Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Wrestling Mark: My Wrestlemania Memories

(The Wrestling Mark intro plays before cutting to James Faraci in his office)

TLOTA: I'm James Faraci The.... Wait a minute! (James steps out of the review onto

TLOTA: Play the Intro again. (The cursor goes back to The Wrestling Mark intro before pausing just before it cuts to James in his office and James paused the intro before James merges with The earlier version of himself before he powers down.)

James Faraci: Something tells me I should do this out of character and with WrestleMania around the corner, I figure I'd hijack this bit to talk about one of the few times I put WWE on my screen with "WrestleMania"! (Cut to various moments from WrestleMania 12-32 as James does a voiceover.)

James Faraci (Voiceover): And believe it or not I consider this event The SUPER BOWL of WWE and for pro-wrestling IN general and I want to take you through all the Wrestlemanias that I watched, in my lifetime, but I am going to have limit it to the time I started to watch Pro Wrestling and the WWE. (Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: So lets start for me with my first WrestleMania. WrestleMania 12! (Cut to clips of WrestleMania 12 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): The card itself was pretty damned good, relying on the in ring talent instead of celebrity names like they had done the year before. The six man tag match at the beginning was damned entertaining. However knowing that half the people participating in the match now are gone is kind of sad but enjoyable knowing their legacy remains untainted for the most part. I mean yeah, Ahmed Johnson really didn't go anywhere save for a minor Intercontinental Championship run that started on the same King Of The Ring PPV a little known wrestler known as Stone Cold Steve Austin got a fan push and Jake Roberts had gotten himself in trouble for a long time and had it not been for DDP and his Yoga Program, it would've come to no surprise that Jake The Snake would've joined sadly the ever-growing list of former wrestlers who have met with the big referee in the sky. But I digress, the match itself was good. Then came the Hollywood Backlot Brawl, I recently discovered that part of this was recorded a few weeks prior to the event and the fact they were able to intercut the footage so seamlessly is incredible but knowing the match was just a filler piece kind of knocks down what made me enjoy this one. But for me what made me thoroughly enjoy this was the pure Sportsmanship of the main event. A sixty minute Iron Man match between long simmering rivals The Hitman Bret Hart & The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. Both men trained long and hard for the match. Shawn's trainer and manager from that match all the way until January of 1997 Jose Lothario came into the ring only to point up to the top of the Arrowhead Pond's roof and Shawn zip lines down to the ring. That's not to say Bret didn't make his point known that he was there to fight. Win, Lose or Draw the match would prove detrimental to the careers of both. The storyline that led up to the match was interesting Shawn Michaels was looking to redeem himself after 1994 & 1995 turned out to be a couple of the worst years he had and Bret Hart was looking to cement himself as a real champion after regaining the Championship for the fourth time. What happened in the end was something Sylvester Stallone could've written up and for me, I gained immense respect for the two of them. (Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: Then came WrestleMania 13 (Cut to clips of WrestleMania 13 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): To me this was one of the lesser likable Wrestlemanias for a few reasons. One of the reasons being the Main Event match between The Undertaker and Sycho Sid for the Championship remains one of the lesser likable main events I've seen. Nothing to take away from The Undertaker and his streak that lasted until WrestleMania 30 but this was one of the easier wins in the streak. The rest of the card was nothing really worth writing home about. For me the submission match between Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin. This would be the last WrestleMania appearance for the Hitman for a LONG time! One of the things that made THAT match memorable was the fact it turned from what's known in wrestling parlance Bret Hart from a face to a heel but to me THAT is a LOAD! To me Bret had my respect all the way. Stone Cold Steve Austin was to me at the time a Gigantic ASS who disrespected everyone because he was a beer swilling cry-baby who thought he deserved everything handed to him on a plate! The fact he acted the way he did SHOULD not have made him a fan favorite. The fact he never truly submitted to Bret gave me a modicum of respect for the guy as he fought as tough as Bret did. (Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: I didn't warm up to Stone Cold Steve Austin until a moment that happened in the Survivor Series of 1997. I am of course talking about The Montreal Screwjob. That moment remains to me THE turning point of my enjoyment of Pro Wrestling. Any of the respect that Shawn Michaels  had earned in WrestleMania 12 got flushed down the toilet and my thoughts on the person in charge of the company Vince McMahon were not good and anyone who could beat the living daylights out of Shawn and drive Vince to insanity was okay in my book, so trust me I was looking forward to WrestleMania 14! (Cut to clips of WrestleMania 14 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): And to be honest, this really was a top notch show. The Tag Team battle royal was possibly one of the most awesome ideas. Mick Foley & Terry Funk known as that time as the team of Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie took on The New Age Outlaws and it was entertaining. Then there was the match between The Undertaker and Kane! Before the match Kane showed how much of fan of the MLB as Pete Rose came out and antagonized the crowd, Kane came out AND WHAMMY! Kane knocks Pete Rose out of the park! But the match itself definitely had it's ups and downs but after three tombstone pile drivers The Undertaker got the upper hand. But the main event was the most hyped main event ever up to this point in WrestleMania history as they got Mike Tyson as the official enforcer between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels who had by this point in time had become a founding member of D-Generation X and quite honestly the twist of Mike Tyson giving Stone Cold the win over Shawn Michaels and to be honest this was one of the highlights in the Austin vs McMahon storyline. Look up the video in which Rowdy talks about the highlights in that storyline.

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: Then came WrestleMania 15 (Cut to clips of WrestleMania 15 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): First off the Brawl For All that happened between Bart Gunn & Butterbean well... the IWC and my friend went after it already so there's really nothing left to say about it! Most of the card was damned good all things considered. Then came the main event The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin the moment when Vince just had become what he truly was inside a bad joke everyone laughed because it was SO INCREDIBLY BAD THAT YOU HAD TO LAUGH JUST TO MAKE YOURSELF FEEL BETTER! But one of the most darkest moments that happened was when in Kayfabe The Undertaker in his leader of the Ministry Of Darkness days hung The Big Boss Man after beating the guy in a Hell In A Cell Match. But overall a solid card but again nothing really write home about! The only other notable match is the tag team match between Jeff Jarrett and the late Owen Hart retaining their tag team titles against Test & D'Lo Brown. What makes it sad is that this would be Owen's final WrestleMania before his untimely demise two months after this Pay Per View match. Overall not too shabby but could've been worse.

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: Or it could've really gone off the rails like WrestleMania 2000

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 2000 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): The ONLY singles match  between Terri Runnels & The Kat and that match had Val Venus as the guest referee. Otherwise a Cluster bank of  Multiple Superstars in the Same Ring! We had a triple threat two pin fall match for the now Defunct European Championship, A Triple threat Ladder Match between the Dudley Boyz, Hardy Boyz & Edge and Christian for the Tag Team Championship and then came the biggest cluster of a main event with Triple H winning with his then girlfriend and now wife Stephanie McMahon by her side! As a matter of fact the whole McMahon in every corner was excessive even by my standards. What was worse is that all four of the combatants made fun of what was going on leading up TO the match when The Rock guest hosted on SNL! Yeah that crazy people, after that it HAS to get better from here.

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: THANK THE LORD FOR WRESTLEMANIA 17 or X-Seven as it's more commonly known.

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 17 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): Considered the best WrestleMania BAR NONE, the card remains one of the finest in the company's history save for Gimmick Battle Royale and the Hardcore Match. But this was also the first WrestleMania in which Vince bought WCW and it also kicked off the Invasion Storyline and well the less said the better but one of the better matches in this thing Shane McMahon vs Vince McMahon. Then came the biggest swerve in the history of the company! STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN TURNED HEEL AND SIDED WITH VINCE MCMAHON! NO ONE NOT EVEN THE IWC SAW THAT COMING! For many, outside of WrestleMania 3 this remains the best WrestleMania ever! But after something like this what can they do for an encore.

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: Well how about WrestleMania 18?

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 18 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): And I know with a card as great as what last year they somehow topped themselves between The match between Chris Jericho & Triple H for the Undisputed Championship,  The Undertaker against Ric Flair, DDP vs Christian, Stone Cold vs Scott Hall but the highlight of that one was the one NO ONE would think would happen. The Rock vs Hulk Hogan! An arena split in half between Hulk & The Rock! Holy Cow a fantasy match that sent the card to the cosmos can it get better than this?

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: Well like the Stocks in the Stock Market there has to be a crash every now and then and sadly WrestleMania 19 was the crash sadly.

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 19 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): Not to say the card wasn't bad but the card but the main events were weak in comparison to some of the past WrestleManias I mean when we see Vince McMahon take on Hulk Hogan or Triple H taking on Booker T AND Rock & Stone Cold Steve Austin III you could tell some of the talent was NOT on their A-Game and WHO IN THE HELL THOUGHT IT'D BE A GOOD IDEA FOR BROCK LESNAR TO TRY A SHOOTING STAR PRESS?! But for me the highlights of this one was Shawn Michaels who had regained a modicum of my respect from me with time but not all the respect he had when he got it from the Iron Man match as he took on Y2J himself Chris Jericho, The Undertaker taking on both The Big Show AND A-Train keeping the streak a going for a while longer. A good one but not a great one.

