wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Why Did Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty Trade the IC Title?

February 12, 2024 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Shawn Michaels WWE Image Credit: WWE

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.
If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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Big Al once killed a man at a bowling alley:

When Marty Jannetty returned in 1993 he won the Intercontinental Title on Raw from Shawn Michaels (with help from Mr. Perfect) only to lose it a few days later, right back to Shawn Michaels, at a house show. What was the reason for this? I know he has substance abuse issues but why put the title on him only to lose it within a few days?

According to the June 8, 1993 Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which covered the title changes as they were happening, Jannetty was always intended to be a short-term champion. This was most likely to help create some buzz around Monday Night Raw, which was still a new format of program at the time.

For what it’s worth, Jannetty – who has not always been the most reliable narrator of his own life story – said in an RF Video shoot interview that he felt Michaels losing the championship was a punishment doled out to HBK for lying about Jannetty being under the influence when they two of them wrestled each other at 1993’s Royal Rumble, a fib that Jannetty believes lead to him being fired from the company for a few months until he came back in May on the urging of Mr. Perfect and won the title.

Shaun has the looks that drive all the girls wide. Have I used that line before? Probably:

Who’s the earliest World Champion in any promotion that’s still alive today?

As with a lot of these questions, it depends on what you define as a world championship.

If you’re going to take a broad view of what qualifies as a world title, then the answer is “Cowboy” Bob Ellis. Ellis is a former holder of the World Heavyweight Championship promoted by Worldwide Wrestling Associates, with his first title reign starting in 1964. The WWA was the wrestling territory that covered southern California from the late 1950s through the early 1980s (though there were some name changes over the years – and also a different WWA in Indianapolis). One could argue that, despite the name, the WWA version of the World Heavyweight Title was not a “true” world title and rather just a regional belt, but there is one thing that adds to its bona fides:

It was also recognized in Japan. The WWA had a working relationship with the Japan Wrestling Association, which was the first-ever wrestling promotion to be based out of that country. The JWA never had its own world title and instead recognized the WWA World Championship as “the” world title for a time. As a result, Rikidozan as another former WWA World Heavyweight Champion.

So, if in fact you count the WWA World Title as a world title, Bob Ellis tops the list. He is still kicking at 94 years old.

Interestingly, the second-oldest living world champion that I could find was also a former holder of the WWA version of the title, that being “Maniac” Mark Lewin.

If you want to look at people who are unquestionably recognized as former world heavyweight champions, then the answer to the question is pretty clearly Dory Funk Jr. The Funker won the NWA World Heavyweight Title on February 11, 1969, and he is 82 years old as of this writing.

This week, Tyler from Winnipeg is actually Tyler from New York, bro:

He had big highs, big lows. Vince Russo has to be in one wrestling hall of fame, right?

To my knowledge no professional wrestling hall of fame has inducted Vince Russo. However, he has won three year-end awards from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, those being Worst Gimmick in 1999, Worst on Interviews in 2000, and Worst Non-Wrestling Personality in 2000.

I wanna kick like Mike:

Is Sean Waltman the first wrestler to popularize kick pads? I haven’t watched all wrestling from all regions but I struggle to think a wrestler that sported then before him. I thought Bruiser Brody wore em but I can’t tell with the fur. Why do you think that style caught on? After Waltman, I think Ken Shamrock and Jericho were the next wrestlers i recall sporting them.

Sean Waltman is the first person that I can remember wearing them regularly in the United States, and it even pre-dates his time in the WWF, as he’s clearly got kick pads on in his GWF matches against Jerry Lynn.

However, kick pads in pro wrestling go back even further than that. The earliest matches that I can remember seeing them in were part of the original UWF promotion in Japan, which ran from 1984 to 1986 and had some reboots – no pun intended – later on. The company’s in-ring style was more shoot oriented than much pro wrestling at the time, so kicks and thus kick pads were part of the game. If you go to YouTube and search up matches from the UWF, you can see kick pads on guys like Satoru Sayama (a.k.a. the original Tiger Mask) and Akira Maeda in the mid-1980s.

Clyde has me scratching my head:

After Roddy’s “farewell “ match at Wrestlemania III, the one fan jumps in and interacts with him. Security takes him down as Rod leaves the ring.

Does anyone know who he is, what happened after, etc?

I wasn’t able to find anything. If anybody out there in the readership has a clue, feel free to send it in.

James and I keep missing each other:

The recent Smackdown match between Edge and Shamus was advertised as their first ever one on one match. It’s made me wonder. Are there many other long tenured WWE wrestler pairings that have never had a singles match together? (I’m probably wrong, but I can’t recall ever seeing AJ Styles vs Kofi Kingston or Bayley vs Natalya.)

First off, it’s only happened once, but Bayley and Natalya did have a singles match on the December 4, 2020 episode of Smackdown. AJ Styles and Kofi Kingston have wrestled each other several times on WWE television one-on-one, with the first occurring on the Smackdown episode that was taped on March 1, 2016 to air on March 3. Their most recent singles bout took place on the March 22, 2021 edition of Monday Night Raw from the infamous WWE Thunderdome.

Though this is not a comprehensive list, here are a few matches involving fairly long-tenured WWE wrestlers that have never taken place one-on-one:

Randy Orton vs. Finn Balor

Randy Orton vs. Braun Strowman

Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Kevin Owens

Sheamus vs. Kevin Owens

Of course, in all the above instances, there have been plenty of tags and multi-person matches involving these individuals, just no straight up singles matches.

Mistah Jay is excellently executing:

When it comes to Bret Hart’s legacy with any singles belt between WWE and WCW that he held . . . is it me or did any of his reigns have any controversy surrounding them?

Case in point- his five WWE Championship reigns.

His first reign started at a house show.

His loss of the belt was due to a throw in the towel submission match to Bob Backlund.

Is there a reason for this? Is his wrestling the only thing going for his career as champion or is there some form of malice or pettiness reserved for his reigns?

I’m not 100% certain that I understand the question.

First off, Bret Hart’s first WWF Championship win was not on a house show, though oddly that is how the Wikipedia version of the title history lists it. The title change definitely occurred on a television taping, though the match itself was not taped for a particular television program. Instead, it was released in full on the company’s home video entitled “Smack ‘Em, Whack ‘Em.” He then lost it in a fairly normal fashion to Yokozuna at Wrestlemania IX. The fact that Hulk Hogan won it immediately after was unusual for the time, since it was a pre-Money in the Bank universe, but the way Hart lost to Yoko was pretty par for the course.

Similarly, Bret regaining the championship from Yokozuna a year later was pretty standard, aside from the fact that that it took place on a pay per view that hosted two world championship matches instead of the usual one. Yes, the end of this reign had an unusual finish in the Survivor Series ’94 “Throw in the Towel” match, but that was just meant to be a face-saving move for the Hitman as the company transitioned the number one babyface role from him to Diesel.

So, if the question is whether Bret Hart’s title reigns always had controversial beginnings or endings, I think the answer is that no, they didn’t. A lot of them were pretty straightforward or had some legitimate booking purpose other than just screwing with Hart.

Gilles is from out of town:

Is Jimmy Valiant the most annoying wrestler ever?

I don’t find him particularly annoying, and I’m not aware that he has a general reputation for being annoying. If anything, he’s one of those guys who always struck me as being more over than you would guess based on his push.

So I’m going to have to say “no” on this one.

I know I’ve got Night Wolf the Wise in my corner:

We’ve often talked about the greatest managers in the history of wrestling. On the flip side of that. What would be your list of top 10 worst managers in wrestling and why?

First off, anytime I answer a question about managers, I invariably get somebody in the comments telling me that at least one of my selections wasn’t actually a manager but was instead a valet, bodyguard, or some other kind of second. To cut that off now, I’m just saying that a “manager” for purposes of this question is anybody who regularly hung around in a wrestler’s corner.

That said, here’s my list, in no particular order.

Sir William: In the early 1990s, Bill Dundee singed with WCW and managed Steven Regal under the name Sir William. It was a huge waste of Dundee’s talents after he became one of the biggest babyfaces in Memphis, and it didn’t really add anything Regal’s act.

Mama Benjamin: Comedienne Thea Vidale, twelve years removed from having her own sitcom on ABC, was hired by WWE to take on the role of Shelton Benjamin’s mother in a rare instance of an actor who had an established name portraying a character other than themselves in wrestling. It turned Shelton into a comedy figure when he had more of an upside as a serious wrestler, and there were also some racial stereotypes on display that made me uncomfortable.

Mrs. Cleavage: I almost hate to include Marianna Komlos on this list, because she did die tragically young from breast cancer, but she was wooden as a performer and was involved in two all-time terrible gimmicks, the first being Beaver Cleavage’s mother and the second being a woman who falsely accused her boyfriend of domestic violence.

Mortimer Plumbtree: Though best known for his appearances in the early days of Impact Wrestling, Mortimer Plumbtree had previously been a manager on the indy scene for many years before he showed up in the corner of Richard and Rod Johnson. Though he might have been fine on a local indy show in the Midwest, his wannabe Jim Cornette act didn’t translate to what was supposed to be an international product.

Vince Russo: Vinnie Ru managed the New Blood faction in WCW in the year 2000. He was not great at it. The thing about Russo in just about any role he’s had in wrestling is that he is a huge fan of wrestling, but being a huge fan of wrestling doesn’t meant that you’ve got what it takes to be an on camera talent.

Fabulous Moolah: Though she hadn’t fully stopped wrestling at this point, Moolah had a noteworthy stint as a manager in the WWF when Wendi Richter was up against Leilani Kai at and around the first Wrestlemania. Aside from her name, I really don’t know what Moolah added to any program, as she seemingly just stood there and cut the occasional wooden promo. Maybe she was under-performing because she was pissed at the notion she wasn’t the one in the ring. Also, side note on Moolah: I guess we now know why she and Vince McMahon got along so well.

Jose the Assistant: This guy has been around for years now, and I have yet to figure out what his purpose in AEW is.

Asya & Midnight: I am lumping these two together because really they served the same purpose. Basically, the WWF had Chyna and she was insanely popular, so WCW tried to create their own Chynas in 1999. Both women were pulled out of bodybuilding and put on national television with no prior experience and almost zero training, whereas Chyna had at least some prior work with Killer Kowalski. I hate to blame the performers because they were put in an unwinnable situation, but the results were pretty horrid.

Sara Undertaker: I’m pretty sure that if you look up the word “nepotism” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Mrs. Undertaker, who managed her husband between 2001 and 2002 in the WWF. This was almost exclusively tied to her Taker’s feud with Diamond Dallas Page, who husband and wife buried thirty feet under the earth. I’m still miffed about that one.

Shaniqua: Also known as Linda Miles, co-winner of the second season of WWE Tough Enough, the company tried to turn her into the dominatrix manager of the Basham Brothers in a gimmick that had some weird incest undertones. Bizarre characterizations aside, Miles may have been one of the worst students of the pro wrestling game. Go look up Jim Cornette’s shoot comments about her from the time he oversaw her development in OVW. They’re good for some laughs.

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.