wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling 06.27.12: Hogan’s Chairshots, Steve Austin’s Nickname, Booker T. & Racism, More

June 26, 2012 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am Ryan Byers, and your usually host Mat Sforcina has had to hand the reigns of the column over to me for one week only due to a sudden and unexpected illness.

Because Mat fell ill close to his deadline, I only received about 24 hours of notice that I was filling in for the column this week. So, rather than doing what I would normally do when filling in and provided two or three really in-depth answers to questions that I find particularly interesting, I have instead decided to answer as many questions as possible in more of a rapid-fire format, mostly cherry picking the questions off of Mathew’s list that I could answer off the top of my head or otherwise with minimal research.

So, my apologies to those who enjoy my fill-in work on this column and don’t think this is up to my normal standards, but we do what we can.

Onward to the BANNER~!

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



Questions, Questions, Who’s Got the Questions?

Shaun has two completely unrelated questions:

What ever happened to Molly Holly? Surprised that unlike most who quit she never came back to wrestling.

Before Acero and A.J., there was Byers and Molly.

Essentially, she’s never come back to professional wrestling because she has found more rewarding work to do. Since leaving the industry, Ms. Molly has focused on working at a drug and alcohol rehab center in her native Minnesota. In fact, she met her husband while working at the center.

Next question concerns the Dudleys. How many were there? I know about four by name (Bubba, D-Von, Spike and Big Dick), but I believe there may have been as many as fifteen or so. Where are they now? Did any of the lesser known Dudleys have success under a different gimmick? Who came up with the gimmick? I remember hearing that some members of the early Dudleys were fired because of heat with Paul Heyman. Any knowledge as to what the issue was?

Raven has claimed for years that he was the guy who came up with the Dudley Boys gimmick, citing for inspiration the miscreant Hanson brothers from the hockey comedy Slap Shot. You are correct that there were many, many Dudleys over the years, though fifteen is a bit of a stretch.

The four most prominent Dudleys were, as mentioned in the question, Bubba, D-Von, Spike, and Big Dick. However, of those four, only Big Dick was an original member of the group. Bubba didn’t show up until several months after the team’s debut in 1995, D-Von popped up around 1996, and Spike was the last of the “major” Dudleys to debut, appearing in ECW for the first time in 1997.

None of the other Dudley Boys had much success elsewhere. The two original Dudleys who debuted alongside Dick were Dudley Dudley and Little Snot Dudley, who was essentially a prototype of Spike. Dudley Dudley was played by a wrestler named Jeff Bradley, who was trained by the Malenko family and did enhancement work for both the WWF and WCW in the 1990s before becoming a well-travelled independent wrestler, even getting a tour with deathmatch group Big Japan Pro Wrestling at one point. Snot Dudley was Anthony Michaels, who, outside of ECW, was probably best known as an undercard guy in Smokey Mountain Wrestling and later Ohio Valley Wrestling under his real name.

Other “official” members of the clan in ECW were Dances With Dudley (a Latino wrestler who did an American Indian gimmick even before the Dudleys), Chubby Dudley (an indy guy who was also in Eastern Championship Wrestling under the name E.Z. Ryder), and Sign Guy Dudley (later known as ECW manager Lou E. Dangerously). None of them were particularly noteworthy.

As far as heat with Paul Heyman is concerned, I have heard rumblings about Big Dick Dudley leaving the company because he did not feel that he was featured prominently enough in the promotion, but that is the only instance of a disagreement that I have heard of between a Dudley and ECW brass.

Josh Kendall starts us off with a simply-worded question:

Nature Boy Buddy Rogers

Nature Boy Ric Flair

Nature Boy Buddy Landel

Just what is a Nature Boy? What does it mean, it’s origins?

“Nature Boy” was an incredibly popular song from the 1940’s. Though not the original recording, the most beloved version of the song was recorded by Nat King Cole, and he can be heard crooning it here:

Buddy Rogers essentially lifted his nickname from the song, though, if you listen to it, the lyrics have absolutely NOTHING to do with a braggadocios, bleach blond professional wrestler. It’s actually a love song, of sorts. Rogers just adopted it because it sounded cool and was popular when he was wrestling. In grappling circles, Rogers’ popularity eventually transcended that of the song, so “Nature Boy” started to mean “guy who looks and wrestles like Buddy Rogers” as opposed to meaning anything that had any connection whatsoever to the Nat King Cole ballad.

And, before I finish the answer to this question, I am obligated to provide a shout-out to “Black Nature Boy” Scoot Andrews, perhaps my favorite non-mainstream “Nature Boy.”

Matthew disgusts me:

I’ve been reading about the awards on the Wrestling Observer Newsletter page and I was wondering if you could tell me what some of these “Most Disgusting Promotional Tactics” involved?

Bob Backlund as WWF Champion World Wrestling Federation
Exploitation of the death of Mike Von Erich World Class Championship Wrestling
Fritz Von Erich’s fake heart attack World Class Championship Wrestling
Atsushi Onita stabbing Jose Gonzales Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling
Pushing Erik Watts World Championship Wrestling
Cactus Jack gets amnesia World Championship Wrestling
Ric Flair retirement angle World Championship Wrestling
Gene Okerlund’s 900 hotline advertisements World Championship Wrestling
Fake Diesel, Razor Ramon, and “The Real” Double J World Wrestling Federation
Exploiting Scott Hall’s alcoholism World Championship Wrestling

Some of the others on the list I’d heard of. I have to say though, I disagree with the Katie Vick one. When HHH accused Kane of necrophilia, I actually fell off my chair with laughter.

For those of you who are not familiar with the background of this question, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter invites its readers to vote on a series of awards at the end of every calendar year. From 1981 to present, the awards have included a category for “Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic,” essentially meant to be a place for fans to identify the least tasteful gimmick, angle, or other thing that a pro wrestling company had put on in an effort to make money. Matthew has listed most of the winners between the years 1982 and 1998 and asked for a little bit more background. So, in true “lightning round” fashion, here are the answers to his requests:

Bob Backlund as WWF Champion (1982): This one isn’t really “disgusting” in the same way that a lot of the other winners are, but the short version is that, in 1982, Backlund was in the next-to-last year of an almost six year WWF Title reign and hardcore wrestling fans, particularly those who favored the NWA, had grown tired of his character and matches and wanted him gone as soon as possible. Basically, they were the guys who boo John Cena now, just thirty years head of their time.

Exploitation of the death of Mike Von Erich (1987): In 1985, Mike Von Erich, who was wrestling with his father’s World Class Championship Wrestling, suffered from an almost fatal case of toxic shock syndrome. It left him a shell of his former self, both mentally and physically. He clearly should have been out of wrestling after the incident, but, instead, WCCW built an angle around his return to the ring, which was incredibly sad and won the Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic award in ’85. Two years later, in 1987, Mike committed suicide. WCCW promoted a huge memorial show around his death, which some thought could have been prevented if he had just been coaxed into retirement after the toxic shock incident. Plus, there were rumors that “autographed photographs of Mike Von Erich” sold at the memorial show were frauds generated by his family after his death for a cheap buck.

Fritz Von Erich’s fake heart attack (1988): Another gem from Fritz Von Erich and World Class. After a beatdown by a group of heels, Fritz acted like he had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. Some have made the claim that the words “heart attack” were never used in connection with the angle, but it was pretty clear what they were implying no matter what was actually said, and, whatever the ailment was supposed to be, Fritz’s condition was reported on television in the same manner as the real life tragedies that had befallen the Von Erichs in prior years, including Mike’s toxic shock syndrome and later death and the death of David Von Erich.

Atsushi Onita stabbing Jose Gonzales (1990): Pro wrestling star Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death in a shower in Puerto Rico in 1988. Nobody was ever convicted of killing him, but many people point the finger at wrestler Jose Gonzales being the one who did the deed. In 1990, Japanese wrestler Atsushi Onita, who owned and booked his own promotion, FMW, thought it would be a good idea to run an angle in which Gonzales attempted to murder Onita via stabbing. No, seriously. They did a press conference in Puerto Rico in which the worked stabbing occurred with Japanese photographers present to get the story back to Onita’s homeland. For some reason this is usually reported as Onita stabbing Gonzales in storyline – and there was a rumor that was going to be the ultimate payoff of the angle, with Onita “getting revenge for Brody” – but the reality is that the only stabbing that actually occurred in the storyline before it was unceremoniously dropped – was Gonzales against Onita.

Pushing Erik Watts (1992): Erik Watts was a goddamn awful wrestler and a goddamn awful interview who got one of the biggest pushes in all of 1992. The only reason he got it was the fact that his father, Bill Watts, was booking WCW.

Cactus Jack gets amnesia (1993): Mick Foley was having a pretty hot feud with Vader in ’93, and part of that feud was an angle in which Jack was seriously injured by a powerbomb onto the arena floor. Rather than doing a straight follow-up on the story, WCW instead opted to do a series of goofy vignettes in which Foley went missing and was eventually found by a fake news crew, living on the streets of Cleveland with amnesia and thinking that he was a sailor. The angle was such a stinker that even WCW realized it and essentially “retconned” it out of existence by saying that it was somehow Cactus Jack playing mind games with Vader as opposed to legitimately having amnesia.

Ric Flair retirement angle (1994): Hulk Hogan pinned Ric Flair in a loser leaves town match when there was never any serious intention of having Flair leave town for any extended period of time. Devaluing what was supposed to be a serious stipulation OUTRAGED people in 1994, which seems odd in retrospect given that somebody retires or gets fired on an almost weekly basis in WWE these days and none of them ever actually stay gone with no real fan backlash.

Gene Okerlund’s 900 hotline advertisements (1995): Throughout the mid-1990s in WCW, Gene Okerlund had control of the promotion’s hotline and, if I recall correctly, got a significant promotion of its profits as part of his compensation. To entice people to call in, he gave really sleazy promos in which he would talk in vague terms about wrestlers jumping promotions, getting injured, or even DYING that would imply that the wrestler he was talking about was somebody entirely different and much more famous than who it actually was. It was a classic bait and switch deal.

Fake Diesel, Razor Ramon, and “The Real” Double J (1996): Scott Hall and Kevin Nash left the World Wrestling Federation for World Championship Wrestling. The WWF decided that it would be a good idea to give Razor Ramon and Scott Hall – the characters that Hall and Nash had played – to other wrestlers and, for several weeks before the new wrestlers debuted, promoted it like Hall and Nash were coming back to the WWF themselves. I’m not sure why the Real Double J gets lumped in with them. That angle involved the Road Dogg – who at the time was the “Roadie” for country singer Jeff Jarrett – being revealed as the guy who was singing Jarrett’s “hit” song “With My Baby Tonight.” Road Dogg, under the name “Jesse Jammes,” basically took over Jarrett’s gimmick at that point, as Jeff left for WCW. That was the planned blowoff for the angle the whole time, though, even had Jarrett stuck around.

Exploiting Scott Hall’s alcoholism (1998): This wasn’t a major part of WCW during the time, but there was a brief period during which the company would have Hall – who was having legitimate personal problems at the time, much as he is now – show up on the air and act as though he were intoxicated. It was during this time that Hall’s wife Dana took to the internet and wrote an open letter to the wrestling industry essentially begging that they let her husband do what he needed to do in order to get well. The industry didn’t listen.

Mr. Ace Crusher is such a big mark for MOVEZ~! that he named himself after one:

Jim Cornette on the Kayfabe Commentaries WWF Timeline 1997 shoot said that when he had to do research on Diesel and Razor to create Fake Diesel and Razor, he found that at that point, Kevin Nash only had 6 ‘signature’ moves and mannerisms. “the back elbow, the side knees, the ‘flipper punch’, hair flip, side slam, and powerbomb.” At this point he was already a former World Champion.

With that backstory, my question is who do you think has gotten the furthest (world title reigns etc.) with the least amount of mannerisms and moves?

I think it’s a contest between two former WWE employees (one of which had his career derailed by Nash on one night, the other is absolutely beloved in his home country for something other than his wrestling ability) who have less moves than Kevin Nash but have gone on to accomplish either as much as or more than 1997 Kevin Nash. Hope you get the two I’m thinking of, or even better, have another answer I never considered.

His time in wrestling was relatively brief, but I’ve been watching a lot of late 1980’s WWF Prime Time on WWE Classics lately, and, as a result, I think that the answer HAS to be Zeus. No, he didn’t win a lot of titles, but he was pushed as the ultimate foil to Hulk Hogan at a time when Hogan was nigh unbeatable, main evented pay per views, and was given the lead heel role in a theatrically released motion picture opposite the Hulkster.

Despite all of the above, Zeus had about three moves/mannerisms that I can count: 1) choking, 2) overhand chops, and 3) looking severely constipated.

Every week, approximately 5,000 guys name Mike write into this column. Here is one of them:

1. Can you think of any finishers that were never kicked out of?

Kenta Kobashi’s version of the Burning Hammer. The Hammer is not just Kobashi’s finisher but rather a SUPER finisher of sorts in that he has only done it seven times during the course of his twenty-five year career and it has resulted in a pinfall every single time.

Here are all seven of Kobashi’s Burning Hammers compiled into one nifty video:

2. In ECW’s peak on average how many tables did they break a month and how much did they spend on them?

There is no way that to know a precise answer to this question, but, at its peak, ECW was running shows three to four times a week and probably doing at least one table spot per show. So, at four shows per week with one table per show and 4.33 weeks per month, you’re looking at approximately 17.32 tables per month.

As far as cost is concerned, I bet it is much less than you think. If you watch events from 1996-1997 closely, you can see that there are a lot of instances in which they seemed to be using whatever table they could find as opposed to buying the fancy prop tables that you’ll see on a WWE show these days. I would be willing to bet that most of them were freebies.

3. Chair shots to the head being illegal – Was that ever explained on WWE television in wrestling world terms?

No. Hitting somebody with a chair anywhere on their body has always been illegal in professional wrestling, so there was no need to explain or draw attention to the fact that wrestlers were not going after each other’s heads with chairs anymore.

4. A. Given that Vince hates the word “wrestling” if he could do it all over again what do you imagine he would have named Wrestlemania?

Actually, the hatred of the w-word appears to have lessened significantly in recent months, as CM Punk is allowed to say it and even Michael Cole (who is micro-managed over his headset by McMahon) has used it on recent WWE broadcasts.

In any event, based on current WWE conventions, if Wrestlemania were being named by modern day Vince, it would probably be named after a stipulation match he planned on putting in the main event or after some vaguely badass sounding concept like “No Mercy” or “Armageddon.”

B. In the same line of thought, if some wresters could be renamed before people got too used to their names, who would have been renamed? I think for one Hunter Hearst Helmsley would have been named something else (HHH isn’t bad but the full name is kinda goofy) as well as his finisher’s name of “the pedigree” which makes zero sense given his character for the last 10+ years.

I think that “El Generico” is a ridiculous name for a wrestler who is going to be anything other than an opening match comedy act and, if anybody had the foresight to realize that he was going to evolve into one of the best high flying independent wrestlers on the face of the earth, he probably would have been called something else.

5. Given that ECW’s events had often times wrestlers flying into the audience, chairs flying into the audience, etc., how often have they been sued by someone who got hurt? Or did the audience have to sign some kind of a weiver preventing such a thing? Or did the audience which was basically consisting of hardcore ECW fans only not even think of suing their beloved company and potentially putting them out of business?

How often were they sued? Almost never. Why was ECW almost never sued? Because almost nobody got hurt, despite all of the apparent carnage. The most notable example of a lawsuit against ECW was filed by a fan named Raymond Schweitzer, who alleged that he was badly burned and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder when a flaming towel flew off a chair swung by Mick Foley and landed in the audience. However, the lawsuit was dismissed and none of the named defendants – which included ECW and its parent companies, as well as Foley and Terry Funk as individuals – were in any way held liable for what occurred.

A more detailed account of the incident is contained in Foley’s autobiography.

Tokestradamus (no, seriously, that’s the name he gave us) has a series of questions:

1) When did Raw become the main show for storylines? At beginning it only focused on main feuds and had random matches (usually squashes). Other shows (Superstars, Saturday Morning Mania, Wrestling Challenge) seemed just as important if not more important. How did people follow feuds in the early 90s? Did they have to buy wrestling magazines, watch all the various TV shows, house show results; or did it seem like random matches that showed up on PPV?

The biggest part of early Monday Night Raw not feeling like as “major” of a show as it currently does is the fact that, in the early 1990s, there were just a lot fewer major angles in professional wrestling than there are today. If two wrestlers were feuding, there didn’t have to be an interview or angle advancing the feud every single week as there has to be today. You could get by with a major angle once every month or two and fill in the rest of the rivalry with promos and matches on house shows.

Raw was always on a level above Superstars, Challenge, and Mania, but it wasn’t so far ahead of Superstars that you wouldn’t still see an angle on that show when angles were going to occur. Challenge usually just replayed the major stuff from Superstars, and Mania, aside from a handful of “exclusive” matches that almost never advanced angles, was just a recap show of Raw and Superstars. If you wanted to follow WWF storylines in the early 1990s, you would have to watch every show in order to get a picture that was 110% complete, but, if there was any angle that was crucial to understanding an issue between two wrestlers, you could rest assured it would get replayed on every single television show multiple times – which is a big reason why big angles from that era are much more memorable than anything that happens on a given episode of Raw today.

