wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: How Did CM Punk’s Walkout Get Daniel Bryan Into WrestleMania?

November 4, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
CM Punk’s CM Punk WWE - Batista CM Punk’s Booker

Heyo, welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling! I am your host, Mathew Sforcina, come on down and let’s have some fun! Or something.

Hope you had a good Halloween if you cared about it, and if not, I hope your Tuesday was good regardless.

Question? [email protected]!



Check out my Drabble blog, 1/10 of a Picture! The Lighteater one was really good, I thought.

Massive Q’s Facebook Page! It’s all really good here!

Me On Twitter~!
WWE Turn Alerts on Twitter~~!!

Feedback Loop

The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I beat the above in someone’s last televised match in a specific company. Most of my career has been under one name, or at least variations on a theme. The sole exception was when I was under a hood. I was eliminated in the first round by the eventual winners of a title tournament for a title that only 2 teams ever held. I once became a #1 contender to something by beating David Flair, of all people. I’ve won a set of tag titles pretty much by myself, but lost control of them before being stripped of it anyway. I’ve been in a line, a team, a club, a tune, and a five star match. Who am I?

Captain Mcgloo has the answer.

Who am I? I beat the above in someone’s last televised match
in a specific company. (tna in 2010) Most of my career has been under one name, or at least variations on a theme. The sole exception was when I was under a
hood. (Mr. Olympia) I was eliminated in the first round by the eventual winners of a
title tournament for a title that only 2 teams ever held. (wcw cruiserweight tag belts) I once became a #1 contender to something by beating David Flair, of all people. (his first try at the nwa belt in tna) I’ve won a set of tag titles pretty much by myself, but lost control of them before being stripped of it anyway. (with Jerry Lynn) I’ve been in a line, a team, a club, a tune, and a five star match. (frontline, air raid, bullet club, fortune styles vs daniels vs joe) Who am I? AJ Styles

Who am I? I was a part of the above’s debut matches, well, one of them. I’ve teamed with someone in two companies, albeit for one night in one company. I won a singles title that was vacated when the guy holding it became an authority figure. One of my signature/finisher moves takes its name from a town that a hall of famer hailed from, sort of. I’m the first and so far only man of a certain aspect to have held a specific world title, a man who replaced a Double A recently, and a man who Dolph Ziggler has sort of stolen from, I am who?

Getting Down To All The Business

Precious Paul Valiant starts us off with taking WWE to task for lying. Imagine that!

When advertising upcoming “special events,” announcers say they are “only on the wwe network” – they’re still on PPV too, right? Even during the TLC pre-show, Renee said TLC was “only on the wwe network.” How do they get away with this lie? Do PPV carriers not care that wwe is implying that viewers can’t order the shows on PPV, taking money away from them? Thanks in advance!

Huh. I had assumed that WWE was only doing one PPV a month, and the other one was a Network only thing, but looking into it, apparently they are indeed putting all the PPVs on, well, PPV.

I’m pretty sure at this point that the only people ordering PPV are those who don’t have the ability to use the Network, they don’t have streaming capabilities. Or they’re bars and such, maybe, I dunno. So those people aren’t going to be able to switch over, so it doesn’t matter.

But at a guess, I would say that WWE’s argument that PPVs are now a presentation of the WWE Network, the Network is what is putting them out, and therefore if you do buy the thing on PPV, you’re not technically buying the PPV anymore, you’re merely buying access to the Network via your cable provider for the duration. So technically the show is ‘only’ on the WWE Network, it’s just that there’s more than one way to get the Network.

Or it’s a catchall way to describe the entire arrangement that the cable companies don’t care enough about to pick a fight over.

HBK’s Smile, now that we’ve found it, asks about WM30’s main event.

Regarding the booking for WrestleMania XXX, many times I’ve heard it said that WWE called an audible with the main event due to two factors; the nonviability of an Orton-Batista main event, and the walkout of CM Punk. I totally get the Orton-Batista issue, but precisely how did Punk’s walkout lead to Bryan main-eventing? And what would have happened had Punk not walked out but Orton-Batista was still seen as nonviable?

Punk leaving didn’t put Bryan into the main event as such, it just shaped the way the main event went in terms of the storyline. The whole thing with Bryan and Triple H, the Authority beating Bryan down, leading into the match between Bryan and HHH where the winner went into the main event, that was only possible because HHH’s original opponent was going to be Punk, and then Punk left, thus giving HHH no match, and so WWE just smooshed the two together and got a hell of an Author’s Saving Throw, albeit one that didn’t pay off, alas.

