It’s like 1996 all over again as two rival professional wrestling programs go head-to-head tonight with both promising to have big shows.
TNA makes a move to Monday night making a rare live iMPACT! broadcast showcasing the debut of the legendary Hulk Hogan. WWE RAW will counter by upping the ante on their long running show by featuring the return of Bret “The Hitman” Hart after 12 years away from the business.
Why is this a big deal? Well, I suppose you have to have some interest in wrestling, but Hulk Hogan is clearly a pop-culture icon and his joining TNA is a big deal. The company has grown tremendously over the last few years and his presence just adds to their credibility as a competitor to WWE. The downside is that as they’ve added other legendary wrestlers like Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, and Sting, the quality of their show has dropped and what made them unique completely disappeared. They had tremendous up-and-coming talent that they had airtime to showcase, but that’s been supplanted by drawn out tirades by the big names. In wrestling terms, they went from being ECW to WCW and I don’t believe that’s a good thing.
Bret Hart returning to WWE is huge. He left the company in November of 1997 after the infamous “Survivor Series screwjob.” In case you’re not familiar with the story, Bret Hart was the then WWF Champion defending the title against his arch-rival Shawn Michaels. Vince McMahon was present and ringside as Michaels put Hart into his own signature submission hold, the Sharpshooter. Inexplicably, the bell rings, the match ends and Shawn Michaels is the new champion. The crowd goes crazy, the fans at home go crazy, and Bret Hart spits in Vince’s face as they go off the air. Bret Hart next appears as part of WCW and has only been involved with WWE once since that time, to be inducted into their Hall of Fame. Tonight he returns as the guest host (a gimmick WWE started last Fall) of Monday Night RAW.
I’ll watch both shows, but I’ll be watching RAW live and recording iMPACT!. I’ve never been a big fan of Hulk Hogan, and I don’t know that his presence is going to keep me watching the show long term. The fact that I don’t get the show in HD doesn’t help either. Combine that with the fact that Bret Hart is the all-time greatest as far as I’m concerned, and it’s an easy choice for me. I’ve been hoping for him to return for a long time and I’m not entirely sure it’s really going to happen tonight. There have been teases and speculation for over a decade and until I see him on the show I won’t fully accept it. If it happens, Angie will have to deal with my inner 11-year-old for a few hours tonight.
TNA iMPACT! Live airs on SpikeTV tonight at 8PM with WWE Monday Night RAW beginning at 9PM on USA. Turn off your brain for a few hours and enjoy, just don’t try any of this at home.