wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Who Could Have Replaced Hulk Hogan?

June 15, 2016 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Hulk Hogan WrestleMania 9 LOL

Welllllllcome ladies and gentlemen, to Ask 411 Wrestling. My name is Ryan Byers, and I’ve pretty much been a persona non grata around here for the last three months, but I’m here filling in for Mat Sforcina, as he recently stepped into the 411mania accelerator and vanished. He now finds himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that are not his own and being driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Larry Csonka, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Mat can see and hear. And so Massive Q finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.

Anway, until that gets sorted out, you’re stuck with me. Ziggy says that it should take three weeks or so.

If you’ve got any questions for the column that you would like my take on as opposed to Mat’s in the next couple of weeks, you can e-mail them to me here. If you don’t care who answers your question, you can send it to the regular address for the column, and Mat will get back to it once he returns.

Let’s get things started, as always, with the BANNER~!

Atari Lynx!

Check out Mat’s Drabble blog, 1/10 of a Picture!

Me On Twitter~!

Feedback Loop

I’m not handling feedback this week because of my longstanding policy of not addressing comments that are directed towards somebody else’s work. However, feel free to blast me in the comment section for how terrible I am this week, and I’ll run through it in seven days!

The Trivia Crown

Mathew did not include a question last week’s edition of the column, so I have nothing to answer. I do have something to ask, though . . .

Who am I? I was trained by a man who held the NWA World Heavyweight Title during the championship’s glory days. Some of my earliest recorded matches were with ECW and the WWF, and I was part of a bout that established a national promotion in the United States. I held two championships during my relatively brief career, one of which was a singles title that I lost to a man who was once confused with Kurt Angle and one of which was a tag title that I held with a former superhero. Who am I?

Leave your answers in the comments, and, if you’re the first to get the correct answer, you’ll win a prize. (The prize is not having to read Justin Watry writing this column.)

Getting Down To All The Business

Anthony‘s multi-part question reminds me of the morning after pill, because it’s all about Plan B . . .

Have any legit info or theories ever come up as to what the plan was going to be if Vince had not been able to get Hogan back in 1983-84? I have heard Tony Atlas say in shoot interviews that it was supposed to be his spot, but I take that with a grain of salt.

There are a lot of guys who claimed that they were approached about being the lead star of the WWF during the promotion’s national expansion (including Tony Atlas), but with old school wrestlers being old school wrestlers, you never really know who you can trust. For example, Dusty Rhodes’ autobiography claims that he was approached by Vince McMahon, Sr. about a Hogan-esque role at one point in time.

With wrestlers tending to be unreliable narrators for their own careers, the question becomes whether there have been any third-party reports of a potential Hogan stand-in. The only two names that I recall hearing in that regard are Jimmy Snuka, who was already one of the most popular wrestlres in the northeast territory but probably wouldn’t have had the promo skills to match the national appeal of Hogan, and Kerry Von Erich, who had more Hogan-like qualities than Snuka but may not have been willing to leave his father’s territory for a shot at national stardom that was far from guaranteed given the unprecedented and risky moves the McMahons were making.

Would Hogan have jumped ship if AWA gave him a serious run as champ?

No. This is a pretty common misconception about how history played out. People think that Verne Gagne didn’t “get it” in terms of Hogan’s popularity, didn’t make him the standard bearer for his company as a result, and that an angered Hogan bolted for a promotion that was going to make him the chosen one. However, that’s not what happened. Hogan not being crowned AWA Champion and Hogan jumping ship to the WWF had little to nothing to do with Gagne not making him the star that he thought he ought to be. That’s the WWF’s narrative invented to make competition promoters look out of touch.

