Thursday, September 1, 2011

Your Favorite Wrestlers Ever: Vince Morales

Now that my own favorites list is out of the way, I posed the question to some of my colleagues in the fan/writer community. Who are your favorite five wrestlers?

Today's entry comes to us from Vince Morales, writer of the Milwaukee Brewers' blog Miller Park Drunk. You may remember Vince on here from an excellent guest blog he submitted after the Money in the Bank PPV, one he was in attendance for. It's funny, aside from the Phillies, the most followers on Twitter/TWB superfans I have from a single fanbase belong to the Brewers. I must be in a weird pocket on the Internet, or maybe I'm just huge in Wisconsin. Anyway, here's his list:

Two best friends, two top spots on Vince's list
Photo Credit: Pro
When people say that wrestling is cyclical they usually mean that it goes in cycles of “good” and “bad”, but what they actually mean to say is that it goes in cycles of “popular” and “unpopular”. Wrestling is always good and it is always bad. It always has been and it always will be. To me wrestling is very cyclical in that my favorite wrestlers, the people that keep me tuned in, always change.

When I first discovered wrestling my favorite wrestler was Razor Ramon. He had the best finisher and he exuded coolness. As I grew older his ring work would decline and as I would learn from the internet he was a drug person. As my favorite wrestler he failed me, both in and out of character, and I soon began to wonder why I ever thought he was the best. The same thing happened with the 1-2-3 Kid.

Another early favorite of mine was Hunter Hearst Helmsley. (Seriously.) When he was the Connecticut Blue Blood you could definitely tell that he had “it” and it was fun to watch him grow. When he joined D-X I loved every minute of it. People forget now that it’s been done to death, but when he first came out with HBK because they were “really” friends it meant something. When he ascended to leader and brought in another one of his “real” friends, my old favorite X-Pac, it was great. Now? I cringe when I see him. The young guy trying to get over turned into a legend with extremely low self esteem and I wanted nothing to do with him. Again, a favorite of mine failed me in and out of the ring.

(Quick Triple H tangent: How does he not have more moves? The Undertaker can finish you with a chokeslam, Hells Gate, Last Ride or Tombstone. John Cena has the Attitude Adjustment and the STFU. CM Punk has the Anaconda Vise and the GTS. Even Randy “chinlock” Orton has the punt, RKO and second rope DDT. Triple H has the Pedigree. That’s it. With his ego how did he never say “You know what? I’m going to get the claw over as my new finisher” and just roll with it. I’m convinced this is why his match with Undertaker sucked.)

It never fails me that I find a wrestler to call my favorite and he fails me. Scott Hall let drugs and alcohol run his life. Triple H became the coolest, toughest and smartest. Chris Benoit murdered his family. I realized Raven wasn’t that good. John Cena won too much. Kurt Angle took himself too seriously. Samoa Joe went to TNA. On and on it went and my favorites quickly became people I didn’t want to see. Wrestlers are cyclical.

So when TH asked me who my favorite wrestlers are I didn’t know how to answer it because my favorite wrestlers today probably won’t be my favorite wrestlers tomorrow and one day I’ll probably regret ever calling these guys my favorite. With that being said, here’s my list.

5b. Stone Cold Steve Austin - Steve Austin is the greatest example of the cyclical nature of this list. In his heyday there is no way he’d be left off this list. He was the best wrestler, the best character and the best promo. I loved his heel turn and I loved it even more when the Invasion was over and he just came out as a babyface like nothing ever happened. Then he seemed to stop caring. There was that thing where he hit his wife. I don’t like to comment on things like that so I won’t, but it does make a person seem a lot less heroic. There was also that thing when he refused to job to Brock Lesnar and just went home. He eventually came back, but he was just stale. Drink beer, stun someone, rinse and repeat. Maybe it was the writing, maybe it was a lack of motivation, but Stone Cold just wasn’t Stone Cold anymore and I could live without him. Then Tough Enough happened. During that show I remembered the Stone Cold I loved and why he was one of the best talents I’d ever seen. Stone Cold ripping on reality show punks should win awards. The show seemed to give him his mojo back and made a potential program CM Punk sound like the greatest thing ever.

5a. Randy Savage - I never, ever got sick of the Macho Man and I never will.

