I don’t think I need to define what a most important moments show is about.
Okerlund is your moderator and the panel is Foley, Ric Flair, Tazz and JR
Foley’s biggest moment involves Snuka (no shit) and it’s the two leaps off the cage. The one against Bob Backlund that missed is rarely seen so the footage of it is pretty cool. Okerlund questions why that moment and Foley said that back in those days with limited TV and coverage it was just something that stuck out. Flair said that Snuka has jumped off the cage and landed on him 300 times thorough the Mid-Atlantic. Flair said it hurt. Very dismissive there.
Flair’s moment is the day that McMahon announced that the business to sports entertainment to avoid paying taxes. He said it changed the way wrestlers were perceived. Tazz questions things and Flair says Tazz wasn’t old enough to remember and Tazz reminds Flair that he’s 40. Flair says it was a positive but he couldn’t wrap himself around it at the time.
(Clips of McMahon’s promo “The Cure for the Common Show” where he explains the creative process to the minions and tells the WWF Universe that its tired of having its intelligence insulted. Worth seeking out if you can.)
Tazz’s moment is when Shane McMahon walked in a WCW ring. Flair says he predicted it a year before it happened. JR says that when Vince decided to go nationals with his northeast promotion was one of the more significant moments in the landscape of the business and truly made the wrestling brand worldwide. Okerlund said the issue was forced by cable TV and Vince had no choice because eventually the regional promotions would overlap with talent. Foley asks if Vince was the first to go national or was it WCCW. Ross says it was Joe Blanchard with Southwest Championship Wrestling on the USA Network. Flair said Blanchard didn’t have a clue (so? that wasn’t Ross’ point). Ross says one of the reasons McMahon was so successful is because he outworked the other guys and the other territory owners didn’t have the background in marketing and branding.
Flair said that Harley Race told him in 1978 that if he wanted to be a big star he needed to go on cable TV. Okerlund points out that most of the significant moments mentioned were out of the ring. Flair said that the day McMahon bought WCW was the greatest day of his life outside of his retirement and takes a hilarious shot at Bob Geigel and Rufus Jones for money they owe him. He rips on WCW and Russo for their lack of organization. Foley said he was standing next to Stephanie and she was so emotional and it meant more to the McMahon family than people will ever know. Flair rips the guys who left the WWF to come to WCW originally. Says most of the them were average performers and left a great flagship company for instant gratification. Okerlund says it worked for a while but Flair said it would never last.
Foley brings up the point that the competition worked for everyone but Flair said it was hindering the WCW from developling new talent because they were pushing the same retreads and it was easy to see it was going to bite them in the ass. Foley said that a few months after the purchase he sensed the WWE product was declining and he saw things that never would have made the air otherwise being produced on the show.
Okerlund asks Foley what his thoughts were when Nitro debuted and Flair interrupts and blasts Lex Luger and Bret Hart as not being a big deal because they were to the next place after the guy from the first place didn’t want them. Foley said to the public Luger was a big deal. Ross said there was a surprise when Luger went to the WCW because Luger had went back on his word to McMahon and Ross. They ramble on a bit more and Flair brings up “Oklahoma” and said it was disgusting. He says Ross is a Hall of Famer and the other guys work for TNA (“What is TNA?” Flair asks). Flair goes on for a while longer.
(They show clips of Oklahoma and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. I’m still a little surprised Williams agreed to go along with this given how close he and Ross were. But I remember Eric Bischoff’s point of being paid to do and not being paid to think.)
Flair goes into a story about him and Space Mountain…pretty pointless stuff. Ross tries to reel this one back in and talks about how Lou Thesz was mentioned among the shoot fighters or boxers like Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis. Ross talks about the NWA being a coup to get all the promoters together and out of it spawned a lot of successful territories. Ross says that when Vince Sr. chose Bruno Sammartino to be his guy in 1963 that was the first sign of division among the ranks.
(Old school clips of Vince Jr. interviewing Bruno. Always cool to watch to classic footage like that.)
After a break Flair has a huge stogie and appears to be more calm. Ross continues talking about the issues with the NWA and says the Starrcade match with Harley Race in 1983 was a significant moment because it was an official passing of the torch. Flair talks about how Harley was talking about not showing up because of business (he dismisses Mick’s relationship with Harley in the process of course) but Harley wasn’t one to go against his word. He got to Greensboro in bad weather and Ross explains that Greensboro was hard to get to. Harley said he was there for Flair and then extorted Crockett out of another $25,000 for showing up. Flair talks about banging a couple of broads or something and it’s funny but a little sad.
Okerlund tries to talk about the AWA and Flair keeps rambling so Okerlund jokingly offers him the moderation chair. So Flair goes back to talking about himself. Okerlund talks about his arrival in the WWF and talks about Hogan’s victory over the Iron Sheik and says it turned everything on his ear. Ross said he told Hogan to his face that he has respect for what he’s done for the business and he talks about how guys would look on the booking sheet for Hogan’s name and just pray that they were somewhere on a card he headlined because of the increased payday. Ross talks about how Hogan was the reason that the WWF was on network television and got the Saturday Night’s Main Event deal. Foley said he was at MSG when the Sheik beat Backlund but not when Hulk beat the Sheik. He said after the Hogan victory his group of friends that talked about wrestling expanded significantly.
Okerlund talks about Austin and the berth of the attitude era. Tazz says that ECW or at least the ECW’ers felt they started the attitude era. Tazz said he was the first guy to flip someone off in the audience. Tazz and Foley talk about Austin’s short time in the ECW and how fired up he was. Flair said Hogan was the biggest star in the business until Austin came along. Flair said he has no qualms about saying Hogan was a much bigger star than him. Flair said when Austin was in the WWF he did more for the business before the match, during the match and after the card than anyone ever. He connected with the crowd and even when the cameras went off he could still keep the people in the building for another hour.
Foley pinpoints one Austin moment and says the debut of Austin 3:16. Ross said he told Austin he would be the biggest hero the company have ever seen and Austin would disagree. Ross said his drive was greater than anyone could imagine and he was such an overachiever. And when Mr. McMahon went on screen, everything was magnified. He mentions the first signs of the character when McMahon and Bret had a pull apart brawl in Halifax (that is one of the most awesome, shocking moments I EVER saw on wrestling TV). Ross said it was at that moment when Vince saw that he had something.
(They show clips of this awesome bit of television that really, in my opinion, helped Vince get his swag back and prepare for the war with WCW. The Canadian crowd makes it even better because they were so jacked up. And the fact that it was an even brawl with Vince even grabbing the shirt and getting the upper hand made it that much more shocking. I can’t really describe it well but when you saw it your jaw dropped.)
Ross said the greatest antagonists are easy to dislike and he mentions Paul Heyman at being one of those guys. He says McMahon took it to another level to where people paid night after night to watch him get his. Foley said the night at MSG when Austin finally stunned him was such a great payoff and Ross points out that they made sure it happened at the world’s most famous arena. Tazz also talks about the Curtain Call that was also at MSG and Foley talks about how Triple H had to pay the price for that and in a way it helped mold him into the character he became. Flair rips on the Outsiders again saying Hall’s claim to fame was being in the ring with Shawn Michaels and a ladder while Nash’s claim to fame was his pedestrian basketball career at the University of Tennessee and being a bouncer at the Gold Club. He goes on for two minutes.
Ross talks about Shawn leaving the business with an injury and a bad attitude and returns with a changed attitude and delivers upon his return. Flair says Shawn is the best of all time. Foley talks about the announcement of JR going in the Hall of Fame was a great spontaneous moment and the RAW after Wrestlemania XXIV. Foley says he wishes he could have been at both and Flair asks why he wasn’t and says “because you’re a barbed wire specialist.” That was odd.
(Clips of Flair’s final 24 hours as an active wrestler and the RAW speech afterward.)
Go around the horn: Foley says most significant was when Steve Austin became Stone Cold. Flair says it was the day he debuted (modest until the end). Tazz says when WWE purchased WCW. JR said the backstage issues before the Austin-Michaels main event at Wrestlemania XIV from Shawn’s attitude to the beginning of the Austin era. Flair ends it with a story of his partying and having three million Marriott points.
The Bottom Line: Well I had been waiting for this one for a while. Yes Flair was horribly overbearing at times and it was uncomfortable in spots. Sift past the self-glorifying BS and there was some decent stuff there. Worth watching for several reasons.