Lebron surpassing Kareem as the all-time NBA leading scorer is bad for basketball

Caption: Lebron James celebrating his record setting basket. Courtesy of Mark J Terrill/AP Photo

Let me start by saying that I’m pretty much aware of Lebron’s greatness. I came to admire his game, his mentality and his overall approach to the actual game of basketball. I said this before I get a bunch of unsolicited attacks, and labeled me as a Lebron hater. I just happen to think that Mr. Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time. Casual fans will now say that James is the best ever simply because he broke the NBA scoring record. They oversimplify the GOAT debate and the media seems to feed from it.

Now that I got that out of the way, let me continue by stating that Lebron James is by far the most accomplished, decorated superstar in the last 20 years. He is also the most influential player in the association, and the most admired by current NBA players. However, the fact that fans and pundits alike are bringing back yet again the ‘GOAT’ debate truly irritates me. I ‘m transparent, I’ don’t like how Lebron James conducts his business outside of the court, and more importantly I’m not a big fan of him breaking the all-time scoring record.

Let’s face it, Lebron James is not a scorer, he is a natural facilitator. When you think about great scorers of the game, Lebron’s name doesn’t come up, it never does, you think of Steph Curry before him. He has only won one scoring title in his 20th year career. You think of players such as Jordan, Kobe, Karl Malone and of course Kareem. But, that is typically what Lebron fans usually state when trying to make their point across and argue his greatness and GOAT status. That even as a facilitator, he was able to be the top scorer.

But, no, that has nothing to do with that. Lebron broke the record because of his longevity and his actual desire to do it, and not because he is the greatest player of all time. There was no time management back when MJ or Karl Malone were playing, players had to play every single night. Lebron’s strategy to choose when and when not to play was meant to extend his career, and so far that has given him fruits. That is precisely one of my greatest criticisms to him.

Do you seriously think that if Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant wanted to be the all-time leading scorers they wouldn’t be? They were focus on winning championships, on being the MVP of the league. They knew that they didn’t need a record to cement their legacy. As someone who grew up in Chicago, Ill always have MJ in the top of the GOAT debate. I could go on and on on why MJ is the greatest.

Lebron is up there but not even close. The fact that he just broke the record doesn’t make a difference. Therefore, please stop with that nonsense. There is only one GOAT and that is Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

The fact that Lebron is the all-time leading scorer doesn’t change a thing. The media and current fans must look beyond Lebron’s recent accomplishment and focus on what really matters: Championships and MVP trophy’s.


Why Stephen A. Smith is wrong about his perception of foreign born star athletes

Stephen A Smith during a live ESPN broadcast.

It is not very often that I write about national recognized sports journalists and label them as  bias and/or discriminatory. After all, they keep me entertained and informed about the latest news and trends in sports. However, it is important that we as fans call them out if we feel that they are crossing the line on certain topics, even if they have said it mindlessly. It does not happen as often as it used to anymore, but enter Stephen A. Smith. 

We know that SAS has been a sports commentator for many years. He is one of the highest paid journalists, and a recognized leader in the industry. But, on more than one occasion he has made what I perceived as anti-immigrant comments about a few foreign born athletes. It makes me wonder, is it a coincidence? Some people do not think so.

Giannis can not be the face of the NBA according to Stephen A. Smith

As an example, most NBA insiders and journalists have picked Giannis from the Milwaukee Bucks as the number 1 player in the league for some years now (top two in some cases). SAS ‘argument has always been that the best player in the league must also be the face of the NBA.  I do not necessarily agree with that statement. I found his argument flawed, because in that case, why can Giannis be the face of the NBA? After all he has been the MVP on back to back years and an NBA Champion. 

Giannis was born in Greece and did not immigrated to the United States until he was 20 to play for the Milwaukee Bucks. He does not have the background that SAS can relate to.

It is worth mentioning that SAS lists Steph Curry and Lebron as the 1 and 2 player, and hence, as the faces of the NBA.  Although he has made it clear that he does admire Giannis, SAS believes he is not a true ‘complete’ player. It is worth noting that most analysts rank Giannis as a top two player, and as clearly the most dominant while SAS has consistently put him in his top five.

