One of my favorite all time matches was the time Hulk Hogan defended the WWF Championship against The Genius on a 1989 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event.
Hogan was in peak form, having finally dispatched of Randy Savage and all the drama surrounding the Mega Powers and was still a year away from passing the torch to Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 6. But his years of ring dominance had an unintended side effect. The cupboard of his typical monster title challengers was left bare. There were no more giants left to slam. It was the perfect environment for a high flier from the mid-card to have his day.
Enter The Genius.
Having spent the better part of a year picking up wins on the undercard and infuriating audiences with his gymnastics (both mental and physical), Lanny "The Genius" Poffo leapt up the ladder and was deemed #1 contender to Hogan's belt just in time for a mandatory title defense on Saturday Night's Main Event.
Hogan is no stranger to high profile matches, of course, but there was something different in the air at the Kansas Expo Center that night. Something palpably unusual. Queer, even.
Using a combination of dandified acrobatics and foppish agility, in addition to a flamingly hellacious moonsault, The Genius flummoxed Hogan like none before. With his effete wit at a crescendo and with the help his partner Mr. Perfect, Poffo picked up an improbable win over the Hulkster that no one could have expected when the fateful night began. And while the victory was anything but straight, it launched The Genius and Perfect into the forefront of the wrestling world. A spotlight they would not vacate for many months.
Memorable though it my be, you might wonder why this moment from 25 years ago is relevant in a sports column about the week to week performances of current WWE Superstars in 2014.
Well, a new challenger for Randy Orton's WWE World Heavyweight Championship emerged when Cesaro emerged victorious against the Champion this week on Smackdown. While Cesaro has his proponents, few could have expected him to best Orton in such a high profile affair. Nonetheless, it was a convincing performance by the powerful polyglot that will fuel his momentum going into his Elimination Chamber title opportunity.
The Genius enjoyed but a short time at the top of the fighting world from his triumph against the #1 man in the business. What can Cesaro make of his big win? Will it define his career? Is it an aberration? Or is it, as this humble reporter thinks, a harbinger of Cesaro's career renaissance?
Here's the match, for your convenience. Absolutely classic commentary by Vince McMahon and Jessie "The Body" Ventura is merely the icing on this cake. Enjoy!
OFFICIAL WRESTLER WRANKINGS FORMULA
ANY WIN = 2 POINTS
US OR INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE BOUT = 1 POINT
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE BOUT = 3 POINTS
NON "BIG 4" PPV BONUS = 1.5X
SUMMERSLAM, SURVIVOR SERIES, ROYAL RUMBLE = 2X BONUS
WRESTLEMANIA = 3X BONUS
The WWE season begins on the day after WrestleMania 29 and culminates with WrestleMania 30. The wrestler who accumulates the most points over the course of the season, wins the coveted Wrankings Championship!
Monday Night Raw -- 2/10/14
Main Event -- 2/12/14
SmackDown -- 2/14/14
WRESTLER WRANKINGS, WEEK 45 *TOP TEN*
1. RANDY ORTON -- 128.5 points
2. Alberto Del Rio -- 127.5
3. Daniel Bryan -- 102.5
4. John Cena -- 81
5. Curtis Axel -- 72.5
6. Big E. Langston -- 66
7. Dolph Ziggler -- 55.5
8. Fandango -- 54
9. Miz -- 49
10. Kofi Kingston -- 48
Thanks for reading, Cagesiders. We'll see you back here next week!