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Ask 411 Wrestling: What Would A WWE/NJPW Supercard Be?

June 9, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina

Why hello there readers. Welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling, your one stop shop for wrestling questions and the answering thereof! I am your minimum wage shop assistant Mathew Sforcina, and let’s get down to business, shall we?

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Brock As Hardcore Champ: No, Brock debuted in a Hardcore title match but he was never actually Hardcore Champ. Apart from World/Universal Titles, the only ‘title’ Brock has won was King of the Ring.

Madison Eagles Flipping People Off: She does indeed flip a lot of people off. Not me. Me she just kicks.

Why DDP nWo?: Mainly for lack of options. It would need to be someone in the Alliance ideally, with ‘star power’, but whom them not being in the final match makes sense, and whom you’d expect them to stick around after WWF wins, thus you presume that’s why they are there as the ref with the job safety gimmick, to make sure they stick around. Plus it kinda allows me to retcon the whole Stalker/Taker Burial as DDP taking dives and keeping Taker distracted from killing everyone.

The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I currently work for the guy above. Ignoring everyone outside America, I hold a record for a type of title. My involvement in an ECW guy’s gimmick match is also a record. I’ve turned heel on a TV show that was defunct, then undefunct, and is now again defunct. I’ve won a title in someone’s last match, I’ve lost a title right before I left a company due to contract issues, and I’ve won titles with both members of The Addiction, James Storm, and a guy Jim Cornette really hates. Who am I?

Been a while, but Maraviloso has the answer for us!

Who am I? I currently work for the guy above. (WORKS ON RAW, IN WHICH KURT ANGLE IS THE GM) Ignoring everyone outside America, I hold a record for a type of title. (THE WOMAN WHO’S WON MORE LADIES’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS) My involvement in an ECW guy’s gimmick match is also a record. (ONLY WOMAN WHO’S PARTICIPATED IN RAVEN’S CLOCKWORK ORANGE HOUSE OF FUN’S MATCH) I’ve turned heel on a TV show that was defunct, then undefunct, and is now again defunct. (WWE’S SATURDAY NIGHT’S MAIN EVENT. ON TRISH STRATUS) I’ve won a title in someone’s last match, (WWE WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP ON LITA’S RETIREMENT MATCH) I’ve lost a title right before I left a company due to contract issues, (TNA KNOCKOUTS CHAMPIONSHIP TO ODB) and I’ve won titles with both members of The Addiction, James Storm, and a guy Jim Cornette really hates. (TNA WORLD CUP OF WRESTLING 2013 W/ FRANKIE KAZARIAN, CHRISTOPHER DANIELS, JAMES STORM AND ONE OF JIM CORNETTE’S MOST HATED WRESTLERS, KENNY KING) Who am I? (MICKIE JAMES.)

Who am I? I wrestled on the same PPV as the above, where she had a really big event happen. A former multi-time World Champion, I’ve beaten everyone from John Cena and Triple H to Droz and Gillberg. I once lost to a woman, lost a match due to my chosen interference being too good, and to lose a title I didn’t actually hold. The last match I ever had was against the world champion which went to a no contest, if it ever started, and if the guy it was against still exists in WWE history (but it wasn’t Benoit, although I have wrestled him once in a tag match with Steve Austin). Who am I?

Getting Down To All The Business

John Smith starts us off.

I’m watching the Muhammad Ali match on the network (from the hidden gems collection) – was this match legit? Or was the wrestler working? At first I thought it probably was legit, since the Inoki match was legit (I think…was it?), but then the ending made me think it was all a work.

No, this was a work, designed to set up a work, but that became a shoot later on.

See, it all starts with Antonio Inoki’s ego desire to be known worldwide as a legit fighter. So, fighting Muhammad Ali, known globally as a legit fighter and, luckily, a huge wrestling fan, would help do that. NJPW was the main brainchild behind the match, and they had a strong relationship with WWWF at the time, so working with them was going to happen. That’s where Ali V Monsoon came from. But, the match with Inoki was going to be shown on Closed Circuit across America, and thus to drum up interest in the major markets, they had to work with the AWA and the WWA, and some parts of the NWA, which is where these matches come from. Blassie, WWWF manager of AWA wrestlers with WWA (Bruiser) and WWWF (VKM) ringside.

This was of course a total work, designed to help sell the Inoki/Ali fight, which was supposed to be a work, where Ali would get six million dollars to help fund his retirement, which was planned to be later that year. But…

The original booking was supposedly that during the final moments, Ali would throw a punch that would knock the ref out. Ali would check on the ref, Inoki would hit an enziguri to the back of the head, the ref would wake up and then count Ali out. Ali would lose, but save face because he lost only because he was just so darn noble and upstanding. According to the rumors, Ali’s handlers signed off on this, when the deal was struck, they agreed.

