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Ask 411 Wrestling: Were Austin and Pillman Ever Considered To Join the Four Horsemen?

May 6, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Steve Austin Brian Pillman

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.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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Mohamed wants to know if the Game will play in Peoria:

Will the WWE reach new heights when Triple H takes charge?

Probably not.

WWE has been in a state of declining popularity over the course of the past several years, and it seems to have gotten significantly worse between 2018 and 2019. If you compare the number of viewers that an episode of Raw did in 2018 to the number of viewers that tuned in during the same week in 2019, it’s not uncommon for the viewership of the 2019 episode to be down 20 or 25%. That is an INCREDIBLE viewership loss, and a strong indication that the promotion’s position in pop culture is diminishing.

Granted, WWE probably isn’t going anywhere for a while, because they’re still in pretty good financial shape, and the television *rating* isn’t down quite as badly as its viewership is because people are on the whole are watching less first-run cable television these days.

With that change in the overall popularity of WWE, it seems virtually impossible for HHH to take it to “new heights.” Circumstances make it highly unlikely, no matter how good the product he produces might be, that Triple H’s version of WWE will be anywhere near as prolific as the company was during its boom periods with Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin and the Rock on top.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but that’s the reality of the situation.

Shaun W. has a song in his heart and potential litigation in his pocket:

Doesn’t the WWE have rights to the entrance themes their wrestlers use? I just realized (happened tonight with Becky Lynch’s theme) that I sometimes hear wrestler themes at sporting events, most notably at NHL games. Does the WWE license out their music for use in this manner, or is it a matter of them not caring enough to challenge it?

Yes, WWE does own the vast majority of the original entrance themes that their talent has used over the years, with a handful of exceptions. Generally, the owner of the rights to a particular song does get paid some royalty and while I was unable to find specific information regarding whether or how much WWE gets paid in these instances, it would be quite odd indeed if they did not receive cash for their intellectual property being utilized but other record labels did. (And yes, in fact, WWE has established its own record label to address issues related to the music that it owns.)

Though it doesn’t happen much anymore – and certainly it wouldn’t be the case for Becky Lynch’s theme – in the past WWE (and WCW as well) has also used royalty-free stock music for wrestlers’ entrance themes. This was pretty prevalent through the 1990s, and you would hear some of these songs in other places if another company decided to use the same royalty-free piece. In particular, the Hardy Boys’ early theme and the Holly cousins’ theme would pop up quite often, including in non-WWE television commercials.

Bryan J. lifts barbell plates, eats t-bone steaks, and is sweeter than a German chocolate cake . . . for JESUS:

When Superstar Billy Graham was the top guy in the WWWF, did they encounter any confusion from the public due to the fact there’s a televangelist with the same name. Growing up in the 80s sitting in church with my parents I remember the preacher talking about a seminar by Billy Graham and I literally thought he meant the wrestler. That doesn’t seem like a smart way to market your product to the public.

Billy Graham the wrestler has mentioned in past interviews being mistakenly given the airplane tickets for Billy Graham the evangelist while he was travelling, so there was confusion in that sense . . . but I don’t know that the WWWF itself ever encountered any problems. It’s not as though confused Southern Baptists showed up at Madison Square Garden thinking that their favorite preacher was going to be wrestling Ivan Putski.

For what it’s worth, Billy Graham the wrestler has claimed in a couple of different interviews that he intentionally chose that ring name (his real name is Wayne Coleman) as a tribute to his more famous counterpart, which seems plausible given that he was really just trying to come up with a first name to go along with the surname Graham which was already chosen for him on becoming the storyline brother of Jerry, Luke, and Eddie Graham. “Graham” was already supplied, and he just had to come up with “Billy” . . . which isn’t a stretch given that was the name of the most famous Graham in the country and perhaps the world.

Tony still can’t get over Paul Roma:

Was there any serious talk of pairing up Flair, Anderson, Pillman & Austin as the Four Horsemen in 1993 instead of using Roma & Ole?

No, not that I’ve ever heard. Instead, the slot in the 1993 Horsemen that was supposed to have gone to Paul Roma was originally intended for none other than . . .

Tully Blanchard.

Blanchard had retired from professional wrestling in 1990 and had become a preacher, but there were ongoing talks between WCW and the former Horseman regarding his making a return to the ring. Negotiations between the two sides began as early as April 1993, and WCW began promoting a Four Horseman reunion appearance (though not a match) for that year’s Slamboree show, which presumably would have kicked off an angle to make the Horsemen an active unit again.

However, the deal with Blanchard fell through, reportedly because the two sides couldn’t come to terms on a financial arrangement. According to the April 26, 1993 Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Tully wanted a guaranteed annual contract whereas WCW wanted to pay him on a per appearance basis. The May 10 issue of the same publication reported that Blanchard ultimately made the decision to not come in because he was being offered less money in his deal than was being paid to talent like Marc “Johnny B. Badd” Mero and Jim Neidhart (who was in for a brief run around this time and apparently had a WCW match against future ECW “Gangsta” Mustafa Saed of all people).

The Observer also correctly reported on Roma’s induction into the Horsemen, stating on May 24 that the as-of-yet unidentified new Horseman was “believed to be an ex-WWF mid-card performer who has never gotten a major push before, but has talent.”

