The Passing of the Wrestling Torch
by, 05-18-2011 at 05:08 PM (5721 Views)
Cool Ethan Super Blog #1
I am new to the IWC, but I read probably hundreds of threads, and definitely thousands of posts to decide whether there was a point in me creating an account and having my voice heard, I decided there was a point. This is my first blog.
I have heard some reference towards the torch and passing the torch in wrestling. This is an interesting concept but it's been quite poorly defined and people who talk of it have no reference point, I intend to change that.
The torch was not passed when Tommy Dreamer put over Zack Ryder in his last WWE match, he was just paying respect to the company that gave him a chance by losing to one of their up and coming talent. The torch could not be passed by Tommy Dreamer simply because he never had it. In my opinion the torch is so much more than Tommy Dreamer (No offense Dreamer marks, I'm sure you're out there). I feel like the torch could be seen as something above championships, something beyond the WrestleMania's, a true be all, end all. To be a torch bearer you must be at the top of your game but more importantly a reflection of the wrestling world at the time you held it, which takes me to where it all began...
The year was 1984, the NWA was prominent but Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation had really started to take off. For the first time there was a wrestling promotion ready to go global and stand on it's own as a separate entity from the territory system. WrestleMania would take off in no time, but this company still needed a real star if they were going to take the world by storm, and on January 23,1984 when Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik for the WWF Heavyweight Title they had that star. Hulk Hogan had acquired the torch. Hulkamania would take it and run wild for the better part of 10 years unopposed until a young upstart going by the name of The Ultimate Warrior arrived on the scene.
*Some would argue Flair or Andre over, or before, Hogan, but while they were already territory legends, Hogan was the first to have that incredible It factor as well as such an explosive crowd reaction. Andre left them in awe, Flair left them entertained, but Hogan made them believe(Also no offense to old school NWA fans, Flair v.s. Steamboat FTW, but the WWF was now the most powerful pro-wrestling entity*
The Ultimate Warrior got the roars and energy from the fans, and had the perfect look and intensity to lead a generation (He even had Hogan's limited in ring skills), Hogan was looking to slowly bow out, at least for awhile, so the uniquely charismatic Warrior was the logical choice and on April.1,1990 Hogan dropped the title to Warrior in an epic match made so by the atmosphere from the crowd in the Skydome. But there was a problem...
*Some would argue Randy Savage over, or before, Ultimate Warrior but as evidenced by WrestleMania 5, regrettably the Macho Man was never able to escape Hogan's shadow, at least not completely*
The Ultimate Warrior's backstage attitude had become an issue and his behavior was unbecoming of a face of an international company, more importantly, everyone loved the Warrior don't get me wrong, but besides his flashy colors nothing really set him apart from Hogan. With Hogan still kicking around and more importantly, in the hearts of the fans, the option was open for Hogan to take his torch back, he did. The 1991 Royal Rumble came down to Hogan and the Warrior, in the most unconventional way to take the torch, Hogan eliminated the Warrior from the rumble and claimed his spot back on top heading into WrestleMania 7 where he captured the WWF title from Sgt. Slaughter, Hulkamania continued.
*I see no other options for a torch bearer at this point in time, Sting and Flair were big fish in a small pond but Hogan was a whale in a tear drop*
Hogan would persevere as the standard bearer of the WWF, he left and filmed some crappy movies, but he came back and ruled all once again. However, while Hogan was gone or while he was there, both, a tag team specialist by the name of Bret Hart had broken into singles competition and with impressive wins under his belt and a WWF Championship to his credit was poised to take the seat atop the WWF, Hogan's prized torch, and run with it. The stage was semi-set for WrestleMania 9, a fan's dream match, Hulk Hogan v.s. Bret Hart for the WWF Championship but for whatever reason, I not going to speculate, Hogan refused to put Bret over and hand him the torch, things would be rewritten and Hogan would come out on top. This was a poor decision as after Hogan's title reign ended, Hogan would head to WCW with his torch in hand, a torch the WWE wouldn't get back for 9 long years. However, the #1 company needed a torch so in the eyes of the fans a new one was created for Bret Hart as he represented a new era of smaller more skilled grapplers who connected to fans through words and their actions in the ring.
*Stars came and went in abundance during this period but the two standard bearers were mentioned. So people know, WCW didn't become number 1 until Hogan came over with his torch, so the #1 company still had to have a torch*
While Hogan kept his torch throughout his WCW reign, Bret had his stolen from him at the 1997 Survivor Series when the infamous Montreal Screw-job occurred. Bret was leaving for WCW and wanted to go out on top but the power players backstage in the WWF had other plans and didn't want to lose their other torch during the Monday night wars. So they screwed Bret out of the match and the title so he couldn't go out on top. Shawn Michaels claimed the torch, providing a brand new attitude towards it, and moving the company towards a new direction, but that all came to a screeching halt due to a serious back injury.
*I know what you're thinking but Hogan never gave the torch to Sting in WCW, have you seen Starrcade 1997? And Flair was above the torch at that point, so that leaves Goldberg. Goldberg is an interesting case, Hogan went down cleanly to Goldberg, which is indeed rare for him but this falls more on the Tommy Dreamer/Zack Ryder lines, where with a career winding down he gave the nod to an up and coming talent. As we all know Goldberg's push eventually fell by the wayside and there was no torch there, Goldberg would get a nice pop if he came back today but his reaction will never be what it was before the breaking of the undefeated streak*
Shawn Michaels suffered a broken back and everyone thought his career was over, but he dragged his ass out to the ring, on the grandest stage of them all and lost to Stone Cold Steve Austin, Torch in hand, of course Mike Tyson knocked the torch out of his hand and handed it to Stone Cold, the only logical choice for the new direction of the WWF. Only fitting that the man who ushered in the attitude era would hold the torch, but he didn't do it alone. He did it with an up and coming Triple H, an up and coming Chris Jericho, a veteran Mick Foley, The Undertaker (A man beyond the torch), and more importantly The Rock.
*Stone Cold was the only option on the WWF roster at the time, and Hulk Hogan held the torch until WCW crashed, near the end nobody else even remotely deserved the 'Hogan Torch'*
Hogan returned in 2002 and quickly the dream match became reality, Hulk Hogan v.s. The Rock. The stage was set for WrestleMania 18 in the same arena that Hogan once mistakenly handed the torch to The Ultimate Warrior. It was there in the Skydome, March.17,2002, that Hogan made another mistake. The Rock helped build the attitude era, he deserved the torch at one point but this was too little too late. The Rock slowly began to fade away into Hollywood after he got the torch and left the WWF/E behind. Taking it with him. He left us with torch v.s. torch, Rock v.s. Austin at WrestleMania 19, it was a classic but at the end of the day, because of their star power and connection to the fans, neither relinquished their torch. That brings me to today...
*I know that Hulkamania survived WrestleMania 18, and even claimed another title reign but the force Hogan now had was no longer irresistible and, TNA not withstanding, he would slowly bow out*
In conclusion, I have figured out why so many fans today miss the attitude era, because the two biggest attitude era stars still hold the torches. Torch bearers have something in common, whether you love them or you hate them, they have the respect of the fans, and they entertain like nobody else can. We have none of those in modern day WWE, we lack mega stars which is why when the great one came back, it was one of the greatest moments in recent history. This is the opportunity, as much as I hate to say it and want to see the great one stomp Mr. Pebbles, It's best for Cena to go over in an amazing WrestleMania match, a clash of the ages, where a star is finally born and a torch is passed. At WrestleMania 28 Cena needs to win for the sake of the WWE, unless the Rock is coming back(I would probably crap myself to hear those words). Now all that's left is one more match from SCSA, only one problem, who should be his opponent? (Your thoughts?)
Hulk Hogan x2 (No Match/ 1991 Royal Rumble)
Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania 6 v.s. Hulk Hogan)
Bret Hart (No Match)
Shawn Michaels (Survivor Series 1997 v.s. Bret Hart)
Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania 14 v.s. Shawn Michaels)
The Rock (WrestleMania 18 v.s. Hulk Hogan)
Beyond The Torch:
Triple H (Upon 2009 Return)
Shawn Michaels (Upon 2002 Return)
Chris Jericho (2009-Present)
Common Misconceptions About the Torch:
Mr. Perfect v.s. Bret Hart, Ric Flair v.s. Shawn Michaels, Tommy Dreamer v.s. Zack Ryder, Goldberg v.s. Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin v.s. The Rock= Not Torch Passing Matches
-Thanks For Reading, props if you managed to sit through the whole thing!!!