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There are certain names in wrestling people just know, whether they are a fan or not. It’s true what they say, when you went to a person who had no idea about wrestling, they would at least be able to tell you “It’s that thing Hulk Hogan does…” or “It’s that thing Stone Cold does…” some names are known universally, regardless what knowledge people may have of the industry itself. Sadly there is one name that is known for one incident that in my opinion was the saddest day the industry had ever witnessed. If you ask an avid wrestling fan who Owen Hart was, chances are they’ll have quite a list of accolades to provide for you, a technically gifted wrestler, trained of course in the famous Hart dungeon, part of one of the most famous wrestling families to grace the business. A fun loving family man with championships, slammy awards and King of the ring to his name, a wrestler and an entertainer who was loved by everybody who knew him or watched him on their screens. However in this day and age, with what happened in 1998 and everything that came after it with the ongoing troubles that occurred, Owen Hart has sadly become to casual viewers, non wrestling fans and even a few avid fans who never got to see his work “The wrestler that had that accident” It’s wrong and it’s sad for a man’s entire career to be defined by one tragic night and after a good long debate of what to write with Wrestlemania coming up my mind lingered on the Hall of fame. I sighed with relief when I heard Macho Man was going in, an honor that should have been handed to him long before he passed away and while two of the holy trilogy of names people thought would never be inducted, that of Bruno Sammartino and Macho Man Randy Savage, the third name that’s requested every year couldn’t help but come to the forefront of my thoughts once again. It’s been almost twenty years since that unfortunate accident took away Owen’s life and over those twenty years the WWE has had to be very careful, for reasons we’ll get into later in mentioning him or showing clips of him and I honestly think that because of this lack of exposure, time has just led people to brush things over, sweep things under the rug, and whether we’ve been aware of it or not as a fanbase, Owen Hart has indeed become the wrestler that had the accident to a lot of people and that is something I want to try and correct here in this article.

New Japan

Owen initially wanted to try and make a living outside the family tradition of wrestling, according to his wife he had made multiple attempts to find a profession and they just never worked out. I don’t know whether him being a member of the Hart family had anything to do with that, but I can imagine it being difficult to break away from a tradition like that. If your last name is Hart, Von Erich, Flair or Rhodes, the likelihood is you’re going to get involved with the wrestling business in some capacity. After being unable find a profession outside of wrestling, Owen did what the rest of the Hart’s did, he trained in the Dungeon.

Brief bit on The Dungeon for those that don’t know, it’s sort of become a part of wrestling lore and mythology now as this place that trained some of the best wrestlers to grace the business. The Dungeon was a training room set up in the basement of the Hart family house and would train footballers, strongmen and of course wrestlers and Stu Hart was the man to do it. Stu was…Stu was tough to make a long story short, very set in the old school mindset he had shaped himself, his family and his training on that mindset and because of that, his little training room was given the nickname of The Dungeon, because of the ridiculous amounts of pain that the trainees would be put through in their time. It’s no lie that if you managed to walk out of that place you were one of the best, because Stu Hart made sure that was the case. Everything went on there from weight lifting to actual shoot wrestling matches and according to Bret, there were holes across the walls, floor and ceiling where wrestlers had been thrown into them either by Stu or by their sparring partners.

Owen was just one of many to go through the rigorous, painstaking training that Stu provided and when he was done he would go on to work in his father’s wrestling promotion, Calgary Stampede Wrestling, as well as a fact that I myself didn’t know, Owen apparently also went to work for Max Crabtree who ran the famed Joint Promotions, a British version of the National Wrestling Alliance which was known for the famous World of Sport which ran on ITV (Ah, British Wrestling…I’ll talk about that personal love in another article). Needless to say, Owen managed to do well in his home country of Canada the most in these early goings, winning the tag team championship in the Calgary Promotion and going on to become rookie of the year in 1987.

One part of Owen’s career I had to look into was his time in New Japan pro wrestling, now New Japan has gained a lot more attention lately and is becoming an alternative for a lot of people from the regular WWE, however NJPW for the longest time was something only “Insiders” knew about. (I hate that term but I really don’t know what else to call it) To try and word it better, it was difficult for a fan in America to watch New Japan in the eighties, if you didn’t know how to get hold of tapes that would circulate or didn’t know somebody that did, chances were you didn’t see NJPW and you probably didn’t know it existed. New Japan has for a very long time been the big company in it’s home country, but it’s never managed to break out from that area, a decision they had made, rather than restriction that was forced upon them and it’s only now we’re hearing about them more as a fanbase because they’ve finally decided to try and break through that glass ceiling they’d had over them. Anyway there wasn’t much I could find on Owen’s time with the company, I’m not sure how long he was there, from what I can tell he did a couple of tours with them and then head off for other things in the states. What I did find however were two notable feuds that Owen had during his time with the company.

One was against a wrestler known as Hiroshi Hase, one of the few Japanese wrestlers to learn from both Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, two of the most legendary Japanese Wrestlers to ever grace the business. Owen would defeat him for the Junior Heavweight Championship, the first non Japanese wrestler to accomplish this as well from what I’ve read, even with it being so many years later, being the first to do anything is quite a big deal in wrestling, especially in Japan where it’s treated with immense amounts of respect.

Owen would also wrestle multiple times with Jushin Thunder Liger, both before and after that character was developed. For those that don’t know I’ll just say Jushin Thunder Liger is one of the greatest wrestlers period, he was a revolutionary wrestler who completely reinvented the whole light heavyweight scene in the nineties. Luckily it’s not as hard as one might think to find a Owen Hart vs Jushin match, in fact, this is just one of the matches you can find that the two had with one another after a nifty internet search.

The Blue Blazer Travels The World.

After his stint in new Japan, Owen would become sort of a nomad, like a lot of wrestlers were in the eighties, at the time of the territories it was just normal, have a stint in Japan, go back to america, travel the territories, maybe go back to Japan and just keep moving to get better and more experienced. That’s what Owen was doing and he must have been good enough at the time to get the attention of the WWE because they decided to hire him in 1988.

I can imagine some people who had no idea of this scratching their head a little when they look at that sub heading, I didn’t even know it myself until I decided to do this, but Owen was the Blue Blazer long before the Attitude Era. In fact, his very first introduction to the WWE wasn’t as Owen Hart, the brother of the guy that was quickly becoming their top face, but rather as the superhero, Blue Blazer. (One of the MANY strange creative decisions WWE has made I’ll agree) The reasoning for the character however was simple. Owen had a style that wasn’t regularly seen in the company, with a combination of the straight shooting wrestling skills his father had instilled on him and the high flying style that the light heavyweights he had encountered in Japan now in his arsenal, Owen had a very interesting move set at the time, one the American audience wasn’t used to. So, to play to the strengths of this new and interesting high flying move set, the WWE decided to make him a superhero. Silly? Very much so, but this was 1988, this was very much the normal thing at the time, everybody had a character and Owen’s was the Blue Blazer.

He was only there a year and the small stint as the Blazer brought a small amount of success at best, he was a solid midcarder but only really got to beat people lower on the card than him, enhancement talent who were supposed to make him look good any way. He did make a Pay-Per-View debut as the Blazer in 88 at Survivor Series as part of the big elimination match, although he was eliminated early, his team got the victory. Other than that there’s nothing much to note when it comes to Owen’s time as the Blazer in WWF. He left in 89 after losing to Mr. Perfect at Wrestlemania V and would go on to tour the world, sometimes as himself, sometimes as the Blazer. He even did a little bit of time in mexico where he decided to remove the Blazer from his career losing his mask in one of the most famous Mexican Wrestling matches you can have. A mask vs mask match, where the loser’s face is exposed and in Lucha, when that happens that means that character is gone, the wrestler’s honor is lost and in Owen’s case, that was the end of his time in Mexico.

In one of those weird “That guy worked for WCW?” moments, Owen even got the briefest of stints in WCW before heading back to the WWE, he only did five televised matches for the company, all of them against enhancement guys, local talent, that kind of stuff. A deal was trying to be worked out between him and the company to make him a part of the roster, but Owen being the family man that he was didn’t want to move his family all the way out to Atlanta where WCW was based. So instead he signed with the WWF and that’s where the rest of career took place.

Owen’s Early Days.

Owen did not start out great in the company, it just seems that they had no idea what to do with him. Obviously he was a great hand in the ring, a great talent…but maybe him being Bret’s brother restricted him at first, I’m not sure, but Owen’s first couple of years were creativly stifling for him by the looks of things. At the time the Hart Foundation, the team of Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart had been split up, Bret had gone off on a singles career and Jim was being used very rarely after the team broke up. So the idea was to team Jim up with Owen, going under the name of “The New Foundation” this is part of one of those trends, any team with “New” in their name is bound to fail, it has nothing to do with the wrestlers. It has everything to do with fan expectation. There you are, a fan that his witnessed a team like the Hart Foundation come along and do great things, put on great matches, become tag team champions. They split up, go their seperate ways and now all of a sudden a New Foundation comes along? That’s great right? It’s a NEW foundation? Surely that means you’re going to see new and interesting things from this new version of the team? Instead you just end up comparing them and the team falls flat on it’s face. It wasn’t Owen’s fault, wasn’t Jim’s fault, it was creative’s fault for not giving them an original name and booking them terribly. They had one pay-per-view match before Jim would leave the company and Owen was stuck on his own for a while. This is where a star is meant to flourish, instead for whatever reason the company decided to put Owen in yet another tag team. Now in basic booking terms, the idea of a tag team is advantageous, you take two guys who either aren’t that good on their own, need a boost in their careers, or one of them needs a little help and you get a good hand in the ring to help give him experience, you put these two guys together, make a team and you either keep them together or you split them up when you feel they’ll make a good go of a single’s career. Problem was Owen got teamed up with Koko B. Ware a man that was never going to go up the card, he was an entertainment act and a jobber. There’s nothing wrong with that by the way, people give Koko a hard time and they think it’s a joke he’s in the Hall of Fame. Was a he a great wrestler? Not really, did he do great things? No but he entertained people, he was good at what he needed to do and we remember him, even if it was for his bird dance.. Wrestling needs people like Koko B. Ware…there has to be jobbers, even if they get a bad reputation because of it. Owen however, did not need Koko B. Ware, he’s split up from a team, he makes a go of a single’s career and the company sticks him with a jobber, thus making him a jobber in the process, completely taking away any and all momentum the man had. To top it all off, any help either man could have gained from it was blown away, it was a very short run team that had one PPV match, which they lost before any and all mention of the two working together got swept under the rung and their alliance just mysteriously disappeared. In short, WWE messed up Owen Hart’s singles push before he had any time to prove he could do it by sticking him in a team that nobody wanted to see in the first place.

Feuding With Bret

Thank god for this angle, you want to know how good this storyline was? For decades WWE has been trying to recapture the magic they had in this bottle that was the Hart Brothers feuding and with each and every time they have tried it, it has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Every. Single. TIME! This was the one and only instance of the jealous sibling storyline working out and it is gloriously done.

See at the time WWE as doing a cross promotional rivalry between them and the USWA (United States Wrestling Association) At the time Bret was feuding with Jerry Lawler who was a big headliner for the company which was based in Memphis. Owen, wanting to support his brother joined up with Bret to try and take on Lawler which led to this story of a company war between the two. Owen even won the USWA Heavyweight title from Papa Shango (a fact that never gets mentioned) He didn’t get to take part in the story for long because of injury sidelining him. The story sort of faultered and went off the tracks a little as it headed in to the fall. When Owen returned, the plan was him and Bret alongside their two brothers Bruce and Keith Hart were going to face Team Lawler at Survivor Series in what was going to be booked as a Team WWF Vs. Team USWA match. Problem was, Lawler couldn’t make it to the show and thus wasn’t shown on WWF television, effectively killing the storyline without a fitting confusion. What this huge mess led up to however, was storyline gold. Lawler got replaced with Shawn Michaels and during the match Owen and Bret accidentally crash into each other. Owen gets eliminated because of this, the match ends and Owen comes back out furious, having a confrontation with his entire family, Stu Hart even comes to the ring to try and calm things down but Owen has none of it and leaves the ring with the entire crowd booing him.

