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HBK has had 16 Wrestlemania matches, with most being at a high or very high level.
He has co main-evented 5 Wrestlemania's 12, 14 20, 23, and 26.

His most widely praised Wrestlemania matches are the WM10 Ladder Match, his two Undertaker matches, and his WM21 Kurt Angle match. His other esteemed matches are the WM20 Triple Threat match, WM19 Chris Jericho match, WM23 John Cena match, and the WM24 Ric Flair match.

There are only a select handful of people that can match Shawn's talent, especially in featured matches, but nobody has the sheer body of work at that level, for that event.
 

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Based on performances on just about any show whether it be a Raw or a ppv or even Wrestlemania itself yes he is not just to my preference but from a unbiased perspective he never failed to deliver in a big time match.
 

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Interesting column! So, ultimately, you agree that Shawn Michaels is Mr. Wrestlemania, but putting up best match for best match, Undertaker is right up there. I tend to agree.

Going to your point about making a WrestleMania DVD for each wrestler, the separation is quite evident if those DVDs included EVERY Mania match both men had. Shawn would get it on consistency, as you say. He never had an outwardly bad WM match, his worst performances would be "decent". Whereas Taker had to struggle through a rough first several years through either having squash showcase matches, or awful opponents.

I like that Taker gets his due here. Both Taker and HBK hold a special place in my heart as the first couple of wrestlers I remember seeing, and to me they're two of the GOATs and among my all-time favourites. Just because Undertaker has had some less than stellar performances in recent years, it doesn't take away from the legend he is.

I think some of Undertaker's earlier stuff is underrated too. Basically everyone says his great WM matches and the Streak becoming a big deal was from around Batista onwards. I'd argue that his match with Diesel at WM12 was ahead of its time in terms of big men actually showing some workrate, for 1996 those two went at it. His WM14 match against Kane is something I really enjoyed as a battle of the titans, and a payoff for the tremendous long-term storyline between the brothers. His HHH match at WM17 is glossed over a little because it happened on such a stacked card. I think his WM18 street fight aganist Ric Flair is the most underrated Mania match ever. And the Randy Orton match was a little short and kinda early in the show (like a midcard spot) but it was chock full of action.

Both HBK and Undertaker are awesome.
Thanks for the feedback. Your columns are interesting too.

Taker's match against Diesel and his first match with Kane are good for two big men, but I wouldn't call them anything special.

I don't think Taker's match with Flair is that underrated, most people say it was a really good match
 

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Lifting weights and eating steaks
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I would say so.

He's had so many historical moments and not just great matches. The ladder match with Razor, the Iron Man match with Bret, putting Austin over as the next guy, putting Cena over, Retiring Flair and then the Taker matches.

He's rarely had a dud.

Taker obviously has his claim, but he's been at so many Wrestlemanias that he's bound to have as many good matches as Shawn.

But for the large part, Taker was pretty disappointing in his match quality and people only truly mattered about him near the end due to the streak.
 

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I would say so.

He's had so many historical moments and not just great matches. The ladder match with Razor, the Iron Man match with Bret, putting Austin over as the next guy, putting Cena over, Retiring Flair and then the Taker matches.

He's rarely had a dud.

Taker obviously has his claim, but he's been at so many Wrestlemanias that he's bound to have as many good matches as Shawn.

But for the large part, Taker was pretty disappointing in his match quality and people only truly mattered about him near the end due to the streak.
HBK really did have a lot of historical moments at WrestleMania. I guess you're right that Taker only got to the same number of great matches as Shawn because he appeared at so many more WM's. The fact that HBK was more consistent gives him the edge.
 

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I agreed that Shawn Michaels is Mr. Wrestlemania for the reasons as explained that he has consistency in having good matches.

I know it’s not a Wrestlemania match but look how Undertaker works with Vince McMahon at Survivor Series compared to how Shawn works with McMahon. Night and Day between the enjoyment, comparisons can be made with Diesel matches too.

Great column
 

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I agree that the Funhouse match was very polarizing, most people thought it was either the best or worst thing they've seen in pro wrestling. I thought it was brilliant.

I also agree that the main event was a disappointment. A match needs to be much more than just several finishers. If there was a crowd they probably would have booed this match.

Disagree on Edge/Orton. It was too long and boring, with most of the action being repetitive.


Good review.
 

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I agreed that Shawn Michaels is Mr. Wrestlemania for the reasons as explained that he has consistency in having good matches.

I know it’s not a Wrestlemania match but look how Undertaker works with Vince McMahon at Survivor Series compared to how Shawn works with McMahon. Night and Day between the enjoyment, comparisons can be made with Diesel matches too.

Great column
A good way to compare two wrestlers as workers is to compare their matches with mutual opponents. The only mutual opponent I'd say Taker might have had better matches with is Triple H, and that's arguable.
 

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One of the special features of professional wrestling is watching a wrestler compete in his hometown or home territory. It was always fun to watch the live fans go crazy for CM Punk in Chicago, Ric Flair in North Carolina, Bret Hart in Canada, etc. When live fans cheer extra loud for their hometown heroes, we see part of what makes the wrestling culture in those places unique, and that’s an entertaining experience in and of itself. The fans are a big part of the show, and when Punk was wrestling in Chicago the crowd reactions were just as memorable as what he and his opponent did that night. In this column I’m going to explore different aspects that should be dealt with when wrestlers compete in their hometowns.

When good guys wrestle in their hometowns, I’d say that is a promoter’s dream if they want to book them strongly. The faces are supposed to be cheered, so they can usually count on them getting cheers that go above and beyond what they’d normally get. When they win in their hometown, that can lead to some memorable post match celebrations with the wrestler soaking in the adulation of the fans, and I have to imagine that is a very special moment for the wrestler personally. At WrestleMania 28 in Miami, Rock’s hometown, Rock competed in the main event, a dream match between him and John Cena. It was in a stadium with no roof, so some of the sound escaped, but you could tell Rock got one of, if not the biggest reaction of the night. It was entertaining to watch Rock win in his hometown. A lot of Rock fans complain that he never walked out of a WrestleMania as World Champion. I’d say those fans have nothing to complain about, because when Rock finally did win the main event of WrestleMania it may not have been for the title, but it was probably sweeter anyways because he got to do it in Miami. How many people win the main event of WrestleMania in their home city?

For faces, it can look very embarrassing to lose in their hometown. We all know it’s scripted and no one is really beating anybody, but it’s still a bad look to lose in your home city or territory. After Paige was promoted to the main roster she was initially a face, and her first loss was in her home country of England. I thought this was embarrassing for her and hindered her while she was trying to create a fan following. She was new to the main roster, and losing in England wasn’t going to help her at all to get over.

Home field advantage is a very real thing in sports, and most sports teams almost always have better records at home than they do on the road. They are motivated by their own fans cheering them on. So it is logical that most wrestlers would normally win when they are in their home cities. However, it can’t happen all the time because wrestlers are not suddenly invincible when they wrestle there, and depending on who their opponent is, it may not be right for business. Early in Edge’s first World Title reign in 2006, he defended against Ric Flair in his home state of North Carolina. Unlike some wrestlers today who are in their fifties like Undertaker and Goldberg, Flair was portrayed as being well past his prime. He could sometimes have matches against big names, but he wasn’t winning any more World Titles. Ric Flair lost that night in North Carolina with his family in the front row, and as special as it would have been if Flair won that night, it wouldn’t have been good for business. Flair was no longer championship material and shouldn’t have won the belt, regardless of where he challenged for it.

The most famous instance of a wrestler refusing to lose in their home territory was the Montreal Screw Job. Bret Hart was the World Champion and was soon leaving for WCW. Vince McMahon needed Bret to lose the title in an actual match before he left, or else it would look like WCW had the WWE Champion. There are conflicting reports about whether or not Bret agreed to drop the title in a match and when he would do it, but he was adamant about not wanting to lose to Shawn Michaels (who he hated in real life) and in Canada, his home country where he was a national hero. If that match was going to be Bret’s last in WWE, then he should have lost the title, no matter where it was taking place. Bret didn’t want to be embarrassed in Canada, but it would have made the company look terrible if he didn’t.

What WWE keeps doing with Mansoor at the shows in Saudi Arabia should stop. He wrestles in NXT and isn’t even on the main roster, but he always gets a match at the Saudi pay per views, and always wins. This is blatant pandering to the fans, and judging by the reaction he got at the last Saudi show, the fans are getting tired of it too. Imagine if every single time WWE held a televised show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, they brought back the Brooklyn Brawler to win a match, and those were the only times he wrestled on tv. The first time would be cool, but to only see him wrestle in a hometown setting would lose it’s cache. The only times we see Mansoor wrestle on the main roster is in a home country setting, and it’s lost its appeal. If he wrestled on the main roster regularly, then his matches in Saudi Arabia would still seem special. At least he isn’t beating anyone that important at those shows. Pinning Cesaro and winning a Battle Royal full of midcarders isn’t too big a deal. But I still think his matches there should stop until he makes the main roster.

When a heel wrestles someone in that person’s hometown, that can be an easy way for them to get more heat. At One Night Only 97 in England, Shawn Michaels challenged The British Bulldog for the European Championship. Bulldog was beloved in England and always got a lot of cheers there, whether he was a face or a heel. Shawn was a heel at the time, and when he beat Bulldog by cheating, he got nuclear levels of heel heat. The crowd was livid at Shawn and DX, as their boos were deafening and they hurled lots of garbage at them. Bulldog was originally booked to win, but Shawn politicked and got it changed. Some say Shawn was being an asshole by refusing to lose to him in England, in a match he dedicated to his dying sister, but the right man won. DX and the Hart Foundation were in a stable war, and Shawn was the leader of DX. He was far more important to WWE than Bulldog was, and you wouldn’t have expected Bret Hart to lose to Triple H in his hometown, either. The negative crowd reaction to Shawn may have been infectious to the fans watching at home and made them hate Shawn even more. It was an effective booking decision.

When heels wrestle in their hometown, it usually leads to them getting cheered, which is the opposite reaction the promoter wants them to get in every other place they wrestle. It makes for interesting television to see the heel get a unique reaction like this, which is why a lot of times the promoter will allow the heel to embrace his hometown fans. Shane Douglas, who was mostly a heel in ECW, always spoke of being from Pittsburgh and his signature colors were black and yellow, the same colors as the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates. November To Remember 97 was in Pittsburgh, and he challenged for the World Title in the main event against Bam Bam Bigelow, a face. It was entertaining to see the Pittsburgh fans cheer Shane and boo Bam Bam, almost as if they were wrestling in bizarro world.

However, when heels wrestle in their hometowns and get cheered, it leads to a possible problem. Fans watching at home will see them get cheered and may think of them more positively. This could lead to fans in other cities wanting to cheer those heels, and this is where the commentator’s job is important. They need to emphasize to the fans at home why the heel is such a dastardly person and explain that they’re only getting cheered because their hometown fans are biased in favor of them. In the Shane Douglas match, Joey Styles was on commentary and emphasized how Shane was such an awful person and when Bam Bam was beating him down, said he deserved to be embarrassed in his hometown.

At In Your House: Canadian Stampede in Canada, the main event was a ten man tag match with the Hart Foundation against five American wrestlers. Bret Hart, the leader of the Hart Foundation, was doing a storyline where he embraced his home country, Canada, and hated the United States. Obviously Bret and his crew got a hero’s welcome for that event. When his brothers (ones who were not part of the match) got involved and interfered on his team’s behalf, the fans still cheered. Vince McMahon on commentary said the Canadian fans would cheer any dirty tactic that the Hart Foundation used, and pointed out how vile they were, despite being cheered.

It’s good for heels to cheat in their hometown, because while the fans in attendance might look the other way and cheer them anyways, it will be hard for the fans watching at home to ignore those shady methods. At Unforgiven 06, Edge, then a heel, defended the WWE Championship against John Cena in his hometown of Toronto. It was a TLC match, and during the match it looked like Cena had it won after he made it to the top of the ladder in the middle of the ring. But Edge’s valet, Lita, ran down and pushed the ladder over just in time. It doesn’t make sense for heels to cheat in every other place they compete but to wrestle honestly in front of their home fans. Athletes competing in their home city do have an advantage, but a heel’s dishonesty shouldn’t take a day off, unless they are turning face. It was a smart move to have Lita come out and interfere on Edge’s behalf.

But sometimes promoters don’t want every single one of their heels to be cheered in their hometowns or home territories, especially if they are wrestling there more than a handful of times a year on tv or have just turned heel. Something I’ve seen from Canadian heels when they are in Canada is that they will go out of their way to insult the Canadian fans to get booed. After the United States, WWE does shows in Canada more than any other country, and they don’t want their Canadian heels getting cheered on tv too often. At WrestleMania 18 in Toronto, Christian mocked Canada by saying he moved away from the country and now lives in Florida. At a Raw in Montreal in 2006 the fans initially cheered the heel Edge, but he made a point of saying that Toronto was his hometown and Montreal was not, pushing the fans away. Last year Sami Zayn returned from an injury and was being pushed as a heel. One of his early appearances back was in his hometown of Montreal, and it wouldn’t have been good for him to have fans cheering him early in his heel run, so he insulted them, getting him huge heel heat.

One thing that is very, very stupid is to turn a wrestler heel in their hometown or home territory. When fans buy tickets to a show, if a wrestler from that city is on the card that night they are probably looking forward to cheering them, and the last thing they want to do is boo them. It is extremely hard for a wrestler turning heel in his home territory to get the right reaction, unless he cuts a heel promo afterwards where he mocks the fans.

WrestleMania 17 was in the world famous Astro Dome in Houston, Texas, and everyone knows Steve Austin is the Texas Rattlesnake. He even has a tattoo of the state of Texas on his leg. Austin entered his main event match against Rock as a face, getting overwhelming cheers from the Texas fans. During the match Vince McMahon, then a heel, interfered on his behalf. At one point Rock was chasing Vince around the ring and Austin capitalized on the distraction by catching Rock with his own Rock Bottom. Instead of booing, the crowd cheered it. The crowd slowly turned somewhat, but after Austin won the match with Vince’s help he only got a mixed reaction, still getting some cheers. The heel turn would have gotten a better reaction if it occurred in any other state. But I do understand they wanted to do it on a grand stage, and they didn’t want to wait until August for Summer Slam.

Wrestlers competing in their home territories is a special situation when it happens in wrestling. It’s entertaining to watch them win in their hometown, but it doesn’t need to happen every time they wrestle there, even if it is embarrassing to lose. It’s ok for wrestlers to embrace their hometown fans as long as commentators make a point of explaining that they are only cheered because of where they are. It’s understandable why sometimes a promoter wants heels to insult their home fans, too. When a wrestler turns heel, the last place it should happen is in their hometown. Overall, it’s usually a memorable experience to watch wrestlers appear in front of their home fans.
 

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The two most popular wrestlers of the Attitude Era were unquestionably Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Fans stood up and cheered wildly whenever they made their entrances. They were both huge draws and true megastars in every sense of the word. A lot of times I hear people say that neither Austin (after he broke his neck) or Rock were all that great as workers but were mainly just great talkers. Jim Cornette said something to this effect, as have a lot of internet wrestling fans. While I admit that their interviews were by far the biggest reason they were both so popular, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Austin and Rock weren’t anything special as workers. In fact, I think both of them were very good to great workers, and they are very underappreciated for what they brought to the table with their in ring work. If you are one of the many fans who look down on them as in ring performers, then I hope by the time you’re done reading this you will have a higher appreciation for that aspect of their wrestling careers.

Let’s start with Stone Cold. After Austin broke his neck, his offense was very limited and very repetitive. His offense consisted mostly of punches, kicks/stomps, Irish whips, clotheslines, Lou Thesz Presses, knees to the stomach, driving the elbow into the chest, slamming someone’s head into something, and a Stunner. Besides the Stunner, which he saved for the end of his matches, he often used the aforementioned moves over and over again. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I thought the fact that he always did them with such intensity made me rarely get tired of seeing it.


He didn’t do a whole lot of technical wrestling after he broke his neck, but this worked out well because it didn’t fit his character to wrestle like Dean Malenko. His character was a bar room brawler, and you’re probably not going to see freestyle wrestling in a bar fight. He would lock up to start some matches, did headlocks and occasionally some other technical moves, like a fireman’s carry, a side suplex, a drop toe hold and even rarely a sharpshooter. He did do some traditional pro wrestling moves, but it was largely just brawling. Most fans pay to see the characters first and foremost, and everything a wrestler does and doesn’t do should fall in line with their character, even if it upsets the wrestling purists in the IWC. Sometimes you see wrestlers doing lots of advanced pro wrestling moves when they have characters that don’t seem refined and sophisticated enough to have learned to wrestle like that. Stone Cold didn’t usually make that mistake after he broke his neck, most of what he did during his matches was in line with the character who chugged beer, used foul language, and was far from traditional.

He did other things to play up his character during his matches. On many occasions he would give two middle fingers to his opponent and to the referee when he was admonished for something. At No Way Out 01 he shoved Earl Hebner out of the way and could be heard yelling “Get the fuck out of my way!” This made sense as Austin’s character was very anti-authority and had no respect for anyone. Often times he would cheap shot his opponents with a low blow, even as a face, to show he was willing to break the rules in order to win. He did serious character development while he was wrestling, not just during his interviews.



A lot of people look down on brawling as a wrestling style and think it is inferior to technical wrestling and high flying. I don’t agree with that. If brawling is done right, it can be just as entertaining as anything Bret Hart or Chris Benoit ever did. Austin did it right and had lots of great, exciting matches with that style of offense. Austin seemed like he was going to war with his opponent. He always wrestled with a lot of intensity and looked like he was pissed off at his opponents. During almost all his matches there were multiple times when he would do a succession of punches and stomps, and he often times did them with a lot of fire, if he wasn’t too tired by that point in the match. A lot of the punches and stomps he did looked like they were really intended to hurt someone, and the omnipresent angry expression on his face helped convey that. In WWE, Dean Ambrose was a brawler who always got criticized for throwing weak looking strikes, and that was a fair criticism. Because of the way he would throw a punch, it didn’t look like he was hurting anyone. But Austin always appeared as if he was trying to cause damage with his punches and kicks. In 2001, something he would do in no holds barred matches was to take a steel chair and wildly wail away on a prone opponent several times in row. He would repeatedly slam the chair onto the back, the legs, and drive the edge into the chest. This use of the steel chair really made him look vicious.

In my opinion, the best in ring style for a wrestler to use when they need to convey that they are angry and pissed off at someone is brawling. Constantly throwing punches, kicks and clotheslines helped Austin express his character’s anger better than he would have if he’d done a bunch of drop kicks or German suplexes. Not that wrestlers can’t express anger with more advanced technical wrestling, but it just seems more logical that if someone is fuming mad their go to move in a fight would be to throw a fist. If the story calls for someone being angry, like Austin’s character always was, brawling is the most sensible way to wrestle.
He or his opponent would use a rest hold or two in his matches, but when he was on the offense he usually wrestled at a good pace for someone who was 250 lbs.. It wasn’t usually a slow, methodical pace like we’ve seen many times from Triple H. Some of Austin’s matches started off slow but matches generally don’t start off at a high level. They start off mundane and then the action picks up. In most of Austin’s matches the action quickly picked up, if they didn’t already start off that way. Not that you can’t have good matches where a good chunk of the action is slow and methodical. Undertaker had some great matches wrestling like this. But when you do that you run the risk of having a boring match, which is what happened to Triple H many times when he had big pay per view matches. Austin never fell into that trap.

Austin did have some below average matches with Undertaker in 1998 and 1999, but that wasn’t his fault. At the time Undertaker was at his heaviest, and I heard Taker was wrestling hurt and wasn’t at his best from an in ring standpoint. It also didn’t help their match at Summer Slam 98 when Austin got a concussion early on. But later, after Undertaker became the American Bad Ass, they had some really great matches together. In general, after Austin broke his neck he usually had very good and many times great matches even with his limited, repetitive move set. In 2001 he was probably the In Ring Performer of the Year for WWE, as he delivered great, exciting matches all year long against Triple H, Rock, Undertaker, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle. Even after Austin broke his neck, he had a lot of matches that felt like wars, and he physically expressed hatred in the ring as good as anybody ever has.


Now let’s talk about The Rock. The first thing I want to address about The Rock is his use of facial expressions during his matches. Rock has always had the gift of an overly animated face, and the facial expressions he used added an extra element of emotion to his matches. When someone would kick out of his Rock Bottom, he conveyed a strong sense of disbelief with his face. When he was selling another wrestler’s offensive moves, he was very good at showing on his face that he was in pain or almost knocked out. When he would stare down his opponent from across the ring or would get angry at someone for interfering against him in his matches, he had a very serious expression on his face, like he was intent on hurting them. Because his face was always so animated, it gave him better facial expressions than almost anyone in the business. Not as good as Vince McMahon, but still great. Bret Hart sometimes got criticized for always having the same flat expression on his face during his matches, and that is a valid criticism. Now Bret Hart was still a great wrestler despite this but expressing emotion with your face is an expected part of pro wrestling matches, and Rock was a master of it.

As I said before, it is important for a wrestler to wrestle the way their character is expected to. Rock’s character just had so much more style and swagger than most other wrestlers and he incorporated that into his matches. When he would give a succession of right hands, often for the last one in the succession he would spit into his palm before slapping his opponent. This just added some more style and personality to his matches. Another thing he would do to wrestle like his character was to shake his leg before he stomped on someone. This added more entertainment value when he stomped on his opponents.
Rock, the ultimate trash talker, could also be seen talking trash to his opponents during his matches. Unless he had a microphone or had a head set on, you couldn’t tell exactly what he was saying unless you were good at reading lips. But just from the expression on his face you could tell he was talking trash, like his character always did, and it raised the stakes between him and his opponent. A lot of times wrestlers will do something to signal they are about to try their finisher to build anticipation for it, and Rock did this with his Rock Bottom. Many times when an opponent was struggling to get to his feet and Rock wanted to finish the match, Rock would stand a little hunched over with his hands on his knees, staring intently at his opponent. Fans could tell he was ready to try the Rock Bottom as soon as possible.



