I don’t remember the last time that the wrestling world had so much bad news in a row. It seems like we can’t go a single day without some kind of bad news and it’s absolutely exhausting. Between the Coronavirus, SpeakOut and the general lull that takes place in the summer, we haven’t had much good news in a very long time now and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
That’s why we’re not talking about any of that today. Instead, we’re talking about the good things in wrestling for a change, just for the sake of trying to get some smiles. There are so many positive things to be seen in wrestling and it would be nice to focus on those instead of all of the negative for a few minutes. Today, we are looking at things that I like in wrestling, be they past, present, or maybe even future. Some of these are going to be more detailed than others, but sometimes it’s just a simple idea that doesn’t need much of an explanation.
In no particular order.
1. Old Survivor Series Team Names
I love the Survivor Series. Over the years, it might be my favorite pay per view and aside from WrestleMania, it is the show that I’ve seen more than any other over the years. There is something about having these big team matches that go on for a long time until someone is there at the end. It’s great to see these people come together for one night only, but the names can make things even better.
Some great examples:
I’m talking about things like the King’s Court, the Hulkamaniacs, the Foreign Fanatics and all of those Million Dollar Teams that Ted DiBiase had. I don’t know why they had to switch to those horribly lame “Team Insert Captain Name/The Show They’re On Here” but show some creativity for a change. How hard can it be to name the team after the leader’s gimmick in some way? The old names were awesome most of the time and I could go for a lot more of them.
2. Hulking Up
I grew up a Hulkamaniac and I’ll always be one. Yes, Hulk Hogan has done some dastardly things and isn’t quite the cultural phenomenon he once was and no he was never going to have some incredible mat classic. Yes he did the same thing over and over again and stuck around longer than he should have….but there is something about him when he gets that look on his face.
Then he gets up, shakes his head and arms, sticks the finger in someone’s face, and it’s Hulkamania all over again. Go back and watch the Rock vs. Hogan match at WrestleMania 18 and look at the crowd when Hogan starts Hulking Up. So what if he hit Rock in the head with a hammer and crushed him with an ambulance? Hogan is hitting the three right hands, the big boot and the legdrop. In the blink of an eye, everyone is five years old again, Hulkamania is the strongest force in the universe and nothing else matters except the red and yellow.
3. That Big Pop
This could be from a lot of different times over the years. The glass shattering when Stone Cold came out to help Mankind win the WWF Title, the Hart Foundation beating Demolition at Summerslam 1990, Rick Steiner wins the TV Title at Starrcade 1988 (check that one out if you haven’t before), the Shield coming out to save Daniel Bryan and all kinds of others.
This is as loud as it gets:
It’s a special feeling that you get when you know that you’re seeing something different. The fans are so into something that they are waiting for that one thing to send them over the edge. You know it when you hear it though and when it’s one of the big ones, you remember it for a long time to come. It’s a special feeling and sound and there is nothing like it in all of wrestling.
4. WrestleMania Weekend
On the morning of WrestleMania 29, I decided I needed to go to WrestleMania the next year. That’s exactly what I did, and I’ve been to four of them in my lifetime, with hopefully a lot more to come. There is something so special about that weekend with the wrestling world coming together for a few days, and nothing else in the entire sport mattering in the slightest.
This still works:
That’s just the WWE side of things though. If you know where to go, you cannot run out of wrestling to see in person for those few days. In 2018 in New Orleans, I took in nine live events, two conventions and met more wrestlers than I could keep track of. You can see some of the best stars in the world and get to do things you would never have a chance at otherwise, and as Vince McMahon would say, it only happens once a year. If you can, find a way to treat yourself to this at least once, because there is nothing like it.
5. Mick Foley
I’ve watched wrestling for over thirty years and I have never been a bigger fan of anyone than Mick Foley. Not only can he talk with the best of them, but there is something so unique about what he does. A lot of people have had different characters and gimmicks, but Foley’s gimmick was that he could pull out the persona he needed at the time and go in that direction.
