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Ask 411 Wrestling: Is Lynch/Rousey the Greatest Women’s Feud Ever?

March 10, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Becky Lynch Ronda Rousey RAW

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.

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Ronda Rousey versus Becky Lynch (versus Charlotte) is turning out to be one of the best feuds in women’s wrestling history, in my opinion. My question: What are the ten best feuds in all of women’s wrestling history?

Hey, it’s time to write a column within a column!

Here are my top ten, in no particular order:

Penny Banner vs. June Byers: Going all the way back to the 1950s, Banner and Byers were among the most prominent names in women’s professional wrestling, alongside Mildred Burke, who did not interact with them much because she was mostly affiliated with a different troupe of wrestlers. Banner and Byers did battle on multiple occasions for the NWA Women’s Championship, which Banner was surprisingly never able to wrest away from the more experienced Byers. You can read more about these two in Penny’s autobiography, Banner Days.

The Beauty Pair vs. The Black Pair: One of the first big booms in the history of women’s wrestling as a distinct genre separate from men’s wrestling came in Japan in the 1970s, and its focus was the Beauty Pair, comprised of wrestlers Jackie Sato and Maki Ueda. In addition to being strong wrestlers for the time period, Sato and Ueda were also pop singers and had several top ten hits. Their key rivals were the so-called “Black Pair” of Shinobu Aso and Yumi Ikeshita, and, without the Black Pair, the Beauty Pair would likely not have become the crossover stars that they were.

Jackie Sato vs. Maki Ueda: Yes, you read that correctly. Eventually, the original members of the Beauty Pair were split away from one another and wound up having a significant rivalry over the WWWA World Title, the primary championship of the All Japan Women’s promotion. The former partners went to war over that title on multiple occasions, with both of them holding it at various points. Ultimately, Sato won in the end, as she successfully defended the championship against her former partner on February 27, 1979, besting Ueda in a retirement match. In a rarity for professional wrestling, Ueda actually stayed retired for the most part.

Crush Gals vs. The Atrocious Alliance: I’ve mentioned the Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) several times in this column before, but for those in the back who may not have heard it yet – they capitalized on the formula created with the Beauty Pair to become among the biggest stars in the history of Japanese wrestling, male or female. Their villainous rivals were the Atrocious Alliance, a stable headlined by legendary heel Dump Matsumoto, which also included Bull Nakano, who was also no slouch. Though not as prominent as Dump and Bull, I also have to give shout outs to Alliance members Crane Yuu, Condor Saito, and Drill Nakamae, who aren’t well-remembered as wrestlers but had badass ring names.

Manami Toyota vs. Toshiyo Yamada: Yamada and Toyota first faced off against each other on opposite sides of tag team matches in 1989. When Toyota broke out and became the biggest singles star of All Japan Women, Yamada was perhaps her strongest rival, with the duo putting on two singles matches that received five stars from Dave Meltzer, the second of which was a hair vs. hair match that was followed by one of the most emotional angles in history that lead to the two becoming a dominant tag team.

Kyoko Inoue vs. Manami Toyota: Perhaps rivaling the excellent Toyota/Yamada feud is Toyota’s series of matches with Kyoko Inoue, which produced several top-flight bouts. The standout among all of them was a sixty-minute draw between the two women which took home Match of the Year honors in a reader vote conducted by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter back in 1995.

Wendi Richter vs. The Fabulous Moolah & Leilani Kai: Part of me hesitates to put this match on the list, because I don’t think that it produced a single wrestling match that was worth watching, but, in terms of historical significance, you simply can’t omit it. Though this fact is often overlooked because she did not have the best relationship with the WWF in her later years, Wendi Richter for a period of time *was* the company’s number two act behind Hulk Hogan early in the Hulkster’s run. Her matches were right there in the mix with those of male main eventers, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Akira Hokuto vs. Shinobu Kandori: This feud brings a little bit of an interpromotional flair to the list, as Hokuto and Kandori primarily did battle with each other in 1993, when the former was part of the All Japan Women’s promotion and the latter was signed to rival company Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling (LLPW). Due to collaboration between the two groups, the wrestlers split a pair of amazing singles matches against each other, one of them taking place on AJW’s Dream Slam show on April 2, and the second taking place on AJW’s Battle Final show (not to be confused with ROH’s Final Battle show) on December 6. The encounters between the two are not easily forgotten, with the earlier of the two also receiving five star honors from the Wrestling Observer.

Jungle Jack vs. Gokumon-to: Jungle Jack was a rotating stable of wrestlers which was almost always headlined by Aja Kong and Bison Kimura, both former members of the aforementioned Atrocious Alliance. JJ and its various members regularly did battle with Gokumon-to, an equally terrifying stable headed up by Bull Nakano and her various partners. Key matches in these battles between some truly terrifying ladies include a double hair vs. hair match on January 11, 1991, followed up by a forty-five minute Texas death match inside a steel cage on November 21 of that same year.

Faby Apache vs. Sexy Star: There’s been a lot of super-serious, hard-hitting wrestling referenced on this list, but this feud makes it for a totally different reason. It’s the epitome of goofy, over-the-top pro wrestling soap opera storytelling. Prior to Sexy Star becoming involved, Faby Apache had been involved in a long-running storyline in which her love interest, Billy Boy, had been attempting to win over the approval of her wrestler-father, El Gran Apache. When the story got to the point that Gran Apache started to show some grudging respect for Billy Boy, things went in a totally different direction as Billy was tempted away from Faby by Sexy Star. This ignited a long-running series of matches between Faby and Sexy, including many mixed tags and singles bouts for AAA’s Reina de Reinas Championship.

So, there you have it. A list of feuds that will make a bunch of people yell at me for not including something involving Trish Stratus.

It’s been a while since I’ve answered several questions in a row from the same asker. Let’s go ahead and do that now, with a series from Michael K.:

1. Why in the hell did ECW keep New jack around? I can see initially during the Gantstas run and maybe early in his singles run but he’s obviously just a walking lawsuit with no in ring skill. Not like he was a huge draw so why keep him? Was he really worth the risk? Even after ECW, why would anyone hire this goof?

In today’s corporate, sanitized world of pro wrestling, it IS pretty hard to think that anybody would keep New Jack on their roster, but what you’re failing to account for is the fact that wrestling as an industry was wildly different twenty to thirty years ago than it is now.

There was a ton of activity, some of it borderline if not outright criminal, that went on in old school locker rooms that wouldn’t be tolerated today. Hell, Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious engaged in a hotel room fight that included at least one act of attempted murder, Jeff Hardy has a conviction for felony drug trafficking on his record, and Nailz was in prison for years before he escaped to attack the Big Boss Man.

None of that would fly today, which helps explain why New Jack flew then.

2. How many matches did Brian Pillman actually wrestle in WWF/E? I know he had “feuds” with Austin and Goldust but I don’t recall him actually wrestling either of them, be it on TV or PPV. I do know he was part of the Calgary Stampede 10 man match but, besides that, I honestly don’t recall him wrestling in WWF/E.

By my count, Pillman had sixty-one WWF matches during his time there, though only fifteen of them were on television or pay per view, namely:

1. vs. Tony Williams (Shotgun Saturday Night, 5/19/1997)
2. w/ Jim Neidhart vs. The Road Warriors (Raw, 5/26/1997)
3. vs. Mankind (Raw, 6/9/1997)
4. vs. Steve Austin (Raw, 6/16/1997)
5. vs. Mankind (Raw, 6/30/1997)
6. Canadian Stampede Ten-Man Tag (7/6/1997)
7. vs. Lou Marconi (Shotgun Saturday Night, 7/28/1997)
8. vs. Goldust (Summerslam, 8/3/1997)
9. vs. Bob Holly (Raw, 8/4/1997)
10. vs. Flash Funk (Raw, 8/11/1997)
11. vs. Jesse Jammes (Raw, 8/18/1997)
12. vs. Goldust (In Your House: Ground Zero, 9/7/1997)
13. vs. Dude Love (Raw, 9/9/1997)
14. vs. Owen Hart (Raw, 9/22/1997)
15. vs. The Patriot (Shotgun Saturday Night, 9/23/1997)

The rest of his matches were either dark matches at television tapings or house show encounters. His most frequent house show opponents were Jesse Jammes (a.k.a. the Road Dogg), Flash Funk (a.k.a. 2 Cold Scorpio), and Goldust.

3. Would you classify the Undertaker as a true “company man?” I’ve always thought he was more about himself than the company (which I really don’t begrudge anyone as it’s a cutthroat industry) but he seemed, at least until some grumbling lately, get a free pass when it came to burying talent. Lord knows every time he vanishes and comes back he’s always was right back in the title picture. And I always think of how many could’ve benefitted from beating him at Mania. Plus, as a locker room leader, sure seems there was a lot of bullying and flat out abuse from guys like JBL and Bob Holly under his “leadership.” So, am I being harsh, or is his stature as a company man somewhat overstated?

I don’t think that it’s overstated at all. You’re correct that Taker presiding over wrestlers’ court was something that we wouldn’t tolerate today, but, as with the New Jack question, that’s just a matter of professional wrestling having a different backstage culture in the past. I don’t think that takes away from the legacy of what he actually did in the company.

What did he actually do in the company? He was one of its most popular main event stars for at least twenty-five years, and, though he originally got by through relying on a gimmick that didn’t require him to do all that much athletically, he eventually turned in to an EXCELLENT consistent in-ring performer and put on top-notch main events regularly for at least fifteen if not twenty years. He has a legitimate claim to being one of the best big men who the industry has ever seen – even moreso if you limit the scope of that list to the United States.

I also don’t buy that he could have done more to put over talent. Sure, he was a perpetual main eventer, but he was consistently popular with the fans that entire time. His connection with the crowd and his performances justified his position. He was never once one of those guys who felt overexposed or over-pushed. Could the company have put somebody over him at Wrestlemania before they did? Sure, they probably could have. However, I don’t get the sense that the vast majority of fans ever really *wanted* someone to beat Taker at Mania, and the biggest show of the year is the place to, the vast majority of the time, give fans what they want.

4. Is Pedro Morales the most underrated star in WWF/E history? First ever triple crown winner, back when that meant something, and was World champ for three years but he seems to be an afterthought when people talk about all-time greats in WWF/E history.

I think that you’re correct. Frankly, I don’t know why Morales isn’t mentioned more in WWE’s accounts of its own history, particularly given that he is a Latino star and this is a period in which diversity is highly (and rightly) celebrated. Given that I’ve never heard of any animosity between Morales and WWE, the only reason that I can think of that would result in him not being more celebrated is that he simply did not want to be in the limelight much after his professional wrestling career came to an end.

If you’re interested in reading more about the history of Morales’s career and why he should be considered a hall of famer, here’s a good article on the subject.

5. This one will probably be tricky: As most know, Ric Flair was in a plane wreck in 1976 that broke his back. Obviously, he recovered and went on to have perhaps the greatest career in pro wrestling history. But say, he had to retire after that crash. His ascent started with his first world title in 1981, but he probably really became the Man starting in 1983. So, Flair is done in 1976. Based on the talent that the NWA had between 1981-83, counting their affiliates such as Mid-South and WCCW, who do you think NWA would’ve picked as the guy to carry the company in the early/mid 80’s? Roddy Piper? Jack Brisco? Ricky Steamboat? A Von Erich?

Of the candidates that you’ve mentioned, I don’t think that Brisco is likely because he’d already had his championship run, and multi-time titleholders weren’t a common thing at this time. Piper and the Von Erichs, though insanely popular in their time, didn’t have the in-ring chops to make extended runs as touring NWA World Champions like Flair did. (Take a look at the reigns of Dusty Rhodes, who was significantly more talented than Piper or any Von Erich between the ropes but not quite at Flair’s level. His reigns were always relatively brief.) Steamboat would definitely be a better option, though extended babyface title runs weren’t common in the NWA during this period, and Steamer is obviously one of the most natural faces in the history of the game.

So, let me make a suggestion that you haven’t made: Ted DiBiase.

DiBiase was available to the NWA during the early 1980s and has been rumored for several years to have been under consideration for a stint with the belt. He had the charisma and the in-ring talent necessary to carry the championship into the new decade. Granted, it would have robbed us of the Million Dollar Man, one of the great gimmicks of the WWF’s cartoon era, but DiBiase as a tough-guy world champion in the more serious NWA also would have been plenty entertaining.

Night Wolf the Wise has two unrelated questions about fat guys:

1. What was the match where it was Steven Austin vs Yokozuna? Yokozuna goes to go up for the Banzai Drop and the rope breaks and he falls down and Austin pins him. Was that when Yokozuna was over 600 pounds and WWE fired him for not being able to lose weight?

This was the pre-show match held before Summerslam 1996 and broadcast on the “Free for All,” a special show that aired on pay per view barker channels during this era.

In case there are readers out there who aren’t aware, the spot in which the ropes gave way underneath Yoko’s wait was clearly a work. The wrestlers both obviously avoid any contact with the top strand because it is gimmicked, and, perhaps due to that fact, the match only runs about two minutes before it comes to its conclusion.

This match was definitely during the period that the WWF became dissatisfied with their former World Champion’s ever-increasing weight, but they didn’t fire him for it around the time of this match, which occurred in August 1996. Though he was used by the company very infrequently, Yoko remained under contract to the Fed until either late 1997 or early 1998.

If you’d like more details regarding Yokozuna’s final days in the WWF you can read this archived version of Ask 411, in which I answer the question of why the big man never made his presence known in WCW.

2. There’s something I always wondered. In 2005 Viscera started the Gimmick as “The World’s Largest Love Machine”. Was that a play off of Mark Henry’s “Sexual Chocolate” Character from seven years earlier?

The two gimmicks are obviously very similar, and both of them play off of certain unfortunate racial stereotypes about black men being oversexed as compared to white men, but there is no indication that I have seen that Big Vis’s persona was a direct result of Sexual Chocolate.

Shawn M. upset Dr. Death:

I recently saw someone make the claim the Money Mayweather became the lineal Brawl For All Champion when he beat Connor McGregor, is this true?

I believe that the notion that the McGregor/Mayweather fight was for the lineal Brawl for All title came about largely because of a Deadspin article by prominent pro wrestling columnist David Bixenspan. However, shortly after Bixenspan’s article was published, other authors started to question whether his tracing of the fictitious title history was truly accurate.

The answer to the question appears to be . . . it depends. As I’ve learned from doing this column, the outcome of a lineal championship history will be strongly influenced by the rules that you establish for said championship before you begin working on it.

In this case, where the “belt” winds up depends on what matches you want to count as being Brawl for All championship matches.

Most would agree that Butterbean became the lineal Brawl for All champion when he defeated Bart Gunn in spectacular fashion at Wrestlemania XV. (There was no actual championship on the line in that match, since the original Brawl for All tournament didn’t create a title that would change hands between competitors.) However, what do we count as a championship defense for Mr. Bean? Saying only other Brawl for All matches count doesn’t do much good, because then the lineal title ends with Butterbean, as there, mercifully, were no other Brawl for All matches.

Do we only count boxing matches? Do we only count MMA fights? Toughman contests? Kickboxing? Or do we count any of these match types so long as they’re a shoot?

It appears that Bixenspan, in developing his lineal championship history, excluded certain boxing matches that Butterbean had shortly after the Bart Gunn match. If you follow that same path, the title does wind up with Mayweather. If you do not and count all of Butterbean’s matches, it lands elsewhere, as detailed in the second column linked to above.

Thus, to paraphrase Lemmy from Motorhead, some of this may be about the game, but most of this is about how you play it.

David K. is no longer doing that voodoo that he did so well:

My questions is about The Godfather and how his gimmick changed from Kama Mustafa. The first time I remember his being referred to as The Godfather was on the Raw when DX impersonated the Nation and Billy Gunn was dressed as him. The next week he made a comment about Billy wanting to be a pimp and that pimping ain’t easy. Was that the way they changed his gimmick or did it start before then? If so when did it start?

That’s pretty much it. The first reference that I can recall to Kama being a pimp was Billy Gunn’s one line in the Nation parody, and they ran with it from there. Why anybody decided Billy would utter that line is lost to history as near as I can tell, aside from the fact that he needed something to say in making fun of Kama Mustafa who, at that point, was a really poorly-defined, uninteresting character.

Oh, I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that the DX/Nation parody does not hold up AT ALL if you go back and watch it with 2019 eyes, as it’s basically four white guys going on live, national television in blackface and doing borderline -if not outright – racist impressions of black men. The various members of D-Generation X are lucky that “cancel culture” didn’t exist at the time of this skit and hasn’t gotten ahold of it since, because, otherwise, they might find it difficult to hold on to their jobs. (Though HHH would likely be fine in any event, given that he’s a high-ranking executive in a largely family-owned business.)

Bryan J is . . . well . . . I’m not even sure what to say about this question:

This is going to seem weird and in no way am I disrespecting a deceased hall of famer, but was The Guerrerro family actually Mexican? Or was that one of those wrestling work, change your ethnicity things. I ask because of the mugshot from his 2001 DUI arrest in Hillsborough County, Florida. (Link.) The mugshot lists his race as “white.” I know law enforcement isn’t going to put down a “worked” ethnicity. This might be a better question for a sociology professor, but why would they put down white and not Hispanic?

This is certainly pushing the boundaries of what a question about wrestling is. Before long, that guy who jokingly asked about how magnets work in the comment section the other week is legitimately going to have his question answered.

Seriously, though, the Guerrero family is absolutely of Mexican origin. Though the patriarch of the famous wrestling family, Gory Guerrero, was born in the United States, his parents were migrant workers from Mexico who happened to be on the American side of the border at the time of his birth. Interestingly, of Gory’s four sons who went into wrestling, the oldest and the youngest (Chavo Sr. and Eddy) were born in the United States, while the two in the middle (Mando and Hector) were born in Mexico City.

So, why would an official government record refer to Eddie Guerrero as a white man?

It has nothing to do with worked heritages or any other aspect of professional wrestling, and it has everything to do with how race and ethnicity are usually recorded in the United States.

If you look to the United States census, which has a strong influence over how other governmental units in the country classify people, there are questions about race, and there are questions about ethnicity. In the questions regarding race, respondents get to state which racial group or groups that they most closely identify with. The categories available to respondents have changed over the years, but they have typically included options for white, black, Native America, Asian, and so on. Meanwhile, there is typically only one question on the census regarding ethnicity, and that is whether the respondent identifies as being of Hispanic/Latino heritage or not.

Using those categories and definitions, the mugshot is technically correct. Eddy would be a white man of Hispanic or Latino heritage. However, there was no category listed on the mugshot for ethnicity, only race.

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].

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers