NJAF Presents: What Was Wrong With The 90’s

Not Just Another Fan


What was wrong with the 90’s

I love it when there are multiple guys at any given point who could legitimately be Champion. If you read my last column you would know that. Please notice that there was no question mark by the title. I am making a statement rather than asking a question. At wrestling’s peak of viewership I believe that there might have been too much parody in the World Title ranks. This week I want to take a look at what might have actually been bad about the “Golden Age” of wrestling. I know this might not be a popular train of thought, but I hope you will give me a chance. I can guarantee that by the time you get done reading this you will know why Vince McMahon himself would call me Not Just Another Fan. (That would only be if he knew who I was…which I’m sure he doesn’t!)

Getting What We Want:

Believe it or not…I do get frustrated sometimes because my favorites don’t get pushed exactly how I think they should. Call me crazy, but that is what makes me watch it! If everything happened that I wanted, than it would be boring and I would probably stop watching. The best part about New Years Revolution was not the outcome of the Elimination Chamber. The moment that made the PPV worthwhile to me as a fan was when I saw Triple H start to get out of the corner to save Batista when he was getting pinned and then he just laid back down. This is the one “sport” where the winner isn’t always the most important thing. Perhaps that is what separates Sports Entertainment from just Sports and just Entertainment. It is a highbred where Championships matter, but win/loss percentages mean little to nothing.

That was one problem with the wrestling boom of the late 1990’s and early 2000. All the fans were getting everything they wanted. They were getting classic matches and seeing new and fresh things at a pace never before even thought possible. We all grew so “used” to it that when things went back to normal we were disappointed. It is a natural reaction after all. I know that if I give my kid everything he asks for all of the time that when I no longer can give him what he asks for he will be disappointed and perhaps get angry with me. Which is exactly what a lot of fans have done in the last 4 or 5 years in regards to WWE and Sports Entertainment in general.

Am I saying that Vince McMahon and any other owner of a major wrestling promotion should hold back from giving the fans everything that they want? Maybe. It is a proven fact that since the Wrestling Boom of the mid-late 1990’s that heel champions are the most effective for fan satisfaction. Without the thrill of the hunt for the top faces where would the drama be? Although I loved the days when I was a kid when Hulk Hogan triumphed over all obstacles great and small, I do not think that would work today. The fans are too smart and savvy for it to be believable or accepted.

What do you think?

Who is The Champion?

In the 5-year period from January of 1996 through December of 2000 the WWE, WCW and ECW saw their World Titles change hands a combined 77 times. To put that into perspective think about the fact that if you follow the WWE Title since it’s inception in 1963 there have been that same exact number of WWE Championship changes. Yes, that’s right. You can go from Buddy Rogers to JBL and everyone in between and you have a total of 77 title changes. (This does not include the RAW World Title)

After that gets done sinking in, I want to give you guys some other facts from that same 5 year time period above: (Jan 96 – Dec 2000)

– ECW had 10 World Title changes. Out of the 10 title changes 4 of them were first time winners. (Raven, Bam Bam Bigelo, Taz & Mike Awesome)

– WCW had 37 World Title changes. Out of the 37 title changes 10 of them were first time winners. (The Giant, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, DDP, Brett Hart, Chris Benoit, Sid, Jeff Jarrett, Booker T, Scott Steiner & David Arquette)

– Kevin Nash, Brett Hart and Sid had already held the WWE Championship before their WCW title reigns.

– 7 out of the 11 first time WCW Champions were crowned in the companies final 16 months before they were purchased by WWE.

– WWE had 30 World Title changes. Out of the 30 title changes 10 of them were first time winners. (HBK, Sid, Steve Austin, Kane, The Rock, Mankind, Triple H, Vince McMahon, Big Show & Kurt Angle)

– The Big Show had already held the WCW Championship before his WWE title reign.

– In the year 2000 alone, WCW’s World Title changed hands 15 times. In that same year WWE’s World Title only changed hands 5 times. (Which is still a lot historically!)

To me these stats are pretty compelling. Although WCW’s World Title changed hand often, it was primarily used to add multiple reigns to already proven stars. The fact that so many first time champions held the belt in such a small time span should show you the level of disparity they were facing.

Look at the list of first time WWE Champions as compared to the list of first time WCW Champions during this time frame. Goldberg, The Giant and Booker T were the only 3 legitimate WCW bred stars to receive the belt. I do not include Chris Benoit because the only reason they gave it to him was to try and keep him, which obviously didn’t work. However, the WWE gave the belt to HBK, Steve Austin (arguable that WWE made his character), Kane, The Rock, Triple H and Kurt Angle. Look at that list! Every single one of these guys, with the possible exception of Kane is a lock for the WWE Hall of Fame. If Vince McMahon didn’t know what he was doing, he was pretty darn lucking with the decisions he made!

In Review:

I honestly believe that it is better for wrestling in the long run to have fewer champions and less title changes. I don’t think that one wrestler should hold the belt for 2 or 3 years like it used to be in the 1960’s and 70’s…but I do think that 6-9 month title reigns are great and necessary if wrestling wants to keep enough stability to last for generations to come. The days of World Titles changing hands on consecutive nights are over. I’m not saying that it will never happen again, just that those days are past us and we shouldn’t look for them again anytime soon.

Bi-Weekly Top 10 – I base my rankings on Championships, current storylines, pushes and in-ring action. I did not include TNA since I have not watched it for a few weeks as I have been disappointed in their product.

RAW:

1. Triple H – No one has ever won 10 World Titles while being a part of WWE the entire time. He has dropped the belts 9 times to 7 different people. He is where he is because he deserves it. He has paid his dues and love the business.

2. Batista – He is primed for a WrestleMania Main Event. Anyone agree?

3. Randy Orton – He has lost some steam, but he is still immensely popular and getting better in the ring all the time.

4. Chris Jericho – He did great at NYR and I loved the segment between him and Muhammad Hassan. He has been great recently.

5. Chris Benoit – Amazing performance in the Elimination Chamber. His work with Jericho in the last 2 weeks has been great too.

Honorable Mention (6-10): Edge, Shelton Benjamin, Kane, Christian & HBK

SmackDown:

1. JBL – To me he is now a deserving Champion. Like him or hate him, he makes the shows extremely entertaining in my opinion. I love his cabinet.

2. Kurt Angle – The Angle Invitational is interesting and his back stage segments have been off the chart.

3. The Big Show – His character is better now than at any other point that I can remember. He is a gentle giant with a temper!

4. John Cena – I liked the spinning title for about 2 weeks. Now it gets on my nerves. I do think that he needs to move on with his character. A heel turn would be wonderful.

5. Rey Mysterio – I would have Eddie in the top 5, but how do I not put the guy who has beaten him 3 weeks in a row on the list?! He is and has always been an amazing talent in the ring. The crowd loves him too.

Honorable Mention (6-10): Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker, Booker T, Basham Brothers and Heidenreich

Not Just Another Trivia Question: I am going to keep doing the “Old School” questions, since they seem to get the best response. If you know the answer please email me at feedback@notjustanotherfan.com and I will include your name in my next column.

Mike Rotundo held the WWE Tag Tam Championships with 2 different partners. The first was Barry Windham. Who was the second? (This could be difficult.)

I had 17 people answer my last Trivia Question. They were:

ninjaturtle81 (Dave), Michael Cook, Thomas H, Andrew Hinson, Touhoua Yang, Jason Hackney, Tommy Hall, J Mitch, Gregg Purcell, Gavin Langdon, Lmart10714, Luis Agostini, Barry Shane, Chris Braun, DelaneyMR, Scott Ratliff and reload0993 (Jason)

The Question was: “Who did The Hart Foundation beat to gain their first WWF Tag Team Championships?”

The Answer was: The British Bulldogs

Summary:

Thank you for giving my column a read this week. I hope that you learned something and I would love to hear what you think about this topic yourself. I will be back soon with another addition of Not Just Another Fan.

John Wilson

Not Just Another Fan

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