can’t describe it because to me, it’s THE match…the one that got me hooked, fully, properly hooked. All I can say is watch it, be patient with it and let it take you in places you don’t expect it to, because although there’s been Iron Man matches that took place, they’ve never been as magical as this one and I can honestly say in my opinion. There was never a match that made me feel the way this match did, that I have seen from before it, or after it.

So Why Do We Love It?

Well clearly you know why I love it, but why is it still so critically acclaimed? First of all anything with these two in it that wasn’t in Montreal at 1997 is a barn burner, guaranteed…I think there was only one bad match they had and it was a tag match that had lousy ring ropes that they couldn’t control. Shawn Michaels is a lot of people’s favorite wrestlers (he happens to be mine) and back then your favorite was either Shawn or Bret…you can really see that, in that audience and around that time frame why that was, they were both great at what they did and they both captivated you in their own special way even with their flaws being present and known to many people both on and off camera.

It’s a match that brought something new to the table. It was one of the last great old school style matches that took place before the Attitude Era…I don’t think you could have had a match like that during the Attitude Era, an athletic showcase like that? For an hour? Attitude Era fans expected hard hitting, bloody battles, not technical prowess and modern day fans are extremely hard to please, while we look back at it fondly today. I can’t see many fans accepting something like that now…maybe I’m wrong but it just seems like it came along at the right place and the right time before the whole industry transformed and became this weird mutant beast that lived throughout the late nineties. One of the last great sound offs of the New Generation (an Era that gets far too much abuse by the way) before the Attitude Era took over. It’s just special, you can’t put a price on that, you can’t even describe it properly. It’s just one of those things you have to watch and draw from yourself, for somebody it may just be a good wrestling match, for others it could be an overrated mess. For me? It did so many things, being the first of it’s kind to be televised it set a bar in a big way that in my opinion hasn’t been met since. An Iron Man match is still a rare commodity in this day and age and it should stay that way. Think of every other gimmick match that’s come and gone. Steel Cage? Hell In A Cell? Elimination Chamber? Money In The Bank? While you still enjoy it, do they really feel special anymore? Do you think you’ll miss anything new if you happen to miss one of those? Iron Man matches, they don’t happen that often…it wasn’t until 2000 that another Iron Man match graced our television screens after Shawn and Bret had theirs in 1996 and it would be another good amount of time before another one after that. It’s one of the few matches left that still has a huge amount of meaning to it and part of me would like to think it was because of this one, that sort of pioneered the way the match should be built, how it should be planned and how it should be pulled off. Like so many of the classic matches this industry has seen, I could talk about it forever, but unless you’re ready and willing to sit down and watch it (for those that haven’t) I’m not going to convince you of anything. It is one of those you have to watch start to finish, you can’t just have it on as background noise and I realize for an hour, some people might not be bothered to do that, regardless how good it is. For those of you who’ve already seen it, my advice is see it again, watching a match again you might be able to notice little things you didn’t see before in previous viewings. For those that haven’t, I’d say give it a watch if you think you’re ready to watch that kind of match, if you’re just getting into wrestling I can definitely see somebody coming away with the opinion of the match as being boring or overrated, which is fine, you’re allowed to have that opinion. Personally though, I think you need to get an idea of what a good match is, then get an idea of what a great match is and THEN…go and watch this match, because that’s when the true appreciation of what these men did will really shine through.

Author
Categories

Posted
Comments None

This time we’re going to have a good old rant about reticule bloom shooting.

I’m talking about when you give the player a gun and design the shooting mechanics such that they become progressively less accurate with each shot. The aiming reticule blooms outward in a fit of inaccuracy and renders the weapon useless.

If I haven’t made it clear yet, I hate this mechanic. It seems to absolutely ruin games if mishandled.

Halo: Reach

Halo was doing alright at the time. The second game set so many console multiplayer bars. The third one introduced the concept of Forge (aka: reintroducing custom maps to AAA console games) and the ODST side project was nice.

But then along came Halo: Reach. It was slow and floaty – a problem with a lot of Halo titles – but now you couldn’t shoot straight. Reach was incredibly uncomfortable to play and marked a point where it suddenly felt like Bungie had no idea what they were doing anymore.

Now, I guarantee people on Bungie.net would argue that having this sort of recoil permitted guns to shoot faster than they would otherwise, and they would be right. But what they don’t seem to get is that players aren’t going to do recoil math in their heads when shooting a gun.

I could be wrong, but based on that game, it seems to me that thought during bullet time will take a blooming reticule – an analog system – and make it a binary system: Max accuracy vs. max firing rate.

And in Reach, attempting to ride the line between those two would just get you killed. You could pulse your assault rifle to maintain moderate accuracy, but the guy holding down the trigger would always beat you first.

Shadowrun

Reticule bloom was even worse for Shadowrun. In fact, I think it’s primarily what killed the game as a product.

It was hard enough to bounce around magic and cybernetic abilities in the middle of a fight. Nobody wanted to navigate an accuracy tightrope at the same time, just so they could put a bullet in a guy’s brain.

See, what bad reticule bloom does is make the player feel out of control. If they don’t feel in control, they don’t feel like they know what they’re doing and they subsequently have a hard time having fun with the game. At no point are you certain that you know how to actually shoot guns in the gun game.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty has the prestigious honor of being a successful franchise while completely fucking with the market’s way of handling guns at the same time. Why? Reticule bloom, of course! Specifically, their concept of “hip fire.”

Just… off the top of my head, there’s an Army manual somewhere that states a human being has the hand-eye coordination to point a rifle and accurately shoot targets up to a range of about 10 meters without lining up with the sights. With Call of Duty you could manage… maybe 2-3 meters. The first couple shots were accurate at that 10 range, but the reticule bloom would throw it way off to the point where you couldn’t reliably land a kill.

This still worked because of their other shooting style: Aiming Down Sights. ADS dropped the reticule bloom thing entirely and instead gave you 100% accurate shots with rather minor recoil. It ended up reinforcing this notion in players heads that if you ever wanted to shoot something, you absolutely had to aim down the sights (in this case, because the reticule bloom made it terrible).