Shoei Ohtani does not speak English

In another show, with a similar topic of conversation, but now specifically discussing Japanese born sensation Shoei Ohtani, from the Los Angeles Angels, he was debating  whether he could be the best player in the league, SAS argued and bluntly said that he would never be the face of the MLB because he simply does not speak English.

He then elaborated, and added that in order for a star player to be the face of the league, that one athlete must ‘connect’ with the fans. He finds it difficult for Ohtani to have that level of connection with the American fan base without speaking English. As I was watching the show, I could not helped but noticed how discriminatory that sounded. He ended up formulating an apology the following day on his show. Ohtani is a rare, once in a generation type of player who can win the MVP award every season.

Stephen A. Smith: Shohei Ohtani does not deserve to be face of MLB because he CANT SPEAK ENGLISH?

SAS is wrong in diminishing the status of immigrant/foreign players in American sports. After all, we are a globalized society and more importantly, America is a nation of immigrants. Ohtani and Giannis could be the faces of their respective leagues, they are monsters in what they do. Fans need to start challenging sports journalists and broadcasters when they see or hear something that may be discriminatory or even racist. In our day and age, everyone must be checked regardless of popularity or influence.

Bad Bunny and the Emergence of the Latino Superstar

Bad Bunny with the WWE 24/7 belt

I studied Latin American and Latino studies in college not long after the “Latino fever”, or music takeover by artists such as Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, JLO and Carlos Santana. 

I remember a discussion we had in one of our classes related to Latino artists in music. We engaged in a conversation about the magnitude of them breaking into mainstream music in the years 1999-2002. Ricky Martin was on top of the billboards for many weeks. 

All of them were on top of the charts at one point, but all of them sang in English and not Spanish.

The question that teacher asked was “Are we ever going see a number one recording artist in Billboard singing completely in Spanish?

Most of us didn’t think so. We cited socioeconomic factors, political challenges and even differences among the different Latino cultures and preferences of music and style.

Fast Forward to 2022: Bad Bunny with his new Album  “Verano sin ti” completely in Spanish, has broken the very last barrier, and in the process proved us young students wrong.

Whether you like Regeton ,or Bad Bunny or even music in general, it is important to recognize that this is a monumental deal for multiple reasons in the Latino community.

It shows the tremendous power of consumption of the Latino community in the United States. It also shows that when all Latinos from different countries and cultures unite, big and special things can happen. Finally, it shows that if you are true to your values and convictions you do not have to change them.

Bad Bunny stated that he didn’t want to sing In English, that he wanted to showcase his music his way in Español.

Now, you are wondering why I am writing about Bad Bunny in a Sports Blog? The reason being: Bad Bunny is more than just a singer. He is a  part-time Wrestler, a basketball owner in his native Puerto Rico and a huge baseball fan. Consequently, he received the very first MTV artist of the year award for a Spanish speaking singer during his concert in Yankee Stadium.  Who gave him the award? Another fellow Boricua, Mr. Carmelo Anthony himself.

He didn’t record in English and still became 1 for the entire summer, and he is not done.  Now, that’s a statement. Breaking barriers. 

Si se pudo!

Why Mexico’s national team will never make the jump in the FIFA world cup

Mexico taking the initial group photo in game played in Austin, TX.

Mexico’s national team has been branded as the ‘Giant’ of the area by fans and the Sports media. For many years that label was well suited for Martino’s squad. It is worth noting that the Mexican national team has not missed a World Cup appearance since 1990.

But, that has dramatically changed. Although they have qualified for every FIFA world cup since 1994, they have never made the jump from a regular participant in the tournament to an actual championship protagonist or contender. Only once, in 1986 were they able to qualify to the quarter- finals, when they were the host nation. We have to admit and be honest, that the label ‘Giant of Concacaf’ does not apply to the team anymore.