The change to Raw becoming a more “major” show were all of the WWF’s efforts were focused was really precipitated by the Monday Night War in 1995 and 1996. During that period of time, there was a feeling that random matches wouldn’t draw if WCW Nitro had something more exciting on, so virtually every segment had to in some way further an existing storyline instead of just having a match for the sake of having a match, as was the case with early Raw encounters like Shawn Michaels vs. Max Moon.

2) Hacksaw Jim Duggan recently said if he never got busted with Iron Sheik that he would have been champion. While this is unlikely he was pushed quite a bit; winning the first Royal Rumble, being the first to knock Yokozuna off his feet. Did they plan on giving him a real push? He was very over.

I sincerely doubt that Jim Duggan was ever anywhere near winning the WWF Title. During the peak of his popularity and his physical prime, Hulk Hogan was usually around, and there is no way that Duggan was going to be billed at or above the Hulkster’s level. Subsequent to Hogan’s departure, Duggan was getting past his physical prime and did not fit in with the wrestling style of the guys WWF was pushing (Hart, Michaels) and it wasn’t too long after that era began that Hacksaw jumped to WCW alongside Hogan.

3) Which group do you think would have been better if people wrestled 10 years earlier, Hurricane Helms in Natural Disasters or JBL in Money Inc.? Seriously, how awesome would both of those have been? Feel free to add any other combinations that you feel would have been as good or better than these.

No offense, but I don’t think either of those would have worked. The Natural Disasters were a serious, badass team, and the Hurricane was a comedy guy. Money Inc. and JBL may have worked on some level, but Bradshaw’s character was just too similar to DiBiase and IRS. Two guys with the same personality is fine, but a third would have been overkill.

4) In your opinion, is Wrestlemania 9 really as bad as it is made out to be? I watched it while going through 1993 in order, and I used to think it was horrible but watching it again (with the build-up), it wasn’t that bad. If you take away Gonzalez/Taker, the match quality isn’t horrible, there were lots of decent/good matches (both tag matches, IC title match, Luger/Perfect). One of the big factors that gets held against it is Hogan winning at the end but the crowd goes nuts for it. Yes, looking back it was poor booking and doesn’t sit well, but at the time the crowd pops huge and loves it so can you really hold it against them if it was over at the time?

Yes, I think it is as bad as it is made out to be. None of the angles leading into the show were really clicking with the possible exception of the Mega Maniacs against Money, Inc., and my opinion is that you’re overrating the match quality of most of the card. I consider the Headshrinkers vs. The Steiner Brothers to be the best match on the card, and even that one doesn’t get above ***1/2. Plus the “World’s Largest Toga Party” theme was really goofy and detracted from the show in my opinion. There really isn’t the one blow-away match that most Wrestlemanias have, and there really isn’t even that memorable of a moment from a historical perspective. It’s just a flat show and, even if it’s not the worst Wrestlemania, it still has to be in the bottom five.

Here’s Michael R. seeking some coverage of news coverage:

It’s evident that, at least until the WWF began to get cartoonish in the 80s, ring announcers, commentators, etc., tried their best to get wrestling over as a legitimate sport (and even as the most grueling sport of all). My question is, did mainstream media outlets (chiefly newspapers and local TV news) ever give wrestling coverage alongside legit sports, even if it was wink-nudge coverage? Did this vary in different regions, and when did it stop if it was ever commonplace?

I have never heard of pro wrestling getting legitimate coverage on a television newscast, but that does not necessarily mean that it hasn’t happened. Pro wrestling results were reported on all the time in newspapers, which is one of the reasons that we have some history of the “sport” dating back to the early 1900s and even the late 1800s in some instances. The practice died out in different regions at different times, given how popular and well-respected wrestling was in a particular territory. However, I believe that wrestling was out of the vast majority of local newspapers before the mid-1980’s hit.

MIKE, who sent his name to me in ALL CAPS, has four questions:

1. Hulk Hogan’s chair shots were always super super weak. What was the deal with that? I’m sure somebody of his size could actually land a hell of a chair shot but they always were wimpy shots? Now the logical answer seems that he was just a nice guy and didn’t wanna hurt anybody if he didn’t have to but it’s Hogan we’re talking about and he’s not exactly known for giving a damn about others. So please enlighten me here!

Hogan may not have the best reputation when it comes to helping out others in terms of backstage politics, but, as far as I know, he has never had a reputation for taking advantage of other wrestlers in the ring. If anything, he’s portrayed as being a consummate professional in that regard. Thus, the answer to the question probably really is that Hogan does not want to hurt anybody, particularly when you take into consideration the fact that, historically, he was twice the size of most of his opponents and probably had legitimate concerns about what his upper body strength could do when put on the business end of a metal weapon.

2. I was watching the HBO documentary on the “Ice Man” Richard Kuklinski and it is well known Steve Austin credits that HBO documentary with coming up with the Stone Cold nickname. He says his wife made him tea and told him drink it before it gets Stone Cold but as a matter of fact as I was watching the documentary the HBO commentator actually describes Kuklisnki as Stone Cold in the documentary. So what’s going on here? Did Stone Cold just try to cover up his ass without looking like he stole the idea from HBO? Could he have been sued if it was proven to be the case?

It’s not entirely common, but “stone cold” was actually a saying long before the documentary that you are referring to and long before Steve Austin used it as a nickname. (If it weren’t, why would Austin’s wife use it to describe his infamous tea?) For an example, take a listen to Queen’s song “Stone Cold Crazy” from 1974. So, most likely, there is no real connection between Steve Austin’s nickname and the documentary in question, and there could not have been a lawsuit based on the two separate entities using an existing phrase to describe two completely separate entities.

3. If you could list top 5 moments in your wrestling watching history (Let’s stick to North American brands) where you were sure it was going to be a 3 count but they kicked out. What would they have been?

I actually don’t remember moments like this well at all. I think the reason is that, more often than not, when a move hits and you’re sure it will be the finish only for the pinned wrestler to kick out, it is a bad thing far more often than it is a good thing. Wrestling matches have natural ebbs, flows, and rhythms, and the end of a match not coming at a point where it feels natural typically has an adverse impact on one’s enjoyment of the bout and makes it less memorable, not more memorable.

4. The Dudley Boyz wrestled for the WWE for a number of years and partook in some very brutal matches. So how come after seemingly giving their all to the company upon the leaving they weren’t even allowed to take their own wrestling names with them? Wouldn’t that be a nice thing to do? A thank you for everything you’ve done for us
kinda thing? What was the beef?

There wasn’t really a beef, but, as the old saying goes, the name of the industry is “show business,” not “show friends.” Being a loyal employee doesn’t necessarily earn you benefits that other individuals get, including being permitted to take your ring names with you. That’s just how things go.

It’s time to discuss logistics with Will from Tennessee:

A few months ago some friends and I were sitting in the stands pre-show for a RAW event. This RAW featured in the final match, Kane coming up from the bottom of the ring. We’ve seen this happen many times before on TV. (Hornswaggle, etc.) My question is . . . how do those characters get under the ring in front of a live audience? Do they get in position long before the doors open? Disguise themselves as ring crew and hope the crowd won’t recognize? I am sure there isn’t a trap door under the ring. It’s such a simple yet amazing trick.

It depends on the particular instance. In some cases, yes, wrestlers have had to camp out under the ring for a couple of hours before making their surprise entrance. In other cases, wrestlers have been snuck out from the backstage area and placed under the ring during other parts of the show when the audience would be distracted, such as another wrestler’s entrance or exit from the ring when the lights are out. Unless major arenas across the country have some really cool extra features that I’m not aware of, there aren’t any examples of a building which features a hidden tunnel and trap door that allows a wrestler to burrow under the ring like the gopher in Caddyshack.

Of course, Hornswoggle is in a completely separate category from all of the above, as he lives in a magical universe populated entirely by little people, the portal to which spontaneously generates itself under WWE rings for some reason. Don’t believe me? Watch the video:

We’re kickin’ it old school with Michael Klein:

You’ve probably been asked this before (maybe even by me ) but why didn’t the NWA ever make Nikita Koloff their world champ? Especially when he came in, he was easily the most feared guy on the roster. He may not have been the best wrestler (he wasn’t) or even the best heel (obviously Flair, as champ, was a better heel as was Tully), but he was the closest thing to a monster heel at the time. Plus, when you add the whole Russian angle, you could argue he had the most heat. Was it politics? Would Flair not drop it to Koloff? Was he seen as too green?

