During the 1990s, we witnessed one of the biggest rivalries in television history: The Monday Night Wars. Two behemoths of sports entertainment competed on a weekly basis for ratings supremacy until one of these juggernauts finally fell. But it wasn’t just on TV stations that these battles were happening. WWF and WCW were also competing in the video game market to see who could produce the best, and ultimately, the most popular releases, and the interesting thing is, these wars played out exactly the same on video game consoles as they did on television. The highs and lows of both companies were just as apparent in their games as they were on TV, and it made for some fascinating results. So let me take you on a journey through three generations of games consoles, three eras of wrestling, and a whole lot of attitude, as we look at The Monday Night Video Game Wars.
Back in 2013, I was considerably less hairy, and a freshly single fan of the graps. To my delight, I started chatting casually to a beautiful woman who also just happened to like wrestling. She attended all of these cool indie shows, and talked about all these wrestlers I’d never heard of. At the time, I had barely dipped my toe into the re-emerging British scene, so in order to ‘impress’ someone I had absolutely no chance in hell with, I decided to educate myself a little. Out of all of the wrestlers she talked about, one name seemed to be mentioned again and again and again, so obviously I had to see what all of the fuss was about. His name was Kris Travis: he was handsome, had a fantastic physique, tattoos on his chest, and the girl I fancied was in love with him, so obviously, I fucking hated him. But over time, as we inevitably drifted further and further apart, and my interest in the British wrestling scene began to flower, my unjust hatred towards Travis subsided, and I began to realise how talented he was.
When people talk about the legends of British wrestling, the same crop of competitors are always brought up: Davey Boy Smith, William Regal, Johnny Saint, Rollerball Rocco, Big Daddy, Dynamite Kid, Mick McManus, among others. But in this long list of legendary talent, one name always seems to be wrongfully omitted. Perhaps it’s because he is yet to work for WWE, or because he wasn’t grappling in the days of World of Sport, or simply because he is yet to hang up his boots, but in my opinion, Doug Williams is one of the most underappreciated, criminally underrated wrestlers in not just Britain, but in the entire wrestling world.
Talking about wrestling always leads to some interesting thoughts being brought to the table. You might discuss who WWE should sign next, or who should be brought up to the main roster, perhaps you like to chat about the best stars of the Attitude Era or the most memorable moments from your childhood, maybe your friend will confess they have a secret crush on Vickie Guerrero or tell you who’s bulge they think looks the best in a tight little pair of wrestling trunks – whatever the topic of wrestling discussion, it’s always bound to be ‘interesting’ in one way or another.
During one of these in-depth grappling talks recently, my friend Josh Lochrie (follow him on Twitter @Lochri69) brought up an interesting idea, so interesting in fact that I had to write a whole damn article about it.
2016 was a gift to wrestling fans. An absolute nightmare for celebrities, and pretty much everyone else in the world, but we were all able to escape from the horrors of the world by watching some outstanding wrestling. And if the first month of this new year is anything to go by, it looks like 2017 is set to somehow be even better. January 2017 is a wrestling fan’s dream, and by the end of it, it could possibly go down as one of, if not the greatest month in wrestling history. Don’t believe me? Well, I’ve got plenty of reasons why.
If you had asked me my thoughts on Chris Jericho before 2016, I probably would have responded, “Meh, he’s alright.”
I’ve never been much of a fan, but I’ve never really known why. When I was a child, I just didn’t take to Jericho and his weird hair, and that carried on as I got older. Have you ever thought a song sounded okay, but it was by a band you hated so you didn’t allow yourself to enjoy it? That’s how I felt with Jericho. Even when he was doing great things I couldn’t acknowledge to his brilliance. That is until this year. His current run is the lengthiest he’s had in years, and has arguably been the best work of his career. He’s one of, if not the most entertaining parts of WWE at the moment, and his impeccable work this year has made me realise how great he is, was, and always will be.
Dozens of men have held the biggest prize in wrestling over the last fifty plus years. The greatest of all time have had that golden strap around their waist, and worn it with pride; however, this prestigious title hasn’t always belonged to the most deserving of wrestlers. From time to time, WWE creative get it bafflingly wrong, and hand their most valuable prize to grapplers who don’t even deserve to be in the same room as that title. And in my mind, one ‘champion’ stands out above, or in this case below, the rest as the worst of the worst. This isn’t about how bad their title reign was, or how long they held the belt, or even how good their championship defences were, this is all about how deserving they were to hold it in the first place. At least the likes of Jack Swagger and Sycho Sid initially showed signs of potential, yet it was painfully obvious to everyone except for Vinny Mac that this man shouldn’t have even been inside a wrestling ring, let alone reach the top of the mountain.
For the last ten years, there’s been one WWE talent that I’ve consistently hated. Well, that is until this year.
British professional wrestling is finally coming back to primetime television. In the last couple of weeks, social media and news outlets have been exploding over the news that World of Sport is finally making a return after 30 years for a two hour special airing later this year. With this monumental news exciting wrestling fans around the country, it inspired me to look at the history and potential future of World of Sport wrestling.
As much as I adore wrestling, it has to be said that it does have its problems. Possibly the biggest drawback of all to this industry is its clear gender inequalities. As someone who’s focused the majority of their university studies on sexism, feminism, and representations of gender, it pains me that one of my biggest loves in life is plagued with unequal gender opportunities, and at times, overt sexism. Thankfully though, gone are the days of the Bra and Panties match, and bikini contests, as the major companies have finally realised that the fans aren’t actually watching their products for partial nudity and mild titillation, we’re watching for some good ol’ fashion wrasslin’.