wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Is Kofi Kingston Hall of Fame Bound?

August 3, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Kofi Kingston wwe Smackdown 5-28-19

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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Former Ask 411 author JED SHAFFER~! sent in a question, and, because of his status, he gets to leapfrog the line of other inquiries:

I’ve got a question for you inspired by events from Raw Reunion. Ted DiBiase bought the 24/7 Championship on the show, and WWE is recognizing this as a valid title change, which flies in the face of Jack Tunney’s ruling in 1988 regarding DiBiase trying to buy the WWF Title.

So, since this is now a valid way for titles to change hands, that would mean, technically, Ted DiBiase should be considered the champion after Andre The Giant. If the rules for lineal championships were to then be applied from that point, would there be any change to the path of the WWF Championship?

For those of you who may not have been around for our prior lineal championship questions, the rules are pretty simple. You begin at a specified point with a champion, in this case Ted DiBiase becoming WWF Champion as of February 5, 1988. From there, the championship only changes hands via pinfall or submission in one-on-one matches. The only exception to this rule is that the title can also change hands via compliance with a stipulation in a gimmick match, e.g. winning a strap match by dragging your opponent to all four turnbuckles.

So, with that said, does acknowledging Ted DiBiase’s WWF Title reign as legitimate change the lineal history of the championship?

The answer is no, and, for people who disliked the length of my prior lineal championship answers, we can actually get there pretty quickly.

Not surprisingly, Hulk Hogan is the first person to defeat DiBiase in a singles match after DiBiase’s championship purchase. The match in question was a lumberjack match held on March 12, 1988 in the Philadelphia Spectrum. As everybody knows, the Hulk Hogan of this era very, very rarely lost a match and almost never lost a match via pinfall. His next pinfall loss came at Wrestlemania VI on April 1, 1990, when he was of course pinned by the Ultimate Warrior.

Once that happens, the lineal WWF Championship links up to the very first lineal championship we ever examined in this column, that being the title of “The Man,” taken from Ric Flair’s famous quotation, “to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” You can go back to the May 18, 2018 edition of this column to see how that title progression plays out. (And be sure to read the comments to catch a correct to a minor error I made – though it does not change the ultimate outcome.)

At the time of that May 18, 2018 column, Brock Lesnar held the lineal championship and had since WWE’s Great Balls of Fire pay per view when he pinned Samoa Joe. Since that time, Roman Reigns pinned Lesnar to become lineal champion at Summerslam 2018, Shane McMahon pinned Reigns at WWE Super Showdown in Saudi Arabia on June 7 of this year, and Shane has actually remained undefeated since that time.

So, yes, your lineal WWF Champion is presently Shane McMahon, and that history is not really altered too much once we consider the Andre the Giant to TedDiBiase title change to be legitimate.

Really, though, this whole thing has to have Jack Tunney spinning in his grave.

Bryan J. has a follow-up on a prior question and then a new question about one of the most obnoxious men on the planet:

To help w another readers question about If Hulkamania is older than WrestleMania, in the Motley Crue documentary The Dirt, when the band met in 1981, we can clearly see drummer Tommy Lee wearing a Hulkamania shirt. And since biographical movies are 100% accurate, that answers the question.

I don’t know, I thought that my answer was also pretty good, but every little bit helps.

My question is about independent contractors. Someone suggested Enzo Amore should sue WWE for wrongful termination because the rape charges against him were dropped. Can you even do that as an independent contractor? Technically, can’t the WWE fire you because they don’t like the way you did a clothesline at house show in wheeling West Virginia, or any other arbitrary reason?

First, a disclaimer: This answer is not intended to be legal advice, and, if you are dealing with a legal situation described in this question, you should seek legal advice tailored to your own needs from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Yes, generally speaking, an independent contractor can be cut free from their duties without any cause whatsoever. If you buy that the wrestlers who work for WWE are independent contractors, Enzo wouldn’t have any leg to stand on.

However, a lot of people think that WWE calling their wrestlers independent contractors is a false classification, that they should actually be considered employees, and that the independent contractor classification would be blown out of the water if anybody ever mounted a meaningful legal challenge to it.

Could Enzo do something if he were classified as an employee?

. . . probably still no.

Most states in the U.S. have “at will” employment laws on the books, meaning that your employer can fire you for any reason or no reason unless either you’ve got an employment contract with them that says otherwise (including a collective bargaining agreement through a labor union) or your termination violates an anti-discrimination statute, for example a termination on the basis of race or ethnicity. There are states that say you can’t fire an employee when they have been arrested for a crime but not yet convicted, and there are states that say you can’t fire an employee even for certain types of conviction.

Offhand, I do not know what state’s law would apply to any employment relationship Enzo would have had with WWE (again, assuming he was even an employee in the first place) but without an express law saying that he couldn’t be fired for a mere arrest, he again could have been fired for virtually any reason or no reason at all.

One other thing to consider is that, according to WWE’s version of events, Enzo wasn’t let go because there were allegations made against him. According to WWE, he was fired because he did not make the company aware of the allegations and investigations against him at the earliest opportunity. In other words, he was let go for lies of omission about the allegations as opposed to being let go because of the allegations themselves.

Some people might think the difference between those two scenarios is meaningless, but there’s enough behind it that it could significantly complicate any claim by Enzo against WWE, if not making it outright impossible.

Uzoma is looking forward to a new day:

Does Kofi Kingston’s WWE Championship victory at this past year’s WrestleMania further solidify him as a future WWE Hall of Famer?

The WWE Hall of Fame’s criteria are fairly arbitrary, so there’s a chance that Kofi would have been inducted at some point even without ever having won the company’s main championship. Even before that, he had been a perpetually popular babyface competitor with over ten years in WWE under his belt. If you look at the Hall of Fame roster, there are a lot of people in there who have accomplished a lot less but just happened to be someone who the company wanted to honor and/or who they thought would help them market the show or some related merchandise or content.

However, the WWE Championship run does add another line on Kingston’s resume, which will make it all the more difficult to ignore him ten to fifteen years from now when he’s likely to be under consideration. So, I don’t think it will be what pushes him over the line to being a Hall of Famer, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Tonight, Memphis B-Rad is dining on chop suey:

Every match I’ve seen, WALTER takes about a thousand chops & his chest turns as red as Kane’s outfit. Am I a total huckleberry or is that actually as painful as it looks? How can you fake turning a guy’s chest beet red without inflicting a truckload of hurt?

Getting chopped legitimately does hurt, but it’s not exactly debilitating pain, particularly when you’ve got a lot of muscle built up over your chest and when you’re used to taking that move time and time again over hundreds of professional wrestling matches. In other words, yes, it hurts, but these guys are tough and they just manage to suck it up.

If you really want to see some crazy after effects of chopping, go back and watch any match between Chris Benoit and William Regal going back to their days in WCW, when they would go out of their way to make each other’s chests bleed from the sheer intensity and number of their knife edge chops.

Bill C. wants to discuss the early days of Raw:

In the May 17, 2019 column, there was a question about the most appearances by wrestlers on RAW. It got me wondering about big stars from the 80s and their appearances on RAW, specifically Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, prior to their jumps to WCW. Can you list their appearance dates, whether they had a match or cut a promo or both?

Monday Night Raw debuted on January 11, 1993, and, at the time, both Hogan and Warrior were not regularly appearing on WWF shows. The Hulkster was still laying low after the Fed’s steroid scandal, and Warrior infamously parted was with the Fed during the latter part of 1992 after having returned at that year’s Wrestlemania.

On the February 1, 1993 episode of Monday Night Raw, Brutus Beefcake made his return to the WWF after his infamous parasailing accident, and he mentioned the friendship that Hulk Hogan had shown to him in the wake of that tragedy, which laid the groundwork for the Hulkster’s eventual Raw debut. On the February 15 episode (actually taped on February 1), Hogan’s debut was teased even further, when Beefcake faced Ted DiBiase in the main event and the match ended with DiBiase and tag team partner Irwin R. Schyster laying out the Barber and destroying his surgically repaired face.

