Where are the “Feel Good” Moments in Wrestling?

Eddie Guerrero defeating Brock Lesnar to win the WWE Title for the first time.  Shawn Michaels achieving the boyhood dream and winning the championship for the first time.  Bret Hart winning the IC Title from Mr Perfect and hugging his parents who were sitting at ringside afterwards.  Chris Benoit winning the World Title at Wrestlemania and standing in the ring with Eddie Guerrero as they held their belts up high.  Why am I bringing these up? They were feel good moments in wrestling.  When was the last time that we’ve had one of those? I’m hoping somebody can answer that because I can’t.   Those feel good moments are something that has always proven useful in the style of telling a story in that ring. Seeing Austin Aries win the TNA World Title and seeing El Generico defeat Kevin Steen were good moments but don’t seem to carry the same magnitude.

A lot of things can be factored into why no stories have feel good moments. One of the biggest is the build-up or at least in the case of lack of build up because these days, the WWE lacks the patience to have something build into something bigger.  Regardless however, storylines in wrestling need to have those kind of moments because when it comes down to it, the build up to that one end of the story is what keeps people tuning in to see how each chapter unfolds.  Unfortunately, these days with the storylines in the WWE, the storylines have gone from being a story unfolding chapter by chapter to being about as complex and frustrating as a Rubix Cube or trying to figure out what the hell the movie The Thin Red Line was about.  Same difference.

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What I Miss: Brian Pillman

There have been a lot of wrestlers who have been taken away from us way too soon.  The list of pro wrestlers that die at an early age is sadly a list keeps getting bigger and bigger. Brian Pillman is one guy who is on that list, but the saddest part about it is that he had the stuff to become one of the all time greats.  Yes he wasn’t the biggest guy and his voice would make John Laryngitis sound like a Gospel Singer by comparison, but nobody can deny the talent that Pillman had.  Between his time as a football player and becoming a pro wrestler, all you can say is not too shabby for a guy who not many gave much of a shot at living into adulthood considering the throat problems he had since he was a kid.

In WCW, long before there was a Crusierweight Division and Luchadores were introduced, Pillman set the standard for being a high flyer.  The matches between Pillman and Jushin “Thunder” Liger were the equivalent of Super Crazy vs Tajiri.  He may not have been the biggest of guys, but he was still able to hold his own against guys the likes of Sid Vicious, Danny Spivey or Mean Mark Callous. He didn’t win those matches or beat those guys, but was able to hold his own nonetheless.  As good as he may have been as a face, he seemed to get the job done as a heel just as well if not better.  A fine example of that was in tag team action when he teamed with at that time “Stunning” Steve Austin to form The Hollywood Blondes.

Certain tag teams help define what a heel tag team should be like and The Hollywood Blondes were definitely in that category.  Their promos as well as their in-ring ability were great and growing up, I couldn’t help but laugh at the “roll camera” gesture that they were known for.  If there was any complain that I could have had about the team, it’s that they were split up way too soon.  I suppose the silver lining in that instance is that Pillman did go on to become one of the Four Horsemen, but that was before he was released from the company and we began to see the birth of what would grow into “The Loose Cannon” when he went to WCW. By then, the microphone had gotten to the point where Pillman having a microphone in hand was more deadly than his fists.The guy was able to piss off so many people, that he nearly started riots with his promos.  That would of course lead to Pillman signing with the WWE and in the segment with his “press conference” and signing the contract and following that with going off on everybody in the room, this is what lead to the birth of “The Loose Cannon.”

Thanks to a car accident and procedures he had to have done on his ankle, we didn’t get to see Pillman in the ring all that much.  There were memorable moments with him regardless.  Austin “crippling Pillman’s ankle” and debuting “DTA: Don’t Trust Anybody” along with the infamous Stone Cold breaking into Pillman’s home where Brian was waiting with a gun in hand, claiming that if Steve showed up that he was going to blow him straight to hell.  Pillman was 35 when he died and it was reported that it was due to some unknown heart condition and it was announced live on PPV that Pillman had passed on during the pre-show before the PPV.   It was one of the most sad and tragic things to hear on a PPV, falling in second just behind the tragedy of Owen Hart.