Why has the Mexican national team not elevated its level of play in the games that matter? The answer may be a lot easier than what people think. Most often then not, coaches are responsible for the success of their teams. In the case of  the Mexican national team, Non-Mexican coaches have left more to be desired than the national ones. By non-Mexican coaches I mean, coaches who are not familiar with the country, the people and of course the league.

If we look back to the last 26 years, we know that Mexico has made it to the round of sixteen of the FIFA world cup on every occasion. But in some, they have looked better than in others. The common denominator for that success has been that the coach leading the team has been coaching in La liga MX. Yes, Mexico has had better success when competing in the FIFA tournament with a national coach. France 1998, Korea-Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014 are the World Cups where Mexico has not only qualified for the second round, but  also looked promising.  

The golden age of the Mexican national team is mostly considered to be 1993-2006. During that span, Mexico finished second and third in a few Copa Americas, won the 1999 FIFA Confederation cup and qualified for the world cup every four years. The coaches: Miguel Mejia Baron, Manolo LaPuente, Javier Aguirre and Ricardo Lavolpe. All four coaches were experienced and knowledgeable of the Mexican players  and environment.

They all spent time developing, nurturing and mentoring young Mexican talent. They also developed a love for the colors of the Mexican Jersey, they feel when they win and also when they lose. That sort of feeling is not taught. In my opinion, that is the biggest difference between a process led by a National coach and a foreign coach, for example a Mejia Baron and Osorio process.

Lavolpe was born in Argentina, but he made his career in Mexico. He is considered someone who knows the league very well. Note that my argument is specifically saying that a National coach, and not stating a Mexican born coach. In that particular category, Lavolpe who was born in Argentina, but made coach in Mexico will be considered National. We know of Martino’s resume, and knowledge as a coach. But, we also know that he is new to the league and the country.

In order to succeed, and make the jump to a contender in the World Cup, Mexico needs a coach that is familiar with the players, ala Lavolpe or Herrera, or Aguirre, or Mejia Baron, you get the point. Also, someone who will be willing to take a process that starts at the end of a World Cup and take the team all the way to the following. Martino, just like Juan Carlos Osorio or Sven Goran Erikson are strangers to the Mexican league.

The current National team will go to the World Cup, but with no realistic chances of winning the cup, or even making it to the round of 8. That is not Martino’s fault, that is the Federation bosses who keep underestimating the Mexican based talent.

The curious case of Canelo Alvarez

Canelo vs Plant result: Who won undisputed world title fight? | The  Independent
Canelo Alvarez after his victory over Plant. Courtesy of the Independent

It is not a surprise why most boxing analyst have given Canelo Alvarez the title and award of boxer of the year for this 2021. The Mexican champion has accomplish what no other Mexican boxer has done in the history of the sport: become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world.

But is not only winning multiple belts that amazes fans and critics alike, but the way he has done it. In the process, he became the highest paid boxer and one of the richest athletes in the world. Everyone in the business is trying to fight Canelo to get that fat check and perhaps exposure and visibility in the sport.

But, why is Canelo this good? When did he reached this elite status? Why is he currently the best pound for pound? The answer to the question could lead us to ‘Money’ Floyd Mayweather.

Yes, it may be that their September 2013 fight was a once in a lifetime learning experience for Canelo. He learned from the best how to move and not get hit, as well as using his shoulder as shield for defensive purposes. We have seen tremendous growth from Canelo after the Mayweather fight, his defensive skills are indeed superb now. But perhaps, what he learned from Floyd was not just in-ring skills, but also how to manage his own boxing career and become dominant.

No, Money is not Canelo’s trainer or manager or promoter, as we all know. However, Money was instrumental in changing the sport of boxing. For starters, Money became his own boss, in a sport where rarely boxers have an opportunity to call their own shots. He essentially empowered boxers. After Money, we saw Manny Pacquiao following his footsteps, becoming a free agent, and trying to also call his own shots. Unfortunately for the Filipino legend, he was past his prime and had only a few more years in his illustrious career when he decided to part ways with Bob Arum.

