wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling 01.02.13: Cena vs. Rock Booking, Goldberg’s Title Reigns, Flair Off the Top Rope, and More!

January 2, 2013 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am Ryan Byers, and, in case you missed last week’s installment of the column due to Christmas, I will be filling in for Matthew Sforcina for the next several weeks due to some other commitments of his. So, if you have any questions that you would like my take on as opposed to Mat’s, shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] or send a direct message on the Twittah machine below.

With the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get into the meat of things!


And what’s a good banner without a good Twitter?




Now that 411 was a halfway decent comment interface, I’ve actually been participating in discussions that interest me there as opposed to including feedback sections in columns. So, if you’d like to see me tackle some feedback or see people correct me, click through to last week’s column and scroll to the bottom.

In particular, I would recommend reading my back and forth with commenter PJ regarding just how detailed of answers I should be giving to these questions.

Also, thanks to 411’er TJ Hawke for contacting me on Twitter after last week’s column went up to let me know that, though I didn’t realize it, there actually IS a fairly comprehensive listing of big league ladder matches in wrestling, thanks to Wikipedia. I hadn’t realized that previously because I try to minimize my use of wrestling articles on Wikipedia due to the fact that I have some serious disagreements with how they cover the topic . . . but that’s another rant for another day.

Your Turn, Smart Guy

Last week’s question was:

Who am I? I got one of the earliest breaks of my wrestling career in Mexico, even though that is not my home country. From there, I donned a mask and assumed a gimmick inspired by the stars. One of my former managers is also a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and I have wrestled for two of the “big three” in the United States as well as two of the “big three” in Japan. Who am I?

Congratulations to comment section poster Maravilloso, who provided the correct answer to the question, which was Tajiri. Tajiri originally broke out as a star in Mexico and wrestled under the mask as “Aquarius,” one of the constellations of the zodiac. In ECW, he was managed by Steve Corino, who would later go on to win the NWA World Heavyweight Title. Tajiri has wrestled for both WWE and ECW, commonly referred to as two of the “big three” in the United States, and he has also competed for New Japan and All Japan, two of the “big three” in Japan starting in the 2000’s.

Reader David Lanning got close by mentioning Vader. The main reason Vader doesn’t fit is that he didn’t just wrestle for two of the big three in Japan. He wrestled for all three of them, originally with New Japan, then All Japan, then NOAH after the split. Also, Vader’s gimmick wasn’t “inspired by the stars.” He was named after a character from Japanese folklore who was later immortalized in a cartoon. (And, no, his name actually has no connection to Darth Vader, believe it or not.)

Another reader guessed Konnan, which fits in some ways (non-Mexican star getting a big break in Mexico, the star gimmick being Max Moon), but Konnan never had a Japanese career to speak of.

Let’s move along to this week’s question . . .

I am a former masked wrestler. I have several sons, and all but one of them also became masked wrestlers. I’m no luchador, though. During the prime of my career, I participated in a feud that revolved around my girlfriend, though she never appeared on camera. Much later in my career, I had a memorable appearance in a steel cage, though I didn’t have a pro wrestling match there. Who am I?

Make your guesses in the comment section below!

Questions, Questions, Who’s Got the Questions?

Kevin K. of the Monday Night War Blog has a couple of questions about, what else, the Monday Night War . . .

I had heard that either Sable or Carmen Electra was going to be the driver of the Hummer. What was the long-term plan in the summer of 99? I was shocked that some of it was not as bad as everyone has always claimed it to be. Macho Man made a great heel, the slight push of Bagwell and then Revolution and even Sid Vicious was interesting for the first time in years. It is amazing how over Sid is everywhere he goes. If there was a lower to midcard match going the fans would chant for Sid, as they wanted him to lay waste.

How serious was Bischoff with this youth movement? Part of it seemed smoke and mirrors. I was shocked how over Bagwell was but he got demoted quickly after beating both Flair and Piper! Eddie was really over with his return and did not do too much and Rey did little after losing to Lenny Lane.

First off, Eric Bischoff wasn’t booking WCW during the summer of 1999. Bischoff was still an executive with the promotion, but Kevin Nash had taken up the day-to-day booking operations. This explains why Nash was in the main event of every summer pay per view that year and held the WCW Title on and off for the early part of the year after winning it by ending Goldberg’s undefeated streak.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever gone on record as stating what the long-term plans for the company’s direction were if Nash’s regime was to continue uninterrupted. Given WCW’s reputation during the period, there may not have been any long-term plans, because the promotion had a reputation for booking week-to-week, with some particularly bad weeks featuring shows being rewritten literally while they were on the air. I don’t see any reason why a Nash-booked WCW wouldn’t have continued that trend, since he would have been just as busy as any other guy attempting to juggle the roles of booker and full-time wrestler.

If there were long-term plans, Nash’s booking patterns lead me to believe that the long-term plans would focus on Kevin Nash being booked as the most dominant wrestler and coolest motherfucker on the planet. Bagwell might have continued to be brought up the card and Savage and Sid probably still would’ve been big heels, but, based on comments that he made about them in interviews in the 1990s, I sincerely doubt that Nash would have done anything to help out the Benoits, Misterios, and Guerreros of the world.

Why do you think Goldberg never got another title run? His return in the summer was perfect for a run, but they ran with Hogan instead.

I think that Goldberg’s failure to have another title run of any substance (remember he did hold it again for roughly 24 hours between Halloween Havoc 1999 and Nitro the following evening) was just a matter of him never being in the right place at the right time. When he returned during the summer of ’99, he had a feud with the Steiner Brothers that he needed to wrap up, and then he moved on to Sid. The Sid feud seemed like it was the perfect chance to put Goldberg over a strong heel en route to setting him up for another World Title program, but the problem is that Vince Russo took over booking the company during the middle of the Sid feud. Russo wanted to do a championship tournament, which kept Goldberg out of the picture for a bit. It looked like his feud with Bret Hart and the New World Order might have set up another title reign at some point, but, of course, the problem there was that Goldberg gave Bret Hart the kick that would ultimately end the Hitman’s career and then sidelined himself thanks to the infamous incident in which he punched out a limousine’s windows.

By the time Goldberg came back from THAT, it was the middle of 2000, and somebody had the ridiculously bad idea of turning him heel. That ran him off from the title picture for a little bit and, when he turned face again, they shot the angle that put him on the second undefeated streak of his career. That seemed to be another slow burn to an eventual Goldberg title victory, but, before it could play out, WCW was sold to the WWF.

Again, I think the only thing that stood between Goldberg and a second major WCW Title reign was a severe case of bad timing.

The return of Hogan in July and beating Macho Man seemed to turn everything upside down. Macho Man was demoted (and left because of Hogan), Nash had to flip, Team Madness just disappeared. (He also got copious amounts of air time, taking it from the younger guys.) It seems to me that when Hogan returns from a hiatus a lot of existing angles get flipped around because he gets another title run. He did bring out the Red and Yellow again but it seemed too soon for my tastes, and should have been saved (anachronistic in 1999 with what the WWF was putting on and what the audience wanted). What was WCW’s thinking on this? Or was it politics?

The answer most likely has to do with the fact that, even though you may see the summer 1999 product as one that was more in line with what WWF was doing and, therefore, what professional wrestling fans wanted, the fact of the matter is that the summer ’99 product did virtually nothing to stem the tide of WCW’s downfall in its competition with the WWF.

It was spring of 1998 that Raw began breaking up Nitro’s consistent dominance in the wars. However, in the early going, the race was tight, with both companies drawing numbers in the 4.0 range. Nitro eked out slight wins again in August 1998 with the return of the Ultimate Warrior, but, by the end of the year, Raw was back in first place and had started to widen the gap. The trend continued throughout the first half of 1999, and, in the two months immediately before Hogan’s return on the July 12 edition of Nitro, Raw was consistently scoring above a 6.0 while Nitro had consistently fallen below a 4.0.

Putting Hogan back on top was most likely a shot at recapturing the lead or, at the very least, stopping the bleeding, because Hogan was still perceived as being one of the biggest stars in wrestling at the time. However, that perception was not reality, and Hogan’s run as champion did no good for business. That lead to WCW’s next desperation move, snapping up Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara from the WWF . . . and we all know how well that went for them.

In the interest of giving Raw and Nitro equal time, here’s Jamille:

During the NWA invasion of the WWF, J.R. said there were different rules for NWA matches but they didn’t go into detail aside from an over-the-top-rope DQ. Were there any other rules the NWA had at this time?

It’s hard to say, really, because to my knowledge the WWF has never had a formalized, published set of rules. However, I can say that the over-the-top-rope DQ rule was the only consistent rule difference between the WWF and the NWA in the 1990’s, and, for that matter, the only consistent rule difference between the WWF and WCW, until WCW abolished the over-the-top DQ in 1998.

As an aside, I should note that there were various “official” lists of NWA rules published from time-to-time. Several years ago, the wrestling website DDT Digest, which covered WCW during its heyday and was one of my personal favorite reads of the era, put up a special feature of scans from a 1974 photo album that was sold as a souvenir to fans at shows in the Mid-Atlantic territory by Jim Crockett. One of the pages of the album, which was put together by wrestling legend Les Thatcher, in fact contains the official rules for matches sanctioned by the National Wrestling Alliance. You can see all of the scans from the photo album here or just the rules page here.

It’s interesting to note that, at that time, the piledriver was still illegal, and saving your partner from being pinned more than one time in a tag team match was an automatic disqualification.

I recall Val Venis having a feud with Mankind over Rocko and a match at No Mercy where Val actually went over. Also, when he was in the RTC he got a WWF Title match against the Rock and held his own. It was quite competitive. After strong showings against Rock and Foley, did the WWF have any plans to push Val into a main event heel role?

Not that I’m aware of. Val was pretty damn popular on the undercard due to his over-the-top, sexual gimmick. A large portion of the fanbase loved to love him, because there were many teenage and young adult men in the audience, and it was part of their own personal fantasy to be like Val’s character and bed everything that moved with no commitment or repercussions.

The company attempted to move him up the card at various points and in various roles, but the sad reality is that he just wasn’t able to connect with the fans without the gimmick, which I expect has to do with the fact that he was so beloved in it. Sometimes, when fans take to wrestlers in a particular role, they just flat out don’t want to see them do anything else, similar to the wrestling public not wanting to accept Steve Austin’s heel turn in 2001. The promotion tried and tried to reimage Val but he never moved numbers or got good reactions and, as a result, he always wound up going back to what he was when he first debuted. Arguably, it would have been smarter to just keep him there from the beginning.

Joe (just Joe) wants to wade through Barrett’s backstory:

Although they all seem tough to me, I still love to hear about legit tough guys. Granted, I don’t know what that exactly means. Perhaps there is some Pants Crapping Scale used by wrestlers to which I could refer.

Anyway, obviously this seems to be a layer of the Wade Barrett persona, that is there but not oversold (which kind of sells it even more). Do you have any stories that may confirm this inference besides the bare knuckle boxing stuff?

Not really. Even the bare-knuckle boxing stuff borders on the specious in my book. Granted, it’s an “underground” sort of activity, so there wouldn’t exactly be good records of it happening, but I’ve never seen anything referencing this part of Barrett’s background that wasn’t written or stated until after he got called up to the company’s main roster with the gimmick. That makes me a bit suspicious of the veracity of these claims . . . but I suppose they could be true.

There aren’t many stories out there of Barrett’s “tough guy” status, probably in large part because this isn’t 1983 and modern wrestlers aren’t going out and getting in drunken bar fights as much as their predecessors were. There was one incident back on June 15, 2008 in which Barrett was arrested at a sports bar on charges of obstructing arrest and battery of a police officer. However, details on what precisely happened are sketchy, and, based on the fact that Barrett was never even prosecuted as far as I can tell, chances are good that the “battery” involved was not an actual attack and probably just a touch or a shove that the officer didn’t care for.

None of that is to say that Barrett isn’t a tough guy. As Joe points out, most all wrestlers are tough to a certain degree. There just aren’t any well-known stories about Barrett being a great bar fighter as there were about guys like Haku, nor does he have any legitimate wrestling or marital arts backgrounds to speak of, aside from the bare-knuckle claims.

Jake S. asks a short question with a long answer:

Can you give us a full run-down of what all of the Tough Enough contestants are doing now? I’m talking the Tazz-as-a-trainer days up to last season with Stone Cold. And including the Million Dollar Tough Enough.

This one is going to take a while, Jake, but I’ll do it. I’ll do it just for you.

However, for the sake of preserving my sanity and the sake of preserving this column for anybody who might not care about Tough Enough, I’m going to do something that may well be unprecedented in Ask 411 Wrestling history. I’m actually going to break this answer up across a couple of weeks of the column. I’ll cover seasons one and two this week and subsequent seasons over the next couple of weeks.

Tough Enough Season One

Maven Huffman: As everybody knows, Maven was the first male winner of Tough Enough and received a WWE contract, ultimately staying with the company through the summer of 2005. He was primarily an undercard wrestler, with his greatest success coming immediately after his signing, where he held the Hardcore Title for a period of time and eliminated the Undertaker from the Royal Rumble. He had another decent run in autumn 2004, where it appeared the company was trying to push him as an up-and-coming babyface in a feud against Evolution with partners Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Randy Orton. The push fizzled, however, and he spent the rest of his time with the E as essentially a heel jobber. He did some wrestling after leaving the E, most notably on independent wrestling shows promoted by NASCAR racer Hermie Sadler, which used a lot of TNA talent before TNA started running its own house shows. Maven also had a television career outside of wrestling, as he was part of the cast of the sixth season of VH1’s “Surreal Life” reality show and hosted programs for both BET and the Home Shopping Network.

In April of this year, Maven, who to my knowledge is no longer appearing on television, was arrested in Florida on charges that he was seeing multiple doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for various drugs. Maven ultimately admitted that he had a prescription painkiller addiction and spent fifty days in rehab that was paid for by WWE as part of their policy to provide such services for any former talent. In a sad bookend to the story, in November of this year, the contents of a storage locker that Maven used to rent were seized and auctioned off, and they included his Tough Enough trophy. The winner of the auction tried to return the trophy to Maven but got no response and ultimately sold it on eBay. Hopefully things have gotten better for Maven in the last couple of months.

Nidia Guenard: Nidia, of course, was the co-winner of season one along with Maven, and she also got a several year stint in the WWF/WWE, first as the valet for and later as a rival of Jamie “By Gawd” Noble. After that, she became a fairly generic babyface member of the Divas division before being cut in late 2004. Interestingly, during her time with the company, she was romantically linked to Kurt Angle’s brother, Eric, who was part of the WWE developmental system for some time but never became a regular part of the main roster. Nidia’s little sister Lourdes Guenard was also in WWE developmental around the same time, working for OVW under the moniker of Nurse Lulu. She too never made it up to the main roster. After her time in WWE, Nidia wrestled a handful of independent dates but ultimately took her life in a different direction, becoming a mother and training to be a chef. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree from Culinary Institute LeNorte in Houston in 2010.

Chris “Harvard” Nowinski: Nowinski’s post-Tough Enough life is probably well known to readers of this website. He was a wrestler with WWE for approximately two years until a concussion and post-concussion syndrome forced him to retire. From there, Nowinski became an expert in the field of head injuries and, more specifically, their relationship to contact sports. In 2006, he wrote a book on the subject entitled Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis, and he has since been heavily involved with the Sports Legacy Institute, a not-for-profit organization that he founded alongside a medical doctor. The SLI’s mission is dedicated to research and prevention of head injuries in sports.

Josh Matthews: Josh Matthews is the only alumnus of the first season of Tough Enough still employed by WWE. He was hired by the company to act as an announcer in 2002, and he has been in that position ever since. Between Tough Enough and being signed to his WWE contract, Matthews did wrestle a bit, most notably in the cruiserweight division of the XWF, the startup wrestling promotion involving Jimmy Hart and Hulk Hogan that was formed in the wake of WCW’s closure and taped a series of shows at Universal Studios in 2001. Matthews did also get to wrestle a couple of matches on WWE Smackdown in 2004 as part of an angle in which he assisted Booker T. in the Book Man’s feud with JBL and his Cabinet.

Taylor Matheny: Taylor stuck with professional wrestling for a little while after Tough Enough. She competed on the United States independent circuit, wrestling for notable indy groups like Jersey All Pro Wrestling and competing against notable indy wrestlers like Allison Danger. During the summer of 2002, Matheny did a three month tour with ARSION, a fairly noteworthy women’s wrestling promotion in Japan founded by the legendary joshi wrestler Aja Kong. In ARSION, Taylor was part of a stable of American wrestlers that also featured Cheerleader Melissa and Bionic J, the former of whom is still going strong on the US indy scene and the latter of whom showed a lot of promise working in Japan but retired in the mid-2000s. Matheny also retired from wrestling, with her swan song coming in 2003. However, while she was on the independent circuit, she met and started dating fellow Washington State native Brian “Spanky” Kendrick, and the two of them have been married since 2008. Lately, Taylor has done some work as a makeup artist, and he you can keep track of her credited work on her IMDB profile.

Greg Matthews: Greg Matthews (also not his real name, he and Josh both adopted the Matthews” surname in wrestling due to their strong relationship that developed on the show) made a fairly serious run at being a professional wrestler after Tough Enough, even though he dropped out of the show due to back problems. From 2001 through 2006, Matthews was a staple on the independent wrestling scene in the northeastern United States, with the most noteworthy promotion that he appeared for on a regular basis being Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). He continued to train with and regularly teamed with another indy stalwart, the Rockin’ Rebel. I have not been able to find any record of why he left wrestling or what he’s done since, but I do know that he made a one night only comeback for CZW in 2010, appearing as part of a memorial battle royale shortly after the untimely death of wrestler Trent Acid.

Chris Nifong: According to a 2009 interview with Inside Pulse Wrestling, Chris Nifong tried to train with various indy groups after Tough Enough but couldn’t stick with any of them until Crash Holly helped him get in with OVW. Nifong was there for approximately a year around 2003, including one match on July 19 of that year in which he went head-to-head with Tough Enough season three winners John Hennigan and Matt Capotelli in a tag team match. Nifong says that he eventually got “burned out” on professional wrestling and, at last word, has been working as a graphic designer.

Paulina Thomas: I have seen vague references in various places to the 6’3″ Paulina appearing for very, very small independent promotions in the years immediately following Tough Enough. However, the only post-TE wrestling appearance that I can confirm she made was her one-shot for TNA back in its weekly PPV days on July 31, 2002. She appeared in a segment that looked like it was setting her up as a Chyna-esque bodyguard for the Disco Inferno, but there was never any follow-up on the angle. Whatever she’s doing these days appears to have a pretty low profile.

Shadrick McGee: According to something I wrote back in 2007, Shadrick did some independent dates around Arlington, Texas, but I can’t find any sources that are currently online which confirm that fact.

Jason Dayberry: It appears that, after Tough Enough, Jason pursued a bodybuilding career. He briefly references his time on Tough Enough in this interview with a bodybuilding website. I was not able to find any records of him entering bodybuilding competitions after 2006, and, quite frankly, I don’t know enough about competitive bodybuilding to have any idea of whether the competitions he was involved in were anything to write home about.

Darryl Cross: I don’t believe that Darryl had much, if any, involvement with professional wrestling after Tough Enough. However, I have been able to find some references to the fact that he currently coaches junior high and high school level football in Davenport, Iowa.

Bobbie Jo Anderson and Victoria Tabor: To the best of my knowledge, these individuals had no involvement with wrestling after Tough Enough, and there is no information readily available about their current whereabouts.

It is interesting to note that Jackie Gayda (more on her later) and ODB were both featured in the Tough Enough season one casting special, though neither made the cut to join the cast.

Tough Enough Season Two

Matt Morgan: Despite being taken out of the Tough Enough competition by a knee injury, Morgan signed a WWE developmental deal while season two was still airing on MTV. He was called up to the main WWE roster after a little over a year in developmental and ping-ponged back and forth between WWE and OVW in a variety of roles before eventually being released in 2005. He spent the remainder of 2005 touring with New Japan Pro Wrestling, primarily in a tag team with WCW Power Plant product Mark Jindrak. In 2006, he jumped to NJPW’s rival organization, All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he was part of a stable of American wrestlers that also included D-Lo Brown and Bull Buchanan. From there, Morgan went to yet another Japanese promotion, the comedy/sports entertainment company HUSTLE, where he and Jindrak started teaming again, this time under masks as the team of Sodom & Gomora. From there, TNA came knocking on Morgan’s door in 2007, and he has been working with that promotion ever since. From what I understand, he is currently part of a tag team with former Pro Wrestling Guerrilla star Joey Ryan.

Kenny King: King, like Morgan, has also been wrestling consistently since his season of Tough Enough went off the air. From 2005 through 2009, he wrestled for a variety of different major independent promotions in the United States, including southern California’s UPW (where he had a match with a pre-WWE Mike “The Miz” Mizanin) and a several year run as part of Florida’s Full Impact Pro, which would also see him appear sporadically in Ring of Honor. In 2005 and 2006, King also appeared as a regular enhancement talent on TNA Impact. In late 2008, King finally became a regular member of the Ring of Honor roster, forming the All Night Express tag team with Rhett Titus. King and Titus became major players in the promotion’s tag team division in 2012, but, in the summer of that year, he started appearing for TNA again and eventually signed a contract with them under somewhat controversial circumstances. As of this writing, Kenny King is still a member of the TNA roster.

Jackie Gayda: Gayda, of course, was one of the two winners of Tough Enough season two. It was a somewhat controversial choice, and it became even more controversial when, in a July 8, 2002 Monday Night Raw match very shortly after her debut, she botched numerous spots with Trish Stratus. The bout would go down as one of the worst in Raw history. Despite the rough start, Gayda did remain with WWE through 2005. Her most notable role was as the valet for the tag team of Rico and Charlie Haas, with Haas being her real life fiancée at the time. This was turned into the basis for a feud between Gayda and Dawn Marie, though, shortly after that rivalry came to an end, Gayda and Haas, who had been married for about a month, were both canned. For about six months ending in May 2006, she was a part of the TNA roster, though to my recollection she never wrestled there and the convoluted storyline that she was brought in to be a part of was never explained. Since that time, Jackie has not been part of any wrestling promotion on a full-time basis, though she will occasionally travel with her husband Charlie as he continues his wrestling career and will pop into the ring herself when circumstances are right. She has done a handful of independent dates over the last couple of years, including most notably some bouts for the lucha libre promotion Perros Del Mal in 2010.