If Punk hadn’t walked out, but Orton/DAVE wasn’t seen as working, they might well have combined the storylines anyway, just slightly differently. They probably would have positioned Punk and Bryan as reluctant partners, the Voice of the Voiceless, the Yes Movement, Team Indy, fighting the good fight against the Corporately Mandated ‘Correct’ main eventers. Punk/HHH had stips as it related to the main event, if HHH won it would be anything goes, no holds barred, all run ins, all the time happy Authority playtime, while if Punk won, the match would have everyone else banned from ringside, then Punk wins, Bryan wins, they redo the WM20 ending with Bryan and Punk hugging, and then change it up with Punk going heel on him because he wants the title and we get Bryan/Punk instead of Bryan/Kane for the brief period of time between WM and the point Bryan broke. That would be a hell of a visual, Bryan in tears, among the confetti, and then Punk kicking him right in the Mr. Small Package…

But would he be right to do it? Jeremy asks about logic in feuds.

Ideally during a feud, is babyface logic supposed to be greater than heel logic? Or is the logic of the face and heel supposed to be on equal footing, with heel logic just being a warped perspective? Or does it depend on the feud?

Wrestling logic is a weird thing, in that no matter how deep you go, no matter how hard you try to simplify and get down to even one single, undeniable logic concept, there’s going to be a counter-case where you have to throw it away. Wrestling is about two guys who don’t like each other, and a ring to settle it, but you can tell a compelling story with two guys who do like each other, or when one person doesn’t want to settle it, or when there’s a third man involved, so on and so forth.

When you use the term logic here, I presume you’re talking about their drives and motivations, how important it is that the heel or face’s motivations and worldview shapes the narrative. In any case, it’s less dependant on the feud, although that is important, as it is dependant on the characters of the wrestlers involved.

Some heels are purely animalistic, or at the very least have simple, clear objectives in their minds, which is to win matches, hurt people, get titles, whatever. Whereas some heels are nuanced, and depend on a worldview and a set of circumstances for them to interpret in a very specific way that leads them to become misguided and evil despite themselves. And there’s a range of levels and shades of heeldom between those two, and vice versa for heroes, from the pure, uncut red white and blue bleeding all American heroes to the Anti-Hero.

So the importance of the characters logic depends very much on the type of feud and the characters involved. Is the heel chasing the face, or vice versa? Is it a chance meeting that escalates into violence, or an old wound reopened? Does this lead into more stories later with other characters, or is this a one and done deal? Trying to designate and categorize every type of feud and character is impossible.

However, if you must have a general, one size fits most, ballpark rule, there is one. Wrestling is a form of storytelling, after all, and in storytelling, you usually require the antagonist to have a plan, to start things off. I would say that usually the heel is the one who needs a motivation, who needs the warped sense of reality, or a deranged mental state, or just some twisted, incorrect logic, to start things off. Because a face can always default to just reacting to the heel, a heel just reacting to the actions and logic of a babyface is an iffy proposition. Even with a case like Ric Flair, NWA World Champion, going around to every promotion and fighting the top stars, he still had a reason and logic there, it wasn’t a case of him just turning up to fulfil dates, he wanted to prove he was the best, to get more wins and thus money and thus girls and thus nice stuff. Guys wanted to fight him as much to beat Ric Flair specifically as they did want to become NWA World Champ.

So yeah, heel logic is usually more important, but then again, plenty of characters and feuds and storylines need babyfaces to be the one driving the story…

Frank takes us to one of WWE’s many failed experiments, Shotgun Saturday Night!

WWF/E has tried many forms of their shows especially in the 90s. One show that always stuck out for me was Shotgun Saturday Night, especially the episode that was done in Penn Station. I don’t remember anything like it since or before. Usually the entertainment in Penn Station is limited to homeless guys playing sticks on a bucket. My questions are –

1) How did this even get put together with New York City with this being one of the major transit hubs in the entire world?

I don’t know the specifics, however I do know that you can rent space in train stations and other transport hubs, you occasionally see stalls or other promotional set ups in stations and such, advertising new phones or insurance or whatever. Presumably WWF paid the New York Transit Authority, or whatever, a bunch of cash, and promised that they would allow transit to continue around them, and it all got worked out. They didn’t shut the place down, they just used a big open area.

2) How did they secure the talent from fans? I would imagine security had to be a nightmare, even in a pre 9/11 world.

In the above clip, you can see a few NYPD cops about the place, as well as normal WWF security you would assume. Yes, today there would be a lot more issues in terms of wanting to secure the place, but the point of this was to be edgy and different and to try and syphon off ECW’s buzz, so it had to be grungy and New York style, as long as no-one drew a gun, I don’t think they cared too much. The fans were drunk and chanted swears, but they weren’t aggressive, luckily.

3) What did they use for a dressing room? Did The Undertaker just show up to Penn Station dressed like The Undertaker?

I guess? D’Lo Brown, in a shoot interview, mentioned that he was told to turn up in a suit to the first one in order to eat a Pearl River Plunge onto a car, so maybe they were expected to get a hotel near to the venue and then just arrive in costume, or failing that WWF would have had a production truck or an area locked off for talent to be in before they went out. In nightclubs and such a backstage would be easy to arrange, Penn Station… I really don’t know. Anyone local to the area know someone who worked there 20 or so years ago by any chance?

Chris has an odd question.

Considering that we are coming up on no shave November, has any champion sported a sweet mustache, only. Besides The Iron Shiek?

… Is this because I had to shave for Halloween this year?

Ah, champion. That’s a kicker, because certainly there’s been plenty of moustached wrestlers in the past. Hell, Cody Rhodes’ gimmick for a bit there was ‘Has Moustache’.

But champions with a moustache? Sure, all the way back to Martin ‘Farmer’ Burns, World Catch-as-catch-can Champion, Hiroshi Hase and Rick Rude as WCW International Champions, Harley Race as 7 time champ, Dan Severn, NWA World Champ, Sgt Slaughter, Stan Hansen, Hulk Hogan sometimes… Plenty of people. Maybe more listed below!

Brendan wants to float a theory.

In previous articles you have answered questions about Flair/Hogan in ’91-’92 and why they ended up not facing each other at WM8. The popular assumption is that the match wasn’t drawing well at house shows, and as you mentioned, Flair just didn’t fit into early 90s WWF. This makes sense but I wanted to add another theory; was Vince afraid that fans would treat Flair like the baby face? In a house show from MSG, and at the Royal Rumble ’92, it seems like a lot of fans are behind Flair.

Yeah, that’s a part of it, certainly, in that Hogan was no longer purely as beloved as he once was, that’s part of the reason the house shows didn’t work out, as the fans didn’t buy it as Hogan standing up for the WWF against the invader who didn’t belong there. However, I don’t think it was a major part of it, Wrestlemania is fairly solidly behind Hogan, certainly back then, and with Flair I’m sure taking it as a personal insult if he was cheered on the day, had they continued it, I don’t think they would have expected a split crowd.

Hogan getting booed was part of the overall issues the company was facing, and thus did play a part, but wasn’t a major part, I don’t think.

Jon has a follow up from a while back.

Mat, following up on last week’s “most character names” question, I’m wondering who’s had the most different nicknames while still the same character. I’d have to think the runaway winner is Hunter Hearst Helmsley with HHH, The Game, the Cerebral Assassin, The King, The King of Kings, and The Connecticut Blue Blood. I wouldn’t count “Trips”, since the rest are all WWE-endorsed, licensed, etc. So who else is on the list? Taker comes to mind, but I’m sure there are more.

I know Steve Corino used to have a bit where the ring introduction would take minutes as he’d force them to rattle off a dozen or so nicknames for him, but I was unable to find it, but I would argue that if you count the nickname being used for them in the company in any context, that probably wins, technically.

Taker, according to Wikipedia, has 8 nicknames, all of them applied to The Undertaker, and that doesn’t even count stuff like Booger Red and The Best Pure Striker In the Business, if that counts as one. The Rock is at 6, while HBK is at 8 also, but that’s part of his list that he rattles off, so…

I think Taker probably wins in terms of nicknames other people used, but Corino wins the technical battle, assuming the list he had was as long as I remember it. Unless a reader can correct me.

Stuart has a simple enough question.

Did Shawn Michaels have more matches in the WWF (before his hiatus) or afterwards in the WWE?

Without sitting there and counting every appearance he has on historyofwwe.com (which no, I’m not doing, shut up), the best I can do is use profightdb as a rough guide, as Michaels falls neatly with the pre and post hiatus falling into the WWF/WWE divide, with the site happily listing them separately. And that shows HBK having 251 matches post hiatus, and 331 pre-hiatus. Which, as a rough guide, makes sense. His first run was fairly consistently heavy across the decade or so from his 1988 second debut through to his ‘retirement’ in 1998, albeit with gaps here and there due to suspensions and firings and lost smiles and such, while the second run from 2002 through to 2010 had long gaps at the start and then due to injury and such, as well as periods of only working big dates.

It is therefore my measured and educated guess that pre-hiatus had more matches then post-hiatus.

Yohannes has a question about dividing up the women.

This is my question for Ask 411. Supposed that you can classify WWE’s women wrestlers from main roster, NXT, and all Mae Young Classic participants into groups of : Main Eventers, Mid Cards, Cruiserweights, and Tag Teams; how do you think you can classify them into which groups ? For convenience sakes, let’s ignore the brand extension to make it easier.

So, if we were going to reverse the expectations of men V women in terms of their presentation? OK, well first off, there’s more than enough women signed to ignore the Mae Young Classic participants not signed, but if you want to include them, add in another rung called Openers. Likewise, there’s really no point to a cruiserweight division, as you either include everyone outside of Nia and Tamina, or you have maybe two women.

So, instead, here’s my breakdown of

Main Eventers

Alexa Bliss
Becky Lynch
Charlotte Flair
Sasha Banks

Mid Card

Abbey Laith
Alicia Fox
Dakota Kai
Kairi Sane
Lacey Evans
Mickie James
Nia Jax
Reina Gonzalez
Rhea Ripley
Ruby Riot

Lower Card

Bianca Belair
Jessie Elaban
Liv Morgan
Mandy Rose
Taynara Conti
Vanessa Borne

Tag Teams

Aliyah/Ember Moon
Billie Kay/Peyton Royce
Dana Brooke/Sage Beckett
Sarah Logan/Nikki Cross
Sonya Deville/Shayna Baszler
The Bella Twins

I’m sure your list would be different.

Dave has an actually simple one.

What are your favorite all-time botches?

Mostly stuff that isn’t painful or dangerous. So stuff like Mean Gene and the sign, Sid Vicious’s half a brain, the entire Hogan/Warrior 2 match.

And, of course, The Shockmaster.

Actual painful stuff like Sid’s leg or Brock’s SSP and such tends to bother me more than be entertaining or enjoyable. I can get some sort of enjoyment from something going wrong and things being embarrassing for the people involved, if it’s funny. But stuff that is painful, or risk of injury? That bothers and bugs me a fair bit, I guess just from self-preservation. I dunno.

You’re still cool Maffew though, keep on keeping on dude.

Joey Joe Joe Shabadoo asks how a fan can really show displeasure.

Love the column – still the best part of my (wrestling) week. Question for you about fan apathy. Excluding the marvelous Cesaro v. Beach Ball match at Summer Slam, it seems like fan indifference can sometimes run rampant. I remember a RAW match in 2011 (?) with Randy Orton v. Sheamus – and the fans loooudly chanted “this is boring.” I think I heard similar “boring” chants during the Cass v. Show: Battle for the One True Big match. I believe in the past you’ve written that the best things fans can do to show their displeasure with a match/company’s direction would be to turn their backs on the match, in silence. Given that would require mass coordination, what can the average fan do to voice his or her displeasure with a match? I certainly don’t mean that fans should shit all over wrestlers who are trying their hardest – but it seems like there should be some constructive way to let producers, agents, Vince, etc. know that the match being put on is not in any way something the fans want to see.

At least in regards to the WWE, the problem is that it no longer matters, to some degree, how the live fans react. Yes, WWE wants a specific reaction, yes, WWE will do what they can to adjust it, yes, if the fans really really REALLY push for something they might get their way, if they’re lucky, but the last quarter for WWE was insanely profitable, thanks to all the money coming in that’s independent of the live crowd. So even if we could coordinate a mass turning of the back thing, unless it happened every show, every time whoever it was was in the ring, they’d just wave it off as a fluke or the fans having fun or whatever BS excuse they want and keep on telling the story they want to because it no longer seems to matter about making the fans happy, or at least making the fans feel like they are having an impact in the story, which is the goal of wrestling, after all.

And the problem with the nuclear option, which is to just not attend, to stay home, to let WWE play to smaller and smaller crowds, is that doing that doesn’t directly indicate who we’re upset with, WWE and Vince can, and will, blame whoever they want for that. If everyone stopped going to wrestling, suddenly it would be because we all got sick of women wrestling or it’s all Daniel Bryan’s fault or they’re just not pushing Roman Reigns hard enough.

The only option that really has any legs and that doesn’t require the same level of mass coordination as turning around does is basically weaponizing the popcorn match concept. Also known as a cool down match, a popcorn match is designed to be inoffensive at worst, but not super important, so that the fans, if they want to, can go get popcorn or go to the bathroom or whatever, during a part of the show that they don’t care as much about.

So, if you truly don’t appreciate a match or a wrestler, if they come out, get up, walk away. Go to the bathroom, go get a drink, just stretch your legs, leave an empty seat and one less reaction. It’s not perfect, it’ll be ignored for the most part, but unlike needing to get everyone involved, it can be done by parts of the audience on their own and still have some impact. WWE are getting more and more careful about filming the arenas to avoid tarped off areas? Make them film everything in close up because half the seats are empty.

And on that call to revolution, of sorts, I bring this edition of Ask 411 Wrestling to a close for now. Come back next week for slightly more, hopefully!