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Ask 411 Wrestling: What if Smackdown Fails on Fox?

August 17, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers
AJ Styles Smackdown Fox 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.

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 is not being overly optimistic:

What will Vince McMahon do if the Saudi deals runs out and Fox finds Smackdown not good enough to get three million viewers every week? Does he have a contingency plan?

What will he do?

He’ll lose a lot of money.

First off, the Saudi deal isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, as it was a ten-year agreement that kicked off in 2018. The terms of the agreement haven’t been publicized enough to let us know whether either side has an “out” clause, but it seems unlikely at this point that it won’t go the distance barring some unexpected controversy. Thus, at the very least, WWE will most likely continue to reap tens of millions of dollars per year from the Saudi government.

The Fox deal is a bit more of a question mark. Though it is a multi-year agreement, you’re not going to have a contract to put a television show on the air that doesn’t allow the network to cancel it at their discretion. If Smackdown flops and flops hard on the main Fox network, it will be cancelled, though it’s not clear whether that would leave the show completely without a television home or whether Fox would simply shuffle it down to one of its lesser-viewed channels. If that happens, though, you can rest assured that WWE won’t be getting nearly the rights fees that it would have been otherwise.

Does Vince McMahon have a contingency plan if things don’t go as intended? There has been no public indication that he does. Smackdown has always managed to land on its feet when it’s been kicked out of its prior television homes, so, if the show is bumped off of Fox, the “plan” may very well just be to coast on the Saudi money until such time that they land someplace else.

Or Disney could just buy them. Disney seems to enjoy doing that these days.

Tyler from Winnipeg has us looking back on one of the most famous matches of the last twenty-five years:

When Hogan-Goldberg fought for the WCW belt on Nitro, what was the actual attendance?

According to the July 13, 1998 edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, there were 41,412 people at the show, with 36,506 paid. Taking place on July 6, 1998, it was the largest crowd that WCW ever drew in its history.

It was also, at the time, the fourth largest paid attendance for any professional wrestling show in the United States. The three that were bigger were the 1996 Survivor Series in San Antonio’s Alamodome (~48,000), Wrestlemania VIII in Indianapolis’s Hoosier Dome (~47,000), and Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome (~76,000).

WCW ran the Georgia Dome three other times for Nitro, drawing 26,773 people on January 5, 1998 with Sting & Lex Luger facing Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage, 38,809 people on January 4, 1999 with Hulk Hogan wrestling Kevin Nash, and 25,338 on July 5, 1999 for Kevin Nash defending the WCW Title against Sid Vicious. (I believe that those are total attendance figures, not just paid attendance.)

John D. is in pursuit of perfection:

Is there a wrestler who has never had a bad match? I started watching a lot of indy stuff and from what I have seen A.R. Fox has never had a bad match. I do not know how you would come up with the criteria for this, but hell it’s your column so I will give you free reign as to how you would want to rate them. Maybe the easiest way would be to use Dave Meltzer’s star rating and anyone who has never had just a 1 or 2 star match up could qualify.

Probably the easiest way to answer this will be to look at some of the people who are in the conversation when it comes to best in-ring performers of all time and ask if they’ve ever had a bad match. If those guys have screwed up somewhere along the way, then chances are good that everybody else has, too.

Shawn Michaels is an all-time great, but he’s had bad matches. His most recent match, teaming with Triple H against the Brothers of Destruction at WWE Crown Jewel only managed to pull *3/4 from the Wrestling Observer.

Perhaps Michaels’ greatest rival, Bret Hart, has also had some stinkers. One that immediately springs to mind is his Wrestlemania XXVI encounter with Vince McMahon. The WON didn’t give it a star rating, but Meltzer’s review ended with “this went over my head and everyone else’s,” which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.

What about Kazuchika Okada, perhaps the best in-ring performer who is active today? He wrestled Rob Terry in TNA once. Evan Okada couldn’t carry Terry.

Talking about Chris Benoit as an all-time great performer is a bit uncomfortable because of the actions that he took at the end of his life, but he truly was one of the best in history. One of his very last matches was pretty terrible though, as he had a tag match with CM Punk against Elijah Burke and Monty Brown on the June 12, 2007 episode of ECW on Sci Fi that totally fell apart. Again, there’s no Observer star rating, but it wasn’t pretty.

Kenta Kobashi? He had a match at a joint NJPW/AJPW/NOAH show in August 2011 called “All Together” that only got *1/2 stars from Meltzer. It featured the dream team of Kobashi and Keiji Mutoh wrestling Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano.

Mitsuharu Misawa died in the ring, but it seems unfair to count that match towards this question. However, he did also have a 2007 match in Pro Wrestling NOAH against Samoa Joe which garnered negative reviews, particularly from Japanese fans, because it came off to them as Joe ripping off spots from Misawa, Kawada, and Kobashi as opposed to wrestling his own match. However, it is noteworthy for Joe taking one particularly brutal elbow to the back of the head.

Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list, but I think that examining the wrestlers we’ve looked at here underscores a basic point. No matter how great of a wrestler you are, if you have a career that runs for any decent amount of time, you are going to reach a point where you have a bad match, whether it’s because you’re young and inexperienced, you get saddled with a terrible opponent, you’re in a match that has to take a hit quality-wise due to an angle, or you get old and your body gives out on you.

Nobody reading this is perfect in their profession or vocation, and that applies with equal weight to professional wrestlers.

Brad wants to follow-up on something:

About a year ago you worked on a question for me, trying to list all the active former WCW wrestlers. Could you review the reader comments from that column and update the list for this year? Specifically, I’m interested in anyone who wrestled at least one match for WCW who still works at least a part time schedule for a decently sized company. Off the top of my head, I can think of Undertaker, Kane, Rey Mysterio, HHH, RVD, AJ Styles, Goldberg, Goldust, Jericho, and Rhyno. Admittedly I don’t keep up with the Japanese wrestlers who may qualify. Thanks!

I have to be completely honest and say that I have zero recollection of previously answering this question, and I couldn’t find it after Googling my own columns, either, so I’m just going to have to start from scratch.

That said, here are the WCW wrestlers that I’m aware of who are at least somewhat active as of August 2019.

AJ Styles
Big Show (He hasn’t wrestled in a while but is still on the WWE.com roster.)
Booker T. (It’s questionable whether you want to call him active, but his last match was for his own indy promotion in January 2019.)
Kane (He had one WCW match as an enhancement talent, wrestling Sting on television.)

Paul Heyman (Who could forget his epic series of matches with Madusa?)
Rey Misterio, Jr.
Triple H
The Undertaker

Konnan (He is barely active at this point, basically a manager who occasionally steps in the ring, but he has had several matches over the last couple of years.)
Rob Van Dam

PCO (You can’t forget about the Amazing French Canadians.)

Chris Jericho
Christopher Daniels
Dustin Rhodes
CIMA (As Shiima Nobunaga, CIMA wrestled in WCW alongside many other Ultimo Dragon protégés.)

Gedo (He popped up in WCW a couple of times, including against his former tag team partner Chris Jericho at Halloween Havoc 1997. Oddly, Jado never wrestled for WCW.)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (The highlight of Tenzan in WCW was wrestling Randy Savage at Starrcade 1995 as part of the “World Cup of Wrestling.” Oooh yeah, dig it!)
Jushin Liger (For the time being, anyway. He’s announced that he will return at the next WrestleKingdom show on January 4.)
Manabu Nakanishi (Nakanishi had an excursion in WCW, where he wrestled as Kurasawa.)
Satoshi Kojima (This is a stretch, but I’m including it in case anybody wants to count it. Kojima was in a tournament in 1998 in New Japan where the prize was a WCW Tag Team Title shot . . . so WCW had to sanction that match, right?)
Yuji Nagata

Osamu Nishimura (This is borderline, but Nishimura wrestled on WCW/NJPW co-promoted shows in Japan in 1995, including a singles match against Ric Flair.)
Ultimo Dragon

Dragon Gate
Don Fuji
Dragon Kid

Felino (Though he didn’t appear on primary WCW programming, Felino had some matches for “WCW Festival de Lucha Libre,” a short-lived Spanish-language program developed by the company.)

I think that does it for what I would call “decently sized companies,” but I figured that I would be as comprehensive as possible and also list those WCW alumni who are at least semi-active anywhere else in the professional wrestling world . . .

And the Rest . . .
Buff Bagwell
Lizmark Jr.
Damian 666
James Storm
Jim Duggan
Disco Inferno
Juventud Guerrera
Chavo Guerrero Jr.
Kaz Hayashi
Rock n’ Roll Express
The Maestro
Shannon Moore
Great Muta
Scott Steiner
Tracy Smothers
LA Park (Original La Parka)
Psicosis (Original)

Richard U. wants to follow up on some discussion in the comment section a couple of weeks ago by making sure he asks questions about the current WWE:

So, they want questions about the WWE? Well, here are ten questions about the WWE.

1. If WWE remade “Star Wars” which wrestler would play each character?

Not only do I not watch current WWE, but I’ve also never seen Star Wars, so this could lead to some interesting answers.

I’m going to focus on the original Star Wars film from 1977 as opposed to their entire cinematic universe, because that would take entirely too long.

Kofi Kingston as Luke Skywalker: Luke is a young, fresh-faced protagonist who is not particularly intimidating from a physical standpoint but, over the years, reveals that he has great talent. If that’s not a Kofi Kingston analog, I don’t know what is.

Randy Orton as Han Solo: More grizzled than Skywalker and more in the mold of an anti-hero, with some biting sarcasm thrown in. Orton fits the bill, so long as he can hold back from call his co-star, “stupid, stupid, stupid.”

Bayley as Princess Leia: From what I understand of this character, you need a woman who can alternate between being a damsel in distress and an unstoppable badass at different points. That’s Bayley.

The Big Show as Obi-Wan Kenobi: Kenobi needs to be an individual who is a veteran compared to the other stars but still capable of being taken seriously as a competitor in his own right. Big Show works in that position, unless he runs off to film his new Netflix series before we can cast him here.

