wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Was Triple H’s Quad Tear a Work?

July 13, 2021 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Triple H

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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Tyler from Winnipeg is gutting through the pain:

I’ve heard conspiracy theories on the Montreal Screwjob, but have you ever read or heard a conspiracy theory (meaning it was a work) on Triple H tearing his quad in the HHH & Austin vs Benoit & Jericho?

No, I can’t say that I have.

Even if I had, I would have a hard time believing them, because any theory that the quad tear was a work doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Admittedly, HHH’s return at the 2002 Royal Rumble and the U2-backed video packages leading up to it were probably my favorite parts of the man’s career not involving Mick Foley, but I can’t see the WWF or Triple H himself doing a deep work on an injury like that in order to set up the return that we ultimately got.

This is particularly true because the period of time that Triple H missed while on the disabled list was the WCW Invasion, and, even though the Invasion is remembered today as a bungled angle, at the time just before it was occurring, it was anticipated to be massively popular and a license to print money. (In fact, the original Invasion PPV was still wildly successful despite wonky booking headed into it.)

At the time of this angle, WWF wrestlers were still paid PPV and other major show bonuses, and Trips likely would’ve been factored in as a top star in the Invasion and likely would’ve been anticipating hefty payouts as a result. I doubt he would’ve voluntarily sat out that period of time if for no other reason than the finances of it all.

Night Wolf the Wise is reaching out for that hot tag:

How come the Rock N Roll express never signed with the WWF in the 80’s? It seems to me like they would have done good in that era.

Like my answer to the question above, it almost certainly comes down to money. You have to keep in mind that, though the WWF certainly had a tag team division in the 1980s, tag teams were never main event acts the way other territories would allow them to be. Meanwhile, in JCP and other points south, the RnRs headlined shows and were paid like headliners, so even if we assume that there was interest on the Fed side, it likely wouldn’t have been reciprocated.

For what it’s worth, this is almost the exact reason that Jim Cornette has given for the Midnight Express never jumping to the WWF, despite there being some overtures from Vince and company.

Ben is the helicopter parent to an entire industry:

I was watching the Brian Pillman “Dark Side of the Ring” episode this morning among many that I enjoy watching between that and A&E’s “Biography” and I was drawn to how often wrestlers still make references to “protecting the business”, especially “pre-curtain call.”

It got me wondering. Since the business now operates to a certain degree on “post-curtain call” programming I wonder…

What’s left to protect?

Nowadays, there is absolutely nothing left to protect. Everyone knows wrestling is a work, and every single person involved in it (even the Undertaker, who was perhaps the last major holdout) openly acknowledges that fact in every appearance that they make aside from on wrestling programming itself.

Prior to the 1990s, though, wrestling’s true nature was an open secret. Yes, 99% of people in the world knew what was up, but few to no people involved in the industry would say anything about it, and those who would were often ostracized.

At that time, “protecting the business” was a lot like being a magician. The theory was that, even if people knew the “tricks” weren’t real, it would be easier for them to suspend their disbelief and make the whole thing more captivating if they still didn’t know how the tricks were performed.

Of course, now in wrestling the cat is way too far out of the bag for it to ever go back in, so we’ll never know if the modern pseudo-sport would be better off if it were still protected.

Memphis B-Rad is making this personal:

I read that you rarely watch current wrestling. That makes me a sad panda. Ask your readers what is the one match they would show someone such as yourself in order to respark their interest in this wacky thing we love so much.

I will say that there was one recent bout that actually got me to watch a wrestling match live as it aired, and it was the AEW Blood and Guts match between the Inner Circle and Pinnacle. This was the first time in literally years that I watched a wrestling show as it was happening.

The reason it got me was that I was a huge fan of War Games as it was originally done (the later WCW and NXT versions were not my cup of tea), and I was given the impression that AEW’s version was going to be faithful to those versions. I was also staying in a hotel that night due to some work commitments the next day and didn’t have much better to do, but we’ll put that factor aside for a second.

On the whole, I really enjoyed Blood and Guts, though I felt the finish was horrible, and it turned me off and likely kept me from tuning back into Dynamite the next week.

What could get me back into watching wrestling on a more full-time basis?

It’s not just going to be one match. It’s going to have to be one match or angle that serves as an initial hook, but there’s going to have to be solid follow-up for weeks afterwards.

However, B-Rad has asked me to ask you what you think could respark my interest in wrestling, so I’ll do it. Let me know in the comments.

Don is a two-time All-American:

I always wondered why the Steiner Brothers never fit into the WWF during their 1993-94.Do you think it had to do with the lack of quality heel tag teams? I mean they wrestled Money Inc and the Quebecers and that was about it.

I really hope that you are not implying that the Quebecers were not a quality heel tag team, because I always had a strong personal affinity towards them. I mean, it’s the Mountie and PCO. How do you not love that pairing?

In any event, you’re absolutely correct that the WWF did not have a large focus on its tag team division at the time the Steiners were on the roster, as it seemed there were only four or five active teams in that period. However, the Steiners not fitting in is not just a function of the division not being focused on. It’s also because the Steiners were used to wrestling a more physically intense and demanding style than others in the company, due in large part to their work in Japan. It was just a situation in which it would’ve done better in a company where they could have gelled better with their opposition.

Christopher is asking the biggest question in the history of our sport:

Hogan vs. Goldberg is widely considered the biggest match in the history of Nitro from a marquee standpoint. My question is, what is the equivalent for RAW? What’s the biggest marquee match in RAW’s history?