The night after, do they shake hands? Do they say it was a mistake and let bygones be bygones? Nope, Owen decides he needs to send a message to his brother, he comes out wearing the same pink and black attire as his brother as well as the famous shades, he even uses the Sharpshooter in his match, to try and send the message tat he’s just as good, if not better than his brother. He challenges Bret to a match, saying he doesn’t want to be in Bret’s shadow any more, Bret comes out and rejects the match and tries to patch things up with his brother, after some coercing it looks like Owen’s realized he’s over reacted and the two reunite.

Everything seemed fine, they went on to make amends and become a tag team, even getting a shot at the tag team championships, then along comes the Royal Rumble, they’re up against The Quebecers, everything seems to be going fine until Bret hurts his knee (kayfabe). Due to the pain he’s in, Bret is unable to tag Owen which leads to Owen going absolutely ballistic. Eventually the referee has to stop the match due to injury. Thinking that Bret has done this to spite him, Owen snaps and attacks Bret, kicking the injured knee repeatedly before heading backstage, giving Bret a complete earful on the titantron when Bret’s being helped to the back by medics. It was made clear after this from Owen himself, he wanted to prove that he was the better wrestler and the better brother and he was going to do it at Wrestlemania 10.

The match itself is one of the highlights of the show, a great technical battle between the two brothers that culminates in Owen beating Bret cleanly only for Bret to go on and win the WWF Title anyway. The rest of the year the brothers would meet multiple times with Owen just as determined to prove he was the better brother in both his matches against Bret and his own accomplishments within his career, going on to win the 1994 King of The Ring (back when the King of The Ring meant something)

The best match between the two would happen at Summerslam 1994 where the two would finally meet each other in a Steel Cage match for the WWF Championship. It is, without a doubt, the best Steel Cage match I have ever seen in my life as a wrestling fan and I suggest, if you can find it, or if you have the network to go and watch Summerslam 94, even if it is just for the cage match. The other major highlight of their feud was at Survivor Series, where in a match against Bob Backlund, Owen would con Bret’s mother Helen into throwing the towel for her son, costing Bret the championship. The two would clash once more before the Royal Rumble, putting a temporary end to their feud after Bret managed to pick up the victory against Owen and the two would go their seperate ways.

Tag Teams and Slammys

Owen would return to the tag team scene only this time he would see a lot more success than his early days within the company. In a moment of strange creative decisions, Owen would team up with Yokozuna for a brief period of time, why this was? I have no idea, but the two managed to snag the tag team titles and hold them for half a year, they were surprisingly a good combination, albeit a strange one. What followed though was without a doubt the best tag team run Owen ever had and that was the tag team he had with the British Bulldog. The British Bulldog is a wrestler near and dear to many UK fans and a man I’m sure I’ll cover at some point in the future. (We here in Britain still hold on to the memory of Wembley Stadium)

Davey Boy was Owen’s brother in law and had recently turned heel, the two were initially apart of a stable ran by Jim Cornette. When it was discovered the great chemistry these two had together as a team, it was only common sense to have them team up more and more, eventually breaking away from the stable when they won the tag team titles at In Your House 1996, they also left with a new manager by the name of Clarence Mason, but people don’t usually remember him a lot during their tag run together.

The two would go on to develop sort of a Daniel Bryan and Kane relationship, where they would have more competition with each other than the team they were facing off against in the ring. Heat between the to started at the Royal Rumble when Bulldog was eliminated by Owen, after that they had the usual tag team mismatches that you see today, miscommunication leading to lost matches…they weren’t reinventing the wheel here guys, they were just doing a good job of telling a basic story. What helped you follow the team was the chemistry they had and the pure entertainment factor of Owen Hart, by this time Owen was showing more of his comedic skills, Owen was known for being a bit of a goofball and is notorious for many of his pranks both in and out of the ring. His character was over confident, self indulgent and liked to believe he did things all on his own.

Anyway dissension between the two continued for a while, after Bulldog fired their manager due to being embarrassed in a match against Crush which Own didn’t take to well too and the competitive nature of both men leading to jealousy over the newly created European title, the tension would eventually reach boiling point all while holding the tag team championships by the way. Owen would eventually challenge the Bulldog to defend his European title. The two were going all out in such a way the crowd had thought the tag team had split up, however this is the famous night where Bret Hart who had turned heel came out and stopped the match. Reuniting The Hart Foundation.

I wanted to briefly touch on Owen winning the Slammys in 97. Ah the Slammys, I’m not sure if they ever were prestigious or if they ever meant a thing to the fans at home, but if there was one person that managed to make the Slammys seem like a big deal? It was Owen Hart, Owen sort of had a tradition of changing his attire when he achieved something. When he won King of The Ring? He changed his nickname to “The King of Harts” and his attire reflected that, when he won the Slammys? He decided to slap two slammys on his gear and make sure to pronounce it to the world whenever he could that he was a two time slammy award winner and that he did it all on his own! WOO! What I love and what people seem to forget is that Owen’s second Slammy was one that he stole. Owen was supposed to come out and present an award for something stupid like best bowtie (best bowtie? really? God damn it Slammys) instead of presenting it? Owen just decided to claim it for himself.

Owen 3:16

Owen saw success during his time in the Hart Foundation and gained a hold of the Intercontinental championship, making the Hart Foundation themselves the most dominant stable at the time as they held every major title except the WWF Championship, this success wouldn’t last long for the stable though as the tag team championships would be taken away from them by Stone Cold and HBK. The outcome of this was a short feud between him and Stone Cold.

The two would meet at Summerslam for the Intercontinental Title in what was strangely booked to be a “Kiss My Ass” match. What happened instead was a lot different as this was the one other night in Owen’s career which has a black spot upon it. Although Stone Cold would go on to win the match, this was, sadly the night which Owen performed the Pilderiver in an unsafe way and because of that broke Stone Cold’s neck. The incident was obviously an accident but that didn’t stop the company from working the injury into the storyline. The next night Owen would come out sporting an “Owen 3:16” shirt, mocking Austin and on the back of the shirt, just in case you forgot, it said I just broke your neck! Poor taste? On the WWF’s part maybe, but it made Owen receive exceptional heel heat and made the crowd want to see a returning Stone Cold as soon as possible. Due to Stone Cold’s injury the title had been vacated and a tournament had been held, which Owen won but only thanks to the man he injured. Stone Cold actually helped Owen win the title because he wanted to make sure that when he came back, that he was the one to beat Owen and take that title away from him again as revenge for what he did at Summerslam.

Austin would return at Survivor Series 1997 to do as he had promised and take back the title from Owen, which is exactly what he had done. However later on in the night, the infamous Montreal Screwjob took place. What followed left Owen s the only member of the Hart family left in the company. Bret obviously went to WCW, Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy both got quick releases due to their displeasure but for whatever reason, Vince did not grant Owen a release and due to contractual obligations, Owen had to stay with the company. On top of that, Bret himself wanted Owen to stay with the company because WCW wasn’t willing to pay Owen as much as the WWF was.

The Black Hart

Owen would disappear for a while from television, though it was never really mentioned and whether or not things were planned to go that way, the idea was Owen was sorting things out with his family after the screwjob. When he did return however, he came back with a new and edgier attitude, attacking the man who screwed over his brother at Survivor Series, Shawn Michaels. Owen had become an antisocial man who referred to himself as “The Lone Hart” or The Black Hart This is a lot of fans favorite incarnation of Owen Hart’s characters which brought with it the famous line of Enough is Enough!

