wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Was Rey Mysterio Really An Underdog?

October 13, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
Rey Mysterio Royal Rumble 2006

Hello, and welcome to the 35646th wrestling column worried TLC is going to feature Reigns taking out 6 men at once so WWE can claim they’re helping Rollins and Ambrose at the same time by having them ‘beat’ 6 men as well, Ask 411 Wrestling! I am your host, Mathew Sforcina, and let’s get down to the questions before I start ranting about how WWE has heels holding all the titles on Smackdown yet just turned one of their purest babyfaces heel which makes no sense because…

Want me to make sense of something? [email protected] is where you send the request.

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Best Stories In Wrestling: Keiron (whom you will see again below) really liked my Austin/McMahon write up and wondered about making it into a column of some sort. Obviously I have a lot of new readers, or at least newish, because that’s pretty much what my Evolution Schematics were. I do appreciate the kind words, and all the suggestions in the comments section were excellent, but at the end of the day, I’m happy doing Ask 411, and don’t intend to do anything else right now. Maybe try me again when I step away again.

Facts: Speaking of, the issue with doing something like this column for so very, very long, is that most of the fact questions have been answered, or at least attempted, and therefore I’m left with the fiendishly difficult, the downright impossible, and the stuff I used to leave for Byers before he stopped watching wrestling and thus I feel bad for imposing on him now. And since I don’t like filling a column with shrug emojis (although when I do bail again, my last edition will probably have all the really hard questions with one line guess answers, maybe) I gotta limit the input.

The Trivia Crown

Who am I? One of the angles mentioned above was a flow on angle from an angle I was part of despite not being a part of WWE at the time, but which wasn’t anything to do with with both guys involved in my match being Triple Crown champions of different companies (although to be fair, one of us hadn’t gotten it yet). I have a kayfabe brother in wrestling, but you’ve probably never heard of him. I once formed a stable that took its name from the show it was formed on. I beat The Nexus to an angle by a few years. I’ve been a Mister, a part of a 2.0, and a religious figure, and I once followed an alcoholic beverage. A guy currently in WWE in some fashion, I am who?

No-one? OK…

Who am I? One of the angles mentioned above was a flow on angle from an angle I was part of despite not being a part of WWE at the time (The Kurt Angle Invitational), but which wasn’t anything to do with with both guys involved in my match being Triple Crown champions of different companies (although to be fair, one of us hadn’t gotten it yet) (Kurt was a WWE Triple Crown champ at time, I would be ROH Triple Crown champ later). I have a kayfabe brother in wrestling, but you’ve probably never heard of him (Sedrick Strong). I once formed a stable that took its name from the show it was formed on (Generation Next). I beat The Nexus to an angle by a few years (beating up Ricky Steamboat). I’ve been a Mister (Mr. ROH), a part of a 2.0 (Mount Rushmore 2.0), and a religious figure (The Messiah Of The Backbreaker), and I once followed an alcoholic beverage (Truth Martini). A guy currently in WWE in some fashion, I am who? (Roderick Strong)

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?

Getting Down To All The Business

Chris has a couple questions to start us off.

What wrestler has performed under the most names? Who has been repackaged the most? Big Daddy V comes to mind first.

The answer is almost certainly some guy you’ve never heard of, who moved around a lot and worked under a new name in every company, someone from the 70’s who wrestled under thirty or forty names or something, but if we’re talking about people who got to the major leagues, Big Daddy V is probably not the answer. I mean, he’s

Nelson Knight
(King) Mable
Viscera
Big Daddy V
Big Daddy Voodoo (maybe)

That’s really not that many, if you compare it to say, Charles Wright, who’s been

The Soultaker
Sir Charles
Papa Shango
Kama Mustafa
The Godfather
The Goodfather
Pimp Fatha

Or Kevin Nash, who you can also call

Steel
The Master Blaster
Oz
Vinnie Vegas
Diesel
Kevin Nash
Chet Lemon
Lucha Nash

I think the usual winner is Ed Leslie though, he’s been

Ed Boulder
Dizzy Hogan
Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake
? (Furface)
Brother Bruti
The Butcher
The Man With No Name
The Zodiac
The Booty Man
The Disciple

That’s gotta be a record, but by all means, if anyone has any suggestions for someone who wrestled in a major company that can beat 10, do let me know.

What is the most Chandlers you have ever given out for a question? I got a half one time. Smiled, and felt blessed. Thank you.

I’ve done like ten to twelve actual Chandlers a couple times, but the most Chandlers ever given for one thing was all the Chandlers one time. Also Infinite Chandlers way back in the day when I had no access to the WWE Network legally.

Stephanie Austin had a follow up from last week.

This week’s column got me thinking – would Stone Cold have reached the heights his character did if Vince hadn’t screwed Bret and become the heel character we all know and loved/hated? Not saying Austin himself wasn’t one helluva talent, but you’re right, that storyline was the greatest (or one of the greatest) and did wonders for the character. Austin was gaining momentum before the screw-job happened, and probably would’ve still been a top guy, but would he have become THE top guy? The mega-superstar he became? Keep up the great work!

There are two pretty strong reasons why you could argue that without the Screwjob Austin wouldn’t have gotten to the heights he got. The major one is, of course, that without the Screwjob, Mr. McMahon wouldn’t exist, the theory goes, and thus Austin lacks his main, obvious foil and thus is weakened somewhat. And secondly, the Screwjob was important because it helped kickstart WWF’s resurgence a bit, as there was a boost of interest and attention after they screwed Bret, people tuned in to find out what the hell was going on and then saw Austin and Rock and Foley and boobies and such and stuck around, the theory goes.

I do think that without the Screwjob Austin’s rise isn’t quite as spectacular, no. They could well have turned Vince anyway, there was some amount of pre-existing dislike of him from the smart section of the crowd, to some degree, so there was a base, just not as much as the one the Screwjob created, so if they did turn him it would work, but not be quite as organic or successful. And likewise the boost of attention helped, but they had Tyson, assuming some sort of bizarre chain of events occurs whereby not screwing Bret leads to Tyson pulling out, so Austin would have gotten a solid amount of attention.

Maybe the heights wouldn’t have been quite as high, especially if Vince never turns, but Austin was still red hot regardless, and without the Screwjob he’d still probably make it into the top WWF guys of all time, he’d still be on Rushmore, probably, but he’d be the borderline one that you argue about, he’d be the fourth behind Hogan, Rock, and Cena, who some people insist should be Taker instead.

Kieron asks a question that is very open ended, and I will be turning to you, dear readers, for assistance.

I’ve become more of a casual fan of wrestling lately (keeping up to date online mostly, catching matches where I can, difficult to do on a decent sized screen in shared accommodation), I’m looking for some of the best years/shows/matches for different promotions and superstars. Also any places to find the matches (doesn’t have to be said, but legal means) to find these matches.

He also asked if I could plug some stuff, but I don’t do that, clearly.

The issue here is that a lot of the promotions he’s after, I really don’t know from a hole in the ground. Full marks for wanting to explore all these companies, but I really can’t speak to their quality, or who to look for.

So, here’s the plan. I’m going to do my best to talk about the very best for the four major companies he’s listed that I feel confident to talk about in detail. Beyond that, I’m not sure if there’s a point to me giving you links to where you can see the rest of them, you can google their names and if they have streaming and the like, you should be able to find them. But if any of the listed companies have an era or a feud or a wrestler you want to recommend, dear readers, do list them below.

OK, let’s do this.

WWE: The WWE Network, just 9.99 a month!

Obviously there’s a lot of ground to cover here, but as far as best of the best, I think the year 2000 is probably the highpoint for any wrestling company anywhere, in terms of almost everything hitting on all cylinders, start with Armageddon 1999 to see the start of StepHunter and then go through to Wrestlemania X7, that’s a pretty solid chunk of awesomeness. But really, do you need me to go through all the classic notes? WM3, RR92, Canadian Stampede, WM10, No Way Out 01, WM17, WM20, MITB11. Savage, Flair, Angle, Austin, Rock, Jericho in a suit… Plenty of people can tell you what was good in WWE.

WCW: The WWE Network, just 9.99 a month!

Start at the Chi-Town Rumble and go through until Funk shakes Ric Flair’s hand.

Then go back and check out stuff like the 83/85/88 Starrcades, Great American Bash 89, Capitol Combat 90, Wrestlewar 90 & 91, Superbrawl 92, Wrestlewar 92, Beach Blast 92, Superbrawl 93, Spring Stampede 94, Slamboree 94, Souled Out 98, Spring Stampede 99. Also Clashes 1, 3, 6, 9, 17, and 18.

Basically WCW had a pretty good early 90’s, 92 was very solid. Also check out 96, to see the formation of the nWo, from May 27 1996 through to just before Starrcade 97, the nWo formation and Sting angle was one of the best angles in wrestling history, right up until they screwed it all up.

Check out Flair V anyone who’s good, the Cruiserweights are always entertaining, and you have guys like Austin and Regal and Rude and such. But hell, just using the network to watch old Flair matches is a perfectly valid thing to do.

ECW: The WWE Network, just 9.99 a month!

Malenko V Guerrero, Raven V Dreamer, RVD V Lynn, Sabu V Taz, Awesome V Tanaka, Awesome V Spike, RVD V Cena, Beulah V Fonzie.

Not a joke.

Also the Impact Players, Corino, and Rhino are worth checking out. Barely Legal 97, Living Dangerously 98, Heatwave 98, both One Night Stands.

TNA: They also have a network now.

TNA tends to have very solid years, followed by not so solid years. 2012 had Roode’s title reign, Aries’s run, the start of Aces and Eights and the rise of Bully Ray. 2005 had some big names come in, and the talent they had there at the time was also solid. 08/09 with the Main Event Mafia has detractors, but it’s also got high points. As mentioned in the original email which I edited, the AJ/Daniels/Joe matches were all great, some say Gail Kim V Awesome Kong started the Women’s Revolution, Raven’s run as a wrestler was interesting and captivating, (just stop when he starts to manage people), Joe/Angle, Joseph Park Esq, and of course, Broken Matt Hardy.

And now we go into companies I can’t talk about in-depth, and if I know anything about stuff to recommend, I’ll say so.

USA

ROH (Most of the names you’ve since heard of in the bigger companies, or vice versa.)
CHIKARA (Archibald Peck, Kings of Trios)
PWG
Lucha Underground
EVOLVE
Dragon Gate: USA
IWA: Mid-South
XPW
3PW
Wrestling Society X
XWF

Mexico

CMLL
CMHL
AAA

Japan

NJPW (Everything of the last couple years, Okada, Tanahashi, Omega, Ricochet V Ospreay)
AJPW
BJPW
Pro Wrestling NOAH
Zero-One MAX
Dragon Gate
DDT (Ibushi vs Yoshihiko)

UK

Revolution Pro Wrestling
FWA
IPW:UK
1PW

So yeah, hopefully there’s some stuff below to help you along. But really, if you want to start getting into a company, most places will have a message board or a reddit or something, dedicated fans who should have lots of suggestions as to what’s great and what’s not. Or find a reviewer who you agree with on some stuff and see what they like.

Greg from Greece is back with the rest of their questions.

Rey Mysterio was arguably the worst World Champion ever in the WWE, being booked as an “underdog champion”. Before winning the title, though, I think that he was never underestimated by his opponents. There were occasions where heels tried to avoid matches against Mysterio and beating him was always presented as a big accomplishment. My question is: excluding his first World Title run, was Rey Mysterio ever really booked as an underdog in the WWE?

Yes and no. The booking of his matches was often set out where Rey would take a lot of punishment, especially when he teamed with Edge, or Batista, Rey would almost always take the heat, or at least the main heat. Maybe less so in the cruiserweight matches, but he was portrayed at being a small but quick and talented guy who had to fight from underneath.

But yes, he wasn’t really pushed as a ‘true’ underdog story, simply because he has been wrestling for so long. Although he was new to WWE fans, in theory, he’d been around for so long on the major leagues, you had to say that he was talented and experienced. So if he was an underdog, that would mean he’s not learned anything in all that time.

Now, if you ran an angle where he was broken down and limited and thus couldn’t fly and was now working a grounded style, that would allow you to push him as an underdog, sure. Give him a justification to be in that role. But no, WWE never really needed to portray him as an underdog, just him standing next to a Great Khali or a Big Show was enough to get the point across, and they didn’t really use him as a true underdog, until he won the belt, but that was a whole mess there.

Speaking of underdogs, Brock Lesnar once “randomly” chose to defend his WWE championship against Shannon Moore. JBL did the same about a year later. On another occasion, JBL chose to defend the title against Spike Dudley. Do you think that a storyline with an underdog winning the title in such an occasion could be successful?

Yes, but only in two very specific circumstances.

One, if you need to transition a title quickly, that can in theory in work. You have the nobody get a shock of shock wins and then immediately drop it to someone else immediately, that in theory establishes an air of anything-can-happen, that can create unpredictability, but it’s risky. Wrestling fans can accept a lot, but they have a sense of people who “shouldn’t” be in a position they’re in. That can be used as a positive, Honky Tonk Man being the best example of that, but it can also be a negative, see our current WWE Champion right now. Having a true underdog win the title, even for a day or two, might devalue the title. But if you switch it very quickly, maybe you can get away with it.

Or, you have to have a hell of a lot of faith in the underdog. If they’re very talented and/or charismatic and/or over, if you’re sure that they can get it and get the fans behind them, then sure, it can work. Mikey Whipwreck did fairly well for himself, all things considered.

But again, it’s very risky. Your main title is meant to be the focal point of your company, having a complete underdog win it out of nowhere is something that could happen, in theory, sure, but in practice it may well ruin the title rather than help the guy.

Limiting it to the WWE years (after they got the “F” out), who do you think was/is the most talented wrestler never to win the WWE/World/Universal Title? How would you book them to win it?

Cesaro is the first name that springs to mind, although New Day freebirding the World Title would be a heck of a thing, and give it a few more months and Braun will probably replace him.

But yeah, Cesaro should have been world champ by now. As for how I’d book it, assuming you want me to do it now, using WWE’s logic…

Cesaro eats the pin at TLC, after eating a finisher from all of the Shield (and Aleister Black or whoever if they bring in a fourth member). Sheamus seems ok with it, but he starts to lose interest in the team, they lose a #1 contenders match for the tag titles, they are the first two eliminated in the big Raw main event of Bar/Miztourage V Shield/4th/Hardy Survivor Series match at Survivor Series.

This leads to them now pretty much openly arguing, then on the NYE episode of Raw, after losing let again, they break up, openly brawling. Angle books them against each other on each Raw, but they keep going to double DQs, double COs and so on. Eventually, he throws them into the Rumble and hopes that will settle it. The moment backstage where they draw their numbers is tense, they almost come to blows before they both look at their numbers, both laugh, both say they probably won’t see each other then they get confused and walk separate ways. Cesaro is 27, comes in and does some stuff, there’s a half dozen or so guys left, Sheamus is #30, everyone but Braun backs off to let them fight (Braun took all the finishers just before).

Sheamus and Cesaro stare at each other, ready to pounce… And they do, as the both suddenly turn and toss two guys. Working as a well oiled machine, they eliminate everyone but Braun easily, then end up just managing to eliminate him after a solid 5 or so minutes. Then Sheamus and Cesaro get a mic and declare they aren’t going to fight, they both win, under the Hart/Luger precedent. Both of them will get a title shot at WM.

They defend their shots leading up to the show, managing to win, but then they are forced to fight in one match, so they pick the WWE title, jumping ship, with Cesaro beating Sheamus and AJ to win the WWE title.

