I was about ten years old the first time my cousin convinced me to watch WWF. Nothing in my first decade of life had ever elicited the type of visceral disappointment I had watching WWF at that time. This was not my wrestling. At that time, I didn’t know how to describe what I was watching. At that time, when I did watch wrestling, I classified everything as either NWA or not NWA. WWF did not feel like the same sport.
During the mid 90s, I was one hundred percent WCW. There was nothing Vince could do to persuade me to watch his immobile muscle men bear hug each other until someone fell over out of sheer boredom.
In retrospect, I missed out on Bret Hart excellently executing people and pre-back injury HBK at a time when my tastes were firmly for those type of wrestlers.
But WCW had me covered. Cruiser weights were these colorful ninjas ripped out of a scene from American Ninja. Instead of Japanese, they spoke Spanish and instead of katanas they hit each other with chairs-and bizzarely a bottle of tequila once.
Rey Mysterio was the guy. There was nothing like him on North American television. It was not merely the amazing things he did, but also the things his opponents did or tried to do to him. His clashes with Psicosis, Ultimo Dragon, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, and Eddie Guerrerro were amazing and still hold up today. Since the 90s, there have been higher leapers, faster criss-crosses, more twists and rotations on dives, but Rey was the standard bearer and made it fit the flow of the match whereas many indy guys are simply throwing their bodies in lieu of wrestling ability. Three things that immediately spring to mind about Rey was Ultimo hitting him with a sling shot powerbomb; Dean Malenko hitting one of those nasty gut busters, and Rey’s amazing backflip from the top rope into a DDT against Eddie.
But it wasn’t just the cruisers that kept my attention. The enhancement talent had more personality that some of the guys on Raw are allowed to show. Then you had monsters like Vader that looked like he was legit killing dudes and not gently lying down on them. Did WWF have a midcard feud as captivating as “Battle of the Super Kick?” Can you point to anything in the past five years that happened in WWE’s midcard that seemed good because it was planned or was just a happy accident? Seriously, I am open to some debate.
Sting was just as muscular as Hogan but could fly through the air and military press men with ease. His finishers weren’t a leg drop or a splash. He was either dropping dudes on the back of their heads or contorting their legs while wrenching the muscles of their lower backs.
I admit my bias, but WWF at the time held no appeal to me. WCW’s monsters were more monstrous, their muscular super heroes more nimble, and they had ninjas that weren’t there to lose to Sparky Plug or Duke the Dumpster.
That’s my mainstream fandom in a nutshell. Stay tuned for in depth break down of what was going on week to week as as best as my memory can recall. Until next time, keep smiling.