Aaron Wood
This Week In WWE Vintage Collection History: 2012 Starts Much Like It Did In 2011 With Some New Beginnings
By Aaron Wood
Jan 1, 2012 - 2:00 PM


The beginning of our show was interrupted by a video. No, not an "It Begins" video (although in an awesome touch the episode of "This Week In WWE" that aired before VC here in the UK this morning had it's end interrupted by one) but a RNN New Update. Yes, the Randy News Network coming all the way from 2002. Survivor Series 2002 in fact as a 9-years younger, comparatively mop-topped with hair and relatively un-tattooed Randy Orton gave us an update on his shoulder, telling us to continue to e-mail (although we told by disclaimer not to here in 2012) and that he would be back in no time. These were awesome, and you could see here that Orton was going to be massive. Or at least I could.

As it goes, this was a clue as to our new ongoing theme for the weeks ahead. That said, this time last year was also a clue, as Mean Gene noted this was the beginning of the annual "New Beginnings" theme, looking at moments where people's careers changed. And when injury sidelined the young blue-chipper that was Randy Orton, he evolved his persona in that time off, becoming an arrogant and hungry competitor, joining up with HHH, Ric Flair and Batista as part of Evolution, a path that led him to become youngest World Champion in WWE history. And in our opening match from the RAW episode of June 16th 2003, he faced another youngster who made his own history by being the winner of the first ever Tough Enough, Maven.

I know. You'd think this match would be online. But it ain't so far that I can see. JR & Lawler are naturally your announcers. Orton has Flair at ringside while Maven is being backed up by Mick Foley. We joined things mid-way through as Maven fought out of a chinlock, although he was slammed back down and pinned for a 2 count. An Orton dropkick also picked up a 2 count. Maven was whipped off the ropes, but Orton dropped his head and was DDT'ed.

After they got back to their feet, Maven avoided a corner charge, and Maven started a comeback, hitting a spinning heel kick and bulldog out of the corner which picked up a close 2 count. Lawler & JR were talking about someone joining Evolution that night (this being the night after the Nash/HHH Cell match at Bad Blood), which would end up being Batista. Maven went up top, but Flair crotched him behind the ref's back, which got Foley take out Flair. However, Orton took out Mick. All this allowed Maven to recover and his a crossbody, picking up another close 2. Maven took out Flair and tried a suplex on Orton, but Orton countered out of it and hit what would end up named the RKO for the win.

After the match, Foley (with Socko) put the Mandible Claw on Orton for a short time before Flair ran in, taking the hold himself before Orton pulled Flair out of the ring.

As Okerlund explained after the break, while we just saw the new beginning of someone whose career would be out of this world, our next person to be featured would COME from out of this world. In 1992, a new superstar arrived on the scene, going by a number of names before it was settled upon Max Moon. The person under the mask would achieve future success in Sports Entertainment, he made his debut in this match from Wrestling Challenge, which was taped on September 2nd and aired on September 27th 1992, against a man who would end up in a new beginning himself as Gillberg, Duane Gill.

After the break, we jumped ahead a few years to WCW Main Event from February 4th 1996, with the match taped a few days earlier, as Konnan, now in WCW, but in many ways as ridiculous a get-up, billed as the "Mexican Heavyweight Champion", challenged for the WCW US Title against One Man Gang, who as Gene noted knew a thing of two about shedding identities.

Back from break, we went to Smackdown of March 18th 2004 as a humiliated Paul Heyman was walking the halls when he bumped into the APA, who started laughing at him. In a fit of rage, Heyman noted that while they were about to have a WWE Tag Title match, he hoped they won, getting in Faarooq's face and saying "If YOU and your partner don't win the WWE Tag Team Championships, then you're fired". this would come into play later.

We immediately skipped to the match itself where the APA challenged Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty for the belts. Yeah, Rikishi & Scotty were tag champs... Again, we picked up things part way through as Bradshaw had Scotty in a Torture Rack for some time before Scotty got out, albeit running into a big boot for a 2 count. Scotty was worked over by both Faarooq and Bradshaw until Scotty was able to hit a tornado DDT out of the corner on Bradshaw. Scotty managed to tag Rikishi, who ran wild on both men. The match broke down as Faarooq intercepted Scotty's Worm attempt on Bradshaw. However, after squashing Faarooq in the corner, Rikishi his a super kick on Bradshaw to retain the titles, leaving the APA in shock.