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: (SIGHS) The next four I don't want to talk about but it appears I have no choice but to talk about. Not because they were bad or anything. As a matter of fact the cards were great but there is ONE element that puts them in near Blacklist territory. That element being Chris Benoit! I know the IWC has pretty much put blinders on and avoid talking about him. So let's burn through these Wrestlemanias quickly.

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 20, 21, 22, 23 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): Now to be honest the cards were great and there were great matches including Eddie Guerreo vs Kurt Angle, the Aforementioned Chris Benoit vs Triple H, Evolution vs The Rock & Sock Connection, The Undertaker taking down Kane in 20, Randy Orton in 21, Mark Henry in 22 and Batista in 23, Rey Mysterio winning the World Heavyweight Championship in 22, John Cena winning the WWE Championship from JBL in 22 but for me the Match of 23 was Umaga vs Bobby Lashley.  Vince McMahon in Umaga's corner and OUR current President Donald Trump in Lashley's with Vince getting shaved bald and Stone Cold hitting a Stunner on the President. Also introduced into one of these Wrestlemanias was the concept of the Money In The Bank match which stipulated that the winner had ONE year after obtaining the Money In The Bank contract for a world title of one's choosing. Overall great Wrestlemanias that sadly have the black cloud of Chris Benoit hanging over them.

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: So what could WrestleManias 24, 25 & 26 bring? Well.....

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 24, 25 & 26 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): I will say that the cards were entertaining but so much was basically getting rid of some of the best talent while trying to promote the newer generation and that wasn't a bad idea in theory but to have Shawn Michaels be the one to end Ric Flair's career in WWE as an In-Ring performer in WrestleMania 24 had to break The Heartbreak Kid's heart but dragged WrestleMania 24 was The Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Big Show match that was just embarrassing to see then came what should've been the WrestleMania that was bigger than WrestleMania 3 WrestleMania 25! Not saying it was a great one I mean seeing John Cena carry both The Big Show & Edge was UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING, Triple H going up against Randy Orton was entertaining, The Money In The Bank match was incredible The Undertaker vs The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels was so good they tried to replicate it and add in a Streak vs Career stipulation next year but unfortunately the Divas Battle Royale was turned into a farce when Santina Marella won the match! Yes! The OBVIOUS GIMMICK OF SANTINA MARELLA AKA SANTINO MARELLA just made me sit in a corner and ask WHY?! Then came WrestleMania 26 Yet another great card with C.M. Punk taking on Rey Mysterio, John Cena vs Batista for the WWE Championship and Chris Jericho beating Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship, Shawn Michaels "The Heartbreak Kid" vs The Undertaker Streak vs Career all of it was amazing. Then came the match that for me should've happened in WrestleMania 23 with Bret Hart taking on Mr. McMahon or at least a match in which Bret had a hand in screwing Vince. But all things considered not bad Wrestlemanias but they could be worse.

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: They could be Wrestlemanias 27 & 28!

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 27 & 28 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): And sadly these are the worst of the worst in terms of Wrestlemanias, now please keep in mind there are good highlights in these two it's just that the cards in them were WEAK! Like the fact they got The Rock to host WrestleMania 27 and the World Heavyweight Championship match between Edge & Alberto Del Rio or The Undertaker defeating Triple H but the match that dragged was in fact the one for the WWE Championship between The Miz and John Cena. But the match that turned this one into a FARCE of a WrestleMania was having Snooki team with John Morrison & Trish Stratus to take on LayCool & Dolph Ziggler. Good fricking night this one blew man marbles and then came the straw that broke my back was in the card of WrestleMania 28 and possibly the fewest highlights in the card being Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos taking on Eve Torres & Beth Phoenix, The Undertaker taking down Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels and The Rock defeating John Cena but it's here that I lost faith in WWE as they allowed John Laurinaitis total autonomy over Raw & Smackdown! That to me made me jump from WWE to TNA IMPACT WRESTLING!

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: If you don't believe that WWE was in the toilet check out The Three Stooges incident in April of 2012. So trust me when I say this, it would take an entire overhaul to get me back into the fold even if it's for a WrestleMania. Which is what I got for WrestleMania 29.

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 29 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): While this was a step in up in the quality of the matches in the card they were in no way as good as they were when I saw my first WrestleMania. I mean The Rock vs John Cena for the WWE Championship was better than the one from WrestleMania 28. The Undertaker beating C.M. Punk was a good one as was watching Alberto Del Rio beating Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship But this one I remember the most of this was for two reasons, One this was the last one airing on a Pay Per View format and the second one being sadly the background to the WWE reality show "Total Divas" which unfortunately introduced the world to (Cut to clip from pilot of WWE "Total Divas" in which we're introduced to Eva Marie) HER!

