The 411 Wrestling Top 6.09.10: Week 78 – Feud Starting Moments
Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Wrestling’s Top 5 List. What we are going to is take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to give us their Top 5 on said topic, plus up to three honorable mentions. Most of our topics will be based on recent events in the Wrestling World, looking at those events that make us think of times past.
So, on to this week’s topic…
We have talked about the greatest feuds, the greatest feud enders, but often we overlook those moments that start the feud. While we say that the final payoff makes a feud memorable, without that first shot, the feud ender means nothing.
So what did our group of writers select? Let’s find out…
Randy Orton kicks in Vince McMahon’s head (WWE 2009) – This segment is probably one of my favorites of the last three years, as everything came off perfectly and the crowd LOVED IT. It was an awesome way to start an Orton/McMahon feud . . . but the problem was that the rest of the storyline really stunk up the joint.
Shawn Michaels puts Marty Jannetty through the Barber Shop window (WWF 1991) – This was a great visual and an angle involving glass of all things seemed very extreme for the early 1990’s. As with the Orton moment, though, the fact that the ensuing feud wasn’t the greatest keeps it down at honorable mention status, even if it effectively did launch Shawn Michaels’ singles career.
5. Ric Flair denies Terry Funk’s title shot (JCP 1989) – This probably isn’t wrestling’s most historic start to a feud nor did it necessarily lead to one of wrestling’s most historic feuds, but I don’t know that you’ll find much better in terms of execution. The Nature Boy had just gotten through an epic defense of his NWA World Heavyweight Title against Ricky Steamboat, and Funk was acting as a ringside judge in the event of a draw. The Funker, a former World Champion himself, requested a crack at Flair’s title and was justifiably denied given that he had been away from the sport at a high level for some time. So what does Funk do in response? Does he accept the denial, begin wrestling again, and work his way up the ladder? Nope. He snaps and gives the champ a very hardcore-for-’89 piledriver on to a table. The angle was a beautiful example of transitioning from one feud directly in to another, and the wars between the two wound up being some of the best matches of either man’s career . . . and just think of the ground that covers.
4. Tiger Jeet Singh assaults Antonio Inoki in a shopping mall (NJPW 1972) – Prior to 1972, there was only one major wrestling promotion in Japan, the Japan Wrestling Association. However, due to some business issues and personal differences between those involved, the company quickly split in two, with main event star Giant Baba forming All Japan Pro Wrestling and main event star Antonio Inoki forming New Japan Pro Wrestling. The problem with essentially splitting a wrestling company in half is that, all of a sudden, you’ve got a severe lack of guys for your top stars to feud with. Cue Tiger Jeet Singh. A crazy Canadian wrestler of South Asian extraction, NJPW snapped him up and created an absolutely wild angle in which he assaulted the god-like Inoki in a shopping mall in a rare bit of out-of-ring action for the 1970’s. The real kicker is that Singh is probably one of the dirt-worst in-ring performers in wrestling history, but this angle combined with his clean victory over Inoki in their first match made him into a veritable legend in Japanese rings despite the fact that he can barely lock up or run the ropes.
3. Andre the Giant rips off Hulk Hogan’s crucifix (WWF 1987) – This wasn’t a very physical angle, but it was still a memorable one that launched one of the biggest feuds and one of the biggest wrestling shows in the history of the North American scene. The Frenchman was agitated because the Hulkster stole his spotlight when he was presented with a special trophy for being “undefeated for fifteen years” and Hogan was given a much larger trophy for holding the WWF Title for a measly three years. Andre, who had a legitimate reason to be pissed off (the hallmark of a great heel character), stormed on to the set of Piper’s Pit one day accompanied by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and, in his own intimidating fashion, made it clear that he wasn’t playing second banana to anybody anymore. Then, in an ultimate show of disrespect, the Giant symbolically showed us that even Hogan’s god wouldn’t be able to save him, taking up the man’s crucifix in his big mitt and throwing it to the ground.