So what actually caused Hogan’s departure from the AWA and Verne Gagne’s reluctance to give Hogan a real championship run? The answer is Japanese politics. In the early 1980s before Hogan became the face of the WWF, his main source of income wasn’t the AWA or any other American promotion. He was a much bigger star and got much bigger paydays in New Japan Pro Wrestling, as was the case for just about any American wrestler who was a major player in Japan at the time. The problem was that, while Hogan was alligned with New Japan, Gagne had a working agreement with Giant Baba and All Japan Pro Wrestling and arranged for the AWA Championship to be defended there on a regular basis. At the time, AJPW and NJPW were huge rivals and did not work together, so it was a political impossiblity for Gange to give Hogan the AWA Title, as Hogan wasn’t going to double-cross Antonio Inoki and NJPW by working dates for AJPW, and Gagne wasn’t going to double-cross AJPW by refusing to give them dates on his champion as previously agreed. Meanwhile, the McMahons were willing to accommodate a continued Hogan/New Japan relationship for a period of time and eventually wound up giving him more money than he earned overseas, which greatly reduced his international dates.

How would the current landscape look or do you think one way or another Hogan would have made his way to the North-East and it would have just happen later rather than sooner?

I think that, regardless of when Hulk Hogan showed up in the WWF, it was inevitable that there was going to be one or two major wrestling promtoions. It was probably also close to inevitable that the WWF was going to be one of the last players left standing if not the last player left standing on the national scene. There are three reasons for this:

1. Vince McMahon, Jr. had the desire and drive to expand nationally before virtually any other promoter.

2. The spread of cable television meant that there was more national TV programming of all kinds, and it was only natural that wrestling would follow suit.

3. The WWF had a tremendous advantage over other territories in terms of being able to expand nationally because they were so heavily tied to New York City, one of the country’s major media capitols.

Maybe the nationalization of wrestling would have taken longer, and maybe another company could have been more competitive, but I have a strong feeling that the ultimate outcome would have been similar to what we got.

NightWolfTheWise brings the New Japan questions:

1. I was re watching a video from NJPW. It was when the Bullet Club turned on AJ Styles and Kenny Omega assumed control of the group. In the video, Omega talks about being a Junior and forcing himself struggle while AJ main-evented and took all the big matches and pay. I was wondering what exactly is a Junior in terms of NJPW? Is it like WWE’s equivalent to being a midcarder or it much lower then that?

“Junior” is shorthand for “junior heavyweight,” so it’s not as much a position on the card as it is a weight class. Traditionally, New Japan and other Japanese promotions have had separate divisions for heavier and lighter wrestlers, and the two divisions don’t interact much. When they do interact, the heavyweight almost always wins out over the junior heavyweight, not necessarily because the heavyweight is the bigger star but because there is more illusion that pro wrestling is a sport in Japan than there is in the United States, and, if wrestling were a real sport, a skilled big man would beat an equally skilled little man in most encounters, as the great Gorilla Monsoon was quick to say.

However, over the course of the past five to ten years, the lines between heavyweights and junior heavyweights in Japan has become much more blurred than it used to be, in part because the heavyweights have gotten smaller (see Hiroshi Tanahashi as compared to Antonio Inoki or AJ Styles as compared to Stan Hansen) and the junior heavyweights have gotten larger (see the aforementioned Kenny Omega). This means that not only are junior heavyweights wrestling heavyweights more often, but there is also more crossover between the two divisions without the need for the wrestler to visibly bulk up as was necessary in the past. Some promotions, such as the indy group DDT, have recognized this trend and gone ahead and eliminated the heavyweight/junior heavyweight distinction altogether, referring to their top championship as being an “openweight” title.

2. One of the things I love about NJPW is they have a deal where their wrestlers can wrestle for ROH, NWA, and other wrestling promotions. I think this is an excellent idea as it gets a wrestler exposure and allows them to gain experience wrestling everywhere without them being over exposed in one area. It reminds me of the territory days. I find it ironic that WWE is snatching up indy wrestlers who have become a big name without the WWE. Do you think we will ever see a sort of return to the territory scene? It would make sense because it would help out the wrestling world and would stack WWE with great feuds for years to come especially at WM.

Nine or ten years ago, WWE was floating a plan for major international expansion that would see separate touring brands under their corproate umbrella established in separate countries. The plan was that this would operate something like a territorial system, with talent cycling between different countries, along with homegrown talent being incorporated into each international territory. However, with the global financial collapse of 2008, WWE scrapped these plans in favor of a more conservative business model.

So, it wouldn’t amaze me if something cropped up in the future that resembled the territorial era of wrestling, but it will always be under the corproate umbrella of WWE, and the current incarnation of WWE will always be the dominant brand in this country – and perhaps even all English-speaking countries – barring a company competing with them that is willing to expend the type of financial resources that WCW did in the late 1990s.

3. Speaking of NJPW they used to have an arrangement with WWE to let their wrestlers wrestle for NJPW. Whatever happened to that arrangement between the two?

Money happened. The WWF and New Japan had a working relationship from the early 1980s through roughly 1990. Then, the professional wrestling scene in Japan was shaken up heavily by the formation of Super World Sports (SWS), a new promotion that had a TON of startup money behind it because it was bankrolled by – and I’m not making this up – a massive Japanese distributor of eyeglasses. SWS lured Genichiro Tenryu, one of the biggest stars of All Japan, away from the company along with several other members of the roster and a handful of New Japan performers. SWS also offered the WWF wads and wads of cash in order to use their talent on shows, which lead to the Fed changing its loyalties in Japan.

SWS crashed and burned about two years after it was formed, leaving the WWF without a regular partner in the Land of the Rising Sun right up until present day. The company would occasionally send its talent to Japan and occasionally host some Japanese wrestlers, but there hasn’t be a regular, solid working agreement with a company since. The WWF’s shift to SWS also opened the door for New Japan to begin working with WCW, which brought Jushin Liger, Masa Chono, and the Great Muta to the company on a semi-regular basis. The WCW/NJPW relationship continued in some form or another until the Turner-backed company folded in 2001, after which NJPW worked with TNA until TNA pissed them off as only TNA can do.

Matt (not to be confused with Mat) is going deep . . . roster deep . . .

I was just catching up on some Lucha Underground, and it struck me how many legitimate championship contenders they have right now. With Mil Muertes fielding challenges from Prince Puma and Pentagon Jr, Fenix and King Cuerno feuding over the Gift of the Gods and with Mundo, Cage, Texano and maybe Drago just a push away from real main event status it got me wondering two things:

Is this the deepest roster of legitimate main championship contenders in history?

Any thoughts on how LU manages to maintain the legitimacy of so many players at once?

The only roster I could think of that really compares is attitude era WWF, but even if you think the fed had a higher quality I’m not sure you could say that there were as many people who could be champion three weeks from now. Maybe that’s down to the weekly format though.

No, I don’t think that this is the strongest roster of championship contenders ever assembled. In my mind, that honor goes to Jim Crockett promotions in the 1980s. At that particularly time, with Ric Flair as champion, you could hear him regularly cutting promos on guys like Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, Ricky Morton, and the Road Warriors, often all at the same time and often all as though they were all legitimate championship contenders. Over the past five years or so, New Japan has always felt like it has scores of viable contenders, with Shinsuke Nakamura, Hiroshi Tanahashi, AJ Styles, Kazuchika Okada, and to a lesser extent Hirooki Goto and Tetsuya Naito all able to credibly headline shows, to say nothing of older veterans like Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima who are not regularly part of the main event scene but would be accepted by fans immediately if they had to be put into that position.

This sort of booking really isn’t that difficult and has been done for years in a variety of promotions. Unfortuantely, it’s just never been the preferred method of booking in the WWF/WWE, who tend to focus on one star as the center of the promotion and have that one star cycle through one top contender to face him for several months at a time.

Marshall from BROOKLYN! BROOKLYN! is tying up loose ends:

Do you think the Daniel Bryan would have been at the same place if he had not been fired for choking Tony Chimmel during the Nexus takeover segment on Raw? He seemed to gain more favor when he came back and fought against the Nexus at SummerSlam.

I honestly think that he would have, yes. There were two things that caused Daniel Bryan to get over to the degree that he did. The first was that he had uncanny levels of talent, which had nothing to do with his being fired by WWE. The second was that he was perceived by a very vocal segment of the fanbase as being an underdog. Though the unjust termination of his contract certainly contributed to the underdog narrative, it would have been there regadless because the promotion was always going to want to book him at a certain low level due to his physique and due to the fact that he was not viewed as being one of their products.

Laszlo is going on the road:

I know back in the 70s and early 80s promotions would often run the same card in the course of a week in multiple cities. I think there were times during the shows were titles for change, the next night that title change was ignored and the same title change what happened in another city. Do you know any examples of this occurring?

The second part of my question is how did this not impact and perception of wrestling being real? Sure this was pre-national television and the Internet but wrestling magazines covered the events. Also, I’m sure there were folks who would travel hundred miles to the neighboring city to see a card because they were such a rabid fans. Was this type of booking not a detriment to Kayfabe?

In the major promotions, title changes occurring on house shows and being totally ignored were actually pretty rare. There were many more instances in which a title changed hands on a house show and changed back on a later show in the same tour without ever being recognized on television or instances in which a title changed hands on a house show only for the decision to be officially reversed later the same evening or by the next day due to some infraction of wrestling’s non-existent rules that went undetected by the original official. This makes sense if you think about it, because, as you mention, wrestling received a fair amount of magazine coverage back in the day, and you had to give an explanation to the mags. However, even the magazines were willing to overlook a few blips on the radar, because the vast majority of them covered wrestling as though it was a shoot, so they had the same vested interest in maintaining that illusion as the promotions did.

However, there are still a handful of title changes that were just immediately forgotten about. Probably the most infamous example of this occurred in the Domincan Republic on September 7, 1981, when NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair allowed himself to be pinned by local hero Jack Veneno (which translates to “Venom Jack,” an awesome ring name) when Flair feared that any different result would cause the riotous locals to bash his brains in. Veneno never dropped the championship back to the Nature Boy, and the title change was never widely talked about in the United States until the decline of kayfabe.

Another odd title change involving Flair played out on March 20, 1984 in Wellington, New Zealand. Flair was again NWA Champion and was set to defend the title against Harley Race. In converations between Flair, Race, and local promoter Steve Rickard, a plan was devised to have Race win the championship from Flair to help build a potential rematch, though it was never cleared with the NWA highers up. Race did in fact win the title that night, and he wore it to the ring the next night for a match against Flair in Auckland, but, by the time the tour had moved to its next destination, Geylang, Singapore, Flair was the champion again without ever having beaten Race. For many years, U.S. Based wrestling fans considered this to be a nullification of Race’s title reign that was never given a kayfabe explanation, but it turned out that one was provided in the Weekly Gong wrestling magazine from Japan, which covered the tour. Gong‘s stories, which were eventually translated and made available to those of us in the English speaking world, claimed that Flair argued a fast count cost him the title in the Wellington match and that he filed an appeal with the NWA that was not resolved by the time of the Auckland match but was eventually resolved in the Nature Boy’s favor, leading to a nullification of Race’s win before the show in Singapore.

Our first non-Ric Flair example involved the third NWA World Tag Team Title (Mid-Atlantic version) reign of Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat. The duo defeated Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle on March 12, 1983 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Then, when the company moved up to Toronto on March 27 for another house show, the promotion acted like the title change had never happened, and Youngblood and Steamboat won the championships from Slaughter and Kernodle for a second time. Presumably, this was done to give the Toronto crowd – who would not be plugged in to what happened in Greensboro – a special moment for their own show.

