Welcome to Why I Love Wrestling, a collection of reasons - big and small - I have fallen in love with and continue to engage in a torrid affair with a "sport" which has predetermined results and by and large, is fake.
Fake is a peculiar term, especially in connection with professional wrestling. While the outcome is faked - Survivor Series 1997 notwithstanding - as are many of the strikes and holds - Stan Hansen and Vader notwithstanding - there is very little else fake about pro wrestling.
The story two wrestlers weave with their actions, the emotions felt by the audience watching. These are not fake. These are the foundation of what makes pro wrestling great and what makes so many fall head over heels for it despite many logical reasons we shouldn't.
Volume II: Kevin Steen and El Generico turn friendship into hate in the best wrestling feud in the past five years
Looking back, it never should have happened.
If you're familiar with Ring of Honor World Champion Kevin Steen, you know exactly what kind of man he is. If not, allow me to catch you up to speed. He's a fatter, hairier, more vulgar version of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. In a promotion in which honor is in the title and matches once always started and ended with a handshake, Steen represents the complete antithesis.
And he's been reigning over ROH since May, picking off every challenger the promotion has thrown his way.
His latest, and possibly greatest, threat squares off against "Wrestling's Greatest Nightmare" tomorrow night at Final Battle 2012. His name is El Generico and he represents the greatest chance ROH has to rid itself of Steen.
After all, he's done it once before.
In 2007, El Generico and Kevin Steen joined forced against all odds. Generico was constantly cheered while Steen usually got his fair share of boos. Despite their differences, though, their tandem somehow worked. It worked well enough to get them near the top of the tag team mountain in ROH which saw The Briscoe Brothers, Mark and Jay, at its peak. While Steen and Generico failed to win the belts from "Dem Boys," the Sandy Fork natives name the two as their toughest opponents.
By the time the four men collided at Man Up in the promotion's inaugural Ladder War, Steen was decidedly a face as his fantastic matches and amazing chemistry with his partner was enough to swing the pendulum towards cheers rather than boos. This was also helped by the team's tag team titles victory over the reviled The Age of the Fall. After a period of uncertainty as to why these two men would team up followed by a stretch of close but not close enough, Steen and Generico had accomplished every tag team's goal.
This unlikely duo probably should have never teamed up let alone win the company's top prize for tag teams.
They held and defended the titles for over six months until losing them to The American Wolves. They failed to win the belts back from Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards even after invoking a second Ladder War. This failure surely had a hand in what happened at Final Battle 2009.
After a loss to The Young Bucks, Steen turned on his partner. Was it out of frustration? Out of boredom? Or is Steen just rotten to his core? The third option was gain major traction over the course of 2010.
During that year, Steen made his former partner's life a living hell, goading him into tapping into the darkness everyone carries inside them. Generico refused, however, to travel down the same treacherous path Steen had wandered down. So the rivalry was relatively one-sided with Steen attacking Generico, physically or mentally, at every opportunity with the masked man taking the high road.
Until The Big Bang.
At that event, Steen joined forces with Steve Corino and Generico with Colt Cabana for a grudge match which saw the faces come up victorious thanks to a disqualification. It came after Steen smacked "Boom Boom" with a steel chair after CM Punk's best friend locked in a Boston crab on Corino. Generico was momentarily M.I.A. thanks to an apron powerbomb so Cabana was at the mercy of the ne'er-do-wells. A DDT on the steel chair busted Cabana open before Generico was finally able to make his way back into the ring. With Corino disposed, it was once again only Steen and his former partner in the ring.
Even with Cabana, nearly lifeless and bloody on the canvas, Generico refused to strike his former friend. Then Steen wiped a palm-full of blood from Cabana's forehead and smacked Generico across the face.
A man, even a masked one, can only take so much.
Generico finally had had enough and waylaid on Steen. A slew of ROH officials made their way to the ring to stop the attack but Generico wasn't in the mood to listen to reason. After nearly five months of torture, Steen's and that which he inflicted upon himself, the generic luchador was ready to give Steen his comeuppance.
They finally stepped inside the squared circle, one-on-one, at Death Before Dishonor VIII, a match which Steen won. It actually started the show off as Generico interrupted the opening bout because he couldn't wait to get his hands on Steen. But the most important moment in the feud came a few months later at Glory by Honor IX. Again teaming with Corino and Cabana, respectively, Steen and Generico took each other on in a double strap match albeit with chains substituting for leather.
The heroes once again came up victorious but after the match, while Generico was setting his rival for his patented top rope brainbuster, Steen committed the ultimate insult for a luchador and removed Generico's mask. With the mask and some of Corino's blood, Steen created an altar on the chair in a truly shudder-inducing moment.
Steen then brandished the mask and offered his former partner a match: Steen's ROH employment versus Generico's mask. The luchador came out in an all-black mask, ran his thumb along his throat and then pointed it up. He was in. The all-black mask was an interesting choice. For so long, Steen implored Generico to tap into his dark side, into the evil inside him however small it was. And for so long, Generico refused.
Well, Steen finally got his wish.
And at Final Battle 2010, the two closed the show, over an ROH World Championship bout, in one of the best grudge matches I have ever seen.
Steen left ROH but wasn't gone long. By mid-2011, he was already angling for a return and a year later at Final Battle 2011, he won his way back into the promotion.
Generico wasn't happy about it and the two had a few, brief altercations before meeting up on the first night of Showdown in the Sun. I loved the match but wish now, it hadn't happened. Had ROH's plan all along been for Generico to return and take on Steen at their year-end show, their meeting in Miami takes some of the oomph from tomorrow's match. But it appears the change in booking staff might have had something to do with that.
Regardless, the two men have incredible chemistry and tomorrow's match alone, a Ladder War, is sure to be worth the $15 it'll cost one to buy the iPPV. Their feud, seeds planted in fall 2009, spanned the entirety of 2010, and has found a revival in late 2012. It's been engrossing, bloody, captivating, and brutal all at once.
And that's why I love wrestling.