2. Lex Luger appears on Monday Nitro (WCW 1995) – Though WCW announcing that it was running a new Monday night wrestling show opposite WWF’s Raw was a big deal, there wasn’t a true first shot fired in the “war” until Lex Luger showed up live on the first episode of Monday Nitro. Just eight days after Lex had appeared on World Wrestling Federation programming, he bolted without giving notice in a move that angered Vince McMahon to the point that Luger to this day is one of the few men (alongside Jeff Jarrett and Randy Savage) who McMahon flat-out refuses to do business with. The Total Package jumping ship made it clear that Raw vs. Nitro wasn’t just two wrestling shows airing at the same time . . . it was a take no prisoners war that wouldn’t end until one of the companies was dead. Yes, it’s a little bit out of place on this list because it’s the first shot in real life corporate war as opposed to the first shot in a professional wrestling storyline, but it was a real life war which was far more entertaining that the vast majority of worked angles.
1. Scott Hall interrupts Mike Enos and Steve Doll (WCW 1996) – Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the only time that you will see the names “Mike Enos” and “Steve Doll” in a number one entry in 411’s Top 5. These two fairly forgettable wrestlers – one who was formerly half of the Beverley Brothers and one who was formerly half of Well Dunn – were having an unremarkable match on Monday Nitro when none other than Scott Hall, better known at the time as Razor Ramon, showed up in the arena and cut a little promo alluding to the plans that he and some friends had cooked up. The Lex Luger jump at number two on my list may have started the Monday Night War, but this opening shot in the war between WCW and the nWo was even more important for professional wrestling, as it gave birth to the angle that caused wrestling’s popularity to skyrocket in the late 1990’s, which in turn gave us Steve Austin, the Rock, and essentially all of professional wrestling as we know it in 2010.
Shawn S. Lealos
5. .Hulk Hogan turns bad and joins the NwO – This one is just too easy. The most popular wrestler of all time turns bad to join the guys coming in to take over WCW. When Hulk Hogan turned bad, everything about wrestling changed in that one instant. It’s also too easy of a choice to put any higher than #5. I’ll let everyone else rank it up there at the top.
4. Chris Adams lays out Kevin Von Erich with a steel chair – World Class Championship Wrestling wanted to turn baby-face Chris Adams into a bad guy but were struggling with how they could accomplish this. Fans did not want to stop cheering for the wrestler, who was the most popular man outside of the Von Erichs. They put him with the evil manager Gary Hart and fans still cheered for him. Finally, WCCW pulled the trigger during a tag team match where Kevin Von Erich teamed with Adams to fight Gino Hernandez and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. Adams and Von Erich lost thanks to a backfire when Stella Mae tried to interfere on their behalf. Manager Gary Hart grabbed the valet and Kevin came to the rescue, laying Hart out. Then he turned around and received a face full of Adams’ superkick and the turn was complete. This led to Adams joining Hernandez as the Dynamic Duo, the most hated pair in WCCW.
3. Shawn Michaels throws Marty Jannetty through the barbershop window – I had followed The Midnight Rockers since I discovered them in the AWA. They quickly became my favorite tag team and I loved watching their feuds with Buddy Rose and Doug Summers. Then they moved to the WWF and I was excited to see what they could do against teams like the Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, Killer Bees and more. They were pretty successful but it sucked they never won the tag team gold. Then, on that fateful episode of “The Barbershop”, Michaels turned evil and threw Marty through the window. I was shocked as I watched my favorite tag team dissolve. But I never stopped following Shawn Michaels as he took this opportunity to rise to the top of professional wrestling.
2. Dick Murdoch attacks Ted DiBiase before a match with Ric Flair – It does not happen very often but when a double turn occurs, it can be magical. Ted DiBiase was the North American Champion in Mid South Wrestling and earned a title match against NWA World Champion Ric Flair. Dick Murdoch was incensed that DiBiase was getting the title match instead of him. Murdoch came out and confronted Flair but Flair told the popular Murdoch to deal with it himself. When the match was about to start, the fans were doing something unusual. They were cheering the hated Ted DiBiase against the even more hated Ric Flair. Then Murdoch came out and told DiBiase he did not deserve the shot and needed to leave so he could fight Flair. DiBiase called Murdoch “yesterday’s news” and Murdoch laid him out and beat DiBiase into a bloody mess. DiBiase returned to fight Flair and in turn became the most popular wrestler in the Mid South region. It was perfect booking.