Ali didn’t.

Unless of course you take Inoki’s story, in which Ali signed up thinking it was just an exhibition thing and then got rattled when he saw just how strong and tough Inoki was training, with the exchange supposedly going

Ali: “OK, so when do we do the rehearsal?”
Inoki: “No, no. This isn’t an exhibition. It’s a real fight!”

Whatever the case, the rules were renegotiated in the days leading up to the fight, with basically a lot of restrictions placed on Inoki’s ability to wrestle, pretty much. This then led to the style of… whatever it is Inoki is doing up there, with the on your back kicking technique, or ‘Ari kikku’ a staple of Japanese School Child Fighting to this day.

So, to sum up, the matches on the WWE network was a work. The Inoki thing turned into a shoot after them.

Speaking of NJPW, Shaun has a question involving them.

If for some reason WWE and NJPW Networks merged and the Tokyo Dome show was to be a WWE VS NJPW show what card would you book for it?

I wouldn’t, I’d ask Gedo what he’d book and do that.

But OK…

Kazuchika Okada V Brock Lesnar
Hiroshi Tanahashi V John Cena
Kenny Omega V AJ Styles V Karl Anderson V Finn Balor
Hirooki Goto V Shinsuke Nakamura
The Young Bucks V The Bar
Will Ospreay V Ricochet V Neville
Minoru Suzuki V James Ellsworth
Captain New Japan V Charlotte Flair
Marty Scurll V Whoever He Bloody Well Feels Like
Marty Scrull/Sanada/Bushi/Evil V The New Day & Jack Gallagher

I KNOW that this will get torn to shreds, so by all means, do list your cards below…

Joseph has a follow up about WM11, and Owen Hart.

I was going to try to rebook Wrestlemania XI as a challenge from last week (and thanks as always for answering, BTW), but I wanted to ask you a question as I began writing my ideas down. Here it is: do you think at that point (Spring of 1995) the idea of a Bret Hart vs Own Hart match for the title could have main evented Wrestlemania? Owen maybe has his own Dungeon of Doom stable to build up the feud (or “The Alliance to End Hartamania” or whatever) with Neidhart, Yoko, and maybe Bob Backlund. Bret can have the British Bulldog and a couple of other faces in his corner. Is the feud strong enough to have lasted a whole year culminating at Wrestlemania or is there just not enough gas in that tank?

I know Diesel was getting a monster push and that LT is a big deal. I get that, I really do, but I’m more asking about the feud itself. I know people have discussed the idea of Owen as the champion so you can look at it like Owen won the belt at some point or keep it as Bret is the defending champion and Own’s making a big deal about it being back-to-back Wrestlemania victories or whatever. Could the feud between Bret and Owen have lasted a whole year to the point where it could have still main evented Wrestlemania?

I vaguely recall reading at some point that the Hart/Hart feud didn’t set the world on fire in terms of drawing houses and the like, so there’s an argument to be made that the answer there would be ‘No’.

However, yes, you could totally make the Hart/Hart thing run to WM. Owen would have to win the title at some point, you’d need to skip the whole Diesel run, but yeah, you could drag it out.

Owen wins belt at Summerslam by tying Bret’s laces together through the cage bars, leaves with belt, chased by entire family.
Survivor Series, Owen/Neidhart/Backlund/Michaels/Diesel V Bret/Davey/Razor/123/Holly, Bret makes Owen tap in the Sharpshooter
Rumble, Owen beats Michaels when Diesel costs Michaels the match since Diesel works for Owen now, Bret wins Rumble.
WM, Bret beats Owen, Michaels beats Diesel, LT beats Bam Bam, all three celebrate at the end of the show with Jenny McCarthy and Pamela Anderson and chat about how Vaccines and eating meat are like, super bad.

Yeah, that could work. You’d just have to firmly nuke the idea of finding a new Hogan, and instead work on establishing that Bret and Shawn are THE guys now, and then build to the Iron Man match at 12 as the start of the long rivalry between the two big guns of the company… Yeah, that’s totally doable. Would never happen because Diesel’s just so darn big, but yeah…

Jeremy has a simple enough question.

When wrestlers are guest announcers for a match, do they have Vince in their ear and/or a script as well?

Yeah, pretty much. There’s that gif of CM Punk on the Trump episode of Raw, I think, where there’s KFC buckets in front of him, he goes to take one and the suddenly stops and goes back to talking, that’s fairly well known as being a moment when he was told to not touch them by Vince in his ear. They may not be quite as micromanaged as the announcers, if only due to lack of time, but they have to follow the script points and will get told to hit the phrases Vince wants, same as anyone else with a headset. I don’t know if they also have the director and such, but Vince, absolutely. And they gotta follow the script, just like they do in the ring…

Possibly the same Joseph from before, or maybe a different one, not sure, wonders if anything is beyond even me.

You’ve done a great job rebooking events when I and others have pitched them to you. Is there any major card or major event that you look at and sort of sit back and say “you can’t save it?” Like there just aren’t enough people, there’s not enough angle or potential angle “energy”, and there’s just too much working against it? No matter what you do you can’t dramatically improve the card OR Is there kind of “no such thing” and every card has the potential to be at least decent?

A large of ‘rebooking’ major cards tends to be a certain level of assumption in that the card is salvageable. Some cards, like GAB 91 or Heroes of Wrestling, are pretty much DOA due to the crowd or outside forces, so while you could ‘rebook’ it (I’m sure I’ve done a HOW redo at some point) the show is almost always going to be bad.

And likewise, I should add, I’m fairly certain that a good chunk of my rebooks would not be received well live. My booking style is a bit all over the shop, a sort of Russo/Heyman by way of Flair, and that’s often not what is needed. Plus I tend to view the really damaged cards as basically loss leaders, and use it as a way to set up later stuff instead of trying to make the show itself good.

I do not claim to be a genius booker, nor do I feel I could make more money than McMahon or anything, but I do have a style, and it’s apparently not horrible. But it can’t save really wretched cards, and some time frames are just so lacking in talent that even the best bookers would struggle (95 WWF, 2000 WCW).

So no, I don’t think every card is salvageable, at least in terms of the card itself. But even the worst card can, in theory, be the start of a path to a better card in the future. And that’s what I hope most of my rebookings do.

But of course I know at least one person below hates them, or will now bitch about my talking about them for so long, or something. So let’s move onto something facty. Stu?

Which WWE referee has lasted the longest in-ring?

Mike Chioda, WWE’s current senior referee, exclusive to the Smackdown brand. He’s had a few breaks here and there, but he started with the company as a referee in 1989, Survivor Series being his first major show, and he’s still going. 28 years and counting. Earl Hebner only lasted 17, and Charles Robinson is up to 16. I sincerely doubt anyone else would come close to that.

Speaking of people from roughly that era, Connor?

Why did Vader become a jobber to the stars in 1998? He could still bring it in the ring, he still drew great crowd reactions and he could of easily fit into the main events as he had history with Taker, Kane, Mankind and Austin

Because Vince didn’t want Vader as he was, or had worked elsewhere. He wanted a theoretical other version of Vader who was slim and taut and looked like a bodybuilder, but presumably still wrestled the same, but not, because Vader was too stiff and he kept getting cheered as a heel, but then as a face he got cheered but… Ugh.

Vader in WWF never really worked, partly due to Vader, mostly due to Vince. Vince didn’t want to use Vader like everyone else did, he wanted his own, unique version of Vader that he could use how he wanted, and he never got that Vader, possibly because that Vader could never exist, and thus Vader wasn’t pushed because of it.

Wrestling fans can accept a hell of a lot you know Jim. As long as you explain it right…

But moving on, Juan asks about WWE’s dedication.

I am quite hype with the focus and the effort that WWE is putting on the Tag Team Divisions. Do you think WWE will be consistent with it for at least a year? And what do you think will be the ceiling of this rebuilding of the Tag Team Division? Will they end up main-eventing a Special event?

I’m not entirely sure which Tag Team focus period this was sent in with, but like a lot of things with Vince, it comes down to whim and such. Tag teams aren’t quite as focused on as they have been, but then again there’s always a chance it’ll come back. But expecting WWE to be consistent with anything beyond putting over Roman Reigns and/or HHH and/or Steph is foolhardy at best.

WWE will push something for a little bit, then just assume it’ll stay over, so they focus on something else, and then come back in a year, maybe. They do it with divisions, with wrestlers, with TV shows, the works. There’s this notion of attention inertia, that if they push something for a little while, it’ll gain momentum, and that that will somehow just keep going.

That’s not how this works, at least in terms of making stuff really over. If all you want to do is have a show that exists, with characters and division that are recognised, not really enjoyed or celebrated, but which people will see and go ‘Oh yeah, that guy/girl/thing’, thus establishing the show itself without risking any one part or person being too popular, if you think that’s a thing that can happen and is a problem, if that’s what you’re after, WWE’s gameplan works fine.

But to make something valuable and thus make money off it, good money, you need to push it as a thing, hard, for a long time. Eventually it will get that momentum, eventually it will keep accelerating away from you, but that takes a while. Stop/starting like WWE does? Won’t work.