We jumped to a post-match segment where the APA confronted Heyman, telling him to tell them to their faces that they were fired. However, Heyman clarified what he said, as once again he clearly wasn't listened to. He didn't say he was firing the APA. He said he was firing Faarooq. He put over Bradshaw's recent achievements in finance, with his published book and spot on FOX News, telling him to consider his future. Faarooq suggested they both get out of there, but Bradshaw didn't leave. Faarooq realised he was turning his back on him after all these years.

We got the result of Bradshaw remaining after the break, as he became JBL. We went to Smackdown on April 22nd of that year, as JBL was beginning his feud with Eddie Guerrero and his whole anti-Mexican angle, as JBL was set for a match against the "World Champion of Mexico", El Gran Luchadore.

Our main event for this week saw us look a a guy with possibly the most famous new beginning in history. November 1997 changed the world as we knew it as Bret Hart was screwed out of the WWE to start again in WCW. That said, he would still claim to be the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever would be, which didn't sit well with "the man" Ric Flair, so the pair met at WCW Souled Out 1998on January 24th that year, in Bret's first match for the company to see who was really the best.

These two WWE HOF'ers put on a Hall Of Fame match with the Excellence Of Execution picking up the duke. While Bret's WCW career would end under unfortunate circumstances, this match showed why he was as good as his mantra said he was, be it WWE or WCW. Gene promised us we'd look at more new beginnings next week before signing off.

Orton, in his role of Evolution underling, would spent most of 2003 making sure that HHH held onto the World Title, particularly from Goldberg. Later in the year, however, he would develop the Legend Killer gimmick, his first target being Shawn Michaels, beating him at Unforgiven before moving onto the Foley feud at the end of the year.

As for Maven, he spent most of the year wrestling on Heat. However, on the July 13th edition of the show, HHH would actually defend the World Title against Maven on the show, albeit with HHH naturally winning. It would be nearly a full year before Maven's biggest push would come.

After only a few matches on TV, Konnan ended up in dispute with Vince McMahon and left the WWE, the Max Moon persona being taken over by Paul Diamond before it was quickly dropped. After some time spent in ECW, he went to WCW, winning the US Title, as shown, soon after debuting. Konnan and OMG, as noted were set to rematch anyway at Superbrawl and they did, with Konnan retaining. As it goes, One Man Gang would soon leave WCW after this and essentially retire from wrestling. As for Konnan, he held the US Title until the Great American Bash in July, where he lost to Ric Flair.

Riksihi & Scotty 2 Hotty wouldn't hold the Tag Titles for much longer after the match here. indeed, they lost the titles on the same show as the featured JBL/El Gran Luchadore match to Charlie Haas & Rico. Riksihi was released that July for refusing to drop some weight. This left Scotty to generally inhabit Velocity and jobber status until his eventual release in 2007.

As for JBL, he ended up becoming '1 Contender to Eddie Guerrero when crooked new GM, Kurt Angle, awarded Bradshaw his "Great American Award". In the build to the match, they ran an angle where JBL induced a heart attack in Eddie' mother at a live event. As it goes, their first match saw JBL win, albeit by DQ, before controversially winning the title in a Bullrope match at the Great American Bash. They would have a rematch which I will get to in a second.

It should be noted however that this featured match was not the last we saw of "El Gran Luchadore". After being played by Paul London on this outing, Shannon Moore donned the costume for a rematch with JBL. During that match, EGL swapped out with someone in the same attire, but wrestled suspiciously like Eddie Guerrero. JBL ran away realising this, before EGL pulled off his mask to reveal it was Eddie, messing with Bradshaw.

In the WWE Title rematch between JBL & Eddie inside a Steel Cage on Smackdown, El Gran Luchadore out appear once again. However, this time, he helped JBL win the match. As he tried to escape himself, in the melee Eddie pulled off the mask, and when El Gran Luchadore crashed to the floor, it was revealed that it was the supposedly crippled GM Kurt Angle.

Ric Flair would somewhat leave WCW only a couple of months after his match with Bret due to a lawsuit regarding him no-showing a Thunder taping. He would return later in the year in a famous Horsemen reunion.

As for Bret, he would soon choose to stand up for WCW against the nWo, facing Brian Adams on Nitro and Curt Hennig at Uncensored. but WCW being WCW, soon after facing Hennig, he turned heel and helped Hulk Hogan beat Randy Savage to retain the WCW Title. While he didn't become a full nWo member, he became an associate. He beat Savage at Slamboree before he and Hogan beat Savage and Roddy Piper at the Great American Bash.

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