wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Which Hardy Boy Had the Better Career?

May 24, 2024 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Jeff Hardy Boys AEW Dynamite The Hardys Image Credit: AEW

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.

Hey, ya wanna banner?

Ron M. is fighting his brother in a pole barn:

Now that their careers are winding down and their time as important players are probably over — who has had the best overall career, Matt or Jeff Hardy?

Jeff and it’s not even close.

Though both of them can be considered modern day legends and have had careers most wrestlers would sell their first born for, Jeff is the one who is a multi-time world champion in the largest pro wrestling promotion on the planet. Look at any point when the brothers were simultaneously singles wrestlers in WWE and Jeff was positioned as the bigger star than his brother.

You could argue that Matt’s role equaled or even slightly bettered Jeff’s when they were in Impact Wrestling, but that’s . . . Impact Wrestling. At their peak, they only had about a quarter of the audience of WWE and, when Matt was doing his “Broken” character the first time around, they were on an obscure cable channel nobody had ever heard of whose next biggest show was headlined by some c-level ghost hunters.

Admittedly, Jeff has probably also had lower lows than his brother when you look at the legal issues both have faced. However, the peaks more than make up for the valleys if you compare the two men’s careers.

Big Al is getting on in years:

Who is the oldest living WWE Hall of Famer? Also, who is the oldest living former wrestler that you can find?

I’m going to take these questions in the opposite order of how they were asked.

Back in February, I answered a question about who the oldest living former world champion is.

My conclusion was “Cowboy” Bob Ellis, who at the time was 94 years old. Since then, he turned 95 on March 15. In addition to being the oldest living former world champion, he’s among the old living pro wrestlers overall. Canadian wrestler Samson Burke, who later became a b-movie actor in flicks like The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (no, really), is also 95.

Additionally, we have Australian wrestlers Allan Pinfold and Bill Verna who are either 94 or 95 years old. We cannot say exactly because, though we know they were born in 1929, we do not have a specific date of birth identified.

It should also be noted that, in terms of wrestling personalities overall, former World Class Championship Wrestling announcer Bill Mercer is 98 years old as of this writing.

None of these men are in the WWE Hall of Fame, though, so we’ve got a different list of names for the oldest living members of that HOF.

That distinction goes to . . . drum roll please . . .

Bob Uecker

That’s right, the former Major League Baseball catcher turned broadcaster who appeared at Wrestlemanias III and IV and was later inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame, is the oldest living member of that group. He turned 90 years old in January.

Of course, some people in the readership will say that I shouldn’t count Uecker because he’s not a “real” WWE Hall of Famer. So, who is the oldest living inductee into the Hall who actually worked in wrestling on a full-time basis?

We actually have a tie. “Cowboy” Bill Watts and “Unpredictable” Johnny Rodz are both 85 years of age.

Other living octogenarians in the WWE Hall of Fame are Dory Funk Jr. (83), Abdullah the Butcher (83), Ivan Putski (83), Pete Rose (83), Thunderbolt Patterson (82), Jimmy Valiant (81), Jimmy Hart (81), Afa (81), Mil Mascaras (81), and JJ Dillon (81).

There are some people in their 70s as well, namely Sika (79), Donald Trump (77), Bushwacker Luke (77), Gerald Brisco (77), Arnold Schwarzenegger (76), Theodore Long (76), Sgt. Slaughter (75), Ric Flair (75), Carlos Colon (75), Stan Hansen (74), Don Muraco (74), Jerry Lawler (74), Bob Backlund (73), Joan Lunden (73), Greg Valentine (73), Bob Orton Jr. (73), Jim Ross (72), Jesse Ventura (72), Tito Santana (71), Ricky Steamboat (71), Mr. T (71), Jimmy Garvin (71), Hillbilly Jim (71), Honky Tonk Man (71), Hulk Hogan (70), Tony Atlas (70), Ted DiBiase (70), Jim Duggan (70), Paul Ellering (70), Tully Blanchard (70), Larry Zbyszko (70), Tatsumi Fujinami (70)

Uzoma is blowing his Alpine horn:

Why didn’t WWE have Chris Hero f/k/a Kassius Ohno and Claudio Castagnoli f/k/a Antonio Cesaro team up when they had them?

Very technically, they did team up in WWE, though it was a one-off. Ohno and Cesaro faced Seth Rollins and CM Punk on August 23, 2012 in a dark match following an NXT television taping in what would have been a mid-2000s indy dream match.

Of course, despite that one match, Uzoma’s question is still valid. It seems to have been a matter of the two men being pegged for different roles in the company. Though he had a developmental run, Cesaro is a guy who always seemed earmarked for the main roster, whereas Hero pretty quickly settled in to a “player coach” sort of position in NXT, helping develop the next generation of talent while remaining an active competitor himself.

Tyler from Winnipeg wonders if the guy who says everybody has a price has a price:

Do you see The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase getting hired by WWE again?

Probably not. The guy is 70 years old, and most people from all walks of life consider their careers to be over by that point, so odds are good DiBiase would not be willing even if WWE was. (Admittedly, Paul Ellering is currently an on camera talent for the company and he is the exact same age, but he may be the exception that proves the rule.)

Plus, on an episode of his podcast last year, the Million Dollar Man reported that his doctors had diagnosed him with a form of “brain trauma.” Though DiBiase downplayed any implication that this diagnosis was impacting his day to day life, picking up a high stress job is usually not the best thing to do when you’re dealing with a medical issue of that nature.

Michael knows that the first cut is the deepest:

Although I hate seeing wrestlers lose their jobs, isn’t doing a big release like WWE used to do a good idea? Get rid of stale wrestlers the fans are tired of? Or guys they just tried to get over and just will not click? Or wrestlers that have already done everything and there is nothing else for them to do? (I am actually so happy Sasha Banks didn’t re-sign, she did everything she could already why bring her back?) There are guys wrestling on TV now that I am just so tired of seeing, i.e. New Day, Mike the Miz (even though he just won a championship), Omos, Apolo Crews, hell, even Charlotte Flair bores me to death to name a few. There is just nothing else for these guys to do…Make room for some new fresh guys. So my question is – do you agree, and if so who should be let go to wrestle somewhere else?

WWE actually has cut about twenty wrestlers since the beginning of the year, though admittedly a few of those were developmental talent that had never seen the light of day on television. As a result, I don’t think that you can say that they’re not doing big releases. That’s an average of four people a month.

That being said, I seem to get some variation on this question ever six months or so and thus it appears to be a subject that readers like to hear about, even though I really dislike answering it, because I don’t want to come off like I’m rooting for people to lose their jobs.

I do tend to agree that it feels as though Mike the Miz has done just about everything he can do in the company, and he’s more or less in the same place Dolph Ziggler was a year ago . . . and Dolph was my stock answer when people asked me this question for quite a while.

I also feel as though Baron Corbin has been given chance after chance and, though the NXT crowd appeared to finally accept him in his most recent run, I personally still haven’t seen anything in him that makes me want to see anymore.

Otherwise, this does feel to me like a rare period where the WWE roster is clicking pretty well on the whole.

Gary Sparrow is hanging out with Nicholas Cage:

I have an idea either for a regular Ask 411 segment or an entire new column and I’d be interested in your thoughts on it.

Each week you could have a poll at the bottom of the column voting on a random stable for the next edition of the article/column.

The meat of the column would be you give a career retrospective of each member of the stable, then review/rate each of the stable members best individual matches and their best match as a stable etc.

As it would be the first post/column I want to pick something completely random and my stable of choice would be The Flying Elvises.

I think that is fun idea for an ongoing column. I doubt it would work as a segment within Ask 411, though, as I receive so many different questions and so many different types of question that I would feel guilty devoting that much time to the same question type each and every week – or even once a month, for that matter. I think Ask 411 works better when it’s a true potpourri of content.

That being said, I’ll take you up on your Flying Elvises challenge.

As most people reading this are likely to remember, the Flying Elvises was one of the first gimmicks created by Impact Wrestling. In fact, they were in the first match in Impact Wrestling history, as their three members – Jorge Estrada, Sonny Siaki, and Jimmy Yang – defeated AJ Styles, Low Ki, and Jerry Lynn.

Why would Impact take three members of its signature X Division and dress them up like a rock star who had been dead for 25 years at the time of the promotion’s founding?

There is actually some background for this.

In 1992, the movie Honeymoon in Vegas was a big hit, featuring Nicholas Cage as a character who had to find a way to the titular city in order to marry his long-suffering fiancee. The climax of the movie comes when Cage hops on board a plane to Las Vegas transporting the Flying Elvises, a troupe of skydiving Elvis impersonators. It was a scene that stuck in the public consciousness, to the point that the skydivers hired for the scene actually started making public appearances and jumps as the Flying Elvi . . . and they were active for quite some time. (In fact, an official Flying Elvi website and YouTube channel are still on the internet today, though neither has been updated in years.)

Ten years later when Impact formed, apparently the powers that be remembered that scene and decided that it would make for a great wrestling gimmick. According to a Highspots shoot interview with Jimmy Yang, he had no advance notice that he was going to be an Elvis impersonator and was told about the idea for the first time when he arrived for the inaugural Impact pay per view.

So, who were the Flying Elvises?

Jorge Estrada is probably the least well known of the trio. In the late 1990s, he was trained by none other than “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, and he spent most of his early career wrestling in Georgia, Ohio, and Tennessee. During that time, he had a handful of house show matches for ECW and also participated in television tapings for the Urban Wrestling Alliance, a short-lived promotion in which Rocky Johnson was an executive. The UWA was nationally syndicated on television and, though confirmation is hard to find, may have been on BET for a hot minute. As WCW was dying, Dusty also started promoting his own indy group, Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, where Estrada was prominently featured. Also around this time, Estrada wrestled one dark match at a WWF television taping where his opponent was, coincidentally enough, Sonny Siaki. Unlike his partners, Estrada’s run with Impact probably was the highest level exposure he ever received in wrestling. It began with that first show in June 2002 and continued through March 2003. Later that same year, following a few more indy shots, Jorge was out of the pro wrestling business altogether, which may be just as well because his in-ring performances were not well-regarded at all.

Prior to breaking into wrestling, Sonny Siaki was a classmate of the man who would eventually be known as WCW wrestler Lodi. Lodi reached out to his old friend and tipped him off to some upcoming WCW Power Plant tryouts, and that was the beginning of Siaki’s career. He debuted for WCW in late 1999 at a time when the company was using a lot of Power Plant graduates on tapings for its b-and-c-shows like Saturday Night and Worldwide. His matches between WCW and Impact are sparse, mostly being for the aforementioned Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling aside from one WWF dark match against Michael Shane. In the early days of Impact, he seemed to be pegged as a future star, as he did have a good look and was competent in the ring. He was given the X Division Championship for a two-month run, defeating Jerry Lynn in December 2002 and dropping the belt to Kid Kash in February 2003. After losing the title, he remained a fixture in the company through the end of 2005, though he never had the same level of push despite attempts to get tag teams off the ground with Apolo and the wrestler who would eventually become Umaga in WWE. In 2006, Siaki joined the short-lived WWE developmental territory Deep South Wrestling, where he wrestled men like Kenny Omega, Matt Cardona, Brian Myers, and even Big Vito. He briefly transitioned to Florida Championship Wrestling after WWE pulled the plug on DSW but was cut in the fall of 2007. Afterwards, he continued to compete on independents, mostly in Alabama and Georgia. Ultimately, he retired from the ring in early 2009, stating that he was doing so on doctor’s orders after volunteering to donate a kidney to his brother.

Last but certainly not least, Jimmy Yang was the most successful Elvis, both before and after the group formed. Yang actually signed with WCW at the age of 18 after Chris Kanyon discovered him wrestling low level shows at a local bar and saw something in him. Prior to that, Yang had self-trained in his backyard. The Power Plant put some polish on him and he wrestled his first television match in February 2000. Just a month later he was put into a somewhat pushed act, teaming with Jamie-san (a.k.a. Jamie Noble) and Kaz Hayashi, an allegedly Japanese stable featuring only one actual Japanese guy. Throughout the year 2000, the Dragons had a standout feud against Three Count, which morphed into a three-way feud when Noble and Evan Karagias were kicked out of the stables and formed their own team. Yang stayed with WCW through the end of the promotion and had his contract picked up by the WWF, where he was assigned to a developmental territory, the Heartland Wrestling Association. In the first quarter of 2002, Yang was cut from his developmental deal, but he used his connections with Kaz Hayashi to almost immediately get booked in All Japan Pro Wrestling, where Kaz was wrestling at the time. Yang fit in Impact Wrestling shows in between AJPW tours, and All Japan was really his home promotion until the fall of 2003 when he re-signed with WWE to be part of another stable in which he pretended to be Japanese, this time with Tajiri and Ryan Sakoda. That stable went nowhere fast, but it did get him on the card at Wrestlemania XX and kept him employed through the summer of 2005.

Following that, Jimmy was primarily wrestling in Ring of Honor for a while, though he would occasionally head to Japan for HUSTLE, where he was reunited with Kaz Hayashi. In August 2006, WWE came calling for him again, and he was pushed as Jimmy Wang Yang, the Asian redneck. The undercard comedy act had some popularity and that kept him in the company for a while, combined with a reported friendship with John Laurinaitis, probably stemming from the fact that they both had worked for All Japan. Yang’s third WWE run actually lasted all the way through March 2010 when he got caught up in some post-Wrestlemania spring cleaning. After his no compete, he did tour for AJPW during the summer of 2010, though his wrestling appearances became more sporadic after this. He showed up in a one-off match for Impact in June 2011 and wrestled one All Japan tour per year in 2011, 2012, and 2013. After that, he really just wrestled a small number of matches per year before totally stopping between 2018 and 2021.

When he came back in 2021, it was to help break in his daughter, who now wrestles under the name Jazzy Yang. Jimmy and Jazzy have had several mixed tags together.

As to the best match of each group member, neither Siaki nor Estrada were known as particularly good in-ring performers. Legitimately the only good match I’m aware of Jorge having is the bout that the three men had together from the first Impact pay per view. Sonny was involved in another six man tag at the 2004 Turning Point pay per view that was fairly well reviewed, but that had much more to do with the wrestlers working around him as opposed to his own performance.

Meanwhile, Yang was a dang good professional wrestler for a while. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the Yung Dragons/Three Count matches from WCW, particularly their ladder match at the final Starrcade pay per view. He also had a pretty good singles match against Kaz Hayashi on All Japan’s August 30, 2002 show.

We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.