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: Which is why I was afraid of what she would do in the Grandest show of the WWE and on it's thirtieth outing in WrestleMania 30!

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 30 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): And to be honest this was the first one I saw in possibly the longest time. I only saw clips of Wrestlemanias 18-29 through clips on-line. But when the WWE Network came to pass, I checked out WrestleMania 30 on the WWE Network and trust me this was an amazing card. Let's start off with Daniel Bryan beating Triple H just to get a shot at the WWE Championship just for him to win it at the main event, then we have The SHIELD beating Kane and The New Age Outlaws with a Double Decker Triple Power Bomb, The WWE Divas Invitational which had AJ Lee win the bout and thankfully NOT Eva Marie, John Cena beating the demented Bray Wyatt, Cesaro winning the Andre The Giant Memorial trophy in a battle royale but the moment EVERY PERSON AND THEIR KID REMEMBERS IS THE MOMENT BROCK "THE SCHLOCK" LESNAR BROKE THE STREAK! I was in total shock, there had to be a swerve that had to restart the match so The Undertaker had a second chance but no, The Undertaker's streak was shattered in one moment everything turned upside down. What would be the point of tuning in for next year's WrestleMania?

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: Well let's dive in head first and find out shall we?

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 31 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): First off, let's start off with the Intercontinental Championship being won in a ladder match by Daniel Bryan who would sadly vacate it after Sheamus beat the Man-Crap out of him weeks later and sadly retire from in ring duties close to a year later.  John Cena taking on Rusev in what felt like an Homage to Rocky IV for the United States Championship and The Undertaker beating Bray Wyatt. Then we come to a moment I wish turned out better. Sting vs Triple H. Do I wish The Icon Sting won? YES! Do I wish he didn't have his career ending injury thus forcing him to retire? YES! DID STING DESERVE BETTER IN HIS SHORT TIME IN THE WWE? OH HELL YES! But the moment that got me fuming was when Seth Rollins decided to cash in his Money In The Bank title shot IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MAIN EVENT. Yeah there's a reason why I got angry at this. (Cut to clip of Seth Rollins threatening to injure Edge & Christian if John Cena didn't reinstate The Authority before cutting to James physically)

James Faraci: You saw that, Seth Rollins committed an act of terrorism just to get his way! Seth Rollins committed TERRORISM to get Triple H & Stephanie McMahon back into power and he never REPENTED FOR HIS ACT OF TERRORISM! NOTHING CAN OR WILL EVER MAKE ME RESPECT THAT TERRORIST TRASH! But thankfully I found WrestleMania 32 more entertaining than most people give it credit for.

(Cut to clips of WrestleMania 32 as James does a voiceover)

James Faraci (Voiceover): And for good reason, First off my buddy Chris Lee Moore was there at the event for the entire weekend, he saw the entire event, he enjoyed just being there and for me seeing one of my friends enjoy something is always enjoyable to me. The Card? Well it was amazing. I mean seeing AJ Styles taking on Chris Jericho was a highlight as was watching Roman Reigns win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event, The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal was entertaining, The Women's title match was great. As was watching The New Day take on The League Of Nations.  Then there was Zack Ryder winning the Intercontinental Championship that was entertaining and of course The Hell In A Cell Match between Shane McMahon and The Undertaker, I still see reaction videos that show fans lose their minds. That's always entertaining. The problem? IT WAS TOO DAMNED LONG! IT WAS NEARLY MIDNIGHT HERE ON THE EAST COAST WHEN THE MAIN EVENT ENDED! Will the matches be better timed? I hope so. Why? So I can go to bed before 11:45 P.M. EST!

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: What else should I expect this year?(Cut to various moments from WrestleMania 12-32 as James does a voiceover.)

James Faraci (Voiceover): I want to see a card that is tight and entertaining as it could be! I want to see people cheer for their favorite wrestler as they fight to triumph over impossible odds! I want to see something so amazing people will talk about for years to come. I STILL hear from people who loved the Iron Man Match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, I still hear from people who loved it when Shawn Michaels got his lights knocked out by Mike Tyson! Hell even those from WrestleMania 28 have memories that they enjoy. So can we expect more great memories? Absolutely even if the matches aren't good there will always be something memorable about the Greatest Wrestling Show of the Year "WrestleMania!"

(Cut to James physically)

James Faraci: Thanks for checking out my WrestleMania memories, next time I'll be back in character and dealing with...(James looks at his clipboard and says "CRAP!" before cutting to an image of James with a gigantic open faced smile as the Losing Horn from "The Price Is Right" plays as a stamp places over the face "APRIL FOOL'S")