Wednesday, July 28, 2004

#85. Prod Oasis, Trip to Alabama, Ric Flair Record

I think I've got my profile showing now, and I've listed my website in it.  Currently, I'm one of those bastards who has let my website relapse into dead space.  The last update was way back in September of last year.  The situation is, the computer I was generating the website from is no longer connected to the Internet, and that will not be changing for the indefinite future.  The main interests of the site were providing access for non-Lower Decks (at the OL message board specifically) patrons to stories I'd written, falling under the categories of Star Trek fan fiction (I'm under the delusion that what I write is anything but run-of-the-mill) and a running project featuring a personally created science fiction reality.  Truth be told, I've written more of the Star Trek (Copernicus) adventures since September than Prod Oasis (the name of said property), but lately have begun writing more Prod Oasis and possibly put Copernicus into retirement.

I just corrected myself, rewriting "turth" to spell "truth," though "turth" sounds pretty interesting, too.  (This is the kind of writing Scouring Monk originated with, btw.) 

Anyhoo, I'm hoping the profile might generate interest in the blog, or at least interest I can be aware of.  Then again, I spent over a year hoping interest would develop around Age of Mouldwarp (the website) and that never developed, either.  I'm a filthy, filthy dreamer...

Back to business, then.  Before I took my siesta last week (to Alabama, where Cracker Barrel, Krystal, and Krispy Kreme rule in place of [I'm not sure what would be the Maine equivalent of Cracker Barrel], McDonald's, and Dunkin' Donuts), I went ahead and looked up the present activities of Orlando Jordan.  It appears he's been taking some personal time.  It also appears that he has his own official website, where you can read all about his extensive appearances at house shows, PPVs, and Smackdown (and by extensive I mean minimal).  But I think I read at powerwrestling that he had a house show match or two as late as early July against Rene Dupree (the last man he wrestled on Smackdown), one of which I believe he even won.  And he's also strung some victories on Velocity.  And there's the fact he's been wrestling with WWE for barely a year.  I'll give him more time, and in the meantime will stop agitating here.  If he develops into something, fine.  But the man currently nicknames as OJ.  Can't be good...

Speaking of WWE (imagine that!) I recently visited its official website and came across a page, 200 Words, which apparently features regular columnists.  The current topic involved debating who would, or at least could, break Ric Flair's record of 16 world championships (taken from his totals in NWA, WCW, and WWE).  Flair is a hot topic these days because he's become the latest wrestler to release his memoirs.  The greatest heat this has generated comes from things he's said about Mick Foley (who he says couldn't hold a candle to him) and Bret Hart (whom he more or less completely trashes).  Foley is a different kind of wrestler ("glorified stuntman," is the general idea of Flair's opinion) than the Nature Boy, much like Larry Bird was a different kind of player than Michael Jordan (nobody ever said the Bird could fly, alas), so I won't spend too much time thinking about that, but as for the Hitman remarks, Space Mountain went sky high on that target.

He disparages the man's legacy by saying Hart couldn't run the show when he was given the chance in the 90's.  And you know what?  I can agree with that.  He headlined three WrestleManias, at least in theory, IX, X, and XII.  At IX, he lost the world title to Yokozuna, who quickly lost the title to Hulk Hogan (and I do mean quickly).  At least one of those developments doesn't sound good for Hart.  Sure, he had the ego to hang with Hogan, but in terms of drawing power, he couldn't cut it.  This was reiterated at X, when he won the title back from Yokozuna (who'd vanquished Hogan to WCW to regain the title), and the most buzz went to...Owen Hart, who had defeated his brother earlier in the card in a family feud match.  Aside from the fact that X is still one of the most anonymous WrestleMania cards, that makes Bret's best years less than thrilling so far.  Then there was XII, which should have been his showcase, even if Shawn Michaels stole the glory and the title.  But when the dust settled, the controversial "sudden death" finish discussed to death, the buzz and the momentum still HBK.  A year later, Hart finally achieved his Mania playing second fiddle to rising star Steve Austin.

It wasn't long after that he made the jump to WCW amid the Survivor Series scandal, and Bret "The Poor Sport" Hart began to act as pestulently as his ego had always hinted at.  Surprisingly, this did not endear him to the fans.  It took him two years to enter contention for that WCW world title, and it was Chris Benoit who helped him get there.  And Goldberg who provided the excuse for the meltdown. 

Hart has remained a mostly popular name in wrestling since his retirement, but mostly thanks to those who still remember "Bret Screwed Bret" vividly and because his brother Owen died so tragically.  Maybe the stars simply didn't align for favorable enough conditions so the Hitman could be remembered better, or maybe Bret really did screw Bret by taking for granted everything he got instead of being grateful.  Flair further criticizes him by saying much of his legacy rests with the Hart Foundation, which indeed his final championship run rested with.  This wouldn't even be a bad thing if Davey Boy and Anvil had been more than props.  The Horsemen and Evolution have more than demonstrated how a stable can uniformly triumph instead of merely support.

