May 22 2008 09:47AM
People might tell you that the key to the 2007–08 Stanley Cup is going to be goaltending. Others will say it’s defence. Still others might tell you it’s back-checking, while some will say it’s ensuring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are securely locked in an Austrian basement until some time in July.
Wrong, wrong, wrong and maybe.
The difference, lambs, is intangibles—things that no ordinary beer-swilling-hobo-wrestling-writes-on-a-hockey-website analyst would ever think of. Oh, but we thought of it. We can think of lots of things. YOU HEAR THAT GRADE FOUR TEACHER MRS. DOWNTON WHO SAID WE WOULDN’T AMOUNT TO ANYTHING???
Ahem, so in that spirit let’s start our series of in-depth analysis of the Cup Finals with what could be one of the most overlooked intangible item in pro hockey: which WWE wrestlers were born in which city, and who would win in a fight?
Detroit: Sgt. Slaughter
aka Matt Burns aka Bob Remus aka Bob Slaughter aka Bobby Remus aka Super Destroyer Mark II Born in Detroit, Michigan on May 25, 1948, Sergeant Slaughter was a fan favourite year after year for his patriotic soldier ways, rippling back muscles and his tendency to wear Chopper shades in the ring—which we remember as being super cool when we were seven years old. He single handedly negotiated the release of American Hostages in Tehran, Iran in 1987 before taking a three-year break from the WWF. In the summer of 1990, Slaughter returned to the WWF ring, but shortly after making his televised return, Slaughter's alliances turned 180 degrees as he became an Iraqi sympathizer. Slaughter announced he was disgusted with his country, claiming America had "gone soft" for accepting the Soviet Union's Nikolai Volkoff and joined forces with the WWF Wrestler/Iraqi military general, General Adnan. Though he would later reclaim his love of America and beat the Bushwhackers, Tito Santana and Volkoff at Survivor Series, we will never forget his absence of character and the fact that his player isn’t nearly mobile enough in the WWF Summerslam Arcade game we used to play at the corner store near our house.
Pittsburgh: Kurt Angle
aka Kurt Angle
In addition to being an Olympic gold medalist, a WCW United States Champion, WCW World Heavyweight Champion, WWE Tag Team Champion, four-time WWF/E Champion, WWF European Champion, WWF Hardcore Champion, WWF Intercontinental Champion, and World Heavyweight Champion, Kurt Steven Angle was also a gold medalist at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta in the heavyweight (90–100 kg; 198–220 lbs) weight class, defeating the Iranian Abbas Jadidi in a one round final.
His first match in the WWF came on March 7, 1999 when he fought Tiger Ali Singh. Singh offered Angle—an American Olympic Hero, remember—money to blow his nose on the American flag. Did Angle pull a Slaughter and take the easy road, blowing his nose on the American Flag to fit in with his new coworkers? Nay, Angle refused to do so and fought Singh off instead like a Real American Hero.
Analysis: Who would win in a fight between Angle and Slaughter?
A match between Sgt. Slaughter and Kurt Angle would be like the Penguins playing the Red Wings in the Cup final—not even close. Slaughter may have made his mark displaying American patriotism, but he has a disturbing tendency to renounce America and side with Russians every 15 years or so. This displays a lack of judgment. Judgment necessary to win. Ergo people from Detroit, or working in Detroit, cannot win the big ones. You see where this is going...
Angle on the other hand beat an Iranian wrestler in the Olympic finals (much to the delight of a young George W. Bush we would guess) and was one of the most decorated WWE wrestlers in history. Angle—like the Penguins from his hometown of Pittsburgh—has what it takes to win the big ones.
In addition, because our interest in the WWF consisted of about three years in the late 1980s when we had been given a wrestling ring and action figures for our seventh birthday, we’re much more familiar with the weaknesses of Slaughter.
Plus Angle looks still looks scary, and Slaughter now just looks old.
Advantage: Angle wins, so do the Penguins.