This guy is different:
If you need an example of Foley’s greatness, I would point you to February 2000 when he morphed from Mankind to Cactus Jack in the middle of a promo with Triple H. Foley gets more and more intense with Triple H not thinking much of it….until he sees the black and yellow Cactus Jack shirt. THEN he knows what’s going on and that there is no way around what’s coming, because that is what made Foley famous. It’s an amazing moment, and one of the best segments you will ever see from one of the best of all time.
6. No Mercy
Yes, the greatest wrestling video game of all time. The amount of time I have spent on this thing over the years is completely absurd and I still fire it up every now and then for the sake of having a good time. This was the pinnacle of the WWF gaming era with more characters than I had any use for (and still played as several of them) and that Championship Mode WHICH YOU COULD NEVER EVER BEAT BECAUSE THERE WAS NO WAY TO GET TO THAT LAST SQUARE!
When things were great:
It was such a treat and I knew it would be from the second I saw the commercials. I don’t ever remember begging my mom to let me have something early for Christmas so much and just having to wait so much longer was such a sweet feeling. There’s a reason that this game is so revered and it’s really simple: it’s freaking great.
7. Heels Cheating, Just Because
There is an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Spike (a vampire who has turned slightly face…er, good) is found to be behind an evil scheme. When Buffy and company ask him why he is doing this, he gives them the easiest answer possible: “I’M EVIL!” Why is that so hard to grasp?
There are some bad people out here:
I love watching a villain cheat because it is their nature to do so. Ric Flair would be beating a jobber to a pulp without breaking a sweat, but he would grab the ropes anyway, just because that’s what he does. No he doesn’t need to do it, but he can’t help himself. It’s the kind of thing you can smile at because it fits so perfectly and makes you want to boo the person. Why don’t we see this more often?
8. Tables Ladders And Chairs II
I’m going to go with Jim Ross’ quote from the end of the match: “Just when you thought these guys couldn’t raise the bar any more, they did it.” The six men actually in this match (plus the other three people who interfered) should not have survived. This is one of the greatest car crash matches you will ever see with some of the most painful looking crashes, painful spots (there’s an underrated one where Bubba Ray Dudley just BLASTS Jeff Hardy in the head with the top of a ladder) and insane drama that you’ll ever find.
They did it:
There aren’t many matches that I can watch over and over again without getting tired of seeing and this may be at the top of the list. It has never been topped and it never will be because they tore the house completely down. Throw in Edge’s all time highlight reel moment of the spear off the big ladder (Fan to Edge: “Did you get scared doing that in rehearsal?” Edge: “YOU THINK WE DID THAT MORE THAN ONCE???”) and what more could you ask for?
9. Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin
This is my favorite match ever for a few reasons. First, it’s some of the best back and forth action you’ll see on a free television show. These guys knew the lights were on bright and absolutely stole the show, with Benjamin doing so many crazy athletic things that you get tired just watching him and Michaels trying to hang in there. Then it’s all capped off with one of the best looking (and best timed finishes) ever as Michaels absolutely kicks his head off to survive and win.
It’s a special match:
Secondly though, it’s the match where I first understood the concepts of psychology and storytelling. I watched the match back a few years after it happened and realized that Michaels was facing himself from ten years ago: the athletic marvel that no one can keep up with, but now with more age and wisdom. Case in point: Michaels nips up, then Benjamin nips up and Michaels can’t believe it. It was the first time I got these concepts I had heard about for years and it was a step into a bigger world as a fan.
10. A Chair Shot
The chair is the most famous weapon in wrestling and you’ve seen it used a hundred times. It works so well for a good reason: it’s big, loud, made of metal and a shot from one looks (and sounds) great. There isn’t much to figure out here and it’s something that will always work in wrestling.
It’s something that works so well:
It might be a surprise turn, some interference or just part of a brawl, but seeing someone blast another person with a chair will always work. You know things have just picked up a notch and there is a good chance that the match is wrapping up. It’s one of the few weapons that is always present at ringside so it’s logical on top of everything else. This is a great example of keeping it simple and making it work, so why mess with a classic?
11. A Masked Man
This is another classic and something else I could go for every now and then. In this case, I mean a person doing something without us knowing who is under the mask. It can turn into a mystery of trying to find out their identity, leading to some outstanding reveals if they are done right. Yes it might feel out of date now, but is it that much different than someone being a hacker (Are they ever going back to that?) and sitting in front of a bunch of monitors?
Something like this:
The idea adds a level of mystery and intrigue to an angle and that is never a bad thing. You don’t even need to have the same person under the mask every time, which can add a little more drama. There are some great moments of trying to get someone’s mask off and then seeing who is under the thing. You can’t do it all the time, but once in a long while can make for some good television.
12. Dancing Kurrgan
This is the perfect example of a guilty pleasure because I know this is bad. It was never going to last more than a little while and it was never going to be anything great, but dang it I smile every time. Kurrgan was a 7’ monster who was untouchable for a little while. When that didn’t work, he was put into a group called the Oddities with the Insane Clown Posse singing them to the ring….and sweet goodness did it work.
I laugh every single time:
Kurrgan is not a good dancer and is an absolute giant, but dang he was trying every time he went out there. Maybe it’s just the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing but I cannot help smiling every time I see him waving his arms in the air. This is gloriously stupid and while it never went anywhere, it is great in the so bad but so fun way, which works out just fine a lot of the time.
13. A Good Superplex
Yeah how about a wrestling move in here? Maybe it’s the Barry Windham fan in me but there is something sweet about someone getting loaded up on top and another person superplexing them back down. It can look impactful and powerful at the same time, yet also very graceful if done right. The person being superplexed goes flying through the air and crashes down hard, which is a heck of a visual.
This guy had a good one:
It’s one of those moves that is always going to work and can look awesome if done right. There are multiple variations to it and a big one can show the impact of going up to the ropes. You see them fairly frequently, and it might be the basic (well kind of basic) move that I enjoy more than any other. Windham used it as a finisher, and really that’s something that could be done again if someone puts the effort into one of them.
14. The Heart Breakers
Jim Cornette: “Folks I can’t explain it but they are standing on Shepardsville Road for the Heart Breakers!” This is the definition of something that would only work in front of a small, local crowd. The Heart Breakers (you may remember them as the Heartthrobs in early 2005 in WWE) were a very flamboyant tag team (feather boas, pelvic thrusting, lots of oil, the strut, the well timed dancing) team who came to the ring to It’s Raining Men with their VERY energetic manager Mo Green. It was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen in wrestling and also one of the most amazing phenomenons I can remember seeing.
I…..yeah just watch it:
For the span of maybe six weeks in early 2005, these guys were the hottest things in Ohio Valley Wrestling. That song would hit and the place would explode with one of the goofiest things the Davis Arena had ever seen. Since OVW actually knew what they were doing, they ran with the thing for a few weeks (though somehow the team never won the Tag Team Titles) and had a great time with it for a little while. It’s a great case of looking like one of the stupidest things you’ll ever see but….ok maybe you had to be there.
15. WWE Network
I love wrestling, so what else can you ask for but a place to watch all kinds of wrestling for a cheap price? I’ve gone on about the greatness of the WWE Network more times than I can count and it deserves every bit of the praise. After spending so many years tracking down VHS tapes and DVDs, the shows I spent all those years looking for are right here in front of me for the price of an acceptably priced lunch.
And then everything changed:
I’ve called the WWE Network the greatest thing to ever happen to wrestling fans and that is still the case to this day. I’m still not sure how wrestling fans survived without it before because it really is that great of a resource for everyone. I couldn’t sign up for it fast enough in 2014 and I can’t imagine ever not having it, even if the price goes up (as has been rumored for like, ever now). It’s that good.
I know this might sound cliched but that was so much fun to go through. Wrestling may not be in the best place right now but it will survive and give us more great moments again. That’s how this stuff works and the memories it provides never go away. This was very cathartic in a way and if you have the time, sit back and think about what kind of things might make your list. It’s worth the time, as we could all use a smile these days.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!