wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Can Bray Wyatt Be Redeemed?

December 16, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
Bray Wyatt

Hello, welcome to this brisk edition of Ask 411 Wrestling, the only wrestling column kinda hoping Kane wins the three way at the Rumble (I know…) and Roman wins the Rumble (I know…) so that Roman can retire both Brothers of Destruction at successive Wrestlemanias!

Well it’s not the worst idea ever, is it?

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Wanting The Attitude Era Back: I want the unpredictability back. I want the having stories for everyone back. I want the trust and creative freedom to let people cut their own promos back. I want the chaos, I want the spontaneity, and I sure as hell want the competition back. All of that is possible, without the blood, or the tits, or the swearing, or the violence. All of that is possible in a PG environment. The rest is negotiable.

The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I’ve been managed by the above, been Royalty, and was part of a sport other than wrestling with someone I would team with in wrestling later on. I’ve been part of a fake out ‘debut’ to a company, part of the last match in WWF for a Hall of Famer, and totally not a rip off of the previous work of a different Hall of Famer (after all, he didn’t have a hat!). I share an interesting next generation quirk with the guy I teamed with on my last run in WWF, albeit with some differences in companies and in regards to biological V adoption. A guy more well known for something outside the ring than in it, arguably, I am who?

Bobby Wonderbread has it, with minor fixes.

Who am I? I’ve been managed by the above (in the Dungeon of Doom), been Royalty (King Haku), and was part of a sport other than wrestling (sumo) with someone I would team with in wrestling later on (The Barbarian). I’ve been part of a fake out ‘debut’ to a company (87, they turned heel as Heenan’s “new” tag team), part of the last match in WWF for a Hall of Famer (Andre), and totally not a rip off of the previous work of a different Hall of Famer (after all, he didn’t have a hat!) (Big Bubba Rogers/Meng). I share an interesting next generation quirk (sons are tag team champions) with the guy I teamed with on my last run in WWF (Rikishi), albeit with some differences in companies (WWE/New Japan) and in regards to biological V adoption (Tama Tonga is adopted). A guy more well known for something outside the ring than in it, arguably (his, uh, reputation as a legit badass), I am who? THE MONSTER MENG/Haku

Who are we? We’re a tag team, one who can say they’ve beaten the guy above. Our first team name revolved around traps, which is odd, considering how we work. We’re old school, in the sense that we’re equally as home holding 6 man gold as we are normal tag titles. We’re also not old school, in that we’ve wrestled and lost to a woman at least once. We’ve been made of stone, we’ve been chronological, and we’ve had a move name you shouldn’t use in mixed company. A tag team coming to Australia in the new year, we are who?

Getting Down To All The Business

P From Q asked about Johnny Ace a while ago, their last questions about his run as head of talent relations got lost in the shuffle. So here they are!

How much of his job was development? I always thought that before HHH stepping in JR and Johnny were just recruiting and it was up to creative to create the character. But if Johnny was somehow in on the gimmicks, I could see why he gets so much hate.

Jim?

Thanks Jim.

I gotta stick that in every time. I disagree with Cornette on a lot of stuff, but few people are as enjoyable when they’re pissed off as he is.

Anyway, WWE actually advertised the position Johnny Ace had at the time back in 2011, so we can have a look at that.

The key responsibilities is the obvious bit, and it mostly falls into four or so categories. There’s the co-ordination stuff, the making sure everyone is talking to each other, which he apparently wasn’t great at, given Jim above talking about how they wouldn’t let OVW know people were being fired or coming down. There’s the paperwork stuff, contracts and such. There’s the logistics, the event planning and such. And then there’s the talent managing, which is where a lot of the anger comes from overall in Johnny’s case. Apart from the urgent talent management stuff (which is the “Help, I just ran over someone’s dog” crisis management one presumes), the key bit is:

– Create and analyze various reports on WWE talent, and develop corresponding recommendations / action items

That would also include prospective WWE talent.