Rock was a huge showboat and the People’s Elbow was the epitome of that. He set it up with style, throwing his elbow pad into the crowd and throwing his arms back and forth. The fact that he would run back and forth across the ring and feign a leg drop just to set up a simple elbow drop really made him look like a show off, and fit Rock’s character perfectly. It was usually believable that Rock’s opponent would stay down that long waiting for the Elbow, depending on the move that preceded it and how much damage they had taken earlier in the match. A problem many people have with the People’s Elbow is that he sometimes used it as a finisher. When he hit the Rock Bottom right before hand and then did it to pin someone, that was fine. But if he would just do the spinebuster into the People’s Elbow and get the pin, they had a problem with that. I too had an issue with it. When you take away the flair of the move when you set it up, it is just a standing elbow drop, which should not be enough to finish someone. But then again, depending on how you look at it, maybe it should have been enough to finish a match. Rock usually did a lot of damage to his opponent earlier on, so you might say all he needed was one more elbow drop to get the job done.

When it came to selling for his opponents, Rock was normally great. As I said before, he used his overly animated facial expressions to convincingly show when he was hurt or almost knocked out. He made a lot of opponents moves look like they really caused damage to him. At WrestleMania 20, when he was in the ring with an aging and past his prime Ric Flair, Rock sold his knife edge chops like they were incredibly painful. He briefly made the 50 something year old Flair look like the credible threat he was back in 1989. A lot of times he would let out verbal groans of pain after taking moves from someone. When Rock took a move that was meant to nearly knock him out, like getting hit with the championship belt or a steel chair, or taking a pedigree, he did a great job with his eyes to make it look like the move messed him up in the head, showing that he was sort of out of it. When he would make it to his feet, he often would stagger around a little bit, showing he was still feeling the effects of that knockout blow. When Rock sold the Stone Cold Stunner, he did do it in a very cartoonish way, as he flopped around the ring a few times before he got pinned. I personally thought it was awesome and made the Stunner look devastating. It was unrealistic, but I feel it’s just one of those times in wrestling where you have to sit back and say “Just go with it. We know wrestling is staged.”


During Rock’s prime he was one of the best athletes on the roster and had great conditioning for someone who was 275 lbs. He could move around the ring quickly for a guy his size and really ran with a lot of energy back and forth against the ropes and into the corner. Rock was able to do kip ups to add some flair to his matches, something many smaller wrestlers can’t even do. I never timed them, but it seemed like he had plenty of pay per view matches that lasted around 20 minutes. He would use a rest hold or two in his matches and would have periods of time where both he and his opponent would be down from a big move, allowing him to catch his breath. Many times he did the classic wrestling routine where his opponent would put him in the sleeper, and the referee would raise his arm three times. I can’t fault him for using one or two rest holds because a lot of wrestlers did that. The double down parts of his matches helped make his matches seem more dramatic.

Rock did mostly brawling with some power moves sprinkled in. He did mostly right hands, stomps, clotheslines, Irish whips, DDTs, spinebusters, Samoan drops, sharpshooters, and some other moves. His DDT really looked impressive, one of the best in the business. During the Attitude Era the Internet Wrestling Community really criticized Rock for throwing too many right hands. I don’t think that criticism was warranted. He threw the right hands, as he did all his moves, with a lot of intensity and in a very explosive way. The way he threw his whole body into his right hands made it seem like he put a lot of force into them. They were just really entertaining. Most of the time his offensive moves were done explosively, whether it be a spinebuster or Samoan drop or whatever, making them fun to watch. When he would make a comeback in his match, he would hit a succession of right hands with a lot of fire and looked like he was really digging down deep, which got the fans into his comeback. His execution of the sharpshooter looked ugly as can be, but he did always scream when he had the move on someone, and made the situation feel dramatic.

When Rock started wrestling again in 2011, he was not the same worker we saw during the Attitude Era. He was older, had increased his muscle mass and had spent so many years away from the ring. Because of this, his conditioning was terrible. Cena and CM Punk had to compensate for Rock being so winded by overusing rest holds, and it really hurt the matches. I’m not faulting Rock for his match at WM 29 with Cena, as Rock tore his abdomen early in the match and they had to start their sequence of finishers and kick outs earlier than planned. But from 2011-2013 he really was a below average worker.

But The Rock we saw during the Monday Night War really was a very good worker. He had plenty of particularly good to great matches with Triple H (who he wrestled many times), Benoit, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, and had some of the best pure brawling matches ever with Stone Cold. Rock even got decent matches out of Rikishi. Rock had lots of matches that were exciting, full of action, and told a good story. It was just fun watching him wrestle. His return matches from 2011 through 2013 should not stain his reputation as a worker.

The point of this column is not to make you think Austin and Rock’s in ring work was the main reason they were each so popular. It wasn’t. They both got as over as they did because of their phenomenal mic work, and neither of them really needed to be all that great in the ring. But that doesn’t mean that they both didn’t have a lot to offer inside the ring. If you were one of the many fans who look down on Austin and Rock’s in ring work simply because they were brawlers, then I hope now that you’re done reading this column you’ll look at them both at least a little bit more favorably.
 

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I'm new here and that's a great write up. The key is that both Rock and Austin wrestled as you would expect for their personas to wrestler. Contrast that with every guy these days trying to be a high flyer and it just shows how far wrasslin' has regressed!
 

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I'm new here and that's a great write up. The key is that both Rock and Austin wrestled as you would expect for their personas to wrestler. Contrast that with every guy these days trying to be a high flyer and it just shows how far wrasslin' has regressed!
Yes, fans pay to see characters first and foremost. It wouldn't have made sense for Austin to do a lot of technical wrestling.

Didn't need to read giant wall of text but the grass is usually green right?
Enough people criticize Austin and Rock for being just average or bad workers thought I thought a column defending them was warranted.
 

