Thursday, April 23, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: Fourth Round, Brackets XXV-XXVIII

BRACKET XXV


George Hackenschmidt VS Lawrence Taylor

As a wrestling fan, you have to think about this matchup and laugh.  Yes, Lawrence Taylor main evented a Wrestlemania and won.  He is a legit athlete and an NFL Hall Of Famer.  George Hackenschmidt was the first recognized World Heavyweight Champion in wrestling history, and he did it back before the shit was fake.  Sorry LT, but your improbable run into the fourth round hits a titanium wall.


BRACKET XXVI


Sting VS Dean Malenko

Would have been a pretty darn good match, but there's no way Sting isn't going over here, right?  Malenko would be sure to put on quite a clinic in defeat though.  And that's how it goes, because I'm booking this and not WCW.


BRACKET XXVII


Kurt Angle VS Stan "The Man" Stasiak

Two former WWF Champions walk in, and only one can walk out.  That man is Kurt Angle, and Stasiak can't walk because of the Angle Lock.


BRACKET XXVIII


"Cowboy" James Storm VS Goldberg

Hey, I love the Cowboy & all, but dude has zero chance against Goldberg.  Fun fact: Goldberg has only lost five times in his career, and never cleanly.


Recap:

George Hackenschmidt defeats Lawrence Taylor
Sting defeats Dean Malenko
Kurt Angle defeats Stan Stasiak
Goldberg defeats James Storm

Come on back for Brackets XXIX-XXXII!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: Fourth Round, Brackets XXI-XXIV

BRACKET XXI


"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff VS Andre The Giant

Orndorff had legit strength, but nowhere near enough to withstand the onslaught of perhaps the largest athlete based on body index to ever walk the Earth.  Andre in six minutes.


BRACKET XXII


Pat O'Connor VS Gene Kiniski

I've seen Pat O'Connor wrestle Buddy Rogers before, and it was incredible.  Watching Gene Kiniski fight Lou Thez was kind of a let down.  Honestly, despite Kiniski beating Thez and Gagne in their prime and coming within an eyelash of making it all three with Sammartino, I gotta go with O'Connor.  Guy was a world champion in his own right, in fact the only man to hold the NWA and AWA World Championships simultaneously.  No shame in Kiniski's game, but for my money, O'Connor was better.


BRACKET XXIII


Charlie Haas VS Verne Gagne

A battle between two Mat-Wrestlin' Minnesotans.  Obviously Gagne gets the duke, but Charlie Haas would put in a good twelve minutes before retiring in such a clinic.  (Read: Haas was underrated.)


BRACKET XXIV


Meng VS Giant Baba

Perhaps the hoss fight to end all hoss fights.  Meng has been dubbed by the boys in the back as one of the legitimately toughest human beings to lace a pair of boots, and Giant Baba was a seven foot tall beast who held the NWA Championship on three occasions.  Thing is though, despite watching Baba get a fall on Bruno Sammartino in a 2-out-of-3 falls match, I'm actually going to with Meng.  When Meng was King Tonga in 1986, I saw him wrestle a style more like Ricky Steamboat than a Face Of Fear.  He has a deceptively deep move set beneath the hard core (meaning impenetrably solid, not just, y'know, "hard core").


Recap:

Andre The Giant defeats Paul Orndorff
Pat O'Connor defeats Gene Kiniski
Verne Gagne defeats Charlie Haas
Meng defeats Giant Baba

Come on back for Brackets XXV-XXVIII!


Monday, April 20, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: Fourth Round, Brackets XVII-XX

BRACKET XVII


"The IT Factor" Bobby Roode VS Rey Mysterio, Jr.

As good as Bobby Roode is (and as much as he DESPERATELY deserves better than TNfuckingA), Rey-Rey has been a bonafide ball of awesome his whole career.  Say what you want about his size; he deserved to win MORE world championships.  Mysterio advances.


BRACKET XVIII

Batista VS "Dr. Death" Steve Williams

This one will no doubt shrivel the ball sacs of the wrestling purists out there, but I gotta go with Batista on this one.  Yes, Dr. Death had talent.  And yes, he too deserved much more than what his wrestling career wound up providing him (not to mention he should still be alive; FUCK cancer).  And HOLY SHIT yes, he was part of a goddamned tag team called the Miracle Violence Connection which is the best tag team name ever, but people seem to always forget about Batista.  (Lately, they're forgetting how they built him the first time, now that Roman Reigns is basically floundering as John Cena 2.0.  He should be Batista 2.0.  But I digress.)

Batista was BIG in 2005.  He beat Triple H three PPV's in a row after winning the Royal Rumble.  Injury prone?  Yes.  A less than stellar worker?  Maybe, maybe not.  Over-rated?  I'd say no.  People forget he used to be: a) decent at his role and b) A big flippin' deal.  Looking back, it seems like he was the chosen one and not John Cena.  Cena was the alternative who just happened to step up and take advantage when Batista was injured.  At least that's how one can look at it.

Anyway, Dave B. has six world championships, including the longest run with the big gold belt under the WWE banner of anyone.  This would've been a crazy match though; hard hitting, full of impact.  Being that JR and Williams were friends, it's only fitting to put the "slobberknocker" tag on this one.


BRACKET XIX


The Undertaker VS Raven

What about me?  WHAT ABOUT RAVEN?!?!?!
[Bell tolls; lights go out; lights come back on; Ring is empty]
JR: Apparently, we are being joined by "Johnny Polo" on commentary.  [Ross air quotes when saying "Johnny Polo".]
Polo: That's right.  And this is gonna be a helluva fight.  I wonder where Raven went?  He was just here a minute ago...
JR: Oh, for the love of...
[Lights go out again; Come up again; Taker is beside Polo]
JR: I uh...I think you better turn around...
Polo: What's goin' on around here?  Somebody forget to pay the electric billUGHLGL!!!
[Taker goozles Polo, throws him in ring.  Polo is out the other side and up the ramp...]
JR: Quicker than a hiccup!
[Thank you.  Taker wins by countout.  But DAMN it was fun to explore Scott Levy's early chicken shit heel work.  Raven was an awesome character, but I actually think Scott Anthony in the GWF was some of his best work.]


BRACKET XX


Whipper Billy Watson VS Randy Orton

An interesting matchup, since I don't quite remember who Whipper Billy Watson is.  Since round three, all the information I've researched on him has fallen out of my brain, and I've had to do some reading/watching to see if he could hang with the Apex Predator of the WWE.

The answer is a definite YES.  He is the man that ended Lou Thez's six year reign as NWA Champion, and though he only held it for eight months, he successfully defended it against Pat O'Connor, Buddy Rogers, Bobo Brazil, Killer Kowalski and Fritz Von Erich.  Weirdly enough, I can't say that Randy Orton has any such victory under his belt.  He's held twelve world championships, and even though he's defended them in the main event of several Wrestlemanias (and even UNIFIED the two WWE World Championships at the end of 2013), has he ever had a victory or even a title run that's actually MATTERED?  No.  Ending Lou Thez's run is a fucking accomplishment.  Orton can be really good sometimes, but...has he ever been great?

That being said, however, Randy Orton looks better in the ring.  Granted, there is VERY little to go on here, but given that when Orton wants to have an excellent match he can deliver, and given that "The Whip" failed to impress me at all, I'm going to go with Randy Orton.  We'll just pretend that, just this once, Billy Watson whipped him into shape and he lived up to all that fucking potential he wastes on shitty promos and chinlocks.


Recap:

Rey Mysterio defeats Bobby Roode
Batista defeats Dr. Death
Undertaker defeats Raven/Johnny Polo/Scotty Flamingo/Scott Anthony
Randy Orton defeats Billy Watson

Come on back for Brackets XXI-XXIV!

Friday, April 17, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: Fourth Round, Brackets XIII-XVI

BRACKET XIII


The Big Show VS "Macho Man" Randy Savage

These two met on an episode of Nitro (1/29/96 according to YouTube), but it ended quickly when Ric Flair got involved.  Still, since Randy Savage is basically Hulk Hogan if he cashed in six inches of height and sixty pounds in exchange for a pile of talent the size and shape of Ricky Steamboat, I think he could take out Paul Wight at any stage of his career.  No offense to Show, but Savage is one in a small, small herd of G.O.A.T.s.


