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WRESTLING COLUMNS

To Be The Man, You Gotta Beat The Man
September 1, 2005 by Simon R. Key


Now that is a great wrestling quote, if not the greatest line ever uttered inside the squared circle, but this article won't be discussing the man who is arguably the greatest wrestler of all time, Ric Flair.

On August 21st, the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels went one on one with the Immortal" Hulk Hogan at 2005's SummerSlam. We should all be aware now of the disappointing outcome; come the referees bell, it was Hogan's hand raised in victory. The match outcome is a current hot topic on most wrestling websites, also having most of the rumors pointing to Hogan now having to job to either John Cena or Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 22.

Personally, I'd have rather seen him job to a true "wrestling" legend, who continues to amaze and outshine most of his peers from match to match. HBK! What can be taken from the SummerSlam outcome, is that Hogan is still "the Man" when it comes to backstage politicking with Vincent K. McMahon. This was wonderfully illustrated by a promo that was aired on RAW on the 1st of August, 2005, and it's this promo which I've decided to discuss.

Like all great wrestling promos, its success is hugely dependant on a classic blending of fact and fiction. On August 1st's RAW the promo in question was aired featuring the Heartbreak Kid parodying the Hulkster's recent appearance on the Larry King Show. It could be argued that a production of this value should really be spent on establishing younger talents and in some respect I would agree, but with a wrestler of this caliber (by that I refer to Michaels), who is invariably still on top of his game, it's not only understandable, but justified. Especially when in all fairness it was the prelude to a true wrestling first, the crossing of two very different wrestlers' paths for the very first time.

The promo begins with Michaels hobbling into the shot on a Zimmer-frame unable to support his own weight - Hogan's injuries have prevented him from hitting his signature leg drop in recent outings. Michaels is wearing the whole Hulkster garb, the yellow sun glasses, Hulkster facial hair and a blonde wig attached to the ever iconic bandana; and as he reaches the interview desk he almost collapses trying to do the hand to ear pose. The questions begin, Larry states how tough Shawn Michaels is, in retort HBK (in his best Hulk imitation) reels off twenty "Brothers" before attacking Hogan's age saying that he'll be "102 years old when he steps into the ring with HBK at SummerSlam". At one point HBK even clenches his chest mimicking a heart attack, tasteless, but then this is wrestling, we're used to far worse. And then the first Bomb drops...Hogan's back-stage politics. Larry asks HBK whether he is a good guy or a bad guy" HBK's reply is simple and one most fans have already concluded for themselves. When Hogan is on TV, he is a great guy but when the camera is off, then you can understand why the Hulk, is called the Hulk-Stir! When a supposed caller, calls in with a question another Bomb is dropped... Hogan's love for money! Now I have no problem with this, a man needs to support his family and what is wrong with Hogan trying to gather as much as he can before his career's eventual end" But Michaels illustrates Hogan's cunningness when in character, to manipulate his (still) growing audience. HBK is then asked when the Hulk-stir will next be in Battle Creek Michigan. To which Michael's reply's that Hogan only ever makes the big towns, where you can make the big bucks. This is followed by a montage of classic HBK moments. This was an excellent compilation, well edited and it showcased the differences between a "wrestler" like HBK and Hulk Hogan. When we came back from this we'd see Michaels a gasped and he'd let slip a worried sounding "Brother". When asked what's going to happen after SummerSlam HBK goes on to mock Hogan's politicking even more, by stating he'll have to get in the ear to Vincent K. McMahon.

What I think...

What this feud has really highlighted for me is just how much we as fans are asked to suspend our disbelief in today's world of sports entertainment. It's obvious to everyone that John Cena is anything but from the "streets" and his chain gang is laughable. This kid obviously comes from an average American suburb, which there is nothing wrong with. Not that I want to single out Cena, but he is today's wrestler with the most akin "skills" to that of Hogan - Both have amazing charisma and very basic in-ring abilities. What I believe this promo was all about was "Hype" and what lies beneath the "Hype" or what's left when the "Hype" has died down"

Chris Benoit is without a doubt one of the greatest technical wrestlers in wrestling today, but he has only one World Championship under his belt and is unlikely to gain another in the WWE. This isn't due to him being held back, by a wrestler or WWE management; specifically it's to do with his inability to connect with the WWE's audience. If you have charisma on the microphone then you're marketable, it's that simple, but it's even more important now. Ric Flair is undoubtedly the greatest wrestling total package but yet he never reached the masses like Hogan did" Why" This is the same with Shawn Michaels.

What I think we as wrestling fans should demand from our World Champions or rather the McMahons is a locker room leader, someone like Ric Flair, someone who can talk the talk and walk the walk. There aren't many who can do this and the man at the top of my list is obviously Triple H, because whether you like it all not he is the total package and unlike Michaels, age is on his side (for now anyway). The others who I believe fit this category include Kurt Angle, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar (SmackDown! needs you!), the Rock and of course HBK. There are also some who one day may step up to the game include Shelton Benjamin, John Cena (with his current push lets hope so!), Carlito, Edge and Christian.

In a perfect world, every wrestler to wear the World Championship would be exactly that; a "Wrestler" and then everything that goes with that, not the other way around. Shawn Michaels said it best "I will give you a show like you have never, ever seen before, why" because I can!" HBK used to say "The Heartbreak Kid lays down for absolutely no body!" Sadly that just isn't true anymore.

by Simon R. Key ..


Jesse Lee wrote:
While there are a few points I agreed with your article, there are just way to many that I don't.

First off, Chris Benoit can connect with the fans, he has that ability as a face and an even better ability as a heel. The reason he didn't have what some would call a "succussful reign" is mostly because of Trips. I'm not talking about Trips' ego, I'm talking about the writers making everything revolve around him. In every feud Benoit has been in as a champion had him facing either Trips, Shawn, or both at the same time. His match with Kane wasn't even a feud, it was a filler compared to the Hell in the Cell match Trips and Shawn had that same night. The feud between Orton and Benoit, still based around Trips. Then right after Benoit lost it, they dropped Benoit back to upper/middle-card level. Why" This way Trips or someone in the back could say 'hey, he doesn't bring in money.' and use it against the best technical wrestling in WWE today (arguably.) Benoit can connect with the fans, but the writers don't know how to make a feud with raw emotion that Benoit can conjure up at anytime, so it's his disadvantage.

Now when you're talking about backstage leaders, you named a decent list-upon skill. Kurt Angle, Triple H, HBK, and Ric Flair-all very good coaches and no doubt the best at what they do. However; Orton, Rock, and Lesnar" Now granted that Rock may still have respect among most of the guys backstage, but he left for the movies. How do you think the wrestlers will feel if an actor came in and told them how to do their job when he hasn't been in a match since against Lesnar (or perhaps some later date I'm unsure of.)

How do you think they'd feel when someone who quit the company to do something else in their most needed time (while still being put in the top matches) then making rumors of yourself joining back up" Lesnar was about to sign up, but once again, he decided that it wasn't for him. Yes, he's athletic, but how would you feel if you're someone who's been wrestling for all your life and then get told what to do backstage by someone who quit then came back demanding more money" How would you feel about the fact that you'd get fired after one botched moved but he'd be rehired with a million-dollar contract just for a few matches"

How about having a young punk lead you the way" Orton's been a notable crybaby behind-the-scenes. I only know one incident, but what kind of example is that" "Hey, if you don't get it your way, put shampoo in their purse, they just eat it up! haha!"

Orton-while good and possible the next great star-isn't a leader backstage. While he's definately a future hall of famer, he's not mature enough to lead people like Eddie or Rey Rey, or the younger stars... not yet at least.
TODTOYE wrote:
First of all, correct. A locker room leader is exactly what the WWE needs, and has had in the past. It is true that Hulk Hogan was once the only man there was, with the exception of Ric Flair. The fans (or Hulkamaniacs) loved Hogan and he loved them. There are only a select few that share that special bond with the crowd like Hogan. HBK, Rock and Austin seem to be the others that spring to mind - each having there own unbeatable gimmick. I believe that WWE, in its attitude era, was held together by the likes of Michaels, The Rock and Stone Cold, with HHH coming up more and more. I have never been a great admirer of Triple H's in ring skills and his ever present title reigns, thanks to being in the family, but he still offers a great character. I think that Michaels should have beaten Hogan for the very simple fact of another great quote - "To pass the torch along". Back at Wrestlemania 18, The Rock and Hulk Hogan met for the very first time in a match that was similar to the HBK/Hogan one in many ways. In that match, Rock was the victor and it showed, for the first time, that Hogan was on the way down. Rock then went on the beat Hogan again nearly a year later, albeit in a storyline situation rather than an actual icon vs icon match. My point here is that if Rocky was "allowed" to beat Hogan to show that the torch was passed from Hulk to Rock then why couldn't the same be done for HBK. Because Michaels clearly has the age and skill advantage above Hogan, much like Rock had (and still has). As for your predictions for future figure heads of WWE, I agree with some and not with others:-

Yes: John Cena if given this constant push; Edge, if kept happy with his storylines etc.

Possibly: Christian, he has had so many slight changes in his current character that he tends to be missed out but he definitely has the ability; Shelton Benjamin, he has the moves and the athleticism (partially thanks to Angle) but lacks the mic skills slightly I think.

No: Carlito, here is a guy with a funny gimmick but nowhere else to go in my view. He has no real quality moves or finishers like the others. But then again Piper didn't have a huge repertois and he got his own chat show!
Brian Riddle wrote:
' "The Heartbreak Kid lays down for absolutely no body!" Sadly that just isn't true anymore' ... I am 'heart' broken to have to agree with that.

Shawn Michaels is arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Im sure everyone has heard that. Well id have to say that, that simply is not true. As far as im conserned, Shawn IS the best wrestler of all time.

However his match against Hulk Hogan at summerslam was beyond a dissapointment. That match was absolutly horrible. It looked beyond scripted. Even the way Hogan won didnt seem real. Shawn lands the Super Kick and hogan gets right up, but one leg drop and shawn is suddenly out. Ya right. You look at the rest of shawns matches like the First ever ironman match, First ever Heel in a cell match, The first ever Elimination chamber match. (Noticeing a pattern) He can go through hell to win every single one of those and for them to expect ppl to believe that shawn, as hyped up as he was for that match, could be pinned by a single leg drop from an old man.

Even in the beggining of the match when hogan landed some punchs, shawn starts jumping around and then out of the ring, like he was just speared or somethign.

The bottem line is that match was a disgrace to everything shawn ever stood for. And thatys why i have to agree that shawn did lay down for Hogan,
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