wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Should Vince McMahon Return to Commentary?

January 27, 2023 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Vince McMahon WWE Money, Chelsea Green Image Credit: WWE

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Tyler from Winnipeg wants the boss back:

Do you have any appetite for Vince McMahon in a lead commentary role?


I’m not even going to wade into the waters of whether Vinnie Mac should be associated with WWE in any public way after his indiscretions. Instead, I’ll say that McMahon shouldn’t be sitting in the lead announcer’s chair because he’s too big a star. His mere presence would distract from the wrestlers in the ring, who should be focus of the product.

In debating this answer, some of you may be quick to point out that there have been some pretty damn big wrestling stars who have gone on to be announcers during pauses in their in-ring careers (Bruno Sammartino, Randy Savage, etc.), but Vince is at a level even above them, being one of the industry’s most significant players for decades longer than any regular in-ring competitor would have the ability to be.

Night Wolf the Wise writes in with one of his trademark listicle questions. Actually, it’s two of them:

There have been many great wrestling feuds over the many decades wrestling has been around. While the wrestling is great, the build ups to said matches aren’t always great. What would be your top 10 WWE matches that the build up was horrible?

I’m going to keep my explanations brief so that I don’t wind up writing a small book, but here we go, in no particular order:

Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon (Wrestlemania XXXII): There’s some personal bias here, because the buildup to this match is what broke me and ended my decades-long run of watching WWE television on a weekly basis. Vince McMahon booked his son Shane in a Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker as a punishment. However, there was a huge plot hole in that it was never once explained why Taker, a babyface at the time, would go along with this. That bothered me so much that I just shut Raw off and never went back.

Dawn Marie vs. Torrie Wilson (Royal Rumble 2003): This match saw Torrie gunning for revenge after Dawn Marie killed her father Al by marrying him and having too much honeymoon sex. Not kidding. Not exaggerating. That was the storyline.

Booker T vs. Triple H (Wrestlemania XIX): We’ve been over this one before. Triple H buries Booker with a bunch of barely-veiled racial comments. It would have been slightly better if Trips wasn’t booked to win the match, which resulted in the story being that the racist character was somewhat justified in the end.

Undertaker vs. Undertaker (Summerslam 1994): I recently answered an entire question about this one, so I won’t bother retreading that ground.

Papa Shango vs. The Ultimate Warrior (House Show Loop 1992): Shango makes the Warrior vomit and makes black goop run down Mean Gene Okerlund’s sleeve. This is somehow supposed to lead to us wanting to see them fight.

Anything Involving The Fiend: I know that there are some people who were really into this guy, but tell me how his goofy supernatural gimmick was anything other than the Twenty-First Century version of the aforementioned Papa Shango.

Team WWF vs. Team Alliance (Survivor Series 2001): The buildup was the Invasion angle. What more do I have to say?

Triple H vs. Kane (No Mercy 2002): It’s the Katie Vick angle. Again, what more do I have to say?

Brutus Beefacke & Hulk Hogan vs. Zeus & Randy Savage (Summerslam 1989): I understand wanting to cross-promote the upcoming No Holds Barred movie, but the “actor” Zeus essentially working himself into a shoot made for a bizarre storyline.

Kane vs. Shane McMahon (Survivor Series 2003): So much Shane McMahon on this list. The build to this match was just a bunch of goofy, over-the-top stunts, like wrecking cars and Shane’s testicles getting clipped to a car battery.

Moving on to the second half of NWTW’s query:

What would be your top 10 non-WWE wrestling matches where the build up was horrible?

Everything Vince Russo Booked in TNA: Just to keep his schlock from taking up the entire list.

Atsushi Onita vs. Jose Gonzalez (FMW 1990): Gonzalez, if you do not know, is the man widely believed to have stabbed Bruiser Brody to death. Onita wanted to wrestle him and staged a set of photos for wrestling magazines that made it look like Gonzalez had stabbed him as well. The match never actually happened, but it’s an extremely distasteful build one way or the other.

Sting vs. Black Scorpion (WCW Starrcade 1990): Let’s run an angle to build up a masked challenger for Sting in which we don’t actually know who the challenger will be in the end. Oh, and the masked guy also does a bunch of lame magic tricks that our announcers have to pretend to be impressed by. Beautiful.

Goldberg vs. Scott Steiner vs. Kevin Nash (WCW New Blood Rising 2000): The entire build to the match was about who “head writer” Vince Russo would book to win and whether the wrestlers, particularly Goldberg, would follow Russo’s “script.” Open acknowledgment that wrestling is fake on a wrestling show always sucks.

Sting & Davey Boy Smith vs. Vader & Sid Vicious (WCW Beach Blast 1993): An evil little person who never appears on your actual wrestling shows – just in vignettes – blows up the babyfaces’ boat after they have a confrontation with the heels on the beach. Yeah, that’ll put butts in seats.

Cactus Jack vs. Vader (WCW 1993): Vader powerbombs Mick Foley so hard that Mick develops amnesia and lives among a colony of homeless people for a while . . . and this is somehow supposed to lure Vader into a false sense of security and give Cactus the upper hand headed into their match? Okay then. At least this unintentionally foreshadowed Foley having multiple personalities later on.

Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior (WCW Halloween Havoc 1998): I guess the Warrior learned some things from Papa Shango when they feuded because, when he showed up in WCW, he had the ability to disappear in clouds of smoke and project himself into mirrors that only Hulk Hogan could see.

Kevin Nash vs. Randy Savage (WCW Great American Bash 1999): The entire build to this match was two wrestlers finding new and innovative ways to dump buckets of poop on top of each other. I am neither kidding nor exaggerating. This also lead to the infamous white Hummer angle.

Oklahoma vs. Madusa (WCW Souled Out 2000): Ed Ferrara’s Jim Ross “parody” in WCW was already terrible, but let’s take it a step further by turning him into a misogynist who tries to hold down any woman in wrestling . . . and we’re also going to involve him in a Cruiserweight Title feud.

Von Erichs v. Freebirds, WCCW 1987: This is specifically the 1987 version of the Von Erichs/Freebirds feud and not the epic one from several years earlier. Why is this one problematic? Because it was kick-started with Fritz Von Erich doing an all-too realistic “heart attack” angle after being choked out by new Freebird Iceman Parsons. This was after the deaths of his sons David and Mike.

Here comes the Bret and here comes the Smasher:

Why did Demolition add Crush to the team? I heard rumors that Ax was having health issues and Vince didn’t why him to die in the ring so they slowly started to phase him out. Also do you think they will ever be in the half of fame or do they have heat with Vince McMahon and the WWE?

Though I don’t know how much concern there was of anybody dying in the ring, the fact of the matter is that, yes, Ax took a less active in-ring role due to health issues. Specifically, he was having problems with his heart. However, he was eventually cleared of those issues and went on to wrestle for many more years, albeit on a reduced schedule. He actually attempted to recruit several different partners into “new” versions of Demolition on the independent circuit over the years, which could probably be a question and answer of its own in this column at some point.

Regarding Demolition and the WWE Hall of Fame, I would characterize that as being highly unlikely. First off, back in the 1990s, there were lawsuits by both Ax (Bill Eadie) and the original Smash (Randy Colley) against the company, claiming that the Demolition gimmick was their intellectual property. That hiccup in the relationship between Eadie, Colley, and WWE probably could be overcome to lead to a HOF induction, but the bigger issue is that, in the mid-2010s, both Eadie and the second Smash (Barry Darsow) were involved in the fairly high-profile concussion lawsuit that was filed by over 50 former wrestlers against WWE. That one seemingly drew significantly more ire from the company, because it was completely baseless to the point that it got drummed out of court fairly quickly.

There is a chance that I may have missed something, but, near as I can tell, no wrestler who participated in the concussion lawsuit has ever been brought back by WWE in any capacity, Hall of Fame or otherwise. Admittedly, many of the wrestlers in question wouldn’t be brought back anyway given that they are fairly obscure, but concussion plaintiffs like Demolition, the Powers of Pain, and Slick, who otherwise could have had cameos here and there, have been persona non grata.

Anything could happen and seemingly burned bridges to the Hall have been rebuilt in the past, but Demolition isn’t a huge enough part of WWE history that I see there being a lot of incentive to bury the hatchet, as there might have been with a Bruno Sammartino or an Ultimate Warrior.

Memphis B-Rad is ride or die:

Are there any major tag teams that didn’t go through the traditional break-up feud? I’m talking real deal established tag teams, not the thrown together variety like the Rock & Sock Connection or Team Hell No.

There have been several examples of this over the years, though the majority have broken up at some point.

The first example that came to my mind was the Midnight Express. Whether you’re talking about Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton or Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton, neither iteration of the MEX violently split with one another. Similarly, the British Bulldogs were ended by Dynamite Kid’s injuries as opposed to one member turning on the other.

I could also make a case for including the original version of the Hart Foundation on this list, because, when Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart stopped teaming, it was just framed as the two men amicably walking away from the team and wanting to take a stab at singles competition. Of course, one might argue that, years later, Neidhart did return to the WWF and turn heel on the Hitman in 1994, but they were not actively teaming at the time.

I’m sure there are plenty more, but this is enough to disprove the notion that this is something that happens all the time.

Dave is here, man:

I was watching the 2017 Royal Rumble and Rusev showed up with a broken nose, accredited by Michael Cole to a cross body from Kofi Kingston, and it got me thinking. There’s plenty of wrestlers who are disliked for being reckless and injuring a lot of opponents, but are there any wrestlers who are well-liked but also have a history of injuring opponents?

AJ Styles stands out as an answer to me here.

I can count five men that have been injured in some way, shape, or form by a botch during the Styles Clash. Those include Frankie Kazarian in 2003, Corey Graves in 2006, Roderick Strong in 2014, British indy wrestler Lionheart also in 2014, and Yoshitatsu, once more in 2014. Graves’ injury significantly contributed to the end of his in-ring career, while Lionheart and Yoshitatsu were both shelved for significant periods of time with at leas some speculation that they might to be able to return to wrestling.

That said, Styles is generally well-liked and does not have a reputation for being an unsafe wrestler. Why? Because none of these injuries were actually AJ’s fault. All of them resulted from his opponents taking the Styles Clash incorrectly. When taking most standard wrestling bumps, a performer’s instinct is to tuck their chin to their chest to avoid slamming the back of their head into the mat. However, if you tuck your chin to your chest in a Styles Clash, you are going to wind up being driven head-first into the canvas with both your own weight and AJ’s weight on top of you, hence the potential for significant issues. All five of these men apparently lost their sense of where they were and tucked their chins, leading to the problematic bump.

As a side note, I found it interesting that Michelle McCool also used the Styles Clash as a finisher and does not have near the same track record with it, even though on average she was using the move on significantly less experienced opponents than Styles was.

James has an ironically original question:

My question today was inspired by a comment on 411Mania by Maurizio RC on an article about Josh Alexander requesting to use the Ankle Lock from both Kurt Angle and Ken Shamrock.

Specifically, have there been any accounts of wrestlers voicing displeasure or telling another performer not to perform their signature or finishing move? I seem to recall an article on Taz being involved in something similar to that affect recently, but I may be mistaken.

Yes, this has absolutely happened. It is a longstanding part of professional wrestling etiquette to not use another wrestler’s signature move, at least not without clearing it with them first. Granted, there are exceptions to this rule just as there are any other. In particular, if the wrestlers are in two promotions that are actively competing with each other, the expectation does not seem to be there, and/or there may even be an element of intentional disrespect (for example: comedy job guy Disco Inferno using Steve Austin’s finisher during the Monday Night War).

What are some examples?

Though he kept quiet about it for quite a while, most notably while the two men had the same employer, KENTA apparently isn’t too happy about CM Punk using the Go To Sleep.

Joshi puroresu legend Manami Toyota told UK wrestler and former Will Ospreay girlfriend Bea Priestly/Blair Davenport to stop using her Ocean Cyclone Suplex after Toyota gave express permission to Japanese wrestlers Tsukasa Fujimoto and Ikuto Hidaka to use the maneuver.

In a 2012 interview, former WWE wrestler Gabbi Tuft alleged that John Cena confronted her backstage and told her to stop using a variation on the Burning Hammer as a finish because it was too similar to the Attitude Adjustment.

There are plenty more examples, but this is not the place for comprehensive list.

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.