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The United States have a few different national pastimes. NFL, NBA, NHL... All of these organisations share a common bond: close-season. The WWF ran a commercial during a recent episode of Raw aimed at the ongoing MLB strikes. "One federation and its superstars still believe in making dreams come true" states the narrator over images of 'Macho Man' Randy Savage playing baseball with a young fan. What if WWF - or wrestling as a whole - did indulge itself with a break for part of the year? Undoubtedly, the highlight of this time for the above associations is the prospect of the Draft.
Back on these shores, our equivalent of this is the Premier League and football transfers. Some recent examples from the summer include a young striker going for a record fee of £5M; a foreign import, arguably in the peak of his career, signing for £2M; and an experienced goalkeeper moving from one club to another on a free transfer. But, this is the Land Of Hope And Glory; not the Land Of Ropes And Stories.
In a first delve into the subjective world of Top Ten lists, here is a look at what could be seen as some of the top draft picks at the end of 1994:
Undertaker - An undoubted potential superstar. Strong character-gimmick in a world where few survive. Popular with the crowd. Summerslam main event and lengthy hiatus hurt chances.
Diesel - Outstanding look, good run with championships throughout the year, combined with strong showing in Royal Rumble. In an ever-growing world of entertainment and charisma, development needed.
Vader - Could (and should) be main-eventing. Outstanding agility and had some terrific matches. Minimal verbal skills, backstage politics spoiled end of year plans.
Ricky Steamboat - Perennial good guy. Still capable of incredible matches. Crowd pleaser. Good rivalries throughout year. Injury problems and doubts over future make The Dragon miss out.
Tommy Dreamer - Promising youngster. Ever-developing persona. Involved in some of the most innovative and memorable moments of the year. Difficult to see another promotion able to utilise his obvious strengths.
10: Owen Hart - 1994 King of the Ring. Recent contender for WWF title. Involved in match of the year candidates and one of 1994's best feuds. Technically sound, high-flying skills. Verbal skills increasing, can he step out of Bret's shadow?
9: Cactus Jack - Willing to do anything, outstanding bump-taker. Amazing promo skills and matches well with both experienced & younger workers. Previous main event experience, but no lengthy run. Questionable sustainability over in-ring style.
8: Razor Ramon - Strong look, crowds incredibly receptive to character. Involved in possibly 1994's match of the year. Intercontinental Championship reign, King of the Ring final. Is the Scarface tribute able to rise above his contemporaries?
7: Steve Austin - Bonafide natural talent. Maximised opportunities throughout the year. Strong talker, but minimal experience with microphone. Great humour shown, potential star. Has not gained main event experience.
6: Hulk Hogan - Current WCW champion. Experienced main-eventer. One of the most popular wrestlers in the country. Still able to draw crowds, ratings & buys. Possibly over-exposed by lengthy run & limited technical ability.
5: Shawn Michaels - Enigma. Strong candidate for match of the year at Wrestlemania X, but lengthy spells of non-competing. Tag Team championship reign. Outstanding charisma, great natural athlete, but questionable attitude.
4: Sting - As popular a wrestler as you will find. Unique look, appeals to different markets. Strong matches throughout year, last International champion. Experienced, but yet to peak. Is he able to break through the glass ceiling with company star power?
3: Shane Douglas - ECW's one representative. One of the best promo-men in the business. ECW heavyweight champion, carried company much of the year. Good technical wrestler, but no main event experience at national promotion. At present, big fish in a small pond. Needs tested.
2: Bret Hart - 1994 PWI #1 wrestler of the year. Technically brilliant, at times lacking charisma. Strong, fighting reign as WWF champion, but under-utilised in placement of cards. Another candidate for more than one match of the year, but doubts over ability to carry a promotion.
1: Ric Flair - Possibly the best wrestler of all time. One of the most decorated champions in history. Still able to perform with seemingly anyone. Wealth of experience to share with all around him. Is his retirement legitimate? Previous run in WWF not well received, but could he run against Hulk Hogan for national supremacy?
So ends this look into the prospects at the end of 1994. Listen to the podcast over the coming months to see how they all compare in 1995. As ever, please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.