A feud would culminate between Owen and pretty much the entirety of DX who were all heels at the time, in good heel stable fashion, whenever Owen seemed to be getting the upper hand the rest of DX were there to ensure that Owen would receive another loss at their hand. Many back and forth matches between him, Shawn Michaels and Triple H would go on during this period, making Owen the constant thorn in their side, but with each loss and with each interference, the fan favorite was becoming more and more on edge.

Owen would eventually snap and turn heel, aligning himself with the Nation of Domination as he turned on Ken Shamrock during a tag team match on Raw, in kayfabe, snapping his ankle and biting his ear, while the two would face off in special matches, the lion’s den match being the most notorious, there was never really a solid conclusion to their feud.

Owen would become the co-leader of the Nation alongside The Rock, continuing his feud with D-Generation X with the Nation to back him up, only now the roles were reversed. DX had become the rebellious, anti-authority faces and Owen and The Nation were the vicious heels. This led to some memorable moments, the most memorable being The Nation parody which was performed by DX. Looking at it today, it amazes me how much DX got away with it, the copious amounts of black face, the insider reference to Mark Henry’s backstage incident of eating the log sandwich, the blatant racism on multiple accounts…it could only have existed in the Attitude Era. The show stealer of the entire segment however was that young kid playing Owen Hart. If you don’t recognize him, it’s because he isn’t a wrestler. His name is Jason Sensation and he was “famous” for impersonating wrestlers, he got discovered and managed to get some TV time making fun of Owen Hart. What people don’t remember however, is what started as a parody, later turned into a savage beating for Jason Sensation. The feud would get sidetracked when Owen’s feud with Ken Shamrock kicked up and things sort of petered out after that for the Nation of Domination.

The Blue Blazer Returns

Owen would keep the Black Hart gimmick for a short while after the Nation of Domination fell apart, returning to the tag team scene as he joined up with Jeff Jarrett with Debra as their manager, the two would team until Owen’s accident and from all accounts became very good friends together. The Black Hart gimmick came to an end when Owen would “accidentally” (kayfabe) injure Dan Severn in a match, calling back to him breaking Stone Cold’s neck. Having remembered that incident and not being able to deal with the guilt of doing it to another man, Owen seemingly quit and left the company.

The next thing we know, we see the arrival of The Blue Blazer once again in WWF. Now, some people say this was punishment for Owen. Owen had a lot of problems with the attitude era, didn’t like a lot of the things being done and had rejected a few things that had been proposed to him. The thought was giving him this silly superhero gimmick was penance for all the times he said no. Whether or not the intent was to punish Owen, I’m not sure…but I don’t think Owen himself would have cared that much. Owen was a goofball, a comedian backstage, notorious for his sense of humor…if giving him a character he could use to show off his comedic skills was punishment? Then the WWF didn’t know how to punish Owen Hart.

The joke of course was that everybody knew that under the mask it was Owen Hart and the Blazer did everything in his power to try and prove that wasn’t the case. One week Owen would show up on screen standing next to the Blazer, trying to quell the rumors that it was him, although it was quite clear the man wearing the Blazer mask was none other than Jeff Jarret? So to try and prove people wrong again both Owen and Jarrett would show up with the Blazer, who happened to be black. Fun fact, the guy wearing the Blazer mask alongside Owen and Jarrett was apparently Koko B. Ware, Owen’s former tag team partner.

Over The Edge 1999

There are few shows I refuse to watch when it comes to wrestling…but Over The Edge 1999 is one of them. I realize now on the Network version, they have a little tribute image informing people what happened and all the footage of Owen has been cut out from what I’ve been told to avoid any discomfort for viewers but that’s the problem…you can’t really delete something like that from human knowledge. At the end of the day a man died during that show, there’s no trickery, no fakery, this isn’t a story…a man died in the wrestling ring. I refuse to watch Over The Edge knowing that.