Jack Gallagher as C-3PO: British. Coded as gay. Unusual skin tone. What more do you need?

Otis Dozovic as R2-D2: Otis is low to the ground and has rounded edges, just like everybody’s favorite droid. The only problem with this casting is that limiting Dozovic to beeps and boops as dialogue hides some of his natural charisma.

Bray Wyatt as Chewbaca: I’m thinking about the budget here. We could save ourselves some money on this production by having Wyatt use his natural body hair in lieu of a wookie costume.

The Undertaker as Darth Vader: Unfortunately Low Ki isn’t in WWE, because he’s the guy in wrestling who comes close to nailing the voice. Putting that aside, this is a really difficult role to cast, as WWE doesn’t book strong heels like Darth Vader anymore. The Undertaker may be the one who can come closest to playing this role.

2. Which WWE women wrestlers sleep in the nude?

You’d think that with all of the Total Divas that I’ve watched I would know the answer to that question, but my brain has decided to protect itself from further harm by repressing most memories of that show.

3. If Brock Lesnar was Daniel Bryan and Daniel Bryan was Brock Lesnar, would Brock Lesnar be universally loved and Daniel Bryan be universally hated?

No, because Brock Lensar isn’t universally hated now. Some of us, myself included, quite like him.

4. Does the WWE employ make-up artists? If so, do those make-up artists have to get special training on how to cover back acne?

Yes, WWE employs makeup artists. You can see them wandering around backstage in just about any behind-the-scenes feature about the company that has ever been done.

Do the WWE makeup artists receive training in how to hide backne? If you’ve ever seen a Jinder Mahal match in HD, you know the answer to that question is no.

5. What are the best wrestling puppets ever seen in the WWE?

Top three:

3. Former Legion of Doom mascot Rocco

2. “Puppet H” from WWE’s short-lived YouTube series “Are You Serious?,” which was basically WWE’s answer to Mystery Science Theater 3000, starring Road Dogg and Josh Mathews.

1. The puppets (puppets) that won’t find their place in line from Vince McMahon’s “No Chance in Hell” theme song.

6. Which WWE wrestlers from the company’s inception forward have had the all-time smelliest butts?

Gotta be Rikishi. It was his whole gimmick.

7. If the Velveteen Dream decided to turn transgendered, would they be welcomed in the WWE Divas’ locker room?

First off, you don’t “turn transgendered.” The term is “transgender,” not “transgendered.” Also, you don’t turn that way. Generally identifying as a gender other than the one that you were assigned at birth is something that somebody feels from a very early age, not something that they just decide to do one day.

Also, this is a trick question. There is no WWE Divas’ locker room. The term “diva” has been abandoned, and they are now female wrestlers. So, there’s no Divas’ locker room to let your hypothetical transgender Dream into.

8. What flavor is each color Asian mist?

I’m not sure what this has to do with current WWE, because I’m not aware of anybody on that roster who is spraying mist these days. However, I’ll answer it anyway.

Green, somewhat predictably, is spearmint.

Red is cherry cough syrup.

Black is licorice flavored. That’s why you very rarely see it. Nobody likes black licorice.

9. Since there is a NXT UK, when will the WWE start a NXT Japan, NXT Saudi, NXT Rio, and NXT NXT?

I have a sneaking suspicion that you may be joking, but WWE really is considering opening NXT territories in a variety of different countries over the next three to five years. I haven’t heard anything about Rio, but I know that Japan, Canada, and someplace in the Middle East have all been under consideration.

10. What inanimate objects should win the WWE 24/7 Title?

Here’s my fantasy booking situation for the 24/7 Title.

Drake Maverick wins the championship at the Survivor Series and manages to hold it all the way to Wrestlemania, despite continued 24/7 challenges. During this whole time, he becomes more and more insufferable, declaring himself the greatest champion in WWE history. In order for the angle to have its full impact, he should also be the longest reigning champion in the company at this time.

Halfway through Wrestlemania, Maverick hits the ring in between matches, again going on a tirade about how he’s the greatest wrestler of the last fifty years. The announcers are appalled, because he’s taking up time on the biggest show of the year when he’s not even been booked for it.

Out of nowhere, REAL AMERICAN starts to play, and Hulk Hogan walks down the aisle to confront Maverick. Drake is undaunted, but the Hulkster punches him back into the ropes, gives him the big boot, and hits the leg drop. Jimmy Hart slides in under the bottom rope, and he’s wearing a referee-striped version of one of his outlandish jackets.

Hulk doesn’t transition in to a lateral press position and instead just sits on the mat with his leg draped across Maverick’s neck and chest. Hart counts the pin . . . 1 . . . 2 . . . 3.

“Real American” plays again, and the crowd goes wild.

Then, in a twist ending, JoJo Offerman announces that, because of the way the Hulkster was positioned on top of Drake Maverick during the cover, he is NOT the new champion. Instead, the winner and new 24/7 Champ is:

Hulk Hogan’s artificial hip.

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].