That was not the case of Alvarez. After a messy split from Golden Boy promotions, he became a free agent. The deal with DAZN and Golden Boy stipulated matches against rivals that Canelo was not interested in and had desire to pursue. Once he was cleared he started searching for rivals and ‘picking’ his opponents. He went up to light-heavyweight to fight Kovalev and win the title. He then went back to the 168 division and challenged all of the title holders except a tough and hungry David Benavidez who had moved up and vacated his 168 belt.

If he had continued with Golden Boy and DAZN we would have perhaps seen a third fight with Triple G and not gone up in weight to face Kovalev. Canelo would have most likely stayed in the 168 division and challenged all champs, including Benavidez. Critics have accused Canelo of ducking them both.

But, who knows, Canelo is talented enough to have had defeated both of GGG and Benavidez and more. We, however must accept that at this point, Canelo will fight whoever he wants and whenever he wants after a deep and detailed scouting report of his opponents.

Canelo is the indeed the best boxer in the world right now. He has fought champions and defeated all of them convincingly. He has a great manager and a solid team. Unfortunately, for us fan, we are missing of great fights. Canelo is on the driving seat of his own career influenced by the way Floyd also ran his own boxing career. That is certainly good for him and his team. I can see Canelo going undefeated for many years to come. He has the power, skills and discipline to do so and that is why he is the best boxer today.

How Rich Paul became the NBA’s Boogeyman

Who Is Rich Paul? 5 Things to Know About the Sports Agent That's Dating  Adele | PEOPLE.com
Lebron James and Rich Paul. Courtesy of People.com

There is no doubt that Lebron James is the best NBA player of this generation. The ‘King’ has become most celebrated athlete in the association and in all sports, by winning multiple individual and team accomplishments. He is the only active NBA player ever to become a billionaire.

However, his impact doesn’t end in the basketball court, he has empowered NBA players, by his own experiences, but also by creating an empire constructed of media, sports consulting and sports agents.

One of his closest advisers is his partner and longtime friend Rich Paul. For many, Paul is a man of the people, supporting and advising African American players to get the best deal for their careers, but for others, particularly NBA Executives he is simply a man with an agenda.

Rich Paul funded Klutch Sports in 2012, and has a long list of clients that include Ben Simmons, Anthony Davis and John Wall among others. He orchestrated a deal that brought Davis from New Orleans to L.A to join his other client and main partner Lebron James. In the process, James won his fourth Championship and cemented his legacy as one of the best of all time.

The ethics of the deal continues to be in question, not because any of the legalities, both teams signed and agreed, Davis eventually signed a new contract with the Lakers and we know that the rest is history. It ‘s what is in the root of the negotiation, a small market team ‘bullied’ by a sports agent in hopes of landing a centerpiece for the Lakers. Paul is not the first agent to force a trade for his client, but the optics of the whole deal created an aura of speculation surrounding the sports agency and his methods of operating.

As I write this post, we are seeing something similar developing in Philadelphia and Houston. Ben Simmons wants out of Philly, and Wall out of Houston, both clients of Paul. The front offices are dealing with both cases slightly different, with Simmons being the most aggressive in his pursuit.

Logic tell us that sports agents should be looking for the best interest of his clients. In the Simmons case, that seems to signal the contrary. The image that Simmons has created for himself in this whole case is that of an unprofessional, disloyal and ungrateful player. Who knows how that saga will end, but NBA teams are looking very closely at particular situation.

It is worth mentioning that former clients of Paul, Narlens Noel and Marcus Morris accused Paul of not looking for their best interest when it came to signing the best deals possible. Both of those players parted ways with with Klutch Sports.

In the meantime Rich Paul and his partners, including Lebron James are getting more powerful by signing not only NBA players, but also players from the NFL and other major sports leagues.

In the NBA, Klutch sports can potentially have a portfolio of players who can decide to join a team in the hopes of playing together and creating a super team. We all know Lebron James is in the twilight of his career, and will be retiring soon. But his influence in the league will continue to have an impact pending the success of Klutch Sports.