A similar situation played out in 1986 with Debbie Combs and the NWA Women’s World Heavyweight Title, which was vacant as a result of the NWA withdrawing its recognition of the Fabulous Moolah’s Women’s Title after Moolah signed an exclusive deal with the World Wrestling Federation. Combs won the vacant championship in a battle royale in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 12 of that year, and then she did the exact same thing on February 13 in San Jose, California.

On the subject of identical shows being run on successive nights in different cities, if you listen to 1970s and 1980s wrestlers talk about this sort of thing – particularly those who were involved in the NWA – they’ll actually say the exact opposite, namely that they went to great lengths to make sure that they varied their matches so fans wouldn’t catch on. If anything, cookie cutter house shows that are the same every evening of the tour are more the norm currently in WWE than they were in the olden days.

I’m contractually obligated to answer at least one Manu Bumb question each time I do this column:

In the 7/30 article, Mat jokingly asked, “Hell, how many Road Warriors rip-offs were there?”

Good question – how many were there?

This is a difficult question to answer, in part because the definition of a “rip-off” is open to interpretation and in part because many rip-offs occur at the lower levels of wrestling that mostly go undocumented. However, for entertainment’s sake, we’ll do the best that we can.

Initially, it’s worth noting that the Road Warriors themselves weren’t all that original of a concept. As most of you know, their personas were based upon the original series of Mad Max films, most notably 1981’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. So, in some respects, calling a wrestler or a team a “Road Warriors rip-off” might come off as denegrating them, but the fact of the matter is that Hawk and Animal didn’t have a unique concept – they were just the most popular guys to mine a source material that wound up being mined many more times over.

In fact, the Roadies aren’t the only popular gimmick to come out of Mad Max. One of the film’s antagonists, known as Lord Humongous, was lifted from the silver screen and turned into a real life monster heel in wrestling. Over a dozen different wrestlers have taken up the mantle of Lord Humongous over the years, mostly in southern territories and indy groups. A gentleman named Jeff Van Kamp had perhaps the most memorable run as Humongous, while a couple of future stars also had stints under the hockey mask, including Sid Vicious and Bull Buchanan. Interestingly, Sid’s son Gunnar also did a few indy shots in the gimmick decades after his father did.

Where were we? Oh, right, Road Warriors.

I think that we would be remiss if we didn’t note that, in addition to pure rip-offs, there have been some individuals who have adopted Road Warrior personas while being officially paired with Hawk and Animal. The most successful substitute Road Warrior was Japanese legend Kensuke Sasaski, who took on the moniker of “Power Warrior” in the early 1990s and teamed with Hawk in New Japan Pro Wrestling as the Hellraisers. Though the team was initially created when Animal was on the shelf with injuries, in later years the original Warriors teamed with Sasaski as a three-man team. Darren “Puke” Drozdov filled a similar role in the WWF’s Attitude Era, though it did not make him into nearly as big a star as Sasaki, and WWE rehashed the idea once more with Jon Heidenreich slapping on some skull facepaint and becoming a Road Warrior in 2005.

Women were not immune from being assimilated into the Legion of Doom, either. When Hawk and Animal were initially repackaged as “LOD 2000” by the WWF (prior to Droz being added the crew), the original diva Sunny joined up with them, while Christy Hemme of all people became a close affiliate if not an outright member of the Animal/Heidenreich version of the LOD.

Now we get into the real, true, unadultered knockoffs. Though they had a great career of their own and though some people argue vociferously that they are not rip-offs, in my mind the biggest derivative act of Hawk and Animal was the WWF’s Demolition. The original Demoltion was Bill Eadie as Ax and Randy Colley as Smash, though Barry Darsow replaced Colley early on, leading to Eadie and Darsow being the most prolific version of the team. They weren’t the final version, though. Due to Eadie’s physical limitations later in his career, he was eventually phased out in favor of Brian Adams, better known as Crush. After leaving the WWF, Eadie continued to use the Demolition gimmick and variants on independents, occassionally calling himself Axis the Demolisher and teaming up with two separate men who both used the moniker “Demolition Blast” as early as 1992. Eadie continued to rehash Demolition with different partners through the early 2000s, mostly on Michigan indies. One of them was an unknown called Demolition Krash, while another was a long-time indy wrestler who also competed as the Milwaukee Mauler. The Mauler eventually spun off his own version of the team called Atomic Demolition, as he teamed with the aforementioned Krash.

And, of course, you can’t forget that, after Hawk left the WWF in the early 1990s and Demolition wound down its run, Road Warrior Animal and Demolition Crush were put together as a tag team for a run of house shows for the Fed, mostly competing against the Beverley Brothers but also sometimes against the odd combination of Skinner and Kato of the Orient Express.

Probably second most prominent behind Demolition is the Powers of Pain. In some ways, it’s even less fair to call the POP a rip-off than it is to call Demolition a rip-off, because the Demos were created in a wrestling promotion that was (at least arguably) trying to cash in on the popularity of the Road Warriors when the Warriors were not part of their roster, whereas the Powers were actually put together to be a heel version of the Road Warriors in a promotion where the Warriors were competing, i.e. Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987. However, the Warlord and the Barbarian interestingly kept their quasi-Road Warrior gimmick after they left JCP and took it to the WWF, where they had their most notable feud with Demolition.

Keeping things in the territorial era, a young team called the Blade Runners (with their name taken from a different science fiction film than The Road Warrior) appeared in Bill Watts’ UWF in 1985, consisting of two brutes named Rock and Flash, though Flash later changed his name to Sting . . . which is what it remained for the rest of his career. Yes, it’s that Sting, he of the scorpion pants and arena-rafter-rappelling. “Rock” would go on to more fame as the Ultimate Warrior. Interestingly, though the Ultimate Warrior almost never gets pegged as a “rip-off” or homage to the Road Warriors, if you look at his origins in the Blade Runners and even his original singles run under the inferior ring name of the Dingo Warrior, you can see that the act which made him a WWF Champion certainly started off with inspiration from Hawk and Animal, though he took it in a more cartoony direction than the Roadies did. In fact, when Demolition and the Road Warriors squared off in WWF rings after years of fans clamoring for the dream match, many of their encounters were six man tags with Ax, Smash, and Crush doing battle with the LOD and their partner . . . the Ultiamte Warrior.

Sting and the Warrior weren’t the only young muscle-headed wrestlers to get their first major break competing as a Road Warriors-inspired tag team. In 1990 in WCW, the Master Blasters – who took their name from the lead heel in the third Mad Max movie, Beyond Thunderdome – stepped into the ring for the first time. Over the six months or so that the Master Blasters team lasted, there were three different members. Most noteworth among them was everybody’s good friend Kevin Nash as Master Blaster Steele, while Master Blaster Blade was played by Al Green (a.k.a. “The Dog” in the dying days of WCW) and Master Blaster Iron was a fellow who had no other notable roles in wrestling. In an odd historical side note, the Master Blasters gimmick was dusted off for an inside joke on the April 12, 1999 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, when a masked jobber team with that name had their match interrupted by an angry Kevin Nash, who was the booker at the time.

Now we transition from wrestling’s major leagues to a few of the lower-level Road Warrior clones that floated around out there. One of the most laughable was the team of Brood and Screamer, the Dream Warriors, whose name most likely came from the subtitle of the third Nightmare on Elm Street movie. As you can see from the video above, these Warriors were probably a more direct copy than anything the big leagues turned out, complete with “Tell ’em, Screamer!” worked into their promo at one point. The two were actually brothers Dennis and David Kistulinic (you can see why they didn’t use their real names), and the most notable promotions that they worked for were Windy City Wrestling out of Chicago and the USWA, which is the source of the promo above.

