wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Does WWE Have Links To Organized Crime?

September 28, 2016 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
Vince McMahon - XFL

Hello, welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling, as heard as being described as ‘clever’ on Talk Is Jericho!

Kinda.

See, last week, Talk Is Jericho, Chris Jericho’s podcast, was a special TalkN Shop edition recorded in Adelade, Australia, with Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows and special guest Hartley ‘Jacko’ Jackson. You can listen to it here. The show itself starts at 5:30 in, and then around the 46:30 mark, they talk ‘Worst Indy Names’. And the Aussie names… Massive Q. Which is me.

Oh wait.

Anyway, so my name has fallen from Chris Jericho’s mouth, and my sign idea has been in his hands, so I’ve got a hook for the 0.00005% chance I end up on the show myself.

So if you have a question for the international superstar that is me, send it to [email protected] and I might answer it, if it’s up to my standards.

You know what always exceeds my standards? BANNER!

Zeldas!

Check out my Drabble blog, 1/10 of a Picture! Standards there are steady.

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Worst Year For Main Events: … Yeah, OK, 2011 sucks all the genitals.

Gimmick Battle Royale: Eugene I debated being in it or not, but certainly he could be in there and win the whole thing… Palmer Cannon was the Network Executive gimmick on Smackdown who was used to introduce a bunch of the other gimmicks, such as Boogeyman, the Juniors, and Pirate Paul.

Be subscribed to Netflix before you watch that, by the way.

Why Mr. Ass Got Pushed As Mr. Ass: Well, see, he got over as Bad Ass and then it evolved into him being Mr. Ass and since he was over as that as a face you wanted to keep it going as a heel because… Russo?

Managers Assignments: Dave corrects me, thankfully.

Regarding how the managers were decided back in the old days, as I recall it generally went like this: the Grand Wizard managed the world title challengers, Albano managed the tag teams, and Blassie managed all of Andre the Giant’s challengers. Now there were a few exceptions, such as when the Wizard went back to Detroit to manage the Sheik for a spell, but this was the general formula.

The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I was trained by a WWE Hall of Famer, and I ended my career working with another WWE Hall of Famer. I was the reason why a rule was invoked in a company for the very first time. I was a part of three different groups that all shared the same number of letters in their acronyms. One of my gimmick changes involved getting into a limo. My last match in a company (at least, in one of my runs in the company) saw me beat Steve Corino, among others. Always managed by men, always winning tag titles in the big leagues, and my last match ever saw me take on two legends of the sport, albeit wildly different legends. Who am I?

Crizag has the answer for us.

Who am I? I was trained by a WWE Hall of Famer (Anotinio Inoki), and I ended my career working with another WWE Hall of Famer (Bodyguard for Macho Man Randy Savage). I was the reason why a rule was invoked in a company for the very first time (Freebird Rule as tag team champ in Demolition). I was a part of three different groups that all shared the same number of letters in their acronyms (NOD, DOA, NWO). One of my gimmick changes involved getting into a limo (KISS Demon). My last match in a company (at least, in one of my runs in the company) saw me beat Steve Corino, among others (w/DOA on Shotgun Saturday Night). Always managed by men, always winning tag titles in the big leagues, and my last match ever saw me take on two legends of the sport, albeit wildly different legends (Goldberg/Muta). Who am I? BRIAN “CRUSH” ADAMS

Who am I? I was mentioned on the same podcast as yours truly. I was the first person under a certain specification to get into an important big list. Although most of my ring names follow a theme, I was once named for a place. I’ve managed five former/future world champions, six if you include one that almost happened but didn’t, but did, sort of. I revived a title, I’ve held rank, and I’m a Hall of Famer. Who am I?

Getting Down To All The Business

Donald starts us off with a hypothetical.

If you won eleventy billion dollars in the lottery, and could buy the WWE and you wouldn’t be put out if it failed; other than the obligatory Massive Q title reign, how would you run things?

I wouldn’t buy WWE, even with eleventy eleventy billion dollars. The amount of money it would take to get Vince to part with it would make it not at all worthwhile. But OK, a miracle occurs and I buy WWE…

If you don’t care about this sort of thing, just skip ahead to the next question. Won’t hate you for it.

Anyway, I would not come in as a wrestler. Instead, I insist on a transitional period of a couple months where Vince and the McMahons as on air personalities say goodbye as the ‘new ownership’ is taking control on the first Raw after Big PPV. Have the looming threat of brand new, non McMahon owners influence behaviours and gimmicks and such, whatever.

Then, the McMahons say goodbye on the PPV, then the next night on Raw, we open with my fat butt coming down the aisle to this theme, I get in the ring, grab a mic, give a deliberately bad/generic promo about taking the helm, all power in my hands, new heights for the company, brand new time, blahblahblah… Heel/s comes out (Brock, Wyatts, whoever).

New time huh? All power rests with you? No, sorry, this is true power.

Heel/s proceed to lay in a 10 minute hardcore beatdown, I’m left bloody and dead in a heap.

This then leads to anarchy, as for the first time in a long time, there is no power structure in place. I got rid of everyone else with control, but with my laying in a hospital, suddenly WWE seems to go haywire, and with it a bunch of whatever changes I want to happen happen (Dunn leaves, Cruiserweights stop the lighting/rope bit, etcetc) and above all, everyone is forced to get ‘serious’ as now there’s actual stakes on everything, since you can’t just wait for a boss to give you a title shot, now you gotta go take it and such. Eventually an authority figure is put in place (Arn Anderson probably) and I put together a booking committee, let them run the company while I toss them ideas, and I focus on working on the Network.

Basically I use the fact that there’s a new boss to create a period of anarchy and chaos in storyline to bring in a bunch of changes all at once under the guise of no authority figure before I bring WWE back to the older style of how wrestling should work. After all, if that fails, then whatever, I still have tenth billion dollars left..

Gary asks about Wrestlemania and title matches.

Long time reader. Occasional question asker.

While watching Wrestlemania XX, where it all began again. I started wondering which wrestler had been in the most Major title matches ( ECW doesn’t count) in a row.

I started thinking with Austin (14 & 15), Roman Reigns ( 32 &33),Kurt Angle with 2 ( WM 19 & 20), then The Rock ( 15,16,17) and Hunter (18,19,20,21,22) but something tells me it might now be Cena.

OK, let’s see, wrestlers with 2 or more title matches in a row. (Each brackets is a new run)

Bret Hart (9, 10, 11)
Edge (24, 25, 26, 27)
Hulk Hogan (2, 3) (5, 6, 7)
John Cena (21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27)
Randy Savage (4, 5)
Roman Reigns (31, 32)
Shawn Michaels (11, 12)
Steve Austin (14, 15)
The Rock (15, 16, 17)
The Undertaker (23, 24)
Triple H (18, 19, 20, 21, 22)
Yokozuna (9, 10)

And yes indeed, John Cena wins with 7 title matches in a row, WWE title 21-24, then the World title 25, back to WWE title 26 and 27, 28 being Punk/Jericho and Sheamus/Bryan

Also how holds the record for the most consecutive title matches at WM not including preshow

Cena’s up to 8, since he fought Big Show at 20 for the US title. I don’t think anyone else here can beat that. Am I wrong readers?

Jeremiah asks about a lost finish.

Has Steve Austin ever discussed the planned finish to his bout with Owen Hart at SummerSlam ’97, or how much more was left after the piledriver spot?