Linda Miles: Miles co-won Tough Enough season two with Gayda, and, boy, what a flop that turned out to be. After spending some time in WWE developmental, Miles debuted under the moniker of Shaniqua, the manager of Doug and Danny Basham, in 2003. She wrestled both male and female members of the roster during her stay, and she was godawful at doing both. In February 2004, she was written out of storylines by taking a banzai drop from Rikishi, and that pretty much closed the door on her wrestling career. She did pop up on a couple of independent shows after her WWE tenure, including one bizarre match with season one winner Nidia on a May 15, 2005 show in Mexico that was promoted by Toryumon of all companies. Since getting out of wrestling, Miles has reportedly become an educator. She has also become one of Jim Cornette’s favorite topics to rant about when he does shoot interviews, as he pegs Linda as being one of the worst wrestlers with the worst attitudes that he ever had to deal with when he was booking Ohio Valley Wrestling.

Jessie Ward: Jessie was an incredibly tiny woman who just didn’t have much of a body for professional wrestling. Interestingly enough, she was involved in the industry behind the scenes before becoming part of Tough Enough, as she was a production assistant for both Raw and Smackdown in the late 1990s. After Tough Enough, she took another production job with WWE but ultimately jumped ship to work on TNA Impact in 2004. In 2007, while working with TNA, Ward agreed to help Leticia Cline, a model who was working for the company as a backstage interviewer, produce a video to help Cline win a contest sponsored by men’s magazine Maxim. The video – which I recall being pretty damn humorous – featured TNA talent like AJ Styles, Eric Young, and Samoa Joe. If I remember the story correctly, the video may also have been produced using some of TNA’s equipment. There was a dispute between Ward and the promotion as to whether she ever actually received permission to use the talent and the equipment, and this ultimately resulted in her termination from TNA. Since that time, she has continued to work in television production on a variety of television series for cable stations like the History Channel and Animal Planet.

Hawk Younkins: Immediately after Tough Enough 2 wrapped up, Hawk did some independent wrestling with bigger indies of the day like UPW in Southern California and IPW in Florida. He also got to the point that he was able to wrestle a few dark matches for TNA. In 2004, he attempted to jump from professional wrestling to mixed martial arts, but he lost the only MMA fight that I can find a record of him having in twenty-one seconds to another no-name fighter on an indy show in Huntington Beach. In addition to sporadically wrestling and training for MMA, Hawk has also done a lot of television and movie acting, with either very small roles in larger productions or larger roles in very small productions. He has also done a ton of reality television and dating shows, including “The Fifth Wheel” and “Meet My Folks.” The most recent project that I’ve seen him associated with is an independent MMA promotion out of Florida called “Art of Fighting,” which has used him as a television personality.

Jake Darren: Big Jake, a former firefighter, was one of the finalists of TE2 alongside Kenny King, Jackie Gayda, and Linda Miles. It seemed that he had a look WWE would love, but they never signed him to a deal. I swear I have some memory of seeing his name in independent results in the years immediately following the show wrapping up, but I was unable to locate any records of him wrestling when I went to research this column. So, either all of the records have been lost to time or my memory is playing tricks on me. I’d be happy if there are any readers out there who can clarify things.

Danny Carney: Carney, who used the nickname “The Danimal” while on the show, kept up his training after being cut, specifically at Killer Kowalski’s wrestling school. This also lead to him getting several independent bookings in the northeast, most of them involving either teaming with or wrestling against Tough Enough 3’s Jonah Adelman (more on him in a little bit). I have not seen any record of Danny wrestling at any point after 2003.

Anni King: As was the case with many Tough Enough alumni, Anni wound up working briefly for Rick Bassman’s UPW promotion in southern California. She was there for a couple of matches in 2003 but otherwise appears to have disassociated herself from professional wrestling.

Robert Savhalent, Pete Tornatore, and Aaron: To the best of my knowledge, these individuals had no involvement with wrestling after Tough Enough, and there is no information readily available about their current whereabouts.

Many future WWE stars also auditioned for Tough Enough season two but did not make it into the case. They included Shad Gaspard of Crime Time fame, Shelley Martinez, Amazing Kong/Kharma, and John Morrison, who of course would go on to be part of the season three cast . . . but we’ll cover that next week.

Finn‘s question involves Kennedy . . . Kennedy.

I’ve just been watching Royal Rumble 2007 and I noticed something during the World Heavyweight Championship match between Batista and Mr. Kennedy. At the finish when Batista drops Ken with the Batista Bomb and pins him, Kennedy raises his arms slightly while the referee makes the three count so that his shoulders are clearly off the mat. Was this an attempt to mock Batista or something? There was no way the finish was going to be changed, so I thought Kennedy might have signaled his displeasure in a subtle way.

I re-watched the finish to the match before answering this question, and, honestly, I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Kennedy’s arms did rise up, but his back remained flat against the mat, as did his shoulder blades. It didn’t look any different than a thousand other situations in which a man has been pinned. Also, if anything, it looks like Kennedy’s arms move as a result of how Batista repositioned his body while hooking his leg as opposed to any active motion that Kennedy himself made.

So, yeah, probably nothing there. Plus, this all happened at a time when Kennedy had no real political clout in WWE, so chances are good that he would’ve been in deep trouble if he attempted any chicanery.

