That Was Then 4.27.07: Wrestling Logic Vol. 1
Posted by Sam Caplan on 04.27.2007
It has been said that some things can happen "only in wrestling." We put this theory to the test by looking back at the twin horrors of the Beach Blast 93 mini-movies and the death of the Undertaker at Royal Rumble 94!
As wrestling fans, we are often subjected to friends and family shaking their heads and asking "Why do you watch that stuff? It's so fake." While you and I know that the in-ring aspect to professional wrestling is a lot more physical and takes a higher toll on wrestlers' bodies than the non-fan would probably ever believe, there is another side to wrestling. It's the side that people look past tough matches and see the side where events play out in a fashion in which they would, and in many cases, could never happen in real life. Things that make even the most dedicated fan say "This could only happen in wrestling." Over the course of this column, I will look at two such angles and, on a scale of 1-10, rate the wrestling logic with which the storyline was created.
The Beach Blast 93 Mini-Movies
The main event of Beach Blast 93 was a tag team match pitting Sting & Davey Boy Smith against Sid Vicious and WCW World Champion Vader. Sting and Davey Boy had both had their share of battles with Vader and could be said to be on the same side by virtue of that, but Sid and Vader had no storyline connection, and so it was decided that the formation of their team was going to require some kind of explanation. To this end, WCW filmed a mini-movie which was set inside a building which, on the outside, looked like the entrance to a twisted parody of the Academy Awards with both Vader and his manager Harley Race as well as Sid and his manager Col Rob Parker making entrances through a throng of twisted fanatics, half of whom were chanting "VADER! VADER!" and the other half chanting "SID! SID!" Once inside, the four men stood at a podium at the head of what appeared to be some kind of biker bar, an impression which was supported by the unruly appearance of the attendees. Race and Parker announced that Vader and Sid were forming a team called the Masters Of The Powerbomb, and then went on to offer Sting and Davey Boy two tickets to the retirement location of their choice, and if they refused then they would be forced to face the wrath of the MOTPB.
One week later, we got the second chapter, which opened with Sting and Davey Boy playing beach volleyball with a bunch of kids when their four antagonists, who had apparently chartered one of those boats the military uses for beach deployments, came to spoil the fun. They again offered Sting and Davey the tickets, and though the good guys (who were now apparently to be referred to as the WCW Superpowers, certainly drawing the ire of Russians everywhere) appeared to momentarily consider the offer, it was just a ruse as they told Race and Parker "NO WAY!" to the cheers of the volleyball kids. The MOTPB and their managers made angry faces and threats, but left without incident.
However, unbeknownst to the Superpowers, Race and Parker had another card up their sleeve, having secretly brought a one-eyed midget named Cheatem with them to the beach, and the midget strapped a bomb to the boat the Superpowers were going to go cruising in with the kids later that day. One of the kids saw Cheatem and told Sting about it, so Sting decided that it might be a good idea to go check on the boat and see what Cheatem was up to. Davey Boy figured out what was going on and raced to the rescue of Sting, grabbing him and jumping off the boat just before the whole thing exploded. For a tense moment, we were left thinking that Sting and Davey Boy had bitten the dust, but as the kids broke down in tears, Sting and Davey emerged from the water, and it was clear that having failed to dispose of the Superpowers before the PPV, Vader and Sid would have hell to pay once they were forced to get in the ring with Sting and Davey.
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Boy, did I ever pick a doozy to start this one off with. Okay, let's break it down.
-The first thing is the idea that anyone would come to a press conference announcing that Vader and Sid would form a tag team. If John Cena and Batista announced tomorrow that they were going to form a tag team to destroy the evil pairing of Edge and Randy Orton, it wouldn't draw flies, and WWE has quite a few times the size of audience that WCW had in 1993. I don't think even the yokels they had in the mini-movie would have shown up if they weren't getting paid for it.
-Parker and Race offered Sting and Davey Boy tickets to the retirement location of their choosing. Okay, let's ignore for a moment the fact that no heel has ever been able to successfully buy off any main event level babyface EVER, but let's say Sting and Davey Boy accepted. Why would they bother renting out a place just to announce the formation of the team? Why not just do the standard interview segment on WCW Saturday Night and save a few bucks on renting out the venue and the filming? Between that, the plane tickets, and renting the boat from the Navy, Parker and Race are shelling out quite a lot of money to get rid of a couple of guys they could just club in the parking lot and be done with, aren't they? I mean, what kind of return do you expect to get for Sid and the WCW WORLD CHAMPION, who had already beaten both guys?
-Let me ask you a question. If a couple of weird guys walked up to you and asked if they could take your kids out to an island on their boat and play volleyball with them, what are you going to think? Forget the fact that they're even wrestlers for a moment, any sane parent would tell them to get off their property before they called the cops.
-I was not under the impression that the military rented out their watercraft for civilian vacation purposes.
-If they were trying to secretly bomb Sting and Davey Boy's boat, don't you think they would have been better off getting someone a little less conspicuous than a one-eyed midget to do it? I mean, that's the kind of thing that tends to stand out. Like, why didn't they get some fat guy with a hairy back or something? People would go out of their way to not look at that.
-Let us not overlook the fact that, for the first time in history, an attempt by wrestling heels to get rid of the babyfaces consisted of not a sneak attack backstage, not a fishy attempt to get them suspended, not even a plastic bag over the head, but by trying to BOMB THEM.
