wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling 02.27.13: Shoot Promos, Matt Hardy vs. Edge, Missy Hyatt, and more!

February 27, 2013 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am Ryan Byers, and I am your temporary party host while Mat Sforcina attempts to navigate the Australian medical sytem to obtain repair of his busted arm.

We kicked off my latest fill-in run last week, with a version of the column that was truncated because it had to be put together somewhat at the last minute due to Massive Q’s injury. Now, however, I’ve had a full week to get things together and we should have a more standard column.

It also looks like this run may go on for the next couple of weeks. I’ve inherited Mat’s entire backlog of questions, which means I’ve got more than enough to handle, but, if you have anything that you would like my perspective on as opposed to Mat’s, feel free to e-mail it over to [email protected] and I will see what I can do about bumping it up to the top of the list.

That said, here’s a banner.

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




There wasn’t a ton in the comment section this past week that I feel like following up on in terms of factual corrections. A couple of commenters pointed out some lower-level tag teams that have used “Total Elimination” as part of their repertoires in response to my answer that nobody of note beyond the original Eliminators used it as a regular move.

Also, a couple of people questioned what I meant when I said that one of the reasons JBL rides Matt Striker so hard on commentary is that Striker isn’t particularly good at his job. I know that there are several internet fans out there who really liked Striker as an announcer, but, frankly, I’ve always found him to be one of the more obnoxious commentators of the past decade. (Yes, I even like the Michael Coles and Todd Grishams of the world more than Striker . . . and I actually think Jerry Lawler is leagues better.)

There are a couple of reasons that Striker rubs me the wrong way. The main one is that I think he tries to be too cutesy for his own good, with a bunch of insider references and lame jokes/double entendre, such as his recent “Dancing Bears” nickname for Brodus Clay and Lord Tensai. He goes too far out of his way to appeal to “smart” fans, and it comes off as being ridiculously pandering. I do not like being pandered to in the slightest. Also, a couple of people mentioned that they like striker because he is an “encyclopedia” of wrestling knowledge, but I even have a problem with that, because the “facts” that he throws out are a weird mix of truth and kayfabed exaggeration, oftentimes in situations where reality would be impressive enough on its own without introducing any hyperbole. That gives him a huge credibility problem when I attempt to listen to him announce, and it also seems weird that he would simultaneously make up stories about wrestlers’ histories while simultaneously trying to appeal to smarter fans. It’s like when he tells these stories he’s trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people who are most likely to see through his bullshit, which all seems very . . . counterproductive.

So, that’s why I don’t like Matt Striker on commentary. Apparently I’m not alone in the sentiment of not caring for him, as he’s been off the company’s main shows for quite some time and has instead been relegated to WWE Classics on Demand programs and other d-level fare.

Your Turn, Smart Guy

Last week’s question was:

The height of my career was 1987 in the United States, though I also got a fair amount of exposure in Japan the year before. Two of my biggest rivals were imposters of Antonio Inoki and Hulk Hogan, respectively. With my distinctive mask and pink-and-purple tights, I have one of the most unique looks in professional wrestling. Who am I?

The first person to post the correct answer down in the comment section was Rltydeviant. The answer was Starman, one of the playable characters in the classic Famicon/NES video game Pro Wrestling.

The references to 1986 and 1987 in the question were references to the game’s Japanese and American release dates. The imposters were other characters in the video game, specifically Fighter Hayabusa (based on Inoki) and Giant Panther (based on Hogan, albeit with an Iron Claw finish).

So, Rltydeviant, I guess there is only one thing that we can say about your correct answer . . .

And a new week calls for a new question. This one is for the fellow in the comment section last week who felt that the answers were getting too obscure:

If you hurt my friends, then you hurt my pride. I gotta be a man. I can’t let it slide. I am a real American. Fight for the rights of every man. Fight for what’s right. Fight for your life. I feel strong about right and wrong, and I don’t take trouble for very long. I’ve got something deep inside of me. Courage is the thing that keeps us free. Who am I?

Okay, maybe that one’s TOO easy.

The answer is obviously Gerald Brisco.

Here’s the real question:

I got the majority of the mainstream exposure I received in my wrestling career as an enhancement talent in both the WWF and WCW in the 1990s. However, before that time, I was actually a fairly big deal and a multi-time champion in Puerto Rico, and I was also pushed in Texas during the dying days of that territory. In recent years, I have popped up on the occasional indy show, and I also made one mainstream local media appearance in order to decry steroid use. Who am I?

Give it your best shot in the comments section down below.

Questions, Questions, Who’s Got the Questions?

Brian is feeling the Mania:

If nothing turns the Rock or Cena before April, will John Cena set the record for most Wrestlemania matches involving wrestlers entering as face v. face? To make it specific, let’s say we’re only counting one-on-one matches, and we’re talking about coming in “roles”, not what happened during the match, therefore rock and austin both earn one for WMX-7. If you’d like to break it down into “main events” and “total singles matches” that would be worth knowing as well.

In order to answer this question, I actually reviewed the entire Wrestlemania match history and discovered that, quite frankly, there haven’t been that many face vs. face singles matches throughout the almost thirty years of the event. In fact, the list is so short that I’ve got no problem reproducing the entire thing right here:

1. The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan (Wrestlemania VI)
2. Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper (Wrestlemania VIII)
3. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (Wrestlemania XII)
4. TAKA Michinoku vs. Aguila (Wrestlemania XIV)
5. Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn (Wrestlemania XV)
6. The Rock vs. Steve Austin (Wrestlemania XVII)
7. Akebono vs. The Big Show (Wrestlemania XXI)
8. The Undertaker vs. Batista (Wrestlemania XXIII)
9. Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena (Wrestlemania XXIII)
10. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair (Wrestlemania XIV)
11. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (Wresltemania XXV)
12. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania XXVI)
13. Triple H vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania XXVII)
14. Triple H vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania XXVIII)
15. The Rock vs. John Cena (Wrestlemania XXVIII)

And, of course, the Butterbrean/Gunn and Akebono/Show matches may or may not belong on the list depending on what you consider a face vs. face match to be. None of the four men in those matches had a strong good guy or bad guy role, as the bouts were presented more as legitimate athletic contests (even though the latter was a work). However, they don’t affect the final tallies, so it’s really a moot point.

In any event, it appears that we actually have a TIE for most Wrestlemania face/face matches, as the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels both have five apiece.

Rick H. wants to shoot the breeze about shoot promos with two questions:

Everyone is aware of the famous shoot promos such as Punk’s pipebomb and Russo shooting on Hogan. Which they may be worked shoots. But what about lesser known full blown shoots? Which ones are worth checking out? I’ve heard of one with Jeff Jarrett in ’96 but I’ve never seen it. And always wondered how real the Beaver Cleavage and Dustin Rhodes burning the Goldust outfit were.

To my knowledge, there have been almost no 100% actual, legitimate “shoot” promos that have been captured on camera in the modern big leagues of professional wresling. Yes, there have been a lot of promos in which individuals’ real feelings have been woven into storylines (e.g. the Punk “pipe bomb” and Paul Heyman lacing into Vince McMahon as part of the Invasion) and there have been some so-called “worked shoot” promos in which one party has gone beyond what was supposedly planned and wound up offending the other party (e.g. Hogan/Russo at Bash at the Beach, Scott Steiner going after Ric Flair on Nitro). However, if you’re looking for a scenario in which a wrestler completely departed from what was planned to occur in a particular segment and went completely into business for himself, you’re almost never going to find it. That makes sense, given that essentially double crossing a promoter is one of the surest ways not only to get yourself fired from your current job but also to make sure that other prospective employers think twice about ever bringing you in. Professional wrestling, like all business, is largely based on trust, and people are going to be reluctant to do business with people who in the past have proven to be untrustworthy.

Perhaps the closest promo to what you’re describing that I can think of is the promo that was cut by Shane Douglas when he threw down the NWA World Heavyweight Title immediately after winning it, instead declaring himself the first ECW World Heavyweight Champion. However, even in that promo, Douglas was still largely “in character” and was doing what a wrestling promotion told him to do . . . it just wasn’t the wrestling promotion that was hosting the show that he was cutting the promo on.

Regarding the specific promos that were asked about in the question, they were all complete works, though they might have involved some of the performers’ real thoughts on subjects that they were addressing. Jeff Jarrett really did air his grievances about Eric Bischoff in his first promo back in the WWF in 1997, though the promotion knew that he was doing it. Chaz and Dustin Runnels dropping their respective Beaver Cleavage and Goldust gimmicks were also planned parts of the storyline and, in the case of Goldust, he probably didn’t even have a real dislike for the character, given that he’s subsequently gone back to it several times and has always credited it as being a great part of his career when discussing it outside the realm of kayfabe.

Of course, that’s all “big league” wrestling. One of the most notorious examples of a legitimate shoot that did make television came from a smaller territory, the late 1990’s Memphis promotion called Power Pro Wrestling, which was owned and operated by promoter Randy Hales and had a live show on local television. The top angle in the promotion at the time was Brian Christopher (later to be known as Grandmasta Sexay) and a wrestler called the Spellbinder going up against former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Tommy Rich and Doug Gilbert. Christopher and Spellbinder had done a few promos that, though they were works, were certainly edgy and contained implications that Doug Gilbert was the product of his mother having an affair with the local ice cream man. Eventually, Rich and Gilbert got an opportunity to respond, and Gilbert went well beyond anything that he was authorized to say, as, for the first time in Memphis history, he spilled the beans on the open secret that Christopher was Jerry Lawler’s son. However, he didn’t stop there. He stated that Jerry Lawler had raped a thirteen year old girl (which Lawler had been accused of at one point, though the girl later admitted that she fabricated the story) and that promoter Randy Hales had a crack habit. You can check out the full vide of the promo below. Needless to say, it resulted in Gilbert being tossed out of the promotion on his ass.

