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Monday, January 31, 2005

END OF AN ERA: After ten years of mayhem, WWWF Grudge Match is closing down

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end

Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...


And in the end, not even Mister T was powerful enough to keep a good thing going forever.

Maybe this is the way it should be: "That is the way of things," the wise Yoda told us. I mean, life is good. But a life without end is meaningless. And having all the time in the universe won't make it any more rich. No, a measure of mortality is required, lest we be condemned to an eternity of pointless debate.

But still... man, this takes all the hot air out of a balloon that took a lot of us to situations we never thought possible, and even across the horizon for a glimpse of things yet to come. Coming to the end of the road like this is going to cause no end of emotional turmoil for some people. Including me.

After very nearly ten years of fighting the good fight on the World Wide Web - longer than most people have even been able to use the Internet at all - the WWWF Grudge Match is being retired. It started as a rumble in the 'hood between Gary Coleman and Emmanuel Lewis in the halcyon days of 1995, when Jar Jar Binks existed nowhere outside the mind of George Lucas and the Blair Witch was not yet an original idea to be ripped off by a jillion camcorder-armed amateurs . It ended with a "Hail to the king, baby!" for Ash Williams. It covered just about every conceivable genre and corner of pop-culture in the history of anything along the way.

And it's gotta be said that plenty of its matchups became not just classics to the site, but to the entire web. The infamous English Soccer Hooligans vs. the French Army battle from 1998, I've probably seen linked to from other sites at least a dozen times over the years. The same goes for the "wheelchair demolition derby" between Stephen Hawking, Larry Flynt and Doctor Strangelove. The proto-"Iron Chef" bake-off between Hannibal Lecter and Jeffrey Dahmer prompted some rallying on Usenet for Dahmer's dish, but even that paled in contrast to the threatening e-mail sent by terrorists at Georgia Tech calling themselves "The Braveheart Jihad (There Is No Jihad)" in response to William Wallace vs. Groundskeeper Willy. "The Moppet Show" of Harry Potter against Anakin Skywalker got more votes than any other fight in Grudge Match history, while John McLane's running amok inside the Death Star is considered by some to be the site's all-time funniest contest.

That Grudge Match lasted THIS long is testament enough to the hilarity of its premise, but it managed to make a few marks of its own on the cultural landscape during its run. For one thing, it's widely considered to have been the principle inspiration for MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch. The spring of '98 saw the publication of Grudge Match in bookstores everywhere. At one point there was discussion of even turning Grudge Match into a TV show of its very own: I can only imagine how hilarious THAT might have turned out to be!

But I'm going to remember Grudge Match because during its long run, I made a lot of good friends in one way or another because of it and though they might not know it, a lot of them offered some much-needed encouragement during a particularly rough period of my life: initially I was going to be a guest commentator for Darth Maul vs. ConnorMcLeod but when my grandmother died a week before my part was due... well, that tends to take the humor out of a guy. Steve(tm) and Brian(tm) bared with me though and let me do The Godfather vs. The Equalizer a few months later. There's also the lil' matter of "The Night the Lights Went Out", the idea for which was literally conceived and put online (including graphics) within a span of fifteen minutes, and it's always been a thrill knowing that one moment of madness will forever be part of Grudge Match lore. I wrote the accompanying spoof of "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in about a half-hour... what the heck kind of cold medicine was I on that night?!

There's no telling how many websites I've visited over the years. The number that readily come to mind that were on my "must-see" list is probably less than ten. Grudge Match was one of them, but not just for the humor: it was a really unique place for camaraderie and friendship. It was a family. It was like Cheers where "everybody knows your name" and now it's closing time.

It's not going to be the same web for me anymore. Not without one of the very first websites I discovered no longer churning out new material (though the site and its archives will apparently be up and operating indefinitely). But to go on and on and on and on without end would keep Grudge Match from its destiny as a classic. It broke new ground as a web pioneer, and now it gets to enjoy a glorious ride into the sunset.

Thanks for all the hard work and good laughs over the years, fellas. It's been an honor to have been both a fan and have had a small role in this site. Come back in another ten years or so when the ground is fertile again: there should be plenty of crap-tacular culture to knock by then :-)


Anonymous said...

When you are going down the road, the impact of the air ­on the front face of the
trailer gives you a higher pressure there than when the air ­is stationary.
Aerodynamic types call this dynamic pressure. The dynamic p­ressure causes the air
in the truck box to increase and there is a strong uplift on­ the truck box cover.
The only way to stop this is to prevent the air pressure get­ting down into the box,
and that means you need a canvas collar around the hitch col­umn that seals off the

Chris Knight said...

Say whuh...?

Anonymous said...

Don't you know anything about physics? Ah, forget it.

Say, I see by your profile that you are a moviemaker. Do you have any connection to the movie Night Shift starring Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton? Couldn't help but notice the similarity between the name of that film and your blog. I realy like that movie. Funny comedy.

Chris Knight said...

The name rings a bell but afraid to say I haven't seen it. Sounds like a lot of hilarity if those two came together to make a movie though :-) Am finishing up editing (only need sound dubbing yay!) my first movie, and somehow have to do ANOTHER one in the space of this next month! Gonna be tough but as my fifth-grade teacher loved to cackle madly at us: "Think of it as a CHALLENGE!" Anyway if you want to see what the first movie is about go to forcery.kwerkyproductions.com :-)

Anonymous said...

"The name rings a bell but afraid to say I haven't seen it. Sounds like a lot of hilarity if those two came together to make a movie though :-)"

To give you a rundown, it was directed by Ron Howard (Yes, that Ron Howard). It's about two guys who run a brothel/call girl operation out of the New York City morgue. Basically it was based on a true story. Ron Howard saw some little news item in a magazine about it.

Here is more:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words, Chris. I know for my part, I will miss the Grudge "family", yourself included. You were one hell of a respondent - loved getting to your comments on the RF. Always fun to read.

Anyways, it's a small web and most of us are just a google away.

Best wishes,

John Hnatyshyn aka Thinkmaster General

Anonymous said...

Have to say, Chris, i've loved your posts on grudgematch and will miss is as much as you do...

From one loyal grudgie to another, let The Rage™ never die!

Anonymous said...

You know, I felt sad when the site first shut down, but right now, thinking about all the great times we had, I am freakin' crushed.

Grudge Match, you went to young, but you know, good friends last forever. Chris Knight and I met through the Grudge Match, and I consider myself privileged to have known him.