WWE out here just setting everything on fire these days.
One of the last times we got together to discuss Bret Hart ranking, we talked a bit about Randy Orton maybe/maybe not burning Alexa Bliss to death in the wake of his setting her mentor, The Fiend, ablaze at TLC 2020.
Well on last night’s Raw, an encounter between Randy and Triple-H–a confrontation that had been hyped all night long across the show–ended with Trips mysteriously vanishing into thin air (after his sledgehammer caught fire for no reason) so Alexa could teleport in and set Randy’s face ablaze with a fireball.
What is the… how does this angle end? Your STARTING POINT was burning The Fiend to death! Pardon the awful pun, but this is the exact opposite of a slow burn rivalry. What POSSIBLE stipulation could come next as this story develops? And is HHH involved now? Are we going to get a Triple Threat match with The Fiend vs Randy Orton vs Triple-H while Alexa Bliss shoots a flamethrower at them?
Oh well. Join us next week when we discuss who got set on fire by then!
MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE
THOUGHTS: Savage is a guy for whom this systems seems to be made, as he excels so damn well in each category. He may be the highest score of anyone I’ll ever give. Take Look for instance: Savage ALWAYS had a great look. Early in his WWF career he was a jacked madman. In his late WWF career, he had the flashy hat and jacket with streamers. And in WCW he was a jacked madman again. His eyes were life-threatening and told more stories by themselves than most folks can with their words. He always had an iconic appearance.
How would a Randy Savage promo come across in modern wrestling where the formula is more than just Stand Any Yell At Mean Gene? It’s hard to say. But Savage in his era was untouchable. He was nuts and funny and violent and aggressive, and his voice itself was so powerful and one-of kind. He knew how to do beats and pauses and props, and he could always convey real emotion. It didn’t matter is Randy believed what he was saying because YOU believed it.
Why no 10 for Ringwork for Savage, who often gets regarded as one of the best? He spent a lot of his career in WCW and never really put on much in the way of a classic there. He was just good in a company where matches were often little more than vehicles to the next gimmick. But in WWF? Savage had his all-time bouts with Steamboat, the Ultimate Warrior, and others. I’ll hold his WCW body of work against him, but JUST BARELY.
A 28/30, wow. I’m not necessarily saying Savage is THE greatest of all time, but he is likely the guy who best put together all of these categories.
LOOK: 8.5 (not one of the bigger guys, but as PWI once noted, he’s got the ideal wrestler’s physique- strong and roided as hell, but small enough to still be athletic)
CHARISMA: 10 (not even up for debate. Few wrestlers were as fascinating, even when being non-sensical and crazy. NOBODY cut “crazy man” promos like Savage, or had a better character)
RINGWORK: 10 (screw the haters, Savage had better movement and flow to his moves than anyone else in wrestling history. He could be lazy and just sell for entire matches, but even that wasn’t all the time)
THOUGHTS: 28.5 (that’s about as high as it’s possible to get- anyone else who’s as good a worker is usually smaller and less impressive physically, or has little charisma)
Note: This is Savage in his ’80s prime. In his second run as WWF Champion, he was noticeably smaller and less smooth in the ring- more like 24.5 (6/8.5/10). In WCW, he was a bloated Roid Machine and pretty awful- closer to 22 (8/6/8).
LOOK: 9. Thought experiment: Imagine 3 iconic pro wrestlers. Was one of them Macho Man Randy Savage? Yeah, you bet your ass it was.
CHARISMA: 9. Thought experiment: Imagine *the* stereotypical pro wrestler voice and mannerisms. Was it Macho Man Randy Savage? Yeah, you bet your ass it was.
RINGWORK: 8.5. This seems low since Randy has some of the greatest and most iconic matches of all time. If we’re only counting his WWF days, this average goes up
THOUGHTS: 26.5. I feel like we’re throwing out a ton of *super* high scores for these, but Macho Man is *the* Pro Wrestler, period. The cream always rises to the top, indeed. Are you ready? Because Bonesaw is ready
THOUGHTS: Yeah, I’ll go ahead and give Sting a 10 in look. Sure he was never huge, nor was he jacked, but he more than made up for it with his iconic ring gear and facepaint. I talk a lot about how memorable or distinctive a wrestler is when discussing their look, and I’ll be damned if many were as memorable as Sting. And the thing is, he could change it up and STILL be powerful. Hell, his Crow and Joker looks were both just rip-offs, but he made them his own.
Charisma is a tough one. Sting was always OVER, but he never really had a memorable promo or moment. He spoke well and knew how to make his point, but he wasn’t incredibly witty or threatening. And in-ring, he pretty much just yelled a lot (you can see him cupping his hands to his mouth and shouting; I know you can!). A lot of his “charisma” honestly came from his look and how people were invested in him because he looked so damn cool.
As for actual in-ring wrestling? Sting was better than Hulk Hogan, but I’m not sure how much praise that is. He was 100% better in his Surfer Sting days where he could put on a good show and go for hour long affairs. From his Crow return onward, he was pretty much average to below-average. He got out of shape and never seemed to recover from the long time off. And as of 2020, he’s been Crow Sting for a LOT longer than he had been Surfer Sting. I’ll figure him out to a touch ahead of Average.
So that puts Sting at a respectable main eventer score of 22.5. I was never a HUGE Sting fan, and I feel like he just lost at least a whole gear when he came back from the rafters. But he was never bad.
LOOK: 8.5 (as Beach Sting or Crow Sting, he had one of wrestling’s better looks. Though Crow Sting had started losing a LOT of size eventually)
CHARISMA: 8 (some of the best physical charisma going- how many other guys could remain popular without saying a word? Though I’m not a “WCW Guy” so I never really felt it with him)
RINGWORK: 8 (had some very good matches and some very “okay” ones. More like Davey-Boy Smith in that he could have great matches with great workers, but couldn’t make certain guys excel)
THOUGHTS: 24.5 (a pretty remarkable overall score, but never hitting a “10” in any category is what, to me, explains why he was not as big a star as some WCW fans think he should have been- he was always just a lesser version of Hulk Hogan)
LOOK: 9. The face paint, the tights, the winning smile. Im not even ashamed to admit that I had two different Sting posters on my wall all the way through high school
CHARISMA: 8. Sting was never a great talker. His promos were primarily pretty boy “Let me tell ya, Tony Schiavone”, WHOOO, and a little bit of pretty boy yelling at the end to top it off. But EVERYONE loved Sting. Hey, Gary Oldman in The Professional, who loved Sting? “E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E”. Kids, parents, beer guts, bikers, nuns. Everyone. On the other hand… Joker Sting.
RINGWORK: 8. I don’t know what Stew is talking about. Unless I’m forgetting something Sting probably doesn’t have any 4 star matches, but he also had some BARNBURNERS with some good to great workers like Vader, Muta, Flair, AJ Styles, and DDP. But to Jab’s point: I’m not sure Sting ever *made* any body else. Where someone like Bret Hart or Savage could carry a dead man (a literal dead man, not Ginger Mark) to a 5 star match, Sting’s outings relied almost entirely on the quality of his opposition
THOUGHTS: 25. In my best out of breath Tony Schiavone voice: “It’s STIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!”! God, Sting was great. I still show wrestling newbie fans his series with Vader, and like 60% of the time it turns them into big fans. As for that other 40%, there’s no accounting for taste I guess. Hail the Icon
JAKE “THE SNAKE” ROBERTS
THOUGHTS: Jake The Snake Roberts was a big guy, for sure, but he really looked like little more than any homeless dude you might meet on the street. My parents ran with bikers and their ilk when I was a kid, and I feel like I knew at least half a dozen people that looked similar to Jake. And even his height wasn’t enormous. He would be tall to you or me, but he never presented as a monster in WWE.
In an era where everyone was shouting and laughing and flailing their arms, Jake was an aberration. He stood mostly still, stared almost unblinkingly in the camera, and spoke low and with great purpose. When he talked about Ted DiBiase wallowing in the muck of avarice, he could make a simple insult sound like a devastating threat. He was, uncoincidentally like the snake in The Jungle Book, positively mesmerizing. Honestly, I don’t think Jake was particularly good in either other category, but he was ALL charisma.
Jake was never a bad hand in the ring. He worked a slow, methodical style in the GOOD way (not the Randy Orton resthold way), and his matches were dripping with psychology. But while he was fun to watch, there’s never been a time where I think “I need to rewatch that Jake Roberts match!”. It’s all about rewatching his promos.
A 20/30 with a locked-in 10 category is a pretty good score. It’s weird that Jake never really got a true main event run because he certainly had the ability for at least a brief program at that level.
LOOK: 6.5 (exceptionally tall, but super-lanky and with a dad-bod. Jake was not a “Body Guy”)
CHARISMA: 10 (jesus christ. Just watch that promo where the sick bastard describes hitting Miss Elizabeth like a sexual climax or a drug high, then begging Savage to “bring her back… so that I could turn her into something that even *I* might want!” Jake was no “Cool Heel”. This was a perverse, evil sadist)
RINGWORK: 5 (Jake had excellent in-ring psychology, and his DDT was THE finisher, and has never been surpassed in credibility by anything. But… holy shit, how many guys have had as many big PPV matches as Jake’s had without ever having a good one?)
THOUGHTS: 21.5 (fairly good score for an eternal upper-midcarder)
LOOK: 5. Looked like an 80s jobber. Super tall, but built like that aunt that you only see every other Thanksgiving
CHARISMA: 9. I’d honestly like to go higher here, but 10 in Charisma you’re getting into like Hogan/Rock/Austin territory. Jake is one of the greatest weirdo promos in wrestling history to smarks, but he never reached much farther than that imo
RINGWORK: 5. Jake is to the DDT as Arn Anderson is to the Spinebuster and Hogan is to the leg drop. You can’t mention DDT without thinking of Jake. Or bug poison I guess. Whatever.
THOUGHTS: 19. Jakey the Snakey. The prototypical upper-midcard guy. I really believe if his personal demons hadn’t been so on top of him for the majority of his life, he could have been a lot higher. Jake has the same body type as Joe Doering. Imagine that. Imagine those insane, terrifying promos coming out of a 6’5 dude built like a brick shithouse and tell me he couldn’t have put Hogan or Warrior on their asses, believably. On the other hand, without his demons maybe those promos wouldn’t have been so terrifying. Who knows?
Let us know how you rank each of these guys in the comments! And tell us who you want to see us do going forward.
Until next time… take care!