Since the outbreak of Covid-19, or the Coronavirus, it’s been tough on citizens in the United States. Residents have found themselves stuck in the house more often than not, which gets really boring very quickly. It’s also been tough on people as many of the sports that had grown accustomed to looking forward to and watching have been canceled and postponed.
However, one thing that is still kicking for right now is professional wrestling. WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment, has been performing their shows at their performance center in Florida without fans. They just finished their biggest annual show of the year, Wrestlemania.
Since the cancelation of most sports, a lot of people have made their way to watching WWE. ESPN has been airing past Wrestlemanias and WWE has been talked about much more in recent weeks on social media.
Ernie Ferguson has served as the head girls basketball coach of East Lawrence high school for the past two years, serving as a coach in other sports for years before that. He’s also the county’s top wrestling aficionado.
“I guess it’s just a memory I have of my grandfather taking me to the local shows, this was before WWE had gotten huge and it was all local promotions, and I saw guys like Sting, Ted Dibiase and the Rock and Roll Express,” Ferguson said. “Then when I was in college I used to go to a friend’s house and he’d have two tvs set up, one for WWE Raw and one for WCW Nitro. We’d watch it every week.
Ferguson admits that he got away from watching it for a short time, which is common among most wrestling fans, but a tragic period in his life brought home back to it.
“I started watching again shortly after my wife had passed away. It was just something I could do to take my mind off things,” he said. “Then I got my daughter to drink the koolaide and we’ve been watching ever since. I was able to cross it off my bucket list when I went to Wrestlemania a few years ago in Atlanta.”
Ferguson has been aware that more and more people have been watching and talking about the WWE during the coronavirus lockdown, and thinks it’s good that people are seeing how truly entertaining it can be.
“I’m not one of those guys that goes around saying “wrestling’s real.” Yeah it is real in the sense that they are trained athletes doing highly dangerous stunts, but it’s still scripted,” he said. “But I think that if people can suspend their beliefs for a moment and just enjoy the great storytelling that’s going on you can truly see how exciting it can be. WWE going into the mainstream with guys like the Rock and John Cena becoming big movie stars I think has helped end this stigma of wrestling being ‘rasslin’.”
WWE has offered their WWE network, which contains the entire catalog, for free for the time being during this virus. With Wrestlemania happening this weekend, Ferguson is giving us his top five mania matches that those who are new to the product should watch during the lockdown.
Note there might be slight spoilers ahead.
Edge and Christian vs the Hardy Boyz vs the Dudley Boyz, Wrestlemania X-Seven
The trio of tag teams listed above tore the house down when they participated in a triangle tables, ladders and chairs match, which at the time was still a very new concept, in 2001. The six men involved put their bodies on the line in what is one of the most iconic matches in the history of the company.
“I think that match is what people today view wrestling as. Crazy and dangerous moments one right after the other,” Ferguson said. “I myself am a huge fan of tag team wrestling and I think that match shows what happens when you have all these young guys that are so hungry to get out there and steal the show.”
Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair, Wrestlemania 24
Two of the greatest to ever lace up boots put fans through an emotional roller coaster in Orlando in 2008. Flairs once in a lifetime career that had spanned three decades was finally coming to a close and the match reflected the emotions of it.
“This is one of those matches that shows how masterful WWE can be with their storytelling. You need to know the background of the match leading up to it but luckily WWE does a good job with video packages,” said Ferguson. “Everyone knew this was a retirement match and the emotions of it were something else. I still get chills thinking about it.”
CM Punk vs the Undertaker, Wrestlemania 29
One of the few times where the lines of reality were blurred into a storyline. Undertaker’s former manager Paul Bearer, an Alabama native had passed away shortly before Wrestlemania. With the approval of the family, Punk used the passing into the storyline, creating a feud that seemed more real with each passing week. The result was a dynamic match that stole the show and put the Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania streak in serious jeopardy.
“That was the best match of that show and it’s a shame that it wasn’t the main event,” said Ferguson. “It just seemed so real. Then you had the fact that for the first time in a long time, you had someone in CM Punk that seemed like a legitimate threat to the Undertaker’s streak.”
Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin, Wrestlemania 13
Even if you don’t watch wrestling, you’ve probably heard of Stone Cold Steve Austin. The wrestler coined the Texas Rattlesnake built a larger than life persona and was the prime reason that the attitude era was so successful, keeping WWE from closing its doors in the late 1990s. This match was what led to the creation of Austin as a top guy.
“This was before the era of larger than life personalities. Austin was getting popular thanks to the whole 3:16 stuff but he wasn’t that Texas Rattlesnake rebel persona that everyone fell in love with yet,” Ferguson said. “This match changed that. Hart came in as the good guy and Austin was the bad guy, but during the match you see the changing of the guard. Hart went from being Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader and Austin became the top babyface (good guy). The match was grueling and it has one of the greatest video moments ever with Austin bleeding refusing to give up. The crowd in Chicago ate it up and the rest is history. Austin would go down as one of the greatest to ever perform in WWE.”