I don’t know the specifics, how it was divided up, but it certainly seems like part of his job was to do reports and make recommendations on gimmicks, and how they were working. I don’t think that was the main focus of the job, nor was it the main reason he was disliked, but certainly he seemed to have a preference for hiring, be it how he searched for women and the crew cut/muscular/tattooed arrogant young men thing that seemingly 95% of his hires were. He may not have been the one giving them gimmicks, but when you hire the people that creative are gonna work with, when you shape the toys they have, you do have a lot of control of what they end up with. If you don’t hire a diverse, wide range of looks and talents, then no matter how good creative is, there’s gonna be a sameness issue.

So, all in all: was he under-rated just because he wasn’t JR or was he just a yes-man?

It’s easy to rag on Johnny, sure. And not being in the trenches, as it were, it’s hard to be able to quantify just how much of the problems people had with Johnny were due to him, or if it was stuff he was told to do. But even if he’d replaced someone totally incompetent, his run was still not good, few people speak positively of it, there systematic issues on screen that you can see for yourself, and after he’s gone, things have improved a bit. I’m not totally sure he deserves all the hate he gets, but a lot of it is justified.

Brian takes us back a week for a quick follow up on something.

In the Jimmy Hart promo clip, the Iranian assassins finishing move is pretty clearly what we today would refer to as a Samoan drop. The announcer refers to it as a power slam and then moments later a reverse power slam. When did the terminology change or is this guy just a doofus?

To the tape!

Neither Lance Russel nor Dave Brown are doofui, thank you.

That said, yes, Lance Russel does call it a power slam, but it was being called a Samoan Drop back from the 60’s, when Peter Maivia popularised it. However, when a move has a name with a nationality or a gimmick attached, it can take a while for it to become common usage, especially if it’s a unique gimmick and/or one still in use. Gotch’s first suplex eventually became the German Suplex, but it took a little while. It’s a Famasser now, but it didn’t have a name outside of Rocker Dropper before it was used more.

Yes, some moves get names that stick pretty quickly, DDT for example, and sometimes a gimmick name actually isn’t, like the Russian Leg Sweep. But Samoan Drop wasn’t really accepted widely in the 80’s.

Plus, to be honest, although powerslam does have a specific move attached to it, a bodyslam where you fall with the opponent, you ask a bunch of non-fans to name a wrestling move, a powerslam is probably one they’ll rattle off. If you’re not sure what to call a move, a powerslam is a pretty forgiving term to bust out.

I can’t pinpoint when the terminology became totally ubiquitous, but I will say this seems like more a case of not wanting to call an Iranian move a Samoan one, when Samoan Drop wasn’t quite as accepted as it is now.

Jon feels like he’s been taking crazy pills!

Mat, I feel like every one of Bray Wyatt’s feuds has been exactly the same- he picks someone almost at random, does spooky promos with vague references to how he’s going to change/destroy them, and then we all know how it ends. First question: am I missing something that was wildly different and an interesting twist for his character? And if not, what can be done at this point aside from just scrapping the character wholesale?

Well… One week he could shoot lightning. And then one time he seemed to actually change someone with Daniel Wyatt, for like two weeks. And he won the WWE title that one time, remember that?

But no, for the most part he’s not really had an interesting twist on the character that’s stuck during his whole run.

(I always thought an interesting idea for a storyline in one of the video games would be to have him bring back a whole bunch of older freaky characters to fight you, bring out Papa Shango, Boogeyman, Waylon Mercy, Wrath, Gangrel and so on.)

The problem has been assuming that because he’s such a unique character that he’s interesting and intriguing enough as is, that he can carry a feud with his promos and such, and it’s just not the case, and having him unable to impact characters on a major scale is also an issue. If feuding with Bray had a solid chance of altering you in some way, if he was used to alter the gimmick of people, or move them around on the card, or break up teams, or make teams, or whatever, if the character was able to actually impact stuff and it stuck, then maybe he’d have more credibility, maybe he’d be seen as a viable threat. But he’s not, because we all know all his fancy ten cent words will mean nothing, because he’s probably going to lose in the end, and even if he doesn’t, it won’t matter.

