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|#1 Posted on 25.7.02 1608.25 |
|Bill Simmons, once again, of ESPN.com, wrote a great wrestling article. This time, he focuses in on the Rock/Hogan match at Wrestlemania and how it should have been on the ESPN 100 most memorable. No matter what you think of the Rock and Hogan, it was memorable and I agree with Simmons. Anyway, here's the article:|
Tell me this isn't an ESPN 100 moment: Aging superstar returns, pulls a Maximus and wins the crowd, nearly toppling the best in his sport. Departs to bone-chilling applause after reclaiming place among the elite. The end.
The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan? It was a clash of eras like Kelly Preston vs. Kirsten Dunst.
A winner, right? If only it hadn't occurred at WrestleMania X8, with the legendary Hulk Hogan revisiting his old stomping grounds (the WW ... E) to battle everyone's current hero (The Rock) for the People's Championship. It was a classic old school/new school matchup, MJ guarding Kobe, or Kelly Preston squaring off in a wet T-shirt contest against Kirsten Dunst.
Of course, the mainstream media shun wrestling, so Mark Madsen's threepeat boogie had a better chance of cracking the "100."
The rap on wrestling is that it's "sports entertainment," a contrived series of events in which athletes "pretend" to compete and results are scripted. Well, jeez ... what's the difference between that and just about any sporting event that matters? Try to tell me that every match between the Williams sisters isn't "arranged" and that South Korea deserved to be in the final four of the World Cup. And what about that Olympics figure-skating drama, or Sammy Sosa's 850-foot moonshots in the home run derby? You have to figure Hasim Rahman and Lennox Lewis wouldn't have thrown down if Gary Miller and the "Up Close" cameras hadn't been in the room. C'mon, Game 6 of the Lakers-Kings series? That wasn't preordained? Now who's being na´ve?
At least the WWE lays everything on the table. Die-hards relish the wacky storylines, but also the athleticism, and especially those delicious moments when the line between a "work" (something scripted) and a "shoot" (unscripted) blurs. We enjoy guessing which wrestlers are being "pushed" or "buried," or which dramatic nuggets are spurred by real backstage politics. It's the game within a game.
So when Hogan, playing the aging villain as stepping stone for hero in residence, entered the ring, SkyDome fans weren't there for a torch-passing. Even though Hogan, almost 49, looked like a caricature of himself -- leathery skin, withered physique, bandanna-covered bald head -- the crowd erupted like he was taking on Osama bin Laden. Had they been sprayed with a stockpiled dose of Hulkamania? When The Rock was greeted with a startling, Barry Bonds-like mixture of boos and cheers, we had our answer. Even the announcers couldn't deny what was happening.
For the next 15 minutes, I was a teenager again. Hogan assaulted Rock with clotheslines, tosses and punches, pretty much the same array that was stale a decade ago, only now we were eating it up. Nobody knew how the match would play out. That never happens anymore. And just when you thought the younger Rock had worn out Hogan, that the old man was through, Hulk's eyes bulged, his fists clenched and body quivered, and -- good God -- he was "hulking up!" Everyone went insane. Could this possibly be?
Here was Hulk's end-of-the-match routine: a clothesline to make Theo Fleury's tooth rattle, followed by a devastating leg-drop. When the Hulkster executed the combination, fans were leaping up and down. When he crawled on Rock for the pin, it was utter mayhem, the crowd chanting with the ref ... ONNNE... TWWWWO ... NOOOOOOO! The Rock kicked out!
Just like that, the writing was on the wall in a "Billy Bob and Angelina" kind of way. Soon, a "Rock Bottom" choke-slam led to a pin, the champ basically belting the challenger over the head with the time machine. Afterward, Hogan raised Rock's hand and tried to leave, but The Rock dragged him back for posedowns and hugs. The crowd yelled more loudly for everything Hogan did.
Meanwhile, I was manically calling one of my buddies: "Did you see that?" And since anything that passes the "I Have to Call One of My Buddies Right Now to Discuss What Just Happened" test qualifies as a memorable moment in my book, consider this column an ESPN 100 write-in vote for Hulkamania.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to say my prayers and eat my vitamins.
By the way, Storm's gimmick includes 1.) telling the audience to shut up, and 2.) occasionally making everyone stand for the Canadian national anthem. You know they don't know what to do with a wrestler when he's making fans stand for a national anthem. It's like waving a white flag and saying, "This guy has no personality -- we give up."
ESPN's Bill Simmons
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|#2 Posted on 25.7.02 1830.59 | Instant Rating: 6.21|
|He couldn't have said it any better!|
Thanks for the Read!
I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok, I work all night and I sleep all day!
