wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Why Did Vince McMahon Stop Announcing?

August 25, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
Vince McMahon WWE Network WWE Jamison

Hey, welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling! I am Mathew Sforcina, and I answer questions, or at the very least post them and then spend a few hundred words going ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Summerslam was a pretty good show, albeit a pretty good 2 hour show in a sea of 4 more hours of not good show. But we’ve emerged from it, and we’re now counting down to Brock/Braun, where I presume the world will end due to too much awesomeness in a concentrated place. But forget it, let’s talk other stuff!

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The WCW Locker Room: Michael was kind enough to write in, he worked for a WCW department in the timeframe of the question and he confirmed that it was indeed a set that they brought with them to TV shows. So there you go.

WWWF/WWF/WWE etc: Thank you for those who pointed out Dusty and Volkoff also counting. As for lists of people who worked for most everyone… I vaguely recall someone asking about who had worked for the most ‘Big’ companies, maybe, but I don’t believe there is a list.

Attitude Era/PC Culture: WWE won’t go Attitude Era any time soon because of their contracts and partnership deals that require them to be PG, but if they didn’t exist, they could absolutely go Attitude if they wanted to. Just reinforce the notion this isn’t for kids and bump the TV advisory ratings up, maybe change channels to something more adult focused, it could be done. Hell, one of the most popular TV shows right now has incest, blood, nudity, and dragons, ‘PC culture’ isn’t going to stop a show from being adult, as long as the show is good, and deals with issues in a positive leaning way. Russo style Attitude wouldn’t get off the ground, sure, that would get far too many people complaining, but a violent, adult themed wrestling company? That could work, it’s just WWE is several large steps away from it, and isn’t going to get there any time soon.

I doubt I’ve heard the last of this, but let’s move on.

The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I’ve held a tag title that the above man has also held, although I was a tag title away from holding the triple crown of one of the one of the big 3. My very first match in pro wrestling was part of a unique card that also included Ric Flair and Paul Heyman. I was briefly Russian, as well as being the beau of the first woman in a WWF video game. I’ve been beaten by clowns, a screamer, and I once had to destroy a ring in order to win a title. A guy who stands out in the final edition of Nitro for a specific reason, I am who?

A few people got it, but Bobby Wonderbread laid it all out for us.

Who am I? I’ve held a tag title that the above man has also held (IWGP w/ Vader), although I was a tag title away from holding the triple crown of one of the one of the big 3 (ECW). My very first match in pro wrestling was part of a unique card that also included Ric Flair and Paul Heyman (at Studio 54). I was briefly Russian (Crusher Yurkoff), as well as being the beau of the first woman in a WWF video game (Luna). I’ve been beaten by clowns (Doink), a screamer (Norman Smiley), and I once had to destroy a ring in order to win a title (Tazz for the ECW TV Title). A guy who stands out in the final edition of Nitro for a specific reason (jobbed to Shawn Stasiak real quick), I am who? Bam Bam Bigelow.

He’s in control, after all.

Who am I? I share a title with the above, although I have one less Wrestling Observer award than above, but I’m in the hall of fame and he’s not, so there. My wrestling career is impressive in terms of win/loss ratio, although not so much in terms of numbers. I was the first person to verbalise a specific thing at a Wrestlemania. I left WWF after an earlier version of the PPV that just happened, and returned at a Wrestlemania. I’ve beaten hall of famers, MVPs, GMs, and river people. A man still with WWE in some capacity, I am who?

Getting Down To All The Business

Let’s start with the counting question for this week, thanks to Marcus.

Alexa Bliss now has the dubious distinction of losing a championship at both WrestleMania and SummerSlam in the same year. How many times has this happened before? And, out of those times, has the champion ever tapped out both times like Bliss?

Ok, so the first Summerslam was in 88, which was the year of WM4. So let’s go through them, find years with people who lost a title at WM and then see if they lost one at Summerslam too. (I’m not bothering listing people who lost a title at Summerslam but not at WM.)

