Friday, March 28, 2014

Strange Bedfellows - Introduction

My favorite gimmick pro wrestling PPV has always been Survivor Series.

Similar to the far more popular Royal Rumble, this annual event had two major features: First, it centered all around an unique match-type. In this case, it was the multi-man tag team elimination match, where 4 to 5 to 10 men or women would be grouped together, usually determined by their moral alignment (face or heel), and battle against their counterparts to prove their dominance in the wrestling ring. Secondly, and more importantly, Survivor Series has an encyclopedic quality to it, able to perfectly encapsulate the then current environment and product of the WWE, showcasing all of the big money draws, the rising superstars, the background players, the freaks, the geeks, and the oddities.

For instance, take a look at the 1995 iteration, which starts off showing the WWF's amazing undercard talent before moving on to the brief shining moment where Vince McMahon wished to expand the women's division by bringing in joshi (Japanese female wrestling) talent like Aja Kong and Kyoko Inoue. Or, jump to 2003 where the first match has the blue-plate special for Jim Ross, a team consisting entirely of hosses with limited skills, as in Matt Morgan and Nathan Jones.

But what really makes me interested in the history of this event is trying to figure out the kayfabe acceptance of these sometimes random groups. To use a 1991 team for example, beyond their status on the card billing, what makes a group consisting of an Iraqi colonel (played by an Iranian), a viking, an alligator hunter, and an over-the-hill roid muncher a truly stable idea?

This intrigue of mine would then later spread to my fascination for the appearances of "strange bedfellows". This term is used for mismatched wrestlers who are paired up in a tag team, usually for one night. One of the earliest forms of this idea, beyond the ever-present jobber match on television, was the brief time when WCW ran the "Battlebowl", a PPV event where the wrestlers were put into random teams solely to qualify for the pointless battle royal main event. It came further into prominence when bookers like Paul Heyman of ECW fame often used it as a plot point in his long-term wrestling rivalries, most notably Tommy Dreamer and Raven, who at one time held the ECW tag team titles despite a history of malice and bloodshed. To cement the idea firmly in the eyes of viewers, it had a distinct place on the match spinner when WWE would run its popular Raw Roulette episodes.

All of this is important to know about beforehand because I plan to dive into pro wrestling's past to uncover these hidden gems in a new ongoing feature.

I'll be looking at these one-off pairings/short tag team tenures both for pro wrestling history and comedic purposes. Think of it being in the vein of Wrestlecrap, with a sprinkling of Botchamania. I'll give background material to the individuals, examine the possible purpose of them being together, breakdown the notable match(es) where they were showcased, and end with a brief aside of their future endeavors and whether this team would have worked beyond its inception. Most of them, of course, won't but as evident by my first entry, there were a few duos with so much untapped potential waiting to be unleashed.

No comments:

Post a Comment