Now, talking a big game and not really being able to change anything isn’t a deal breaker, if that’s part of the gimmick. A main reason Raven worked so well in ECW, and to a lesser extent in WCW until they fed him through the woodchipper, was that for all the talk of him being society’s outcast and his darkness, for all his cult leadership, at the end of the day, Raven was really just after gold, he just wanted to be the champ, and all his talk was in pursuit of that goal, no matter what he claimed.

Hell, even after the woodchipping with the “Raven’s actually a trust fund snot nosed kid” reveal, that could have still worked, but they botched it because of course they did, it was WCW.

But back to Bray, that’s the problem, he doesn’t have a goal. It doesn’t have to be said, it doesn’t even have to be sane or logical, but it has to be there. There has to be some sort of goal for the character. His goto line when people bring up his losing % is that are they sure he’s really losing, that the numbers aren’t important. That could work, if it had been paid off with a title reign that lasted a long time and it became clear he was much better than he appeared and he was playing everyone, or if the character is just about causing chaos and confusion, if he’s in pursuit of causing the WWE to fall into anarchy Ledger Joker style, fine too.

Right now, to save the character? There’s always the nuclear option, where he somehow gets a title shot due to spookiness, and then just trucks Brock and wins the title clean and then drops the whole act as being the longest long con in history, a.k.a the Kane World Title angle. I don’t like that, but it’s always there.

The thing with Hardy does have the option of tweaking him somehow, if they let Woke Matt get into the more esoteric stuff, maybe not the Lake of Reincarnation but the Flame of Rebirth or something, Bray the Eater of Worlds falls in and out comes Bray, the Soul Collector or something.

What I’d do? Bray loses for a couple more months, then you bite the bullet and bring in Sister Abigail, maybe use Jessie Elaban, since what little I’ve seen of the Jessie character, (Bayley but less wrestling nerd and just flat out nerd), I’m not sure is gonna work, but whomever it is, you bring them in and you have them tear Bray a new one for getting lost, forgetting her love and her teachings, getting corrupted by the lost souls of the WWE Universe, letting brief tastes of gold distract him from his true purpose. Bray refocuses, Abigail watches matches from the rocking chair, and then whatever direction Bray goes in, career killer, title winner, corrupter, chaos bringer whatever the hell it is, he damn well does it, repeatedly, successfully. Then maybe you have a character people care about.

Tony asks about Ultimate Wrestlemania cards.

Love reading your column. A few of us have been struggling with putting together a fantasy WM Card for months now and I would love to get your thoughts. Few guidelines to follow:
1. No more than 10 matches
2. Only 1 tag match, everything else must be singles
3. No wrestler can be in more than one match
4. Each participant must have wrestled at wrestlemania at least once before
5. Put matches in order (so main event listed last and opener listed first)
6. Assume every wrestler on the card is in their prime so if you put in Flair assume it is not Flair of today.

Here are the cards we narrowed it down to – still debating; we cannot believe how hard this is.

CARD 1:

Michaels v. Angle
Demolition v. LoD
Batista v. Goldberg
Perfect v. Macho
Andre v. Big Show
Flair v. Cena
Lita v. Trish
Lesnar v. HHH
Rock v. Stone Cold
Undertaker v. Hogan

CARD 2:

Jake v. Orton
Big Show v. Andre
Macho V. Jericho
Demolition v. LoD
Rock v. Lesnar
Lita v. Trish
Hart v. Michaels
Austin v. Goldberg
Undertaker v. Cena
Hogan V. Flair

Hoping this is not too long a question but we really need your opinion on which card is better (we made a bet) and what your card would look like.

Ok, well before I get to being the judge of your bet, which I’m both flattered and a little thrown by, a few things about the overall bet.

First off, nine singles matches is far too many without some variation. Unless you’re managing to get nine solid style differences, or there’s some sort of overarching storyline at play, and no being the ultimate WM doesn’t count, nine singles matches is a bit of overkill. Toss in some multi people or gimmick matches to liven them up a little. I suppose you could argue some of the above is that and not listed, but still.

Secondly, speaking on behalf of all big fat wrestlers everywhere…

Please stop putting us in there with other big fat guys in dream matches. I get why, the whole unmovable V unstoppable, but ask any big guy, you’re gonna get a much better match putting us in there with someone smaller so we can throw them around easier.