So, since the game was big profit, the market decided to latch onto the ADS idea; terrible hip fire included.

Doing it Right?

Looking back, I think Battlefield 3 did the reticule bloom thing right. Accuracy was relatively tight as a baseline – even more than it looked. Firing without aiming down the sight didn’t cause the reticule to expand much until after maybe ten rounds, where you were really laying into the auto-fire.

In a way, I’d say it took this supposedly analog system and made a relatively digital binary (last time I say that nonsense). You had an accurate state and you had a rapid state. There was no accuracy juggling to worry about.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: Don’t make your players think on an ambiguous mechanic during a split-second’s notice.

If you’re looking to find me outside of this realm, I’m @ALIENwolve on Twitter.

Author
Categories

Posted
Comments None

Today the finger of blame is pointing at one man from the wrestling community for the poor creative choices going on in WWE and that’s at the man in the owner’s seat…Vince McMahon is a strange, complex man and in this article I try and tackle him, it’s a difficult topic but somebody has to do it! We’ll go from Vince’s introduction into the company all the way through to the modern day and I tackle the question, is it time for the old man to call it quits?

The Very Beginning

Vince was born in 1945, his father Vince Senior would leave the family while Vince was a baby and the two would not meet for another twelve years. Vince instead was raised by his stepfather whom he has openly admitted to hating with a passion and for good reason. According to Vince his stepfather would regularly beat his mother and when Vince tried to protect her he too would face a beating, he even went so far as to say “It’s a shame that he died before I could kill him. I would have enjoyed that.” Needless to say Vince’s childhood wasn’t a pleasant one and I think meeting his father was an escape he desperately needed at the time.

The two met when Vince was twelve and Vince Sr. was running the Capitol Wrestling corporation, Vince was fascinated by the world his father was a part of and was determined to follow in his footsteps, One little factoid I was unaware of is that there was a chance we would have actually seen Vince as a wrestler back in the day that was his initial desire when he started working with his father but Vince Sr. wouldn’t allow it. His reasoning being that a promoter should never put himself in the same position as the people that work for him, these two roles should be separated for both business and personal reasons. A logic that seems fully understandable to me and a logic that a lot of the bookers and promoters who were also wrestlers in the territory system ignored.

Now to be fair to Vince, he didn’t get where he was the easy way, while he was learning the business from his father, he would also work as a travelling salesmen while also studying in University, the guy was very busy as a young man, managed to graduate and moved on to pursue a managerial position in his father’s company. He still had to work his ass off before being handed the keys to the building, so he has to get credit where it’s due there. Vince would make his debut as an announcer, a common position for people to be placed back in the day if they wanted to get a spot doing backstage work. Announcers are the lowest on the food chain when it comes to the backstage scene and have been for a long time, there are a lot of stories about the crap announcers got, now whether Vince got any of that crap or not I don’t know there’s no stories I could find of Vince getting ribbed as an announcer, maybe it was because his dad ran the place, maybe those stories just didn’t come to light. Either way I think this was Vince Sr. testing his son, he wasn’t exactly too thrilled about his son wanting to be a part of the business and probably did this to see if he could handle it (why that is, isn’t exactly clear, but it’s a common thing, wrestlers and promoters usually advise people to stay away from it unless it’s something they’re really passionate about).

A little bit on Vince as an announcer he did a pretty damn good job of it, he knew how to put people over he knew how to react and if there was somebody he saw that he himself really liked (whether it was their body or their in ring skill) He’d make sure to show that camera how amazed he really was by it all and as a commentator? While Vince wasn’t the best out there (Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon deserve that award) he has a certain charm to him that I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, or maybe I just love the way he overreacts to certain things but there’s always a little smile on my face whenever I hear Vince shout out WHATTA MANEUVER!

Becoming a Phenomenon

Vince would purchase his father’s company in 1982, Vince Sr. was getting old and was ailing at the time, he would only live for two more years and during those two years he was a frightful man when it came to the state of his company. Vince Sr. was a man with an old school mindset, he had made promises to all the territories he wouldn’t compete and thought the regional system was the most profitable one out there. So when his brash young son with a mind for expansion comes along and wants to make this a national, international and possibly even global company? Vince Sr. was scared and rightfully so, that was a huge risk and a huge endeavor to go on and while he never lived to see where his son would take the company I’d like to think he’d be proud of what his son was able to do with it.

See Vince saw the dawn of cable as the perfect launching pad for his new vision, he would gather as much talent as he could and take the wrestling world by storm to launch his product, one that focused more on the entertainment aspect than the wrestling. Those that say Vince wasn’t a fan of wrestling or that he was ashamed of it, I’m not too sure of that, after all his interest in it formed when he met his father who was running an old school promotion, sure it was the land of the giants even back then and wasn’t exactly “athletic” but it was still wrestling, there was no sports entertainment even in the thoughts of the people in the company back then but Vince saw it as an opportunity to take it down the avenue of entertainment, sure it annoyed a lot of wrestlers wrestling fans and promoters alike, but I think the times were calling for it back then, wrestling change, the viewpoints change, that basic, old school style was going dry…what Vince had in mind? Revolutionized the industry.

He couldn’t do it of course, without his cast of classic characters, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Mr. Perfect, Randy Savage, so on and so forth, he gathered the biggest and the best in order to take hold of the wrestling business and while the tactics used can be deemed ethically and morally wrong? Vince was a businessman, he’s been a businessman since day one…his product wasn’t going to be successful the way he wanted if he kept all the promises his dad had made. Another minor thing, people credit Vince with the creation of Hulkamania, Hulkamania was actually created in the AWA, Hulk was a popular wrestler in the AWA and while it was clear he’d be the next big thing, Verne refused to put him in his rightful place and in the end a dispute over merchandising is what sealed the deal and sent Hulk to WWE where Hulkamania really took off. Sure, it started in the AWA, I’ll give Verne and the rests of the AWA all the credit it deserves for that, but it was Vince and Hulk together that managed to turn that into the monster it became. Without Hogan, Vince may have had quite the struggle on his hands but that was his meal ticket right there and he rode that meal ticket straight to one of his greatest accomplishments in his career, Wrestlemania.

I look at the first Wrestlemania and I have to say it hasn’t aged well…other than the main event (which turns into a classical eighties finish at the end anyway) there’s not much there to talk about in terms of wrestling excitement or even entertainment. It really is one of those events where you had to be around at the time to truly understand the scope of it and even looking back now I can see how much Vince was riding on it…and I can see just by the numbers of people that saw it on closed circuit and the sold out arena that this was a big deal but after thirty one years? It sadly hasn’t become a fine wine. I still think you should go and watch it though for historical purposes any wrestling fan should go and see it. It’s the first Wrestlemania, it’s like sitting down and watching the first Superbowl. Sure you know the results, you may even know how it goes minute by minute but you can’t truly appreciate it until you’ve actually seen it this is where it all started that’s a big deal.

A big deal it was back then as well especially for Vince it’s a story like this that makes me have nothing but respect for this man even with all the craziness that has been and gone over the years. Vince literally put everything on the line. How much was everything? EVERYTHING…Vince would have lost his house if Wrestlemania tanked, the company would have gone to the dogs and Vince may have seen himself in financial straights. He took a big Vegas gamble in order to make his product the one that the world would be watching from that day on and it worked, you can’t slate that as much as we like to slate the man now.

The rest of the eighties would be what we refer to as the golden era for WWE and Vince was at the helm. Admittedly things were ran a little differently back then, instead of writers you had a make-shift creative team made up of road agents and producers that Vince trusted enough to seek their opinion but one thing that was a cold hard fact even back then was that Vince had the last say. He may have been more open to certain things back then but he was very much still in charge, although he didn’t want anybody watching to know it. A trend that would continue all the way up to 1997.

Monday Night Raw


Vince’s other true masterpiece in wrestling? The creation of Monday Night Raw with almost ten Wrestlemanias behind him a slew of other Pay-Per-Views either already set up or in the works, Vince would set up what was and remains to be his baby. In 1993 we saw the very first episode of Monday Night Raw touted to us as Uncooked, Uncut and Uncensored!

Similar to Wrestlemania, the first Raw has not aged well at all, in fact when looking at it one can be amazed how it managed to reach over a thousand episodes. The presentation has this eighties NXT vibe to it for me now, small arena, small but passionate crowd and the commentator’s focusing mainly on the action. The problem? This was 1993, WWE was starting to get into some trouble, it would only be a few years until WCW was kicking their butt on a weekly basis and the fans would turn against them and you can really tell looking at this that Vince is trying to make this work with what he has. His big stars were gone, his youth movement was making it’s way and he was sticking to the tried and true methods he had used that launched his company into nationwide popularity in the first place. A mindset I can understand Vince having in all honesty, it’s that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” method of thinking and while certain things in wrestling certainly have that mindset apply, the approach you need to take in presenting your product to the audience regardless how archaic the wrestling and stories may be? That is what needs to change and until WCW came along Vince didn’t really need to change Sure popularity was dwindling but Hogan was gone, Savage was on commentary, Andre had passed away…everybody was getting old and these new guys were people that nobody really knew or cared about at the time. It seemed all it would take is a matter of time and Vince would be back on his feet. While I say as a wrestling fan you might want to go and watch the first Raw, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t…it’s a tough one to sit through because of multiple reasons, it’s very hokey, it isn’t all that entertaining and while the first Wrestlemania as poorly aged as it is, still FEELS like Wrestlemania. The first Raw doesn’t really feel like Raw forgive me for comparing it to American football again but hey, that’s Raw’s main competitor. Monday night football back in it’s prime, felt like Monday night football right? That statement alone sounds silly but hopefully you get what I mean. The music, the announcers, the atmosphere the match itself, all that combined to this feeling of what you were watching had some sort of meaning to it…it felt like Monday Night Football it wasn’t just another Thursday or Sunday night game, the way it was presented made it feel like it was something more…maybe even something special. This Raw just felt like…a show, you need to understand, for me, when I sit down, I hear that awesome Raw intro? I have high expectations I love old school wrestling, I love old school Raw…but the first Raw just didn’t feel like I was watching what would become the main show of WWE, maybe it’s because of the times or the fact that all those big stars leaving made Vince a little creatively strapped, but it’s not a good example of what WWE can bring to the table.

Vince started to show those signs of being “out of touch” once WCW came around in the mid nineties, WWE was already struggling due to fans having a hard time to connect with the youth movement going on and the stale feeling the product was starting to have, then along comes WCW with this new edgy attitude and that’s when WWE really felt the sting of it all. Vince was very reluctant to go edgy for a long time and it took a lot of convincing in order for us to get the Attitude Era in the first place, in the end Vince saw it was best for business with the situation was hand and even is fabled by multiple wrestlers to have gathered a meeting where he admitted he no longer knew what the wrestling fans wanted. What would follow is one of the most beloved era of wrestling and the creation of the greatest bad guy this business has ever seen…

The Dawn of Mr. McMahon.

The start of the attitude era is debated among wrestling fans, some point to King of The Ring where Austin cut his infamous Austin 3:16 promo some point to Wrestlemania 13 where Austin won the title. Me? I personally point to the Montreal Screwjob. It’s a terrible, over discussed moment in wrestling it’s definitely one we need to remember and one I’ll discuss at a later date. For the few that may not be in the know the Montreal Screwjob is when Bret Hart, who was the champion and going to WCW refused to drop the title to Shawn Michaels in Montreal during Survivor Series. Vince, who didn’t want his main title to face the same fate the women’s title had at the hands of Madusa on WCW, decided that if Bret wasn’t going to drop the title. He’d make him drop the title and when Shawn put Bret in the Sharpshooter the bell gets rang, everybody leaves the ring and Vince gets spat on by Bret and also hit square in the face backstage allegedly knocking him out. This moment with all it’s negativity and chaos brought one good thing out of it and that was the dawn of Mr. McMahon as a character. There was speculation out there in the public eye before, the smart fans probably knew but the general consensus was that Vince was a commentator. The lead up to Montreal had a lot of real life, personal statements going back and forth some of it aimed at Vince, which broke kayfabe altogether and basically told people “this guy is the boss” while people may have thought they were taking their frustrations out on a guy with connections to the big office, it was the screwjob and the Bret screwed Bret vignette that sealed the deal, Vince McMahon was the owner and he was going to use this event to create his character of the evil dictator of the WWE.

It was this character that helped make the Attitude Era what it was. We can say that without Steve Austin there would not have been an Attitude Era and that’s a very true statement but without Vince McMahon there wouldn’t have been a Steve Austin in WWE the way we knew him throughout the nineties. It was thanks to Vince and his portrayal of the evil dictator that gave us all a common enemy to unite against and live vicariously through Stone Cold as we did it. Everybody wanted to stick it to their boss, everybody still does…that’s why there is so much love for this storyline even to this day. Vince was the perfect evil boss and it wasn’t hard for him to pull off while I’m sure a lot of it comes from deep within that mad old man’s mind there is, according to Vince a personal hatred for people that like to use their wealth and power to place themselves above everybody else (Ironic I know) and simply added to to his own traits which he says he amplified all the way up to eleven. Combine that with the rebellious attitude of Steve Austin and you had the perfect storm. Vince’s character easily could have gone stale though, especially after Stone Cold left and it didn’t, we still crave for that evil force to unite against and have some bastion of good to stand against in our place and Vince portrayed that evil force perfectly, sure he was over the top and sometimes a little cheesy but it added to it all and again nothing but respect comes from me during this period for Vince McMahon. He’s the boss of the company he didn’t have to do anything physical if he didn’t want to. Instead he encouraged Stone Cold to give him the stiffest hardest jabs he could and Vince would try his best to give them in return Vince took a beating guys, on a regular basis…and he did it with a smile. Even with the man being almost seventy today, if you can take a beating from Stone Cold and according to Stone Cold, deliver a pretty equal beating yourself? I don’t want to see Vince McMahon in a cold dark alley any time soon!

It was also during the Attitude Era that WWE started to really use the integration of a “writing team” this came in the form of Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara, a pair that I’m sure I’ll cover some time in the future, let’s just say my opinion of these two men, while not as cynical as others, certainly isn’t stellar by any means. Russo started out as a fan and a writer for the magazine and for the longest time it was probably going to stay that way until one day Russo gave his opinion on the show to Vince, his god honest opinion, which shocked McMahon to the point where he decided to listen out to Russo’s ideas and hired him as the head writer and the head of creative. Now was this decision one made on instinct? Not exactly sure, I don’t know the exact conversation that went down between these two but it was enough for Russo to gain Vince’s trust and respect to put him in such a position. It may have been a move of desperation due to WCW kicking his ass, it may have been genuine respect towards Russo for standing up to the old man (a stance that Vince is very well known for.)

Buying His Competition

Vince bought WCW in 2001 and I really think that was a mistake, Vince bought his own competition…WCW had given him what he had wanted for the longest time, legitimate competition and while the company was pretty much dead, Vince wasn’t the only interested party in buying the company. Somebody else could have easily come along and turned WCW back into a successful product, instead it went to Vince and besides the poorly received Invasion angle (which really wasn’t entirely Vince’s fault by the way…a LOT of WCW talent decided to sit on their contracts after the company was purchased, so a lot of the popular talent just didn’t show up.)

Rumor is the original plan was that Smackdown was going to be the WCW show and things would go on from there, however due to the poor reception the Invasion angle had and the lack of star talent, that idea changed or never came to fruition, a sad but true trend that Vince’s business endeavors would seem to follow.

Vince, being a business man has given a fair college tries at a couple of things, the most notable failures being the XFL and WWE New York…where to start with these two?

The XFL and WWE New York

The XFL was Vince’s attempt to provide an alternative to the NFL and like other failed attempts before it trying to provide an alternative lead to the entire media lampooning it. It didn’t help that the guy running it was the guy that owned “that wrestling company we all like to laugh at”. The media loves to take a jab at the WWE so when the XFL came along, it was open season.

The XFL was a merger between Vince and NBC to create a single entity league, meaning the franchises were not seperately owned. NBC at the time was trying to build it’s own league while Vince was trying to get a hold of the CFL. The two met in the middle and the XFL was born. The idea was to combine the scoring system of the NFL with the dramatic nature of the WWE, kayfabe and crazy stunts included. Filled with scantily clad cheerleaders, trash talking announcers and a scramble for the ball to determine kickoffs instead of a coin flip. It was in essence an attempt to inject the attitude era into football. One minor thing, unlike what many people think, the X does not stand for “Xtreme” as at the time there was already an Xtreme Football League, which would go on to merge with Arena Football League. So with Xtreme out of the question and Vince jokingly referring to the NFL as the “No Fun League” they decided to refer to it as the “Xtra Fun League!” Whether this was the official name or not I’m not sure. From everything I can find out, it was just officially “XFL” so probably not.

Unfortunately the XFL suffered the same fate as other alternatives that had been presented to the public, it had a huge ego, it suffered under the ire of the media and due to the involvement of Vince McMahon and the nature of the WWE that had been injected to it, the term “fake” was thrown around a lot. Loss of interest happened extremely fast and after one season, XFL came to an end and Vince admitted it as a major failure.

WWE New York or The World as it was later called, was a WWE owned restaurant/nightclub with a wrestling theme. The complex had merchandise and retail stores on the first floor and an underground restaurant and nightclub. Problem being according to legend, admission charges were expensive (yes, there were admission charges) The food was adequate at best, the service was terrible and the only thing they ever showed on TV was WWE…now I understand this is a wrestling themed complex and thus the idea is that it should attract wrestling fans. However if people want to come to your place, pay to come in your place and as if they can watch some football? Put the game on guys…

The club was closed in 2003 so the company could focus on it’s global efforts and the complex itself closed in 2005. WWE still goes to the complex however, mainly to host it’s press conferences for Wrestlemania and once in 2006 for the infamous WWE Diva Search.

