Showing posts with label WWF. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WWF. Show all posts

The Life and Career of Scott Hall

Monday, March 21, 2022

"Hey, Yo..."

One of the most popular wrestlers of the 1990s passed away last week.  Scott Hall, the former WWF Superstar "Razor Ramon" and founding member of WCW's 90s pop culture sensation "new World order," passed away following complications during hip replacement surgery.  He was 63.

His longtime friend and fellow wrestler, Kevin Nash, made it public that Hall was placed on life support after suffering three heart attacks during the surgery.  Hall's family took him off of life support on Monday, March 14th, where he passed on 5 hours later.

Hall had previous health issues stemming from many years of alcohol and drug abuse, the physical tolls all wrestlers experience in the ring, and a life spent on the road. 

In 2014, he was helped by fellow wrestler Diamond Dallas Page in cleaning up his life and entering sobriety.  He succeeded, and the WWE brought him back in a public role and inducted him into the Hall of Fame twice.  Once as Razor Ramon and the second for being a member of the nWo.  

Hall is often regarded as "the best wrestler never to hold the World Championship in a major promotion."

With the sobering news hitting us wrestling fans this week, I thought it would be fitting that I post a tribute to the life of a man who provided so much enjoyment and entertainment growing up.  

Please click "Keep Reading" to read about the life of "The Bad Guy" Scott Hall.

Boy Meets Wrestling: When WWF's Big Van Vader Invaded Boy Meets World

Monday, March 14, 2022

Professional wrestling was a large part of my childhood, as was the story for many kids growing up in the late 80s and early 90s.  Just as important to me back then was making sure I watched the kid-friendly sitcoms on ABC's TGIF on Friday evenings.   

With the WWE's announcement the other day that Vader (Leon White) would be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame, I spent time reflecting upon his career.  I was first introduced to Vader when he returned to the United States following his mega-star run in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1990.  As a big fan of World Championship Wrestling (WCW), I first saw Vader sometime in 1990 but really remember him from his match with Stan Hansen at WrestleWar.  He'd then go on to a great run in WCW for a few years as the off-and-on World Champion.  During his time paired with the great former NWA Champion Harley Race, the big man had legendary feuds with my favorites growing up, Ric Flair and Sting.  Sting was already my favorite (still to this day), but his feud with Vader elevated him to new heights in many fans' eyes and cemented his status as World Champion material.

Leon White is often regarded as one of, if not THE, best "big man" in the business.  His high-flying moves from the top rope were unheard of from a man his size both back then and still today.  Standing 6 feet 5 inches and over 450 pounds, the former center for the Los Angeles Rams (1978-1980) moved around the ring like an agile cat but had the size, toughness, and ferocity of a bull.  

He was slated to participate in my favorite match of all time, the 1995 WCW War Games match, but backstage shenanigans got him fired before showing up in the WWF as "The Mastadon," Big Van Vader.  

It was during this time period that one Friday evening I switched the TV over to ABC for my usual TGIF lineup, and on one episode of Boy Meets World, there was the big man himself, Vader!  I remembered Vader having bit parts as the bully's father, but he was all over the place in this episode.  So was Jake "The Snake" Roberts and even "Brother Love" Bruce Prichard!  They had a real WWF show and in-ring action, too!  I was blown away at such a cool cross-over of two things I really enjoyed.

I had really gotten into watching reruns of The Wonder Years on Nick-at-Nite, and when Boy Meets World came along, it was a lighter, funnier, more modern version for kids my age.  As a fun connection between the shows, the star of The Wonder Years, Fred Savage, is the older real-life brother to the star of Boy Meets World, Ben Savage.  

Boy Meets World was a wildly successful family-friendly sitcom from 1993 to 2000.  Starring Ben Savage as Cory Matthews, Rider Strong as Shawn Hunter, William Daniels as Mr. Feeney, Will Friedle as Cory's older brother Eric, and (now famous wrestling fan herself) Danielle Fishel as Topanga.  The show told the story about Cory Matthews and his friends coming of age in the early to mid-90s in a comedic, kid-friendly sitcom.  The show would run until Cory and Topanga were married and in college before returning nearly 15 years later on The Disney Channel as Girl Meets World, centered around Cory and Topanga's daughter.  

At the time, wrestling was still some time away from the culture-changing popularity it would see in the late 90s, but most kids I knew were casual fans of wrestling.  At the time, wrestling and the WWF were full of colorful, larger-than-life comic book characters targeted at children and young teens.  Vader was the perfect comic book character.  An intimidating giant of a man with a gentle soul, he was the ideal fit for a sitcom made for the 16 and under crowd.  

Vader would depart the WWF in 1998 and enter semi-retirement.  After a few more big appearances in Japan and American independent shows, his in-ring career finally came to an end around 2017.  

After years of struggling with his weight, grueling travel schedules, and alcohol abuse, Vader cleaned up his act in 2007.  After becoming a born-again Christian, Vader reconnected with long-time rival (and backstage friend) Sting, another (at the time) recently born-again Christian.  When Vader announced in 2018 he was suffering congestive heart failure and went through multiple surgeries in March of 2018, his good friend Sting (Steve Borden) visited him frequently at the hospital.  

Sadly, Leon passed away on June 18, 2018, following a month-long stay in the hospital with pneumonia.  
When Vader and the WWF blended with Boy Meets World and my Friday night sitcom lineup, the result was a very memorable event!  Here's what happened when Big Van Vader, the storied pro wrestler, joined a made-for-kids sitcom in the mid-90s!

25 Years Ago: WWF's Summer Slam 1996!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

When I began 9th grade in the fall of 1998, I was more than just nervous about starting high school.  I was extremely jealous of two of my friends.

If you read my recent feature about "Summer Wrestling Memories" (if you haven't yet, please CLICK HERE to do so), you'd have read about my time doing some backyard wrestling with my two good friends.  My parents didn't really like that I was into wrestling and wouldn't encourage it by buying shirts, posters, or tickets to live events. But these two?  They had it all.  

Everything, including tickets to SummerSlam 1998, with the main attraction featuring the two hottest acts in pro wrestling:  Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker.  

I was definitely a WCW fan, but I definitely wanted to be there to see it with a headline act like that.  To make matters worse, it was at The Garden!  Madison Square Garden was our "home" arena just 30 minutes down the Palisades Parkway and was the mecca of pro wrestling! 

I never even bothered to ask my parents for tickets because I knew the answer would be a resounding NO.  Come to think of it, Joe and Andrew never asked me if I wanted to go with them either because I'm sure they knew I wouldn't. 

So, I was definitely jealous when they both were wearing the t-shirts from the show on the first day of school.  They both had several great stories of their trip into the city, and I was green with envy.

That's how SummerSlam 1998 went for me, but for today let's take a look two years earlier in 1996 to make it a nice even 25 years ago.  Just as the Monday Night Wars were starting to heat up, WWF SummerSlam took place in Cleveland, Ohio, as Shawn Michaels took on Vader!  

If you'd like to read about WCW's summer tent pole event from that year, Bash at the Beach, CLICK HERE to read about the night Hulk Hogan changed wrestling and pop culture history in one night.

Join me on a road trip down memory lane into the summers of yesteryear as we look back on the 1996 WWF SummerSlam! 

Retro RePost: Christmas Collides With Pro Wrestling

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Life has been busy so far this December, with work and studying for my annual training, so I haven’t been able to finish the content I’ve been trying to produce for Christmas.  Here it is, already December 10th, and I’ve yet to post anything this month celebrating the Holiday season...

It’s time to remedy that, so I’ve decided to air a rerun so to speak... A Retro RePost, if you wheeeel (Dusty Rhodes voice) in one of my favorite posts from last Christmas:

Click the above link if you missed this last year or want to relive some good old days or wrestling gone by!  

Elvira: Mistress of the... Wrestling Ring?

Friday, September 18, 2020

As Halloween approaches, I begin to think of Elvira more often than usual.  For my wife and I, Elvira's movies, "Mistress of the Dark" and "Haunted Hills," are considered 'must-watch' movies during the month of October. I'm also reminded of her many product promotions and appearances on television around the Halloweens of my childhood during the 80s and 90s.

Cassandra Peterson created the Elvira character in 1981 when a Los Angeles based weekend cable show, "Fright Nights," auditioned for new hosts to introduce B-rated horror movies.  She quickly caught on as Elvira, using a "Valley-Girl" accent and sarcastic and often risque commentary.  Her campy sense of humor was filled with double entendres and quickly made the Elvira character a household name.  

However, before her hit film "Mistress of the Dark" made it big in 1988, did you know she joined the world of professional wrestling?  In an appearance that longtime wrestling fans will remember, Elvira left her mark on Wrestlemania 2 in 1986.  She appeared alongside Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Lord Alfred Hayes to provide commentary for the Los Angeles portion of the event on April 7, 1986.  That year, you may remember, the main event was a steel cage match between Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy. 

Wrestling at the Arcade: 1991's WWF Wrestlefest

Monday, March 16, 2020

Every spring, I look forward to WWE's Wrestlemania with all of its pomp and circumstance.  Unfortunately this year, with recent CDC guidelines that restrict public gatherings to under 50 people, it looks like for the first time since 1985, we won't have a Wrestlemania to enjoy this year.  Thinking about a year without Wrestlemania, it's caused me to reflect on the WWE/F and the Wrestlemania's of years gone by, and it brought to mind my all-time favorite arcade game... Technos' 1991 classic WWF Wrestlefest!

Growing up, my older brother and I both played ice hockey for a handful of teams, and it seemed like we were always at the ice rink.  My parents would often drag me along for his games when all I wanted to do was stay home and watch TV or play with my action figures.  Looking back now, I had a lot of fun at that ice rink, both on and off the ice.  During my brother's game, I'd spend my time wandering around the central lobby of the ice rink.  The central area was pretty standard with a small snack bar and a big screen TV that was always set to the local FOX station.  In the early 90s, my parents had bought the hype that The Simpsons was causing the downfall of polite society and had banned it from our house, but at the ice rink, I would often catch an episode or two of the afternoon reruns on that lobby TV.  Just to the right of the snack bar was a bank of payphones (remember those?) and a small little game corner with a couple of older arcade games and a lone pinball machine.  If an episode of The Simpsons wasn't on, I'd happily take a handful of quarters over to the arcade corner and go from one game to the next.

Then, one day I wandered over to the game corner, and among the old games that I had played a hundred times was a new one standing front and center.  It was bright, colorful, and featured professional wrestling!  From then on, I saved up all of my quarters (and begged Mom and Dad for more) and looked forward to my brother's next hockey game.  WWF Wrestlefest quickly became my all-time favorite arcade game.

Retro Wrestlemania Moment: 1994's Wrestlemania 10

Monday, March 2, 2020

Wrestlemania 10 has so much to offer when you go back and watch.  Brother vs. Brother.  The culmination of Lex Luger and Bret Hart vying for the WWF World Heavyweight Title.  The not-so-great Randy Savage "Falls Count Anywhere" match against Crush.  The end of Lex's run at the top... but it's the ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon that will forever be first and foremost in the hearts and minds of wrestling fans when they consider Wrestlemania 10. 

In March of 1994, Wrestlemania returned to the home of the very first 'Mania for its 10th edition of the tent-pole event.  WM10 is notable for being the first Wrestlemania for the WWF without Hulk Hogan.  Hogan had since left for Hollywood and WCW, and the focus of the WWF and "The New Generation" fell on Bret Hart's shoulders.  Hart was featured heavily here at Wrestlemania 10, not just in the Main Event against Yokozuna for the World Heavyweight Title, but in a major month's long storyline that involved his younger brother Owen.  Wrestlemania 10 would also be the last match for Randy Savage in the WWF before his departure to WCW.

Retro Wrestlemania Moment: 1989's Wrestlemania 5

Monday, February 24, 2020

I often complain to my wife that storytelling doesn't exist in pro wrestling anymore.  I mean TRUE storytelling.  With hints and small gestures that "plant seeds" into the minds of fans that eventually blossom into something that lasts for months or even a year.  Watching wrestling today, I feel like there is just so much available content that they don't have time for storytelling. They just throw a pair of wrestlers together, after a brief scripted promo that basically reads "I don't like you, let's fight," and they'll have the blowoff match a week or so later at the monthly Pay-Per-View and then the two move on to some other feud.  Then, not even a year later, they run out of new matchups, and they return to the original dispute and often pretend it didn't happen in the first place using the same "your a meanie" trope.

But back in the late '80s, the WWF's storytelling was bar none.  Who as a fan, past or present, hasn't heard of what I consider one of if not the best storytelling... the Mega Powers exploding at WM 5, and that's our latest stop on the Retro Road to Wrestlemania here at YRM.

Retro Wrestlemania Moment: 2004's WrestleMania 20

Monday, February 17, 2020

2004's Wrestlemania 20 was the first Pay-Per-View event I ever paid for with my own money.  My parents had mostly refused to pay the $40 price tag during the Attitude Era but would occasionally graciously agree to pay for the most significant events of the year.  I don't mean for that to come off as ungrateful, I have ZERO complaints about my childhood, and I was happy to be able to pay in 2004 for a PPV such as Wrestlemania myself.

Between 2000 and 2004, I had largely given up on wrestling.  During the boom period of the 90s, there was no bigger fan than myself, but by the time WCW began to die, I had nearly stopped watching altogether.  Things like graduating high school and just regular teenage life got in the way of watching shows that had stopped being good anyway.  By the start of 2004, though, I had gotten back into wrestling in a big way.  For whatever reason, I had seen an advertisement for the new RAW vs. Smackdown Playstation game, and something told me I had to have it.  So, one day after class, I took a ride to go buy it with my best friend and a girl that I had pretty much just met.  That girl became my wife years later!  Anyway, as far as the game goes... the guys in my dorm and I suddenly became big fans.  We played that game for hours and we eventually started watching wrestling again.

Wrestlemania 20 is probably most memorable to most fans for seeing the underdog finally get its day.  For many fans, seeing Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit finally get their moment in the sun was almost like Vince McMahon and the company not only acknowledged these two and their amazing ability... but they were acknowledging US for supporting them.

Retro Wrestlemania Moment: 1993's Wrestlemania 9

Monday, February 10, 2020

On our first stop through our Retro Wrestlemania Moments series, I figured we'd take a look at Wrestlemania 9 from 1993!  WM9 is probably my all-time favorite Wrestlemania, as a kid or an adult.  This was one of the shows my parents wouldn't order on Pay-Per-View so I was forced to live and die through the video clips and pictures shown on the syndicated "WWF Week in Review" shows until finally, it was available on VHS.

What's not for a kid to love about Wrestlemania 9?  Hulk Hogan returned after a year's hiatus and defeated the evil Yokozuna in a surprise match.  (I bet Yoko and Bret Hart were REALLY surprised!)  Taking place at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, the WWF went all out with the theming, wardrobes, and graphics.  Legendary announcer Jim Ross' made his WWF debut here at WM9 and who could forget Hulk Hogan's mysterious black eye?!

Favorite Retro Royal Rumble Moments

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The very first time I laid eyes on the Royal Rumble was in 1988.  I was 5 years old and was playing Nintendo over at my neighbor's house because he was THAT kid on the block that had every toy you could dream of.  His older brother was watching the USA Network when the very first Royal Rumble aired free for anyone who got basic cable at the time.  This annual Pay-Per-View event, one of the "Big Four," was originally aired for free to take away viewers from rival promotion NWA/WCW's Bunkhouse Stampede PPV.

With the Royal Rumble starting the "Road to Wrestlemania" every year, I thought it would be a good time to think back on some of my favorite Royal Rumble memories.  The Royal Rumble has always been a favorite of mine... most years I find it more exciting and enjoyable than Wrestlemania itself.  The constant count-down clock and the anticipation of "who's next?" is always so exciting!  Could it be a returning injured superstar or a legend getting one last shot in the spotlight?  Back in the day, it could even be a giant surprise debut from "the other company."  It's also always fun to see who can stay in the ring the longest and who has the fastest exit.

The Finger Poke of Doom and "Butts in Seats" 21st anniversary

Saturday, January 4, 2020

I'll admit that 21 is not a very special number when it comes to anniversaries and I'm a year late (and a dollar short) for the big 20th one.  Maybe I'm just a tad early for the 25th.  However, this past October when All Elite Wrestling began airing 'Dynamite' on WCW's old home TNT and went head to head with WWE I thought it'd be fun to take a look back at how one company tried to take on the WWF and wound up infamously shooting itself in the foot after a period of great success.  Hopefully, AEW has long term success and does not repeat history.

