I'll take Malenko vs Benoit (the wrestler whom shall never be named ... oh crap, I just named him, didn't I) over Hogan vs Earthquake any time.
I couldn't agree more. I grew up a big pro wrestling fan, but even as a kid (back in the days when it was still kayfabe) I knew that it wasn't a legit competition. Nevertheless, I always had a strong preference for wrestlers that were true athletes over the lumbering 'character' wrestlers that (to paraphrase Gorilla Monsoon) didn't know a wristlock from a wristwatch. Back then it was about 75% in-ring action and 25% interview/storyline filler. Nowdays, ever since wrestling 'came out of the closet' and admitted it is scripted, I'd say those numbers are reversed. I definitely preferred it back when I could still pretend it was real.
I grew up during the rise of Hulkamania, but I despised Hulk Hogan. I always preferred guys like Malenko and Benoit
, who could have actually held their own in real competitive fighting if they wanted to. My all-time favorite wrestlers are Ric Flair
and Bret Hart. I also loved the British Bulldogs in their early days, so quick and precise. Hogan represented the worst side of pro wrestling to me, the obviously fake
side. But his enormous success (clearly, there were a great many people who didn't feel the same as me) laid the foundation for the ridiculous spectacle that wrestling has become, and the reason I am no longer a fan. Clearly, there are still a great many people who don't feel the same.
I made the transition from WWF/NWA/WCW to UFC in the early 90's, and became a big MMA fan for a few years. I watched this runt (relatively speaking) Royce Gracie inexplicably demolish the competition in the first few UFC events, and was in awe of his technique. He became like the Michael Jordan of MMA, and I began actively rooting for someone, anyone
, to beat him, which no one ever did (although Kimo and Dan Severn came close). He was well past his prime when Matt Hughes finally got the best of him.
I followed MMA for a good while (Randy Couture is the GOAT imo, and Mo Smith may be the smartest fighter I've ever seen.), but now I agree with Kimberly, there are far too many fighters and events to keep up with, and the championships change hands so quickly its much harder to follow. Not to mention the fighters are all nearly clones of each other, technique-wise. There's not enough contrast in styles anymore.
Wow, its been years since I've gone on a wrestling/MMA rant. Thanks for the opportunity, Fiji!