What CM Punk’s return means to Wrestling

CM Punk

It had been almost seven years since the last time we saw CM Punk in a wrestling ring. Wrestling fans around the world wanted him back. For many years, we heard CM Punk chants all over wrestling arenas and shows, hoping to see him once again. WWE couldn’t bring him back, it was up to AEW to do that.

I didn’t know what to expect when I saw him on the AEW TV show that particular Friday night. I had almost forgotten how he sounded on the mic. I have to say that It was refreshing to see him back in a wrestling ring. He still looked like the best in the world.

I have said many times that Chicago fans are the best wrestling fans in the world. The last big ‘pop’ that I can remember in the last 10 years was probably from CM punk himself in the WWE Money in the Bank PPV in 2011, also in Chicago.  

The ‘pop’ when he came through the curtains was Stone Cold like, no doubt.  It brought back memories from the attitude era. The return of CM Punk not only provoked that type of reaction at the United Center, it gave fans another reason to watch AEW, and in the process also changed wrestling forever.

It is safe to say that WWE is not on the driving seat anymore. AEW has the talent, the infrastructure and the resources to challenge Vince McMahon and his crew now. The ratings do not reflect just how good AEW could be just yet. However, casual wrestling fans who know CM Punk will tune in to watch and not only see Punk perform, but also get a closer look at other wrestling talent of the company. I anticipate that in the near future more stars will join AEW. We now have Bryan Danielson in the promotion, which was exciting to see as well.

CM Punk is back to fulfill his own personal thirst for the business. He missed the spotlight and performing in front of the fans. He missed the ring. But, make no mistake about it, he is also back to bring down the WWE. I am not sure if indeed that would happen, but AEW and Punk have a real chance to do it, more than any other wrestling promotion since the WCW.

It’s safe to say that it is up to AEW, Khan and the wrestling talent to make the company the best organization in wrestling. I’m sure that we will remember Punk’s return to wrestling as a before and after. Vince and his company aren’t safe anymore. It’s a good thing for us wrestling fans.

Number 44, the President, the fan.

President Obama is a Bulls fan and he's not afraid to show it.
Barack Obama wearing a Chicago Bulls hat during a political campaign rally.

It was October of 2009. Chicago had just been nominated to represent the United States hoping to once again host the summer Olympics in 2016. The last time that the US had hosted such games, was in 1996 in Atlanta.

I remember I was in my car on my way to get coffee and a snack, when I heard then President of the United States himself, Barack Obama giving a speech in favor of hosting the Chicago summer Olympics on live radio. I was impressed, and also proud. A President of the U.S standing there in front of the Olympic organizers speaking in support of his hometown.

As only Obama can do, he eloquently stated why Chicago was the perfect and only city in the world to host the summer Olympics. The audience seemed and sounded captivated and impressed. However, fast forward and as we know, Chicago didn’t host the summer Olympics in 2016, at the end , Rio de Janeiro received the nomination. It was the first time I saw Mr. Obama go all in when it came to sports, and in support of his hometown, but that certainly was not the last.

Chicago is a union town, a very political town. It is believed that one of the reasons why the city was not chosen is because the Olympic committee knew that the majority of Chicago residents were not in support of it. Of course, that is only speculation, and the idea that Chicago was not ready to host the summer games still bothers many Chicagoans and Americans alike.

That was one of the many times that President Obama made headlines when it came sports. He confessed his love for the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox on many occasions. He even spoke in favor of Lebron James leaving Cleveland for his Bulls during a TNT interview in 2010.

During a well documented visit from the Lakers to the White House in 2009, he made a joke about Magic Johnson reminiscing of the 1991 Bulls Championship. He gave exact details of the play, where Michael Jordan famously switch hands in mid air in front of Magic Johnson who was also at the White House. The crowd burst in laughter. It was great to see that an American President knew what he was talking about.

Obama became a regular appearing in NBA games, sporting events and television shows. He was comfortable speaking about sports and interacting with athletes more than any other modern President. During the MLB All Star in 2010, he threw the ceremonial first pitch, to date, one of the loudest ovations for any politician in a baseball game.