Unless you’re a freak like Jonah Rock or Caveman Ugg or someone, obviously.

And finally, this is a concept you’re probably all sick of me talking about, just like former world champs going for the Triple Crown and how Victoria is my Goddess, and the fact I’m a wrestler too, I guess, but part of the reason you can’t decide which card is better is that you’re probably booking with a different idea as to the point. Is this meant to be a realistic card, or just a bunch of matches? Are you booking to draw money, or settle disputes, or to see styles clash or styles mesh? Once you agree on the criteria, you have most of the argument settled.

Anyway, while I’m sure below will have judgements on the cards above, and their own versions, out of those two… It really depends on if you’re bringing in history, or if this is just about the matches. The first card has an overall better quality on average, with Flair/Cena a pretty perfect idea, as Broomstick Flair worked best with young babyface power guys and Cena is Babyface Power Guy +++, plus if the crowd goes the other way they’re good enough to switch over. But if we’re talking about people having past history brought in, and this is a WM card, then the second one becomes a lot more interesting, with Cena/Taker being the greatest WM match we never had, settling Hart/Michaels and Hogan/Flair on the big stage…

They’re both solid as hell, but since I have to choose… Card 1. That double punch of Orton/Jake and Andre/Big Show is something of a hole to dig out of, while Michaels/Angle is going to start you hot and keep you hot. But I would not be unhappy with Card 2.

And, of course, my version, under these rules (which I’m assuming includes none of them being gimmicks, and that the tag is a 2 on 2, because if not then your main event would be Flair/Anderson/Tully/Windham/Piper V Rock/Foley/Kane/Taker/Mysterio who is there to literally bleed out across both rings if possible).

Michaels V Sting
Eddie V Mysterio
Undertaker V Styles
Andre V Cena
Savage V Punk
Hardy Boyz V Brainbusters
Rock V Jericho
Angle V Flair
Victoria V Trish
Hogan V Austin

What’s yours, dear reader?

From the greatest to the less so, with Chris

Has there ever been a jobber that has won a match against an established veteran? I’m not talking about anybody that has gone on to a future story line, like James Ellsworth. Has any nobody ever won and basically never appeared again?

Why would you do that? I mean, OK, you want to create an on-air appearance that anything can happen, fine, but logically, if someone beats an established veteran, why the hell wouldn’t you give them a contract? Or at least a rematch to see if he’s legit or not? I mean, the point of wrestling is that it’s supposed to be a sport, so if someone is good at it, why wouldn’t you sign them?

That said, there are some storylines where jobbers beat established stars. One such example was when Jimmy Jacobs beat Eddie Guererro on Smackdown… By DQ.

Other examples would be MVP losing during to James Mason in his losing streak period,

Virgil causing DiBiase to get counted out against a jobber in the lead up to WM7, Jake Roberts getting DQed for killing jobber Tom Stone around the time he was blinded, and Austin once lost a handicap match against Jason Arndt (Joey Abs) and Eddie Jacke thanks to the British Bulldog.

So it has happened, but very infrequently, and always either by DQ because the name guy went too far, or by distraction.

Speaking of guys going too far, Connor?

I’ve heard rumors that Tracy Smothers is a legit tough guy, is there any truth to the rumor?

I can’t speak from experience, thank goodness, but it’s a fairly common thing that if you ask a wrestler who the toughest guy is, they say Meng/Haku, and if you ask them for the second, while you start to get other answers, Tracy Smothers does come up a fair bit. When he challenged JBL to a brawl after JBL took liberties with the Blue Meanie, he was in his mid 40’s, having some slight mental issues, and yet pretty much everyone said he’d whip JBL’s ass, no problem. But then again, this was before we found out Joey Styles could whip JBL’s ass, no problem.

That said, Smothers would wrestle bears a lot. Fricking BEARS.

No lasers on their heads, but still impressive! But don’t worry, the bear finally got its win back.

And on that, I bring this supersized video laden edition of Ask 411 Wrestling to an end. See you all next week for the super big announcement!

Wanna guess?