wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Who Has Been Involved in the Most Screwjobs?

December 16, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Wrestling Survivor Series Montreal Screwjob Bret Hart Shawn Michaels Dark Side of the Ring

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 whole 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.

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HBK’s Smile wants some follow-up on a recent question:

Your mention of Earl Hebner got me to realize that Earl was a part of the most infamous legit screwjob as well as the most infamous kayfabe screwjob. Are there any other people you can think of who were a part of the same types of well-known incidents both kayfabe and legit?

For those who may have missed the prior column that is being referenced, what Mr. Smile is talking about here is the fact that Earl Hebner presided over not just the very real Montreal Screwjob but also the very not real twin ref angle involving Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant on NBC’s The Main Event.

Are there others who have been involved in both legitimate and staged screwjobs?

Of course there are. An easy one that immediately springs to mind is Vince McMahon. Vince of course appeared at the end of the Bret Hart versus Shawn Michaels match at the 1997 Survivor Series to tell Mark Yeaton to “ring the fucking bell.” He also participated in several different kayfabe recreations of that moment, perhaps most notably exactly one year later during the final match of the 1998 Survivor Series, when McMahon again called for the bell and ended the match as soon as The Rock placed Mankind into the Sharpshooter, which awarded Rocky the vacant WWF Championship. Oh, and Earl Hebner was the referee for that match, too, though in storyline he wasn’t complicit in the ’98 screwjob.

Bret Hart was kind of involved in a kayfabe screwjob after going through the real deal in 1997. As everybody knows, after he left the WWF, he was signed to a big money contract by WCW, and perhaps his most infamous appearance in the company was during the 1997 edition of Starrcade, which was headlined by Sting versus Hulk Hogan. The planned story of that match was the referee Nick Patrick would put a fast count on Sting and cost him the World Championship, only for the Hitman to appear (after having been a guest referee earlier in the night and therefore still “licensed” as an official for the event) to reverse the decision and prevent the sort of unjust result that he suffered a month earlier.

. . . or at least that was the idea. The reality of the situation is that Patrick didn’t actually count fast, so the whole thing looked really stupid. This has led to rampant speculation that Nick’s “fast count that wasn’t” was a real-life screwjob of its own, with Hogan and Patrick conspiring to make Sting look bad since the Hulkster legitimately pinned him in the middle of the biggest match in the company’s history, which the Stinger was otherwise supposed to have won.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifIAj9YN0fI

Oh, and you could also argue that Hulk Hogan was involved in a real-life screwjob of his own in addition to the (possibly) kayfabe screwjob at Starrcade ’97. Just a few years later, at Bash at the Beach 2000, Jeff Jarrett was to wrestle Hogan for the WCW Title. Instead, Jarrett laid down and Hogan pinned him immediately. That part of the show was planned and agreed to by Hogan, Double J, and Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff, who were involved in creative at the time. However, if you believe the Hulkster and the lawsuit that he filed against WCW following the event, the profanity-laced tirade that Russo cut on Hogan after the match, which included stripping him of the championship, was NOT agreed to by all parties before the show and could probably constitute a screwjob.

So, there you have it. There have been plenty of people who have been involved in both real and fake screwjobs. If I wanted to list every straight up knockoff of Montreal that Vince McMahon has participated in over the years, chances are good that I could have kept this column going for at least twenty pages.

Michael K. is returning to ask us a question after a trip to deepest, darkest Africa:

I was watching one of the Botchamania videos and one of the clips was of Tony Atlas returning to WWF as Saba Simba. The announcers were Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper and as Vince is talking about Simba, Piper calls the character out and says it’s Tony Atlas and Vince gave some lame excuse about Atlas discovering his heritage. Did Piper get in trouble over this, for basically ruining the character (which has zero chance of succeeding anyhow), upon its debut?

I don’t believe there was any blowback against Piper for this, for a few different reasons.

First off, the clip that you’re talking about comes from one of the WWF’s syndicated shows from the early 1990s. Those shows were taped. If McMahon really hated the fact that Piper called out Saba Simba’s true identity, then the commentary simply could have been edited off the show and we never would have been any the wiser about it.

Second, around this time, there were a couple of other former WWF stars who came back under new monikers, and, even though new monikers were used, there was always at least some preliminary acknowledgment that they had been with the company before. For example, when Ricky Steamboat came back as just “The Dragon,” his prior run as Steamboat was initially mentioned but later downplayed. Similarly, when the Iron Sheik started hanging out with Sgt. Slaughter under the name Colonel Mustafa, Sheik’s status as a former WWF Champion was referenced, albeit infrequently.

Third and finally, Bruce Prichard has covered this on his podcast, and his version of the story is that it was agreed almost from the very beginning that Saba Simba would be acknowledged as a new persona for Tony Atlas:

Richard U. wants to take us off the beaten path:

What can you tell me about the wrestlers who go by the names “Dr. Cube” and “Kung-Fu Chicken Noodle” and their company “KAIJU BIG BATTEL?”

Kaiju Big Battel is a performance troupe that formed in the mid-1990s, with the concept being that giant monsters of the sort that you might see in Godzilla movies or similar Japanese fare have live fights against each other. (These monsters are referred to as “kaiju,” a Japanese word roughly translating to “strange beast.”) The fights take place in a professional wrestling ring littered with cardboard skyscrapers, and there is typically a pro wrestling-style referee involved.

However, calling KBB professional wrestling or referring to the performers who participate in it as “wrestlers” is a chartable description at best. It’s not really wrestling. It is probably best categorized as comedy, or, if you would like to sound a bit more highbrow, you could describe it as absurdist performance art – though absurdist performance art that takes a decent amount of inspiration from actual pro graps.

There are some actual professional wrestlers who have become interested in Kaiju Big Battel and have participated in their shows. For example, Chris Hero has done battle with the patriotic superbug American Beetle, and Kota Ibushi has taken it to some of the promotion’s super villains. Many of the people on the cards, though, are not people who you would see wrestling on other shows. In fact, it’s hard to tell you much about the “wrestlers” Dr. Cube and Kung Fu Chicken Noodle because those characters have been played by a variety of people over the years and may even have been played by different people on different shows within the same year.

In my personal opinion, Kaiju Big Battel is entertaining in short spurts and can get me to chuckle from time-to-time, but it’s not where I go when I want to watch wrestling, even comedy wrestling. Promotions like DDT do a good job of working comedy into the more traditional wrestling paradigm.

If you would like to see more KBB, check out their YouTube channel. You can also read more about them in this article from Mashable.

Commenter Matthew (not to be confused with Mathew or Maffew) wants to add to our ever-expanding list of linear championships:

Here is an idea for a linear list that can’t end with Roman Reigns. Miss Wrestlemania. The rules for it would be very simple…Santino Marella is the inaugural champion. Same linear rules, except the added detail that anyone after Santino HAS to be female. Curious as to who would currently hold that title.

First off, apologies to those who don’t care for this sort of question – because I try not to run them very close together, and I’m now doing two back-to-back. However, I found this one to be particularly interesting, so it was difficult to turn down.

For anybody who hasn’t seen one of these yet, here’s a brief recap: People have started asking me to track the histories of lineal championships, i.e. starting with a title at a specific point in time and tracking its history, with the primary rule being that it can only change hands via pinfall or submission in a one-on-one matchup. We’ve done four or five of these so far, and, oddly, all of them have eventually wound up around the waist of Roman Reigns.

This time, however, it’s different, because we’re focusing exclusively on the ladies . . . or at least we are after we get rid of Santino.

Let’s go.

On April 5, 2009, Santina Marella becomes the inaugural Miss Wrestlemania by last eliminating Beth Phoenix in a battle royale at Wrestlemania XXV (which, despite the marketing, was not the “25th Anniversary of Wrestlemania. That’s not how anniversaries work.)

Several male wrestlers defeated Santino/a in the weeks following Wrestlemania, but, using Matthew’s stipulation that only a woman can hold the Miss Wrestlemania crown, the first female competitor to beat Marella for it is Vickie Guerrero, who pins him in a ninety second match on the May 18, 2009 episode of Monday Night Raw. The real Miss Wrestlemania crown was on the line in this match in addition to our linear version of it.

Given that she isn’t really a wrestler, Vickie does not have that many singles matches, so she does not lose a one-on-one encounter until October 5, 2010, when she is defeated by Kaitlyn in a match taped for the third season of the original NXT television show. Interestingly, this is only Kaitlyn’s second match outside of WWE developmental.

Exactly two weeks later, Maxine (more recently known as Lucha Underground’s Catrina) defeats Kaitlyn on another NXT season three taping.

One week after that, on October 26, 2010, Naomi downs Maxine on yet another episode of NXT season three to become the linear Miss Wrestlemania.

The title changes on NXT continue, as AJ Lee, who according to the official results has not yet earned her last name, defeats Naomi in a match taped for the show on November 23, 2010.

AJ holds on to the Miss Wrestlemania tiara for a good long time, in part because NXT season three wraps up with her as linear champion and in part because she becomes the FCW Women’s Champion around this time and has a good long reign with that title. When she finally falls in singles competition, it is on a Florida Championship Wrestling TV taping on April 7, 2011, when she is defeated by Aksana. AJ’s FCW Women’s Title was also on the line in the match.

Here’s a name you may not have expected to see: Audrey Marie. Audrey was a short-lived developmental talent in the early 2010s. Even though she wasn’t around for long, she defeats Aksana for the FCW Title and the linear Miss Wrestlemania crown at an FCW TV taping held on September 1, 2011.

Speaking of women who had short-lived careers in WWE developmental, Raquel Diaz defeats Audrey Marie on FCW’s December 15, 2011 television taping to unify the FCW Women’s Title with the title of “Queen of FCW.” Our linear Miss Wrestlemania crown also changes hands here. (For those not in the know, Raquel Diaz is Eddie and Vickie Guerrero’s daughter Shaul, who for reasons that make zero sense to me was not allowed to carry the Guerrero name while in WWE.)

The parade of obscure developmental talent continues, as Caylee Turner beats out Diaz for the FCW Women’s Title and the fake Miss Wrestlemania crown on June 29, 2012, actually at an FCW live event that, to the best of my knowledge, was not taped for television.

This is where things get a bit interesting, as the Miss Wrestlemania crown leaves WWE. Caylee Turner was released from her developmental contract while still holding the FCW Women’s Title, bringing an end to that championship on August 11, 2012. (It would eventually be replaced by the NXT Women’s Title.) I thought that this would also be the end of Turner’s career, but she actually had one and only one more match, as she worked a dark match for TNA on November 1, 2012 prior to an episode of Impact billed as “Open Fight Night.” Turner works under the very creative and original ring name of “Christina,” and she is beaten by ODB.

The very next night, Tara (better known as WWE’s Victoria) defeats ODB on a TNA house show in Hidalgo, Texas. Tara’s TNA Women’s Title was also on the line here, so now, in an odd bit of irony, the TNA Women’s Title and WWE’s linear Miss Wrestlemania crown are united.

On December 1, 2012, ODB gets her win back over Tara on a TNA house show in Fargo, North Dakota to again become Miss Wrestlemania. Tara is still the TNA Women’s Champion at this time, but that title was not on the line in Fargo, North Dakota.

The very next day, Tara, who is still TNA Women’s Champion, pins ODB in a title match at a house show in Grand Forks, North Dakota to retake the fictional Miss Wrestlemania tiara.

