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Ask 411 Wrestling: What’s The Big Deal About Undefeated Streaks in Wrestling?

April 16, 2018 | Posted by Jed Shaffer
Goldberg WCW Wrestling

A hearty hello and welcome to this week’s Ask 411 Wrestling. I’m your host, Jed Shaffer. This is where you come for answered questions and useless info. Like the internet, in a microcosm.

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You Q, I A

We kick off this week from The Man with No Name (no relation to brutus beefcake), who asks two questions that are variations on a theme: that which the WWE has failed to define.

what the fudge are the cruiserweights? Are they a division of the raw brand, like the raw women and raw tag team divisions? Are they their own brand, since they have/had house shows and a GM? They aren’t allowed in the rumble or andre the giant memorial battle royal, unlike tag team wrestlers or Raw and SD branded wrestlers.

Cruiserweights are wrestlers in a division based on body weight, measuring 205 pounds or lighter by Imperial measurement standards.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

The cruiserweights in WWE, and by extension 205 Live, is meant to be a separate, distinct third main roster brand that happens to have a business relationship with Raw. This is meant to explain why 205 Live wrestlers appear on Raw. However, as evident by their presentation, broadcast position (on The Network as opposed to cable TV) and smaller time slot, they’re more of a sub-brand. Distinct, but lesser-than. And while the H’s 3 is investing a significant amount of energy in resurrecting 205 Live from the purgatory of being “Raw with smaller guys” that Vince had cast it as, I’m not sure I could ever see it stand shoulder to shoulder with Raw and Smackdown. Not without a significant amount of further investment; perhaps occasional 205 Live-only Network events, for instance, but as occasional as NXT’s Takeovers.

A reasonable comparison might be the TV branch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; Agents of Shield, Daredevil, Cloak & Dagger and the like might reference the Sokovia Accords or the Battle of New York, and you might even see some minor crossovers (the way Shield had Lady Sif and Nick Fury in season 1) or tie-backs to the movies. But you never see the bigger stars drop in, and you never see the TV stars appear in movies, or even referenced. 205 Live is Daredevil in this regard. Sometimes Jack Gallagher or Mustafa Ali is on Raw, but you never see Braun Strowman or Roman Reigns on 205 Live.

similar question for the UK ………thing. Are they a division of NXT, like the tag and women’s divisions? Are they their own brand that just hasn’t really gotten off the ground yet? They get to wrestle on NXT branded events, and on 205 live (or does being on 205 live remove them from the UK……thing?).

That’s a different and altogether more complicated problem. They were meant to be a unique brand of their own, with their own Network show based on England, to compete with a reborn World Of Sport Wrestling on England’s ITV. But a funny thing happened on the way to squashing that possible competitor.

Namely, World Of Sport failed to actually happen. A pilot was filmed in late 2016, with Grado winning the promotion’s main championship. This was the only activity until the following March, when ITV announced they were partnering with Jeff Jarrett and TNA/Impact/GFW/Impact to bring the show back for a ten episode run, with JJ serving as the executive producer. Tapings were announced for late May, but ended up getting postponed indefinitely in early May due to “prolonged contract negotiations”. Not long after, the Jarrett/Anthem partnership collapsed, Jarrett left and took his GFW trademark with him, and the Impact/ITV partnership became vaporware.

Without that competition to squash, WWE were now in a position where they’d crowned a champ of a non-existent division that they were only still developing. Without the threat to drive them, interest in developing the UK brand fell by the wayside. News reports since then have all amounted to shrugs and confusion. As recently as November, current champ of the *ahem* division Pete Dunne said in an interview with The Mirror that hasn’t heard anything about a full-blown show or brand. Cost is a rumor, and securing talent is another issue; a lot of the bigger names in the scene – Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay, Nick Aldis, Jimmy Havoc – are working for other promotions, both stateside and in their native land.

And that brings up the problem they have now: England has a glut of promotions. Revolution Pro Wrestling, Five Star Wrestling and Defiant Wrestling (the promotion started as WhatCulture Pro Wrestling, which I still cannot believe is a thing that happened) have all made strong in-roads, and those are just a few. If WWE were to finally hatch this egg, they’d find themselves in a rather crowded farm.

So, that’s a long way of saying that, as of now, the UK … thing … is just that. A thing. And with NXT unveiling a secondary singles championship, its available venues to be kept alive seem to be dwindling by the minute.

Gary is asking me to do the stat counting thing. UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH.

I’m catching up with Elimination Chamber matches preparation for the next PPV and had a question for you…

Which wrestler has the record for the most Chamber matches in a row. I think Y2J and HHH were in the first three in a row but can’t think of who else could have achieved more than three back to back Chamber Matches.

Three consecutive seems to be the record. I cannot find anyone who went four in a row. Although I did manage to find two more people who went back to back to back: Daniel Bryan (2012-2014) and The Undertaker (2008-2010).

You know who has the most appearances overall in the Chamber? Chris Jericho, with 8 out of 22. He also holds the record most people eliminated. Only three people have won more than once (Triple H has 4, John Cena has 3, Edge has 2). Kane has the most appearances without a victory, with 5.

Frequent asker nightwolfofthewise wants to speak well of the dead (man).

One of the hardest things to do in wrestling is stay relevant. As time goes on, fans get sick of the same thing/gimmick. Eventually, those wrestlers fade out because they are no long as popular as they once were. Undertaker’s been wrestling for 28 years now. He went through several changes in his career. He started as the Undertaker, then went to the Lord of Darkness, then to the American Badass, then back to the Undertaker. Through it all, he never lost his fan base or popularity. Why do you think he was able to remain relevant for as long as he has?

Ehhhhh … I don’t know that I can agree with the assessment “he never lost his fan base or popularity”. I mean, for instance, following his first face turn up until Royal Rumble 1996, Undertaker had three basic storylines:

1) Monster of the month.
2) Somebody stole the urn.
3) The Ted DiBiase feud.

And often, these three things collided – Wrestlemania XI merged 1 and 3 (King Kong Bundy), and he spent three PPV’s in 1995 dealing with Kama The Supremely Boring Machine, which combined 2 and 3. These resulted in matches that range from meh to OH GOD MAKE IT STOP. He was popular, no doubt, but it was a weird popularity; he was almost loved in spite of his gimmick and place on the card. It wasn’t until he started to mix with the regular roster, starting in 1996, that his value started to truly shine through; first with his match with Bret at the Rumble, then his terribly underrated feud and match with Diesel.

He was able to keep fresh in the beginning of the Attitude era with his character moving away from Undead Mortician to goth-obsessed murder enthusiast and possible Satanic priest, starting in 1998 and going through his Ministry heel turn. Again, evolving the character, keeping it fresh.

And then came the American Badass period. He came back and was visibly and embarrassingly out of shape, having put not just a spare tire but an entire tire dealership. His work ethic went into the toilet (with a few outliers, like his matches with Flair, Jeff Hardy, and that sweet triple threat with Rock and Kurt Angle). And most notably, this was where he really flexed his backstage muscle, to the betterment of only himself; he buried Kurt Angle in an infamous near-squash at Fully Loaded 2000, tried to do the same to Brock Lesnar in 2002, neutered DDP in 2001 to get over his horse-faced old lady, and lobbied to get his buddies KroniK jobs, only to put in all the effort of a coatrack in making that match watchable.

It wasn’t until his return to the Dead Man gimmick in 2004 that he started to earn back some good will. A string of excellent to phenomenal matches at Wrestlemania and many good-to-great feuds in between helped rebuild his credibility and fanbase to his strongest ever.

And then he just wouldn’t. go. away. Which … I don’t know if it is eroding his fanbase again, so much as it is making his fanbase regretful and pained to see him. We want to let go. He doesn’t. So it’s making some sort of resent him, because he’s dragging out something we all see as over anyway.

This may sound like I don’t like him much, which isn’t the case. He’s one of my all time favorites, and his matches with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania are in my top 5 all time favorite matches. His spot in the pages of history are assured and well-earned. His career will never be duplicated by anybody. His Hall Of Fame spot is assured. But, if we’re being objective, we can’t say it was 30 uninterrupted years of bliss. He’s had great times … and he’s had the opposite.

Moving on now to the highly subjective, courtesy of Lev

In your opinion, are there any other WCW wrestlers who were never given a chance in WWE who you feel should have?

Oh, absolutely, no hesitation.

For starters, the aforementioned Diamond Dallas Page should’ve been way more than a lower midcarder, and he most definitely should not have been cast as Undertaker’s wife’s stalker. Go look up Sara Taker. Then go look up Kimberly Page. You don’t trade in a Porsche for a Le Car. DDP should’ve been upper card, if not main event, especially with the two titles and brand split. He had the gritty, blue-collar feel of a Steve Austin, but the “people’s champion” feel of The Rock. He would’ve been a fantastic addition to the roster instead of slumming it as a motivational speaker and challenging for the Euro Championship.

Lance Storm is another one that just never went as far as he could. Athletic as all hell, Storm would’ve fit in perfectly with the Smackdown Six era. Imagine Storm v Edge, Storm v Angle, Storm v Guerrero, and given plenty of time to do the deed. Instead, we got the Un-Americans and “BORING”.

Mike Awesome, similarly, should’ve had an easy path to the top. The dude was 6’6”, moved with the grace and agility of a cruiserweight, and had a visually stunning finisher in the Awesome Bomb. All he needed was a monster-style push. Just have him wreck people. Boom. Instant star.

Chris Kanyon is another. He could be slimy and obsequious, he could be grating and devious, and he had some unique offense. Not a world champ, but he should’ve been more than he was.

There’s plenty more one might be able to make an argument for. The Natural Born Thrillers had a ton of untapped talent (Shawn Stasiak not withstanding); Sean “Beavis Fraser” O’Haire, Mark Jindrak, Chuck Palumbo, Johnny The Bull … Mike Sanders was a pretty good mouthpiece … plenty of the cruiserweights were never given what they should have … you could go on and on and not run out of names.