1. The Freebirds turn on Kerry Von Erich during his match with Ric Flair – Believe it or not, the Freebirds and Von Erichs used to be friends. Kerry Von Erich was chasing Ric Flair’s NWA World Championship but Flair always found a way to escape with the title. It became clear that Flair was using manager Gary Hart to try to take out Kerry so Fritz Von Erich demanded a second enforcer be added to Kerry and Flair’s Christmas Day steel cage match and TV viewers were asked to vote on who that enforcer should be. The fans chose Michael Hayes. Through much of the match, Hayes and Flair had numerous confrontations until Hayes finally lost his cool and laid out Flair. Kerry refused to take the easy pinfall because he wanted to win honorably. Hayes got pissed and started to walk out. Kerry followed, begging Hayes to understand but, when he leaned out the door, fellow Freebird Terry Gordy slammed the door on Kerry’s head, allowing Flair the victory in “the slam heard around the world”. This one shot started the greatest feud professional wrestling has ever seen.
Austin Stuns The Boss – A classic moment, but the feud wouldn’t start until several months later.
Orton Punts The Boss – Amazingly executed start to a feud that was…poor.
Owen Kicks Bret’s Leg – Et tu, Owen?
5. Jericho Throws HBK Through The Jeri-Tron 6000 – Shawn throwing Marty through the Barbershop window was a great feud starter for a feud that never really happened. Seventeen years later, karma bit HBK in the butt as Jericho verbally tore him to pieces before driving his head into the Jeri-Tron 6000 on “The Highlight Reel”. Shawn injured his eye and this took their rivalry to a whole new level, leading to one of the best feuds of the decade. I also loved the subtext of Jericho destroying his TV, basically burying the last of the “Y2J” character as he became the “honest man”.
4. Kane Debuts, Tombstones Undertaker – Bearer said Kane was alive for months. But it was at Badd Blood, in a classic Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels where the Big Red Machine finally made his presence known. He did it emphatically, choosing the most opportune moment to walk to the ring, rip the door off the cell, attack the ref, stare his brother down and casually Tombstone him, costing the Phenom the match and starting their epic feud.
3. Freebirds Turn On Von Erich – Obviously before my time, this was still a great turn. When Terry Gordy slammed the cage door on Kerry Von Erich, costing him his NWA Title Match with Flair, it kickstarted the rivalry that would define World Class. The Freebirds vs. The Von Erichs was white hot and probably the biggest drawing tag team feud of all time. Classic angle, great feud. Somebody needs to rip this off today.
2. Funk Piledrives Flair On A Table – Ric Flair had just defeated Ricky Steamboat in one of the greatest matches ever, winning his sixth World Title in the process. Terry Funk, who had been a judge for the match came in and congratulated him, said that if it would have gone to a draw he would have voted for Flair because he’s the best. Then he said he wanted to be the first to challenge Flair for the title. The Nature Boy pointed out that Terry had been off in Hollywood. Funk said that Flair doesn’t think he has what it takes to be a champion. Then he backtracked, said he was kidding about challenging Flair, shook his hand…and then snapped on him. Funk went bezerk on Slick Ric and capped it off with a Piledriver, starting the feud of 1989, and that is saying something.
1. Andre Rips Hogan’s Crucifix Off – Pretty easy choice for me here, both for historical significance and for execution. Andre accused Hogan of dodging him and not giving him a title shot, and then ripped off Hogan’s crucifix. As Byers’ said earlier, the symbolism was clear: not even God could save Hogan from Andre. Seeing Hogan cry at his friends betrayal was insane drama, and it would lead to the biggest dream match in wrestling.
Hogan Joins The nWo – Turned a good angle into a hot one. May have been the root cause of the death of WCW.
Dusty Saves Ric Flair From The Russians – Ends Up Being The First Person To Get His Ass Handed To Him By The Four Horseman – Really don’t need to say much after that title…
Freebirds Turn On The Von Erichs – Kick started one of the greatest feuds in wrestling. The perfect rivalry of clean cut American boys and drunk red necks out to steal your bitch and drink your beer.
5. Terry Fun Piledrives Ric Flair Through A Table – A popular pick to be sure but with good reason. It had been a couple of years since Funk was active in the majors and most though he was well past his prime. When he challenged Flair after winning back the NBWA title from Ricky Steamboat it seemed a joke on the surface. What followed was one of the most intense things seen in wrestling and set the tone for one of the most intense feuds seen in ages.
4. “Roddy” Piper Beats Up Cyndi Lauper – Celebrities on the downslide or those that barely rose about the c-list were all that wrestling could attract up until the early 80’s. Lauper, a MASSIVE musical superstar, was more than happy to mix it up in ring and thus created an insane amount of buzz. Piper was the perfect foil for this because he was an instant heat magnet and when he kicked the crap out of Lauper, it created such wide spread attention that the mainstream media came running and Vince McMahon blow his load all over he place. Rock ‘n Wrestling began and the shift towards making pro wrestling family entertainment was here.
3. Randy Savage Attacks Ricky Steamboat With A Ring Bell – This was one of those angles that really helped blur the lines between the kayfabed world of wrestling and what was real. As an 11 year old watching this I freaked the fuck out and I really thought Ricky was gone. Now I realize it was just great selling from the master of it, but this just set things up so perfectly that when they faced off at WM3, the crowd was molten for what was to come. This is a prim example of a sample action leading to the “we hate each other” dynamic and only a knockdown drag out beating will solve anything.
2. Bret Hart/Steve Austin Double Turn – Okay, by strict definition this was part way through their feud and not exactly the start but rather than blowing off the whole thing it was the beginning of a whole new phase where everything was fresh again. But if you want to look at it this way this was the beginning of Bret Hart against the world and that was nothing short of awesome. The heat this generated for the WWF as it began to claw back some of WCW’s dominance and the way it created the springboard for the Attitude ers makes it a massive shot in the annals of professional wrestling.
1. Andre Rips Off Hulks Crucifix – It was so simple. One of the greatest attractions in wrestling history versus the most popular wrestler in history to that point. Rather than go all convoluted and try to create some overly elaborate situation they made it about respect. Mind you having log time enemy Bobby Heenan appear by Andres side and then Andre ripping off Hulks shirt and crucifix just punctuated it all. Sure it was a simpler time and those moments still shocked but make no mistake, Andre turning heel and challenging Hulk was insanely shocking.
Marty, Meet Glass – It was one of the first big shocking moments I personally remember seeing on its first airing. It launched a classic feud and the career of Shawn Michaels.
The Freebirds Turn On Kerry Von Erich – This was a great moment that kicked off the most important, historic and remembered feud in the history of professional wrestling in Texas. It’s a great moment and played out beautifully, kicking off something amazing.
ECW and WCW Attack the WWE – This was the last moment I think I can remember being truly and completely shocked. ECW had shown up earlier in the night and took the invasion to the extreme, and then in a shocking moment they sided with WCW against the big boys of the WWF. It fell apart after that, but at the time it happened it was unbelievable.
5. Jericho Pulls a Marty on HBK – How do you top one of the greatest feud-starters in history? Re-do it, only have the attacker become the victim and make Chris Jericho the new attacker. This came off so well because it made Shawn Michaels come full circle to his launching as a singles competitor, and it came at the hands of one of his greatest rivals at the end of his career. This kicked off the feud of the year and the angle of Michaels’s eye being injured in the attack worked nicely too. Just great stuff.
4. The Kick Heard Round the World – This moment is more recent than anything else on this list, but it certainly deserves the spot. Say what you want about what happened after, but this was a crazy moment that had a ton of people marking out, and I would venture to say Orton’s recent face turn wouldn’t have gone over nearly as well if this, his rise to mega-heeldom, hadn’t been so successful. Orton was about to get fired for not apologizing to Vince for the way he talked about Stephanie McMahon, but Orton had other ideas. The end result was a kick that made its way to animated gifs everywhere, as well as wrestling history.