I suspect it was near the end of the match, in that in Austin’s book, he mentions talking about ‘the finish’ with Owen and the move gets mentioned. And I quote…

So the day came and I was talking to Owen in the back, and we were throwing a few things together for the finish of the title match.
I said to him, “Well, what about if we do that thing where I come in for the elbow and you rotate your back around and pick me up upside down and give me the Tombstone Piledriver. Then you cover me and I’ll kick out right before the 3-count. I added, “Now Owen, I don’t trust just anybody to do a piledriver to me, but you can do it, right?

And he said, “Yeah”

I said, “You’re going to go to your knees, right?”

And he said, “No, I’m going to drop to my ass”

Then I said, “Well, you need to go to your knees, right?”

And he said, “No, I drop to my ass.”

That’s two times I said that. And I was thinking, I’m dealing with Owen Hart, brother of Bret Hart and son of Stu Hart. I guess he knows what he’s doing. He’s ribbing me about dropping to his ass instead of his knees.

Regardless of fault/mechanics (there is at least one report from someone close to Owen which says Austin insisted on the move despite the fact that it being sitout was a WWF “Only Taker can Tombstone” edict and his neck was buggered already), it would seem that the move was near the end of the match anyway, Owen hits it, Austin just kicks out, maybe then the Sharpshooter and Austin gets out and comes back to win or something. I don’t know for sure, but it’s unlikely they were going broadway with it or anything.

Pedro talks commentary.

Regarding a past column, about the comentators in te WWF/E, outside the states, I guess it’s very hard to find a DUO like Hugo & Carlos. Savinovich was great, while excellent describing the moves, very good translating…Hugo, sice he is a former wrestler, was capable to take shots and be around action, as well. your thoughts?

I can’t really speculate given that I only barely speak English, let alone any other language. I would assume there’s probably a good Japanese team, surely… Readers? Come make me look bad by showing off how you speak multiple languages!

Although I’ve read the French WWE team right now is good…

Stuart has a bunch of interesting questions.

1. I was reading about people who’d never been a world champion and there was a bit of a debate of who’s the greatest and whether you’d count the AWA championship, blah blah blah. Anyway I noticed that with the AWA world championship that there was a small piece (read Wikipedia page) about something called the “Omaha” version of the title. It’s pretty light on details so I was wondering what’s the story of it?

Ah, yes, the thing that Vince McMahon Sr totally ripped off from Joe Dusek.

OK, so we go back to 1957, when Lou Thesz is NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and everything is NWA run in a totally illegal monopoly peace and harmony. June 14th, 1957, Édouard Carpentier, a French born star in Montreal is fighting Lou Thesz in Chicago. He wins the title after Lou Thesz suffers a back injury and cannot continue. He holds the title for a couple of months, until the 25th of August that same year, when after Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn leaves the NWA, Edouard gives up his claim to the title, the NWA returns it to Thesz and ignores Carpentier’s reign.

But… Some people want to continue to promote his as World champ. In Omaha, Boston, and later LA, the NWA affiliates decide to keep Carpentier as their ‘NWA’ World Champion. The belt would move around a bit, pretty much solely in Omaha, hence the name, but then once the AWA starts up, the two titles are eventually unified in 63 when Gagne, after buying into the promotion in 1960, solidified his hold and forms the AWA with the affiliate, his company, and a couple other territories. The belt lasted a little while and then were unified.

So yeah, Max Clayton ran Omaha from the 30s on and was one of the founding members of the NWA in 48. In 57, Joe Dusek succeeded Clayton, he chose to keep a local wrestler as Champ after an NWA Title match, it remained local for a bit until the promotion ended up absorbed into the AWA, and the titles were merged. There you go.

Well this is new to me, so…

And this is new to everyone, and very much NSFW…

2. I catch a few podcasts and one is the LAW which I find pretty fun and John Pollock seems to be a guy who’s VERY knowledgeable of pro-wrestling and MMA. Anyway on one of the podcasts him and his co-presenter were joking about how during the run-up to the brand split that Shane and Stephanie were sometimes so close that you could almost insinuate an incestuous relationship between the two which obviously never panned out. I know there was meant to be a possible angle with Paul and Katie Lea Burchill but were there any others? I feel like I’m missing a Shamrock one possibly.