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|#3 Posted on 25.7.02 2045.48 |
|How can you say the matches between the Williams sisters are prearranged after watching the tension of this year's Wimbledon final? And to infer that the World Cup is prearranged...that's crazy. We're talking serious national pride here (for everyone besides us in the USA). It's the World Championship, beyond the magnitude of the Super Bowl or World Series and nobody is going to take a dive. Give me some proof or please stop with the wild speculation.|
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|#4 Posted on 25.7.02 2114.37 |
|I think a better comparison is figure skating or sychronized swimming. These so-called sports are pre-arranged routines involving athletic skill. The only competition is due to subjective judging...kind of like a ***** system. Professional figure skating doesn't even have juging...it's just shows. So if THAT qualifies as a sport, so does wrestling. IMHO, both are athletics, but neither are sports.|
The Man of 1,007 holds, making him 3 holds better than Chris Jericho!
From: Weston, Florida
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|#5 Posted on 26.7.02 0103.07 |
Originally posted by count olaf
How can you say the matches between the Williams sisters are prearranged after watching the tension of this year's Wimbledon final? And to infer that the World Cup is prearranged...that's crazy. We're talking serious national pride here (for everyone besides us in the USA). It's the World Championship, beyond the magnitude of the Super Bowl or World Series and nobody is going to take a dive. Give me some proof or please stop with the wild speculation.
Concerning the Williams sisters. How come so many of their matches until Wimbledon this year have been so lousy? You would think Serena and Venus, who destroy their competition in a slaughter not seen since the Lions took on the Christians, would put on a thrilling classic match. Not so. Their matches are riddled with errors, and it always seems like their not trying. I was glad they put on a good match at Wimbledon and hope it's a look into the future.
As for the World Cup...Spain had not 1, but 2 goals disalowed for some lame techniquality. They got jobbed so South Korea could make the Final 4.
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|#6 Posted on 26.7.02 0127.05 |
|Lance Storm had an excellent commentary about how wrestling isn't much different than figure skating and synchronized swimming. It's a pretty good read, too, just can't remember which one it is and the name, and I'm too lazy to go link you. www.stormwrestling.com, commentary section. All you need to know.|
I got two blips on my Ha-dar. Shoot 'em down!
The next time I hear you say "glass ceiling" or you complain about someone being shoved down their throats, I'm gonna take that glass ceiling and shove it down your throat.
From: morro bay ca
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|#7 Posted on 26.7.02 0611.38 |
|On Best Damn Sports Show Period, One of the guys (can't remember who, but he was specifically reffering to basketball and the correlation to the olympic skating scandal) said that most sports are judged because there are Refs/Umpires making rulings based on what they see and those rulings affect the outcome of the competition.|
"My parents said I could be anything, so I became an ASSHOLE!"
From: Parts Unknown
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|#8 Posted on 26.7.02 1213.32 |
|I think WhoBettahThanDeion's post on Lance Storm's point is amazingly valid. I mean, I like watching young girls skate around in their underwear as much as the next guy. More maybe, I dunno. But if you think about it, pretty much the same criteria that goes into an ice-skating competition, as far as judging goes, could be put to use in a professional wrestling competition.|
Ice skaters have "spots" that they have to hit. Wrestlers work together before a match to make sure they hit their spots as well. Hell, the WWE virtually standardizes the formula for most matches now as it is. How many WWE matches have you seen lately with a clean finish that didn't involve a finisher? There are usually a few setup moves to that finisher as well. By and large, we're not seeing a whole lot of Schoolboy-Rollup-To-Win matches. We're seeing Rock Bottoms, Leg Drops and Last Rides. Surely these moves can be judged in a way that would make the art of professional wrestling a suitable Olympic sport.
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|#9 Posted on 26.7.02 1302.01 |
|The article was excellent, but I think he should have called more attention to how the crowd booed EVERY move the Rock did while they cheered EVERY movement of Hogan. Hogan could have flipped everyone off and been cheered.|
It was a great match and deserves this tribute, IMHO.
"YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME?" - The chilling words of the Shockmaster!
"Here comes Charles Benoit, and he's really mad.....Charles Benoit is here, and he's FUCKING CRAZY"- T.R. on the barbecued cat thread (it's too terrible to link)
THE AWESOME UNDERTAKER drives out - damn, how did those STEEL steps rise up onto their ends and out of the way of - hey wait, I see DUDES there! They must be soulless minions of Big Evil's Red Devil Underwood Deviled Ham Team Evil. What? - CRZ, back to his old antics
From: San Diego, CA
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|#10 Posted on 26.7.02 1312.12 |
|I STILL watch that match on tape, dude... the crowd reaction alone is astounding! I had my buddy MountinMan on the phone with me when it went down. We were both acting like little kids! That's where that match brought me...|
From: Brooklyn NY
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|#11 Posted on 26.7.02 1324.02 |
|Not for nothing, but the only teeth rattling in that match were the ones in Hogan's head when his Dentu-Creme dried up.|
|Iron Mike Sharpe
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|#12 Posted on 29.7.02 0021.47 |
|Bill Simmons is a god. He is a must read. Too bad he's cutting back on columns the next month.|
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|#13 Posted on 29.7.02 0028.45 |
|I will never understand how Hulkamania was ever unleashed again, like it was that day. Then again I may be more out of touch then I want to admit.