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The Babyface of WF
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Yes, fans pay to see characters first and foremost. It wouldn't have made sense for Austin to do a lot of technical wrestling.



Enough people criticize Austin and Rock for being just average or bad workers thought I thought a column defending them was warranted.
Nothing wrong with that but you shouldn't have to prove it to trolls it's fine and all, No disrespect.
 

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The Babyface of WF
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A lot more people than just trolls think that. Jim Cornette thinks it.
I don't take Cornette too seriously these days he had a great mind for the industry and could probably help turn things around if he could but i feel some of the stuff he says is inconsistent I mean Workrate has to have depth but wrestlers building a certain reportoire accordingly to their gimmicks/characters makes sense yeah? That's why Austin and Rock were so good because they had perfect storytelling and Ring IQ they didn't need to be using a more scientific based style.
 

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AEW: Double or Nothing 2020

Casino Ladder Match

Let's all be honest, this is nothing more than a Money in the Bank rip off and definitely not a good look for a company which has, since its inception, claimed to be something "new" and an "alternative" to the established order.

In terms of the match itself, there were nine participants which is just too many, not to include all the nonsensical interference. It became the type of match which WCW became known for through the dark years, over booked, too much cheating and no flow. That's not to say there weren't some good spots in here, Darby Allins drop from a very high ladder, with a skateboard, through another ladder was brave and spectacular. In fact, everyone took their fair share of bumps here and the "big" guys really played ball, doing their bit on the athletic side.

The problem is that a series of spots does not make a wrestling match...this is what I think the kids call a "spot fest" and that is a big problem with the overall AEW feel. Where was the flow of action? Why did everyone start off with big spots which become meaningless if they are not properly built towards? Why was there an extended comedy section with some guy called Orange, who actually managed to get one up on a number of genuine "wrestlers" on the show? Who the hell thought that was a good booking idea?

Since we're speaking booking, Darby is clearly THE guy the crowds were hot for before lockdown and empty arenas, I'm sure the fans at home wold have loved to see him win and in the message that AEW has sent out for months, that this is a show DIFFERENT to the WWE...why did a big, definitely steroid freak make a debut and beat guys who had been built into near main eventers for months? You see the pattern? AEW seems to be all talk and little walk. Heck, they treated Brian Cage like a known commodity but if he had walked out to a full arena, there would have been crickets like there have been for some other debuts.

Now, as this is my first ever review match on here, let me tell all you kids about my verdict system. A match is not awarded stars or a score out of ten, it is awarded a standard - PLATINUM (for the truly upper echelon match), GOLD (for a very good match just below great), SILVER (a decent enough match which could have been better), BRONZE (for the lowest rated match possible) or TRASH (beyond belief that this could be seen as wrestling).

Match Standard - SILVER

MJF v Jungle Boy
I'm going to start with a note on MJF - this guy is the real deal. Yeah he is small even by modern standards but he can't help it but he could be the next great wrestling heel and boy do we need that right now! Yet he is surrounded by a company of morons and I hope he doesn't go full goofball like Jericho has...I really really hope. Keep him away from Jericho, all the other idiots and Tony "Baby Billions" Khan.

In terms of the match, my first thought was, who the hell is Jungle Boy and why is he on ppv? I am no closer to knowing the answer. Boy is not a good in ring performer, his character is stupid and it is a disgrace that someone like MJF should be wrestling this kid on an internationally broadcast PPV.

What can I say about the match? It had some....moves...and some stuff...and lots of talking from MJF (please cut that down). Oh and a section where they slapped each other for no apparent reason. I mean that only really works if chops are part of your arsenal, like Flair or Benoit. Here? It was stupid. I won't waste any more words on it.

Match Standard - Bronze

Cody (not Rhodes lol) v Lance Archer
So....yeah, this happened. I mean at least the two guys in the ring look like wrestlers, behave like wrestlers and can actually plan out a wrestling match but the booking was all over the place. First off, one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen was Mike Tyson, once the premier heavyweight on the planet (circa 1990 kids), walking out with the new TNT belt. Baby Billions, tone down on the belts ok? Anyway, Tyson walks out, plants the belt somewhere, sits down and proceeds to watch the match. Then the camera proceeds to span to him letting out a MASSIVE yawn...the camera quickly turns away and I am sure someone has a word with good ol' Mike, cos the next time the camera pans over, he is cheering like a madman and JR delivers possibly the more ironic line of his career "Tyson is a massive wrestling fan". Good work JR.

The match itself pans out like most Cody matches, some decent match wrestling, even a punch or two and then some high spots. Archer is a good sized wrestler and carries himself well, I think he'll go far as a heel if booked properly but damn it if AEW forgot what wrestling was yet again. Jake the Snake accompanies Archer and Arn Anderson has Cody's back yet its the face (Cody) who gets tonnes of interference and eventually Arn gets told to go to the back. Huh?

Anyway, Jake decides to actually be a heel and gets stopped by Mike Tyson. That's right, the same Tyson AEW must have paid a pretty penny to appear, to bring some bad assery to the show, a sense of legitimate violence. So how does he stop Jake? By conducting a strip tease. Great work Khan and Cody and whoever else thought this was a good idea! No booked left hook, no Tyson violence, just takes off his shirt.

Cody wins.

Match Standard - Bronze

I proceeded to then ignore the rest of the mid card, who the hell wants to see Goldust in 2020 or some women screaming in an empty arena?

Jon Moxley v Mr. Brodie Lee
Here we go, main event part 1! Everyone must be so hyped, after all, Moxley had promised ultra violence, much like he did before the worst Lesnar match of all time all those years ago in WWE. At least this time round he decides to put in some effort and this certainly is not a bad match...it just isn't worth the hype Moxley puts out there and badly exposes Brodie Lee as a damn average worker with one plus point - "hey look, big guy do dive!". The Undertaker does it better Lee and he is about 70 years old (yeah yeah, I know, two different types of dive but you get my point).

Most of the match is ok and like a lot of wrestling these days, it is built around a series of spots. Once again, I applaud these guys for taking this type of bump in an empty arena for a PPV which will likely not to much but hey, they go for it at times. I can't knock anyone for that, you have to be brave to do this thing. The spot through the stage is great to watch and really should have been the end of it. The fact that they barely sell, are back in the ring and pull off some more moves is poor match work, really really poor. The big "OMG" moment becomes a footnote for the finish when it should be the other way around.

Moxley wins and retains.

Match Standard - SILVER

Stadium Stampede
Here it is, the match which has garnered so much controversy when really, if everyone took off their tinfoil hats and conspiracy theories, they would see it for what it is - a comedy showdown akin to the legends battle royale in WWE or the goofy 24/7 championship both of which are fun because we know what we're getting. This however includes the main eventers of AEW, the two biggest and best booked stables in the company and a lot of bad blood...well supposedly bad blood between the teams. This should have been a tussle for the ages and the initial idea of it being held in a stadium sounded fun. What does it turn into? A circle @~:? akin to the horrible trash WCW and TNA booked towards the end of their life cycle. A bunch of the most privileged wrstlers in the company, doing whatever they want, on the check book of a possibly dim witted child.

Again, objectively speaking, looking at the weird work from Omega, the goof nonsense from Jericho and Hardy, those others guy, latino heat or whatever they are, the buckaroonies and so on. At least Hager and Page got some genuine fighting done and that was the highlight of the whole match. Heck, if Page is given the opportunity to move away from comedy shows he could become a genuinely good, tough, mid carder with the odd main event spot, a bit like Foley in the WWE back then.

I am not sure if there is any more to be said which hasn't been articulated better and in a far harsher tone by a certain someone on a certain podcast. If you like this sort of stuff and label it wrestling, then fine! I won't take the pee for that but for me, this was very very bad. Very bad indeed.

Match Standard - TRASH

Summary
For a year now I have been waiting on AEW to come good on their promise for a genuine alternative to WWE. This is not it. In fact, as one of their big PPVs they have settled for something which some may think of as passable yet they are on course for wasting a perfect opportunity, hitting the Big E when its down and almost out. Jericho, Moxley, Lee and Cody should be taking this company in a direction where it becomes a genuine threat and a must watch for fans of fighting, yet it wants to be a comedy show, a big goof ball party which is part of some teen road movie or something, all American Pie rather than Raw is War. As a result, new guys who could be the nest big things, he likes of MJF, Allin and Page are being screwed over, lost in a chorus of donkey laughs in empty arenas.

Heck, they even booked Mike Tyson, still a genuine star and instead of him throwing KOs at the heels, he just took his shirt off. What was going through the minds of the guys running this company??? Can you imagine a peak WWE wasting a moment like that? I can't and they wouldn't have done that. What was the thinking, who is in charge. Does Cody not understand the term impact? Does Tony Khan not run this, if he does, is he a total nunce? What about advice from veterans like Jericho, Dustin, Arn? It seems to be they are all just there to collect a payday and have a laugh with a few friends.

Seriously disappointing.

PPV Standard - BRONZE
 

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Joke about "greatest this and that"...now let's get onto the actual ppv. The marketing for this has been all over the place but on paper, there's some good stuff here. Can it work? Some matches are being pre-recorded and edited (much like wrestling pre mid-90s), I think it's just something some of you kids will have to get used to for a while.

It's fair to say that wrestling isn't at its strongest at the moment due to a number of controlled and uncontrolled factors, could this PPV save us? Can it wipe away the dour, salty taste of AEWs last fiasco? Let us see!

Female Tag Match

No rating as I didn't watch...you know what stopped me other than it being a midget wrestling match? That horrendous promo by Bayley/Sasha. Why do these two keep getting pushed?

Sheamus vs Jeff Hardy
I was worried watching this one. Jeff is no longer the athletic performer he was even 6 or 7 years ago, let alone 20 and Sheamus has always just been an average worker with an average persona but boy was I wrong to be worried. This isn't the greatest wrestling match ever but it was a damn good one. It made me forget about the stadium stink up, it made me forget about the anorexic women's division, it made me forget about pre-recorded horror matches...it made me think about wrasslin'! once more and for that, thank you guys.

This was booked as the typical big man v little high flyer match up and it worked really well. Jeff can still hit some big spots and Sheamus is good with his forearms and kicks. Sheamus was on the front foot for a lot of the match and Hardy kept coming back, the comms on this were excellent, constantly selling the fact that Hardy was "resilient" and had a "never say die" attitude. It's how Jericho and HBK matches used to be called back in the day.

Jeff had a few good spots, run across the barricade, a forearm off the steps and even a lil bit of whisper in the wind. All excellent stuff from the Hardy playbook, while Sheamus bear the drums and really muscled Jeff around. The physical manner of it all really sold the story and the competition. This could easily be graded higher if not for the ending (it's a theme in this PPV). Hardy was the face, coming in from abuse and wanting redemption...so he gets booked to lose to a heel? This only makes sense if Sheamus is going for a push, otherwise it's terrible story telling and why the company fails in building faces. In fact, this is a problem in the history for so many years now, the right guy doesn't get booked to win in the natural conclusion for such a story.

Bookers, get your heads out your....

Sheamus wins.

Match Grade: BRONZE

Asuka vs Nia Jax (Women's Championship)
I tried to watch this, I really did try but Nia Jax is such a terribel character and worker. Asuka is actually cool at times but nothing which gravitated me to this match. I watched a few of the spots, I particularly liked the running knee to Nia Jax but yeah...dunno how this goes.

Braun Strowman v Miz/Morrison (Universal Championship)
Strowman is a big, bruising presence who could be sold as a legit fighter. For a time he was booked brilliantly, in his initial main event pushes against Reigns, Joe and of course Lesnar. Now that he is champion, how do they book him? In a comedy feud with Miz (remember when he was a legit heel?) and Morrison. I watched the build up package and there was slime being thrown at one of the presenters; what is this, an under sevens cartoon?

I could understand the comedy feud if this was to be a squash match but it wasn't. Miz and Morrison actually had offense, Strowman rolled around the ring and actually had to work to win. Right now he could be going up against Owens, Rollins, Styles...just about any legit name on the roster but he is doing comedy skits. Great work again bookers!

Strowman "wins".

Match Standard: TRASH

McIntyre v Bobby Lashley (WWE Championship)
Boy oh boy was I pleasantly surprised by this one. Lashley looked intense, a legit threat to the champion and actually worked for 15 minutes straight for once. Who said old dogs can't learn new tricks? McIntyre continued to impress and pulled out a few moves I hadn't seen from him before. This was a good old fashioned, heavyweight dust up. We haven't seen this in a while.

Both men got off some solid offensive manoeuvres, Lashley starting off quickly and assaulting Drew while the champ still had his gear on. It was clear that the story of the match would be Lashley trying to submit the champion with his nelson. Would it work? Well, most of Lashley's offense centred around Drew's neck and shoulders, trying to wear it down for the submission. Clever, old fashioned wrestling script here and it worked well. Especially on the outside.

It's on the outside that this match came alive and goes to show that both these men are grizzled pros at this. There were at least three botches but both guys worked their way through them and managed to recover well. My favourite part was Drew's throw into the barricade, where I assume Lashley was supposed to go over it, rather than into it. But it worked well and looked vicious. In fact, the look of the match is what makes it so good. Everything looked physical, looked strong, looked hard. This is what wrestling was supposed to be.

There are however, tow kind of major issues with the match, first is Drew's booking here. He is on the defensive for way too long. A big guy champion should never be booked in this way (has become too much of a modern trope unless its Brock getting the championship). Big guys are not supposed to be booked as under dogs who have to show resilience, that's for smaller guys. This should have been full blown, mano a mano!

The second problem is that horrible ending...why was Lana out there exactly? Why is the heel getting booked out of a clean win when it should be the other way around? If Lana was being booked into that angle, doesn't it make sense to have her try and take out Drew rather than end up distracting her own guy, the heel?!

A terrific match let down by two bad booking choices.

Match Standard: SILVER

Some comedy interlude with the male tag teams, was pointless

Edge v Orton

There is a lot of hype going into this match, not natural hype generated by rabid fans but hype created by WWE. They raised the bar so high, it was never going to be that good. Why? Who knows. This match could have been built as a simple grudge match between two decades long rivals but they had to go and hamstring it with this nonsense. That is not to say this is a bad match but neither of these men have ever had the story telling or match ability of Austin, Bret, HBK, Rock, Flair, HHH or from modern times, Rollins, AJ, Owens and co. Maybe that is unfair on Edge, who is now middle aged and returning from severe injuries; he was a phenomenal tag team wrestler and had a decent time as a singles competitor, especially his matches with Foley but Orton has always been a damp squid. A poor man's HHH some may say.

So, the match begins with a lock up (I miss these) and carries on to Orton working Edge's neck. Edge comes back with a tremendous boot on the outside, sold wonderfully by The Viper. From then on, the match is a real back and forth, with Orton working out of skin for what feels like the first time in 15 years. Edge, for a guy with fused vertebrae moves like a much younger man, even if his stamina is shot to shit. He also takes quite a few bumps I wish he hadn't (rumour is he is injured post match). I think older wrestlers, if they are being brought back to be "draws" need to be better protected, even if they wish pull off the big one.

My problem with the match starts at roughly the 20 minute mark (it goes on for a near hour). Why does it have to be this long? Drew/Lashley/Sheamus/Jeff got about 15 minutes, this match should have been no longer than 20. The pace drops off and it then becomes a collection of punches and kicks leading to the next big spot. Don't get me wrong, some of the spots are cool, a headbutt busts Orton open, there is a great superplex, Orton takes a number of Edge's famous moves from the 00s, both men take bumps on the outside (Edge shouldn't) and finally they take historic finishers, from the pedigree to the Rock Bottom. It's actually really cool stuff. I wish Orton had thrown in a stunner at some stage too.

Edge also reverses the RKO several times, which is a bit of overkill because we know, even when he hits it, Edge will kick out. Finishers mean nothing now. Edge hits two spears and should really get the win, but again, poor booking lets the side down. Orton kicks out and then punts Edge into the middle of next week. Since when did every loss have to be evened out? It doesn't have to be tit for tat with a bunch of buddies doing each other a solid. Such poor booking at the end of an otherwise good match (not the greatest!).

I was surprised by the effort of both men but the run time was too long and the ending incorrect.

Orton wins.

Match Standard: SILVER

Summary
This was a good PPV, against all the odds, poor booking, the terrible state of modern wrestling, I could sit and watch most of it. Some of its best moments harkened back to better days and the heavyweight clash between Drew and Lashley should lead to a lengthy, physical feud. Jeff needs to win his feud over Sheamus at some stage and Orton needs to put this much effort into a possible world title tilt. A bunch of comedy skits, Strowman's burial and everything else lets down a solid, solid PPV. This could have been so much more but this is the current state of affairs.

PPV Standard: SILVER
 
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