Bastard Obligatory Year-End List Mania Now
by Matthew Damascus
It’s a prevailing trend in journalism and pop-culture criticism, as a new year beckons ominously, to try and compress the Year That Was into an easily digestible nutshell list. This list should be funny, pithy, and thought-provoking all at once, and perhaps even make the readers feel that they didn’t completely waste their lives for yet another 365-day cycle. I don’t give much truck to this trend, I think it’s sloppy journalism, over-generalizing and way too subjective to provide any new and useful information. But hey, isn’t that what this column has been like since Day Fucking One? Let’s begin.
Some Things That Didn’t Make Me Change The Channel This Year:
1. The Great Muta Returns To WCW.
For one shining moment all was right with the world. The Jacksonville, Florida crowd was treated to the comeback of Japanese sensation the Great Muta, when he helped the Jung Dragons defeat Three Count and Tank Abbott. Dragon-screw legwhips, erratic kicks, green mist spray and chewing on the ring ropes, and the fans ate it up a spoon. How could WCW mess this one up. How about a one-night Title Reign, tons o’ jobbing to just about everyone, saddling him with the Insane Fucking Clown Fucking Disphit Posse (of all things), and having him get squashed by Sting in ten-seonds NUMEROUS times. Even with Yoshihiro Tajiri showing him up on ECW tv at least once a week, its not hard at all to get the Great Muta over, just let him wrestle and spit green mist at people. Sadly, WCW couldn’t even get that right. Fuck Sting. Fuck WCW. Fuck Insane Clown Posse. Fuck Vince Russo. Fuck Muta’s crrrrrrrrrreaky knees for deteriorating.
2. Triple H’s loooooong-ass WWF title reign.
Goddamn, consistency never seemed so cool before. And Triple H was a fighting champ in every sense of the word. Amazing matches with the newly-defected Chris Benoit, Tazz (as ECW champ), Cactus Jack, and in an incredible moment of surreality, TAKA (snotty cool ass punk) Michinoku. Triple H even became the first heel/villain to retain the belt during a Wrestlemania main event, which made the whole fucking night for me. He was willing to sell smaller guys’ offense to make them look like credible opponents (remember that 2.999999995 count that almost clinched TAKA the title?) and in the end, almost everyone looked good in a Triple H match.
3. Radicalz show up on Monday Night Raw.
Cool, cool yeah. Everyone else already covered this in good’nuff detail. I’m a lemming baby (so why don’t you kill me).
4. Chris Benoit as Homicidal Maniac.
To get to the crux of the matter, Chris Benoit looked like a glorified pussy during his WCW stint. He was EVERYONE’S bitch. The WWF fine-tuned his character to devastating effect. “Crippler” became more than mere hyperbole. First, they made him take out the caps in his teeth, giving him a gap-toothed snarl that was equal parts malevolent “Deliverance” hillbilly and, yes, “rabid Wolverine.” Second, they make him an arrogant, vicious dick who is completely aware of his reputation as the “best technical wrestler in the world” and revelling in it. Third, they make his finishing move (Crippler Crossface), y’know hurt people. Fourth, those loving final touches, like headbutting Stephanie McMahon, slamming a door on Lita’s head, and all sorts of other subtle nuances.
5. Kurt Angle
6. Lance Storm as WCW Triple-Crown Champion.
Lance Storm’s winning streak was truly the feel-good hit of the Summer. Makes me kind of sad to see him desperately try to breathe life into truly shitty and worthless opponents nowadays like Doctor Kevorkian in reverse.
7. Juventud Guerrera’s Ecstacy Freakout!
Lucha Libre innovator discovers the positive healing power of rave ten years too late! Freaks out, strips naked, fights with cops, injures cops, gets fired from WCW in process! There is continued speculation as to whether glowsticks were involved in this heinous affair. Juventud fucking rules, baby! E’s Are Good! E’s Are Good! I couldn’t stop laughing. Go to RFVideo and buy the shoot interview NOW NOW NOW. I feel love. (Disclaimer: Juventud’s great. I love him to death. This just gives him a much needed mad-eyed edge.)
8. Raven FINALLY shows up in WWF.
He looked a lot like Jim Morrison circa “American Prayer” in Eyeliner. It was truly and without a doubt, all good. Plus, if a plus was even necessary, he had his working boots on, and showed himself to be a bump machine of oft heroic proportions. Hey, he’s got a belt now, so shut the fuck up.
9. Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. Steve Corino, ECW PPV.
I’ve written about this extensively about this match before, so I’ll just lazily pull out a quote. Howzabout: “The blading that Corino pulled off at ECW Hardcore Heaven just plain oozed crazed testosterone
insanity. It certainly wasn’t plasma, my friend. The ring was covered in blood, Corino was covered in blood, his long platinum white hair even turned a sickly cotton-candy pink. At one point in the match, Corino was hanging upside down from the ropes as Tajiri was sizing him up for a dropkick to the face, and the blood was pouring out in thick
sticky puddles, not the weak little trickles we usually get from wrestlers on pay-per-view. Did I mention that at several points in the match, blood splashed on the camera? Coppola would have killed for that…”
10. Atsushi Onita just being Atsushi Onita.
My brother may sarcastically call him “The Fonz”, and he may be nearing the end of an incredible career, but Onita had tons of extracurricular moments of wonder. He threatened to show up on WWF television, had that excellent DDT match, got squashed by Ricki Chioshu and acted like a total drama queen about the whole thing (tears, blood, ambulances), dressed up like KISS, kept his own wrestling organization going, dyed his hair blonde, kind of wrestled for American indie XPW, hung out with American porn honchos amidst whispers of XPWJapan, kissed and made up with All Japan (for like four seconds), showed Sandman how a cigarette and leather jacket should be properly utilized, and basically acted like an icon should.
11. Akira Hokuto’s low-key GAEA comeback.
A comeback is a comeback any way you look at it. Think about maybe Bob Dylan at the Woody Guthrie Tribute show. Akira! I love you! Self-indulgence!
12. The Birth of WOW (Women Of Wrestling)
Women-only indie federation masterminded by the fella who brought you the feminist watermark known as GLOW (Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling, natch). WOW not only knocked out the ECW syndicated show on my local cable outlets (now THAT’S hardcore), it also has the distinction of being the most surreal viewing experience you’re going to get in North American wrestling. A basketball player, a cowgirl, an ice queen, some convicts, lifeguards, an ice queen, spoiled actresses, a cheerleader, some butch Biker women, a jungle girl, ummm the gimmicks keep rolling out. Are you sure the guy who created the Village People is really dead? Here’s the kicker: it’s rather watchable.
Honorable Mention: Sandman’s Pensacola StripTease
And just what the fuck was that all about anyway? Disturbing, grotesque, and Dada in all the worst ways. This merits a mention because it was too goddamn weird to be left out (and I don’t feel much would be accomplished with a “Worst” list).
Neat and pre-packaged enuff for ya? That Was The Year That Was… The Year that Wrestling’s mainstream appeal began to die a slow and painful death. What ever shall I do?