Sunday, June 17, 2018

Will Other Wrestling Promotions Run Madison Square Garden


As a wrestling fan growing up I always wanted to go to Madison Square Garden to watch professional wrestling.  Which meant going to watch the WWE.  Since the 1920's no one that doesn't have the last name McMahon has ever promoted professional wrestling inside that building.

Finally in 2018 after talking about it for years my pal Jay and I made the trek and it was an amazing adventure.  You can read about it here.  

Madison Square Garden hosted the biggest shows in Capitol Wrestling, WWWF, WWF, and WWE through the 1990's.  Seven of the first 10 WWE Championship title reigns happened at Madison Square Garden including: 

Bruno Sammartino submitted Buddy Rogers to begin his historic championship run that was ended eight years later at the Garden by Ivan Koloff.


Bob Backlund's near six year run began and ended there when he defeated "Superstar" Billy Graham  and was defeated by The Iron Sheik in controversial fashion.   

The era of Hulkamania kicked off in 1984 when Hulk Hogan pinned the Iron Shiek.  

The first ever WrestleMania, the show that would change the landscape of professional wrestling around the world first came to us from the world's most famous arena.  As would WrestleMania's ten and twenty.


Most recently Bruno Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at the building he made famous.

You frequently hear wrestlers talk about making their Madison Square Garden debut and how much it means to them.  Some wrestlers dream about wrestling at the Garden and consider it the greatest accomplishment of their career.  Long before wrestlers talked about having their WresleMania moment, they talked about their MSG moment.

WWE themselves have always hyped the importance of Madison Square Garden and their history there.  The 2013 release of  The Best of WWE at Madison Square Garden, a home video release featuring matches and moments at The Garden.

However, even as important as Madison Square Garden is the WWE has been running the building less and less over the years from a month show to just three scheduled events in 2018 and in some years only 1 time.  The last pay-per-view held there was the 2011 Survivor Series.  Many blame the high cost to rent the Garden and the opening of the Barclays center in Brooklyn in 2012 as for WWE's decline in running shows there.  

I recently read online that after WWE announced that WrestleMania would be returning to the meadowlands in 2019 but would be running Hall of Fame, TakeOver, Raw & SmackDown at the Barclays the final straw.  

After never allowing any other wrestling promotion, NWA, WCW, ECW, the AWA and ect, that Madison Square Garden would now accept bookings.  Surprising the first company to jump at the chance was the lucha libra promotion AAA who allegedly have a hold on a date in September 2018.
  

Recently Ring of Honor have stated they will run the venue in 2019 and Cody and the Young Bucks have hinted at All In 2 in 2019 taking place there.  I've also read that WWE under their current deal with MSG has first rights of refusal to prevent other promotions from running shows.  So this all could be a power play by MSG to get WWE to run more shows with them and not at the Barclays.


I recently posed this question to a group of my friends:

Considering the potential of other wrestling promotions running there, does this make The Garden less special in the world of wrestling.

And here are their responses:

Rood: my buddy of 15 years who I have gone to numerous wrestling shows with including WrestleMania XXIV
 
Kind of.  The pinnacle of wrestling was working to headline at the Garden.  To do that you had to make it to WWE.  Now, you just need to make it to a top league and you can wrestle at the Garden.  It is still impressive, but not as impressive as it had been.

Brandon: contributor The Wrestling Insomniac founder of Video Store Corner and all around awesome guy

I don't see either of them (AAA or ROH) filling it up.  That's a difficult question.  If they run there and are successful it makes MSG even more special, but if they bomb or run a third capacity it does devalue it to some.

Aaron: cool cat and sometimes co-host of Podcast of 1,000 Holds hailing from New Jersey

I don't think so.  Imagine how awesome it will be to see a Ring of Honor show there instead of a much smaller venue.  It's New York City it'll sell out.

Ronnie: baseball guru and wrestling fan and former co-host of Podcast of 1,000 Holds

I think it's a statement in general overall.  It's one of the last strong holds that the WWE has in the wrestling industry in general.  Now that wall is broken down.  Will it make The Garden less special?  Not to the hot indy wrestlers that will be able to wrestle there for maybe the first time ever.  Will it make it special once the WWE has a show there again down the line?  I think so.  

Armand @wrestlingcard18 cool guy I met on twitter who collects wrestling trading cards

I'm excited that AAA is running, I'd really like to go to that.  If ROH is running MSG during Mania weekend I may actually go to that show.  MSG is the home to the WWE but I totally get it on the MSG's side.  They should have had NXT or at leas the Hall of Fame at MSG during Mania.  I've always heard it's very expensive to rung MSG and it holds 20,000.  There is no way ROH is going to get that many people if they are going against NXT.  I love ROH but even I would have chosen the last Takeover over Supercard of Honor.  

Kevin from Joshi City formerly Puro Central Shop

I don't think so, if WWE still used them for big PPV's maybe.  But they mostly were just getting house shows these days anyway.  Maybe new promotions can make it more special again.

Michael Moore writer of the Collectibles Column at the Pro Wrestling Torch

I don't think it makes it any less prestigious.  It's still the world's most famous arena, and realistically who is going to draw a big enough crowd besides the WWE and UFC? 

Jay: my buddy Jay of 25 years who made the trek to the Garden with me this year sums it up the best and I completely agree with him.


Absolutely it does!  Listen to the interviews of the wrestlers of the show we just went to.  The first tim is a goal on par with WrestleMania. While I would disagree that this current WWE is the best product around, it is still the place to go, the goal, of every wrestler on the planet whether they want to admit it or not.

I have to believe that when they walk that aisle for the first time they feel the Bruno's and the Roger's and the Graham's and the Blassie's that made it to the Mecca of wrestling and they earned it for being one of the best in the world of this sport.  Now? Well a guy named Cheeseburger gets to call his folks and tell him that he made it to MSG.

I have to believe that this is a power play by the management of Madison Square Garden to get WWE to run more shows and that WWE will do everything that they can to prevent this from happening.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Signed Trading Cards: Jushin Liger, Matt Striker, Icarus

I haven't added any cards to my collection in quite some time, but recently I did go to War of the Worlds in Lowell and managed to add one to my collection.  I wanted to get more but the prices for the meet and greets were double what they were the last time.


Jushin "Thunder" Liger

This card I got signed in person May 9th at the New Japan Pro Wrestling & Ring of Honor War of the Worlds stop in Lowell.  You can read about it here.  Liger was absolutely amazing and I couldn't have been more excited to have finally met this legend.



Matt Striker

This card is a WWE 2006 Topps Heritage series II.  My buddy Roy got it signed for me, I think at a Beyond wrestling show.


Icarus

This card is from the United Kingdom part of the Resurrection card set.  Either Roy or Mikey got it signed for me.


Jay Leno

This card is from the Topps 1998 WCW/nWo card set.  Jay Leno was the host of the Tonight Show and did a cross promotion with WCW that eventually lead to Leno teaming with Diamond Dallas Page in a tag match against Eric Bischoff & Hollywood Hogan at Road Wild 1998 in Sturgis, Douth Dakota.  This was Leno's only wrestling match.  I mail him this card on July 3, 2017 and got it back signed on May 4, 2018.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Final Run of Bret "Hitman" Hart


Growing up I was always a fan of The Hitman, first as part of the Hart Foundation with Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and later during his singles run.  I was sad when he left the WWE even though his departure was one of the most talked about moments in wrestling.

Even though in WCW he won the United States, Tag Team, and World Heavyweight Championships it didn't feel like he did much at all.  The injury and abruptness with which his career ended left me feeling like we as fans were cheated.  I can't even begin to imagine how Bret felt.


As a fan I wanted to see Bret go out on top, or at least under his own terms, with thunderous applause and not the fizzle that we got.  I knew we'd never see him wrestle again, at least that's what I thought, due to the concussion and stroke but it would be nice to see him get the recognition that he deserves.

In 2005 we got our first taste of the return of The Hitman when he worked with the WWE to release a DVD about him: Bret "Hitman" Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be.  The documentary was fantastic and the match compilations were great.  I was happy that if this was all we got at least it's positive.


Then in 2006 he was the headliner inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.  In his speech he said he was only here for the fans to let them know not to worry about him because he was okay.  Once again I thought that this was it, and I was satisfied with this send off as well.

January 4, 2010 was the day that no one ever thought they would see when Bret stepped back into a WWE and faced his old nemesis Shawn Michaels where the two shook hands ending the feud.  Later that night a new feud began when Vince McMahon kicked The Hitman in the crotch which lead to the unbelievable return of the Hitman to the ring at WrestleMania that year.


That brings us to what this post is about, the final 11 matches of Bret "The Hitman" Hart.


March 28, 2010 WrestleMania XXVI Phoenix, Arizona
No Holds Barred: Bret "Hitman" Hart defeated Vince McMahon with special referee Bruce Hart

The match that had to happen!  With his family at ringside Hart got his revenge on McMahon after the Montreal Screw Job.


May 17, 2010 RAW, Toronto, Ontario
No Disqualification: Bret "Hitman" Hart submitted United States Champion: The Miz with the sharpshooter to win the championship

August 9, 2010 RAW, Sacramento, California
Lumberjack Match: Bret "Hitman" Hart & John Cena vs. Chris Jericho & Edge went to a no contest

August 15, 2010 SummerSlam Los Angeles, California
Elimination Tag Team Match: Team WWE: Bret "Hitman" Hart, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, Edge, John Cena, John Morrison, & R-Truth defeated Team Nexus: Wade Barrett, Darren Young, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver, & Skip Sheffield

September 25, 2010 SmackDown House Show, Madison Square Garden
Bret "Hitman" Hart and The Hart Dynasty: David Hart Smith & Tyson Kidd with Natayla defeated The Nexus: Heath Slater Justin Gabriel, & Michael Tarver with special guest referee Jerry "The King" Lawler

November 10, 2010 SmackDown House Show Brussel, Belgium
Bret "Hitman" Hart and The Hart Dynasty: David Hart Smith & Tyson Kidd with Natayla defeated The Nexus: Heath Slater, David Otunga, & Husky Harris

November 11, 2010 SmackDown House Show Nuremberg, Germany
Bret "Hitman" Hart and The Hart Dynasty: David Hart Smith & Tyson Kidd with Natayla defeated The Nexus: Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, & Husky Harris


November 12, 2010 SmackDown House Show Cologne, Germany
Bret "Hitman" Hart and The Hart Dynasty: David Hart Smith & Tyson Kidd with Natayla defeated The Nexus: Heath Slater, David Otunga, & Husky Harris

November 13, 2010 SmackDown House Show Mannheim, Germany
Bret "Hitman" Hart and The Hart Dynasty: David Hart Smith & Tyson Kidd with Natayla defeated The Nexus: David Otunga, Husky Harris, & Justin Gabriel

November 14, 2010 SmackDown House Show Istanbul, Turkey
Bret "Hitman" Hart, Edge, & Rey Mysterio defeated Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, & Drew McIntyre


September 12, 2011 RAW, Ottawa, Ontario
Bret "Hitman" Hart & John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio & Ricardo Rodriguez


March 25, 2012 Big Time Wrestling in Augusta, Maine.
I did meet Bret Hart once after his Last Match he cut a promo that night at the show.  I also saw him wrestle live a few times.

June 4, 1989 WWF House Show Portland, Maine
Bret "Hit Man" Hart wrestled Mr. Perfect to a 20 minute time limit draw

August 15, 1995 WWF TV Taping Portland, Maine
aired 8/26/1995 on Superstars of Wrestling
Bret "Hit Man" Hart submitted Rad Radford with the sharpshooter Jean Pierre Lafitte came to ringside and stole Harts jacket

aired on 9/2/1995 Superstars of Wrestling
Bret "Hit Man" Hart defeated Waylon Mercy by disqualification when Jean Pierre Lafitte interferred

Dark Match
Bret "Hit Man" Hart defeated Isaac Yankem DDS by count-out

March 1, 1996 WWF House Show Augusta, Maine
Champion: Bret "Hit Man" Hart defeated Undertaker by count-out when Goldust gave Taker a piledriver on the floor

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Last Match: Japanese Legends

It's been a long time since I made a post about The Last Match and it's time to bring it back.  This time I'm digging deep and looking at some of the Legends of Japanese wrestling.


Rikidozan

December 7, 1963 JWA Hamamatsu, Japan
with Michiaki Yoshimura & The Great Togo wrestled Buddy Austin, Ilio DiPaolo, & The Destroyer to a 60 minute time limit draw

The Father of Puroresu debuted in 1951 was a former Sumo wrestler before making the change to the squared circle.  He established the promotion Nihon Puroresu Kyokai  or Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance and established a training school.  He captured many championships in the Japan and a few in the United States.

He died December 15, 1963 from peritonitis a week after being stabbed by Yakuza member Katsuji Murata in a Tokyo nightclub on December 8th.


Antonio Inoki

April 4, 1998 NJPW Tokyo Dome, Japan
defeated Don Frye

Inoki began his training with Rikidozan in 1960 at the age of 17.  What he is best know for is his June 26, 1976 shoot match against Muhammad Ali that was not good.  He is also known for founding New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972.


In 1995 he stages the two day wrestling festival for peace in Pyongyang, North Korea that drew a combined 340,000 fans to the two events and saw Inoki defeated Ric Flair in their only match against each other.

A multiple time champion with titles from around the world he is also one of only a few people to be inducted into both he WCW & WWE Hall of Fame's.
 

Shohei "Giant" Baba

December 5, 1998 Tokyo, Japan
with Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura defeated Haruka Eigen, Masanobu Fuchi, & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

Trained by Rikidozan alongside Antonio Inoki both men debuted on the same night.  In 1972 several months after Inoki launched NJPW Baba opened his own promotion All Japan Pro Wrestling.  Holding several championships in Japan he was also a three time NWA World Heavyweight Champion.

Baba died January 31, 1999 at the age of 61 from cancer.


Toyonobori

February 20, 1973 NJPW Yokohama, Japan
defeated  Bruno Bekkar

A former Sumo wrestler he turned to professional wrestling in 1954 joining the JWA.  He became the second most popular wrestler in Japan behind Rikidozan, the two of them held multiple All Asia Tag Team Championships.

After Rikidozan's death Toyonobori and others would continue running JWA where he became the number one draw for a few years.  In 1966 he formed Tokyo Pro Wrestling but it folded in less than a year.  He announced his retirement in 1970 but came out of retirement two years later when Inoki launched NJPW to help provide name value for his cards.

He died on July 1, 1998 from heart failure.

Toyonobori is often overlooked in the history of Japanese wrestling for the layperson.  Most all have heard of Rikidozan and his two prize students Inoki and Baba who would go on to form the two biggest promotions in the history of Japan.  I can't find any of his matches on New Japan World but there are some on YouTube.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!