wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Has Chris Jericho Had the Most Number Of Successful Gimmicks?

December 4, 2023 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Chris Jericho AEW Dynamite 12-4-19 Image Credit: AEW

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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This week, we’re going to do something different. I normally have quite a backlog of questions for this column, but for the last few weeks it’s gotten bigger than usual. In reviewing the Word document of questions that I keep on hand, I noticed that were quite a few questions that I had been avoiding simply because I didn’t have that much to say in response to them.

As a result, I’ve decided that today we are going to run through an ASK 411 WRESTLING LIGHTNING ROUND~! These are questions for which I have uncharacteristically brief answers, though I’ll answer more queries this week than is normal to make sure you the reader have about the same amount of content and to help clear out a bit of my catalog of q’s.

I did use this lightning round gimmick once before several years ago, and it resulted in several negative comments claiming that I was being too dismissive of the questions. Hopefully in this second attempt I can manage to not be as much of a dick.

Here goes!

It’s Shaun on Shawn:

Is “Chad Frost” in The Young Rock meant to represent Shawn Michaels?


Sebkane4 is a real American, I assume:

Just saw your reply about Hogan being a big star before going to the WWF. If I recall, you’re not a big fan of fantasy/what if questions but I’ll ask anyway. What if Verne Gagne had kept Hogan and put the title on him, pushing him as the face of the company? I’m more curious as to who you think they could’ve put against Hogan back then and how it would possibly affect the NWA and obviously the WWF. In short, do you think Verne (or his son Greg) had it in him to run with it to huge success or drop the ball?

Honestly, I suspect the WWF would have won the territorial war in time anyway, not because of any particular talent or because of Vince McMahon’s booking prowess but because they were based in New York, which is one of the media capitals of the world.

As far as a replacement for Hogan in the Fed, this has been covered many in many different places over the years, and I think I’ve written about it at least once before, but commonly named candidates to headline for McMahon if Hulk couldn’t do it include Jimmy Snuka, Dusty Rhodes, or a Von Erich.

Jason is a sensation:

When we see wrestlers backstage talking to each other, what does WWE want us to think? Do the wrestlers know they’re on camera? Are we like a fly on the wall watching these wrestlers?

There has been some limited variance in this over the years, but it seems we’ve settled on the convention being that the cameras aren’t actually there in the kayfabe universe.

Andrew is going into business for himself:

I was watching an episode of ICW Wrestling on YouTube. Channel was Pro-Wrestling Roots and was titled ICW from 1986. In the middle of it some woman came on claiming to be the owner of ICW and offering franchise opportunities to own a piece of ICW. Can you find out anything more about this? Were you buying a small territory? Did anyone actually buy in? My guess is the Buzz Sawyer wrestling school was more legit than ICW franchise.

I was not able to find any concrete information on this, but, given the time and the context, I presume that you were just buying the rights to run independent shows and promote them under the ICW name, probably for a one-time fee plus a percentage of your gates. In exchange, I would guess that you would receive promotion on their television and perhaps some limited access to talent. That is the closet thing that I can think of for a wrestling “franchise” would be, applying the definition of the word used in the restaurant industry, where the model is probably most common.

Donny from Allentown just made his own interception:

Mr. Perfect was a last minute replacement for the Ultimate Warrior who was fired right before the 1992 Survivor Series due to steroids. Had the Warrior not been fired any word or rumor on how or when Mr. Perfect was going to make his wrestling comeback?

Not really in terms of specifics, though it was generally acknowledged through 1992 that he was working towards coming back at some point.

Fortunately, this Damion was not squashed by Earthquake:

What would your reaction be if Sami Zayn became the leader of the Judgment Day and reveals he’s been working for Roman Reigns all along (he takes Seth’s title and hands it to Roman or maybe finger poke of doom in a match)?

They can add Bron Breaker and Main Event Jimmy, Cody and even Seth can get some major props as the faces against them. Mostly Jimmy though to complete the storyline.