4. Bret Hart - In 1997, I had an email newsletter called The Pedigree. It was the dumbest thing ever. I was 15 and I didn’t even know who Dave Meltzer was, but somehow I sent out a twice weekly pro-wrestling “newsletter”. I also had a hotline. When the whole Montreal thing was going down I refused to believe it. I left an angry message on my hotline how there was “no way” Bret Hart would ever leave the WWF and Dave Meltzer doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. (Which, in retrospect, is true most of the time.) I loved Bret Hart and I couldn’t imagine a WWF without him. When it all went down and what happened ended up happening it was the end of my innocence as a fan and the end of my newsletter. I knew that things were pre-determined before, but Montreal showed me just how real and fake the whole thing is.

My feelings on the situation always change (From How could Vince do that? to How could Bret be such a mark for himself? and back), but I always loved Bret Hart. He’s apart of a ton of my favorite matches and he’s the one guy I’ve ever really wanted one more match from.

Montreal question that’s always bothered me: If Bret refused to lose in Montreal because of his legacy (or whatever) then why did he allow them to turn him 200 times in WCW? He said in Wrestling With Shadows that he couldn’t be a heel in Canada, but then he was never that character again. Had he given up? Was WCW only about the money for him? Never made sense to me how he was so worried about his portrayal towards the end of his WWF run and then completely stopped caring about it in WCW.

3. Chris Jericho - I loved Chris Jericho from the moment I saw him as a crappy babyface that turned his back to the crowd in WCW. He was a nerd, but he was one of my favorites based strictly on his ring work. He was also one of the first guys I traded tapes for. As the mic skills came my fandom grew and grew. He was a channel changer in WCW and when he went to WWF that was game over for the Nitro set for me. His handling in WWE dropped him off my radar for awhile like so many wrestlers before him, but he came back strong and his second run in WWE solidified his spot as one of the all-time greats.

He also wrote two excellent books that solidified Chris Jericho as both a guy who gets it and a guy who I would love to hang out with.

2. CM Punk - I don’t know how he ended up here. I was never a CM Punk guy. I liked Samoa Joe. He was the bad ass. He was the one with the Kobashi match. He was the one the people warned in chant about their imminent death. CM Punk was good, but he was never my guy. When he went to WWE I was like “Yeah, cool,” but he was never a guy that I used as a reason the WWE was messed up. He got a good push and he was on TV enough that I appreciated him, but that was it.

Then Straight Edge Society happened and he said “Bring me Jared from Subway.” Then the feud with Randy Orton (the best built match at Wrestlemania imo) happened where he actually made Randy Orton seem somewhat interesting. Then Money in the Bank happened and I don’t know how he could be anywhere else. Money in the Bank was the first PPV I attended live since Over the Edge in 1998, it was my first live WWE show in five years and it was the greatest show I’ve ever been to. Since that show my interest in wrestling has waned quite a bit. Not because I don’t like it anymore, but because in some strange way I feel like I’ve reached the apex of my enjoyment of wrestling at that event and I’m not sure I can ever get that back.

1. Colt Cabana - I just started actively following Colt Cabana about four months ago so his placing on this list might seem a bit suspect to you, but Colt Cabana absolutely belongs here. Colt Cabana is professional wrestling. I’ve watched wrestling for a very long time and I can’t remember a single wrestler who put a smile on my face every single time he stepped into the ring. Jericho and others can make you laugh with their promos, but nobody’s in-ring work is responsible for more smiles and laughs than Colt Cabana.

Cabana’s outside projects help too. The Art of Wrestling is pretty much the greatest thing ever, Wrestling Road Diaries is a great documentary and Creative Has Nothing For You is always good for a laugh. If the Colt Cabana stamp of approval is on something than you can pretty much guarantee quality.

None of this is why he’s here though. Colt Cabana is here because he’s an inspiration. Not to get too inside baseball, but I’ve had a pretty crappy year. Like real crappy. Fired from my job, breaking up with my girlfriend, moving back home for a couple months, it’s been the year of not-Vince. I got depressed and dwelled on that for awhile, but Colt Cabana was always positive and on the Art of Wrestling he talked about that positivity and it really spoke to me. On one episode he spoke about an old story that inspired him about Lanny Poffo where Lanny said there were two buses, the happy bus and the sad bus, and that he was on the happy bus. That story spoke to Colt and Colt telling that story spoke to me. Life is too short. Get off the sad bus and get on the happy bus. It’s much more fun over here.

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