The WWE took a nostalgic turn this week with Monday Night Raw “Old School,” with many nods to the former stars of wrestling, including plenty of 1980s characters.
I’m not going to give a play-by-play on the show because many of you saw it, but I wanted to write about a few observations.
To start, the night would not have been complete without the Iron Sheik once again pissing on Hulk Hogan. The Sheik got on the mic to remind people that Hulkamania would have never happened without him. I’m not so sure about that assertion. Anyway, I saw Sheik wrestle on an indy show in early 1990s, and in the hallway during intermission, he was signing autographs for everyone and was super nice. He kept trying to get to the locker room, and would say, “OK, OK, the Sheik will sign just one more.”
Interesting to hear Jerry Lawler call Daniel Bryan (aka, Bryan Danielson) a modern-day Bob Backlund. Bryan and Backlund both had great grasps on how to work a scientific babyface style. Bryan can adjust his style much better depending on where he’s wrestling. Bryan is a hell of lot better on the mic than Backlund ever was. I like Bryan, as he’s one of the bright spots in wrestling in 2010. And Bryan will never, ever be as big a star or as well remembered as Backlund was because success is not all about wrestling talent. Backlund was hand-picked by Vince McMahon Sr. to be WWF Champion a year before he won the belt, and Backlund connected with the audience (the crowds he drew at the Boston Garden, Madison Square Garden, and other Northeast arenas prove that).
And then there was Michael Cole calling Slick something along the lines of one of the greatest managers ever. I realized those are Vince McMahon’s words coming over the headset, but the reality is Slick was terrible. Slick fed into the WWF’s historically low-brow stereotype of an African-American, and he never added anything to his stable. Did he help Big Bossman, Akeem/One Man Gang, or Butch Reed? No.
Other ‘80s notes from Raw:
- Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s tiger print jacket, with matching pants and headband, constituted a fashion emergency.
- I realized, at least on this night, that Sheamus wasn’t the palest wrestler on the show after Sgt. Slaughter took off his hat and exposed his pasty white, shaved head.
- One thing I missed was Vince opening the show in his canary yellow sports jacket with Jesse Ventura decked in a feather boa next to him. That would have taken nostalgia to a whole new level.