Here, one more, a little out of left field: Daffney. She didn’t even get the chance, and it’s a damned shame. Now, she wasn’t the world’s greatest wrestler, but then again, this wasn’t a magnificent era for women’s wrestling to begin with. And while she wasn’t pretty the same way Trish Stratus or Stacy Keibler were, she was still attractive. I think she would’ve been a breath of fresh air. Lita was a tomboy punk; Daffney would’ve been Lita’s evolved form, the goth psycho.

Finally, we come to Carl Rood, who has a lengthy question about a lengthy topic.

What’s the obsession with winning streaks in wrestling? I get why the theory behind why promotions do them, but in execution, they never really work outside of Goldberg. Even that petered out. Undertaker’s streak was different BECAUSE it was only about Wrestlemania, where logically he’d step up his game. It’s OK for Asuka to have a streak in NXT because the exposure is more limited due to the length of the show. On the main roster, it doesn’t take long to beat the entire roster several times over. In the end, face or heel, the streak has to end and the holder pretty much just becomes another member of the roster and has to sink or swim on their matches and promos, anyway. The person who broke the streak rarely makes anything of it for any length of time because it’s usually a cheap win, anyway, and the industry prefers fans to have short term memories.

It also exemplifies what I feel is the major problem with how WWE handles NXT call-ups, usually. If the so-called main roster “rookies” are able to dominate so quickly and easily, what were they doing in NXT for so long? Why does losing and NXT championship allow the loser to move up, but the winner stays behind? I think it should be a case where if you hold the title long enough, you can trade it for a main roster spot.

Okay, right off the bat, I want to make mention of Goldberg’s streak and why it worked so much better than most: presentation. Unlike Asuka’s streak or Ryback’s streak or most any other, Goldberg’s was presented not just as a streak, but as that one thing wrestling doesn’t have: a statistic. By attaching a specific (if falsified) win-loss record to the streak, each win changed the conversation from “who will end the streak” to “how many wins in a row can he rack up”. That was very smart on WCW’s part (credit to Mike Tenay for that one).

But back to the overall question. Unbeaten streaks are an easy way to establish a character’s excellence in the ring. Having Asuka be unbeaten on Raw might seem illogical when the roster is 12 women deep, but look at it the way it’s presented in sports: beating a team twice is more difficult. Not because you have their number, but because they’ve seen what you can do and might learn from it. Not to mention that nobody wants to be humiliated twice (or three times or four or …). So, from a kayfabe standpoint, one could say that while Asuka has run through Raw’s roster twice over by now, sooner or later, one of them will learn from their mistakes, discern Asuka’s patterns, and exploit them to bring down The Empress Of Tomorrow. They never actually tell that story, but that logic is there for the taking. Feel free to headcanon at your leisure.

I can’t argue much about the use of the person who breaks the streak. Typically, these streaks end in goofy fashion anyway; Goldberg via a taser, Ryback by a crooked ref, and so on. The idea is to use the streak to build the monster, then use the end of it to build someone else while you transition the monster into the next evolution. They never seem to do that, which is unfortunate. You’d think they would’ve figured it out by now. There is an alternative, too, which ECW used rather well with Rhino in 2000: just keep going forward. Rhino lost the TV Title to Kid Kash, then came back, bulldozed him to get it back, and kept up his reign of terror. Make the monster brush off the loss and keep going, almost like a slasher movie villain, so that the story pivots from “how does X beat him” to “how does anybody keep him down”.

Your thoughts about NXT and WWE and call-ups are reasonable. The only in-world logic I can offer is that NXT is a small pond, and WWE is THE SHOW. The best of the best. It won’t be so easy to dominate in a larger pool filled with only the best the company has to offer. Again, this is something they could reference on TV, and it’d make a lot of people feel a lot better things. This, along with the call-ups, represent gaping holes in WWE’s continuity. NXT is part of the company, but they never acknowledge a wrestler’s achievements in it once called up. Alignments and rivalries are disregarded, when they could be essential foundational material for angles (see Sasha Banks and Bayley right now). All of these are egregious missed opportunities, and dominance or winning streaks in NXT feed into that. It’s a blind spot, one that makes no sense in my eyes.

Ugh. That was a bad pun, and totally unintentional. Oh well, I’m not erasing it. I’m a dad, I can make dad jokes. Let’s wrap this up. We’re foregoing the Q I want A’ed, because I have a bit of news to drop.

Next week will be my last Ask 411.

I didn’t intend for my run to be this short. I was gonna take it to the summer. Real life has thrown me some curveballs that the time investment this column requires is becoming too difficult to manage. I will have a new project coming up that I hope you’ll check out, a podcast that’ll be on the Music section. More details to follow next week, after I get some of the final touches hammered out.

In the meantime, if there’s anything you want answered specifically in my last column, get it in now and label it so I know you want it included in my last go around. See you in 7-ish.