Wednesday, March 28, 2007
But before we get going, I feel that I should explain where the title of this feature came from. Long time RAW commentator, Jim Ross, often says "Shades of [insert wrestler/event here]" whenever any wrestler mimics the actions of wrestlers past. Now the group of us Tower wrasslin' fans find this absolutely hilarious and try to mimic it whenever possible. The most hilarious example was when Travis first said "Shades of Great White" when fireworks came on (Out-dated Cultural Reference: A few years ago Great White, the band, had a terrible accident in a bar involving fireworks and some people got killed), we found this to be so offensive it was hilarious. As a result we have said "Shades of Great White" at any given moment and it will make all of us laugh.
Before we look at the best Main Events ever, I would be remiss to not mention some of the great ones of the past that we are not going to be talking about today...
When Glen and Travis meet up you know it's going to be something, especially in an Iron Man Match!!!
And who can forget the time that Hulk Korgan and King Kong McNundy met inside a steel cage?
I don't know what's more impressive, the amount of weight that Ryan has lost or the fact that Kory can wrestle with glasses on.
And now, allow me to introduce the participants for the Main Event.
Come from The Edge of Sanity we have Ryan McNutt.
And in the Blue corner, hailing from Every Girls Dream the host of this blog, G F'n R.
Last time I talked about the beginning of the Attitude Era, this time I am going to talk about the end of it. This was the Main Event from what is widely considered to be the greatest Wrestlemania of all time...
April 1, 2001
No Disqualification WWF Title Match – The Rock vs. Steve Austin
This match has so much history leading to it I don’t even know where to start. This is a match that has five years of build up. So here are the key points of the build from 1996-2000 to get things started.
- In 1996 rival company, WCW surpassed the WWF in terms of popularity for the first time in the modern wrestling era.
- In order to compete with WCW’s bigger stars the WWF started to market its Attitude, with emerging star Steve Austin as the front man
- After the Montreal Screwjob, owner Vince McMahon began to appear as an on-air character and had many confrontations with Steve Austin
- Steve Austin won the WWF Title from Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XIV
- After many failed attempts to take the title away from Steve Austin, McMahon finally succeeded in removing the title from him in September 1998
- The Rock won the vacant title and joined McMahon’s Corporation
- Steve Austin defeated The Rock (backed by McMahon) for the WWF Title at Wrestlemania XV
- The Rock turned face and rivaled Austin in terms of popularity
- In November 1999, Steve Austin’s neck injuries got so bad that he took a year off to have surgery
- With the departure of Austin, The Rock took over as the top face of the company
So now here we are in 2001, Steve Austin makes history by being the first man to win the Royal Rumble three times, and the Rock defeats WWF Champion Kurt Angle for the Title at No Way Out in February.
Our main event is set as the first Face vs. Face Wrestlemania Title match in 5 years. In the weeks leading up to the event the two wrestlers come face to face on many occasions, they save each other from beat-downs but end up attacking each other on a routine basis. The two men cut some amazing promos about the sheer importance of this match to one another and we get some excellent video work that somehow made Limp Bizkit less annoying. Perhaps the most important of these vignettes was a sit down interview where Austin said “I want to beat you Rock, I want to beat you more than anything you could ever imagine.”
Then a week before the big event something major went down. WCW was sold to WWF. That’s right; Vince McMahon went out and bought the competition ending the “Monday Night Wars” that existed between the two companies. With the closure of ECW (the original, not this current bastardization) a few months before, the WWF was now the only national wrestling company in the United States. For the first time ever there was a monopoly in the world of wrestling.
Then came Wrestlemania X-Seven which, despite the stupid name, proved to be an amazing card. It is considered by many to not only be the greatest Wrestlemania of all time, but perhaps the greatest wrestling Pay-Per-View of all time. It featured the first one-on-one meeting of Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle, a surreal TLC Match between Edge and Christian, The Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz, an incredibly entertaining Street Fight between Vince McMahon and his son Shane, a great match between The Undertaker and Triple H, and of course, the main event of Steve Austin challenging The Rock.
Moments before the main event begins it was suddenly announced that it would be a No Disqualification Match (making it only the fourth gimmicked Wrestlemania Main Event), something that had never been brought up. Something fishy was going on. Despite the fact that it was booked as a Face vs. Face match, it was taking place in Austin’s home state of Texas, so he was clearly the fan favourite.
The match itself took their amazing encounter at Wrestlemania XV and took it up a notch. There has never been another WWF/E match that has played off of history as much as this one. There was a point where Steve Austin went to get the ring bell (something that he did to defeat Savio Vega at Wrestlemania XII). Later on he locked The Rock in the Million Dollar Dream only for The Rock to run up the ropes and fall back on him for a pin (which is what Bret Hart did to beat Piper at Wrestlemania VIII and then to defeat Austin at Survivor Series ‘96). Also The Rock locked a bloodied Steve Austin in a Sharpshooter and Austin looked like he was going to pass out (Shades of Wrestlemania 13, and The Rock used a Sharpshooter to win his first WWF Title in 1998). There was also a lot more references to the past that these two men both had at this point but I can’t seem to remember them all. Why did they do this you ask? Well it really made the match feel all the more epic and era-altering, something that you really can't argue with.
At some point in the match, Vince McMahon, owner and long time enemy of both men comes down and takes a sit at ringside. After a few minutes of intrigue, McMahon’s motivations became clear. He soon interfered in the match on behalf of Steve Austin, giving him a chair to use against The Rock. Austin and McMahon threw everything that they had at The Rock but The Great One just wouldn’t stay down. Finally after what seemed like 20 chair shots, The Rock stayed down and Austin won the match. The final shot of Wrestlemania was Austin sharing a beer with Vince McMahon, truly a surreal moment.
In my last post I talked about Austin’s match with Bret Hart and how that spawned the Attitude Era, well this match marked the end of it. The important story of that entire era of the WWF was Steve Austin in his great fight against the evil boss. This match marked the last chapter of this story. In the end, Austin, the rebel, gave into the boss. He tried to stick it to The Man, but The Man stuck it to him in the end. He loved Big Brother.
After this the WWF went sharply downhill. They blew the biggest story in the history of wrestling, the WCW Invasion, Steve Austin would walk out of the company a few times, The Rock would leave for Hollywood, and the next big star that they were trying to make, Brock Lesnar, quit to get cut from the Minnesota Vikings. The glory days of wrestling that started with the nWo and got carried by Austin-McMahon were over.
Through the magic of YouTube I have been able to find the entire match for viewing. If you are (or used to be) a wrestling fan that you have probably seen this match before, but it is so good that it holds up to repeated viewing. If a non-wrestling fan told me to show them ten matches so I could try to convince them to be a fan this would be on that list. So if you aren't a fan and have 28 minutes or so to kill then watch this match.
Part 3 (it skips around a bit at the beginning, but it is still awesome!!!)
Next up we have Ryan McNutt talk about one Canadian realizing his dream as he does battle with two of the greatest of all time...
March 14, 2004
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
Triple Threat World Title Match - Triple H vs. Shawn Micheals vs. Chris Benoit
I outgrew wrestling a long time ago – probably back sometime in high school. But I had one heck of a relapse while I was in university. I found myself part of a crew in Crowell Tower who, week after week, would claim the main lounge television (ending Monday Night Football’s reign of terror) and watch Monday Night Raw. Out of everyone in the group, I was probably the one who followed wrestling the least, but you couldn’t help but be caught up in it. Maybe it was because we needed a low-culture break from theories and textbooks, or maybe it was little more than nostalgia. Whatever the case, it made sense to spend our Mondays watching wrestling.
And on special occasions, our Sundays. Often we would all pile into Glen’s ridiculously-unreliable vehicle (umm…where’s the floor?) and drive to a sketchy pool hall in Windsor to watch the show with townies on an illegal feed that would regularly cut out, so the owners would have to walk up to the box and hit it with a broom. While these nights certainly had some comedy value, we smartly decided upon an alternate approach for the 20th Wrestlemania, going to watch it at Kory’s brother’s place in the valley.
While it was a sizeable card with some good matches, the reason we were all sitting around the living room hogging every inch of couch space was the main event – the first ever Wrestlemania triple-threat main event. In one corner, the World Heavyweight Champion Triple H, leader of the Evolution stable and one of the best wrestlers in the game (if he chooses to bring it). In another, Chris Benoit, one of the best technical wrestlers of the modern era who earned his chance at the big time by winning the Royal Rumble.
And then you had Shawn Michaels, the cog in the machine. See, the RIGHT way to end this match would be to give Benoit the title, a well-deserved victory for a brilliant talent who had paid his dues. And had the match been Triple H/Benoit, as most thought it would be, that would have been easy to do. I don’t know what it was that changed things – maybe thinking that Benoit wasn’t a big enough draw to get the buys they wanted – but the bosses-that-be threw then-face HBK into the mix. This worried me on two fronts: the first, that they wouldn’t give Benoit the title; and the second, that it would make the match suck, because triple-threat matches tend to be crapshoots.
But thankfully, Triple H and HBK decided to bring their A-game, and along with Benoit gave us a clinic on how to do a triple-threat match right. They knew just when to allow one guy to take a break and trade off into a new feud, and when the match needed all three wrestlers in the action to make it work. The blood didn’t hurt matters either – Shawn Michaels has bled in the ring many times, but I’ve never seen him gush as much as he did at WMXX. The match was extreme from start to finish, never letting up in the action department.
But the reason this match is remembered is the ending, which was maybe one of the most intense moments I’ve ever seen in wrestling. Benoit had Triple H in his crippler crossface finisher and was clinging on for dear life. Time and time again Triple H tried to reach the ropes and got pulled back. Everyone in the room was standing up and screaming at the TV set at the top of their lungs for Triple H to tap out. And just when we thought he wouldn’t do it…he tapped.
Benoit’s good friend Eddie Guerrero, who held the other championship title at the time, came down to the ring to celebrate amidst a rainfall of confetti. These were two of the guys who came over from WCW when they weren’t getting the respect they deserved, and once in the WWE they had to work their way back up the ladder again. To see them at the top again reminded me of the very moment where Bret Hart regained the belt ten years earlier – the right man had won. Thank goodness for that.
It's not often I say it, but McNutt is right. That was an amazing moment and I think that I will always remember standing up and screaming "TAP!!!" at the TV that year, damn that was awesome!!! Also, because of YouTube, I have found a fan made highlight video of this match. Sorry I couldn't find the full version!
Well that concludes this one, there should be a few more posts coming this week as we get ready for Sunday.
Until next time,
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
On March 27, 2006, I left Scotland. Give a click right here if you want to read the general story of that one.
I don't really have as much to add as I did for my last Ides of March entry since it is not nearly so long ago or as influential. But I just wanted to make a quick recognition as to the day and that I am thinking about it.
As I think about it, it really blows my mind as to how different these past 365 years have been for me as a result of my departure.
For starters, I would not have had the summer I did at Kodiak. I may not have gone at all or I may have gone for the second session alone. That would have robbed me of the best, most educational summer I have ever had in my life. I grew so much, I met so many people, I had the best time ever.
Second of all, my year at Nipissing would have been vastly different. Chances are I wouldn't have been so in to my section and all of the friends that I made. Therefore I am sure that my year has been so much better than it otherwise would have been.
Right now, my future is really up in the air for next year. Where to go, what to be? Stay local, go international? Stick to teaching, think about something else? I have no idea right now, but suffice to say my plans have been getting a wee bit more focused over the past couple of months, due to some wonderfully unforeseen developments. I'll keep you informed on that one blogees.
Anyway, I'm sorry that this is such a lame blog entry, first of all I'm typing this up in class, second of all I am rather exhausted and drained with school/life at the moment. Plus, I seem to only be able to be thinking about wrestling of late...
Until next time,
Monday, March 26, 2007
I realized that the last post was beyond epic, so I am going to try and space the entries out a bit more. In todays entry I will just post three blurbs, sorry Kory, but you snooze you loose!!!
So tday we will hear from:
Ryan McNutt, who linked to the earlier part in his blog, something I very much appreciate. That will not stop me from photoshopping his head onto the fattest people on the poster.
Travis Smith, who continues his heel love today. If he gets out of line I will hit him with a chair and throw him off of a roof...again.
And of course, me, The Whole Glenin' Show.
Last time, I looked at the Intercontinental Title Match from Wrestlemania VIII. This time Travis looks at a different match from that card and one of the best built feuds that the WWF/E has ever put together.
April 5, 1992
World Title Match - Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage
In the fall of 1991 WCW World Champ Ric Flair entered the WWF with the "Big Gold Belt,” calling himself "The Real World Heavyweight Champion." Led by his "financial advisor" Bobby Heenan and his "executive consultant" Mr. Perfect, Flair challenged WWF superstars like Piper and Hogan, wrestling a team led by Piper at Survivor Series 1991 and helping The Undertaker defeat Hogan for his WWF Title that same night. He caused so much interference in The Undertaker vs Hulk Hogan title matches that Jack Tunney declared the title vacant.
At the 1992 Royal Rumble, Flair won the Rumble Match to claim the vacant WWF Championship. Flair drew number three in the match, and lasted a then-record 59 minutes, last eliminating Sid Justice with help from Hulk Hogan, who had been eliminated by Justice seconds earlier. The match would be one of the greatest Royal Rumbles ever produced by the WWF and would stand as a highlight of Flair’s first run in the promotion. With the win everyone was now expecting the main event of WrestleMania VIII to be the dream match of Hogan vs Flair.
The planned program with Hogan was scrapped due to Hogan's hiatus following the WWF's steroid scandal, however. So then, Randy Savage challenged Flair for the WWF title at WrestleMania VIII. To build for the match, Flair ridiculed Savage by claiming that he had a prior relationship with Savage's wife, Elizabeth. Flair even had the pictures to prove it, having them published in the bastion of fine journalism, WWF Magazine. Following the match, however, the photos would be deemed to be fake, with the Nature Boy having been superimposed over Savage’s body.
At the Mania, in a classic encounter, Savage defeated Flair for the title following a tights-assisted roll-up. The match itself ran almost twenty minutes and showed the ring prowess of two of wrestling’s finest figures. WWF showed their lack of interest in the feud, however, having the title match not featured in the main event. It was the first time in history this had been done.
It was a fine match, and a decent story. The feud was overshadowed that night by The Undertaker, Bret Hart, and, as always, Hulk Hogan. That match is still a classic, though, and not just for the wrestling.
The match served to cement two legends in the history of wrestling. Their paths would forever be linked. Savage would hold the championship until September of that year, until losing it back to Flair at a WWF TV taping in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Savage and Flair later swapped the WCW World Heavyweight Championship during their 1995–96 feud making them the only duo to win and lose both the WWF/E and WCW versions of the world title to each other.
Furthermore, in a piece of trivia, Savage's two WWF and four WCW World Heavyweight Championship reigns were all ended with Savage losing the title to either Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair.
It was an epic encounter, Savage launching his second run as champ and the Nature Boy amidst what he would later call “the greatest year and a half of my career, outside the time I spent with Arn and the Four Horsemen.” It’s no question that Ric Flair is the greatest professional wrestler of all time, and only a matter of time until he is a Hall of Fame inductee. Only time will tell if Savage’s legacy in matches such as this one earn him the same spot.
In the last entry, McNutt wrote about Bret Hart losing the Title at Wrestlemania IX. In the second part of his epic two part entry, he talks about a night that every Canadian should remember...
