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Tag: pro wrestling

The Spirit Runs Forever: Farewell to the Ultimate Warrior, Professional Wrestling Superhero

By Seth Falvo

The man born as Jim Hellwig — famous for wrestling as The Ultimate Warrior in the WWE during the late eighties and early nineties — died last night in Arizona. His death comes just three days after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and one day after his final appearance on “Monday Night Raw.”

Professional wrestling is an art over-saturated in hyperbole; it’s an art where every wrestler is “the biggest” and/or “the best,” every event is “the most important,” and the phrase “the most” is uttered so frequently it practically loses meaning. Yet it’s hard to overstate the popularity that The Ultimate Warrior achieved, and the influence that he has had on any wrestling fan who grew up during the late eighties and early nineties. I know it’s lazy to compare professional wrestlers to superheroes, but for millions of kids like myself, The Ultimate Warrior was as close to a real-life superhero as it got. The Ultimate Warrior’s look and in-ring style — from his heavily-muscled physique and facepaint to his energetic entrances and quick, devastating matches — were convincingly brutal, and his intense, chaotic interview style was extremely unique. His WWE feuds against “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts were nothing short of legendary.


(Highlights of The Ultimate Warrior’s best promos. Yes, clips from the Hulk Hogan “Crash the Plane” promo are at the very end.)

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ICYMI: Brock Lesnar Snaps The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania Win Streak at Wrestlemania XXX


(Your reaction. Enjoy it before it gets taken down.)

By Seth Falvo

I know how some of you don’t like it when we bring up professional wrestling in these parts. Professional wrestling is scripted. Professional wrestlers are on steroids, and not the cool ones that MMA fighters take/the ones MMA fighters used to be allowed to openly take. Professional wrestling is built around silly, drama-based plots, instead of serious things like a former Olympian seeking revenge against a barista who once made him cry so meatheads will respect him. The WWE’s rankings are purely a popularity contest, while the UFC has super scientific rankings that award title shots to only the most deserving fighters. I know all of this.

But can we please talk about how Brock Lesnar snapped The Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania streak at Sunday night’s Wrestlemania XXX at 21 straight Wrestlemania victories? Because holy shit, Brock Lesnar snapped The Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania streak, and I’d really like to talk about it.

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Six Things the UFC Can Learn from the WWE Going Into 2014


(On second thought, make that seven things. Photo via With Leather.)

By Seth Falvo

On paper, my timing couldn’t possibly be worse. Aside from the fact that there are dozens of “What the UFC can learn from the WWE” articles on the Internet, last week’s edition of Monday Night Raw – the company’s flagship television program – brought some of its worst viewership numbers of the past fifteen years. With this week’s edition competing against a Monday Night Football game between two teams still in playoff contention for the casual fans, it’s doubtful that those numbers improved by much.

So then why am I writing yet another article about what a company that sells choreographed “fights” experiencing some of its lowest viewership numbers can teach the UFC? Because the WWE’s idea of “terrible numbers” involves only averaging 3.53 million viewers. To put that into perspective, the TUF 18 Finale main card drew 1.129 million viewers. That’s right, the WWE is in panic mode because their weekly Monday night show only attracted three times as many viewers as a UFC event.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest that the UFC resort to ridiculous storylines, assigning character gimmicks to fighters, forcing celebrity guests into shows, forming an ill-advised partnership with a dying pro-wrestling promotion, or any of the other things that would make most MMA fans roll their eyes. Nor am I going to ignorantly blame the UFC for less than spectacular fights, controversial finishes, and other things that a legitimate sports league cannot possibly be expected to control. On the contrary, my first suggestion is something that the UFC actually used to do better than the WWE…

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TNA Deathwatch: Viacom’s Pro-Wrestling Brand Might Be F*cked Too, You Guys


(See, Viacom? There ARE some things that are too stupid for pro-wrestling fans to watch.)

Remember when we told you guys on Sunday that Bellator is going through some hard times before its (extremely misguided) inaugural PPV? Well, with a brand new episode of TNA Impact scheduled to air tonight, we decided to look into how Viacom’s other promotion is doing. Try not to act too surprised, but here’s the short version of the story:

Believe it or not, the professional wrestling outfit that’s been repackaged as an infomercial for an MMA PPV that no one cares about is in some pretty dire straights. Over the course of the past year, TNA Impact has been making some drastic budget cuts, which have included firing numerous young prospects and veteran wrestlers alike (leading to some hilarious satirical stories from Kayfabe News). Okay, no problem with trimming the fat, right? Well, once main players in the company start getting cut, it’s not exactly a good sign. Follow us after the jump, and we’ll explain…

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MMA Fighters Transitioning to Pro-Wrestling: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly


(Let me guess, it’ll sound something like “Tito Ortiz, The Huntington Bad Beach Boy: Future NTA world TNA heavyweight champion of the world.” Capture via ProWresBlog.Blogspot.Com.)

For some MMA fighters, professional wrestling was just a one-time cash grab. For others, it became a second career. Inspired by yet another week of TNA Impact Wrestling’s efforts to get anyone to care about the professional wrestling experiments of two broken-down MMA legends, we’ll be examining fighters who took up professional wrestling after they made their names in MMA in our newest installment of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

Bear in mind that this article is focusing on mixed martial artists who transitioned to professional wrestling careers, and not fighters who started off as professional wrestlers. So that means fighters like Brock Lesnar, Ken Shamrock, Bobby Lashley, Giant Silva, Bob Sapp, Dos Caras Jr. (aka Alberto Del Rio), Dan Severn (Google it) and Sakuraba will not be covered here — although a few of these men will make appearances in this article. Let’s start off on a positive note…

The Good

The Professional Wrestling Career of Josh Barnett.

When you’re thinking of good instances of an MMA fighter turning to professional wrestling as a second career choice, Josh Barnett should immediately come to mind. There have been other fighters who dabbled in professional wrestling, but Barnett is one of the only ones to be just as popular and successful in it as he was in MMA.

Before his transition, Barnett became the youngest heavyweight champion in UFC history by defeating Randy Couture at UFC 36. After being stripped of his title due to a positive drug test, Barnett set his sights on the Japanese professional wrestling scene, where the fans value legitimacy and toughness from their wrestlers more than mic skills and charisma (although Barnett has both in spades). He immediately challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and although he came up short, he went on to enjoy the most relevant crossover career of any fighter on this list before his return to the UFC earlier this year put a halt to the wrasslin’ for the time being.

It’d be easy to call his work with the incredibly underrated Perry Saturn or the technical wrestling clinic that he put on against Hideki Suzuki his most impressive stuff, but it’s probably not. Honest to God, Barnett’s biggest accomplishment may be the fact that he managed to pull Bob Sapp — who has the same cardio and technique in wrestling as he does in MMA — through a watchable match. How many people can claim that?

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MMA Alternate History: What if the WWE Purchased the UFC in 2001 Instead of Zuffa?


(McMahon poses with legendary WWE manager Paul Bearer (RIP). / Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

MMA history contains many compelling “what ifs” that could’ve changed the fate of the sport. If one path is taken, disaster. If another path is taken, absolution.

Some “what ifs” are more compelling than others. Not much changes if Floyd Sword or Rudyard Moncayo decides to never step into the cage. The timeline remains intact if Anderson Silva doesn’t get a DQ loss against Yushin Okami at Rumble on the Rock. But there are scenarios where the entire sport can change — where the timeline can split like in Back to the Future Part II.

This is the start of a series at CagePotato where we examine such scenarios, using historical fact to help create realistic historical fiction. Here is our first historical conundrum:

What if Vince McMahon Purchased the UFC in 2001?

In 2001, Vince McMahon’s WWE (then WWF) purchased the decaying WCW and the fledgling, bankrupt ECW. That year, McMahon’s XFL hosted its first (and only) season. It was quite a year for Vinny Mac. He destroyed his two rivals and expanded into a new sport.

2001 was also the year that Zuffa purchased the UFC from the company’s original owners, SEG. SEG was cash-strapped and could no longer carry the burden of running an MMA promotion in a country that was, at the time, hostile to MMA. The Fertitta Brothers bailed out Bob Meyrowitz and SEG, and the rest is history.

But what if, for one reason or another, The Fertitta brothers didn’t buy the UFC and give it to Dana White like they were tossing their kid the keys to the Ferrari? What if Vince McMahon decided to add another three letters to his shopping list…U, F, and C?

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Pro-Wrestling-Inspired MMA Move of The Day: Cambodian Fight Ends Via Boston Crab

Because every country needs to have its own MMA promotion these days, Cambodia’s Khmer Warrior Championship put on an event in Phnom Penh on Sunday, headlined by Soung Sovantha (never heard of him) vs. Bun Heang (never heard of him). You can check out the fights on the khmersexystars YouTube channel…or just watch our favorite one above, which pits Von Savy against Bun Mang. Yep, two dudes named Bun were on the same card. It is what it is.

The fight itself is pretty uneventful, up until the finish. The two fighters appear to have Muay Thai backgrounds from their stances, but neither Savy (red trunks) nor Mang (blue trunks) engaged much for the first couple of minutes. There is a lot of feeling out, a tiny bit of clinch work and two effective leg kicks from Savy.

Then, it happens.

Mang throws a left leg kick to the body that is caught by Savy, who sweeps his opponent off of his feet, grabs both of Mang’s feet by the ankles and locks on a freaking Boston Crab.

Anyone who has first-hand experience with high school locker room wrestling matches knows that the Boston Crab hold, popularized by Professional Wrestling, hurts a whole lot if you’re bad enough to let your opponent apply it.

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Reliving Chuck Wepner vs. Andre the Giant: The Great American Freakshow We Somehow Forgot


(Wepner was tossed out of the ring in the third round, and lost the fight by count-out. Seems legit. Video of the fight is available after the jump.)

If you happen to be a connoisseur of MMA freak show bouts, it’s likely that you recognize June 25, 1976 as the day that “The Greatest of All Time” Muhammad Ali took on Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki in a mixed rules bout. The fight itself may have been an unwatchable display of bizarre kicks from Inoki – who was only allowed to kick if one of his knees was touching the mat – but it’s remembered as one of our sport’s first genuine freak show bouts.

Yet often forgotten by even the most die-hard fight fans among us is that the undercard for Ali vs. Inoki contained a match between Chuck Wepner (the boxer/liquor salesman whose bout against Ali served as the inspiration for the Rocky series) and Andre the Giant broadcast live from Shea Stadium. Before we go any further: Yes, you read that last sentence correctly, and yes, we’ll have video evidence of this after the jump.

By 1976, Andre the Giant had established himself as an unstoppable juggernaut in professional wrestling, to the point that simply getting in a few good shots in a losing effort against him could put another wrestler over. He may not have been professional wrestling’s first “unbeatable giant” character, but he was certainly the most successful and popular portrayal of it. Naturally, when Vince McMahon Sr. faced the dilemma of finding an opponent for the division killer, he got the idea of having him defeat a real fighter. Chuck Wepner – who coincidentally was considering becoming a professional wrestler by this point in his career – was the ideal opponent.

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Pro-Wrestling-Style Finishing Move of the Day: Anderson Ramos Wins Via Back Suplex Side Slam [VIDEO]


(Props: Giovani Brugnago via DamnSevern)

This quick ‘n’ nasty video was taken two Saturdays ago at a regional Brazilian promotion called Hawk Fight Championship, and features a dude named Anderson “Adele” Ramos (seriously?) knocking out his opponent with the kind of high-altitude body-slam that you don’t usually see outside of a pro-wrestling match. Though the move looked eerily familiar, I wasn’t sure what to call it, so I asked our resident pro-wrestling historian Seth Falvo if he could lend some assistance. After doing a bit of YouTube research, he directed me to this video of a “Back Suplex Side Slam,” and further explained via e-mail:

It turns out no one used it as a finisher/trademarked a name for it that I can tell. I checked Undertaker, Dr Death, Bam Bam, Backlund, Taz, Kane, DDP…fucking no one named it anything. Vince McMahon’s famous “Whattamaneuver!” is probably it’s unofficial name.”

So there you have it. The Back Suplex Side Slam. Cue shooting star/piano music.

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Meanwhile, in Professional Wrestling: Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama Have Sloppy, Kayfabe Rematch [VIDEO]


(Props: MiddleEasy)

I’ll get this out of the way up front: I’m not exactly a fan of remakes. Attempting to improve something that most people think is fine as-is usually results in the creation of something indefensibly stupid (like that 2002 remake of Rollerball) that will make everyone feel terrible about themselves (like how anyone who paid to watch that 2002 remake of Rollerball felt). This is especially true when the people remaking something completely miss the point of what they’re remaking, and decide to take out all the parts with social commentary and replace them with explosions and sideboob (You get the point).

So I guess it goes without saying that when All Japan Pro Wrestling attempted to recreate Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama’s PRIDE 21 encounter during a professional wrestling match last Sunday, I wasn’t exactly a fan. The fact that it happened during a tag team match also featuring Masayuki Kono and Keiji Mutoh didn’t exactly help things for me. Two things before we go any further – yes, fellow wrestling nerds, Keiji Mutoh used to be The Great Muta and no, I didn’t know he was still alive, either.

Video awaits after the jump.

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