During the last few years of his life and his career, Brian Pillman displayed an ability to get a reaction from the crowd, whether it was for him or against him. He knew how to play to the crowd and when he was a heel, he displayed a trait that only the truly good heels are known to have.  He knew how to piss off the crowd and get them to hate him.  But also his style was different in terms of his approach.   Pillman wasn’t afraid to curse and wasn’t afraid to tell somebody to “Shut the Hell Up!” or to call them a “Son of a Bitch” and if you go by Shotgun Saturday Night, wasn’t afraid to throw a fan over the railing and kick the ever-loving crap out of him.   It was just the way that he was because when you’re “The Loose Cannon,” your job is to be unpredictable and to be ready to snap within half a second.  Some feel that even if Pillman hadn’t died at 35, he wouldn’t have made it to become one of those wrestler that die of old age.  Maybe, but the again, people didn’t give him a shot of growing up with the health problems he had growing up, whose to say that he wouldn’t have beaten those odds too.  There are some guys who you look at and just think that there will never be another like them.   There will never be another Ric Flair. There will never be another Rowdy Roddy Piper.  There will never be another Undertaker and there will never be another Brian Pillman.

What I Miss in Wrestling: Eddie Guerrero

The first time I remember seeing Eddie Guerrero was in WCW when it still had some credibility.  I saw him feud with DDP over the US Title and had even seen him in a feud with Dean Malenko. When Eddie, Benoit, Malenko and Saturn left WCW and jumped ship to the WWE, I thought that WCW would never recover from that and they didn’t. Months later, WCW fell and it made you think that those four jumped ship just in time.  Cause WCW just let 4 of best wrestlers at that time who were on their roster, slip through their fingers.

Shortly after “The Radicals” made their debut in WWE, they split up and found their own gimmicks. Some were successful and some weren’t.  Eddie developed the “Latino Heat” gimmick and it was entertaining to a degree.  I think when he really started to pick up speed was when WWE tried to revitalize their tag team division and formed “Los Guerreros” with Eddie and Chavo as a team.  It did help pave the way for Eddie in the main event picture. Who could ever forget the entrance song where some of the words were “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal.” And I loved in an interview how Eddie said “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal. But at least we’re honest about it.” You had them do things like they were going to hit a guy with the championship belt or some foreign object and when the referee was about to catch them, they toss it to the other guy and act like they got hit and the ref disqualifies the other team. It was cheating but it was funny.

Then of course, there was the low rider.  Eddie and Chavo driving out with low rider, hydraulics and all and it was money in the bank.  Then after they split up Eddie and Chavo and had a short feud, we saw Eddie get a shot at Brock Lesnar and the WWE title. This was something that nobody thought would happen because of Vince McMahon’s raging hard-on for big guys.  I was at a Yankee Doodle’s watching the event and when the ref counted 3 and Eddie was the new champ, the whole place erupted.  Because it was a new face outside of Austin, Rock, Angle, or Triple H as the champion.   That year was a good year in wrestling because one of the closing shots of Wrestlemania that year was seeing Eddie and Benoit both holding up world titles.

One of the things with Wrestlemania 21 that stood out for me was seeing Rey Mysterio vs Eddie Guerrero, two guys who I had never seen live and I felt honored to have watched the two wrestle.  Eddie turned heel month or so later and then turned face again. He had one hell of a match against Batista and according to some sources, there was word he was gonna get another title reign, but plans were scrapped following the untimely death of Eddie.  The guy had charisma, ring skills and could be as quick as any other high flyer and the Guerrero name was just as well known in the world as the Harts and the Von Erichs once were.

Bottom line, I miss the low rider and the entrance music and hearing Eddie say one thing to a guy and then follow it up with “I Lied!!!!”   Although if Eddie hadn’t passed on, would we have seen Rey Mysterio win the belt at Mania?  Probably not, but it doesn’t take away that a lot of his fans, myself included, still look back and miss Eddie Guerrero.