Thursday, January 1, 2015

What the World Was Reading: WWF Magazine Review - October 1999

This new column to the blog will provide a review of a different sort of wrestling:  that found on the pages of various wrestling magazines in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Between 1995 and 2002 I was a subscriber to WWF Magazine and supplemented that subscription by purchasing a few Apter magazines when I had some extra cash.  After heading off to college, I tossed these magazines into a box and have not opened it in nearly a decade.  I thought it might be interesting to randomly draw out a magazine a week and critique it for the Blog of Doom.  The visuals, stories, advertisements, and general ridiculousness of wrestling magazines during this period will hopefully provide the Blog with a series of fun discussions in the weeks and months ahead.

This column will normally appear on the weekends, but since I will be away this weekend and could not upload it, I figured that I would just post it today.


The first magazine drawn is the October 1999 issue of WWF Magazine.  This was during the time when Vince Russo was still editing the publication and this was one of his last projects for the company.  Our cover wrestler for this month was Hardcore Holly, in the midst of his Super Heavyweight gimmick:


This cover was pretty unique because it is the only one that I can recall that actually folds out for another page.  This may also be the only time that Viscera was ever on the cover of the magazine.  The magazine concept is also flawed in real life, as Kane is actually about 6’7”, as is the Undertaker, and the Big Show is really about 6’10.”  This cover makes it seem like all three men are 7’ and over.  I am not sure of Viscera’s legit height.  Obsessed with Wrestling tells me he’s 6’6”, but he’s destroying that barrier on the cover.

The letters to the editor section is what leads off the magazine and, as can be expected, it is full of laughs.  First, Jessie Bowman of Lebanon Junction, Kentucky demands that Mick Foley get his own section in the magazine and that she is just going to renew her subscription just to see more!  “Steve” from Minneapolis complains about Billy Gunn’s attitude, but not his push, so he is barking up the wrong tree.  Lauren Danek, location unknown, is mad because the magazine did not feature Val Venis and the Godfather as future tag team champions in its August issue.  One fan, a guy named Dann Cunningham, challenges an August article that claimed that Prince Albert – the future Tensai – has a Bachelor’s degree.  WWF Magazine does its own form of a burn by picturing Albert with his diploma:


Albert proceeds to let Mr. Cunningham know that his “picture speaks louder than words” and reminds him that “If you can grab it, pierce it!”  Wiser words have never been spoken.  A female fan criticizes an August article about women in business since the article implied that women need to use their sexuality to get ahead.  The response given is that Debra uses sexual charms to her advantage and “If your boss-to-be [in an interview] screams ‘We want PUPPIES!’ – you know that Debra got to him first!”  Seriously?  What boss does that in an interview?  Probably this guy:


By the way, how much was WWF Magazine during this time?  Well, according to a subscription card that I still had in the magazine, you could get two years of it for $35 and one year for $19.97.

One of my favorite parts of the magazine was the “Rookies to Legends” section, which usually broke down a new act.  Very few of the acts profiled became legends, such as our profiled stars this month:  The Mean Street Posse.


You know, Shane McMahon’s buddies from the “mean streets” of Greenwich – Rodney, Pete Gas, and Joey Abs.  The article tells us that they helped Shane McMahon beat down punks in the streets and in the classroom.  It then chronicles their federation exploits and you can clearly tell this was during the Russo era as they were kicked out of the company after losing to Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco and yet e-emerged when Shane took control of the company “for a short time.”  These guys never quite lived up to the hype, as they were supposed to bring their “money, power, and brute force” to bear in the WWF.

During this time, WWF Magazine was also rotating Vic Venom’s “The Bite” column out to a guest superstar.  Venom was Vince Russo’s alter ego and was his impression of Dave Meltzer within the pages of the magazine.  Our guest this month is Stephanie McMahon, who recounts her troubled relationship with Shane.  She tells us of Shane ripping up her stuffed animals – one of which was a stuffed giant pink animal named Big Dog – how he called her a slut when she wore makeup at school, and how he sent the Mean Street Posse after her when she went to a party.  Unfortunately, we do not get any stories of Shane mixing it up with Randy Savage.  But beyond that, we get a photograph that you will not be seeing on the WWE Network anytime soon!


As Scott conducts the David Crockett Memorial Tag Team Tournament, the next major piece is fitting as we get a profile of the Undertaker-Big Show tag team.  Their name?  The Brothers Grim.  Yes, that is the name writer Bill Banks assigns to this team.  At least they are better than the Grimm Twins, the repackaged Blu Twins that graced our screen in 1996!

We are informed that Kane is a target of the so-called Brothers Grim because “he cost the Big Show his destiny as the 1999 King of the Ring.”  So before Alberto del Rio was proclaiming his long last search of destiny, reminiscent of Ponce de Leon’s quest for the Fountain of Youth, the Big Show was complaining about his.  It predicts that the Undertaker will eventually turn on Big Show to become WWF champion yet again, a puzzling conclusion when the Big Show had already turned three times in 1999 up to this point.  Of course, Mr. Banks hedges his bets by saying that Big Show may one day challenge the Undertaker for the title, a match that would have sent posters here running for the ticket offices immediately!

One of our feature articles this month is on Chyna’s relationship with Triple H.  This magazine is the gift that keeps on giving.  This article will probably never see the light of day out of Titan Towers ever again as it blatantly states that “Without her [Chyna’s] support Triple H might have failed in his bid to earn a top spot in the business.”  According to Banks, the Chyna-Triple H relationship is much like another political power couple:


Great parallel, that is if Bill, after he cheated on Hillary, tossed her to the curb and Hillary went into the adult film industry.  On second thought, let’s not think about that.  More hilarity ensues in the article as it questions whether Triple H could “swallow his pride” and give Chyna credit for helping him win the title.  Even more, it asks “If Triple H were to monopolize the spotlight and keep all the glory for himself, how would his female counterpart react?”  Shoot comments…

We even get a photograph of Teddy Long, serving as a referee at the time, pleading in vain with Shane McMahon to book a tag team match!


Does anyone remember these toys?  I never owned one of these because I did not get the appeal.  Who wants action figures that sweat?  Maybe Vince will reintroduce this idea based on Big E’s alleged sweating problem:


The next piece, entitled “The Christian Spirit,” describes Christian’s career with the Brood up to this point.  It heralds Christian as the spiritual force behind the group, while Edge is the intellectual and Gangrel is the physical.  It says his spirituality reflects a higher being who does not have a name and posits that he might heal the recent rift between Edge and Gangrel that split the Brood apart.  However, it says that his negotiating position might be compromised because – get this – Christian has become a sex symbol and Gangrel is jealous!  The piece becomes quasi-homoerotic in stating that “There is nothing sexier, more desirous, more compellingly delicious than a man of mystery.”

Or one could say that nothing is sexier than this month’s pin up calendar.  I remember my mother prohibiting these in the house:


The feature piece of the month is about “Big Shot” Hardcore Holly’s cult following among WWF fans, especially those of the Internet variety.  You see, these fans have been campaigning for him on wwf.com, but this is awful because it is forcing Holly to take unnecessary risks!  Everything in this magazine has some kind of parallel, so this one says that he is going to end up like Napoleon at Waterloo, who was too confident in his abilities and lost everything.  Shockingly, they even reference Holly’s prior gimmick as a stock car driver.  Holly also had a quasi-partnership with the Big Show during this period that I do not remember very much.  This is the most rationally written piece yet in the article, probably because it came from Kevin Kelly.  And who knew these articles could be educational?  Waterloo?

Next, we get the results from Fully Loaded 1999.  WWF Magazine was always late with the pay-per-view results, typically by two months, so you have a magazine from October giving a summary of events that took place from a pay-per-view that is a distant memory by this point.  The pay-per-view recaps used to be my favorite feature, but over time the writing staff put little effort into talking about the play-by-play of a match.  For example:


Back in 1995, the magazine would have given a page of coverage for each of these matches.  Instead, we get a mere two paragraphs about the Edge-Jeff Jarrett Intercontinental title match and the “Acolytes Rules Match” between the Hardy Boyz, the reigning champions at the time, and Michael Hayes and the Acolytes.

This month’s “Private Eye” feature, which followed a WWF superstar outside of the ring, covers Steve Austin’s weekends with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.  Austin threw out the first pitch in a Subway Series Game between the Yankees and the Mets in July.  Evidently, Austin was a good luck charm as three teams he threw the opening pitch for that year – the Phillies, Mets, and Royals – all won their respective home games.  The article credits Austin with giving some pointers to Mets pinch hitter Matt Franco, who drove in the winning run in a “dramatic” 9-8 victory.

My other favorite column was always “The Informer,” which provided gossip, rumors, and legitimate backstage news about the company.  This month’s section includes Paul Bearer in makeup and a wig, a legitimately horrifying sight:


The article blasts Internet fans for saying that Billy Gunn was not main event material after winning the King of the Ring.  It promises that Gunn will prove “BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT that he is a main event man.”  Sadly, this is where the lag time between the magazine and reality worked against the Informer, as Gunn had been promptly and soundly dispatched by the Rock when this issue hit newsstands.  And why is Paul Bearer in a wig?  Well, evidently the Godfather taught he and Prince Albert all about being a ho and how “pimpin’ ain’t easy!”

The magazine ends with fans writing their favorite superstars and asking them questions.  Road Dogg says that his toughest opponent is an attorney, because you see he and X-Pac were in an angle in the summer of 1999 where they fought Chyna, Triple H, and Billy Gunn over the rights to the D-Generation X name.  A feud about trademarks!  The Rock makes fun of a fan named Terrence before telling him that he will not waste his time disclosing where he buys his clothes because Terrence cannot afford them.  The Rock recommends that Terrence “Stick to the Fruit of the Looms and work your way up…!”  And lastly, Christian rebuffs a fan request to divulge his idea of a perfect woman with a bunch of cryptic language that makes little sense.  For example, he says that in his “world ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are both four-letter words that cause pain…They only serve to feed the inner demons that consume [him].”  Deep stuff.

And so ends the October 1999 issue of WWF magazine.  The next magazine drawn from the box is the first issue I ever owned:  the June 1995 edition of WWF magazine.  Inside are the recap of WrestleMania XI, the reunited partnership of Diesel and Shawn Michaels, and some whacky 1995 goodness!

66 comments:

  1. I never got why it had to be a cell match in the first place.

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  2. Absolutely. I remember the night after Survivor Series 01, when they started setting up a continuation of the Austin-McMahon feud. I was like, "Oh, man..."

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  3. haha this is cool!!

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  4. Great post. Really enjoyed it.

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  5. Thank you! It's about time someone review the old wrestling magazines, even if it is just the WWF ones for now.

    A regular column looking at the kayfabe-laden Apter mags, though, would be pure gold. Imagine all the hidden editorial gems in those things.

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  6. Yeah, I'll have a few Apter mags to toss into this eventually as well (Inside Wrestling, WOW, etc.). The box that I have has about 80+ magazines, so there's lots of good fodder. Looking back at some of the old PWI 500's might be interesting as well.

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  7. I love that show, and Shane flipping off Austin was one of my biggest mark outs ever.

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  8. That Shane photo....wow. It's amazing just how much the business has changed since the Attitude era.

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  9. They bought it. That doesn't necessarily tell us that they liked it.

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  10. Austin vs Vince is an angle not a match

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  11. I have this issue and tons more from 1995-2004 or so. Lost my childhood 86-92 issues in a move years back.


    Raw Magazine earlier in 1999 also had a fold-out cover with Debra,Chyna,Sable,Jacqueline etc on it.

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  12. Vince Russo bullshit of throwing in random stipulations and gimmick matches for no purpose other then devaluing those gimmick matches for future bookings. Russo never understood that feuds build and gimmick matches are introduced because regular matches cannot settle it.

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  13. The segments of Vince training for the rumble are some of their best work

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  14. Disagree. Foley was simply to build up rock and get him ready enough to be the corporate champ fighting for vince vs austin. Foley in that match would have just muddied things up.

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  15. Asking why didn't they do Austin vs McMahon at Wrestlemania XV is like saying why didn't they do Hogan vs Heenan at Wrestlemania III.

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  16. Greatest heel of all time imo

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  17. I don't think this kind of article has been done before, and the format plays to your strengths as a writer and thinker. Also, pictures! Wise choices made throughout this, it was fun to read.

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  18. Juiced up alpha Vince is way more credible then chubby thin chickenshit heenan in any match.

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  19. Hogan-Ventura at WrestleMania VI!

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  20. I HATE AUSTIN!

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  21. Not by much. A 50 year old businessman who never stepped into a ring before challenging a guy that wouldn't even tap to a sharpshooter? It would have to be overbooked horseshit to be believable and unfitting for the biggest match of the year.

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  22. This entire thread made me go back and watch some of this Attitude Era stuff ... re-watching Over The Edge 98. Unless you remember the WWF from back in the Hogan days, its hard to explain how surreal it was to see Vince McMahon as an actual character and a heel taking a chair shot. All I'd ever known him as was the announcer in the power blue suits, "baaaaaaack body drop," and "one, two, three! Did he get him? That was close." When he first came out with guns out, it was unreal.

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  23. Oprah NoodlemantraJanuary 1, 2015 at 1:27 PM

    Chase the chicken Vince!

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  24. That's the difference in their mentality now, actually. Back then they did something to make you tune in next week alongside the stuff they did to make you watch you just did.

    Now days it's completely backwards. They absolutely do things one week to make you watch next week without setting up any stakes, but then don't do anything next week to reward you for having watched and nor do they do anything to encourage you to keep doing so.

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  25. Steph could have at least done the Bob Uecker sell job for Shane's choke.

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  26. HowmuchdoesthisguyweighJanuary 1, 2015 at 1:30 PM

    Wish they could of ran with Mankind vs taker one last time (just going off others on the card).

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  27. This was fun. Keep it up

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  28. What's worse, SuperBrawl IX or WrestleMania XV?

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  29. I think we can all agree that ignoring the audience and in some case doing the opposite of the audience wants is a hobby of Vince. Woo Woo Woo, you know it.

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  30. Not much discussion so fsr, we just all seem to be agreeing tnat this was a fun read! Which it was; the pictures were cool as well.

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  31. He was, but the story was Austin vs Rock. Foley/Show just muddied it up and made it stupidly complex.

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  32. Best idea for an article in a long time. I was literally reading through an old 80's copy of PWI earlier today while doing my New Year's cleaning. I hope you're able to get your hands on some of the older mags too.

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  33. any WOW magazines in the hopper?

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  34. That whole storyline is brilliant. Vince gets to fire Austin for his ego, but have Shane reinstate him, so that they can screw Austin again at Survivor Series and then screw Mankind on top of it. And the fridge brilliance is the guy they groomed as champ - The Rock - was every bit the rebel that Austin was.

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  35. Yeah, I have a couple of those sitting around as well.

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  36. Oh yeah those were funny. "I'm the owner of a Fortune 500 co and you want me to chase a chicken?"

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  37. I lack anything pre-1995, but I might see if I can obtain new stuff once I go through the box. Once I review these, I'll probably look to sell some of them because they just take up space.

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  38. Also the fact it was a streetfight. Angle was killing Shane in the wrestling stuff, then Shane got a second wind in the streetfight, and then Angle fucked him up when he stopped playing it as a normal match.

    If anything, that match flat-out put across that Angle was beyond Shane in every single way. One of the strongest matches at putting someone over someone else.

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  39. I don't think they ever said Shane and Vince were in it together the whole time, so it could have just explained as Vince privately reconciling with his son sometime between Shane re-hiring Austin and Survivor Series.

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  40. I had every issue starting with the first one and ending in 99 but I threw a bunch out in a drug fueled rage only keeping the issues with sunny and sable...

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  41. I had the Steve Austin Maximum Sweat figure. It was fun during the summer when you could pour water from the sprinklers or the hose into it but otherwise it was mostly a chore.

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  42. Austin - Pillman is THE what if angle in my mind. Bret was clearly awesome, but the promos would have killed with Brian.

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  43. Good stuff and this exactly what the site needs instead of more wrestling match ratings.

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  44. I remember watching it on PPV as an 11 year old and not really liking it. You knew going in that Austin was getting the title (and it was later confirmed by Mitchell Cole during the broadcast) and aside from Shane/X-Pac and Rock/Austin, the matches were terrible.

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  45. Yep. Had no idea Vinman was jacked like that, especially for a guy his age. It made sense considering his fetish with bodybuilders, but it was still a surprise.

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  46. Considering they never did a big money Austin/Show match, I would have done Rock v. Mankind and Austin v. Show. I don't think you HAD to do Rock/Austin at Mania 15.

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  47. Can't really argue with that. But the main event delivered big time and for me, just being at Wrestemania was awesome. And the swerves, though too Russoish in hindsight, were cool surprises at the time. The only thing I found moronic about the show was the Cell match and the notion that Mankind could be injured by that chokeslam onto the chairs when he took 12 chairshots two months prior and the massive bumps off the cell a few months prior to that

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  48. Alright. I have a few, but most of them stop around 1989 when I realized wrestling was fake.

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  49. Ross made Austin at the IMO better Bret - Austin match at SS 96.

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  50. As Austin says, he was seen by Vince as "a good mechanic, nothing more," Bret had to push the idea of a feud with Austin on Vince, and as for the Era itself, I've always heard the Russo/JR/Shane story too.

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  51. Hey, it's been stated several times (even on HHH's own DVD docs) that if the MSG Curtain Call didn't happen and HHH catching heat for it, he'd have won King of the Ring so no Austin 3:16. Still think he would have made it but probably a lot differently and shifting a lot for WWF.

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  52. I remember actually relying on the January 1997 magazine to get the results of Survivor Series 1996, because other than the two big singles matches, I could not gather from Raw who had won the other matches.

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  53. although as Scott mentions with some of the things going differently he might "just" have turned out a big star instead of the biggest star ever.

    (for example if the whole McMahon/Austin angle hadn't taken place)

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  54. I would disagree a lot. it usually does play off instantly but to claim WCW being horrible in 1999 and 2000 not being responsible for the decline of interest (to take one very obvious example) seems wrong (on the opposite, 1997 WWF being great directly lead to better ratings and buyrates in 1998).

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  55. It's funny how the IYH title match vs Taker that Austin lost clean is basically forgotten. The drama that would ensue over that happening today would be awesome to see. Was there a lot of negative uproar to that at the time?

    Also, this email is awful. Yes, a company that has been in business and at the top for most of is existence has never done anything right on purpose.

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  56. What Scisco is trying to say is that he's part of the millennial. If Scisco wants to get Scott Keith's brass rings, he needs to have grew up watching 80s wrestling, brother so he can learn about perspective.

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  57. This is essentially what they did with Shawn-Vince with the Spirit Squad beat down early on

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  58. Just rewatched Bret - Austin from SS96. What was great about the Hart - Austin rivalry was the story behind it. It's a pretty cool story: two guys hate each other and want to fight.

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  59. Not at all. But how can you compare Little Johnny to Vince?

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  60. I did. Wanna fight about it?

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  61. If it drew gazzillions, would you feel the same?

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  62. Nothing is wrong with me actually. Just a different perspective is all.

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  63. I don't know, Cena reinstating the authority makes sense in the context of his character.

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  64. Austin has made it clear on his podcast that he was brought in as enhancement talent to give guys like Shawn and Bret good matches. JR basically had to convince Vince to even bring him in. Once there, he had two major events help him, the MSG incident and Montreal. Had neither happened, you would have had various combinations of Shawn, Bret, and HHH at the top (along with them trying to forcefeed Rocky).

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