The WWE Network

Vince had this in mind for a long time guys a very long time, from 2004, there was an on demand service called WWE 24/7, pretty much the WWE Network in concept you had original shows like the fan favorite Legends Of Wrestling, a round table discussion between legends of the business that covered different topics across the business all the way to the multiple wrestling avenues the service covered, from classic pay-per-views and house shows to weekly shows that chronilogically recapped the Monday night wars. It was the initial incarnation of the WWE Network and was removed in 2014 when the Network came to be.

Story is that Vince originally wanted a channel, similar to the NFL Network, now whether the funds were too much, deals couldn’t be met, legal issues whatever the case was I’m not sure but as far as I can tell the initial plan was NFL Network except…WWE. The plan was not initially well received, a lot of people pointed to the 24/7 service which was still available and said “We’ll just stick with this” Then the plan was changed and the Network became what it is today and it’s journey has been a struggling one, though I won’t call it a failure, in fact neither will WWE now that they reached one million subscribers.

The Network was bound to have a fight on it’s hands and I’ll tell you why and it’s something WWE, Vince or nobody else seemed to think of when taking on this move. This is very much different from Netflix Netflix is a movie streaming service which didn’t affect television in the minds of the media or the cable networks. It was something for Blockbuster and other video/DVD rental services to deal with, it was a separate beast. WWE wanted something similar, but wait, there’s a problem here…there are cable companies that host your show, there are PPV carriers that are carrying your super shows and you are promising it to your audience for 9.99 a month? Television is a stubborn old mule and like many things, tries to ignore the internet as much as possible, so when a big company like WWE is offering a streaming service that can mess up the way they work? They rebel, they get angry they make sure to tell advertisers they are angry they tell sponsors they angry and all of these people tell investors and the investors? Pull their funds. Unless the Network got a million subscribers within the first month? This was going to be a fight, end of story…Vince and his company were going to ruffle too many feathers for this to go down any other way and I can’t put that down as a poor business decision. I can however pin the poor marketing of the Network as a poor business decision, trust me while I love Legends House (guilty pleasure) That’s not why I’m paying my monthly fee. I’m paying for NXT (AND YOU SHOULD TOO!) I’m paying for all the old shows I missed out on, or want to go back and watch! I’m paying for documentaries, back stage insight all that good stuff, advertise it WWE…because it’s there, but you wouldn’t know thanks to your shoddy marketing!

The Elephant In The Room

Vince is out of touch, I’m not disputing that. Vince has no idea what his fans want…or he does but he doesn’t want to give it to them…or he does, but he doesn’t know how? See that’s the problem when I look at Vince, I just end up asking…lots and lots of questions. I don’t think vince hates what he does he clearly doesn’t or he wouldn’t do it. Does he hate wrestling? No,, he just thinks he’s presenting a different product and in essence he has, for over thirty years. This isn’t wrestling, as hard as it is to understand that, it’s entertainment…that’s the business Vince is in he’s been in that business from the start. You think he picked up Hogan because he could wrestle? No, he picked up Hogan because he was a huge draw and he entertained the masses! Vince has always ran an entertainment business…it just happens to have wrestling in it.

It all started there really the comments of him being out of touch of him hating this…when he first referred to it as “sports entertainment” they are, very, very dirty words to a die hard wrestling fan like myself but…that’s what it is. I can’t argue with the man. Just look around you! Look at New Japan, that isn’t sports entertainment, that’s wrestling! Lucha Underground? Wrestling NXT? Wrestling WWE? Raw? Smackdown? It’s a variety show…it just has wrestling in it and that’s how it’s been for a long time. It’s just been presented in a much better fashion then this and we haven’t had our noses rubbed in it like dogs who have just peed the carpet!

He relies too much on writer’s these days, another complaint I hear and again, I agree…before the Attitude Era there were no writers in the company as far as I can tell. Now there’s a team of people with no idea what a wrestling show is these are all people who write for television shows…drama? comedy? It doesn’t matter, it’s not a wrestling show and regardless how much “Sports entertainment” there is? There’s still wrestling and very few people can script that well! There’s so much stories about how unorganized thee writing scene is in this company. Vince has fired entire writing teams, the shows have been written while on the air. Writer’s being absolutely clueless what to write because of Vince changing his mind about things or coming up with ideas that make them scratch their heads. Point is its a room full of people with different ideas, passing their ideas on to wrestlers who receive about five different scripts with NO clue what to do! So who do they go to? Vince?

No, sadly not, one of Vince’s finest qualities, that’s also a curse is that he’s a workaholic, the man is never not doing anything…from start to finish he is working, although to be fair to him, he doesn’t see it as work. “I’ve never worked a day in my life!” He tells people, he’s not boasting about laziness…he genuinely loves what he does, he’s just…old and senile and out of touch with the times and sadly has been surrounded by a lot of yes men for a long, long time.

To the point, I think where while those stories of him respecting people may have truth to them, people are far too scared in this day and age to do it. Vince has so many people whispering in his ear and telling him what good ideas he has that honestly when people disagree with him? I’m not sure he knows how to take it any more.

It’s back to the old “if it ain’t broke” method…honestly if you go back to the eighties and watch, there really isn’t that much difference in what Vince is doing. The set is prettier, the production has improved immensely but the product is still the same…just a fresh lick of paint I’m afraid and it isn’t going to change until Vince goes out of office.

In Conclusion

Do I think Vince needs to go? In short yes, in long version…yes…with a but. He’s out of touch but I can’t blame him, he came up with a formula, it worked, why steer away from it? I can understand his train of thought and with the amount of yes men around I can understand his stubborn ways in seeing otherwise. This is a man that gets four hours of sleep a day because of how committed to this he is, this is a man that thrives off competition so much he created a second show! This is a man that is far too proud of who he is, that if he sneezes he curses himself out!

Vince is complex, Vince is crazy, he’s chaotic…and he’s old! He’s at the age of retirement, but he won’t because he loves what he does, he’s obsessed, he’s addicted and he will probably do it until he dies. He also gave us some of the greatest years of wrestling we could have ever asked for. He managed to take a sport that was seen as nothing more than the silly ancestor of a carnival show and made a global, billion dollar company out of it. He gave us the Golden Era, the Attitude Era and an immortal image of himself to remember him by.

What do I think of when I think of Vince McMahon?

“IT’S ME AUSTIN! IT WAS ME ALL ALONG!”

Out of context…it makes no sense, but every time I watch it, I smile and I say…that’s Vince McMahon. That toothy grin, that gutteral, growly voice that child like gleam in his eyes that he knows he’s taken us all along for a ride and we despise him for it! That right there, is a man that loves his job…regardless how silly, humiliating stupid or degrading it may require him to be at times and regardless what he asks of everybody else? He did it to himself as well. How many bosses can you say that about? How many owners went out on TV in a cloak and revealed themself as a higher power of some demonic cult? How many owners allowed themselves to have their head shoved into a giant’s ass? Vince McMahon did…and he did it because he knew we wanted him to be the bad guy and we wanted to see the bad guy get what he deserves. Regardless how old he is, how out of touch he may be? He still knows that much at least and honestly, as bad as the product may be some times, when he goes, however it is he may go. We can deny it as much as we like now…but we’ll miss that crazy old man and the world itself will feel a little stranger not having him around.

When it comes to wrestling? When it comes to the WWE? Maybe it is time for a change, but don’t forget who got it where it is today in the first place…

IT’S ME AUSTIN!

Author
Categories

Posted
Comments None

Let’s talk about Starship Troopers by Strangelite. I’m pretty sure it went under the radar and nobody cared for it because it wasn’t very polished. But the advantage of middling projects like that is interesting features can crop up within the primordial ooze of mediocrity!

Hero of The Movie: The Game

One thing they got right was producing the rare aesthetic of being a cinematic character. A lot of games try that sort of experience and burn out into dull chatter that the player tunes out as they just play the game.

I think a core factor that enables this is linked to the enemies themselves. The majority of this game is practically Serious Sam with space bugs. There are hundreds of lightly armored bugs making up the bulk of resistance you run into. You give them a good burst in the right spots and they drop dead, then you turn around and do the same to the next bug, all while constantly on the move. It’s quite similar to many action scenes in movies.

In a game like Halo, it’s largely a series of firefights with enemies of health equal to or greater than yours. You take things slow and carefully.

Another simultaneous factor is constant orchestral themes heralding your awesomeness… even though they might actually be ripped from the movies. The music builds up at unique points in the game and really does feel like a movie protagonist.

At one point, you’re running through ruined catwalks to escape a bomb detonation. A timer is counting down in the corner of your eye, you’re blasting away bugs in front of you and fleeing from the ones chasing you, a dramatic orchestra emphasizes the tension. You crawl over rubble, shooting bugs left and right, all to reach a dropship and escape with a big boom at your back.

In another similar situation, you’re racing to save a squad that’s been surrounded by bugs in a tunnel. You’re sprinting up a long incline and hear screams for help echoing through the cave. Then, with the music in crescendo, you literally crest over the slope (in the same way I guarantee you’ve seen movie characters do) overlooking a chamber swarming with bugs and start gunning them down as you make your way to the survivors.

It’s some real heroic stuff that you never see much of in polished games.

Give it Your All if Your All Isn’t Much

An all too common problem for games is poor friendly AI. They’re often useless background decoration, rather than allies. Call of Duty is notorious for this, as you’re almost always required to kill everyone and do everything by yourself while all the guys on your side shoot at nothing.

Starship Troopers didn’t have great AI with friendly soldiers. They would usually stand still while bugs charged in and tore them to pieces. But they knew the AI was crap, so they didn’t pull any punches. A squad of troopers would stand still while they fight, but they’d unload straight into their targets with no attempt at feigning inaccuracy and freely chuck waves of infinite grenades at bug clusters.

Validate Exploration

This can be found in many games, but since I’ve hit it with Starship Troopers, we’ll start here.

When you build an environment that is intended to feel like a real place, you tend to accrue a lot of dead ends and closets. It’s a fairly common to hide extra items within these areas so they don’t become dead space. If a player stumbles across constant emptiness, they tend to consider the game to be a little empty.

Starship Troopers does indeed follow suit. Ammo crates, med packs, and secret weapons are hidden throughout the environments’ industrial labyrinth. Some particularly rare weapons such as the Morita carbine and nuke launcher are often found hidden within levels that otherwise never feature them.

Quantity Over Quality

This bit is a little more technical and obvious, but we’ll go over it anyway. There are a lot of bugs rendered at once in Starship Troopers. Hundreds of the little bastards scurry about. They way they do it is by reducing the processing power enemies take up by distance. Texture resolutions are reduced, animation frames are cut, and AI decision making is simplified.

It doesn’t look good in small numbers, but that becomes inconsequential when the enemy count becomes large enough. There are whole swarms of crawling bugs seen at once thanks to this, like when an ant colony attacks.

Enemy count defines this game and helps match aesthetics with the movie.

Add a Nuke Launcher

Seriously, that thing is a monster and the game actually encourages it, unlike the nuke launchers of Fallout. There are constant swarms of bugs, so unleashing a colossal firestorm doesn’t even put a dent in their numbers, which just justifies unlimited nuke boxes!

If you’re looking to find me outside of this realm, I’m @ALIENwolve on Twitter.

Author
Categories

Posted
Comments None

It’s about time I talked about some actual matches, not just any matches though. Anybody can do a written review or recap of the current product and a lot of people already are, in fact a lot of the matches I want to talk about have been reviewed and recapped at some point. The point of these articles, which I’ll be doing periodically between other articles that I’ll put out, is that when I want to tackle a match, it’s to try and understand why we loved it, or why we hated it if it sucked the big one (I’ll cover bad matches too) I don’t want to go into every hold or slam because it’s been done and that’s not the point of these articles, the point is to explain where I’m coming from as a fan and to hopefully convert a few non fans out there too.

