Well, let me explicate that initial utterance further: People from my personal past read my articles.
This notion, a la the beaming red button Stimpson J. Cat and Ren Hoek mused upon pushing, could veritably be something good, or veritably be something bad.
Oh, who am I kidding. If it involves the phrases "J. Swift" and "luck", you might as well annex the queue terms "misfortune", "cataclysm" and "jastaberry" (since it is my new goal in life to have people equate the esoteric fruit to my namesake. Jamesberries for all!) to your Google search.
I guess in a way, that's sort of the double edged dagger to the whole notion of being an aspiring writer that, more often than not, makes his proverbial payday on the backs of dead wrestlers and mass-culture allusions. In a lot of ways, my name is perchance the greatest defensive mechanism imaginable. My last go-around, if you enter the phrase "James Swift" into a "prominent search engine" (Which is the technical way of stating Google according to the third largest college in the state of Georgia, mind you) , you have to filter to about the 21st result page to find my doings, which includes a whole shit load of British dentists, which earnestly, I thought was a mythical creature akin to the Pegasus. Of course, if you enter the search term "Perry Saturn is a retard", bam! The sole returned message is a dead link for an article I penned back in 2005. No offense to Mr. Saturn, as I miss his movie reviews. Candidly.
So now, I'm stuck in sort of a Peter Parker / Spider-Man type quagmire here. Is it my responsibility to provide chuckle material for my literally tens of fans across the globe, risking societal castigation and the squandering of valuable time in my personal life, or is it more important to soothe the stressed nerves of my prior acquaintances, to appear more congruent to the vision of me they wish to interpret and do away with this Intra-Web ballyhoo altogether?
As the classically trained Shakespearean thespian Val Kilmer proclaimed at the end of the Academy Award winning tour de force "Batman Forever", I am, comparably, both the mild mannered James Swift that exists in the physical realm, the being that completes your airworthiness directives, ambles down your vestibules and drinks your milkshake (or maybe that's Daniel Plainview, I have a hard time differentiating fiction from actuality these days) while CONCOMITANTLY being the James Swift that mocks the recently deceased, provides holier-than-thou philosophical conjecture for a satirical site and boasts about the size of his genitals to the world at large as if he were flaunting his shoe size. (It's ten, by the way. Ask your mother.)
So, before we instigate this weeks barrel of wackiness, I would just like to say a few things to the people in my general vicinity that I KNOW are reading this right now. Yes, that means YOU. So, every two weeks or so, your curiosity gets the best of you, and you decided to click upon The Rocktagon to see if I'll drop offbeat clues to my concurrent sentiments in regards to YOUR being. Wow, what an incredibly chicken shit thing for an adult human to do. I'm not ashamed of my writings, and I'll display all of my penned words for the entirety of the world to view; in antithesis, you spend your entire existence a frightened puppy, caged behind a meshing of interpersonal mandates, unfounded fears and the general inability to think for yourself. I hope you do get as much out of this as you can, because this, my friend, is the essence of authentic freedom, of true self-autonomy, of being a real, living creature. If you desire to know my sentiments, to hear of my musings, to address my notions, you know what you can do? You can find me IN PERSON, like an upright, morally sound soul. My phone isn't broken, my address hasn't changed. Well, actually, I take that back, my phone did die out awhile a back so I had to get a new one, but I digress! This article here is earnestly only about 10 percent of the James Swift that genuinely exists; if you so desire to encounter the other 90 percent, there isn't a thing in the world I would do to inhibit such a venture.
Ahem! Now, let's shift gears and talk about fat guys on steroids pretending to clobber one another in front of acne-scarred men-children. MY DOMAIN, THAT IT IS.
Whenever scribes run out of stuff to talk about and/or desire to get a piece published sans much formal input, it' never a bad idea to amass a top ten list. Sure, I could come out here and present a fairly humdrum listing of the best pay-per-view events or best matches or best moments Chris Benoit died (guess which one wins!), but surely, we are above such here at The Rocktagon. Maybe.
Have you ever seen a performer come out, and you're all like, "oh great, its' (wrestler A), god, does he suck and expeditiously"? Of course you have, that's why you're on the Internet. Well, every now and then wrestlers of that type go out and have matches that are actually half way not debacles, thanks in no small part to the guy across the ring doing approximately 98 percent of the work. Some people call them "carry jobs", which sounds like a really good name for an aspiring porn star, if you ask me. Regardless, since I'm trying to keep my article posts up there in quantity, I decided to evaluate a few bouts of that delineation, because I can.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present unto thee, THE TEN GREATEST PERFORMANCES BY SHITTY WRESTLERS OF ALL TIME!
#10 Stan Hansen
versus Hulk Hogan, 1990
For you millennial fans out there, some exposition may be needed on who this Stan Hansen fellow is. HE RULED. That's all you really need to know. He chewed Redman whilst he grappled, beat the shit out of Japanese fans while walking to the ring and had a blatant disregard for the safety of his opponents' well-being that bordered on criminal negligence. If you look up the definition "rugged", you won't see a photo of Hansen in the dictionary, because he killed the author of the tome with his bare hands. That's the level of grittiness we're talking here with Stan. And Hulk Hogan. . . Well, he's Hulk Hogan, which means his matches consist of more posing than actual physical contact and the most cardio- intensive maneuver in his repertoire is the back scratch. So, you have one of the greatest brawlers in the history of Japanese wrestling squaring off against a media created cartoon character. Well, this one turned out kind of awesome? The fuck?
I guess things start off on optimistic terms with Hulk actually ACTING like a real person in his pre-match interview instead of telling us to shoot up his vitamins. I chewed those sumbitches until I was 20, and I still only weigh 135 pounds. THE TRAINING AND PRAYING DIDN'T WORK HOGAN, YOU LIE TELLER.
So Hogan comes out, and instigates actual, honest-to-goodness MAT WRESTLING. Wow, that's like finding out Mike Tyson can do fractions. . . Without raping before flipping the reciprocal of the second number and multiplying.
So you have some damned decent ground work, WITH PSYCHOLOGY (in a Hogan match? That's like finding theocratic subtext in a Jason movie!) and Hogan actually sells more than he's sold anything ever and makes Stan Hansen look like an ass kicking ass kicker from the capital city of the country of Ass Kicking. Hogan takes a bleeder (no, that doesn't mean he holds a hemophiliac hostage), does some crowd scuffling with Hansen and concludes the bout by making Stan eat a LARIAT-O that's like a four on the Japanese scale but basically a 7 for the Hulkster.
Oddly enough, there are actually about two or three matches involving Hulk that I deem better than this one (there's a good one he had with Vader in 94 and a steel cage bout with Flair I thought was kind of decent), but as far as Hogan's WWF tenure, this is FAR and away his best technical offering. But then again, him slipping on a banana peel would be the second, so that doesn't really sound as ringing as it should.
#009 Stan Hansen
versus Andre The Giant, 1981
The more I dwell on it, the more I consider the notion that Stan Hansen could carry a bar stool to a decent outing, and when analyzing the mobility of Andre The Giant, whose main default move set is limited to "standing still" and "kind of falling down a little", you begin to think that the Miracle Worker of worked bouts can't even save this offering. And then the bout begins, and holy shit.
I think Andre may have expended half of his lifespan in this bout, as soon as his afro rocking ass hit's the ring, he MURDERATES Hansen with a stiff kick and suddenly its on like something that has been switched from the off position to the position of functionality.
Watching these two leviathans beat the dog shit out of each other is just tremendous, as the Japanese fans scream as if Mothra and that giant turtle mother fucker are throwing down in the middle of the ring; every time one of the competitors gets Irish whipped, you can just feel the mat buckle, as if the enormous ass stomping going on in the ring will just implode and probably kill the first two rows of spectators. By the time a double count-out is issued, it's absolute bedlam in the stands; this is one of this rare matches from early 80s that stands up to this day, and for all you marks out there that truly think that Hogan was the first guy to body slam Andre, well.
Whipwreck and Spike Dudley versus PG-13, 1998
I originally had a positively sublime Ultimate Warrior bout betwixt the Republican One and garbage wrestler wunderkind Ulf Hermann in this spout, but god damned if the Youtube brethren didn't have it posted ('sides, that one kind of breaks the rules, since both guys suck aloud in normal, day- to day movement, but I digress.)
Anyway, I stumbled across this gem, and since I can't have an article without espousing the inherent greatness of ECW (eat the shit, Andariel!), I decided to put this bout in its place.
Now, I like Spike Dudley, and I like Mikey Whipwreck, but in all sincerity, Guerrero and Malenko they ain't. Because for one, they're both still alive and not 5'4 midgets, but that's kind of beside the point. This is from an epoch in which ECW and Jerry Jarrett's USWA were locked in a BRUTAL, BLOODY feud that lasted approximately a week, the crux of which was that ECW was garbage and USWA represented REAL rasslin, homoerotic and covered in Skoal as Tennessee Jesus declared it. You may remember PG-13, vaguely, as the guys that rapped the Nation of Domination down the entranceway in late 96 WWF. Don't dwell on that, because these two guys were perchance the best Indy tag team of the 90s not named the Heavenly Bodies to NOT get over in the big three during the decade.
So you have overachievers from the Southern old school taking on underachievers from the land of Philly anti-wrestling. The resultant? An absolutely awesome tag bout that stands as one of the greatest ECW TV matches ever, and truth be told, there's a shit load of those, say that's kind of a big declaration.
If you think it's impossible to merge Memphis tag with ECW brutality, that such a recipe is the veritable oil and water of the fake guys fighting phylum, than I think you may just be pleasantly surprised by what actually transpired.
Kawada versus Gary Albright, 1995
Kawada, for those of you not in the know, is probably the best wrestler ever in the history of spandex. Sure, Misawa has had better matches, and Kobashi is universal spank fodder for the Internet crowd, but Kawada was the All-Japan guy that fucking brought it every match-up, and there's never been greater proof of that than this match.
Gary Albright is basically a poor man's Steve Williams; a poor man's Steve Williams with diabetes, that still wears his college wrestling singlet as if it were a demarcation of both pride and manliness.
The deal here is, Kawada was SUPPOSED to have a shitty match so the ensuing Misawa/Kobashi bout was to tear the roof off.
Instead, Kawada went out and scored the equivalent of winning a fishing competition with one hand tied behind his back. . . A fishing competition with one hand tied behind his back whilst having to battle a fat ass in amateur grappling garb.
From start to finish, this is just psychologically sound wrestling at its best; Albright uses his fatness, Kawada utilizes the formula F=MA to gain the upper hand, and both guys tease the armbar to finish it. In front of a retardedly frenzied audience (perchance the hottest crowd to hit Japan since Nagasaki), Kawada performs one of the greatest acts of over achievement in the annals of pro wrestling lore, and for that, this bout is WELL worth going out of your way to view.
#006 Big Van
Vader vs. Antonio Ioki, 1996
As a kid, I basically worshipped Big Van Vader. I didn't see him as a despicable heel that beat the shit out of my beloved faces, but rather, as a force of nature you better damned pay alms to. When I went to church, I envisioned the Eucharist as being the body of Vader, and as I gulped down the blood of our Mastodon savior, I felt the inert need to power bomb my pastor through the middle of the damned terrazzo whilst shouting "Who's the man?" as the clergy frenziedly attempted to revive him.
So yeah, I guess you can say I am kind of a Vader mark. He's also Frankie Stichano's dad as interpreted by "Boy Meets World", so I can only assume that on his set time, he probably banged Topango whilst Mr. Feeny rooted his sexual exploits onward.
Ioki, for all intents and purposes, is the Japanese analogue for Hulk Hogan, in the notion that he first and foremost, sucks, but is still a beloved media caricature. Here are four things that bode against Ioki going into this match:
1) He's Japanese
but his first name is Hispanic.
2) He has a chin like Bruce Campbell.
3) He was too chicken shit to fight Muhammad Ali that one time.
4) He's 55 YEARS OLD at the time of the bout.
So, basically, there's a national icon in a bout against a gaijen monster heel, and said icon isn't known for taking a pummeling. Considering Japanese wrestling politics, the outcome here should be fairly apparent; Vader goes light on the venerable progenitor of Japanese sports- entertainment, Ioki panders to the crowd, over and done with in ten. And then Vader lifts Ioki for an obviously feigned supplex, launches Antonio over his shoulders and. . . All I can say about this match is, VADER IS BEYOND YOUR FEEBLE AARP LIMITATIONS, JAPAN LAND.
#005 Big Van
Vader versus Dustin Rhodes, 1994
Dustin Rhodes really isn't a shitty worker, per se, but I've seen him stink it up enough to be considered as such. Yeah, he's had some good bouts in WCW, but virtually all of those were tag bouts or War Games-style event-matches, so I really wouldn't vaunt his namesake that highly. And as far as his Goldust tenure, I'm sure he had a good match. . . Somewhere. Originally, I had a Brian Pillman / Johnny B. Badd bout from one of the early 90s Clashes in this spot, but what do you know, the Youtube barons don't have it posted, so this is the sub.
This is far and away the best fourteen minutes of Rhodes' career, as Vader does an awesome job of playing bad ass monster guy that you know isn't going to lose, but damned if he doesn't make Dustin gleam like a ten foot high stack of golden bars in this one. By the time Vader breaks out the wheelbarrow inverted power bomb of death, we've already seen Rhodes set the crowd ablaze with a Lou Thesz pound and ground and viewed Vader make the masses cringe by launching Rhodes face first OUT OF THE RING and into the guardrail, so all in all, this is one of the best matches from the 90s that people have cast aside in their metaphorical attics.
Dust off the cobwebs for this one; this is a hell of a match of the variety that they just stopped making post the Clinton Administration.
Benoit versus Jeff Jarrett, 1999
Not going to lie to you folks; the only reason this one is on the list is because the YT trolls haven't the decency to post that one Cactus Jack / Van Hammer match, but beyond that, this match is noteworthy for sundry raisons de'tat.
First and foremost, as overrated a performed Jeff Jarrett is, I can't help but feel as if, at certain junctures, he's somewhat underrated by the Internet crowd at large. Yeah, I can feel the fire engulfing my screen at the temporal, too.
As a general
rule, I hate ladder matches, because the psychology is
stifled, there's too much slow-climbing horseshit that
murders the illusion, and more often than not, the
things drag on for so long that you just get tired of
high spots and move on to playing Flash based Nintendo
games instead. (The NES version of Othello rules all
worlds, by the way). Anyhoo, this match is a ladder
match for people that typically despise ladder matches;
the spots are unique, but not out of the realm of
believability; the pacing is pretty expeditious, and the
outcome (considering that Jarrett was worn and battered
from an earlier bout) makes total and complete booking
sense. So, let's count up all the paradoxes this match
is comprised of:
1) It's a good WCW match from 1999.
2) It's a good ladder match from the late 90s.
3) It's a WCW ladder match from the late 90s that HAS a legit finish.
4) It's a WCW ladder match from the late 90s that HAS a legit finish SANS any sports-entertainment-y bullshit in the process
5) It's a bout that almost, ALMOST, makes Jeff Jarrett look worthy of main event status. Like I said, ALMOST, even if he does look like the anthropomorphic version of Boomhauer from King of Hill.
Plus, Benoit's barrel roll under the ladder rules it.
Undertaker versus Jeff Hardy, 2002
Yet again, I was foiled by the Youtube supremacists, as I direly wished to insert that one Flair / El Gigante match at this position, but wouldn't you know it, the neck beards of Intranet World have yet to upload it so once again I had to return to my handy dandy bucket of subs. You know, like the one Mark Henry has stationed beside his bed, because he is both fat AND black. Wait, black people are stereotyped as having a collective fondness for submarine sandwiches, right?
Anyhoo, remember how I said I hated ladder matches earlier? Well, for my money, this is the BEST ladder match in the history of the E, and one of the few post-bubble bouts the company produced I deemed as being worth a shit.
Yeah, both guys here are somewhat overrated, but Hardy, for what its worth, has never shined as brightly in this career as he did in this bout, as he takes a MAN-sized beating at the hands of Taker, producing what is perchance the only generational-transcendence commentary Vince and company have tackled this decade.
The more and more I watch this bout, I am reminded of the Juan Manuel Marquez / Juan Diaz bout from earlier in the year, specifically towards the end in which Max Kellerman summed up the Fight Of The Year candidate by stating, to the effect "that what we just saw was a great young fighter getting beat by a great older fighter". In a way, this is kind of like WWE production of "Gran Torino", with Old Man Taker playing the role of Clint Eastwood and Jeff Hardy as the little Vietnamese shit that lives next door. I guess that analogy makes this match the equivalent of the barber shop scene, then.
Just a damned riveting performance by a guy that's probably been addled by more drugs than the collective of a Temple of the Dog reunion, and a flat out impressive all around package. More of this, less of the Money In The Cluster Fuck and I may actually praise the E for doing something right. Well, no, I still won't.
#002 Bret Hart
versus The 1-2-3 Kid, 1994
Should've been Hart versus The Patriot but. . . Yeah, you know. This could've really been any number of Hart matches from the decade, because honest to God, the son of a bitch could make a anybody look tremendous.
I've seen Hart
make The Honky Tonk Man look intimidating.
I've seen him put on a heart-pounder against Tom McGhee, a roided up stiff with a Clydesdale face that was so immobile he made The Ultimate Warrior look like Mistico by comparison.
By god, I even reviewed a match he had here at The Rocktagon against SKINNER that was kind of awesome.
The basic delineation goes like this: Hart can make a shitty wrestler look decent, a mediocre one look like a superstar, and an underachiever look world class in the ring.
Thusly, given a twenty minute time limit, some room to work with and an above average talent (for the time) like Sean Waltman and the end result is. .yeah, something like that. That bitch that taught Hellen Keller how to count money ain't got shit on this Miracle Worker.
#001 Bret Hart
versus Jean Pierre Laffite, 1995
I'll never understand how the YouTube powers-that-be work. The 2002 AFC Championship game gets taken down twenty minutes after it's posted, but somehow, this match ends up online with nary a copyright dispute claim issued by Titan brass? What a damned system they have over at Viacom, eh?
Anyway, the whole reason I concocted this article was so I could talk about how awesome this bout is, so let's commence a-blowing, shall we?
Jean Pierre is a fat, French Pirate from Canada. Bret Hart is the greatest technical wrestler of the 1990s. This was at a time in which the WWE higher ups actually let guys have time to formulate matches and advance up the rung. Together, they put on one of the most mind-blowing WWF matches of the decade. No, seriously.
This doesn't even feel like a WWF match; it has more in common with a WCW Vader bout from 1993, or day I say, even a Stan Hansen / Toshiaki Kawada bout from the same epoch. Pierre is ALLOWED to come off as the Supreme Ass Handler of All Time, basically playing the ass bruiser role so well that I was SHOCKED, SHOCKED I SAY that the WWF creative types didn't give this guy a monster push following the transpiration of the match up. Everything about this match ruled in a mid 90s kind of way, from the heel commentary provided by Lawler (at a time when his schtick hadn't run its course yet), the awkward as all hell face commentary by Vince, and the super retarded hot crowd that lived and died every time the tides of battle shifted.
For me, this WAS a dream match come to fruition: it was my favorite childhood face doing battle with my favorite childhood heel, as Pierre essentially WAS Big Van Vader in this bout. Ironically, about a year later when Hart and the real Vader DID tussle, it was nowhere near as face rocking as the bout posted above, which should tell you a lot about its inherent greatness.
Pierre stomping a mud hole in Hart twenty times more ferociously than Austin ever did. Hart throwing the good guy playbook out the window and slamming Pierre's chunky Quebecois ass on the metal steps. The tard-ray fan that keeps jumping in front of the camera during wide shots. This match rules ALL, and the best thing is that it's actually been posted by Pierre himself, who apparently is ABOVE U.S. copyright laws. Well, he is a pirate after all.
(Oh, and for added humor, apparently he edited out the missed tope spot where he landed on his nutsack on live television. An intellectual property thief AND a revisionist of history: J-P, you are my kind of guy.)
THE TWF "MENTAL WELLNESS TEST!"
With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).