wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Could Jim Ross Have Saved TNA?

July 20, 2022 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Jim Ross Goldenboy AEW Fyter Fest Image Credit: AEW

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Brian is peering out from under a black Resistol hat:

I’ve recently finished JR’s second autobiography, Under The Black Hat. One thing he talks about is meeting with the Carter family in 2010 about them trying to bring him in to TNA. He says in his book that he would only go to work for them if he had full control over the Talent Relations dept and warned Dixie that serious changes needed to be made or TNA would be in trouble. My question is: Do you think that JR could have made as much of a difference to TNA as he implies in his book? Considering that he was in charge of Talent Relations in the 90’s and early 2000’s when WWF/E had one of their best rosters ever, is there a case to be made that TNA’s story might be a lot different today if JR had been brought in?


TNA’s problem was never the talent on its roster.

There are people who will claim that bringing in Hulk Hogan and pushing former WWF/WWE talent circa 2009 ruined the company, but the fact of the matter is that the promotion’s product was never any good on the whole, even when they were relying primarily on so-called TNA originals like AJ Styles, Abyss, and Samoa Joe in the pre-Hogan era.

Yes, those wrestlers put on some excellent matches, but the booking was always lousy, and it was always lousy because of the stench of Vince Russo. That is what prevented them from capturing the imagination (and more importantly dollars) of a broader audience.

Jim Ross could have signed with the company to helm talent relations and could have assembled the greatest roster in the known universe, but if that roster was booked the way that TNA had always been booked, the promotion was still going to be rudderless and ineffective.

Giles from Claudio-Country is swinging in:

If Buddy Landel would have dropped his ‘Nature Boy’ gimmick, do you think he would have been a bigger name in wrestling?


Even though both Landel and Ric Flair shared that moniker (which was not original to either one of them, by the way), the fact that Buddy was the less popular of the men with the gimmick never really seemed to hold him back. He was talented and did get some good initial pushes throughout the 1980s in a variety of different territories. They seemed like the sorts of pushes that should have propelled him on to more, but what really hung him up was the fact that he had substance issues which resulted in him being unreliable.

Tyler from Winnipeg was wearing a black t-shirt when he wrote this question:

Did Christopher Daniels ever have a match with Reckless Youth? If so any information on their first encounter would be appreciated.

As far as I know, there have been six instances in professional wrestling history in which Christopher Daniels and Reckless Youth (a.k.a. Tom Carter) shared a ring.

The first three took place during the same weekend for Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling, a relatively small independent group that ran between 1995 and 2001 but managed to get quite a few guys on their cards who would go on to gain quite a bit of notoriety.

Match number one involving the two men was actually a three-way on May 14, 1999 in Hamburg, PA, as Too Cold Scorpio defeated Daniels and Youth to win the vacant PCW Heavyweight Championship. (In an interesting trivia note, the title had to be vacated by Christian Cage due to his WWF commitments.) I do not believe that there is any video of the show in existence, but the May 24 Wrestling Observer Newsletter contained a blurb about the card, noting it drew about 800 fans and the Scorpio/Daniels/Youth match was the “highlight.”

In the main event of the same show, Reckless and the Fallen Angel actually locked it up again, as competitors who wrestled earlier in the evening came back out to face each other in an eight man tag team elimination match. In that bout, the team of Youth, Flash Flanagan, Glen Osborne, and Lance Diamond (later Simon Diamond) defeated the foursome of Daniels, Mike Modest, Tony Jones, and Tijuana luchador Venum Black, who has one of my favorite mask designs of all time.

The next night in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania for PCW, there was another three-way match, this time with Venum Black defeating Youth and Daniels.

It would be over a year before Christopher Daniels and Reckless Youth would share a ring again, this time on Thanksgiving weekend for their first and only one-on-one encounter. This bout was on November 25, 2000 for ECWA in Newark, Delaware. (Most fans will know the ECWA, if they know it at all, for their annual Super 8 tournament.) Daniels defeated Youth in just under fifteen minutes, and you can actually find the entire show on the IndependentWrestling.tv streaming service.

On March 30, 2001, the two men formed a tag team for the first and only time, wrestling for Brian Zenner’s Midwest Championship Wrestling at the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago, Illinois, which would later go on to become a regular Ring of Honor venue. The indy darling tag team defeated ECW alumni Chris Chetti and Danny Doring.

Last but not least, Daniels and Youth found themselves on the opposite side of a six man tag on April 27, 2003 in Shelton, Connecticut for a group called the New Age Wrestling Federation, which in later years was renamed to the North End Wrestling Alliance. In that bout, Youth teamed with his long-time friend Mike Quackenbush and a fairly obscure wrestler named John Brooks to pick up a win over Daniels, long-time northeast independent wrestler Mike Kruel (who got a WWE developmental run late in his career), and a guy named J-Busta, who is actually still wrestling to this day.

