wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Is ‘X-Pac Heat’ Real?

July 24, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
Sean Waltman - X-Pac

Hello, and welcome to the only column that wants Corey Graves to tell Kurt there’s more going on here, and thus we find out that Chad Gable is also Kurt’s son and so he too moves to Raw, only for all three to then reveal that this was all a ruse, Kurt’s not related to any of them, he just wanted American Alpha, now redubbed Team Angle 2.0, on Raw but didn’t want to trade anyone, which annoys HHH because he’s never liked Kurt and now Kurt’s messing with his stuff, so HHH hires Team Angle OG, which builds to a big six man tag match at Survivor Series and oh no, turns out Team Angle OG are still loyal to Kurt, big five on one beatdown at the PPV, which then builds for a bit until we get a one ring, Cell enclosed Wargames at WM, Team Angle Deluxe V HHH/Joe/Braun/Hardys, in which Matt Hardy is the one to submit which leads to him breaking…

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The Trivia Crown

Who am I? Via a mix of metal and a liquid, you can get from the guy above to me via one other person. My first match ever was a tag match with a partner similar to me. My first appearance with my current employer had nothing to do with a match. I’ve had an angle end due to someone else’s contract issues, I’ve taken a move designed to write me off TV and yet came back almost immediately, and my biggest singles title reign ever began with me beating the guy I currently call boss. A guy you see on your TV each week (a slightly recent development) I am who?

The answer was not Jeff Hardy, no one got it. Let’s find out who it was!

Who am I? Via a mix of metal and a liquid, you can get from the guy above to me via one other person (Scott Hall held AWA Tag Gold with my father) . My first match ever was a tag match with a partner similar to me (teamed with Ted DiBiase Jr). My first appearance with my current employer had nothing to do with a match (Hall of fame acceptance for my dad). I’ve had an angle end due to someone else’s contract issues (Hogan getting fired meant Axlemania ended), I’ve taken a move designed to write me off TV and yet came back almost immediately (took an Orton punt, returned in just over a month), and my biggest singles title reign ever began with me beating the guy I currently call boss (beat The Miz and Wade Barrett to win IC title). A guy you see on your TV each week (a slightly recent development) (only recently got an angle again as part of the Miztourage) I am who? (Curtis Axel)

Who am I? I am a current WWE champion. I’m the second guy to pull off a very specific triple crown. The first guy to beat me on mainstream WWE TV turned recently. My first shot at a world title came from a battle royal victory, which made sense given how I ended up winning my first world title. I won a world title in the main event of a WWE PPV based around a specific gimmick match in said gimmick match, something no-one else can claim, and probably never will. I am someone who’ll probably never be The Doctor (and not because of gender) I am who?

Getting Down To All The Business

First off, I had a busy as heck week, so the Sting update list will come next week. Hopefully.

Anyway, onto the first question, with MJH, and hopefully I don’t need to take an hour to answer this one.

The Hardy Boys vs. Cesaro/Sheamus Ironman match had me wondering about the history of Ironman matches- specifically in an attempt to make things appear like a legitimate sports competition do you know of any Ironman matches that have been blowouts? How about any that have been finished with a margin of victory larger than 1? I realize it doesn’t seem to make any sense excitement wise, but maybe it has been used as a storytelling vehicle. Thanks – and forward me the tape of the time of all of your hour long Ironman matches….

I don’t have any of those matches in my records, given that no-one is crazy enough to fight me in one of those since when I beat a guy once, they’re pretty much dead for the rest of the night.

There’s not been any Iron Wo/Man matches in a major company that had a margin greater than 1, no. Least none I could find. They tend to end on one win, or a draw, for the purposes of storytelling, as you pointed out. There’s no reason you couldn’t do one, maybe have the heel up 4-3 with moments to go, and then have the heel get a fall to break everyone’s hearts. Or reverse it, and spend a good 30 seconds laughing at the screwed heel or something.

The problem with Iron Man matches overall is that since you know the match is going to last X minutes, there’s an inbuilt amount of dead air, since you know that the match is going to keep going for a while, and that the important stuff isn’t till the last few moments. WWE doesn’t do them on free TV anymore as they’re ratings death since people tune out and then back in near the end. That’s why the out of the blue near hour long London Raw match between John Cena and Shawn Michaels on Cena’s birthday back in 2007 was great, because it could end at any time.

An Iron Man match you know will last till a set point, and thus you can tune out.

Maybe you could institute a rule where if someone gets over a certain amount, a mercy rule kicks in and the match ends, say if someone gets more than 3 falls ahead, the match ends… And then a heel gets up to 3, and now the face is fighting to stop the match ending, go from there…

But no, I wasn’t able to find an Iron Person match that had a margin over 1. Perhaps a reader knows of an obscure one I’ve missed.

Stu had a few questions, we’ll cover a couple this week.

2) Looking back at the history of the WWE title, I noticed really short reigns in between much longer ones up to the end of the Attitude Era, I was just curious as to the kayfabe and shoot reasons as to why these happened:

OK, let’s take these in turn.

Buddy Rogers, April 1963 (22 days)

This one’s a little iffy, in that it’s only that short because the WWWF ran with Buddy as their world champion for a while longer than this, since January 25th of that year, the day after Rogers lost the NWA World title to Lou Thesz, they at first ignored the title change, then said it wasn’t a legit change, and then finally at the start of that 22 days, they claimed Buddy won a tournament in Rio De Janeiro…

(Side note: Why the hell have we not had a network special yet where the IC title gets vacated for some reason and we have a one night tourney for the title in Rio? Given that we’re probably never getting the Wrestlemania/Carnaval mash up I’ve wanted…)

To make him the WWWF Champion. But then a few weeks later, on a day he was sick maybe, Bruno Sammartino beat him to win the title.

The shoot is that Buddy was apparently intended to be a long term champion, but with a combination of illness/mild heart attack (although Bruno disputes that) and/or fans not totally being on board with him as champ, they made the switch to Bruno much sooner than anticipated.

Ivan Koloff, Jan 1971 (21 days)/Stan Stasiak, Dec 1973 (9 days)

I put these together because they’re the same reason. They kayfabe got a luckyish win over the champ, then lost it quickly to the first major defence they went into. The shoot is that these were total transitional champions, someone had to win the belt to swap it between Bruno and Pedro, given that having them fight each other wasn’t how they did things at the time.

Antonio Inoki, Nov 1979 (6 days)

The kayfabe is that Inoki won the title in Japan, and then Backlund’s contractual rematch five days later was ruined by Tiger Jeet Singh interfering, causing the match to go to a No Contest. The WWF president at the time, Hisashi Shinma, declared this match to be a No-Contest, and thus in theory Inoki was still champion. However, he was an honorable man, and thus refused the title that had been sullied by Singh’s meddling. However, by refusing to accept the title in such a way, it created a legal issue, and thus in the record books, although Backlund won a match to regain the ‘vacant’ title, Inoki’s reign never happened. Thus why Inoki isn’t counted as a champ unless WWE is in a very specific mood.

Shoot? This was a standard ‘world champ on tour loses title first night, local boy holds title, world champ wins it back by shenanigans at end of tour, title reign not mentioned by big company’ deal. Flair and Race did it all the time, this one just happened in a major market, with a guy who’s big on self-promotion, and with a very wacky coda, thus allowing WWE to ignore it. Had Backlund won the title back in a match, it would be counted.

Iron Sheik, Dec 1983 (28 days)

See Ivan/Stan. Transitional ‘lucky stiff’ who crumbled at first real challenge.

Andre the Giant, Feb 1988 (a few minutes)

Kayfabe, he gave the title up to Ted DiBiase for money. Shoot, he was not physically capable of being a long term champ, this was just a storyline to get the belt off Hogan and onto DiBiase via a guy people could accept beating Hogan by cheating then doing the tourney gimmick to solidify DiBiase as champion until Hogan or maybe Savage would win it back to the good guys for all the money later on. Didn’t work out that way…

The Undertaker, Nov 1991 (6 days)

He beat Hogan with help from Flair, but then in the quick rematch ordered by Jack Tunney at the special This Tuesday in Texas show, the same plan backfired and he lost it back to Hogan in a similar way to how he won it. Irony and stuff.

But the shoot was to try and pop a buyrate on this test Tuesday PPV thing, so having Hogan lose the title to Taker here would hopefully get people to buy the show the following week to see him win it back. Didn’t work, but…

Hulk Hogan, Dec 1991 (1 day)

Mass confusion and rampant interference in the two title changes forced Jack Tunney to strip Hogan of the belt and put it on the line in the Royal Rumble match so as to settle who is the undisputed WWF champion.

i.e Set up a way for Ric Flair to be egotistical about a win while not really being totally above board with it, and thus get the title on him and allow you to do the Flair/Hogan match, maybe, given the original Title V Title thing was scrapped, or at least allow you to run a WM with two main events.

