wrestling / Video Reviews

Tremendous Tirades: Painted From My Memories

September 16, 2004 | Posted by Larry Csonka

Welcome to the latest installment of Tremendous Tirades. This time we are going to not review a tape or DVD. Nope, we have more to talk about. This week, I touch on something that I feel we forget about as fans.

I am sure there are times when we ask ourselves:

“Why am I (are you) a wrestling fan? When was it that I (you) became one?”

For me:

I became a fan at the tender age of 5. I watched with my Grandmother all the time. I am not quite sure what hooked me then, the larger than life guys, the cool stuff they could do or was it the drama? I really do not know. But I loved it, and I always have.

I can say with 100% honesty that I will always love wrestling. But why? Is it because I have watched for 22 years? Perhaps it is because I have trained to become a wrestler? That is some of it, but not all. I think the real reason is the lasting memories I have. I think of these things a lot as I look back on my years of watching. So here are just some of these memories I have.

Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen

They styled and profiled. They were limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a guns! But when you crossed them, or got in the way of something they wanted…they were the most elite group of ass kickers in wrestling. The Nature Boy Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson and Ole Anderson along with their Executive Director, James J. Dillon. The original Four Horsemen. Later on with Lex Luger, then Barry Windham…they are the Horsemen I grew up with. I knew they were the “bad guys.” They broke Dusty Rhodes ankle, they would beat down Magnum TA and Barry Windham. When Sting became big, they would scam him and beat him down more times than I can remember. Anything and everything to keep the title around Flair’s waist was done. But for some reason, I was always drawn to them. It could have been their appearance. They were always dressed well, fine jewelry and women and always talked about how rich they were. Maybe it was just that they were the best and I knew it. What ever it was, anytime I think back on when I started to watch, or think about the NWA, I think of the Horsemen! Hell, I once got into a fight at school because some kid told me Hulk Hogan was the “Real” World Champion!

The Road Warriors try to blind Dusty Rhodes.

The Road Warriors had already turned heel the week before this incident. The week before there was a six-man tag, pitting Hawk, Animal & Sting vs. The Varsity Club & Kevin Sullivan. Sting was subbing for Dusty, who was at the Special Olympics I believe was the story. The Road Warriors were pissed off that Dusty wasn’t there for them. They lost so they turned on Sting and beat him down. The next week, it was Dusty’s turn. But he just didn’t get a beat down, no. The Road Warriors took it a step further, and took a spike from their famous ring gear, and proceeded to DRIVE it into Dusty’s head and eye! As I watched, I was horrified! I had always loved Dusty and this was just horrible! I actually had nightmares about it, and remember it vividly to this day.

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant.

WM III…a time before the Internet, before I knew what a “smark” or “work-rate” was, and apparently I was a “mark” and didn’t know it. Hulk Hogan, a champion I knew, although I thought Ric Flair was the “Real” World Champ, before the WWF said so. He was about to face a man the was UNDEFEATED in 15 years (I believed it, I didn’t know any better.) Hulk and Andre were friends, but one day on Pipers Pit, it all changed. Andre had walked away from a trophy presentation celebrating his being an unstoppable/undefeated monster…only to be brought back to CHALLENGE HIS BEST FRIEND! Hogan pleaded with the Giant, but Andre demanded his match, and RIPPED the cross from the Hulkster. It seems SO simple now…but so effective then. They would face at Wrestlemania III, the Pontiac Silverdome, 93,000+. Most fans today would watch this match; yawn, bitch about the lack of work rate and ponder why so many “Old-timers” look it on so fondly. But this is just an event that you had to live.

Hogan and the Warrior face off

Yes, we will talk WM VI…but a lot of people really miss the buck on the real face off that made me want to see this. January 21st, 1990. Orlando Florida, 16,000+ in the Orlando Arena. The 1990 Royal Rumble. The Warrior entered at #21, the Hulkster at #25. In 12-minutes time, they went on to toss out a combined 10 participants, and dominated the Rumble. But that isn’t the special part. 2hrs and 32 minutes into the show, “IT” happened. The roof came off the place as a young Shawn Michaels and Rick Martel were eliminated, to leave Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. Everyone was excited as these 2 larger than life characters faced off. They had a short stand off, until both were taken down with a double clothesline. The Barbarian would come in to try and pick the bones clean, and Hogan would go on to win, also eliminating the Warrior along the way. This truly set the stage for the epic battle in Toronto. The place came unglued, and this in when I knew I wanted to see these 2 go at it.

Mick Foley flies off of the Hell in a Cell

This match has a special place embedded in my mind. I was there live, and I couldn’t believe what I had been witness to. This match took me on an emotional roller coaster. I was excited to see Foley and Taker climb to the top of the cage, and I was afraid when Mick was thrown off of the top. I though he was nuts when he got up off of the stretcher and climbed to the top…again, and even more scared when he fell from the top…again. It was crazy. I could not believe what I had witnessed that night in Pittsburgh Pa. Furthermore, if the falling off and through the cage wasn’t enough, Foley goes a step further and busts out a bag of thumbtacks and takes 2 bumps in them. Call it crazy, call it suicidal, call it what ever you want. That night when the Undertaker beat Mankind, I call it memorable. Jim Ross did EVERYTHING possible post match to make this memorable to everyone, even going as far to say that “These men gave you everything in their being, they gave you their souls tonight!” Yes they did Jim, yes they did. Considering the Undertaker had a fracture in his ankle, and Foley was almost killed, they put on a match that will always be remembered.

Owen Hart falls to his death

While I have a lot of pleasant memories, there are also sad ones. I won’t claim to be Owen’s biggest fan. I won’t profess that he should have been the World Champ. I enjoyed him, he entertained me. The night he fell to his death, I was watching the PPV with my soon to be wife. We knew something was wrong. When Jim Ross told the PPV audience that Owen has passed away, I walked away from my TV. I went outside, I sat down and I sat there stunned. Why? I didn’t know him. He wasn’t a part of my family. But he was a person that was part of my life, as I had watched him for years. The next night I sat down, and I watched Raw like I did every Monday night. What I saw there was the greatest tribute they could have given him. That is something not to be forgotten.

Droz breaks his neck

Another sad one is the tale of Droz. This was around the time I remember when I was starting to find wrestling web sites. I had read that there was an accident at the TV taping, and it would be aired. I watched, and was horrified. Once again, I was not Droz’s biggest fan. I had seen D’Lo do that running power bomb many times, but for some reason it went wrong on that night. I can’t imagine being either guy. Droz lying there not able to move, D’Lo horrified that he had hurt a fellow brother. Every time I see that move, I think of Droz, sitting in a wheel chair. Another sad memory I will always remember.

The Final Monday Nitro

I was in full Internet mode here. I LIVED on the news boards. I knew WCW was going to be sold. I knew there Eric Bishoff tried to get investors together, and I knew Vince wanted it. But that night Vince McMahon opened up Nitro, wrestling in North America changed forever. WCW as we knew it was finished. Vince said that the had the fate of WCW and it’s employee’s “In the palm of his hands.” Boy was he ever right. I sat there amazed and watched WCW put on a night of champions. I watched Sting and Ric Flair go at it one last time. Was it Clash of the Champions I? No, but they used all the classic spots that made their matches great, and as Sting won I knew WCW was dead. I had watched Georgia Championship wrestling, The NWA, WCW Saturday Night and all the Clash of the Champions. What was a storied promotion was dead. The moment they went to simulcast, and it was gone. Thinking back on it, a small part of me died as well.

There are many, many more memories that I have. You see this is why I am a fan, and these are just some of the memories I have. They have shaped my history in wrestling. I watch because I love it. I take the good with the bad and do my best to remain just a fan. I may write columns here on 411, but I am the same as everyone of you, a fan. But why is it that I remember these things? I am not sure why these particular memories are so vivid. Why do you love wrestling? What do you remember? Perhaps you memories are of Larry Zybsko as the AWA Champion, Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior at WM VII, The Undertaker coming back from the dead, Shawn Michaels living his childhood dream or even the birth of the nWo. You see my friends, I don’t know what you remember. I don’t know how you remember certain events. I do know one thing though; at one time we all JUST loved it. Maybe I do have a romanticized view of wrestling, I am not quite sure. Perhaps I love it so much because the views and love I have are just painted from my memories.


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Larry Csonka

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