wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Is Kane The Ultimate Company Man?

October 23, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
Daniel Bryan Kane

Hiya, welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling, the only wrestling column written by someone really, really, REALLY annoyed that MY Wrestling Go 24/7 Watermelon Championship is now out of the country. OK, I haven’t held it in a while, and yes, I’m currently suspended from the company due to ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ by kicking Pikachu in the pokeballs, but this is not cool! How am I going to get it back from Trent Seven? Jump out of a case of moustache wax or something? GAH!

(I would have taken it back while he was in the country, but he had backup. Literally.

Oh, yeah.

Anyway, onto questions and answers. Got one of those in need of the other? [email protected] is where you send it.

BANNER!!!

Zeldas!

Check out my Drabble blog, 1/10 of a Picture! Watermelonless!

Massive Q’s Facebook Page! Also Watermelonless. Sigh.

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My replacement: I have zero control over what happens to this column if/when I leave, unless things have radically changed somewhat. It may well have, we’ll have to see.

The Trivia Crown

What an I? I’m a Main Event from one of WWE’s Big 5 PPVs. I was signed the night after a PPV, albeit at that point it involved someone who wouldn’t end up in the match, although the other guy in the match did put his slot on the line in at least one match as well. I saw some gold change hands, the first time that title changed hands in that state under the name it had at the time. I marked a first on commentary, a record involving the winner and years, and I had a rhyme involved in the marketing. What am I?

Rogue has it, albeit with some slight editing needed.

I’m a Main Event from one of WWE’s Big 5 PPVs (Summerslam 2002)
I was signed the night after a PPV (King of the Ring 2002), albeit at that point it involved someone who wouldn’t end up in the match (Undertaker lost the title a triple threat match with the Rock and Kurt Angle at Vengeance), although the other guy in the match did put his slot on the line in at least one match as well (Brock put his title shot up against Hogan) I saw some gold change hands (Undisputed Championship), the first time that title changed hands in that state under the name it had at the time (either first change in NY as Undisputed Championship). I marked a first on commentary (SD’s announcers called the main event 1st time), a record involving the winner and years (Brock youngest champion), and I had a rhyme involved in the marketing (Rock vs Brock). What am I? Brock Lesnar vs the Rock for the WWE Undisputed Championship

Who am I? I was on the same card as the one which had the above, in a way. I’m one of the few men who can claim to have worked for 2 “All Big 3”s. I’ve advertised a network on my chest. I’ve been a second man to work a gimmick, albeit with no Jr. or 2 or anything like that attached, hell, the first guy gave it to me full stop! I was part of the first WWE Draft, been part of two parody stables, and the writer of this question is jealous of me for some reason. Who am I?

Getting Down To All The Business

Pedro starts us off with a follow up from last week.

Since Chet Lemon was an outstanding outfield in the MLB, for the Detroit Tigers, do you have any idea or info why Kevin Nash took once that same name??

I do, actually, thanks to an interview Nash gave… 8 years ago? Geez…

Anyway, I quote:

PS: My last question is hopefully, a little light-hearted and whatever, but where did you come up with the Chet Lemon thing and how much of that was you and how much fun did you have doing that show with Booker?

KN: Chet Lemon used to play for the Tigers. He just he was going to be Black Snow or whatever he was. I said, well, I guess I’ll be Chet Lemon.

PS: They even had the graphic on the screen for you with Chet Lemon underneath your face.

KN: I thought the funniest thing was. I don’t know if you caught it. I said, “My God! Booker T finally shows up to the arena and he strikingly resembles Black Snow! I thought Booker T was ribbing when he did that Wolfman Jack in the first match. I didn’t realize he was going to do it to me the whole time. I couldn’t even get a word in. It was like Chinese water torture.

Nash is a big Detroit sports fan, and so when Booker decided he was going to be Black Snow, Nash grabbed the first name that sprung to mind as a color, and Chet Lemon was the name. So congrats on spotting that.

Chris has a few questions, most of them related.

Has the father surprise son (or daughter?) angle ever worked out for the supposed offspring? I see this now with Angle/Jordan, remember the Vince/Hornswaggle debacle. Not sure, but presume it’s been done more times. Has the daughter ever happened? Would Kennedy have succeeded here had he not F’d up?

Parent/child angles in wrestling don’t tend to be surprise ones. They tend to be the father coming back to help the son, or the two of them fighting each other, or the occasional beating of one to send a message to the other.

Specifically talking about surprise reveals of one to the other, they’re actually pretty rare. Apart from the two you mentioned, off the top of me head the only other ones are the Dominic/Rey/Eddie custody thing which wasn’t really like that, and the Dakota/Pillman/Goldust Love Child bit which really wasn’t like that, and was a lie, as was the Hornswoggle thing, eventually.

And of all those, no, none of them worked to any real degree. At least to my mind. Perhaps a reader knows of an actual positive working example for us.

Kennedy ruling the WWE as Vince’s kid… It probably would have worked, maybe not to the degree they would have liked, but assuming he wasn’t injured or screwed up some other way, the push was set to be massive, so only a complete idiot could have messed it up.

So the answer comes down to if you think Kennedy was a complete idiot or not.

Also, has any wrestler put over as many people as Kane has and still maintained upper card status? They jobbed him out to all the supposed new monsters. Snitsky and Khali as two examples. Seems like most he got worked over by never went anywhere. Has Kane been the ultimate company man?

Well this is timely.

I think Kane wins in terms of losing to people and not really dropping down too much in status, in terms of sheer numbers, yes. I’d argue that Ric Flair did more putting people over while still winning during his NWA Champ days, and you can argue that a guy like The Rock was better at just shrugging off losses and it not mattering, but yeah, Kane’s been around a long time, and he’s put over a lot of guys and never really lost too much heat. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call him the ultimate company man, but I can see the argument and if you think he is, more power to you.

Heck, why do you think he’s suddenly back now? You gotta job someone to the Shield…

Connor! Let’s talk Big Boys!

Was Andre the Giant really as tall as was claimed? In some photos average sized men come up to his shoulder

No, he wasn’t. I hate to be the guy to tell you that, but they lied about his height. He was billed as being 7 foot 4 inches, or 2.24 meters. His actual height is not known exactly, as it was kept quiet for obvious reasons. The most commonly given actual height is 6 foot 11 inches, 2.12 meters. Still an impressive height, but not quite the legendary level he’s known for.

That said, his height did change through the years, due to weight and posture and his gigantism/acromegaly and surgery and such, so there’s no such thing as a definitive, actual height of Andre. He did shrink a little as the years went on, after his surgery I’ve seen 7 feet flat as a measurement, but it’s hard to say, only a couple big guys have been measured and confirmed, like Giant Gonzales and such.

Whatever happened to Vader’s old head mask that used to shoot steam

Holy crap, I found the guy who was basically the Mask guy. ‘Sharms’ tells the story like this, and I quote:

The one that Leon used in Japan was mechanically based on the metric system. In order to use it in the States, it would have to have been necessary to have a separate set of tools to do the interior adjustments. So Leon received permission to duplicate the mask, at his own expense, with the U.S. measurements. He did that, but it was a difficult process.

The mask needed someone to trigger the “smoke.” In Japan is was usually a wrestler named, I think, Black Cat. Leon, who I knew from his AWA days as Bull Power White, called and asked if I could be available on weekends to operate the mask in WCW. He had cleared it with Ole Anderson and WCW. I was paid $350 a night and the rental car….which had to be a van to transport the mask and its case.

The “smoke”, CO2 gas shot from two small canisters, triggered by remote control. It was a nightmare. We couldn’t fly with loaded canisters, so in each town, we had to find a place to fill them. Companies that supplied CO2 usually didn’t have the equipment to fill the small canisters. Finally, we started going to the local Pepsi or Coke bottling plants where we could get it done.

When Leon was booked on a Fri, Sat and Sunday, we were able to transport the mask on the ring truck.

The mask and Vader made their debut in Baltimore on some pay per view (It was the night Sting beat Flair for the title) While Leon got ready for his match, I would test the gimmick and make sure the remote was working. When it was Leon’s time to go, I made my way to the ringside area with the remote beneath my jacket or whatever. He’d do his thing and at the right time, I’d set it off. He’d walk around with it for a minute, then hand it to me. I’d take it backstage, pack it up and wait for Leon…and off we’d go to the next town.

I did this over the course of about six months. Eventually, I found it was taking up too much time…and while the money was a nice bonus, it wasn’t enough to make me want to stay out there…….When I told Leon, he understood. I had really done this to give him a hand introducing the gimmick.

They tried to use different guys on the gimmick, but the logistics still had to be taken care of…maintenance and finding the CO2. They tried some different options….Klondike Bill, head of the ring crew, tried it, but that didn’t work out. I think they tried one of the referees….again it didn’t work out. So they eventually stopped using the smoke, but still used the mask. Leon didn’t want to deal with the mask by himself, so that was the end of it. When Leon’s son Jesse was getting into the business, there was talk of him using the mask, but it was just too logistically impractical.

Vader apparently has both the original and the copy in storage somewhere, but yeah, it was just a logistical thing that was too hard to maintain back in the day, and they’re now in Vader’s collection. At least it’s in WWE 2K18 though.

Jeremy asks about timing and words.

When did a lot of professional wrestling terminology (i.e. Face, heel, finisher, heat, stiff, etc.) develop?

Pretty much at the same time as professional wrestling itself. Some of the terms, mark, work, shoot and such, they were around back in the day of the travelling carnival wrestling, they began as carny words that the wrestlers would also use, and as wrestling slowly developed from legit sport to sport with flair to show of flairy sport to Ric Flair, the terms evolved, and then new ones were added, by around the 1930’s, when the Gold Dust Trio was in full swing and control, it’s held that most terms like Kayfabe and such were known and established. Obviously ‘worked shoot’ and ‘spot monkey’ weren’t around then, but most of the basic terms were.

Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with a language specifically designed to confuse and disguise true meaning, it’s hard to get a firm grip on where it began. No-one really knows where the term kayfabe was established, for instance, with various theories and such but no definitive proof of any one of them being right.

So yeah, if it’s carny, then it’s around since before wrestling was wrestling. Else it was probably established by the 30’s, right when wrestling was wrestling.

From terms to Rumbles with What a Maneuver.

Here’s one I don’t think you’ve been asked. Why wasn’t Rick Martel, the most grossly underrated Royal Rumble performer ever, involved in the first Rumble in 1988? His tag team championship partner was so it’s odd to have one half of a tag team in there and not the other.

For those playing along at home, his partner at the time, the other half of Strike Force, was Tito Santana, who was the second man to ever enter a Royal Rumble. But indeed, Martel is not there in the Rumble, despite them being champs at the time.

At a guess, since I didn’t find any evidence one way or the other, they didn’t want to job out both tag champs, even if it was just a battle royal, it was still a big match, you didn’t have the IC champ Honky Tonk Man, or hot new face Randy Savage in there either. Santana was a former IC champ, he gave the first few moments some prestige and leadership, and then heat on the Hart Foundation to eliminate him, but Martel in there, perhaps, might make them look too weak and such.

Remember, this was the first one, they hadn’t really done one before and thus they were still working out the kinks. At least that’s how it seems, like I said, I couldn’t find any hard proof one way or the other.

From rumbles to refs now with Stuart.

While watching in the past the role of the referee was often utilised a lot greater than what it is nowadays. Why have they taken a backseat so much? They’re barely acknowledged, never mind have their name mentioned.

Because one day Vince decided he didn’t like ref bumps.

No Chandlers, that’s pretty much it.

A while back there was a big push from Vince onto the company about a few things, the phasing out of the term belt, the term title shot, stuff like that. And one of the aspects of that was that Vince decided that he didn’t like ref bumps and refs being part of the show, so there was a dramatic yanking back on ref bumps and even naming refs became verboten, they were to become part of the set dressing, like the timekeeper or security.

Now there was a time where there were far too many ref bumps in WWE, absolutely. And like most things in wrestling, when you don’t do something much, it makes the times you do do it mean something, so when a ref is bumped now it’s a big deal. But to act as if refs are invisible and interchangeable is a bit odd, since they do travel around with the company. I guess it’s sort of sportslike, but the thing is, with that, there’s an outside group running the refs, there’s a committee, and they change all the time, each city has its own refs and such. WWE, they travel with them, they clearly work for WWE, why not name them? Give them some personality?

But of course, the flip side of that is that you create expectation. You start dropping Drake Wuertz’s name every time he’s in the ring, some fans are going to start expecting him to snap and drop a guy on their head at some point. If you name and personify a character in wrestling, you create the expectation of that paying off at some point. So if you do not intend to do so, why would you name refs?

So yeah, WWE has decided to not use refs as plot points because Vince doesn’t like it right now, or wants to pull back on it a great deal so he can use them more later, or because Navi told him to or some such, whatever the reason, Vince made the choice, so WWE goes with it.

From refs to belts with (Another) Matt.

Sgt. Slaughter won a purple strapped Winged Eagle from the Ultimate Warrior. Then he wore a black strapped Winged Eagle until Wrestlemania, but the cover of Wrestlemania VII he has a blue strapped Winged Eagle. Any particular reason for this?

So Warrior liked to have colourful titles, and had a couple of different colored straps for the Winged Eagle belt, as he had for the IC title. He also had his name on the side plates and shorter straps, since that’s how he liked them, apparently. The purple one is the one he had when Slaughter won the title, but he also had a baby blue one, and a yellow one, and a white one that never made it onto TV.

But when Slaughter won the title, he reverted to the classic black belt, which is fine… Except why did he use the blue one in the photo for the cover of the video?

He didn’t. The blue belt was baby blue, and the belt on that cover isn’t baby blue, it’s dark blue. And it’s dark blue because it’s been edited. If you look at the cable PPV ads and some of the other earlier useage of the photo, it’s clearly purple. They quite possibly took the photo the day of the Rumble, or at least before he won the title. However, the pale purple, while fitting with Warrior’s colourful aesthetic, as well branding for Cruiserweights, apparently, is a little odd when it’s ‘AMERICA VS EVIL NON-AMERICAN AMERICANS!!!’ type stuff. So in later useage of the photo, the pale purple has been turned into a darker blue to at least b a little more adult and such. That appears to be what happened there.

Nightwolf wants to talk about brains, both the specific and the general.

Vince has done alot of genius things in wrestling. Building the WWE around Hogan, Then Austin, then Cena. He created Wrestlemania which was successful, etc. He’s also done alot of stupid things in wrestling: Turing Austin Heel, the failed Invasion angle, not pushing anybody in the Cena Era, etc. If we look back 10 years after he is gone, do you you think Vince will have had more Genius ideas for wrestling, or will the stupid things outweigh the genius, or will it be the same?

It very much depends on what happens to the WWE in that 10 years, both in regards to how WWE treats him, and how he’s viewed.

Assuming that Vince’s relatives remain in full control of the company, they’re unlikely to bury him or his accomplishments, so WWE will maintain the story that he’s the greatest wrestling mind in the history of everything, which does go a long way to convincing a lot of people that it’s true. Tell a lie, or at least a half truth, enough times, over and over again, and people will believe it. Some people do think HHH is one of the biggest and greatest stars in WWE history after all.

If it gets taken over somehow, and the new owners are under no compulsion to maintain this, then WWE might begin to be more honest about Vince, and the reverse of the above could happen. Although I’ll admit it’s unlikely, scenario 1 is far more likely.

However, that brings us back to point two, in which the judgement of Vince by the IWC, or at least those in the IWC with an open mind and/or self-awareness enough to examine their own beliefs and opinions and possibly change them, that judgement will be heavily influenced by how the company performs as a whole once Vince digevolves.

If the transition marks and obvious and steep decline, if suddenly cats and dogs, sorry, Natalya and The Shield start living together and Askua jobs to Jojo and Jinder Mahal is still WWE Champion, if the company goes downhill fast, or at least declines, then ten years on, people will view Vince’s abilities much higher, as look how it all went to Jinder once he was gone.

Likewise the alternate is also true, if it’s all sunshine and lollypops and the like, then people will be much more likely to say Vince sucked.

Overall, and/or if it’s even sailing… I think the consensus, or as near enough as you’ll get, is that he had really good ideas, really bad ideas, and could get stuck on one without realising it’s the other. The Great Roman Push will be viewed badly, I think, but it’ll get a pass because Cena worked, so Roman should have too. So on and so forth. A mixed bag, maybe slightly tilted to the positive side, overall, across his entire career. But we shall see…

Earlier This year, Shibata and Honma suffered brutal injuries in their matches. It got me thinking, with how severe their injuries are, should they do away with that Strong Style wrestling? Also should they get rid of the High Risk wrestling because alot of wrestler are having to take more time off to deal with injuries?

I can’t answer that, as wrestling style is very much a topic that has to be down to the individuals, assuming they are mentally competent. Some guys are willing to take the risks, take the blows, fight snug and hard and all that, and they’re cool with it. Others are marshmallows, content to coast on as light work as possible, for the safety of all. As long as people involved agree, I’ve got no problem with people working strong style, if there’s a market, and people willing to provide it.

Injuries are a part of wrestling, and again, it’s a risk/reward situation, I can’t make that call for other wrestlers, they have to tally up the numbers themselves. I will say that, at least in WWE, I don’t think it’s the wrestling as much as it is the training, the methods they seem to be using with weights and such may well be a bigger factor than the ring, but again, I can’t make the call. You give me the magic wand, I won’t magic it away, it’s down to the audience, the wrestlers, and how much the latter is willing to give to entertain the former.

Something has been bothering me for a long time now. The Dynamite Kid first used the Diving Headbutt. He ended up crippled and is in a wheelchair. Benoit later used the Diving Headbutt, and you know the rest. My question is why didn’t the WWE discourage Daniel Bryan from using the Diving Headbutt knowing full well what happened with Dynamite Kid and Benoit?

Because he’d been using it for a long time and he convinced them he could do it safely, by taking a lot of the impact on his arms. Unlike Benoit and Kid, Bryan didn’t just jump and hope, he did try to protect himself. Not well enough, with hindsight, obviously, but if a guy says he can do a move and he does it and he seems fine, and it gets a great reaction and is useful and such, why wouldn’t you let him do it?

Yes, hindsight, 20/20, they shouldn’t of, but at the time it seemed an ok idea.

Is the Diving Headbutt a banned wrestling move with what happened to Kid/Benoit/Bryan?

Again, no move it 100% banned in WWE. If you can prove you can do it safely onto anyone at any time in any situation, you can do it. If you have a way to diving headbutt someone and be 100% A-OK, congrats, you’re a liar and/or on your way to being a star.

And on that odd note, goodbye for now. I have a Watermelon heist to plan…