There’s a reason the WWE calls itself “Sports Entertainment”   Leave a comment

I figure in light of WWE’s recent resurgence on the public stage, I should go a bit more in depth here. Before I continue I want to make three things absolutely clear:

1. The Superstar storylines are mostly fiction. The actual fighting you see is scripted but the danger of serious bodily harm IS very real.

2. The reason the company name was changed from World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment is because the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) asked for the domain name WWF.com.

3. To answer the question YES Wrestling is real. What the WWE does is what I like to call the happy medium between Contact Sports and Soap Operas for men.

In recent years the WWE has been making it more and more obvious the storylines are fiction. The in-ring fighting you see IS real and it IS painful: A wrestler in Mexico suddenly died in the ring a few months ago. Yes the ring is basically a giant box spring mattress but it does little to soften body slams and piledrivers. I’ve been in one so I can say that with such certainty.

While the WWE is in a category of its own I want to stress the dangers are real: It’s why UFC Fighter Phil Brooks aka CM Punk suddenly left the WWE last January. Edge was forced into retirement due to a neck injury. As many fans know, Daniel Bryan was forced to relinquish a title for the second year in a row due to a neck injury last month. AJ Lee retired from WWE a few weeks ago after the injuries she suffered were taking a heavy toll.

Those who’ve been watching the WWE for even the last 9 years knows the superstars are pretty versatile in their fighting abilities. The Undertaker (my favorite WWE superstar by the way in case it isn’t obvious) is considered the best striker in the business. That’s easy to understand given he is a huge Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fan and is often seen at MMA matches in Las Vegas. Rey Mysterio and Sin Carra are Luchadors and brought their unique style into the WWE. The late 70s saw the WWE break in a women’s division–now called Divas– though it’s thanks to the pioneering efforts of WWE Legends Lita, Trish Stratus, Chyna and many others before them the Divas Division is being taken seriously.

As I mentioned above the WWE changed its name in 1998. The slogan “Get the F Out!” was their obvious effort to distance themselves from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who they donated the domain name and copyright use of the acronym “WWF” to. For years the two organizations were often mistaken for the other in web searches so…yeah. If you ever wondered why the old logos are censored in classic matches, this is why. Saying “World Wrestling Federation” is ok. Saying “WWF” is not. They no longer own the rights to that tag.

I want to return to my favorite wrestler The Undertaker (real name Mark Calloway. Born in 1965, he’s been married and divorced twice resulting in three children. Currently married to former WWE Diva Michelle McCool.) for a bit. If you have Netflix, watching The Undertaker:  Streak and Tombstone: The Undertaker will tell you everything you need to know about The Phenom. The guy personifies his character and just sells who is supposed to be a no-sell type of guy. No other Superstar has undergone as many personas as The Deadman. When he first started in the WWE he dressed the part of an old-school Western Undertaker complete with a tie. His promo vids often featured him alongside then manager Paul Bearer in a funeral parlor.

There are plenty of reasons The Undertaker is ranked the scariest WWE Superstar of all Time:

  • His Entrance: Lights go out and the signature GONG hits (cue deafening cheers from the audience). Undertaker slowly walks down the ramp to his entrance music, his eyes on his opponent, unblinking. He walks to the turnbuckle and raises his arms, turning the lights back on. He steps into the ring, his eyes on his opponent who by now is probably wishing they were somewhere else.
  • The “Sit-Up”, Near-Untouchable Endurance and Stamina: There’s a reason he’s called the Deadman. Can you imagine someone kicking out of your Finisher/Signature in the same match? How about seeing him sit up after getting bodyslammed as if nothing happened? Triple H hit the Pedigree three times on him at Wrestlemania 27 and he kicked out the three count all three times.
  • The Streak: Even though Brock Lesnar broke the streak at Wrestlemania 30 last year, he proved at Wrestlemania 31 he’s still got it. His record of 22-1 is still untouchable XD

For those who need a reminder, here is the full list of his Wrestlemania opponents in order:

  1. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
  2. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
  3. Giant Gonzalez (won by Disqualification)
  4. King Kong Bundy
  5. Kevin Nash (then known as Diesel in the WWE)
  6. Psycho Sid (For the WWE Championship)
  7. Kane (In Boston, which I watched in person)
  8. The Big Boss Man (Hell in a Cell)
  9. Triple H (People started taking notice of The Streak at this point)
  10. Ric Flair
  11. Big Show and A-Train (the latter now known as Tensai in the WWE; Originally supposed to be a tag team match but his partner was ambushed by Big Show and A-Train prior to the start of the match)
  12. Kane
  13. Randy Orton
  14. Mark Henry (Casket Match)
  15. Batista (for the WWE Championship)
  16. Edge (For the WWE Championship. Going into the match Edge held the record of being Undefeated overall in Wrestlemania and being undefeated vs. Undertaker at PPV events)
  17. Shawn Michaels
  18. Shawn Michaels Rematch (Shawn Michaels’ final match in the WWE)
  19. Triple H (Taker considered it a loss since he didn’t leave the ring under his own power)
  20. Triple H Rematch (Hell in a Cell End of an Era match; At the time Triple H and The Undertaker were the last remaining active Superstars from the Attitude Era)
  21. CM Punk
  22. Brock Lesnar (Broke the streak; ‘Taker reportedly requested Lesnar be the one who ended The Streak)
  23. Bray Wyatt (Mostly to prove to the world even though The Streak is no more. he’s still got it)

Folks have been talking about who his WM32 opponent could/might be ever since Sting suddenly returned last Fall. Due to his age (compared to the majority of the roster of which he is a good 15+ years older than) the only time The Undertaker competes is for Wrestlemania, mostly due to his age (he’s 51). The opponent fans let Sting know they want him to face next year is The Undertaker. Anything’s possible at this point!

The Undertaker has either participated in or introduced a number of unique kinds of matches. One of the most known and talked about to this day is his Hell in the Cell match against Mick Foley (as Mankind) at the 1998 King of the Ring.

That 16-foot drop from the top of the cage was pre-planned. The fall broke Foley’s arm. Refusing medical treatment (Much to the Undertaker’s surprise), Foley rejoined the Undertaker atop the cage. The fall through the cage into the middle of the ring (unplanned, they didn’t know that section of the cage wasn’t going to hold) knocked him unconscious. The two chokeslams onto the bed of tacks Foley laid out certainly didn’t help. After the match (which the Undertaker won obviously), Taker said to Foley “I thought I killed you!” (referring to the fall through the cage). Anyone who knows Mick Foley knows that’s just how he was when he was an active wrestler. He didn’t care if it meant getting beaten within an inch of his life to give the crowd what they paid to see.

Another Undertaker Hell in the Cell match often talked about is the first–against Shawn Michaels at Bad Blood 1997. Not just because Kane made his WWE debut there but more so because of the nature of the match itself.  The sole purpose of a Hell in the Cell match is to inflict and prolong human suffering. That’s its very nature. None who’ve stepped into what’s affectionately called The Devil’s Playground are ever the same. The only full footage of the match on You Tube is of a poor quality but it’s featured in Tombstone: The Undertaker which as I mentioned earlier is available for streaming on Netflix. It exemplifies the catchphrase “DO NOT attempt this at home”.

I’m gonna switch gears and talk about two former Superstars who’ve gone on to other things but have returned to the WWE in recent years. I’m of course talking about The Rock and Brock Lesnar. Shawn Michaels, Edge and Mick Foley pop in from time to time but they’re all done with wrestling, the latter two due to injury.

Let’s start with Brock Lesnar. At the time he first came to the WWE he became the youngest WWE Champion ever at age 25 (a record Randy Orton would break after his departure). He left the WWE to pursue a career in UFC of which he enjoyed a very successful tenure. His surprise return to the WWE in 2012 drew alot of buzz. The feuds he had with John Cena and Triple H (The latter of which whose wrestling career he nearly ended) showed he’s still got it. Considering the WWE offered to sign him to a new contract a few years ago and he turned them down the WWE must have made him a deal he couldn refuse this time around. Just before Wrestlemania 31, he signed an exclusive multimillion-dollar contract with the WWE, putting to rest himself rumors he was planning to return to UFC.

Considering Chris Jericho is still an active wrestler (he’s the lead vocalist of his rock band and that takes up the majority of his time) and The Rock as a Celebrity Superstar five years ago for Wrestlemanias 27 and 28 all I can say is the WWE must be getting desparate. Well, that and they’re paying the price for this “PG Era” The WWE is finally moving away from.

Let’s get back to The Rock before I explain the end of that last sentence. Dwane “The Rock” Johnson was a third Generation WWE Superstar. Alongside Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Triple H, Mick Foley, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and many others, he helped the WWE win the Monday Night Wars at the end of the last century. The charismatic superstar is the reason Smackdown exists. It was HIS show when he was an active superstar. In the decade since leaving the WWE he’s enjoyed a VERY successful career as a movie star (Walking Tall, The Rundown and G.I. Joe to name a few films). No other WWE Alumn has enjoyed such post-Ring success. In fact, he set a precident fellow WWE Alumns Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bill Goldberg have been following with great success for them.

His surprise “return” two years ago had mixed reactions from the active superstars (storyline. In reality they were all proud of him and all he’s done) and WWE fans. Some fans felt The Rock was a sellout for leaving the WWE for a career as a movie star. Others felt he had no business coming back to today’s WWE. yet another group felt he’d been out of the Squared Circle for so long he couldn’t wrestle anymore. Let’s jsut say Wrestlemania took care of that last group!

As I elluded to two pargraphs earlier the WWE must be desparate if they’re calling in their Alumni out of the blue like they have been. This is a different WWE from the Attitude Era of course. If that stable of superstars started their careers even two years ago they wouldn’t last long.

If The McMahon Family wants to boost ratings they’re going to have to come up with something as radical as The Attitude Era and Wrestlemania. They have some of the pieces they’ll need to do it already. I’m talking about CM Punk, Ryback, R-Truth, The Miz, Danien Bryan and AJ Lee. They only need a few more things to move their way for the start of something truly special.

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