I've been a fan of pro wrestling since I was about 5 years old when I discovered the WCW/NWA programming one weekend while watching "The SuperStation TBS" at my Grandmother's house.  Later on, I was fortunate to be a rowdy teenager during the 1990s when the Attitude Era of the Monday Night War became one of the hottest and most exciting pop culture trends America had seen in a long time.

10 Times Christmas Collides with Pro Wrestling!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Much like Thanksgiving... Pro Wrestling and Christmas go hand in hand.  Over the years, wrestling promotions and wrestlers have celebrated (and exploited) the holiday season in many ways.  From holding events on Christmas day to wrestlers dressed up as Santa Claus, Christmas themed gimmick matches, or even a handful of wrestlers appearing in Christmas movies, these festive events celebrate the holiday season for children and adults alike.

I've looked around the internet and compiled a list in no particular order of some examples of when Christmas and Pro Wrestling COLLIDE!

Pro Wrestling on Thanksgiving: Starrcade vs Survivor Series

Friday, November 15, 2019

When one thinks of Thanksgiving most people think of pumpkin pie, turkey, football, or maybe even parade balloons.  As unlikely as it seems, though, to me pro wrestling and Thanksgiving go together like mashed potatoes and gravy.

Pro wrestling has deep traditions tied to Thanksgiving, going back to the territory days of yesteryear. Mid-South Wrestling frequently held Thanksgiving events in the SuperDome in New Orleans during the territory glory years.  The big two major promotions we all know, WWF and WCW, also have historical ties to the holiday as well.

Survivor Series 1989 Review

Monday, November 11, 2019

Depending on which side of the isle you sit on in the WWF vs WCW war, the history behind the WWF Pay-Per-View event "Survivor Series" is either considered a dirty trick or just another step in Vince McMahon's plan for domination.  WWF's rival promotion National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) had run a major event called Starrcade on Thanksgiving for nearly a decade before Vince McMahon decided to create Survivor Series.  Vince placed Survivor Series on Thanksgiving Day to compete directly against Starrcade and given the all around success of his major gamble on Wrestlemania, McMahon held all the cards against the cable providers and demanded they decide to either carry his show... or else.  All but a handful of providers chose Survivor Series and the very next year Starrcade was forced to move to December, ending the very quick "Thanksgiving Day War."

As a WCW/NWA fan I've always considered Starrcade a Thanksgiving show, even though it took place in December longer than it occurred on Thanksgiving, but WWF's Survivor Series is the true Thanksgiving show.  From 1987 to 1990, the show took place on Thanksgiving Day.  From 1991 to 1994, the WWF moved it to Thanksgiving Eve before being moved in 1995 to the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  

Starrcade 1989 Review

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Professional Wrestling, and The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), once held a long standing tradition of running major events on Thanksgiving Day.  The NWA ran it's annual flagship event StarrCade from 1983 to 1990, when the event continued on under the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) banner until 2000.

Starrcade was a production of Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP); at that time the largest and most dominant "territory" in the NWA.  It would be a Thanksgiving Day tradition until 1987 when the WWF, led by Vince McMahon, scheduled a pay-per-view event of their own titled Survivor Series on Thanksgiving night.  McMahon, coming off the major success of Wrestlemania and his national expansion, demanded exclusivity from the cable providers on carrying his event.

RollerJam... Pro Wrestling on Wheels

Monday, November 4, 2019

Like everyone else in the late 90's I was hooked on professional wrestling.  I had been a fan going back to 1989 or '90 when I was 5 years old and had found WCW on Saturday evenings at my Grandparents' house.   Like many others though I was utterly OBSESSED during the wrestling boom of the "Monday Night War."

It was in my high school cafeteria one day when my friend Joe asked if I was going to watch "RollerJam"?  I asked what that was and he explained in colorful detail the new wrestling-on-roller blades commercial he saw during WWF's RAW. I must have been over on the other channel watching WCW's Nitro and missed it.  Our other wrestling friend Andrew then mentioned it was a new version of roller derby.