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Ask 411 Wrestling 08.26.09: Luger Choking, Wrestlers Croaking, and Kane Tapping Out

August 26, 2009 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina

Hello, and welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling! I am your host, and the NEW Stablewars.com Titlewars World Champion! Click if you want to try and take the belt from me.

Also for the clicky, Sage Freehaven has put together a little look at the glory that was AJ Styles’ TNA PPV streak. Quite an interesting look at a run that will probably never be repeated.

And now, the only banner for the only column that expects Brian “USA Dragon” Daniels to join William Regal’s Flying Circus within 2 months (I was using Regal’s Roundtable for a name, but that one is just perfect, although they need some tits for that name to really work… The Burchills?)


Why didn’t Andre The Giant have the same surgery that Big Show had?: Because his family couldn’t afford it when he was young, and back then it wasn’t as successful as it was when Big Show got it. By the time he could afford to get it, he was so banged up that it wouldn’t have made much difference, so he kept on enjoying life to the fullest, as he had been before hand.

And hell, when he did get back surgery, they had to build special equipment for him, and the Anaesthetist had to guesstimate how much drugs to give him.

Not using Common Man saves a nickel?: No, it’s not really a case of not using that song saves them a nickel, I was just using that as an example. If it’s dirt cheap but you have a song even cheaper, and it’s for one match on a big set, why not go for the cheaper option?

Royal Rumble 92 and Mustafa: No, when discussing all the former world champs in there, Mustafa was not listed. Slaughter was, but not him.

Linking to the Francine Video: Someone made the good point about how AJ Grey links to nudity a fair bit. So, if you wish to see the Francine Piledriver video, begin jumping through hoops here.

Your Turn, Smart Guy…

Now, the questions from last week, were to tell me the reasoning behind the following transitions.

Masahiro Chono > Steve Austin > Owen Hart
Don Muraco > Harley Race > Randy Savage > Ted DiBiase > Tito Santana > Bret Hart
New York > Minneapolis > Raleigh > San Jose > Uniondale > Phoenix
Tommy Dreamer > Bradshaw > Crash Holly > Tommy Dreamer
Ivory > Jazz > Victoria
Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham > Hulk Hogan
Bart Gunn > Scott Steiner > Owen Hart > Kwang > Bob Backlund > Billy Gunn > Virgil
Rick Martel > Jake Roberts > Triple H
Jeff Jarrett > Raven > Jeff Jarrett > Kurt Angle > Kaz > Samoa Joe > Suicide > Kurt Angle
Steve Blackman > Big Show > Kane

Now, last time I used a jpeg to answer, but this is not so easy. Instead, I’ve put together a short video with the answers in it. Huzzah Windows Movie Maker! The song is dedicated to Doug Basham, Paul Roma, RVD and every other attempted 411 Commentator Meme, and is by Jonathon Coulton, an awesome, awesome man.

Anyway, this week’s question:

What match am I? A handicap match, I saw the good guys, despite being outnumberd, win the day. I had in it (although not necessarily at the time) 2 World Champions, a third man who was almost a world champion, a Horseman, a Running Joke and a King of The Ring. The heels had a regular tag team in their ranks, as well as two managers, while the faces were all by their lonesome. A match in which every participant had already wrestled that night, which also saw one of the most infamous debuts in Wrestling History, I am Who V Who?

Questions, Questions, Who’s Got The Questions?

Rick Tym gets to push ahead since he’s a fellow (former) 411 writer. And he has a cool name.

Okay, here’s a question that’s probably been asked a thousand times…why the fuck can’t I buy WM X-7 on DVD? I was there and I want to relive the glory. But why must I pay a hundred bucks or more on eBay to do so?

I know I’ll probably get heckled to death for this but I’ve honestly never seen a reason why the WWE doesn’t re-release this puppy every once in awhile, as it’s arguably one of the greatest Wrestlemania shows of all time…

Thanks bro. Always enjoy the column.

Well, they released it as part of the Wrestlemania Anthology, but that’s not what you meant. You wanted a special edition version, ala Wrestlemania 3. But I don’t think that’ll happen, for a few reasons.

One: Benoit. Ok, it’s one match, but you include it, people scream, you leave it out, other people scream.

Two: The scratch logo is everywhere. Sure, they’ve already fixed some matches for DVDs, but it’s still distracting to see all the blurs.

Three: WWF is everywhere. Not only do you have to scratch out the logo, but drop out on commentary all the time.

Four: Non-Workers: You have Heyman on commentary, a match with 2 dead guys in it, a bunch of people who no longer work for you and the Gimmick Battle Royal, some of it advertising your competition.

Five: WCW. The fact that it would remind everyone of the start of the InVasion is not a point in it’s favor.

Overall, if it did get a release, it wouldn’t surprise me, but I wouldn’t hold my breath since it’s too recent and stuff. Or, just take the plunge and get the Anthology…

Next up, Doug has a rather disturbing question.

I was hoping you could shed some light on something Bam Bam Bigelow alluded to during a shoot interview before he died. Anyway, Bigelow was asked about Hiromatsu Gompei. Gompei, apparently died in 1995 as a New Japan trainee, and Bigelow asserted that Kensuke Sasaki was responsible for his death. He said that Hiroshi Hase refused to tag with Sasaki and eventually left the company. What is the story on this one? I’m especially curious since Sasaki won the WCW US title in 1995 (I could be wrong on the date) Did WCW put the US strap on a murderer?

While I can answer some Japan questions, I know my limitations. And I’m not about to touch a subject like this with anything other than expert hands. So, once again, welcome my currently #2 guy for Ask 411, Ryan Byers. Ryan?

This is a question that is very difficult to answer without actually having been present for the events as they unfolded. That is in part because there are multiple versions of the story and in part because everybody should tread lightly when making statements that could be construed as accusing another human being of committing a homicide.

It is undisputed that a man by the name of Hiromitsu Gompei passed away while he was training at the New Japan dojo in 1995. Gompei was a celebrated amateur wrestler, and both he and his family had doubts about whether the world of pro wrestling was for him. Hiroshi Hase, himself an amateur wrestler who made the jump to the pro ranks after his legitimate wrestling career came to an end, supposedly promised the Gompei family that he would be taken care of in the dojo, and, as a result, Gompei enrolled. When Gompei did pass away, neither Hase nor the family got a clear answer as to exactly what happened leading up to the “accident” that killed him.

It is entirely possible that a legitimate accident in training resulted in Gompei’s death. For an example, look no further than Brian Ong, a young trainee who died in 2001 as a result of injuries sustained at All Pro Wrestling’s California training facility.) However, a few accounts have surfaced which blame Kensuke Sasaki for causing the death of Gompei. As far as I know, none of these accounts allege that Sasaki actually intended for Gompei to wind up dead, but everybody who claims that Sasaki is responsible seems to believe that he certainly did intend to lay quite the beating in on the young man.

One of these accounts comes from the Bam Bam Bigelow shoot interview referred to by Doug. Another comes in the form of an RF Video shoot interview with Scott Norton from several years ago. My recollection is that Norton stops short of blaming any specific individual for Gompei’s death but that he does indicate that Gompei died as a result of wrestling manoeuvres being applied to him by people in the dojo who were “taking liberties” with the young athlete. The 2008 book Ring of Hell contains a version of the story surrounding Gompei’s death which squarely places the blame at the feet of Kensuke Sasaki, claiming that Sasaki brutally beat Gompei because he was not performing properly in wrestling drills. The book goes on to allege that it was the involvement of the Japanese mafia that resulted in the incident having been largely covered up.

However, it should be noted that the research and fact checking in Ring of Hell have been HEAVILY criticized by several professional wrestling journalists (including Dave Meltzer) who would be in a better position than the book’s author to know the details of what happened. As a result, I would take anything contained in the pages of that tome with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, no criminal charges were brought against Kensuke Sasaki or anybody who was involved in the NJPW Dojo as a result of Gompei’s death. Hiroshi Hase did wind up leaving the promotion for All Japan almost immediately afterwards, which some people have taken as a sign that he felt guilty about the youngster’s death after the assurances that he made to the family.

So, did WCW put the US Title on a murderer? They certainly did not put it on anybody who was convicted of or charged with murder. Whether you believe that a murder occurred that was not prosecuted is entirely up to your own interpretation of facts. If you want more information on which you can base your opinion, I would suggest gathering up the Bigelow shoot referred to by Doug, the Scott Norton shirt referred to above, Ring of Hell, and the issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in which Ring of Hell is reviewed. Those are the most noteworthy English language sources on the incident that I am aware of.

Thank you Ryan. Now back to divas flashing their breasts and questions about conflicting kayfabe Wrestling Rules.

Actually, we have some decent questions, from kmtown0043.

I had some questions after reading some columns on 411wrestling:

1. I really enjoyed the Top Five Managers column recently, and was wondering about if any of these managers had face turns. Of course, Jimmy Hart with Hulk Hogan comes to mind easily, and I also remember Jim Cornette with the Midnight Express in their feud with Paul E. Dangerously and the “Original” Midnight Express (some of those videos are on You Tube, and I think they are very good promos), and I vaguely remember Mr. Fuji when Yokozuna had a face turn–I think. Any others come to mind?

Well, let’s look at the list from A couple months back….

Well, let’s go down from the top. Off the top of my head, face runs for the managers that got mentioned…

Jim Cornette: Face during his ROH Commish run, at least at first.
Sherri Martel: She turned face after Michaels dumped her, although it didn’t get going since Jannetty left the WWF just as they began to work together.
The Grand Wizard: Nope. The Wizard was always a bad guy inside the Wrestling Ring.
Paul Bearer: Throw a dart and you’ll hit a face run. After WMXX for instance.
Jimmy Hart: Any time he managed Hulk Hogan.
‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie: Well, he began his career as a face, but his managing career didn’t really have any face run. Although once he’d all but retired (but stayed on the WWF payroll), he sorta became a face with his occasional appearances. His final one, three weeks before his death, certainly counts as a face promo.

That angle might have sucked, but by god did it have its moments.

Miss Elizabeth: Gee, did Liz have a face run?
Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan: His short run in ROH was as a face, with Cornette as the heel in the fued.
Captain Lou Albano: He turned face near the end of the Rock n Wrestling crossover saga.
Paul Heyman: Well, I guess you could say he managed the ECW brand…
James Mitchell: Nope, he was a heel for his whole run. Unless you count being one of the many guys WCW paid to do nothing as a face act.
Sunny: LOD2000
Ted DiBaise: His time managing the Steiner Brothers in WCW.
Slick: Teaching Kamala to bowl. Seriously.
Gary Hart: Had several face runs in WCCW, Georgia, Mid-Atlantic etc.
JJ Dillon: Well, he was a face as WCW Commissioner, and was a face when they brought back the Horsemen in 98, but apart from that…
General Skandor Akbar: Shockingly, he did have a very brief run as a face, managing Kevin Von Erich, in 1995.
Larry Sweeney: Not yet. I hope.
Lacey: I think so… It’s hard to tell with some ROH feuds.

So for the most part, yes.

2. Recently when someone asked a question about wrestling rings, it reminded me of something I had read in a book about wrestling in the 1950-1960s. It was about wrestlers catching diseases–including a disease which caused blindness–because the ring crews, back in the day, did not clean the ring mat. Any truth to this?

Yes, there is. If you don’t clean the ring mats, you can indeed spread disease. And not just in the old days, Samoa Joe got a staph infection in 06 from a dirty ring canvas. Trachoma is probably the condition being described by your book, which can be passed on by eye/throat secretions on towels and canvases. Someone went on a tour of Africa or Asia, picked it up, then coughed/cried/got slammed into the mat, and then passed it on, so on and so forth.

Cleaning a ring mat is something that every wrestling company should do. Liquid sterilizing liquid id very cheap, and it’s easy to do. But hey, what are the odds, right?

3. Just out of curiosity–was the guy in the Monty Python skit with Graham Chapman and John Cleese in “The Epilogue” a pro wrestler? He sure sold those moves very well–and I’m sure Mr. Chapman had not experience in wrestling.

Thanks again for your column.

I believe you might be getting your skits mixed up.

That’s The Epilogue. And while it does look like Graham Chapman there as Dr. Tom Jack, that’s not Graham. Although he does appear in the other Monty Python wrestling skit, where he wrestles himself.

The two men involved were real Professional Wrestlers, but sadly their names have been lost to the mists of time, and/or BBC’s archives. They seem to have been treated as extras and thus all I can determine is that they were real wrestlers of the time. Beyond that…

Laszlo has a nasty habit of asking questions I can’t answer.

I was watching Starrcade ’84 and was surprised to see Manny Fernandez win the Brass Knuckles title from Black Bart as he was also the co-holder of the NWA World Tag Team Title with Dusty Rhodes (who was in the main event against Ric Flair). I know that guys like Vader and Ultimo Dragon had simultaneously held many titles around the world; Kurt Angle recently held all the TNA belts too I think.
However; weren’t holding multiple titles in the NWA territory era much more rare? Travel seemed to be more cumbersome and only the biggest names seemed to simultaneously perform in multiple promotions. Do you know who held simultaneous titles in this era (1970 – 1987) and was there ever a person to hold 3 or more titles concurrently?

Well, Lance Storm held three in WCW, but in the NWA, and 2 or more? I wouldn’t know where to start, what with the multitude of small companies, and thus belts all over the place. Readers, any of you know of triple or better champs in the NWA?

The Suntan Superman gets me back onto questions I can answer.

Hey great column….

I have a few questions for you…..

1 On the 10/26/98 edition of Monday nitro in a match teaming with Stevie Ray, I think I remember the giant(big show) not kickin out of a pin attempt against rick steiner and kenny kaos can you shed some light on this?

Well, I’ll try my best, given the hap-hazard chaos of WCW booking.

Basically, in the lead up to Halloween Havoc the previous night, Rick Steiner was feuding with his brother. And Buff Bagwell, Scott’s former best friend, had claimed to see the light and was going to help Rick, and a tag match was set, Rick and Buff challenging for the World Tag belts, held by Giant and Scott Hall, but being defended by Giant and Scott Steiner. Buff turned on Rick during the match, but Rick ended up winning anyway, pinning Giant with a top rope bulldog after Giant hit Scott by mistake. Thus, Rick won the tag belts, and then got an immediate match with Scott Steiner, pinning him with the top rope bulldog as well. The next night on Nitro, Rick chose his new tag team partner, and he picked the young kid called Kenny Kaos. They defended their belts, or at least had their first tag team match on Nitro, in which, yes indeed, Giant got pinned by the tag champs. Which makes sense on one level…

2 Can you give me a list of wrestlers who have died in the ring?

“Iron” Mike DiBiase
Gary Albright
Larry Cameron
Mitsuharu Misawa
Moondog Spot
Owen Hart

That’s in ring only. So guys like Brian Ong don’t count.

Cody has some questions now, hopefully none about Zelda.

Hey there,

Just have a couple questions for ya, sorry if they have already been done to death at all. First questions is from summerslam 1996, vader vs hbk for the title. Now I had heard rumors for a while that Vader was supposed to win the Title from HBK but hbk didn’t want to do the job to vader. is there any truth to this?

As much truth as the rumor mill can provide, sure. According to Vader, certainly. The plan was for Vader to win the belt there, then lose it to Bret, Vader wins it back, then Shawn beats him again for the belt, thus letting Shawn and Bret both beat Vader and get runs while setting up the rematch of Shawn/Bret for Wrestlemania. Instead they skipped Bret’s reign since there wasn’t time, and the belt went from Shawn to Sid to Shawn and then Shawn went and lost his smile before he could lose the belt back to Bret.

What a shame.

second question, I’m not sure, but is kurt angle the only person to make Kane tap out?

thanks for your time!

Well, Bret Hart has made Isaac Yankem DDS tap out. But Kane, as Kane, has indeed only tapped to one man in his career, and that man is Kurt Angle. Same with Hogan, and technically true with Taker as well.

Kristian has some questions now.

Hey great collumn. I love the info to random wrestling trivia as well as when my questions get answered. And I got a few that I wanted to ask about.

First question is regarding Shawn Michaels and his back injury back in 98. From what I heard, the injury came from when he was back dropped from inside to the ring to the casket outside the ring and landed very awkwardly. Anyways, he didn’t wrestle (or at least wrestle much) until WM14 when he dropped the belt to Austin. Afterwards, he didn’t wrestle for well over 4 years. The question is what were the plans for Shawn had he not been injured. Would he even have dropped the belt to Austin at WM had injury not forced him out?

Yes. Come hell or high water, Austin was clearly walking out of Wrestlemania as Champion, as much as Shawn wouldn’t have liked it. There were however no solid plans in place, given that whenever they tried to lock in a post WM feud for Austin it tended to prove impossible (Brian Pillman for instance).

What you probably would have seen was Shawn take some time off before returning to cost Austin the title, perhaps, and/or align with him against the newly re-organised DX. Suffice to say, Shawn would still have been at the top of the company. But at the time, the WWF was more focused on not ruining their rise back up than long term planning.

Second question was regarding the New Age Outlaws. After WM14, they officially joined DX, but were being closely associated with Triple H and HBK since the December prior to their union. Were the Outlaws always meant to join DX or was it more a last minute decision with HBK being put out of action as a way to keep DX alive?

Not so much last minute as logical. DX moved merch, so when DX was re-jigged they were the obvious plug in, given their history. So while it wasn’t a “Oh crap, we need more DX members, quick, put in NAO”, it wasn’t a “They’ll join after WM, as we write it out here in June” either. It was logical, but not planned long term, which again ties into at the time plans and ideas were constantly being re-written as they were going out.

Final Question is of a completely different topic. I saw a youtube clip of CM Punk turning heel 2 years ago and being part of the short lived ECW New Breed. However, CM Punk’s heel turn and allegiance to the New Breed lasted a whole 2 weeks before being booked as a face again. My question is what gives? Was that the plan the whole time or did the WWE just panic and drop the heel Punk right away?

WWE has this nasty habit of taking angles that should run for weeks or months and playing them far too fast. What WCW took over a year to do in Sting’s leaving and then return to WCW, WWE did in like one show with Steve Austin.

Dusty Rhodes was booking ECW at the time, and thus, you’d imagine, he laid out a long angle where Punk would join the group then destroy it from the inside. Then he was told to speed it up some, and you get the whole 2 week heel run.

So I guess you can call it panic, as it certainly was not the plan.

Earl has taken some time away from screwing Bret Hart to ask some questions.

Hey, love the column and I have a few questions for you:

1. How heavy are the ringsteps? I remember back in the ’90s how announcers would act astonished that a wrestler could lift such a mighty weapon and heard someone say they were over 150lbs, but I highly doubt it.

So do I, and I’ve carried around ring steps. While the steps weight can vary with size, material and such, they aren’t light but aren’t heavy. WWE steps look like they should weigh a lot given their size, but they are hollow and thin, so they don’t weigh that much at all. My fed’s ring steps are solid steel and open, and they weigh maybe 30-40Kg, which is 66-88lbs. Not the easiest things to lug around, but manageable. WWE steps, especially given the break in the middle, are probably less than that, per section.

2. What prompted the change from zombie Undertaker to biker Undertaker, back to zombie Undertaker?

Zombie to Biker: The Undertaker had gone from being a Satanic force of good to being a Devil Worshipping bastard who would sacrifice his own minions to get ahead. This finally got too much for Vince, and after Taker subbed Mideon and Viscera into a match against HHH, Vince indefinitely suspended the Deadman. The fact that Taker had a groin injury was besides the point.

After several months (and a torn pec), The Undertaker returned. But the WWF was a far different place than before, with Kurt Angle, Jericho and Benoit and the like now in the company, The Undertaker’s former persona was now out of place and wouldn’t work in intimidating people. So, at Judgment Day 2000, The American Badass was born, and on his first night he ended up costing The Rock the World title.

Yeah, well done there sport.

Biker to Zombie: Fast forward a few years, and The Undertaker is set to do battle with Vince McMahon in a buried alive match at Survivor Series 2003. Vince helped Brock beat Taker to retain his WWE Title at the previous PPV. In the lead up, Taker promised to dig up the old school Taker and bury Vince alive. But on the night, despite Taker totally dismantling Vince, Vince won thanks to Kane’s interference.

And at that point, Taker knew that he had to bring back the mind games. So when he returned at Wrestlemania XX, The Deadman was back in full bore.

3. I was watching the Hell in a Cell DVD and they had a promo building up the HHH vs. HBK match and it was mentioned that HBK had experience in a variety of matches (Ladder, Elimation Chamber, HIAC, etc.) So that had me wondering…who do you think has wrestled in the most gimmick matches?

Taker. Hell In A Cell, Casket, Buried Alive, Elimination Chamber, Last Ride, Ladder, Boiler Room Brawl, First Blood, Cage, Last Man Standing, Punjabi Prison, Inferno…

4. Have they still not found Perry Saturn?

No, they haven’t. So at this point you kind of assume that he doesn’t WANT to be found.

Maybe he’s scared of Dean Malenko or something.

Joshua makes one of two appearances.

My question is about the opening the WWE uses for all it’s tv shows. At the very begining (the first 2 sceonds) there is an very old clip of two men wrestling with people watching, right when the annoucer says “Yes sir we promsed you a great main event” it almost looks like they are in the ring with them. My question is, what is this clip? Do you know who the people involved are?

Just in case you have no idea what the opening is.

Well, in my travels, I did find this, the oldest Pro Wrestling match filmed, from the 1920’s, the second Caddock/Stecher match, albeit edited. 2 hours is a long time for a match you know.

Having watches a few old videos, while I cannot mark the people or place, I can say with some degree of certainty that it’s not an actual match. Instead, it’s a very old film of a wrestling demonstration, more to show what wrestling is than an actual match. There are several such videos on youtube.

Mike asks about a cowboy.

I have a question for you. First off, I have been a wrestling fan as long as I can remember. (I’m 30 now) – several years ago my mom was doing a home health visit for an elderly gentleman and he mentioned that he used to be a professional wrestler. She got his autograph for me on one of his old 8 x 10 pictures. He signed it “cowboy bob clay” – I have looked and looked for any information on him and come up empty handed every time. I was hoping you could help me get any information on him. I’m sure he’s gone now but it’d be nice to have some history to go with this picture. Thanks!

Well, I found something. Back in December 2003, someone was searching for info on a “Cowboy” Bob Clay. They said that he wrestled in the Carolina’s in 1955 and part of 56 with “Scotty” Frank Thompson as a tag team partner. They were trying to find Bob on behalf of Scotty, who was 82 at the time, he wanted to find an old friend, or at least find out what happened. Sadly, Scotty died in 2005, and thus the odds are the two never met.

And great, now I’m all depressed.

Let’s talk about something funny. Like Lex Luger’s choking! Brian?

Love the column, one of the few I really look forward to every week. Love to learn some more stuff I didnt know.

OK, ass kissing out the way,

What was the original plan for the Summerslam 1993 Main Event between Lex Luger and Yokozuna? Was Luger supposed to win the title? If so, why did they change it to the lame countout win? I remember hearing that Lex ran his mouth before Wrestlemania X about winning the title and plans were changed. Did that happen at Summerslam as well? They even had the huge celebration at the end like he won.

Well, the original plan was, supposedly, Hogan V Bret, but let’s leave that to one side for the moment.

No, Luger blabbing his mouth didn’t happen at Summerslam. Instead, the Lex Express Hardest Hard Sell of All Hard Sold Hard Sells… Didn’t quite recapture the Hulkamania magic. So, instead of doing the logical, common sense filled thing of having Luger win the belt, test him for a bit, then have him drop the strap back if he fails, they have him win by Count Out in some vain attempt to gain sympathy and then get a groundswell of support that would push Luger to win the Rumble then WM and all that.

Didn’t work out, but hey.

My Damm Opinion

Rick has already had his first question answered earlier on, so let’s skip to the second.

Love the site and great work as always Matthew.

2) From Hogan to Benoit, everyone involved in the business has haters but there are still people that defend them (even Benoit!). But the only person I see pure ‘hate’ for is Vince Russo. What do you think were Russo’s best angles and also any positives he put on the business.

Anyway have a nice day!

With pleasure.

Russo has a unique booking style, which, like all booking styles, has its positives and negatives. But most people focus on the negatives, and ignore the positives. Here are a few of them.

Russo cares about everyone on the roster. Russo has a mentality that if you have someone under contract, you should use them. As opposed to WWE creative, who let people go if it’s too much work to think of something to do with them.

Everyone he cares about he works hard on giving them a look, a persona, moves, the lot. Russo’s the kind of guy who’ll lay awake at night thinking of a midcarder’s signature moves, until he gets it exactly right.

Consistency and logic. This one is kinda weird, in that it’s claimed his totally illogical and yet you can clearly claim he’s logical. But regardless of your attitude to his storylines’ logic, under Russo people don’t get along just because they both hate the fans. Old animosities are remembered and referenced. Shades of Grey is much maligned, but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting when done right. (It’s just that sometimes he doesn’t spell things out in little bite sized chunks and that confuses people.)

First chapters. Russo is probably one of the best opening chapter writers in Wrestling. When Russo starts something, it does tend to be involving, gripping and interesting.

He pushes women. It’s a straight dichotomy, that Russo both objectifies women (giving them stripper outfits and gimmicks) while at the same time pushing them (you find a hell of a lot more women running around under him, plus some who are pushed and pushed hard, like Sable).

Starmaking. Perhaps the biggest positive Russo brings that is weirdly totally ignored is that Russo pushes new talent. Edge, Christian and The Hardys all got their breaks under Russo. Foley got pushed to the Main Event due to Russo. Russo understands that you have to make new stars to succeed.

He’s honest. Russo is a ratings chaser. He admits this. And that’s what people hire him for. He doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not. If you want buyrates to go up, then leash him. But if you want ratings up, let him go.

But above all, Russo lets the talent work. As opposed to the WWE’s current script out everything approach, Russo lets the talent do their own thing, he gives out pointers, not scripts, unless the talent needs them.

Russo is much maligned. But he has many positives. He just has to be controlled.

We continue with a question on names. Jeremiah?

In your opinion (and to maybe spark a little debate) would WWE revert back to the WWF if the World Wildlife Fund suddenly ceased operating (at least under that name)? There’s many non-fans I talk to who still refer to it as the WWF so that name obviously still has value. In addition, which individuals in charge (Vince, Steph, Shane, Linda, Hunter) do you think would be likely to change and which wouldn’t?

No, they won’t change. They’ve spent too much money re-branding it, plus the name fits better with how the company sees itself. And even if the World Wildlife Fund dries up, that doesn’t automatically mean the judgement is overturned, they’d have to file papers and such. All they’d do is just stop bleeping out old footage.

As for who would want the name, probably only HHH and MAYBE Shane would want the name back. Everyone else is about the bottom line, and the bottom line says keep WWE.

Sure, most non-fans still call it WWF, but the kids all know it’s WWE, and that’s all that matters.

Next up is Todd Vote.

Man, have I got a question for you. It would fall under the opinion portion of the column.

While watching Raw last night, it was the most I have ever seen out of Ted Dibiase jr. Got me thinking how many other potential stars were never given the chance he is being afforded right now. Which era do you think was the most difficult for new stars to get over in? and why?

Honestly? Right now. You have 2, maybe 3 big companies, 2 of which determine everything about you, your name how you dress, what you say, everything. Back in the territories, you had chances to learn, you had chances to test out things, you could experiment, learn. Now it’s sink or swim. And you’re given floaties made of concrete.

In most time periods, you had some control as to where you got on the card. Now? You’re like 12th on the list…

Joshua rounds off the list today.

Hey dude what’s up? I want to talk about two tag teams The Egomaniacs (Jericho and Edge) and The Two Man Power Trip (HHH and Austin). Both where teams with main event level heels, both where tag team champions and both had their run cut short by injury.

In Triple H’s case, he came back 10 months later, got a heroes welcome, won the Royal Rumble and then won the world title.

Edge has been a heel since late 2004, that’s almost 5 years. Do you think, in your opinion, that when Edge returns he’ll get the heroes welcome face turn super push that Triple H got? Or do you think they’ll keep him as a heel?

Depends on where Jericho is, and what they need. When Edge returned at Survivor Series and cost Taker the title, there was no “Hey, you’re back Edge! Yay!” pop, it was straight from 0 to 100 hatred in 3.9 seconds.

Honestly, they probably will make him face, but I wouldn’t put it past them to keep him heel, it’s a matter of what SD (or Raw) needs, and if Jericho has turned by then or not.

But what about you guys? You want a heel Edge or a face Edge when he returns? Leave me a line.


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Mathew Sforcina

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