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Ask 411 Wrestling: What If Vince McMahon Never Existed?

June 15, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina

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This is Ask 411 Wrestling, and I’m your host, Mathew Sforcina. Join me as I answer a bunch of questions about people dying, getting injured for life and contract screwjobs! You know, lots of fun and happy times!

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The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I wrestled on the same PPV as the above, where she had a really big event happen. A former multi-time World Champion, I’ve beaten everyone from John Cena and Triple H to Droz and Gillberg. I once lost to a woman, lost a match due to my chosen interference being too good, and to lose a title I didn’t actually hold. The last match I ever had was against the world champion which went to a no contest, if it ever started, and if the guy it was against still exists in WWE history (but it wasn’t Benoit, although I have wrestled him once in a tag match with Steve Austin). Who am I?

The Darby has our answer.

Who am I? I wrestled on the same PPV as the above, where she had a
really big event happen. (Wrestlemania 22 – No Holds Barred match). A former multi-time World Champion (ECW & WWF World Heavyweight), I’ve beaten
everyone from John Cena and Triple H to Droz and Gillberg. I once lost
to a woman (Chyna – Corporate Rumble), lost a match due to my chosen interference being too good (Big Show at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre),
and to lose a title I didn’t actually hold (King of the Ring 2000). The last match I ever had was against the world champion which went to a no contest, if it ever
started, and if the guy it was against still exists in WWE history (CM Punk) (but
it wasn’t Benoit, although I have wrestled him once in a tag match with
Steve Austin). Who am I?

I am Vincent Kennedy McMahon, dammit.

Maraviloso has this week’s question.

I am a championship. Among the holders of me there are former WWE, NWA, TNA, CMLL and Lucha Underground champions. Two juniors have won me (three if you count another one who, at one time, was also a junior). I have a strange connection with Triple H, even though he’s never won me. One of the champions of me unofficially changed by name when he appeared with me in a different wrestling promotion from where I’m from. Three wrestlers have won me twice and with the exception of three, all the champions of me were born in the same country. I’ve been vacant twice, changed hands twice in triple threat matches, once in a tournament and once in a ladder match and three straight title changes happened in the same city. What am I?

Getting Down To All The Business

We’ll start with something not quite as dark as the intro, with Ryan.

I was just watching a match with European Champion X-Pac on a December 20th 1998 episode of Sunday Night Heat, and I just had to pause and get your input. Firstly, on the European title itself. Did it make sense to have it? It would make sense if only Europeans could hold it, though D’Lo made for some entertaining moments with it. Most of the time it was around, though, it was mostly on Americans.

It made sense when it came in, because it was meant to be the start of something, but that something didn’t really end up happening, so it ended up being just a belt.

When the title was made, it was designed to do two complimentary things. Put over British Bulldog, and become a drawcard for Europe.

Because WWF, at the time, was not doing well in North America. Crowds were dwindling, shows were losing ratings, and there was that little company in Atlanta that was doing rather well, all things considered. So, if North America was a last cause, why not embrace the World part of your company’s name, and start touring overseas more? Thus the European title was created to be the focal point of regular European tours. And since Bulldog was a draw in England, where they’d almost certainly run a lot of said tours, plus the assumption was he was over in most of the rest of Europe too, he got the belt and was set to be a long term champ while they established the European touring schedule.

Problem is, the ratings for the Raw that that match was on were low. Like, totally reinvent the whole company low. And that brought Russo to gain some influence, and then the Attitude Era began to form.

Those two facts are related, although probably not as much as Russo claims they are.

Anyway, point is, WWF suddenly began to gain traction, little by little, and so touring in Europe all the time became less important, and thus the European title became the lower card belt, the TV title equivalent. Which never really bothered me, in the sense that WWE has almost always based their belts on geographical regions. The North American title, Canadian title, IC, etcetc, they’ve liked that style of belt delineation, and that’s fine by me. It’s as valid as any other form of belt division. Speaking of…

Secondly, if you ran a wrestling promotion, what kind of title structure would you like to have? Would it be a simple Main Event > mid-card > tag > woman be enough? Seemed to work well enough back in the days. Throw in Cruiserweight/ Light Heavyweight/ Junior Heavyweight? I’d like to know your thoughts.

Depends on what talent I have and how I’m trying to market it/who my audience is. If I have a lot of smaller guys who are all really awesome wrestlers, then I’ll do the weight class gimmick, have a Heavyweight Title and a Middleweight title (Cruiserweight as a term has, unfortunately, too much baggage involved to be used I think), and push them as equal, they’re both World/Region champions, just divided by weight class. If I have some good women too, then add in a Woman’s Openweight title too, and again, present as an equal, same as the tag belts, if needed.

