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Ask 411 Wrestling: Did WWE Ever Rig the Voting For Cyber Sunday & Taboo Tuesday?

October 9, 2023 | Posted by Ryan Byers
WWE Taboo Tuesday 2004 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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Michael likes a good Scotch:

Why was Roddy Piper always brought back for Wrestlemania and usually for odd reasons? I mean, the Piper Pits I can see to a degree, but one he was a guest bagpiper, and, my personal favorite, when he suddenly was Virgil’s best friend? I mean, he’s basically gone all year and then suddenly they just brought him back for Mania and usually with an odd role.

Wrestlemania is the WWF’s biggest show of the year.

Because it’s their biggest show of the year, they try to get major stars on the show in just about any role that they can, even if those major stars are not part of the current roster.

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper is one of the biggest stars in the history of the WWF, and that was even more true in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Thus, because Roddy Piper was one of the biggest stars in company history and the WWF likes having major stars on Wrestlemania, the WWF always tried to get Roddy Piper on Wrestlemania, even if it meaned shoehorning him in because he didn’t want to wrestle or have a logical opponent that year.

It really is just that simple.

Tyler from Winnipeg is quizzing me:

What was the downfall of Test? Seems like he had a pretty good spot at times.

Oxycodone. He died from an accidental overdose.

I’m pretty sure that PushRomanReigns is getting what he voted for:

Love your work. Long time reader and have asked 1 or 2 Qs in the past. Been on 411 for about 15 years, but rarely comment.

My query is around Cyber Sunday / Taboo Tuesday.

I remember that Ric Flair and some legends were feuding with the Spirit Squad. The vote was to see who teams with Flair against Spirit Squad. The choices being Dusty, Piper and Slaughter. I remember WWE promoting this and Dusty was prominently featured, but Piper ended up winning the vote. Piper and Flair won the tag titles, but then quickly dropped them when Piper was found to have a lymphoma. I read that Piper didn’t have a physical until after the event. Why didn’t WWE do Piper’s physical until after the match? What would’ve been the plan if Dusty or Slaughter won the vote?

Were there many other big surprises that the WWE got at Taboo Tuesday / Cyber Sunday? Was it ever rigged or was it genuinely a fan vote?

And finally, in this digital age, do you personally think WWE should bring back the concept? I loved it and think it would be really interesting today. On the current roster, what would you book as the top 3 matches and the fan choices to vote on?

The voting for the Taboo Tuesday / Cyber Sunday matches was legitimate, as will become evident when we discuss some more specifics of the event further down in this answer. Of course, WWE promoted the matches and selected the options in such a way that the audience would be guided to a particular answer, but the voters did not always take the bait.

You are correct that, at least according to issue #594 of Figure Four Weekly, WWE’s preferred result would have been Dusty Rhodes teaming with Ric Flair to defeat the Spirit Squad for the company’s Tag Team Titles at the 2006 installment of Cyber Sunday. I can only suspect that the WWE fanbase was more interested in voting Piper in because he was a WWF guy who they had more nostalgia for as opposed to Dusty, who didn’t have the same level of bona fides with the promotion. Given that Piper and Flair quickly dropped the straps to Edge and Randall Keith Orton who then went on to feud with D-Generation X, I cannot imagine that the plans would have been any different had either Slaughter or Rhodes won the fan vote.

As to the issue of Piper’s physical, this is the first I’ve heard of that, but if the story is true I can only assume that the medical exam came after the pay per view because WWE was not expecting him to win the vote and only had the Hot Rod checked out once they realized he was going to be on the road as one half of their Tag Champs.

Moving to concepts related to Cyber Sunday more generally, most of the fan votes were pretty inconsequential. (In the grand scheme of things, who cares if a tag match is under Texas tornado rules or is a fatal four way?) However, there were surprises. During the first ever Taboo Tuesday, fans were allowed to select one of fifteen men to wrestle Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship. Shelton Benjamin won the legitimate fan vote, which seems odd in retrospect given that Dave Batista was also among the options. It turns out that Jericho had no idea who his opponent would be until he was in the ring, nor did he know that he would be losing the title. That was all communicated to Y2J in the moment, and he called the match with Shelton in the ring.

Should the PLE based around fan voting return?

That depends. The main reason that WWE pulled the plug on Cyber Sunday was because it just didn’t do good business. Fans weren’t willing to purchase a show when they didn’t know for sure what the card was going to be, which is something that has also been demonstrated when only two or three matches on an eight match show have been promoted in advance. If you were to look at things that way, you would quickly reach the conclusion that the show should not be pulled out of the mothballs.

