Soooo… did anyone else catch WWE Raw last night? Specifically the ending? Because here’s how I figure a conversation must have gone down:
USA Executive: Your ratings suck these days. We want more intelligent adult content.
VKM: Got it! We’ll have a cliffhanger ending where Randy Orton may or may not have set a small woman on fire! And the camera will, for some reason, be the woman’s point of view! Haha!
USA Executive: What? No. That’s… no. Who would want–
VKM: Such good shit, pal!
I mean… that ending sure was a thing that happened, right? Even Orton and Bliss–two of the best speakers WWE has these days–couldn’t get that over. Orton is being given such ham-handed dialogue to deliver; I can’t imagine he is being allowed to ad lib and coming up with nonsense like “I WANT to set you on fire! But I know you want it, too, so maybe I don’t want to” or whatever he was on about.
SPEAKING OF PEOPLE BEING GOOD SPEAKERS…
(I am so smooth at transitions)
Welcome back to another edition of the sWo Bret Hart categories rankings! We’ve been here once before, so feel free to revisit that for the idea behind the premise. Real quick: based on criteria that The Hitman himself has established, we seek to rate wrestlers to see how great they TRULY were.
Jaroniville, Wyntyr, and I are back with another classic edition where we look back at some of the stars from yesteryear. Let’s get to it!
THOUGHTS: For a while, Sable was the #2 or #3 star of WWE’s biggest era. Not Undertaker. Not HHH. And maybe neck-and-neck with The Rock. ONLY Stone Cold Steve Austin was a bigger draw than Sable. This was obviously based almost entirely on her looks and her complete comfort with wearing ludicrously tiny amounts of clothing. Or sometimes, just paint. There’s no denying that Sable was built like a god damn brick shithouse with ALL her bricks in place. I can actually agree with Jab below that I preferred Sunny, but history has proven us both wrong because Sable has held up better.
What really count as “charisma” for Sable? She was wildly popular for… reasons, but promos were a huge weakness of hers. Still, she played certain roles well. When she went from Marc Mero’s loving wife to his the target of his jealous rage, she worked for our sympathy. And after a few years of being a bland babyface, she made a decent run as a snotty witch who was above everyone.
As far as wrestling goes… look, she knew how to do some moves. She wasn’t entirely immobile out there. She had no idea what psychology or selling or stringing attacks together were, but she wasn’t, like, Giant Gonzalez. She could bend over and get down to execute a pinfall. And honestly? Most of her matches were just somewhat drawn out affairs to get her and/or someone else’s clothes off, and she was good at THAT.
So that gives our second biggest star of the Attitude Era a whopping 14.5 out of 30. Look… Sable was Sable, and everyone knew what her role was. I genuinely think she tried pretty hard out there, at least for a while. And she dumped Mero’s weird, self-loathing Christian ass to eventually get with Brock Lesnar and his oodles of money, so she’s no fool.
LOOK: 10 (uhhh… I dunno how to assess this with women, but in the 1990s, Sable was the Pamela Anderson-type bombshell that most people wanted to see. Men with taste, like myself, preferred Sunny, but the layman wanted the big ‘uns and the bleached-blonde hair)
CHARISMA: 0 (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No. Sable managed to make “Get your ass BACK HERE, you little BITCH!” into a laugh-worthy meme. She couldn’t even do the “sexy stripper undulations” properly! She had the BODY for it and couldn’t manage it! Wrestling has arguably never had anyone worse at promos who actually spoke English as a first language)
RINGWORK: 0.5 (I guess some of her kicks looked okay? I dunno- Luna Vachon’s greatest in-ring achievement is making Sable look like she knew what she was doing in there)
THOUGHTS: 10.5 (I mean, I was into her at the time, but even I knew she was no good as a performer or a wrestler. I’m a Joshi Snob- the JAPANESE stuff is great, but American women were usually dreadful in the ring until like 2001 or so)
LOOK: 10. Give me an Allie or an Alexa Bliss any day; but in the Attitude Era? Giant tits, long legs, and the willingness to show them all off was the order of the day, and Sable had it all in spades
CHARISMA: .5. Oof. I’m going to do my best not to give out any 0s, because it takes a very special kind of person to do what these modern day gods and goddesses do, but… yikes. Unless boobs are charisma. If so… 10s all around, I guess
RINGWORK: 2. Nothing she did was believable, but at least she never seriously hurt anybody that I can remember.
THOUGHTS: 12.5. NEXT, PLEASE
BIG VAN VADER
THOUGHTS: I feel like I can be really generous on Looks sometime, but I also think wrestling has TONS of legends with all-time great appearances. Vader sans his mask is a rough looking bull. You know he can and will beat the holy hell out of you, but there’s not much else there. Then you throw it that serial killer-esque strap mask he usually worse during matches, and the intimidation factor goes up even more. And THEN you add on the smoking Mastodon helmet he sometimes wore to the ring, and you have a nightmare given human form.
Vader often had Harley Race acting as a mouthpiece for him in WCW, and he didn’t have to speak too often. And what’s his most memorable piece of mic work? When he called himself a fat piece of shit in WWE? Whoof. But also? All these years later, I can distinctly hear him yelling “It’s time… It’s Vader time” and bouncing back and forth. And he knew how to work a crowd mid-match to get more sympathy for the babyface. So it’s a shame he didn’t get to talk more, but he was competent at what he did.
And again, I have to agree with Jab (who obviously answered these before I did!), Vader is one of the (if not THE) best Big Man wrestlers ever. He combined speed and power into a perfect package. He threw in some moonsaults just because fuck you, why not? His matches looked good, even if that is because he was definitely just stiffing opponents sometimes.
That’s a 24/30 for Big Van Vader, who I LOVED as a kid. I was never an underdog fan in general; in most sports I want to see dominant champions run roughshod over people. So I thought this absolute goliath just going out and Powerbombing people to death was the best.
LOOK: 9.5 (he was fat without looking slow or ponderous- just a bear of a man)
CHARISMA: 7.5 (good “physical charisma”- never cut good promos, but he played up being fearsome, and you bought it)
RINGWORK: 8 (one of the best “Big Man” workers of all time. Had some true classics and was a fantastic “Goliath” for others to beat, in part because he looked deadly and didn’t oversell, so it mattered when people finally got some heat on him)
THOUGHTS: 25 (fantastic overall score. Still didn’t quite hit the peaks he could have, and that’s in spite of being World Champion on two sides of the Pacific!)
THOUGHTS: 26. OH, THANK GOD. From one of the worst in the business to one of the (if not *the*) all time greats, and a top 5 favorite of ol’ Wyntyr. I’ll one up Jab and just come right out and say it: Vader is the best Big Man wrestler of all time, bar none, and I will meet you in the parking lot if you dare disagree. Spare me your Undertakers, your Boss Men, and even your Bam Bams. Vader held three different world championships on three different continents *simultaneously*. He gave the title “World Champion” a new and more apt meaning. He was even incredible in the freaking *AWA*. All hail the Mastodon, King of the World.
REY MYSTERIO JR
THOUGHTS: Rey often looks like a small child out there against grown men, and when he occasionally got a Giant Killer gimmick, it was downright insulting to the fans. I’m not saying he never should have been a world champ or never should have left the Cruiserweight ranks. But when this twerp was consistently giving guys like Kane trouble… come on. So why the good score? He has maybe the most iconic mask in wrestling history. That design is stylish as hell.
People love Rey because he has a decent physical charisma and he works hard, but he is a terrible speaker. He never quite feels genuine, and his voice fits his stature a little too well. He comes across as a dude just reading angry things to say and not really buying in. He’s not often stunted or stammering out there, but he’s not quite even Just A Guy in terms of promos.
Rey revolutionized wrestling in America with his eye-opening stints in ECW and WCW. People just WERE NOT used to seeing anyone move that fast… much less moving that fast and screwing something up so rarely. It’s arguable that without Rey, the popularity of lucha style wrestling in America would have been delayed several years. Rey is a special talent in the ring, especially in his youth.
And so we have a 19/30 for Little Rey. I never REALLY bought him as a main event guy, but he could flirt with that status in brief moments. And he was a ridiculously gifted performer.
LOOK: 6 (a great “look” while still being puny- great mask and either had a good athletic physique in WCW, or a roided-up bulky one in WWE)
CHARISMA: 7 (good physical charisma. Garbage promos, but how many guys are better at playing a sympathetic babyface? It’s like him & Ricky Steamboat at the top of the mountain)
RINGWORK: 10 (for YEARS, if you’d asked wrestling fans if they could only watch one guy, he’d be that guy more often than not)
THOUGHTS: 23 (better than anyone smaller than your typical female wrestler should be)
LOOK: 7. Great physique, although obviously tiny. A 3 during the period when he lost his mask and looked like a Make A Wish kid who wasted his wish on being Konnan’s whipping boy
CHARISMA: 6. Solely a physical charisma, but because of his size and agility Rey could sell the underdog role *beautifully*, possibly better than anyone.
RINGWORK: 8.5. Rey was/is a fantastic luchador, and 100% responsible for the popularity and growth of that style in the United States. Even though Rey is not nearly the best luchador of all time, Rey is the *greatest* luchador of all time.
That’s it for this edition! Let us know in the comments how you would score these folks. What did we get right or wrong? Who do you agree with the most on each?
And be sure to join us next time when we review even more superstars. And, uh, see if we burned Wyntyr to death, maybe?
Until next time… take care!