When X-Pac returned to the WWF in March of ’98 to join the HBK-less DX was his return promo a full on shoot? Triple H looks a bit shocked at some of the things X-Pac was saying during the promo. Or was Triple H just putting it on to make it look like a bigger moment than it was. I’ve always thought that was the best few minutes of Waltman’s career.

He probably really believed the things that he was saying, but Waltman going out and cutting a promo on Eric Bischoff and WCW was in fact a planned part of the show.

Ace (not to be confused with Bob Orton, Jr.) has an “Obsession:”

After so many successful years on NBC, why did Saturday Night’s Main Event jump from NBC to FOX (a tiny network back in 1992)? And why did it only last for two episodes on FOX? Did WWF cancel the show because of the debut of Monday Night Raw?

Keep in my Occam’s razor, my friend: The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Like most TV shows that are cancelled, Saturday Night’s Main Event went away because Saturday Night’s Main Event stopped drawing the ratings that the networks airing it wanted it to draw.

The ratings on NBC steadily declined throughout the late 1980’s, and they bottomed out with the two editions of Saturday Night’s Main Event that aired during 1991, as, for the first time in the show’s history, it did a worse rating than Saturday Night Live, the show that it bumped out of its regular timeslot for airing. If SNL was going to do better than SNME, then NBC was going to air SNL and not SNME. In addition to the declining ratings, two primary NBC executives who were big backers of professional wrestling, Brandon Tartikoff and Dick Ebersol, were not in positions of power with the network anymore, meaning that they couldn’t stick up for the product and attempt to save it despite the ratings.

The show landed on Fox because Fox was the network willing to air the show after it was cancelled by NBC. However, the show also did really poorly on Fox. The network was planning on the November show to do big numbers for them during the important “sweeps” period, but it bombed big time, finishing in 86th place out of 92 prime time shows that were rated by Nielsen, according to an issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter from the time that is archived on Dave Meltzer’s website.

So, the short answer is that it went away because it didn’t draw at expected levels.

Who? Who? Who? HUGH!:

When did the WWE start using crash zooms and shaking cameras when showing high impact moves? This has annoyed the heck out of me since I started watching again recently. It doesn’t give me motion sickness or anything, but it’s really distracting and seems like a desperate way to make the action more exciting. Is anyone else bothered by this?

It’s actually a very recent development. I didn’t notice it occurring to obnoxious levels until the Shield debuted, which was in November of last year. It started off as shaking the camera and zooming in and out during their run-ins and, now that they’ve started wrestling, it’s bled into their matches. From what I’ve read, those in production liked it during the run-ins, because it matched the grittier, “real” footage from cell phones and small hand-held cameras that you’ll see in so-called news stories that become very popular these days through outlets like TMZ.

Of course, this doesn’t count the WWE production truck cutting from one camera to another mid-movie (typically between the setup and the supposed “impact”), which has been going on since at least the mid-1990’s when the company’s production values really ramped up after the end of the Hulkamania era.

Here’s Sean C.:

After watching this week’s 1,000th episode of Raw and seeing CM Punk’s apparent heel turn during the main event I got to wondering, who was the last champion to turn (heel or face) in the “middle” of their title run? I know there are many turns immediately after winning a title, or even losing a title. But I can’t seem to remember the last person who held a belt for a substantial amount of time and then turned.

Actually, you don’t have to go all that far back into history. The answer to the question is Daniel Bryan. He was a face when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase in December 2011, and he slowly progressed to a heel turn over the course of a month or so, definitely being a full-fledged bad guy by the end of January.

Brendan is an all American American . . . but without the pot use . . .

I was browsing the history of WWE site and was looking at late 1983, the lead up to bringing Hogan back. I noticed one episode of All American Wrestling from December of that year featured a 6 man tag match involving Hogan, but it was from the AWA. Then I noticed a lot of other matches from different territories that were also on the show like Mid Atlantic, WCCW, etc. I understand this was a clip show and this practice of showing matches from other territories was common back then, but this was right when Vince was going national and buying up smaller territories. My question then, is how or why did other promoters like the Von Erichs or Ganges let Vince use their footage, knowing he was attempting to drive them out of business?

Part of the answer is that, in 1983, Vince McMahon really wasn’t going after the other territories all too aggressively. Snapping up Hulk Hogan was the first major shot in that war. The other big territorial stars that were snapped up – for example Rick Steamboat, the Junkyard Dog, Bobby Heenan, and so on – didn’t start jumping ship until 1984 and 1985. The other part of the answer is that, even if these promotions expected that the WWF was attempting to muscle them out of business, this was literally their only outlet to get this kind of exposure. Yes, they all had television in their own local markets, but All American Wrestling was nationwide on cable, which in 1983 was really blowing up as an alternative to broadcast television for the first time. You could either allow the WWF to use your footage and make your company seem like it was major league or you could not let them use it for fear that they might somehow use it to put you out of business . . . and most promotions went for the former option.

