This is one of my favorite wrestling moments of all time, because there is so much bullshit going on here, it's almost impossible to tell what's set up, what's scripted, what's real, who's in on it, and who has been left out of the loop. It's just such a gigantic, twisting Inception-like maze of bad ideas.
It all starts with this match at WCW's 2000 Bash at the Beach pay-per-view. The story goes that Jeff Jarrett, the blond guy in the shiny shorts, was their world champion. He had a title match versus Hulk Hogan, and the creative team wanted Hogan to lose this one to help solidify Jarrett's character as a legitimate champion. Hogan didn't like that idea, so he invoked a clause in his contract that gave him creative control, effectively letting him choose his own storylines and match outcomes. In the wrestling world, he's known for this kind of douchebag self-promotion.
I had a couch that looked like that once.
After some back and forth, they decided to do a "worked shoot." What that means is that they would be making it look as if what was going on in the ring was unscripted and unplanned, even though every second of it totally was. So Jarrett headed to the ring, along with Vince Russo, the head writer for WCW, and proceeded to lie down at Russo's instruction. He then threw the belt at Hogan and said, "There you go. Pin him."
Hogan looked absolutely disgusted and asked for a microphone. As Russo walked away, Hogan said, "That's why this company's in the damn shape it's in -- because of bullshit like this." He then put a foot on Jarrett's motionless body and had the ref count it out.
This is actually how you get elected to office in Georgia.
Everything up until that point was totally scripted. See, people were for the first time getting into the behind-the-scenes stuff, so they all knew about Hogan's antics, and they knew about the bullshit politics that happen in wrestling promotions. So Russo took advantage of it. Here's where it gets crazy.
What wasn't scripted was that after Hogan had left the building, Russo came back out and went on a total fucking tirade about him. He laid out exactly what happened, including bringing up Hulk's "creative control" clause. He talked about the plans that they had to scrap because of it. He called Hogan every name in the book and said, "I promise everybody, or else I'll go in the goddamn grave, you will never see that piece of shit again." And he was right. At least in the WCW, because Hogan never came back. He filed a defamation of character lawsuit a short while later, but it was eventually thrown out.
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"Whatcha gonna do, brother, when Hulk Hogan's Lawyermaniacs come crashin' down on YOUUUUUU?!"
Had Russo not come back out and gone on that rant, the plan was for Hogan to return after a four-month hiatus. In the meantime, WCW would have created a new title belt and crowned a new champion, assuming that Hogan had quit the company for good. So when he eventually returned to the ring, he could claim, "Hey, I'm the real champion," and they'd have to have a huge match to settle it. Instead, when Russo got real, Hogan got pissed and said, "Fuck this shit, I'm outtie 5000, homeslice." Or whatever it was that old white guys said in the '90s when they were trying to act all cool.
So what do you do when your sport is based on fake fighting, but real fighting is stealing your audience? That was the situation in 1998 that resulted in the Brawl for All, and it was universally considered to be the single stupidest fucking idea the WWE ever let go past the "drunken dare" stage. At the time, the UFC and tough man competitions were getting huge, and not being satisfied with just dominating the wrestling world, the WWE thought, "Let's directly compete with them by pitting untrained fighters against each other in real hand-to-hand combat. What could possibly go wrong?"
Well, other than shattering the illusion that these guys could actually fight. For example, one of their bigger stars at the time was "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, and he was marketed as a brutal tough guy. They were about to give him a big push, which means he would have gotten a major storyline, some extremely important matches, and the spotlight. What happened instead was that he got his ever-loving fucking ass kicked by a guy named Bart Gunn ... the same guy in the above video. Not only did he get knocked out, but he injured his knee in a takedown. And just like that, Dr. Death's actual wrestling push was over.
"Not in the face! Not in the face!"
The second thing that went wrong was that several wrestlers ended up legitimately injured. See, it turns out that when you get a bunch of 300-pound untrained dudes taking haymakers at each other, it tends to fuck up the human body. Who could have known?
They kept this thing going forfuckingever, and it was so painful to watch. The crowd would chant "boring" during the matches (you can hear them doing it in that Dr. Death fight). The punches were just so awkward and clumsy. No one knew what the hell they were doing. And worst of all, the people in the audience didn't pay for a real fight -- they paid for some good old-fashioned fake-ass wrestling. But they kept Brawl for All rolling regardless, right up until Wrestlemania, where the winner of the tournament, Bart Gunn, won the honor of fighting a real trained boxer, Butterbean. Finally, we can see what happens when the best wrestling has to offer takes on a mediocre, overweight boxer! Surely this won't ruin any childhood illusions!
You know what's coming next. Here's Butterbean knocking Gunn's soul completely out of his fucking body in the first round of that fight: