411’s Buy or Sell Wrestling 9.08.13: The WrestleRock Rumble, the Million Dollar Corporation, Midnight Rider, More
Posted by Matt O’Connell on 09.08.2013
Was the Million Dollar Corporation a failure as a stable? Did the Shockmaster have any chance at getting over? Was there ever a worse way to build a show than Verne Gagne rapping? 411's Matt O'Connell and Ron Gamble discuss all this and more in this week's Buy or Sell Wrestling!
HELLO, THERE. I LIKE WHAT YOU'VE DONE WITH YOUR BEARD.
Welcome back to 411's Buy or Sell: Classic wrestling edition! This is the column in which opinions are hurled like javelins across the plain at Marathon. Before we begin, a minor correction: when I participated in this week's Fact or Fiction column, I asserted that the Big Show had been beaten by all of WWE's top babyfaces in the last year, and in defending this assertion I noted that he has not had a PPV win in over a year. I was wrong, of course; Show defeated Sheamus at TLC 2012, meaning he hasn't had a PPV win in 9 months, not 12. I was thinking that this match had occurred at June's Money in the Bank 2012; I guess the presence of ladders threw me off. In any case, that's all behind us now. Join me, Matt "the Golden Giraffe" O'Connell while I engage in hearty debate with Ron "Ramblin'" Gamble. It's time to Buy or Sell.
Given that he was their very first champion and one of the most influential workers of all time, WWE does not do enough to promote the career and legacy of "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.
Matt O'Connell BUY: I agree in principle that Buddy Rogers ought to get more recognition, but the reasons he doesn't are legion. First, despite being the inaugural WWWF champion, he lost the belt in short order to Bruno Sammartino, who then held it for more than a decade. So much like Iron Sheik or Shawn Michaels, Rogers was more of a transition point between definitive champions than one himself. Much of his body of work has also been lost, and all that remains of his famous title loss is audio of the event (!). And he also had the misfortune of being such an inspiration that Ric Flair up and stole his act and did it, if not better, did it with cameras on him. It's not fair to Rogers, but you can understand why WWE never put out a commemorative DVD set of the guy; and if they can't sell you, they don't need you.
Ron Gamble BUY: Abso-Freaking-Lutely! He was the man Toots Mondt and Vincent J. McMahon wanted as NWA champion back in the 1950's and 1960's. When he finally won the title from Pat O'Connor in 1961, it was in front of a crowd at Comiskey Park in Chicago that held the pro wrestling attendance record until 1984. In 1963, it was Rogers' standing as former NWA champion allowed McMahon and Mondt to separate from the NWA and start a small, scrappy company that still survives 50 years later. Bruno may have taken the title a month later and run with it for almost eight years, but without Buddy Rogers, it would have been a tougher road. Twenty years later, Vincent K. McMahon trusted Rogers to help Jimmy Snuka complete his face turn. Also, if not for "Rogers' Corner," who knows if VKM would have allowed Roddy Piper to start "Piper's Pit?"
Despite having a few high-profile members and a decently long lifespan, the Million Dollar Corporation was one of the most disjointed and ineffective heel stables of all time.
Matt O'Connell BUY: The Million Dollar Corporation never really made sense to me. You have a bunch of midcard heels joined together under the aegis of Ted DiBiase, and the dastardly forces of greed managed to instill darkness of the hearts of such top-tier babyfaces as the 1-2-3 Kid and a post-streak Tatanka. And for every worthy member, you had an Underfaker or a Xanta Klaus. So at the end of the day you had a bunch of guys, mostly scrubs, bedeviling the likes of Lex Luger and Diesel for no discernible reason. DiBiase's master plan was never clear; his whole purpose in coming to the WWF was to get his hands on the world championship, the one thing he couldn't buy. Now he had retired from active competition but he was sticking around to make sure Nikolai Volkoff continued to win matches well into 1995? Not a smart investment, Ted. And since Ted's objective was never clear, it's hard to say how successful his stable was. They certainly didn't win any championships; the sole honor earned by any of Ted's warriors was the Million Dollar title, revived and awarded to Steve Austin during his doofy Ringmaster phase.
At the very least he could have made them all wear ties.
Ron Gamble BUY: With other groups, the goal is clear. The Four Horsemen wanted all the gold. The Heenan Family wanted all the gold. The Dangerous Alliance wanted all the gold. Evolution wanted all the gold. Sense a pattern there? The Million Dollar Corporation did, well, whatever it was that Ted DiBiase wanted. Some of that involved winning titles, but a lot of it involved, um, what did they want anyway?
Yokozuna was the best monster heel that the WWF had in the 1990's.