Or, not that it would have been as effective, but why not make him champ when he turned face? He was immensely over, had the whole Magnum TA sympathy angle going for him, was physically impressive, and was a good in ring performer. I think he would have been a better heel champ but he still would have mood a solid face champ. Better than making Dusty champ again. Or Ron Garvin.

I think that the answer is that he was not perceived as being a good enough wrestler to hold the title. During Nikita’s time as a heel, the NWA Champion was still viewed in large part as a touring champ, somebody who had to be able to visit the different territories and have a great match with the local babyface favorite, regardless of the local guy’s style or level of skill. Ric Flair and most of the other NWA champs up to that point had the ability to do that sort of thing. Nikita, by a longshot, did not, whether he was wrestling as a babyface or a heel.

And, yes, you can knock perceived bad NWA champs like late Dusty or Ronnie Garvin, but a) they could still go and b) they were only ever booked to hold the title on a temporary basis.

Matthew B. is a stickler for the rules:

When did WCW finally get rid of the mandatory DQ for throwing an opponent over the top rope / stop making excuses about “momentum” being the reason why no DQ was called for? It seems like it was a pretty outdated rule since wrestling was constantly evolving every year in the 90’s with ECW and the like. It was kind of strange to still have it in place as Tony Schivaone referenced it in 1996 at the Clash of the Champions XXXIII during the triple threat tag. Was it noted or ever addressed that the rule was no longer in place in the later years of WCW?

I don’t have an exact date or even exact month, but I watched the WCW product pretty heavily at the time, and my recollection is that the rule went by the wayside in 1996 or 1997. There was no big announcement that the rule was gone. I remember that it was just announced on commentary during a handful of shows in relatively inconsequential matches that the rule had been eliminated as a result of negotiations between the company’s wrestlers and management, with this rule being relaxed in exchange for the wrestlers agreeing that they would be more compliant with other, remaining rules. Of course, the higher level of compliance never really occurred.

Here’s another rule question, this time from Picture Frame Columbian Cowboy:

After watching Cena vs. Otunga this past week on RAW, I have a question about one of the rules in a wrestling match. At the beginning of the match, Otunga kept ducking under the rope and the referee kept stopping Cena from attacking him. This rule seems to contradict
itself. If a wrestler is out of the ring on the top rope, the ref doesn’t stop the wrestler in the ring from knocking him off. When Sheamus goes for his signature chest beating while he is in the ring and his opponent isn’t, the ref doesn’t stop. When Randy Orton goes for the middle rope DDT, the ref doesn’t stop the action. Why when a wrestler ducks under the rope on his own merit does the action stop when it clearly isn’t stopped during the use of certain moves?

The real world answer is that pro wrestling rules are never uniformly applied in order to produce what is perceived as being the most entertaining result possible.

The “fake” answer is that the referee SHOULD be breaking up things like Sheamus’ forearms or Orton’s draping DDT (just like they broke up Tajiri’s Tarantula) but isn’t doing his job properly. Technically speaking, the ropes of a wrestling ring are like the sidelines on a football field or a basketball court, and, when you cross them, you’re outside of the area of play. The referee should be applying a five count any time that a wrestler is on or in the ropes if they are playing it strictly by the book, and you will even notice some “old school” referees counting when a wrestler is standing on the top rope and showboating before delivering a high flying maneuver.

David W. wants to talk dolls:

I noticed that most action figures look like someone described their faces over the phone but the toy companies have never seen a picture. I even saw a large action figure of Dwayne Johnson for G.I. Joe that only in passing really looked like him. The Big Show has some truly awful figures out right now for instance. Yet, every now and then you see one that’s spot on and undeniably looks like the wrestler it represents so the answer can’t be that it is impossible to do a wrestler’s face correctly. Why then do so many wrestling figures have the wrong body type and nondescript/ugly head stuck on them? Is the only factor cost and they know you’ll buy the figure anyway?

It all depends on the technology used to make the figure and budgetary constraints. Many figures now will use technology to electronically “scan” the faces of the subjects and turn them into the molds out of which the figures are made. This can produce a fairly accurate likeness. However, some figures don’t employ this technology (or employ a less-sophisticated version of the technology than a competitor employs) and may still rely on a human artist/sculptor to make the mold, in which case you are going to have a bit more room for error.

