If Poker Stars were 80s/90s Wrestlers Who Would They Be? Part II


This is going a little 90s, but if the two forces of poker were wrestling federations it's pretty obvious now to see that the WSOP is the Titan winning the battle and the WPT is the now struggling rival that one day might get swallowed up by the big boy. The parallels are obvious here, WSOP like the WWWF, later the WWF, and later still the WWE gobbled up many local poker tournaments and rebranded them circuit events just like Vince McMahon's federation spread like a virus across the U.S.

Both organizations have the single flagpole events with the WSOP's Main Event and the WWF's Wrestlemania. Both "sports" are yearlong journeys toward their main event with every participant wanting to be one of the final two.

The WPT and WCW have a lot in common too. Both grew and festered and really ignited a broader following to their "sports" by being on a cable station not normally associated with their entertainment fare. Travel Channel and poker? Of course that makes sense. Ted Turner's TBS station which was a hodgepodge of movie re-runs and WCW? Yeah, that makes sense too.

WPT and WCW really pushed the growth of their sports with innovations. Hulk Hogan as a bad guy? WPT showing more of the final table with warts and all. WCW realized they had more to offer than just the schtick being fed to the audience on their rivals telecasts so they created a combination of behind the scenes rivalries and theater tinge with real life. They educated the audience about pushes and organizational politics. The WPT lipstick cameras did just the same for poker. Both pulled the curtain back a little bit and profited immensely from it.

The WSOP and WWF both reacted to their rivals, with the WSOP unveiling Circuit Events telling better stories in packaged pieces at their Main Event, and unleashing the ultimate underdog story on the world. After Chris Moneymaker it was game over.

Chris Moneymaker - Ultimate Warrior and Bill Goldberg

All three individuals took their sports by storm climbing to the highest level possible quickly and with huge fanfare. The Ultimate Warrior and Goldberg were sensations that steamrolled through their opponents like they were lambs to the slaughter, while Moneymaker bluffed and bested a who's who of poker's elite.

If ever there was a reason for Phil Ivy, Sammy Farha, Freddie Deeb, Johnny Chan, and Dan Harrington to job to an out of nowhere force it was at Moneymaker's Main Event. Moneymaker punished the big names and took the title and they all reaped the rewards of the Moneymaker effect. The Ultimate Warrior and Goldberg did the same thing to their respective federation's top stars. They decimated the ranks of the top stars in short order and they all profited from it.

It was also after their mercurial rises that people in retrospect began to question their fundalmentals. I started to simply compare Moneymaker to the Ultimate Warrior but that's not fair to Moneymaker. Goldberg, though it might have been brief, had a second and third act to his career, the Ultimate Warrior went off the deep end. I think Moneymaker's influence on poker and his future is brighter than the Warrior's.

-More to come



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