Category Archives: Wrestling

The Lasting Impact Of The NWO

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It’s been nearly 20 years since the world of professional wrestling took a turn for the better or for the worse depending on how you look at it. World Championship Wrestling executive producer Eric Bischoff knew that his federation was sagging in the television ratings to the World Wrestling Federation and as he was looking to catch up to the WWF, little did he know what he was going to get.

In 1996, World Wrestling Federation chairman Vince McMahon was in dire financial straits in wake of a steroid scandal that saw him in a fierce battle with the federal government. And as McMahon’s company was losing money, he couldn’t afford to pay all of his talent; especially those who had expiring contracts.

Kevin Nash, Scott Hall

Two men in particular that had expiring contracts in the spring of 1996 were Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. At this point, Hall was widely known to wrestling fans as Razor Ramon and Nash as Diesel which were their characters in the World Wrestling Federation that they had the most success with to that point. And as Nash along with Hall were looking for a pay raise that McMahon couldn’t give them, it was just the opening that Bischoff needed.

A failed drug test on the part of Hall had put him off of World Wrestling Federation television in early 1996 until he made his last television appearance in late April, while Nash would make several television appearances which included him losing to the Undertaker and Wrestlemania 12.

Eric Bischoff

Bischoff was so desperate for better television ratings, that he would give Hall and Nash preferential contracts which included automatic bumps in pay if another wrestler would receive a contract that was more lucrative than theirs.

Hall would appear on the May 27, 1996 edition of World Championship Wrestling’s Monday Night Nitro where he would appear out of the crowd to interrupt a match. Hall would show no allegiance to WCW as he just appeared to be an “outsider” that had been sent there by McMahon. These interruptions by Hall would go on for several weeks until he was finally confronted by Sting who was the face at the time the face of WCW.┬áThe following week would see Nash make his appearance on Nitro, and he was welcomed by the fans with chants of “Diesel, Diesel”.

Together Hall and Nash would show outright disrespect for authority and World Championship Wrestling which made them cool with the younger demographic. Hall and Nash would continue to push the envelope which included the 7-footer Nash delivering a “power bomb” to Bischoff that June at the Great American Bash. The presence of Hall and Nash would see the WCW roster band together in spite of their personal feuds as it was no longer and good guy-bad guy affair, but more of an us against them mentality.

The battle line was set for Bash At The Beach which would take place at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida on July 7, 1996. That night’s main event would feature the “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger who were representing World Championship Wrestling against Hall and Nash who were now referred to as the Outsiders, along their “mystery partner”.

A “kayfabe” injury in that match to Luger saw him taken from the ring which left Savage and Sting to face Hall and Nash. It was an intense match throughout until the waning stages when all four men were laying on the canvas which would pave the way for wrestling history.

Hulk Hogan

The crowd at the Ocean Center would erupt at the site of Hulk Hogan making his way down the isle donning his traditional yellow and red. Hogan rose to iconic status in the 1980’s as the ultimate good guy as he told children to train, say their prayers, and eat their vitamins as he worked for McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation. Hogan had appeared as a heel early in his wrestling career, but it was prior to wrestling being shown on a national stage.

Hogan’s entrance to the ring would see both Hall and Nash exit the ring under the bottom rope which gave the impression that they wanted no parts of the Hulkster. Hogan would then proceed to do a pair of symbolic gestures; first he would rip off his t-shirt which proceeded something that people could not fathom.

With Savage laying in the ring, Hogan would deliver his iconic leg drop on him as the world finally knew the identity of Hall and Nash’s mystery partner. There was an immediate hatred for Hogan as the fans littered the ring with debris which was something that had never been displayed on television towards him. Hogan would then give an interview in the ring with “Mean Gene” Okerlund which solidified his turn as a heel that featured venom and angst for the likes of Savage and Sting as Hogan would proclaim himself, Hall, and Nash as “the New World Order of professional wrestling”. And for anyone that believes professional wrestling to be “fake”, they didn’t understand the impact of what had just happened in Daytona Beach.

A fan had to be restrained from getting into the ring that night to confront Hogan while Bischoff was receiving tons of phone calls and letters from angry parents now that Hogan was being portrayed as a heel. And when this happened, Bischoff knew that he had struck gold.

The New World Order would help World Championship Wrestling win the television ratings against the World Wrestling Federation for 88 weeks, but their effect can still be seen on wrestling now.

When the New World Order was formed, it sparked the birth of the “Attitude Era” in professional wrestling as wrestlers began to develop their characters based more around who they were, and it also forced McMahon to change his style. As McMahon and Bischoff battled, wrestlers began to shed “gimmicks” which had long been the norm in professional wrestling. McMahon has always been a very smart businessman which included him trademarking the characters that he had a hand in molding which is why Hall, Nash, and others were going by their given names after leaving the WWF.

When Bischoff signed Hall and Nash, he also gave them guaranteed contracts which wasn’t done at the time as a wrestling contract between a promoter and wrestler in those days was primarily sealed with a gentlemen’s handshake. And nearly 20 years later, the guaranteed contract has become the norm. But all wasn’t well with Hall, Nash, and the New World Order which also led to the demise of Word Championship Wrestling.

Unlike in the World Wrestling Federation, Hall, Nash, and Hogan had more freedom, along with more creative control of their respective characters. Hall’s suspension in the WWF was just the tip of the iceberg for what was to come in World Championship Wrestling as he would spiral out control with an addiction to alcohol that would see him bring a “red cup” to the ring from time-to-time during interviews along with appearing to be under the influence at other times. Hogan would flex his contractual muscles which included him changing story lines right before the start of Nitro. Nash would also begin to book matches which is always difficult on a wrestler as there is always going to be someone who is disappointed with you in the locker room; especially when you’re attempting to boost your character and bring down theirs. And just as the flash and over-inflated egos made the New World Order, it also destroyed it.

The New World Order went from being solid nucleus of Hall, Nash, and Hogan in the summer of 1996, to a watered down version in a very short period of time as it appeared to be the outline for a battle royal every time that they hit the ring to cut a promo due to the amount of guys that came out with them. The NWO would then be split up in the Wolfpack which was led by Nash, and NWO Hollywood which was Hogan’s crew. The breaking point would come on the January 4, 1999 edition of Nitro where Hogan would challenge Nash for the World Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Title.

It appeared to be a main event for a lifetime which included ring introductions by boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer. Hogan would come out to his now iconic theme of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” along with company of Scott Steiner while Nash would be walked down the aisle by Hall. The nearly 40,000 people in attendance at the Georgia Dome that night were ready for a battle until in the early moments of the contest, Hogan delivered a finger poke to Nash’s chest which sent him to the canvas. Hogan would then cover him for the pin to once again become the World Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion which left the fans at the Georgia Dome irate.

The “Finger Poke of Doom” would help to signal the beginning of the end for World Championship Wrestling. McMahon had recovered from the financial peril that he was in the few years prior to that and his company had plenty of steam with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the Rock leading the way. And with Bischoff contractually obligated to give Hall and Nash automatic pay raises if other wrestlers received more money than them, his hands were tied when it came time to re-negotiate contracts with the likes of Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and the Giant as each of these men would leave for McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation during 1999 and early 2000.

Vince McMahon

By early 2001, World Championship Wrestling was losing nearly $5 million a month. And as the end appeared to be near for WCW, McMahon bought the company for roughly $5 million. McMahon mainly wanted WCW’s video library and he didn’t have a need for most of the talent.

Wrestling fans still wanted to see the former stars of World Championship Wrestling appear on World Wrestling Federation television as the likes of Booker T had popped up on Monday Nigt Raw and Smackdown. But being that WCW was owned by AOL Time Warner prior to McMahon’s purchase of the company, wrestlers who were still under contract instead opted to stay at home and get paid instead of working for McMahon.

But in late 2001, rumblings began to surface about McMahon bringing the New World Order to the World Wrestling Federation. And those rumors were confirmed in January 2002 with the image of the NWO appearing on WWF television. A raucous crowd would welcome the NWO to the WWF that February at No Way Out and over the next few months they would be greatly received wherever they would go. But unlike in World Championship Wrestling, the NWO wasn’t in control as McMahon was firmly running the show for the WWF. And after a series of events which included Hogan returning to his iconic yellow and red, along with the “plane ride from hell” which saw McMahon fire Hall, the NWO was disbanded later that year.

