The Mania of March- The Spotlight on Wrestlemania 4

WrestleMania 4:

A lot of people don’t seem to look back as fondly when it comes to  Wrestlemania 4, for whatever reason, but to me it was great for a few reasons.  First, obviously I’ve said in the past what a big fan I am of gimmick matches and these include tournaments.  To me, there was always something pretty cool about seeing a wrestler have to compete three or four times in one night especially if that wrestler was versatile like a Bret Hart or, as was in this case, a Randy Savage.  From there, I also think that in looking back at this show, it was pretty cool to see Randy Savage get the spotlight.  It was all about Hulk Hogan in late 1980s WWF and so it had to be pretty shocking to see him and Andre get eliminated early.

As a bonus gimmick match there was also a battle royal on this show and I’m a huge fan of battle royals.   I remember the first time I saw this show, which was not live as I was still just a toddler, being surprised Bret Hart made it all the way to the final two and got a chance to shine.  Bret was still a part of the Hart Foundation for a few years after this and it was rare that a tag team specialist would get a chance to shine on his own at the time.

As a bit of a personal story related to Wrestlemania 4, as many of you know, the show was four hours long (This, just like the tournament, was one of the real promotional points of the show). Since it was so long, the coliseum home video of the show featured two different video tapes to accommodate the length of the show.  One day I was at a friend’s house and I offered to trade him one of my tapes for his copy of Wrestlemania 4, we were probably about 7 years old at the time, as I had never seen Mania 4.  I had heard that there was a tournament and a battle royal on this show and thought immediately that this would be the show for me.  Well, he gave me the tape but it ended up being only the first part of Wrestlemania 4.  I never realized this until I got home and watched the show only to see the second half was missing entirely and what’s funny is I didn’t know about this until the tape abruptly shut off midway through the show.   I kept rewinding the tape and cleaning assuming that there must have been something wrong.  Where were the finals of the tournament?   I actually had my mother call his mother to tell her son he gave me a broken tape.  Suddenly my friend laughed and admitted he didn’t give me part two and was screwing me.  And you thought the Montreal Screwjob was bad? He admitted that he wanted both my tape and the only parts of Wrestlemania 4 to really mean anything, the semi finals and the finals of the tournament.  Even though this upset me a bit, I still watched the first part of that Wrestlemania dozens of times if for nothing else but the Battle Royal.

What I also remember during this time was that I got my first ever WWF board game (This may have been a year or two later but it focused a lot on the time period of Wrestlemanias 3 and 4).  It was called the Wrestlemania VCR board game and it was pretty cool.  You would move around the game board and in doing so would eventually end up on a VCR square.  You would then turn on the tape and there would be able a 30 second clip of a match.  Whoever landed on the square would get to choose which wrestler they wanted in the clip and then whichever wrestler gained the upper hand during the clip, that player would get to move space.  So let’s say it was Hulk Hogan for the red team and Randy Savage for the blue team so you pick Hulk Hogan and in the clip he hits a legdrop and gets a pinfall victory, you would move up 10 spaces.  I played this game with my poor mother at least 100 times until we eventually memorized the tape inside and out.

Well that’s going to do it for me today but be sure to check out my review of Wrestlemania 5, coming up later today.  Until then take care and please feel free to share some of your favorite moments of Wrestlemania 4!

All Photo Credit: WWE

The Mania of March- The Spotlight On Wrestlemania 2

Wrestlemania 2: 

Welcome to day two of our comprehensive 31 Wrestlemanias in 31 days through the month of March.  Today we’re going to take a look at Wrestlemania 2 which was final Wrestlemania to take place prior to my birth as I was born later this year in October of 1986.  When I think about Wrestlemania 2 the first thing that comes to mind was the fact that this show took place over 3 venues.  The first four matches on the show took place in New York (Nassau Coliseum actually) than the next four matches took place in Chicago and then the final four matches took place in Los Angeles.  It was an interesting idea at the time and a pretty ingenious way to make money.  Production for this event had to be wild in order to pull that off.  There are so many things that can go wrong with live event production when broadcasting from one venue, let alone three. I always thought that this could be an interesting idea to try again but it will never happen this day in age where Wrestlemania takes over a city that has been bidding on it for, sometimes, years.