Today I tackle a classic and a tough one to talk about, because everybody else already has, it’s the match that defined two men and their careers to this very day and it’s the match that stole the show of one of the greatest Wrestlemanias.

Randy Savage Vs. Ricky Steamboat

When I typed those words a few days ago, I immediately realized the task that I had voluntarily dropped myself into, I could have moved on to another topic, another match, sure…but I wanted to start with this match, this is the match that has many wrestling critics and fans alike either calling it the greatest match in wrestling history or a great match that has been overrated through the years. Savage vs. Steamboat is a hard one to talk about because, well almost everybody has put their own two cents on the matter anyway, we should ash our hands of it right? Say the match was good, it deserves to be remembered and call it a day? Well no, there’s a reason this match needs to be talked about, there’s a reason it needs to be remembered so fondly. In my opinion it set the bar for every wrestler with a chip on their shoulder, every guy that had to look out at a jam packed stadium, knowing that the company believed that every hard earned dollar they spent was because of whatever golden boy may have been in place at the time.

Let me explain briefly what I’m trying to get at here, today the idea of a match “stealing the show” is common place, it’s usually a match somewhere in the midcard region, ranging from the lower to upper levels that manages to outshine and outperform the rest of the matches on the card, it’s the sleeper, the underdog…the unexpected surprise. In the modern day fan’s mind, we thrive for the show stealer, we hope there’s a match that’s going to blow our expectations out of the water and we hope we’ll be there to see it…but where did the show stealer really start?

Well, that’s honestly a good question, there’s really no way to pinpoint the first match people saw that was the gem of the night, as long as there has been wrestling, there’s been some element of surprise in it all, but for me…the idea, the popularity and the adoration of a show stealer, the true definition of a show stealer wasn’t in our minds until Wrestlemania 3.

Understand the time period here and the wrestling fan at the time, the mainstream wrestling fan at that. Probably never seen a match from Japan or Mexico in their life, are used to either the slow, traditional style of the NWA or the new Entertaining flashy presentation of the WWF that’s giving us larger than life athletes with larger than life personalities Let’s not pretend here OK? WWE has ALWAYS been about the entertainment factor from the day Vince Junior walked into the office. It’s worked for over thirty years so can’t really criticize it that much I guess, sure athleticism was there, but it wasn’t the focus…not by a long shot. There’s a reason Hulk Hogan is the top guy and it sure wasn’t his wrestling ability.

Vince had bet everything on Wrestlemania being a success and it was, albeit a bit of a shaky start, while the first Wrestlemania hasn’t aged well, you can see why it was such a success, nothing like that had ever been seen before on such a large scale. Wrestlemania 2? Still a success but poorly booked and one of the orse Wrestlemanias out there.

Then comes Wrestlemania 3, the one that cemented the future of wrestling dominance, NWA had a chance, a slim chance but a chance to take back the crown…and it was thrown out of the window after Wrestlemania 3. There’s no mistaking why those people bought their ticket, it was Hogan Vs. Andre no questions asked, Andre The Giant had a kayfabe fifteen year undefeated streak, Hogan was champion for three years and good friends with Andre before Andre joined up with Bobby Heenan, making him the biggest heel in the company at the time. This was perfectly booked perfectly timed and perfectly scheduled, everybody was paying to see it and everybody in the locker room knew it.

Meanwhile…

Randy Savage is the Intercontinental Champion, a belt that at the time was extremely prestigious, one that would go on to be held on the same level as the world title, it was considered the “Wrestler’s title” if you held the Intercontinental Championship, you weren’t the top draw…but it was the company acknowledging you were the most athletic wrestle,r or that’s at least the mindset some of the guys had in the back anyway. Randy at this time is a heel and WHAT A HEEL! He had won the title from George “The Animal Steele” at the previous Wrestlemania and due to a surprisingly “beauty and the beast” stroyline where George had an infatuation with Miss Elizabeth, the storyline ran a lot longer than expected and because of that, he appeared in the match to aid Ricky Steamboat in Wrestlemania 3, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Build Up

I believe the build up was three months (going by the words from Ricky Steamboat on the latest Macho Man DVD, go pick that up by the way.) though it could have been longer, the final three months was where it all started to really heat up though.

During a free TV match between the two, Randy unceremoniously dumps Ricky outside of the ring, where Ricky leans against the barricade to catch his breath, while he is doing this, Randy climbs up to the top turnbuckle, clutches his fists together and dives them straight into Ricky’s back, causing Ricky to grab at his throat and shoot back. Too add to the injury (ah ring psychology, how I miss you…) Randy goes out, grabs the time keepers bell, climbs BACK to the top turnbuckle and drives it straight into the Dragon’s throat. We’re shown Ricky getting taken out on a stretcher and their road to Wrestlemania begins with a bang!

Watch The Moment Here!

What follows is just pure genius booking, the next few weeks we are treated to vignettes of Steamboat’s recovery, including speech therapy sessions, all the while swearing that he’ll get his revenge on Randy Savage for what he did to him as Randy gloats that he ended Ricky’s career.

The two are finally set to collide and they give some of the best promos in the build to this event and Macho Man goes on to give, what I think is his absolute BEST promo after the match, Ricky is still selling the throat even though he can speak again, he’s got a low, gutteral growl going on that just oozes intensity, meanwhile Randy provides us with his usual off the wall intensity that made him the character we know and love.

Ricky Steamboat Promo

Randy Savage Promo

Randy was a perfectionist, not just in the ring but on the microphone, here they were, Pontiac Silverdome, Wrestlemania 3, a supposed 90,000 plus fans packed in to the stadium and everybody is saying it’s for one reason and one reason only. Now while that may be true, they didn’t give in to that notion, they didn’t accept it, shrug their shoulders and just do the match. No, from the moment this match was announced these two worked together in preparing this match and doing everything in their power to steal the show, that included the microphone work.

The Preparation

Randy was a perfectionist, an obsessive one, on the mic, in the ring, it didn’t matter, he wanted to be the best and he wanted his matches to reflect that According to steamboat, Randy had over a hundred pages of notes, all bullet pointed of every detail that would happen in the match. It got to a point here both of them would be able to flip to a random page, say the spot that happened and then ask the other person to describe the rest of the match and both of them would be able to describe it off of the top of their heads. Ricky wasn’t a fan of scripted matches, as he believes the best matches are ones that come naturally in the ring, an idea that is shared between him and other veterans like Flair, however he had no problem with it as far as I can tell, he knew this was how Randy wanted to do and decided that if this was how they were going to put on a great match, he was going to do it and make sure he did it well.

As soon as everybody heard the numbers, both men wanted to take advantage of the situation and rightfully so, sure the numbers were there for Hogan’s match and rightfully so, the two were huge names, it was going to be a huge match…but to not have the idea planted in your head that you were going to go out there and steal it would have been a wasted opportunity.

The Match

I could sit here and tell you every move, every hold, everything from the first Irish whip to the final finishing move and it wouldn’t do the match justice, it wouldn’t do the atmosphere of that arena justice, the magic that match carries still lingers very much on my screen when I go back to see it and it astounds me that it was so heavily scripted. It comes off with such a natural flow to it all that for the longest time before I heard the story about how it was scripted I thought these two were just going off the cuff and making magic out of it. Does knowing it’s a scripted match ruin it? It might for some but for me it doesn’t, I could go and watch that match right now and just sit in stunned silence up until the final bell, it really is flawless.

Now does it deserve the moniker of greatest match of all time? That’s a difficult point to put forward, it was certainly the greatest match of that time, that’s for sure. You have to remember this audience, as large as it is, the majority of these people only know NWA or WWF and that’s it, that’s what they’r eused to, it’s what they grew up with. This style of match hadn’t been seen before, it was fast paced, it was intense, it did things people didn’t see at the time in such a large scale and it did it all extremely well. In today’s world, a match like that, while not common, may not be hard to come by…but I challenge you to find a match that has the same feel to it. It’s not just the large crowd, it’s not just the athletes in the ring. It’s this perfect ix of everything that went on in the story, the build, the promos, the in ring work, the atmosphere of the arena and the crowd…it all melded together to make this match and that’s why people clung to it It was something they hadn’t seen, it had excellent ring psychology, excellent storytelling. It just…it was unseen at the time and you can’t replicate that.

Honestly I still crack a smile at the start of the match, now if you didn’t know the story it’s an extremely trivial thing, but Ricky Steamboat has had his throat crushed here folks, you know this now if you didn’t before. In the story this man has had to have weeks of therapy, he’s had to deal with the man that stopped him from being able to speak properly gloating how his career was over His throat was crushed…and what is the first thing he does in the match? He grabs Randy Savage by the throat and lifts him up in the air…

It’s so simple and it happens in such a subtle fashion that you don’t realize it for a moment, that was Ricky giving Randy a taste of his own medicine.

Another moment of brilliant ring psychology comes at the end. This is where Savage begins to get fed up with Steamboat, the ref is down and out, the pin should have been his. He wants to make sure Steamboat is down and out for good, so he gives us a visit back to the past as he goes to get the bell. He begins to climb up to the top and then George Steel (who as I mentioned earlier, had his own beef with Savage) saves Ricky before the deadly blow can be dealt. Ricky surprises Randy with a sudden pin fall, 1-2-3…crowd goes wild!

Now this is the eighties, an ending like that is very common where the heel actually has right to complain that things didn’t go his way but honestly the only way that ending could have been better is if Steamboat hit Savage with a diving crossbody for the pin. What solidified Randy Savage for me when I was looking in to him and his matches was the promo after Wrestlemania 3. The man has just lost a match, any other heel might come across whining and complaining but Savage? There’s a little part of you that knows he’s right about what went down and god that makes you hate him even more as a bad guy.

Macho Man was, what he said he was…The Cream of The Crop!

So Why Do We Love It?

In today’s world, this really could have been thrown to the cynics and some cynical minded people have turned against it, others are just modern day fans who don’t understand what is so special about the match and that’s an understandable viewpoint honestly. So many years of people calling this the best match ever can really build up expectations for people that have never seen it before and that can end up disappointing people…especially if they have no idea what wrestling was like back then. I can’t see somebody trying to show this match to a modern day fan and have them truly understand why it is this match is so loved to this day. Yes it’s good, it’s better than good, it’s brilliant! Brilliantly performed, booked and prepared for every step of the way but for me? Why it is I love this match beyond all of that.

For me this is what set the bar, this is what every wrestler should look at when they go into a Pay-Per-View, this is what mid card talent should be watching to inspire them come Wrestlemania when Roman Reigns is facing Brock Lesnar in the main event. This is what every young star in NXT should be shown as they go through developmental Every star that feels like they have a place on that show needs to watch these to wrestle again and again until they get the message drilled into their head.

These two men were met with a situation where it was clear who would get all the praise and all the accolades, they didn’t complain, they didn’t moan, they went out, they put on an amazing match that stole the show…and the entire wrestling world has remembered that match more than any other match that ever stole the show because of it. It’s the one that made it popular, it’s the one that put it in our minds, it gave us a physical definition right on our screens of exactly what this thing called a show stealer was…it made wrestling history and I don’t think we’ll ever let it go away, because it’s too special. It’s special to those that got to see it either in the flesh or on Pay-Per-View, it’s special to those that got to see it on old VHS tapes that were probably handed down to them by family members, sharing memories together. It’s one of those matches that just showed you why you shouldn’t be ashamed to be a wrestling fan, they only come by every now and then. Sure if you had the time you could name hundreds of matches that stole the show and you could probably name the shows they were on too…but how many of them can you say had the affect on you or anybody else the way this match did? It’s the original show stealer…nobody could do it better. If you haven’t seen the watch, go watch it with an open mind…and if you have seen it, go watch it again, because it really is that good.

Author
Categories

← Older Newer →