The 200 Words folks, meanwhile, had a variety of opinions.  The most obvious was that no one would ever break Flair's record.  The next most went to Hulk Hogan, who by my estimate is only a few shy (and in my opinion really shouldn't be able to, but NWA-TNA might provide the necessary platform).  Thirdly comes Triple-H, who already has 8.  He could easily stick around long enough to at least double that.  He's remained remarkably healthy throughout his prime, considering the number of colleagues who have gone down to the neck plague.  (The hamstring injury doesn't count.)  I have no problem endorsing this possibility.

Then there was Randy Orton, who has yet to come up with his first, but is young enough so this doesn't really matter.  It all depends on his stamina, I suppose.  The last belongs to Ric's own son, David Flair.  This was the biggest joke, past Hogan.  David simply doesn't have the wrestling spirit.  His father is the epitome of the wrestling spirit.  It's the reason he's been around for so long, remained relevant for so long.  Ric Flair is practically synonymous with professional wrestling.  Unless he can find that kind of spirit, David doesn't have a chance.  Not one iota.  He'd be lucky to acquire even one world championship before he hangs up his tights.  No, I haven't seen him lately, but what I saw in WCW seems plenty to judge this book on.  He doesn't have the heart, the motivation, or the spirit.  You can't make it on name alone in this business.  Ask the Armstrongs.

Eddie Guerrero is David's antithesis.  His family has been in this business for years.  It's in his blood.  And he's the son to carry on the legacy, to really excel in it, because he feels the fire within him.  Chavo Jr. ain't bad, but he lacks the flair, if you will, Eddie brings to the ring day in and day out.  He's won his first world title.  The second one is not far away.  I know Undertaker is scheduled to face (and probably defeat) JBL at Summer Slam and Eddie to confront Kurt Angle, but come next WrestleMania, Latino Heat will have reascended the pile.  Who knows where he could go from there?  To challenge Nature Boy's record?  Maybe not, but definitely his legacy.

Chris Benoit is the same way.  He defeated Triple H this past Monday in an iron man match, sixty minutes of highlight reel (I was regretably not able to see) sure to cement his second world championship run (after the WCW fiasco) as one for the history books.  Unlike Bret Hart, Benoit has the ability to demand attention based on his wrestling alone, and he's come to the world title with a following of equal demand to see him at the top.  There's no taking this for granted.  He's a champion who fights tooth (no pun intended) and nail, and has spent the first five months of his reign proving his worth by going toe to toe with the man many believed had staked his permanent claim on the Raw title.  Triple H has wisely done as no one ever did for Hart.  He's made Benoit legitimate.  It's Randy Orton who will be facing the Crippler at Summer Slam.  Hunter will be busy settling scores with Eugene.  I tell ya.  We're in a new golden age.

Brock Lesnar could be part of it again, and arguably he's got the greatest chance past Triple H to challenge Flair's 16-time record.  He's still young.  I haven't heard anything about his NFL aspirations in this pre-training camp season, so I don't know what his immediate future holds, but any return to WWE will undoubtedly hold a few more world titles for Lesnar, who was not called the Next Big Thing simply as a publicity stunt.  Of all his complaints upon his exit, I like two the most.  I like the fact that he's a family man and I like the fact that he complained about the prospect for yet another feud with Undertaker.  Come on.  Let's get creative.  The lack of which killed Bret Hart's career...

Jeff Jarrett, currently ruling NWA, could conceivably challenge the record.  He's already got a half dozen or so, from reigns in TNA and WCW.  It's not like he's going to retire soon, and he's always a perennial favorite to regain the TNA title, him and A.J. Styles (and Ron Killings, apparently, but not Raven).  Maybe he could even return to WWE one day.  Hey, stranger things have happened, a lot of them associated with Roddy Piper...

John Cena is another who has the possibility, carrying on the proverbial torch from Steve Austin, who had a late start when WCW dropped the ball and foreshadowed Kurt Angle, with injuries hampering his prime.  Angle, btw, depending on how well his new style goes over, probably still will not be able to contend.  He's worked himself too ragged, unfortunately.  Cena, though, will be a world champion probably within the next year, and it won't be his last.  And he's young, too.

Booker T has five under his belt already, but has spent three years waiting for another.  Y2J keeps getting passed over, too, but he might have a chance to change that against Randy Orton, if Orton wins the title soon.  If he could get back on track, Jericho could be another contender.

Or the 200 guys might have struck one right note.  Maybe no one will.  And maybe no one should.  16 is a big number, especially in an era where pro wrestling is trying to emerge from some of its worst excesses.  If this really is a golden era, championship runs should count for something, not simply mount up.  The Rock has 6, but most of those were ridiculously short.  People might not have enjoyed seeing Triple H as champion for nine straight months, but the fruits we're now seeing are worth it, at least in my opinion.  It's not like he portrayed a completely dominant character in all that time, and I think I read in Pro Wrestling Illustrated that the best champions make you believe there's a possibility they could lose.  Some would argue that Triple H weasled out of this factor in a number of ways, but the fact remains his dominance in the ring has never meant he dominated in the ring.  And I thought the whole point of professional wrestling was to be entertained, especially by the matches themselves.  That's what people love about Benoit, Guerrero, Angle.  Triple H belongs in that company.  He shouldn't be excluded because he plays his character so well.  Bret Hart?  Maybe the problem was, beyond the sharpshooter, he never developed anything past his ego to set him apart...And that's how you really screw yourself...

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