wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Was Shawn Michaels Supposed to Work Survivor Series 2014?

November 14, 2022 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Shawn Michaels 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.

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Tyler from Winnipeg is snapping into a Slim Jim:

Any idea what The Macho Man Randy Savage made financially off his TNA career?

I’ve not seen an exact dollar figure thrown out there anywhere. In a 2018 tour of the U.K. during which he was interviewed by wrestling website Inside the Ropes, Jeff Jarrett talked about Randy Savage joining TNA and claimed that he was not doing it for the money, as he had largely moved on from wrestling and was trying to break into acting work. Instead, Jarrett claims, the Macho Man was looking to “give back” to the business.

However, this is undercut by a blurb from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in its November 29, 2004 edition. The Observer does not state Savage’s rate of pay but does say that he had some demands for TNA, including limo service from his home in Tampa to all Orlando-based tapings he would be attending and payment of $1,000 per night to his two “security guards,” Ron Harris and Brian (Crush) Adams. Reportedly, $1,000 per night was more than all but the absolute top wrestlers in the company were making at the time, so if Savage was commanding that much cash for just his flunkies, chances are good that he was being paid a pretty penny himself.

APinOZ comes to us with a two-pack of totally unrelated questions:

I’ve been thinking about masked wrestlers in the territory days. Specifically, how did they travel? It’s a lock Mr Wrestling couldn’t really board a domestic flight in a mask, but what were the “rules” around masked wrestlers in the US and in Mexico (where the culture around the mask was seemingly a lot stronger). For example, did Wrestling II or the Assassins travel between towns in their masks, or was their enough confidence in the protection of their identities that they could go between towns with faces exposed?

Generally speaking, masked wrestlers traveled without their masks on. However, most of them who were very serious about protecting their identities would stop someplace a few miles away from the venue for a card, put the mask on, and travel the rest of the way in their hood. By doing that, they helped to minimize the chances that regular fans who see the same guy coming in to the wrestlers’ entrance before every show and deducing that he was, for example, Mr. Wrestling II or a masked Intern.

It’s also worth noting that some wrestlers refused to take their masks off after the show until they were several miles away from the arena for similar reasons, which for some would even include showering after a match with the mask still on.

Finally, do note that, in the territory days, we’re talking primarily about road travel with very few domestic flights. Most territories were small enough that 99% of the transportation was by driving, and, if there were flights, they were likely to be on smaller, privately owned planes as opposed to commercial flights with the general public.

When a wrestling ring is erected, can the height from the floor to the mat be adjusted? In older shows such as Georgia Championship Wrestling, the ring mat is very close to the floor. In other promotions of the time, and right through to modern day, it appears to be at about hip height for an average-sized grappler.

You can certainly build the ring to different heights, but I am not aware of any mechanism to allow a ring to be lowered up and down once it’s been erected.

Uzoma is nursing a torn meniscus:

Was Shawn Michaels supposed to team with Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho at Survivor Series 2004 instead of Maven?

I’ve never heard that. It is true that, in October 2004, the Heartbreak Kid took time off due to a knee injury and missed the Survivor Series as a result. However, I’ve never known of a planned match for him on that card. In fact, according to the November 8, 2004 Wrestling Observer Newsletter, it was mentioned that the original match was supposed to be Triple H, Ric Flair, Batista, and Edge against Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven, with HHH pushing Vince McMahon to make it a War Games match, a request that was denied. So, there was one substitution in the original lineup, but it was Gene Snitsky replacing Ric Flair as opposed to Maven replacing Shawn Michaels. For what it’s worth, the same Observer said the Flair-for-Snitsky swap was a McMahon idea, because he thought it made the match “more interesting.”

He was wrong.

Brad is here for his regular check-in with yours truly:

Could you quickly update your list from late last year regarding former WCW wrestlers still active/semi-active in major organizations? (Plus referee Charles Robinson and manager Paul Heyman.) It’s amazing who can still physically perform. Thanks!

For those not aware, Brad first asked this question in 2019, followed by his first request for an update in 2020. Most recently, we updated the list in 2021.

Our 2021 list of WCW alumni active in WWE was: AJ Styles, Charles Robinson, Edge, Goldberg, Meiko Satomura, Paul Heyman, Rey Misterio Jr., and William Regal.

Obviously, we’ve sill got Styles, Robinson, Edge, Heyman and Misterio doing their thing in WWE.

I am inclined to leave Satomura and Goldberg on the list as well. Satomura has not wrestled on television since September, but there is no word that she’s been released from the promotion and really just seems to be in in a place where creative has nothing for her, so to speak. Meanwhile, news reports over the summer reflected that Goldberg is signed with WWE through 2023. I’m going to continue calling him active even though he hasn’t wrestled since February, given that the entirety of his career over the past several years has consisted of two or three match spurts.

