Fantasy Matchup Series
As wrestling fans, we've all dreamed of fantasy matches between wrestling stars of different generations and those who wrestled at the same time but whose careers never crossed paths. In reality, when dream matches like this take place, they can be hit and miss. On the "hit" side (or, in my opinion, knocked out of the park!) would be The Rock vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 18. What's not to love about that match? On the "miss" side would be that botchtastic affair between Undertaker and Goldberg. I cringe when I think about the Jackhammer and the barely airborne Chokeslam that ended the match.
Sometimes things are best left to our imagination. This is exactly what these pieces will be exploring. Using my experience and training as a former professional wrestler, I will be booking and constructing fantasy matches between some of the greats. How I book them will undoubtedly generate debate, as everyone will have their own ideas about how fantasy matches should go. I have been writing matches ever since I became a wrestling fan twenty years ago. This was even before I understood the full nature of the business, the in ring psychology, how moves are performed correctly, how to read the crowd and keep them chanting loudest for the longest time. All of this I learnt over many years. I started writing matches in the form of stickman comics, with each move animated in numeric sequence. I assigned each wrestler a letter, which would be written inside the circular head, so I could tell each stick man apart. This proved to be time consuming, but still a fun and creative way to write matches. I then progressed to action figures. I would make them wrestle a match, and if it was good, would write it down. I have a huge box file of matches which I created and documented using this hands-on method.
In reality, when wrestling a match, you cannot read each other's minds. You communicate verbally and non verbally. The best wrestlers have matches that seem like there is no communication. The match flows in a seamless fashion. With fantasy matchups, the only mind involved is yours. You have complete control over both wrestlers, thereby eliminating the possibility of a botchfest. The match is as good as you make it. All you need is inspiration as a fan, and, in my case, a bit of real life experience. So buckle up, turn on the cinema screen in the imagination theatre of your brains, and imagine JR and The King on commentary while you read. I hope you'll enjoy the series as much as I have enjoyed writing it!
The first fantasy matchup we will explore is Kurt Angle vs Bret Hart. This for me is a dream match between two of the all time greats of the technical style. Both men are essentially wrestling royalty. Their successes and accomplishments are well known and widely celebrated. Kurt Angle, a 1996 Olympic gold medal winner, and 12 time World Heavyweight Champion. Bret "Hitman" Hart, the crown jewel of the Hart family and himself a 7 time World Heavyweight Champion. Both men were wrestlers in the purest sense of the word. Both masters of their craft, with a background in amateur wrestling which undoubtedly held them in good stead when they made their respective jump to the pros.
This match would be so much more than Ankle Lock vs Sharpshooter. I had a great deal of fun constructing this match and making it reflect a realistic encounter. It will not be a complete blow by blow account. I find the best way to describe action is to mention some, but not all of it, and leaving breadcrumb trails for your imagination to run wild while I allude to the flow, the momentum and emotion of the match. You may either agree or disagree with the outcome, and as a wrestling fan that is certainly your right. I hope, at the very least, to entertain you with the possibilities of what could have been. Kurt Angle's professional wrestling career was just getting started in 2000 as Bret Hart's was forced to come to an early conclusion thanks to Post Concussion Syndrome. It is such a shame that they never crossed paths, as it would have been a classic.
I would have built the match as a battle between technical wrestlers, with both men eager to prove themselves. Angle would feel jealous and angry at the lofty position that Bret Hart holds in the business, believing himself to be the best pure wrestler and Harts natural successor. Hostilities would ensue, including Angle destroying members of the Hart Foundation in matches on Raw and Smackdown. Bret Hart would retaliate by attacking Eric Angle and forcing him to submit the Sharpshooter after Eric and Kurt tried to assault Hart.
As such a noteworthy match, its rightful place would be at one of the classic "Big Four" PPV's - Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam or Survivor Series. History and controversy dictates this match be at the 2000 Survivor Series, with a returning Bret Hart in place of The Undertaker for the WWF Championship. According to me, here's how it would have gone down...
Bret Hart enters first to his usual fanfare, followed by an irate Kurt Angle, who is all business, angrily ripping his medals off his neck in his haste to get started as he storms to ring. Hart stands in the middle of the square circle, beckoning Angle to enter. Angle obliges, and quickly slides under the bottom rope. He makes a beeline for Hart, who attempts a clothesline, which Angle ducks and performs a waistlock takedown, with a quick transition into grounded front headlock. Hart counters the hold, and rolls out of it into a standing wristlock. Angle counters the hold into a waistlock, attempting a german suplex, but Hart quickly elbows his way out of it. Angle charges, and falls victim to a headlock takeover.
For the next few minutes, Bret Hart controls the match, increasingly frustrating Angle as after many attempts to counter and reverse, keeps finding himself in a grounded side headlock after a headlock takedown. After eventually finding his way out of yet another such hold, the momentum switches to Angle as he catches Hart with a belly to belly suplex. Angle starts a ground and pound in the corner, and catches Hart with a german suplex after an attempted comeback.
Both men attempt to apply their respective submission holds early in the match, but are wise to their opponent and quickly scramble for the ropes. Angle begins to control the match, applying multiple holds on Hart. At one point, he slows the pace down with a sleeper hold in the middle of the ring. Hart fights back, only to be dropped with multiple german suplexes. Angle attempts a moonsault from the top rope, but misses, allowing Hart to apply his Sharpshooter for the first time. Angle makes it to the ropes quickly. Hart attempts a piledriver but Angle counters into the Ankle lock. Hart also makes it to the ropes quickly.
Angle begins to hone in on Hart's ankle, taking Bret down with chop blocks and stomping him. Angle tries another german suplex, but Hart counters it into a rollup. Angle kicks out at 2, gets up and immediately Angle Slams the Hitman. Bret kicks out just before three, enraging Angle, who pulls his straps down, and angrily jump-stomps the canvas, cursing at Hart. Angle locks the Ankle lock in again, and Hart struggles to break free, reaching the ropes and being pulled away several times, refusing to give up. Hart eventually manages to roll out of the hold, the momentum sending Angle headfirst into the top turnbuckle pad, dazing him. Both men turn to face each other, but, not realising their close proximity to one another, they collide heads and both fall to the mat.
Angle and Hart just make it to their feet after the count of 9, and begin a slow, back and forth brawl which ends in a belly to belly suplex and several german suplexes. Angle tries for Angle Slam again, but Hart counters it into an arm drag and quickly applies the Sharpshooter. Angle makes it to the ropes once, but Hart pulls him away. Angle somehow recovers, and using his leg strength, drives Hart off balance to the mat, untangling himself and again applying the Ankle lock. Hart, being exhausted, is unable to make it to the ropes, but still refuses to quit. He rolls out of it, grabbing Angles legs in the process, the momentum sending Hart to his feet and Angle to the mat face first. Hart applies the Sharpshooter again, and after struggling for a minute, Angle finally submits, giving Hart the win.
Well, there you have it. Bret Hart gets the win over Kurt Angle for the WWF title. While this is pure fiction, you can picture it being a hard fought, incredibly competitive match between two top opponents. The match arguably could have gone either way at the end, but I feel that Hart's experience at this point in Kurt Angle's career would have given him the edge.