3. Steve Austin Stuns Vince McMahon – Vince McMahon may have kicked off the Attitude Era inadvertently when he orchestrated the Montreal Screwjob, but this, which occurred two months earlier, was the beginning of the feud that would end up taking it to a new level. Steve Austin showed up in the ring on the first-ever Raw in Madison Square Garden to attack Owen Hart, who was delivering a promo. Five NYPD cops were close behind and Austin nearly fought them before McMahon showed up and told Austin that he shouldn’t even be there, because he wasn’t physically able to compete. Austin told Vince that he respected the fact that he and the WWF cared about him, and then delivered a Stunner before getting “arrested.” It would be a few months before this would blow up huge, but it was the first shot of one of the most important feuds from the Attitude Era forward.
2. Andre Rips Hogan’s Crucifix Off – What can I say that other people didn’t? This was a very memorable moment that came off perfectly and created THE feud that everyone remembers. You can ask anyone, non-wrestling fan or not, to name one wrestling feud they know of and assuming they’re over twenty, they’re about 90% likely to say Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant first. What I liked about this was that it carried off well but it wasn’t a sudden, vicious beatdown or anything enormously physical. What they did was exactly what they needed in order to make the feud work, and work it did in a major way. This is proof that sometimes, you don’t need elaborate feuds, double turns, assaults out of nowhere or the like to make it work. I love this for that.
1. Scott Hall Shows Up – My number three pick kicked off one of the most important feuds from the Attitude Era forward, but this one started THE most important feud. There are a lot of reasons that this worked so well. People were stunned to see Scott Hall on WCW Nitro, and they were stunned with how he showed up. People didn’t just show up through the crowd in that day bearing their real name; they were repackaged and given new gimmicks. So this felt real and shocking…especially since they made no secret about who he was. Hogan turning heel and the nWo officially forming nearly made my list, but this really was the first shot and so it gets the pick here. It changed the industry; sometimes that is said as hyperbole, but in this case it is very true.
Randy Orton punts Mr. McMahon in the head – This started off one of the greatest heel runs in WWE history. If WWE hadn’t screwed this up royally and had Orton win at Wrestlemania XXV, this would have made the list. As it stands, it kicked off a great feud, and made Randy Orton a sick, twisted, vile, and demented heel. Now, he’s a sick, twisted, vile, and demented antihero.
Angle headbutts Joe – This headbutt started off perhaps one of, if not the greatest rivalry in TNA history. Each match put on by these two men was of good to great quality that never disappointed the fans.
Jericho tosses HBK into the JeriTron 5000 – This shot heard round the world started off the feud of 2008. This started an intense rivalry between two Superstars who just couldn’t stand one another, but for different reasons. We also got some great MOTYC from these two men as well. The only reason this is not on the list is that the Top 5 were more important for either the wrestling business itself or for individual superstars themselves
5. Stone Cold Steve Austin stuns the Boss – When Stone Cold first Stunned Mr. McMahon, it was EPIC. No one had ever really laid their hands on Vince McMahon, and the Stunner from Austin lit the fuse on a feud that lasted from 1997 to 2001, where Austin turned heel. Sure, the Austin 3:16 promo and the submission match with Bret got Austin over with the fans, but this moment is truly where he started steamrolling in terms of popularity. This kick-started one of the hottest feuds in the late 1990s, and was one of the reasons that the WWF came back and beat WCW in the ratings war.
4. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash invade WCW – When Hall and Nash invaded WCW, it was huge. This wrestling shot heard round the world started the greatest period of wrestling history: The Monday Night Wars. This would lead to a time where anything was possible, even Hogan turning heel and joining the Band and forming the NWO. The shot fired by Hall and Nash made their careers in WCW, although they would ultimately run the company into the ground. This also led to the Attitude Era, where WCW would lose to the WWF. This shot started a new phase in wrestling history and cannot be ignored, however awful the two men responsible for it are in the ring.
3. Shawn Michaels superkicks and tosses Marty Janetty through the barbershop window – This shot heard round the world broke up one of the most successful and over tag teams in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. These two men were multiple time AWA Tag Team Champions, and even though they never “officially” won the WWF Tag Titles, they were one of the most over tag teams in the WWF. That all changed when Michaels tossed Janetty through the window. They spilt, and Michaels went on to a singles career that has yet to be matched by anyone, while Janetty pretty much did nothing. This shot is important because it broke up a great tag team and led to an even greater singles career.
2. Kane costs Undertaker Hell in a Cell – Throughout mid to late 1997, we had heard rumors and whispers of Undertaker’s half-brother Kane. No one knew what he looked like or when he would come for his vengeance on his brother for what happened with their parents. When Kane’s music hit and he ripped the door off the Cell, Taker’s expression was priceless. He gave Taker a Tombstone Piledriver and cost him the chance to face Bret Hart at Survivor Series for the WWF Title. From this Tombstone heard round the world, we had a series of matches between Kane and the Undertaker for an intermittent period of time from 1997-2004. This shot helped establish the monster that was Kane, and his feud with Undertaker is one of the primary reasons why he is so over today. He was built through the shot and the feud to be an unstoppable monster, and that is what he is viewed as today.
1. CM Punk cashes in MITB on Jeff Hardy – I may catch flak for this one, but I don’t really see any other shot as being more important to someone’s career than CM Punk cashing in on Jeff Hardy after he defeated Edge in a Ladder match to win the World Heavyweight Championship. CM Punk was languishing in babyface hell when he won MITB for the second year in a row, and it was debated who he would cash in on after he won. His cashing on Jeff Hardy started a slow-burning heel turn that is one of the few examples that WWE knows what it is doing. This heel turn was one of the best things that happened in the past two years, and was the best thing for CM Punk. It also led to some great matches between Punk and Hardy as well. This shot heard round the world was more unexpected than any other shot that I have personally seen, and that is why it is #1.
NXT Rookies Destroy Raw – Yeah, this JUST happened last night, but it was the biggest ‘Shot Heard Round the World’ type of event in the past few years easily. Hey, it’s only an honorable mention…
Shawn Michaels Superkicks Marty Jannetty Through the Barbershop Window – Yeah, he didn’t actually do that, but everyone remembers it that way, so why fight it?
Scott Hall Arrives – A big moment, but overshadowed by Hogan joining the nWo, I think.
5. Jericho Slams Michaels’s Head Through the Jeri-Tron 6000 – Shades of Jannetty, Jericho’s turn on HBK was a great callback and kicked off the best feud of 2008. More than that, it was the death of Y2J and the birth of the Honest Man. It was shocking and turned Jericho heel in a way he’d never been before — no one pandering to the crowd, just a suit, a smirk, and a superior attitude. The resulting feud was some of the best work by both men in and out of the ring.
4. Andre the Giant Tears the Crucifix Off of Hulk Hogan – This kicked off a huge feud — probably the most memorable for people who don’t watch wrestling. It was largely symbolic as Andre the Giant sent Hogan a message: not even god could stop him. Well executed and brilliant in its message (and making Andre a bigger heel for disrespecting a religious symbol).
3. Evolution Kicks Out Randy Orton – The impact of this didn’t immediately lead to a big feud, but it marked the destruction of the group and set up every subsequent feud between Orton and his former Evolution members. One night after becoming the youngest world champion in WWE history, Orton got the thumbs down, and it’s been a key part of his character since then. It set up his feuds with Triple H, Batista, the McMahons… it even set up the way he turned on his Legacy proteges before they could turn on him. A moment that paid off in the longterm big time.
2. Hulk Hogan Goes Hollywood by Joining the nWo – While the initial nWo story was fantastic, it became even bigger when Hogan was revealed as the third member. Hogan, the biggest face in wrestling history, beloved by all… the traitor and, now, a cocky heel that is bent on destroying WCW. That caught my attention as a kid and made WCW the company to watch. After all, if Hogan could join the nWo, anything could happen.
1. Kane Debuts – This had tons of build-up with Paul Bearer taunting the Undertaker with messages that Kane, his brother, was alive. We all knew Kane would be coming, but no one expected his debut at Badd Blood in the middle of the Michaels/Undertaker Hell in a Cell match. A giant in red and black with long black hair and a freakish mask came down, tore the door off the cage, and tombstoned the Undertaker as if it were nothing. This kicked off a long feud between the two and, over 15 years later, the Brothers of Destruction are still going strong with the latest Smackdown plot revolving around their relationship. Other acts may be harsher, but this was a big moment for me as a kid, one that’s stayed with me ever since.