This Wednesday night on the WWE Network, the winner of the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic will be crowned during a live, two-hour special event. The past ten weeks of programming have been a real treat for any fans that have taken the time to watch, which should come as no surprise considering the quality of the talent that has participated in the tournament. This week, as the summer of the cruiserweights draws to a close, we’ll be dedicating a number of entries to the diminutive dazzlers who have changed the course of wrestling history over the past two decades, and the ones who are still changing it today – the high-flyers, mat technicians, and giant killers, from the luchadors of Mexico to the submission specialists of Calgary, the heavy strikers of Japan to the spot monkeys of the American Independents.
What better place to start than at the beginning? In March of 1996, WCW introduced the Cruiserweight Championship, a title that is among my favorite of all time. Within a year of its introduction, the Cruiserweight Championship was one of the prime reasons to tune in to Nitro every week. In an nWo-dominated landscape, the cruiserweight division brought something fresh to the table. Sensational new talents like Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero were being presented to American audiences on a national level for the first time, and fans of a purer style of wrestling were eating it up. With the Cruiserweight Title, World Championship Wrestling had struck gold.
The introduction of the belt, however, wasn’t the most beautifully-told story. In fact, in many ways, this is a belt that was built on lies. Continue reading
We seemingly ripped apart TNA this week. But all of the criticism was done with a certain tough love. WWE is of course the top dog in the industry. That might never change. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for other companies in the industry. We love Ring of Honor, PWG, Chikara, House of Hardcore and NXT. Each itches as certain scratch. For all that TNA has done wrong, there are some bright spots that they can capitalize on. Let’s give credit where credit is due… Continue reading
Sometimes you’re too close to the forrest to see the trees. That’s why we’ve been giving an outsiders’ perspective on fixing TNA all week long. We simulated the experience of a fan searching for more info on
TNA.com Impact.com TNAWrestling.com ImpactWrestling.com. It wasn’t a very productive or enlightening experience for a prospective fan. We also tackled the identity crisis that TNA has been dealing with for 5-13 years. Today? Today we look at the way most of us experience TNA…
TNA: TV & The Impact Zone (Part 1)
TNA’s most high profile success was Broken Matt Hardy and Brother Nero’s Final Deletion. It’s hard to decipher whether people truly enjoyed the creativity of it all or if it was more of a “it’s so bad, it’s good”. Either way, it was incredibly unique and got people talking. Without the Final Deletion, our site honestly probably wouldn’t be paying attention to or writing about TNA. Even with that success, TNA is still miles behind WWE financially and in the ratings.
In this history of professional wrestling, nobody has run roughshod over a roster the way that Goldberg did in WCW from 1997 through the company’s closure in 2001. Opening his career with an official win steak of 173 matches (the actual number is often argued to be lower), the wrestling world had never seen such a force, nor has it since. While the streak served to propel a newcomer to top in short-order, it wasn’t without its consequences. Goldberg left in his wake an unprecedented path of destruction, burying talent at an alarming rate. With just two moves, he managed to defeat guys that we were conditioned to take seriously on Nitro and Thunder every week. Even as a child, I hated every bit of it. I was rooting for Perry Saturn to tap him out with the Rings of Saturn at Spring Stampede ’98, I was devastated when Raven dropped the US to him, and I saw red when he defeated Hollywood Hogan for Big Gold. Somebody had to be able to beat this guy, right? Well, kind of.
The streak famously came to a controversial close at Starcade ’98 when Kevin Nash pinned the man who came to be known simple as “Da Man.” Of course, it didn’t happen cleanly. He needed the help of Scott Hall and a taser to get the job done. By hook or by crook, though, the streak was over and Goldberg could come back down to Earth. The problem was…he didn’t. He just kept plowing through people, even after the streak had been snapped. Somehow, his Starcade loss to Nash, marred by interference, was the cleanest loss he’d suffer in WCW. Even when you consider his time spent in WWE, to this day, Goldberg has only suffered 6 televised pinfall loses. Today, we’ll try to make some sense of them.
Earlier this month, the United States showcased their dominance at the 2016 Summer Olympics, taking home a total of 121 medals. There to witness the Games firsthand were “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry, serving as the WWE’s ambassador at the event, along with former stooge Gerald Brisco, who was sent to scout talent. With Rio 2016 now behind us, might we see another Olympian turn their attention to a career inside the squared circle anytime soon? The precedent for a transition of this nature might be me storied than you think.
I began watching wrestling on a weekly basis in the fall of 1997 as a chubby and not-particularly-popular eleven year old with a penchant for jumping into new interests with both feet. There’d been a number of other preoccupations that commanded my attention until that point – Universal Monsters, Phillies baseball, comic books, etc – each of which I had flung myself into with unbridled enthusiasm. At first, wrestling was no different. Soon, though, the intensity of my infatuation with the world of professional wrestling had soared into uncharted territory. Other boyhood hobbies typically maintained my interest for a little while, but my investment in them would wane as the original excitement over their discovery faded. Not the case with the squared circle. Where my fervor concerning other interests would historically fade as time went on, my fascination with wrestling only grew – and rapidly. By the end of the year, half of my wardrobe had been replaced with nWo T-shirts. I’d begun hanging out with a new circle of friends, fellow wrestling fans. Instead of memorizing Scott Summers and Kurt Wagner as the real names of the X-Men, I was dedicating names like Page Falkinburg and Mark Calloway to memory. The slang that I used was evolving to incorporate phrases like “heel” and “pet coon.” In short, wrestling changed my life.
From day one, my fandom wasn’t something that existed in a vacuum on Monday nights. It was something that seeped into every corner of my life. How I conducted myself at school on a Wednesday, where my allowance would be spent on Saturday afternoon, it was all influenced by this new passion. Sometimes, I like to step back and appreciate the ways that wrestling has affected other areas of my life over the years, directly or indirectly, for better or worse. It is, after all, the entertainment medium that has done the most to shape me as a person. One aspect of my youth that was indelibly altered by the spectacle of pro wrestling was my exposure to, and taste in, popular music. For the first decade-plus of my life, my musical knowledge was a mere reflection of my parents’. Sundays with Sinatra and the Beatles Anthology were fine and dandy, but not being a very social child, I didn’t have the influence of peers to help me discern what modern music was worth listening to. Luckily, there was a little promotion based out of my hometown of Philadelphia that was willing to take my hand and help me transverse the musical landscape of the 1990s.
There is something inherently embarrassing about being a fan of professional wrestling. I don’t want that statement to be misinterpreted. I’m not saying that there should be. Clearly, I am a fan – I dedicate a good chunk of my time to maintaining a blog about the business for no reason outside of love for the game. In my eyes, professional wrestling is nothing short of an art form. Still, it remains an interest that many of us do not share publicly, or at least not without some provocation. My coworkers don’t know why I’m tired on Tuesday mornings. I’m reluctant to tell my friends what I’ve spent on my collection of lucha libre masks. Whenever I’m attending a Saturday night show at ECW arena, there are usually at least some people I don’t come clean with as to my whereabouts. This shouldn’t be. But it is.
Ryan Simmons is a friend of mine and frequent contributor to this blog. He regularly writes the “Greatest Videos Eeeeeever” and “What If?” series that you see here, as well as occasionally relieving me of Raw Roundup duties. He also maintains his own blog, The Imagination of Ryan Simmons, one that is much more personal and less niche than the one you’re currently reading. Earlier this week, on the aforementioned blog, he tackled the issue of wrestling fandom and the shame it wrongly carries with it. Check out what he had to say right here, it’s a relatable read for any wrestling fan.