The way that this was that each venue had their own “Main Event” and then the fans would stay in the venue and watch the rest of the show on big screen monitors. The first venue was New york and was headlined by a boxing match between Roddy Piper and Mr. T.  From there the Chicago portion was main evented by the tag title match between the British Bulldogs and The Dream Team.  (Before you correct me, I know that the 20 man battle royal was more of the headline match in Chicago and is often remembered as Chicago’s main event but the tag title change ended the Chicago Portion of the show.  Lastly, the Los Angeles portion of the show featured the main event of the entire Wrestlemania, Hulk Hogan defending the world title in a steel cage against King Kong Bundy.

This was also during the time period in which celebrities played such a big part of Wrestlemania.  As with today’s Wrestlemanias you might hear a casual fan who hasn’t been watching in quite sometime ask what the top matches at Wrestlemania are, those same casual fans had to have been asking which celebrities were going to be at Wrestlemania.  I mean on this Wrestlemania alone, if you include the NFL players who participated in the Battle Royal, there were over 25 celebrities who appeared at this Wrestlemania.  It was absolute who’s who of celebrities which featured everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Joan Rivers and even the old Burger King guy, “Herb”! What we did get out of this was, however, was my personal favorite rendition of America The Beautiful ( and also the first time in which America The Beautiful was performed at Wrestlemania all together) ever performed at Wrestlemania, that by the late great Ray Charles!

Photo Credit: WWE

The One Match You Should See:

For me the answer here is the battle royal (I love battle royals), and it’s tough because the tag title match between the British Bulldogs and the Dream Team is a great match with a finish that the crowd absolutely loved.  That said when you mention Wrestlemania 3, the thing that immediately come to mind would be the involvement of the NFL players, especially members of the Chicago Bears in Chicago fresh off winning a superbowl.   It’s crazy to go back and think about the fact that you had active, pro bowl caliber players like Refrigerator Perry in a battle royal with hall of fame level WWE Superstars like Andre The Giant.  Could you imagine if in the Andre The Giant Memorial BattleRoyal you had JJ Watt and Demarcus Ware? It would never happen!  The crowd was so hot for the Chicago Bear players that I actually think the WWF should have made the call to have Refrigerator Perry win the match outright, even if this would mean that Andre would lose a battle royal for the first time ever.  The crowd would have just went completely wild for a Perry win.  What this did lead to for Perry was a memorable moment of him dumping Big John Studd and would later lead to his induction into the celebrity wing of the WWF Hall Of Fame (an induction, mind you, that John Cena presented Perry with leading to the first time I can really remember a crowd completely turning on him).  One last note on the Battle Royal, this was the only match in Wrestlemania history that WWE legends/ hall of famers Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino competed in.

Well that’s going to do it for today but I’ll be back real soon with my look back at WrestleMania 3!

The Mania of March- The Spotlight On Wrestlemania 3

Wrestlemania 3:

This was the first Wrestlemania I was alive for but I’ll admit that I never saw the full show until I rented the tape from a wrestling store here in Queens in the late 90s. That said, I probably have seen Hogan and Andre as well as Steamboat and Savage so many times I can’t even remember.  These two matches are the perfect example of how two matches can be so different but both still be so memorable in entirely different ways.  I feel like depending on the type of fan that you are, you either remember Wrestlemania 3 for Savage-Steamboat or Hogan-Andre.  If you’re more into the classic moments, it’s Hogan and Andre, whereas if you’re more into the classic matches, then its Steamboat-Savage.  There are so many of today’s wrestlers from Chris Jericho to the Hardys that have credited that Savage and Steamboat match as being an inspiration.

Aside from those two great matches, Wrestlemania 3 cannot be mentioned without talking about the 93,000 + plus fans that were in attendance.  I remember specifically that if you watched the home video they showed the fans as they were running to the arena or filing in after a long tailgate, which sadly isn’t on the network).   It really made Wrestlemania feel like a massive event.  Then of course when they brought you into the arena you were immediately him with that great screenshot of the crowd that just looked incredible.  I can’t imagine how amazing it must have been to be in that arena.  When I went to WrestleMania back in 2011 in Atlanta, I remember sitting way up in the nosebleeds and looking out going, “wow it’s amazing to see a wrestling show in such a large venue.  Well there were at least 20,000 more fans live for WrestleMania 3 and with the show taking places in the middle of the day, you could probably look out and see everyone, it had to be incredible.

