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This Week In WWE Vintage Collection History: How One Tug Of War Changed Lives

By Aaron Wood Jan 8, 2012 - 3:04 PM print

No cold open for us like last week, so it was left to Mean Gene to explain what the dillio was. As he explained, each of the participants in the first match would undergo changes in their career. Back in 1996, there was no Hall Of Pain built (and let's face it, in 2012, there's no Hall Of Fame built, but I digress) by Mark Henry yet, as he was just beginning his WWE career. Some Superstars were not entirely pleased to see his arrival, and wanted to test his "World's Strongest Man" moniker. One such man in particular was Crush, and on the November 17th episode of "Sunday Morning Superstars" airing on the morning of the 1996 Survivor Series, Crush took on Henry in a Tug Of War. Or at least, that's how it started...

And so they all moved on from there, sticking with Mark Henry after the break, Gene talked about how despite showing HHH, Goldust & Crush he was the World's Strongest Man, injury stalled the early part of Henry's career. After a year away, he came back, and soon buddied up with the World's Most Dangerous Man, Ken Shamrock, as he feuded with The Rock and the Nations Of Domination. On the episode of RAW from January 12th 1998, Henry teamed up with Shamrock to take on The Rock & D'Lo Brown, where it could be said, an early wing was set up in the Hall Of Pain.

After the break, we moved on to Henry's initial opponent in the Tug Of War, Crush, as we went to the WCW/nWo Thunder episode of March 20th 1998, as Crush had moved to WCW, and as Okerlund said here, Crush worked "under his HUMAN name" Brian Adams. Adams quickly joined the nWo, and here, he faced Marty Jannetty.

Back from break, Gene said we'd seen some superstars take on new identities in this "New Beginnings" series, but perhaps no-one had the identity crisis that Goldust had back in 1998. After a split with his then-wife Marlena, and trying to step out of his father's shadow, he became The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust, where Dustin would end up mimicking several different other members of the roster. And after having abandoned Vader's Survivor Series team, The Mastodon had Goldust in his sights, and the two settled the score on the RAW episode of January 26th 1998 as Vader faced, well, Vaderdust???

it was main event time next, and our final man from the Tug Of War, namely Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Before becoming thre COO, The King Of King or even The Game, HHH was a blueblood looking for a way to the top by any means possible. But despite being the 1997 King Of The Ring, he began to feel short-changed, switching his name to Triple H and joining forces with Shawn Michaels, becoming DeGeneration X. As they gained steam, they caught the ire of then-Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter. And so at DeGeneration X: In You House, Slaughter challenged Hunter to a "Boot Camp" match, to beat some respect into him.

With Chyna's help. HHH escaped with the victory, and DX continued to surge. And over the course of the next several, year, DX, despite numerous changes, as well as HHH himself, each leaving imprints on the minds of the WWE Universe and helping Hunter hold 13 World Titles. Gene noted that while it was the end of the show, we were nowhere near the end of the New Beginnings. Well, I'm guessing we go until either Rumble Sunday or the week after.

As noted, the episode of Superstars with the Tug Of War aired the morning of Survivor Series 1996. Henry was set to feature in an Elimination match with Barry Windham (as The Stalker), Marc Mero and Rocky Miavia to take on Crush, HHH, Goldust and the captain, Jerry Lawler. However, between the tapings and the PPV, Henry was injured and replaced by Jake "The Snake" Roberts. He then, as noted on the show, and before in this section, took around a year off to recover from his ailments and undertake more training.

When he returned, it wasn't long until he took part in the match shown where he joined The Nation. At this point, Henry spent a lot of time tagging with D'Lo Brown, taking part in the Wrestlemania 14 Tag Team Battle Royal, and beyond.

After usurping Faarooq as leader of The Nation, The Rock feuded with him over the IC Title, before leading the group into a feud with DX. The Rock would end up losing the IC Title to HHH at Summerslam. However, later, at Breakdown, The Rock won a WWE Title shot. Soon after this, The Nation fell apart, and Rock feuded with Henry for a short period. With the fall of The Nation, D'Lo and Mark Henry remained together, feuding with The Rock & The Godfather, continuing on as a pairing for some time after.

As for Ken Shamrock, he would defeat the Rock at Wrestlemania, but the decision would be reversed when Shamrock would refuse to let the hold go, allowing Rock to retain the title. Shamrock would go onto win the 1998 King Of The Ring, beating The Rock in the final match. then feuding with Owen Hart in a series of more MMA thematic matches.

Thanks to their mutual management by Clarence Mason, Crush would end up in the original Nation line up, along with Savio Vega and Faarooq. After Crush (along with Vega and Mason) were kicked out of the group by Faarooq, when it began to have a fully African American lineup, Crush would form the biker group DOA, feuding with Faarooq's new Nation and Vega's won stable Los Boricuas.

Crush/Brian Adams found himself in WCW in early 1998, having left the WWE in protest to Montreal, and almost immediately found himself part of the nWo, albeit not exactly a major player. After that ended, he would end up forming Kronik with Bryan Clark. Jannetty also started in WCW in early 1998, although his run was almost entirely unnotable until an injury saw him fired.

Back in 1996, Goldust generally floated about doing not very much of note, winning minor matches but generally losing any major matches, such as any P:PV shots, until he developed the TAFKA personality in late 1997. At this point, in a pot-shot at what Prince was join, he developed the TAFKA persona, mimicking others, such as Vader-Dust in this example, but also Chyna-dust, Dusty-dust (in a shot at his father's wearing of polka dots in his WWE run, Hunter-dust and others.

Rhodes would then get even wackier over the course of the next few months, as Goldust burned the jumpsuit, dumped Luna and got with Marlena again, this time speaking out against the WWE product and it's edginess and making bible quotes. In typical Russo fashion the "group" sponsoring the vignettes were called "Evangelists Against Television, Movies and Entertainment!. Yes, "EAT ME". And then, after alluding to "his return", meaning Jesus, Dustin would revert back to the Goldust character.

Kane & Vader met at No Way Out Of Texas, with Vader losing to a Tombstone, before being attacked by Kane with a wrench, putting Vader on the shelf. When he returned, he resumed his feud with Kane, helping Undertaker win an Inferno match. However, Vader lost a mask vs. mask match, after which, Vader gave the famous interview, where he suggested he was done and calling himself "a piece of shit. a big fat piece of shit." Vader would end up getting out of the WWE and heading to Japan once again.

As for Kane, he met Undertaker at Wrestlemania, losing after three piledrivers. He then lost the aforementioned Inferno match. However, things took an upswing from there, as he would beat Taker for a WWE Title match, getting it at King Of The Ring, beating Stone Cold Steve Austin for the title, albeit only having a one day long reign, losing it back to Austin the next night.

At the point of the Tug Of War, HHH was IC Champions, and would hold the title until losing it at the Thursday RAW Thursday show, before taking on Mr. Hughes and then Chyna as a bodyguard while continuing his rise. By his later match, he was European champion, having had a mock match while outsmarting Sgt. Slaughter who forced Michaels to wrestle HHH. This led onto a feud with Owen Hart, which would also be the culmination of Hunter's feud with Slaughter, as at Wrestlemania 14, Slaughter handcuffed himself to Chyna in an effort to stop her helping Hunter. However, it ended up proving futile, with Chyna helping anyway and HHH winning the match.

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