wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Is Charlotte the New Cena?

February 25, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Charlotte Flair WrestleMania 34 WWE WWE Smackdown

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 whole 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.

Hey, ya want a banner?

Night Wolf the Wise gets to ask his question first due to natural selection:

Wrestlemania 35 will see history as Ronda Rousey vs Becky Lynch will headline Wrestlemania. There’s rumors that the WWE will add Charlotte to the match and make it a three-way. If WWE goes that route, do you see Charlotte Flair becoming this generation’s John Cena? What I mean by that is, the WWE Universe turns on her for getting opportunity after opportunity and her getting pushed more than other women wrestlers much like they did John Cena?

As of the time of this writing, Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair is the scheduled Raw Women’s Championship match, though it is not being referred to as the headlining bout. (However, it certainly does seem to be the match with the most promotion and buzz behind it.) It’s pretty clear from where the storylines are heading, though, that Becky Lynch will eventually be added back into the mix and that the proposed three-way between the women that has been reported on for quite some time will in fact take place on the card.

Does that make Charlotte Flair the new John Cena?

No, it really doesn’t. There’s a key difference between how WWE is handling Flair’s push and how they have handled Cena’s push, namely that, at least in recent weeks, WWE has actively been playing on fans’ perception of Charlotte as being over-pushed and undeserving in order to make her a heel in the Rousey/Lynch storyline. In other words, WWE has given us the John Cena heel turn that a portion of their fanbase has been clamoring for for literally years . . . they’ve just given it to us with Charlotte as opposed to with Cena himself.

In the long run, I suspect that this tactic will actually help out Charlotte’s career. She is a very talented professional wrestler, and, even though fans may become frustrated with them over the short-term, they almost always come back to supporting wrestlers of Charlotte’s caliber once they’ve gotten that disdain out of their systems and return to evaluating the wrestler’s matches on their own merits. By actively turning her heel and allowing the fans to boo her, WWE is likely shortening the period of disdain and jumpstarting her return to popularity.

Bryan is a debonair talking dog:

I don’t know if you watch American TV shows or even live in the U.S., but I have a question about the TV show family guy. Isn’t this a show that Vince Russo was born to be a script writer for? As much as people made fun of his swerve angles in wrestling the non-stop non sequitors and cutaway gags in the show family guy seem like he’d fit right in there. What do you think?

It’s been a little while since I have regularly watched Family Guy, but there is a sense in which Bryan is right. Anybody who has watched a few pro wrestling TV shows booked by Vince Russo knows that he has a definite style, and that style involves cramming as many segments and mini-segments into the program as he possibly can, to the point that there were shows where he would literally cut back and forth between four or five storylines over the course of about ninety seconds. Family Guy, meanwhile, is known for whipping back and forth from the main narrative to quick comedic asides.

In terms of those stylistic choices, I understand the comparison that Bryan is attempting to make, but there is one key reason that I don’t think that Vince Russo would be able to make it as a writer on Family Guy:

Vince Russo isn’t funny.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Family Guy is exactly the height of comedic genius, but I watched a lot of Russo’s attempts at humor back in the day, and the vast majority of them consisted of the most basic and juvenile dick and fart jokes. Granted, Family Guy features some of that as well, but their writers do branch out into other subjects and at least generally have a good sense of timing when it comes to the more puerile gags.

I would suggest that we just keep Russo away from the writers’ room of any television program in any genre.

Are there still any video stores out there that he can manage?

Johnny M. is about to conduct an air raid:

AJ Styles WWE theme, while awesome, has perplexed me since he debuted. It couldn’t have been originally designed for him. The lyric ‘We some southern boys workin’ overtime for it’ and ‘Kings of the south, we never had nothin’” seem to imply it was for a tag team. Any idea who that would be, or what they had for AJ prior to his epic Royal Rumble arrival?

It’s hard to beat the lyrical genius of “You are, you are, I am, I am” from AJ’s TNA theme, but the boys in the WWE music department seem to have done it here.

Seriously, though, I think you’re reading too much into the use of plural pronouns in Styles’ tune. I don’t think that the use of the words “we” and “boys” as opposed to “I” and “boy” is a hint that the song is recycled from another act or that AJ was originally intended to join the main roster as the head of some sort of redneck mafia stable.

It’s far more likely that this was just an artistic choice by the person who put the song together. I compare it to the Hank Williams, Jr. song, “A Country Boy Can Survive.” Though the titular “country boy” is singular, if you pay attention to the song’s lyrics, the character who is narrating the song speaks not just about himself but also describes generally the salt of the earth people from whom he is descended so as to discuss some of his own characteristics.

In short, not everything is an allusion to a booking direction that didn’t quite pan out.

Luis is going worldwide:

Some articles ago you answered a question about which country (outside USA) had the most wrestlers competing on a single PPV (Mexico won with Royal Rumble 1997).

Now that we’re on “the road to Wrestlemania”, I thought of a similar question, mainly because WWE has expanded their international base, has plenty of broadcast teams in each PPV….

So, thinking about WMs only and using the criteria of “where the wrestler was born, not where he is billed from” (Jericho would count as an US wrestler, Kofi would score one to Ghana):

Luis goes on to ask several different questions, and we’ll take them one at a time. (Keep in mind that, for pay per view events, I typically do NOT count pre-shows as part of the PPV.)

1- Which edition of WM had the most wrestlers born outside USA?

