Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Favorite Wrestlers Ever: #20 through #11

Since I missed posting this yesterday, a DOUBLE ENTRY.

Photo Credit:
20. The Miz

The Miz is like the main eventer that I watched grow up. He was always in John Morrison's shadow, but just by looking at both guys, I knew Miz was the much better guy. I mean, he talked better. He worked better (I was never fooled by the flipz). The only thing he didn't have going for him was the "stink" from being on the Real World, but seriously? You were going to hate on him because he got famous on MTV? Christ, if that's the case, then your priorities are out of whack.

From the point where he really arrived, no, not the Chicken Crumbs promo, the moment where I started marking for him hard was when he shot Hornswoggle in the dick with that t-shirt gun. Seriously, you didn't know how much I hated that midget. From there, he just kept building and building on that resume until he came out at WrestleMania through the "AWESOME" blow-up for his match against Cena. He was my guy. I feel so proud of the tyke.

19. Ted DiBiase
Photo Credit:

This is more of a retroactive fandom. When he was around, I booed the shit out of him, but of course I did. I was a kid that booed the heels and cheered the faces. It's how kids watch. And to be fair, DiBiase was one of the best at what he did. He mistreated the black guy, stuffed dollar bills in people's mouths, bought and sold wrestlers like cattle and had one of the BEST evil laughs in wrestling history. Plus, what a boss theme song, the best in wrestling history for my money:


Later on in life, I grew to appreciate him as an ace performer, as a guy who could bring it in the ring and a guy who played his role so well, maybe a little too well. Any time he comes back to WWE programming, it's a welcome sight, even though he's more of a good guy now. Kind of a waste for the best villain in the Rock 'n Wrestling Era (THERE, I SAID IT), but still, I'm not even sure I wanna boo Ted anymore.

Photo Credit:
18. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

Like I booed DiBiase because he was a heel, I cheered the shit out of Hacksaw because he was a good guy. Unlike DiBiase, I never stopped giving my positive reactions to Duggan, mainly because HOW COULD YOU NOT LIKE HACKSAW? It'd be un-American. I mean yeah, I should by all rights hate the guy, because he was a pandering gimmick who couldn't really work. But you know what? Wrestling isn't about adhering to roles, it's about what makes you feel good inside. Watching Hacksaw makes me feel good.

I think a lot of it has to do with his new fake Twitter account too. It's not really Hacksaw, but it's such an exaggerated version of him that it puts what he really was in perspective... which is that Duggan was always goofy, silly but at heart, endearing. That's why after all these years, I still mark for Hacksaw, tough guy. HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Wikia
17. Stevie Richards

Stevie Richards, the lackey who made good. Starting out as Raven's ne'er-do-well henchman, Richards slowly but surely climbed up the ranks to lead his nWo-knockoff group, the Blue World Order. Something strange happened along the way though. The bWo, not to be confused with the clothing line that was the New World Order (one of the greatest veiled slams in wrestling commentary history, courtesy of Vince McMahon), turned out to be the better faction in wrestling history. Seriously, while the nWo kept adding members, the bWo stayed with three, never going more than four or five, and always had a great sense of humor. Meanie and Nova both were great members, but it really was all about Stevie, whose rise from comedic foil to unlikely hero was really my favorite ECW storyline ever. Christ, it got to the point where I was pissed when he didn't win the chance to take out Raven at Barely Legal. Yeah, they wanted me to pull for Terry Funk, but my fandom belonged to Big Stevie Cool.

Along the line, companies did their best to try and dilute him and marginalize him. WWE thought that making him head of Right to Censor was a good idea. It only served to give Vince his jollies at getting vicarious "revenge" against the Parent Television Council. TNA thought that giving him a therapist gimmick would make good feud fodder with Abyss. Yeah, no. Yet, no matter where he goes or what he does, he still puts in 100 percent. It's evident by the way he keeps himself in shape.

He's also a really nice guy. True story, when I was living with my parents while I was in college, around the RTC time, Richards lived right up the block from me. Imagine that, a true-blue WWF wrestler lived five or six rowhomes away from me in Northeast Philadelphia. I saw him all the time, coming back from the corner deli with hoagies wrapped in white paper, or whatever. One day, I stopped him on my way home from school and talked to him, asking him about being in WWF and all. He was happy to talk to me. He didn't have to, but he did. That's not the reason why he's on here, but it definitely shows that he's one of the cool ones.

Photo Credit:
16. The Road Warriors

It might be cliche to name the Roadies as your favorite tag team ever, but you know what? I really don't care. They're really popular for a reason, and it's because fuck man, they were the best tag team ever. Two guys that just exuded bad-ass from every pore, from their appearance (aped by the WWF when they couldn't sign them with Demolition) to their gruff voices to their roughneck style. I got legit chills when Hawk would gutturally rumble "OOOOOH WHAT A RUSH!"

And really, they stand as the last of the great tag teams. I used to bemoan that Hawk never got a singles run, but y'know what? Maybe it was better that way. Given how every other great tag team of the last 20 years has split up and gone solo with great success for at least one member - even Team 3D/the Dudleys have now produced at least a critically acclaimed singles star in Impact with Bully Ray - it could be knee jerk to treat a tag division as a place where people temporarily go before they break out as a singles star. The Roadies though were a force as a team, something completely missing from wrestling nowadays, at least on the mainstream level.

Photo Credit:
15. Rowdy Roddy Piper

Unless you stopped watching wrestling around 1985 as a small child infected with Hulkamania, I think it's impossible to be a wrestling fan and not love the shit out of the Rowdy Scot. There was just something so manic and so unpredictable when watching him on the mic. Even when he was bad, he was so charming that you couldn't help but at least fight the smile when you were supposed to dislike him.

He also made it outside of wrestling. Yeah, Rock and Hogan were both the megastars, but Piper has actually appeared in stuff that's actually good rather than just moneymaking. I mean, how many wrestling fans are going to go out and enjoy The Tooth Fairy? How many people, fans or not, thought No Holds Barred was actually good? Piper though? From They Live to even his appearance in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he brought the goods in projects that weren't totally shitty.

Photo Credit:
14. Christian

Christian running with the World Heavyweight Championship right now is great. It is, and I'm glad he's getting the ball. A lot of people look at what he is right now and moan because he's being "made to look weak" or is fodder for Orton. I see it as the glass-half-full. I'd much rather see Christian as a babyface performer too, but he's taking this opportunity and running with it, having excellent matches and doing some good promo and character work too. He's proving everyone who naysaid him wrong.

And obviously, I'm a huge fan of good in-ring work, which Christian for whatever reason always had over Edge, and recently, over 95% of all the workers in America, really. Watching him wrestle is just a treat, whether it's in a highly technical affair against Chris Jericho or a trash-brawl against Tommy Dreamer. He may justifiably be Captain Charisma, but he's got a hell of a lot of talent in the ring too.

Photo Credit:
13. Davey Boy Smith

I was too young for the British Bulldogs, so this was all solo, or at least his team-ups with Owen Hart and the new Hart Foundation. I always found something endearing about the Bulldog. I guess I blame the build to SummerSlam '92. It was so well-done that I was rooting for Davey Boy over Bret Hart, and Hart was one of my favorite wrestlers at the time.

It was funny too because he didn't really have a lot of promo talent. However, he was still very much a likable character. Plus his powerslam was tight. I guess it was his smile, and the way he carried himself. But yeah, I always dug the Bulldog.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Photo Credit:
Scott Finkelstein
12. Claudio Castagnoli

Talk about a guy who has embraced social media as a way to interact with his fans. Claudio is all over Twitter, and he's very good at responding to fans sending him messages. Plus, he's embraced Youtube with Claudio's Cafe.

But there are other guys who are all over social media and not this high on this list. Claudio is an awesome worker, a big guy among the smaller guys on the indie scene. Whenever he puts up the Big Swing, it's a sight to behold. He's got amazing tag chemistry with Chris Hero as well.

Photo Credit: Slam Canoe
11. Tommy Dreamer

I always loved ECW, but looking back on it, there weren't a lot of guys that I really liked enough to call them my favorites. It was a great show with very few great characters. Shane Douglas was annoying, Raven scuzzy, Sandman low-rent, RVD falsely bombastic. Together though, they all made for good television. But aside from the bWo and the tag scene, there was one guy who embodied ECW and whom I loved. That was Tommy Dreamer.

He was the living spirit of Extreme. He was the Innovator of Violence, yeah, but he also was the eternal underdog, a guy who was popular for putting everyone over but doing it in a way where he showed tenacity and fight. He was blue collar. He was ECW, because ECW was always fighting a losing battle with the WWF and WCW, trying to gain a market share while having them poach their best talent.

So when Dreamer won the ECW Championship from Taz, it was amazing... until I read that he dropped it to Justin Credible. The fucking asshat who used to wear a jockstrap on his head. Ugh. WWE made it right 10 years later by giving him their version of the ECW Championship, but that's just not the same. But yeah, even if he was never the biggest guy, he was alwas the most tenacious. That's why I love Tommy Dreamer, and still do.

No comments:

Post a Comment