BRACKET XIV


"Superstar" Billy Graham VS King Kong Bundy

Speaking of the Hulkster, "Superstar" was the prototype for Mr. Bolea's gimmick.  He also beat Bruno "Frickin'" Sammartino for the WWWF Title, so I think, in spite of Bundy being able to put a hurtin' on Hogan, Superstar would be able to handle Bundy, even with his mere 22" pythons.


BRACKET XV


Tully Blanchard VS Nigel McGuiness

Technical Battle Alert!  Tully Blanchard is revered as a mat general, and Nigel McGuiness can certainly hang.  But Nigel brings a more explosive style to the table, and I think it would be the edge he needs to take him past one of the Horsemen (and we're not talking about Mongo).


BRACKET XVI


Brock Lesnar VS Gunner

Gunner's certainly a talented hoss, but cummon.  Come on, man.  This is Brock Lesnar.  (Blogger's Note: When I started this tournament, the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships weren't even unified yet, and Lesnar breaking the streak wasn't yet a gleam in Vince's eye.  That makes me feel old, and we're only talking about seventeen months ago.)


Recap:

Randy Savage defeats The Big Show
"Superstar" Billy Graham defeats King Kong Bundy
Nigel McGuiness defeats Tully Blanchard
Brock Lesnar defeats Gunner

Come on back for Brackets XVII-XX!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: Fourth Round, Brackets IX-XII

BRACKET IX


Harley Race VS Loch Ness (aka Giant Haystacks)

Harley Race is heralded as one of the greatest of all time.  Ask anybody in the business.  But even for a legend like he, even for an eight time NWA World Champion, how in the name of hell does he overcome a mountain of a man like Giant Haystacks?

Well, I'll tell you.  When he was 17 and breaking into the business, Harley Race had to be the handler of one Happy Humphrey.  That man was only 6"1", but 803lbs.  Race had to lay out a tarp in a field while Humphrey stripped down and hose the motherfucker off because it was the only way Humphrey could get clean.  He had to scrub dude.  Point is, he knows the ins and outs (more than he ever wanted to, believe me) of gigantic human beings.  Add that to the fact that he's Harley Fucking Race, one of the toughest son of a bitches to lace up a pair of boots and a veteran with a career unlike any other, and you get a Lumberjack Match without the Lumberjacks, because this tree is coming down!  Awesome though he was, Giant Haystacks falls to the erstwhile King of pro wrestling in a slobberknocker.


BRACKET X


Daniel Bryan VS Antonio Inoki

Holy.  Shit.  Two absolute masters of the mat from two different eras and two different sides of the globe.  (Not only that, both had a "Final Countdown" that was an important part of their careers; Inoki billed his last four years of matches from 1994-98 as "The Final Countdown", and the song of the same name was Bryan Danielson's theme song on the independent circuit.)

I can not understate the monumentality of this match.  I've seen Inoki do battle with the likes of Bob Backlund, Billy Robinson, Tiger Mask IV, Dory Funk Jr., Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan.  (He beat Backlund for the WWF title (not recognized by the company), ended up at a 1-1 tie in an hour long match with Robinson, smoked Tiger Mask IV, went a 1-hour draw for the NWA title with Funk and using a great bit of cunning, got Andre counted out.  Strangely enough he got knocked the fuck out by Hulk Hogan and was unable to continue.)  Thing is though, as a westerner, I had to look those up on YouTube because I realized, I'd never seen Antonio Inoki wrestle before.  I had to take a crash course.

After doing so, it's kind of hard to justify putting over Daniel Bryan, despite feeling he's the best active wrestler there is.  Inoki had deceptive quickness despite his style dictating everything be ground down to a methodical pace.  He has more than 40 years experience.  He is also the suavest looking motherfucker in the history of professional wrestling (those SIDEBURNS!).  Being 6'3", 240lbs of pure muscle, he would have the strength advantage.  (Dude head-scissor take-downed Andre The Giant by flipping the motherfucker over his head.  Kayfabe or not, that's power.)  His ability to grapple, and more importantly against a technician like Bryan, to countergrapple was off the chain.  He seemed a little blindsided by Tiger Mask IV because of the cruiserweight's speedy, high-flying attack, but a) He still won in 6 minutes, and b) was in his 50's already.  This is about wrestlers in their prime.  Inoki's bout with Billy Robinson proves he could match quickness for quickness.  He also has a background as a shoot martial artist & mat wrestler.

What does Daniel Bryan have to compete with that?  First of, when his offense gets going, he's a fucking BUZZSAW.  Multiple backflip dropkicks in the corner, dives through the ropes, kicks that will collapse every part of your upper body and submission holds that can be clamped on at any and every angle.  He made The Big Show tap out to The Yes Lock recently.  This man is the size of Big Show's LEG.  He also is the ultimate pro wrestling underdog.  His ability to overcome odds like no other man his size has cemented his legacy.

Speaking of legacies, Daniel Bryan has five world titles to Inoki's two.  On the surface, yes, this means nothing.  Bryan's title reigns in the WWE have been a joke because they can't fucking book the guy for some reason; compare that with Inoki winning the title from Backlund and becoming only the ninth WWF champion EVER and the first ever New Japan champion, seeing as he founded the fucking promotion.  However, Daniel Bryan's title run as Ring Of Honor World Champion is the best of the bunch.  He was constantly defending the thing against the likes of Samoa Joe, Kenta Kobayashi, Roderick Strong, Lance Storm, Nigel McGuinness, Alex Shelly, AJ Styles, Chris Sabin and Austin Aries.  He is tied for the most successful title defenses of that belt in the company's history.

The match I keep coming back to is Inoki's one with Hogan, though.  Hogan beat Inoki by overwhelming him.  Inoki could crank it up in spite of his preferred pace of a Sarlac (taking 30,000 years to digest you, wear you down, then finish you when he's good and ready), he kept up with Hogan move for move until Hogan had to turn up to about fifteen to beat him.  Daniel Bryan can go Super Saiyan on a motherfucker for forty minutes straight if he has to.  His whole style is be as rabid as possible and don't let up.

This is the hardest match I've had to do in this tournament.  My gut says Inoki, but I know Daniel Bryan could beat him.  I'm going to have to call this a draw.  After seventy five minutes of the damndest back and forth contest you ever did see, both men are so spent that the referee painstakingly counts to ten, and neither man stirs as they drown in fatigue and a lake of their own sweat.


BRACKET XI


"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes VS Tito Santana

The American Dream VS The Mexican American Dream.  Two Hall Of Famers, but Dusty just has so much more than Tito.  Tito would have the speed, stamina and perhaps technical ability advantage, but Rhodes has about 50 pounds on him, strength and three runs as Champion of the World iif yew weel to his credit.  Decent bout, but Dusty wins without a Dusty finish.


BRACKET XII


A.J. Styles VS "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers

I thought long and hard about this one, too.  Two amazing talents, two consummate  world champions, but I've gotta go with A.J.  There could be a bit of a bias, seeing as I just watched Styles tear the fucking house down with ACH on Ring Of Honor's 13th Anniversary Show, but thinking about the moves, the championship pedigree, the athleticism and the endless list of talent A.J. has beat over his 17 year career, it's enough to overcome the technical expertise, psychology and experience edges Rogers would have.  This would be a dream match (that would probably disappoint, given how their...sorry, but I have to say it...Styles Clash...), with A.J. Styles advancing to the round of 44.


Recap:

Harley Race defeats Loch Ness
Daniel Bryan and Antonio Inoki battled to a Draw.
Dusty Rhodes defeats Tito Santana
A.J. Styles defeats Buddy Rogers

Come on back for Brackets XIII-XVI!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: Fourth Round, Brackets V-VIII

BRACKET V


Triple H VS Chris Benoit

Chris Benoit would whoop Triple H any day of the week, being that he beat him three times in six months during 2004.  Yes, Hunter Hearst Helmsley is legitimately one of the best to lace up a pair of boots, but Chris Benoit was just that much better.


BRACKET VI


"Stone Cold" Steve Austin VS Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley has been Lesnar-like in his TNA run, as he kind of was in his WWE run, but The Texas Rattlesnake managed to defeat the likes of The Undertaker, The Rock, Shawn Michaels and Triple H in his five year run at the top.  Bobby Lashley can't quite say the same.  Austin for the win in a doozy.


BRACKET VII


Booker T VS Davey Richards

Davey Richards is the man that made me finally pay attention to Ring Of Honor.  I knew they had good talents, but I could never bring myself to care enough to keep track of a third wrestling company.  Until, that is, I saw Davey Richards win the ROH title from his American Wolves tag-team partner "Die Hard" Eddie Edwards.  If not for Punk/Cena at MITB 2011, Richards/Edwards would have been the match of the year for me.  Dude is Daniel Bryan level of good.

But Booker T is no slouch either.  The 5-time (five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time (yes, I typed those all out; no copy/pasting)) WCW Champion also has a World Heavyweight Championship win in WWE (and should by all rights have two; WMXIX was BS), four U.S. Title runs, six WCW TV Titles, 17 tag straps (13 with Stevie Ray), and was the 2006 King Of The Ring.  He has six inches of height, 70 pounds of weight, and 15 years of experience more than Davey Richards.  It would be a hell of a match; both men have had the skills to pay the bills since they started paying bills, but Booker T is just too much for an American Wolf to handle.


BRACKET VIII


Kane VS Cody Rhodes

A lot of people may not agree with me on this one, but I gotta go with Kane.  Arguably, Cody Rhodes (aka Stardust) has not yet reached his prime, but it's too hard to extrapolate.  The Big Red Machine, The Devil's Favorite Demon, Fake Diesel...call him what you will, but Glenn Jacobs has taken the Kane character some pretty awesome places.  He's been world champion in three different decades, counting the ECW title (which is being HELLA generous).  People seem to forget how good Kane can be because of ALL the DUMB...SHIT they make him do.  But trust me, in his prime, Kane was nice with the physicality.


Recap:

Chris Benoit defeats Triple H
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin defeats Bobby Lashley
Booker T defeats Davey Richards
Kane defeats Cody Rhodes

Come on back for Brackets IX-XII!

Monday, April 13, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: Fourth Round, Brackets I-IV

BRACKET I 


Bobo Brazil VS Jim Londos

Both of these men were strong as an Ox.  And believe it or not both men won a world title match (though Bobo's title reign is not officially recognized by the NWA (which would have made him the first black world champion thirty years before Ron Simmons did it in 1992).  Both men were popular, to say the least, but Jim Londos was one of if not the most popular wrestler of the 1930's.  I gotta give the duke to the Golden Greek.


BRACKET II


The Iron Sheik VS "Rugged" Ronnie Garvin

Both men are former World Champions, but The Iron Sheik with his Olympic Background and higher profile victories would surmount the odds of the Rugged One by hitting Ronnie in the face with the trademark loaded boot when the ref's back was turned, then getting a "submission" by slapping on the Camel Clutch and having Garvin's hand drop three times. 


BRACKET III


Wladek Zbyszko VS "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair

Wladek Zbyszko holds two victories over Ed "The Strangler" Lewis.  He was AWA World Heavyweight Champion when that was a legitimate wrestling title (kind of).  If this was a shoot, he could snap The Nature Boy in half like a twig, but this isn't a shoot; this is pro-wrasslin'.  And in that realm, if you're reading this, you probably already know why Ric Flair goes over in this admittedly intriguing contest.  If you're reading this and I have to explain "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair to you...thanks, I guess?  I'm flattered that you would try to start learning about pro wrestling from my blog, but the fourth round of a 720-person fantasy tournament is not the best place to do that.

In the spirit of both of these men being mat technicians (in Zbyszko's case it's because that's the only component there was in wrestling when he did his thing), this match will go damn near an hour.  Time of the fall: 56:12.  Your winner and advancing to the round of 44: "Nature Boy" Ric Flair!


BRACKET IV


D-Von Dudley VS Alexander Rusev

D-Von's run ends here at the hands of the Russian Crushin' Machine, not least of which because of his recent submission victory over John Cena.  Lana says: "Rusev.  ADVANCE!"


Recap:

Jim Londos defeats Bobo Brazil
The Iron Sheik defeats "Rugged" Ronnie Garvin
Ric Flair defeats Wladek Zbyszko
Rusev defeats D-Von

Come on back for brackets V-VIII!