One of the things I have always noticed and enjoyed about wrestling is the way that things seem to repeat themselves and come around full circle. In many ways the same angles you see today have been done countless times throughout the annals of history with different twists to make it more modern but the root of it always remaining the same. Even regime changes and organizational philosophies can somewhat trace their roots back dozens and dozens of years to the early days of the sport. I?ve often said that the best thinkers in wrestling are historians because we all know the old saying that ?those who don?t learn from history are doomed to repeat it?. Well many of the best thinkers in the business have learned from and drawn upon the great history of the business and parlayed that into success. I have lived through several periods in wrestling as a fan ?The Rock ?N? Wrestling Era?, ?Attitude?, ?The Monday Night Wars? and of course ?The New Generation? and I think certain things with ?The New Generation? are beginning to repeat themselves and WWE is bracing itself for ?New Generation? part 2?you?re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
For those of you who are sort of late and don?t really know or understand wrestling history ?The New Generation? was a period in WWE where they were trying to change their public image as well as turnover their talent roster without alienating some of the more older hardcore wrestling fans. This was also coming during a period where Vince McMahon was on trial for steroid distribution and the company was undergoing drug testing for the first time in its history. The age of the muscle head wrestler was coming to an end and if you can believe this Hulk Hogan was pretty much contemplating full time retirement from the wrestling business with much prodding from Vince McMahon (this was 1992 and yet here we are in 2010 and Hulk is still here). Of course new stars needed to be created and needed to be done quickly and as is the case in life most people don?t react well to change. Bret Hart, Shawn Micheals, Scott (Razor Ramon) Hall, Kevin (Diesel) Nash and the 1-2-3 Kid were all really coming into their own as the new forebearers of the company and it was initially seen as a time of great uncertainty.
People look back at it now with a certain fondness but at the time when Bret Hart initially became WWE Champion there weren?t even that many big name main event heels for Hart to work a program with and in response to that he was given the fighting champion gimmick and was having excellent matches with wrestlers that were really mid carders and nothing more. For those who don?t remember Bret’s first PPV world title main event match was against Shawn Micheals who at that point hadn?t even been a singles wrestler for a year yet and had just won his first Intercontinental title a week prior to the match. It wasn?t seen as the must see main event that it would become just four years later, neither was Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon at the following PPV. The company stuck to the course and it can be argued that by establishing the wrestlers they were able to establish during the four years that followed they were able to lay the foundation that would spark the ?Attitude Era? and help both WCW and WWE with young, established acts during the ?Monday Night War? I think we are about to embark on that road again and I am definitely looking forward to it.
Say what you will about John Cena but he has persevered throughout the years. Whether he was universally loved or universally hated he has made it through the times unscathed and through that effort has earned his respect throughout the industry. While he will never be as technically sound as a Bret Hart or a Shawn Micheals I see both himself and Randy Orton spearheading this movement. They will be the elder statesmen until the next boom period can begin but they will help cultivate this second wave of ?The New Generation? and it is all going to start within two weeks at Wrestlemania. This Wrestlemania will be somewhat reminiscent to me of Wrestlemania VIII. Wrestlemania VIII you see was an event where the old guard sort of started to fade away and the new guard started to make their name known. It was at that Wrestlemania that Hulk Hogan was supposed to retire the first time in his career as he had his farewell match with Sid ?Vicious? Justice and while that and ?Macho Man? Randy Savage defeating Ric Flair for the WWE Championship headlined the show the undercard did well to showcase the next wave of guys that the company was looking to invest in. Men like Bret Hart who would defeat ?Rowdy? Roddy Piper for the WWE Intercontinental Championship in an epic encounter that will always be remembered as Piper in his entire history with WWE at that point had never taken a clean pinfall loss in the company and went out of his way to put the young up and coming Hart over in a way that would lead to his headlining the following years Wrestlemania and many more in years to come. Men like The Undertaker who even though having already had one run in the months previous as WWE Champion would cement his status in WWE for the next two decades by being put over Jake ?The Snake? Roberts cleanly and launching his babyface run and giving him ?Phenom? status in the company. Men like Shawn Micheals who would be put over Tito Santana who had up until that point experienced multiple successes in WWE with runs as WWE Tag Team and Intercontinental Champion. It can be argued that the WWE landscape was never quite the same after that particular Wrestlemania and there is no reason why we can?t duplicate that success again in just a week.
Just like Wrestlemania VIII did Wrestlemania XXVI will pay homage to the old guard with Shawn Micheals in what I am predicting will be his retirement match against the Undertaker headlining the show. We will still also have John Cena vs. Batista for the right of who gets to shepherd the way in the years to follow but we will also have the matches where stars can be made and the old guard can make way for the new guard to follow. HHH vs. Sheamus is a wonderful example of this. Say what you want about Sheamus but he has a presence to him at the moment and as much as fans tend to complain it is those same fans who complain when WWE continues to plod away with the same old thing and not create new stars. It is that same mindset that caused many to initially reject ?The New Generation? in 1992 but it was the resolve to stick to the formula that helped create the era in which we watch wrestling in now. I?m not saying Sheamus will ever be as good as The Undertaker but the truth of the matter is no one will know unless he is given the chance to succeed. I would rather see him try and fail than to never get the chance at all.
Of course when talking about the next ?New Generation? I can?t help but think of the two guys who have those very same words in there entrance music; of course I am talking about Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes. I am amongst many who feel that their current run with Randy Orton has been mishandled but I remain optimistic that it can be saved and that the triple threat match at Wrestlemania XXVI could be a turning point for one if not both of them. There are times that I don?t feel they are ready but if they are not ready now when will they be? It is definitely time for them to sink or swim. The ultimate remembrance of the Legacy stable will not be Randy Orton’s title reign or what was accomplished during 2009 but what can be achieved by these two in the next 5 years.
Although he is not popular with many amongst the internet community when you talk about the future of wrestling in WWE you would be ignorant to omit Drew McIntyre. I personally believe that Wrestlemania XXVI may wind up his proudest moment to date and the first of many as I expect him to win Money in the Bank and become the first and only wrestler to cash in the briefcase the same night and win a major championship. I am sure hearing that many of you will groan but I believe if pushed correctly it can get over. After all when JBL won the WWE Championship off of Eddie Guerrero many fans were groaning over that and through hard work and persistence JBL actually became a serviceable champion and main eventer after some time. Sometimes we have to get through the hard times in order to get to the great times and there may very well be hard times ahead, rest assured though good times are coming.
What about Daniel Bryan? Sure he is not on Wrestlemania but his ?Mentor? The Miz is. Wrestlemania XXVI could be Bryan’s first real chance at the big stage even it is just a blip when compared with the other happenings taking place on that show. It could be the chance for him to make his star known and make the ?WWE Universe? truly take notice that he is here and is going to be here for years to come. What about CM Punk? While it is true that he has been in WWE for 4 years now and has had 3 runs as World Champion he has never had a Wrestlemania singles appearance and this expected match with Rey Misterio will be his first. It may not seem like much to some people but just the fact that he is not being lumped in with 8 other guys in a Money in the Bank match and was given a program going into the big event this year shows that he is a player and is expected to be one for years to come.
I could keep going from your John Morrisons to your Miz to Jack Swagger to Evan Bourne. Will they all be main eventers? Of course not but they will all be entrenched in the landscape for years to come. This year we will say goodbye to Shawn Micheals, it is only a matter of time before we say goodbye to the Undertaker, HHH and Chris Jericho as full time wrestlers. Some of the aforementioned superstars will be the flag bearers of tomorrow for WWE. We could just be a matter of years away from the next big boom period in wrestling and much like Wrestlemania VIII came and went without incident but turned out to be so important to wrestlings future so could this Wrestlemania that we are bracing ourselves for.
On that note I am going to wrap this week’s column up but before I do I will keep the tradition going of giving the readers something to do this weekend. First things first and that’s that there will be a new installment of ?Outside Interference? up in the VIP section for all those who wish to check it out this weekend. So I strongly recommend those of you who are VIP subscribers take a minute and check it out. There are several shows this weekend for those of you that live in the tri state area. FTW will be holding a show this Saturday in Long Island that will feature Homicide and former ECW star Balls Mahoney for more information check out ftwprowrestling.com and for those of you who want to know who kidnapped Samoa Joe in the white van on TNA Impact a few weeks ago it was JAPW owner Fat Frank as Joe will be in action for JAPW at their Wild Card show in Rahway NJ. JAPW has really been stepping there game up as of late with Gabe Sapolsky’s Evolve promotion promoting the same building. I expect a great show. Of course if you don?t want to leave the house and just want to get some good free reading I am recommending Josh Boutwell’s column here at Wrestleview ?Viva La Raza?. I have been following Lucha Libre intensely now for over a year and Josh does a great job of recapping results, news and information in the world of Lucha Libre every week. Want to read about Ken Anderson’s and Hernandez at AAA? I am sure Josh will cover that and other things in his column check it out. OK no more plugs but to those of you out there that have shows outside of the northeast and want to have me mention it or just want to say hi or criticize or anything else you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and well that’s it, next week I will try to do better and until then I am out.