For the past month or so, friends of mine who are also wrestling fans have all heard the same thing out of me: I've been very disinterested in any of the current wrestling product as of late. Post-WrestleMania burnout? Possibly. Some have said that even the WrestleMania build was lacking this year, but being involved in the weekend and at the event live completely nullified that for me. It just seems that creativity is at an all-time low throughout the industry. Whereas this time of year is normally full of new characters and feuds, it just feels to me like nothing is on the immediate horizon.
Will it pick up again? I'm sure of it. Thinking back to the month of May in years past, several of wrestling's most beloved concepts and events find their anniversaries at this time. A legendary television program, an innovative pay-per-view, and one of the greatest matches of all-time are all a part of wrestling's "MAYhem."
Take for example the night of May 11, 1985. It was a Saturday night and NBC was about to change wrestling forever. The night before, the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island had witnessed the first taping of the WWF's Saturday Night's Main Event. Four all-star matches featuring both the WWF Champion and the WWF Women's Champion? Hulk Hogan, Wendi Richter, JYD, Roddy Piper, Mr. T, and Cyndi Lauper all on free tv? That was Saturday Night's Main Event. Although the WWF had produced two similarly star-packed specials earlier in the year for MTV, this was on prime time network television. The current champions may be on television multiple times a week today, but it was always an event when Hogan made a tv appearance in 1985. As if the first WrestleMania wasn't enough, SNME, as it came to be known, proved to anyone that the WWF was on the pop culture map.
For many fans, WWF concepts like SNME weren't exactly how they enjoyed their wrestling. This group of fans frowned upon the heavy celebrity involvement and wanted wrestling the way that it had been presented for decades prior: two gladiators in a hard-hitting battle to the finish. This style was by no means gone and in fact hit new heights just four years later. On May 7, 1989, the NWA presented WrestleWar 1989, also known as Music City Showdown. The event was held in Nashville, Tennessee to a crowd of around five-thousand fans. The WWF, completely in war mode, ran a card in the same building the night before which has often been attributed to the low WrestleWar live gate. No matter the tactics being played in the business, nothing was going to stop two of the all-time greats from putting on the performance of a lifetime.
The show also featured a number of other notable matches, including a very underrated encounter between Michael "P.S." Hayes and Lex Luger where the Fabulous Freebird snatched the NWA United States Championship from The Total Package. The icing on the cake, as it were, for the show is the broadcast team. One of my favorite teams, Jim Ross and Bob Caudle, call the action just as you would expect two of the all-time greats of the booth would. If there were ever a broadcast team that perfectly blended the best of two eras, it was J.R. and Caudle.
Nonetheless, the concept worked as proven by a modern day pay-per-view calendar of around twelve events per year. The In Your House events slowly began to receive subtitles such as "International Incident" and "Buried Alive." These subtitles would eventually overcome the "In Your House" title which was finally dropped in 1999. Though events of today such as "Money In The Bank" and "Over The Limit" are full length and full priced pay-per-views, I still think of them as "In Your House" events. On April 30, 2013, WWE released a DVD and Blu-Ray compilation of the best In Your House matches hosted by a man often associated with the event, Todd Pettengill.
Will we see any groundbreaking wrestling events take place during this month of May? With the month half over, I'd venture to say no. Perhaps it's a better time to take a look back at wrestling's past. It's always a good time for that. As I frequently say and convey, you can never go wrong with a little, or a lot, of nostalgia.