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By Paul Herzog

In the last year or so, the WWF has taken a more "adult" approach to running their wrestling promotion. Since I'm an adult, I guess that's a pretty good thing. There's been a drop-off in the number of tax agents, models, African princes (who happened to be a big white guy from Louisiana) and alligator hunters; all of whom just happened to know how to apply arm bars and body slams. In 1989, Vince McMahon told Arn Anderson that having two of the original Four Horsemen "gave credibility to his company." In comparison to those days, Vince has got credibility flowing out of his ears.

The last remnant of the late 80s is the Undertaker, but they no longer insinuate that he's really a dead guy, and more often than not, they show him out of costume. His brother Kane is in full getup all the time, but there isn't any other way to do it. He's been sold as disfigured, and if he took off the mask, we'd all see that he used to be a dentist named Isaac Yankem. Yeah, there are still some gimmicks in the mid-card, like the Oddities and Gangrel and the Headbangers, but that's different. They're wrestlers who happen to have other interests and lifestyles outside of the ring. They're not really circus performers, vampires, and punk rockers, respectively, who are bored with their vocational choices and want to try wrestling to put food on the table.

But still, there's something about the WWF that flat out sits wrong. Maybe it's the presentation, maybe it's just the history behind it, but no matter how screwed up they do Hogan/Warrior, WCW has stronger weight with me. Both promotions can, and do, copy each other with frightening regularity. The World Wrestling Federation just does the copy in such a way that makes it tougher for me to perform the suspension of disbelief that makes professional wrestling work in the 90s.

When Sting grabbed a stray forklift and turns over a limo in the parking lot, I said, "Man, who left their keys in the forklift, and how on earth is Hogan gonna get back to the airport?" When Steve Austin drove a cement mixer into the area underneath the Nassau Coliseum and dumped a load into a Corvette, parked nowhere near any other cars, I said, "I can't believe they did that to a Corvette, but this was stupid." I had the same reaction to Austin attacking Vince McMahon in the hospital the week before, only worse, because the timing was so bad. He was in the hospital for over a week, with a regular old broken leg. My wife asked why McMahon has oxygen tubes in his nose if his leg was broken, but that might be a topic for a column in the New England Journal of Medicine, not here at WrestlingClassics.com. But a 52-year-old non-athlete went home from the hospital four days after being brutally assaulted by their toughest S.O.B., including having been defibrillated?

I think Jim Ross and the rest of their booking committee, and the promotion in general, have done a magnificent job. In the last year, they've raised several guys who used to be mid-card to new heights. HHH, Road Dog, Billy Gunn, Bart Gunn and D-Lo Brown no longer need to be on the first match of a house show. And Rocky Maivia is on the verge of super stardom, a couple of years before anyone could have predicted it. Overall, one can argue which promotion has the greater depth of talent, an argument that couldn't have been dreamed of at the beginning of this year. But something still isn't right...if you can put your finger on it for me, or just wanna say "howdy", drop me a line. 

Paul Herzog has spent far too many hours as a columnist for various Internet sources, and the Wrestling Lariat newsletter, over the past six years. He is a systems engineer at Tellabs in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and is lucky to have a wife that likes the wrestling business, too. He can be reached at grapsfan@aol.com.

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1998 Wrestling Classics: Frank Dusek, Mark Nulty
1998 Design: Jan Herod
Created: October 1998