Not my cup of tea, to be honest. I intensely dislike any storyline that involves one wrestler handing a title over to another, because it undercuts the importance of the championship. A title is supposed to be the ultimate goal a wrestler can accomplish, and portraying it as anything less makes an audience question why they should care about any storyline involving it going forward.

PushRomanReigns is pushing us down under the canvas:

I remember in the 2000’s when watching Smackdown (or maybe I saw it on WWE.com) there was a time WWE mentioned that they were going to show Hornswoggle’s home under the ring. I don’t ever recall them doing it. Any idea what was planned or why it was scrapped?

I presume that they were referencing this display that was part of Wrestlemania Fan Axxess back in 2010:

Hey, let’s go back to Donny from Allentown again:

I have heard and read over the years how incredibly smart Paul Heyman is. Can that intellect be questioned back in 1996 when he brought in Kurt Angle to schmooze him into working for him while having him witness a live angle in which one of Heyman’s talents is literally crucified (Sandman) by another talent (Raven). Was this foolish on the Wise Man’s part or was he just being arrogant to how Angle would react?

I think it was just a miscalculation as to how offensive the angle would be to some people. Like Heyman, I’m not a Christian, and I think if you walked up to me in the mid-1990s and said, “Hey, they’re going to crucify a wrestler in ECW,” I probably would not have thought it was a bit edgy but not so edgy that there would have to be a live, out of character apology almost immediately after it happened.

Yohannes is asking about pro wrestling’s Flying Dutchman:

Do you know who is Chris Van Vliet? He seems to be able to do interviews with a lot of wrestlers in WWE and also out of WWE, asking a lot of questions that I doubt will be allowed by WWE themselves. Does he has some kind of insider connection or what?

There’s not some huge backstory. He’s just a journalist who was able to amass an impressive resume and social media following independently of pro wrestling, and he is a fan, so he’s used his platform to interview wrestlers. Because he is a mainstream journalist, WWE likely gives him a bit more leeway than they give others, because WWE craves mainstream attention.

Mladen is burning his Burberry scarf:

AEW is, once again, trying to capture “lightning in a bottle” with Wardlow after halting his momentum a few times already. Will this most recent push be successful?

Probably not. I think there’s been too much start and stop for fans to take this guy seriously without something significant happening, most likely a gimmick overhaul and/or a lengthy period of time off television. Honestly, if I were putting together a top ten list of wrestlers who could benefit by jumping from AEW to WWE, Wardlow would be near the top. (Please don’t ask me to put together that list.)

It’s our old friend Uzoma:

Why didn’t Impact Wrestling book Christopher Daniels to win their World Championship in the 2000s and 2010s?

It is fairly evident that, in the 2000s, Impact’s strategy was to grow their promotion by focusing on wrestlers who had success elsewhere. With the exception of AJ Styles, those were the guys who held their world title.

As to the 2010s, Daniels actually wasn’t in Impact for a good chunk of the decade. The company cut him from his full-time contract early in 2010. They brought him back after only a few months, but he parted ways with the company again in 2014. For that four-year period, Impact mostly had him pegged as a tag team wrestler.

Stromi rhymes with “body”:

In 1985, Jesse Ventura was forced to retire due to illness/injury. He was just starting up a possible feud with commentator Bruno Sammartino when that happened. Any info or thoughts on how that was planning to go if Jesse didn’t leave? Was Bruno going to wrestle again?

Almost certainly yes. Sammartino was still active in the ring at the time, teaming with his son David in 1985 and becoming a regular opponent for Randy Savage in 1986 and 1987. So, it’s not quite right to say that he would wrestle “again” because he hadn’t really yet stopped wrestling at this point.

This one from Dylan goes out to all the ladies in the room:

In a local Australian newspaper there was an article recently about Rhea Ripley. It said she was on her way to being, if not already, the most successful women’s wrestler of all time. Most successful already seems like quite a stretch, but who knows what the future holds. Who would you consider the most successful female wrestler of all time to be?

Manami Toyota. She is legitimately considered one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time regardless of gender, and she headlined major shows in venues like the Yokohama Area, Sumo Hall, and the Nippon Budokan. She as a success from both a business standpoint and an in-ring standpoint in a way that few to no other women in wrestling have been able to match.

Bryan is going dark:

There are two topics I thought of, and I was wondering if they could be on Dark Side of the Ring: Eddie Gilbert, for his experience as booker, marriage to Missy Hyatt, and sowing the seeds for ECW and tragic death. Then, Perry Saturn, his heroic act that led to his addiction and eventual recovery. Do you think these would be good? And what do YOU want to see?

I think the Gilbert episode would be viable because he has an entire career of ups and downs and wild moments that could fill out fort-five minutes. Regarding Saturn, the “dark side” issues he had really took place when he was already largely done with wrestling, at least on a national level. I think that would make it difficult to get a full episode out of him since he wasn’t really a wrestler at his darkest point. He was just a dude.

As far as other potential episodes go, there are tons. One that immediately springs to mind is Ken Patera, following his trajectory from Olympian to pro wrestler and the incident that lead to his stay in prison in the mid-1980s. Plus, though I don’t know what kind of shape he’s in, Patera is still living, so it would be nice to get some reflections on his career recorded while he is still here.

I hear Big Al is a heckuva carpenter:

On what seems like every Raw and Smackdown review we hear about this wrestler or that wrestler being underutilized. Whether it be Chad Gable, Ali, Ricochet, etc. However, aren’t these guys in the position to put people over? I mean isn’t there a place for the Brooklyn Brawlers, Virgils, and Skinners of the world? Not everybody can trade wins as it would get old fast. I know you don’t wish for anyone to be fired but you listed a few names who you thought probably should. Maybe make them glorified jobbers (although Baron Corbin) basically is now.

I think you’re 100% correct regarding so-called “underutilized” wrestlers. My position has long been that you need talented performers at every level of the card, which is going to result in some skilled performers headlining while others are perennially second or third match guys.

Ticking Time Bomb Taz is engaging in some fantasy booking:

I have had this idea for a long about John Cena breaking Ric Flair’s record. In my booking, Cena goes on an extended losing streak and can’t win the big one. He then turns heel and wins the title by nefarious means. This would get him tremendous heat. My booking is similar to Hogan finally turning bad and starting the nWo. Years ago, I thought this same idea in concept was the perfect way to end Undertaker’s streak. You want legit heat, you destroy something that the people love. Since “the Streak” is no longer an option, do you see this happening and finally giving us an extended run with heel Cena? I feel this would be a tremendous way to start a new “boom” period in pro wrestling. Old Cena fans will tune in to see his new character. Similar to how Old Hogan fans jumped back on the bandwagon.

Yeah, this isn’t happening. Cena is a part-timer at this point, and, though we’ll probably see him in a WWE ring again, he’s not going to have a long enough run to make this idea impactful.

Madness74 has been indicted by the federal government:

What happened to Warrior at WM8? I was there live and watched it numerous times. He was so tiny! Many in the crowd around me didn’t think it the real him. Between being small and Hogan guiding him, it seemed Warrior was out of sorts. Was it just jitters and lack of icopro?

The WWF was starting up its steroid testing around this period of time. You can draw your own conclusions from there.

Where there’s Will, there’s a question:

I was watching some ole Mid Atlantic Wrestling shows from the early 80s and The Bricsos keep popping up in matches and interviews. For the life of me I can’t figure out their appeal. They seem totally average in looks, size and skill, and terribly boring on the mic. Honestly they seem like they should have been jobbers. So what was the deal with Jack and Gerry? Was there some nepotism going on or some other behind the scenes reason for their continued pushes?

I think this is just an instance of your personal tastes being out of line with what the majority of fans were looking for in the era. Jack had been the NWA World Heavyweight Champion from mid-1973 through the end of 1975, so he had all the chops to be a major star during this period. Plus, the feud between the Briscos and Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood – which I assume was occurring around the times of the shows you were watching – drew quite a bit of money on live events and resulted in matches that were critically acclaimed.

In other words, the Briscos were pushed because people wanted to see them wrestle.

Ray is changing his spots:

Who has had the most, successful gimmicks? I’d consider the Undertaker has the Deadman, American Badass, and most likely a couple more successful gimmicks, but he also had Mean Mark, Booger-red and other not so successful gimmick.

My guess would be Chris Jericho. He has changed his gimmick a few times and is still reinventing himself and most of his gimmicks have been money.

Yeah, it’s Jericho. This is an instance in which a reader has written in answering their own question and, frankly, I do not have much if anything of note that I can add to what they have already said.

Trevor has a project:

When did the first match of a PPV transition from being a “curtain jerker” to a respected spot on the card? Was it a particular match or a series of them?

I don’t think it really has. I think that line is just something wrestlers who were working the opening match of the card started telling themselves so that they felt better. There certainly is something to the notion a hot opening match can help get a crowd rolling for the rest of the show, but in a perfect world you still want your opening bout to be “lesser” so that it doesn’t outshine the headlining matches. Stealing the show from the main event is great for the guy who did it but lousy for the card as a whole.

It’s Kristian on Cole:

I’ve got a question regarding the bizarre love/hate relationship between Michael Cole and Daniel Bryan from 2010-2014.

I remember when Daniel Bryan was an NXT contestant in 2010 and for the first couple years in WWE, Michael Cole acted like his #1 hater. Of course this was during Cole’s time as a weasel commentator.

But then it seemed almost right before Summerslam 2013 with the birth of the Authority, Michael Cole practically changed his tune overnight and was now Daniel Bryan’s #1 fanboy. Was there any storyline explanation for such a drastic change in attitude or was this a matter of Cole becoming a face commentator, so now he roots for the good guys?

Not really.

What turned Michael Cole back to a face was Jerry Lawler’s legitimate on-air heart attack and how Cole handled the immediate aftermath. It was a rare (but not totally unheard of) situation in which a real life event makes it almost impossible for audiences to boo a wrestling personality, so the promotion just goes with it.

We’re back to Uzoma:

Had Batista changed his mind about leaving the WWE in 2010, would he had not lost to John Cena in three straight pay-per-views?

Yup. What you saw was a classic example of a wrestler putting somebody over on his way out the door.

Night Wolf the Wise is a loose cannon:

1. We all know that during the Attitude Era, Stone Cold was the face of the WWF with the Rock being the #2 guy. If Brian Pillman had not died, where would you have seen him ranked?

I see him being exactly where he was before he died. High mid-card.

2. Speaking of Pillman in the Attitude Era, at some point he would have clashed with Stone Cold for the WWF Title. Do you think Vince would have booked him to join the Corporation like the Rock did, or would they have kept him unaligned?

First off, I don’t know that an Austin/Pillman championship match was a given. There’s no indication that his career was on that sort of trajectory before he passed. Keep in mind he died in the middle of a feud with Goldust that was entertaining but was not exactly positioning anyone involved to be a top star.

3. What kind of draw and rating do you think an Austin/Pillman rivalry would have had?

I think it would have done almost exactly what Austin’s other feuds with guys like Mankind and the Undertaker did. Steve Austin was the draw in those rivalries, and he was going to do major business almost regardless of who his opponent was.

Jonfw2 is going on and on:

With Vince McMahon’s…let’s generously say…repetitive style of calling matches is “what a maneuver!” the most used phrase by an announcer in wrestling history? What else might be up there as a possibility?

I’m going to guess that Michael Cole’s catchphrases have been used far more than Vinnie Mac’s just by virtue of the fact that the shows Cole calls are longer than the ones Vince did and he’s therefore had more opportunities to use them.

Therefore, the uses of “building momentum” and “Raw rolls on” probably outnumber “What a maneuver!”

Tyler from Winnipeg is feeling pent up:

Becky Lynch versus Nia Jax, main event on a Smackdown in a steel cage. Thoughts?

Sounds terrible. I can’t think of a single match that I want to see Nia Jax in.

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.