After Obama left office we saw a decline in professional teams visiting the White House. Many players refused to meet Mr. Trump, and other teams simply decided not to visit the White House, such as the Golden State Warriors when they won their ring in 2018. Now with Joe Biden in office, we may see a return to the W.H visits from professional teams. However, let’s face it, none of them will be as cool and memorable as when athletes were meeting number 44.

He is definitely missed.

Triple G should stop chasing a third fight with Canelo

Gennady Golovkin Rips Canelo Alvarez, Says a 3rd Fight 'Will Eventually  Happen' | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights
GGG should stop chasing Canelo and focus on extending his own legacy

Many boxing critics believed that Gennady G. Golovkin beat Canelo Alvarez in at least one of their two mega fights. In fact, Golovkin himself is sure that he defeated the Mexican fighter in both of those matchups.

However, the problem with those two bouts is that they were both extremely close to call. It’s difficult for someone to say for certain who won, if none of the fights ended on a knockout. After all, boxing is an appreciation sport. I for example, have both matches a draw, but I’m completely fine when people claim either boxer won. It was simply that close.

It’s well known that for many years Triple G chased the Canelo fight. He wanted his big payday and the big platform. He was the most feared boxer in his division and in the sport, but truth to be told, he was not a money maker, and so he needed a partner to elevate his brand.

Canelo was already an established figure in the sport, having fought the likes of Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather and Amir Khan. In addition, Gennady was convinced that the Canelo fight was gonna be a walk in the park. He felt he was the superior boxer.

Prior to those fights, Triple G was beating all of his opponents convincingly. Often times not going to distance, or even passing the second round. He was ranked at the top of the the pound for pound list by multiple boxing critics and magazines. Even after the first Canelo fight, he was still on the top of the list.

He could have easily gone on with his boxing career without fighting Canelo ever again, without the rematch. People already recognized his talents and boxing skills, and was seen as a Champion. His mistake, was to chase the second fight. After the loss, he became even more obsessed with a third fight and his career took a dramatic turn.

Since 2017, he has fought low competition cherry picking his opponents and taking long breaks in between fights. He fired his boxing trainer Abel Sanchez and several of his coaches.

He is no longer considered a pound for pound fighter and to make matters worse next year he will turn 40, so it’s safe to say that his prime may be behind him. Instead of fighting the top names of the middleweight division, Golovkin seems to be waiting for Canelo and his team to call him for a third ‘mega fight’.

That sort of take on his career has upset many of his boxing fans and the boxing community, labeled him a sellout and and a money chaser, rather than a boxer seeking to fight the best possible fighters. Even after his last fight, when he finally scored a knockout versus Kamil Szeremeta, GGG still mentioned Canelo’s name for potential future bouts after his post fight press conference.

The truth is that Triple G doesn’t seem to be on Canelo’s future plans. In fact, Canelo has stated many times that a fight with Golovkin is not something he is considering in the near future. For Triple G facing the likes of Charlo, Benavidez and even a Spence would generate a buzz and would make great fights for boxing fans.

It’s better for Golovkin to chase other fighters and close his career as a true champion like he once was, winning or losing, but giving boxing fans what they really want. If Triple G decides to do that instead of chasing the third fight with Canelo, he could extend his career and moreover grow his legacy. My sense is that he will continue pushing for the third fight with Canelo, and my prediction is that this time it will not end well for Gennady G. Golovkin.

The Undertaker saved WWE and It all started in 1997

The Undertaker had made his WWE debut in 1990.
The Undertaker

World Championship Wrestling was at the top of their game in 1997. From 1996 until 1998, the WCW/NWO brand was the hottest ticket in the world of sports outside of the NBA Champion Chicago Bulls. There was no doubt that WCW was the top wrestling promotion in the business, with a solid fanbase in America and one growing worldwide.

Many critics believed that at that pace, they were going to drive the WWE out of business sooner rather than later. Nonetheless, Vince McMahon’s company had very talented performers, and a roster that included the likes of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold and the Undertaker. All of them crucial pieces and cornerstones of the company, but none more important then the Deadman himself: The Undertaker.

As we witnessed the last match of his magnificent career, it is important to understand how significant is the Undertaker in the history of the sport, and the crucial part he played in the Monday night wars and the demise of WCW.

The ‘phenom’ made his debut in 1990, during the Survivor Series PPV as Ted Dibiase’s mystery partner, and from day one, he made a tremendous impact. A year later, he defeated the most popular name in the business, Hulk Hogan to win his first WWE championship. However, he quickly lost the belt back to Hogan.

After working with Hogan, the Undertaker continued to be a top name in the company, collaborating with the main heels of the era such as the Yokozunas, the Jake Roberts, the Kamalas, and the Papa Shangos of the world. But, he was never given another shot at the WWE title, neither the opportunity to be the top ‘dog’ of the company. That would change in 1997 at Wrestlemania 13 in Chicago.

Two of my favorite performers of all time Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were given the responsibility of carrying the company alongside a bodyguard made wrestler Kevin Nash. Between the three of them, they traded the WWE world title from 1994 until 1997, all while the Undertaker was among the most popular wrestlers in both the WCW and the WWE. Although, they were outstanding performers, the company was losing in the Monday night ratings, and the money was becoming tight. Bret, HBK and Nash weren’t selling out arenas like the Hulkster, Warrior and Macho Man used to.

But that all changed in 1997. HBK vacated the belt and decided to ‘retire’. Shawn Michaels claimed that he had ‘lost his smile’. Bret Hart was still around, but now he was projecting as a heel, and Nash, well, Nash was enjoying the success of the NWO in WCW. The original plan for the main event at WM13 was the anticipated rematch between Bret and Shawn. WWE was losing badly versus WCW, and Vince was running out of ideas. Vince knew he needing to improvise, and he turned to his best performer and most loyal wrestler. It was the chance that the Undertaker was waiting for.

Wrestling critics believe the genesis of the attitude era actually happened at Wrestlemania 13. They normally point out to the Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin ‘submission match’, as the birth of Austin, the baby face, and hence as the turning point in the Monday night wars. I also think that Austin and later the Rock were the main forces that eventually saved WWE, but they weren’t certainly the first.

What critics usually forget, is that the main event of that PPV included the franchise of the company, the guy that never complained, never ‘lost his smile’. always showed up on time, and the one who according to wrestlers was the leader of the locker room: The Undertaker.

He was facing Sid, and in that match, unlike his first title win versus the Hulkster, he wasn’t the heel, he wasn’t cheating to win. He defeated Sid fair and square via the famous tombstone piledriver. He was finally the WWE champion. What people should understand about this particular title win, is that, although, taker’ had been the most popular wrestler in the WWE, he remained loyal to Vince, he always listened to his boss. Many wrestlers left, he did not. If the Undertaker would have decided to leave the company in 1997, that could have been catastrophic for the WWE. Vince honored him, and Taker delivered.

In 1997, WCW had a popular guy by the name of black and white Sting, and the WWE finally realized that all along they had the their own dark figure in the Undertaker. Vince capitalized. Although, the Undertaker lost the WWE belt versus Bret Hart in that year’s Summer Slam, he closed the year introducing the first ever ‘Hell in the Cell’ match to wrestling fans and feuding with his lost brother Kane that continued until 1998. With and without the belt, he carried the company in 1997. His performances provided WWE with the material needed to compete with WCW.

Bret Hart left for WCW in late 1997. Shawn Michaels created DX and eventually became WWE Champ again, but would retire in 1998. Stone Cold Steve Austin was becoming the most popular wrestler, and eventually became the champion at WM14. The WWE regained control of the Monday night wars, and frankly never looked back. WCW couldn’t stop the WWE tsunami and in 2001 they ended up selling the company to Vince himself.

While most people attribute the success of the Monday Night wars to wrestlers like Stone Cold and the Rock, it was actually the Undertaker who with is popularity, loyalty and performance was able to help WWE defeat WCW. Yes, Austin and the Rock cemented the victory, but it all started that night at the All State Arena when the Undertaker defeated Sid for his second WWE championship.