Of course, this all wound up being a moot point anyway, as, when the WWF started getting really aggressive with its national expansion, the national “clip show” format of All American was dropped and it begin airing exclusively WWF content.

A guy whose name I’ve lost (sorry about that) wants to see me die in a car crash:

In a recent Ask 411, you mentioned the Chyna/HHH/Stephanie triangle being awkward for the parties, but still doing their jobs. This got me thinking of a similar situation with Edge, Matt, Hardy, and Lita. As we know, Matt and Lita were together for years until Lita cheated on him with Edge. Matt makes it public leading to WWE firing him. My biggest question about all of this is why would Matt return to WWE after all of this? He was betrayed by the woman he loved and a close friend. He gets loses his job, though WWE was totally justified, and sees the incident happen on TV when Lita leaves Kane for Edge. After all this, Matt still comes back and has the big program with Edge. Matt was working with Ring of Honor and probably could’ve made good money with TNA so why did he go back to WWE? Was the money just that good? Was the prospect of working a big program all the more tempting?

Money was no doubt a big part of the equation. You have to keep in mind that this was all going down in 2005, and, between May and October 2005, TNA wasn’t even on television. They were in between their Fox Sports and SpikeTV television deals and this point, and there was a very real question about whether they would even be able to get a new contract to air anywhere. So, yeah, TNA was not exactly a company that you wanted to make a long-term commitment to at this point. If anything, for a few months there, Ring of Honor was looking like the more stable promotion.

Also, if you put the monetary aspect of things aside, you have to keep in mind that Matt Hardy spent his entire life wanting to be a WWF wrestler, doing major angles on the grandest stage in all of professional wrestling. As much as this all sucked for his personal life, chances are very good that, once he saw the opportunity to spin it all into an angle that could allow him to live his dream of being one of the biggest pro wrestling stars on the planet (which, granted, was a distinction he had already gotten pretty damn close to), he was going to take that opportunity, pride be damned.

And the question goes on for a little bit . . .

Also, I’ve had a theory for many years that the whole angle was a work. Maybe Matt and Lita break up while Matt is recovering from his knee injury, he’s watching Edge on TV trying to make it as a main event heel and Matt thinks up an idea that Edge and Lita hooked up. Knowing the fan base he has, he announces this on his website and knows it’ll create big heat for Edge and Lita. Maybe Matt convinces WWE to either legit release him or allow him to work with ROH to get into ring shape again and sets up his eventual return and program with Edge. In a perfect world this would lead to both becoming main event players. I know it’s unlikely to be true, but do you think it’s a possibility?

I guess anything is technically possible but there is absolutely zero evidence that this situation is anything other than what it has been purported to be from the very beginning: A real-life situation that was later turned into an angle.

Keifandem has a foursome:

1. I say the ending to the WrestleMania II match between Fabulous Moolah and Velvet McIntyre was botched, since it’s obvious that everyone looks really confused after the 3-count and no match is supposed to get a crowd reaction of “Wh-did-is it-oh the match ended. Okay.” So the question is was it supposed to go on longer and they effed up, or did the referee not communicate with the time keeper properly?

I have never heard or read anything which indicated that the finish didn’t go down as planned. Was it short? Yeah, but it was the least important match on a crowded card, and, as old and shrewd as she was, Moolah wasn’t going to be the type who complained about having to do a minimal amount of work for a payday. (Or possibly even two paydays, since she was probably getting a cut of McIntyre’s earnings as well.)

2. I feel that Davey Boy Smith’s elimination of Marty Jannetty in Royal Rumble 1996 was botched. It seemed Marty was supposed to hold on but being in a highly likely pilled-up state of mind, he slipped. What is your Damn Opinion? And did Shawn Michaels really moon the audience whilst celebrating at the end?

Looks fine to me. Just because something may look a little clunky doesn’t mean that it didn’t go down like it was supposed to.

3. I remember a match taking place on either WCW Main Event or the show that took its place, WCW Saturday Night, in which a brand new tag team known as the Screaming Eagles debuted to challenge the woefully underrated WCW tag team champions Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyzsko, and it was VERY obviously the Fabulous Freebirds. Does this footage exist anywhere? Paul E. Dangerously’s line about hitting the Screaming Eagle in the mask was genius.

This storyline took place in 1991, after the Freebirds had lost a match the stipulation of which was that they could receive no further Tag Team Title matches if they were not successful. Near as I can tell, the Eagles debuted at the March 12, 1991 WCW television tapings and they defeated job guys (including Bret and Owen’s brother Keith Hart) before getting a title shot that they lost on an episode of Saturday Night that aired on September 24.

I was unable to find any footage of the match online, and, to the best of my knowledge, it has never been the subject of a home video release . . . and it is unlikely to be given that it was a ten minute television match done as part of a b-level angle. However, since it was on television, the footage does exist somewhere deep within WWE’s video vaults.

4. To kick a dead horse, will the WWE ever go back to acknowledging Benoit’s existence? I totally understand disassociating with him now since asses need covering, but what do you think is the statute of limitations for this? Perhaps they will re-release his archive in 2050 after all the guys that were around are dead, a la the Grassy Knoll? I swear, I just hang my head every Royal Rumble season during the highlight reel when the hot-sounding woman says that two men have gone from the number-one spot to win and all she can mention is Shawn Michaels outlasting Davey Boy Smith and twenty-eight Looney Tunes characters in 1995.

Anything is possible, but I would be amazed to see it happen in our lifetimes. The company is losing virtually nothing from not promoting Benoit, but what they COULD lose from promoting him is tremendous. If they started using him in any capacity again and the wrong person in upper management at a corporate sponsor got wind of it, they could have that company pull out pretty damn quickly. The last thing WWE needs is anything that could even remotely lead to the insinuation that they are attempting to profit off of this tragedy.

These questions were too difficult for one person to ask, so John and Pete decided to tag team them:

1. Watching Fully Loaded 1999 we saw some banners in the arena with an image of Vince McMahon bleeding, do you have any idea what that image might be from?

Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was actually able to find a picture of the banners in question:

However, for the life of me, I cannot identify any angle or match that resulted in Vince bleeding in this manner. I know that he has bladed several times over the course of his career, but every instance of him blading that I can remember took place after Fully Loaded 1999. Thus, my best guess would be that a picture was Photoshopped or otherwise set up for the sake of creating the banner.

I am more than willing, though, to be corrected in the comments section if somebody remembers something that I don’t.

2. Also, was watching WrestleMania 13 and trying to figure out how the Legion of Doom got involved in the Chicago Street Fight. Ahmed Johnson’s beef with the Nation of Domination is clear, but the LOD wasn’t even around on WWF TV before March of 1997. Any idea where they came from and why they were involved with this specific match?

There wasn’t much of a storyline reason for the Warriors to be involved. Ahmed Johnson had been feuding with Faarooq since Faarooq made his debut, and, over time, Faaroq assembled the Nation of Domination. Ahmed needed some backup if the storyline was going to continue, and, for Wrestlemania XIII, the Legion of Doom was selected because the “street fight” gimmick matched their wrestling style and because they were from Chicago, where the event was held, and therefore virtually guaranteed to get a huge crowd reaction.

For the guy who kept asking about botched spots, THERE is what one looks like.

To finish off the “fact” question section, Omar has THIRTEEN rapid fire inquiries:

1. What was and what happened with the “Plane Ride from Hell” in WWF?

The Plane Ride from Hell was a May 5, 2002 airline flight from the United Kingdom to the United States following the Insurrexion pay per view that featured a lot of misbehavior by WWF wrestlers who were on the plane. The low-lights included Brock Lesnar and “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig having an amateur style wrestling match in the aisle of the plane while it was in the air, Dustin “Goldust” Runnels uncomfortably hitting on his ex-wife Terri, Michael Hayes picking a fight with JBL and getting punched in the face as a result, and, later on in the flight, Sean “X-Pac” Waltman cutting off Hayes’ long hair as he slept. Also, two flight attendants on the plane ride later filed a lawsuit based on the wrestlers’ goings on, alleging that Ric Flair, Scott Hall, and Runnels all sexually harassed them in various ways, including Flair allegedly walking around while wearing nothing but his ring robe.

Oddly, though the stories about Lesnar/Perfect, Goldust/Terri, and Hayes/JBL/Waltman were all reported on heavily at the time, there was very little mention of the alleged sexual harassment by Flair, Hall, and Runnels until almost two years later when the aforementioned lawsuit was filed.

The plane ride almost directly resulted in Curt Hennig being released from the company, after which he would go to TNA and die less than a year later. The sexual harassment lawsuit was settled out of court.

2. Did Bradshaw knock out Michael P.S. Hayes?

I don’t know if he lost consciousness but, yes, part of the story from the Plane Ride from Hell is that Bradshaw popped Hayes in the jaw.

3. Why did the King break Heyman’s jaw?

Speaking of jaws . . . one of Paul Heyman’s first breaks in professional wrestling was as a manager in the Memphis territory in the late 1980s where, of course, Jerry Lawler was the top star and owned a portion of the territory along with Jerry Jarrett. Heyman was managing Austin Idol and Tommy Rich, and the territory was building to a scaffold match between that team and the team of Lawler and Bill Dundee in 1987.

The plan for the match was that, in order for the good guys to get some revenge on the heel manager, Heyman would at some point wind up on top of the scaffold. Accounts differ as to whether he was planned to take a bump off of it, but he was definitely planned to be up there at some point. However, after the match had been promoted for weeks, Heyman told Lawler on the night of the match that he was afraid of heights and wouldn’t be doing the spot. To say that Lawler was not happy would be an understatement, so, later in the evening; he punched Heyman so hard that he broke his jaw. However, so as to avoid any legal action, Lawler did it in such a way that it could have been perceived as a worked punch that went wrong.

In fact, for several years (including in his WWE-released autobiography), Lawler claimed that the broken jaw was an accident, though he eventually came clean on one of the early episodes of WWE’s Legends of Wrestling Roundtable and admitted that he meant to break Heyman’s jaw.

4. Why did the King tell WWE to stop using his King gimmick?

I’m not sure exactly what you’re talking about, but I’m guessing what you’re referring to is Lawler’s 1987 lawsuit against the WWF. The short version of the story is that the WWF was coming to Memphis and, at the time, Harley Race was doing the “King” gimmick for the Fed. In promoting the Memphis show, the WWF mentioned that there would be a match featuring “The King,” without stating whether the “King” they were referring to was Jerry Lawler or Harley Race. Lawler (rightfully so in my opinion) felt that the WWF was trying to make money off of his name and reputation without compensating him, so he filed a lawsuit . . . and he actually won, too. Though I haven’t checked records to verify this, I have had people tell me that this essentially resulted in Race not wrestling on WWF shows in the Memphis territory for the rest of his run there.

5. Why does everyone hate Lex Luger?

I wouldn’t say that everybody hates Lex Luger. Word is that his mother is quite fond of him . . . and, in all seriousness, every report that I’ve heard is that, now he’s been out of wrestling for a while and has had some major health problems that helped him put things into perspective, he’s a perfectly nice guy now.

However, that’s not to say that he didn’t have a bad reputation at other points in his career. Early on in his tenure as a wrestler, I think that a lot of the issue was that people resented him because he was brought into territories and almost immediately put on top and paid like a top guy due to his look, and he wasn’t exactly humble about it. However, my understanding is that some of that went away by the early 1990’s in WCW, when he had actually become a pretty damn good pro wrestler for a period of time. As the decade progressed, though, he developed a reputation for having a pretty big ego backstage and not being particularly willing to put anybody over. Plus, on top of all of that, there is some serious heat on him from WWE management (which is why he has not appeared there since WCW closed its doors) as a result of him abruptly jumping ship from the promotion to appear live an unexpectedly on the very first episode of Monday Nitro.

6. Does WWE acknowledge Bruiser Brody?

Yes. He actually worked for the WWWF, the precursor to WWE, and main evented Madison Square Garden in title matches against Bruno Sammartino. WWE doesn’t mention Brody’s name a lot in the current product but, with rumors of a Bruno DVD coming out now that he’s back in the fold, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Sammartino/Brody footage (if any exists) on there.

Also, believe it or not, Brody currently has an alumni page on WWE.com.

7. Is it true that Lex Luger ran from Bruiser Brody in Florida and why?

Not only did it happen, but video of the incident has actually surfaced online:

The details as to exactly why this happened are muddled, but the best that I can ascertain is that Luger did SOMETHING in the locker room before the match that made Brody angry. Some say that Luger, who was still a rookie at the time (1987) did not show Brody proper respect in basically telling Brody how the end of their match was going to be worked. Some say that Luger was being a huge jerk and bragging pretty heavily about the new, high dollar contract that he had signed to leave the Florida territory for Jim Crockett Promotions. In any event, whatever was said or done, it made Brody mad to the point that he stopped cooperating with Luger. Some bad stuff was about to go down, at which point referee Bill Alfonso (yes, the same guy from ECW) reportedly told Luger to get the heck out of dodge. He followed Fonzie’s advice and, by most accounts, immediately went to the back, grabbed his bags, and drove away from the venue before Brody could show up in the locker room.

8. I love Ric flair the wrestler but dislike the person. My question is: Do people really like Flair the man? Which wrestlers hate Ric Flair?

I think that there are people who legitimately like Ric Flair. Triple H was the best man in one of his weddings, he and Shawn Michaels legitimately had some emotional exchanges around the time of Flair’s retirement from the ring, Vince McMahon has repeatedly helped him out with his financial woes, and Batista has always put him over strong as the guy who taught him everything he knows about the wrestling industry. So, it seems like at least those guys like him . . . and, if those guys like him, chances are good that there are several others who do as well.