From here I loved how the show started with Vince McMahon in the middle of the ring, welcoming the crowd to WrestleMania 3.  If you remember the risk that Vince took with the first WrestleMania, just two years earlier, it was nice to see him being able to soak in the massive success that the event had become.  I always thought it would be cool for Vince to kick off every show like but obviously that would have been hard to do as he became the villainous Mr. McMahon.  I remember that at some point a few years back WWE put out a history of WrestleMania DVD and a pop u video like version of WrestleMania 3.  Hearing Vince on those sets get choked up when talking about how he was thinking about his dad when he was welcoming the crowd to WrestleMania and how he knew his dad would be proud   This makes it mean that much more and is definitely something I can relate to.

Lastly, I also really get nostalgic for the motorized carts that brought the superstars to the ring because the aisle way at the Silverdome was so massive.   This just made the superstars look larger than life.  I also love the idea of Greg Valentine leaving Brutus Beefcake off the cart while the announcers ponder how he would get to the back, was walking not an option?  In any event,  I wish they would bring those carts back for like an old school Raw some time.

Well that’s going to do it for me but be sure to come on back tomorrow where we will take a look at WrestleMania 4!

All Photo Credit: WWE

Traveling Insanity, Conor McGregor & Wrestlemania March- The Daily Spotlight for 2/25

Hello everyone and a very happy Thursday to each and every one of you.  It’s a very happy Thursday for me as I’m working just a few blocks away from where I live.  There is, to me, nothing better aside from being off altogether than working so close to home.  I get to sleep for, I kid you not, anywhere from an hour to 2 hours more when I work in Queens then when I work in Brooklyn.  Thus, I circle the day on my calendar and look forward to a day like today more than any other.  Even with heading to the city later this afternoon I can’t complain whatsoever.  Heading to the city is delightful for me as I hop on the LIRR and away I go, no I don’t care if the LIRR is relatively boushey.  Anyway, let’s get into the spotlight.

– One thing that has really zapped me throughout the week (and one of the reasons why I was in desperate need for a queens day) has been my lack of recovery from my vacation this week.  That’s right it is officially vacation season for me and this kicked off for me in a big way.  I was able to go visit some family on Valentines Day weekend (relax slappy I took the lovely lady out on Saturday and she came with me for the weekend) over in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  I then returned to work for two days in Brooklyn on Tuesday and Wednesday and then Wednesday night we took off for Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Now I’m the type of guy who hates taking off work for an illness or just to recover from a trip because my agency doesn’t offer specific sick time.  Thus, we spent Wednesday night to Monday night at 10:30 when we arrived back in New York.  My girlfriend was able to take off until Tuesday but I was up at 5AM, worked two jobs and then hit the gym until the gym closed at midnight.  At 22 years old I would have been just dandy but I was beat up and struggling through all of Wednesday.  I was running on straight coffee just to get through the day and crashed hard a little after midnight last night (I rarely hit the hey before 2).  Thus, it was really good to get a few extra z’s last night.  One great thing about going away by the way was how I was able to pick up a lot of great video content for the site that you can expect to see in the coming weeks.

– I consider myself to be a pretty big baseball fan.  Aside from football and wrestling, baseball is my favorite sport and the only other sport in which I follow the league inside and out.  That said, I am not the same about baseball that I am about football in that when baseball ends, I’m good until about a month before baseball before I feel like I need to get fully invested.  I don’t care about when pitchers and catchers report and if I watch more than 1 spring training game, it’s probably more than usual.  The 175 games that emcompass the baseball season are good enough for me.  This isn’t to say that I’m not invested, I’m a nats fan and one of the reasons I subscribe to Sirius XM is to make sure I can listen to all of the games while in the car and I purchase the mlb package so I can watch all of the Nats games (and I love a good west coast game that starts at 10:35PM our time).  That said, it just isn’t baseball for me until football is long and gone. With football now gone, however, it is in fact time to get into baseball.  I’ve been going through all of the different rosters and have to be honest, it could be a very tough year coming up for my Nats.  I’m not sold on any other team in our division but the middle of our infield is really weak defensively and while I’m happy we went out and got Ben Revere (and more to the point dropped Drew Storen and actually got a return!), I can’t believe that the Nationals did very little to improve our rotation.  While, Bronson Arroyo is a gamer and a winner, he’s in his late thirties now and coming off Tommy John surgery.  That means we’re depending on Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross which scares me.  Maybe instead of trying to stick it to the New York Mets (and more or less failing) this offseason, we should have been worrying about improving our rotation.  Could be a long season, hope I’m wrong.

– I’m pretty bummed that Rafael Dos Anjos got hurt and won’t be facing Conor Mcgregor on March 5th, but honestly I feel like Nate Diaz is a great replacement.  The press conference yesterday was a lot of fun and I think that you have the two perfect guys to prepare for a fight like this on such short notice.  Conor is an absolute must see attraction whenever he fights but it will be interesting to see if Diaz and Mcgregor will be the main event now since it won’t be a title fight and Tate-Holm will be.  Even though everyone assumes this will be a sure fire win for McGregor, I wouldn’t be too shocked to see Diaz put up a really good fight.  Diaz is a gritty fighter who has a big time reach advantage on McGregor and Mcgregor is going up in weight class so much and fighting at 170 so I wouldn’t put the house on Conor in this one.

– Last piece of business to take care of.  As many of you know WrestleMania is under six weeks away.  In the past I’ve been reminiscing on different Survivor Series events and Royal Rumble events of years past.  Well in the month of March, I’m going to take things to the next level and bring you a WrestleMania a day.   I’ll break down a different WrestleMania from my perspective as a fan.  It works out perfectly with 31 days of March and 31 Wrestlemanias.  I’ll break them down each event from my experiences (the biggest moments, the best matches) as a fan and then I’ll parallel each WrestleMania with what I remember most from each year of being a fan of WWE.  I’ll include everything from pictures to videos, if I have them, to everything in between.  I want to really intertwine this idea with the youtube channel and get that off the ground as well.  This will all lead you right up ro WrestleMania weekend in which I will be on hand live to get you the most comprehensive coverage that someone who attends the event with his girlfriend, for her birthday, can possibly give you.  It’s bound to be a lot of fun and I’m excited for it.

Bret Hart, UFC on Fox & More- The Daily Spotlight for 2/1/16

Hello everyone and happy Monday to ya, this is the Daily Spotlight for Monday, February 1st! Can you believe it is already February 1st? I sure can’t! My goal for this month is quite simple, to post a daily spotlight update for all 28 days of the month and I’m sticking to it! Of course, for those who don’t know (and how don’t you at this point?) the daily spotlight is a separate entity for the usual reviews you see here on the site and instead is a running blog of my day to day thoughts and adventures. Let’s get right into it.  

-Have to start with a real sad note to start with here, literally as I was piecing together the pieces of the spotlight, word came down that WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart has been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. In a Statement released on Bret’s Official Facebook page, Hart posted the following

 “It is with great remorse that I feel compelled to speak truthfully to my friends, family and my millions of fans around the world. In the past few years, I’ve spent more than enough time paying the price for all those years trying to be the best there ever was as a professional wrestler. I executed excellently and my proudest claim was that I never seriously hurt or injured another wrestler in my 23 year career. I’ve paid a price for all that “fake” wrestling. Aside from a devastating career-ending concussion and numerous surgeries when I was younger, in recent years I’ve had two knee replacements, two hernia operations, surgery on my right elbow, and, just a few months ago, I underwent a four-corner fusion of my right wrist that even now makes it most difficult to write or type.
Mark Helprin wrote: “We are all perfect clocks that Divinity has set to ticking when, even before birth, the heart explodes into a lifelong dance.” I’ve had a great lifelong dance and I’m a survivor of many hard battles. I now face my toughest battle. With hesitation and fear, I openly declare myself in my fight against prostate cancer. In the next few days, I will undergo surgery with the hope of defeating this nemesis once and for all.

My fans have always looked upon me as a hero and I’ve always done my best to live up to that in and out of the ring. I beat the odds when I suffered my stroke in 2002, but it is now yet again, that I draw upon the many adults and young children I’ve met throughout my life who courageously fought and usually lost in their battles against this deadly disease. One year ago, I watched a brave young man named Whesley fight brain cancer to the end. If I can find even an ounce of his courage to stand unafraid and face the tough road ahead of me, I will march toward this destiny with his spirit chanting in my ear.
I make a solemn vow to all of those that once believed in me, the dead and the living, that I will wage my fearsome fight against cancer with one shield and one sword carrying my determination and my fury for life, emboldened by all the love that’s kept me going this long already. Love is my weapon and I’ve got much of it around me all the time, for which I’m truly blessed and eternally grateful. My children, grandchildren, and my loving wife Steph have been and will constantly be at my side. I refuse to lose, I will never give in or give up, and I will win this battle or die trying.

Most important of all, I hope I can take the fight to prostate cancer. To be a leader in awareness and to set the example for men everywhere who find themselves in my very same shoes, that prostate cancer can be beaten.”

Bret Hart is one of the all time greats in the history of WWE and one of my favorite Superstars of all time. I wish Bret a speedy recovery and my thoughts and prayers go out to he and his family during this difficult time.  

– I had a chance to check out UFC Fight Night on Fox Saturday night and let me tell you, when I first looked at this card I wondered how this show didn’t make it to a pay per view. You had one of the most exciting young fighters in Sage Northcutt, you had Josh Barnett returning for just his second fight in two years and you had Ryan Bader riding an impressive 5 fight, 2 year win streak going up against one of the best pound for pound fighters in Anthony Johnson. In the end, Northcutt was handled easily, early in round 2, Barnett tapped out for the first time in his career and Bader was knocked out in less than 90 seconds. It ended up being a pretty good for nothing show but what I will say is that the presentation on fox is a lot of fun (with the classic NFL music), and the highlight of the show for me was Daniel Cormier in the analyst role. He’s got such a natural good guy charisma and I can’t wait to see him and Jon Jones go at it, if and when that fight takes place.  
– We’re on the road to Wrestlemania and that really kicked off for WWE in a big way last week when The Rock made his return to Raw. What a fun appearance by the great one who is simply incomparable. It doesn’t appear that The Rock will be back on television until Wrestlemania and that’s ok in my book as he was able to get his moment in Miami and also establish that he’ll be at Wrestlemania. A few folks seem a little dejected that it doesn’t appear that the Rock will be back in the ring at this year’s Wrestlemania (and that hasn’t been confirmed by the way but that is the widespread belief) but I don’t think it’s particularly necessary for the Rock to be back in the ring. Sure his two Wrestlemania matches with John Cena were a lot of fun but I feel like the Rock has added so much to the show in his non wrestling appearances. Starting with his return as the host of Wrestlemania 27 to the opening of Wrestlemania 30 with Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin to showing up in California last year the night after hosting Saturday Night Live for an unforgettable moment with Ronda Rousey, the Rock always finds a way to steal the show whether it’s in the ring or out of the ring and it’s just great to have him as a part of the show.  
– Lastly, it’s been a busy time with my girlfriend’s family over the past two weeks. Just two weeks ago, my girlfriend’s niece turned 18 and held back to back (and belly to belly) birthday celebrations, culminating with a great meal over at Blend on the Water in Long Island City. Just last night my girlfriend’s other niece and our god daughter celebrated her 3rd birthday in grand fashion with a standing room only guest list of over 60 family and friends (54 more guest than I had at my plenty of seating room birthday party back in October, what’s up with that?). This all leads to tonight where we’ll be celebrating my girlfriend’s sister’s birthday in New york City, taking full advantage of Restaruant Week and trying Nobu (Nobu, Nobu, Nobu, Whoo…what no other Drake fans?) for the first time. I’m excited about that and will report back to all of you guys tomorrow about that experience.  By the way, this is a surprise party so I sure hope she isn’t reading this. 

That’s going to do it for me, but I will be back a bit later on with more fun content right here on thedailyspotlight.com… Until then, let’s knock this week out of this park!