Wrestlemania XXX appears to be the answer here, featuring a whopping seventeen wrestlers born outside of the States. The show’s numbers benefitted from having both an Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale and a Vickie Guerrero Divas Title Invitational on the main card, which upped the overall number of wrestlers participating in the show and therefore the number of foreign-born wrestlers.

Interestingly, the only wrestler born outside of the U.S. who was in a match other than the battle royale or the women’s invitational was Kane (technically born in Spain.) The other sixteen foreign names on the card were Cesaro, Sheamus, Yoshi Tatsu, Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, Drew McIntyre, Alberto Del Rio, Santino Marella, Jinder Mahal, Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Natalya, Emma, Rosa Mendes, Layla, and Aksana.

(I feel like I should mention that I had no idea Rosa Mendes was born in Canada and not the United States prior to researching this question.)

2- And which was the one with most wrestlers born outside North America (US/Canada/Mexico)?

It’s Wrestlemania XXX again. Deduct the Canadians and one Mexican in the answer above, and you’ve got eleven wrestlers on the show born outside of North America.

I also found it interesting that a very early show – Wrestlemania II – finishes in second place in this category, with eight names to its credit, specifically Velvet McIntyre, Nikolai Volkoff, The British Bulldogs, Andre the Giant, The Iron Sheik, King Tonga (Haku), and Bruno Sammartino.

3- Which WM edition had the most match winners born outside USA? (and outside North America)

Wrestlemania III featured six wrestlers born outside the U.S. winning matches, so it takes the record here. The wrestlers in question are Rick Martel, Little Beaver, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, The Iron Sheik, and Nikolai Volkoff.

As far as winners from outside of North America are concerned, no Wrestlemania in history has what I would consider a high number of victories from competitors outside of the continent. Instead, several shows are tied for this record, with each one of them involving three non-N.A. grapplers taking home victories.

Those shows are: Wrestlemania I (Nikolai Volkoff, Iron Sheik, Andre the Giant); Wrestlemania II (The British Bulldogs & Andre the Giant); Wrestlemania VII (Davey Boy Smith, Genichiro Tenryu, Koji Kitao); and Wrestlemania XXVIII (Sheamus, Kane, Drew McIntyre).

4- Can you list all countries (and their wrestlers) outside USA (or outside North America if you wish) that competed in a WM?

Here goes!

Antigua and Barbuda (1): S.D. Jones

Argentina (1): Giant Gonzalez

Australia (1): Emma

Bulgaria (1): Rusev

Canada (33): Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Rick Martel, Jacques Rougeau, Raymond Rougeau, Dino Bravo, Owen Hart, Ronnie Garvin, Earthquake, Luna Vachon, Dink, Pierre Ouellet, Phil LaFon, Sniper (Truth Commission), Test, Val Venis, Edge, Christian, Chris Benoit, Trish Stratus, Rene Dupree, Gail Kim, Maryse Ouellet, Rosa Mendes, Natalya Neidhart, Santino Marella, Jinder Mahal, Tyson Kidd, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Viktor (Ascension), Tyler Breeze, Bobby Roode

Fiji (1): Jimmy Snuka

France (1): Andre the Giant

Ghana (1): Kofi Kingston

Guyana (1): Ezekiel Jackson

India (1): Great Khali

Iran (1): Iron Sheik

Ireland (4): Velvet McIntyre, Sheamus, Becky Lynch, Finn Balor

Italy (1): Bruno Sammartino

Japan (11): Little Tokyo, Akio Sato, Koji Kitao, Genichiro Tenryu, TAKA Michinoku, Sho Funaki, Ultimo Dragon, Tajiri, Yoshi Tatsu, Asuka, Shinsuke Nakamura

Lithuania (1): Aksana

Mexico (3): Essa Rios, Hector Guerrero (as the Gobbledy Gooker), Alberto Del Rio

New Zealand (2): Bushwacker Luke, Bushwacker Butch

South Africa (2): Justin Gabriel, Adam Rose

Spain (1): Kane

Switzerland (1): Antonio Cesaro

Tonga (2): Haku, The Barbarian

U.K. (10): Davey Boy Smith, Dynamite Kid, Lord Littlebrook, William Regal, Fit Finlay, Katie Lee Burchill, Layla El, Drew McIntyre, Wade Barrett, Paige

Yugoslavia (1): Nikolai Volkoff

Jeremy spoke out in Ask 411 today:

Am I crazy or do I remember a short lived stable in the early 2000s with Ric Flair, Chris Benoit and Eddy Guerrerro? I seem to recall them fighting with the Dudleys briefly. I also recall a promo where Flair looks at Eddy and just says, “You are so cool”.

Did I dream this?

Guerrero and Benoit actually spent most of the 2000s on opposite sides of the ring from one another, most notably in the Paul Heyman-booked “Smackdown Six” tag team division. However, before they jumped to Smackdown to participate in that epic feud, they were both members of the Raw roster following the company’s first-ever brand split.

Both men were heels at the time, and Ric Flair was the brand’s heel authority figure, so they were buddy-buddy with each other and interacted quite a bit despite never coming together as a formal stable. This did, in fact, include the “You are so cool” line that Jeremy remembers which is included in the video above.

Ultimately, the pairing didn’t go too far, with the most notable match of the Guerrero/Benoit tag team likely being a loss to Bubba Ray and Spike Dudley in an elimination tables match at the 2002 Vengeance pay per view. Very shortly thereafter, they were moved over to Smackdown as part of a roster shakeup where they initially continued teaming before moving on to do their own things without much incident.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers