TweetIn 2008, I was going all-out writing a weekly column called "Shakin' My Head" for this awesome website. In September, I added a column within a columncalled "Pillar to Post" where I provided a topic and asked three guests give a list based on that topic. In addition, I would have a special guest from the wrestling world also comment on that topic.
The first special guest I had was one of my favorite independent performers. He could wrestle, he could promo, and he was one of the most amazing modern-day managers around.
Larry Sweeney was the first wrestler I contacted and he was almost immediate to respond. I was stoked. I mean, I had his t-shirtand had seen just about everything there was to see on YouTube...I was just a huge fan of his and couldn't have been happier that he was as classy outside of the ring as he was entertaining inside of it.
So as my own very small tribute to an amazing entertainer, here is the segment of that column...
Here is this week's topic:
Who are your favorite five wrestlers of all time and why?
Simple yet intriguing.
Sound easy enough?
Good...because you never know when a special guest might pop up.
Having this simple format allows ANYBODY to give answers.
For example, this week I've got 95% of the Insanity writing staff. I figured y'all might actually be interested to see who James Guttman and Canadian Bulldog find to be their favorite wrestlers of all time.
Oh...but the fun doesn't end there.
No, no, no.
In fact, I'm kicking things off with my REAL special guest columnist.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you one of the best entertainers on the independent circuit today.
How this guy hasn't been hired by WWE or TNA yet is way beyond me. He's got a great MySpace, sells some of the best indiemerch in the business (I rock this on a weekly basis...no word of lie), he's a multiple-time ICW/ICWA Texarkana television champion, he's the king of the 12 large (brother!!), and he's got the most powerful stable going in Ring of Honor today: Sweet 'n' Sour Incorporated.
That's right, kids.
My special guest this week is the one, the only...
"Sweet 'n' Sour" LARRY F*CKIN' SWEENEY!!!!
So without further adu, here we go...
PILLAR TO POST
WHO ARE YOUR FIVE FAVORITE WRESTLERS OF ALL TIME AND WHY?
I just love Koko, what can I say? I'm a big fan of the underneath guys, and nobodys cooler than Koko.
2. Akeem (One Man Gang)
My first two favorites were Big Bossman and Akeem, and going back and watching old Slick and Twin Towers promos, they're awesome. The Akeem dance is probably the best thing in the history of wrestling and getting to wrestle the Gang and do a strut off was a transcendental moment.
3. Randy Savage
The promos, the in ring...nobody was more intense than the Macho Man.
He was unreal. Dig it.
4. Jake Roberts
PhD in Ring Psychology. Almost had a match with him down in Florida but it fell through, what a shame.
5. Playboy Buddy Rose
The best underneath guy of all time in the late 80s, awesome main eventer in the early 80s and 70s. Trained with him and Colonel DeBeers in Portland back in the day, got some dinner buffet style.
Larry, thanks so much for pitchin' in this week.
It's very much appreciated.
But that's not all, kids.
As if that wouldn't be good enough...here's the staff of the Insanity to provide their picks!!
Pillman's match with Jushin Liger at SuperBrawl 2 was one of my favorites when I saw it. It blew me away and, as a young fan, it gave me new appreciation for how "high flying" can be more than the same ol' flippy/flippy game. They turned it up and produced an amazing match. Years later, Brian's Loose Cannon gimmick would be responsible for some of the most Must See TV moments I've ever seen in this business. Not only was he a solid wrestler but a solid character too. All the things people credit ECW and The WWF Attitude for would never have existed without "I Respect You, Booker-man." In many ways, Flyin' Brian's contributions to the birth of the behind-the-curtain work/shoot generation eclipse lots of others who get more recognition for it.
2. The Honky Tonk Man
As a kid, I loved Honky Tonk. He represented the clueless heel. He heard cheers that no one else did. He copied Elvis, but hated him at the same time. He talked about songs he recorded that didn't exist and, despite fans wanting to kill him every week, still managed to hold on to the Intercontinental belt for 64 weeks (Thanks, Santino.) As someone most overlooked in his initial IC challenge to Ricky Steamboat, HTM came out of his title reign with a level of respect that can't be manufactured through a quick push or sudden angle. It was a slow burn that would be close to impossible for them to do today. '
Plus, the Lonely Elizabeth was "head over heels" for him.