I can’t say that there really is one, to be honest. Though the WWF did do a lot of hot shotting of angles and big matches during the 1990s in particular, in most cases when they did promote a main event for Raw that probably should have been held off for pay per view, they at least booked the match in such a way that there was something “saved” for PPV and nobody remembered the Raw version of the match. Meanwhile, Hogan/Goldberg was not only a huge marquee match headed into the Georgia Dome card, but it was also booked almost exactly like it would have been on a paid show, with the babyface going over to win the title despite heel interference. This makes it stick in people’s minds significantly more than the high profile WWF/WWE matches on free television which were used in service of a later version of the match, occurring with more build.

If I had to pick one match that maybe kinda sorta answered the question, I would go with the Rock versus Mankind from the taped Monday Night Raw that was aired on January 4, 1999. These two were legitimate main eventers at the time which could have drawn well against each other if headlining a pay per view (in fact, they were coming off a Survivor Series angle that should have set up a hot rematch), but the title change to Foley still occurred on free television with a finish that would have been just as satisfying on PPV.

If others have a differing opinion, I would be glad to hear it in the comments.

A reader whose name I’ve sadly misplaced has asked me to follow up on a couple of recent columns in which I listed the best wrestler from each US state and the best wrestler from each Canadian state by now asking me to list the best wrestler from each AUSTRALIAN state.

I’m glad to do that, despite being generally less familiar with Australian than I am the U.S.A. or Canada. First, though, a couple of ground rules:

As with my prior installments in this series, we are dealing exclusively with where wrestlers were born, not where they lived the majority of their lives or where they were billed from. Birthplace controls over everything else.

In addition to its formal states, Australia also has several territories, but, with one exception below, I’m sticking with the states proper simply because the territories tended to be pretty sparsely populated and have only produced small handfuls of lower level wrestlers.

That said, here we go.

New South Wales – Roy Heffernan – Heffernan is probably one of the most influential wrestlers on this list, as he and his partner Al Costello (an Italian who pretended to be Australian for his gimmick) formed the Fabulous Kangaroos in the 1950s. The Kangaroos are credited with being one of the first tag teams if not the first tag team to have a team name and unified gimmick, helping to popularize the genre. The Kangaroos began as a fixture in Canadian territories before moving to the United States. Heffernan then took his new partner down under, capturing numerous championships along the way. Unfortunately, Heffernan just edged out another wrestler from NSW, a journeyman by the name of Massive Q.

Queensland – Nathan Jones – It’s hard to believe that I’m selecting Nathan Jones to be the “best” of anything, but I was only able to find record of four wrestlers coming out of Queensland, and he was the only one to achieve any sort of notoriety, even if it was for all the wrong reasons. As a result, the guy who is best known for falling on his ass during his debut and lactating gets to make this list. I do have to admit, as a guy who loves a good pun, I almost gave the slot to a female independent wrestlers who goes by the name of Lucille Brawl.

South Australia – Rhea Ripley – Usually when I prepare a list like this, I’m hesitant to include a current wrestler, because we haven’t had the benefit of history and hindsight with which to evaluate their career. However, looking at the competition from South Australia, Rhea Ripley immediately rises to the top. She’s a high level in-ring performer who has now had a taste of success on the grandest stage in the profession, which puts her well ahead of anybody else who has hailed from her hometown of Adelaide or its surrounding environs.

Tasmania – Braithe Priest – This is literally the only Tasmania professional wrestler that I’m aware of. He appears to have wrestled exclusively on small Australian indies over the course of his thirteen-year career, aside from his being able to break away for a single Pro Wrestling ZERO1 show in 2010. Enjoy the plug, Braithe. Hopefully it helps you get a couple of extra bookings if that’s the sort of thing you’re still looking for.

Victoria – Buddy Murphy – Hailing from Melbourne, the recently-released-from-WWE Buddy Murphy competed on the independent scene for six years before the E and their developmental scene came calling. After being called up as part of the company’s cruiserweight division, he quickly gained a cult following as a guy who could always be counted on to have an excellent match, even if the positioning of his matches kept him under the radar. Surprisingly, those consistent performances paid off for him and he started to have a more featured role, despite the fact that WWE is not exactly known for being a meritocracy. As of this writing, we are all still waiting to see where he lands next, though he certainly has a world of potential.

Western Australian – Slapjack – The wrestler now best known as Slapjack first came on to my radar as Shane Haste, part of the tag team TMDK, which began on the Australian independent scene but gained its first true notoriety in Pro Wrestling NOAH during the first half of the 2010s. The team parlayed that success into a WWE developmental contract, where Haste was renamed Shane Thorne for a spell before being called up as part of the ill-fated Retribution stable and given one of the dirt worst ring names of all time. Even though he has yet to taste true main roster success, he is still the best wrestler from Western Australian, just edging out his former TMDK tag team partner Mikey Nicholls.

Australian Capital Territory – Larry O’Dea – Back in the heyday of the National Wrestling Alliance, Australia had its own wrestling territory, though we’re not seeing many of the wrestlers from that territory here because, even though some of the lower card wrestlers were Australians, most of the top guys were imported from other countries. O’Dea, however, was one of the few Ozzie born wrestlers who broke through and became a true star, not only capturing numerous tag team championships in his native country but also receiving some tours in the United States and All Japan Pro Wrestling.

And that’s that. I now look forward to being asked about the best wrestler from each Mexican state, each Indian state, or each Japanese prefecture.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. 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.

article topics :

Triple H, WWE, Ryan Byers