Hello, my names Matthew and I'm an alcoho.....oh wait, wrong group.....let me try that again....Hi, my names Matthew and you've never heard of me. Well you have, but not in the way you think. Confused? Not as confused as you will be. Let me try and explain.
To understand the present day and the journey that got us here, we really need to start in the past. So let me take you back to where it all begins, way back in 1995. The wrestling world in 1995 to be precise. Now I don't know if you're old enough to have lived through what is arguably the worst year in professional wrestling history, but if you did you know what I mean and if you didn't....well, lucky you for one....but I'll explain the worst of it here. Let's start at the top and by the top I mean the top two men in the two major American companies, the Champions, the figureheads you might say. First of all WCW, where the icon that is Hulk Hogan held the top prize for the majority of the year. Nothing wrong with that right? I mean, Hogan is a legend, he immortalised the business, bought it into the mainstream and was beloved by wrestling fans worldwide....right? Well yes....and no. Yes Hogan is a living legend and yes, he immortalised the business and bought professional wrestling into the mainstream, but beloved by all? Not quite.
See Hogans reputation had already taken quite the hit from the steroid scandal that hit the WWF in the early 90's, then there was the way he politicked his way to another World Championship run in 1993, beating the "dominating" champion Yokozuna in about 30 seconds, turning down a programme with the man who had been carrying the company in his absence, Bret Hart and finally not even appearing on TV during his title reign until he dropped the belt back to Yokozuna at the King of the Ring (by dubious means obviously.) This stellar run was followed up with a year away from the sport to film his TV show Thunder in Paradise, only to reemerge in the competition, WCW in mid 94.
Well that's good right? Change of scenery, fresh storylines, fresh opponents, fresh challenges? It would have been, apart from two things....nothing was fresh and he wasn't Ric Flair. Instead of embracing the new and relishing the challenge, Hogan quickly squashed the two top heels in Flair and Vader and then systematically bought in his inner circle like a comfort blanket, leaving WCW looking like WWF lite before too long......and if that wasn't bad enough, the WCW crowds simply didn't warm to Hogan. They had their Hogan, his name was The Nature Boy, Wooooooo, Ric Flair.....and if Flair didn't whet your whistle, well there was another young man from Venice Beach who went by the name of Sting, why did they need Hogan? He was the enemy for god sake.
So coming into 1995 you had a lukewarm champion, facing of against second rate, recycled opponents, over coming the insurmountable odds and triumphing over evil.....would have been great 5 years ago, and it got no better as the year went on. You had a dungeon of doom, a Yeti, a Giant, a Mummy, a Loch Ness Monster, a Zodiac whatever that is, an Ultimate Warrior rip off called The Renegade, you had Ric Flair in drag, you had Ric Flair being pinned in a strap match between Hogan and Vader, you had an Alliance to end Hulkamania, you had a 60 man, 3 ring battle royal, in which there was so much action that you saw none of it.....all in all it was a pretty bad year.
On the flip side of the coin we had the WWF, where Diesel had gone from a kick ass and take no names tough guy that the fans got behind, to a WWF Champion, to Hulk Hogan 2.0, complete with hulking up. He faced Sid in what would have been the most boring PPV main events in history, had it not been for the fact that that title was taken later in the year when he battled "King" Mabel. The main event of Wrestlemania featured a football player, Shawn Michaels went coast to coast in the royal rumble, entering at number one....his record setting time? Considering Flair went over an hour in 92 after coming in at number 3? 38 minutes....that's right, half of what Ric Flair lasted. Bret Hart, arguable one of the best wrestlers in the company wrestled a kiss my foot match, a dentist and a pirate. A Million Dollar Corporation that won nothing and looked like Million Dollar idiots, Pig Farmers, Garbage men, Man o' Wars, Avatars.....I mentioned the dentist and pirate right? To cut a long story short, wrestling sucked.
Fortunately for Vince McMahon, he had something that WCW didn't....no not Star Power, WCW had that in abundance....what he did have, was the power to change. He knew something had to give, he knew the cartoon, colourful, hokey cokey product wasn't cutting it any more, he just didn't know what to do about it. He was surrounded by yes men, who told him that everything he came out with was gold, what he needed was someone not afraid to call him out.....someone with some edge....what he needed, was me.
Now I know what you're thinking, "why the hell would Vincent Kennedy McMahon need a nobody like me?" Well first and foremost, I loved this sport.....LOVED it, I'd been a fan all my life and I knew it in and out, back to front......"ok" you're thinking, so do I, what makes you so special? Well the second reason is quite simple, I had nothing to lose by calling Vince out. See I already worked for the WWF, I was a writer.....for WWF Magazine.....and I HATED it. Well I say writer, writer is a kind of loose term. I did write for the magazine, problem was that I wrote the answers to the letter page.....you know the ones
"Dear WWF Magazine. I was recently watching the latest edition of WWF Mania, and was sickened by the actions of that dastardly Jerry Lawler and his mean old dentist Isaac Yankem. They should both be fined/fired/shot/hung drawn and quartered immediately.
Dwight from Kentucky."
So yeah.....I wanted to quit. But I've never been much of a quitter, I've always been more of a burn all your bridges and get fired kind of guy. So I started to have fun. I knew no one cared about the letters page, I knew no one read them before they went to print, so I started answering the questions really, really.....really truthfully. When people asked what needed changing in the WWF, I told them....when someone questioned a stupid decision, I agreed with them and told them what I would have done instead.....I basically played armchair quarterback on the pages of the WWF Magazine and I loved every minute. That is until around October of 1995. That's the day I met Vince McMahon for the first time. I'll never forget his first words to me, they were truly inspiring......."are you the
fu###ng idiot that's been fu###ng about with my magazine?"
Finally, I was going to get fired and meet Vince McMahon all in the same day.....today is a good day. Everyone scrambled about apologising for me, saying I'd never work in the magazine again, saying this would never happen again, blah, blah, blah. Vince said they were damn right, I never would work for the magazine again.....because I was getting promoted to the booking team. As Vince continued talking you could almost hear the collective jaws in the room hitting the floor. Vince told everyone that THIS was what was missing from the WWF.....balls, attitude. Vince wanted someone working with him, who wasn't going to smile and say all his ideas were great. What he wanted was me.