YR's Pro Wrestling of the Day

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Yakuza Rich, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    With the talk of pro wrestling, I wanted to create my own thread discussing some of my favorite wrestlers. With all of the YouTube videos it's really a treat to re-watch stuff I haven't seen in years or even better...catch great stuff that I've never seen before. While some things have changed and one can argue that fans are more 'sophisticated', it never ceases to amaze me how I pop for old wrestling that I have never seen before when it is well thought out and/or well executed.

    I was going to label this as 'YR's Underappreciated Wrestler of the Day', but that may draw the ire of fans who appreciate them. And I also wanted to look at wrestlers that weren't underappreciated and give my take on them as well. Hopefully this will bring old school wrestling fans in the fold and perhaps get some younger fans some old school wrestlers to look at because the WWE narrative tends to overlook much of what pro wrestling was.

    First up, JJ Dillon.

    Dillon was a former wrestler, but was mostly known for his time as a manager and mostly managed in the South, particularly for Eddie Graham in Championship Wrestling from Florida and later on with the Crockett Promotion...most notably with the 4 Horsemen.

    What was unique for Dillon is that despite still wrestling, he didn't take a lot of bumps as a manager. I heard Paul Heyman talk about how he didn't appreciate Dillon when he was a young manager because he thought Dillon didn't do much of anything. This is likely due to Heyman coming from Memphis where he and Jim Cornette were protege's of Jimmy Hart and Jimmy Hart loved to bump around the ring in matches and Cornette and Heyman followed in Hart's footsteps. The same goes for another mentor of Heyman's...Captain Lou Albano who would gig himself at the drop of a hat.

    But, I'm always amazed at how so many people praise Lou Albano as a manager and neglect to mention Dillon's name. Albano's schtick was a bit old and he liked to repeat the same phrases ad nauseum (i.e. you have a brain the size of a dehydrated bee bee). Albano had more of that rambling and incoherent mad man gimmick while Dillon was a very thoughtful and cunning character.



    They say that good actors are like painters that have a color palette to choose from. Instead of using one primary color (anger or sadness) they use all of the colors in the palette and create shades and different hues for each color.

    This is one of the brilliant parts of JJ Dillon. Whereas Lou Albano was coloring with 1 broad stroke, Dillon was using all of the hues and shades he had on him.

    He was cunning, deceitful, pompous, smug, a brown noser, a bit of shyster and unethical. But, he didn't hit you over the head with those parts of his personality. He just gave you enough to hate the man while taking him seriously whereas Albano came off as more of an obnoxious goof.



    Many people talk about the 4 Horsemen and they talk about how big of a loss Ole Anderson's retirement was and then how they could never quite get the Horsemen off the ground with Barry Windham who was younger and a superior worker to Ole. But, the loss of JJ Dillon played a far bigger role.



    Dillon was the mastermind behind the Horsemen and it made more sense that the Horsemen could outsmart the faces with somebody like Dillon pulling the strings. And Dillon was such a great promo that he could give a 'state of the union' type promos explaining what happened, why it happened and what the plans were from there.

    Watching Dillon's work versus Albano's work was like watching The Wire and trying to compare it to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Both had their fans, but as far as intrigue and sustainability Dillon's work had it.
     
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  2. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    I was going to go in another direction and go into a different territory or at least go with a wrestler not affiliated with JJ Dillon, but I decided to go with what I considere the most underrated pro wrestler in history of the business in…


    Tully Blanchard





    Tully Blanchard’s value was that he was Ric Flair when Ric Flair was away from Crockett promotions, touring the world to defend his belt. Furthermore, unlike Flair Tully Blanchard was a full blown heel. Despite being affiliated together in the 4 Horsemen, there were fans that rooted for Flair. There were fans that rooted for Arn Anderson. And there were fans that rooted for Barry Windham. But, nobody rooted for Tully Blanchard.





    Blanchard also helped define the 4 Horsemen and it’s why those that have tried to replicate the Horsemen have always failed….the Horsemen were about 4 great in-ring workers who were also great on the mic. They also knew their role in the group and played it to perfection. For Blanchard, his role at first was to play the lead heel when Flair was gone and defend the TV Title. Then it turned to him playing the tag team role with Arn Anderson all the while still being viciously hated by the fans and even the boys themselves.


    The main difference between Tully and Flair was that Flair could draw a huge crowd by himself. Tully needed a hot babyface to draw a crowd. But if given one like Dusty Rhodes or Magnum TA, they could draw just as much with Tully as they could with Flair.





    However, Tully was a great tag wrestler and Flair was not. And in the end, Tully was like Scottie Pippen to Flair’s Jordan.


    Unfortunately, Tully’s career was cut short at a time when wrestlers didn’t have short careers. He left Crockett Promotions with Arn over a dispute with money. He then was fired from the WWF because he tested positive for cocaine at time when the WWF was drug testing heavily due to the steroid trial that Vince McMahon was involved with. That also got Arn Anderson fired and when they tried to come back to WCW, Flair and Arn never forgave Tully for testing positive for cocaine and getting Arn fired.


    Thus, Tully was a wrestler without a promotion. And a lot of fans forgot about how good he was, how effective he was and how he was the glue to the greatest wrestling faction of all time and was an intergrel piece to the greatest pro wrestling promotion of all time.





    YR
     
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  3. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Moderator

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    Great posts Rich!

    Dillon was a great "sophisticated" manager. Even more so than Bobby Heenan.

    JJ had a great wrestling mind.

    Yeah Tully was his own worst enemy. Great tag team wrestler. He won some singles titles. Wasn't the biggest guy.
     
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  4. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    What struck me about Dillon is that you had 4 fantastic talkers with the Horsemen in Flair, Tully, Ole and Arn and quite a few times JJ would do all of the talking for them in a promo. He was that good.





    YR
     
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  5. Ranching

    Ranching Well-Known Member

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    I had a drink with Dillon, Arn, Tully, Rick and Lex back in the late 80's after an event. Ran into them at a nightclub. Very nice and nothing like their on camera personas.
     
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  6. dallasdave

    dallasdave Well-Known Member

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    The HOrsemen, does not get ANY BETTER !!! Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  7. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Austin Idol was born Mike McCord and was raised in Tampa. Florida was one of the biggest wrestling territories of the 60’s and 70’s, led by legendary promoter Eddie Graham. Graham was known as arguably the greatest booker of all time as he was known as a ‘finish man’ as he created these elaborate finishes to matches that got over huge with the crowd. Graham also became Vince McMahon Sr.’s main confidant when it came to making difficult business decisions.

    Graham treated pro wrestling like it was an actual professional sport. He financially supported a lot of high school amateur wrestling and you would often hear thru Championship Wrestling from Florida the discussion of a wrestler’s amateur career and how young kids should get into amateur wrestling so they can one day turn into a professional wrestler.

    The end result was an incredibly successful territory that continually churned out great workers like Steve Keirn (aka Skinner), Barry Windham, Kevin Sullivan, Great Muta, Ron Bass and many others.

    Idol was one of those wrestlers who got more involved thru bodybuilding than amateur wrestling. He was starting off his career as a progressing wrestler, but then was involved in a horrific airplane accident with Gary Hart, Buddy Colt and Bobby Shane (Shane was killed in the accident).

    Idol was hurt so badly that he was out of action for years. Rumors had it that he shattered both ankles and completely skinned the bottom of his feet off. Eventually he returned to the ring and became one of the most over wrestlers in the world. Most notably in Memphis where he played a great foil to Jerry Lawler.

    Idol was more of a ‘pure’ worker. What I mean by that is his wrestling in the ring was more about finding useful ways to fill time and to make very safe moves look very painful. This is something that was big in Memphis and Lawler’s greatest attribute as well. And with the injuries that Idol suffered in that plane crash, one can see why it was so important for him to learn how to work the fans in the ring.

    But the greatest attribute of Idol was his mic work as he could work as a face:





    And he was certainly great working the mic as a heel:





    There’s a lot to learn from Austin Idol. In fact, The Rock stated that Idol was a big inspiration for the character he developed into.

    Obviously, presentation was a big part of Idol’s success. I don’t think he was a poor worker by any means, but due to his injuries he had his physical limitations. But one way to overcome those limitations is to look like a wrestler.

    Paul Heyman pointed out that Idol was very smart in being careful to enunciate his words when he started yelling because it’s difficult to hear what exactly a wrestler is saying when they are yelling. And that’s a big part of Idol’s success as a wrestler, he knew *how* and he knew *when* to cut a promo with intensity. Something that is severely lacking in today’s wrestling.



    Instead of worrying about catchphrases and lines fed to you by a writer, it’s about how it’s being said. And how Idol said things made Idol a very wealthy man in short career despite having gone thru a horrific plane accident that should have prevented him from ever wrestling again.




    YR
     
  8. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    I'll grant that Dillon may have had it over Albano, but nobody was better than Heenan.

    And I can definitely see why some felt that Dillon "didn't do anything", because far too often, he didn't.
     
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  9. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    I'll freely admit it. Back then, Tully Blanchard 'got me'. I saw him as this cocky, little **** that I couldn't wait to see somebody kick the crap out of. And that's exactly what he was going for. It wasn't until years later that I truly appreciated his work.

    As far as 'glue', I personally have to give as much credit to Arn Anderson as Blanchard for that. Both were great performers able to put their ego and personal goals aside for the greater good.
     
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  10. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Heenan was great. But, I felt his greatness was mostly from 1985 and prior to that. He was a great draw because he was a great in-ring worker himself and incredible bumper. Watch the bump Heenan takes at the end of this video.



    So the gimmick with Bobby from prior to 1985 was Bobby would get the heat on the mic and then it would lead to if his wrestler loses, the babyface would get 5 minutes alone with Heenan. Heenan was a master at that 5 minutes alone stipulation and could often reasonably get out of it the first time (weasel his way out) and that would setup the comeback for another time the face would get 5 minutes alone with Heenan.

    But after 1985 it became more about exploiting the comedic side and quick wit of Bobby Heenan than it was about getting heat and drawing with that. And Bobby Heenan was one of the funniest people I had ever heard and had incredible comedic timing. I really think he could have competed with Don Rickles. But, it wasn't wrestling heat. That's why I tend to prefer Jim Cornette over Heenan. With Cornette it was always about heat and riling up the crowd. But even Cornette will say that Heenan was the best manager of all time. I just respectfully disagree.

    Dillon not doing anything was perfectly fine. He's a mouthpiece and it's about getting the most out of the least in wrestling which is completely misunderstood by so many wrestlers today. They think it's about getting over, but it's how you get over and how you can sustain being over. Any dummy can jump off a balcony and go thru tables sent on fire with barbed wire on them and get over. But it leaves that wrestler little room for anything else and now they'll just have to continue to find ways to top themselves which always ends badly.

    The same goes for simple things like cutting promos, heels cheating, etc. The more you can get out of the littlest thing, the better. Dillon was a great promo guy and was great at being very selective at what he did. While the Albano's of the world would gig themselves at the drop of a hat, over-bump and bump too soon, etc.




    YR
     
  11. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    Heenan's my guy. Greatest of all time in my opinion.

    And it's a cruel twist of fate that wrestling's greatest talker has the affliction that he has.
     
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  12. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    I just wanted to add, I'm really appreciating your work here. It's obvious that you're a tremendous fan and student of the game. Your knowledge and dedication is impressive and I wanted you to know that I'm really enjoying the work you're doing.

    :bow:
     
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  13. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    I’m a big fan of Arn Anderson. When I think of Arn, I think of this nothing match right here.





    Magee was supposed to be the next big star in the WWF as he was a bodybuilder, martial arts expert and gymnast. However, he ended up being terrible in the ring. Arn was so good that he made Magee bearable to watch and an experience wrestling fan could just tell that while Magee had all of the physical ability in the world, it was Arn that was the real talent.


    I also think he was one of the best on the mic, even better than Tully and I actually preferred Arn over Flair when it came to cutting promos:





    However, where one could consider Arn to be the glue for the Horsemen, Tully was the glue for Crockett Promotions.


    With Flair traveling so often to defend his World Heavyweight Title, Crockett Promotions needed that heel to help draw money. And while Arn was a great in-ring worker and great promo, he wasn’t the draw with Dusty or Magnum TA that Tully was. In fact, Arn’s brilliance and mastery in the ring and with the promos worked against him in that regard…he was so good that fans couldn’t help but respect Arn and in essence he started to gain fans in that regard. Arn was a case of being too respected to be hated, but he didn’t have that superstar looks to be mega-over and reach that Flair/Hogan/Dusty/Kerry Von Erich type status.


    Tully was never respected. He just had that extremely hate-able face and while the fans came out to see Dusty, Magnum, etc…they also came out to specifically see them kick Tully’s arse.





    YR
     
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  14. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    About once a month I think of how robbed the world was that Bobby Heenan has the affliction he has.

    I also always seek out past interviews for Bobby's opinion on anything with wrestling. Even if it is from other wrestlers on what Bobby told them, he had the uncanny ability in that he ended up always being right.




    YR
     
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  15. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    And the quickest wit of anyone I have ever seen. Like you said, I'd love to see him go at it with a guy like Don Rickles. I think Heenan was that good. And I think he did so much for Vince and the WWF before they let him get away to WCW, that even then, he was truly under appreciated.

    And then several years of his career were wasted in WCW, where I think he was drunk half the time and going through the motions the rest. Like many talents they acquired, they only signed them to get them away from Vince. And when they got them, didn't know what they truly had and failed to properly use them. Sad.
     
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  16. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    You're right about Magee, but I still think he had more talent than the Ultimate Warrior! At least Magee was trying.
     
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  17. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Pro wrestling in the United States started to see a downturn right around 1990. The WWF turned into full blown cartoon wrestling where ‘gimmicks’ far outweighed ‘personas.’ WCW tried to follow suit due to the incompentence of Jim Herd. Eventually WCW hired Bill Watts who ultimately failed as the boss of the company, but introduced more fans to the Japanese style of wrestling called ‘Puroresu.’

    These days people refer to the Japanese style of wrestling as ‘Strong Style’…a style that is very much ‘shoot based’ (real) and heavily influenced by Mixed Martial Arts. Strong Style became popular in Japan in the late 90’s as Mixed Martial Arts rose to fame in the country with promotions like Pride and Pancrase drawing a ton of interest and then New Japan Pro Wrestling bringing in these fighters from Pride and Pancrase to wrestle a worked match with pro wrestlers from NJPW.

    Puroresu is less based in shoot fighting, but is still a very serious and more realistic style of pro wrestling which is based on athleticism and ‘fighting spirit’ versus the US style of pro wrestling which is often based on heels vs. faces, cutting promos and gimmicks.

    The birth of puroresu comes from the wrestler Rikidozan. His most famous opponent was a gaijin (foreigner) named The Destroyer who was an American wrestler named Dick Beyer. Rikidozan ended up dying at a young age. The Destroyer ended up becoming an extremely popular personality in Japan despite being a gaijin and then nearly 7 foot tall Giant Baba became the face of Japanese wrestling. Baba later formed All Japan Pro Wrestling which became one of my favorite promotions of all time during the 90’s.

    Many of the wrestlers of All Japan ended up being trained by either The Destroyer or Dory Funk, Jr. Both wrestlers based their own wrestling around realism, in-ring psychology and long matches. There wasn’t a lot of flash or pizzazz involved with their wrestling, but it about building up the match to a crescendo and if you had the patience for it, you ended up loving the match.

    I often refer to the AJPW style of wrestling like listening to Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. It has the same pace and tempo. The same type of ebb and flow. It starts out slowly and carefully, teases building up the pace and then ends in a blaze of glory.

    But what made the 90’s All Japan special is that they finally developed talent that could take the ways of The Destroyer and Dory Funk, Jr. and combine them with superior athletes and a little more modernized pro wrestling. While wrestlers like Sting, Hogan, Sid Justice, etc. were plodding around the ring the heavyweights in All Japan were moving aruond the ring more like cruiserweights and at a breakneck speed that we had never seen before from heavyweight wrestlers. In the end, there were 4 major Japanese wrestlers that sparked the greatness of the 90’s All Japan (in order of oldest to youngest)

    AKIRA TAUE



    Taue was thought to be the next Giant Baba because of his height. The Japanese are very intrigued by American culture and have always taken to the larger size of American wrestlers. That’s why Baba got so over with the Japanese, he had the size for a Japanese wrestler that the Japanese were unaccustomed to seeing. And with Taue he was a similar size and was forever linked as the next Baba. Taue never quite lived to that expectation, but in the meantime he was solid singles wrestler whose size made it believable that he would be a difficult opponent for anybody and he was an excellent tag wrestler, usually with Toshiaki Kawada.


    Mitsuharu Misawa



    Misawa was considered the prodigy of pro wrestling because he had the adequate amount of size while moving around like a cruiserweight. He started off at Tiger Mask II and traveled even to Mexico to be able to learn lucha libre and become a type of heavyweight wrestler that the world had never seen before.

    He was probably the second best athlete of the bunch (behind Kobashi) with the 2nd best psychology (behind Kawada) although I found him to be a poor seller in the ring. However, part of his awesomeness was his ability to come up with new, incredible moves in the ring…like the Tiger Driver ’91.



    He was also incredibly clutch as whenever All Japan needed that big match, he always seemed to deliver. Much like he did in his 1990 match against Jumbo Tsuruta, playing the young lion vs. the old guard. This match left people in the crowd in tears:



    And Misawa was consistently the most vicious bump taker and as far as ‘pure’ bumping in the ring, I don’t think there’s ever been a wrestler like him.




    TOSHIAKI KAWADA

    Kawada was the ugly duckling of the group. He didn’t have the resemblance to a famous Japanese wrestler like Taue did. He didn’t have the prodigy label that Misawa had. He didn’t have Kobashi’s size and athleticism. And he didn’t have Akiyama’s good looks.

    But, Dangerous K ended up being the best in-ring worker of the bunch because he had the best psychology, he was the best seller, he was clutch in his own right and had his fair share of cool moves.

    His best match was against Misawa on 6/3/94:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUVA5qchql0


    KENTA KOBASHI

    Kobashi was basically the wrestler that ‘had it all.’ He had the size, the looks, the athleticism, he could work in the ring, he could sell and essentially do anything involved with wrestling as well as anybody in the group could.

    You want crazy bumps like Misawa? Here you go:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p66LyZbFjAE

    You want cool moves?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5pUKCSpP8g

    You want him to move like a cruiserweight?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEwUZzDYkFM

    Baba actually booked Kobashi to lose his first 63 matches. The idea was that even in defeat, that the young Kobashi showed the fire, determination and never say die spirt and it earned him the rookie of the year award by the Japanese press.

    Meanwhile, All Japan featured other excellent wrestlers like Jun Akiyama (a ‘young lion’ that was a cross between Misawa and Kobashi), Dr. Death Steve Williams, Terry Gordy, Jumbo Tsuruta, Gary Albright, Stan Hansen and many others. While All Japan featured Taue, Misawa, Kawada and Kobashi, it still had the good ole native Japanese wrestler vs. gaijin storylines.

    But what always amazed me about All Japan was how it was able to get so much out of so little. They lived by the idea that ‘less is more’ in All Japan’s prime years of the 90’s. One of the four wrestlers mentioned could switch the color of their trunks and the crowd would eat it up. Misawa could discuss on the radio about a new move he was going to debut and the fans would die in anticipation. As great as the Tiger Driver ’91 move was, I think it was use no more than a handful of times…making the move more dangerous and special. And still allowing his regular finisher (Tiger Bomb) to be viewed as seriously effective.


    The issue was that eventually the group started to fall into the tragic thinking of giving the crowd too much of what they want and trying to top each other. The crowds started to dwindle despite doing more dangerous moves and doing them repeatedly. And at the age of 46 years old, Misawa wound up dying in the ring after taking a fairly simple suplex due to years of taking extremely dangerous bumps.
     
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  18. timb2

    timb2 Well-Known Member

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    Jimmy Hart while in Memphis was a great heel manager,not that junk in WWF
     
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  19. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Jimmy Hart was great in Memphis. In the WWF he was more of a bumping manager and his promo work was less effective. However, they used Hart for music entrances which was invaluable. Really, one of the best guys in wrestling and being part of the Gentrys is pretty remarkable.



    YR
     
  20. TellerMorrow34

    TellerMorrow34 BraveHeartFan

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    Great posts Rich.

    I agree completely about Tully. He was awesome.

    I agree with Stash that Heenan is hands down the best manager character ever. He is also one of the best color commentators of all time as well. I absolutely loved the guy.


    I'll also point out that I feel Arn Anderson is a guy who doesn't really get the respect he deserves for just how freaking all around great he was.
     

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