The ceiling for tag wrestling in WWE? Well there’s two. The actual, and the realised.
There is no actual ceiling beyond the peak of WWE. You can absolutely have a tag team fued main event WM, for instance. Tag wrestling almost always works in situ, and four distinct characters people are invested in and who are portrayed as important, fighting for a prize valued on par with the singles titles? Yeah, that’s doable.

The reality though, is that WWE still views tag wrestling, at best, as a way to establish singles stars later on. Every tag team in WWE is destined to break up, to create, on average, 1.25 singles stars. And WWE values singles stars over tag. So tag wrestling will always be second place, at best.

It can main event a PPV/PPV equivalent though. I expect whatever match that sees Matt Hardy rebreak, if/when it happens, to get main event status. Hopefully.

Raza asks about PPV posters.

I always wonder that in the past some of PPVs’ promotional posters features a wrestler/athlete which conversely is either not with the company anymore or not part of that PPV, which is amazing. i.e Razor Ramon-Wrestlemania XXII and Against All Odds-2005 and Ultimate Warrior famously appearing on Survivor Series 92 ‘poster but eventually left before the event . So any such awkward thing happened in recent years or promotions have become more cautious of late?

A combination of companies becoming more cautious and less likely to fire main event talent suddenly, and also the ability to more easily change PPV posters if needed. For instance, the Vengeance 2007 poster originally featured Undertaker in the middle, but was replaced by Edge. Taker got injured and Edge ended up with the title. Still Taker’s hands in the second poster though.

That tends to be the modern equivalent, not people being fired, but injuries causing problems. Triple H was all over the posters for Vengeance 2001, but he wasn’t back from injury in time, so they slapped together a second one for the 4/3/2/1 gimmick.

There was also the Cyber Sunday 2008 poster with CM Punk, who was also all over the tv spots, but then he didn’t end up on the show at all, albeit due to the fans voting for Miz/Morrison V Cryme Tyme instead of a World Tag Title defence of American Nightmare (Rhodes/DiBiase) V Jamaican Me Straight Edge (Kofi/Punk). Or am intergender tag match of Carry On Love (Regal/Layla) V Trailer Park Stalkers (Noble/James).

Any notable ones I’ve missed, dear readers? Recently?

Nightwolf asks about the closest wrestling ever got to a union.

I was reading an interview with Jesse Ventura. In the interview, He said he no longer liked Hulk Hogan, because Hogan got him fired for trying to get everyone to Unionize the WWE. What is the truth to that story. It doesn’t seem likely to me that anybody would even get close enough to Unionizing the WWE?

No, no-one’s really gotten close, but Ventura is the guy who got the closest to getting close to one.

Two weeks prior to Wrestlemania 2, Jesse Ventura decided that this was the moment to get a union in wrestling. The independent contractor business he hated, he never bought it, and so with all the WM2 advertising gone out, with WWF locked in a battle with JCP/Charlotte, this was the moment.

So he got all the talent, no agents, in a room and pitched the union. If they all went to Vince as a group and demanded a union, he’d have to agree, or lose his entire card in one go. And if they got the Charlotte guys involved as well? Game, Set, Match, Union!

He gave the speech, let everyone think about it, went home. Next day, Vince calls him. Threatens to fire him if he ever brings up a union again, reads him the riot act, so on and so forth. Jesse does WM2, then goes and films Predator.

He comes back and tells Vince that he’s done with the Union talk, as if the other wrestlers won’t back him up, screw ‘em, he’s in the Screen Actors Guild now, he has healthcare and retirement and so on, so he’s fine. Harsh, but understandable.

So where does Hogan come in? Well, years later, in 1990, Ventura sued Vince over royalties for his appearances on home videos, and he won, thus beginning the practice of royalty checks that continues to this day. But as part of that process, they got Vince under oath in a deposition. And you can ask anything in one of those. So Jesse gets his lawyer to ask, and Vince, without hesitation, says Hulk Hogan told him. He then repeated that on Larry King. That was a big blow to Jesse, as he had considered Hulk a friend, and then Hulk had stabbed him in the back. (Some reports say King Kong Bundy also ratted him out). Hogan denies it to this day, despite Vince’s under oath testimony. That’s why Jesse hates Hogan.

Although Jesse does understand it, as another part of the trial saw him see the books for WM3, and in that, Hogan’s payout was bigger than everyone else’s, including Andre’s, combined. So if you’re in the top 1%, would you want a union to see some wealth redistribution happening?

And on that not-at-all relevant to modern society observation, I bid you all good day, sleep well, see you next week!