3. Tully Blanchard
Tully played a cocky heel unlike anyone in this business. I've said it many times before, but Blanchard's real genius was in the details. For example, in a tag match, most heels would run over and hit their babyface opponent's partner as he stood on the apron. It would be done to make the non-legal man run into the ring, get pulled back by the ref, and lead to a distraction so the heels could cheat. Tully took it to a new level. Rather than hit the illegal man on the apron…he'd spit at him. You don't get any more chickensh*t heel than that. Plus, the guy could wrestle rings around most people he stepped in the ring with. If I were a young star learning to work a match as a true heel, I'd stock up on tapes of Tully Blanchard. The guy was just amazing.
4. Curt Hennig
I remember watching Mr. Perfect wrestle a match against Tito Santana once. Tito kicked his knee and Hennig flipped backwards. As he landed, his head hit the mat and I was convinced –
convinced – that he broke his neck. Just as that was settling in…Curt got up.
And did it again. And again. Then again.
It was insane. No one bumped like Mr. Perfect. He was like a rubber doll and his wrestling ability showed it. When you put the bumps, wrestling talent, and great character development together, it makes for a great star. Even before his WWF days, Hennig was turning heads. When you have his type of ability, it's hard not to.
5. Jerry Lawler
When I interviewed Al Snow, he spoke at length about his respect for Jerry Lawler as a wrestler. I was thrilled to hear it because I couldn’t agree more. Lawler has the distinction of being able to jump between serious and silly at the drop of a hat. This also allows him to do the same thing with his allegiances. As a heel or babyface, The King can get the crowd moving and it's kept them coming back in Memphis for decades. It takes a lot to stay as over as Jerry has been in one area for so long. There's a simple reason for that. He knows what he's doing and does it well.
First of all, I just wanted to give my most sincere birthday wishes to the man called ZAH. Although, if this P2P hits on Friday, it just happens to be another prominent Canadian WWI Superstar's birthday. But hey - whatever. I don't want any glory or anything. It doesn't matter; really....
As promised, my five favorite wrestlers of all-time:
1. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
A controversial pick, I'm sure, but then again, he was always a controversial wrestler. Why do I love Piper so much? Because he's able to blur the line between fact and fiction better than anyone else. Because all he has to do is give a certain look or turn a certain way and he owns the crowd. Because he's easily the best talker the wrestling business has ever had. And most of all, because I enjoy watching his matches and segments more than anyone else.
2. Mick Foley
I struggled between my number one and two picks, as both have arguably been among my favorites at various points in time (then again, so was King Kong Bundy, and he didn't even make my list). Part of this is because of his books: because he told his life story so well through the printed word, a Foley fan feels a sense of accomplishment whenever they're able to re-live that story, either through old matches or new ones. When Mick Foley sacrifices himself for the good of a match, you can't help but respect that. Plus, he's one of the most creative people the business has ever seen this side of Vince McMahon.
3. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair
I just finished watching "The Definitive Collection" DVD for a second time, and it's hard to find fault with his entire body of work. Although his gimmick wasn't always the most marketable out there and there will always be "ring generals" that can carry a bad opponent to a good match, there's never been someone who's done it so consistently for so long and with such style.
4. Bret "Hit Man" Hart
Okay, my natural Canadian bias is showing here, but Hart was involved in some of the most memorable technical matches of all time. I followed virtually all of his career, and I'd hard-pressed to find a show that his match didn't steal. Sure, there's always going to be bitterness over the way his WWF career ended, but I don't think that really takes away from his entire body of work.
5. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
The Texas Rattlesnake has a presence to him that will never be duplicated. He's not the most powerful guy out there, nor is he the most technically sound, but virtually every match he ever competed in (at least from 1997 onwards) was an important one, and that was largely in part to his tremendous charisma, subtle sense of humor and ability to adapt to his opponent's style. It didn't matter if he was brawling with Triple H, chain-wrestling with Chris Benoit, or playing the paranoid heel against Kurt Angle; Stone Cold always held up his end of the match and then some. And that's the bottom line.
Happy Birthday, ZAH; hope it's a good one!
(You, too, Bulldog.
Everybody should send Bulldog birthday wishes.
Why should I have all the fun?
I just had Larry Sweeney participate in my column and I've got cake, too...I'm feeling a little guilty now.)