WMIV/SS88: Rick Martel and Tito Santana lose Tag at WM, no SS title losses.
WMV/SS89: Warrior loses IC, Savage loses WWF at WM, no SS title losses.
WMVI/SS90: Andre and Haku lose Tag, Hogan loses WWF at WM, no SS title losses.
WMVII/SS91: Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart lose Tag, Slaughter loses WWF at WM, no SS title losses.
WMVIII/SS92: Roddy Piper loses IC, Flair loses WWF at WM, no SS title losses.
WMIX/SS93: Bret Hart and Yokozuna both lose WWF at WM, no SS title losses (unless you count Bret Hart’s Kingship)
WMX/SS94: Yokozuna loses WWF (unless you count HBK’s disputed IC title), no SS title losses.
WMXI/SS95: Billy and Bart Gunn lose Tag, no SS title losses.
WMXII/SS96: Bret Hart loses WWF, no SS title loss.
WM13/SS97: Sid loses WWF, no SS title loss.
WMXIV/SS98: Billy Gunn and Road Dogg lose Tag, HBK loses WWF, no SS title losses.
WMXV/SS99: Billy Gunn loses HC, Rock loses WWF, no SS title losses.
WM2000/SS00: Crash Holly, Tazz, Viscera, Funaki, Rodney, Joey Abs, Thrasher, and Pete Gas lose HC, Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley lose Tag, Kurt Angle loses Euro and IC at WM, no SS title losses, surprisingly.
WMX7/SS01: Raven loses HC, Test loses Euro, Ivory loses Women’s, Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley lose Tag, The Rock loses WWF at WM, no SS title losses.
WMX8/SS02: Regal loses IC, Maven, Spike Dudley, The Hurricane, Molly Holly, and Christian lose HC, Chris Jericho loses WWF at WM, no SS title losses.
WMXIX/SS03: Victoria loses Women’s, Kurt Angle loses WWE at WM, no SS title losses.
WMXX/SS04: Big Show loses US, Triple H loses World at WM, no SS title losses.
WM21/SS05: JBL loses WWE, Triple H loses World at WM, no SS title losses.
WM22/SS06: Benoit loses US, Trish Status loses Women’s, Kurt Angle loses World at WM, no SS title losses.
WM23/SS07: Batista loses World at WM, no SS title loss.
WMXXIV/SS08: Chavo Guerrero loses ECW, Edge loses World at WM, no SS title losses.
WMXXV/SS09: JBL loses IC, Edge loses World (Miz and Morrison lose World Tag on preshow) at WM, no SS title losses.
WMXXVI/SS10: Batista loses WWE at WM, no SS title loss.
WMXXVII/SS11: No WM title changes.
WMXXVIII/SS12: Daniel Bryan loses World, Cody Rhodes loses IC, no SS title losses.
WM29/SS13: The Rock loses WWE (and Wade Barrett loses IC on pre-show) at WM, no SS title losses.
WMXXX/SS14: Randy Orton loses WWE World at WM, no SS title loss.
WM31/SS15: Bad News Barrett loses IC, Rusev loses US, Brock Lesnar loses WWE World at WM, no SS title losses.
WM32/SS16: Kevin Owens loses IC, Triple H loses WWE World at WM, no SS title losses.
WM33/SS17: Chris Jericho loses US, Gallows and Anderson lose Raw Tag, Bray Wyatt loses WWE, Goldberg loses Universal, Alexa Bliss loses SD Women’s at WM, Alexa Bliss loses Raw Women’s at SS.

So that took a long time. But no, no-one else has lost a title at both WM and SS in the same year. I would have sworn there’d be one with the Hardcore title, but there you go. Bliss makes history!

JT takes us to me. Because you’re clearly not sick of me yet!

Longtime reader. First time questions..

1. Ive always loved the way Newcastle Pro Wrestling has been booked from start to finish and liked to think you’ve got some booking power there. What are some of your thought process for booking a show?

I hate to burst your bubble, but no, I don’t have any real booking power there or in any company I wrestle in. I pitch ideas, like any other wrestler, and sometimes they are used, but it’s not like I get final say so or anything. A lot of people down here have great minds for the business, and while most of the young guys will hear me out since I’m the grizzled old vet in most locker rooms these days, they don’t need me to book for them, they know what they’re doing.

That said, I of course have opinions on how to book a show, even if the biggest outlet that said booking has had has been EWR on 411 back in the day.

I still think the “Lita’s Wide Open… Invitational” concept has legs.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, but since I can’t find it, let’s do the quick version. Anything you don’t understand, drop me a line and I’ll try to explain it next week in the feedback loop.

Assuming this isn’t a one off show, you need to consider what storylines you have going on, which ones need to be ended or started or just progressed. Doesn’t have to be a lot of progression, a draw or a brawl or a promo or even just a stand off, but unless there’s a reason why you’re ignoring it, every storyline should have something occur as part of it.

Once you have that list of storylines, you work out how to progress them, then you have a list of matches or events that you want to occur. You then structure them so as to give enough room for everything to occur. You can have two singles programs in one tag match or something, sure, but if you have two blood feuds going on, probably best to give some space between them on the card.

Once you have the rough layout of the important stuff, then you slot in people you want to use into the gaps, making sure the card builds appropriately, and that there’s enough variety to keep your audience happy.

And that’s the key point, you have to keep in mind your audience. Don’t pander to them, but understand what market you’re trying to draw and give them storylines and angles that they’ll appreciate. Not like, you can totally have a card filled with mostly heels winning and downer moments, but as long as they come back next time, that’s the important thing.

That’s pretty much it really, in terms of general stuff. I focus on the stories I want to tell, the wrestling is important, sure, but overall the wrestling serves the story, not the other way around. At least for me.

2. With all the buzz surrounding Will Ospreay coming to Australia to build up the scene, if you could have any 5 wrestlers on the planet currently wrestling for you for the next 5 years who would they be and how would you use them/who would you have them initially fued with?

I know you said wrestlers, but ideally my pick of a guy to get down here would be Jeremy Borash, to help run a company of my choice and get it onto TV. But ok, wrestlers…

If we’re ignoring all aspects like ‘probability’ and ‘likelihood’ and such, then I’d have Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, Braun, and Roode all invade a major show and lay waste to the entire roster on the basis that they’ve grown sick of false promises and talk of golden rings so they’ve left their gilded cage to come down here, take over all of Australian Wrestling, so as to use it to choke their former master, to use this country as a base for War. Four Nations would soon join them, while the rest of the country’s top wrestlers are forced to band together to try and stop them from taking over. Yes, it’s an invasion angle and those are done to death, but if you’re gonna bring guys in unrealistically, go big.

If we’re talking a more believable, actually likely scenario? I’d like to see more guys who work in Japan a lot come down here since we’re so convenient for there. Really, there’s too many options of really talented men and women who I’d like to see down here, and for the most part the initial usage of them is all the same, have them come down in pairs and do a tour of matches against each other, then team up and then feud with the Four Nations or the Armada or SMS or some such, go from there. I don’t want to leave anyone out, so I’ll leave it there.

Jorge had a few questions he sent in. Here’s one of them.

I keep watching all the Raw and Nitro episodes from the MNW. I read a couple of years ago and it’s pretty obvious that The Rock had some sort of surgery in his chest around the time he became champion and I guess that’s the reason why he started wearing a shirt to matches. My question is, how come he never took time off for the surgery.

Yeah, The Rock had gynecomastia surgery in 1999 (and 2005) to remove excess fat from the pectoral/breast area, although he admits that he did it strictly for aesthetic reasons, he didn’t have a medical issue as such, just his chest was less toned than he desired it, for any number of factors, from his Samoan heritage to weight loss to who knows.

As for time off, the surgery, which is basically liposuction, doesn’t have that long a time for recovery. You wear a compression bandage for several days, and although the recommended time before strenuous exercise is usually about three weeks, you can normally go back to work after several days.

Looking through late 98, finding a point where he started wearing the tracksuit… Ok, the day before they taped the Mankind title win, Rock interfered in a Mankind match, wearing a shirt.

There were a couple of house shows prior to that night, starting on Boxing day, but before that, the last WWF show appears to have been the Raw taping, the Raw showed on 12/21/98, but taped on the 15th, where he’s wearing the gear…

But if I was a betting man, he probably got the surgery the next day, and wore the gear there to establish it ahead of time, and thus the week and a half or so that the company took off over Xmas was also his recovery time. He just managed the taping schedule well.

King Crimson wonders if WWE has heat with Ambrose and Young.

Is there some kind of heat with both Renee Young and Dean Ambrose presently? When the draft happened, the WWE was great about keeping married couples (Miz and Maryse, John/Niki, Jimmy Uso/Naomi) together on the same brands. When the shake up happened, Ambrose moved to RAW and Renee stayed on Smackdown. Most recently, most of what Renee Young does has been axed, such as Unfiltered and Talking Smack. Any inside info on this?

There are two different issues here.

The Unfiltered and Talking Smack axings aren’t an attack at Renee, just part of the WWE taking a blowtorch to the Network. They asked people want they wanted on the Network, and people said more live shows, more stuff, so WWE made more stuff, and the Network didn’t grow. So they’re now cutting back almost everything that isn’t stuff they have to produce for TV, or that’s a quick cheap thing they can toss onto Youtube and the like. Renee being part of the shows being axed isn’t an attack on her as such, just that as one of their main talking heads, she was on a lot of talking head shows, and they’re cutting them back now.

