Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Look Back At The Tournament To End All Tournaments

Here are the results for each round (it's a LOT to take in):

Round One
Round Two
Round Three
Round Four
Round Five
Round Six
Round Seven
Round Eight / The Finals

Well, here we are.  Finally...The Blog...HAS COME BACK...to normal.  Thank you for reading this insane project, even if you only dipped your toe in.  For those of you die-hards that followed me through a year and a half, through crippling self-doubt, though some of the worst times in pro-wrestling history, through 50,000 plus words...I can't thank you enough.

I got this idea after a) Writing The Big Four Song Challenge Series and needing something new to do with this blog and b) Watching old episodes of Super Card on ESPN Classic and wondering how some of these wrestlers would fare against the stars of today (especially considering Raven, Mick Foley and Booker T were in there).  What I should have done was cut myself off at 352 wrestlers (22 brackets of 16; still insane, but way more manageable).  Probably less.  But no.  I went the full 720.  45 brackets of 16.  Hell, while I'm throwing out numbers, here's the ones of note:

Word Count: 50,403+ (at 250 words per page, that's 202 pages)
Number of Posts: 91
Number of Times I had to Suspend The Tournament: 3
# of posts before Tournament: 357
# after: 484
Number of Matches: 717
Avg. # of Words per Post: 554 (rounded up)
Duration of Project: November 4th, 2013-May 8th, 2015 (551 Days)

A lot can happen in 551 days.  During the course of this tournament, The Undertaker's Streak came to an end, The "YES!" Movement came and went, we lost The Ultimate Warrior, Verne Gagne and Connor "The Crusher", BOTH Royal Fumbles happened, CM Punk quit the business and we all went to Suplex City.  The two WWE world titles, separate since 2002, were unified.  Santino Marella retired.  TNA crashed and burned, and now they're in "Tree falls in a forest status," and rightly so.  (That's what happens when you have a wrestling company run by gibbons.  If it weren't for The Carter Family fortune, they would've (and perhaps should've) folded.)  The Network was launched.  Yes, I started this when PPV buyrates still mattered.  Lucha Underground wasn't a thing yet.  New Japan didn't have American TV yet.  Global Force Wrestling still didn't exist.  (GFW: A vaporware wrestling promotion.)  Sting made his WWE and Wrestlemania debut.  All of that has transpired in the last year and a half.  And it was inspired by watching twenty plus year old C-Level at best wrestling shows on ESPN Classic (shows which the McMahon family purchased the rights to a few months later, as it happens).

It's been a helluva run, but I'm thankful that it's over.  This tournament was WAY way more work than I bargained for.  I frankly can't believe I stuck with it.  But I did.  And now it's finished.  I hope you enjoyed reading The Tournament To End All Tournaments, and if you'd like to read my next book length project, I have a poetry book coming soon!  Solutions To Manmade Problems is my next project ("Seriously, this time I mean it!" -Me in 2012/13/14/15)

Until then, I'll keep throwing up blogs, so check back here every week or so.  Just remember this:




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: The Eighth Round AND The Triple-Threat Elimination Match To Determine It All


"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair VS Brock Lesnar

This match would be ugly.  It would be uncomfortable.  It would me Ivan Drago murdering Apollo Creed.  Lesnar would take his time with the most prolific world champion there has ever been, savoring each suplex, each ground and pound, each impact of fist to flesh and flesh to canvas.  The suffering of this man (who is one of the best sellers in the business, but would have gone limp and silent after seven or eight minutes of punishment) eliciting something approaching glee from the Beast Incarnate.  Blood dribbles from Flair's mouth first, then the old crimson mask, earned hardway.  After about ten minutes, even Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar's manager and advocate, is begging him to stop.  He's proved his point!  He's done enough!  But for Brock, it's never enough.  He chains five more german suplexes together to make a grand total of eighteen, then F-5's The Nature Boy one more time just to rub it in that he.  Cannot.  Be stopped.  Lesnar is going to the finals.



The Undertaker VS Kurt Angle

The Undertaker once made short work of Kurt Angle in the summer of 2000, but I'd argue that Angle had yet to hit his stride.  Once he did, The Undertaker never beat him again.  In ultimate god mode, Angle could outwrestle just about anybody, and if he stayed away from Undertaker's power game, he could win it.  Angle advances.



"The Scissor King" Joe Stecher VS Hulk Hogan

Once again, I have to refer to the 1983 match between Hulk Hogan and Antonio Inoki.  The way Hogan was able to stand up to an absolute 5-Star Ring General like that makes me think that, in a work, he could've made a win over Joe Stecher look convincing.  Also, it's Hulk fucking Hogan we're talking about here.  Dude's a boss.


Brock Lesnar defeats Ric Flair
Kurt Angle defeats The Undertaker
Hulk Hogan defeats Joe Stecher

Because this was never about fantasy booking an entire match or storyline or whatever, and because this has taken more than 550 days off our lives (also because I’m in the middle of finals, and I just want this to be OVER with), I’ll keep the finals brief.  Besides, two of the three men involved have had far more fantastic matches against one another than my words could ever do justice to.  Typing out a hold for hold recount of an imaginary encounter between two men that have already had plenty of real ones just feels redundant to me.  Adding Hogan and making it a Triple Threat actually makes it...awkward. 

THE FINAL ROUND:

A Triple Threat Elimination Match To Determine It All:


Brock Lesnar VS Kurt Angle VS Hulk Hogan

Hogan is eliminated about twelve minutes in.  He is a bloody mess.

Angle pins Lesnar after a missed shooting star press at the thirty-nine minute mark.  (Lesnar kicks out, goes for the F-5, but Angle counters with his FIFTH Angle Slam.)

!!!!!KURT ANGLE WINS IT ALL!!!!!

Come on back for a look back at this ridiculously long tournament!

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: The Seventh Round


"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair VS "Stone Cold" Steve Austin

As it happens, Ric Flair is Steve Austin's favorite wrestler.  So it shouldn't bother him doing the job for the Limosine Ridin', Jet Flyin', Kiss Stealin', WHOOO!!!, Wheelin' Dealin', By God Son-of-a-Gun!  As good as Austin was, Flair was better.



"Macho Man" Randy Savage VS Brock Lesnar

Legend or not, this is the end of the line for Randy Savage.  Macho Man goin' to Suplex City.



The Undertaker VS Pat O'Connor

Sorry, Pat.  The Undertaker is more than even the only man to simultaneously hold the NWA and AWA titles at once to surmount.



Kurt Angle VS The Rock

An Attitude Era match guaranteed to put goosebumps on The People's Arms.  The fact is, The Rock never beat Kurt Angle one-on-one.  One on one, I think Kurt Angle was better than The Rock.  Of course, The Rock really was The Great One, so expect a Wrestlemania level match out of these two insanely talented performers.



"The Scissor King" Joe Stecher VS Frank Gotch

A dream match that almost happened, but because Gotch broke his leg never did.  Many felt Stecher would have been the best opponent for Gotch since Hackenschmidt, but I think that undersells Stecher a bit.  I don't honestly know who'd win this match, but I'm putting my money on Joe Stecher.  It seemed like he was primed to take Gotch's title.



Hulk Hogan VS [BYE]

It works out like this because of the Fourth Round draw between Antonio Inoki and Daniel Bryan.  (Though it's not like The Hulkster needed a bye...)


Ric Flair defeats Steve Austin
Brock Lesnar defeats Randy Savage
The Undertaker defeats Pat O'Connor
Kurt Angle defeats The Rock
Joe Stecher defeats Frank Gotch
Hulk Hogan advances on a bye

Come on back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!!!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: The Sixth Round


Jim Londos VS "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair

Compare this: Ric Flair has been NWA/WCW/WWF Champion for a combined total of over 3,700 days in his lifetime.  Jim Londos was World Champion for a total of 2,628 days during ONE reign.  It's the second longest run as champion, and he retired with the belt.  Tough to parse, but Ric Flair has a more well-rounded body of work and had to wrestle a far more diverse pool of opponents than Londos did. 



"Stone Cold" Steve Austin VS Booker T

They had this fight already in a grocery store.  Let's just pretend it's this match again, because it was awesome the first time, and I don't think that in a tournament setting like this Booker would go over Austin anyway.



Harley Race VS "Macho Man" Randy Savage

Harley Race may have been pimpin', but the Macho Man was the MAN.  This would be an old-school wrestling fan's wet dream, though.  Savage wins this clash of the ring titans.



Nigel McGuinness VS Brock Lesnar

Brock takes care not to leave Nigel in a puddle of his own blood, vomit and piss because McGuiness had his career cut criminally short by contracting hepatitis c, but nonetheless, not even a former ROH World Champion is nearly enough to withstand the onslaught of Brock Lesnar.



