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Ask 411 Wrestling: What if the WWF Never Released No Holds Barred?

October 16, 2020 | Posted by Ryan Byers
No Holds Barred, Zeus, Tiny Lister

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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Michael K. knows that love goes far when it’s no holds barred:

If the movie “No Holds Barred” didn’t exist (which would be a blessing) how do you think the WWF main event scene would’ve played out starting with Summerslam 1989 with Zeus out of the picture?

For those who may not recall, the main event scene of the WWF in the latter half of 1989 was built around Hulk Hogan doing battle with Tiny Lister, the actor who played his rival Zeus in the No Holds Barred film. Hogan’s match at Summerslam that year saw him team with Brutus Beefcake against Zeus and Ted DiBiase, the Hulkster and Lister were on opposite sides of an eight-man elimination match at that year’s Survivor Series, and there was even a special pay per view event in December where you could order No Holds Barred and have it paired with a rematch of the Summerslam main event that took place inside of a steel cage.

So, where does the company go if they don’t have a movie to promote by trying to turn Tiny Lister into a professional wrestler?

I think that there are a couple of different options. The first, which I suspect would be the most likely, is just a continuation of the Hulk Hogan versus Randy Savage feud. Earlier that year, Hogan had defeated Savage for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania V where the MegaPowers exploded. It was a huge match and did great business, but it was really the only televised match between the two as part of their feud. They likely could have gotten more mileage out of it, with the evidence being that: 1) Hogan/Andre was able to continue as the company’s main feud even after Hulk beat the Giant clean at Wrestlemania III and 2) Savage actually was Hogan’s primary opponent on the house show circuit in the months where Hogan/Zeus was the main rivalry being pushed for pay per view.

The other option that I can think of is Hogan wrestling the Big Boss Man at Summerslam. Hogan and Boss Man had a house show program against one another in the early part of the year prior to Wrestlemania, and they faced each other in a steel cage main event on Saturday Night’s Main Event which was taped on April 25, 1989 and aired on May 27. If you scrap that SNME match and find another opponent for Hogan, the Boss easily could have been the man that he did battle with at Summerslam if for some reason you didn’t want to pull out a Savage rematch.

SPLANCK has been elevated from the midcard to the main event out of nowhere:

I read online something about Jinder Mahal’s WWE Championship reign not being a failure due to his run helping WWE get a better TV deal in India. Any truth to this?

This is the kind of retroactive justification for the Mahal title reign that sounds plausible when you first read it but doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny when you actually look at the timeline.

It is true that the purpose of giving Jinder the championship was to drum up business in the Indian market. That much was reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in its May 29, 2017 edition, which covered the May 21 Backlash pay per view at which he took the strap off of Randy Orton.

However, even though creating a new Indian star might help with television negotiations over the long haul, Jinder being given the belt doesn’t sync up with when WWE would have been negotiating a new TV deal. As reported by Chris Harrington at Fightful, WWE signed a five-year extension of its Indian television deal with the Ten Sports network in September 2014, meaning that it was not set to expire until 2019. Even though the expiration was in 2019, a new deal was not arrived upon until March of this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Meanwhile, Jinder’s title reign began in late May 2017 and ended in early November 2017, two years before the E’s contract for Indian television expired and three years before it was actually renewed.

For what it’s worth, in December 2017 WWE was planning to run two shows in New Dehli, India, one on 12/7 and one on 12/9. Most likely, Mahal was given the championship to help create a new star to headline these shows, and it is plausible that part of WWE’s long game was that strong attendance at the shows would have given them leverage for their television negotiations.

Things didn’t work out that way, though. According to the November 13, 2017 Observer, the plan was to keep the WWE Title on Mahal until at least the Survivor Series pay per view, where he would have wrestled Universal Champion Brock Lesnar in a match guest refereed by John Cena, with the finish to the match setting up a Mahal/Cena program. However, in early November, Vince McMahon changed direction and decided to take the WWE Title off of Jinder on the first Smackdown in November, giving it to AJ Styles. (In a bit of trivia, this is the first WWE Title change outside of North America, as the show took place in the U.K.)

Though hard reasons for the Mahal-to-Styles change were not reported, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Styles vs. Lesnar was a bigger match for the Survivor Series than Mahal vs. Lesnar, and it is also apparent that WWE announcing Mahal to headline its shows in India had not done much to move tickets, because ultimately the company canceled one of the two cards and, rather than having Mahal headline as a national hero babyface, when the show did come around he was portrayed as a heel and defeated by Triple H, a clear indication that they had given up on him. Again, they gave up on him a year and change before the television deal was due and before the replacement was announced, so it seems unlikely his championship run helped that deal along.

Tyler from Winnipeg is asking about a national pastime that is not his nation’s pastime:

Is Sid the best softball player in wrestling history?

It’s hard to objectively measure this, but I am going to guess no – and the reason for that is that I’m aware of at least two professional wrestling legends who played pro baseball before they stepped into the ring.

One of them is Shohei Baba, who in the late 1950s was a pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants team in Japan, a franchise perpetually on top of their leagues and comparable to the New York Yankees. In 1960, Baba fell while getting out of the bathtub in his home and landed on his pitching hand, effectively bringing an end to his baseball career. He transitioned to wrestling and adopted the nickname of his former team, becoming the legendary Giant Baba.

The other significant baseballer to make the switch to wrestling is Randy Mario Poffo, who in the early 1970s played for minor league teams affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball, mostly as a catcher. He actually started wrestling in the baseball off-season under a mask as “The Spider” but eventually switched to wrestling full-time and removed the hood, becoming known worldwide as “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

Going back to the original topic of softball, you can see Savage hit a nice home run in the video below of a 1994 charity softball game between WWF’s wrestlers and Chicago media personalities. Oddly, Gorilla Monsoon, who is narrating the highlight reel, doesn’t say anything about Macho’s homer. Maybe he’s not familiar with softball since he grew up in Manchuria.

Bryan is Ask 411’s biggest Gene Kelly fan:

Has there ever been an outdoor PPV or Raw or Nitro that has been delayed because of rain? I’m shocked I’ve never seen that happen myself. Do you know what their contingency plan is?

As it relates to the sorts of major shows that you’re referring to in the question, I believe that the answer is “no” – largely because there haven’t been a lot of major pay per views or weekly television shows held outdoors in the grand scheme of things.

When it comes to contingency plans, it appears that WWE’s plan this day is simply not to run outside. Aside from Wrestlemania, I can’t think of the last time that I’ve seen the E run a full card in an open-air venue. For those Wrestlemanias, they’ve tended to build a set that covers the ring with some sort of awning, which is great for keeping rain out but I’ve always guessed has to suck for fans in the upper decks of the building.

However, even though I couldn’t find an example of a full Raw, Nitro, or pay per view impacted by inclement weather, it doesn’t meant that precipitation hasn’t ever interfered with a wrestling card. I’ve been able to find a few examples of that.

First, back when they were still trying to run house shows, TNA partnered with minor league baseball teams to hold what they called “Basebrawl” cards that would usually follow the ball game. According to reports, there was a rain delay that held up one such show in Bowie, Maryland on September 1, 2012, though the wrestling was ultimately allowed to continue. In a trivia note, the main event of that card was Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, and Austin Aries beating Bobby Roode, Christopher Daniels, and Frankie Kazarian in a six-man tag team match.

Second, just this year, WWE NXT bit off of some mid-1990s nostalgia with its “In Your House” event, which featured a variety of gimmicks from the company’s New Generation era. One of those gimmicks was the outdoor Backlot Brawl match between Adam Cole and Velveteen Dream. While much of NXT In Your House aired live, the Backlot Brawl was taped in advance, and word going around the industry was that the taping started several hours after the original call time, though it did eventually.

Finally, perhaps the most infamous outdoor pro wrestling card to be impacted by a weather phenomenon is the October 19, 1985 WWF show held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. During the fifth match on the show, which was Hulk Hogan defending the WWF Championship against Big John Studd, the heavens opened up and the wrestlers, the ring, and all of the fans were drenched. Continuing rain – and a waterlogged canvas even when the rain let up – impacted the remainder of the card, which consisted of the Killer Bees vs. Barry O. & Iron Mike Sharpe, Tito Santana defending the Intercontinental Title against Randy Savage, and Pedro Morales facing the Spoiler.

Though it was essentially a house show, the rainy day card from Puerto Rico was taped, and the Hogan/Studd match was released as one of the matches on the 2004 DVD set Hulk Still Rules.

Night Wolf the Wise is bidin’ his time until the election:

You, me, and everyone in the IWC know the storylines in wrestling aren’t really real. They’re made up for the pure enjoyment of wrestling fans (not in recent years though). However, on an episode of Raw, Donald Trump bought Raw from Vince McMahon. It came out in the news that investors panicked and the stock started to tank forcing Vince to buy back Raw a week later. My question is this: How did those investors not know that storyline wasn’t real? Even if you’re not a wrestling fan, you know the storylines are scripted. So what was the deal with that?

One of the first things that you have to understand when reading the answer to this question is that there is a perception in the business world that, when it comes to making major money off of professional wrestling, Vince McMahon is the only one who can do it. Thought his is not true if you look over the long history of the “sport,” I do understand how they’ve come to reach that conclusion, because he won the promotional wars of the 1980s and then snuffed out the last ember of major competition when he purchased WCW in 2001.

As I’ve mentioned at least one other time in this column, there are filings that every publicly-traded company must make with the federal government in which they list, among other things, contingencies that would have a great negative impact on the company’s value. If you look at WWE’s filings in this regard, one of the contingencies that they mention is the unexpected death or incapacity of Vincent Kennedy McMahon. That just goes to show you how much weight investors who do not necessarily follow wrestling closely put on McMahon’s continued involvement in the promotion.

The other thing that you have to understand is how quickly trading of stocks on Wall Street works. Things move based on rumors and half-truths all the time, simply because everybody is trying to make big trades before the other guy can make them. Additionally, a lot of the value of stocks has to do with perception instead of reality, so even if you know that McMahon selling Raw to Trump is a storyline, if you’re concerned that others might be dumb enough to believe that it’s real, you’re probably still going to consider selling off your stock before those other dummies cause the value of your stock to plummet.

For what it’s worth, though the Trump/McMahon news did initially cause WWE stock to fall at a faster rate than the rest of the market was falling at the time, after a few days the decline did correct itself and the stock was up to the value it had been at prior to the angle beginning. So, it’s not as though there was any long-term impact.

I don’t normally ask two successive questions from the same person, but Night Wolf the Wise sent in another connection that plays into my answer to his prior query, so for the sake of efficiency I will answer it here:

Hypothetically speaking, if the ratings on Raw and Smackdown continue to decline, would they somehow find a way to remove Vince from the day to day operations even though he has most of the voting power among shareholders, or what would happen?

The answer is almost assuredly no, due to the factors I’ve mentioned above related to how the business world outside of WWE views Vince McMahon’s status in the professional wrestling industry. They don’t seem to think that anybody else can do the job, even though McMahon has made missteps in his promoting from time-to-time.

Clyde is playing a game of telephone:

This is the first time I have watched the first Royal Rumble match all the way through in a good while and I noticed something. I can understand that the outside refs had to talk to the managers–I saw them talk to Frenchy Martin and Jimmy Hart a lot. Once or twice is understandable–doing a match just with one or two people, you have to talk, but what, if anything, were they telling the managers during the first Royal Rumble matchup? I could see talking about “just their guys” but it appears that they weren’t.

They are likely just relaying spots and details for the match. The managers, much like the wrestlers, were in and out of the locker room during the course of the bout, so if there was anything from backstage that needed to be communicated to those at ringside while the match was ongoing (or vice versa), the managers would have been convenient messengers for those notes.

Jon has an ear for eras:

How would you rank the eras of WWF/E since Wrestlemania? I’d list them like this – and feel free to disagree with my labels:

1. Attitude Era
2. Hogan as top guy
3. Network Era
4. PG Era (pre-network, post attitude)
5. New Generation

Yeah, my list looks more or less like Jon’s list. The only difference is that, depending on the day you ask me, I might flip-flop number one and number two, mainly because I prefer the more simple booking of the Rock n’ Wrestling era with Hogan on top but prefer the in-ring product of the Attitude Era, which, though it didn’t always produce ***** classics, featured a lot more modern, hard-hitting professional wrestling.

I would also say that the gap between number two and number three on the list is huge. Though if you want to isolate the greatest matches of the current era they are far better than anything that you would see during the Rock n’ Wrestling era, things are so poorly booked and shows are so overly long these days that if you gave me a choice between watching nothing but 1980s WWF and nothing but current WWE for a ninety day stretch, I would pick 1980s WWF each and every single time.

UNCP2K1 is acting like a bit of a boob:

Did Alicia Fox have a breast reduction? I really, really, really remember her with much larger (natural) breasts than the Alicia we’ve seen since 2017.

I haven’t found any verified record of her having surgery of this nature, but, more importantly, why is it any of your business? That’s between her and her doctors, man.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing <A