April 2, 2005
Vince's FrankensteinMix flashpots, fleshpots, music, acrobatics and soap opera - it's Wrestlemania
By DAVE 'CRASH' CAMERON - Edmonton Sun
Much debate and consternation went on this week when the final game of the CIS hockey tournament was not broadcast live on TSN on Monday. That's because the numbers don't lie. Monday night is RAW. Monday night is wrestling.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Wrestling fans gather in big numbers. And we walk among you.
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And, yes, we know it's fake.
It's not rocket surgery, folks. In person, wrestling is a rock show. The WWE, in particular, a KISS concert. On TV, it's big dumb fun.
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The World Wildlife Wrestling Confederation. Or whatever it's legally called. I call it Vince McMahon's Frankenstein. In a good way.
Here's a nutshell summation of the Vince McMahon Story: Vinny took over from the old man and grew a regional wrestling series based out of Madison Square Garden into a national powerhouse.
In the process, Vince went from the nerdy announcer to the Boss, blurring the lines of perception as to whether he was the evil ruler of all that is wrestling or merely played one on TV.
What Vinnie Mac did in creating his monster was also to create a cultural phenomenon. Cable TV was exploding in the early '80s, MTV was hatching and the goofy rich kid spiced in singer Cindi Lauper and amped up the wackier - and the whack!-ier - side of his travelling road show.
He also had a star waiting to happen: big, balding, sweatband-wearing Terry Gene Bollea. a.k.a. Hulk Hogan. a.k.a. The Hulkster. All adding up to Hulkamania.
Then McMahon needed a central showcase to tie it all together. Wrestlemania was born.
To make the rest of a long story short, the WWF/WWE has had its ups and downs. Partly to do with the general public's attention span, partly due to Vince's propensity to go Mike Keenan on his superstar's asses.
Hogan left, the WCW grew, the WWF staggered, then stumbled onto another even larger era, first with Stone Cold Steve Austin , then the Rock.
All the while, McMahon showed a drive to keep going. (Not to mention, a willingness to exploit his family.)
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Wrestlemania XXI is here (No. 21 from here on).
So I surveyed fellow wrestling fans out of Sun employees present and past, creating a virtual "Grappling Geeks of the Round Table":
Mike Jenkinson - Devoted family man, wrestling encyclopedia.
Fred Curatolo - A fight fan, period. But a cartoonist, so you know a warped sense of humour is required.
Darcy Anderson - The Angry Auditor. As nice a guy as you can meet. Until he looks at your balance sheet.
Scott Zerr - In Los Angeles for Wrestlemania, right now. Good friends with Chris Benoit. But would like us to think he's there hanging with Trish.
Scott Jeschke - works in news research. Call him a librarian and you'll get bodyslammed.
ALL-TIME FAVOURITE WRESTLEMANIA MATCH:
MJ - "I'm real partial to the Canadians when it comes to Wrestlemania matches. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 12. And I have a long-standing love for the Bret-Owen match at Wrestlemania 10, simply because it was a great wrestling."
FC - Randy (Macho Man) Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat, Mania 3. "Savage could really move back then. It seemed to go on forever. Second would be Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan. I love that one. It wasn't a good match, it was just seeing those two together in the ring."
DA - "Rock vs. Austin at WM 17. It had incredible heat. My old-school pick would have to be Hogan/Andre at WM 3. An incredibly bad match, but it's the match I most associate with Wrestlemania."
SZ - "Gotta have it. Main event from Wrestlemania 20 at MSG. Edmonton's own Chris Benoit captures the world heavyweight title by locking the Crippler Crossface on Triple-H in the middle ring while HBK is busted up outside of the ring. Possibly the best triple-threat match in WWE history."
SJ - "Bret (Hitman) Hart vs. Stone Cold, WM 13."
Mine - The Tables, Ladders, Trains, Planes and Automobiles match at WM 17 with the Dudleys, Hardys, Edge and Christian (the funniest man in WWE.)
MJ - "Almost any match at the first Wrestlemania. Despite it being the big breakthrough for the WWF in terms of mainstream popularity, that card absolutely does not stand the test of time."
FC - "Mr. T against Roddy Piper in a boxing match (WM 2). That one, it just didn't fit."
DA - "Undertaker has been in some pretty bad matches at Mania."
SZ - "Anything involving Mae Young and the Fabulous Moohlah, Mark Henry, Mabel ... or 1-2-3 Kid/X-Pac."
ALL-TIME FAVOURITE WRESTLER:
FC - "Abdullah the Butcher. Because he couldn't be controlled." Honourable mention: Hogan.
DA - "I could watch and listen to Mick Foley all day." Hon.Men.: Ultimate Warrior. "No one could pull off the 'multi-coloured tassels around the bicep' look like he could."
SZ - "I can't leave out some of the best villians - Bad News Allen and the Cuban Assassin (the guy never had a match without at least one fork in his fatigues). But I'll stick with the guy that got me absorbed into wrestling: the Dynamite Kid."
SJ - "Jake (The Snake) Roberts."
Mine - The mic artist formerly known as The Rock.
Since tomorrow's Mania has a Hollywood theme ... WHO WOULD PLAY VINCE IN THE WWE STORY?
Mine - Al Pacino, The Godfather.
SZ - "Between the Ropes, starring Jack (You can't handle the truth that you stink in the ring) Nicholson as Vince McMahon.
DA - "I'm not sure anyone could really capture the extreme complexity that is Vinny Mac. But judging simply on physical resemblance I think Sylvester Stallone . The bonus is that his physique is already Vince-like ... no 'pharmaceutical' help necessary."
SJ - "Donald Trump."
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So there you have it. Wrestlemania 21, tomorrow at a pay-per-view near you.
Betting windows close at 4 p.m.
By the way, it's fake, don't you know.