Matt O'Connell BUY: Yokozuna was not the worker that Vader was. He was not as athletic as Bam Bam Bigelow. He did not have the longevity of the Undertaker. But he won the Royal Rumble, he was the first to parlay that into a world title victory at WrestleMania, and he was the guy who did what Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, Sid and the Undertaker had failed to do: eradicate Hulkamania from the WWF. He held the WWF title for a respectable 280 days, and one of his most memorable defenses included the casket match in which he became the first person to put the Undertaker out of action for any extended period of time. Yoko also appeared in the Genesis version of Wrestlemania: Arcade, in which he would drop hams when you punched him, which might cause me to Buy this even if I didn't already have my rationale laid out above.
Ron Gamble BUY: The Undertaker made a huge splash when he debuted in 1990, but the crowds started cheering him within a year. Diesel and Ludwig Borga had nowhere the impact that was expected. The Natural Disasters didn't have the staying power. If he had any real competition, I might be tempted to Sell this, but as it is, Choke-On-Tuna (as my brother and I called him) is the best of the 1990's.
The Shockmaster gets unfairly dismissed; had his debut not gone awry, the gimmick was not too ridiculous to work, and dumber things have gotten over.
Matt O'Connell BUY: I don't think that Shockmaster gets remembered in his proper context. A guy with electric powers in a storm trooper helmet is pretty dumb, but not two years before Shockmaster's debut, a zombie mortician in purple kitchen gloves became one of the biggest stars in the WWF. Before anyone gets upset that I would dare compare Shockmaster with Undertaker, we should also note that both Mark Calloway and Fred Ottman both debuted in 1984, and by the early 90's only Ottman had demonstrated the ability to get over as a both a heel and face with different gimmicks. Any impartial observer would have told you that the guy who'd gotten over as both a boat and a maritime storm would be more likely to make a superhuman gimmick stick. So no, I don't think that the Artist Formerly Known as Tugboat was destined to fail, unless angels of the lord descended from the heavens to trip the guy as he powered through that gypsum.
Ron Gamble BUY: I don't know what the original plan was for the Shockmaster, other than to be a big tough guy. But plenty of big tough guys have gotten over. As it is, Sid Vicious still tried to keep him viable, even while Davey Boy started laughing at him. If not for a board that was not on the wall during rehearsal, we might be remembering Shockmaster and, well, at least not laughing. He still might have, made it, if Jesse Ventura didn't make a joke out of him entering the cage in WarGames.
And now, a brief intermission before the switch. Get a load of Billy Robinson's acting chops. And Verne Gagne's wife's pork chops. And Ric Flair, pre-knife-edge-chops.
The WrestleRock Rumble is the single worst advertisement ever devised for a major show by a national promotion.
Ron Gamble BUY: I tried – Oh, Lord, how I tried! – to find something worse. But to tell you the truth, when you see people like Marty Jannetty, Shawn Michaels, and Scott Hall in a rap video, and the only ones able to stay on beat are Nick Bockwinkel and Larry Zbyszko, there is no going back. Not even Verne Gagne can save it.
By the way, is this what Curt Hennig had in mind with the "Rap is Crap" song?
Matt O'Connell BUY: The WrestleRock Rumble is the kind of thing that inspires laughter until you remember that the company which produced it was declining rapidly and promoting big shows was of vital importance to them. WrestleRock was clearly designed to be a big annual show a la WrestleMania or StarrCade; this was the first one and they had the gumption to call it WrestleRock ‘86, because who wouldn't sign up for another year of AWA action after seeing Jerry Blackwell take out his anger on a plank of wood? A lot has already been said over the years about just how bad this video was, and I can't say anything that Jim Cornette or Puppet H haven't already said better. But one thing I do need to point out: anyone actually lured to the show by this music video was likely disappointed. There were four (FOUR!) separate DQ finishes, and Jerry Blackwell never got his hands on the Sheik.
Maybe that was supposed to happen at WrestleRock ‘87.
Cody Rhodes should take a page out of his father's 1983 playbook and return to the WWE as Midnight Rider, jr. (or at least some form of disguise).
Ron Gamble BUY: I kept hoping for one statement I could Sell, but it's not happening this round. I don't watch much of what comes from Vinceyland, so I'm not even sure why (or even if) Cody's gone. I'm guessing it has something to do with Damien Sandow. Whatever is going on, don't bother to email me the details; I don't care. But, if one of my friends were to call me on a Monday night and say, "Turn on Raw! The Midnight Rider is back!" I would switch immediately. If he would come out to the Allman Brothers, that would be even better.
Matt O'Connell BUY: Call me crazy, but I think Cody can pull this off, and I've always been a fan of the loser who left town returning under a pretty obvious hood. It could also be an impetus for Cody to bring back some of the aggression he's misplaced since the last time he worked under a mask. And if he should happen to have a big ol' Dusty Rhodes birthmark painted on his side each and every week? License to print money.
Why, look at that; a clean sweep of Buys! Must be a first.
That's all for this week, folks. I'd like to thank all my readers, and my fellow 411 staffers that participated in this week's round of questions. I hope to see you all this same time next week for more 411 Buy or Sell: Classic Wrestling Edition.