Fans and wrestlers alike have been on the fence about the New World Order as you either loved them or hated them. By some wrestlers the NWO was criticized for not making enough stars which could be debated as wrestlers such as Marcus Bagwell and Konnan were mid-card guys who’s status changed once they joined the NWO. In 1997, the NWO would feud with Diamond Dallas Page which was the push that he needed to eventually become the World Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion. The arrival of the NWO in WCW meant the end of the days of the organization being considered “Southern wrestling” as they became more mainstream. The NWO’s appeal allowed Bischoff to sign Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman who would be Hogan’s tag-team partner at several pay-per-view events. The days of the Four Horseman who were led by Ric Flair and Arn Anderson running things in WCW were over as the NWO represented the new breed, and typically when someone is changing the game, they are meet with resentment.

You can still see the impact of the New World Order on professional wrestling to this very day as the gimmick era may never appear again in professional wrestling while wrestlers themselves have become more business savvy. For wrestling fans at the time it didn’t seem like it, but the spring of 1996 would mark the dawn of a new day in professional wrestling with Hogan, Hall, and Nash leading the way.

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Top Sports Moments At The Georgia Dome Part 4

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2013 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Game-Michigan Wolverines vs. Louisville Cardinals

Louisville-MichiganAfter years of being a non-factor in college basketball for nearly the Michigan Wolverines returned to the college basketball spotlight during the 2012-2013 college basketball season which culminated with the school’s first trip to the Final Four since 1993. The Louisville Cardinals on the other hand had reached the Final Four in 2012 only to be knocked off in the national semifinal by their in-state rival in the Kentucky Wildcats.

The Wolverines arrived at the NCAA Championship Game with a record of 31-7 and after knocking off the Syracuse Orange 61-56 in the national semifinal, Michigan liked their chances in facing another Big East Conference school in Louisville. The Cardinals came into the NCAA Tournament as the number one overall seed and heading into the title game they were riding a 15-game winning streak.

In the first half it was Michigan’s outside shooting against Louisville’s uptempo offense. Michigan was paced by reserve guard Spike Albrecht who hit four three-point shots. But Louisville looked to counter with their dynamic backcourt of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith. Smith had a cold shooting night, but Siva picked up the slack with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals.

At the half Michigan was leading 38-37, but Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is infamous for motivating his team and getting them to turn it up to another level.

In the second half Louisville’s full-court press attempted to get Michigan out of their offensive rhythm, but the Wolverines countered with guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. who combined to score 36 points. Louisville’s depth was on display as well, as forward Chane Behanan scored 15 points and 12 rebounds while reserve guard Luke Hancock scored 22 points off of the bench.

The Cardinals would hold off the Wolverines 82-76 and win their third national championship in school history.

Week 7 1994 NFL Season-San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

San Francisco-AtlantaCornerback Deion Sanders spent the first five years of his National Football League career with the Atlanta Falcons. After the 1993 NFL season was complete, Sanders would go on to sign a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers.There was still some animosity between Sanders and the Falcons being that he signed with a team within the NFC West.
Prior to the game the 49ers defense was introduced and the fans in attendance at the Georgia Dome let Sanders hear it. 
The 49ers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead when running back Ricky Watters scored on a 10-yard touchdown. 
Sanders was the center of attention during the game which led to a fight with his former Falcons teammate in wide receiver Andre Rison which did not slow down San Francisco’s onslaught.
The 49ers were ahead 21-3 in the second quarter when Sanders put the icing on the cake when he intercepted Falcons quarterback Jeff George and returned the football 93 yards for a touchdown. 
The 49ers would defeat the Falcons that afternoon by a score of 42-3 to improve their record to 5-2. The 49ers would finish the regular season with a record of 13-3 en route to winning their fifth Super Bowl Championship.

1997 SEC Championship Game Tennessee Volunteers vs. Auburn Tigers

1997 SEC ChampionshipThe first four editions of the Southeast Conference Championship Game primarily featured the two best teams in the conference in the Florida Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide. But the 1997 edition of the conference title game featured the conference’s best player. 
Quarterback Peyton Manning was the SEC’s best player in 1997 and he led the Tennessee Volunteers to a 10-1 record in the regular season and a spot in the SEC Title Game. Manning and the Vols would be opposed by the Auburn Tigers who had a 9-2 record and they were looking to play spoiler. This was the first time that neither Florida or Alabama would be in the SEC Championship Game, but the Vols and Tigers gave us a title game for the ages.
It didn’t take Manning that long to get Tennessee on the scoreboard as he found his favorite wide receiver Peerless Price early in the first quarter on a 40-yard touchdown pass to put the Volunteers up 7-0. 
During his tenure as Auburn head coach, Terry Bowden preached all three fazes of the game and in the first half the Tigers scored in each facet to take a 20-10 lead into the dressing room.
In the first half the Tennessee defense was unable to stop Auburn quarterback Dameyune Craig. But in the second half, led by linebacker Al Wilson the Tennessee defense would shut down Auburn’s running attack in order to make them one-dimensional on offense. 
Even with that Auburn still had a 29-23 lead until early in the fourth quarter when Manning found wide receiver Marcus Nash for a 73-yard touchdown pass to put the Vols up 30-29. 
Tennessee would go on to win by that score and Manning would be the game’s MVP.

2006 Sugar Bowl Georgia Bulldogs vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

2006 Sugar BowlSince 1935 the Sugar Bowl has best a Southern tradition in the beautiful city of New Orleans. But in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina in 2005 which damaged the Louisiana Superdome, the 2006 Sugar Bowl would be played at the Georgia Dome. What made the game more intriguing was that the home-state Georgia Bulldogs would be playing in the Sugar Bowl as the Georgia Dome is only a short ride from their campus in
Athens. There the Dawgs would meet the upstart West Virginia Mountaineers out of the Big East Conference.
Georgia came onto the field and the were greeted by a sea of red. At first the Bulldogs took the Mountaineers for granted and after the first quarter it was West Virginia with a 21-0 lead as Georgia was unable to stop their spread offense.
Early in the second quarter West Virginia running back Steve Slaton scored from 18 yards out to extend the Mountaineer lead to 28-0.
Slowly but surely the Bulldogs would begin to chip away at West Virginia’s lead and when Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley found tight end Leonard Pope with just under a minute to play in the first half, the Mountaineers were only leading 31-21.
After the high scoring first half, there was only one touchdown scored in the third quarter and it was by Georgia when Shockley found wide receiver A.J. Bryant to cut the Mountaineer lead to just three points. But in the fourth quarter just when West Virginia appeared ready to surrender the lead to the Bulldogs, it was Slaton once again; this time on a 52-yard touchdown run to put the Mountaineers up 38-28. 
West Virginia would go on to win the game 38-35 and with 204 yards rushing, Slaton would be named the game’s MVP.

7/6/1998-Bill Goldberg vs. Hulk Hogan

Bill GoldbergIn 1998, World Championship Wrestling was in the midst of an era that was dominated by the New World Order. Hulk Hogan was the WCW Heavyweight Champion while The Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) were the tag champs.
In 1997 former National Football League player Bill Goldberg made his WCW debut and he took the company by storm with his sheer power and reckless abandon. Early in 1998 Goldberg became United States Heavyweight Champion and his popularity continued to soar. By the summer on 1998 Goldberg was still undefeated and he now set his sights on the WCW Title which was held by Hogan.
On the July 6 edition of Monday Night Nitro, Hogan promised Goldberg a title shot if he could get past Hall in a singles match. Goldberg disposed of Hall which left Hogan no option but to enter the squared circle with the hottest man in professional wrestling.
Prior to joining WCW, Goldberg played for the Atlanta Falcons for two seasons and he was thus billed as being from Atlanta, Georgia. The crowd at the Georgia Dome was buzzing and once Goldberg gave the legendary Hogan the “spear” which was followed by his signature “jack hammer” it was all over except the shouting as Goldberg would be crowned as the new WCW Heavyweight Champion.

Source: Pro-football-reference.com
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Top Sports Moments At The Georgia Dome Part 2

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Week 2 2011 NFL Season-Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons

Michael VickFrom
2001-2006 Quarterback Michael Vick was the face of the Atlanta Falcons
franchise. But in 2007 Vick’s federal conviction for running a dog
fighting ring changed all of that as he spent nearly two years in
prison. In 2009 Vick was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles to be a
backup quarterback. By 2010 Vick became the Eagles starting quarterback
as he led the team to the NFC Eastern Division Title.
In Week 2
of the 2011 National Football League season Vick made his return to the
Georgia Dome as the Falcons hosted his Eagles. The jeers outnumbered
the cheers that day for Vick who attempted to downplay everything. 
The
game was a back and forth affair between both sides. Vick finished the
game 19-of-28 with 242 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns before
being knocked out of the game with a concussion. The Eagles would go to
lose the game 35-31. 

Finger Poke Of Doom 1/4/1999

For
several years World Championship Wrestling had overtaken the World
Wrestling Federation in the ratings battle during “The Monday Night
Wars”. Led by the formation of the New World Order in 1996, the WCW
became a ratings nightmare for their counterparts at the WWF. Eric
Bischoff was the president of WCW who oversaw everything that was being
done; including signing former WWF wrestlers such as Scott Hall, Kevin
Nash, Randy Savage, and Hulk Hogan.
The two companies began 1999 neck and neck in popularity, but Bischoff and WCW would make a mistake for the ages. 
Bischoff
had appointed Nash to head booker and in the world of professional
wrestling there is an unwritten rule that wrestlers should not be
allowed to book matches. Towards the end of 1998 Nash had defeated the
immensely popular Bill Goldberg for the WCW World Heavyweight Title and ending his undefeated streak. 
The
first Monday Night Nitro of the year would take place at the Georgia
Dome where over 40,000 wrestling fans would be in attendance. 
The
once strong NWO appeared to be tearing at the seams and earlier in the show Nash challenged Hogan to a match. Hall,
Hogan, and Nash were the founding fathers of the NWO and everyone tuned
in to see what would happen.
Famed boxing announcer Michael
Buffer was on hand to introduce the two parties. Hogan was introduced
first and he came to the ring accompanied by Scott Steiner to Jimi
Hendrix’s famed “Voodoo Child”. Nash then came to the ring accompanied
by Hall.
Kevin NashThe atmosphere at the Georgia Dome that night was
electric. Nash and Hogan danced around the ring for a few minutes with a
brief dose of pushing and shoving. Nash had Hogan backed up in the
corner before backing off. From there Hogan placed his finger directly
in the chest of Nash who immediately fell to the mat. Hogan immediately
jumped on Nash and the referee counted. Hogan was crowned WCW Champion
and a stunned crowd began throwing debris in the vicinity of the ring.
In
the aftermath of the incident that was dubbed as “The Fingerpoke of
Doom”, WCW saw a huge drop in ratings. Within less than a year Bischoff
was fired by WCW and by 2001 the company had been purchased by the WWF
for a mere $3.5 million.
In the world of professional wrestling you cannot tease wrestling fans and Bischoff and his posse found that out the hard way.

2013 Chick-Fil-A-Bowl-Duke Blue Devils vs. Texas A&M Aggies

Formerly
known as the Peach Bowl, the Chick-Fil-A-Bowl has been a southern
tradition in Atlanta that started out at Bobby Dodd Stadium on the
campus of Georgia Tech University in 1968 before moving to
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1971. The game would stay there until
1992 when it began being played at its current home in the Georgia
Dome.The Chick-Fil-A-Bowl has been known for dramatic finishes and
tremendous comebacks in a game that showcases teams from the Atlantic
Coast and Southeastern Conferences.
Texas A&M-DukeThe final college football
game of the 2013 calendar year was a barn burner between the Duke Blue
Devils and the Texas A&M Aggies. The Blue Devils were making
consecutive bowl game appearances for the first time in school history
while the Aggies were bidding farewell to the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner
in quarterback Johnny Manziel who was expected to declare early for the
National Football League Draft.
The Blue Devils led for the entire first half as
the Aggies defense was unable to stop them. Duke took at 38-17 lead into
the dressing room at halftime and they appeared to be in complete
control.
Manziel is listed ta 6’0″ and although he might be a
little shorter he has the heart of a giant. Manziel wasn’t going to end his
collegiate career with a loss and he led a furious Texas A&M
comeback in the second half. Early in the fourth quarter Texas A&M
had shed 18 points off of Duke’s lead as they trailed 41-38. But Duke’s
offense woke up and quarterback Anthony Boone found wide receiver David
Reeves for a 21-yard touchdown pass to give the Blue Devils a 48-38 lead
with just under seven minutes left in the game. 
Like a true
gunslinger Manziel rallied his troops one more time. With just under six
minutes remaining in the contest Manziel found wide receiver Derel
Walker for a 44-yard touchdown pass.
Unable to stop Duke’s
offense for the entire game, A&M’s defense finally rose to the
occasion when defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. picked off Boone and
returned it 55-yards for what turned out to be the game-winning
touchdown with about three minutes remaining in the contest.
Soon
after the game Manziel would declare for the NFL Draft ending his
college career and in the process he forever left his stamp on college
football. 