For those that may not know how it all happened, Owen was set to face The Godfather for the Intercontinental Championship as the Blue Blazer, in what I think was supposed to be a parody of Sting’s entrance in WCW, Blazer was going to be lowered from the rafters into the ring. Now here’s where you can’t really get a clear story. Cynics say the stunt hadn’t even been practiced, some say it had been practiced but not in the Blazer suit and others say the stunt had been practiced fifty times. One thing I can say is that the stunt had been performed on Sunday Night Heat successfully. The idea was as Owen is being lowered into the ring, he starts to act as if he’s trapped in the wires when he’s at a safe enough distance from the ring where he won’t get hurt, he pulls the clasp, falls face first onto the ring mat, picks himself up and acts like nothing happened. That was the original plan, what happened instead though we can only speculate. The general thought was as Owen was trying to get comfortable with the harness what with having a big cape on, the quick release of the harness triggered and Owen fell about 80 feet, chest first by the turnbuckle.

The incident was never seen by a television audience due to them airing a promo while Owen was making his entrance and to make sure nobody at home saw what was going on in the ring, the camera lingered on members of the audience the entire time that Owen was being seen to in the ring by medical staff, all the while Jim Ross is having to explain to us that something terrible has happened and that this is not part of the show. For those curious, no, you cannot find footage of this incident anywhere, WWF has most likely gotten rid of any footage that they themselves had and nothing has leaked out into the public eye and I’m very thankful for that…there are just some things we don’t need to see.

The controversial part about that whole night other than the accident itself was that the show went on and the live audience had no idea that the man had died, the only people to be made aware of it were the home audience, who had it announced to them by J.R. I only saw Over The Edge once and I can tell you from memory that crowd didn’t really need to be told…I think they knew, the life of that show just got sucked away after that and the whole thing is just one uncomfortable experience.

Is anybody to blame? For nearly twenty years we’ve been pointing fingers and at the end of the day, the blame rests on the WWF. We can call it what it was, an accident…but it’s an accident that shouldn’t have happened. A quick release shouldn’t go off because of a man trying to get comfortable or because his cape got snagged. Some argue the man shouldn’t have even been up there in the first place, apparently he hated heights. The fact of the matter is, he was a member of their roster, it’s his responsibility to go out there and entertain the people, but it’s their responsibility to make sure he is safe and that an accident like this has no chance of happening. Regardless of it being an accident, he died on their watch and in their ring, they are to blame for it.

Raw is Owen


The Raw after Over The Edge remains to be the highest rated Raw in the history of the show, all storylines and kayfabe was thrown to the side as a tribute show was held for Owen after the accident. The show had multiple tributes spread throughout which I could only find a few parts for which you can see here . They are all worth watching and in the words of Shawn Michaels…Owen was the only guy you could hold a two hour show for and not have a bad word said about him.

The show ended with a beer salute from Stone Cold , some said it was tasteless and offensive and I tell whoever thinks that to get a grip on themselves. Could Stone Cold have broke character and done something else? I hear people asking, well back then that was Stone Cold, he was being himself just amped up a little bit…the beer salute was his sign of respect, a cold one for Owen Hart, a great wrestler and a good friend to many people.

To this day Owen Hart is remembered fondly by wrestlers and fans alike. The reason Triple H called himself The Game? The plan was the name was going to be given to Owen and Triple H did it out of respect. The Hall of Fame? Fans ask for it every year and while I’d like for him to go in, I can understand his widow saying no. She gets a lot of flak from the wrestling world but Martha has all the reason in the world to say no to the company she believes responsible for her husbands death. I’m just thankful we’re allowed to see him now. For the longest time Owen Hart footage couldn’t be shown by the WWE due to the lawsuit that had been held against them, now, with Owen’s widow allowing the company to use his image, you can watch him on the Network, maybe we’ll even get a DVD some day…and who knows, maybe in time we’ll see him take his place in the Hall of Fame.

Point is, he isn’t just the wrestler that died…he never got the WWF Championship but he didn’t need it. He made a lasting impression with everybody he came in contact with. He was a solid, talented wrestler who achieved all the major accolades except the main title, with a memorable character and memorable moments to talk about for decades. There’s a lot we need to remember about Owen Hart, I needed to remind myself of that while writing this…and I hope reading it will take you on the same journey that writing it took me.

In the words of Jim Ross…

I hope that I can be as good a man as him, so that I can see him again, some day…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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