As far as bodies are concerned, there are oftentimes only so many different body types that will be used in association with a particular line of figures, which saves costs over having to create a different body mold for each individual wrestler. When it comes to guys with particularly unique body types – like Big Show – the company is faced with the choice of either sticking him on a generic body that might not necessarily be the best fit OR create specific body mold for the wrestler, which would increase the cost of producing the toy line.

My Damn Opinion

Kevin wants to deal with the sensitive subject of race:

Do you agree with some who claim WCW put the belt on Booker because of the lawsuits? It would not surprise me but it would disappoint me. It was time to put it on someone new. Booker was a great champ and really over.

I do not agree with these people. Not at all.

That might have been part of the consideration behind giving Booker a title run, but I do not think it was the only consideration or even the main consideration. If you were watching WCW around the time, you know that the Book man was one of the most popular young, up-and-coming wrestlers on the roster, so giving him the championship make perfect sense from a perspective of promoting him up the card and turning him into a true homegrown star.

Axl from Paris is making this column very intercontinental:

All wrestling websites, including 411, are full of different lists — “best wrestlers”, “best finishers”, “best entrances”, and so on — but I believe I never saw a list of the best European wrestlers that have ever stepped foot in a WWF-WWE ring. On our French website, “Les Cahiers du Catch”, we came out with a list like that. This list was made of 23 names. Why 23? Because it’s football time in Europe right now, as the European Championship kicks in, and every squad is made of 23 players, and everyone has been talking for weeks about tis magic number, 23. Therefore: 23 + Europe = 23 European wrestlers. We would love to know what would be your ranking!

Here are the criteria:

1) Only wrestlers born in Europe from at least one European parent, and billed from a European country, can be considered (no Kane, for instance, even if he was born in Madrid, Spain).

2) Only wrestlers that have been part of WWF-WWE since 1982 (the year the company changed its name to WWF) can be considered (but in the case of wrestlers that have also wrestled before 1982, their accomplishments can be taken into account).

3) Men and women are considered alike.

4) It is not necessary to have wrestled for European promotions to be considered in that list.

5) The ranking is based on fame, accomplishments and skill, in that order (i. e. in an “American” list, Hulk Hogan would be ranked above Dean Malenko).

Axl also provided a link to his website’s list, which is here. To be perfectly honest with you, I think that a “Top 23” list is a bit of a stretch here, because, when you’re dealing with legitimate European wrestlers who have been in the WWF since 1982 (as opposed to kayfabe Europeans), you’re dealing with a very small number of individuals, and I’m not a fan of countdowns that that add entries that don’t belong within miles of a “best of” list just so they can have a certain number of entries. For example, the list that was compiled by Axl’s website includes entries like D.J. Gabriel and the Highlanders, and, if I’m going to do a “best of” list and I have to get that far down to the bottom of the barrel to fill it out, I’m either going to lessen my number of entries or radically change my criteria.

I DO however, think that there are probably enough legitimate Europeans who fit your criteria in order to make a respectable Top 10 list, and my Top 10 would look something like this:

10. Wade Barrett
9. Fit Finlay
8. William Regal
7. Dynamite Kid
6. Sheamus
5. Nikolai Volkoff
4. Davey Boy Smith
3. Ivan Putski
2. Andre the Giant
1. Bruno Sammartino

Putski, in my opinion, was a huge omission from the original list, as he was legitimately an immigrant from Krakow, Poland and was active in the WWF through 1985, where he was the number two or number three babyface for the vast majority of his run.

I thought that an odd inclusion on the original list was Velvet McIntyre all the way up at Number 7. McIntyre, even though she technically held a couple of women’s titles, was really a nobody in the greater WWF landscape. If I had to include her on a Top 23 list of this nature, I would have had her in the 20’s as opposed to in the Top 10.

Also, I thought a huge omission from the original list was Salvatore Bellomo, who was originally from Belgium. He did not have the most prestigious of WWF careers, but he certainly had more staying power and a higher profile in the 1980’s than guys like D.J. Gabriel or Mason Ryan had in the 2000’s. Heck, if you’re including a current developmental talent (Paige, a.k.a. Brittany Knight) at Number 23, you might as well start including guys like Brakkus (from Germany) as well.

And that will do it for me. Mr. Sforcina should be back in seven day’s time.


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Ryan Byers

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