It was on February 22 of ’93 that Hogan’s Raw debut occurred, as he cut a promo with Beefcake and the newly face-turned Jimmy Hart, indicating that they were going to go after the Money, Incorporated team of DiBiase and IRS. Though Hogan did not appear, on the March 1 episode, it was announced that the newly-named “Mega Maniacs” team of Hogan and Beefcake would face Money, Inc. at Wrestlemania IX, and DiBiase himself agreed to put the WWF Tag Team Titles on the line. On the March 8 episode, the Mega Maniacs delivered a brief studio promo promo talking about the upcoming match.

Somewhat oddly, Raw on March 22 didn’t feature Hogan doing anything that would promote the Wrestlemania match, but he was part of an extended video package that opened the show which highlighted many of the WWF’s charitable efforts at the time, particularly a juvenile cancer foundation that gave Vince McMahon an award in the name of deceased actor Michael Landon. This segment was noteworthy because it was a rare early instance of the WWF acknowledging on camera that Vince was in fact the owner of the promotion.

. . . and that was pretty much it for Hulk Hogan on Monday Night Raw before he left the WWF and ultimately singed with WCW. Hogan did win the WWF Title at Wrestlemania IX and was set to defend it against former champion Yokozuna at the 1993 King of the Ring pay per view, but Hulkster was more or less an absentee champion, with Yoko and Mr. Fuji being left on their own to build up the match.

Hogan never actually had a match on Raw until March 11, 2002, when he teamed with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to face the Rock and Steve Austin in a star-studded three-on-two handicap match the Monday before Wrestlemania XVIII. The match is also noteworthy for being the only time that Hogan and Austin ever wrestled each other in any form.

Noted homophobe the Ultimate Warrior returned to the WWF after a several-year hiatus in 1996. Specifically, vignettes hyping his comeback aired on Raw on February 19 and February 26, with it being announced on the March 18 show that Warrior would return at Wrestlemania XII, facing Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Another vignette aired the next week, and footage of the Warrior at Wrestlemania VIII was played during a match between Helmsley and “Portuguese Man of War” Aldo Montoya.

Warrior didn’t show up on Raw in person until April 1, 1996, the night after his Wrestlemania return. He defeated Goldust via count out on that show, setting up a program between the two men. He did an in-ring interview about Goldust on the April 8 episode (actually taped later in the evening on April 1) in which it was announced that he would have a rematch against Goldust at In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies. For the record, that In Your House match also ended with Warrior getting a count out victory over Goldie.

On the episode after the pay per view (April 29), UW picked up his first-ever pinfall victory on Raw, pinning Isaac Yankem, DDS with a splash. So, yes, the Ultimate Warrior has wrestled Kane . . . which is an odd match that I had never realized occurred.

Warrior wouldn’t show up on Raw again for almost one full month, coming back to the show on May 27, when he again wrestled Goldust and there again wasn’t a clean finish, as the two men were both counted out of the ring in a King of the Ring tournament qualifying match. (Man, I forgot how protected Goldust was around this time.) On the June 10 Raw – which was also taped on May 27 – Warrior was a guest on Jerry Lawler’s “King’s Court” interview segment, which ended with the King smashing a framed picture over the Warrior’s skull. This set up a match between the two men at the King of the Ring pay per view.

The Ultimate Warrior’s last Monday Night Raw appearance took place on July 8, 1996 (actually taped on June 24), when he defeated Owen Hart via disqualification due to interference by the British Bulldog. Vader joined his Camp Cornette cohorts in laying out Warrior after the bell. In an odd byproduct of Raw being taped several weeks in advance, the same show included an appearance by then-on-air WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, who announced that the Warrior was being suspended “indefinitely” because he missed several house show appearances . . . which he legitimately did.

From there, Warrior was done with the WWF until he appeared in the company’s video game in 2013, followed by his Hall of Fame induction in 2014.

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].