Now if I don’t have enough talent to support two weight classes, nor enough women to have a division, then yes, the World/Smaller Region/Tag/Gimmick ranking is fine, have the main champ, then the midcard title, then the tag, and then maybe a gimmick division, a Hardcore, or 15 minute iron man, or Proving Ground “hold for 5 defenses, you can get a region belt shot, hold for 10 and get a tag title shot, hold for 15, get a world title shot” style title. Something that can transcend the card if/when needed.

The traditional style of belt division works best when you’re presenting a more traditional style show. If you’re aiming for a more modern in-ring style, or the current 18-45 mostly male demo, then weightclasses is probably a better bet. Depends on the circumstances.

Speaking of titles, Adam asks about a specific title reign.

Hi. Long time reader first time question. Did I dream this up as I can’t find footage. But did Stone cold and undertaker have the tag belts and lose them on raw against Kane and mankind? I’m sure they did but I could be wrong

They did indeed! Kane and Mankind won the belts off the New Age Outlaws on an episode of Raw…

To heat up an otherwise throwaway main event on a In Your House level PPV, which was building up to Austin/Taker at Summerslam for the WWF Title. At first, it was Taker/Austin V Kane/Mankind as a “can the future opponents work together” issue, but then Kane and Mankind win the tag titles, and now the PPV match is for the tag belts. Because that’s more important.

So Austin and Taker win the belts, hold them for a couple weeks, and then lost them in a four way match on Raw back to Kane and Mankind, with New Age Outlaws and Rock/D’Lo as the other two teams, in a match I love simply as a trivia note, since the WWF, IC, Euro and Tag champs were all involved in the one match.

And then Kane and Mankind lost them back to the Outlaws at Summerslam when Kane turned on Mankind. So no, you didn’t imagine it.

Speaking of imagining things, let’s get darkish, shall we? Yes, we shall, with Jon.

I’ll get right to it: Vince dies this weekend. After the (two nights of) tribute, the board- the real one- has a massive meeting. Who walks out as head Booker? If it’s Triple H, what’s that mean for Dunn? If Dunn, what’s that mean for H? What happens to NXT and who books weekly television? Finally, give a couple thoughts on what immediate changes we might notice based on the above questions. Thanks as always!

So the assumption here is that Vince dies in a singular way without risking anyone else’s life because he’s needed to stop another Rapture or something. Peacefully in his sleep or a heart attack in the gym or just mid sneeze for some reason, the death is not controversial or attention grabbing for the wrong reasons. If it was something akin to the latter, then the McMahons might have to take a back seat for a while.

However, assuming the former, it actually comes down to where Vince’s stock goes. See, although Vince owns less than 50% of the stock, thanks to the Class B/Class A distinction, he holds around 85% of the voting rights, since the McMahon only Class B shares have ten times the voting power of the Class A, which is held by institutions mostly.

I’d suspect that Vince’s will would probably favor Linda first of all, so it would presumably fall on her to decide who runs the place. But if she’s also gone, or if Vince goes directly to giving stock to his descendants, then it gets dicey.

You’d assume that StepHunter would win, Steph’s the one who stayed, Steph is the one who is enough like Vince to have Vince like her but not so much like Vince that she want to leave and make her own path. And Hunter and Vince are apparently best buddies. And yet… Does being first born matter to Vince? Does Vince bypass the kids and go directly to the grandkids? If so, does Vince care that Shane’s produced only sons and Steph only daughters? (Which goes to show just how far the McMahons will go for branding purposes).

If Vince divides it equally between Steph and Shane, there’s a war, since Steph would have more stock to herself, but not enough to win if everyone else sides with Shane. If it’s in three parts with Linda, then Linda picks, if Hunter gets any then StepHunter wins.

Overall, I think StepHunter wins, unless something drastic happens between now and this hypothetical point in the future occurs. Regardless though, whoever wins, Dunn is, quite frankly, Done. He’ll probably stick around for a few weeks to smooth the transition, but I’m not sure he’d want to stay around, or if he’d be wanted. He’d ‘retire’ gracefully and with a minimum of fuss.

As for immediate changes? There wouldn’t be many, if only because WWE, as much as it is Vince’s vision and drive and all that, there’s still several hundred people involved in the company, and that sort of thing has momentum. The commentary/promos would probably be the only major, immediate change, if only because Vince is no longer in their ears/approving scripts, so you’d assume that some of Vince’s supposed idiosyncrasies would be dropped. They’d become belts again, you get a shot at a title, stuff like that.

Unless there was to be a quick turn around sale, or a drastic boardroom war, WWE would run pretty similar to how it is now, there wouldn’t be too massive a change, if only to try and calm investors, now that the guy who ran the joint is no longer there. But if StepHunter or Shane or Linda of whoever gets control and then immediately sells to Disney or Comcast or Live Nation or Mark Cuban or Google’s Pension Fund or whomever… Then you get the changes that you’re looking for. And I wouldn’t even begin to guess how that would go.

Unless someone asks me about it for next week, I suppose.

Speaking of money and contracts, Juv asks about one guy. But what a guy…

I’ve been skimming WCW ppv’s circa 2000-2001, because I need to know what pain is to know what love is, and I got to WCW Sin and the triple threat match between Meng, Terry Funk, and Crowbar. Google-Fu tells me that Royal Rumble 2001, in which Haku was a surprise entrant, was 7 days later… and then Meng wins the match and WCW’s Hardcore Championship. What was up with Meng and WCW at the time to let that happen?

WCW being in such a state of disarray that they didn’t think that putting a belt on someone not technically under contract would be a big deal.

This was when WCW was on autopilot, as the sale to Fusient had been announced and was seen to be a done deal, once due diligence and such had been completed. Bischoff nominally had the book, as I understand it, but he was just focused on broad strokes and the big Scott Steiner angle, I believe, and the day to day was some combination of Johnny Ace, Terry Taylor, Ed Ferrera, and/or Kevin Sullivan.

Meng, at the time, wasn’t under contract with WCW, he was on a day to day handshake agreement. I don’t know quite why they didn’t hammer out a deal, I assume it was a case of his contract running out and one side or the other not wanting to sign something while the company was being sold. If I had to guess, I’d say WCW decided that.

Regardless, he didn’t have a contract, WCW then made a champion, and Vince offered him a contract to jump ship because why not kick WCW when they’re down that last little bit, and so the WCW Hardcore Champion appeared on a taped Thunder, retaining the title over Bam Bam Bigelow, and then a few days later, appeared in the Royal Rumble. And sadly didn’t really do anything in his short run, but then when it comes to WWF in 2001, a lot of stuff in that timeframe is not good.

Speaking of not good, Connor?

Were there any long term plans for Droz before his injury

Not really, at least in terms of headlining Wrestlemania or anything like that. They were building up a little midcard stable around him, with Prince Albert as his “body piercing artist” and Vic Grimes as Key, who was Droz’s drug dealer

Normally when I do this joke I put what WWF actually called him, but he wasn’t around long enough to be have a euphemism applied. So, drug dealer it is.

I would hazard a guess that what little thought they’d put into his run, he’d gain maybe one or two more associates (Tori would look decent as a Grunge/Biker/Gothy chick, I think) and maybe have a short little run of dominance in the 2000 Rumble before Rock tossed them all, but as far as any sort of concrete big plans, nope, nothing there. Sometimes you just have talent that you put out there until something clicks or you find a use for them, or you just let them go.

Speaking of letting go, Joseph asks about Vince maybe regretting letting one go.

Did Vince regret losing Macho Man to WCW more than many of his other choices? A lot’s been written about how personally Vince took it. Taking the whole Steph thing out (or not if you feel like it needs to be part of the conversation), do you think it hit him the hardest? I guess it seems to me like Vince could have looked at that situation and realized “if all he wanted to do was wrestle, I should have let him wrestle” because–while you can see Vince’s point–not only was it a pretty reasonable demand it seemed more or less to work out well for everybody involved.

It’s hard to try and second guess Vince’s thought process most of the time. But Savage and his leaving does seem to be a perfect storm of influences and events that would really get to Vince.

Savage was a guy Vince really loved, as a performer, and as a person, Vince did really Savage. And Savage was renowned for being a professional, a bit weird when it came to Liz, sure, but professional in terms of how he did business. So for a guy like that, who Vince really likes as a performer and as a person, and whom has a rep for being a stand up guy, for a guy like that to say he’s fine with the direction of the company, and that he’ll re-sign with the company, for a guy like that to change his mind, to pull out, and to leave, and then go to the competition, that must have stung Vince on a personal level.

Add in the fact that Savage leaving also cost Vince a lot of money, since he took the Slim Jims sponsorship with him. Given that the sponsorship was apparently enough to cover Savage’s entire WCW contract, that amount of money walking out the door must have also hurt.

The Steph thing is stupid, and I don’t believe it. What I do believe is that Vince saw a guy he liked and respected walk out the door, after saying he would stay, and taking with him a big sack of cash, to go work for the opposition, and in the short term, make them a lot more money, while the direction you headed in that drove him out the door failed, again in the short term. All that? Yeah, that can make a guy pretty angry.

I’m sure some small part of Vince did, maybe even still does, wonder if maybe he should have let Savage have his last run with Michaels or whatever, but the company did not revolve around Savage, and at the time he did what he felt was best, and while it didn’t go as well as it could have, at the end of the day he’s done ok, I think.

But I’m sure he really regrets putting the Von Erichs into the Hall of Fame before he had Savage locked in.

#YoureGonnaNoticeUs

Speaking of Vince though, Brendan wonders what if he never existed?

Let’s pretend Vince McMahon Jr was never born. Is it inevitable that professional wrestling would have eventually gone national? And if so how would it have played out? I’m curious because in the early 80s the Von Erichs syndicated their WCCW shows nationally and Georgia Championship wresting was available nationwide through cable/TBS. So it seems as though the seeds were already planted but Vince had the vision/guts/access to biggest TV markets to truly go national.

Yes and no. At least one company would have gone national, Crockett almost certainly, with Flair and Rhodes and so on, plus with Turner either involved or owning it, they would ended up going national, but without Vince there’s no steamrolling vacuum cleaner, nor the switch in payment, and thus wrestling would be not so much territorial as it would be graded, assuming enough people were smart.

What I mean is that without Vince offering to buy airtime, wrestling would probably remain as the zero sum game for TV, in that TV would get programming for free, or near enough, so they’d keep most of the advertising (what little there would be, since Wrestling has never really been able to charge much for advertising space) revenue, and wrestling companies would still focus on selling the house shows and then PPV. The switch to TV stations expecting to be paid to air the programming probably wouldn’t occur. So off the bat, the cost to stay in the game is lower.

Then, there’s no major company to nab all the best talent from all over the place. Wrestlers wouldn’t just be there to wait until Vince came a calling, you’d work for a small company and then move up a level to a regional, and then maybe to one of the national brands, then back down as a big name now in the small fed.

There would be a couple nationalish companies, then you’d have a bunch of regionals, and then locals. And they may or may not be part of the NWA, they may or may not be linked, they may or may not have TV. But they’d exist, without the downward pressure from Vince in both an active sense (no-one is stealing all your talent) and a passive sense (no giant in the playground forcing you to either go big or fold), less companies and regions would die. At least immediately.

It was inevitable for cable to take someone national. But it didn’t have to be just one or two, if people could co-exist. And for the most part, they could, sort of. If there wasn’t Vince there to breathe down their necks and bleed them dry…

And as a follow up, how did other promoters feel about WCCW and GCW making their television available nationally? Was this frowned upon or was it ok since they weren’t running live shows outside of their territory? or stealing talent from other promotions?

Vince Sr actually had the problem GCW had too, with his Madison Square Garden shows being shown nationally on the MSG network. The NWA, which both were a part of, had members not liking the fact that these guys were showing nationally. Vince Sr said it was stupid to ask him to stop running MSG, and Jim Barnett’s GCW only featured Georgia wrestlers, at least that was his defence. The other promoters weren’t happy, certainly, but they weren’t upset enough to try and do anything about it.

WCCW, I’m not sure about, but I think syndication was less of a dealbreaker than cable, because syndication was piecemeal, and presumably you could get your stuff on as well, or instead of. I presume Von Erich didn’t go round screwing over other companies either, so that helped. But I don’t know of anything yay or nay in regards to them.

But yes, overall, national companies were coming. It just didn’t have to be as brutal a transition as Vince made it. Theoretically.

Nightwolf has some slightly unkind questions to ask.

1. Why do you think the Bullet Club became as big as it did while reusing the NWO Wolfpack sign and DX’s Crotch chop?

Cool is cool.

Bullet Club is in many regards a natural evolution of the nWo concept, and not just visually. The nWo, until it imploded the first time, was about taking over, and being different to everything that came before it. The Bullet Club is many things, but especially in the US, it’s become this force that seeps into almost all wrestling companies, and takes hold. Maybe not taking complete control, but influencing it, certainly. The wolfs heads and crotch chopping and so forth is a nod to those who came before them, but also still kinda cool for the young male demo, hand gestures and macho swagger appeal to many people. Nothing wrong with that, for the most part.

The old line is that good artists borrow, and great ones steal. Bullet Club is the evolution of the nWo and DX in many regards, so why not be blatant about that?

2. Why did Bullet Club become became even more successful when AJ Styles took over as leader as opposed to Prince Devitt? Was it because AJ is a world renown wrestler as opposed to Devitt, or is it because NJPW was sticking it to Devitt for leaving for the WWE?

Certainly swapping Devitt for Styles is like replacing your solid gold footstool for a jewel encrusted platinum one, it’s a step up, not a huge one, but still upwards. Certainly there’s a case for Styles being the best wrestler in the world and thus of course they did better.

But given the stories of how Gedo books long term in NJPW, it would not surprise me if it wasn’t on the cards anyway, for the leader of the Bullet Club to win the title, and so when Devitt became Balor, they just went with the new guy in what would have been his roll, and the fact it was the best wrestler on the planet at the time (arguably) was just a bonus.

But it’s hard to say. And having now burnt NJPW bridges as well as WWE ones from above, I’ll bid you… Oh, wait.

Now I’ll bid you goodbye. See you next week!

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