You may have figured it out when I wrote my tribute to Randy “Macho Man” Savage, but I grew up as a pretty big fan of the WWF (or WWE as it is now known). I have since figured out that everything in professional wrestling is staged and pre-determined (I still don’t like to use the word fake), but I wasn’t so sure when I was young. Sure, I told myself that the guys didn’t really hit each other, but I always thought… well how do people win then? Eventually I came to terms with the fact that my favorite wrestlers were not really who they portrayed on television, but basically actors playing a part for entertainment purposes.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley wasn’t really a snob from Greenwich, CT. He was Jean-Paul Levesque, a former body builder from New Hampshire. Papa Shango wasn’t a voodoo priest from parts unknown, he was Charles Wright, a bouncer that was discovered during filming of Over the Top. Oh, and The Big Bossman? He wasn’t a correctional officer from Cobb County, Georgia at all. He was really Ray Traylor… a former prison guard from Cobb County, Georgia (he really was before deciding to wrestle!).
All of that was pretty devastating for a young Jobu to swallow, but not as devastating as some of the stuff I believed was real when I was little. Here are the five most devastating moments in WWF history (from a little Jobu’s perspective).
Doink the Clown Attacks Crush (1993)
Crush had gone from being the third member of the rough and tough tag team Demolition (WWF’s answer to the Road Warriors) to a fan-friendly Hawaiian surfer (yes, I believed he had changed for real… sigh). Crush was on his way to the top of the WWF, or so I thought, until a funny little clown started showing up on WWF television every week. At first he pulled funny pranks on fans, like spraying them with water or messing with their kids. Soon, he started playing pranks on wrestlers. He famously doused Marty Jannetty with a bucket of water and tripped the Big Bossman with a wire… all fun and games. When he tried to pull a prank on Crush one week, the big Hawaiian grabbed him by the arm and gave him a stern warning. The next week, Doink showed up to Crush’s match with a sling on his arm. He apologized to Crush, but when Crush turned his back, Doink ripped off his “injured” arm and beat Crush unconscious with it.
As a little Crush fan, I was shocked. How could they fake that? He was clearly hitting him as hard as he could with the arm, which the announcer was saying was filled with lead. It never occurred to me that the arm was probably stuffed with cotton, and that Crush wasn’t really hurt (or he was actually hurt and they needed to cleverly write him off of television). To me, I had watched one of my favorite guys lose his chance to go to the Royal Rumble because some clown decided to hurt him (that line is way funnier when it’s an actual clown). Crush would never win the Rumble and get his title shot at Wrestlemania. I hated Doink with a passion, and cheered my head off for Crush when he eventually tried to get his Wrestlemania revenge on the demented clown. As a side note, I am pretty sure I can pinpoint my current fear of clowns to this exact moment (and the movie IT). Talk about scarred for life!
Watch the video for yourselves:
Jake “The Snake” Roberts Attacks “Macho Man” with Damien, His Cobra. (1992)
This is one that was disturbing to watch as a little kid. Hell, I just watched the Youtube video in preparation to write this story and it was still really disturbing to watch. A little background information on this one… It was 1991, and Macho had “retired” from wrestling to become a ringside announcer for the WWF. For some reason, Jake “The Snake” Roberts felt like starting a fight with Macho, so he hid one of his snakes in one of the Macho Man’s on-screen wedding to the lovely Miss Elizabeth. For shame, Jake. Anyway Roberts kept taunting Macho Man in the following months, trying to get him to fight. One day on WWF Superstars, he taunted Savage to the point where he had enough, and came to the ring to fight. Jake managed to get the upper hand, and tied the Macho Man in the ropes. This is where things got out of hand.
Jake pulled out his King Cobra and made it bite the Macho Man. Now, I’m assuming the thing was de-venomized backstage, because if you watch the video below… there’s no faking that it’s biting Savage. Savage is writhing in pain, Roberts is visibly shaking the snake to try to get it off Randy, and the snake is just going nom nom nom nom nom and chomping on Macho Man’s arm! For storyline purposes, Macho Man almost died, begged President Jack Tunney to re-instate him, and eventually beat Roberts at the “This Tuesday in Texas” PPV event. Great setup for the rivalry, but it was really creepy and disturbing to watch, even now as a 28 year old who knows all about fake wrestling. Watch the video!
Here’s the gruesome video:
“Macho Man” Randy Savage Turns on Hulk Hogan, Breaking Up the Megapowers (1989)
If you don’t know who the Mega Powers were, shame on you. In 1989, the WWF took their two top good guys, Macho Man and Hulk Hogan, two icons of professional wrestling history, and made them a tag team. How unstoppable is that? In the late 80s, it was the most unstoppable force in the WWF. Enter Miss Elizabeth to ruin it all. Miss Elizabeth was the Macho Man’s manager (and real life wife). Her job was to escort the Macho Man down to the ring and hold his robe, his championship belt, or whatever else he carried with him to the ring. When Hogan joined him in the tag team, she basically became both their managers. This led to a lot of jealousy from Macho. Apparently he was a controlling and jealous freak in real life with Miss Elizabeth as well, so Vince McMahon decided to roll with it in the story lines too.
Anyway, later that year, the Mega Powers had a match against the Twin Towers, aka The Big Bossman (more on him later) and Akeem “The African Dream” (a 450 lb white guy who wore dashikis to the ring). During the match, Miss Elizabeth was inadvertently hit by one of the behemoths and knocked out cold. Hulkster, in between saying prayers and taking vitamins, took her backstage. This saved Elizabeth, but cost the Mega Powers the match. When Macho Man got backstage and saw Hogan caring for his woman, he exploded. He gave the Hulkster a beating he’d never forget as a horrified Elizabeth looked on in despair. When she tried to intervene, Savage managed to hurl her clear across the room too (Nice touch, WWF)!
How terrible is it to see one of your heroes mistakenly beating the crap out of your other hero over a misunderstanding? The Hulkster was just trying to do the right thing! Why was Macho Man acting like this? Had he always been so evil? As a young fan, I was hurt and I was angry. I wanted the Macho Man to see the error of his ways, and there was only one way this was going to happen. Hulk Hogan would have to beat the crap out of him… At Wrestlemania V! Hogan did just that, winning the heavyweight championship after the big boot and a leg drop. All was good in the world again.
Watch the Mega Powers explode:
Nailz attacks the Big Bossman (1992)
The Big Bossman, once he left his evil partner Akeem, quickly became a very popular good guy wrestler in the WWF. Being a former correctional officer in Cobb County, Georgia (in both real life and the story lines), the Bossman did his best to bring justice to the WWF. In the spring of 1990, the WWF began to air vignettes from a mysterious shrouded figure that was making it pretty clear that he was coming to the WWF to get the Big Bossman. Apparently, this man had been a former prisoner under the Big Bossman’s authority in Cobb County, and believed that the Big Bossman had severely mistreated him. Somehow these allegations were never taken seriously by fans or announcers. After all, the Big Bossman was a good guy now!
Suddenly, on the May 30th edition of WWF Superstars, a man in an orange prison jumpsuit (he must not have had time to change upon his release) came charging through the crowd and attacked the Bossman in the ring. What followed was a helacious nightstick beating that probably rivaled what would eventually happen to Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1994. It just kept going! Nailz did such a job on the Bossman, that he was off television for a long while. The WWF even showed photos of the Bossman’s bruises on television in the following weeks. Talk about scary! This guy Nailz was about 6’5″ and weighed 300lbs. Not only that but he had a really weird voice, which I think was his real voice ( 2015 update: it wasn’t). I was terrified of Nailz and devastated for the Big Bossman. This feud eventually ended when the Big Bossman got his revenge at Survivor Series later that year. I was just glad the Bossman was alive after this vicious attack.
Watch the devastating beat down:
Shawn Michaels Superkicks Marty Jannetty Through the Barber Shop Window (1992)
When I was nine years old, the Rockers were probably my favorite tag team. They were young, did all sorts of cool areal maneuvers and came out to cool rock music. Yes, I cheered my head off for Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty. I might even have had an action figure, or some trading cards of them. They never (officially) won the tag team titles, but they were just exciting to watch. The fact that they would never win the titles made it that much more exciting to cheer for them because you hoped and prayed they would win. They were your basic, all-American good guy tag team, and it seemed they would be together forever. As they say, however, all good things must come to an end. And boy did they ever.
In 1992, signs began to appear that things maybe weren’t so peachy keen with The Rockers. Jannetty cost Michaels a singles victory against Ric Flair when, while trying to help, he threw a battered Michaels into the ring to get pinned. In another match, the two cost each other a WWF Tag Team Titles match against the Legion of Doom with another mis-communication. It seemed like everything was going to come to a head, so the two appeared on the Barber Shop (Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake’s weekly interview segment) to try to ease the tensions and save their union.
After a heated exchange, it seemed the two were ready to bury the hatchet and get the team back together. A heart-felt handshake put the fans’ minds at ease. The Rockers weren’t going anywhere! They were here to stay! Suddenly, and without warning, Michaels issued his final statement on the partnership, ending it with one swift super kick to Jannetty’s face. He then picked Jannetty up off the floor and delivered the shot heard round the world (at least heard around my house), throwing Jannetty through a plate glass window that was part of the Barber Shop set. Michaels then picked up a WWF Magazine featuring a two page spread of the now former tag team, and symbolically tore it in half. The Rockers were officially done, and I had a new least favorite wrestler ever, Shawn Michaels.
Again, when your heroes turn on each other like that it’s confusing. My old coach Lou Brown (you know him if you read our comments) likened it to the Kennedy assassination; The end of the innocence of a generation playing out live on world wide television. That might sound extreme now, but to a nine year old kid that’s what it felt like! Now, I know that the WWF saw Michaels as their next singles star and Jannetty had been causing trouble with management back stage, so they solved two problems at once by getting rid of Jannetty and elevating Michaels. Michaels went on to be one of the biggest stars in WWF history, and Jannetty didn’t do much with the rest of his career (save for when he came back from his “injuries” to basically be Michaels’ stepping stone to being a legitimate singles star). As an older fan, I grew to appreciate Shawn Michaels’ talent and charisma, but at the time… boy did I hate him.
If you can handle it, watch the video:
Got any memories of your own? Share them below!
Featured image courtesy of: WWE
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