When the Rock returned to pro wrestling a few years back and challenged John Cena a year ahead of schedule for the WrestleMania XXVII, it was the first time in years that you saw long-term planning on the part of the WWE.
One of the greatest examples of the long, slow build came in 1988 and 1989, when the late Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Hulk Hogan planted the seeds for their main event confrontation at WrestleMania V at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, NJ.
One year prior, Savage won the WWF Heavyweight Title in a one-night tournament at WrestleMania IV. At the time, Savage was a babyface, but there was still tension between him and Hogan due to their prior battles when Hulk wore the belt. These guys spent a year walking on a knife edge, and you knew where the story was going.
That’s the thing a lot of non-fans don’t get about wrestling. Sure, we know it’s entertainment and we often can correctly guess who will win in the end. But it’s how you get there that is the most intriguing part.
The WrestleMania V match had hints dropped Continue reading
I recently posted a podcast with John Cena, Sr. — the father of WWE superstar John Cena, who headlines WrestleMania 29 against the Rock — who talked to me about the first WrestleMania in 1985, Bruno Sammartino going into the WWE Hall of Fame, and his memories of the wrestling cards at the old Boston Garden. For those of you who were unable to hear the podcast or didn’t have time, below is the complete transcript of the interview. Continue reading
It was 25 years ago today in 1988 that the WWF Heavyweight Title tournament took place at WrestleMania IV.
The tournament came about after the infamous title switch during which Andre the Giant pinned Hulk Hogan and then attempted to bequeath the belt to the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Then-WWF President Jack Tunney ruled that while Andre had indeed won the title, he could not hand it over to someone else, and thus had vacated the belt. Tunney ordered the champion to be determined at Mania IV.
These days, title tournaments are commonplace, but in 1988 in the WWF, there had not been a championship tourney Continue reading
I had a lot of fun earlier this week interviewing John Cena, Sr., the father of WWE superstar John Cena. Cena, Sr. also works in the pro wrestling business, going by the name Johnny Fabulous for Massachusetts-based indie promotions.
It seemed appropriate to talk to Cena, Sr. as we approach WrestleMania XXIX, when his son will compete against the Rock with the WWE Heavyweight Championship at stake.
During our interview, Cena, Sr. talks about: Continue reading
On my blog, I tend not to stray too far out of the 1980s, but as we all know, wrestling lives on in 2013.
My friend, Eric Gargiulo, over at the Camel Clutch Blog gave me the spotlight this week to discuss CM Punk’s recently-ended WWE Heavweight Title reign.
Punk’s title run clearly set him apart as the greatest heel world champion in WWE, WWF, and WWWF history. Six months ago, I would have argued that Superstar Billy Graham held that honor, but Punk took things to a higher level before losing to the Rock at the Royal Rumble.
While 1988 wasn’t the year of the first Royal Rumble (the little-known original version was a flop in 1987), the ’88 Rumble was the first one nationally broadcast. It was a free show on the USA Network, which was great news for wrestling fans, but in reality the move to make it free was an assault against the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions (which later morphed into WCW).
The story starts in 1987, when Crockett and Vince McMahon both promoted pay-per-views on Thanksgiving night (the first Survivor Series and Starrcade ’87). McMahon made a power play Continue reading