The 4 Wrestling Storylines You May Have Missed

By Okori Wadsworth / @okoriwadsworth

*Ed's note: If you are unfamiliar with Okori, the man is a wrestling aficionado of the utmost degree. So much so that the man doesn't watch mainstream wrestling and has to get his fix elsewhere. Enjoy this piece for all its splendor and glory as this is my form of repaying him a solid I've owed him for almost a year. Shame on me.*

The funny thing about being a wrestling fan who, for a variety of reasons, rarely watches WWE is that you’re treated like a unicorn. But believe me when I tell you that there are a lot of good memories you may have missed if all you were looking at was what you saw on WWE TV. With the help of my good friend Ed the Sports Fan, I figure I will show you some of them here and now.

1: The Misawa-Kawada Rivalry.

Imagine that Scottie Pippen, one summer for the heck of it while he was in the middle of Chicago's first three-peat, decided he would team with MJ and challenge any two other players in the world to face them. Then, later in the middle of the 2nd three-peat, they decided they would play 1-on-1 to a game of 21 in Madison Square Garden. Think that’d be intriguing? Think you’d pay good money to see that? That was the essence of the Misawa-Kawada rivalry. Two of the very best wrestlers in the world, at the peak of their powers, becoming a great tag team first and then deciding to face off against each other.

This rivalry is typified above all others by one date: 6-3-1994. It is maybe the greatest match you have never seen. But feast your eyes, because here it is.

2: Fit Finlay vs. Lord Steven Regal.

Now you there on the other end of this computer, I am pretty sure I know what you’re thinking: “Wasn’t Finlay the guy who was the father of some midget who may or may not have spent his entire life living under the ring apron?” “And wasn’t Regal the same guy best known for being some toady to Vince McMahon?” And on these two points, you would be correct. But for fans like me, they represent something better. They represent the idea of what wrestling was and is in Europe.

Finlay and Regal grew up and thrived in a time where being a rough man was not just a benefit, but a necessity. In the time when they wrestled they needed to be able to handle themselves. Hell, Regal started wrestling in carnivals where they picked his opponents out of the crowd. This isn’t exactly John Cena playing to teenage girls. These are two rough men who grew up in an environment where being rough was not a luxury, or a cute selling point. Simply put, if you didn’t know how to handle yourself, you simply weren’t getting out of some of those towns alive. When you think of what true, hard-hitting technical wrestling is, watch this match.

3: The passing of Jumbo Tsuruta.

It’s difficult to explain if you had never seen him work, but Jumbo was cool in a way that Tim Duncan is cool now. From the time he first stepped into the ring until kidney disease took his life, Jumbo was at a level most of us didn’t understand. It’s hard to appreciate being that brilliant at what you do, much less grasp the concept of that kind of greatness when you constantly are at the highest level. And when he passed, it felt like we were having something taken away from us. Even if I can’t verbalize it right now, because it was glorious. But I'll try. The best way I can explain it is like this: When he was in the squared circle, you couldn’t take your eyes off of him, even for a second. Because if you did, you were missing how a heavyweight wrestler is supposed to do things. Just watch and you will see exactly what I mean.

4: Joe vs. Kobashi.

I did this exercise earlier in the article, and I'm going to do it again. Remember what it felt like when Magic played in that All-Star Game in Orlando and every single star of his era guarded him near the end of the game? That is exactly what Joe vs. Kobashi was like, except for one small difference. Imagine if that game was in LA, at the Great Western Forum. Those fans understood what Magic was, treasured him and loved him in a way non-Laker fans never really could, and would have enjoyed seeing his rivals check him in a way none of us would have. That’s exactly how the fans in NYC felt about Joe vs. Kobashi.

Kenta Kobashi was a legend they (and I too, for the record) all grew up watching, grew up loving. It was like a tribute for all that he had done. I can’t do that atmosphere justice. Watching it should help.

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