March 20, 1994
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
World Title Match - Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart
So let’s flash forward almost a year later to the next Royal Rumble, where once again the winner was to get a shot at the championship at Wrestlemania, held at the time by Yokozuna (who won the belt back from Hogan as he left the WWF “for good”). Here was a chance for Hart to earn himself another title shot after spending a year facing competitors that, really, he was too good for. But even with Hogan out of the picture, there was another obstacle in the way: Lex Luger, another All-American muscleman that the WWF had hopes of turning into another Hogan. He was the first wrestler to ever bodyslam Yokozuna, and almost won the belt from him six months earlier. In the storylines of the wrestling world, the All-American hero returning to win the Royal Rumble and then the title simply made the most sense in my head for a storyline. Plus, earlier in the night Bret’s brother Owen had turned on him in their tag-team match and left Bret injured, barely unable to stand. So much for the Hitman winning the Rumble…
But then something weird and wonderful happened: uncertain if Luger was “the guy,” the WWF decided to book a bizarre finish to the Rumble. Luger was to end up as one of the last two men left in the ring. The other? That’s right, hobbling down to the ring right at the end of the show, the Hitman (who got one of the biggest cheers I’ve ever heard as he walked through the curtain). The crowd went nuts as the two biggest good guys in wrestling fought one another and all of a sudden…they BOTH tumbled over the ropes at the same time. The rules state that the person whose feet touched the ground first should have been eliminated, but there was no conclusive camera angle available (smart, eh?). The referees on the ground disagreed over the outcome, and the show ended uncertain as to who would get the title shot against Yokozuna.
Why was this wonderful? Because the WWF big wigs could tell that the crowd was WAY more behind the Hitman than they were Luger. One suspects that this might have completely altered the direction that Wrestlemania was headed.
The solution that the storyline put forth was to give both Luger and Hart a title shot at Wrestlemania. A coin toss decided who got the first shot (Luger) while the other wrestled a grudge match of their own so there would be on an even playing field going into the second title bout (Hart faced his turncoat brother Owen, actually to him losing in one of the best matches of all time…but not what we’re talking about here).
Now, I can’t remember for the life of me if we watched or listened to Wrestlemania that year, but unlike WMIX it’s the visuals that stand out about this one for me. I fully expected that Luger would beat Yokozuna, leading to an ultimate face-versus-face matchup between the company’s two biggest stars, but Luger ended up losing in a cheap finish via disqualification, setting up a feud with Mr. Perfect that never really happened. But this meant that, gloriously, we got a chance to rewrite history. Here it was: Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart versus Yokozuna, round two, with no Hulk Hogan in sight. An opportunity to right the great wrong that took place on year earlier.
I won’t pretend that the match was any good – Yoko never had a good match in his life, really. But as Yokozuna went for his finishing banzai drop and Hart cagily moved out of the way, and as Hart crawled over and pinned the behemoth with a 1, 2, 3…the championship belonged to the Hitman. And as Hart’s fellow good guys filled the ring and hoisted him on their shoulders, the universe had righted itself once again.
Fake? Who gives a shit when the drama’s this good?
Now we're going to move ahead three years and talk about the one match that not only saved Wrestlemania 13 from being the worst ever, but may have saved the WWF from bankruptcy...
March 23, 1997
Submission Match - Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin
When I got the idea for this blog feature this was the match that I wanted to talk about. With the only possible exception of the Montreal Screwjob, this may just be THE most influential match in the history of WWE and perhaps all of wrestling. This is the match that ended the era of the “New Generation” and started the WWF Attitude. This is the match that allowed that made one of the most popular wrestlers in history and began the decline of one of the others.
Ironic fact about this match #1: The wrestler that gained the most from this match was not the man who won.
Ironic fact about this match #2: It was never supposed to happen.
Back at Wrestlemania XII, then Champion, Bret Hart wrestled a 60 minute Iron Man Match (where the winner is the person who has the most pinfalls or submissions after the 60 minutes) with Shawn Michaels. Now both men absolutely hated each other in real life so the only way that they could go book a finish was to allow it to be a 0-0 tie after the 60 minutes and have Shawn win in Sudden Death Overtime. Afterwards Bret Hart took some time off and revaluated his career, and even considered a jump to WCW.
In the meantime, Steve Austin, then a hated heel, won the 1996 King of the Ring Tournament. Something that was originally supposed to go to Triple H, but it was changed at the last minute to due the infamous “Curtain Call” (where Triple H and Shawn Michaels said goodbye to their real life friends, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, at a non-televised event at Madison Square Garden. This was not looked too kindly by McMahonagment and Triple H took some on air punishment for it). After his big win Austin began calling out Bret Hart (a former King of the Ring winner himself), even calling him the Shitman at one point I do believe.
Bret returned for a huge match with Austin at Survivor Series ’96, where he won an amazing scientific wrestling match. These two continued to feud through the fall and winter. Then at the 97 Royal Rumble Steve Austin had perhaps the greatest Rumble performance of all time as he was tossing wrestlers out left and right. Some familiar music hit and out came Bret Hart. The fans were so excited to see their hero get a chance to eliminate the hated villain from the Royal Rumble and go on to get a rematch against then World Champion Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania.
But then things got interesting. Bret Hart threw Steve Austin over the top rope, but the referees didn’t see it. Austin then snuck back into the ring, eliminated Bret Hart (along with Vader and The Undertaker), and won the Royal Rumble. Bret began to complain that he deserved to win the Rumble since Austin had no right to return to the match. A Number 1 Contenders match was booked for the next PPV between Austin and the three people he illegally eliminated to determine who would get the shot at Wrestlemania. Meanwhile, Psycho Sid (who had briefly won the Title from Michaels before losing it back to him at the Royal Rumble) would get a match with Shawn Michaels and everything would be hunky dory. The apparent plan was to have Bret win the contenders match and go on to have a rematch with Shawn where he would reclaim the title. But then things got even more interesting.
Shawn Michaels came out on RAW and cut a promo saying that he “lost his smile” and needed to take some time off of wrestling for a while. Backstage he claimed to have suffered a career threatening knee injury, however many wonder if he was just avoiding losing to Bret Hart. As a result, the title was vacated and put at stake in the Four Corners Match involving Bret Hart, Steve Austin, Vader and The Undertaker. It was also ruled that Psycho Sid would get his promised title shot the next night on RAW.
In another bit of backstage lore/rumours, Steve Austin was originally scheduled to win the title that night, however during the match he suffered an injury and they quickly changed plans and gave the title to Bret, who last eliminated The Undertaker.
The next night, Bret Hart lost the title to Psycho Sid after interference from Steve Austin (who was fine despite the injury). The match was then set for Wrestlemania 13, Austin-Hart, and this time in an I Quit Match, where the only way to win was to make your opponent say “I Quit”, a truly humbling experience. The stage was set for what would go down as one of the greatest wrestling matches in history.
Their first big match at Survivor Series was an amazing technical contest. This one would be an all out brawl. They even brought in UFC legend, Ken Shamrock (before he turned pro) to referee this match, adding a more legit feel.
There is no way that I can possibly explain this match, it is just too amazing. The two showed an intense brutality and fought in and around the ring for a grueling 20 minutes. If you have not seen this match then you really can not call yourself a wrestling fan and if you are not a wrestling fan then you really should watch this match and it may just make you one. Trust me.
Going into this match Steve Austin, a dirty, cheating, swearing, rule breaker was starting to get the odd cheer, and Bret Hart, the ultimate good guy was starting to get the odd boo. During the match Bret Hart, enraged at the man who cost him the title, showed no mercy and once again proved that he deserves to be called “The Excellence of Execution” as he methodically attacked Austin. Austin, the beer swilling, stubborn Son of a Bitch, refused to give in. No matter what Bret threw at him Austin took it. This endeared the Chicago crowd to Steve Austin even more as the cheers kept coming, and coming.
Then came the second most famous visual in Wrestlemania history (after Hogan slamming Andre of course). Bret had a bloodied Austin locked in his trademark hold, the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. Austin screamed in agony as he tried to crawl to the ropes, only for Bret to drag him back into the middle of the ring. The fans cheered for their new found favourite to break the hold. But then, yet another funny thing happened. Austin did not quit. Instead the blood loss and pain were too much and he passed out. Guest referee Ken Shamrock ruled Bret the winner. Bret was not satisfied, he held on to the hold. He continued to beat down on Austin, taking his frustrations out on him. Bret then heard something that he had not heard in a very long time, a full crowd booing his actions.
This fueled two of the most important character changes in recent memory. Bret Hart had one of the best heel characters ever, he always said “I haven’t changed. You (the fans) have changed”. The best part, it was all true. The fans had grown tired of cheering for the ultimate good guy and wanted someone with more edge. Here they found their new breed of hero, Steve Austin. He still broke the rules, he still swore, he still gave people the finger, but the fans loved him.
Ironic fact about this match #3: It was supposed to happen again. Apparently, the plan was to have Austin loose this match, and Bret go on to reclaim the title sometime that year and have Austin challenge him for the belt at Wrestlemania XIV where he would win. But unfortunately, Montreal happened and we were robbed of Austin getting a big win on Bret Hart.
Steve Austin went on to rise through the ranks before winning his first title at the next year’s Wrestlemania from Bret’s other arch-nemesis, Shawn Michaels (who had long since recovered from that pesky “knee-injury”), and bring wrestling to a level of popularity that had not been seen since the late 1980s. It really was all thanks to this match that it was able to happen.
Tune back in later on this week to get some more Shades of Wretlemania.
Until next time,
Friday, March 23, 2007
I have made it no secret here that I am a HUGE Wrestling fan, even now, when many of my former heroes are long gone. To me it is about the story, the drama, the athleticism, and the friends that I share it with. As a result, I have asked three of my very good friends to share their memories of different matches right here at this very blog.
In this series of posts, you will hear from:
Ryan McNutt, writer of McNutt Against the Music, he is the only person on the planet who is more committed to his blog than I am. He fully expects Bret Hart to return at any minute.
Kory Wade, author of The Ginormie Blog, although I don't think there has ever been an official post. He has defeated me in wrestling matches on multiple occasions.
Travis Smith, writes The Unloaded Gun. You may remember him from such Wrestling Blog Entries as Heel Heat.
And of course, me. But you know enough about me by now
So without further ado, I present to you the first installment of "Shades of Wrestlemania"...
Back Row (L-R): The Big BossGlen, The Ultimate Korriar
Middle: Hulk Hogan
Front Row (L-R): Ryan the Giant, The Macho King Randy Travage
(My comments as Narrator will appear in italics) The first one we will have here is from Wrestlemania IV, as Travis discusses The Million Dollar Man and his quest to get more than money can buy....
March 27, 1988
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Ted DiBiase’s matches in the tournament for the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship
Ted DiBiase vs Jim Duggan
Ted DiBiase vs Don Muraco
Ted DiBiase vs Randy Savage
In the summer of 1987 Ted DiBiase returned to the WWF (he’d previously worked for the company, bringing with him the predecessor to the Intercontinental Title) under the gimmick The Million Dollar Man. Arguably the greatest heel to ever step foot in the ring, DiBiase attempted to use his vast wealth to purchase the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from the not yet Immortal Hulk Hogan. Hogan said DiBiase would have to beat him in the ring for it, leading to a short feud where Hogan got the best of The Million Dollar Man on each occasion.
Not one to give up, DiBiase approached Hogan’s nemesis, Andre the Giant, to win the belt for him. Andre and Hulk squared off in their rematch, the most watched match in wrestling history, on NBC’s “The Main Event.” DiBiase bought off the referee (Dave Hebner’s evil brother Earl counted Hulk down for the three even though his shoulder was up at two) and Andre surrendered it to him.
The WWF President, Canadian Jack Tunney, would have none of it, however, declaring the title vacant and scheduling a tournament for it at WrestleMania IV. Since Hogan and Andre had legitimate claims to the strap, they were granted a bye into the second round.
As for the tournament itself, the matches were relatively short due the number of brackets. In the first match of the first round, DiBiase beat “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan with a fist drop after Andre (who was in DiBiase’s corner along with Virgil) tripped Duggan. Duggan cleared the ring with his 2X4, but DiBiase was moving on.
In the quarterfinals Hogan and Andre fought to a double disqualification after both used chairs. This meant DiBiase would have a bye into the finals if he could defeat “The Rock” Don Muraco. On this day the Magnificent one would not be up to the challenge, with the Million Dollar Man eliminating Muraco from the tournament with a hotshot after about five and a half minutes.
DiBiase would meet none other than “The Macho Man” Randy Savage in the tournament finals. Savage had beaten Butch Reed, Greg Valentine and the One Man Gang earlier in the tournament. As DiBiase and Savage locked up the crowd began to chant for Hogan. Andre got involved a few times in the match: first he tripped Savage as he’d done to Duggan; later, after DiBiase was thrown from the ring by Savage, Andre stood over his downed friend preventing the Macho one from delivering an elbow from the turnbuckle.
Knowing the odds against him, Savage whispered something to Miss Elizabeth. She left the ring area only to return shortly thereafter with Hulk Hogan. After Andre distracted the referee, Hogan entered the ring with the steel chair he’d been sitting on and smoked DiBiase with it. Savage would take flight from the top turnbuckle and deliver his patented flying elbow drop. DiBiase was covered for the 3-count and Hulk Hogan would present Randy Savage with the WWF title, making him the new undisputed Heavyweight Champion.
The match is significant for a number of reasons. First off, Jim Crockett ran Clash of the Champions live on TBS the same night as WrestleMania IV. More people watched Sting and Ric Flair battle for 45 minutes on free television than saw The Macho Man claim the WWF title. That night launched the career of Sting to main event status for years to come.
The night also proved to be the last time Ted DiBiase had any real shot at the title. DiBiase was originally slated to win at WrestleMania, becoming the first heel to win in the main event. A dispute between Savage and the WWF over the Honky Tonk Man’s refusal to job the IC title to him led to Savage winning the Heavyweight Championship in the finals. Indeed in many minds, Ted DiBiase is the greatest world champion that we’ve never seen. His in-ring work was top-notch, his promo’s were original and effective, and he was paired with one of the most memorable gimmicks of all time.
DiBiase would go on to have a long and illustrious career, though. He’s been involved in some of the biggest events in wrestling history, be it debuting the Undertaker, financing the NWO, or introducing Steve Austin to the WWF. While integral to modern wrestling, DiBiase would never again reach the heights he did on that fateful night in March of 1998.
Next up, we fastforward two years and Kory talks about one of the most epic confrontations we have ever seen
April 1, 1990
Title vs. Title - Hogan vs. Warrior
To begin with, we all know how the career of the Ultimate Warrior ended up. However I’m going to ask you to put aside the all the craziness and weird conservative views aside when reading this post. We have to remember that at the time Warrior was a huge star, and looked like the apparent heir to Hogan. Besides wrestling fans can be strange and sometimes they cheer for the strangest people. (Like…Batista…*cough*) Anyway…this match was huge.
Even as a kid I was aware of the fact that there couldn’t be two huge stars(and egos) like Hogan and Warrior at the top of WWF at the same time. Both of them had gotten so big that we needed to know who the top guy was. Enter Wrestlemania VI, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the Skydome. The match booking was brilliant, title vs. title. Which man would walk away champ? Who would the fans support?
The star of this match has to be the fans. The crowd was absolutely amazing. From the entrances to the final bell they went crazy for every move. One can sum up the match as a series of clothelines, body slams, and shoulder blocks. Add to that the no-sells (hulking up and calling upon the gods) and you have the match pretty much covered. The match does have a
series of near falls which only adds to the excitement the crowd is feeling.
In the end of course Warrior walks away champion, but the torch was never really passed (just like Hogan wanted). This marks the high point of Warrior’s career, and we all know how he eventually fades from wrestling history. At the time I remember having trouble choosing a side. I liked both wrestlers, and I am not ashamed to admit it. I still enjoy watching this match as I feel it is one of the best matches in the history of mania (again not so much for the wrestling skill). A high point for me has to be Gorilla Monsoon calling this match. No one could explain away the fact that Hogan was suddenly able to walk on a dislocated knee like Gorilla Monsoon.
Overall the excitement of this match and spectacle of this match is exactly what Wrestlemania is all about.
We jump forward another two years and yours truly talks about the most important match on one of the biggest cards that the company has ever put together, and you may be surprised which match I think it is...
April 5, 1992
Intercontinental Title Match - Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart
Bret Hart never ceases to amaze me sometimes. He made his way to the top of the mountain and this is really the only time that anyone put him over. Honestly, name one other time that another big established star ever put him over in a big match. Hogan was supposed to but refused, Flair dropped the title to Bret at a house show, and the rest of his career he spent fighting mid-carders and putting other people over.
People criticize Hogan for refusing to job, but you know Piper was worse. During the 80s and 90s Piper never lost, especially not cleanly. Hell, Hogan never pinned the man during their big feud in the 80s. But this time, in a mid-card match against one of his distant cousins things were different.
The build to was simple enough. Bret was the Intercontinental Champion and then dropped it to The Mountie at a House Show. Bret was supposed to get his rematch at The Royal Rumble but was “injured” by The Mountie (on a side note, the reason that they took the title off of Bret was because his contract was coming to an end and they were worried that he would jump to WCW with the Title…how is that for foreshadowing?) so Piper took his place and won the title. Bret never got a rematch against The Mountie so he challenged Piper for the title and voila we have a great match set.
An interesting note, this was Piper’s first run as a champion of any kind in the WWE. The only other chance with a title he had was his very brief run as Tag Champion with Ric Flair back in November. The WWE really wanted to say “Thanks for all of your hard work” and rewarded him with this IC Title reign.
Anyway, back to the match itself. Throughout the build there was this idea that Piper would turn on Hart and resort to his heelish ways (Hmmm….sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it?). Late in the match, Piper even had the ring bell and went to hit Bret with it but he stopped and listened to the crowd and set it down to fight fair. Bret wins with the greatest counter to a sleeper-hold ever when he runs up the ropes to cradle Piper in a very creative pin. Piper then shakes Bret’s hand and puts the title around his waist, cementing him as a true star.
So what do I love about this match? On a card that had two huge Dream Matches (Hogan-Sid and Flair-Savage), this is the most significant of them all. Hogan-Sid was supposed to be the old passing the torch to the new, but Piper-Hart outdid it. Flair-Savage was supposed to be the bloody, epic match with the great story, no offense but Piper-Hart outdid it.
In a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon/Butterfly Effect sort of way this is one of the most important matches the WWE has ever put on. Don’t believe me? Well this is the match that cemented Bret as a true star. While that is a big deal of course, who is the one that cemented Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin as true stars? Why Bret Hart of course! In an abstract way this is the match that set the tone for the late 90s/early 00s wrestling boom. But I am getting ahead of myself.
We change our pattern here and McNutt goes ahead one year to Wrestlemania IX, widely considered to be the worst Wrestlemania ever. Here he explains the main reason why...
April 4, 1993
Las Vegas, Nevada
WWF Title - Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna
I’ve never quite understood people who would criticize my childhood interest in professional wrestling by pointing out, “You know it’s fake, right?” If anything, that the outcome is pre-determined and that wrestlers aren’t trying to injure one another makes it MORE entertaining. Pro wrestling has all excitement but none of the guilt and disgust of a real-life combat sport like Ultimate Fighting or similar crap. Plus, it smartly compensates for its lack of genuine competition with character development, giving the audience villains, heroes and anti-heroes to cheer and jeer for. The final moments of a great wrestling match are every bit as intense as any ‘real’ sporting event because, if the writers and bookers have done their job right, the audience is completely emotionally invested in seeing their favourite go home with the title.
My favourite is, was and ever will be Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart.
This is hardly unique; while the WWF (I refuse to use its new moniker) didn’t start playing up Hart’s Canadianness until well into his career, every Canadian wrestling fan treated The Hitman like a national icon. When Hart left for competitor WCW in the scandal forever known as the Montreal Screwjob, it created such a national anger that participants in the ordeal got booed and jeered throughout the country for a good decade after the fact. Hart even finished at #39 in CBC’s Greatest Canadian survey, ahead of (among others) Wilfred Laurier, Jean Chretien, Sir Sanford Flemming, Leonard Cohen, and William Lyon Mackenzie King.
Hart was different than many of his contemporaries. Mainstream pro wrestling in the 80s had been about guys like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, who were huge and steroid-driven, talented at the character side of wrestling but rarely had anything impressive to bring in the ring itself. Hart, on the other hand, was a technical wrestler, a pro through and through. Hart knew how to organize and plot a match, its ebbs and flows, its peaks and valleys. I didn’t really think about this much at the time; I just knew that Hart’s matches seemed to be way more exciting than anyone else’s.
When Bret Hart won his first WWF Championship, I couldn’t believe it; this was in part because the match wasn’t televised (it was a quick change done at a show in Saskatchewan). Hart defended the belt against all comers in the months leading up to the year’s biggest wrestling event: Wrestlemania. His opponent, the monstrous sumo Yokozuna, had won the Royal Rumble to earn his title shot, and (I believe) had yet to be even knocked off his feet at this point in his career. But I wasn’t worried, because I was smart enough to know the ultimate Wrestlemania truth (at the time): the good guy always wins the main event. ALWAYS.
However, there was something else going on in the WWF at the time: the return of Hulk Hogan. Hogan, who has since made a good career out of retiring and un-retiring, had left wrestling “for good” after the last Wrestlemania, but had made a big comeback to team with Brutus Beefcake to take on Money Inc. (Ted Debiase and IRS). I was troubled by was how much publicity this match was getting, as compared to Hart/Yokozuma. Shouldn’t the championship title bout get all the attention?
This was all taking place back in the days before satellite or cable and in order to watch a pay-per-view you had to spend a crapload of money to rent a converter box, which you then had to pick up on your own from the cable company, and after that STILL pay for the PPV itself. It cost a fortune. As such, my brother and I could only get a few of the shows a year at our house, and for whatever reason, that year’s Wrestlemania wasn’t one of them.
But here’s the funny part: on one of the TVs in our house – and ONLY one – if you clicked to the channel where you would have watched the PPV had you gone through the big ordeal, you could HEAR every second of the show crystal clearly, and occasionally the picture would unscramble just enough to hear what was going on. So on a big night like Wrestlemania, if my brother and I couldn’t afford the show, we would sit in our living room, do some homework and listen to everything that took place. It was so 1930s of us.
So anyways, I can’t remember if we were listening to the Hart/Yokozuma match live or if we taped it and listened to it later, but I distinctly remember my reaction to what happened: just as Hart had Yoko in his signature submission move, the Sharpshooter, Yoko’s manager Mr. Fuji threw salt in the Hitman’s face. I heard announcer Jim Ross announce that Yoko had nailed a legdrop and was going for the pin. I was worried but not TOO worried: remember, the good guy always wins.
That’s right – Bret Hart had lost the title. He had lost the main event at Wrestlemania. I was so shocked that I still don’t recall how I reacted to what happened next: Hulk Hogan came down to the ring to help out Hart, and Mr. Fuji challenged Hogan to a title match on the spot. Hart told Hogan to go for it, and in something ridiculous like 15 seconds, Hogan had defeated Yokozuna and was once again WWF champion.
Now I liked Hogan well enough, but once I recovered from the show I realized that this whole fiasco was completely, totally, 100 per cent WRONG. This was WRESTLEMANIA. This was BRET HART’s Wrestlemania, his chance to leave with the belt he deserved and it had been stolen from him. I couldn’t care less that this outcome was staged – I wanted justice, dammit.
Well that concludes the first edition of Shades of Wrestlemania. Tune back next week as we continue the countdown to every wrestling geeks favourite day of the year!!!
Until next time,
Thursday, March 22, 2007
First off, way back in January, I was very frustrated and posted "The Kids Are Alright" or "Why the Hell Do You Want to be a Teacher???", which was one of the most commented on posts I have ever made.
I was amazed and relieved to know that I am not the only one who gets frustrated by the attitude that many teachers have towards their students. On Facebook the three Kodiak Bisoners shared their thoughts, they were so well written and expressed that I just needed to post all of their long-winded rants:
"An interesting read Glen, and I've got to say I have exactly the same opinion of the teacher training program here. Sitting in the staff room at my first placement school I was shocked to hear the level of moaning and whining about how terrible the kids are, how rude, how disinterested in school....how things have changed etc... I don't get it? Surely a passion for working with young people and helping them be the best they can is the motivation for working in teaching. If it is such a bad job go work somewhere else. Don't drag the rest of us down. Sure its not always gonna be easy, but we do have a chance to make a difference. We are so privileged to work with young people at the most influential time in their lives and its a huge responsibility to stay positive and try to get the best out of every young person we work with! rant over, thanks"
(My replies in BOLD)
Blake, I don't know if it makes me relieved or frightened to know that this is not just a North American thing. I do consider myself to be privileged to work with young people, I honestly can't think of anything more exciting than being a positive influence on someone and I'm glad someone else thinks the same!
"even though you have not commented on my nancy grace post i still feel compelled to reply to this.
anyways, i agree with you, i believe that there are many teachers both in the profession and in teachers college that just don't get it. they really do not belong in teaching because they do not seem to make any sort of connection to the fact that they are the most important people in most of these children's lives. although i do have a problem with some aspects of Windsor's teachers college, i have to be honest and say that i have learned a lot. i might not learn a lot from every class, i mostly find my learning comes from a from a few select teachers, and simply observing the way they teach, or taking in some of the things they say when others might not even care to listen. i actually have a number of teachers teaching me right now that i am in awe of every time i am in their class.
as for my classmates, there may be a few that i do not agree with sometimes, but my section is full of some excellent teachers in the making. its really helps get through the weeks knowing your going to class with some very smart people, and some people who will make a great difference in many students lives. maybe its the difference between P/J, J/I, and I/S. maybe the difference is that windsor based their admissions on experience only for the P/J group (as long as you met the base average, which was like 70%). in some cases the people that get into many schools are the people with the highest grades, which some people believe to be the best measure of how good one can be as a teacher. sadly, i have fallen victim to this thinking as i have a borderline average and a general degree. 2 strikes against me. i have no doubt that if it were not for windsor trying something new i would not be in teachers college right now.
anyways, enough from me, hang in there man."
I had no idea about Windsor's acceptance policy. That's a really awesome thing, to be honest, I think that all of them should be like that. I really don't think that how good your grades are (especially at University) have anything to do with how caring, supportive and engaging of an individual you are. Stupid elitist Universities.
Bisoner #3 (who I am not naming since he complained to me that I have never written a blog about him and I don't give in to whiners) said:
"I have to say that unfortunately I agree with everything that has been said. My education program is a little different in that we have placement Monday and Tuesday, and class Wednesday and Thursday. While this gives me an opportunity to be with the same class for 4 months, it also means that every Wednesday many of my classmates come in with complaints, horror stories, and at times, looks of distress. I of course enter and try to share some witty or delightful story, and others complain about the kids who didn't understand the lesson. I really don't mean to be mean, but I am not really sure why some of these people have chosen to become teachers, or how they have made it so far. I know of some people who I believe would make excellent teachers (my sister being one of them) and were not accepted to the program, while I see people in those seats who really don't belong.
That ratio exists in the schools as well; there are many teachers who have lost sight of the reasons they entered the profession. This has really instilled in me a desire not to become "just another teacher." I don't want to be like them; dreading my students, or working for the holidays. I'm starting to wonder if this means I will have to look for employment outside of the school boards, but thats another story for another day. The point is teachers need to hold on to the reasons they became teachers. If I ever lose my edge, which I hope to never lose,I hope someone tells me so I can let someone who really wants to teach and can offer the kids something more a chance. Well it looks like we all have the same rant, maybe we should start our own school..."
I don't know what else I can add other than I totally agree with everything that you said. Especially about your sister being a great teacher and starting our own school. Haven't we talked about doing that before? :)
And on the Blog, my prof, Jason said:
"Dr. J here. I have been glenergised(canadian spelling). In fact you have enriched our program from the first day of classes. I understand and share many of your concerns with the popular discourse that demeans and degrades our youth. However, I pray that you will continue to engage with, challenge and when needed interrupt and interrogate your colleagues and the "system." You have been given the gift of a lucid intelligence,vision and kindness and I am confident that you will soon be able to put other teachers on a better, more promising path. Keep on keeping on Glener"
I just wanted to post that bit of advice for any other current/future teachers out there, just change the name to yours and I believe that it will fit.
On the anniversary of The Beatles playing the Ed Sullivan show I ranted about the death of Rock and Roll. Not surprisingly, McNutt, my Musical Messiah, posted a comment. It was rather long so I will just post a snippet.
"Absolutely true. And not surprising. Let's keep in mind that rock and roll came to popular fruition at an incredibly unique time, when two key developments intersected:
1. The baby boom generation, creating a society organized around and catering to young people.
2. The early rise of mass communications (national radio and television).
Because of these, rock and roll transformed from a backroom fusion of country and blues and into a cultural revolution. Rock and roll music was the soundtrack to an entire generation, from Elvis to Woodstock.
Then, as mediums of communication - radio, television, and now the internet - became demassified and more diverse, so too did rock and roll splinter: into folk rock, into punk, into the early years of hip hop, into alternative rock, into new wave. The children of the Reagan Revolution were living in a more individualist age, and Napster, the iPod and the decline of radio all signalled the end of rock and roll as a singular movement.
So of course rock's glory days are over. Rock and roll's ability to change the world died with the baby boom. Now, rock and roll can only change yourself. Which, I suppose, is still worth a damn."
I can't believe that I never thought of the influence of technology on the splintering of Rock. I guess it's another sad sign of the times that we live in. The rise of individualism is an interesting modern phenomena.
It is really very interesting that collective expression and communities ties are now more possible now than ever with the rise of mass communication. However, due to this mass communication an increased sense of alienation has occurred and a result individualism is on the rise. Interesting how music reflects this as well.
Also from McNutt (I realized that I have more Notes tagged of him in Facebook than his girlfriend does...that's not weird or anything) had this to say about my thoughts on David Beckham coming to America:
"How fascinating that you wrote this entire post without bringing up the name "Wayne Gretzky." I think that's a big oversight on your part, especially considering that he's probably the best point-of-comparison for what the Galaxy are trying to accomplish here."
Alright so I didn't mention Wayne. But here's the thing...I think that Gretzky going to LA is massively overrated in terms of a long term impact.
Over the past 18 years the NHL has expanded greatly into the Southern US. But the NHL is still a very low priority in just about all of the southern markets with Dallas and San Jose being the only two real exceptions.
The last two Stanley Cup Champions are Carolina and Tampa Bay, but both teams still suffer attendance issues and are maybe 5th in their respective markets in sports. Two of the best teams in the NHL right now are Anaheim and Nashville, but guess what? Nobody cares. It seems that the only reason that teams like Phoenix and Florida have any fans is because they are havens for vacationing Canadians.
LA was a hot hockey market for a while when Gretzky was still in his prime, but after he started to go downhill and then move on the interest level in the city faded fast. There are not exactly kids on the streets of LA playing road hockey like the NHL had hoped.
Sure Beckham may generate some short term interests but his contract is only for 5 years and he is not nearly the player he once was. I really don't see this having much in the way of long term impact, just like Gretzky.
There are a lot of other great comments that have been made on this blog and in Facebook but this entry is getting really long and I want to maintain people's interests so I had best stop. Anyway, I just wanted to make this communication a two way street.
Until next time,
First off, you all know my love of Facebook. Here is a hilarious video that sums it up nicely.
Here comes my favouritest Band right now, The Arcade Fire, doing a live cover of The Clash's "Guns of Brixton" at St. John's Church in London a few months ago. Simply amazing.
Speaking of The Arcade Fire, here is an unofficial video to "My Body is a Cage". Where some genius fan put this song to clips from "Once Upon a Time in the West", I think it's so incredibly cool!!!
The last bit of The Arcade Fire (sort of), their former violinist, Owen Pallett as Final Fantasy doing a cover of "Fantasy" by Mariah Carey. Simply awesome.
Alright enough Arcade Fire for now...here is a hilarious video that I posted on here once before, but as a history teacher I do believe that it is important to be aware of historical figures. Thankfully we have this video.
I just stumbled across this video by LCD Soundsystem last night and I think that it's pretty awesome. Makes me think about what I'll be like as a traveller.
I can think of no better man to feature in the last video than legendary entertainer, Robert Goulet. Da-ba-dee-da-ba-dooo!!!
Well that's the end of that chapter. Hope you enjoyed!!!!
Until next time,
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
So apparently I'm three parts Italian, one part Mummy Hunter, one part Superman, one part Android, one part obnoxious pop star, one part female news anchor and one part Jedi. This site is eerily accurate.
Anyway, I had best get back to work now...and by get back I mean start. I missed school...
Until next time,
Before I get too critical, I need to say that there are some things about this budget that I do like. The first being the tax break for hybrid cars and the tax hike for fuel inefficient vehicles. Although one must be cynical as to why pickup trucks are immune to this...funny from a party that draws a lot of support from rural voters. I do also like the $1 million set aside for heritage sports, one of those nice little things that can do a bit to help our culture and our health. And I do like increase in scholarships for graduate students.
There I was positive, can I move on now?
While the "green levy" is a great step it is not nearly enough. In recent months Harper has talked a really good game about the environment, but once again he showed his true colours on the issue and they certainly are not green.
There was $4 billion promised for environmental issues including ethanol production. That sounds all well and good, but the government also got rid of a tax break for ethanol that was costing them $2 billion. Sounds like a lot more Harper smoke and mirrors.
Most importantly there is no targets for reducing green house gases. I don't know if any of you know this, but that is kind of a big deal right now. There really was no "massive scale-up" as called for by Johanne Gelinas (the former environmental commissioner who was fired without a real reason by the Conservatives a few months ago). This both scares and saddens me. As a world leader we have a huge chance to set the stage and at least keep pace with our European Allies if not set the standard, but alas here we are.
I still don't like this cash in hand for anyone with a kid business. I would much rather see the money go towards a nationalized day care program. Why you ask? Because I worry about the bad parents out there. While I do not doubt that the vast majority of parents out there will spent this money on their children in some capacity, whether it is feeding them, clothing them, hiring a babysitter, or even sending them to day care, but there are those out there that will not. Bad parents will more than likely spend that money on themselves, leaving their children alone. In the case of drug addicted parents, this extra money can fuel their addiction even more and in fact make the lives of their children even worse.
I know, I know, that is only a small minority and many of you are probably saying "Why should good parents suffer for the bad ones?", well if you have worked with enough children of bad parents like I have than you will understand that answer to that one.
A full comprehensive and effective day care strategy is the best answer. Sure it is not perfect, sure there is a lot of work that needs to be done, including a proper training program, but it is what is needed.
My last major concern with the budget is the Aboriginal Issue. The Conservative Government has MASSIVELY failed the Aboriginal Community. One of Paul Martin's last acts as PM was to pledge $5 billion to relieving Native poverty, something that hasn't quite fit into the Conservative vision of the country.
They have set out a "new approach" to help the Aboriginal Population. That is to encourage them to get out of poverty by offering job training and providing financial incentives for home ownership. I have a real problem with this. For starters, to "encourage" people to get out of poverty makes it sound like people choose to be poor, I don't know if I can even comment on that one without going off on a serious rant so I will bite my tongue (or is it hold my fingers?). Secondly, home ownership doesn't really work on reserves. Remember in many native ideologies the people do not own the land. It is all collective property of the reserves stemming from the ancient beliefs that people can not own land, it belong to everyone. So how exactly is this going to work?
We Canadians need to realize something. We are one of the richest countries in the world and yet a sizable portion of our population lives in third world conditions. We need to do something about it, soon. This is not the answer, it is not nearly enough. It is a huge black eye for all Canadians but is constantly swept under the rug and just plain accepted. Shame on all of us for allowing it to get to this stage.
But anyway, despite the problems that the Liberals and NDP have with this budget it will still pass. The Conservatives also changed the equalization formula which will really hurt Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, the two poorest provinces in Confederation. But they managed to find an extra $9 billion for Quebec. Funny that they need the support of the Bloc to avoid an election...and they call the Liberals crooked.
Until next time,
Monday, March 19, 2007
I really don't believe it has been that long.
I can't believe that nothing has changed.
I can't believe that today is the day that they invaded Iraq.
Forget September 11, 2001 for a moment, today is the day that our world changed. Today is the day that history will look back as the most important date in the beginning of the 21st Century. Today is the day that America ruined the chance to do something truly wonderful.
In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union began it's collapse and we were faced with a New World Order. For the first time in a long time (and perhaps ever) the world had only one true power, the United States.
Surely with the most violent conflict in the history of time only a few generations old a new era of peace would be ushered in with the United States at its helm right?
Well the opportunity was there, and it worked for a little while I suppose. The first president Bush was able to get a strong military coalition together for a justified war in Iraq. He had the allies, he had the means, he had an objective, and most importantly, he had justice and truth.
Then came Bill. Don't get me wrong, I love Bill Clinton, I think that he was a really good president, however, he wasn't what he needed to be. He wasn't great. Instead of leading his allies against the Qaddafis and Bin Ladens of the world he focused on the economy. Now he did that well, as the US economy at this time was among the strongest economies the world has ever seen, but the American people became more and more decadent. There was a chance for foreign aid, there was a chance to help people and make the world a better place, but everyone just cared about themselves in the end.
Then the worst thing happened, hanging chads didn't fall and the Supreme Court voted a new president in. That's right we got G-Dub. Can you hear the ominous music play?
But even he had his opportunities to do the right thing. After September 11 he set out to get those responsible and he actually did it. For a while. A strong international coalition was formed and Afghanistan was invaded, they were out to get Bin Laden and anyone standing in his way. But then something funny happened.
In the 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush labelled Iraq, Iran and North Korea ads"The Axis of Evil" and said that something needed to be done about them before it was too late. The worst part about all of this? People bought it.
I remember watching CNN on September 11 and they were trying to report on who was responsible for the attacks. Bin Laden's name kept coming up time and time again but whenever they said it was him they kept saying "Don't rule out Saddam Hussein". I was blown away, Hussein had no track record of attacking Americans outside of Iraq, why would he bother now? Where the seeds of Iraq being planted all the way back then?
Support for the War was high in America, really high. Poll after poll showed that the American public was in favour of taking out Hussein "before it was too late", and the politicians followed suit. As much as I would love to blame the Republicans there is no way that one can just look at them. Many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, supported the war.
Here's where I would like to interject even more editorial comments. The United Nations has some very specific rules about attacking other countries. You are only legally allowed to invade if you have been attacked first or in defense of one of your allies who have been attacked. preemptive strikes are not listed anywhere now are they? Sure UN Rules and Regulations have served mostly as guidelines but if there is one nation that needs to follow them it is the United States. Why you ask? Well as the one and only superpower they need to set an example for the other nations.
I hate to compare the two, but when I was an RA or SRA back at Acadia I would often look the other way when people were breaking some tiny rules, because I felt that they were just guidelines and I needed to be flexible. But at no point would I ever break even the tinniest of infractions. I felt that as the enforcer of the rules and leader (in this respect) I needed to set the example. I knew that nobody was going to get me in trouble, but I knew full well that it would not be fair for me to enforce rules while ignoring them myself. At this time the US NEEDED to follow United Nations Protocol more than any other country. How could they stop India from unilaterally invading Pakistan, or China for reclaiming Taiwan?
But alas, they went in anyway and here we are. The US is stuck in far deeper that they thought. WMD's still haven't been found and have largely been forgotten about. The public has lost interest in the affairs of Iraqi people, and worst of all, the whole world is pissed at the US. They ignored many of the worlds other powers (Remember when Rumsfeld labelled France, Germany and others as "Old Europe"?) which alienates them even more.
In short, the US never should have crossed those fences four years ago. Economic sanctions and negotiations were the way to go. Sure they would have been tough, but a solid front from the United States, the EU, Japan and possibly China and Russia could have gone a long way. Instead the US has divided its allies and united its enemies. Iraq is a more dangerous place now than it was under Saddam, especially since many of the Shi'ite insurgents are under support from Iran. Al Qaeda was not in Iraq before but it is now. China is growing even faster as a super power with every US solider killed, and where there was once great promise there is now bleak possibilities.
Before I sign off, I found this little video on YouTube. It is a pretty moving video of pictures from Iraq, before the war. I fear that it will take a long time before it is ever that beautiful again.
Until next time,
Friday, March 16, 2007
As you can probably guess from the title above, this one is about Neon Bible, the new album by The Arcade Fire, my favouritest band at the moment. A while ago I downloaded the album and was faced with a moral crisis, to enjoy the work, or support the band. However, I have now finally purchased the album and I can now do both.
I was planning on doing a full review/interpretation/love fest for the album, but I have to say you would probably find a better one on McNutt’s blog or on Us Kids Know Forum, both of which are great places to go for information on this unreal band. So instead, I decided that I would just try and explain what makes this album so great to me in 7 reasons.
1. The Story it Tells – Like all great albums this is more than just a mere collection of songs, and this one tells a story and a half. The great things is that this album is just so full of information, stories, and poetry that it may take years for anyone to really figure out what was going on inside the heads of the artists while they were putting this thing together. But here is one of the many stories I have came up with using all of the albums song titles in order.
A man gets a terrible vision of the future by gazing into a “Black Mirror”. He panics and is convinced that doom is coming at any moment. In order to prepare he makes sure to “Leave the Car Running”, just in case he needs to get away quickly. He tries to spread the word by writing it in the “Neon Bible” for all to read. Fed up that nobody is listening, he tries to do something about it, make an “Intervention” if you will. However, it is far too late and disaster strikes. Everyone panics as they see/feel “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations”. Chaos ensues, and the world is filled with an “Ocean of Noise”. In the chaos, our hero gets trapped in “The Well and the Lighthouse” (that one will make more sense if you have heard the song). After he finally gets out, life is appearing to return to normal for most people, but our hero becomes quite disillusioned with the world and sings the “Antichrist Television Blues”. Things start to get worse once again and he laments them coming to his “Windowsill”. Finally, he has an idea of how to get away from everything he hates, by going to a place where “No Cars Go”. But once he realizes that it is only possible in his mind, he and cries out ‘“My Body is a Cage”’ with hope that it will help set his spirit free.
Not half bad eh? And I am leaving out some really important details and awesome lines from the songs and going just by the titles. Clearly there is a lot more to explore with this one.
2. The Ending to “(Antichrist Television Blues)” – This song is unreal, but the ending is what makes it even more impressive. As the song progresses, more and more anger is filled in the lyrics and tone of Win Butler’s voice. Meanwhile the music is picking up and at the very end it reaches its crescendo with the following lyrics:
“Do you know where I was when I was your age?
Any idea where I was when I was your age?
I was working downtown for the minimum wage.
And I’m not going to let you just throw it all away!
I’m through being cute,
I’m through being nice,
O tell me, Lord, am I the Antichrist?!”
And then it just ends. By the time the “st” leaves his mouth the music stops. This is simply an amazing way to end this song that just builds and builds and builds. This is one of those songs that you just can not look at as an independent entity. The lack of a falling action makes it hard to fit into any typical formula, that is why it needs the remaining songs on the album to bring it down a notch.
3. The Cover – Come on, how cool is this?
4. The Religious References – Well it is called Neon Bible, so it really isn’t all that surprising I suppose. The title track having some very obvious references to the good book, but it is defiantly not alone here. In “(Antichrist Television Blues)”, they talk about being a “Good Christian Man”, and it is written as both a mixture of a man talking to his daughter and praying. The chorus of “Intervention” talks about “Working for the church while your life falls apart” and “My Body is a Cage” contains the plea to “Set my spirit free”, which could very well talk about going to the place in the sky.
But it is more than just the lyrics. First off, almost every song has some sort of water based imagery and connections with the Biblical flooding can definitely be made in “Windowsill”. Also, the album sounds religious. It is filled with organ sounds and background choir, especially “Intervention”.
Far too often when bands name an album after a song it is because they couldn’t think up anything better, however it is really obvious here that Neon Bible describes the entire album.
5. The Transition from Black Wave to Bad Vibrations – In the fifth song, “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations”, something funny happens. It starts out with Regine singing very melodically and innocently and all of a sudden Win interrupts with more darkness. It is just a great musical moment that you really need to listen to a number of times to really get what they are doing here.
6. It Picks up Right Where Funeral Left Off – Funeral is very light-hearted and innocent, Neon Bible is the exact opposite, making it hard at first to make a connection between these two unreal albums. I decided one day to listen to them right in a row, no break, no anything, I just played one right after the other and I was amazed at what I found. Funeral ends with “In the Backseat” which just sounds like a dream. Neon Bible then begins with the line “I walked down to the ocean/After waking from a nightmare”. How cool is that? At the end of the first album they are falling asleep all innocent and then waking up after a nightmare to find out that things are different. Not sure if they intended for this Van Winklesque connection between the two albums, but I think it is awesome.
7. It’s The Arcade Fire!!!! – We are playing witness to something really special in music right now, a great band coming of age. Sure it won’t ever get the press that it deserves, but these guys and gal are changing music as we know it. When future music geeks look back at the first decade of this century they will talk about this band and just how influential they were. They are just so fresh, so unique and so unreal. If you do not like them then I really have to question your musical taste.
Well there are seven reasons as to why I love this album. I could probably go on for many, many more, but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here. This is just the first edition of this feature and I need to try and give myself an opportunity to raise the bar. I haven’t really thought up what my next “Why I Love…” will be about. Right now I have been thinking about Stephen Colbert, Camp, Star Wars, Teaching, Blogging, Spring, or possibly some place I have traveled to.
If any of you out there have any suggestions please feel free to hit me with a comment, I haven’t been getting too many of those lately. It makes me feel like a bit of a loosebag when nobody pays attention to me.
Until next time,