1993 - Transcending Tradition May 20, 2023 20:24:59 GMT 1 Asaemon, Beejus, and 5 more like this
Post by to4sty on May 20, 2023 20:24:59 GMT 1
If there’s one thing that can be said about the wrestling landscape in the mid 1980’s to the early 1990’s, it’s that the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling had two very distinct personalities.
One was the land of sports entertainment, where 300lb of muscle mass and a larger than life personality was more likely to get you showcased than the ability to execute a wrist lock - while the other was the land of professional wrestling, where a slight beer belly and a pair of plain back trunks was unlikely to derail your push so long as you could go sixty minutes Broadway and hold for hold with the champion at the time.
Of course I’m generalising - and there were obviously exceptions to the rule on both ends of the spectrum - but for the most part, the WWF was all about the glitz and the glamour, while WCW was more about the nitty gritty.
Then 1992 happened - and suddenly, nothing was the way it was supposed to be.
First there was the scandals - steroids anyone?
Dr. George Zahorian had been sentenced to serve three years in prison in late 1991 for the sale and distribution to a number of professional wrestling and weightlifting personalities - all of which ultimately lead to the Federal Government putting Vince McMahon and the WWF in its crosshairs next, as they looked to take down, sentence and ultimately try to jail the WWF’s head honcho. Of course they ultimately failed in their attempt (with Vince kicking out at two and a half in the trial of his life) but the fallout of which saw the landscape of the World Wrestling Federation change dramatically - either gone (or dramatically slimmed down) were the larger than life bodies - people like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Sid Justice - even down to people lower on the card like the British Bulldog and the Warlord were slowly written out of the company - as the smaller, less obviously “enhanced” stars slowly found their ways to the forefront of the company -
Then there were the *ahem* sex scandals - firstly there was Murray Hogson, a ring announcer who filed a lawsuit that claimed he was sexually harassed by Pat Patterson (and subsequently fired for rebuking Patterson’s advances) swiftly followed by Tom Cole, a ring boy, who filed a suit against Mel Phillips, Terry Garvin, and (again) Pat Patterson (again) for sexual harassment.
Not to mention the fact that on the back of these accusations, former WWF referee Rita Chatterton accused Vince McMahon himself of sexually assaulting her in an alleged limousine incident.
Throw in the fact that the WWF was still feeling the backlash of what some people saw as an exploitation of the Gulf War and it was a pretty bleak year all in all for one Mr. Vincent K. McMahon Jr.
Then there was the Bill Watts experience over in WCW
See while WCW was relatively safe from a national scandal standpoint (seeing as how when someone said the word ‘wrestling’ at that time, the response from the average Joe on the street would be “oh, you mean the WWF and Hulk Hogan”) their relative anonymity to the general public meant that financially, they weren’t remotely in the same league as the WWF. Because of this WCW came into 1992 on the back of the two most financially challenging years in company history - add to that fact that two consecutive world champions had left the company in back to back years (Flair in 1991 and Luger in early 1992) for the WWF, and they were arguably short on star power too.
Enter Bill Watts…..who’s great ideas to improve both the financial situations as well as the moral in WCW, was to introduce a whole bunch of commandments - seven of them if we want to be precise -
1. First and foremost, there would be absolutely NO moves off of the top rope allowed. Something that singlehandedly killed the fledgling Light-Heavyweight Division, which (had they had the chance to explore) could have really given them an edge over the WWF, and something for the fans to get really excited about.
2. The blue protective mats at ringside would be removed, leaving only the hard, cold cement to brace a wrestlers fall if he were to plummet from the ring. Watts saw the mats are far too cartoonish and demanded their removal.
3. Which (after the removal of top rope dives and this next rule) wouldn’t really matter, because ringside brawling was strictly discouraged. Wrestlers would not be allowed to use the ringposts or security railings as offensive weapons, and if they did, they would be fined.
4. Heels and faces were in no circumstance EVER to mingle or fraternize at ANY time. The “good guys” and “bad guys” must stay at different hotels, eat at different restaurants, train at different gyms, travel by different means, and stay in different locker rooms. While arguably this didn’t have any impact at all on the in ring product, it did make things more difficult for the wrestlers themselves - but probably not as much so as our next three rules -
5. Wrestlers were no longer allowed to leave after their match. If they wrestled early in the card, they must stay and watch each and every match until the main event was over. If they were caught leaving, they would be fined. Wrestlers were not allowed to sleep, play games, or horse around from the time that they got to the arena until the time that the final bell sounded.
6. The workers were prohibited from having their wives or children in the building with them when they wrestled.
7. If a wrestler gets beat up, under ANY circumstances, outside of the ring at a bar, or at a restaurant, or after the wrestler leaves the ring, he is fired, NO exceptions.
All of which meant that the backstage environment in WCW was pretty dire - and while WCW wasn’t engrossed in the public scandals that the WWF was, it’s own internal problems were having a negative effect on a company that was already free falling from the loss of Ric Flair (those “we want Flair” chants remained from the day Flair left to the day he returned) to the point that it’s top stars were either departing at a rapid rate, or just out and out miserable.
So obviously, the wrestling action in both federations must have been terrible right?
Well actually no…..there were probably more must see matches in the WWF alone in 1992 than in both companies combined in 1993. Not to mention the fact that 1992 had (in my opinion) not only the greatest War Games match in history, but the greatest Royal Rumble too - throw in the fact that WCW had introduced the best faction since the Four Horsemen (Paul E’s Dangerous Alliance) and 1992 was pretty damn good from an on screen perspective.
So why the title of this little project? Transcending Traditions? Simply because as we rolled into 1993, nothing was as it was supposed to be.
The lines were blurred.
And those distinct personalities had become somewhat….skewed.
Gone (for the most part) were the 300lb muscle heads in the WWF, replaced at the top of the card by the likes of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon and Mr. Perfect…..guys that were capable of having a good match anyone. Something that was particularly useful since this was also around the time that the WWF began ushering in a “new generation” of talented stars.
Of course we still had the WWF blueprint there - there were still some big guys, both muscular and just….big (Yokozuna, Lex Luger, Bam Bam Bigelow) and we still had a multitude of over the top gimmicks (clown’s, repo men, whatever a Bastion Booger is supposed to be) but ON PAPER there could be something great here - and something that was distinctly un-WWF like.
Transcending the traditional.
Then there was WCW….and as the WWF had to cycle OUT the “enhanced” superstars, WCW (who did not fall under the same scrutiny as its counterpart) cycled them all right IN. And as guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels rose up the ranks up north, down south WCW opened its doors to the likes of The British Bulldog, Sid Vicious, even Hercules came over for a spell (under the hood of the Super Invader) and while the WWF’s undercard was brimming with potential, WCW had the likes of Heavy Metal Van Hammer, the Cole Twins, and Erik Watts - guys that couldn’t go sixty minutes Broadway and hold for hold with the world champion if they were given three hundred and sixty minutes to do so - what they had was something that was distinctly un-WCW like….what they had, was WWF lite.
Transcending the traditional.
1993 was going to be all about Transcending Traditions. Hopefully for the better.