As far as who hates Ric Flair is concerned, I can’t really make up a comprehensive list, but he has had some pretty high profile disputes with some other wrestlers. Shane Douglas based a good portion of his ECW character around not caring for Flair, and that legitimately stemmed from some hard feelings between the two from Douglas’ time in WCW while Flair was the top guy and booker there. Over the last several years, Bret Hart and Mick Foley have both publically had disputes with Flair over their comparative levels of in-ring talent and some bitter words were exchanged, though I don’t necessarily know if that quite rises to the level of “hatred,” and, at least in the case of Foley, it may all be water under the bridge. Finally, I’m certain that there are a couple of members of the Ring of Honor roster who are not particularly fond of the Nature Boy given the manner in which he departed that promotion in 2009.

I’ve also heard he has major heat with IRS.

9. Why wasn’t Buff Bagwell kept in WWE after or during the Invasion?

There were a couple of reasons. The first is that his singles match against Booker T., which was the first “WCW” match held on WWF television, was legendarily bad to the point that it is credited with adversely affecting fans’ interest in seeing a separate WCW product. Virtually none of the blame for the match was put on Booker. Also, Bagwell had several problems with his behavior and attitude backstage. There was a lot of heat on him due to the fact that, early into his run, he actually had his mother, former WCW Tag Team Champion Judy Bagwell, call in sick for him when he didn’t intend to make a swing of house shows. Also, he was involved in a fistfight backstage with Gregory Helms, which, again, was in no way shape or form blamed on anybody other than Bagwell.

So, it was a combination of a legendarily bad match and a huge ego backstage.

10. Why in 1997 after the Montreal Incident with Bret why didn’t they put Owen in a Feud with Shawn Michaels?

It’s because Shawn refused to do it. And, really, can you blame him? He had a real-life, backstage feud with the guy’s brother for years, which got very personal, and then he was involved in forcibly removing a championship from him. If I were in Shawn’s boots, I would be very afraid of Owen roughing me up or double crossing me in the ring.

11. Does Vince have a beef with Jake “The Snake” Roberts?

Not that I’m aware of. Jake isn’t on WWE television nearly as much as some other legends of his era, but I don’t think that has anything to do with ill will between himself and the company. It probably has more to do with the fact that he has on again, off again substance abuse problems that prevent him from being the best guy to feature on your TV show.

12. Why didn’t Nikita Koloff ever join WWE?

I was able to track down a 2012 interview that Nikita did with “Busted Open Radio,” and, in that interview, he claimed that he never jumped to the WWF because he was never asked by WWF management to join the company. He went on to say that his former tag team partner Barry Darsow (Krusher Kruschev) attempted to convince him that he should make the jump, but he did not want to do it because loyalty is very important to him, and he wanted to remain loyal to Jim Crockett, who he saw as the man responsible for launching his professional wrestling career. He also questioned whether, if he went to the WWF, his career would have much shelf life after he inevitably came out on the losing end of a feud with Hulk Hogan.

13. Why is Missy Hyatt infamous and/or famous in wrestling?

Oh boy.

Missy was a manager/valet in several different wrestling companies, most notably WCW in the early 1990’s. She was a pretty big sex symbol among wrestling fans of that era, and, though I’m not going to pretend that I actually know what went on in her personal life, she had a reputation for having a lot of sex with a lot of different wrestlers while she was in the industry.

She was also somewhat infamous for launching a website called “Wrestling ViXXXens” circa 2001, which was a site featuring nudie photos of herself, Tammy Sytch, and other, less famous women associated with the wrestling business.

My Damn Opinion

Tom is going to potentially open up a can of worms:

What do you think about WWE’s wellness program? I do see a lot of wrestlers a lot smaller than they use to be and there has not been a death (knock on wood) in quite some time. Also I don’t think the WWE gets enough credit for spending hundreds of thousands on former employees rehab bills. In the case of Hall and Sytch they have been in rehab numerous times. Whatever the reasoning for starting the wellness program it appears to be working.

In terms of providing rehab for former talent, I think that what WWE has done is very admirable. The company is making a large amount of money off of videotapes, dolls, and other material featuring wrestling stars of the past, and many of the wrestling stars of the past came up in a version of the industry where substance abuse was a part of the culture. I think that, if WWE is going to be making money off of the work those individuals did in an era where they were being encouraged to engage in behavior that resulted in drug habits, then the company has a moral obligation, if nothing else, to help those individuals through their problems.

Regarding the drug testing aspect of the wellness policy, given the long history of both recreational and performance enhancing drug use in the company, I have to raise my eyebrow when somebody makes the claim that the testing has completely cleaned them up, particularly when you also look at the bodies of some of the guys who are still on the roster. However, at the end of the day, I can’t prove or disprove what anybody is taking or not taking, and some testing, even if there are loopholes or cheats to get around it, is better than no testing at all, so I have to consider it be a net positive.

I do think that it’s a little bit early to say that the wellness program is “working,” though. If you go back eight years or so ago to the era where it seemed like a wrestler was dying on an almost weekly basis, the guys who were most often dying were not guys who were at the height of their careers and on WWE’s main roster. They were guys who were big stars in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, meaning that the causes of their death were things that had built up over several years as opposed to sudden occurrences. As a result, I don’t think that you can really say the wellness policy has been a success at its ultimate goal (preventing young wrestler deaths) until about ten or fifteen years from now, when you have an opportunity to measure the lifespans of the guys who have wrestled most if not all of their WWE tenures with the wellness policy in effect.

Also, in light of current events, I’ve reflected on this a fair amount, and I think that there should be an additional provision added to the policy: Anybody on the roster who is arrested for DUI/DWI should be immediately suspended until such time that a verdict is reached in any criminal case brought against them. If they are convicted, they should be immediately released. If you want to drink or get a little high on your own time, that’s fine with me, but, if you put other people’s lives in danger by getting on the road after doing so, you shouldn’t be working for a company where travel is such a large part of your job.

Matt from Long Island has a fairly long, fairly specific question:

One of my favorite matches of all time is the main event of Wrestlemania 23, Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena. I’m flabbergasted by people who say it was disappointing, but especially so by the people who say that it “started slow, but picked up eventually.” To me, that match is the single greatest piece of in-ring storytelling I’ve ever seen, and the opening sequence was the most brilliant part. Please tell me whether I’m imagining things.

As you’ll recall, the build to that match in the months prior centered around Cena and HBK somewhat inadvertently winning the tag titles together, and Cena constantly looking over his shoulder trying to figure out when Shawn was going to turn on him. Shawn repeatedly teased the turn, but never really did it (if I recall, Shawn finally superkicked Cena to close the final Raw before Mania, but by that time it came off as more of a “See you on Sunday, kid” than “I’m turning on you because I’m a heel now”).After the big flashy entrances, when the match finally started, for the first several minutes Cena couldn’t hit a single offensive move. I remember absolutely losing my mind over the brilliance of this at the time. To me, the story they were telling was clear as day – while Cena had spent the last two months looking over his shoulder for Shawn to turn on him, Shawn had spent them studying tape and learning how to beat Cena. Shawn had managed to keep Cena distracted and occupied for two months by teaming with him and NOT turning on him, and now Shawn had a counter for literally every move in Cena’s arsenal, all the way down to the most basic punch. As a result, if Cena wanted to win the match and keep his title, he would have to completely reinvent himself and become a significantly better wrestler…DURING the match, with no time to prepare. And the rest of the match was the story of Cena doing exactly that.

So please tell me – was I seeing things that weren’t there, or am I right about the story Cena and HBK were trying to tell? And if I am right, how did so many people miss it?

Sorry, but I think this story is all in your head. If that really were a major component of the match, it would be something that the announcers would have been clued on, either to talk about in the weeks leading up to the event or, at the very least, during the course of the match itself. I have a hard time believing that a story which is so subtle and not obvious from the way the match is worked out would not be conveyed through the announcing, unless there was just a huge disconnect between the wrestlers, the announcers, and the creative end of things which, for all of their creative problems these days, is a rarity in WWE.

Tman2135 has style:

Championships in promotions seem to be based either around weight classes (heavyweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight, etc.) or geography (United States, European, International, etc.).

What if a promotion dropped this thinking and focused on “styles” for their championship, such as a “Lucha Libre Championship” or a “Puroesu Championship” or maybe a “Catch Championship”.

At the very least it would add a ton of variety to shows running this scheme, as you could be assured a high flying lucha match, a stiff as all hell puro match, and an old-school commonwealth (see what I did there?) catch as catch can match all on the same show!

Maybe have the top belt be a “mixed styles championship” where competitors from different styles would mix it up.

In your opinion, could this be done and be successful?

There actually have been many examples of “style” based championships over the years. In the territorial era, many promotions would have “brass knuckles” titles, which were championships based around brawling, harder edged matches. These eventually evolved into the hardcore championships that were popular in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and the deathmatch titles that still exist in even harder-core promotions overseas, like Big Japan Wrestling.

Also, TNA’s X Division title and several championships it inspired were originally based on style. Recall that the division’s early tag line was: “It isn’t about weight limits, it’s about no limits.” This is what allowed men like Samoa Joe and Pierre Carl Oulett to compete for the championship even though they were twice the size of several of the competitors in the division. Of course, that came to an end when the Hogan/Bischoff regime took hold and a weight limit was formally put on the title.

Other examples include Ring of Honor’s Pure Title (technical matches with special rules designed to ensure they remain “technical”), Dragon Gate’s Open the Owarai Gate (a championship exclusively for comedy matches), and Osaka Pro’s Battle Royale Title (exactly what it sounds like).

In any event, could a promotion based around “style” championships with a main “mixed style” championship work? Yeah, theoretically it could. I think that virtually any type of promotion will work so long as it features compelling storylines and characters, regardless of what the in-ring action looks like. (And I believe that history has already proven this.) Style-based championships, traditional championships, no championship sat all . . . every one of them will work so long as the characters and storylines are there.

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

article topics

Ryan Byers

Comments are closed.