Thus, the only real deletion from our list is William Regal, though that’s because of a change in promotions and not because he’s ended his career as a performer.

I am also going to make an addition to the list: Triple H, as he’s back on screen as an authority figure and thus counts at least as much as Paul Heyman does.

That gives us a final list of AJ Styles, Charles Robinson, Edge, Goldberg, Meiko Satomura, Paul Heyman, Rey Misterio Jr., and Triple H.

In 2021, we clocked the following individuals as being active in AEW: Arn Anderson, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Chris Jericho, Christopher Daniels, Dustin Rhodes, Jake Roberts, Luther, Sting, Taz, and Tully Blanchard.

Of those, I don’t think that there’s any question that Jericho, Rhodes, and Sting should remain on the list. We’ll keep Arn, too, because even though he’s been a bit rudderless since Cody Rhodes left the promotion, he’s still on the books as a manager. Ditto for Jake Roberts, who by every indication is still Lance Archer’s manager but has been hamstrung a bit due to a recent surgery.

I’m also keeping Daniels and Luther, even though many people reading this probably haven’t seem them wrestle much if at all this year. The Fallen Angel has kept active off of AEW television, including indies and recently a series of matches to help promote the upcoming AEW video game in Japan. Luther, meanwhile, has had a variety of indy matches. However, both men are probably more focused on their office jobs these days.

Blanchard is the first obvious deletion, as he was announced for an ROH-themed pay per view but then vanished with minimal explanation.

I think we’re going to have to eliminate Taz as well. The requested list here has never included announcers or backstage personnel, and Team Taz has been disbanded, so he’s no longer a manager. Bye bye, Tazworth.

Chavo is going to be 86’ed, too. He’s still under contract to the company and was on its website roster of wrestlers at one point, but he has reportedly taken a leave of absence from the promotion to focus on the television production jobs that he’s accumulated in recent years.

We do have two additions here, as William Regal jumped ship from WWE to AEW since our last check-in on this list, and he’s still active there as a manager. Additionally, as of the time of this writing, Jeff Jarrett recently made his AEW debut, and, even if he’s not going to wrestle, it’s apparent that he will be a manager or other sort of on-camera talent.

That brings us to an overall 2022 AEW listing of Arn Anderson, Chris Jericho, Christopher Daniels, Dustin Rhodes, Jake Roberts, Jeff Jarrett, Luther, Sting, and William Regal.

Last year, we continued to list PCO as a WCW alumnus still active in ROH, even though his contract was quickly coming to an end. This year, despite what Tony Khan stans in the comment section desperate to justify his actions will say, Ring of Honor doesn’t really exist as a wrestling promotion. As a result, there are no WCW alumni to see here.

In 2021, TNA’s list of WCW alumni consisted of James Mitchell, Johnny Swinger, Rhyno, and Scott D’Amore.

Three of those four men are still around, with Swinger, Rhyno, and D’Amore still having roles. James Mitchell (who was James Vanderberg in WCW) has jumped elsewhere, and we’ll see him a bit later in the list.

We also pick up one name here, as PCO popped up in TNA after Ring of Honor folded.

Thus, our TNA list for 2022 is Johnny Swinger, PCO, Rhyno, and Scott D’Amore.

We first started tracking MLW as part of this list in 2021, and, at the time, WCW alums Konnan and LA Park (the original La Parka) were on their roster. I am not going to count either one of them as being here at this time, with Park in particular having a high profile departure, meaning we do not have any WCW alums affiliated with MLW in 2022.

I’ve not included the Billy Corgan version of the NWA on prior versions of this list, because it’s not had any qualifying wrestlers that I can recall. However, this year, James Mitchell has popped up there. Granted, he’s not a wrestler, but we’ve been counting managers, bring the NWA on to this list for the first time.

New Japan’s WCW alumni list was identical in 2020 and 2021, with it consisting of Gedo, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, and Yuji Nagata. Despite all four of these men getting a big up there in years, they’re all still wrestling. There is a case to be made for moving Kojima from NJPW to Pro Wrestling NOAH this year, because that’s where he’s had the vast majority of his matches in 2022. However, he’s a New Japan contracted wrestler who is essentially on loan to NOAH, so I am going to keep him here for the time being.

Last year, there were no WCW alumni active in All Japan. That’s still the case this year.

Dragon Gate
In 2021, our list consisted of individuals who had ties to Ultimo Dragon, those being Don Fuji, Dragon Kid, and Ultimo himself. They’re all still there, and they’re all still actively wrestling, so they remain on the list for 2022.

Pro Wrestling NOAH
We were down to just two WCW alums in NOAH last year, those being Keiji Muto (Great Muta) and Kendo Kashin. Though Muto is currently on his retirement tour and won’t make this list next year unless plans change, both he and Kendo are still popping up on NOAH shows, so here they are once more.

We haven’t talked about GLEAT in prior installations of this list, but it’s a promotion that was formed in Japan during the summer of 2020 to give some folks who used to be associated with Pro Wrestling NOAH something to do after that promotion was bought out by a new parent company. Two WCW alums are regularly wrestling for GLEAT, those being CIMA and Kaz Hayashi.

Felino was the only WCW alumnus active in CMLL in both 2020 and 2021. In 2022, he’s still the only alumnus active in CMLL. Felino might just outlast everybody else mentioned in this article.

At this time last year, there were no WCW alumni in AAA. However, this is where I will categorize Konnan now, as he remains an on camera personality even though he has only had one match here.

And the rest . . .
Though Brad only ever asks about “major” promotions, I like to take it a step further and check in on wrestlers who are wrestling anywhere in the world. In 2021, our list of somewhat active indy wrestlers who had once graced WCW’s rings was: James Storm, Kaz Hayashi, Too Cold Scorpio, Vampiro, Crowbar, Shanghai Pierce, Lizmark Jr., Sabu, Lodi, Damian 666, Sandman, Juventud Guerrera, Rock n’ Roll Express, The Maestro, Shannon Moore, Halloween/Ciclope, Malia Hosaka, Dave “Gangrel” Heath, George South, Koji Kanemoto, Mayumi Ozaki, Shane Douglas, Shinjiro Otani, and Chigusa Nagayo.

Probably the most noteworthy removal from this list is Shinjiro Otani, the first ever WCW Cruiserweight Champion. Sadly, he suffered a cervical injury in April of this year in a match against Takashi Sugiura, which is likely to be career ending. As of the last update that I read about him, which came in late August, he remained paralyzed from the neck down.

We’re moving Kaz Hayashi off the “and the rest” list because we’ve given his new home promotion of GLEAT its own entry of this year. However, LA Park will join the list after being dropped from MLW. He is still very active on Mexican independents and shows up on major cards for companies like AAA, though he’s not a full-time member of the roster.

We are going to drop Shanghai Pierce altogether, because we’re closing in on the end of 2022, and he hasn’t had a match all year. The same goes for Sabu, the Sandman, and Chigusa Nagayo, which is a hell of a three-person team that we sadly never got to see in wrestling.

I’m also going to eliminate the Maestro, because in 2021 he stopped wrestling after March, and he’s only had one match in 2022. Ditto for Halloween, who had three matches in the whole of 2021 and has had only one recorded match in 2022 thusfar.

In a bit of a rarity, we are going to see some additions back to the list. The first is none other than Big Vito. Vito has had a series of matches in 2022, and, though it’s not a ton, it’s enough to qualify him when compared to others we’ve been counting. Previously, there had been no record of a Big Vito match since 2014. We’re also going to add the 71-year-old Bob Orton Jr., who in 2022 has had more matches than he’s had in any year since 2005, when he was seconding his son Randy in the WWF. Up third is Ernest “The Cat” Miller, who has had a series of matches beginning in August 2022 after previously not having wrestled since 2019. Jimmy Yang has also been stepping back to the ring regularly in 2022, often in tag matches with his daughter, Jazzy Yang. Finally, we’re reinstating Rob Van Dam, who wrestled in WCW during he days of the light heavyweight division as Robbie V. RVD only had two matches in the whole of 2021, but he has been much more active this year. The same is true of Shark Boy, who really dialed it back during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, having only four total matches in 2020 and 2021, though he’s back with a vengeance now. I’m also adding the Barbarian, who actually was quite active in 2021 but somehow was missed. He’s kept going in 2022 as well. Barbarian’s former tag team partner Tony Atlas has also stepped back into the ring more frequently this year.

Adding those names to everybody who is still active from the 2021 list gives us a final 2022 listing of The Barbarian, Big Vito, Bob Orton Jr., Jimmy Yang, Ernest Miller, James Storm, Too Cold Scorpio, Vampiro, Crowbar, Lizmark Jr., Lodi, Damian 666, LA Park, Juventud Guerrera, Rock n’ Roll Express, Shannon Moore, Malia Hosaka, Dave “Gangrel” Heath, George South, Koji Kanemoto, Mayumi Ozaki, Rob Van Dam, Shane Douglas, Shark Boy, and Tony Atlas.

And that’s it. Over 20 years after WCW closed its doors, there is still a surprisingly large number of its alumni in the ring, and if anything, their numbers of increased over the past twelve months as some wrestlers have apparently felt more comfortable coming back to the ring now that people are by and large not restricting their activities as result of the pandemic.

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.