The 8-Ball 03.10.13: Top 8 Straight Shooters
Posted by Ken Hill on 03.10.2013
From Steve Austin and CM Punk to Paul Heyman and Jim Cornette, 411's Ken Hill counts down his top eight shoot artists in the history of professional wrestling!
Wilkommen, ladies und gentlemans, to ze 8-Ball! I've got more styles than AJ, I can match Ric's flare, I certainly raise plenty of 'Hill' and I've got 'Ken-acity' to spare! I am YOUR "Kennection to All Things Wrestling" Ken Hill here to present you another creative countdown of a random subject in the wild world of professional wrestling!
If I can be serious for a moment...
I can fully admit that I was very excited about being given the duties of covering both the Top 5 and 8-Ball columns for 411 Wrestling, and that I let my 12-year fandom get the best of me in my first couple of posts. I first took a vested interest in pro wrestling in 2001, around WM 17 in fact and a lot, if not all, of my picks for either column often come after that year. And some commenters were nice enough to point out the obvious choices I missed out on (Bret Hart's iconic jacket and glasses, Roddy Piper as one of the most funnily insulting men on the mic).
No more, I tells ya! I can promise each and every one of you that I will have my nose to the virtual grindstone for this and all of my future columns. No short-sighted picks, no shortcuts on big topics, I will put in more than my share of Youtubing, Googling, and web surfing to bring you a 8-Ball list that many (not everyone because I'm not THAT crazy) fans can agree on.
Now, onto today's subject...
TOP EIGHT SHOOT ARTISTS
8. Scott Steiner
Oh, good lord. What wasn't brutal about Steiner's legitimate shoot? Calling Flair "Nature Boy #2" with a certain emphasis for 'Number 2'? Calling him a "jealous old bastard" for him and his old friends firing Steve Austin, who was proving to be a big draw in the then-WWF? Or just outright saying that WCW sucks, which, if not for his purported intimidating backstage reputation, would have more than likely had him blackballed from the promotion and any future opportunities at other promotions? Mr. Rechsteiner did not pull ANY punches in the lone fully unscripted shoot on my list. The best part? WCW DIDN'T blackball him. They suspended him, WITH pay. Shows you how bad WCW was in their decline and how pussy-whipped they were to keep the few good talent they had left.
7. Honky Tonk Man
Pathetic. Hilariously pathetic. You have an Elvis impersonator schtick, a man who was, at best, a lethal joke character during his record IC Championship run, cracking down on Bret Hart for being one-dimensional, when Hart actually praised the man in his own book. Tell me what part of that doesn't make you laugh and groan in disgust at the same time. Honky Tonk sounds every bit the bitter, retired fart in his shoot interviews and perhaps what makes so hilariously bad is that he's not even hiding it; he's bitter, he's remorseless, and he's not afraid to take potshots at those who simply made it farther in their careers than he did, like Hart and HBK.
The man who would be "Stone Cold" popped up in ECW in 1995 after being unceremoniously fired by Eric Bischoff over the phone, whom said his "black trunks and black boots" wouldn't get him over with the crowd. Austin got full carte blanche by Paul Heyman to vent his frustrations with being held back by the WCW higher-ups. This would lead to a groundbreaking tenure for Austin in ECW, laying the foundation for his rise to superstardom as the ass-kicking, beer-swilling "Stone Cold" in WWF/WWE.
5. John "Bradshaw" Layfield
THE best color commentator in the modern-day history of professional wrestling. Bar none. JBL is unafraid to speak his mind in any forum, whether it be politics, finances or professional wrestling. Hell, he practically took all three to task in the above "His Own Words" promo, which is just that: JBL, more or less, just speaking his mind on the situation of his being fired from CNBC for "being a wrestler" (goose-stepping in Europe might have more to do with it, methinks), ripping the media for covering celebrities instead of the men and women actually risking their lives for America, and Eddie Guerrero for personifying what he abhors about America. A perfect mix of a shoot and "in-character" promo that certainly wasn't hurt by his "impassioned" words. For the funnier side of a JBL shoot, check out his deriding promo at ECW One Night Stand '06. The "fruit booty" line just kills it for me.
4. Joey Styles
This was pretty damn convincing at the time for a worked shoot, at least in my mind. Sure, it was more of a prelude for ECW's full-time return to television, but damn it if Styles didn't do a stinging good job of running down EVERYTHING wrong with "sports entertainment"; ignoring the moves, the actual wrestling terminology, telling stories instead of calling the matches, mocking God, and Vince making out with Divas. It was so anti-WWE, that regular fans couldn't believe he would say that on the air, and that turned out to be the point; making ECW out to be the antithesis of typical WWE programming was what would make it a success...well, before RVD and his pot hit the fan, anyway.
3. CM Punk
Worked shoots have the tendency to blow up in a user's face often because their words will go right over a casual fan's head or go for broke with the "everything you've seen except just this is fake" route. Punk didn't go either route. He used references that could apply to hardcore fans and still be understood by a casual observer. He kept a calm, cool, yet serrated edge to his tone of voice in the way he delivered his words. He threw in bits about Cena, Hogan and Rock and Vince's financial status that would allow for a suspension of disbelief purely based on the seeming audacity of Punk's words.
Many people came to believe that, for a brief time, reality was seeping into the cartoon world of wrestling. They were buying the MITB PPV because it suddenly became interesting. People outside of wrestling were talking about wrestling, and for once, it wasn't about someone who died (No offense to William "Paul Bearer" Moody, god rest his soul). For the first time in a long time, as short-lived as it was, wrestling felt like a part of the real world again.
2. Jim Cornette
There is literally nothing this man will not shoot on. Batista? Took him to task for saying OVW did nothing to help him in the early stages of his career. Heyman and ECW? Questioned Heyman's inability to tell whole truths, handle finances and show restraint in the risks he put his wrestlers through. And who can forget his immortal "garbage" line to Hulk Hogan? Those are just the tip of the iceberg. Cornette's been everywhere and knows everyone in the business, so there isn't anyone or anything in the industry he won't hesitate to trash or just beat verbally over the head.
1. Paul Heyman
This man just about thrives on the unscripted word, doesn't he? It's Paul Heyman's bread-and-butter. It didn't matter if it was "The Network", the Crusaders at One Night Stand '05, or Vince McMahon himself, Heyman would get right in their face and defy the scripted format like it was second nature. NOTHING is out of bounds when Paul goes on the mic. Accusing Vince to his face of stealing Paul's "Extreme" ideas to create the "Attitude Era", bringing up Matt Hardy to Edge, breaking every television code set up by the Network, daring them to kick him off the air...finances and showing moral restraint may be problems for Heyman, but put a mic in his hands and then you can just sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
Thank you all for reading on my post of the 8-Ball, and I certainly promise to bring you more exciting, unique topics in professional wrestling to count down. However, don't be afraid to suggest your own topics in the comments section. In the wacky, wild world of professional wrestling, there's a multitude of ideas to explore and you never know when you might stumble on a fresh idea no one's considered before. Ciao for now, boys and girls!