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411 Buy or Sell Classic Wrestling Edition 2.26.12: Jericho the Champion in 2000, The Attitude Era, More

February 26, 2012 | Posted by Joel Thomas


Welcome back to the Chrononaut’s Classic Buy or Sell here on 411 Wrestling! Last week’s column ignited a fierce debate in the comment section regarding the opinion held by some that Demolition was a superior tag team to the Road Warriors, with one side pointing out that the Legion of Doom were together longer and made a bigger impact on the business, while the opposition noted that Ax & Smash were better workers and dominated the WWF’s stacked tag team division for over two years. Personally, I agree with all of those statements. With their penchant for no-selling and the inconsistent pace of their non-squash matches, it’s hard to argue that Hawk & Animal had the advantage in that category; while Demolition often ended up beating their opponents, they usually made them look good in the process and rarely, if ever, resorted to no-selling. However, the Roadies were the originators of the leather, spikes, and facepaint look and they amassed a legendary reputation in a variety of promotions around the world, becoming the only team to win World Tag Team Championships in the AWA, NWA, and WWF. Although I was (and still am) a huge Demolition mark and would probably lean toward them, it’s a push as far as I am concerned because the arguments on both sides are valid.

On to this week’s Buy or Sell. This time, most of the statements revolve around the late ’90s boom period for pro wrestling. It was an amazing time to be a fan with Raw and Nitro duking it out every Monday night, and as a teenager in high school at the time, it was such a relief that wrestling was “cool” again and it was socially acceptable to admit to being a fan of our great sport. (Not that I ever actively hid it, but I didn’t exactly go around advertising it in 1993 when I hit high school.) Stone Cold, The Rock, and Goldberg were household names like Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Andre the Giant had been a decade earlier and the television ratings, PPV buyrates, and merchandise sales were astronomical. Now, let’s second-guess decisions from 12+ years ago and speculate on what shoulda, coulda, woulda happened during this history-making era, shall we? Joining us this time around, representing 411 Wrestling as the Reviewer from Across the Pond… hailing from–well–Across the Pond, JACK “THE RIPPER” STEVENSON!

He smiles when he’s sneaking, he laughs when he’s creeping.

Providing the opposition is an outsider who, much like Scott Hall on Memorial Day of 1996, just came out of the crowd and declared war on 411, Buy or Sell style. On a blog we both frequent, he is known as “The Re-booker Man” due to his fondness for re-booking past WWF/NWA/WCW events and creating alternate scenarios… please welcome to the bright lights and big cities of 411 Wrestling, MR. JEREMY RINEHART!

I respect you… Re-booker Man!

With the formalities out of the way, let’s get right to the prompts for this week…

1. Without the media hype surrounding Mike Tyson’s involvement at WrestleMania XIV, Stone Cold Steve Austin wouldn’t have become a mainstream star and the WWF would have gone out of business.

Jack Stevenson: SELL. Would Steve Austin have become a mainstream star? Debatable, but I certainly don’t think the WWF would have gone out of business. The product was popular enough with dedicated wrestling fans as well as the more casual followers, and when you combine that with the ineptitude of WCW, it’s fair to state the WWF had a chance to survive. Would it and it’s superstars become as big as they did? Maybe not. Mike Tyson’s involvement garnered colossal mainstream attention, and who knows how many relapsed or new wrestling fans decided to give the product a try off the back of it? However, there’ll always be a market for pro wrestling, and when the WWF were putting out such a unique product, I think their gravitational pull would have sucked in enough wrestling fans to keep the company afloat.

Jeremy Rinehart: SELL. A HUGE sell. Steve Austin was going to be a major star, due to the fans. Starting in the fall of 1997, Austin received the biggest ovations in professional wrestling. Even without Mike Tyson, the Stone Cold character was hot enough to carry the WWF out of the wilderness.

A perfect formula for mainstream success.

2. Even if Goldberg hadn’t lost the World Title at Starrcade ’98, WCW still would have collapsed.

Jack Stevenson: BUY. There is absolutely no way, with the many problems that beset the WCW organisation, that a change as small as keeping the title on Goldberg would save the organisation. It would in no way hold the clueless booking and backstage turmoil that would bring the company to it’s knees. Yes, Goldberg’s undefeated streak was popular, but it had to end somewhere, and would you really trust WCW 1999 or 2000 to handle it well, if Kevin Nash had fallen at Starrcade 1998? It would have been intriguing to see what happened if Goldberg has retained the title at Starrcade, but the end result would be the same; WCW would have died and been absorbed by the WWF.

Jeremy Rinehart: BUY. Everybody points to Starrcade ’98 and The Fingerpoke of Doom, but what did in WCW was SuperBrawl IX. The combination of David Flair joining the nWo and the nWo destroying all their opponents was the beginning of the end. Another problem was the creative control clause, which caused storylines to crumble (Sting vs. Hogan). At the end of the day, Jamie Kellner hated wrestling, and nothing was going to save it.

With or without the belt, WCW would have imploded.

3. Triple H should have dropped the WWF Championship to Chris Jericho in their infamous reverse-decision match on Raw in 2000.

Jack Stevenson: SELL. I don’t understand why people are so insistent on fixing something that isn’t broken. What precisely was wrong with Triple H in 2000? He put on a string of superb matches, and, with Chris Kreski helming the creative team, was involved in his fair share of genuinely great storylines too. Saying Jericho, who in comparison had a decidedly muted 2000, should have won the WWF Championship smacks of spitefulness that later on in his career Triple H would allegedly hold down prodigious wrestling talents such as Scott Steiner and Goldberg. Besides, Hunter lost the title to the Rock just a couple of weeks later, so it’s not like it was a momentous crossroads in the career of the Cerebral Assassin. A Jericho title win would have derailed cracking storylines, and taken momentum from Triple H in his best ever year. There’s no way he should have won it.

Jeremy Rinehart: SELL. Rock vs. Triple H was set in stone for Backlash 2000. After months of feuding, Rock vs. Triple H needed to be for the WWF Title. Jericho SHOULD have defeated Triple H for the WWF Championship at the 2000 King of the Ring.

I guess he ended up doing pretty well for himself after all.

4. Jeff Jarrett deserved to be a World Heavyweight Champion.

Jack Stevenson: BUY. I like Jeff Jarrett, and feel he’s vastly underrated by portions of the wrestling community. He’s a smart guy, he loves the wrestling business, is hugely competent in the ring, has bags of charisma, and meshes well with numerous styles. Depressingly, that’s praise that cannot be gifted to numerous world champions, especially those in the waning days of WCW. Taking this criteria into account then, I think Jeff Jarrett was a more than deserving World Champion on the occasions that he has won the belt.

Jeremy Rinehart: SELL. Jarrett as WCW Champion killed what little interest I had in the promotion. Jarrett is a good mid-card champion, but there’s no reason why he should have been the WCW Champion. As far as TNA, he was okay for a while, but he held the title so long that it hurt TNA. For example, look at Monty Brown. He had a chance to become a big star, but Jarrett killed his momentum all in the name of being NWA-TNA Champion.

Don’t think so, Slapnuts!

5. Curt Hennig was the best worker to never win a World Title in the WWF or WCW.

Jack Stevenson: BUY. I think there are a handful of guys that never worked for WCW and WWF that were better wrestlers than Curt Hennig, but I think if I answered sell on that I’d be being pedantic and not really going with the spirit of the question. Hennig was exceptionally talented in the ring, and carried himself like a professional out of it. He exuded confidence that could carry on into cockiness when needed, worked his bottom off to get people over, and made a connection with audiences, whether good or bad. I can’t off the top of my head think of any better wrestler who actually worked in the WWF or WCW that was more deserving of a World Title reign but never got one.

Jeremy Rinehart: BUY. Curt was a very good worker, but to be honest, I think he’s vastly overrated. The other opinion is Scott Hall, who had all the tools to be an all time great, but threw it away. Magnum TA should get an honorable mention.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

6. Although it was innovative television at the time, the Attitude era has not aged well and the shows from that period are largely unwatchable now.

Jack Stevenson: BUY. The Attitude Era was absolutely dreadful television. So, so bad. Awful storylines, awful characters, smut and violence in the place of hard work, dedication and genuine talent, illogical swerves shamelessly masquerading as creativity… I can completely understand why it was popular. It was different, edgy, unpredictable, ‘cool.’ But if you thought Vince Russo’s stint at TNA was a poor one, I don’t see how you can watch Attitude Era episodes without feeling shame that this once constituted high quality professional wrestling.

Jeremy Rinehart: BUY. Back in 1998, I LOVED the Highway to Hell storyline. Recently, I’ve been watching that storyline play out on WWE Classic on Demand’s ‘Monday Night Wars,’ and it comes across pretty flat. During the Attitude Era, something was always happening, even if it didn’t make sense, and I think that really stands out now.

At least it holds up better than this game.

That just about wraps it up. Thanks to Jack Stevenson for participating, and a special shoutout to my buddy Rinehart for filling in on short notice. Join us next week when two more members of the 411 Wrestling fraternity respond to statements on a variety of classic topics. Have a great week and see you next time on Chrono’s Classic Buy or Sell!


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Joel Thomas

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