On the other hand, things are a bit different now. Fans in WWE’s largest market no longer pay for pay per views, instead paying a base subscription fee to Peacock with no additional charges. I do not think we have solid data as to whether that makes fans more or less likely to tune into shows when they don’t know the card but intuitively one would think knowing the contents of the show is less important when you are making a lesser financial investment in it. If that is true, then bringing back the fan voting might be a fun gimmick to break up the monotony that one sometimes experiences when watching modern WWE.

Donny from Allentown gets nervous if his car door closes too quickly:

From July to October 1991 in WCW, was Barry Windham a heel or a face? Still not sure why was he on Halloween Havoc team with heels that night but arrived at the arena with a babyface Dustin Rhodes?

During that period, I would call Windham a heel who was in the process of turning face. That turn began at the 1991 Great American Bash pay per view, which most reading this will remember was the show that got upended by Ric Flair’s departure from the company. Windham, then solidly a heel, was moved form a six person tag match into the main event for the vacant WCW Championship, facing babyface Lex Luger. However, Luger turned heel during the course of the match, aligning himself with new manager Harley Race and new bodyguard Mr. Hughes.

Even though Luger clearly turned in that bout, Windham didn’t go full face right away. Instead, for a period of time he continued the program he had against face Brian Pillman, who was wrestling under a mask as the Yellow Dog. However, he also rematched with Luger in numerous title bouts, seeking revenge in a face-ish manner, including teaming up with Ron Simmons and later Dustin Rhodes to help counter Mr. Hughes.

Though those matches were occurring mostly on the house show circuit, there were still television matches airing in which Windham was a heel, so it was not entirely out of line for him to team up with bad guys at Halloween Havoc. However, he legitimately injured his arm prior to the show and was pulled from the card for that reason, which lead to him taking some time off and eventually returning as a full-on babyface.

Sim is hurting:

I’ve recently rewatched John Cena vs. Umaga in their 2007 Royal Rumble last man standing match, and part of the story going in was that Umaga had put Cena through a table, and to sell that, Cena went into the match sporting bandages around his waist.

I remember during that era, using bandages was very common, especially to sell the brutality of certain types of matches (for example, right after the first MITB match, or the Elimination chamber matches).

Why is it practically nonexistent nowadays do you think? It’s a basic wresting trope that adds a lot to the stories and work even within the PG constraints.

Cody Rhodes for example used it twice recently, once with Brock, and, although unplanned, once with Seth (HIAC), which i think helped massively in propelling him into being arguably the most popular babyface today.

I think what you’re seeing is part of an overall trend in which selling injuries isn’t as big a part of professional wrestling as it once was.

Particularly in WWE, the industry seems to want to portray wrestlers as indestructible super-humans as opposed to real people, to the point that, a couple of years ago, Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer noted during a podcast that members of the WWE roster were instructed to not sell injuries from prior matches during their entrance . . . apparently because the company thinks that a big part of the reason fans tune in to shows is to see the entrances. Additionally, it is exceedingly rare anymore that wrestlers are off television for weeks at a time to put over kayfabe injuries.

With selling down in general, it’s no surprise that bandages and other forms of marking storyline shortcomings are down in general. Cody Rhodes, meanwhile, appears to be interested in taking the sort of old school approach that he knows worked well in making his father one of the biggest stars in the history of the industry.

Mark K. is rewriting the book:

I’m not sure if you would want to do a what if question but here it goes:

What if Roman Reigns does not come back to work after his cancer scare? What would the WWE landscape be right now?

I would love to read your take on this.

I honestly don’t think that it would be that different. Probably the primary beneficiary in such a situation would be Seth Franklin Rollins, who has been the number two guy in the promotion for a while now and would likely become their primary focus if his former Shield partner weren’t around to overshadow him.

JonFW2 is driving me to the brink of madness:

Ryan, a Monday Night Wars challenge for you, sir. Convince me to watch Nitro every Monday without mentioning the NWO or luchadors.

So I may have taken this challenge a bit more literally than Jon wanted me to, because what I’ve done is gone through Nitro week-by-week to try to convince you, my gentle readers, to watch each and every episode of the show within the parameters that Jon has prescribed.

Of course, that takes a substantial amount of time and column space, so what I’ve done for this week is focus just on 1996, beginning with the episode that Scott Hall debuted on and continuing through the end of the year. If people (including me) decide that they like this concept, I will move forward with it.

Also, a note regarding the term “luchador.” I decided to define that word fairly broadly for purposes of this column. This means that I included Rey Misterio Jr. and Eddy Guerrero as luchadors, even though they were both born in the United States. I also included Ultimo Dragon as a luchador because, even though he is from Japan and did train some there, he spent a substantial amount of time in Mexico and integrated that heavily into his style. Finally, I included Hector Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero Jr. as luchadors, too, even though they really wrestled a much more U.S. style than the luchadors of the era. I did this mainly because I didn’t want people in the comment section telling me that I shouldn’t have written about them.

With those ground rules established, here we go . . .

June 3, 1996: The Rock n’ Roll Express have a nineteen minute match against Ric Flair and Arn Anderson! To top that off, Bobby Heenan tells the world that, though he may be retired from managing, he will make a one-night comeback to “coach” Flair and Anderson against NFL players Kevin Greene and Steve McMichael at the upcoming Great American Bash! It’s a great time for fans of tag team wrestling and classic managers.

June 10, 1996: The show is sandwiched by interesting matches, as tag team wrestlers who would eventually become singles stars tie it up in the opener with Booker T. wrestling Scott Steiner – a match that just five years later would be for the World Heavyweight Championship. Closing the show, Flair and Anderson are back, this time doing battle with WCW Tag Team Champions Sting and Lex Luger.

June 17, 1996: Randy Savage. Ric Flair. Two absolute legends lock it up in singles action and have a twelve-minute rematch of half the Wresltemania VIII double main event.

June 24, 1996: Remember Flair & Anderson versus the Rock n’ Roll Express and how much you liked that? Well, how about Anderson and Chris Benoit against the RnR’s? On top of that, we’ve got a three-way with the biggest teams in the company for the WCW Tag Titles, as Sting & Luger again defend, this time against the Steiner Brothers and Harlem Heat.

July 1, 1996: This is more trivia than anything else, but do you want to see one of the oddest foreign objects in all of pro wrestling history? On this episode of Nitro, Disco Inferno wins by taking the disco ball that was part of his entrance and swinging it into his opponent by a wrecking ball. In another odd trivia note, his opponent was Kurasawa, who New Japan Pro Wrestling fans will recognize as a very young Manabu Nakanishi. Yes, Nakanishi gets taken down by a disco ball.

July 8, 1996: It’s the first Nitro after the 1996 Bash at the Beach! Also, in the main event, two WCW stalwarts go at it when Sting faces Arn Anderson! The two men have a fun TV match which even has a clean finish – don’t get used to those in 90s WCW.

July 15, 1996: Two absolute badasses lock horns when Meng wrestles Arn Anderson one-on-one in a unique singles match, just a couple of years after being partners in Col. Rob Parker’s Studd Stable. Also, Madusa wrestles one of her few matches after her controversial debut, defeating Matt Riddle whistleblower Malia Hosaka.

July 22, 1996: Do you like wrestling that’s so bad it’s good? If so, you don’t want to miss this card, because it’s one of only four televised matches – and the only Nitro match – of Dungeon of Doom member Braun the Leprechaun. Yes, somebody decided it would be a good idea to take Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker of the State Patrol and dress him up like a stereotypical Irishman. (No truth to the rumor that this is where Braun Strowman got his name.)

July 29, 1996: The Four Horsemen are in six man tag team action, with Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, and Steve McMichael facing off against the all-star team of Lex Luger, Randy Savage, and Sting. As an added bonus, the Horsemen are in the era where they have a trio of valets: Miss Elizabeth, Woman, and Debra McMichael. Sometimes their antics are just as good as what’s going on in the ring.

August 5, 1996: In a pair of unique matches featuring talented wrestlers, Randy Savage enters the ring with Lord Steven (eventually William) Regal, while Harlem Heat, managed by the bombastic duo of Sister Sherri and Col. Rob Parker, defend their WCW Tag Team Titles against the Rock n’ Roll Express.

August 12, 1996: Ric Flair and Randy Savage are wrestling each other in singles action again, and I’m never not going to put that over as something to watch. If that isn’t enough, the Steiner Brothers and Harlem Heat continue their prolific feud with the Heat’s WCW Tag Team Titles on the line.

August 19, 1996: In a battle of great technical wrestlers, Dean Malenko locks horns with Steven Regal in a rare match. Also, though it’s quick, Chris Benoit faces Bobby Eaton in contest featuring two revolutionary wrestlers from different eras.

August 26, 1996: WCW’s tag team division continues to deliver in a big way, as Eric Bischoff apparently hasn’t decided to kill it dead yet. In the main event, Lex Luger and Sting face Chris Benoit and Steve McMichael. This headlining bout is supported underneath by the Steiner Brothers against the Blue Bloods and the other half of the Horsemen, Arn Anderson and Ric Flair, rematching against the Rock n’ Roll Express.

September 2, 1996: In cruiserweight action, Dean Malenko grapples with Chris Jericho as part of a feud that would really put Jericho on the map. In the main event, we’ve got a rare heel versus heel faction warfare match, with the Four Horsemen of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit, and Steve McMichael throwing down agianst the Dungeon of Doom of Kevin Sullivan, Big Buba, and the Faces of Fear.

September 9, 1996: This match isn’t good, but it’s one of those that is so bizarre you have to see it yourself. The Faces of Fear – a.k.a. Meng and the Barbarian – look to pick up a win against South Philadelphia thugs the Public Enemy. It’s tables versus Tongan death grips in a match that somehow runs over ten minutes.

September 16, 1996: Two of WCW’s young guns, Chris Jericho and Marcus Alexander Bagwell, get an opportunity to mix it up with a couple of grizzled veterans when they face Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in tag action. Plus, in an odd historical footnote, Glacier makes his Monday Nitro debut – at long last – facing Big Bubba.

September 23, 1996: Did you remember that Public Enemy are former WCW World Tag Team Champions? Well, they are. Their blink-and-you-miss-it title reign starts here, as they upset champions Harlem Heat.

September 30, 1996: Chris Jericho again gets to sit underneath the learning tree with one of the Four Horsemen, as he faces Arn Anderson in singles competition. Also, in a hard hitting match between two of WCW’s toughest, Chris Benoit looks to defeat Rick Steiner.

October 7, 1996: Benoit and Steiner rematch, and this week they get significantly more time to do their thing. Plus, Jeff Jarrett is on this show now if you’re into that sort of thing.

October 14, 1996: Dean Malenko and Brad Armstrong open the show in a match between one of wrestling’s great technicians and one of its greatly underrated technicians. Malenko even wins with a unique pinning combination as opposed to his finisher to put over the “Man of 1,000 Holds” gimmick.

October 21, 1996: Again, if you like the weirder side of wrestling, this show gets freakin’ weird. The Fantastics – yes, Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton – are somehow on national television in the 1990s. Former Heavenly Body Jimmy Del Ray tries to convince us that he is now a youthful street punk named Jimmy Graffiti. Plus, Lex Luger gets the 400+ Road Block up on the Torture Rack.

October 28, 1996: Booker T. gets a singles main event for one of the first times in his career, and his opponent is Lex Luger. Meanwhile, in a head scratching move, Dean Malenko defends the WCW Cruiserweight Title against Jim Powers. No, I don’t know how Jim Powers counts as a cruiserweight, either.

November 4, 1996: Luger and Booker T. rematch, plus we have another interesting historical footnote as the tournament to crown the first ever WCW Women’s Champion kicks off, with Madusa defeating Akira Hokuto’s masked alter ego Reina Jubuki . . . in a tournament where an unmasked Hokuto is on the other side of the bracket.

November 11, 1996: In a preview of what would be a surprisingly good feud over the WCW United States Title just four years later, Jeff Jarrett faces Chris Benoit. Plus, the Women’s Title tournament continues, this time with Chigusa Nagayo’s alter ego Zero getting the duke against Malia Hosaka.

November 18, 1996: If you like your old school southern rasslin’, this show has the match for you, featuring Jeff Jarrett against Bobby “I’m No Longer a Blue Blood” Eaton.

November 25, 1996: Ric Flair has been forced to vacate the United States Championship due to injury, so we have a tournament to crown his replacement. As part of that tournament, Flair’s best friend Arn Anderson goes up against Lex Luger.

December 2, 1996: Continuing the U.S. Title tournament, Steven Regal faces Chris Benoit in quarterfinal action, and if you know about the matches these two men had, you know that we’re going to see somebody get chopped bloody. Plus, Dean Malenko defends the Cruiserweight Title against a young Billy Kidman, and Ricky Morton must have called in sick because we see the weird makeshift team of Robert Gibson and Scotty Riggs.

December 9, 1996: Jeff Jarrett and Diamond Dallas Page have a surprisingly good match in the ongoing U.S. Title tournament and, goofy gimmicks aside, Jimmy “Graffiti” Del Ray gets to show off some of his talents when he gets a Cruiserweight Title shot against Dean Malenko.

December 16, 1996: In another “WTF, WCW?” moment, David Sammartino pops up out of obscurity and faces Dean Malenko for the Cruiserweight Title. Again, David Sammartino . . . not a cruiserweight.

December 23, 1996: In a technical clinic, Dean Malenko and Steven Regal wrestle to a time limit draw, fortunately with Regal’s TV Title and not Malenko’s Cruiserweight Title on the line. Also, in another one of WCW’s classic, “Wait, those guys wrestled each other?!” matches, Lex Luger tackles Tombstone, who is better known as 911 in ECW.

December 30, 1996: Though it’s brief, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho wrestle as part of their storied rivalry. In addition to that, puroresu superstar and former WCW United States Champion Kensuke Sasaki makes a rare appearance. For some reason, his opponent is Hugh Morrus.

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.