The Hart Family’s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary also got involved in the Road Warrior cloning game, as they took a pair of otherwise unassuming wrestlers named Jeff Warner and Tim Hunt and made them over as “The Warrior” and “The Hunter” respectively for a stint in 1989. Both Warner and Hunt were fairly respected journeyman wrestlers of the era, with Warner having previoulsy been Art Barr’s tag team partner “Big Juice” in the Portland territory. After their time in Stampede, the duo wound up in WCW as the team of Maximum Overdrive, where they were stripped of their pseudo-Road Warrior trappings and just wrestled as a couple of dudes, one of whom liked to yell “WOOOOO!” in the most obnoxious manner possible (see video above). Their most noteworthy match was against the Steiner Brothers at Clash of the Champions #12 in 1990. The WCW version of the team was short-lived, but both guys would stick around to do enhancement work as singles, with Hunt competing as Tim Hunter and Warner as J.W. Storm. Storm also went on the road as an enhancement talent with the WWF in 1992.

Continuing the trend of just about every territory that didn’t have the Road Warriors having their own stand-in for the Road Warriors, we now move to the WWA, the promotion run by Dick the Brusier out of Indianapolis through the 1980s. They signed on the team of Madd Maxx and Super Maxx, The World Warriors (a.k.a. The Wild Warriors or the Maxx Brothers in other territories). This team was actually pretty well travelled, as they also had runs in the latter-day AWA and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Both of these fellows had singles careers as well, with Madd Maxx working as Eli the Eliminator in several southern territories and Super Maxx competing in the midwest under his real name, Sam DeCero.

Probably the Road Warrior knockoff with the most legitimacy was the Wrecking Crew of Fury and Rage, who between 1993 and 1995 flew through WCW, Otto Wanz’s CWA, and All Japan Pro Wrestling. The reason that I say they have some legitimacy is that Fury was Mike Laurinaitis, the real-life brother of Joe “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis (and Johnny Ace). His parnter Rage was none other than Al Green, who we previously discussed in conjunction with the Master Blasters, making him perhaps the only wrestler to be involved in two totally distinct Road Warriors knockoff acts.

That does it for what I would consider to be outright Road Warrior clones, but there are a couple of other more recent acts that I feel are worth mentioning here. I hestiate to call them rip-offs outright, because they’re done without any pretense about what is inspiring them. The first would obviously be WWE’s current tag team of the Ascension, whose main roster gimmick (at least initially) was that they were meant to garner heel heat as a result of their similarity to the Roadies. CHIKARA’s Devastation Corporation should also be mentioned, though given the general hipster, tongue in cheek nature of CHIKARA, they are more a parody of the fact that there were so many Road Warrior rip-offs than they are actual Road Warrior rip-offs. C’mon, their names are Flex Rumblecrunch, Blaster McMassive, and Max Smashmaster . . . it’s pretty clear that they’re not to be taken completely seriously.

We’re not going to stop there, though! In addition to being copied by a lot of actual wrestlers, the Road Warriors were also a popular source of inspiration for video game characters back in the days when game companies thought that you could make cash off of an unlicensed wrestling cartridge. Notable examples included Worly of the Strong Bads in Tag Team Wrestling for the NES, Don Dambuster in the Sega Genesis’s Wrestle War, The Insane Warrior featured in the arcade game Mat Mania, the Mad Soldiers in Pro Wrestling for the Sega Master System, and Rex Beat of Tecmo Pro Wrestling for the NES. Oh, what an 8-bit rush.

So, how many Road Warrior rip-offs were there? You can count it a variety of different ways, but I’ve got three male wrestlers who were assimilated into the LOD, two women who managed them, one act that was created to to be their heel equivalent, seven outright clones, two more contemporary acts that are clones with self-awareness, and five video game incarnations. Of course, you could inflate the numbers further, as my tally counts all of the different combinations of Demolition and the Master Blasters as one act, but I’ll leave expanding the count as an exercise for the reader.

Aaaaand with that excessive answer about the LOD out of the way, this edition of Ask 411 Wrestling will come to a close. Again, if you’d like to submit a question for next week or the week after, drop it here and I’ll do my best to work you in.