Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Being The 'Marty Jannetty' Of A Tag Team

It’s the term that every tag team will experience at some point in time. It’s in reference to when the popular tag team known as the Rockers, which consisted of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, broke up and went into the singles ranks. Both men were very talented, but Michaels was the one who achieved higher acclaim while his former partner and friend drifted into obscurity.
Sure, it happened to Jannetty, but throughout history it has happened to seemingly every tag team that has ever been formed. The team will be successful, but when they breakup, only one man achieves anything in the singles ranks.
In this column, which will likely be broken up into several pieces because of so many tag teams, I’ll look at five tag teams shed light on who succeeded, and who dropped down the card.
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They won the WWF World Tag Team Championships on two occasions and were both greatly popular and hated in the world of wrestling in the 80s for the NWA before heading to the WWF and becoming a popular tag team for the company. That tag team was known as the Road Warriors.
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Even dating back to the 80s, it was apparent that officials regarded Road Warrior Hawk more than they regarded Road Warrior Animal. There are probably a few reasons. First, Hawk had a ton more charisma and energy. Whether it be talking, WHAT A RUSH, or his presence in the ring, Hawk kept people interested.
While, Animal was a muscle guy who didn’t provide much of anything for the fans, at least not me. When the tag team was in the WWF, they were kept as a tag team. Neither guy was given more time than the other.
That was completely different when they were wrestling for WCW in the 80s and early 90s. In the NWA/WCW, Hawk got several championship matches against champion Ric Flair, including a title match on pay per view called Bunkhouse Stampede in 1988.
After a two year run with the WWF, Hawk returned solo to WCW without Animal and was involved in a singles feud with WCW International Champion Rick Rude, though he didn’t win the title. He also had a singles run in WCW in 1995, mostly in the undercard before reuniting with Animal in 1996.
While Hawk didn’t win any singles championships, he was still quite popular on his own. On the other hand, any time Animal was working solo, the interest just was never there. Hawk was the guy who entertained fans and Animal was seemingly just there for the ride, from a fans perspective.
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The next tag team is probably the most popular tag team of the 90s. Rick and Scott Steiner, simply known as the Steiner Brothers, put on classic tag team matches in WCW and WWF during their run that lasted nearly ten years when they split in 1998.
Prior to the split, though, both had runs as singles wrestlers. Dating back to 1991, both men had chances to breakthrough as singles stars. Scott Steiner wrestled Ric Flair on a Clash of the Champions, but failed to impress officials, which many blame Flair for screwing over Scotty. Rick Steiner had a run later on in the year with champion Lex Luger and nearly won the title on television.
It had always been evident that Scott Steiner was far more talented in the ring than Rick. Scott was the first to win singles gold when he won the WCW Television Championship in the fall of ’92 but the team left the company for the WWF where they returned to tag team prominence winning the tag titles there as well.
For six more years they teamed until Scott Steiner turned on his brother and joined the New World Order. By the end of 1998, Scott was the WCW Television Champion and would soon be in feuds with the likes of Diamond Dallas Page and Booker T. Rick Steiner would settle for feuding with guys like Fit Finlay.
They reunited by the spring of 1999, but Scott went out with injury and Rick would garner success with a WCW Television Championship run. However, Scott would be the only brother to win a major heavyweight championship when he won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from Booker T in November 2000 and held the belt until March 2001.
Sure, Rick Steiner was a successful mid card title holder, but at one point he was seen as the bigger star of the Steiner Brothers, and he very well could have been, but Scott Steiner skyrocketed past his brother with better ability and with the perfection of his heel attitude.
Speaking of skyrocketing, that brings me to another WCW tag team known as Harlem Heat. Probably the most successful tag team for the company when it came to tag team title reigns. It’s one of the easier examples of knowing who was the stronger talent and who was there just to be body for a tag team.
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Stevie Ray was a power oriented wrestler and had some charisma during his run, but Booker T was younger and just incredible in the ring. Booker was able to flashy moves and really pop the crowd. That became prevalent when Stevie Ray was out with an injury in late 1997. WCW wasted no time putting the WCW Television Championship on Booker T, who brought prestige back to a championship that had suffered with reigns by the likes of the Renegade in previous years.
Booker had classic matches with Chris Benoit and Fit Finlay throughout 1998 and worked with Bret Hart at the Bash at the Beach pay per view in July. His success almost made you forget about Stevie Ray, who would fall down the card, and fall down hard.
They’d briefly reunite in 1999 and win the tag titles again, but fans wanted to see Booker T and not Stevie Ray. In one of the rare times that WCW got something right, and the same thing can be said for Vince Russo, Booker T won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at Bash at the Beach 2000 pinning Jeff Jarrett. Booker won the title five times in less than a year for a company that he should have been champion for years prior.
What did Stevie Ray do that was memorable? Well, he had a feud with Vincent and Horace Hogan over who would be the leader of the NWO Black & White when the group consisted of nothing but jobbers. By the time Booker won the top championship Ray was a commentator for WCW.
Sometimes a tag team will split up and the person the company wants to push a singles star just fails. That was the case with the popular tag team the New Age Outlaws. After winning the WWF World Tag Team Championships and being a huge part of the companies growth in 1998, the duo ventured off into singles roles in 1999. Road Dogg was able to win both the WWF Hardcore and Intercontinental Championships.
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Billy Gunn won the WWF Hardcore Championship in 1999, but also was the 1999 King of the Ring winner. Billy was pushed up the card to work with The Rock at SummerSlam, but quickly came back down to the midcard. Throughout his career he would get more single pushes as he also won the WWF Intercontinental Championship in late 2000 for a month.
It may have been because Billy had a better look or better ability for why he got a push and Road Dogg fizzled out as a singles star. When I think about it, Road Dogg was far more charismatic and wasn’t far off talent wise from Billy.
What is funny is that Billy was highlighted as the star of the 90s tag team the Smoking Gunns with “brother” Bart Gunn. When they split up, Billy became the forgettable character Rockabilly, but he was clearly not setup to succeed with that garbage. The New Age Outlaws are an example of two guys better off being in a tag team.
The last tag team that I’m going to highlight this time around is a tag team that accomplished a lot for Total Non-Stop Action. America’s Most Wanted consisted of Chris Harris and James Storm. Their tag team lasted from 2002 to early 2007.
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In 2004, James Storm was hurt and Chris Harris was given a chance to shine in a singles role. I remember at the time reading that TNA saw Chris Harris as their future with very little mention of James Storm. When they would tag, fans reacted to Harris while Storm didn’t get much of a reaction it seemed.
But in 2004, Harris shined as he wrestled NWA World Champion Jeff Jarrett a couple of times but came up short in singles match. Even though he lost, he was still seen as a credible wrestler who could become a main event guy for the company.
Fast forward three years and the two of them feud with James Storm turning on Harris. They have a great Texas Death Match at Sacrifice in May of 2007, which Harris won. With the victory, many though that Harris was destined to rise up the card, but by the fall Harris was in the midcard and wasn’t elevated. Soon enough, Harris was out of the company and his career was effectively killed off when he had a short, but somehow memorable, run as Braden Walker for the WWE’s version of ECW.
James Storm, on the other hand, became one of the most entertaining heels in the company and while he formed an entertaining tag team with Bobby Roode known as Beer Money Inc., he would be the one who became the singles star.
After a split with Bobby Roode, James Storm became a highly popular baby face and managed to become the TNA World Champion, even if it was for only eight days. When Storm won the championship in October of 2011, he was the top baby face for the company and had really found his groove in wrestling as a singles wrestler.
Today, Storm continues to entertain on TNA programming while Chris Harris hasn’t been heard from in years.
Similar to a once popular wrestling star, Marty Jannetty.
What are some more tag teams that had one partner outshine the other that was memorable? Leave your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading.

For more columns and wrestling reviews, head over to WRESTLING RECAPS. Over 3,000 reviews from all the major companies! 

80 comments:

  1. YankeesHoganTripleHFanJanuary 27, 2015 at 7:25 AM

    Seriously dude? Your going to write a piece like this and not even MENTION the Hart Foundation?

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  2. I've got to keep some interesting teams saved for more installments, as I stated!

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  3. In this column, which will likely be broken up into several pieces because of so many tag teams...

    Try harder

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  4. YankeesHoganTripleHFanJanuary 27, 2015 at 7:34 AM

    Yeah but still...Anvil was Jannetty before Jannetty was Jannetty. Don't they sort of have to be the team to lead the discussion off?

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  5. I've never in my life heard of, "hey this guy will be the Jim Neidhart of this team." Just doesn't work, in my mind.

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  6. I literally could write for dozen of pages, and nobody has the time to do that.

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  7. The Shield.

    They dominated the tag team and six man scene for over a year and a half. They had an awesome gimmick, name, entrance, and presence. Then, the breakup came.

    Rollins had the athleticism and in-ring talent. Ambrose had a tremendous style and gimmick. However, officials decided to give the push to Reigns, as he was the tallest of the trio.

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  8. Great piece Bob.

    Anyone able to suggest Scott Steiners best singles matches? Would be nice to give them a watch.

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  9. not the best im sure, but his match with goldberg (i wanna say at halloween havoc 2000, but not sure) is waaaay better than it has any right to be.

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  10. Thanks, I appreciate it! As for some of his better singles matches, his match with Goldberg at Fall Brawl 2000 ranks up there. He had a good match with DDP at Superbrawl IX, as well. Oddly enough, his match with Sid at Starrcade 2000 is awful, and the Caged Heat match with Booker T at Mayhem was solid, too.


    Throughout 1991/1992, he had plenty of singles matches against various people in the Dangerous Alliance. His match with Steamboat where he won singles gold is on YouTube.


    I enjoyed his brawls with Samoa Joe in TNA, too.

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  11. Can't wait for that Demolition piece where Barry Darsow finally breaks from the tag ranks to become his own man....The Repo Man! :P
    Good stuff, Bob.

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  12. Goldberg at Fall Brawl 2000, Ric Flair at the January '91 Clash, those two stand out to me.

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  13. Yeah, Anvil/Hart and Jannetty/Shawn are somewhat Apples and Oranges. Just my opinion...

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  14. Hey! Repo Man was fun in a corny 90s kind of way! Thanks!

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  15. It's funny that you mention Billy Gunn, but not the team I would have expected.

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  16. HowmuchdoesthisguyweighJanuary 27, 2015 at 7:53 AM

    Geez. Harris had THE LOOK as a younger guy and storm has certainly changed

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  17. Yeah, I'd say both Outlaws peaked with the tag team. Billy miraculously broke out from the Gunn's however.

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  18. I almost went with the Smoking Gunns, but felt that the NAO was more accurate as in 1999 they tried to elevate him big time, unlike in 1996/1997.

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  19. I always thought Ron Harris had the IT factor while his brother Don was less charismatic.

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  20. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:01 AM

    Rollins is the tallest.

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  21. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:02 AM

    Great stuff Bob.

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  22. Can we get this info to Vince.

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  23. Are you seriously trying to say they're not pushing Rollins? The Rollins push is the one thing WWE's been doing right lately.

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  24. His late 2000/early 2001 matches with Booker were great. And the match with Page were he nearly killed him was Super Brawl 99 I think.

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  25. At the time I was on the fence big I still think in the end that Troy was the Shawn Michaels if Tekno Team 2000.

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  26. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:04 AM

    What teams split up and didnt really have a Marty? Hardys both did well, even if Jeff always was the favorite

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  27. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:05 AM

    We did, that's why Rollins has been at the top of the card the last few months. Don't let that interrupt the cliche spewing though.

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  28. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:05 AM

    Rated RKO!

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  29. No, I'm not seriously saying that at all. I recognize and appreciate the Rollins push.

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  30. HBK might have had a more decorated wrestling career, but does his name feature in the hook of an Action Bronson song? Didn't think so https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS-WPTmaXvs

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  31. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Christian, Dvon, Dynamite, Matt Hardy, Neidhart, Kronus, Akeem, Bart Gunn are Martys, for different reasons

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  32. Edge and Christian comes to mind. Sure, Edge was popular but they both were quite successful. Then you have your other rather obvious ones such as Kronik, Mamalukes, Cactus Jack/Terry Funk, Pitbulls, Edge/Rey, Bigelow/Candido, Homicide/Hernandez, Heavenly Bodies just to name several.

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  33. They're making much, much better use of Rollins than any of us expected, let's be honest. Reigns definitely looks like the biggest star so it's fair they pin their highest hopes on him. Ambrose's gimmick still has potential I guess once they decide what they want to do with him.

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  34. As we saw at the Royal Rumble DVon can be replaced with pretty much any black guy. Not all fat white people look like Bubba though

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  35. YankeesHoganTripleHFanJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:13 AM

    Well I suppose the difference is that The Anvil never got Barber-shopped.

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  36. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:13 AM

    For a while they replaced him with a tiny white guy!

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  37. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    Christian's too successful to be considered a Marty. He's a former World champ.

    Dynamite shouldn't count either. Wasn't he on the downside of his career in the Bulldogs? That's like saying Ron Simmons is the Marty of the APA or Burch Reed is the Marty of Doom. They were descending as their partners were ascending. All the other guys were the same age and career point as their partners.

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  38. Lightening was the Michaels of Thunder and Lightening in WCW

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  39. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Wasn't that Eric Watts?

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  40. hey, that neck injury on Raw was big time... "HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO YOUR BROTHER?!?!"

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  41. Marty made it further than Shawn in the IC title tournament we had. Shawn Michaels is the real Marty Jannetty of the team.

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  42. Dynamite's back broke which eventually led to his eventual retirement. I'm not sure how different things would have been if his back was never broken since his situation was an extreme example but there was extenuating circumstances for his decline.

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  43. you should check out Rick Steiner vs Rotunda at Starrcade'88... Alex was over for realz

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  44. Scott Steiner; "COME ON, CHIP!"

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  45. Actually Ambrose is the tallest Shield member but Reigns is the one who has Vince's ideal look for a sports entertainer.

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  46. Totally. Everyone thought Christian would be the Marty but he eked out a good career for himself.

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  47. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    Once he fixed his horrible look, he was great.

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  48. Neidhart and Animal are examples of guys who seemed to have no success outside their team.

    Jannetty kept getting legit pushes all the way up until they put him in the "New Rockers", as did pretty much everyone on the list.

    I always felt like being the Jannetty was way more about screwing up your own chances than anything else.

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  49. Jacob was always outshining Eli

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  50. Until the actual breakup, I never thought Shawn to be any better than Marty. They seemed exactly the same. Unlike Scott Steiner, Booker T, and Bret who I could always tell were more talented than their partners

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  51. go to wal mart - everyone looks like bubba

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  52. John Morrison... Let's see, Miz and Mercury are still on WWE tv

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  53. The Rockers were popular, but not that popular

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  54. Raymond Rougeau was the Marty.... Luke and Butch were both the Jannetty's

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  55. I always thought firebreaker chip was the breakout star but Todd Champion really took it to the next level.

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  56. I always thought that Hulk Machine had the drawing power in that group.

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  57. too early to call on that one, I think

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  58. I feel like they would have given Marty a decent career if he hadn't had so many drug issues.

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  59. Rick Steiner actually won singles gold before Scott. He won the TV Title from Mike Rotunda at Starrcade 1988.

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  60. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:38 AM

    Morrison still is too.

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  61. also, according to wikipedia there was a "Crusher Machine" at a house show once. Didn't know that

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  62. Haven't seen Raw in awhile, didn't know Morrison was back on WWE tv

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  63. Ah, must have slipped my mind. Thanks for the correction.

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  64. The Ghost of Matt_INDEED!!!January 27, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    It slipped your mind, because no one in 1988 even thought, "That Rick Steiner, he's going all the way to the top!"

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  65. I think you're underselling Animal. They were close enough to equals. Yeah Hawk got the Flair solo matches, but Flair could've carried Animal as easy as he did Hawk. He was really good a making power guys who couldn't do much look great. He pretty much made Luger's career doing that.

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  66. Neither did I at the time, but watching those matches now you can definitely see it.

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  67. Personally I always thought Skull was infinitely better than 8-Ball

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  68. As the place to be podcast says, long hair = mid card.

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  69. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:49 AM

    He's one of the headliners for Lucha Underground.

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  70. Yeah totally. In hindsight you can see it. Especially in the months leading up to the breakup.

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  71. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:51 AM

    Whoops! Didn't ser "WWE".

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  72. Yea, indy show... i had said WWE tv

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  73. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANEJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:53 AM

    Mistake acknowledged. Though I'd split hairs on indy show.

    He's still more successful than Mercury though.

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  74. Thread jack -

    Ambrose and Punk in 2011 RCW (had held video, if that makes a difference to you)

    Part one Ambrose calls out Punk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8NmmraApM0

    The match - not complete and not always in focus

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K59TeS7lQA

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  75. No one really remembers Hawk as a singles guy though. Can't even be compared to Michaels, Hart, or Booker T. I believe at GAB 1986, the touring one where Dusty ended up beating Naitch, that both Hawk and Animal received shots at Flair.

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  76. Well, I think the bigger point is that Anvil and Hart complimented each other (Anvil as the Power, Bret as the Technician), whereas Marty/Shawn were pretty interchangeable from 1987-1991 as "Tag Team Specialists". So when you look at teams that have a "Jannetty", that's typically the reference...two tag team members who are interchangeable (in terms of work) that eventually split apart, leading to the more charismatic worker getting a Singles Push.

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  77. Yeah but the Harts - as great as they were - were always a vehicle for Bret to get over and introduced to the WWF audience. There was never any doubt who would be the bigger star. Hence Jim virtually disappearing once his job was done and Bret was a singles guy.

    Strangely enough you could argue the same for E and C and The Hardys.

    With The Rockers this was far less clear and they were presented very much as equals and for many it was Jannetty who had more potential. Shawn just got so good so quick he left him miles behind - plus he was better at politics.

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  78. Maybe they didn't, but when he won that Championship from Rotundo, that place went absolutely batshit crazy.

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  79. Nailed it. Marty had demons that have been written about for years. He had problems with booze, weed, and pills, and while Shawn might've dabbled himself, he didn't show up intoxicated or inebriated as often as Marty.

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