Thursday, October 13, 2011

Back to the Future: Starting A Wrestling Promotion in 1991

So, my buddy Matt Harrak came up with a unique idea at his web site where I also contribute, Creatively Endeavored. He wrote a piece where he picked 15 wrestlers from today's era to start his own wrestling promotion called the CEWA, the Creatively Endeavored Wrestling Alliance. I love the idea. I've always thought about starting my own wrestling promotion and who I would pick from today's guys if I had the choice. I like a lot of Matt's choices. C.M. Punk is the clear cut #1 to me. Randy Orton wouldn't be in my Top 15 though. I'm sure a lot of picks would be different.

But for my piece this week, I decided to piggy back off of Matt's idea. I decided to start my own wrestling promotion too. But I'm starting mine in a different time era. I'm taking my Dolorean back to the year 1991, when it was still called WWF and WCW was still around. Like Matt said, it is tough to pick from the current talent because WWE has such a strangle hold on the current product. Sure there are could wrestlers in TNA and ROH, but not many people know about them. In 1991, WWF and WCW/NWA were both relatively popular. Plus there was a lot of talent in both promotions.

Just like Matt's rules: You only have 15 guys to choose from, and one weekly two hour show to fit in all of your talent. I think 15 guys wouldn't be enough to fill out a whole TV show, but it is the rules and I have to follow them as well.

So without further ado, I give you the 1991 version of the RWF, the Royal Wrestling Federation! Who are the announcers? Come on, you know it is Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan!

Pick 1: Randy Savage

There wasn't a doubt in my mind when I decided to do this who to pick number one. By this time in the WWF, Randy Savage has already proven he is the best worker in the company. He had what some would consider the best match in WWF history at this point with Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3. He had a great feud with Hulk Hogan. Oh, and he got the best match ever out of Ultimate Warrior. I really think the Wrestlemania 7 match with Ultimate Warrior is one of the most under-rated matches in wrestling history. It told such a great story in the ring, and everything after with Elizabeth was just icing on the cake.

So why take Randy Savage number one? Because you can interchange him anywhere and he would fit right in. Savage is a great guy to build around because he would help everyone else in the promotion become a better overall wrestler. Savage is known as a bit of a perfectionist in the ring, always wanting to plan out what he does before he goes out there. While Savage's promos aren't always coherent, he always ends up getting his point across one way or another. Everyone else in the promotion would strive to get to Savage's level in the ring, and that's what you would want. As Savage said, he is the Cream of the Crop, and very few ever did it better.

Pick #2: Ric Flair

I really thought about taking Flair #1 overall. I mean, he had been the face of the NWA by this point for the last 5+ years. It is not that Ric Flair's matches aren't entertaining, but at times it just seems like a lot of the spots in his match are the same. But the fact remains, all of Flair's matches are entertaining, and he is one of the best promos ever in the business. Flair's outlandish robes and styles make him an immediate draw for a viewer who is just flipping channels. When Flair was NWA Champion, he would travel to different promotions and wrestle their best performer, whether he was at Flair's level or not. Flair could do the same in the RWF. Just like Savage, he has no problems putting someone over as long as the story warrants it. And of course, Flair and Savage would go on to have a great match together at Wrestlemania 8 in a few months. Why not have that match a few months early in the RWF for my promotion's World Title?

Pick #3: Jake Roberts

Match psychology. Ability to work the crowd. Sinister promos. An evil snake. There may not have been a better wrestler at the psychological part of the business than Jake Roberts. His moves made an impact. The DDT, now an afterthought, was taken as a very serious finisher in 1991. It was considered one of the most devastating finishers in the business. While Jake Roberts strong suit may not have been his matches, his promos were beyond brilliant. Some of the analogies Roberts used were just extraordinary. And his delivery was spot on. You couldn't ask for a better guy to sell a promo than Roberts. Even though he was both a face and a heel, I would roll Roberts out as a heel in the RWF. He is better in that position. Roberts psychology was unmatched at this time in the business. Sure, he had some personal demons and drug and alcohol problems, but it's stuff that can be worked with and hopefully fixed.

Pick #4: Sting

Ric Flair made a great point about Sting in his WWE produced DVD. Flair said that Sting was WCW's version of the Ultimate Warrior but "10 times better." He was right. Sting had a very unique look to him. The face paint, the bleach blond hair. It stood out. If you notice something about my first four picks, they all have unique characteristics that stand out. At this time, Sting was still a young guy on the rise in WCW. When paired with the right opponent, Sting could put on a great match. He wasn't at his peak during this time, but with the three veterans already on the roster I wouldn't worry about that. Sting would be someone I would start in the mid-card and after a little while work him up the card into the main event.

Pick #5: Barry Windham

When I first watched the Four Horsemen DVD, I didn't know a lot about Barry Windham. But with the praise he was given by Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in the DVD, I decided to give some of his matches a look. They weren't kidding. Windham moved around so well in the ring for a big man. All of his matches were great. Whether it'd be a singles or tag match, Windham could entertain in the ring. He got a raw deal after Flair left WCW, as he was suppose to win the World Title from Flair before he left. Windham fit in with Four Horsemen perfectly, and his heel turn was done very well. Windham just adds to my great collection of workers that don't have over the top physiques but are unique in their own way and can put on a good match with anyone in the ring.

Pick #6: Bret Hart

Bret Hart was the WWF's rising star in late 1991. He had just won the Intercontinental Championship from Mr. Perfect at SummerSlam. You could tell from Bret's in-ring work that he knew his way around the ring. Sure, him and Sting have very similar finishing maneuvers. But you know what? Why not have a nice little face-face feud where the winner gets to use that finisher, and the loser can't? Bret is another guy that can start in the mid-card and work his way up the card when given the opportunity. Bret was a dedicated worker who always wanted to find ways to improve in the ring. I want guys in my promotion that care more about the business than themselves, and Bret Hart in 1991 is one of the prime examples of that.

Pick #7: The Great Muta

He wasn't in the NWA too long, and by 1991 he was back in Japan, but this is my fantasy wrestling promotion, and I'm getting The Great Muta damn it! I've always been drawn to Muta's unique look. The man is a legend in Japan and having him in the RWF may help my international following. Muta knows his way around the ring and would bring a wealth of wrestling knowledge to my promotion. He had good matches with Sting in the NWA, and I can just imagine the matches he would have with Randy Savage and Bret Hart here. Again, Muta's unique look and awesome mist make him an immediate attraction to a new viewer.

Pick #8: The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith

In 1991, Davey Boy Smith was considered a rising star in the industry. He had a unique look, he was putting on some good matches, and he was another international star that would help a brand expand overseas. The next summer, Davey Boy Smith would sell out Wembley Stadium in England and win the Intercontinental Title from Bret Hart. I always liked Smith and thought that at different times in his career he got a raw deal, just like Barry Windham. He made a dumb mistake with the steroids in 1992, but he probably should have won the WWF Title from Shawn Michaels in 1996 at some point. He deserved it for working so hard in his career. Smith is another guy who could start at the mid-card and work his way up.

Pick #9: Arn Anderson

A little late than you might think for Arn Anderson, but at this point in his career I wouldn't think of Arn as a main eventer. He's more like the veteran of the promotion who can help establish younger guys and get them ready for the next level. That's something Arn could do with Bret Hart, Sting, and Davey Boy Smith. Arn Anderson is just someone who got the business from Day One. He's someone I would love to have around in the locker room as a mentor to my young talent. Not really much else to say about him.

Pick #10: The Undertaker w/Paul Bearer

Remember I'm going for unique here. And The Undertaker is perhaps the most unique character to ever step foot in the wrestling business. The Undertaker just grabs your attention when he steps into the ring. During this time, all The Undertaker would do is squash opponents left and right. A month from now, The Undertaker would win his first ever WWF Championship, defeating Hulk Hogan at Survivor Series. I don't know how I would book The Undertaker to start, but I would find a way to make him work in my promotion. I would probably book him in squash matches to begin with, then maybe use him as Jake Roberts sidekick for a month or two before starting a feud between the two. The Undertaker's character is too enticing to let pass up when starting a promotion in 1991.

Pick #11: Brian Pillman

Brian Pillman was considered a promising young talent in the early 90s. He was known for his high flying crossbody and hiss missle dropkick from the top rope. Pillman had some great energy that went along with his performances. Hopefully, in my promotion, we could steer Pillman in the right direction and not let him lead down the road he would take. Pillman had so much potential that was never used properly as he got lost in the shuffle in WCW and never regained any of his once promising form after his first release from the company. Hopefully he would develop his loose cannon persona slowly and keep it a bit more tame than what it eventually became.

Pick #12: Ravishing Rick Rude

I was on the fence about Rick Rude. He never really stood out to me as a performer, but he always seemed to be someone who gave it his all in the ring. He had a memorable Intercontinental Title program with Ultimate Warrior, and he worked his ass off to get a good match out of him. He also had some good success in WCW, and his career was unfortunately cut short due to an accidental back injury. Rude again brings a veteran presence to the program, and his natural arrogance and cockiness makes him a natural heel and a perfect guy for the mid-card. Rude could also be slotted into a main event program if necessary.

Pick #13: Ron Simmons

Simmons was the natural underdog. He was rising through the ranks of WCW in late 1991. It would still be a year before Simmons won the WCW World Title, but you could tell there was something in his ability that would help him make his way to the top. Simmons went on to become the first African American Heavyweight Champion in WCW, and the fans bought into his story, and that's all you can ask for as a wrestling promoter. Hopefully that story would translate here.

Picks 14 & 15: The Road Warriors

You have to have a tag team division to start a promotion, so why not take the team generally considered to be the best in wrestling history. Again, the Road Warriors had a unique look. They used power offense to take out their opponents, and they can work well as either heels or faces. They could feud immediately with a team such as Arn Anderson and Barry Windham. The Road Warriors would be the final pieces to the puzzle for the RWF.

Now of course, you would hope that the company would expand. Plus you would also need to have lower card guys to fill out your roster. But this would be my starting point if I only had 15 guys to start a wrestling company, and come 1991, I feel like this would be a couple of good starting points.

Couple Notes:
-No Hulk Hogan. Assuming I had some knowledge of backstage politics, I wouldn't want Hogan burying talent left and right and not allowing other guys to get over.
-No Lex Luger or Sid Vicious. Considered rising stars in WCW, they barely had a lick of wrestling talent, although you couldn't deny that Sid looked the part of a bad ass.
-Vader and Cactus Jack would be on this roster if it was 6 months later.
-Shawn Michaels would as well, but he was still just a Rocker at this point and hadn't shown signs of being a breakout star yet.

So what does everyone think? Like it? Don't? If not who would you pick?

Until next time,
Justin C
Follow Me on Twitter @JCWonka

1 comment:

  1. I can respect this 1991 wrestling promotion. I don't know if I agree with having Windham above Hart... But I get why you did it, it's a "purist pick". Now don't get me wrong, Windham most certainly belongs in the RWF! One superstar that I wish made the cut who I think would fit in PERFECTLY (no pun intended) with this style of roster is definitely Mr. Perfect.. He could go onto feud with Brian Pillman in some classic matches, and even with Sting or Ron Simmons for that matter.