Here’s Joshua K. with a production question:

My question this time around has to do with backstage stuff that happens. I imagine that the interviews and backstage skits are pre-taped, such as CM Punk entering Johnny Ace’s office or Zack Ryder asking out Eve. But what about matches that go into the back? We see the wrestlers fighting through the curtain, then a moment or two later the cameras catch up to them fighting in the back. Is that pre-taped? What about when a wrestler is in the ring and someone comes on the Titan Tron to interrupt. Is that pre-taped? Also, what about parking lot brawls, or like the 1/9/11 episode of RAW with Ryder and Cena getting attacked by Kane, pre-taped?

Most everything you see backstage is pre-taped, even when it plays directly off something that is happening live in front of the audience. If you want an example of this, go watch the documentary Beyond the Mat, in which you can see Vince McMahon directing Mick Foley through a shot of Dude Love walking backstage during a 1998 episode of Raw, something that could have just as easily been done live and cut with the action in the ring.

Also, though I can’t recall any specific examples offhand, when it comes to a wrestler in the ring interacting with people who are up on the tron, there have definitely been examples from throughout history in which the syncing has been bad and there have been unnatural gaps between the live lines and the pre-taped lines.

Frequent contributor Manu Bumb wants to delve into the world of E. Harrison Leslie:

I recently heard about the Mariner/Furface gimmick between being the Barber in the WWF and the Butcher in WCW. Somehow, I have no memory of this whatsoever. What did this gimmick involve? Are there any pictures? Was it in one of the two big companies, or did he do this on the indy scene between jobs at the big two?

The character you’re referring to was done in the WWF in 1991, so it wasn’t actually in between Brutus Beefcake’s time in the WWF and his time in WCW. It was in the middle of his time with the WWF, as he would return to the Fed as the Barber later in ’91 and remain there through Wrestlemania IX in 1993 before jumping to WCW with Hulk Hogan in 1994.

In any event, the character was never actually given a name on WWF television. Fans have given him a variety of different names, none of which I am sure of the origins of. They include the Mariner, Furface, and the Run-In Man. (Okay, so I get the origin of that last one.) Basically, the masked Beefacke would run in during situations in which heels were doing dastardly deeds to a member of the babyface roster, and he would fight them off. It was obviously leading to an in-ring debut for this character, but, for reasons that have been lost to the ages, it was ultimately decided to bring Beefcake back under his more established persona than with this new look. After his last appearance, the character was never mentioned again, and it was never officially acknowledged that he was Beefcake.

Footage of one of his run-ins is below, alongside a screencap from another appearance courtesy of WrestleCrap:

Kevin helps us hype up the Royal Rumble with a question about Rumble history:

Is there a reason why Razor Ramon (Scott Hall Version) was never in a Royal Rumble? He always had a match on the PPV but never competed in the Rumble match itself, which is odd considering his popularity and a lot of superstars who competed in a pre-Rumble match also wrestled in the rumble match.

There is no specific reason that Hall himself was never in a Royal Rumble match. It was just dumb luck. A big part of the explanation is that Scott Hall really was not in the WWF for that many Royal Rumbles. He debuted in late 1992 and left the company in spring 1996, so really he only had four opportunities to enter the Rumble match.

Furthermore, in the years that Hall was available for the Rumble, it actually was much less common for people who were on the undercard of the pay per view to be in the Royal Rumble match itself. In three of the four years that he was part of the pay per view (1993, 1995, and 1996), none of the wrestlers from the undercard were also in the Rumble match. In 1994, there were some wrestlers from the undercard who worked double duty, but it was really only about half of them. Razor was typically occupied by defending the Intercontinental Title, so he wasn’t going to be booked again.

Frankly, I prefer that approach to the Royal Rumble as opposed to modern day when guys will routinely work twice in the same night. It put over the undercard match and the Rumble match as separate athletic endeavors that you are taxing to the point that competing in one would severely hamper your chances in the other.

Anthler (I wonder if he fell off of a moothe) comes at us with a couple of questions:

1. I recall Kurt Angle retelling how he initially learned the moonsault in his book. He learned it for a spot in a match vs. Hardcore Holly. He did the moonsault and Holly broke his arm from the bad landing. After that match, I don’t think Angle ever hit the moonsault in WWE/F competition. He’d only ever hit the moonsault again in TNA. My question is, after injuring Holly, did Angle suggest to only use the moonsault in a ‘missed spot’ capacity because he injured someone with it and didn’t want to risk it again or is the reason totally different?

That’s pretty much it.

2. Expanding on 1, has any other wrestler incorporated a ‘missed spot’ that they hit successfully at least once in their career but had the first usage lead to unintended consequences? I’m thinking the ‘Ric Flair phantom move from the top rope’ must have been an actual move off the top at some point right?

I don’t believe they were discontinued due to unintended consequences, but there are several other wrestlers who have had a trademark “missed move,” i.e. something that they would go for frequently but never hit. Flair’s phantom maneuver off of the top rope is the best example, but, before the spot in which he would be cut off and thrown from the top became a staple of his matches, he would occasionally hit a top rope cross body. That’s how he won his second NWA Title from Harley Race in the cage at the first Starrcade. Also, the “Flair flip,” the Nature Boy’s signature spot in which he would be shot into the turnbuckles only to flip over them and land on the ring apron, started as a babyface spot in which, after the flip, he would run across the ring apron to the next turnbuckle, climb it, and hit a top rope maneuver (usually a forearm blow similar to a tomahawk chop). However, as a heel, he would almost always be cut off, usually while running across the apron but sometimes after he’d made it up to the top rope. He started using the forearm blow off the ropes again, although without the flip, during his last couple of babyface runs with WWE.

Arn Anderson and Bubba Ray Dudley are other guys who have or had commonly missed top rope maneuvers. Both guys during their careers had phases where they would frequently attempt a senton splash off of the second rope (though it wasn’t called that in Anderson’s day) only to come up empty. Bubba did connect with his version of the move at least once, though I can’t recall Arn ever doing so.

Rahil also has a series of unrelated questions:

I’d like to know more about the lawsuit WWE filed against WCW in 1996 when Kevin Nash and Scott Hall left WWE to join WCW because of their characters being too similar to ones they had in WWE, the outcome and terms of settlement, also can the same logic for infringement be applied to Mr. Ken Anderson (Kennedy) in TNA, who basically has the exact same gimmick he did in WWE right down to using the microphone from the ceiling?

The case did in fact settle out of court. The terms of the settlement are largely unknown, because settlements in major litigation of this nature generally contain confidentiality provisions. However, it did leak out that one of the terms was that the WWF would have a first opportunity to purchase WCW’s assets should the promotion ever be sold off by its parent company. Though that is not the sole reason that the sale of WCW to the WWF went off the way that it did in 2001, it certainly shaped the landscape of prospective buyers somewhat.

Could the same logic be applied to other characters used in other promotions today? I’m sure that it could be. However, lawsuits of this nature cost a lot of time and money, so the question to be asked before filing one is what, if anything, you think you’re going to gain from it and whether that potential gain is worth what you’re going to incur in bringing the suit. To use your Kennedy example, yes, the character that he used in TNA is virtually identical to the character that he used in WWE. WWE would at least arguably own the rights to that character because, even if it was Kennedy’s own creation, employment contracts will typically stipulate that intellectual property you develop as part of your employment remains the property of your employer. Assuming WWE owns the character and Kennedy is using it elsewhere, WWE could, at least theoretically, sue. But what would they actually gain from it? By all reports, TNA, though financially stable thanks to its backers, is not exactly a hugely profitable endeavor. So, it’s not as though WWE would walk away from a lawsuit with a big cash payout. Furthermore, TNA is not really competition to WWE. Nothing TNA has done in terms of promoting or running shows has negatively impacted WWE’s bottom line in anything more than the most negligible of ways. This isn’t a cutthroat war between two promotions as was the case between WWE and WCW, so WWE has no real incentive to try to shut down one of TNA’s acts.

Also, you have to keep in mind that the WWF/WCW lawsuit involving Hall and Nash wasn’t just about the characters. WWF was also suing because WCW was strongly implying that Hall and Nash were still a part of the WWF roster, basically telling fans that there was a working relationship between the promotions when no such thing existed. TNA hasn’t done anything that would cross that line (pun intended).

Is Giant (Big Show) vs. Loch Ness (Giant Haystacks) at WCW Uncensored the heaviest one-on-one match ever?

It’s difficult to say exactly because wrestling is so well known for padding wrestlers’ heights and weights to make them seem more impressive. However, it would definitely be close. The Giant/Big Show, who was much svelter at that time than he is now, was probably clocking in at 350-400 pounds, whereas Loch Ness/Giant Haystacks was billed at 600 pounds, though 500 was probably more realistic. That’s anywhere between 850 and 1,000 pounds of man in the ring at the same time.

Yokozuna and Mabel (Viscera/Big Daddy V) did have some matches while both men were in the WWF, most notably at the October 1995 In Your House pay per view. That match probably would have come close to if not exceeded the weight of Giant/Loch Ness, as Yoko and Mabel were in the 500 and 400 pound neighborhoods at the time.

Are Christian (Light Heavyweight Title) and Santino Marella (Intercontinental Title) the only wrestlers in history to win a championship in their debut match?

No. There have been numerous wrestlers to win championships in their debuts with different promotions. Some other examples from the WWF/WWE would include Carlito (won the US Title from John Cena on October 7, 2004); Jerry Lynn (won the Light Heavyweight Title from Crash Holly on April 29, 2001); Gail Kim (won the Women’s Title in a battle royale on June 30, 2003); and Ted DiBiase, Jr. (won the Tag Titles with Cody Rhodes from Bob Holly and Cody Rhodes on June 29, 2008).

As was touched on in last week’s Ask 411, the Giant (a.k.a. the Big Show) won the WCW Title in his first match with the promotion.

There are probably several more examples, but those are a handful to make it clear that Christian and Santino are not the only ones to accomplish this feat.

My Damn Opinion

The Shadiest One has a couple of questions about an old school/new school debate:

Over the years I have grown to realize that Ric Flair and 99% of the old guys (the young guys too but in a different way) are full of shit. For example, Flair in his Highspots shoot claims that himself Taker, HBK, Triple H, and Batista are the only ones out of the current product that can hang with guys like Brody and Race. Obviously that’s a stupid thing to say since Taker & HBK are from that era or close to it and the other two are his butt buddies (I mean, really, Brody vs. Batista?) Who do you think from this era would fit the part in that 70’s to late 80’s era?

I don’t think that’s a particularly fair question to ask because people are, by and large, a product of their era. Almost anybody who is in wrestling now could have fit in during the 1970’s and 1980’s if they started off in that era and got accustomed to the lifestyle that 1970’s and 1980’s wrestlers lived in the same way that the wrestlers of that time did.

Speaking of old guys who are full of shit, you often see older wrestlers shit on the newer generations (Attitude Era to now), bashing everything from the in ring stuff to the adult content, for example Bruno and Flair talk about the young guys wouldn’t make it in the old days but on the other hand Balls Mahoney said it best in a shoot he said back then a body slam was a big move now a days that’s the norm and guys now take more and bigger bumps. Being that you are a modern day wrestler and fan how do you see that debate?

Well, I’m not a modern day wrestler, but Mat sent this question to me to answer, so I may as well try my hand at it.

My opinion is that to old school guys did have it harder, for a variety of reasons. The main one is the change in technology of wrestling rings. In the 1990’s, the WWF altered its rings so that they were all uniform and so that they had significantly more give than they did in the past. So, even though I would prefer to never take a bump, I would say that bumping is much easier for modern wrestlers than it was for their counterparts from thirty or forty years ago, because the old school guys not only by and large had harder rings but also didn’t know what type of ring they were getting from arena to arena, meaning they constantly had to be on guard regarding what they were going down on.

The second reason that I would say modern wrestlers have it easier is that, particularly in WWE; the travel schedule is lighter than it used to be. Again, don’t get me wrong, there’s no way that I could take the travel schedule that a modern WWE wrestler does. However, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, there was seemingly no rhyme or reason to how and where shows were booked. Particularly during the wrestling boom of the 1980s, guys were practically shooting back and forth between the coasts all the time or, at a minimum, logging hundreds of miles each and every day in between shows. Now, things are much easier, in that tours are mapped out so that driving is limited to a smaller geographic area and the wrestlers progress across the country in a logical manner as opposed to the zig-zag fashion that they used to. Also, with the exception of guys like John Cena and CM Punk, who do a staggering amount of promotional work in addition to wrestling shows, wrestlers have more days off than their counterparts from the territorial era did.

The third is that medical technology is a hell of a lot better for wrestlers these days. They have surgical procedures for injuries that are much less barbaric and allow for quicker healing times than those of their counterparts. They have (legal) medications that allow them to deal with pain better. Also, in addition to having this better technology, the culture of wrestling these days is much more forgiving in terms of taking time off to heal as opposed to working hurt for fear of losing your spot.

All in all, I would say that modern wrestlers have it easier, though they still have difficult jobs. Really, that matches the trend of just about every occupation in the industrialized world. We as a people are constantly working to make our jobs easier, and it’s only logical that, for the majority, work becomes less labor intensive over time.

Anthler wants to play the hypothetical game and follows with a John Cena question:

Had Brock Lesnar not quit the WWE at WMXX, what direction would they have went with him? He beat everybody, including legends like Rock and Hogan, was the fastest and youngest world champ, won the Royal Rumble, main evented Wrestlemania, and generally had nothing left to prove. What could they have possibly done with him after he (probably, had he not quit) ran through Goldberg?

He would have continued to be a top guy, main event all of the promotion’s major shows, and win numerous more titles. Look at John Cena. It’s not like John Cena gave up on WWE or WWE gave up on John Cena once he had won the title and main evented Wrestlemania. He stayed in a top position for many, many years. Brock would’ve done the same.

Given his career until now, who do you think is considered John Cena’s number one rival? Rival in the same sense as Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid, Angle/Benoit, Misawa/Kawada, or even Flair/Steamboat and Rock/Austin. Both guys needed each other at that point in their careers to make each other, or make their popularity peak higher, at a level previously impossible without the other person. The careers of the two rivals are intricately tied and mentioning one will eventually warrant the mention of the other. I’m thinking it’s either Edge or CM Punk.

I don’t think Cena has a number one rival. Most of the rivalries you’ve mentioned are guys who have come back to face each other at various critical points throughout their careers. Nobody has that sort of relationship with Cena. Yes, Edge and Punk (and actually Kurt Angle as well) had prolonged rivalries with Cen that produced a lot of classic moments, but I don’t think that you can point to anybody who has had a Flair/Steamboat or Rock/Austin-esque relationship with Cena in that they’ve popped up at various stages of each other’s careers in order to do battle with one another.

If you try to force somebody into that mold, I would actually say that the best fit is, believe it or not, the Big Show. Granted, their matches against each other haven’t been stellar, but they have consistently feuded with each other on-and-off throughout Cena’s WWE career. At Wrestlemania XX, Show was the first guy Cena won a title from. They feuded again when Cena was established as a world champion in 2009. And, just this past year, issues arose between them again thanks to the manipulations of John Laurinaitis.

That probably wasn’t the answer you were expecting, but, thematically, it works the best.

Bobby will rock you:

I wanted to get your opinion on The Rock-John Cena feud. I had read somewhere that the WWE wants to bookend the Rock-Cena feud with matches at this Wrestlemania and next year’s. If this is true how would you book the three matches? I figure if they wanted to do this then The Rock would get the win at Wrestlemania 28, which would lead to a rematch at SummerSlam (or one of the big PPVs) where Cena would get his win which would lead to their rubber match at WrestleMania 29.

I don’t think that there is much in terms of complex booking that has to be done. You have already established the issue between the two men as a result of their match last year, and it’s simple enough for Wrestlemania XXIX to do a match in which Cena is gunning for revenge. However, I strongly suspect that they’ll add an additional layer of intrigue by having the Rock defeat CM Punk for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, followed by Cena winning the Rumble match itself and then cashing in his championship opportunity to get his rematch with Rocky. (This also allows us a way around the “once in a lifetime” billing that the first match received.) At that point, Cena will have vindicated himself, not just avenging his prior Wrestlemania loss to the Rock but also regaining the WWE Championship after a 2012 that saw him take numerous losses and that also saw the title evade him for quite some time.

Personally, I don’t think that a third Wrestlemania match between Rock and Cena is necessary if you end the second match with Cena defeating Rock for the belt. That feels like a natural conclusion to the story and, unless they’ve got a hell of an idea that I can’t think of myself, I feel that anything additional would be overkill. However, if there is to be a third encounter, I think that it will be built around the fact that it is the so-called “rubber match,” and I also think that it has to end with Cena winning, as he is the guy who will be staying in the promotion full-time.

That’s it for this week’s Ask 411. If you can’t get enough of Ryan, follow him on Twitter here.

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Ryan Byers

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