And that is the entire in-ring history of Christopher Daniels and Reckless Youth, as near as I can tell. Only the ECWA match appears to be available – but that’s better than nothing.

James wants to make sure the rights are right:

Now that Tony Khan owns the library of Ring of Honor, if he wanted to re release old videos/PPV would he have to get permission from Vince McMahon to use anything involving current WWE guys that spent time in ROH? Or does him owning the library give him free reign to use clips of Styles, Rollins, or any others I may be forgetting?

No, Tony Khan would not have to pay any royalties to Vince McMahon or WWE just because the footage features guys who are currently under contract up north. The wrestlers going to work for WWE does not give WWE the rights to their likenesses or anything of that nature as it relates to previously recorded shows. Ring of Honor owns the footage outright.

Night Wolf the Wise loves it when I write lists:

Looking back at the history of wrestling, what would be your top 10 list of gimmicks/storylines/angles that were done in poor taste? For example Sgt Slaughter becoming an Iraqi sympathizer. WWE probably has more then any other promotion so limit it to WWE and give your reason why you thought it was bad.

There are plenty of listicles out there on the internet that already cover this exact topic, and I can’t say that I have lot of hot takes, so let me whip through this one fairly quickly and in no particular order:

Eugene: The entire character was built around stereotyping and/or mocking people with intellectual disabilities, which is really odd given that the WWF/WWE has worked with the Special Olympics on and off for many years. It got really unfortunate when the company turned him heel, though that mercifully didn’t last too long.

Jimmy Snuka: Don’t get me wrong, many, many wrestlers over the decades have done terrible things behind the scenes, but whatever happened between Jimmy Snuka and Nancy Argentino in 1983 is truly beyond the pale. However, he remained a regular with the company for many years and was celebrated as a legend up until a murder investigation was reopened in 2013.

DX and Roddy Piper Wear Blackface: In 1990 and again in 1998, WWF performers engaged in a type of performance that many had long thought was taboo given its demeaning history. Despite that history, Roddy Piper thought it would be a great idea to paint half his body up as a black man at Wrestlemania VI and D-Generation X decided to go full blackface in a Monday Night Raw skit mocking the Nation of Domination. The fact that both incidents appear to have been scrubbed from WWE’s current version of its history is telling.

Katie Vick: It’s simulated necrophilia on television. Do I really have to explain why this is a bad idea? The other odd thing about this – which isn’t mentioned enough – is that Triple H accused Kane of killing his fictional girlfriend and then having sex with her corpse. Kane categorically denied being a murder, but he never really addressed the other allegations, which put his character in a weird spot.

Muhammad Hassan Becomes a Terrorist: Again, this isn’t really a hot take. Muhammad Hassan started off as an interesting, somewhat nuanced character (especially by wrestling standards) because he was an American Muslim upset with being stereotyped as a terrorist in the wake of September 11. However, he was still a heel because he took his response too far. Then, in true WWE fashion, rather than continuing the nuanced character, they just outright made him a terrorist. That was bad enough, but when he engaged in an attack on the Undertaker that included elements drawn from terror attacks and WWE proceeded with airing it on the day of a series of bombings in London, a million different lines were crossed.

Crime Time: It’s a tag team of two young, Black men, and their only aspect of their characters that ever gets discussed is the fact that they are crooks. Once more, I shouldn’t have to explain why this is problematic, but WWE made it even worse by trying to do damage control in advance and explaining in releases sent out the day the team debuted that this was meant to be satire in the vein of Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately for them, calling something satire doesn’t make it satire, and there was no apparent satire when their segments actually aired.

Sgt. Slaughter – Iraqi Sympathizer: People are quite literally dying in a war, so let’s see what we can do to make a few bucks off of it in our professional wrestling angle. Makes sense to me.

Saba Simba: After being a popular star and Tag Team Champion for the World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s, Tony Atlas returns to the company in 1990 dressed as the WWF wardrobe department’s conception of an Ugandan tribesman. There could be an interesting story to tell about a Black wrestler exploring his roots, particularly if the wrestler involved were somebody who had actually done it, but this was just a crass racial caricature.

The Wild Samoans: Yeah, let’s paint an entire group of people as ignorant savages, and let’s continue doing it throughout literal generations of the same family.

Triple H / Booker T. World Title Feud: There was plenty of blatant race baiting in this one, with HHH garnering the cheapest of heat. I don’t think that I would have been a fan of that in any context, but, if you’re going to do it, at least have the Black babyface WIN in the end so that there’s no argument that can be made to justify the heel’s comments about how “those people” don’t belong as World Champion.

