"Shooting Straight" panels take WWE fans behind the curtain during Royal Rumble weekend

"Shooting Straight" panels take WWE fans behind the curtain during Royal Rumble weekend

PHOENIX — It wasn’t long after Michael Cole politely reminded the members of D-Generation X that WWE is now in a post–Attitude Era during their “Shooting Straight” panel that Triple H fired out a word that would have had network executives pulling out their hair had it been uttered during a live Raw broadcast.

From that moment on, it was clear that WWE’s new “Shooting Straight” panels were going to be every bit as uncensored as the advertisements promised.

Introduced to the WWE Universe as part of Royal Rumble’s Fan Fest weekend, the three sessions — which focused on 1997’s Montreal Screwjob, D-Generation X and WCW — gave an intimate crowd of WWE fans the opportunity to hear inside stories about some of the most pivotal moments in sports-entertainment history from the men who lived them. ( PHOTOS)

“I think it’s something we should have done a long time ago,” Booker T told WWE.com shortly after participating in Sunday’s WCW panel. “Letting our fans get a chance to ask those questions they’ve been wanting to ask for years and getting a true answer from someone who was there — I think it’s priceless.”

It was early Saturday night when WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels, Bret “Hit Man” Hart and Jerry “The King” Lawler sat down with Michael Cole to discuss the infamous events of the 1997 Survivor Series. Although it has been nearly 16 years since the most notorious night in WWE history, it was clear that the controversies of that evening still resonate with WWE fans. As for HBK and Hart, both have matured considerably and have let go of any animosity. Still, The Excellence of Execution took pleasure in graphically describing the loogie he spit in Mr. McMahon’s face seconds after he was conned out of the WWE Title.

“That was like a 10 egg white omelet,” the “Hit Man” said with a laugh.

The next panel got just as messy as D-Generation X members Shawn Michaels, Triple H, X-Pac, Billy Gunn and The Road Dogg got together with Michael Cole to reminisce about the most anti-authority group in WWE history. In between crude jokes and bouts of riotous laughter, The Game revealed that he was nearly paired up with The Honky Tonk Man before DX took off. Another untold tale aired out for those in attendance was how, following DX’s infamous “attack” on WCW in Norfolk, Va., a subsequent invasion of WCW’s Atlanta headquarters nearly got the boys thrown in jail.

“They called the police and told them they were under attack from a militia group,” Triple H said, still in disbelief. “A hundred cops came with riot squads!”

The weekend’s final panel got underway on Sunday morning when former WCW competitors Booker T, Big Show, X-Pac and Kevin Nash talked  with moderator Matt Striker about the rise of The New World Order and The Monday Night War. As expected, nothing was left unsaid as Nash revealed that Sting was nearly the third man to join the original nWo and that the reckless Goldberg was his least favorite competitor to face. On the topic of Goldberg, X-Pac added that the former WCW Champion wanted to call himself “The Hybrid” before his impressive winning streak began.

By the time the WCW panel ended, it was clear that WWE had taken a revolutionary step in inviting the audience behind the scenes. For the traditionally guarded world of professional wrestling, it’s a major shift, but one that is welcome.

“Whoever came up with this idea is an absolute genius, because the goal of WWE is to grow and I saw children out there who don’t remember The nWo and now they’re going to go back and learn about them,” Striker told WWE.com.

If you weren’t able to be in Phoenix for the first “Shooting Straight” panels, don’t fret. Chances are WWE will be bringing these innovative sessions to your town in the near future.

“I think it was a hit,” The Game said during the final moments of the DX panel. “And I think it’s something we’re going to do more often.” 

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