It’s worth noting that, on the Slamboree show that was originally supposed to have included the Horsemen reunion, Ric Flair did directly acknowledge the fact that Blanchard did not want to come back to the company despite an offer being made. However, Flair’s comments were made in such a way to put the heat for the failed reunion on Blanchard himself, whereas the reality of the situation was that WCW had known for a couple of weeks before the show that Tully wasn’t going to be there but continued to advertise him anyway.

Here are two unrelated questions from Ignacio:

1. The Briscoes sometimes wrestle with another man, Papa Briscoe. Who is Papa Briscoe? Is he their real father or a non-related wrestler? If he is their real father, is he a pro wrestler or an untrained man?

“Papa” Mike Briscoe is, in fact, the real-life father of real-life brothers Mark and Jay Briscoe, and he is not a professional wrestler by trade, having just enough training to get him through the handful of matches that he’s had alongside his boys.

There have been three of those matches in total, with the three Briscoes defeating the Kings of Wrestling and Shane Hagadorn at Final Battle 2010, the three Briscoes defeating Michael Elgin, Roderick Strong, and Shane Hagadorn in a dark match after a set of TV tapings on March 3, 2012, and finally the three Briscoes and Moose going over Jay Lethal, Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Jay Diesel at Future of Honor 2 in 2014.

Then there’s Uncle Jethro Briscoe, but, the less said about him, the better . . .

2. Several years ago, I read that John Cena vs. JBL “I Quit” match (Judgment Day 2005) was one of the most expensive matches in WWE, since they destroyed chairs, tables and a limo. Without counting salaries, what are the most expensive wrestling matches in history?

There aren’t a lot of published stats on how much individual wrestling matches cost to put on, but the bout that often gets touted as the most costly in history (or at least the most needlessly costly) is the hardcore Junkyard Invitational Battle Royale that took place at the July 11, 1999 WCW Bash at the Beach pay per view.

According to The Death of WCW, the match cost over $100,000 to produce, in large part because there were multiple cars being blown up, in addition to at least one helicopter being rented to provide aerial camera shots of the junkyard. Fit Finlay won the match, which also included Public Enemy, Hardcore Hak (WCW’s name for the Sandman), Jerry Flynn, Ciclope (a.k.a. Halloween in Mexico), Silver King, La Parka, Hugh Morrus, Horace Hogan, Mikey Whipwreck, and, for reason that aren’t entirely clear to me, Lord Steven Regal. Of those men, Hak, Whipwreck, Morrus, and Silver King were all injured in some way as a result of the match, with Silver King in particular needing 60 (yes, six-zero) stitches.

The worst part is that all of this money was expended and all of these men’s bodies were sacrificed for a match that was virtually impossible to follow on television in large part because the one thing that they failed to lay out any money for was lighting, as the match took place outside in near-total darkness.

Uzoma is sustainable and eco-friendly:

Is it clear that Daniel Bryan finally had the best World Title reign in his WWE career?

If you’re just counting his World Title reigns in WWE, then the answer to this question is an almost undisputable “Yes, Yes, Yes.”

Prior to his heel title run as “The New Daniel Bryan,” D-Bry had one reign with the World Heavyweight Championship and three other reigns with the WWE Championship. You can immediately write off his first two WWE Championship reigns as not being great because they both lasted for less than a full day, as Randy Orton ended the first run seconds after it started via a Money in the Bank cash-in and the second title win was reversed the day after it happened due to a technicality.

Bryan’s initial World Heavyweight Championship reign, though it wasn’t terrible, didn’t light the world on fire, though he did invent the “Yes!” chant during this time and had some entertaining interactions with his on-screen girlfriend AJ Lee as he slowly turned heel on her. However, his matches during this time certainly weren’t anything to write home about, as he spent a good chunk of time feuding with Mark Henry and the Big Show and then transitioned into an Elimination Chamber match in which his final opponent and thus the biggest threat to his title was Santino Marella of all people. Then, of course, we all know what happened when he went to defend his championship against the Royal Rumble winner Sheamus at Wrestlemania.

The “Yes Movement” was what brought about Bryan’s third WWE Title reign after two disappointing false starts, and the matches and moment behind that title win were awesome, but things went downhill pretty quickly from there, as the former American Dragon’s first feud after becoming champ was a disappointing one against Kane of all people, and even that was cut short due to the same neck injury that caused Bryan to relinquish the title outside of the ring.

Really, world championship reign number four was the only one that felt like it had a truly natural beginning and end, and he also got to have some fun matches along the way against the likes of Kevin Owens, Mustafa Ali, and, of course, Kofi Kingston. Though I think that WWE could have gotten more mileage out of WWE as champion and had the reign last several more months, switching the title to Kofi was 100% the correct call when his popularity suddenly and unexpectedly exploded.

Now, you might note that I said Daniel’s most recent world title reign was unquestionably the best if you limit the analysis to the reigns that he had in WWE. However, if you want to consider the Ring of Honor Championship to be a World Title (which I think is a stretch, but some people do it), I would say that world title reign is a better championship run than any that he has been given with WWE.

While Ring of Honor “world” champion, Bryan managed to work effectively as both a face and a heel, and he downed a variety of interesting opponents with whom he had world class matches, including Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno), Nigel McGuinness, and KENTA (Hideo Itami). Aside from perhaps the Wrestlemania XXX matches, I would say those bouts are better than any that Bryan had while WWE Champion at any point, and they still hold up to this day if you can stomach some of the concussion-tastic spots that he did with McGuinness in particular.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers