Best: The Last Ride Of Cactus F**king Jack
I mentioned earlier how JBL vs. Eddie Guerrero at Judgment Day 2004 was my favorite WWE Championship match, but this one would have to come in at a close #2.
It’s even better when you go back to it, because it represents to important peak periods, and one of the most important to me: Catcus Jack as real actual Cactus Jack. Not Mick Foley wearing the shirt and yelling bang bang before somebody hiptosses him into razorwire. Not Mick Foley +100 pounds +sock hitting Ark Of The Covenant Ric Flair in the face with a rubber barbed wire bat or dildo or whatever and making him meltsplode. Real f**king Cactus Jack, the guy from the Nasty Boys match, the guy from ECW, the guy from those grainy ass tape-to-a-tape-to-a-tape Japanese death matches, in a WWF ring against the WWF Champion. That is real. That is danger.
Going back to the “everyone bails and disappoints you” talking point from earlier, it’s easy to rag on a guy like Jeff Hardy for ruining his life with drugs and beat painting, and even easier to make fun of MATT Hardy for eating grapes on YouTube and drunk driving his Maserati or whatever Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies would’ve driven had be been alive and a hillbilly asshole in 2011, but Foley doesn’t really deserve it. He destroyed his body to the point of no return and there’s a good grace about why he’s not still doing it, which makes it weird when he shows up and SORTA does it, and you’re all “yeah this is fine or whatever but please just go hug your daughter”.
There was none of that here. He was tight, his ear was gone, he was as fit as he could be and he was ready to rip Triple H’s face off and sh*t in his skull hole. That’s the Best.
Best: When HHH Still Looked Like Video Games Make Him Look Now
The second peak period is Triple H, who still had the giant shoulders with the tiny waist and the cobra muscles going up the side they give him in WWE ’12, because I guess it’s in H’s contract somewhere that he can’t be rendered like a human being. This was right in H’s glorious wheelhouse, a moment when he got to show how tough and important he could be against the most tough and the most important. A lot is said about H’s run between his title victories and the first quad injury (which happened to him in my old vote for very favorite match of all time, the May 21st Raw tag match against Benoit and Jericho), and he really earned it — he gets a puncture wound in the leg, bleeds like a pig from just about everywhere and gets carried away on a stretcher, but it’s not until the very very end that you accept he won’t pop back up and start throwing hands because he’s the f**king champion.
That’s what makes this all so good … it’s Cactus Jack in his last true moment as Cactus Jack against Triple H in one of his only true moments of being the Triple H we’re asked to believe happened. Also, there is a lot of punching.
Best: Ultraviolence, In Moderation
Things get gross in this match. As I mentioned, Triple H gets a wooden spike driven into his leg by accident, so he wrestles the last half of the match with a golf ball-sized hole in his leg. The finish, as you probably already know, involves several minutes of Foley being handcuffed, leading to several minutes of Foley destroying H’s face with a barbed wire bat, building to thumbtacks and leading to not only a pedigree, but a pedigree ONTO the thumbtacks. It is hard to watch in an enjoyable way.
That’s the opposite of how I feel about ultraviolent matches. Call me a pussy if you will, but I don’t enjoy seeing Masada put skewers in a guy’s cheek and stomp on them. I don’t like seeing a guy get a pair of scissors jabbed into his arm. I can’t present a defined line of what qualifies as theater and what steps too deep into human dogfighting, but I think a lot of it has to do with context, and the people around me, and why we’re watching it.
For example, this stuff happens in the main-event of a WWF pay-per-view during boom period at Madison Square Garden between the toughest wrestler ever and the guy who wants to BE the toughest ever. Situationally, it makes sense that they could take it a little far. In contrast, I’ve seen way too many instances of CZW playing Minecraft with a bunch of ladders and tables and prop boxes full of broken Christmas ornaments or whatever in a tiny arena for the enjoyment of what, 150 of Philadelphia’s worst fans? It’s not worth it. It’s not what you do, but when you do it. Foley talks about that in his book, about how Undertaker makes more money doing one dive a year than a guy like Jody Fleisch makes in a lifetime doing 720 DDTs in the middle of a match. It’s not that Takers is “better” or whatever or that Fleisch’s crazy innovation doesn’t have a place, it’s just F**K dude, pick your spots. Break your body when you HAVE to, not because you can.
Best: Hugo Savinovich With Barbed Wire
Presenting this without comment.
Okay, one comment. Who gave him that glittery ass shirt, Chris Jericho?
Best: A War, Actually Played Out Like A War For Once
The next time Randy Orton hits somebody with a kendo stick and Michael Cole call it a “war”, I’m putting in this match.