If there are any outside of WWE name the top ten outside WWE of bad gimmicks/storylines/angles

Oh, this is far from being a solely WWE phenomenon. I could be here for days if I wrote them all out, but here is a selection.

Oklahoma: There have been several instances of Jim Ross’s Bell’s palsy being mocked in wrestling over the years. If I had the book, I wouldn’t do that in any situation, but, at least when the WWF did it, you could say Ross was working for the company and thus at least tacitly condoned it, even if he didn’t condone it outright. However, when WCW had Ed Ferrara dress up as J.R. and go after his disability, it was pretty despicable.

Jim Neidhart, Klansman: This is a weird one. In the mid-1990s, there was a promotion called the National Wrestling Conference based out of Las Vegas. They managed to get regional television and attract some big names who were in between gigs, including the Ultimate Warrior for a rare non-WWF appearance. One time, they decided it would be a good idea to have Jim Neidhart make a surprise appearance to jump Virgil. That part was fine. The issue was that, in order to hide Neidhart’s identity, they dressed him up like a member of the KKK. Why? No idea.

Slamboree 2000: I’m surprised this one doesn’t get written up as one of wrestling’s most disgusting moments more often than it does. On May 7, 2000, WCW’s Slamboree pay per view concluded with Mike Awesome throwing Chris Kanyon off of the top of a steel cage and down through the entrance ramp. What’s the problem with that? Well, the show took place at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, where, almost exactly a year earlier, Owen Hart died by falling from the top of the arena, and the WCW announcers sold the Kanyon bump in a manner eerily similar to how Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler dealt with the Hart situation.

Fritz Von Erich: I guess I shouldn’t expect much from a guy who used a Nazi gimmick when he was a wrestler, but Fritz Von Erich as a promoter was so much worse. Not only did he rush his son Mike back to the ring to help his promotion draw after a debilitating round of toxic shock syndrome, but he also suffered a fake heart attack on television and would then give updates on his condition, which improved or worsened based on how well live event tickets were selling in a given week.

Pacman Jones: Yes, our friends at TNA make the list for their signing of embattled football player Adam “Pacman” Jones. There was some typical TNA stupidity here, as they brought the guy in to wrestle without realizing their was a clause in his NFL contract that prevented him from engaging in such activity. That’s not why he makes this situation makes the list, though. It makes the list because Jones had been involved in a shooting at a strip club that left a bouncer (and occasional indy wrestler) named Tommy Urbanski a paraplegic, and TNA actually referenced this incident as part of Jones’ act.

Bubba Ray Dudley Puts Dixie Carter through a Table: I wrote an entire article about the problems with this one back when it happened. It’s still disgusting.

Onita Stabs Invader 1: This goes to show that tasteless angles aren’t even limited to the United States. As many reading this will know, Puerto Rican wrestler Jose “Invader 1” Gonzalez is largely suspected to be the man who stabbed Bruiser Brody to death, though he was acquitted in a court of law. When Japanese wrestler Atsushi Onita was going to have a feud with Invader in Onita’s own FMW promotion, he thought it would be a great idea to stage some photographs in which he had supposedly been brutally stabbed by Gonzalez.

Kamala: I didn’t put this on the WWF list because, even though Kamala spent a fair amount of time in the Fed, that’s not where the gimmick origintated, and it’s not where he spent the bulk of his career. This is just as degrading as the Wild Samoans gimmick mentioned above and for many of the same reasons, just substituting in Black people for Pacific Islanders.

Most of GLOW: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling had a roster so full of racial stereotypes that, in the Netflix series based on the promotion, they mocked this phenomenon with a character called “The Welfare Queen” and it didn’t even really seem like too much of a stretch. Notable examples included the fiery Latina Spanish Red, the “Indians” Cheyenne Cher and Little Feather, Black team “The Soul Patrol,” the Cuban guerrilla Habana, various “headhunters,” Palestina the terrorist (no, really), and a few more that I’ve probably forgotten.

TNA Victory Road 2011: Jeff Hardy has had to deal with all sorts of personal demons throughout his career, and they have manifested in a number of unfortunate ways. One of the highest profile was the main event of TNA’s Victory Road pay per view, during which he was supposed to wrestle Sting but showed up in no condition to perform. The brain trust of the company, which should have known better, sent Hardy to the ring anyway and had Sting wrap the whole thing up in ten seconds. Even though it was very short and very simple, the Charismatic Enigma should have been nowhere near a ring given the potential risks to himself and his opponent.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. 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.