From Grand Forks, North Dakota, we go to Albany, New York, where Velvet Sky defeats Tara on a TNA house show on December 30, 2012. The TNA Women’s Title is not on the line here, so Sky does not take that, even though she does take Miss Wrestlemania.

The next month, Tara defeats Velvet Sky at a TNA Imapct taping on January 18, 2013. This is also a defense of Tara’s TNA Women’s Title, so the two honors are once again unified.

On January 25, 2013, Tara is defeated in a singles match by Miss Tessmacher (better known as WWE’s Brooke Adams) at an Impact taping held in the Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom. Tara’s TNA Women’s Title is not on the line here, decoupling the two titles.

Mickie James beats Tessmacher January 30, 2013 in a match taped for TNA Explosion.

Mickie’s next singles loss comes on February 7, 2013 during the taping of the TNA One Night Only pay per view called “World Cup,” when she is pinned by Ivelisse Velez, who was temporarily brought into the company to serve as a female member of the Aces and Eights stable.

Despite not being a full-time member of the TNA roster, Ivelisse’s next singles loss is still in a TNA ring, as she is defeated by Lie’d Tapa on March 17, 2013 at a taping for another One Night Only pay per view, this one entitled “Knockouts Knockdown.”

Tapa removes the Miss Wrestlemania crown from TNA, as she loses a match to British wrestler Holly Blossom on an Ohio Valley Wrestling show held on May 25, 2013 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. I believe this was during the period that TNA was attempting to use OVW as a developmental territory after OVW’s relationship with WWE came to an end.

For those not familiar with Holly Blossom, she is best known as part of a tag team with her twin sister Hannah Blossom, so she does not have too many singles matches. When she finally suffers another singles loss, it is on September 25, 2013 at an OVW television taping in Louisville, Kentucky. Who does she lose to? It’s Lei’d Tapa again.

Tapa’s second reign as Miss Wrestlemania is pretty lengthy, as she goes on a long run in both OVW and TNA where she is not defeated by a woman in a one-on-one match (though she does have a one-on-one loss to a man in there). When she is finally defeated, it is by Jessie Belle on the OVW Saturday Night Special show held on March 1, 2014 in Lousiville. Tapa had also become OVW Women’s Champion, which Jessie Bell won here in addition to the Miss Wrestlemania crown.

On April 6, 2014, Lei’d Tapa takes the OVW Women’s Title and the title of Miss Wrestlemania back from Jessie Bell on an OVW Sunday Night Special card in Louisville.

So we’ve gone from WWE to TNA to OVW, and now we’re going a step even further out to a very obscure indy show. Tapa works for a promotion called Masters of Ring Entertainment in Wilmington, North Carolina on a card called “A Tribute to Women in Wrestling” on May 23, 2015. The show features a one-night women’s wrestling tournament, and Tapa loses in the semi-finals of that tournament to independent wrestler Kacee Carlisle.

The same evening on the same show, Carlisle loses in the finals of the same tournament, falling to Santana Garrett. Garrett is also the reigning NWA Women’s Champion and the SHINE Champion at the time of this match. Also, while still holding both the NWA Title, the SHINE Title, and our linear Miss Wrestlemania crown, Garrett defeats Io Shirai on a November 23, 2015 Stardom show in Fukuoka, Japan to become the Wonder of Stardom Champion.

Taylor Made is the next one to take the hypothetical tiara, defeating Garrett at a SHINE show on December 11, 2015 in Ybor City, Florida. Taylor also becomes the SHINE Champion in this match.

In a “before they were stars” sort of appearance, Heidi Lovelace becomes the linear Miss Wrestlemania by defeating Taylor Made at the tapings for SHIMMER Volume 83 at the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago on June 25, 2016. As you may well know, Heidi Lovelace is the performer now known among the WWE Universe as Ruby Riott.

The Miss Wrestlemania crown remains in the greater Chicago area, as Jessicka Havok pins Heidi Lovelace on an AAW show held in Merrionette Park, Illinois on July 23, 2016.

From there, the Miss Wrestlemania crown goes overseas once more, as Havok’s next one-on-one loss comes at the hands of Scottish star Kay Lee Ray on August 7, 2016 in Cambridgeshire, England for a promotion that I have honestly never heard of called Southside Wrestling Entertainment.

From the U.K. we wind up in Japan once more, as Kay Lee tours the country with Stardom and is defeated by Yoko Bito as part of the company’s 5STAR Grand Prix tournament on September 11, 2016.

Though Kay Lee Ray goes back to the western world, the linear Miss Wrestlemania crown remains in Japan, as Io Shirai defeats Ray for the title on October 30, 2016 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall on a Stardom card called October Showdown. This is also a defense of Shirai’s World of Stardom Championship.

Shirai proves to be a fairly dominant champion, as she does not drop a fall in a one-on-one match until June 21, 2017, when she loses to Mayu Iwatani in a match that is also for the World of Stardom Title.

Despite still being the World of Stardom Champion at the time, Iwatani loses her first match in the 2017 installment of the 5STAR Grand Prix tournament, being defeated by Viper on August 19, 2017 at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring. Some of you may know Viper better as Piper Niven, which is the name she’s competed under while appearing in WWE’s Mae Young Classic tournaments.

On August 26, Viper loses a 5STAR tournament match of her own, being pinned by Kris Wolf in Osaka.

Continuing in the same iteration of the round robin tournament, Wolf drops a tourney bout to Mayu Iwatani on September 3, 2017 in Niigata.

The rapid-fire linear title changes caused by the 5STAR Grand Prix continue on September 18, 2017, when Kagetsu defeats Mayu Iwatani to become our faux Miss Wrestlemania.

Kagetsu successfully makes it out of the 5STAR Grand Prix with the Miss Wrestlemania tiara on her head, but she falls in the main event of an October 28, 2017 show to Io Shirai. Interestingly, this match is held not on a standard Stardom show but on an independent show produced by Kagetsu herself.

With Io once again being the ace of the Stardom promotion, she does not lose that often, which allows her to remain Miss Wrestlemania through May 23, 2018, when she is upended by Momo Watanabe on a Stardom show entitled “Gold Star” in Tokyo.

Momo keeps the championship until we wind up in that pesky 5STAR Grand Prix again, where Natsu Sumire defeats Watanabe on August 26, 2018 in Osaka.

Later the same day (because Stardom ran afternoon and evening shows that day), Mayu Iwatani becomes Miss Wrestlemania once more when she wins another 5STAR match over Sumire. Fortunately, Mayu goes on to win the whole tournament so I don’t have to record the title bouncing around five more times over the next two weeks.

However, it’s not too horribly long before Mayu loses again, as Momo Watanabe jumps back into our fake title history by defeating Iwatani at Stardom True Fight in Tokyo on October 23, 2018.

Aaaaaaaaand that’s actually it. Per the results that I have available to me through Cage Match, Momo Watanabe has not lost a one-on-one match between now and October, so she reigns supreme as the linear Miss Wrestlemania until further notice. I have to say that Matthew accomplished his goal of not having this linear championship history wind up like any of the others, because an eighteen year old joshi wrestler is about as far away from Roman Reigns as you can get.

I also have to say that this linear championship history is the one that was the most fun for me to track, because the “title” actually bounced around between several different promotions in several different parts of the world, some of them being rather obscure. Almost every other title we’ve followed has gotten caught in the WWE system and remained there until termination, except for the original title of “The Man,” which at least spent some time in TNA and was held by one of the Half-Pint Brawlers for a bit.

With all of that said, we’ll probably put the linear title gimmick on the shelf for a little while, as I don’t want it to become the only thing that we do here. However, do keep sending in your suggestions for other phony championships to track in the future, because we might dust this one off again in a couple of months if the demand for it is there.

And those suggestions, along with any other questions you have, can slide on in to [email protected]

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers