Throw a stick in the air and you’ll probably hit someone who can name a famous wrestler.
Here in the UK, everyone of my parents’ generation will instinctively utter one (or all) of the following names; Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks or Kendo Nagasaki. Conversely, anyone of my age will likely say The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin or The Undertaker.
Throw two sticks in the air and you’ll probably hit at least one long time fan who can reel off the names of literally hundreds of wrestlers. Throw three sticks in the air and, well, you’ll probably be escorted off the premises for throwing sticks in the air (it’s best not to push your luck).
Pro wrestling has given us more colourful characters, more dramatic storylines and, in my opinion, more exciting action, pound for pound, than almost any so-called “legitimate” sport. In the same way that watching Rocky is more fun than actually watching a boxing match (for me at least), wrestling occupies a rare niche between a real-life athletic contest and a big-budget movie, but with added elements of circus and soap opera.
Some of these performers (and no, I have no shame using that word to describe them) have left such indelible imprints on our culture that we fans will never forget them. So, what would happen if these stars of the past were rejuvenated (or in some cases, reanimated) and brought in to headline a card full of more recent stars?
Who would win?
Who would lose?
What mayhem would be unleashed?
Allow me to play fantasy booker for you…
5. Eddie Guerrero vs. Owen Hart
Any list of great wrestlers who never got a WWF title run (there’s a superb one on this very site by Todd Martin – check it out here) needs to include Owen Hart, otherwise I’m just not going to read it.
Put simply, Owen had everything needed to be a star…
Only two things appear to have blocked Owen’s path to the top; 1) his older brother (who worked a similar gimmick) was the WWF’s biggest star at the time he broke in and 2) he was shorter and lighter than almost everybody else in WWF at the time. Even still, it bugs me that decidedly average wrestlers like Sid and Diesel were allowed to hold the big belt, while an incredible worker like Owen never reached the top spot.
Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero are both tragic figures in wrestling, but that’s not all they had in common; they were both wildly popular with fans of all ages and neither man ever really did as well as he deserved to (on account of having a smaller stature). They both came from revered wrestling families and they were both high flying daredevils. Finally, each man was adored for his technical prowess, but perhaps even more loved for his humour and sense of fun.
Owen Hart’s life was tragically cut short in 1999, when an absurd ring entrance went awry. It should always be remembered that his last actions on this Earth were warning those below him that he was falling, so, in a very real sense, he died saving lives.
Guerrero’s life was plagued by demons and substance abuse problems, but he was able to find God (and do so without shoving it down everyone’s throat, to his eternal credit). Guerrero’s biggest victory, then, was that he beat back his personal darkness. Sadly, after defying all the odds and becoming one of the WWE’s biggest stars, Guerrero passed away from a heart attack in 2005.
Eddie Guerrero was one of the best pure wrestlers of all time (to read more of my unabashed Guerrero fandom, check out my article here). However, he was not just great in terms of pure technical ability, but also because of his charisma and uncanny storytelling talents. Eddie could adapt himself to any style, but he was especially skilled at wrestling the high flyers. Therefore, as a predominantly aerial wrestler with a superhuman work ethic, yet also possessing a total mastery of American style wrestling, Owen Hart is actually Eddie’s perfect opponent.
Owen was 5,10 and weighed 227lbs, whereas Eddie was actually smaller at 5,8 and 220lbs. This would mean that the two men would actually be evenly matched physically. Guerrero had the talent to make anybody look good, but his matches with smaller, more technical wrestlers (watch him go up against Ultimo Dragon, Dean Malenko or Rey Mysterio to really see a master craftsman at work) were always his best.
Owen was lightening fast and, before his various injuries took hold, he was capable of performing startling feats of athleticism that were absolutely unheard of in the WWF of the early 90′s. He had all the sizzle of a Mexican luchadore, but equally, all the steak of a great US-style all-rounder. Both men grew up in the business and, as a result, both had an innate sense of how to put on a great match.
Both wrestlers made for great heels, but I always felt that Owen’s babyface potential was sorely underutilised. Like Eddie, Owen was so darned lovable, even when you were trying to hate him. His spoiled, narcissistic in-ring persona was always hugely well played, as was Guerrero’s lying, cheating, stealing character.
Therefore, I can’t decide who should work heel and who should work face, so I think they should start out as a tag team, then break up and simply have a heel vs. heel angle (with Owen as the in-ring babyface). They can each vie for the crowd’s attention by ribbing each other (Guerrero stealing Owen’s Slammy awards, or Owen manipulating Eddie into ending up in Stu Hart’s dungeon), all played for sheer entertainment.
Then, once we’re in the ring, it’s all business, as two of the greatest pros of all time go to work and amaze us all. In the end, Eddie repeatedly cheats to nearly pick up the win, but Owen reverses Eddie’s Frog Splash attempt and locks him in the sharpshooter. The two shake hands at the end, but then we learn that Eddie has stolen Owen’s wallet and the whole thing starts up again…
WINNER: Owen Hart
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This article was first posted on September 27, 2013