Vince seems to have this thing about doing an incest angle. Vince did pitch the idea that when Steph was legitimately pregnant for the first time, to have it turn out that the baby’s daddy was… Vince. When Steph rejected that, he then tried again with Shane being the dad.

Off the top of my head, which I’m slightly upset to realise has these damn things in there, the first attempt at this was Ken Shamrock/Ryan Shamrock, which Ken rejected (with the slightly ironic coda in that Ken and Ryan ended up dating out of that run), then there was Beaver Cleavage which was sorta-kinda-maybe incest…

… That’s Fair Use, you can watch that for free.

Katie and Paul were both actually on board with it, working it as an unspoken, under the radar thing, implied but not spoken, they debut, all set to get a big push out of it… And then WWE goes PG two weeks later. Kinda killed the gimmick there.

That’s all the ones I know offhand, I don’t think there’s been any more. Just hope Vince never sees Game of Thrones and get ideas…

3. My first ever wrestling tape was a show called Battle Royal at the Royal Albert Hall and inside it came a poster. I still have it somewhere but for the life of me I can’t remember who was on the back (if anyone) but on the front it was the British Bulldog followed by Andre the Giant with a crutch. I read his last appearance with the WWF was a few days later in Paris where he assisted Bulldog (again, as he did in BRatRAH). Did they simply have a friendship? Were they trying to give Bulldog some of Andre’s rub knowing he wouldn’t be wrestling any more?

Would this be the photo?

Although there’s a logic in hooking up Bulldog and Andre (The Chunnel Express?) when you’re touring Europe, him being a corner man for Bulldog was less ‘rub for Bulldog as Andre was on way out’ as it was ‘Andre cornerman for guy getting big push on tour to further Andre/Jimmy Hart feud for Andre’s comeback’.

1991 was meant to be Andre getting back in the ring. He was announced as being an entrant in the 91 Rumble, but then he got injured in Japan and had to pull out. So they moved him into being Big Boss Man’s corner man for WM while he recovered, although he had two house show appearances, once teaming with the Rockers to fight The Orient Express and Mr. Fuji in Ireland, and then taking part in a Detroit battle royal, but mostly he just would appear in the corner of faces here and there on TV.

Then in late May of 1991, Andre was set to return to the ring and was looking for a manager. After humiliating/beating up all the heel managers but one, Jimmy Hart, Andre turns him down, then Earthquake attacked him.

You better have a Hulu Plus account before you click play!

Tugboat then joined Earthquake to form the Natural Disasters. The original plan was for Andre to return at Summerslam, teaming with Jake Roberts (who hated Earthquake after the Quakeburger thing) against the Disasters, but Andre wasn’t able to be healthy enough in time, so Jake turned heel and they pushed it back, with Andre being in the corner of the Bushwhackers instead.

But the Bulldog thing was just the tail end of this, as Andre wasn’t so much helping Bulldog as screwing over the Disasters. At the show, Bulldog wins the battle royal, gets jumped by the Disasters, then Andre ran walked came out and shooed off the Disasters.

It was all just working towards the comeback that was planned but never worked out.

4. I could have sworn that the WWF/E never originally acknowledged Andre’s title win but now they do. What changed?

Nothing, WWE might not go out of it’s way to say Andre is a former champ, but WWE has always had it that Andre won the title, no matter how screwy the circumstances, at The Main Event in 1988.

Make sure you’ve go a Youtube Red subscription please.

Then when they announced the title tourney at WM4, Andre was a former champ, he gave up the belt, but Ted didn’t get it.

Amazon Video. Get it.

So yeah, Andre’s always been a former champ after that. Not sure where you’re getting the idea WWE ignored it… Maybe the idea that Giant didn’t technically win the WCW World title in his first match according to WCW at the time, but now everyone agrees he did?

5. Do you ever see footage of old WWE house shows ever being put onto the Network? Maybe far down the line of course once they’ve worked through their Coliseum Video range but I’m sure they have a massive archive that would pique the interest of any hardcore wrestling fan.

Absolutely, given that the Last Battle Of Atlanta was found on some random Omni film reel, who knows what WWE treasures they’ve got lying around, waiting to be catalogued.

That’s part of the issue I have with the network really, why I’d focus on it if I bought the company. At the moment the old stuff is a fraction of the viewed material, some huge amount of the network’s traffic is the live stream, mostly PPV. Now the question is, is that because people don’t care, or because WWE doesn’t make any attempt to make them care?

It’s one thing to just toss all the PPVs on there, it’s another to bring you classic matches with wraparounds explaining why they’re important and their legacies, and establishing Saturday night 6:05 as being when classic WCW shows run, or just making any attempt at selling the idea of having ALL THE WRESTLING HISTORY at your fingertips on the TV show.

I guess we’ll see how they go when they buy TNA next week.

jayzhoughton has a few questions too! Funny that…

WWF/E mob links? Considering they were based out of new York did they have to pay protection? Did they get left alone due to the company employing 30-50 big dudes/trained fighters? Did they take bets on WWE/F results with insider knowledge? Basically any mob connections?

With the company, nothing beyond urban legend. Individual wrestlers? Sure. Dino Bravo was shot a bunch of times in a murder still unsolved, most people thinking there were mob connections. Classy Freddie Blassie in his book (as well as Larry Zbyszko claiming the same) that Bruno Sammartino would hang out with mobsters during his heyday. And I quite rightly quote…

Bruno always had a huge entourage hanging around him. When he’d go to a town, the most powerful Italians would latch themselves onto him and decided they were his protectors, whether Bruno liked it or not. Some of the guys were businessmen, some were politicial types, and some others – I’m sure – were mobsters. I’m not implying that Bruno would ever have any dealings with the mafia on his own. Bruno had gotten so famous that he couldn’t always pick the boneheads from the rest

He also had a few more stories about them, which I’m reposting from SandmanBrawl Saturday?!?!?’s recap.

In this particular story, Fred won a match by count-out in Roosevelt Stadium when he heeled Sammartino in the nuts while the referee was distracted. Back in the dressing room, Blassie realized he was in the wrong one. They had no connecting hallways, so he was stuck with a bunch of these people, kayfabing his gimmick as Bruno was being hauled in on a stretcher. “Typical Italian stunt! You hit a guy in the neck, he grabs his balls!” One of the men was Jilly Rizzo, Frank Sinatra’s #1 sidekick and the owner or his own saloon. He heard Blassie say that and whipped out a gun. “[Expletive deleted], I’ll kill that sonuvabitch!” Bruno kayfabed him. “No. Let me take care of him in the ring.”

*Lou Albano was 1/2 of a tag team known as The Sicilians, holding the WWWF United States tag team titles in 1967. (They didn’t have a World tag title until 1971.) They would wear white fedoras and a black glove. Before their match, they would raise the gloved hand and mutter “Mafia.” That stopped when Lou was approached by some guys in the Chicago syndicate who represented Tony Accaro, the big-time boss of the group. “You’re degrading the Italians,” he was told. “There’s no such thing as the Mafia; we’re legitimate businessmen.” Lou cut a deal with the guys so they could still be The Sicilians, but they had to get rid of the black glove.

*There were also some stories dealing with the Yakuza in Japan. At one time, he beat up on some members (unknowingly) as they stumbled around drunk in the street and refused to move. The chief boss sent a message, “He likes you, Mr. Blassie. He just ask that you no longer beat up on his men.” “If they agree to no longer tie up traffic in the street, then I will no longer hit them.” ‘I know what he was doing. He was trying to save face. After that he sent all kinds of gifts and offered to introduce me to more women…Respectfully, I took them up on their offer many times.”