The Undertaker VS Andre The Giant

Many have speculated aloud what would've happened if The Phenom had ever squared off against The Eighth Wonder Of The World.  Shockingly, I think The Undertaker would win.  I know, it's Andre, right?  In his prime (and well past it) he was un-fucking-stoppable.  But so was The Undertaker, and only part of that was his character being a zombie.  He's a legit 6'10" tall, and can do things most big men never dream of, like a plancha and the Old-School top rope clothesline.  He wouldn't be able to chokeslam, Last Ride or Tombstone Andre, that's for damn sure (Andre wouldn't let him), so he would have to rely on high impact strikes and his submission game.  After about three minutes in the Hell's Gate, Andre The Giant has no choice but to tap out.



Pat O'Connor VS George Hackenschmidt

George Hackenschmidt earned his world title, legitimately.  No one can ever take that away from him.  I'm still going with Pat O'Connor.  We'll say...Hackenschmidt failed to train adequately for his match because he held newfangled "workers" like O'Connor in contempt, and so lost any and all endurance he may have had.  This allows O'Connor to pick him apart in no time.



Kurt Angle VS Bret "The Hitman" Hart

The best wrestling match that never happened.  I can't do this one justice by prattling on about how relentlessly awesome this match could've been.  Two of the best wrestlers of all time, one ring, one winner.  I pick Kurt Angle, because I think he is an evolution of Bret Hart; a step just above.  (And hey, the Olympic Gold Medal in Men's Freestyle doesn't hurt either.)



Lou Thesz VS The Rock

...y'know what?  Fuck it.  The Rock wins.  You can talk all you want about how amazing Lou Thesz is, but The Rock is electrifying....



"The Scissor King" Joe Stecher VS Ed "The Strangler" Lewis

These two were rivals in and out of the ring.  Stecher refused to do business with The Gold Dust Trio and started his own rival promotion.  He even bought out the Trio's champion Stanislaus Zbyszko just before a match where he was supposed to drop the title.  In the ring, Lewis and Stecher have had...what's a word that means "beyond epic"?  Insane?  That fits.  They had insane matches.  One was two hours and only ended when Lewis was thrown from the ring on accident and landed head first on a chair.  Another was a FIVE.  AND A HALF.  HOUR.  DRAW.  Lewis is the man who took the title from Stecher on two different occasions, but the second in 1928 was a business deal.  I'm not really sure who would win once and for all, but I pick Joe "Scissor King" Stecher. 



"Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner VS Frank Gotch

Frank Gotch bend Scott Steiner in half.  Make him humble.



Hulk Hogan VS Shawn Michaels

I went back and forth on this one.  I wanted Shawn Michaels to go over, badly, mainly on the strength of the bullshit politicking that went into the Summerslam '05 match these two had.  But like I said last round, this is 80's Hogan here.  Pretty much his match against Antonio Inoki in '83 sealed it for me.  If Hulk could pull that kind of performance out of himself to combat the Heartbreak Kid, then he has what it takes to overcome the onslaught of one of the greatest the game ever had to offer.


Ric Flair defeats Jim Londos
Steve Austin defeats Booker T
Randy Savage defeats Harley Race
Brock Lesnar defeats Nigel McGuiness
The Undertaker defeats Andre The Giant
Pat O'Connor defeats George Hackenschmidt
Kurt Angle defeats Bret "The Hitman" Hart
The Rock defeats Lou Thez
Joe Stecher defeats Ed Lewis
Frank Gotch defeats Scott Steiner
Hulk Hogan defeats Shawn Michaels


Monday, May 4, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: The Fifth Round

Because I'm hardcore and so is wrestling sometimes, we're doing Round Five IN ITS ENTIRETY TODAY.  Rounds Six and Seven will be the same, and Eight and Nine will be on the same day Thursday.  LET'S DO THIS SHIT!



Jim Londos VS The Iron Sheik

Gotta go with the Grapplin' Greek here.  Dude was the second longest reigning champion of all time behind Bruno Sammartino.  (A fact that I found out at the cost of spoiling the main event of Wrestlemania 31 for myself.  My friend and I couldn't get together to watch it until the next day, so I figured I was safe on Wikipedia looking up wrestlers from the 30's & 40's, but not 15 minutes after Seth Rollins did his thing, his picture was already on the list of WWWF/WWF/WWE Champions page.  I was so pissed I didn't unclench my entire body until I woke up the next morning.)  (For the record, it goes Bruno: 2,803 days, Londos: 2,628 days, Verne Gagne: 2,625 days.)



"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair VS Rusev

If Flair could beat Vader in his prime at Starrcade '93, he can beat Rusev in his prime now.