You’ll probably hate this one, but excluding Big Show, who are the top 5 wrestlers with the most face/heel turns in the WWF/E?

I do hate this one, as it would require me to count pretty much all the face/heel turns, which I’m not doing.

I’m going to guess, but I’ll say that Kane, Vince, Mark Henry, Regal, and Alicia Fox, assuming you count her turns as turns rather than just bitches be crazy.

Anyone got a better guess?

Emilio asks about contracts.

Great work on the ask411 column. Recently, an article appeared on the website entitled “News on How Much Bobby Heenan Made In WWE Compared To Other Announcers.” The comments on the article raised questions I have had for some time. Debates existed whether salaries included per diems, accommodations, travel, etc. No one seemed to have a definitive answer. Do you know how contracts were handled then versus now? Are salaries in addition to accommodations, travel, etc? Does it depend on the performer? Also, if some performers get this and others don’t, how does WWE conform with EEOC laws? I’m assuming that even with independent contractor status, WWE cannot discriminate even if it had no intention to do so. Thanks in advance

According to a couple of shoot interviews, WWE covers flights, and that’s it, as a baseline. Accommodation, food, car hire and such is on the wrestler, although they can claim it back as expenses on their tax. Now, some wrestlers do have clauses where they get first class flights, or business class, as part of their package, either because of size (Braun Strowman would have a hard time fitting in an economy seat) or longevity/seniority. I don’t see how Equal Opportunity rules apply here, as WWE is allowed to pay people more or less if they are considered more or less valuable, you’re allowed to have variance in pay, as long as that variance isn’t based on sex or race or whatever. I assume, I’m not a lawyer, and I doubt anyone is going to sue because they didn’t get a business class seat. Likewise some talent have clauses where WWE springs for their accommodation, or provides a tour bus, and so on. This is stuff that is negotiated with the people involved, it’s a perk, like you might negotiate with your work to maybe not pay you quite as much as another guy, but you get a company car or something.

But no, there’s no hard and fast rule, it comes down to what the wrestler is able to negotiate/wants. Developmental guys do apparently get everything covered for travel, but not to a five star standard, but everyone else just gets flights as a baseline, other travel expenses you either cover yourself or you negotiate them to pay for it.

Stuart has a quickie.

What’s the reason for David Otunga not competing any more?

He initially stepped away from the ring for periods in 2013/14 due to family commitments, his son being around 4 or 5 years old at the time, and he chose to help raise him for a bit. He then came back in part to be able to wrestle in front of his kid, but he’s now retired from active competition, supposedly, with no reasons given publicly, least none I could find. So WWE made him a commentator, since they like having POC commentators, but then he’s now also an actor, which may well play a part in his no longer wrestling, and thus he’s still away filming, although there’s rumors when he comes back they’ll keep Booker anyway, have a four man booth on Raw (Cole PBP, Graves Heel Color, Otunga Face Color, Booker Vet Color).

But basically he’s been with his family and now has an acting career going on, so why wrestle still?

Another Matt asks about the Hardcore Title.

How many different versions of the WWF Hardcore title were there? It seems through the years there was less and less gold on it. By the end, it was a strap with a main plate on it. Was it the same belt the whole time or did it get switched out a few times?

There were three Hardcore Title belts, but only one that was the original. The smashed up Winged Eagle that was given to Foley at the start of the run…

Was the same one that was given to Foley in 2003, after they took it back from Tommy Dreamer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq8Bf_O-HpA

That belt was pretty much used straight through, with the gold vanishing because of the wear and tear the belt went through, without replacements or looking after it all that much. The belt began as a joke, and then during the 24/7 period, you kinda had to carry it around with you, since if you didn’t, people would ask questions, if it’s a 24/7 reign, right?

There were two other titles, Bradshaw’s Texas themed one which was a modified Smoking Skull toy belt and Tommy Dreamer’s NYC one that was a modified European title replica belt.

And on that, I bid you goodbye for this somewhat abridged Ask 411, see you next week!

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