2001 ACC Tournament Semifinal-Maryland Terrapins vs. Duke Blue Devils

Maryland-DukeIn
2001 the Atlantic Coast Conference decided to change things up as they
held their men’s basketball tournament for the first time at the Georgia
Dome. The ACC began the 2000-2001 college basketball season with the Duke Blue Devils, North
Carolina Tar Heels, and Maryland Terrapins all ranked in the top 10 of
the Associated Press Poll.

Coming into the ACC Tournament, Duke and
Maryland had two epic battles in the regular season with the road team coming away victorious
on each occasion. But what would happen on a neutral site at the Georgia
Dome?

Duke came into the ACC Tournament as the second ranked team in
the country and they knew that winning the ACC Tournament would solidify
their chances to be a one seed in the 2001 NCAA Tournament. Maryland came to
Atlanta ranked 13th in the country and they were looking to gain some
momentum for themselves after suffering nine losses in the regular
season. These two teams would meet in the ACC semis in an epic back and
forth affair.

Maryland was ahead by three points at halftime and the game was far from over.

This
contest was not decided until the end with Duke swingman Nate James scored
on a tip-in basket to put the Blue Devils head 84-82 with just 1.3
second remaining. The Blue Devils would on to win by that score and when
the two teams shook hands after the game it was Duke forward Shane
Battier who told Maryland forward Lonny Baxter that “We’ll see you in
Minneapolis”.

Minneapolis, Minnesota was the site of the 2001 NCAA
Men’s Final Four. Duke and Maryland would both make it there as they met
in the national semifinals. Duke would defeat Maryland 95-84 en route
to winning their third national championship in school history.

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At 40-Years of Age, We Still Smell What The Rock is Cooking!!!

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Dwayne Johnson is no stranger to the spotlight. Johnson’s father is
Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson who was co-holder of The World Wrestling
Entertainment’s Tag Team Championship. Johnson’s maternal grandfather
was “High Chief” Peter Maivia who was also a professional wrestler.
Johnson was also a member of The University of Miami’s football team
that won a national championship in 1991. After a brief stint in The
Canadian Football League, Johnson threw his hat into the wrestling ring.
In 1996, Johnson got his start in The United States Wrestling
Association as “Flex Kavana” before he made the jump to Vince McMahon’s
then World Wrestling Federation.

At first Johnson was a babyface dubbed “Rocky Maivia” as he took his
father’s first name and his grandfather’s last name. Fans didn’t warm
up to Johnson at first, but he would be on a course for greater things
as “The Rock’. Along with Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Johnson was a big part of The WWE’s “Attitude
Era” that once again made McMahon the king of professional wrestling.
What allowed Johnson to appeal to the masses was his charisma and his
numerous interviews in third person while he continuously told
“jabronis” to know their role.

In 1999, Johnson became The WWE’s first black heavyweight champion.
Johnson’s career would never be the same after he hosted NBC’s Saturday
Night Live in 2000. Johnson’s persona came out in several skits on the
show which caught the eyes of the people in Hollywood. Johnson’s first
big role came in 2001 as he was Mathayus in The Mummy Returns. Johnson’s
popularity and ability in front of the camera led to him reprising this
role in 2002 in The Scorpion King as it was the first movie that he was
the featured star.

Johnson has consistently teased his wrestling fans with cameo
appearances here and there since 2002 as the riggers and finances of
starring in films have kept him away from the squared circle.

In
the 1980’s Hulk Hogan laid the foundation for wrestlers to become
crossover stars and now Johnson has taken it to another level. Hogan
starred in an era where we all said our prayers and ate our vitamins,
but those wrestling fans have grown up and they now have split time in
supporting Johnson in the ring and at the box office.

After the success of The Scorpion King in 2002 which grossed $91
million at the box office, Johnson has gone on to star in such films as
Walking Tall, Gridiron Gang, and Fast Five. Johnson has several films on
tap for 2013 which appear to have the potential to pack people in at
the movie theaters as he will star in Fast 6, GI Joe: Retaliation, and
Snitch. With a net worth over $70 million, Johnson has transcended to
iconic status.

Last year at WrestleMania 28, Johnson returned to the ring to take
on John Cena. These two icons battled for over 30 minutes at Sun Life
Stadium in Miami before Johnson pinned Cena. Johnson then returned to
ring in January as he took on The WWE Champion CM Punk at The Royal
Rumble. Johnson defeated Punk for his eighth reign as WWE Champion. All
signs now point to Johnson walking down “the people’s aisle” at
WrestleMania 29 in April at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New
Jersey to defend his title against Cena.

Whether it is delivering “the people’s elbow”, bringing it on the
mic, or establishing himself as one of the best action stars in
Hollywood, Johnson is showing that at the age of 40 he is just starting
to have fun and we definitely smell what he is cooking.

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The Greatest Intercontinental Champions of All-Time

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Intercontinental Title

Once upon a time, The World Wrestling Entertainment’s
Intercontinental Title was a symbol of excellence. The championship was
created in 1979 when South American Heavyweight Champion Pat Patterson
defeated North American Heavyweight Champion Ted DiBiase to become
Intercontinental Champion. 70 WWE Superstars have held the title. At one
time this was the measuring stick in The WWE for anyone that was on the
verge of possibly competing for The WWE Championship. Now it has
somewhat fallen by the wayside as titles are constantly changing hands
and wrestlers will join The WWE and a month later they are holding The
World Championship. I put this list together based on in-ring ability,
duration as a champion, fan approval or disapproval, charisma, and
skills on the microphone. With that here are my top ten Intercontinental
Champions.


1. Randy “Macho Man” Savage

Macho ManRandy Savage came
from a wrestling family as his father Angelo Poffo and his brother Lanny
Poffa aka “The Genius” were both wrestlers. The Macho Man won The
Intercontinental Title on February 8,1986 when he defeated Tito Santana
at the famed Boston Garden.  Savage’s raspy voice, flamboyant ring
attire, and with the lovely Elizabeth as his valet made him mainstream
in the world of wrestling. Savage took the title to new heights as he
held the belt for 414 days before losing to Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
at WrestleMania 3 in what many see as the greatest match in wrestling
history. Besides feuding with Steamboat, Savage also feuded with George
“The Animal” Steele and Bruno Sammartino during his reign. Savage’s
aerial ability was legendary as well. To this day I have yet to see a
wrestler replicate Savage’s move of jumping over the top rope to the
floor while clotheslining his opponent on the top rope. The Macho Man
isn’t in The WWE Hall of Fame and that is a shame, but you can never
hide his ability as the best Intercontinental Champion of all-time, oh
yeah!!!!!!!


2. “Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning
Like Randy Savage, Mr.
Perfect was a second generation wrestler as he followed in the footsteps
of his father Larry “The Ax” Henning. Henning came to The WWE in 1988
and after failed challenges in 1989 against WWE Champion Hulk Hogan,
Henning showed that he was worthy of a title. After The Ultimate Warrior
defeated Hogan at Wrestlemania 6 to win The WWE Title, his
Intercontinental Title was rendered vacant. On April 23,1990 Henning
defeated Tito Santana for the vacant Intercontinental Title. Henning
would enjoy two reigns as Intercontinental Champion which was
highlighted by his feud with “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich as the
two split the title between August and November 1990. Perfect lost the
title for good at Summer Slam ’91 to Bret “The Hitman” Hart in what was
viewed by many as the match of the year as you had two technicians in
the ring. Henning’s athleticism was legendary hence the name Mr.
Perfect. There wasn’t a thing that Henning lacked whether it was in
interviews or his athletic ability which is why he could constantly say
that he was “absolutely perfect”.

3. Bret “The Hitman” Hart

Bret HartTo
many Bret Hart was known as “The Excellence of Execution” and he was
that good on the ring. Hart came from the famed Hart wrestling family in
Canada as he was trained by his legendary father Stu Hart. Hart was a
two-time WWE Tag Team Champion with his brother-in-law Jim “The Anvil”
Neidhardt as they were The Hart Foundation. In 1991 Hart set out on his
own and at Summer Slam ’91 he achieved his first singles title in The
WWE as he defeated Mr. Perfect at Madison Square Garden. Hart held the
title for 144 days before he lost to The Mountie on January 19, 1992 to
The Mountie. Hart once again had his sights on The Intercontinental
Title as he faced his cousin “Rowdy” Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 8.
Although he was bleeding from the face during the match, Hart was able
to recapture the title. Hart then lost The Intercontinental Title at
Summer Slam ’92 at Wembley Stadium in London, England to his
brother-in-law The British Bulldog before going on to win The WWE
Championship that fall. Hart never gave those over the top interviews,
but he was indeed a wrestler’s wrestler.

4. Pedro Morales

Pedro Morales was the first man in
WWE history to hold The Intercontinental, Tag Team, and WWE
Championships. Morales was a technician in the ring and he was a
two-time Intercontinental Champion. Morales won his first
Intercontinental Title on December 8,1980 when he defeated Ken Patera.
Morales would go on to feud with Don Muraco. The two men would split the
title until January 22,1983 when Morales was defeated by Muraco to lose
The Intercontinental Title for the final time. During his two runs as
IC Champ, Morales held the title for a combined 619 days which is still a
WWE record for longest combined reign of the title.

5. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine

Greg
“The Hammer” Valentine brought a mean streak along with a technician’s
attitude to The Intercontinental Title. Valentine is the son of
legendary wrestler Johnny Valentine and he wrestled that way as well.
Valentine won the title on September 24,1984 as he defeated Tito Santana
in London, Ontario. Valentine would defend The Intercontinental Title
in the very first WrestleMania as he lost by count-out to The Junk Yard
Dog. Valentine would hold the title for 285 days before he lost the
title on July 6,1985 to Santana.

6. Shawn Michaels

“The
Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels has always been a lightning rod for
controversy, but there is no disputing his ability as one of the better
Intercontinental Champions. Michaels griited his teeth for years in The
WWE in the tag-team ranks as he and Marty Jannetty were The Rockers.
After The Rockers split in early 1992, Michaels became a singles
wrestler and by October 27,1992 Michaels had defeated The British
Bulldog for his first official title reign in The WWE. The women loved
Michaels, but overall he was a good performer in the ring as he was the
image of the changing wrestling scene of the early 90’s. Michaels would
go on to be a three-time IC Champion.
7. The Honky Tonk Man

The
Honky Tonk Man has always professed to be the greatest Intercontinental
Champion of all-time as he held the title (454 days) longer than any
other champion. After an upset victory over Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
on June 2,1987, The Honky Tonk Man was expected to be a “transition”
champion, but he was over as one of the top villains in The WWE. The
Honky Tonk Man was a cocky heel who was dressed as Elvis Presley and his
manager Jimmy Hart and valet Peggy Sue (Sherri Martel) would sometimes
get involved in his matches. Even with that, once The Honky Tonk Man hit
his opponents with”shake, rattle, and roll” it was time for him to
strut his stuff as the winner.

8. The Rock

The
Rock is another wrestler that comes from a long lineage of wrestling as
his father Rocky Johnson and his grandfather Peter Maivia were
professional wrestlers. After dropping the name Flex Kavana in favor of
Rocky Maivia, The Rock found success in The WWE as he defeated his
longtime rival Hunter Hearst Helmsley on Febraury 13,1997 for his first
title reign. The Rock would lose on April 28 of that same year to Owen
Hart before starting a new reign on December 8,1997 when “Stone Cold”
Steve Austin handed The Rock the title. The Intercontinental
Championship was a symbol of the long feud between The Rock’s Nation of
Domination and Helmsley’s Degeneration-X. Through The Rock’s two runs as
Intercontinental Champion, he held the title for 339 days which is 11th
in WWE history for most days during combined reigns.

9. “The Magnificent” Muraco

Aside
from being one of the most hated villains during the early to
mid-1980’s, Don Muraco was also a two-time Intercontinental Champion.
Muraco started his first reign on June 20,1981 when he defeated Pedro
Morales in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Muraco would lose the title to
Morales on November 23 of that year before winning it for a second time
on January 22, 1983 in New York City. Muraco’s second title reign was
highlighted by an epic steel cage match against Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
Muraco won the match, but it is best remembered for Snuka leaping off of
the top of the cage. Muraco’s second title reign lasted for 385 days
before he lost to Tito Santana on February 11,1984 at The Boston Garden.
Muraco’s two title reigns add up to him holding The IC Title for 541
days which is second in WWE history for most days through combined title
reigns.

10. Tito Santana

Tito
Santana was a “student” of wrestling and he was not afraid to mix it up
in the ring as well. Santana was a two-time Intercontinental Champion
as he feuded with Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, and Randy Savage. When
Santana defeated Muraco for his first title reign in 1984, he became the
first Mexican-American champion in WWE History. WWE commentator Jesse
“The Body” referred to Santana as “Chico”, but his fans will always
remember him for his “flying forearm” that was his finishing maneuver. 

*Honorable Mention: Randy Orton, Razor Ramon
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