The Gimmick's time machine has a brand new flux capacitor
Sat, 14 October 2006
by: The Gimmick
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For over forty years the WWE championship has been the number one wrestling title in the world. Held by some of the men who have made not just the WWE, but pro wrestling in general, the phenomenon we all know today. Men such as Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan, Andre The Giant, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, The Undertaker and others have all held this title and helped create the legend that comes along with it. Now WWE and Shock have released a special 3 DVD set hosted by Jim Ross entitled: The History Of The WWE Championship. This set features some of the greatest and most controversial WWE championship matches of all time.
Disc one dates back to the title's inception in 1963 and has a nice timeline feature showing the endings to every single WWE championship title change. I wonder who can name every title change off the top of their heads? Tough job! OK, that's the only featurette found on this whole compilation, so from here on in there is nothing but matches.
We start disc one with a match from 1971; Champion Ivan Koloff Vs challenger Pedro Morales (who, at the time, was also the WWE's United States Champion - but that belt wasn't on the line). The footage for this match is raw, but the action is great.
We next move onto two matches from the living legend, Bruno Sammartino. The first one is from 1974 in a title defense against Killer Kowalski, who wasn't at the peak of his career at this stage (but was still good enough to beat anyone). And next we get Bruno's eventual title defeat; at the hands of "Superstar" Billy Graham, from 1977. Listen to the crowds initial deathly silence when Bruno is beaten, you would never hear that sort of reaction now.
From there we watch as a new force came to prominence in the form of Bob Backlund, as he meets and defeats Billy Graham in their encounter from 1978 at MSG. This match is shown just with highlights, as is the next match (which is a real shame) that sees Backlund defends the title against Greg "The Hammer" Valentine in a Steel Cage from The Spectrum in Philadelphia. I've got this match on tape in full and it's a real shame it's not shown that way on this compilation. Match number 6, however, is full length - as Backlund again defends the title, this time against Sgt. Slaughter. Excellent match!
The next bout is historically significant; gone is the amateur style personified by Backlund, as The Iron Sheik becomes champ, but is then beaten by the emerging mega star Hulk Hogan, in their match from 1984.
Two years later at Wrestlemania 2, Hogan would have to defend his title against one of the best big men ever, King Kong Bundy, inside a steel cage. Less then a year after that, in perhaps the most famous cage match ever, Hogan put his title on the line against his former friend (and now bitter enemy), Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff.
From there we move to what most people say is the most important title match in wrestling history: Wrestlemania 3, 93,172 people were in attendance to see Hulk Hogan meet the greatest of all time (in my opinion) Andre The Giant. One year later was the rematch of the century (and it was shown on television)- Hulk Hogan faced Andre The Giant again in one of the most controversial matches ever.
Finally, we spool forward one year. Randy "Macho Man" Savage is champion and his former friend Hulk Hogan is making a run at his second title. What a disc and we aren't even half way through!
Disc two doesn't have as many matches, but that doesn't mean it has any less action. It's all about the 90's and begins on April 1st 1990 at Wrestlemania 6, where the all conquering champion Hulk Hogan had to deal with the challenge of rising superstar and, at the time, Intercontinental Champion - The Ultimate Warrior. This was indeed a classic match and even more so, considering 4 months earlier WWE were pushing for a Hogan vs Zeus match to headline that Wrestlemania. God I'm glad they didn't do that!
Anyway, we now move forward to the summer of 1994 and the WWE's New Generation is on the scene. Champion Bret Hart had to face his greatest challenge, in the form of his younger brother Owen Hart. This classic was held inside a steel cage and fought in a way only brothers can do.
We end the third disc with a triple play from Shawn Michaels and his first included bout may be his greatest. Late 1995 we saw the emergence of Shawn Michaels as WWE's MVP and in 1996, at Wrestlemania 12, he went one on one with Bret Hart for the title in the first ever Iron Man Match. You'll lose 10 pounds just watching it.
From there HBK goes to Philadelphia and had it not been for the Iron Man Match, this one would've been match of the year. It was Shawn Michaels taking on the maniacal Mankind, from Mindgames 1996. In my opinion, this is Mick Foley's greatest match ever!
And finally, another defining moment in pro wrestling history; we see the official beginning of the attitude era, as an injured Shawn Michaels defends his title against the unstoppable "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, at 1998's Wrestlemania 14. When you watch this one, look at how much pain HBK was in all throughout the match due to his back injury - it was to be his final match for some 5 years.
If you can handle it, lets move onto Disc three. It's the new millennium and we begin with a tremendous encounter from MSG in January 2000. Triple H had emerged as a well respected superstar, but could he be as respected as a champion? To get that respect he had to meet and defeat the most sadistic man in wrestling: Cactus Jack in a Street Fight at the Royal Rumble. This one is off the chart!
By the time SummerSlam 2000 rolled around, The Rock was the champion and Kurt Angle had gained the professional services of Triple H's wife Stephanie McMahon. When these three met in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE title it was gonna be pain, especially for Kurt Angle.
Wrestlemania 17 soon came along and the card was capped off with a classic encounter between Stone Cold Steve Austin challenging The Rock for the WWE title - probably their best match against each other. To top things off, the bout's finishing stages reveal that Austin had made a pact with the devil, ensuring that he'll go down as the most untrustworthy man in WWE history!
Eight months later WCW was out of business and WWE now owned that companies world title. It seemed inevitable that both the WWE title and WCW title would be unified at some point. At Vengeance 2001 that is exactly what happened, as Stone Cold Steve Austin beat Kurt Angle to advance to the final, then faced Chris Jericho to find out who would become the first unified and undisputed champion.
So those two titles had now become one. At Vengeance 2002, which was held in July, The Undertaker was holding onto the belt. He had two challengers on that particular night and both were former WWE champions. One was Kurt Angle and the other was the returning Rock. How did the Rock get out of this one?
One month later at SummerSlam 2002 The Rock would defend his title against a man who, in roughly 5 months, went from curtain jerker to number 1 contender. His name was Brock Lesnar and he took the champion and the WWE by the throat.
Then the title was again split into two separate belts; Triple H would have one title exclusively for RAW and the WWE title would stay on Smackdown.
By the time Royal Rumble rolled around in 2003, Kurt Angle was again WWE champ, but on this night he would face one of the best the world has and will ever see, Chris Benoit. What a match!
From there, we skip forward through the reigns of both Eddie Guerrero and JBL.
Finally, we end up at Vengeance 2005, for another Triple Threat match - this time John Cena is champ and is put in the unenviable task of facing both Chris Jericho and Christian in an all round great match.
Wrestling is real, everything else is fake!
by: The Gimmick
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More articles by The Gimmick
What a ride! I loved this DVD. I hope they bring out a follow up, because there are so many other championship matches to showcase from the 40 odd years that the title has been around. This is a real history lesson.