wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: When Was Brock Lesnar’s Last Tag Match?

May 27, 2022 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Brock Lesnar WWE Smackdown Image Credit: WWE

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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Bryan may be our first regular contributor with a gimmick, which is “guy who always asks questions about TNA”:

TNA turns 20 this year. Are you surprised it has survived this long? How has it had a longer lifespan than WCW despite many of the same mistakes and without WCW’s money?

TNA has had a longer lifespan than WCW for a couple of different reasons:

1) Even though it’s technically been the same company with a continuous history as presented on camera, behind the scenes it’s in some senses been at least three different companies. It was originally founded by the Jarrett family, who sold a majority interest to Panda Energy, who sold a majority interest to Dixie Carter individually, who later sold a portion of the company to Aroluxe, who, in conjunction with the other shareholders, sold a majority interest to Anthem Sports. All of these sales took place despite the fact that the company has reportedly never really made its owners money hand over fist and in fact lost quite a bit of money in the early days. If WCW were able to repeatedly find new ownership groups that were willing and able to keep it running no matter how successfully it actually was, it could have lasted just as long as TNA. In fact, if you look at all those ownership groups, the only one that held TNA longer than WCW was in business is Panda, and even that was only by a matter of a few months.

2) TNA has seemingly never cared how much U.S. television visibility it has so long as it’s remained on television in some form. The company started airing exclusively on pay per view, which everybody at said was a terrible idea, including, eventually, original owner Jerry Jarrett. Then, they went to Fox Sports Net, but TNA was paying to be on FSN as opposed to FSN paying them, which essentially made it an infomercial (except that TNA was able to sell ad time to the extent it could). From there, it was off to SpikeTV, which actually was a pretty big breakthrough and sustained them for most of their life. Then, when Spike canceled the show, they were willing to jump to some sad TV networks that were high up on the dial and typically not included in basic cable subscriptions, including Destination America (available in less than half of U.S. households), Pop TV (available in about 54% of U.S. households), the Pursuit Channel (available in about 36% of U.S. households), and AXS TV (available in about 40% of U.S. households). Meanwhile, WCW aired on TBS and TNA, which were available in just about every household with cable access, and, when they couldn’t get on a TV network with comparable coverage, the owners (i.e. WWE) and attempted owners (i.e. the Eric Bischoff-lead Fusient Media) of the company no longer saw it as valuable and ran from it.

A large part of this has to do with a changing television landscape. When WCW lost its affiliation with the Turner networks in 2001, there were far fewer cable stations and media in general was less fractured into small entities. Thus it did not realistically have the same option that TNA did to accept a much smaller television deal and remain alive as a company with significantly less exposure than what it previously enjoyed. WCW had to go big or go bust, whereas the existence of smaller cable channels and their need for content created more options for TNA – even if they were a step down from what they had enjoyed on basic cable.

Hey, nothing you can say, nothing’s gonna change what you did to Tyler from Winnipeg

Is Randy Orton in the top 15 ever?

Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bruno Sammartino, Harley Race, Jack Brisco, Randy Savage, John Cena, El Santo, El Hijo del Santo, Antonio Inoki, Giant Baba, Lou Thesz, Jim Londos, Steve Austin, The Rock

I’m not saying these men are the fifteen greatest professional wrestlers of all time, but they’re fifteen wrestlers who I would rank ahead of Randy Orton on an all-time greats list.

So, no, he’s not in the top fifteen.

Lev. is getting ready to do the pro wrestling equivalent of edging:

Common wrestling wisdom dictates that “the money is in the chase.”

Where did this come from, and is it accurate given that WWF/E spend decades doing the exact opposite by relying on dominant babyface champions and making millions in the process?

As to the second half of your question, you really answered it for yourself. “The money in the chase is true” . . . if you’re talking about a wrestling promotion that has educated fans that the money is in the chase.

Though many people will say that promotions make money off of giving fans what they want to see, the fact of the matter is that, though it does happen in some instances, fans organically deciding what they want to see is the exception rather than the rule, and good promoters first tell fans what it is that they want to see, and then sell it to them.

So, yeah. Good guys struggling for months if not years at a time before finally capturing the gold for a brief run is how a promotion makes money . . . if it’s what they’ve told fans that’s what professional wrestling is. Conversely, nigh unbeatable champions who beat off seemingly endless armies of heel challengers is how a promotion makes money . . . if it’s what the promotion has told fans that’s what professional wrestling is.

The promoters are the puppet masters, and we are all puppets (puppets) who need to find our place in line.

Taking things in reverse order and answering the first part of the question second, where does “the money is in the chase” come from? There are a variety of promoters that have used this format over the years, but perhaps the most significant is how the NWA World Heavyweight Champion was booked in the 1970s and 1980s. You had a traveling World Champion who was a heel more often than not, and much of the draw of a championship match was the titleholder coming to your town to face a local hero with everyone hoping that hero could win the grandest prize in the sport. Occasionally, that would happen. (Think Tommy Rich.) More often, the bad guy would live to fight another day, and fans would still plunk down their hard earned money the next time the NWA Champion’s name was on the marquee, hoping THIS would be the time the hometown boy would make good.

CJ is going super obscure:

1. I’m currently watching The Wrestling Classic, a truly terrible PPV from 1985. On the show, there’s a woman called Susan Waitkis whose job is to point at a board showing the brackets for the show’s tournament. Who was she? I can’t find a single thing about her online outside of her involvement in this show. Was she a celebrity? A WWF personality?

The Wrestling Classic isn’t just a terrible PPV from 1985. It’s really the WWF’s FIRST pay per view event. Many people will try to say that distinction goes to Wrestlemania because that is what the company’s revisionist history would have you believe, but ‘Mania was really a closed circuit television event that was on PPV in a a few test markets, whereas the Wrestling Classic was the promotion’s first full-throated attempt to make money on a pay per view basis.

You don’t care about the Wrestling Classic, though. You care about Susan Waitkis.

Was she a celebrity? No.

Was she was a WWF personality? No.

Who was she?

This one seems to be lost to history. Even when Bruce Prichard did a watch along of the Wrestling Classic on his podcast, he had no idea who she was. However, given that she is noteworthy from literally no place else, the most reasonable assumption is that she is just a model who was in the right place at the right time to get on a WWF event and consequently be remembered all these decades later.

2. At one point in the show (right after the Orton/Orndorff match), Lord Alfred Hayes is clearly groping Susan and, she looks SUPER uncomfortable. I hate to speak ill of the dead, but did Lord Alfred have a reputation for that kind of behavior? I mean it was incredibly creepy and difficult to watch.

I have no idea what Lord Al was doing in his personal life, but being a bit of a dirty old man was part of his gimmick around this time, perhaps seen most prominently on on Tuesday Night Titans. His actions towards Susan are most likely an extension of that.

Let’s go Brandon:

I was just wondering what is considered Hollywood Hogan’s best match in WCW? I remember as a kid watching the PPVs and remembering the matches sucked. I can’t remember one that was actually a good match.

If you want to base this on Dave Meltzer’s star ratings, which is probably the best option given that nobody else has as comprehensively rated matches over time, the best bout from the Hollywood Hogan era is a six man tag match featuring Hogan and the Outsiders facing Randy Savage, Sting, and the Giant on the March 9, 1998 episode of WCW Monday Nitro. That bout garnered *** from Uncle Dave.

The six man tag from Bash at the Beach 1996 in which the Hulkster originally turned heel was also rated ***, though technically that was not a Hollywood Hogan match since the moniker had not yet been adopted.

Of course in six mans, Hollywood got to limit the amount that he was working. What if we were to limit this answer to singles matches?

If that’s the case, you have to look to Hollywood Hogan versus Ric Flair. Those two men main evented Superbrawl IX in February 1999 and had a match that was rated **3/4. They came back for a rematch at WCW Uncensored ’99 the following month, this time in a first blood steel cage match. Despite the gimmicks, that bout also clocked in at **3/4.

Uzoma is on life support:

Was WCW finally getting their acts together in 2001 before it folded and was bought by WWE (back then WWF)?

There are certainly people who were still fans of the promotion who would make that argument in terms of the quality of the product. There were definitely some things to like. After years of convoluted, over-booked storylines, the promotion was focusing on a fairly basic main event story in which heel champion Scott Steiner was not just beating babyfaces but putting them on the shelf for extended periods of time, presumably building to a big spot in the future in which a new star (presumably Booker T) would get revenge not just for himself but also for all the legends Big Poppa Pump had run through. There were new exciting, stars with potential who seemed to be getting legitimate pushes, including the tag team of Mark Jindrak and Sean O’Haire. There was also a renewed emphasis on the cruiserweight division, with Shane Helms and Chavo Guerrero Jr. having a nice little feud and former ECW star EZ Money being built up as a future contender under the name Jason Jett.

The shows were easier to watch in the last three to four months of the promotion, but it’s hard for me to say that they’d gotten their act together when none of these changes managed to drive up attendance, television ratings, or any other business indicators.

Peter may just be Vince Russo in a Halloween mask (and by “Halloween,” I mean the luchador, not the holiday):

Do you think that the Money In The Bank gimmick should be applied to other sports? Which ones?

Imagine if golfing had a special tournament for a Money In The Bank contract which could be used at any other tournament in the next 12 months.

Tiger Woods somehow comes back and wins the Masters. It’s an emotional moment for Tiger and the crowd. Then the MITB winner walks onto the green and hands the red briefcase to the officials. Tiger’s worn out but he’s got to go another 18 holes to keep the Masters win.

The ratings would be through the roof. I’d watch.

Let’s say that your scenario with Tiger did play out.

What would golf fans think of the guy who cashed in and defeated Woods using the contract?

Would they think he is a legitimate Masters winner, or would they think that Tiger was the true winner and the MITB casher-inner was an undeserving paper champion?

The answer is obviously the latter, and that’s why I dislike the Money in the Bank gimmick even in professional wrestling, unless you’re only going to use the sneak cash-ins for heels and have babyfaces announce their cash-ins in advance.

I bet Dagwood Fabuloso Jr. could make a hell of a sandwich:

Was Jim Duggan’s 2×4 really 2×4? Or was it just accepted as typical wrestler height/girth exaggeration?

It’s an exaggeration. In modern times, what we call a 2×4 does not actually measure 2”x4”. A 2×4 is typically only 1.5”x3.5”.

Father Smurf‘s question is three apples long:

When was the last time Brock Lesnar participated in a tag team match? Does he have the longest time period without participating in one?

. . . it depends.

Do you consider a handicap match to be a version of a tag team match? If so, the last time Brock was in a tag match was on March 12, 2016, when he defeated Bray Watt and Luke Harper in a two-on-one encounter.

If a handicap match is not a tag team match, then Lensar’s last tag encounter occurred on February 19, 2006 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan, when he was paired up with Shinsuke Nakamura against the even more odball team of Akebono and Riki Choshu.

That’s sixteen years without a tag team match. Is it a record?

If it is, there’s an asterisk next to it, because Lesnar was not a full-time member of a major professional wrestling promotion’s roster during any of that time, and he was not even invovled in wrestling for several stretches. If he had been working anywhere week in and week out, chances are good that he would have wound up teaming with others more regularly.

I am frankly having a hard time thinking of anybody else who would take the crown, though, asterisk or no asterisk. Even Bad News Brown, whose whole gimmick was that he would never trust anybody, wound up in tag team action from time-to-time.

Lee in Liverpool has me going back to the archives:

Which wrestlers were/are the best singers? Maybe give us your top five.

Believe it or not, I wrote an entire article about this ten years ago, counting down what I could think of, at the time, as being the eight best musical performances by professional wrestlers.

I do think that a couple of notable omissions from my original list were “Exotic” Adrian Street, who put out several albums, and the Crush Gals, who were not only a Japanese women’s tag team but also a legitimate pop music duo in the country.

Also, though this is only nominally a professional wrestler singing, I recommend that everybody check out DJ Cummerbund, a mashup artist whose songs almost always include a clip from Randy Savage’s 2003 rap album Be a Man.

One of my favorites involves the Macho Man trading verses with Nicki Minaj. No, seriously. Watch it:

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.