wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Is Jinder Mahal The Worst WWE Champion Ever?

November 17, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
Jinder Mahal WWE Title WWE Live Event WWE Smackdown

Hey, Ask 411 Wrestling, Mat Sforcina, blahblahblah let’s get down to answering questions, shall we?

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The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I was involved in the above’s debut, well, one of them. I once made CM Punk tap in a historic situation for both of us. I’ve been traded from one brand to another a couple times, fired from one and returned to it as a free agent, drafted who knows how many times, and was moved to a different brand when the brand I was on was cancelled, but still turned up in the same time slot the very next week. My most recent televised match was a loss to a guy who currently holds a title. My last match in WCW was on Saturday Night, my last manager was female, while the last man I managed is a large gentleman. A guy who works for WWE right now, I am who?

Thanks to Robert_Frost, the answer is revealed.

Who am I? I was involved in the above’s debut, well, one of them (K-Kwik’s original WWF debut.) I once made CM Punk tap in a historic situation for both of us (Won King of the Ring, and first time Punk submitted in WWE.) I’ve been traded from one brand to another a couple times (yup), fired from one and returned to it as a free agent (lost a ‘loser gets fired’ match as cover for a Wellness Violation), drafted who knows how may times (sure), and was moved to a different brand when the brand I was on was cancelled (ECW), but still turned up in the same time slot the very next week (became NXT pro to Yep Yep Yep What It Do Ryback). My most recent televised match was a loss to a guy who currently holds a title (Antonio Cesaro). My last match in WCW was on Saturday Night (to Duggan), my last manager was female (Layla), while the last man I managed is a large gentleman (Big Zeke). A guy who works for WWE right now, you are Commissioner William Regal

Who am I? I once lost a title to the above, and I’m one of three men to have won something and not the WWF Title. I’ve fought in a match type WWE is bringing back, I’ve won a tournament for a cup, I’m a Triple Crown Champion, I’ve never held tag gold twice with the same partner, and I’ve been managed by many men but just one woman. A guy connected to John Cena, sort of, and who has been a member of an Alliance, but not the one that would make sense, and a guy in last week’s column, I am who?

Getting Down To All The Business

Garrett starts us off with a question about one of Jim Cornette’s many reasons for hating Russo.

I have a couple of questions relating to the late, great Steve “Dr. Death” Williams. I found a copy of Dr. Death’s autobiography, How Dr. Death Became Dr. Life in college and read through it – fantastic read about his life and career both before and after wrestling before he passed. He went on about how he was slated to have a 6-month program with Stone Cold Steve Austin as it related to his performance from the Brawl-For-All, etc. Let’s assume Dr. Death does not meet Bart Gunn and his subsequent fate from the BFA tournament – goes on to win the tournament.

a.) How do you think the subsequent program with SCSA is handled? Does DD get a title run similar to Kane’s 1-day run or do you think DD would have a lengthy run, if one at all?

Part of the issue with the tournament is that, as he says in his book, they kept changing the rules, maybe to try and lessen the chance of injury, but they kept making it harder and harder for Dr Death to do his thing, since he was a tough guy because he’d grab you, maybe toss you, then tie you up into a small ball and then beat the crap out of said ball. He wasn’t a striker, he was a wrestler.

Plus, despite the accepted logic of the BFA being the formality to put Dr Death over and then head into the Austin program, the book plus recent Russo comments (I know, trusting Russo, but with other sources backing him up) it seems like this was more a thing where it appears JR was pushing for the Austin/Williams program, and then with Dr. D put his hand up for the BFA, it was then a case of “Oh, well, he’ll win that, we’ll do the finals at Summerslam, then him and Austin from there” idea, assuming that the whole thing wasn’t just hot air/a motivator for Dr. Death. I mean, JR had a lot of sway so I can see him pushing for it, but I’m not fully on board with them carrying through.

Because sure, I can see them running Austin/Williams right after Summerslam 98 (Austin beats Taker, Taker and Kane move onto something else, Williams comes out and kills Austin, go from there), but doing a six month program would imply either Austin/Williams heads into Wrestlemania, or ends at St Valentine’s Day Massacre. Which is possible, sure, but I just don’t see it happening. If only because a guy known for suplexing people against a guy with a bum neck is… Not a great idea.

But if it did, if the program did happen, and I’m booking for some reason, then you’d have, as I said, Williams kill Austin on the Raw after Summerslam, put Austin on the shelf. Vince is… hesitant to embrace Williams as his saviour, but does make a match, Austin/Williams at Breakdown, and if Austin doesn’t turn up and beats the Doc, Williams wins by default. Austin isn’t seen until the last show before the PPV, as Williams murders everyone unlucky enough to fight him. Then Austin returns, but on the go home show, he goes for the Stunner, Dr. Death hits a suplex out of it, end show.

PPV, Austin and Williams have a wild brawl that ends with the two men brawling off into the night. Vince then grabs the belt, next night, he says how Austin had to beat Williams, it’s a draw, so Austin loses the belt. Williams comes out and demands his belt. Vince hems and haws, since Williams didn’t win… Austin comes out, goads Vince into a rematch between he and Williams at Judgement Day for the belt.

That one also ends in a draw, thanks to Bossman and Shamrock coming out and murdering both since Vince wants neither of them as champ. This leads into the Tourney at Survivor Series, where Austin and Williams meet in the finals, ring the bell, Williams is the new champ, he holds it and murders Foley a bit as Austin fights from underneath, and then either finally gets Williams at WM via the Rumble thing we got, or he gets Williams at SVDM to settle it and find out who goes on to fight Rock and Mankind at WM.

I dunno, I just don’t see it running that long.

b.) How do you think OTHER programs are handled? In my opinion (and many others’), Survivor Series 1998 is one of the greatest culminations of storylines from the Attitude Era. If Austin/Dr. Death has a lengthy run into the Fall 1998 timeframe – does Rock become champion at the end of the tournament and launch himself into stardom? Does Mankind get his title run? Does Taker form the Ministry based off of the Kane merger?

Rock could, you’d just have William be the guy screwed over instead of Mankind, and then have he and Austin as reluctant partners maybe, with their match at SVDM to settle things once and for all.

Mankind would probably still feud with Rock, but it would be a secondary program, which may or may not still work out well. The Ministry would form about the same, I’d imagine, with Taker and Kane’s falling apart happening quicker and more bloody as the Ministry seems to form just to kill Kane, until they move on…

Apart from people taking time off from getting suplexed by Williams every night, not too different.

Let’s stay with world titles, thanks to HBK’s Smile.

New question – on Ron Simmons’ Wikipedia page, it states up top that WWE recognizes him as the first black World Champion in history. Then in the body, it says he became the second African-American wrestler to win a World Title when he beat Vader in 1992. So who is the first, what specific belt did this person win, and why does the WWE not recognize that reign?

The man was Bobo Brazil, he won the NWA World Heavyweight title, and WWE doesn’t recognize it because the NWA doesn’t recognize it.

Bobo Brazil is one of those names that most wrestling fans will vaguely know of, but probably haven’t seen much of them wrestling.

Bobo, real name Houston Harris (which would totally work as a wrestling name, to be honest) was born in 1924 and as a young man played baseball in the Negro Leagues when that was a thing that existed. He became a wrestler, and was meant to be BuBu Brasil, “The South American Giant,” but a promoter misspelt his name on a flyer and it stuck.

Starting his wrestling career in the early 50’s, Bobo was one of the first African-American wrestlers to become a star with all audiences, his career beginning with him taking on other African-American wrestlers until his popularity saw him taking on many top names, including The Sheik, whom he feuded with for years.

But in terms of being the first world champ, well, on August 18, 1962, in Newark, NJ, Bobo Brazil beat then NWA World Champion Buddy Rogers for the title. However, Bobo refused the belt, because he was a fine upstanding gentleman, and The Nature Boy claimed he had a groin injury. But then doctors examined Rogers, and a few weeks later it was announced that they had declared he was fit, so Bobo was NWA World Champion! History has been made etc!

Buddy would then beat him on October 30 that same year to ‘regain’ the title.

But the problem is, Buddy was also having an issue with Killer Kowalski, as late the previous year in a 2/3 falls match, Buddy broke his ankle in the first fall. And so Killer claimed he was NWA World Champion, and some promotions agreed, and promoted him as such.

So Buddy was arguably not champion when he lost to Bobo, as he only beat Kowalski in early 1963. But even if he was, the whole mess was not recognized by the NWA. According to the NWA’s records, Rogers’ reign went from his win over Pat O’Connor in 1959 through to his losing the belt to Lou Thesz in 1963, aka the match that saw the WWWF split away.

So WWE gives Ron the credit because while he’s not the first black man to win a World title, he’s the first man to hold a world title, if that makes any sense.

Also, are we at the point where WWE is the decider regarding what titles were or were not World Titles and is now the Maester of wrestling history?

Yes and no.

Certainly WWE owns a lot of wrestling footage and copyrights and such, and they can do what they like with them. If they decide next week to bring back the WCW Hardcore title and award it to Michael Cole, that’s an official reign, they can do that. On that superficial level, they control history.

But they do own the history in terms of being the official record keepers. WWE claims Ric Flair is a 16 time world champ. His numbers are almost certainly higher than that, but since they control the belts, and their history, they can choose to recognize those 16 and those 16 alone.

In terms of which belts are World titles… Well that’s always been a matter of opinion, to be fair. Yes, you can set out rules, you can approach it rationally and logically, but at the end of the day, even if you’re basing it on ‘logic’ you’re still making a choice as to which belts are world titles. WWE has that right as well, but since they own a lot of belts, they have a lot of say in it, sure.

But WWE can’t just make shit up, beyond the in-joke stuff that they’re stuck with like Pat Patterson’s South American Title win. WWE cannot suddenly say Arn Anderson was a world champ, or that Diesel never was world champ, or what have you. There are limits to their power.

Regardless of Wikipedia though, if they own a belt, they own the history, and within reason, they can shape it.

Damien keeps us on the world title picture.

Was Jindar Mahal the worst WWE Champion in history?

Depends on how you define ‘worst’, really. Certainly by most standards you could apply, he’s not worked. He hasn’t raised ratings or buyrates overall, nor has he raised network subscriptions in India, which was the main point of his reign. He hasn’t made money from merch, or increased media attention. He hasn’t put on great matches, nor created memorable moments, nor has he made anyone, either in matches he’s had or just with the finish, AJ got a pop when he won, but he’s not more over now than he was prior, at least not to any noticeable degree.

However, he hasn’t nearly killed the company, like Diesel came close to, nor is he a non-wrestler, like Vince was… I mean, if you’re talking skills and ability, he could cut a promo, singular, and wrestle a match, again, singular. And that’s not good, sure, but compared to a Stan Stasiak, long my go to worst champ, or JBL, who had exactly one positive to his reign, the end of it to Cena, which got overshadowed by DAVE on the night… I think we need some time to digest the reign, and perhaps to see if it’s to come back on the India tour and/or if Vince decides to try for India again anyway. But while I would not be prepared to say he’s the worst of all time just yet, I will happily accept that’s in the running, and that if you think he is, that you have a valid viewpoint. I just need some time to decide.

Richard asks about a topic I’ve had plenty of time to decide on.

I was just reading the “Pro Wrestling Illustrated” 1987 Year in Review issue. In it, several things caught my attention. In the “Ringside” article it stated that Tommy Rich won a $100,000 AWA battle royal. Later, in the “Numbers ‘87” section it said that Boris Zukhov and Stanislaus Ustinov won $50,000 in an AWA tag team tournament and Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff won $1,000,000 at the end of the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup. Again, this is from 1987 – 30 years ago. Are those payouts greatly exaggerated, or did those wrestlers really make the big bucks?

Yes, they were wildly exaggerated. In fact, winning those matches usually didn’t come with any bonus, beyond maybe getting paid because you’re having to work multiple matches and/or getting a push means you’re being paid a bit more. I know it’s shocking to hear that wrestling companies would lie like that, but no, there was thousands of dollars lying around to be won in battle royals. It’s just a way to have a match mean something without needing a title belt around or for any long term planning, beyond a winner and presumably a feud out of the result.

Well, that is to say, I’ve never been paid anything like that when I won matches like that… I assume they’re not legit, or else I’ve been ripped off!

While talking about those old magazines, there seems to be no consensus on the Internet about which of the writers where real people and which were just pseudonyms. Was Dan Shocket a real person? Eddie Ellner? Liz Hunter? Matt Brock? Stu Stacks? Or were they all really just Bill Apter?

No, they weren’t all Bill Apter, especially given he hasn’t been involved with the magazine for almost 20 years now. Now, I don’t think I can go to PWI and ask them which of their writers are fictional, but from what I have read up, in turn…

Dan Shocket was a real person, who did write at least some of the columns attributed to him, however it’s generally accepted that Bill and/or other writers wrote the bulk of the output under his name, and he died relatively young due to cancer, apparently. I’m not sure if he continued to produce columns after that point, but he was a real person, apparently. Apter claims he was a legit person, and there was a Dan Shocket who wrote in some men’s magazines at the same time (Hustler and such), however it’s not been proven that he existed to the extent to satisfy some people. However, Apter does rely on him and our next name as being legit people when asked, so, he must be confident about it.

Eddie Ellner is 100% a real guy, in fact if you want to take a road trip, assuming you’re in the Americas, head on down or up to Santa Barbara, California and you too can take a Yoga class with a former PWI writer. (Well, the last few months of ‘his’ work wasn’t him, due to his issues with the law after trying to spread his Grandmother’s ashes on the Yankee Stadium pitch or something.)

Liz Hunter and Matt Brock, they are both fake, Liz was there to give the appearance of balance and gender equality and all that (plus maybe some guys liked reading about a woman getting all hot about Lex Luger), and Matt Brock was usually the editor’s default pseudonym for when they wrote content. There was an actual Matt Brock who was a wrestling journalist from the 50’s/60’s, they just ‘borrowed’ the name, and plus that allows for a smidge of reasonable doubt if anyone really dug into it, the story goes.

Stu Saks? Yes, he’s real.

I think Brock and Liz being fake kind of gave the impression they were all just one guy, and while I’m saying all the stuff was written by real people, it’s not as bad as you might think. They just had a pseudonym for the editor, and a fake wrestling geek girl.

Nelson asks about Andre.

I was watching some Andre the Giant matches recently and I ran across the clip where Andre turned Jimmy Hart down as his manager, and got attached by Earthquake as a result. It’s pretty common knowledge that Andres health had been poor for years at this point. I’ve heard that he almost retired even before WM3. If everyone knew this about him, what was the point of the whole managerial competition that took place? Was there still hope he could go, or was this how they chose to write him off? I know he had a handful of house show matches after this, but I don’t believe he was ever on TV again without crutches after this. Keep up the great work!!

The point was to give Andre something to do while they waited for him to heal up and yes, get back in the ring. Wrestling is a hell a drug, and it’s really hard to walk away fully, not when you’ve been successful and it’s most of what you know. As I understand it, Andre was meant to come back in 91, he was announced for the Rumble, then the leg injury happened in Japan, so they pushed it back, then there was this, which was going to allow Andre to manage for a bit, until he was healed up and ready to get back into the ring.

Yes, he was broken down. Yes, you can certainly argue he shouldn’t have been back in the ring. But was trying, apparently. If he’d healed up quicker, this would have led to an Earthquake/Andre or, more likely, Natural Disasters/Andre & Bossman or something feud, but Andre’s injuries were worse than hoped and this was almost the end of it.

B’Lo Brown makes a good point.

Hey man just thought you should know that you’re the GOAT of Ask 411. Also I actually have a question. After watching many Kurt Angle matches I noticed that when he puts the opponent’s leg in a grapevine while in the ankle lock, 99.9% of the time it’s the end. But he normally only utilizes it after a long match where he used the ankle lock multiple times. So what would be the kayfabe reason that he wouldn’t just use the grapevine tactic right away every time he uses the ankle lock?

I don’t believe one has ever been given. The shoot reason is easy, obviously, it’s the Finisher+, the move no-one escapes from, but if you need a kayfabe reason, two things spring to mind, somewhat related. The first is that he’s super vulnerable once he’s grapevined you. At that point all he can do is keep wrenching until you give up. Now, if you’re already weakened, your ankle is on fire, you’re blown up… All you’re thinking about is tapping out.

But if you’re fresh? You might well be able to push yourself up and get him in a pinning predicament. Or use the other leg to kick at him. Or escape mid-transition. You need to be out of sorts for him to lock it in, there’s escapes and there’s counters, he just never uses it when you’re fresh enough to think of them.

The other issue is that the standing anklelock has a lot more options available. Like I said, he’s vulnerable when he’s got it locked in, if you’ve got a friend who can come in, he’s taking a kick or a leg drop or something hard. Whereas the standing anklelock? He can let go and grab a guy running into him for something. Or he can transition into a spinning toe hold or a figure four to keep you guessing. Or add in a half crab if your back is also hurt. Or let go if you make the ropes and be ready to attack you, rather than waste time getting up if you somehow manage to get the ropes with the grapevine.

So yeah, the grapevine is deadly, assuming you’re beaten up enough not to counter it, and he’s confident enough to go for the killshot.

Joseph asks about a rebooking.

I wanted to run this rebooked card for Wrestlemania XI by you.

WWF Title Match
Champion Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart

Owen has “The Alliance to End Hartamania” or whatever. Neidhart, Yoko, and Diesel if there’s room for him.

Shawn Michaels vs Diesel

LT vs Bam Bam Bigelow

Intercontinental Title Match
Champion Jeff Jarrett vs. The 1-2-3 Kid

Jeff Jarrett has the Roadie. The Kid has Razor. Razor fought JJ on Raw in a big rematch. His Machismo demanded he do it on his own without the Kid. He bit off more than he could chew and got injured, bad. Leading up to this match Razor has been training the kid, teaching him how to be ready for Double J.

The British Bulldog vs. Sid

Tag Team Title Match
The Smokin’ Gunns vs. The American Way (Tatanka and Lex Luger)

The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy

Adam Bomb, Aldo Montoya, Bob Holly vs Kama, IRS, Nikolai Volkoff

Well it doesn’t suck, but Owen was not getting the belt, certainly not in that position. And while they weren’t ready to go to Shawn like they should have, Bret wasn’t getting it back neither. I did my go round a year or so ago, from memory…

*googles self*

*cleans himself up*

Allied Powers win the tag titles couple weeks prior, show opens with Allied Powers V Owen/???, do the Yoko reveal and tag win. Follow with 123 Kid V Sid, small V big, Kid is by himself and seems to resent it, gets killed. Taker/Bundy, same. Razor/Jarrett for IC title, Kid is there in Razor’s corner, then turns on him and costs him the belt to Jarrett. Bret/Bob same, although Backlund is told to say I Quit clearly. Shawn beats Diesel to win title, and then celebrates with LT after his win to make that the shot people remember for the show, HBK and LT as chums.

Maybe toss in a 8 man, Gunns/MOM V Blus/Now Evil Bushwhackers maybe, set up MOM V Owen/Yoko because Vince would love that. But the roster wasn’t too deep at the time…

Your card would have been better, sure, but it wouldn’t have happened that way.

Now I had more column for you dear readers, but I’ve just been sent home for not letting Watry hit me with a steel chair, so I’ll see you all next week, hopefully.