Yokozuna, April 1993 (a few minutes)

… Dude was stupid/egotistical enough to challenge Hulk Hogan for a match right then and there!

Gotta send the fans home happy, brother. Only way to do that is to have a face win the title last, dude. Bret’s too small, let me win it, Vinnie Mac, all the Hulksters will love it, brother!

Bob Backlund, Nov 1994 (3 days)

This one hurts.

Backlund got a match type that suited him perfectly, and had Owen Hart on the outside, willing to emotionally manipulate his own mother just to screw over his own brother. But Backlund had nothing to answer a guy like Diesel.

Shoot… He was a transitional. Alas.

Bret Hart, Feb 1997 (1 day)

Steve Austin really, really, REALLY hated Bret Hart.

Thus, Austin/Hart didn’t need a title on the line at WM, while Sid/Taker did, once HBK lost his smile. The way they retconned the world title back onto someone didn’t allow them to put it on Sid directly, so Bret got to hold it for a day so as to get it on Sid while also giving him even more reason to hate Steve Austin, and to claim he was always getting screwed, and thus set up the double turn.

Kane, June 1998 (1 day)

Kane won the title due to Mankind, The Undertaker, and someone lowering the Hell in a Cell Cell mid-match. Straight up, Austin was on fire at that point and thus Kane lost the title when he stupidly gave Austin a rematch the next night on Raw.

This one’s kinda interesting, in that Kane was meant to hold the title for much longer, until he wasn’t, but then they were caught in their own booking, and this was the best result they had. See, Austin got a nasty Staph Infection in his elbow a couple weeks prior to King of the Ring, and it was not clear how long he’d take to recover. That would be manageable, but the big match they were building towards, Austin/Taker at Summerslam, was in doubt because of that AND Taker having foot issues. Both men were pulled from events prior to the PPV, but it wasn’t clear how long both men would be out after the PPV, assuming they got there.

So, with that match seemingly not gonna happen, the plan was to put Kane over as big heel champ until Austin could come back, so Kane was gonna win the title via the shenanigans we saw on the PPV then hold it for a bit. So, given that was the plan, no harm in Kane saying he’d set himself on fire if he lost, right?

Then Austin turned up at the PPV with a big bandage on his elbow, but pretty much good to go otherwise. So keep the belt on him, right? Oh, right, Kane’s gotta set himself on fire then. Huh.

So, Kane wins the title, loses back to Austin the next night, we all move on.

The Rock, Jan 1999 (2 (7) days)

Rock wins title by being a bit of a dick and having someone play a tape recording of Mick Foley saying I Quit? Mankind wins it back right after in an Empty Arena match during the Superbowl by using a forklift to pin The Rock. Swings and roundabouts.

The actual reason was that they were building up to WMXV being a triple threat match with Austin, Rock, AND Mick. Thus by having Mick and Rock trade the belt back and forth, you develop the idea that they’re equal and thus both deserve to be there, and Austin’s the rumble ‘winner’, but with three men there’s no certainty about the result and thus you buy the PPV because anything could happen!

This is actually a rare time when I can see the logic in a Russo storyline, actually. That’d be a pretty awesome triple threat match given the circumstances, and there would have been some drama from not really knowing the result. But then HBK just had to have his say, although there’s debate about who lobbied for what, depending on who is telling the story. HBK apparently was pushing for Foley/Austin, as part of the group who felt Rock was too young for the role, while Austin apparently was pushing for what we got since he doesn’t like triple threats, but it’s hard to say.

Mankind, Aug 1999 (1 day)

Jesse Ventura is the ref, so there’s no possibility of chicanery, thus hurting HHH’s chances, and Mick is a guy who realises he’s not gonna get too many more chances, so he gives it his all, and Austin isn’t a guy who is superhuman, so Mick manages to get his hand raised since he worked hard and took advantage of the situation.

But in actuality, while Triple H was going to get the belt, he couldn’t do it with Jesse as the ref, Jesse couldn’t be seen raising the hand of a dirty lying heel. So since Triple H is going to get the belt the next night on Raw, instead, you’d have Austin win, right?

Now, the usual line here is that Austin refused to job to HHH, but I think it’s more a case of Austin not wanting to job to HHH on Raw like that. He lost to him a few months later after all, Austin’s a big proponent of making jobs matter. It’s why he walked out on the company over the Brock thing, Austin felt if he was going to lose to HHH to get him over, he should do it on PPV. But they couldn’t do it here, so they used Mick, since he was already on Austin’s level (or at least near enough not to matter) him beating Austin wasn’t too much of a shock, and he was willing to lose to HHH, and then you can run Austin/HHH later, which they did. And Austin jobbed.

Vince McMahon, Sept 1999 (6 (4) days)

It’s Vince McMahon. If anyone can manipulate people into getting the title, it’s Vince.

It’s Vince McMahon. He’s not a long term champion, he was a shocking twist that sorta made sense at the time and who was used to get heat on Austin/HHH without Austin having to lose more than once to HHH.

And that’s the list.

Looking through Wikipedia’s list of premature death in wrestling I noticed just how many deaths were heart-related, even at a young age. As a guy who weighs a shoot… 350lbs… has your stature ever worried you given just how much strain wrestling puts on the body?

Something like that, I don’t keep track of my weight, my announced weight of 171kgs is, shockingly, a bit of an exaggeration, but yes, I’m certainly in the ballpark of 350lbs.

Any time you step into the ring, or play any sport really, you are taking a risk, sure. Being a wrestler means you accept a certain amount of risk, from the direct (you could fall on your neck and die) to the long term issues of strain on the heart and such. So there is some small part of me that accepts I may be risking my life in there. But I accept that risk.

Also, the fact is, I think most people would agree that my style is fairly low risk. I rarely take big bumps, I don’t do much that you would call ultra physical. This does limit my ability to impress workrate guys, of course, but on the other hand I can work most people without needing to change much, and I’d like to think I can put on an entertaining show without the need for high impact, high performance workrate. You wouldn’t want to watch a whole show of mes, but for one match, good change of pace.

Plus, not to beat around the bush, often times heart attacks become more likely with drug use and such, having long term usage of various drugs can weaken and impact the heart, which I often times seen as a factor in a lot of young wrestler deaths due to heart issues. I don’t have any real issues with drugs, unless you count caffeine.

And finally, I have some genetic help here, I don’t have a family history of heart issues, apart from one of my grandmothers who had several operations on her heart, sure, but then again she lived a very long time despite having a heart operation every few years. The rest of my family is fairly good with heart issues, and my blood pressure and cholesterol and such is annoying good, considering how I look.

So no, I’m not that concerned about my heart. If anything it’s my heels that are the problem…

But enough about me, let’s move back to other people. Pedro?

Hey MATT, as always an old school question: In your opinion, who’s been the major “bust/junk/failure”, or whatever you want to call it, in the wrestling world (I guess Mr. Hughes, Berzerker?); will you, pelase, atach a top 20, maybe top 15…??

Geez…

Well, are we just talking gimmicks, or do storylines/feuds count? Because if so, then the InVasion is in positions 1 through 73, except for 42, that being Victoria not holding every women’s title all the time forever.

*1/27th of a Chandler*

But if we’re talking gimmicks/wrestlers only, probably the Gobbledy Gooker would get my vote. The Shockmaster is the memey one, sure, but the Gooker was such a long build up for such a terribly pay-off, and given he was meant to be a drawcard and a mainstay of the company… That’s the biggest, in my view.

If you don’t want to include storylines, but allow me a more general overview of the business, then it’s Johnny Ace as Head of Talent for WWE. The good work he did on screen before he went generically evil doesn’t make up for the crap he oversaw happen for years as talent coordinator.

As for a list, I mean, you could probably just pick any 20 from this list really, but to pick 20 off the top of my head as big busts, in the negative sense…

The Gooker
Shockmaster, obviously
Katie Vick, more obviously
Black Scorpion
El Gigante/Giant Gonzales
Fake Undertaker
Fake Diesel
Fake Razor Ramon
Rellik (that’s Killer spelled backwards)
Beaver Cleavage
Justin Credible, ECW World Champion
Scotty Goldman
Nathan Jones
Marcus Cor Von
Mordecai
Ludvig Borga
All the NJPW main eventers TNA had and did nothing with
Barry Windham (as in not achieving what they should have)
Lex Luger (See Barry)

Bray Wyatt

I’m sure people will debate that list, do so below! While that happens, let’s see what April would like to know.

Hi Mathew thank you for answering my other question I sent in about the beard vs. beard match. I was listening to a Jim Cornette shoot and he talked about how the midnights vs rock and rolls was a 4 star match every night because five stars wasn’t invented yet. That got me thinking about what match was actually considered the first five star match? Thank you again for everything you do for us wrestling geeks out there.

OK, to be Mr. Pedantic here: All star ratings are subjective and are in no way fixed, set things. Any one person will judge matches on any number of factors, stars aren’t objective truth, yadda yadda yadda.

Anyway, I assume you’re asking about Dave Meltzer giving out five stars, if you mean the first match that anyone ever said was five stars then I can’t help you with that. But, Meltzer, that I know. Dynamite Kid and Tiger Mask I, 21st April, 1983. It doesn’t seem to exist in full form here on the interwebs, so you’ll need to get NJPW World to see it. But that was the first match to get the full monty from Big Dave.

Yay facts!

Let’s get more, Connor?

Whatever happened to Bob Caudle? he was a great wrestling announcer in the eighties and I loved him and Jim Ross together

If you’ve watched any old NWA/Jim Crockett stuff on DVD or the WWE Network or youtube and the like, you’ve probably heard Bob Caudle’s voice, if not known it was him.

Bob was a straight shooting commentator, the sort Cena parodied in the Southpaw Regional stuff, one who didn’t take sides, although he did abhor cheating, he just called the action, let the wrestlers be the stars. He started working for Jim Crockett Sr in the late 50’s, working as weatherman for WRAL-TV 5 in Raleigh, North Carolina, which also taped and broadcast NWA Atlantic Coast Wrestling, and he became an announcer for them while maintaining his weatherman job, until he focused on the announcing, as the company became Mid-Atlantic, and then just NWA, and then WCW, until he left the company in 1991. He briefly worked as announcer for South Atlantic Pro Wrestling, a company founded to replace the now gone Mid-Atlantic style/territory left behind by WCW. It didn’t last too long, at which point he moved to announced for Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling for pretty much the entire run of the promotion.

He’s retired now, pretty much, he suffered some heart attacks in 2007 but made a full recovery, he appears at NWA reunions and fanfests and the like, he’s still around, just enjoying his twilight years and such. He had his niche, he was never going to fly in the WWF, he was the baseline average joe announcer who kept out of the way, but kept things going.

I never understood the term X Pac Heat? Sean Waltman is a great wrestler who can still go in the ring, why did the crowds despise him?

Well some people refuse to believe the term is a real thing. Those people are wrong, but they should be acknowledged before we begin.

Basically the idea of heat, is to get a reaction from the fans. Everyone with wrestling is about a reaction. For a heel, you want to be booed, you want people to hate you, you want negative reactions. So there is the argument that there is no such thing as bad heat, as if the crowd is reacting, mission accomplished!

But…

The idea is to get heat on the character. You want people to hate the persona you are presenting. In the old days, you’d play the persona all the time, so there was no real difference in theory between the two, but in the modern era, it’s about hating the character. This is important because you may want to turn at some point and thus the fans being involved in the character means you should be able to do that, but more importantly there is the understanding that hating the character is part of the show, and thus you being on the show and hated helps the show.

X-Pac heat is when people hate the performer. That is different.

In this case, X-Pac was around for a few years without changing much, without being involved in any really cool or interesting storyline, with no real justification for being there, and yet was still winning matches, still getting booked, even getting his own stable. People weren’t sick of the character, they were sick of the performer. His matches were cromulent, sure, but they weren’t exciting, and he wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything interesting.

Now, sure, this tended to be expressed as ‘X-Pac Sucks’ chant, which you can’t automatically distinguish from a positive negative chant-

… That sentence makes sense, right?

But they’re coming from different places, and most important of all, people were, in theory, coming to shows to chant ‘Eddie Sucks’. People were chanting ‘X-Pace Sucks’ because they didn’t want him there, no-one was coming to hate him, they were hating him on the side of people they were there to see.

The issue with X-Pac Heat is something that’s existed for a while, but it wasn’t crystallised before X-Pac, because before him there were promoters who wouldn’t let it get to the point where it existed, and there were more places to go. If someone got that heat, and you couldn’t turn them or change them, then you’d send them to a new territory, and they’d be fresh again, and then maybe in a year or two they would come back fresh and ready to go again.

But with Waltman in the Naughties faced the same issue Rock had in the 90s, and Bossman had for a while too, except they were allowed to use it, or get through it, X-Pac just kept trudging along, still turning up on shows, still not being interesting. That was the problem.

Assuming there was one.

Do you think there was one? Or am I talking out my nice but large ass? Tell me below, and next week I’ll be back with more wrestling stuff to talk about.

Shocking, I know.

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