wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Can Bron Breakker Make It On WWE’s Main Roster?

December 11, 2023 | Posted by Ryan Byers
WWE NXT Bron Breakker 6-13-23 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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Jonfw2 isn’t getting it:

Pretty simple one here: I don’t get Bron Breaker. His music, ring gear, move set, persona . . . all the definition of generic for me. When I see the magic Roman and Cody did on Smackdown the other night, I just cannot imagine Bron ever carrying that high profile of a match.

In fact, I can’t imagine a situation where I’m not anything but bored by him.

Am I wrong?

Since you invoked the name of Cody Rhodes, I’ll use him as an example. You said you can’t imagine Bron Breaker cutting the sort of promos that Cody does.

. . . but could you imagine Cody cutting those same promos back in 2008 or 2009?

If you answered “yes,” you’re either a time traveler or you’re lying.

Nobody that I’ve talked to or read is saying that Bron Breaker is ready right now to catapult into the main event of WWE. What they’re saying is that he has a lot of the tools necessary to being a top star. It’s similar to what people were saying about the Rock in 1996, Brock Lesnar in 2000, or John Cena in 2001. They weren’t “there,” but people saw them with significant amounts of potential to get “there.” They were the proverbial blue chippers.

A lot of the same people who were making those comments about Rock, Lesnar, and Cody, are now saying them about Breaker. I’m not saying that it’s impossible that they’re wrong on this one, but I’m still willing to bet on Bron over the long haul.

Josh isn’t joshing:

Let’s play a little game. Imagine that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had just announced that pro wrestling is going to be added to an upcoming Olympics and you, Ryan Byers have been selected to put this event together. A couple questions now. First, even though it’s a predetermined event, the medals are going to be legitimately earned so how do you go about awarding these medals to the wrestlers? Second, there will be both a men’s and women’s category like in other sports and both categories will have a tag team division, though it’s up to you if you want a trios division or not. Do you separate wrestlers into different weight categories like in boxing or is at all openweight and perhaps we get one of the minis from Mexico in a potential match up against Great Khali who is representing India? And lastly, let’s say all the major promotions from around the world are on board with sending some of their top talent to compete, do you allow this or will it be more “amateur” like where maybe perhaps NXT superstars or young lions from the dojos face off?

First off, let me say that I would not be in favor of pro wrestling being in the Olympics. That’s not because wrestling is fixed and therefore not a “real sport.” As we’ll get into in a few moments, wrestling is actually quite a bit like several sports that are already part of both the summer and winter Olympic games. The reason that I would not put wrestling in the Olympics is that there is no real way to feature the most important aspects of pro graps in the Olympic format.

Why? Pro wrestling is not about isolated matches. Pro wrestling is about telling stories and building anticipation for matches, with the storylines being paid off in the ring. The greatest wrestling matches aren’t great because they’re athletic spectacles in and of themselves. The greatest wrestling matches are great because they are the culmination of stories that have been told over weeks and months and make sense in the greater context of those stories. Because the Olympics only last for a couple of weeks and because most events will only run for several days, you are never going to have an Olympic pro wrestling experience that takes you to the heights of a Flair/Steamboat trilogy or an Okada/Omega rivalry. It’s just not possible.

However, that wasn’t the question. The question was what would I do if pro wrestling was going to be in the Olympics, whether I thought it was a good idea or not. Let’s proceed to answer that one.

I’m not the first person to have considered this question, and I’m sure my answer will incorporate some ideas that I have seen floated by others before – I just wish that I remembered who they were so that I could give proper credit.

In any event, the template for how to incorporate pro wrestling into the Olympics already exists. You would treat pro wrestling as you would pairs figure skating or synchronized swimming. You wouldn’t, for example, put a wrestler from the British team against a wrestler from the Samoan team and try to determine a winner between the two of them. Instead, you would have two British wrestlers put on a match against each other, then have two Samoan wrestlers put on a match against each other, followed by two Mexican wrestlers, and so on.

Then, there would be a panel of judges from across the world assigning scores to the matches, in a manner comparable to figure skating or gymnastics. The team with the highest score takes home the gold medal. You could do the same whether we’re talking about men’s or women’s divisions or whether you’re talking about singles or tag team matches. (And I would include a trios division, by the way, since that style of wrestling is so significant in lucha libre. Weight classes don’t really make any sense, though, given that the reason they exist in legitimate sports is to provide a level playing field, which isn’t a worry in a worked sport.)

This seems like the only reasonable way to make pro wrestling an Olympic event, because the act of putting on a pro wrestling match is not competitive. It’s cooperative. This system rewards the pairings of wrestlers that are best at participating in that cooperative endeavor.

How would the matches be scored, you ask? I think the judges should be asked to evaluate the bouts based on the following criteria, which I have listed from most important to least important:

Simulation of Combat: Pro wrestling at its heart is simulating a fight between the participants. Thus, in my mind, the primary thing for a judge to consider is the extent to which the “competitors” convinced them that they were competing with one another, even though they were cooperating the whole time.

Crowd Manipulation: When a wrestler steps between the ropes, they should be doing everything necessary to take the audience on an emotional journey. They should also be tailoring their match to the needs and wants of the particular audience on the particular night as opposed to running through a choreographed routine. Thus, our judges should consider the extent to which the wrestlers are able to hold the fans in the palm of their hand.

Athletic Prowess: Though less important than the prior two factors, a wrestling match should also be exciting from an athletic perspective, whether it’s due to innovative maneuvers, endurance conditioning, or blinding speed. In light of that, the athleticism demonstrated by the participants should also be given some weight.

I believe that the only aspect of the question that I haven’t hit on yet is whether top stars should be allowed to participate or whether the competition should be limited to younger, developmental-style wrestlers. I would be more inclined to have the true stars of wrestling in the ring because they are going to be putting on better performances, and it would draw more eyeballs to television broadcasts and therefore be better for the future of the event in the Olympics. I presume that the question about whether more or less experienced wrestlers would compete arises from the fact that the Olympics were previously open only to amateur athletes, but that hasn’t been the case for many years now.

Christopher is wild and young:

In your opinion, who are the top 5 male and top 5 female NXT alumni who have achieved the most success on the main roster?

Honestly, this is not a difficult question. NXT has been WWE’s developmental brand for slightly over a decade now, so almost anyone who has become a major star in the promotion in the last ten years qualifies for the list.

Thus, I would say the five most successful male NXT alumni are Roman Reigns, Seth Franklin Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn.

Moving to the women’s division, the list is Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Becky Lynch, and Alexa Bliss.

Also, note that I took “NXT alumni” to mean people who came through NXT as actual developmental performers, not anyone who has ever appeared on NXT television.

Tyler from Winnipeg has lost his mind:

Which career do you prefer: Victoria or Ivory?

I suspect this would be the minority opinion, but I’m going to take Ivory.

I have an odd respect for the fact that Ivory originally got into wrestling through GLOW, which was a joke featuring barely trained models doing the minimum necessary to get by in the ring, and later deciding that there was something she liked about wrestling enough to figure out how to do it the right way.

(If you’re not familiar with the fact that Ivory was in GLOW, go google “Tina Ferrari.”)

From there, she went on to become a perfectly acceptable in-ring performer per the standards of the WWF women’s division of her era, and her work as a heel during the Right to Censor era provided some pretty amusing moments.

Plus, I never had to watch Impact Wrestling to see Ivory perform.

Stromi is grabbing them cakes:

Between WrestleMania 1 & 2, they pushed the tag team of JYD and Tito Santana HARD on the Saturday morning shows and the house show circuit. And they were OVER with the fans. My question is, were there ever any plans to have them in the tag team title scene? I know Tito had the IC belt for part of that time.

Not that I’m aware of. For what it’s worth, the duo did eventually get a Tag Team Title shot, though it was after Wrestlemania II on a house show in Manchester, New Hampshire on August 17, 1987, when Tito and the Dog defeated champions the Hart Foundation, albeit by disqualification.

Bryan better hope nobody reads this question as WWE negotiates its rights fees:

Considering wrestling doesn’t have a star as big as big as Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin and Roman Reigns doesn’t have his cousin’s drawing power, how was the WWE able to get such a huge TV deal? TV executives aren’t going to fork over that amount of money for a niche or underground product, so how was the WWE able to get such a nice set up? Wrestling in general isn’t as hot a commodity as it was during the Attitude Era or the Hogan era, so I can’t figure out how the company is still thriving. Any Insight?

It’s because the television industry sees value in live content.

Between DVRs, video on demand services, and streaming, traditional television broadcasting and cable have taken some big hits over the course of the past ten to fifteen years. They make their money off of people watching ads, and, to the extent that is disrupted, their business model doesn’t work as well.

However, the powers that be in TV have realized that live “event” content will still get people to tune in and watch at dedicated times, at least better than taped scripted series will.

Wrestling produces a lot of live content and has in some respects been able to pass itself off as a sport to TV programming execs, which is why it is sought after.

The catch with wrestling is that, historically, advertisers have either not wanted to touch it or have wanted to pay lower rates for commercials on wrestling programming, due to a notion that wrestling fans on the whole are from lower socioeconomic classes and therefore have less money to spend on advertised products. There were some studies that bore this out at one point, though it has been many years since I’ve read about a similar study. However, the fact that Fox recently canceled Smackdown and in doing so stated that they were not getting enough “return on investment” leads me to believe that it’s still the case.

So that’s the story. Even though many fewer people are interested in watching wrestling on TV than 25 or 35 years ago, it still brings enough of an audience for live broadcasts that networks see some value.

PushRomanReigns is oddly asking about somebody else’s push from 15 years ago:

In the 2000s (I think) Crime Time won a number one contenders match for the tag team titles. They never had the title match (at least not on TV anyway) – why didn’t it happen? They remained a team for a good while after that before disbanding.

I went through Crime Time’s career history, and honestly I couldn’t find what you were talking about. They competed in a few matches that were used to crown new number one contenders, but as far as I could tell they always either received their shot or lost the match. If you can give me a date or otherwise narrow down the time frame for the match you think you saw, I might be able to give a bit more information about why any promised tag title match didn’t occur.

For the heck of it, I will say that probably Shad and JTG’s biggest number one contenders match occurred on the July 28, 2009 episode of Smackdown when they defeated the Hart Dynasty to earn the right to face Chris Jericho and the Big Show for tag team gold at that year’s Summerslam. Jericho and Show came out on top in the ultimate championship match.

Jeff has an unusually high pitched voice:

It’s been a few decades since I watched the Hulk Hogan-starring movie Suburban Commando. I was a kid when it came out and since I was already a wrestling fan I was excited to see it. I became even more excited when I saw that The Undertaker was also in it, playing one of the bad guy aliens.

I was randomly thinking about this movie the other day, and was wondering something about UT’s role in it. Mark Calaway’s protection of the gimmick over the years reached such legendary status that his being in a movie seems strange to think about now, especially that early supernatural zombie version. Granted, as I recall he basically played The Undertaker in the movie and maybe he hadn’t yet decided to be as protective of the character as he did later on.

My question is whether Calaway has ever offered insight regarding his involvement in the movie, particularly given how carefully he’s tended to handle the UT persona.

It happened because, at the time he was hired to film the movie, he hadn’t yet become the Undertaker. Taker did briefly discuss the film on a 2020 episode of the Cheap Heat podcast, during which he reminded everybody that his landing the role in Suburban Commando and the filming of his scenes occurred in between his run in WCW as Mean Mark Callus and the invention of the Undertaker character and his subsequent debut in the WWF.

Granted, Commando wasn’t released until 1991 – which is AFTER Taker showed up at the Survivor Series for the first time – but his work on the movie was before that.

So, that’s why he wasn’t protecting the Undertaker gimmick . . . there was no gimmick to protect.

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.