Maybe I did a good thing by starting off with this one, because this is the example of wrestling logic by which all others will be judged.
Wrestling Logic Score: 10
Part II: Undertaker's Death At Royal Rumble 94
Yokozuna was the WWF Champion in early 1994, and he was on a rampage. He had already beaten Bret Hart, Randy Savage, and both Steiners on multiple occasions, and had even snuck out of his only title defense against Lex Luger with the title. However, there was one man whom he had not defeated, a man he was downright frightened of. Yokozuna and the Undertaker first crossed paths at Survivor Series 93 whe Yokozuna literally fled the ring because nothing he threw at the Undertaker would stop him. Yokozuna was forced to defend the title against the Undertaker in a casket match at the Royal Rumble, and everybody thought the Undertaker was going to kill Yokozuna and take the title. This is not what happened.
What did happen was, after a mere five minutes or so of wrestling, Yokozuna's master plan was revealed when Crush ran to the ring and attacked the Undertaker as he attempted to stuff Yokozuna into the casket. Since you can't get disqualified in a casket match, Yokozuna had planned to save his title through liberal use of outside interference. After Crush, Yokozuna was joined by Tenryu and the Great Kabuki, but the Undertaker was still able to fight all of them off. More and more people poured into the ring, and Yokozuna's three accomplices were soon joined by Diesel, the Headshrinkers, and several others, and in all it turned into a 10-on-1 beatdown. Undertaker was still fighting back, but unfortunately Yokozuna figured out how to stop him once and for good, and that was to disable the source from which he had drawn his power all those years: the urn held by Paul Bearer. Yokozuna knocked Bearer out and grabbed the urn, opening it and tossing it on the ground. All of a sudden, green smoke began pouring out of the urn, and, as explained by announcer Vince McMahon, it was the life force of the Undertaker escaping. Indeed, without the life force of the green smoke in the urn sustaining him, Undertaker stopped fighting back and Yokozuna was able to toss him in the casket for the win.
As Yokozuna and his gang began rolling the casket to the back, bells tolled and green smoke began pouring out of the casket, sending the heels running for their lives. The arena went dark and the Undertaker, still apparently dead in the casket, appeared on the video screen and, as the bells continued to ring, he suddenly snapped awake and gave a bizarre monologue where he said that the spirit of the Undertaker lives in the souls of all mankind, and that we would all soon witness his rebirth. As he finished his monologue and died again, the screen shorted out and the Undertaker rose from behind it and levitated to the top of the arena and disappeared. That was the last anyone saw of the Undertaker for seven months.
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Though the Undertaker has been involved in far worse angles than this in the years since, this was so audacious at the time that it has become the most infamous of the lot. Let's take this point by point.
-First thing, I'm not going to give them any heat for the 10 people running in because, in a no DQ match, it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of the rules and have everyone you can get run in and help you. Quite frankly, I'm surprised nobody thought of that sooner, or at least not in such a major match.
-I can understand how Yokozuna could conceivable get guys like Jeff Jarrett and Bam Bam Bigelow to agree to help by explaining the situation to them rationally, and Tenryu and Kabuki were just hired mercenaries anyway, but how did Yokozuna get the Headshrinkers involved in this? If the Headshrinkers were savages as we were led to believe, how does one convey the concept of interfering to save Yokozuna's title to them? Of course, you can take the thought process further and ask how they understood it when they were WWF Tag Team Champions or how they even understood the rules of wrestling to begin with, but you'd think that even if you could explain it to them, if the Undertaker's supernatural powers are going to frighten the World Champion, what effect do you think it's going to have on a couple of superstitious primitives?
-The urn. I don't know how to explain this one except to wonder how wrestling got from two guys exchanging holds and takedowns in an attempt to pin one another's shoulders to the mat to an allegedly dead guy trying to stuff his opponent in a casket while his gravedigging manager stands at ringside holding his spirit, in gas form, in an urn which, once opened and emptied, renders said dead guy completely helpless and unresponsive.
-Now, on to the soliloquy after the match. What was a camera doing in the casket? Did Undertaker put it there in case he lost so that he could give that speech? One would have to assume he went into the match hoping to win, so did he put it there in case Yokozuna had something thought provoking to say while he was being wheeled to the back?
-Finally, we have the Undertaker levitating to the skies after shorting out the video screen. First of all, we have to assume that the dead guy whose gravedigging manager stands at ringside with an urn that contains his life force has the power, after apparently being killed, to send shocks of electricity through a helpless video screen. Then we have to accept that he can somehow teleport out of the casket (which he also seems to have to power to make spew green smoke) to behind the screen he just destroyed, then after that float from the floor to the skies above. Though we didn't get to see this part of his exit, we're also left to assume that he has some way through the roof of the arena on his way to heaven. Joe Stecher had to be spinning in his grave while all this was happening.
If nothing else, no matter how good or bad you thought this was, the one thing you have to admit is that this provided us with the most memorable angle of 1994...until he returned from the dead at Summerslam.
Wrestling Logic Score: 8
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Well, this was fun, we'll have to do this again sometime, assuming I get to feeling masochistic at some point. Send all your thoughts to email@example.com. See you tomorrow in Friendly Competition.