Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

A Counterfactual History - The 1980s

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Here's a brief history of the Counterfactual, focusing on workrate; were I to look at the best matches in WWF history, this is on what I'd look at.  It's hard to say "here are all the four star PPV matches" but that's sort of what's in my head.  The motivation for this is Rumble 2012 is the 100th WWF PPV, so there would be clip packages all summer showcasing 1-99. 


1. Wrestlemania: Steamboat keeping the belt in the main over Windham is probably the only four star match, maybe the Piper/Valentine IC bloodbath makes it as well.  


2. Wrestlemania II:  Dynamite beats Steamboat for the belt in a match the company really needs to be 4 stars. An open question is Dynamite’s physical condition; how long could he go at a main event level intensity by 1986?  Savage/Piper hits them both I think at exactly the right time and I'd put that here too.  The Hart Foundation, with their hockey jerseys and title belts, is triumphant at the end of II.

3. Wrestlemania III: Steamboat goes over Dynamite, which, since it replaces real world Savage/Steamboat needs to be an all time classic.  I’m going to say maybe they get a four star tag match out of Harts/Rougeaus.  Could be that any show without two 4 star matches is a failure; I thought that way about real world ROH for a good stretch in the middle of the previous decade.

4. Survivor Series 1: Savage going over Rude is probably the best worked match as they might be stretching Dynamite's ability too thin by late '87.  Let's say the Rougeaus finally going over the Harts also makes four stars)

5. Wrestlemania IV: Bret ended Savage's long IC run here, almost certainly the best match; and then the Dynamite/Steamboat blowoff that ended Steamboat's WWF run.

6. Summerslam 1: Davey Boy turned heel on Bret after their all babyface tag partner IC match, which is probably the match of the night - Savage loses to Dynamite in the main.

7. Survivor Series 2: This is the best card of the 80s; Mr. Perfect beat Owen; Bret beat Davey Boy again; Savage takes the belt from Dynamite.

8. Royal Rumble 1: How about Brainbusters/Rockers and Perfect v. Bret?
9. Wrestlemania V: This is the big color match between Brainbusters/Rockers - the young babyfaces really just get carved up here.  Rude/Perfect was an all heel IC match that hopefully gets to 4 stars; and I loved Bret/Savage as a babyface main event - particularly with the end of the show standoff between the Heenan Family (Perfect/Rude/Arn/Tully) and the babyfaces (Bret/Savage/Shawn/Marty).
10. Summerslam 2: The Rockers win the cage match blowoff against the Brainbusters; Rude went over Hennig and Savage beat Bret again.  Essentially a Mania rematch card.
11. Survivor Series 3: Perfect took the title from Savage in a match that included a swerve - Hennig had seemingly turned face, breaking with Heenan, earning Savage's trust and this match was set up really to replicate the babyface Bret/Savage series - but Hennig and Heenan were actually still together, culminating in the title switch here.  If there's a second four star match, I'll say it was Bret/Arn.

That ended the 80s.  11 shows.  The early shows really rely on the working ability of Dynamite and establish the primacy of he, Bret, Davey Boy as the core of the company.  There's a transition to Savage as lead babyface, his work ability and charisma carry the shows as Dynamite and Steamboat move on.  By decade's end the Heenan Family has had a vibrant heel run that sets up really the best angle of the 80s, the Heenan/Hennig fake split that leads to Perfect winning the strap.  That's my favorite moment of the decade; largely, I was just looking at those early shows as a puzzle and not storytelling, but I really enjoyed thinking about that Hennig angle, and that began to move the Counterfactual into a different direction. 

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