wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: What if AEW is a Work?

February 20, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers
All Elite Wrestling Chris Jericho Kenny Omega

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 whole 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.

Hey, ya want a banner?

I would like some of what Drew is smoking:

What if All Elite Wrestling is the biggest angle in recent WWE history? What if this is the shake up? What if this is more of what you want? What if what if what if??? I know it’s a long shot but damn it sure would turn things upside down and inside out for the WWE! And it would be way to cool so it probably isn’t what I think it could be!

On Twitter a few weeks ago, I did jokingly ask, “What if AEW was just a ploy by Cody and the Young Bucks to get their friends better deals with NJPW, ROH, and WWE?” referring to the bidding war that has apparently been ongoing as the three promotions and All Elite attempt to sign up available talent.

However . . . I was joking. I didn’t think that was actually the purpose of AEW.

I also don’t think that the new promotion is a work orchestrated by the Elite and WWE. There is a ton of evidence that I could point to in order to support that position, but, for the sake of brevity, let me point to the two single largest pieces of evidence:

Shad and Tony Khan.

Shad, the Pakistani-American businessman and owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is the man bankrolling the new promotion, and his son Tony will be the primary executive in the company who is not also an in-ring performer.

I could see Cody Rhodes working an angle of this nature with WWE.

I could see the Young Bucks working an angle of this nature with WWE.

I could even see Kenny Omega working an angle of this nature with WWE.

However, I see absolutely no incentive that the Khan family would have for working an angle of this nature with WWE. Shad, whose net worth is over $7 billion (yes, that’s “billion” with a “b”) has enough money that he doesn’t need the sort of payday that collaborating with WWE would bring him.

If you want to figure out whether there may be any validity to a conspiracy theory or other seemingly amazing claim, you can usually do so by following the money, and, in this case, things just don’t make sense from a monetary perspective.

Richard has two tickets to paradise:

Please, explain the rationale behind the “paradise lock.” What exactly is it supposed to do? I’m assuming it is supposed to cramp up the arms and legs, making it impossible to move. But it really doesn’t look like it would do that.

Obviously the hold wouldn’t work nearly as well in real life as it would in wrestling, but my understanding of how it’s *supposed* to work from a kayfabe perspective is that you stack up all four of your opponents’ limbs on top of each other near their crotch and then flip them over so that they’re face down. Once you flip them over, the weight of their torso is supposed to pin the stack of limbs in place against the mat, making it difficult and in fact temporarily impossible for them to move.

I know, I know. It’s not the greatest explanation. I get that this is puroresu, so it’s supposed to be higher brow than the American stuff, but I think we’re just going to have to file this one away alongside great wrestling mysteries like, “Why is Scotty 2 Hotty’s chop to the chest capable of pinning a guy just because he dances beforehand?” and “Why don’t Mick Foley’s opponents just bite his fingers before he gets the mandible claw fully sunk in?”

Bryan J knows it ain’t nuttin’ but a Meng thing, baby:

We have all heard the stories about how tough Meng/Haku is, If so many wrestlers are scared of him how come he never used his reputation to get a title or not do a job? And for all the stories of him outside the ring, I’ve never heard anyone ever say he was too stiff or injuring someone in a match, is that because they’re afraid to say something negative about him or was actually safe when he wanted to be?

Even though he has a reputation for being one of the toughest guys in the professional wrestling business, Meng/Haku/King Tonga is also, by just about every account I’ve heard, he is also a professional and generally a nice guy. In fact, if you listen to shoot interview stories about the times that Haku used his legendary strength to really screw guys up, they usually start with the big Tongan being provoked in some way.

In fact, some versions of perhaps the most famous “Haku is a tough guy story” – the one in which Meng partially removed the eyeball of fellow wrestler Jesse Barr (a.k.a. Jimmy Jack Funk) – state that the whole reason the fight between the two men began was that Barr was demeaning some manual laborers that the two walked past, and Meng, much like noted professional wrestling podcast host Stone Cold Steve Austin, was just sticking up for the working man.

In other words, just because you’re a tough guy and a legendary barroom fighter doesn’t mean that you’re an asshole.

Connor needs Jesus to take the wheel. (That’s Jesus Castillo from Los Boricuas.):

In blindfold matches, how much vision do the wrestlers have? Do they see anything?

I have yet to hear of a shoot blindfold match. Typically, as I understand it, the blindfolds are actually made of a material that the wrestlers can see through pretty well, even if it appears to the audience that their vision is totally blacked out.

You heard it here first, folks: Wrestling is fake.

Keeping us on the subject of match types, Marc wants to know who innovated this particular type of violence:

I have a question about originators and firsts. Who are the inventors of the non-standard match types, like the Battle Royal, the Ladder match, the Table match, The Unlucky 13 staple gun match?

Let’s take these one at a time:

The battle royale actually pre-dates professional wrestling as we know it and started its life as a form of legitimate (i.e. not worked) boxing match popular in the Eighteenth Century in which several competitors would simultaneously fight each other. I would give you more specifics, but this topic has already been covered in great detail in a 2013 article from Cageside Seats that I would highly recommend everybody check out if you have any interest in pro wrestling’s origins in shoot fighting.

The Hart family’s Stampede Wrestling typically gets credit for inventing the ladder match, thanks to a 1972 match between the original Dan Kroffat and Tor Kamata, which saw the two men fighting over some cold, hard cash that was suspended over the ring. Bret Hart, who no doubt would have seen the Krofatt/Kamata match as it took place in his own backyard, is reportedly the person who suggested that the WWF begin using it, and the rest is history.

Regarding tables matches, I would be open to being corrected on this one, but I was not familiar with that match type existing prior to ECW popularizing it, so you can probably blame Paul Heyman. What I believe to be the first tables match in ECW history took place on February 4, 1995, when Sabu and the Tazmaniac (later Tazz) defeated the Public Enemy for the ECW Tag Team Titles on a show appropriately named “Double Tables.”

Last and in my book certainly least, the Unlucky 13 Staple Gun Match (which, for the uninitiated, involves one wrestler stapling thirteen dollar bills to his opponent in order to win) was an invention of CZW. I’ll take a good, old fashioned battle royale over that any day of the week.

Jeremy R. has two totally unrelated questions, which we’ll take one at a time:

1) How does the wrestling industry handle storylines/long-term plans for female wrestlers who are planning on or who already are pregnant?

There’s not really a unified approach to this that I am aware of, in large part because we’re only now seeing an era in the United States where a large number of female wrestlers are beginning to compete at a high level at which promotions would actually HAVE long-term plans for them and in part because, of those female wrestlers who have chosen to have children, the vast majority of them have chosen to have those children once their in-ring careers have come to an end.

Now that the WWE women’s division is starting to be treated as more of an equivalent to the men’s division, it will be interesting to see how this pans out in the future. Try asking the question again in five to ten years.

2) How much money would WWE have to play Disney/Marvel in order to have Batista wrestle as Drax the Destroyer? Is something like this even a legitimate possibility?

If you look at major wrestling newsletters from the fall and winter of 2018, it was widely reported that Triple H vs. Batista was a planned match for this year’s Wrestlemania, before being put into doubt by HHH’s pec surgery. It will be interesting to see whether that still happens, though, as I believe I have said in this column on more than one occasion, I have very little interest in seeing Triple H vs. Batista again but think that a fresh match between Brock Lesnar and Big Dave could be a huge attraction. (Though that seems less and less likely now that the company has started to set the stage for Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins.)

So, Batista making an in-ring return to WWE may be something that we see within the next couple of months. Is it possible that he could wrestle that match, or any other match, under the Drax the Destroyer gimmick?

I suppose that anything is technically possible, assuming that WWE and Marvel are willing to do business together. Any comment on the amount of money that would have to change hands would be pure speculation, because there is not any sort of precedent that I can think for a WWE/Disney business interaction. However, a wrestling company working together with a movie studio to utilize the studio’s intellectual property isn’t unprecedented, with the most recent high profile example being Triple H’s Terminator-inspired entrance at Wrestlemania XXXI. (Or, if we want to go back even further, we could talk about Robocop saving Sting from the Four Horsemen.)

However, I don’t know that Batista wrestling under the Drax moniker would really be all that necessary. He’s already a returning superstar who will be viewed as a big deal by professional wrestling fans, and the Marvel fans who might be interested in watching him cross over into wrestling will be savvy enough to know his real name and follow him based on that alone.

Plus, Dave wrestling covered in green body paint sounds super-hokey.

We’ll close it out with AllManinLv:

When did WWE finally realize the Samoans were all family?

Probably when Afa and Sika were working for them back in the 1970s and mentioned that they were brothers. The Anoa’is being members of the same family has never been any sort of secret.

And that will do it for this week. If you’ve got questions of your own, be sure to send them in to [email protected].