Chris Benoit VS "Stone Cold" Steve Austin

Going with Austin, because yeah, Benoit is the better wrestler, but Steve Austin was the man.  (Also, not comfortable with letting Benoit go much farther in light of what happened.)



Booker T VS Kane

Mr. "5-Time, 5-Time, 5-Time, 5-Time, 5-Time WCW Champion!!!" was a lot more versatile than the erstwhile Isaac Yankem/Fake Diesel/Unabomb/Big Red Machine/Devil's Favorite Demon/Jacob Goodnight ever was, and don't get me started on Corporate Kane.  Kane was good, but Booker deserves his Hall Of Fame status.  Dude was extraordinary.



Harley Race VS "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes

This match happened multiple times in the 70's, I'm sure.  I'm giving it to Harley Race, though.  More world titles, a reputation as one of the most legitimately tough men in the business, and just seems pimpin'. (And how can he not looking like a hard boiled Bob Ross painting tough into the world instead of trees?)



"The Phenomenal" AJ Styles VS "Macho Man" Randy Savage

Dream Match Alert!!!  Could you imagine what would've happened if The Phenomenal One and The Macho Man had ever collided?  This match would've been siiiick.  Savage would still go over, though.  Not necessarily because of size or strength; AJ has beaten Sting, Matt Morgan, Bully Ray, Samoa Joe and plenty of larger, stonger opponents.  With technical skills I might actually give the edge to AJ.  Experience goes to Savage, but even that would not be enough against a veteran like Styles.  To beat The Phenomenal One, you have to have an intangible.  You have to have an extra well of insurmountability deep down inside.  In short, you have to have:


A RAP ALBUM, MOTHERFUCKER!!!


No, no, just kidding.  The thing that will get Savage over here is his fucking intensity.  This man was wound tighter than a shithouse watch.  When he said "Snap into a Slim Jim!"  He meant psychotic EPISODE into that motherfucker!  DO IT!  NOW!!  THE MADNESS COMMANDS IT!!!  How could even a foe as worthy as an AJ Styles stand in the way of that?  Macho advances due to the Macho Madness!!!



"Superstar" Billy Graham VS Nigel McGuiness

I'm gonna strike a blow for the new guys, and put McGuiness over Graham.  ("Holy shit, WHAT!?!?!?" a wrestling nerd might say while spitting soda all over their device.)  My reasoning is two-fold.  First, let me tell you about Edgar Manske.  He comes from a small town in North Central Wisconsin called Nekoosa (which I discovered because it is the birth place of Ed "The Strangler" Lewis, and because I'm from Wisconsin, so I clicked on the link).  He was a Chicago Bear (BOO) for four seasons, the first of which had him as a teammate with Bronko Nagurski, and the last of which got him an NFL Championship in the most lopsided game in history, with a score of 73-0.  He played two seasons for the Eagles before that and one for the Steelers after.  He is also the last NFL player to play without a helmet.

What does any of this have to do with "Superstar" Billy Graham or Nigel McGuiness?  Nothing directly.  But Edgar Manske, who played seven seasons in the NFL without a helmet, all a year before Pearl Harbor was attacked, DIED IN 2002.  If you played without a helmet today, you could die on the field.  During the game.  This got me thinking about eras perhaps not being equal after all.  And think about this: "Superstar" Billy Graham lost the WWWF Championship to Bob Backlund after an ATOMIC.  DROP.  Nigel McGuiness has so many more devastating holds in his arsenal that aren't even finisher that I shan't bother to list them all.

And then there's my other point.  I wouldn't dare call Graham a slouch; he did beat Bruno and basically lay the blueprint for Hulk Hogan's character a decade later, but watching Superstar's matches is a chore.  You could chalk that up to me not getting into wrestling until 1991 and having lived through the Attitude Era, but I could sit through Buddy Rogers VS Pat O'Connor from 1961.  I watched all there is to watch of Bronko Nagurski and Jim Londos from 1938.  I've seen five Antonio Inoki matches that have gone an hour and have little to no action for the first forty five minutes.  AND I ENJOYED THEM.  Nigel McGuiness, in my opinion is a better wrestler.  He's just...better.  I rest my case.



Brock Lesnar VS Rey Mysterio

SQUISH!



Batista VS The Undertaker

This would play out like Wrestlemania 23: The Young Lion tries and fails to slay the Wizened Dragon.  Taker advances.



Randy Orton VS Andre The Giant

Andre wouldn't even be able to take an RKO, would he?  Gotta go with the Giant.



Pat O'Connor VS Verne Gagne

Pat O'Connor impresses me more than Verne.  Sacrilege, yes I know, but hey, at least it's two mat legends of the same era.  O'Connor and Gagne have fought before (there's a newspaper clipping from 1953 to prove it, though you'd be forgiven for not believing it since it was so long ago Verne Gagne still had hair), and from what I gather Gagne went over him as AWA Champion once or twice, but O'Connor just seemed more...kick ass, y'know?.  As lame as that sounds, there's no shame to lose to Pat O'Connor, even if you're the great Verne Gagne.



Meng/Haku VS George Hackenschmidt

As bad as I want to put Meng over, given that Hackenschmidt was injury prone and kind of a whiner at times, there's no fucking way I can let the first ever World Champion go down like that.  Hackenschmidt survives.  Barely.



Sting VS Kurt Angle

This match has happened in TNA, but they're dead to me, so forget that.  I'm talking about Kurt Angle from 2002 against blond, spiky-haired Sting from 1992.  The Sting everybody keeps clamoring for, in spite of the bald spot Steve Borden has now at 56 that would make blond, spiky haired Sting look real sad.  Point is, Sting was great but even at his best, Kurt Angle could beat him.



Goldberg VS Bret "The Hitman" Hart

The beginning of the end of Bret Hart's career came at the foot of Bill Goldberg.  At Starcade '99, a botched superkick gave Bret Hart such a bad concussion, he more or less had it for two years.  Then when he felt like his life was finally coming back to some kind of order, he had a stroke.  Bill Goldberg has apologized personally to the Hitman many times and still feels bad to this day about the incident.  But that doesn't mean Bret Hart would pass up a chance to exact some revenge on the man who put him on the shelf.  And Bret Hart has beaten Goldberg.  Twice(-ish).  Bret Hart stretches the irresistible force for all he's worth, and that's that.  Wins off a school boy after Goldberg posts himself on a missed spear.



Lou Thesz VS Samoa Joe

As much as I love Joe, many professionals consider Lou Thesz one of the greatest to ever leave.  I have to put him over on pedigree alone here.



The Rock VS Roman Reigns

Hmm, isn't this ironic?  The People suffer no succotache, Rock.  Give 'em the elbow & let's get the fuck outta here.



"The Scissor King" Joe Stecher VS Stanislaus Zbyszko

Stanislaus Zbyszko had over 900 wins (allegedly) until he met Joe Stecher.  The Scissor King became the 1 in 900-1.  The same happens here.



The Crusher VS Ed "The Strangler" Lewis

Sorry, but nepotism only goes so far.  The friend of my family loses to the muscle behind the Gold Dust Trio.



"Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner VS Stu Hart

Speaking of muscle, I have to go with Scott Steiner.  In a worked match, Stu wouldn't go over a former World Champion who could mat wrestle quite well in his own right.  (Not that he could hold a candle to Stu; just saying that in a work, it could be made to look like he could.)  Steiner advances.



Bronko Nagurski VS Frank Gotch

Gotch takes it.  The man retired as champion after the fifth longest run on top in history.  Bronko was a two-time champion himself, but Gotch was the man and nobody ever proved different.



Hulk Hogan VS Michael Elgin

Speaking of "The Man", if it isn't Hulk Fucking Hogan.  'Sup, Brother?  Michael Elgin would give him a run for his money, but this is 80's Hogan, remember?  Dude really was immortal.



Shawn Michaels VS "Ravishing" Rick Rude

This match would be better than most people would suspect.  If these two had ever had the chance to meet in singles competition, it may have been a great little gem.  Michaels goes over in a surprise classic.


Jim Londos defeats The Iron Shiek
Ric Flair defeats Rusev
Steve Austin defeats Chris Benoit
Booker T defeats Kane
Harley Race defeats Dusty Rhodes
Randy Savage defeats AJ Styles
Nigel McGuiness defeats Billy Graham
Brock Lesnar defeats Rey Mysterio
The Undertaker defeats Batista
Andre The Giant defeats Randy Orton
Pat O'Connor defeats Verne Gagne
George Hackenschmidt defeats Meng/Haku
Kurt Angle defeats Sting
Bret Hart defeats Goldberg
Lou Thesz defeats Samoa Joe
The Rock defeats Roman Reigns
Joe Stecher defeats Stanislaus Zbyszko
Ed Lewis defeats The Crusher
Scott Steiner defeats Stu Hart
Frank Gotch defeats Bronko Nagurski
Hulk Hogan defeats Michael Elgin
Shawn Michaels defeats "Ravishing" Rick Rude

Come on back for Round Six!