When the tradition of big Thanksgiving weekend shows morphed into cable era pay per views, the month of November has given fans a great deal to be thankful for and a few moments that were real turkeys.
For example, two of the WWE’s biggest stars debuted sixteen years apart at Survivor Series events. The Undertaker first walked (slowly, very slowly) down the aisle in November 1990 at the Hartford Civic Center. Introduced by Ted DiBiase as his “mystery partner” and accompanied to the ring by short-term manager Brother Love, The Undertaker was over from day one. With Roddy Piper throwing out meat references (“look at the size of that ham-hock”) and Gorilla Monsoon raving about his size coupled with the Andre the Giant trick of camera shots making him appear huge, The Undertaker looked the part of a monster. While the music, outfit, tattoos, and hair color have changed over time, the “aura” of the Undertaker’s entrance remains intact since that first night in Hartford. But not all debuts go as planned. Sixteen years later down the road at Madison Square Garden saw the debut of Rocky Maivia, which couldn’t have been more different. The third generation “blue chipper” was booed out of MSG, which would have been fine if he hadn’t been groomed as a “white meat baby face.”
Yet, Rock’s flop wasn’t the first one for the McMahon family at MSG. Fifty years earlier in November 1956 Vince James McMahon’s first show at the arena, headlined by Dick the Bruiser vs Antonio Rocca, drew just over 10,000 fans / $30,000 gate. Things got better as a few years later also in November, the same two wrestlers as part of tag match would sell out the arena but a bloody finish resulted in a riot. As a consequence, children were banned from attending MSG shows for years. When they were readmitted, McMahon pitched his product to them. He just needed a great character for kids to love.
Thus, the all-time November to dis-remember moment occurred on the same night of The Undertaker’s debut. After months of build-up, a giant egg was broken, and then laid, when the Goobly Gooker emerged. Hearing Gene Okerlund talk about selling the moment on a Legends of Wrestling show is far more entertaining than this non-event. Yet even more than these debuts, Novembers have seen historic title changes, significant big events, but also shoots and screw jobs, both in and outside of the ring.
15 Nick Bockwinkel ends the seven year run of Verne Gagne as AWA World Champion
14 ECW’s 1994 November to Remember
13 T12. The end of the Invasion
12 T12. Raw reset
11 Fabulous Moolah, disguised as The Spider Lady, defeats Wendi Richter to win the WWE Womens’ Championship
10 Ted Turner signs papers officially buying and Jim Crockett Promotions
9 AAA, IWC, and WCW presented When Worlds Collide
8 Akira Maeda shoots on Riki Choshu
7 The National Wrestling Alliance recognizes Lou Thesz as its World heavyweight champion.
6 Vince McMahon indicted
5 The first Starrcade
4 The first Ultimate Fighting Championship
3 WWF presents Survivor Series in direct competition to Jim Crockett’s Starrcade
2 T1. Montreal screw job
1 T1. McMahon says "Vince McMahon didn't screw Bret Hart. Bret screwed Bret.”
The Montreal Screw-Job was a turning point ONLY because of next week’s Monday Night Raw. There Vince McMahon, who had stopped doing commentary the month previous, stepped out of that character and laid the ground work for a new one: the evil boss Mr. McMahon. While that character would not totally flourish until matched with the right protagonist in Stone Cold Austin in April 1998, this was a huge moment in the history of the business. It didn’t break kayfabe; this shoot like interview destroyed it as McMahon talked about “time honored traditions” and other insider lingo. Much like the Maeda’s cheap shot kick on Choshu, McMahon’s breaking the trust that is cornerstone to the business, resulted in him getting rich and Bret getting buried in WCW. November is not a thankful moment for everyone.
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