But deep connections between the company and crime bosses? Nothing solid or anything. Now, wrestling in Japan and the Yakuza…

I was recently watching a video detailing Vince’s life. It made a point that Vince had very humble beginnings, so where did a poor trailer park Vince get the money to buy the WWWF off his father? I’m guessing he bought it with future payments (can’t default or he loses company if I recall correctly) if so to an extent isn’t that his father giving him a company? Also what was Vince’s job/progression within the company prior to him taking over? Was he a clear number 2 when he took over, how long was he working there when he took it over? Did Vince Senior only sell because he was dying or did he sell an coincidentally die soon after? I was also flicking through VKM’s wiki and “His biological father Vincent James McMahon, had left the family while McMahon was still a baby, taking his elder son, Rod, with him. McMahon did not meet his biological father until age 12” so in relation to the WWWF/WWF/WWE who is Roderick McMahon III. Was he ever employed by the company? Was there a power struggle akin to Shane and Steph?

OK, lot to unpack here.

Vince Jr. didn’t actually buy the WWWF from his father outright. Vince Sr. split the company into four parts, with Vince getting half the company, and the other half split between Vince Sr.’s right hand men, Gorilla Monsoon, Arnold Skaaland and Phil Zacko. Vince Jr. had to pay his father a monthy payment, where if he missed one, control would revert to Vince Sr. and his friends. Vince Jr., not happy with this arrangement, after signing the deal got a loan from the bank and offered all three men $100K and a job for life in exchange for their share. They all agreed, and Vince got full control. He then used the company’s cash reserves to pay off his father, with the logic being that once the company took off as he was sure it would with him at the helm, he’d start being able to pay his dad off from his own pocket. But then his father, already slowing down, found out he had cancer and died shortly after. So while he did end up giving his son the company for very little, had he lived out his golden years in Florida or whatever, he’d have ended up set for life. His death was coincidental.

Vince Jr’s run up the company ladder shouldn’t have ever happened, as his father didn’t want him involved in the business, but Vince Jr. was eager. He came in after working as a travelling salesman for a short time, and seems to have started out as an announcer for WWWF’s All-Star Wrestling in 1969.

Now that’s a tape I want to see on the Network!

Anyway, a couple years later he became the main play by play guy, as well as becoming a promoter in the tiny Maine territory, where he promoted his first card and such, and then throughout the 70’s worked with his father, focusing on increasing syndication threefold over that time, as well as a few outside interests, before finally taking over the company.

As for Rod McMahon (the brother, not the banana above the grapefruit), he’s been mentioned on TV a few times (the night Eric Bichoff debuted as Raw GM he was mentioned as a possible GM, for instance) and he was actually set to appear on the Vince McMahon funeral episode of Raw that ended up being the Chris Benoit
Memorial episode
nothing at all, but he’s never been involved in wrestling. He seems to have no interest in the product, and instead works in Texas as President of North American Metals, as well as ‘VP of Everything Else’ for the charity Operation Helmet which provides US troops with upgrades to their helmets, a charity Vince and Linda both support.

I managed to find a photo, if you’re interested.

Lod’s face paint, clearly Animal’s was more intricate and Hawk’s was very basic. Who was the good artist though? Did they put on their own face paint or did Animal put Hawk’s on and vice versa?

Animal has done his face paint on his son, so I presume he did it himself, and vice versa, and thus Animal is the artist and Hawk would keep it simple, or maybe Animal did them both. I’d ask him on Twitter but he doesn’t seem to be that interactive on there, which is fine. Maybe a reader knows…

Goldust’s face paint is looking sharp, did he get better at putting it on or is there now a makeup person doing it now?

He’s always done it himself.

And on that simple note, goodbye for this week, I’ll be back next week, unless my Talk Is Jericho appearance has brought me fame and fortune…