wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Should WWE Have A Face Of The Company?

June 18, 2015 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina

Hey there, welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling, perhaps the finest wrestling column on the internet!

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(Big thanks to Ron Gamble for getting that for me, and to Chloe Dykstra for being a major sport.)

Got a question for me? [email protected] is where you should send it, because then it’ll get answered! Maybe.



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Benoit: I understand people who are able to differentiate between ‘The Rabid Wolverine’ Chris Benoit, Professional Wrestling Character, and Chris Benoit, Murder/Suicide Perpetrator. I also understand people who cannot, or will not, make that distinction.

The fact that this issue exists, regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, means that Benoit’s entire body of work, for better or worse, has a black cloud over it.

The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I’m one of four men to have held something longer than a specific time period. I’m one of two men to have a specific title, although it wasn’t as important to me as it was to the other guy given that for me it was just a pseudonym. I once lost a Texas match in New York. The (arguably) most historical moment I was part of was a match I won, but few people remember that. I was the first guy to hold a title that is currently active in WWE, I solidified a face turn by saving my future manager from a three on one beatdown, and I was extreme before extreme was extreme. Who am I?

Genghis Khan takes time out of his busy schedule of conquering to answer this for us (with help from Trashy)

Who am I? I’m one of four men to have held something longer than a specific time period (IC title more than 440 days?).

I’m one of two men to have a specific title, although it wasn’t as important to me as it was to the other guy given that for me it was just a pseudonym. (The Rock)

I once lost a Texas match in New York ( November 23, 1981 – Pedro Morales defeated WWF IC Champion Don Muraco ).

The (arguably) most historical moment I was part of was a match I won, but few people remember that (The historical moment was Jimmy Snuka diving off the top of the steel cage at Madison Square Garden. He did that after losing the match itself to Muraco.).

I was the first guy to hold a title that is currently active in WWE (King Of The Ring),

I solidified a face turn by saving my future manager from a three on one beatdown ( saved Superstar Billy Graham from a three-on-one beating by Butch Reed, One Man Gang and Slick,),

and I was extreme before extreme was extreme (was in ECW when it was called Eastern Championship Wrestling).

Who am I? Don Muraco

Who am I? I was involved in the last match Dusty Rhodes had in a specific company. My last televised PPV match was a loss, but the odds were against me. I was the second man to do something that you don’t want to do. One of my main gimmicks had its origins in warfare. I once belonged to a group that had a 50/50 split in gender (and also once was outnumbered by the other sex in a grouping, not that I seemed to mind). I’ve been in a few tag teams, but never as a leader (even when I’m on equal with my partner, his name came first). A guy who is all about dem asses, sort of, I am who?

Getting Down To All The Business

APinOz corrects me and then has a question. And fair enough too.

I noticed in your column this week that you answered the question about wrestlers playing multiple roles and talked about masked wrestlers. You said that in the 1980s Spider Lady was “usually the Fabulous Moolah” but was played by other ladies as well.

To the best of my knowledge, Moolah played the role of Spider Lady only once – and that was in the Madison Square Garden title match against Wendi Richter. In all other instances, The Spider was a taller, slimmer build wrestler, and I think was most often played by Velvet McIntyre and Donna Christanello. Of course, Moolah played the role in that November 1985 match apparently to screw Richter out of the title.

This leads me to a question: That match is cited as the original screw job, with the story that Richter was demanding more money, thought she was a bigger star etc. Now, I can see that Wendi was caught in the small package that led to the pin and that the count was pretty spurious as it seems Wendi’s shoulders are off the mat. But I cannot believe that she never knew it was Moolah under the mask. I remember way back seeing that match on the weekly Championship Wrestling show the WWF showed here in Australia, and instantly realising that wasn’t the regular Spider Lady, as the build of the wrestler was completely different.

So how did it really go down? As a wrestler, you’d surely know who was under the mask the first time a spot is called, wouldn’t you? Was it more believable that Wendi knew it was Moolah all along but didn’t think she was going to drop the title that night?

I was going from memory, and I read somewhere that Spider Lady got passed around a lot, and sometimes even Wendi played her, but upon checking that isn’t supported by the facts so my bad.

Anyway, Ritcher has discussed this is shoot interviews, and given that no-one on the other side has objected to the main points, it’s probably accurate.

Wendi and Vince are at loggerheads over money, given that Wendi (with, it must be said, some justification) believes that she’s the #2 in the company and thus should be compensated as such, while Vince feels otherwise and wants her to sign a new contract asap.

But while negotiations are ongoing, Wendi is still turning up to work, and on this night in November 85, she rocks up to MSG and while the Spider Lady she expected to be there was there, so was Moolah. And Moolah almost never turned up to shows she wasn’t booked on.

Still, Wendi got dressed, and headed for the ring. And the second she saw Spider Lady, she knew it was Moolah, and that something was up. To quote Wendi;

“All I knew was, with [Moolah], I’ve got to look out for myself. [She’d do] Everything. She’ll try to hurt you. She’ll try to pin you. And I knew she couldn’t pin me. She couldn’t. But what I didn’t count on was the referee getting paid off.”

She wrestled the match expecting Moolah to try something, she thought Moolah maybe wanted to screw her over. But she didn’t expect the ref to be in on it as well, and that led to her downfall.

So yeah, it wasn’t that the reveal was a shock to her, instead it was the screwjob overall that was the issue. But hey, eventually, she and WWE were able to reconcile, so there’s a happy ending (eventually) here at least.

Axl From Paris isn’t Against Us.

Five years ago, on June 7th, 2010, the Nexus invaded Raw. As everybody knows, Daniel Bryan went a little overboard with his attack on Justin Roberts and — if I got the story right — there was some backlash from some WWE sponsors in the next days because the strangulation was too graphic, and Bryan was fired, or suspended, and came back as a face at Summerslam, two months later. My question is a “what if”? What was the original plan for Bryan during the Nexus Invasion? If you watch the scene, he is the guy that spits into Cena’s face and puts him down for good with a roundhouse kick, he looks to be at least Barrett’s equal in terms of leadership… What would have happened had he not been suspended? What would have changed for him, for Barrett, for the Nexus as a whole? Any additional thoughts on the Nexus storyline would be appreciated, of course.

He was fired, with an unspoken general agreement that he’d be back once the smoke cleared, provided he kept his nose clean, as it were.

Anyway, there’s a lot of rumors and original plans floating about revolving around Nexus, about what the original aim was (Nexus were supposed to rule everything at one point) and what was changed and when, so it’s hard to work out what is true and what isn’t, although given that this all involved future booking, true and false are perhaps the wrong terms.

Bryan’s role, originally, was the role that Otunga eventually filled in a slightly different way. He was meant to be the real force behind the throne, the guy who carried the weight and did all the heavy lifting while Barrett got the spoils. Slowly but surely, Bryan would start to get more and more frustrated, and eventually would fracture the group by leaving it and then helping to bring it down. So basically what happened, just with more time spent with Bryan in the group first.

As for my thoughts on the storyline… The Nexus Riot was one of the best debuts for anything in wrestling history, but the follow up just sucked. The core concept of Nexus was strong, and the group could have been awesome and carried storylines for years if they paced it right. But some questionable booking choices (Team WWE winning at Summerslam 2010 was just asinine) and a lack of clear focus, both in and out of character, ruined any chance for it to be truly effective.

But hey, if it had gone off without a hitch, Bryan might not have gotten over quite as well, his career path might have been longer but reaching less height, so who knows if it was for the best or not…


Dilyan wants to take us back. Back to the past.

I don’t know if something like this has been sent in before, but here goes. Top rope moves, or climbing the turnbuckles and jumping onto your opponent has been a staple of wrestling since forever. Thing is, this isn’t something one would normally do in a fight, unless they’re high on angel dust, or whatever and it’s present only in pro wrestling, a sport which has been mainly grounded since its inception.

So, my question is: When did jumping off the turnbuckles originate, who did it first, when did it become popular and has anyone performed a top rope move in a shoot fight?

To answer the last question first, yes, for a given value of shoot. Certainly you see in the occasional fistfight video and other such brawls that smartphones record, there will be the occasional drunken idiot who jumps off something to attack a guy. And certainly in martial arts, there are some disciplines that involve flying kicks and the like.

But in the ring? It can be hard to tell at times, some people who work stiff have bad moods and they work superstiff, which may include coming off the top rope. But often it’s less shoot fights as it is shoot beatdowns where someone will come off the top rope. The Mike Levy incident in IWA-MS involved top rope curb stomps onto a ladder, so it has happened at least once. (And no, I’m not linking to that. Screw that noise.)

Onto more pleasant territory, when did top rope moves originate, who did it first, who popularised it? Like a lot of things in wrestling, it’s practically impossible to find definitive, hard evidence as to who invented anything. You could argue that the first guy to do anything top rope related was ‘Wild’ Bill Longston, who wrestled mostly in St Louis but also all over North America from the 30’s through to 1960. While he’s one of many people credited by some as being the guy who innovated the piledriver, as an arrogant, western heel he had a signature escape from the ring, just as the face would begin to mount a comeback, Longston would do a running vault over the top rope to the ground from a parallel start. For the 40’s/50’s, that was high flying.

The answer of who began it as a style may well be in Lucha, with Mil Máscaras being the guy who introduced Lucha high flying to the world, despite being a power/mat guy in Mexico.

But although there are isolated incidents (Donnie Curtis reportedly did a double dropkick off the top rope to the Graham brothers in ‘57), the guy who gets the credit in America, with all the press ink about it, is Ray Stevens, with his ‘Bombs Away’ top rope knee drop to the throat in the 60’s. He may not have been the first, but he’s certainly the guy most people first heard about coming off the top rope.

But as always, if there’s anyone out there with more knowledge than I’ve got, do please share. Thank you.

Joesph sent in a whole lot of interesting questions, here’s just a few for now.

1) A lot of times during reviews people will talk about the crowd and the influence the crowd has on the match.

-How important is the crowd to the overall match, the performers, and the presentation?

-The bigger question I have is sometimes in reviews will say that the crowd is dead or that some group is a bad crowd. I guess my question is does this create kind of a chicken-or-the-egg situation? I guess I ask because I’ve read reviews where people will disparage the crowd, but the matches are awful.

The specific example that got me thinking about this was Starrcade 1998. I’ve read some reviews that disparage the crowd. Watching that event, though, they put on three crappy filler matches in a row. This is ostensibly the biggest event of their year and they put on Nitro-filler matches. I don’t want to turn this into a conversation about that specific event, but I look at that and I think to myself “yeah, I wouldn’t be saying anything either; these matches are terrible”. So what to you think? Is it fair to blame the crowd or do some crowds get a pass due to the poor quality of the matches?

In wrestling, a crowd is like the ref, in that usually, if they are doing their job then you shouldn’t really notice them. Not that a loud reaction isn’t awesome, but a crowd should add to the overall atmosphere of a match without overshadowing it, you should get caught up in the match and be cheering/booing with other fans, but not noticing the crowd.

Of course, the usually there is key. Japanese crowds are famous for being quieter than American ones, which can be off putting for someone getting into Puro for the first time. But it does mean you have to judge Japanese matches slightly differently. And of course, sometimes a crowd being rowdy makes a match that much more unique and special.

(Shame for that crowd that singing ‘John Cena Sucks’ with his theme wasn’t a thing yet.)

So yeah, a crowd plays a role, but if you notice them, there’s usually a problem.

As for the bigger question, as to if it’s the chicken or the egg, certainly promoters will claim it’s a dead crowd if they don’t react how the promoter wants, if his product gets booed, it must be the fans fault.

But the thing is, that’s sometimes true. Sometimes a crowd IS dead, sometimes a crowd DOES crap on an otherwise good show, there are dead crowds. Some towns have reps for being bad crowds, some don’t, but every so often there is a show where the fans seem to just not care for some reason. Weather or a lack of enough crowd starters or general malaise, there’s no known explanation for it, it just happens sometimes.

A good rule of thumb is to chart how the audience does in the first couple of matches. If they start ok, and then trail off to nothing, then there may be a problem with the show. But if they start silent and stay there, then you might have a dead crowd.

But yes, sometimes a dead crowd is killed by the shows. And sometimes they are DOA.

2) Understandably you’re biased here, but you’ve spoken eloquently of wrestling as a method of storytelling involving improvisation, psychology, athleticism, history, and probably other factors that I’m forgetting as well. My question is does professional wrestling get a bad rap?

I’ve always maintained it’s an art form but there’s so much going into the matches is professional wrestling more sophisticated than most people–and I’m kind of including myself among them–perceive it to be?

Only when it’s done really well, or you’re super invested.

There are two different ways wrestling can transcend just a good match and become something special. The first is by design, where enough people involved in putting the match together are damn good at their job, and they’re able to plot out a superb story, and the wrestlers involved are good enough to tell that story (or at least hang on and let the story get told around them). The story may be full of historical nods, it might pay off storylines and set off new ones, or it just might be balls to the wall action and excitement, whatever makes it great, through hard work and talent, art is made by design.

But art is in the eye of the beholder. And sometimes, as a wrestling fan, you make art all by yourself.

Wrestling is a unique storytelling medium in that you have the storytelling tropes of drama, comedy and tragedy, mixed in with the fandom and support systems of sport. Sure, sport end up telling stories, but by accident, the people involved are just playing a game and a story ends up being told due to their actions. But pro wrestling allows drama to mix in with sport, and with that comes the drama you build yourself.

Anyone who watches wrestling will have favorites, the guys you love to watch. And chances are, deep down, there’s one guy who you love who wasn’t a main event guy. Chances are, there’s a midcard guy or gal who you loved but who never got to the top of the mountain, just based on chance and ratios of champs to non-champs. And with guys like that, with the people you love and support who aren’t main attractions, every win and loss means a little more to you, because you’re invested in them. Same thing with fans of Indy wrestling, when a guy gets signed, when Sami Zayn or Hideo Itami or Becky Lynch get to the big leagues, their success or failure means more if you’ve known them as Rebecca Knox or KENTA or El Generico Whoever Sami Used To Be.

So sometimes wrestling can become art because you imbue it with emotion. You decide who you love or hate, and thus whatever they do becomes that much more important to you. But given how that’s such a personal thing, safer bet to just try and make extremely good wrestling first and foremost, if you’re after art.

You’re kinda supposed to be after money with the art second, but good art hopefully leads to money so it’s all mixed together.

3) A similar note, but do you think professional wrestlers get a bad rap? I know you’ve mentioned that you’ve encountered people in your profession that are personally that act in ways that are less than glowing, but the way you talk about psychology and storytelling indicates that there’s a lot more that goes into each match than meets the eye. Given this, do you think that the public’s general perception of pro wrestlers as big, sweaty, dumb guys that sometimes wear a goofy costume or a mask (and if you think that’s not the general perception feel free to correct me) is outdated, unfair, or inaccurate?

It’s hard for me to say what the general public’s perception of wrestling is given that anyone I meet who is part of the public, as soon as they find out I’m a wrestler, they tend to either be interested or avoid the topic in hopes I don’t rip their heads off.

*67.456% of a Chandler*

But wrestling is like any business or sport or even art field, in that there are indeed guys who are big, sweaty and dumb, or some combination of the three. I’ve met and wrestled plenty of guys who can discuss politics and other social issues and/or who have intellectual pursuits (Brian Kendrick and I discussed books briefly when he noticed I had one in my bag, for name dropping instance). I’ve also wrestled guys who couldn’t pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel.

Overall though, they tend to be fairly rare, or at least this is when they are super green and thus you don’t expect them to know anything. It’s rare to find a guy who’s been wrestling for any extended period of time who doesn’t at least have some idea of what they are doing. Sometimes this idea is ‘How many superkicks can I fit into a match?’, but it’s still an idea.

The big dumb wrestler stereotype is outdated, in that back in the day wrestlers tended to play to that a bit more, to avoid questions or to be loveable or whatever, and to perform in the ring is a challenging, but worthwhile, pursuit. And the average wrestler does put in a lot more thought and effort into a match than you’d expect.

The thing about averages though, there’s half the group above that point, and the other half below that point…

(Unless you’re talking about modes or medians, but that’s nerdy stat talk I put in to make myself look even smarter.)

Daquan asks if Vince is worth being called the Devil. Sort of.

Huge fan of the column. One question that has bothered me for years is whether or not Jim Ross got heat for his call during the Shawn Michaels/Vince McMahon match at WrestleMania 22 ? He really bashed Vince throughout the entire match. Was this JR selling to get the match over or did he really feel that Vince was “the most evil man alive”?

I couldn’t find direct evidence either way, but just look at what Vince did in the build up to the match.

He fired an entire arena of people.
He engaged in sexual assault by forcing men to kiss his ass.
He screwed Shawn Michaels. In a non-sexual way.
He had multiple people bloody, batter and bruise Shawn Michaels.
And he was an all round, grade A, giant bastard.

Yes, Jim Ross went a little overboard, but given Shawn was religious and at peace, the storyline did go that way, and JR knows how to call a match and show passion. And hell, considering where the angle went next…

It fit. Hell, Vince probably told JR to go that way.

Connor has a couple questions.

What’s the deal with Sid? the guy was always awful in the ring yet could cut an interesting promo, had presence and seemed to have the it factor when it came to looks

The deal with Sid was that while he was awful in the ring, he could cut an interesting promo, had presence and seemed to have the It Factor when it came to looks.

I mean, as I mentioned above when it comes to wrestling, some guys can create art, others can be assisted to get there. Sid is on such guy, in that he has an undeniable natural charisma, and always looked like a million bucks, but his promos were often memorable for the wrong reasons, and he occasionally became a liability due to backstage antics.

But he always got another shot because he looked like how a wrestler should look, tall, muscular, imposing, plus by all accounts provided he wasn’t getting into fights or up himself or off playing softball, he was a good guy. If you want a defence of the guy, there’s still the excellent ’In Defence Of…’ column up.

what are the odds of a major wrestling company bringing back the Crockett Cup? I used to love that event, maybe the E could bring it back and call it the Vince McMahon Memorial Cup?

I would have said low to nill, but now WWE’s started doing Network exclusive events, and a Vince McMahon Sr. Memorial Tag Team Tournament would easily fill a few shows on the Network, have one match per Raw/SD taping, build to the finals on a Network exclusive show, or just a PPV. Would fill some time and be an easy sell/pretty simple to book. Plus you can then combine all the matches into a DVD later on.

So yeah, odds are better than they were before.

We end this week (The Fox thing gets pushed back a week because she’s turned A LOT) with nightwolf and Face of the Company Talk. Yay!

So there is this long standing debate on who should be Face of the WWE. Some agree with Vince McMahon that the Face of WWE should have the look and build of Hulk Hogan. Others think it should be guys like Daniel Bryan who can wrestle, talk on the mike, etc.

1. What is your thoughts on this? Factor everything there is to consider when choosing the Face of WWE ( Look, Build, popularity, wrestling skill, Mic Skill,etc) Who do you think would fit that bill perfectly?

Whoever makes a connection with the fans big and strong enough to be marketable.

No Chandlers, that’s how I truly feel.

Far too many people try and overthink this, and try and complicate matters. They feel they have to find a guy who ticks every box and even a few circles, and that only this theoretical Greek God/Racial Minority/Warrior Poet hybrid thing can be face of the company and lead it to the promised land.

But honestly, any one factor can be ignored, if the others are strong enough.

If a guy looks bland, he can win people over with technical wrestling ability, gosh-darn niceness, being great at blow off matches, and having Arnold Skaaland as a manager.

If a guy lacks a bodybuilder’s build, he can make up for it with great match after great match, high flying and technical wrestling, and maybe riding a zipline down to the ring at a Wrestlemania.

If a guy isn’t the greatest wrestler, maybe due to injuries or whatever, he can just brawl, and tell good stories, create iconic imagery, and throw middle fingers around.

If a guy isn’t great on the mic, he can appeal to a big enough demographic due to his heritage, and be pretty good in the ring, and by becoming the first triple crown champion.

But popularity is the key. Doesn’t matter why people love you, if they love you, then you should be put in a prominent role. If they love you enough, for a long time, and despite losing occasionally, then you have a solid case to be face of the company.

Sure, if you do tick those boxes, awesome, and certainly I think a face of the company should be able to wrestle effectively as a babyface with some ability, and have a unique look and can cut a promo, obviously that’s what you want, but if the fans want a guy as the face of the company bad enough, he should become it. Or at least near enough.

2. WWE has had successes with Face of WWE ( Hogan, Austin, Cena). They’ve also had failures ( Diesel, Ultimate Warrior, etc). Who should decide who becomes the face of WWE? Should it be someone like Vince McMahon who hand picks them( Hulk Hogan) or should it be the fans who rally behind that wrestler ( Stone Cold)?

Both, or at least the fans should decide the shortlist. At any one time, there’s going to be a few guys that fans like, or at least you sure as hell hope so. You then focus on them, and see who maintains their popularity and who doesn’t, then go from there.

I mean, a promoter can force a guy, and it can work, but it’s best if the guy was at least getting some buzz on his own. The thing about forcing a guy is that you need to make it seem organic, and trick the fans into thinking they did it. That’s why a lot of promoter’s sons get screwed, I think, because it always seems blatant as to why they’re getting pushed.

Hogan had AWA audiences near-rioting to win the title, Vince didn’t go out on a limb with him. And Austin took a while to get going but then when Vince went in on him, he went all in. Faces of the company should be a joint thing, the promoter giving the fans what they want just enough to make them think they did it, and then make them pay to see it. Wrestling 101.

3. In the old days of WWE, you had one guy carrying the company on its shoulders and you had a revolving list of great wrestlers to support him. Today’s WWE is different. Would it be more feasible to have more then 1 Face of the WWE? More then 1 guy carrying the company on his shoulders and guys taking turns carrying the load. I only say this because it takes the pressure off one guy and the E won’t have to worry about them burning out and leaving. I mean lets face it, the days of wrestlers with John Cena’s work ethic are long gone.

Actually WWE had a few guys carrying the weight. You had A, B and C touring companies. The A show would feature Hulk Hogan defending the World title, while the B shows would have Dusty or Savage or someone on the second rung of Face of the Companyness, and then the C shows would be smaller and have the tag champs headline or something. Hogan didn’t carry the company on his back, there were multiple groups of guys going around. You’d mix and match, of course, but it wasn’t all on Hogan’s shoulders.

But this comes back to the 1 Cena V 20 Ortons issue, wherein would WWE be better off having a bunch of over guys V 1 OVER guy. And while of course you want as many over guys as you can, and you should get your faces to whatever point on the card best suits them, at the end of the day, there has to be one guy. He can cycle in and out, sure, but whenever you have two top guys, there’s going to be the ‘Who would win’ discussion. Which is awesome, you can totally make money off that, you can build up guys to do that, but at the end of the day you need a Face of the Company, the standard bearer, the guy who is everything good and just, the moral compass of the company who’s also the biggest star.

Or second biggest, because while you need a Face of the Company, you also need a Heel of the Company. The purest white needs the darkest black as a counterpoint, your top two stars at any one point should be one face, one heel.

And by god should you be building to their showdown.

But what do you think, dear readers? Am I right? Wrong? Both? Neither? Discuss below, and we can look over the results next week. Until then…