As for the split, there was discussion about the split at the time, but while Dean wasn’t the most well liked guy by management at the time, the consensus eventually settled on the probability that WWE didn’t do it on purpose as such, in that the two of them got married on pretty much the spur of the moment, from proposal to vows was like a couple hours if that, according to Young in interviews. Then the Shake-up happened, and they were split. So it’s entirely possible that, while the company knew they were long term dating, they weren’t aware that they were married when they got split up.

Or, possibly, they didn’t really care, since Young isn’t wrestling, maybe they don’t consider that a major hassle for them.

But I suspect it was the former mostly, they probably didn’t know about it until too late, and then they shrugged and said to heck with it.

Another Matt asks why a belt made a one night return.

Long time reader, first time yada yada yada! There’s something that’s been bothering me for awhile and hoped you could answer. Why was the Winged Eagle brought back in a glass case for one night on 09/28/98? At that point, it had been gone for six months being replaced by the Big Eagle. I’m sure you have answered this question before and I usually look online for answers, but I can’t seem to find an answer anywhere. Thanks a lot and keep up the good work!

I don’t think I’ve covered this specific plot point, no. The incident in question is more famously known as the time Austin drove a Zamboni to the ring.

So Kane and Undertaker had beaten Austin together the previous night at Breakdown: In Your House, and Vince was going to decide who the champion was that night. Austin had been using the Smoking Skull title belt, which Vince hated, so when he got the chance to crown a new champion, he wanted to give them the ‘real’ world title belt.

But he didn’t have the Big Eagle belt that had been given to Austin the night after Wrestlemania XIV, no…

He had the old one, the one Austin took off of HBK. So what gives?

There’s an urban legend that they’d somehow left the Big Eagle belt at the Copps Coliseum the previous night, but they happened to have Winged Eagle in the travelling boxes, but I don’t think that’s true. What’s more likely is that they were still in the process of making Big Eagle 2.0 at that point.

See, the Big Eagle Austin got in that last video was held by only two men, Austin and Kane, Kane for the 24 hour reign. During Austin’s run, the belt cut him on the face during a segment, which is why he had the Smoking Skull belt made in the first place. When Big Eagle did come back at the end of the Survivor Series tournament, Rock’s one was different, it had a black strap, and the scratch logo on top, rather than the blue strap and block logo of Big Eagle 1.0.

So my assumption is that Big Eagle was still being sorted out, they were still switching over the belt to the new version. Thus they had to use the Winged Eagle, since it was only for one night and they weren’t going to give it to anyone anyway. Rather than use a half-made one.

Jeremiah asks a couple of hypotheticals.

If you’re Steve McMichael and someone tells you in mid-’96 that one day your wife Debra will be married to the most popular wrestler ever would you a) think one day you yourself will be the most popular wrestler ever or b) start wondering who your wife is marrying after you?

I’d think that this stuff I was drinking was a lot stronger than I thought it was, and/or maybe ask the guy for Superbowl results. But sure, I could see Mongo thinking he’d be super popular at some point. But only after I’d gotten powerball numbers.

It’s known that had Brian Pillman not passed away the Ground Zero storyline would’ve eventually wound up with Marlena turning on Goldust, likely the night after Badd Blood during the vow renewal that was planned. My question is, after the Screwjob, do you think Pillman would have stayed or left? My assumption is that he was locked in like Owen was and, unlike the case with Davey, would not have been allowed out given how little Vince had gotten out of the contract due to the ankle injury. Do you think he would’ve wanted to stay, or was his allegiance to Bret? Was he really penciled in as Austin’s first post-Mania challenger?

At one point he may well have been under consideration to be Austin’s first challenger, certainly I’m sure Austin would have liked that, in theory, working with your best friend, making money and all that. But when he died, he was very much walking wounded, his fused foot was giving him a lot of trouble.

I did a little digging, and there doesn’t seem to have been plans for him post-Goldust, but at the time long term planning for midcard guys wasn’t a major thing, so that’s not really a knock on him.

The Screwjob, Meltzer has said that while he doesn’t know, he strongly suspects that Pillman would have asked to leave, since he was considering it anyway, and he’d go back to WCW. And given his physical state, I can see Vince letting him go, like Anvil, maybe demanding a buyout like with Bulldog. Although, I can also see Vince refusing, and sticking him behind the announce desk for the foreseeable future, which on one hand would be a steady paycheck for work he could do, but Pillman probably wouldn’t see it like that, and might get ‘creative’ in working out how to get out of his contract.

So yeah, I think Pillman would have been gone one way or the other, and he’d go to WCW, but what would happen then… That story doesn’t have a lot of happy endings, the way it was going. Alas.

Tony Amore (no relation) asks if Enzo Amore (hence the relation) is the first to do something.

With Enzo being hung above the ring in a shark cage this weekend at Summerslam, it got me thinking – normally shark cages are meant to keep heels from interfering in matches (and to keep sharks from eating you when going shark diving).

Is Enzo the first face to be put in a shark cage?

Technically not, since there’s been at least one match inside a shark cage, Chief Jay Strongbow vs “Bulldog” Don Kent.

But in terms of non-wrestlers being put in a shark cage as faces, I don’t know of any. Normally the whole point is to stop a heel manager or associate from interfering. So, assuming you consider Enzo a face, it’s a first. But hey, they have a playset to sell, and an Enzo to punish, and he hates heights supposedly, so there they are.

Scott has a quick one.

When wrestling two shows a night, how do wrestlers stay loose? Or is it better to just rest?

Depends on the wrestler. I, for instance,

(Quick, go back up and play the BNL song again)

Tend to just rest, I find that better for me, all things considered. But usually what happens is that wrestlers have stretching and warm up routines, they get flexible, they get warmed up prior to a match. So what they’ll do is do their full routine, go out, do the first match, come back, drink something, eat if they are on one of those constantly grazing diets, then go through another, slightly smaller version of their warm up routine while they wait, then do the second match.

That’s assuming, of course, that we’re talking an hour or so, if it’s a few hours between matches at an all day taping, that’s different, then you’d rest and go through the whole thing again. But most of the time wrestlers just stay warmish, then do a quick re-warm up before they go out.

martyB finishes us off with Vince McMahon, commentator!

For those of us that weren’t watching WWF in the 90s, what’s the story of Vince’s time as an announcer? Why/when did he start? Why/when did he stop? Was it a money-saving choice or a quality control choice? Were audiences not supposed to know that he was the promotor that entire time? Also, how was it regarded critically at the time and in retrospect? Watching his work on the Network, it comes off as tremendously cheesy, but in a way bombastically fun.

90’s? Vince was doing commentary from 1971!

Vince had been an in-ring announcer for a couple years here and there, but in 1971 long time WWWF announcer Ray Morgan quit right before a TV taping over a pay dispute. Vince McMahon Sr. needed a new announcer, quick smart. So he grabbed his son and tossed him onto the show. He’d continue doing commentary off and on until 1997.

He stopped for a few reasons, but we’ll get to those in a moment. Audiences weren’t supposed to know he was the boss for a long time, there was the occasional sly reference, the Diesel tweener promo was pretty overt with it, and there’s a 93 Raw where they discuss WWF’s charity work and they show a picture of Vince as CEO/Chairman, but the first time it was fully said was Jim Ross’ first heel turn.

It’s sad I have to say ‘first’ there…

Anyway, although it saved money, certainly, I think Vince liked doing commentary because it allowed him to directly tell the stories he wanted told. A lot of bookers work on commentary, since they know better than anyone what’s going on, what needs to be said to get across the storylines. At the time I don’t think he was particularly loved or hated, he has his quirks as an announcer, certainly, and if you prefer the dry technical call of a Mike Tenay, or the genuine passionate straight shooting of a Jim Ross, he can be a little jarring, a bit too bombastic and/or fake sounding at times, but I don’t mind him too much, and I think most people accept that he was ok, overall. I’m sure people below will dispute that, one way or the other.

As for why he stopped, there’s the theory that he got frustrated being stuck at the desk and being unable to run everything else that was going on at a show, he began to feel he had to backstage so he could run stuff, that’s certainly a popular theory. He was doing the job for a long time, and anything can grow tiresome, slightly, over that long a time frame. Plus, with the Bret Hart angle turning him more into a character, somewhat against his will, it was becoming harder to justify him being the announcer when storylines and such hinged on him being the boss.

But in kayfabe? The reason he stopped being an announcer was the first ever Vince Stunner.

And on that… Horrible sell, I bid you goodbye for now. See you next week!