One of my favorite writers on this site (and no, it’s not only because I know and have won many-a wrestling trivia nights at The Squared Circle with him) is Sean Flynn, our Raw reviewer. If you haven’t ready any of Mr. Flynn’s work, I absolutely implore you to do so right now. You can come back to this article, it’s not going to be as good.
Okay, welcome back! One of my favorite lines in his most recent Raw review was this tidbit about the main event at this Sunday’s WWE Payback show. A tidbit that had me fist-pumping and jumping up in down in a fit of pure agreeable joy:
Just a reminder that the hook leading into a PPV in 2015 is what Kane is going to do. To put this in perspective using Kane’s first title win, this would be like if the hook WrestleMania X was what Superstar Billy Graham was going to do in the Luger/Hart/Yokozuna/Hart set of matches.
It’s no secret to readers of this site that I’ve thrown in the towel on Kane since, oh, about late 1999. Even 14 year old me in the early 2000s was kind of over it. I officially checked out when I made my dad buy me Backlash 2001 tickets for Christmas only to find out in the week’s leading up it would be main event by Triple H & Stone Cold vs. The Underatker & Kane. That entire event, including that match, blew. Worst Christmas ever.
Anyway, I thought the tidbit was worth looking at further mostly because it shows the ridiculousness of current WWE booking. A man who won the title 17 years ago (June 1998) is not only still hanging around but is still a focal point of the show! This isn’t a part-time dude coming in for a quick legend shot, no, Kane is there all the damn time smiling up a storm in his goofy little suit with his odd hairline.
Let’s put this into some more context by using other WrestleManias and see if we’re being too hard on Korporate Kane or this is really a bizarre time in WWE. For the purposes of this brief (awful) study is to look at increments of WrestleMania and look 17 years prior to see if the major players in the company would fit within the universe of that year’s WrestleMania.
WrestleMania 1 (1985 – 1968): Oh boy, we’re going all the way back to 1968! 1998 does not seem as far away from 2015 as 1968 does from 1985. Bruno Sammartino was your focal point of the (then) WWWF and of course the champion from 1963 to 1971. He actually had a place on the original WrestleMania, however it was in a commentary role as he was long gone from regular active competition. For a bit more fun, let’s look at some of his biggest challenges that year and how they’d fit on the original ‘Mania:
- Rocky Fitzpatrick (also known as Bob Orton Sr.): “Rocky” last wrestled in 1968 but Orton Sr. went until 1980. Him having a place in the original WrestleMania would be laughable considering his son (Bob Orton Jr.) had a major role in the main event, some 13 years into his active in-ring career.
- Gorilla Monsoon: Gorilla, of course, was still apart of the WWF family for many years after his retirement from in-ring competition in 1980. Still impossible to think of an active wrestling Monsoon being the focal point of the WrestleMania 1 main event.
- Hans Mortier: Can’t tell you too much about Hans Mortier other than the fact that he retired in 1971 and would probably seem a TOUCH out of place as a featured component in any main events by 1985.
WrestleMania 5 (1989 – 1972): The Mega Powers Explode! How will guest referee Pedro Morales handle this? Hey, it almost works as he retired from active duty in 1987. Of course, comparing 1972 Pedro Morales to 1989 is a little tough. How does guest referee Buddy Wolfe sound?
WrestleMania 15 (1999-1982): Bob Backlund as the special guest enforcer for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock? Hey, it’s not totally nuts. Backlund actually found himself in WWF storylines during 1999 (alongside Kurt Angle). His other comrades (Buddy Rose, Blackjack Mulligan and Greg Valentine) would be so out-of-place in peak Attitude Era 1999 WWF. Although Valentine going 20 minutes with Meat would’ve been pretty sweet.
WrestleMania 20 (2004 – 1987): Unfortunately now we’re getting to the early stretches of what I’d call the modern era of WWE where things got real stagnant. now we get into the early stretches of the modern era where time seems to slow down. Who was the WWF champion in 1987? Hulk Hogan of course. While he didn’t’ have anything to do with this specific event, he’d find himself in and around WWE programing throughout the decade, largely unchanged from the Hogan of 1987. One of his main opponents that year: Killer Khan, yeah, it’d be a bit weird to see him in the middle of the Shawn Michaels/Chris Benoit/Triple H three-way main event.
WrestleMania 25 (2009-1992): 2009’s WrestleMania takes us back to Ric Flair, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan. Okay, well, again these don’t seem so ridiculous which speaks volumes about the stagnation of stars over the last 20 or so years.
WrestleMania 30 (2014 – 1997): Can you imagine WrestleMania 30 being taken up by the likes of Steve Austin, The Rock, Hulk Hogan…c’mon? That’s crazy talk! To be completely fair while those three were featured in the opening of the show, that was more of a ceremony rather than any of the three being focal points of the current storylines. Batista winning the World Title via interference from the New World Order with Fake Sting and Ken Shamrock coming to Bryan’s aid is more of an apt comparison.